Thursday, August 14, 2008

WILL THE GOOD PEOPLE OF ALL CHURCHES BE SAVED?

A. G. HOBBS
This is a question that is met on almost every corner. The average person is quite puzzled and at a loss to explain the situation of those who are honest yet belonging to different religious bodies, believing different doctrines, and following different practices in a religious way. The least embarrassing way out, if a person does not have to face the Bible for an answer, is to say that all the good people of all religious bodies will be saved --- regardless of his religious affiliation. Let us face this question honestly and fairly in the light of Divine revelation. Apart from the Bible no one can know who is saved now or will be saved in the hereafter.
    (1) What we think about the question will not settle it. All Bible questions must be settled by the Bible and not by what we think. (2) Neither can it be settled by our feelings. Yet many depend wholly on their feeling for their religious practice, and position. (3) What our grandparents taught in the past, or think and feel now will not give us a safe answer. (4) The creeds and conferences of men cannot settle the question. (5) To whom then can we go? Where can we turn to find an answer that is safe and sound? What a person must do to be saved; to which church a person must belong to please the Lord; what a person must practice in order to please the Lord; and if the good people in any religious body can be saved must all be determined from what the Bible teaches. We are to be judged by the word of the Lord, John 12:48, Revelation 20:12.
Let us, therefore, turn to God’s word for an answer --- meanwhile laying aside our personal ideas with a willingness to be led by God’s word. We cannot arrive at the correct answer to this question unless we are willing to accept some fundamental points which are clearly taught in the Bible. Let us drive our first stake from whence we can begin our survey. I. MEN MUST DO GOD’S WILL TO BE SAVED. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. In this same chapter, vv 24-27, Jesus gives the parable of the Two Builders. He who hears and does the words of Christ is building on the rock. He who does not obey Christ is building on the sand. God’s will for people today is revealed by Christ. We are commanded to hear him, Matthew 17:5. Christ chose, trained, and qualified twelve Apostles who were sent the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth in binding and loosing on earth the things that are now bound or loosed in heaven. John 16:13, Matthew 16:19. Since men must do God’s will to be saved, and since only those who do his will have promise of entrance into the kingdom; a number of inevitable conclusions follow:
    (a) Men cannot be saved merely because they are good. “For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.” Ecclesiastes 7:20. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Hence, the major premise that the good People of all churches will be saved breaks down when tested by the Bible. If men can be saved on their own goodness, then Christ died in vain. He prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass.” It did not pass. Therefore, it was not possible for God to save the world without the death and suffering, both mental and physical, of Jesus. Since we cannot be saved on our own righteousness, we must submit to the righteousness of God. David said, “.. for all Your commandments are righteousness.” Psalms 119:172b. As Peter began his sermon to Cornelius and his house, he said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34-35. Cornelius was a good man morally, but he was told to send for Peter who would tell him words where-by he and his house might be saved, Acts 11:14. Before Peter concluded his message, he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, Acts 10:48. Therefore, baptism is part of the righteousness, one of the commands, to which men must submit before God will accept them. (b) It takes more than belief to be saved. Some one may be ready to admit that a person cannot be saved on his own goodness (then you admit that your major premise is false); but then insist that all who believe in Christ as their Savior, regardless of church affiliation will be saved. The believer has the right, or power, to become a child of God, John 1:11-12. Hence, a person is not a child of God merely because he believes. We also read that many believed on Christ, they believed Him to be the Savior of the world, the Son of God; but they would not confess Him, John 12:42-43. Were they saved? Certainly not! --- but will be denied by Christ in that last day, Matthew 10:33. No one can come to Christ unless he is lost, Luke 19:10. No one can come to Christ unless he is a believer, John 1:12. Hence, lost, penitent believers are those who are fit subjects to become children of God. No one can accept Christ as personal Savior by faith only. It takes faithful obedience, of which baptism is the first step, Mark 16:16. Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. (c) It takes more than being religious to be saved. Jesus said: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!Matthew 7:22-23. Hence, we learn from this passage that many who are religious will be lost. Many who are religious enough to pray and work will be lost. It takes more than prayer to be saved, and it takes more than just working in “some church.” The will of God must be done. To reject the doctrine of Christ and teach some other doctrine is “evil,” 2 John 9-11. Those who are guilty are evil workers. A person does not have to be wicked or immoral to be guilty of iniquity. Those who have been religiously wrong will be turned away at the judgment as “workers of iniquity.” A person must not only be religious; but he must be religiously right. In reply, someone may say that those to whom Christ refers in this passage are those who are not honest and sincere. But Jesus does not say so. And this leads right on to the next point: (d) It takes more than being honest and sincere to be saved. Paul lived in all good conscience, Acts 23:1, 24:16; yet, he at one time was a violent persecutor of the church, Acts 9:1, 26:9, Galatians 1:13. He said that he thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Christ. He was honest, but honestly wrong. A person today may be in the same position --- honest, but honestly wrong. Therefore, it takes more than being honest and sincere to be saved. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25. A person better not risk his eternal destiny on a way that “seems right.” Paul commands that we prove all things, and hold fast that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Jesus said that those who are to enter the Kingdom are those that do God’s will --- not just good morally, or active religiously in some religion, or just honest in convictions. Hence, we had better study the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:15 learn and understand God’s will, Ephesians 5:17; and then do God’s will, Matthew 7:21. (e) Ignorance cannot save. Some think that if a person just does the best that he knows that he will be saved. God today does not overlook ignorance as he did in ages past: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31. Christ was crucified through ignorance, Acts 3:17; but the ones who did it were guilty nevertheless, Acts 2:23-24. Paul charged the Jews of his day of being ignorant of God’s righteousness. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:3.
One must know and obey the truth to be made free from sin, John 8:32, I Peter 1:22; The gospel must be preached and obeyed, Mark 16:15, 16, II Thessalonians 1:7-9. There is no promise that a person can be saved by just doing the best that he knows. He must know and do God’s will to be saved.[see link http://WorshippingInSpiritAndTruth.blogspot.com] II. WHAT THEN IS GOD’S WILL? (a) The alien sinner must:
    1. Hear the gospel, Matthew 13:9, Acts 18:8. The gospel is explained as being the death of Christ for man’s sins, His burial and resurrection, I Corinthians 15:1-4. These are the great facts of the gospel. And they establish the great truth that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. 2. Believe the gospel, Mark 16:15-16. 3. Repent (change their mind and life), Luke 13:5. 4. Confess their faith in Christ, Matthew 10:32-33, Romans 10:10. 5. Be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins, Act 2:38. Baptism is a burial of the body in water and a resurrection to walk in newness of life, Hebrews 10:22, Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-5.
When the sinner obeys, or meets these conditions of pardon, he is thus recognizing Christ as his sacrifice for sin; and accepting Him as his Savior from sin. Obedience to Divine commands is no grounds for glorying—save in the cross of Christ. Galatians 6:14. (b) For those who have been baptized, it is God’s will that:

