The Correct Baptism

In the hard line Churches of Christ I was taught repeatedly that if a person did not know that their baptism was for the remission of sins (in order to separate them from their lost state into a saved state) then they were not saved, their baptism was not valid (and they needed to be re-baptized). The real motivation for this baptism ideal was to separate the Churches of Christ from all other groups and to require that everyone who wanted to be a part of the exclusive club had to be baptized in one of our baptistries. But they couldn’t admit that, so they came up with a condition of baptism that excluded everyone but us.

The Churches of Christ do have some biblical stories and passages of scripture to back up their belief that baptism is for the remission of sins. In fact almost all denominations will agree with the Churches of Christ that baptism is for the remission of sins. Most will say that baptism is only a symbol of the remission of sins, not the actual moment in time when the sins were forgiven, which is where they depart from what the Churches of Christ teach, but almost all affirm the symbolic nature of baptism as the washing away of sins. (The Churches of Christ are the only Christian group that affirms the literal nature of baptism, but only the symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper. Most Christian groups say they are both symbolic only, or both sacramental, but the Churches of Christ are the only group that says baptism is literally for the remission of sins, but the Lord’s Supper is only a symbol of the grace we receive in Christ.)

My question in today’s blog is: Who needs to know that your baptism is for the remission of sins? Take the Ethiopian eunuch’s story in Acts 8. He was reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip explained to him that Isaiah was speaking of the Messiah, who was Jesus, and eventually the eunuch wanted to be baptized. So let’s say someone today was reading the book of Matthew, and came across the story of John baptizing people, and Jesus getting baptized, and then Jesus’ disciples baptizing. So the person decided, “Hey! I want to be a follower of this person, Jesus. I want to start my life over. I’m going to get baptized.” So they go out to a river and get baptized (because everyone in the book of Matthew was baptized in the Jordan River). But let’s say this person didn’t really connect that the moment of their salvation was when their sins were being washed away in the baptism in the river. Was their baptism recognized by God as a valid baptism? The hard line Churches of Christ would say, “No. That person must be re-baptized in our baptistry.”

However, that person was baptized in response to reading the gospel story in the book of Matthew. That person was baptized because she wanted to respond to Jesus’ teaching about baptism and repentance.

Who really needs to know that the baptism is for the remission of sins, and who needs to know when the moment of salvation occurs? I say God is the only person that needs to know exactly when and how. God knows what baptism is for, and God can apply the requisite forgiveness according to His wisdom, and regardless of the imperfect understanding of the baptizee.

When I started to question the hard line Churches of Christ I had a meeting with two ministers, close friends and co-workers of mine. I asked them a series of questions: what does someone who is being baptized need to know and understand when they are baptized for their baptism to be valid? Does the person have to understand that we are not part of denominationalism before their baptism in order for their baptism to be valid? One minister said yes, the other said no. What about instrumental music? They both said no. What about pentecostalism? One said yes, the other said no. I continued to ask a series of questions, and they continued to disagree about what a person had to know before baptism in order for their baptism to be valid.

The real issue is whether someone wants to be a follower of Jesus. Do they need to understand the nature of Christ? No. Do they need to understand that Jesus is God? No. Do they need to understand that they cannot participate in any other world religion? No. They only need to understand that Jesus taught good news, that he died and rose from the dead. God knows all the rest.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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114 Responses to The Correct Baptism

  1. Gary Bray says:

    I was a member of what I consider a hard line church of Christ for 20 years. In all fairness, that church never cared what body of water you were baptized in, be it river, water tank or whatever. That said, I had a very telling experience with baptisim once.

    I studied with a very elderly gentelman at a nursing home and he decided he and his wife (she had severe dementia) needed to be baptized. George wanted me to baptize him and his wife which I had never done before. A minister of the church came to ‘witness’ the event. George was in such bad condition that it took a long time to get him into the water. When I did immerse him, the minister said I didn’t get the very top of his head ‘down into’ the water… I had to put the poor gentelman through the process again! After I got George baptized, I made the same mistake with his wife! (missed her hair). Yep, had to baptize her again also. They have since passed away but I know that they and their hair are in heaven…. This example of ‘baptized to be saved’ beggs a lot of technical questions wouldn’t you say? gary

  2. Jenny says:

    Thanks for pointing out the CofC position on baptism versus communion. I don’t know why I never noticed that before. IIRC, many liturgical denominations hold the opposite.

    The funny thing about baptism for the remission of sins: I’m not sure people baptized in many RM churches really understood what that meant, even when it was explained to them in full. I grew up in the Christian Church, and I’m thinking especially of teens who didn’t grow up in the church who responded to invitations.

    • mark smith says:

      Unfortunately, the author of this post is wrong. I am a preacher in the church of Christ and I assure you that full immersion baptism is symbolic but necessary. My congregation does not believe we are actually being baptized in the blood of Christ. If a congregation who calls themselves COC and teaches this, they are wrong, because scripture does not back this up. Also, most denominations do not believe you MUST be baptized to be saved, they believe you are saved by God’s grace only. I was raised Methodist, and they do not believe baptism is a must. My final point is this, you don’t have to know everything to be baptized, only that Christ is your savior, and you repent of your sins, and live your life walking with God, which includes studying scripture. If you walk with God, there is never a need to be re-baptized. Most churches of Christ have pulled away from Florida College because of their false doctrine teachings. Just follow scripture and you can’t go wrong.

      • garycummings says:

        The mainline Church of Christ I was in, taught one had to understand that baptism was for the remission of sins to be saved. I did not understand this the first time I was baptized in the COC at a Non-Sunday School COC. A few months later I heard this preached at a mainline COC, and it hit me, I did not know that fact and got “re”-baptized, as I know knew that fact. Now that I am out of the COC, I no longer teach that baptism is essential for salvation or that it is for the remission of sins. We are baptized because our sins have been remitted through faith alone by grace alone.

      • Rachel says:

        I will say this. I came out of the ICOC under the teaching of having to know that baptism is for the remission of sin or your lost. I am very grateful that I came out and realized that this is a lie. One big encouragement is that one of the teachers within that fellowship does not teach this to those under his leadership. His name is Douglas Jacoby. He has preached on it, done a question and answer on it (online) as well as made a DVD addressing the issue. There are also many within the fellowship who simply do not believe this and have never believed it. Having said that, the problem is that many in leadership seem to still believe this and will not move from it. This is why I chose not to come back. I have met many wonderful SAVED folk who were baptized in obedience to the Word but did not hold the position that baptism was for remission. They believed that it was because of remission and I completely understand why their Bible study led them to this conclusion. One interesting note is that many believed that being baptized was the true time of commitment to the way of obedience and also there is a burying of the old man and the raising to new life. My husband came from that background and we have talked about baptism and he has changed his view completely and accepted that the Bible does teach baptism for the remission of sins. If you heard him talk, you would think he always believed this (lol). This lets me know that people can change their view when presented with Scripture. My brother in law was baptized but does not receive that it’s for remission. We continue to talk and I pray for him and I’m sure he prays for me because he believes it’s false doctrine. That’s fine and God will handle it but in the mean time, he is still my brother in Christ because he lives in obedience as far as I know.

        At the end of the day, I believe a person can be ignorant and even in error and still be saved in this area. I asked one of the leaders when I was considering returning, what makes them different from us? We used to teach that if a person is not a part of our fellowship, they were not in the kingdom (since we were the kingdom), not saved and going to hell. That was a horrendous false doctrine! Yet we have no problem applying God’s grace to our error. We came to see it was a lie, repented and taught the truth. We moved on with no penalty. Nobody took away our salvation, but no one else gets that, even if they obeyed Jesus and was baptized??? Makes no sense whatsoever…

        I tell you it hurt my heart that the leadership I met with would not receive this truth even after I told them and showed them what I had gathered from the leader in their ministry. Some things take a long time to change and when you’re not exposed to your “other” family members, it’s harder still. Keep them in prayer…

        Mark Smith, what fellowship are you a part of? Is this in NYC?

      • Mark says:

        Hi Rachel,
        I really like your point that they get to be forgiven of their false teaching, but nobody outside their group gets forgiven of false teaching.

      • Fabien says:

        Thank you so much. You had the best answer i think i could of read about this topic! Much appreciated, my friend!

  3. Jenny says:

    In response to Gary Bray: I know someone in the Church of Christ who talked about having to re-baptize someone because air trapped in the white baptismal gown prevented it from going under!

  4. John Doe says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this idea and pointing out the real reason for requiring that the subject of a baptism understand that it is for “remission of sins”. You nailed it. I recently saw a Pentecostal man want to join a hardline church of Christ. He stated that his baptism was “for the remission of sins” so he did not want to be re-baptized. The minister accepted this, but several others had their doubts. Ultimately, the elders allowed him to join the church without being re-baptized, which surprised me. But that there were those who did not want to accept him gives strong credence to your assertion that “for the purpose of gaining remission of sins” is just a ploy to reject all baptisms but the ones done by the “one true church”.

    I was taught that when I was evangelizing, if I came across someone who had already been baptized, I had to ask them why they were baptized first, before teaching them anything about baptism. Then, after teaching them about baptism, I could refer to their original answer. This was specifically to put them in a position of having to be re-baptized after learning about the real reason for baptism.

    It’s amazing to me how many people have similar “unimmersed hair” or “unimmersed hand” or “unimmersed robe bubble” stories. If I didn’t have first hand experience with this (In my case I was baptizing and the subject’s hand stayed out of the water. I had to redo the baptism.), I would think this was urban legend. If not for my firsthand experience, I would think something like that happened once, a preacher told it, another preacher heard it, and then it got repeated over and over and the unimmersed object changed with the retelling of the story. It is NOT urban legend. It really happens, often. I know at least 3 other preachers who have had this experience. I have had this experience. That is the epitome of why people are somewhat justified in mocking hardline churches of Christ for their legalism.

  5. brazili says:

    ALSO THERE IS HERE IN BRAZIL IDOLATRY OF BAPTISM BY SOME OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. NOW I HAVE LEARNED THAT ONLY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SAVES. WASTE NOT BAPTISM, BUT THIS HAS TO BE WITH A “.. INQUIRY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE TO GOD THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS ​​CHRIST” I PETER 3:21 ELEVATE THE BAPTISM SOME MUCH, EVEN FORGETTING TO SPEAK OF JESUS ​​AND THE GRACE OF GOD.
    —————–
    —————–
    HELLO TO EVERYONE! I AM IN BRAZIL. EXCUSE THE ERRORS OF ENGLISH. HERE IN BRAZIL suffer / face the SAME ISSUES THAT YOU, ON THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST. BUT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THAT I LIVE IN THE REGIONS THAT THERE IS ONLY HARD LINE CHURCH. SOUTHEAST OF BRAZIL. AFTER THIRTEEN YEARS BEING A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, I THINK I have managed ME NOW FREE OF THIS SYSTEM. HAS BEEN VERY HARD FOR ME, I CONSIDERED THE BRETHREN IN CHRIST UP BLOOD OF MY FAMILY, BUT NOW I ARRIVED AT MY LIMIT. AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF QUESTIONING, WHAT WAS OUT Yesterday I spoke. TO cried a little, BUT IT WAS GOOD FOR THE SOUL CLEAN. WHILE I’M IN WITH A GROUP THAT ALSO LEFT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST A SEVEN YEARS AGO, BUT I JUST DID IT OUT AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF THEM. THERE WE HAVE USED INSTRUMENTS IN WORSHIP AND HAVE SOME OTHER DIFFERENCES. NOW MANY MEMBERS OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN MY REGION SAYS THAT WE ARE IN SIN THAT WILL TO HELL, YOU WILL FALL IN CURSE. THEY DO NOT RELATE TO U.S. amicably. DIVISION I THINK THIS VERY SAD. I THINK TO THE MUSIC ACAPPELA BEAUTIFUL, BUT I would not reject / condemn TO HELL WITH ANYONE WHO ADORE INSTRUMENT. THANKS FOR THE SITE AND BLOG THAT YOU CREATED, HAS BEEN OF GREAT AID FOR BRAZILIAN TOO. CONITNUE GOD BLESSING YOU.

    • Churches of Christ have quit growing in the United States, except for immigrant churches. Churches of Christ outside the United States, especially in Africa and South America are continuing to grow.
      Thank you, Brazili, for your blessings, and I am glad that you have benefitted from the blog. It is a painful experience to say out loud to a group of loved ones what you really believe, when you know they disagree with you and will not accept you. But Jesus would not keep silent in his synagogue, and we must not keep silent in our churches.

      • brazili says:

        I had not seen this response. I guess it was not sent to my email at the time. It had only gone to the wordpress blog but I did not know it appeared.

        Thanks for encouraging me to speak what we believe, even though we will not be accepted by others.visualizad

      • It is very painful to leave the Church of Christ and be judged as lost, without salvation. These are obviously people you love and respect, and if they are questioning your salvation then it gives you pause to think. But then you worshipped with others and found there were very little differences: instrumental music, women praying, pastors. And you realized that these people would not be considered saved by the Church of Christ people you were worshipping with. I’m glad you have found other people to compare your beliefs with.

      • brazili says:

        spoken correctly. Thanks! and it really is very good to find people to compare my beliefs.

        I pray asking God for wisdom in all situations of life:
        family, church, work, and others. It’s not easy. have the time and knowledge.
        a good verse: ecclesiastes 12: 13
        Hugs, thanks, until …

  6. brazili says:

    CORRECTING: I LIVE IN THE REGION THAT ALL THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST ARE HARD LINE. VERY Legalism.