      1. They wear the name Christian, Acts 11:26, 26:28, I Peter 4:16. No human name not specifically authorized by Scripture should be used. 2. They observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7. Every week has a first day; and Christians should not forsake the assembling of themselves together, Hebrews 10:25. The Lord’s Supper should be observed in a worthy manner, I Corinthians 11:29; but it is God’s will that it be done. It is a specific command of Christ where we are told to “do this” in Luke 22:19. We have an approved example of weekly communion; and the Apostles were guided by the Spirit into all truth, John 16:13. Therefore, it is God’s will that the Lord’s Supper be observed on the first day of every week. Those who fail to do so are not doing God’s will. Secular historians testify that the communion was a vital part of the worship of the early Christians on every Lord’s Day. 3. It is God’s will that we give bountifully of our means on the first day of the week, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. It is not His will that the church try to raise money through church suppers or rummage sales, etc. 4. He wants us to pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. One should always be a person of prayer. 5. It is God’s will that we use vocal music in our worship, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16. Music is a general term, while singing is a specific term. Singing is a definite kind of music. Playing is independent of singing; and singing is independent of playing. The Lord did not leave it to us to select the kind of music we like and want. He has commanded that we sing: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19. God’s will is revealed to us in the New Testament; but it is not revealed that instrumental music be used in the worship; therefore, it is not his will that such be used. 6. Not only does God want us to worship him in accord with Divine revelation; but he also wants us to live a clean and upright life morally. The complete will of God for the Christian cannot herein be set forth; but we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us, Matthew 7:12; do good unto all men; speak the truth at all times and live in such way as to reflect the glorious gospel of Christ.
However, being morally upright cannot within itself save; neither can being religious obligate the Lord to save. He has not promised to save those who are merely good, honest, and sincere; but be declares that those who do the will of his Father shall be saved. Note then this logic:
    1. Those who do the will of God will be saved, Matthew 7:21. 2. But one cannot do God’s will, regardless of how sincere he may be, in a religious body not found in the revealed will of God —-- that teaches doctrine contrary to his will, and worships contrary to Divine revelation. 3. Therefore, the good people of all churches will not be saved.
This conclusion is based on the premise laid down by Christ; and on the fact that the Bible is the final and complete revelation of God’s will to man. There is no promise in the Bible that the good people of all churches will be saved. No one should teach that which is not revealed in the Bible; therefore, no one has Bible authority to teach such doctrine. If God, in his mercy, sees fit to accept those who have not done his will; it will be his business; but no one can have a written hope or assurance of acceptance in disobedience. Take another logical conclusion:
    1. Christ has only promised to save the obedient, Hebrews 5:9. 2. No one can obey Christ by entering a religious body or church that Jesus did not build, that wears an unscriptural name, teaches doctrine contrary to the Bible, and worships contrary to Divine revelation for Christians as set forth in the New Testament. 3. Therefore, the good people in all churches will not be saved. Why? Because they are good? No. Because they have not obeyed Christ. As we come to the next point, be honest and fair --— with yourself and with God --— and weigh it carefully in the light of the Bible.
III. NO ONE CAN DO GOD’S WILL, OBEY CHRIST, AND FULFILL HIS RELIGIOUS DUTIES EXCEPT IN THE CHURCH BELONGING TO JESUS CHRIST. This is not being boastful nor self-righteous, but stating a sober fact:
    (a) Christ built only one church, Matthew 16:18; and it is his spiritual body, Ephesians 1:22-23. He is head over His body, His church, Colossians 1:18. He built no other church; He is the head over no other church. Christ gives us His design for His church in the New Testsament Scriptures! Christ’s church did not when it was established, nor does it now, consist of a multitude of different denominations --- wearing different names, believing and teaching different creeds. All other religious bodies either add to or take away from Divine revelation. They fall short in their doctrine of how to be saved; or they corrupt the worship by innovations; or they fail to maintain the scriptural pattern of congregational independence. [See Leviticus 10:1-3 to understand how God about innovations in worship to Him] (b) Nearly all religious bodies teach that a sinner is saved by “faith only”, without and before baptism in water for the remission of sins, as declared in Acts 2:38.