  7. jane doe says:

    thank you for your blog. this very thing happened to me recently. i was with a CoC member (I am evangelical) and the pastor’s sermon was about why only the church of christ goes to heaven because they are the only ones who believe in baptism for the remission of sins. when i approached the pastor afterward and brought up my disagreements with his sermon, he asked me if had been baptized. i said yes and told him i regarded it as a symbol of my repentance. the pastor then told me my salvation was not assured because if i had not been baptized for the remission of sins, my baptism was not valid. he also implied he could not fellowship with me, as he viewed me as an unbeliever who did not know god. i was appalled and hurt. i will never go back to church of christ. also, i never hear anything about grace, love, or helping the poor in that church.

    • Gary Cummings says:

      Grace, love and social justice are sparse topics in the COC. They prefer a 5 step plan of salvation and 5 acts of worship. When you get those ten right, you can live as you please and care less about the poor or the suffering or those at the margins of society.

  8. Eric says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that all denominations are ungodly, doctrines of the devil, and not what God wants for His ppl today. As in Hosea 2, the whore of Babylon is Catholicism (largest, most powerful, respected religion in the world), and her children (as mentioned) are Baptist, C of C, Evangelism, Prebysterian, Methodist etc b/c they all orginiated from her in protest, hence protestantism!!!! …. I’m still doing research & hving the holy spirit guide me to an def answer but I think I’m starting to see the early “church” as we see in the Bible was to do away with once the Bible was completed and made available to the masses. We, the believers, are the church now & the holy spirit & the completed Word is our guide & support system (along with fellow believers). Not a heirarchy of “spiritual leaders” nor a religious system/attending a building (the children of the whore of babylon). ALL RELIGIONS ARE A RESULT OF SATAN, THE FATHER OF DECEIPT & CONFUSION. COME OUT FROM HER (RELIGION) AS IN REV 18:4) …. God been showing me this for yrs & it’s tking time for me to accept it b/c i grew up a devout baptist in Louisiana & taught differently (lie)

    • Hi Eric, I know that it is discouraging to look at all of the denominations and their divisions and disagreements. Each group has discovered a little bit of truth and wants to share it. It was amazing that people kept objecting to the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. It took tremendous courage for them to stand up and object in the face of the Inquisition that had the power to burn them at the stake. The first protestants were sometimes as bad as the Inquisition; in Geneva, Switzerland, the followers of Calvin kicked people out of the town, burned people and chopped their heads off for disagreeing. But today more and more people are seeing that we need to respect and welcome everyone who is trying to obey Jesus.

      • EJ says:

        HI Mr. Blogger,

        Yeah each have a little bit of truth but even more bunch of lies, deception & spiritual ignorance is my point and the biblical truth. So what they sharing is empty, harmful and is misleading many …. that’s all denominations that profess to be or affiliated with Christian which makes up most in the world.

    • Vera Hull says:

      Hi Eric,

      Your post really caught my attention.

      Could you clarify what you meant by your idea when you wrote: I’m starting to see the early “church” as we see in the Bible was to do away with… (BTW, Did you mean to add the word church here? Or another word maybe??)… once the Bible was completed and made available to the masses. We, the believers, are the church now, and the Holy Spirit and the completed Word (Jesus – my emphasis) is our guide and support system (along with fellow believers). Not a hierarchy of “spiritual leaders” nor a religious system/ attending a building (the children of the whore of Babylon).
      I ask, because I would like to clarify if you meant a ‘church group’ meeting together was unnecessary, or did you mean necessary?
      The first century disciples did meet together in their houses (which are buildings, though I don’t think you meant that, you probably meant church[y] buildings.)
      I’m sure first century disciples would’ve met in house groups.

      Regardless of that, there was something about that part of your post really resonated with me. I think you are right. Jesus alone IS the chief cornerstone, the head of the church, and we, the believers, are the body; His body – The Church.

      In 1 Corinthians 3:10-23 (It’s quite long, so I’ll let you read it for yourself as there is a word count on here). But it speaks about building (yourself) with care, and laying your foundation (in Christ) as a wise builder. (Brackets my thoughts).

      The words stones/rocks, are mentioned again in Matthew 16:15-16, ” But what about you?” he asked “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, ” You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
      Matt 16: 17-20, ” Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”
      The fact that Jesus referred to Peter as a ‘rock’, is so significant. Because, the chief cornerstone of a building, is the most important foundation stone that builders use to guide where to place all the others. Jesus is the stone we imitate, the one we listen to, imitate and follow. As He is the chief cornerstone.
      That tells me also, there is ‘ONE CHURCH’ – and you’re right, It isn’t a building. It is a body consisting of ‘only’ the ‘true’ followers of Christ Jesus, who become part of that ‘ONE BODY’. As the Bible shows us – clearly.

      Church most definitely does not need hierarchies or some ‘minister/pastor/evangelist, etc.,’ deciding what they want to preach and teach us. Standing up there telling the congregation what to believe, what to do, what not to do.
      It is us, as individual (stones/rocks) who form as a collective ‘body’. Making sure we ‘ourselves’ are reading the inspired Word of God, with Jesus Christ Himself the Head of it all. Jesus Christ, who was prophecised about in the Old Testament, and revealed fully in the New Testament. The Living ‘Word’ in the flesh. (John 1:14, The Word became flesh….) That is what the Bible teaches us.
      God, our Father, spoke to Jesus, who speaks to us, through the Holy Spirit and the Word, and HE tells us what to believe, what to do, and what not to do.

      It is our responsibility to put God and Jesus first. Not expecting to be spoon-fed.

      Ephesians 6:18-19 (emphasis mine), We should always be: ‘praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for ALL the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given to me so that I fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.’
      This scripture is spot on for all of us who are God’s elect. For that Is who we are, His chosen, elect, called out, sons and daughters of the living God, co-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, THAT IS WHO GOD SAYS WE ARE!!!

      But, we must remember, it is not for us to judge each other. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, it says: What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? God will judge those outside. ” Expel the wicked person from among you.”

      We ought to focus on praying for the lost. Praying for God to inspire us through His Spirit to understand scripture.
      Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus says: ” Do NOT judge, or YOU TOO WILL BE JUDGED. For in the SAME WAY you judge others, YOU WILL be judged, and with the measure YOU use, it will be measured to YOU. ” (Emphasis mine).
      This is Christ Jesus himself speaking on behalf of God. So, we must listen and obey. It’s a challenge, I know. We are sinful by nature. But, relying on God through Jesus we can renew our minds/thoughts and make better choices.

      You’re a great guy and I hope you continue to be inspired.
      In Christ
      Vera

  9. Eric says:

    Sorry not Hosea 2, the Whore of Babylon & the Mother of the Harlots is still Roman Catholicism (most influential & power religion in the world that professes a false Christ), however the scripture that best spks to that is Rev. 2:20-23. Again, her children are all those who came from her which is every major denomination (baptist, c of c, evangelism, southern baptist, pentacostal, etc) out there, they “left” Catholicism but really they are still very much are part of her in perveting the gospel, misleading ppl, abusing their finances, & having a form of godliness & the denying the true power thereof, etc …. Ppl wake up!!

  10. Eric says:

    Non-Denom is also protestant, hence their mother is Catholicism

  11. SWTBS says:

    I am sort of bent towards your position here buuttt I always hit a wall when I read Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16. Both of these Scripture seem to support a head knowledge/understanding that the purpose for baptism is remission of sins/washing sins away. With your view in mind, how do you explain these 2 passages?

    • Hi SWTBS, Yes, in those two passages the speaker tells the listeners that they are being baptized to wash away their sins. However baptism for a Jewish person in the time of John the Baptist meant something slightly different from baptism to a Gentile. The Jewish people had long heard the stories of the Israelites washing themselves before the Ten Commandments were delivered, and washing themselves before entering the land of Canaan. The Gentiles did not have this background knowledge. But to answer your objection: Yes, those listeners heard the speaker say, “for the forgiveness of sins”. No, not every obeyer has to understand that. It would be ideal if everyone understood the love of God, the nature of the deity and humanity of Christ, the significance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the righteousness that Christ imputes to the believer, the nature of the universal body of believers, the full extent of their sins, the full cost of repentance, the full extent of the forgiveness they are receiving, the security of their salvation, the receiving of the Holy Spirit, and the dangers of legalism and pride, before they are baptized, but it certainly is not necessary. In listing these items I am deliberately showing how we have focussed on one relatively insignificant detail of conversion to the exclusion of much more important details. If you can see the law written on their hearts, then you can be assured that they are walking with God.

      • SWTBS says:

        I agree – there are many things a sinner lacks prior to being baptized. Your point is well taken: there is in the Church of Christ a focus on certain details with the exclusion of much more important details. The Church of Christ [hard line types] insist one understand the purpose of Baptism before God will act in Baptism. In short, the hard line Church of Christ teaches that Gods love for the sinner hinges upon the sinner understanding of the purpose of Baptism. However, Col. 2:11-12 seems to suggest this is a work of God [without hands] thus something God does IN BAPTISM apart from the work of the one being baptized. In other words, to me, it seems God works in baptism even if one fails to grasp every detail about baptism. Thanks for your reply.

  12. SWTBS says:

    Acts 2:38-41: “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
    With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

    I was thinking further on this subject this morning and realized something Peter said in Acts 2 that suggest his message and way of salvation was not for the Jews ONLY but for everyone. If this be true, does not this suggest that Acts 2:38 is broader than a Jewish scope? After Peter commands repentance and baptism he states that the promise is for “you and your children” and “FOR ALL THOSE FAR OFF” – “FOR ALL WHOM THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL.” Doesn’t those “far off and all whom the Lord will call”, include the Gentiles? If so, it would seem that Jew and Gentile are under the same plan of salvation which would include repentance and baptism unto [eis] remission of sins.

    • brazili says:

      The power of forgiveness and deliverance from sin is in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

      Only the eternal blood of Jesus is able to forgive the past and future sins of men throughout all ages.

      Baptism is a command of Jesus, but only faith allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Galatians 3:2, 14.

      In preaching the gospel baptism should be taught and explained, but salvation is by faith.

      Faith and baptism should be taught to everyone who wants to be a disciple of Christ.

      Baptism is an important step in the life of the Christian.

      “Repent and be abtizados in Jesus’ Name”

      My viewpoint is that we should not emphasize / say that baptism is for the remission of sins, [we should emphasize] the name of Jesus and He who has all power and grace,

      because in emphasizing baptism we may experience a loss of / focus / emphasis on the importance of faith in the blood of Jesus, in the power, his love and Lordship of Christ.

    • I agree with you, except that the promises in Acts 2 are: forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those promises, Peter says, are for the Jews and for all who are far off.

      • SWTBS says:

        Yes, that does seem to make sense – the “promises” are what Peter declared for the Jews and those far off. I guess one could argue/infer that the same response be made in order to obtain the promises. Furthermore, Peters sermon in Acts 3:19 is totally silent in regards to baptism for remission of sins. Acts 10 also seems to have baptism following the conversion experience of Cornelius and his household. I also find it interesting when Paul rebaptized the Ephesians that he didn’t rebaptize them ‘for remission of sins’ … rather he ask if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed.

      • That’s very interesting about the Ephesians’ rebaptism. I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, I do believe baptism is still relevant for present day believers. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same meaning as when John the Baptizer was baptizing in the Jordan River, or the apostles were baptizing on the day of Pentecost.

      • SWTBS says:

        I always found it puzzling that some Churches of Christ appeal to Acts 19 as a proof text for rebaptism when Paul says nothing at all about doing so FOR REMISSION OF SINS.

      • Yes! They were baptized to receive the Holy Spirit, the same as in Acts 2:38: to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” You have given me an idea. We should knock on the church doors of some cofCs and ask: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” If they say no, then we should re-baptize them!

      • SWTBS says:

        Yea, that would open up a whole new can of worms lol. As you know, there is debate over the indwelling of the Holy Spirit among the church of Christ. Some say the indwelling is personal, literal. Some say the Holy Spirit only indwells by the revealed written Word. Then there are differences of opinion as to what Peter even meant in Acts 2:38 – some who say this [gift of the Holy Spirit] ONLY was for the apostles. Acts 19 is often twisted to rebaptize those who failed to understand baptism is EIS-for remission of sins when the verse says something entirely different.

  13. brazili says:

    I’m not able to understand this view.
    Promises to whom? and “Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same meaning as ….or the apostles were baptizing on the day of Pentecost.” ??
    I had not heard about this type of study

    And the promise?
    The Holy Spirit is a promise to all who believe.

    Titus 3:5

    To receive the Holy Spirit we must first receive justification before God, by recognizing our sins and believing in the Savior.

    There is a question / discussion about the exact moment we receive the Holy Spirit.
    There are some different opinions on this issue.

    What do you think about what is the exact moment we receive the Holy Spirit?

    thanks for the article, the responses of all participants, and for this group of studies of God’s Word.

    • We were referring to Acts 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” The words “far off” refer to the Gentiles (non-Jews). The promise is in Acts 2:38 forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      Baptism to the Jews meant washing their clothes in preparation for the giving of the Ten Commandments: Exodus 19:10. Washing (consecrating) themselves in the Jordan before entering the land of Canaan (Joshua 3:5). John the Baptist accused the chosen people (Jews) of needing to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord by being washed in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:6). So baptism, especially in the Jordan River, had a rich traditional significance for the Jews that it does not have for us today.

      • brazili says:

        I have a great interest in this topic, I would like to understand it better, and see all points of view, thanks.

        Do you believe a disciple of Jesus must be immersed in water through faith he has in Jesus?

        Do you believe that the disciple should be immersed in water with faith in the mighty name of Jesus?

        Do you believe that immersion in water today is because of their faith in the death and resurrection of the Savior?

        In I Peter 3:21 do you think that people should be immersed in water, but the reason is faith in the gospel?

        I have learned a lot from the questions from all of you!
        Lately I have felt liberated from many inconsistent teachings.

      • Yes, I believe a disciple of Jesus should be immersed in water today, expressing faith in Jesus, and in his death and resurrection. However, I have questions about baptism, and I don’t think that God is more interested in baptism than in the intent of the heart of the believer. Because someone is not baptized “correctly” does not mean that person is not walking with God.

      • brazili says:

        I’ve seen this way too!
        I have learned a lot from these topics: Using Church Tradition, The Correct Baptism.

        Explanations very interesting and important

        Thanks, hugs!

  14. A simple Christian says:

    As long as I have been a member of the church of Christ I have always heard it said or told to someone that if they examine the manner in which they were baptized and think it was done properly then that baptism is sufficient, otherwise they were welcome to be baptized. I’m sorry if you were taught incorrectly but you should have challenged them personally and tried to have them agree better with the bible. The idea that we are requiring baptism to be a part of an exclusive club is false and demonstrates some ignorance about the church of Christ and our desire to simply present the bible without the influence of sinful man. The reason we teach the importance of baptism is to teach everyone what God expects us to do to expect salvation as we understand it. Your premise about someone reading the bible and being improperly baptized ignores the requirement for any teaching prior to belief Rom 10:14-17. Your improper judgements and conclusions makes me question how sincerely you ever tried to understand the teachings of the church of Christ or the bible without allowing your own personal feelings to influence your opinions. All I ask is that you at least try to understand our perspective before you present false ideas about our beliefs. That creates a convenient straw man that is easily defeated and made to look foolish which is not an honest approach.

    • Hi Bruce,
      Your comment assumes several things:
      1. That you know what is correct, and everyone who disagrees with you does not know what is correct.
      2. That you understand the Bible correctly, and anyone who disagrees with you does not understand the Bible correctly.
      3. That your experience in the “church of Christ” is the correct experience, and any other experience of the “church of Christ” is incorrect.
      4. That the “church of Christ” as you experienced it, was free from the influence of “sinful man”, and all other religious groups, including many “churches of Christ”, were not free from the influence of “sinful man”.
      5. That you have made sure that your personal feelings have not influenced you in assessing the rightness of the “church of Christ” in which you grew up. And that those who had other experiences from you, and came to other conclusions other than yours have let their personal feelings interfere with their ability to assess the truth and tell what the “churches of Christ” accurately believe and practice.
      6. That the historical instructions in the book of Acts to early believers about baptism are still applicable to believers in God today.
      7. That the Bible is a rule book, and by following its rules we find out how to please God.
      8. That the Bible is the sole source of truth for pleasing God today.
      I disagree with all of those assumptions.

    • Rachel says:

      Well I was a member for about 13 years and while I don’t believe there is any ill intent when B4R (baptism for remission) is taught, the truth is that, even to this day, most still believe that if a soul did not know it was for remission, they are not saved. I know this is a fact because I have met and talked about it this month. One thing I will say is that not everyone within the fellowship believes this nor do some of those in leadership. That, too, is a fact. There are those with godly relatives and they would never say they are unsaved. The illusion that everyone thinks the same on this is just that, an illusion. The problem is that, and this is my opinion, the COC needs to fellowship with others. God is marvelous in how He can remove those blinders very quickly. That’s what happened to me. I met folks who loved the Lord and did all I was doing and more. I stood before them and often asked the Lord, “Am I alright?” The passion and commitment others have for God is amazing but a member of the COC who holds to that baptism position and also views other fellowships through the lens of the denominations study will NEVER experience this. They will never get to know the rest of their family and that is not God’s desire. My prayer is that more will be freed in their hearts and minds so they can “see” the 5,000 of God who have not bowed but for now, there is silence and the system of thinking is preserved. Much courage is needed as well as a willingness to lose all that one has gained. It is extremely difficult tearing away from what you’ve considered to be you’re family but we must stand for truth no matter what the cost because we, too, must answer to God for our actions.

  15. A simple Christian says:

    I think its unfortunate that you think my attempts to relay God’s will to the best of my ability are simply assumptions. You make it sound like undeniable truth is not possible to achieve which must make everything you believe assumptions. I assume nothing but simply relay the perfect message of God found in His Holy word to the best of my ability. If it were up to me I’d probably do things like the rest of the world not the way the bible states to do things. But it’s not about me, it’s simply about serving God, otherwise I might appear to be my own god denying the true God. I hope you understand that churches of Christ simply refers to those believers who have done what God commands to do to expect salvation and that remain faithful. It’s not about a group of people with that name on a building although many of them do assemble at those places. I didn’t grow up in the church of Christ but found out once I studied the bible my feelings that I thought were Spiritual guidance were actually causing me to deny God. The bible is very simple to read and understand and therefore to have faith in, which is required to be pleasing to God(Heb 11:6). that same faith can only be found from hearing His word (Rom 10:17). If I were to say I couldn’t understand it or that it has error, I would be calling God a liar which is impossible. I do not try to rely on the faulty wisdom of man and my own imperfect feelings which God makes clear are never a reliable guide to His truth but the path to error and sin. Following God’s written word or Word(John 1) is the only objective way we can find the truth that can make us free. I simply assume God has the power to ensure His word is perfect and complete and able to save me based on following His will that He provided with His immeasurable grace and power. If you take a little time to look at the lack of contradiction in the bible and much of the scientific foreknowledge of modern man found in the bible written thousands of years ago I don’t find much left for assumption. This is the same word that was put into effect with the shedding of Jesus’ blood and His death as His last will and testament (Heb 9:16-17). I’m not comfortable thinking for God as many attempt to do and simply have faith enough in Him to trust Him and His wisdom. Why not trust that when the bible says baptism is for the remission of sins then that is what it does? It was necessary for the receipt of the Holy Spirit and addition to God’s church in the first century. …[edited at 500 words]

    • You talk as if you understand God perfectly, and you can prove it. Yours is a distinctly Church of Christ attitude that is not supported by Jesus or his church. We all try to understand God. We grow in the knowledge, understanding and grace of God. When we say we have arrived and understand perfectly, we stop growing and become arrogant and intolerant.
      To illustrate: there are three umpires with three different attitudes at a baseball game:
      1. “It’s nothing until I call it.”
      2. “I call it the way it is.”
      3. “I call it the way I see it.”
      I subscribe to number three. You subscribe to number two. Therefore we will never agree.

    • 1. No writer of the Bible claims that the entire Bible has no errors or mistakes.
      2. No writer of the Bible claims that the commands given to the first century believers in Jesus are applicable for all time.
      3. No writer in the Bible equates or elevates the written word with Jesus, the Word.

      These arguments are used by the so-called church of Christ (and fundamentalists in general) so we won’t have to examine our actions and attitudes in our daily lives. The founders of the “church of Christ” attitudes championed baptism, non-denominationalism and acapella music. They ignored the weightier matters of justice and peace in The Trail of Tears (1820) and slavery(1860), which were left to other denominations to decry. The majority of the members of the Churches of Christ fought for slavery in the south(1860-65). The Churches of Christ were among the last religious groups in the United States to speak out against lynchings (1890-1920), to admit African-Americans to their colleges (1961-1972), and to pay the women teachers/professors the same as the men.

      Currently the Churches of Christ are virtually silent about the sins of America (drones, torture, manipulating smaller governments), only focusing on sins of personal piety (abortion, pornography, fornication). When we see the Churches of Christ consistently ignoring the weightier matters of justice and peace, shouldn’t that give us pause for thought, that perhaps the entire Church of Christ system of establishing God’s truth is suspect?

  16. brazili says:

    in the book of Acts there was a group who received the Holy Spirit before receiving the baptism in the waters (Acts 10.11, 15 Gentiles). a group that had received the baptism baptized after solids and after the imposition of hands of the apostles Peter and John (Acts 8 Samaritans). There was also a group that received the Holy Spirit after baptism in the Name of Jesus and after the imposition of the hands of Paul (Acts 19 disciples of John).
    and there were several other people / converts in which it says nothing about the time they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 18 Apollo , and Lidia Family, jailer and family, 3000 converted by the preaching of Peter)

    Acts 2 speaks of repentance, faith and baptism.
    I believe that those who had these three factors can believe they received the Holy Spirit,

    I think there should be no difficulty for people to be baptized in water,

    but we can not forget it is the preaching of the gospel that brings faith in who Jesus is and the love of God who gave His precious blood for us and rose again.

    Preaching should not be baptism.

    I also believe that we can not understand God perfectly,
    He can do / act in ways that we can not understand everything perfectly.
    the “Church of Christ” feel / think they are completely right, for example they think that all who use musical instruments in worship are sinning and therefore it is the only right church.

    I believe a lot of courage to judge people in this way,

    I believe we should leave the judgment to God,

    God grant me wisdom a little more each day!

    Hugs

  17. A simple Christian says:

    Reply to ex church of Christ:
    I’m only promoting what God has said in His word. I don’t understand everything perfectly but I know the essentials of salvation that God commands I do and simply choose not to deny Him His will. I am His subject, I don’t subject Him to my will. My God is on the pedestal in my relationship with Him, not the other way around as most of the religious world wants this relationship. In your example of the umpire, God is my umpire not me and I call it as He states it without making His perfect word less with my personal interpretation. You say you “call it the way you see it” and that is exactly the way you sound. Pardon me if this is not correct but if that is accurate who made you God? How does anyone have the ability to tell God what you are going to accept or not accept. In that case you are right, we will never agree.
    In response to your second post you again show just how little you truly know about the church of Christ and frankly the bible. I’m not sure what bible you are reading or if you ever do read it, but I can provide you with many many scriptures that say exactly what your first 3 statements state. The bible is perfect and complete (James 1:25), it was written for and applies to everyone foreve (Acts 2:39-42), and Jesus is referred to as the Word incarnate and sent the word through the Holy Spirit so that there would be no errors and nothing important would be left out (John 14:26). Jesus says Himself, “If you love me you will keep my commands.” Are you promoting a lack of love for Jesus?
    As far as whether the church of Christ was involved in all those governmental issues this demonstrates your complete ignorance of our organizational method. We are all individual groups wherever we assemble and we have no earthly headquarters to make such stands as you think we should have made through history. That is the same model you find for church organization in the bible. We are involved with some things in the government indivually but the church really has little to do with trying to influence government. It is to plant the seed of the bible to produce Christians as they have always been since they are from the same seed. Where do you find that sort of obligation for governmental influence in the bible for the church? As usual the things you promote and stand for are not based in the bible or in God’s will for His people but only in your own personal thoughts and obligations which are the perfect example of legalism, making up rules as you wish and applying them as you see fit. You make your stand with the Pharisees that Jesus railed against in the bible repeatedly. Is that really how you want to stand?

    • Hi Bruce,
      Jesus said, “You tithe mint, dill and cumin, but you neglect the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith” (Matt 23).
      1. Have you heard any sermons in the “churches of Christ” you are familiar with speak about the members of their congregations overseas torturing Iraqis in prison? I am confident members of your congregation are serving in the military. Are any of the elders or teachers asking them not to torture Iraqis? Are any of the elders asking them not to go from house to house with guns, waking up the Iraqis and searching their homes?
      2. Historically, those who have championed the cause of believers’ baptism for the remission of sins and acapella singing are also those who have encouraged the trampling of civil rights of those less fortunate than ourselves: women, children, native Americans, blacks, hispanics and Arabs. (Name one predominantly white congregation you have attended that has a black elder.) So those white preachers who currently vote for selfish leaders, whom you describe as simply teaching the perfect word of God, who claim to understand the essentials of salvation, have been among the last to show mercy to the unfortunate of our society. If Jesus had walked on the face of the earth not showing mercy to the unfortunate, I wouldn’t follow him. Why should I follow the teachers of the “truth”, when they are not interested in the weightier matters that Jesus was interested in? You show the same attitude as everyone I knew in the hard line Churches of Christ: self-congratulatory, and uninterested in the downtrodden (who are not members of our congregation). Nothing like Jesus.

    • Mark says:

      The bible is perfect and complete (James 1:25), it was written for and applies to everyone foreve (Acts 2:39-42), and Jesus is referred to as the Word incarnate and sent the word through the Holy Spirit so that there would be no errors and nothing important would be left out (John 14:26).

      James 1:25 does not mention “the Bible”, first of all because “the Bible” did not exist then, and secondly because it was not referring to anything written down. The “perfect law that gives freedom” in James 1 is the same as the “the law that gives freedom” in James 2:12. James is contrasting this law with the law that condemns (the ten commandments), and he says that if we act as if we will be judged by a law of mercy, then we will be just as kind to poor people as we are to rich people. So what law is this law of liberty/freedom/mercy? It would have to be the principle of God’s forgiveness of our wrongs.
      (See a Post on The Rude Gudy who Beeped at me in Traffic for the rest of my reply. Also see this post about the law of liberty.)