[Please note: the only place in the Bible the words “faith only” are found together is in James 2:24, where it is preceded by the words “not by faith only.”] Since this is a positive Divine command that stands between the sinner and his salvation, Mark 16:16; the majority of religious people, though honest, have not done the thing that Jesus demands must be done to be saved. Furthermore, it is definitely taught in Romans 6:3-5, that we are baptized into the death of Christ. It is here that we reach the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We are at this point made free from sin, Romans 6:17, is. Paul here declares that we must obey from the heart (which includes the understanding, the emotions, and will) that form of doctrine “And being THEN made free from sin.” Hence, denominational preachers are deceiving the people and keeping them from being saved by the blood of Christ. Christ and the Apostles taught that no one is saved from past sins until he has been taught and understands and is baptized into the death of Christ and raised to walk a new life. Therefore, the majority of religious people have never obeyed the gospel of Christ. He is coming in flaming fire rendering vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Salvation Is In Christ, 2 Timothy 2:10. All spiritual blessings are in Christ, Ephesians 1:3; and we are baptized into Christ, Galatians 3:27. We cannot believe into Christ. We cannot mourn, or cry ourselves into Christ. Baptism is the final act of obedience that puts one into Christ. It, of course, must be preceded by faith and repentance. (c) After one is scripturally baptized, he must worship God in spirit and in truth, John 4:23-24. Worship must be genuine and from the heart; and it must be in accord with revealed truth as to how to worship. The Lord’s Supper was observed weekly by the early Christians, Acts 20:7. If one belongs to a religious body that does not have the Lord’s Supper weekly, he cannot worship God therein scripturally. Hence, he cannot do God’s will therein. Consequently, according to Christ, he cannot be saved. In addition to omitting the Lord’s Supper from their weekly worship, most religious bodies add mechanical music to the worship thus corrupting it. If a woman in baking a cake adds one extra ingredients she has not followed the recipe. One drop of poison added to a glass of milk corrupts it. One foreign item added to the worship corrupts it. [See the link to the Lord’s Supper: http://JesusLastSupper.blogspot.com] We are definite command to abide in the doctrine of Christ and those who do not “hath not God.” 2 John 9. We are also commanded not to add to or take away from Divine revelation, Revelation 22:18-19. (d) Furthermore, most religious bodies will bind on their members a name that is not in the Bible. Therefore, we confidently affirm, that the church of Christ is the only religious body in which a person can be scripturally baptized, be a Christian and a Christian only, worship and serve God in harmony with Divine revelation with-out addition or subtraction.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
You can accept the authority of Christ by doing what He commanded (Matthew 7:21; John 14:15; 15:10-14; Luke 6:46). Notice the pattern for becoming a Christian as revealed in the Scriptures. The Gospel was heard, resulting in faith (Romans 10:17). Repentance of (turning away from) sin (Acts 17:30) and confession of Jesus as the Son of God followed (Romans 10:10). Believers were baptized INTO Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of sins (See Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Peter 3:20-21), and added to His church (Acts 2:47). Christians were taught to be faithful even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).
WE WELCOME YOU
Following the instructions of the Scriptures, members of Christ’s body [collectively called the “churches of ChristRomans 16:16),] assemble as congregations for worship, encouragement, and Bible study. The congregation in your community welcomes you to investigate the Bible with us. With a spirit of brotherly love we would seek to reconcile any differences by following the Bible ONLY. We recognize the Bible as God’s inspired word, the ONLY reliable standard of faith and practice. We desire the unity for which Christ prayed and which the Bible emphasizes in the expression, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Together we seek to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” A friendly welcome awaits you. We do not wish to embarrass you in any way. You will not be asked for contributions. We assemble for Bible study and worship each Sunday morning and we welcome you to meet with us. We would be happy to talk to you about your questions and we want to be of encouragement. If you have any comments or questions --- or would like the location and contact names of a congregation of the church belonging to Jesus Christ near you, please e-mail me at BibleTruths@hotmail.com or call 253-396-0290. Thanks Dennis Crawford, editor.
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Monday, June 9, 2008