    • Rachel says:

      Your reply illustrates the exact arrogance the writer is talking about. One thing I have learned is that everyone who loves God does their best to be a student of His Word and divide it rightly. They should be given that benefit of the doubt from the start. That is what you would want. The problem is when we start to think that those guys think differently so they must be wrong without giving any thought to the fact that you could be wrong. It is not nice to think others don’t pour out over their Bible study just because you don’t agree. Read up on Church history. Most godly men disagreed but they used that as an opportunity to strive towards greater understanding of God and His Word. They did not use disagreement as a tool to invalidate one another’s salvation. Mind you, I am not talking heresy here. You come from a place of the Bible being “so clear” that you can’t understand why folk just “don’t see it.” They think the same of you after having studied the Word themselves. You said above, “I don’t know what Bible you’re reading.” I used to say things like that until folks thought that of me. It’s very disrespectful and insulting. God, and I praise Him for this, sent me on a trip where I was treated the same way you are treating this writer. When the shoe is on the other foot, you will be able to see clearly what he is saying and why. I would encourage you to pray and read over the specific post “exchurchofchrist says: May 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm”. This is not a bust on you. I have loved the COC all my life and still do but that doesn’t mean that they have nailed the truth on all counts. You must remember that this particular fellowship has a genesis along with a Founder and he had ideas of his own. I’m not saying they are bad and I actually admire the man. I got saved as a result of this movement being born. However, he is fallible as are all men. While he hit the nail on the head in some areas, not all hit the bullseye. That’s not a bad thing but it should keep us in check. We are not different from other denominations when you make the comparison. The COC really suffer from a works-based theology in many ways. Even believing a person must know (this requires that they fully understand so the person can have no developmental delays or any type of mental challenge, just to name two) B4R makes the promises of God dependent on the intellectual ability of the recipient. Does that seem right to you? You guys make it too hard to get saved and Jesus is not that way. You must learn to trust God more in this area. I would also encourage you to build friendships outside the fellowship. Be specific and ask God to bring godly men and women in your life from other denominations and just observe. Put your teaching on the burner for a moment, humble out and really look and compare with spiritual eyes. You would be surprised how many people love God and are actually saved and didn’t learn half of what you did.

  18. A simple Christian says:

    Reply to Brazil

    You make some good points about baptism that are often confused. If you will recall Peter preached about the prophesy of Joel in Acts 2 that the Holy Spirit would come on all flesh. There were two groups making up all flesh that were commonly referred to as Jews and Greeks. This prophecy was only partially fulfilled in Acts 2 when the Spirit came on the Jews. In Acts 10 Cornelius and the group with him also have the Spirit come on them as He did in Acts 2 then coming on all flesh, Jew and Non-Jew. One point I like to make here is the description of that Spirit coming on man as described in Acts 2. A rushing wind was heard and there appeared tongues of fire on all of them and they immediately had the ability to speak foreign languages they never studied (tongues). Another important thing to note is that some of the Jews with Peter in Acts 10 wanted to withhold water baptism from the Gentiles at Cornelius’ home. Why? Because they didn’t want them to be in Gods kingdom with them since they didn’t think they were worthy. It took a lot of convincing for Peter to go along with Gods will, so he makes the statement “can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” If you will recall from Acts 2:47 after the people repented and were baptized it states God added those that should be saved to the church. Even if we do all has said there is still no guarantee we added to the church unless Jesus thinks they should be. We as humans cannot determine who will be in the church since its impossible for man to truly know what is in a persons heart, only our Lord can do that. These are the only 2 cases in the bible of Holy Spirit baptism, in Acts 2, on Jews, and Acts 10, on Gentiles. No one that claims to receive this Holy Spirit baptism today describes it with the sounds of a mighty rushing wind or the appearance of flames of fire as they were obvious to all in the first century.
    The only other times people relieve the Holy Spirit with power from then on in the bible was with the laying on of the Apostles hands. You must understand that Apostles are those few who witnessed Jesus on earth and were faithful to His will except for the case of Paul who Jesus made an Apostle out of due time and revealed that to him differently than the others. Once the Apostles had all died no one could have this power passed on to them. This describes all the people that had the power of the Holy Spirit which is different from being able to have the Holy Spirit exist in the temple of our body.
    All people that are faithful in going through …[edited at 500 words]

    • brazili says:

      I find these things a bit difficult to understand. I know the gospel and commandments of Jesus must be simple to understand.
      John the Baptist said … He who comes after me … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit … “John 3:11
      So to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is drinking the Holy Spirit is to receive the Holy Spirit within Man. I Corinthians 12: 13.
      Why did the Gentiles, Samaritans, the disciples of John receive the Holy Spirit differently ?
      Gentiles before water baptism. Samaritans after water baptism, with laying on of hands. John’s disciples after water baptism, with laying on of hands.
      Why did Apollo (Acts 18), the Ethiopian eunuch, the Family of Lidia, the Corinthians, and the jailer’s family not receive the Holy Spirit with power (signs) ?

      • Mark says:

        Hi Brazili,
        There are many theories as to why believers received the Holy Spirit in different ways in the book of Acts. Why didn’t they all receive the Holy Spirit in the same way? Some people believe that the Holy Spirit was poured out in an extreme way on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), but afterward was never poured out to the same extent. Cornelius and the first Gentiles received the Holy Spirit (“like at the beginning”) before they were baptized, and Peter said, “Who can deny these baptism?” So perhaps the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the first Gentiles was the Holy Spirit showing Peter and the Jewish Christians that they needed to include the Gentile believers, and baptize them. But I like to think that the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles before baptism just to help, not only the Jewish believers, but also us fundamentalists, loosen up on our rigid categories of thought around baptism. Just because Peter promised that if we would be baptized we would receive the Holy Spirit, does not mean that is the only way God can pronounce someone saved. Paul says almost as much in Romans 2 when he says,

        “Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

        We could just as easily say the same thing today about baptism, using both this passage and the passage about Cornelius as proofs.

  19. A simple Christian says:

    Reply to exchurchofChrist
    1. Each time you post something else you demonstrate again and again your lack of knowledge about the church of Christ and many other things and sound more and more hypocritical with your willingness to judge others unworthy while you are doing those exact things you are trying to condemn. You should read all of Matt 23 about the great hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes. There is nothing more important than cleansing our insides and doing what God expects of us to do by engrafting His written word in our hearts for guidance.
    I have served in the US military for 24 years and recently retired. I served in Iraq and in Afghanistan and haven’t ever heard of any of our members torturing Iraqis or Afghanis. If I had I would assure you that I would have personally condemned such actions and reported them to the authorities for them to be punished. While I served in these places my job was a nurse and then as a nurse anesthetist. I treated everyone the same as my American patients, even if they acted hostile toward me. If anything I probably treated them better so there was no possible way they could think they were being mistreated. I also lead services as a preacher in these foreign lands and never heard of anything like what you described happening in my own experiences as you have described them.
    2. There is nothing historically accurate that I have ever seen or heard of about Christians trampling anyone’s rights. Since we follow the bible to the letter we were most likely among the first to promote rights of those that were suppressed, just the opposite of what you propose. It is the New Testament of the bible that was the first place we learn that women should be treated equally, slaves should be treated well and there is no difference in races in Gods eyes. If anyone of the church of Christ denied these facts they probably weren’t true Christians since they are denying Gods truth by their actions which demonstrates a lack of faith. My congregation is predominantly white and we have an elder that is black. Here again you demonstrate a lack of knowledge though because Eldership requirements aren’t based on race but the requirements listed in the scriptures. They aren’t voted on by preachers either, but the entire congregation. You may be interested in the fact that all of the congregations I have attended work in homeless shelters, have a food pantry with food and clothes available for anyone in need, work at food banks, take care of orphans and widows in need, send gift packages to Central America and attempt to help anyone whenever we find the need. We also promoted acapella singing and baptism for the remission of sins just as Jesus did. I’m not sure where you are getting your information but you are way off with the statements you’re making.

    • Hi Bruce,

      This blog is addressed only to the hard line Churches of Christ, which are about 10% to 20% of those who identify themselves as Churches of Christ. If you are unfamiliar with them, then ask your preacher if such exist. I’m glad you have a black elder, and I’m glad your congregation sends aid to poor countries. These changes came about because of criticisms in years past that journals and blogs like these have raised through the years. These criticisms are seldom raised from within the organization. They usually have to be raised from without.

      The Christian Church and Disciples of Christ split from the acapella Churches of Christ in the mid-1800s over instrumental music, missionary societies and slavery, just as the American Baptist Church split from the Southern Baptist Church at the same time over slavery.

      The reports that we heard are that all the soldiers who served at Abu Ghraib were required to participate in (or ignore) the abuse of prisoners. I have never heard a sermon or lesson or a written article in a journal in the hard line Churches of Christ that addresses how to treat foreign captives. Our nation has four CIA bases overseas where terrorist suspects are tortured. I have never heard a hard line Church of Christ minister condemn the torture of foreign prisoners in a sermon, Bible class or journal article. I have never heard a fundamentalist minister of any stripe encourage soldiers to question any commands they receive in the armed forces, to question the dropping of napalm, or to object to the going from house to house and waking up the families to interrogate them.

      President (General) Eisenhower warned that our nation was becoming a military industrial complex (similar to the Roman Empire). He warned that more and more of our industry and gross domestic product was produced to fuel a strong military. I have never heard a Christian fundamentalist minister of any stripe warn against the abuses that are so tempting when an empire builds up an unopposable military. I have only heard these ministers encourage soldiers to join the military and obey orders.

      Why did our nation go to war in Iraq, but not in Uganda or Syria? Most analyzers say it is because Iraq had oil that the United States’ economy depends on to survive. It is easy to see why Iraqis quickly became opposed to the American occupation. But the U.S. response was just more power, not more empathy–not looking into their eyes and understanding where they are coming from.

      American soldiers are trained to not empathize with the enemy. When in battle they are trained to “silho” the “target” and not look into his eyes.

      Jesus said the weightier matters were: Justice, mercy and faith.

  20. A simple Christian says:

    Reply to exchurchofchrist:
    The problem you have seems not to be only with the “hard line” church of Christ but also with US Government. These are only problems because you are not using an understanding of Gods truth found in the bible but your personal feelings about the matters you describe.
    First of all I must say these hard liners are still a part of the Christian family of God and even though I may not agree with everything they do I don’t think any of my differences with them are soul losing issues and are the responsibility of their own Eldership and how they see fit to direct their own activities. Furthermore if a Christian has a problem with someone they are to go to them personally and discuss the problem to find a resolution not to speak of it publicly. I have had private conversations with these Christians to try and find resolutions to our differences and even though I think I made good points I still wouldn’t feel the need to discuss this openly for non-Christians to hear or consider since there is little understanding found among those who don’t truly believe in the bible as the perfect and complete document hat it is.
    The thing you continue to miss is their belief that they are not to preach and direct their criticism or even their good works as a corporal body but do so individually when they see the need. You seem to have quite a bit of information about what they do or don’t do but seem to continue to ignore this fundamental way they handle things. One of the reasons these good people give for this approach is based on not being like the Pharisees that are criticized so harshly in the scripture you continue to reference in Matt 23, where you like the Pharisees have “omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith”. The point of this scripture in context is to correct the inner self not just to appear good outwardly. There is nothing about a responsibility to correct your government. The way this is described to be done is by learning Gods law and applying it to your life to the point that your outward appearance is a result the new inner man that has been cleansed by proper actions, not the other way around. The Pharisees did many things for the show or the look of being good and these Christians you criticize so much do things privately so as not to get an earthly gain but do so to gain treasure in heaven.
    The next point I would make would be to defend the US government to some degree and the finest military that has ever existed. I don’t agree with all of the actions that we have done as a government at home or overseas but I don’t think it is deserving of such criticism as you seem to think is required to be worthy of Christianity. …[edited at 500 words]

    • brazili says:

      Reply to simple christian
      Hi Simple Christian,
      I Peter 3:21. a good conscience toward God, through the coming again of Jesus Christ from the dead.
      What saves is faith in the power of God, faith in the resurrection of Jesus, nothing saves except EFI on the Divine blood of Jesus. Acts 20:28, God’s blood.
      “Because, if you “say with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and have faith in your heart” God has made him come back from the dead, you will have salvation.
      For with the heart man has faith to get righteousness, and with the mouth he says “Jesus is Lord to get salvation”. Romans 10: 9,10.

      I definitely do not deny baptism,
      but what saves the sinner is the blood of God, faith in God.
      The most difficult thing for man is to abandon sin, baptism is easy, to be baptized is easier than leaving some sins.

    • Rachel says:

      You said, “Consider this as well to get back onto the line of discussion. If I gave you money to be baptized would it be proper baptism? If I push someone under water against their will would that be proper baptism? If you only get baptized to please someone and not God, is that proper baptism? If I got baptized and did it for an outward sign of an inward faith which is no where stated or given by example in the bible is that proper baptism? I’m not sure how these can meet the requirement of baptism as the answer of a good conscience toward God that now saves us, 1 Peter 3:21.”

      Most of your examples above the person is without faith (internal). Money for baptism is not about knowledge but impure motives. Against their will has to do with the state of the heart and not what they know. Pleasing man vs God is again, about motive.

      For the person who is baptized thinking this is an outward sign of an inward faith – that is the truth! That is not all but that is certainly a big part of it. Baptism very much declares to others that you are not siding with the Lord! In some countries, they are very much aware of this and to do so, get baptized in the name of the Lord, would bring death!

      Again, I am not saying there is not more but your acting as if this little that they knew is a lie when it is not. I know that when I was baptized it was the result of the internal faith, unseen, which God placed in my heart and resulted in =my obedience. What your not focusing on is the obedience of the person. For any man to get baptized because he/she wants to live for Christ shows they are being obedient. Why would you discount or step over this and concern yourself so much with how much or how little they knew abou this act? Haven’t you ever acted in simple faith without understanding, knowing, being sure, going against advice? You figured it out later or rather God revealed what He was doing later on. My point is this. I went through all the studies in one week and got baptized. Bible study was wonderful! I loved learning and I will be forever grateful for it. I would love for many others to have a good grasp on what they about to do before they commit their lives. I believe that many problems could be avoided but does that mean that those who did not get what we got are lost? That’s too much. What about those, back in the day, who could not read (slaves for example). I can’t imagine all the kinds of stuff they “learned” that was probably not true at all! Do you believe they were all lost? How about those who did not have the written Word? Remember, the Bible was only made available to us all. That is why I suggest you really study Church History. Here is a little for you about how and when we got the written Word.

      The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

      John Hus
      One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.

      Johann Gutenberg
      Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty. Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time.

      • Rachel says:

        So are you of the opinion that those before the 1450’s were lost because they didn’t have the written word of their own and relied on the Catholic Church to teach them?

      • A Simple Christian says:

        Rachel,
        Sorry it has taken so long to reply, life gets busy at times.

        You ask me, “So are you of the opinion that those before the 1450′s were lost because they didn’t have the written word of their own and relied on the Catholic Church to teach them?”

        My opinion is not important and neither is anyone else’s. God’s opinion is all that matters. That’s is my entire view on all matters of religion. I appreciate much of what you had to say and I wish there was a way that I could agree with you, but I can’t. I don’t dare doubt God and His word in any way. To me that is denying God to suggest things are other than He has simply spelled out in HIs word. I should probably apologize for asking what bible someone is reading from, but I get frustrated at times when I see the simple message of God’s word ignored so much of the time.
        You see, I so much wish I could say what you are saying and have studied for many years to try and find that point of view in the bible, but I haven’t ever found it to be consistent with God’s word therefore, I will not say it. My background is from half of my life in a religion like the one you describe, that has to make God’s word imperfect to continue to follow what a few people have felt or formed an opinion on based on feelings that were not the work of God, but of the great deceiver based on what God says in the bible. I knew from a very young age what we were doing wasn’t found in the bible but bought into the imperfection of God in His word so that I could stay in that denomination without feeling bad or like I was denying God. At a still young age I told myself a few times I was going to have to form a new religious group to be able to worship and do things the way the bible simply stated so that I could feel good about worshipping and serving God. Once I found the church of Christ all the pieces I had been searching for simply fell into place. I was pretty sure at that time I would never find any other religious group that followed the bible as well as the coC. With all of that in mind, I still had to force myself to do what God wanted instead of what I felt I wanted to do because of my old habit of wanting things my way and had some fear completely committing my life to God. I have never regretted that change to finally just taking God at His word and have never found any other groups that follows God’s word as well as the church of Christ. We aren’t perfect but we do the best we can and simply rely on God to be all knowing, all powerful, and ever present in all things and have faith that through His word He was able to ensure it was complete for us to learn His will without error to make it all we needed to save us. …[edited for brevity]

      • brazili says:

        Hi A SIMPLE CHRISTIAN
        I would like to comment on something in your response to Rachel.

        You said a lot about following our feelings. Let’s use the example of the use of musical instruments that most leaders condemn in the COC,
        I have no talent for music, and had no desire to want to learn how to use instruments to be a musician in the church, for me (my feelings) made no difference in whether or not we used instruments. But after 13 years as a member of the COC and studying many subjects about worship without instruments, I realized that from the beginning I did not believe in this form of interpretation. But I think from the beginning I really wanted to understand the will of God in his word, sought and wanted to follow all his will, today I see that I could not and I cannot / understand / accept / understand / comprehend the condemnation of the use of instruments. I believe and have that very desire to do / follow the will of God, but can not see the issue of the instrument like you … but I also think the acappella music is cool, and at the same time do not believe you have the whole truth on ALL theological issues / Christians / about church. I believe we must respect each other in some beliefs … because no one … no group is equal in all things …
        “That you agree, with one mouth glorifying the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 15:6

      • Rachel says:

        Thanks for responding. I actually have no animosity at all toward my brothers and sisters. Some of my best friends are still active members of this fellowship and I receive input, guidance and help from them. I continue to serve them when asked and they do the same. Any fellowship that saves is my friend. I know there is no perfection this side of heaven with any ministry and I appreciate your acknowledgment of that. I suppose the thing that rubs me wrong is that I used to say, “It’s what it says! It’s so simple! It’s so clear!” The truth is that I was TAUGHT the Bible. I had a clean slate to start with – no religious upbringing that I adhered to. I was TAUGHT the interpretation of Scripture that was taught to my teachers. I say interpretation because that is so crucial to understand. We are taught that Scripture is not open to interpretation which leaves us feeling and thinking that we have received the “pure” word from the throne room and therefore our understanding is infallible. That has become dangerous to me. When I acknowledge that I have learned and interpretation, I am grateful for what I have learned correctly and I’m open to be wrong or incomplete in my understanding. I was baptized understanding and believing that my sins were being forgiven at that point. That is what I believe and that is what I teach. That is not the problem though. The problem is how we treat those who have also been baptized in obedience even though their understanding may have been part error, part incomplete.

        I don’t know if you remember this but I was taught the Kingdom Study. Some of the conclusions of that study was:

        1. There is only one church (ICOC fellowship group) on earth that we must be a part of and if we are not, we are not saved
        2. Those outside of the ICOC are not saved
        3. We must put the ICOC first (Matthew 6:33). This meant the ICOC must take priority in scheduling and life or there was something wrong with you. This wasn’t about relationships as much as it was about the structure of the church (i.e, services dates/times, discipling times, other events).

        How this was applied was that everyone we met who was not a part of the ICOC was lost and going to hell. Anyone who left the ICOC was also lost and going to hell. You can imagine the damage this would do to those who were actually saved, both inside and outside of the fellowship. Now, the COC has realized the error of this interpretation of Scriptures and no longer teach it. They are still saved and forgiven for teaching this. This error directly affected what people thought of their salvation. That is a big deal to me just like baptism. How is it that members of the COC fellowship can teach such gross error, go in the water believing it, come out teaching it and still be okay with God? While others who have gone into the water, believing other parts of Scripture (for example, old is gone, participation in Jesus’ death & resurrection), acting in obedience while still being in error or incomplete, can’t be forgiven and can’t be saved like us? Personally, I really think that this is what is insulting to God’s grace. We have apportioned grace to ourselves lavishly in the face of our grievous doctrinal error, and that’s only one I’ve mentioned. But we deny that same grace to others who, like us, saw in Scripture that baptism is necessary and responded in faith to the command even though there was some error them.

        I wonder if you are familiar with Douglas Jacoby’s Teaching Ministry. I love his ministry and I know that he has instructed many of the leaders in the COC on doctrine. Taught the teachers, if you will (smile). He has addressed this issue very well in two videos. One called, “Who is My Brother” and the other, “Baptism – The Waters that Divide”. True, the only thing that matters is what the Word says but I have come to understand that people can be wrong. Sometimes what we view as “simply stated” is a matter of interpretation (explanation of a work). Might I encourage you to visit his website, http://www.douglasjacoby.com and just consider his biblical response on the matter. There is a question/answer part of the website. If you search for Q&A (#0913 & #1307), he provides answers to this inquiry presented by, who I believe to be, current members of the COC. I’m not asking you to agree but to just consider that someone in your fellowship, with his creds, does not believe as you do and has a ton of Bible to back up what he is saying is correct interpretation of Scripture in this matter. Just to consider…

        If you are willing and have the time, would you mind writing back and letting me know what you think?

  21. brazili says:

    Reply to Mark.
    Hi Mark,
    I liked these things you said. And especially this sentence “does not mean that is the only way God can pronounce someone saved”
    This reminded me of Acts 15 “a great contest.”
    In verse 8 it says, “And God who knows the heart …”
    vs. 9: “…. purifying their hearts by faith …”

    I believe that only those who have a purified heart can receive the Holy Spirit.
    And so with the Gentiles by faith, because God knows their hearts.

    I particularly, I believe that we should speak of baptism (Jesus said: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned),

    but I also believe that God will give wisdom about his will in His Word to all those who have faith in Jesus. And He gives His Spirit to everyone who has faith. Ephesians. 1:13.

    I particularly would like to know the precise moment we receive the Holy Spirit, it would be interesting if there was a sign at the exact time that we receive the Holy Spirit, but Acts shows that not all had signs (gifts of healing, speaking in tongues), not all had these signs. “Are all able to take away disease? have all the power of tongues? ….” I Corinthians 12:30

    so what I want is to see it change my heart, change my life, thinking that the Holy Spirit has worked in me and then believe that I received at some moment in my life, at some moment I had faith in Jesus.

    thanks to all

    • Mark says:

      Whenever we look inside ourselves for evidence that we are saved, or that God is in us, there is the danger that we will see our sins and conclude God is not in us. I find it far better to look at Christ and his promises: Christ has died for me. I have been baptized. Christ promises that I have forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      • brazili says:

        in fact, there’s no way to look inside ourselves and see no sins.
        vanity, pride, envy, greed, idolatry diverse. and others. I fight these things, at times even think I have lost the war.
        Thanks.

  22. A simple Christian says:

    Reply to Brazili:
    1 Peter 3:21
    The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
    -This is the entire scripture and what I was referring to when I spoke of it earlier. You are correct when you say faith saves us but its important that you correctly use the word faith which requires us to take actions based on our belief in Gods word or instructions. Hebrews 11 describes the faithful as taking actions based on their belief in God. James 2:14 states that if you have belief without acts based on that belief then your faith is dead. Later in verse 2:19 James describes belief only at the same level of faith as devils. Does that sound like a sound place to be in your relationship to God? Just examine the reward that these devils are locked into for eternity and I think you will agree this isn’t enough.
    Think of it this way. If I were to say I want to be a doctor and I say I have to complete school to the 5th grade to be a doctor this is true, but it doesn’t mean that I will be a doctor does it? It’s it only the beginning and I must do much more school, to be a doctor.
    This is just as your quote about confessing you believe Jesus is our Lord and has died for us. To do this you must have already repented or changed your heart to act in such a way. True godly Repentance is a conscious decision to change your life from serving self to serving God (2 Cor 7:10). Then if you truly have faith in Jesus you will do as He commands to the Apostles to tell everyone in Mark 16:15-16, to believe and be baptized for salvation. Some try to confuse Mark 16:15-16 saying it is belief only since Jesus says those who don’t believe won’t be saved. Well, this is true but if you recall my earlier example, it’s the same as saying if you don’t start school at all you won’t be a doctor since this is where the process starts. If I don’t believe in Jesus then I’m certainly not going to do anything else Jesus tells me to do to expect salvation.
    This is further reinforced when you read Rom 6:1-23 where you see baptism is what destroys our physical body of sin and that we should walk in a new life through Christ by His sacrifice and shedding of blood. Jesus Himself didn’t need to be baptized to wash away His sins since He was sinless but He did so to fulfill all righteousness. We follow His example of self sacrifice unto a righteous life when we are baptized by immersion in water. If you will also note even though Jesus was sinless, it was right after He was baptized that the Holy Spirit came to live on Him described in the form of a dove by Matt 3:15-17. …[edited to fit into 500 words]

    • Mark says:

      Dear Simple Christian,
      You used James 2 incorrectly. James is talking about how the person who has faith in God’s mercy will respond with mercy towards those who are poor.

      Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

      You seem to be using this passage to mean the opposite to what James taught. You are saying God will not be merciful if one’s faith in Jesus Christ’s mercy is not exactly matched up with one’s obedience in baptism. I don’t see James teaching that at all. The hard line Churches of Christ have misused James 2 for about 150 years. (See this blog post for more.)

    • brazili says:

      in fact the Bible teaches that man should repent of sin, have faith in Jesus, be baptized. And while [daily] walking repent and continue to have faith in Jesus.
      But in the past I’ve talked a lot about baptism, about the importance of taking the supper every Sunday and I knew little about grace, the love of my neighbor and I knew little about other attributes of God (righteousness, holiness, greatness). God give me wisdom and grace always.
      Today has been difficult for me to agree with all forms of education of the Church of Christ hardliners. I think the growth of the Kingdom of God loses with our disagreements, May God give us wisdom and grace always, that He enables us to be real brothers, despite their differences.

      simple Christian Thank you for your words.