The Bible Steps To Salvation

In the world around us we can find as many "plans of salvation" as there are religions or denominations --- but how can we find the "Plan of Salvation" that God requires of us to be in heaven with Him one day? The only possible way to know His will for us in His Word, the Bible --- therefore the Bible must be our only source of information in this vitally important matter! Remember, we will all stand before God and be judged by His word --- not by the traditions of men!
Click on the image below to enlarge or print

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE

The Bible is a complex library of books, but it's basic lessons can be understood by following these seven helpful rules.

Seven Rules
    1) SEARCH FOR GOD'S WAY
    We must desire to know and obey God's will. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak of My own authority" (John 7:17). We should not expect to understand the Bible if our intentions are not good. Jesus said His parables were not understood by some because they did not have the proper motives and attitude (Matthew 13:13-23).

    2) FOLLOW THE BIBLE ONLY
    Beware of the traditions of various religious groups. There is a tendency to assume these traditions are from the Scriptures. In many instances they are contrary to the Scriptures. For example, clergy - laity distinctions are contrary to the instructions of Jesus who said to His disciples, ""But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren." (Matthew 23:8; 1 Peter 2:9) Careful study is required in order to distinguish between the traditions of men and the instructions from God. To do God's Will we must always "Listen When The Bible Speaks, And Remain Silent When The Bible Is Silent", Revelation 22:18-19; Dueteronomy 4:2; 12:32;1 Corinthians 4:6. The Bible is God's rules about how we should live our lives. God wants us to "search the scriptures daily", as in Acts 17:11.

    3) AVOID THOUGHT SYSTEMS
    Systems of thought cause us to interpret the Scriptures to fit the system of thought. Dispensationalism, Premillennialism, and Calvinism all involve systems of thought. For example, Calvinism will lead us to read the idea of inherited sin into Psalm 51:5. David was simple expressing his deeply felt repentance for sin. Sin is something we do, not something we inherit. It is essential that we open our Bibles to learn what God has revealed. We must allow God to speak to us through His Word.

    4) NOTE THE TESTAMENTS
    Specific instructions for those who follow Christ are found in the New Testament. For example: Christians were instructed to remember Christ's death, burial and resurrection in the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed to observe the Passover (Exodus 12:3-22) which helps us to understand the Lord's Supper's instructions and symbolism. Although we learn many lessons from the Old Testament, we follow the instructions found in the New testament.

    5) CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
    When we study a passage of Scripture we must define the context, which is very important in understanding what God is saying to us in the Bible: "Who is speaking?" "To whom are they speaking?" "When was it spoken?" "Where was it spoken?" "and "What is the purpose?" In other words in relation to the words around it; the sentences, verses, chapters, and books before and after it. The Bible must be taken as a "whole" to be understood properly, otherwise confusion results. Psalms 119:160 (N.A.S.) says, "The sum of Your Word is Truth". God's Word contains no contradictions! Any apparent contradiction is in our understanding and lack of enough study on the matter under consideration. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

    TAKE NOTES: A notebook is a valuable aid to Bible study because we tend to remember what we write down (or at least we can find it). If we forget, a notebook helps us to remember. Write down main thoughts, central characters, word meanings, things alike and unlike, anything that stands out to you.

    6) CONSIDER ALL VERSES RELATED TO THAT TOPIC
    Read every verse on a given subject. Beware of one or two verse answers. The question, "What must I do to be saved?" should not be answered with one or two verse. Romans 10:9 mentions confession and belief; Romans 10:13 mentions calling on the name of the Lord; Romans 10:14 mentions hearing; Romans 6:3-5 mentions baptism; Acts 2:38 mentions repentance and baptism; Romans 6:17 tells of obedience from the heart. There are many more verses that mention the requirements for salvation. ALL ARE NECESSARY.

    Look up all references with parallel thoughts, through the use of a complete concordance of the Bible. These list every word in the particular version of the Bible you may have and their locations in the Bible, as well as giving their Greek or Hebrew meanings. (Strong's Complete Concordances, Nave's Topical Bible, and Trench Synonyms are good but not exclusive choices). Much of this will come from your experience of reading the Bible though many times. Try and get in the habit of reading the Bible through each year to gain an overall understanding of God's Word. All of the Bible is His Word, and is necessary for our understanding of His will. (Psalms 119:160).

    Define word meanings (An Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words is very valuable here), things alike and unlike, and write down main thoughts, and central characters. It is helpful to read a passage in various translations, making careful comparisons.

    Look for approved (by God) Commands, Examples, or Necessary Inferences (can it be taken no other way logically = "necessary" inference).

    Figures of speech should be carefully studied and be understood fully. Word study books give helpful information and a Bible atlas is useful.

    7) DO AND TEACH
    We will want to share the good things we find in the Bible. Our friends may not always accept what we say, but they will believe what we do. Jesus, "... began to do and teach." (Acts 1:1). As we teach others, we understand more fully the truths of the Scriptures. We are thankful God did not leave us without a guide. The Word of God is "... a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105).


Please e-mail me at BibleTruths@hotmail.com to leave comments, suggestions, for more information, or the locations of the church belonging to Jesus Christ near you. Following are some Bible lessons/studies on subjects related to salvation.

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