  23. A simple Christian says:

    Well, I meant to quote more of James 2 than the part I listed, but I think it is still saying what I was trying to illustrate. My point was that faith or belief without application does no good. The part you refer to is just the example to make James’ point that he is making in context of the chapter. Surely you can see the point that it doesn’t do anyone any good if you say you are going to give someone aid and then you don’t actually do it. In actuality your attempt to show mercy that was not merciful at all brings harsher judgement upon you. You may think in your own mind that you are doing very good by thinking of good actions, but in reality you have done no good at all. James 2:18-26 was primarily what I was referring to so that a better scriptural definition of faith could be gained. I like to use the example of saying I am breathing verses I have breathed. I can say I have breathed but if I don’t continue to breathe I will surely die. The same is true for faith. I can say with my mouth a million times that I have faith and believe it with all of my heart but if I do nothing according to that faith it is the same as if I didn’t have faith at all and I will surely die a spiritual death in the end. Therefore, the living faith that saves will cause me to take actions if I believe Jesus when he says we must believe (John 3:16), confess Him as Lord before witnesses (Matt 10:32-33), repent (Luke 13:3), be immersed in water (Mark 16:15-16), and remain faithful to my death (Rev 2:10) to expect salvation. This is a living faith that will be pleasing to God and because without faith we cannot hope to please Him (Heb 11:6).
    Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-26:
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: …[edited for brevity]

    • Mark says:

      James is saying that if we believe we are forgiven by God then we will forgive others and it will show in the merciful and gracious way we treat them.

    • garycummings says:

      Dear Simple,
      First of all drop the KJV, and your arguments might make a little more sense.
      Secondly, I believe nothing you say.
      Thirdly, there will be a lot of “correctly baptized” people in Hell. They mistook this religious rite for saving Faith, that is their spiritually fatal error.
      Thanks, but I have been there, preached it and left it for the Kingdom of God.

  24. Rachel says:

    Sorry let me make one quick correction. I said, “The problem is how we treat those who have also been baptized in obedience even though their understanding may have been part error, part incomplete.”

    I mean that this is according to us and the interpretation we have embraced as the gospel truth. Old habits do die hard (lol)!

  25. Rachel says:

    Also, sorry (lol). We can post Scriptures back and forth but I want to be clear on what I’m bringing to the table for consideration. Is knowledge a requirement for salvation or is salvation based on God’s promises as we act in obedience to his ordinances?

    • Gary Cummings says:

      We need to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose bodily from the dead to be saved. Once that occurs, we are baptized because we have been saved, not to be saved. It is like getting married for love. Do we get married to get the love, or because we already are in love? Hopefully it is the latter. I believe that faith precedes knowledge by the way.

      • Rachel says:

        While I understand the example of getting married for love. I also believe that two people are not married without the legality. No couple can just live together in our fellowships and claim marriage without having actually been married. They can’t just tell us about their love relationship and that be received as their marriage. They are still consider two and not the one flesh. The point is that baptism, viewed as “for the forgiveness of sins”, is the actually legality of marriage. It’s the enacting of the covenant. The death of two and the creation of one in a new covenant together before God. The two have died in a sense and become one man. This is totally new. It is the culmination of the love relationship that leads couples to the altar to make their relationship legit and legal.

        Let me say that I do believe baptism is for the remission of sins, but I don’t believe that a person is lost if they did not believe this upon baptism, since there is much more concerning baptism that they have learned and received as the truth. Those who have repented for true and been baptized are saved, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the end of the story in my book.

      • Gary Cummings says:

        Even if baptism is “for the remission of sins” in the causative sense, a person does not have to know or believe that to be saved. I do not believe baptism in the causative sense, rather we are baptized because we have been saved. That is the difference, and yes it is like marriage.

        Also, per the Bible, there is no scriptural way to be married. But that is another can of worms. I do believe the marriage analogy I mentioned in regards to baptism holds, and proves that the causative sense of baptism is wrong. Apollos was saved and received the Holy Spirit prior to his baptism, as was Paul on the Damascus road. I have no argument that Christians should be baptized, only with the idea that it is the causative agent of baptism. Faith is the entrance into the New Covenant, not baptism. Noah and the other people in the ark were saved by being in the boat, BEFORE the water came. Likewise we are saved by being in Christ through faith BEFORE the water of baptism.

    • A simple Christian says:

      Rachel, thanks for letting me know about Dr Jacoby’s website. I found it interesting. I also found that he was pretty much in agreement with what I’ve been saying but I will continue to look at it more to make sure. I only looked at the two Q&As but couldn’t find the videos. The ICOC is not the church of Christ that I’m familiar with and taught many things not in accordance with scripture. They were a movement that was cult-like and was only concerned about adding numbers of people and didn’t always stick to the scriptures as I think the churches of Christ do.
      As I stated previously, I do consider the scriptures easy enough to understand to find salvation with a clear understanding of what God asks us to take part in His grace. We can, “what if”, all day concerning the potential lost, but I’d rather simply concentrate on simply following what appears to clearly be God’s will and what He says we must do to be saved.
      From the scriptures we see that those that desired to be baptized are described in most cases as being taught at a minimum that baptism is what they had to do for the remission or forgiveness of sins before they were baptized. So they knew why they were being baptized. To say otherwise just simply denies what is clearly stated in these scriptures. I simply choose not to deny God His will at any time. Some may try to confuse the issue by pointing at scriptures where this isn’t completely explained but then they must also be saying God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit made errors or lied in these other scriptures that contradict the scriptures where it is fully explained. I find no safety in this approach and will not be found in that line of thought. I came out of that ignorance where I relied on my own wisdom as I’ve already explained and don’t desire to ever be there again. I unknowingly made myself God and my opinions were above God’s will. I was simply using the same ploy Satan used with Eve by placing “not” in some scriptures denying God’s will. No peace could be found there for me that God offers to those who knowingly do His will and have the assurance that comes from a faith based on this knowledge. It is quite simple once we have faith in God. To deny God’s perfect word causes confusion and contradiction that forces denial of many truths found in the scriptures. It is God’s truth that makes us free from sin, not what men suppose to be His will based on feelings or subjective opinions that can’t be supported completely by God’s word.
      Thanks again for the references to Dr Jacoby. I will try to look at more of it soon.

      • Gary Cummings says:

        Those who are saved, are saved by Faith. Faith saves us before baptism and we are baptised because we have been saved. It is like marriage: we are married for love. This means we already are in love prior to the marriage. It is quite wrong to think that we get married and then we get the love.

  26. garycummings says:

    During my 6 year tenure in the COC, the majority of people I met and conversed with believed that “baptism for the remission of sins” was their entrance into salvation and the Kingdom of God. Once they had this right, these same people lived as they pleased seeking mammon or obeying orders to
    kill people, drop napalm or Agent Orange, or burn villages in Vietnam.
    These same people thought they were saved because of their water baptism per Acts 2:38 ,and having completed the “Five finger exercise” and keeping the 5 acts of worship. If they had these right, they could kill and maim whom they pleased.
    That attitude helped me to question everything I had been taught
    by the COC in the six years I was in it. In my almost year of ministry,I
    did preach against Christians going to war. I was persecuted for that.
    The pro-war stance of “rightly baptized” believers caused me to question
    everything they taught. One by one the theological dominoes fell, and
    The scales fell from my eyes. I realized everything the COC taught was a lie.
    I walked away from the COC cult.
    The baptism I experienced in the Baptist Church when I was 17 is the one that I count
    as my true baptism, because it was the visual testimony I had accepted Christ as my Savior.
    Then I had been baptized because I had been saved, not to be saved. That is the difference faith makes, as salvation is from faith from first to last. (Romans 1:16-17).

  27. Gary Cummings says:

    Since we are talking about correct baptism, let me throw this in: The Early Church will about the time of the Second Century baptized converts in the nude. The earliest portrayals of Christian baptism and even the baptism of Jesus show the ones being baptized are nude. This really signifies a new birth. The EOC, in some parts of the world, still baptizes people in the nude, especially babies. How many are brave enough to bare all to be baptized in the original Christian way? This practice probably came from the Jewish Mikvah immersion. It indicated a washing and cleansing of the whole person. In my opinion, this may be a good practice for serious converts to consider. What are your opinions about this? Check out the early Christian art on this topic. It is quite interesting.

  28. Gary Cummings says:

    I saw a sentence once which makes a lot of sense:
    “Faith =Salvation plus works, not Salvation = faith plus works.”
    That makes a lot of sense to me. Salvation is by faith from first to last (Romans 1:16-17).
    I also believe that saving faith precedes baptism.

    • brent bacon says:

      You must believe before baptism- and that takes faith. You are correct there. Without faith and believing in Christ their is no salvation. To believe one must learn about Christ too.

  29. Gary Cummings says:

    Faith precedes baptism, and “Salvation is by faith from first to last.” -Romans 1:16-17. Therefore a person is saved by faith prior to baptism.

  30. A simple Christian says:

    Gary, I’m not sure what version of the bible you prefer but if you give me a version that doesn’t leave out a lot of God’s word I will try to use it of that’s what you prefer. I don’t have a problem using the KJV since it is the most widely used version in the world by my understanding.
    Now, what you’ve stated about belief is true to an extent but not accurate according to many other scriptures. You see, I can say I must finish kindergarten to become a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a doctor if I finish kindergarten. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus said that those who believe and are baptized will be saved. By placing “and” in there Jesus made both a requirement. He says that those who don’t believe won’t be saved. Certainly we can agree someone who doesn’t believe won’t submit to baptism. Are you saying Jesus got this wrong or that He was lying when He said baptism is necessary for salvation?
    If you read the context of your quote in full you will clearly see that these were faithful believers Paul was writing to and when he gets to Romans the 6th chapter he describes what happened when they were baptized. By being baptized by immersion or burial under water they and we are buried with Jesus and when we rise out of the water we are able to walk in that new life as a Christian. This is when we are able to become a part of His body, His church, a part of His kingdom that He will one day return to take to heaven. This is that saving faith that believers have put into actions according to God’s word. Read Hebrews 11 and you will see that faith and actions are inseparable unless you want a dead faith.
    Your idea that we are saved before baptism contradicts so much of the bible it just can’t be supported without denying a lot of God’s word. This is the same level of faith that James says the demons have and not a good place to be in my opinion (James 2:19).
    Now Christians can’t just live as they please so this scripture you quote would definitely apply there since these were already the saved faithful who would lose that salvation if they were to live again in sin. That would mean they were no longer repentant of their past lives and were again living the way they saw fit, denying God His will. We must be faithful to God to our deaths to get the crown of life, Rev 2:10. I find it disturbing that you potentially choose to judge God and His church based on the actions of some sinful men that claim they are saved when you judge them to be sinful. We can debate the sinfulness of serving in the military some other time, but just as a quick note, God had no problem with the Jews defeating those that occupied the Holy Land to the point of killing all of the innocent children and animals of those they fought. Let’s not get too far off track.

    • A simple Christian says:

      Your argument about marriage is not applicable to the act of salvation. Marriage and love can be completely independent of each other. We would hope love came before marriage but it isn’t a requirement and it could happen the other way also. We can get married without love and grow to then love our spouse. Read just a little of John 14 and you will see how important love of God is to precede salvation because it will cause us to do everything God commands, otherwise we won’t love God and He will not make His abode with us. That’s the danger of sin, since it demonstrates our lack of love for God and can eventually cause Him to leave us to our own delusion and loss if we deny Him by choosing not to do His will. What is sin? Simply denying God His will over us. Now, what Jesus said was that we must believe and be baptized (Mark 16:15-16), repent (Luke 13:3), and confess Him before witnesses for Him to confess us in heaven (Matt 10:32).
      The baptism of the baptists you claim was better is not found in the bible or the sinners prayer they claim must be done for salvation. If you want you could claim the baptist baptism was similar to John’s baptism but we see that was clearly inadequate for someone to become a Christian as Apollos was re-baptized when that was the only baptism he had. He was them able to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Also, you are incorrect in saying Paul was saved before he was baptized. Jesus told him to find Ananias who would tell him what he must do to be saved and Ananias tells him to be baptized to wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 9:6, Acts 22:16). He was fasting and praying but he still wasn’t saved until he followed Jesus’ direction in faithful actions based on what he was told he must do to be saved, be baptized.
      If we choose your version of salvation, we have to accept that your God made mistakes, lies, or just didn’t know what He was talking about in the scriptures. If also have to trust that you know which parts to keep and which parts to leave out.
      If we stay true to all the scriptures without leaving anything out, the only way to be saved is to fulfill all that it says to be saved and the bible works in perfect harmony without contradiction. This means my God doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t lie, and knew what He was talking about from the beginning to now.

    • Gary Cummings says:

      Faith in Jesus Christ is something the demons do not have, rather it is actual knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. In fact the kind of faith preached by the COC is more like the kind of belief the demons have, than genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Devil nor the demons have faith in Jesus Christ. That only come form the COC twisting of Scripture to prove their works-righteousness salvation.

      • A simple Christian says:

        Gary, you are right if you are using the word faith properly because the scriptural use of the word means actions based on belief. If you are using the word faith to mean belief only that saves, as many do improperly, that is the same as the devils James describes that believe in one God and tremble (James 2:19-20) as he compares that to belief without corresponding action.

  31. Gary Cummings says:

    I disagree with your misinterpretation of Scripture. The COC cherry picks certain verses which suit them and ignore a lot more.
    My baptism when I became a Christian was “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”., and my faith and salvation preceded that.
    God makes no mistakes, but the COC is a hodgepodge of mistakes and outright lies. There is one God and he does not belong exclusively to anyone. Jesus got nothing wrong, but the COC cult has about everything wrong.
    By the way, it is a sin to use the long ending of Mark to prove the necessity of baptism, as it is not in the oldest and best manuscripts, nor in many of the earliest versions of Mark. If the long ending is valid, why don’t you speak in tongues, lift up serpents and drink poison?
    I accept what Paul says: “Salvation is by faith from first to last, (Romans 1:16-17).
    Why are you on this board for ex-members of the COC? Just to strut your stuff and your biblical ignorance? I have heard it all before, believed for a while, and preached it as well. Then I saw the damage the COC was doing spiritually to people and left. Thank God for that. The sorriest day of my life was when I joined the COC and one of the best was when I left the COC. You have nothing of spiritual importance to offer anyone.

    • A simple Christian says:

      Gary, I’d appreciate some examples and clarity in your statements. It appears that you contradict yourself and scriptures a lot. You said, “My baptism when I became a Christian” and then go on to say that you were saved prior to that. If that is accurate when did you become a Christian, when you were baptized or when you were saved prior to baptism? Did someone vote on you to be able to get baptized? My understanding is that most baptists believe they are saved once they say some form of sinner’s prayer. Then if the members find that person acceptable, they vote on them to be baptized some time later to become a part of that Church by being baptized. Both of these actions or works aren’t found in the bible that I have been able to find. If I’m wrong please show me where you find these in the bible.
      If I’m using a hodgepodge of scriptures out of context and lying please show me where I have done so. So far you are the only one that has demonstrated a lack of scriptural knowledge and proper context in our discussions. Otherwise, all you have done is the equivalent of name calling without any proof of your statements.
      I’ve never claimed that the cofC has exclusivity to God. I simply place all of my faith in God and His perfect word which is able to save me and trust that He will add me to His Spiritual body, not the vain words of men.

      • A simple Christian says:

        I’m not sure that it is a sin, as you claim, to use the longer ending of Mark 16, but if you convince me of such I will ask you to forgive me and I will repent of my ignorance. I do appreciate you pointing this potential error out to me since I have never heard of it before. After some research I have learned most biblical scholars accept that even though it may have been added as late as the 2nd century, which could have been done by an inspired author, it doesn’t contradict the cannon of scriptures in any way. Jesus makes a very similar statement in Matt 28:18-20. I’m not sure what you are getting at with the miraculous gifts and proof by those who didn’t have the written word, but if you know as much as you claim about the church of Christ, you know we don’t generally believe those miraculous gifts are possible today since we have the perfect word of God written down today and we don’t need those gifts to substantiate what we are saying is from God. The word proves itself and is all sufficient.

  32. A simple Christian says:

    Taking Rom 1:16-17 out of context doesn’t prove anything except that you appear to be the one with a lack of understanding of the proper context of this scriptural whether you accept it or not. It also demonstrates again a lack of what scriptural faith is in the context of the word of God. If I’m the one so scripturally ignorant show me where I’m wrong with more than one 8 word phrase from the scriptures.
    The reason I’m on this board is to stand up for my more conservative Christian brothers who I don’t always agree with, but think should have some defense instead of just being a silent whipping board for those who have had bad experiences with them in the past. It is also my responsibility to spread God’s truth to anyone willing to listen. I’m not as biblically schooled as many of you appear to be, but I think I have a pretty fair grasp of what God is saying. If I’m wrong please show me with scriptural proof and not conjecture and emotion and I will change my ways to a more excellent way.
    I don’t understand how you believed what the cofC taught for a while, so much that you were preaching it, and then turned away from it when you saw some type of spiritual damage to some. From what you’ve said so far it appears you knew what was true but then turned against the truth based on your emotions or feelings about what was going on in the world. I’m sorry if I’m way off base here but you’ve given me little to go on. If I’m accurate in my assessment, it would seem that you base your faith on what you feel to be accurate, probably assuming this is the influence of the Holy Spirit. That’s not the way God works through the Holy Spirit. That is how Satan works by affecting actions based on feelings and not facts. God never asks anyone to have faith in error or something that is not the truth. This is not a spiritual offering I would want to make to anyone. I left that ignorance of God’s word based on my emotions and know that was the evil influence of Satan causing me to deny God, not His Holy Spirit.

  33. Gary Cummings says:

    Simple Christian,
    Everything you have said shows you are working on a legalistic works-righteousness paradigm.
    I am working from a salvation by Faith paradigm. Your interpretation is based on cherry-picking
    of Scriptures and CENI pattern theology. Mine is based on the whole thrust of the New Covenant based on Faith with the New Covenant written upon our hearts. Read all of Romans, something most of the COC avoids like the plague, and you will see salvation is based on Faith in Jesus as God’s Son who died for ours sins and bodily rose from the dead. The righteousness we have is not ours but God’s righteousness through Christ. This righteousness is a gift and received through faith. This is the Good News, not baptism. Obeying the Gospel does not mean being baptized, it means
    receiving Jesus and his atonement through faith. Here is the key difference between us:the COC believes : “Salvation = Faith + works.” I believe: “Faith=salvation + works.” These are two radically different paradigms. The COC paradigm of works-righteousness leads to spiritual slavery and spiritual abuse. The paradigm Mark and I follow is one of Faith-righteousness and this leads to freedom in Christ and spiritual healing. I read the New Testament in the original Greek (not as well as I used to). I read not to prove doctrinal points, but to get the meaning of what the NT writers actually said. The COC reads it to prove they are the True Church, and they ignore Greek words which go against their teaching.
    All in all, I left the COC because I learned their plea to restore the NT Church is a lie. It is based
    on faulty premises, and sets people up to become spiritually elite Pharisees. Reading Romans and seeking what Paul really says about faith and salvation is earthshaking. Receiving Jesus by faith is what Paul is all about. Get that and you will leave the cult which calls itself the Church of Christ.

    • A simple Christian says:

      I hear the term legalism a lot usually justified by those teaching as you by saying following the scriptures too closely is similar to the problems Jesus had with the 1st century teachings of the religious leaders of that day. You should read the bible to see more clearly the main problems Jesus had with those leaders. They were making up humanistic rules and applying those to their followers as law, creating vain or worthless worship with their man-made doctrines causing some to lose their souls, not doctrine from inspired writers only. They were also quite hypocritical by making up these requirements and misinterpreting the Mosaic Law and not living up to their own requirements. Jesus never complained about anyone adhering to the commands of God since that would have made Him the most legalistic person to ever live by your use of the word. How dare He live up to God’s expectations and commands completely!
      Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit and inspire the writers of the bible to write down all that we needed to be saved and to be pleasing to God. So, even though you may not realize it, I’d say you are more of a legalist by Jesus’ expressed dislike described in scripture by making up your own requirements for salvation apart from God’s complete word and condemning anyone who dares to disagree with your loose approach to the inspired writings of men inspired by the Holy Spirit. It appears that your faith system can’t be based on God’s word but just what you think the Holy Spirit is guiding you to do today. Otherwise, if you had true faith you would be guided to be baptized to wash away your sins as Rom 6 and many other scriptures describe, leaving your carnally guided system of faith behind. You would understand that your carnality wars against the Spirit and causes the physical body to mislead that spiritual part of you. You wouldn’t make the Holy Spirit call Himself a liar in the past by what you profess to be new directions from Him today. If you were truly inspired today by the Holy Spirit you would be saying exactly the same things He told them to write in the first century, not some new doctrine. If you have this power from the Holy Spirit today why don’t you go to the hospital and heal the sick or raise the dead at cemeteries or drink poison and demonstrate it doesn’t harm you. Go to the military hospitals and re-grow limbs for people who have lost them and you will have my attention since all of those with this power in the bible could also perform these miracles. I suppose you will make some claim like most of those people don’t have enough faith to be healed but Jesus never made such a statement. In actuality, the bible says these gifts were to convince those without…[500 word limit]

      • A simple Christian says:

        Now, if you examine all of the so-called Christian religions, the Jews, and the Muslims that use this same guidance that you claim guides you today, feelings you think are the Holy Spirit, you will see a great deal of evil done in the name of God throughout history along with much sinful division. I’m sure you never considered killing anyone that wouldn’t accept your point of view about God, but you are using the same system to guide your actions as those that used this system of guidance in the past and did kill people. Surely, you don’t think the Crusades lead by Catholicism were justified and all the other killing they did of those who wouldn’t accept their teachings around the world. I’m sure we have been made to go to war and kill others based on some presidents feelings they were guided by, thinking they were doing God’s will. The only objective standard we have to prove which is truth and which is false is the word of God. Look what John says in 1 John 3:24 – 4:3,
        “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
        Chapter 4: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
        You want to call the cofC a cult, but what is a better definition of a cult, a group that submits to God’s unchanging will found only in scripture or a group that submits to a man lead religion based on how that man or group of men feel they are being guided by their feelings. I would encourage you to re-look at Romans and consider if you properly understand the scriptural definition of faith. It becomes so clear that it is requiring that we write the New Testament guidance on our hearts to effect the changes in our lives, not a personal guidance by the Holy Spirit that denies what seems like 95% of the rest of the bible. The law it is referring to that is no longer sufficient for Christians to follow is clearly the Old Testament instructions, especially those legalistic instructions made by men lead by their environment and their ever changing emotions in the name of God. If you read it closely you will also find reference to the law of faith and the law of the Spirit, which is the New Testament instructions of…[500 word limit]

  34. Gary Cummings says:

    Mark 16:9-20 is not the correct ending to the Gospel of Mark. It is one of 3 endings and the worst of the lot. To make any doctrinal teaching from this spurious ending leads to flawed teaching. Parts of it go back to the second century, but the earliest manuscripts like Vaticanus (the oldest and the best) do not have the long ending. The oldest translations like the Armenian Bible do not have the long ending. There are 2 competing endings. I do not think the original Gospel ended at verse 8, but none of the competing endings have been proven to be original.
    Miracles and the work of the Holy Spirit have not ceased. That is teaching brought into the early Restoration Movement by Alexander Campbell. He was a Presbyterian and Calvinist before he started the Disciples of Christ. As I recall Barton W. Stone never taught that the spiritual gifts and miracles ceased. There is nothing in the New Testament which teaches that spiritual gifts or miracles have ceased. I fact 1 Corinthians 1:7 teaches that spiritual gifts (charismata) will remain until the return of Jesus Christ. We need God the Holy Spirit now as much as the first century believers and the people of the Old Covenant did. Nothing has changed.

    • A simple Christian says:

      Well, if you consider the long ending that flawed, I certainly will try not to use it in my arguments any longer. I believe it is not in conflict with the rest of the bible but that’s my opinion and I try not to rely on that for proof of God’s inspiration. If you find using it offensive, I apologize.
      Now, as far as spiritual gifts, I’ve already explained quite a bit already. Let’s look at 1 Cor 1:7 a little deeper by examining the Greek. You are right that one possible meaning to the word gift is miraculous gifts from the word charisma. Even though it could have other meanings I won’t argue that point. The first century Christians did receive gifts of the Holy Spirit after the apostles laid their hands on them so they could do miraculous acts to confirm they were from God along with the word they spoke. I disagree though with you choosing to think the word apokaluyij means return, when it most likely means revealed instead of return. About the only place I could find it translated as return was in the King James version which I thought you didn’t like. Now, let’s see if your version or mine better fits the context here. Well, if you look at what I said about 1 Cor 13 your idea would certainly be contradictory and would make Paul and the Holy Spirit incorrect or liars. If it is more like I think as the word revealed that wouldn’t contradict the rest of the bible especially the next few verses where it describes confirming, which was the purpose of those Spiritual gifts, to confirm the word. Once that word of Jesus was revealed and the entire gospel message was complete, then those miraculous gifts were no longer needed. In addition, since the apostles were the only ones who had the ability to pass those gifts on by the laying on of their hands, then no one else could receive those gifts after the apostles died. As far as Stone and Campbell, these are men that weren’t inspired and able to make mistakes, so if they got a few things wrong or not really makes no difference in comparison to the inspired scriptures, which are described as God breathed. We have the power of the Holy Spirit’s revelation from God the Father sent by Jesus revealed in the Holy perfect, complete written word, the bible. If it had the power to save those Christians of the first century as it was spoken by inspired men, certainly it can save us today if it’s written down for us.

      • garycummings says:

        The Gospel message was complete when it was first preached, so the argument that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer needed is not a valid or Biblically accurate statement.
        There is no Scripture which says the gifts of the Holy Spirit will cease. That is eisegesis or reading your opinion into the text of Scripture.

  35. Gary Cummings says:

    Let me make it clear, I was saved before I was baptized. I was baptized because I was saved and my sins had been forgiven. Baptism does not cause forgiveness of sins (this would make baptism causative), rather baptism is a response of salvation by faith (Romans 1:16-17). Since we are saved by faith from first to last, baptism does not precede either faith or salvation.
    That is my bottom line, salvation by faith. If you think demons or the devil have saving faith, you definitely have the exegetical problem, not me.
    Thanks, Gary

    • A simple Christian says:

      If I didn’t ask this right, I apologize, but let me try again and add a little. I was trying to find out when you think you became a Christian, at what point? Was it when you believed or when you were baptized after salvation as you stated. I’m assuming the prior but wanted to ask to be clear.
      Why were you baptized? Was it to be added to a Church and were you voted on by the congregation to be found acceptable for baptism?
      To clarify, I don’t think the devils, James 2:19, described had saving faith. My point was to point out the similarity in your description of your saving faith=belief only without actions that James is condemning as dead faith. I hope that helps. Sorry for the confusion.

  36. A simple Christian says:

    You see, you say you work from a “Faith paradigm”, when you don’t seem to even understand how the scriptures use the term faith. I’m not sure if you used to cherry pick scriptures when you were a part of the church of Christ but that’s not what we do. We take all of the bible in total and have greater faith when we see how so many writers don’t ever contradict each other, which is proof in itself of inspiration. Your interpretation seems not only to cherry pick only a very few scriptures but also to disavow a lot of the bible as error or untrue.
    I am working from a salvation by faith paradigm. You would claim the Holy Spirit writes His word on your heart, but why do you suppose we are told in the bible to study the written scriptures to show ourselves approved unto God. We write the scriptures on our hearts, not the Holy Spirit, when we study them, 2 Tim 2:15. You seem to miss the point that it’s again an action we take, not something God puts there for us. All Christians must work from a faith based system by hearing God’s word, which is where faith comes from, Rom 10:17, and putting what we believe into actions based on those beliefs. If we don’t take those actions then our faith is dead as we read in James. If we have this type of faith system that God has provided us, then we have God’s righteousness through His grace, not of anything we have done. This statement you made is correct, “this righteousness is a gift and received through faith.” Don’t you think you should understand what faith is and use it as the Holy Spirit used it in the bible? The good news or the gospel message is that Jesus came to earth, died and rose from the dead which we are able to emulate by our actions through the act of baptism which forgives us of our sins as the old body of sin dies in that watery grave, Rom 6:3-6. Do you suggest you are saved in your sins? Without them being removed?
    The bible states that salvation is by believing in God, confessing before witnesses Jesus is Lord, repenting of our past lives, being immersed in water, and remaining faithful until we die. All of these actions that God tells us to take for salvation is His will and if we abide in His will then we are faithful and can enjoy salvation. If your parents will you some money that you haven’t earned and you get a call from their lawyer saying all you have to do is go to his office and sign for it, did you earn that money? Not at all, but if you didn’t go and sign for the money you wouldn’t get the money….[edited for 500 word limit]

    • A simple Christian says:

      Your faith takes no actions by my understanding, except belief which Jesus calls a work and something that only you can do personally which by your own disdain of actions for salvation then would cause you to merit your salvation by your definition. By claiming only this one work as saving you are denying most of what God says in His word that saves us. That same word Jesus says will judge us in the last day. John 12:48 says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
      These are two very radically different paradigms. Your description of your system of false “Faith” is certainly Spiritual abuse when you claim that most of the work the Holy Spirit has done to give us God’s word given to us seems worthless by your words and your actions.

      • Gary Cummings says:

        Your response hardly merits a reply. You are on the works-righteousness bandwagon, which is the way of spiritual abuse and spiritual fraud. The COC is guilty of fraud. There is no work we can do to be saved. All we can “do” is to believe on the One God has sent, and this is not a work that merits salvation. Salvation is rooted in God’s grace. Your way is worthless, abusive, and demonic. I claim no work to save me. It is all of grace coming from the shed blood of the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, Nothing less.

  37. A simple Christian says:

    My review of Romans:
    Read Rom 1:18 about the truth, the bible, that many hold as unrighteous. which you appear to hold as unrighteous by acting upon your feelings that deny it. I’d ask you just to read Romans the first chapter again and see how our hearts and our own wisdom can mislead us apart from the righteous truth God has provided us in His word.

    Since you seem to like to use Rom 1:15-17 so much I thought this would be good to examine along with a general overview of Romans. If you find that the Greek is a lot different from the KJV feel free to point that out but since you made no request for a particular version, I’m using KJV here.
    If you read this in its own context first you may notice that Paul was wanting to preach the gospel to them. You claim we don’t need the written word. So, why would Paul need to preach to them. He wasn’t ashamed of what he might preach to them. These words he would preach and that they would hear had the ability to save them since it contained the power of God if they believed in it. It’s seems key to understanding the term for faith in verse 17 that the faith to faith reveals righteousness, so it was something visible. If we use your definition and use of faith as belief only, there would be nothing to be seen. Then Paul says, as it is written referring to scripture already written and goes on to say that our lives will reflect this faith.
    I’m not sure how you truly feel about God’s truth that was initially spoken and later written down for us, but certainly you can see the danger in thinking of it as unrighteous. Next, Paul says it is manifested in them, again something that should be visible.
    Romans 1:15-19
    So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

    Paul here says again it is clearly seen in the Christian leaving anyone disobedient without excuse. Then he goes on to describe how this happened when they were lead by their imagination to deny God’s will. This next part really looks like what you make of God’s word when you claim what you say is a better way that can be found by being faithful to the scriptures…[edited for brevity}

    • Gary Cummings says:

      The Lord Jesus Christ rebuke you. You are the denier of God’s Word and are a spiritual deceiver. I cease any further conversations with your Holy Spirit denying, Christ denying, grace denying, and spiritually dead understanding of the Bible. You are a spiritual infant who denies the grace and the power of God. You are one of the spiritual abusers and one of many in the COC. People like you are why people have left the COC in droves.
      Good bye and good luck standing before God on Judgement Day with your filthy rags of works. Salvation and righteousness is by faith from first to last. Unless you understand this, you will continue on your road to damnation.

      • A Simple Christian says:

        Gary,
        I only present you what God’s word says and if you don’t accept what God says; I think your argument is with Him. God’s will is revealed through His Holy Spirit in His word and that is all I’m presenting here in full context and understanding. By doing so I do not deny God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus. I completely accept God’s grace He has provided not something I made up to be His grace. By doing this I am alive in His Spirit not the death that comes by following men or accepting the feelings given by the lord of this world that God says to watch out for so we aren’t mislead. I am feasting on the meat of God’s word when you haven’t even accepted the milk. If it were not so, you could have offered at least a few scriptural references that truly supported God’s will with some semblance of understanding. It doesn’t matter how hateful you want to sound, it lends no credence to anything you say.
        As usual, you prove yourself wrong and me right repeatedly whether you know that or not. Once again, your spiteful, spewing is also reflected back at yourself. Just about everything you claim that I’m doing you are doing and leave no doubt with what you say and the way you act.
        I think one of the main problems with anything you have said during our discussions is that you continually demonstrate your lack of biblical knowledge even though you claim to have studied scriptures and even claim to have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If that were true, how is it that you do not understand what the word faith means in the bible? You are correct in the one phrase you try to hold on and base all your denial of God’s will on, but if you don’t understand what scriptural faith is, you miss the whole point. Many other words in the bible you don’t seem to understand either or misuse showing a lack of understanding and inspiration. How is it that your so-called Holy Spirit doesn’t know what these words mean or what the bible is saying that you appear not to understand? I think the answer is obvious.
        Again, you demonstrate your complete disregard for God’s word by choosing to make the bold statement, “The Lord Jesus Christ rebuke you.” I’ve heard this before from those who have the least understanding of God’s word. This is a man-made use of the word rebuke that’s not found in the bible. It is truly sad that so many don’t choose to simply try to understand the elementary parts of God’s word so that they can better understand what God’s word says as a whole. How is it that anyone should believe anything you claim when you don’t even understand simple words used in the bible? Would you expect anyone to listen to and trust someone who claimed to be a doctor when [500 word limit per day]

  38. A simple Christian says:

    Review of Romans (cont)
    Romans 1:20-25
    For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    Rom 6:17-18 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
    When you spoke of Spiritual slavery I thought of this scripture. We should understand we will be spiritually the slave to sin or righteousness, there is no in between. We can be righteous only by following the doctrine the Holy Spirit delivered to the first century Christians. Gal 1:6-10 explains this problem occurring soon after the gospel was being delivered. Paul explains that anyone teaching anything else should be accursed. Notice that the way it is described here it was after obedience to the doctrine that they were then free from sin.
    Rom 8:7 says that the carnal mind is not subject to the law, which is what you are claiming when you say you aren’t subject to the law of faith found in the New Testament. You are being led by your carnal body or by your feelings, not by the truth that has been revealed through the Spirit of Jesus.
    Rom 10:8-14 starts by describing the word that they have heard preached to them causing them to take certain actions like believing and then confessing and then goes on to describe them calling on the name of the Lord. All are actions that they must take that will save them. If we relate calling on the name of the Lord with the action that Paul had to take to be saved in Acts 22:16, we see being baptized is referred to as calling on the name of the Lord. If we are guided by the Holy Spirit today to tell us what we have to do to be saved, why was it that these first century people had to hear the word preached to them?
    Rom 10:17 says faith comes from hearing God’s word. You are saying the opposite. You obtain your faith by ignoring so much of the bible by being lead [500 word limit]

  39. A simple Christian says:

    Review of Romans (cont2)
    Rom 12:1-2 says we are to prove the perfect will of God through the sacrifice of our bodies which is very similar to what Paul described in the description of the act of baptism in Rom 6:3-6, when our physical carnal self dies in baptism.
    Rom 16:17 says to watch out for those who go against the doctrine the apostles were teaching. Then 16:26 refers to commandments of God and ends with obedience of faith. Faith is again defined by scripture as being based on actions taken from what one believes God has told us to do. Not belief only.

  40. A simple Christian says:

    Gary (continued from yesterday’s post),
    Would you expect someone to listen to and trust someone who claimed to be a doctor if they didn’t appear to remember the names and uses of organs or how those organs worked in the body?
    It appears that the major problem with your approach is that you don’t appear to need the bible or anything the Holy Spirit has said in the bible and that you have gotten so far from the truth you don’t even know how lost you are. I think the most fortunate thing that could come from our discussions is that anyone who reads what we’ve posted can determine who has an understanding of a God’s word and may start looking for God’s truth again in His word, and not listen to your words or those of any other man that oppose what God has said. I would recommend you go back and start reading the bible again, not listen to what you think you are being inspired to think by God that then makes Him appear to be a liar or not know what He was doing in the bible.
    Your misuse of the word rebuke again demonstrates your lack of knowledge or concern about what God thinks, unless you want some natural disaster to befall me as was occurring at times when this word was used in the scriptures in the Old Testament. The other times this word is used, it simply means to show someone how they are making claims against God and His word so that they might correctly believe in God again by doing what He says. I’ve been doing that the entire time we have been having these discussions, again, whether you realize it or not.
    To close this discussion I would encourage you and anyone else that reads this to do a simple word search in a digital bible or a concordance and see who is correctly using this word, rebuke, and even more to see how Gary by using this word without an understanding of what he is saying disproves what he has been saying all along.
    (I will post the completion to this tomorrow since I’m limited to 500 words per day)

  41. A Simple Christian says:

    Gary, (continued from 2 days ago)
    Let’s just see what God’s pure and perfect word, ESV, says through the Holy Spirit from the scriptures and I will let It speak for Itself.

    Prov 30:6, Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

    Matt 16:22-23, 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

    2 Tim 4:1-4, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Titus 1:13-16, This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

    Col 2:11-14, In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.

  42. asilzer1 says:

    I think I grew up in a hardline CoC. The more I read and learn the more I see it. I even remember asking about whether or not my father was a Christian as he was baptized in the Lutheran church as an infant and being told, very emphatically and by a young man whom I barely knew, that my father was not as he was not correctly baptized. This hurt me extremely and I still carry that nearly 15 years later.
    One thing I have been mulling over is this… Sauls conversion… Where from what I remember (without going to my Bible to check) and to my knowledge there is no mention of baptism whatsoever. Just throwing it out there and wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

  43. garycummingsa says:

    asilzert.
    I hear what you say. Paul was converted and saved. Later he was baptized in Damascus because he had been saved. In the New Testament people are baptized after salvation. I do believe, based on Paul’s teaching in Romans, that “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
    Faith saves us, not baptism. Baptism is like marriage,we get married married for love. We are already in love before the marriage takes place. Likewise we are already saved prior to our baptism.

    • Rachel T Green says:

      Quite the discussion. I no longer attend the COC but still very much believe that Faith+Repentance+Baptism=Salvation. All the Early Church Father writings agree with this as well so the COC is not in poor company when teaching that one must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The Scripture simply says just that. The word “eis” that always comes up is translated as “for – with an eye toward” in Acts 2:38 and not as “because of (meaning you have been forgiven already so now be baptized).” So that argument doesn’t hold up once one goes through a Greek Lexicon.

      Second, when the issue of “works” is thrown out there. That argument doesn’t hold much water either because James 2:24 says, “You see that a person is justified by what he DOES AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE.” All through the Scripture we see people get what God has promised through obedience. There is nothing new about that and let me say this. Does one consider the sinners prayer a “work’? I always find it sadly humorous that being baptized, being immersed in water, is somehow considered a work but the person being instructed to open and their mouth and say a particular prayer is not considered a “work” (something they must do in order to obtain forgiveness). In both cases, folks are being instructed in something they MUST do. The real issue is that EVERYONE agrees that there is something that must be done by the sinner prior to being saved. The question that must be asked is “What’s being required and is that biblical?” The Sinner’s prayer is found no where in Scripture. Baptism is.

      I really want this to be pictured. I have never gone to a fellowship where the belief is faith only and the sinner just sits in their seat and leaves saved in their own mind. NEVER!!! There is ALWAYS a work to be done beforehand, ALWAYS. That fact alone always tells me that the understanding of “works” is something that must be taught to the people because it’s not understood. So folks will fuss about what they do see done in Scripture but won’t raise an eyebrow over what is never seen in Scripture as the way to obtain forgiveness/salvation. Isn’t that odd??? I would encourage everyone to look up the word “works” that is used in James and do a study of this word in Scripture to get a good idea of what “works” he is referring.

      The whole teaching that faith alone saves is not biblically supported. It’s just not. In fact the person this belief is attributed to is Martin Luther. Well this site gives a great compact view of what he believed (http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-exactly-is-lutheran-view-of.html). He believed the same thing that the COC teaches in terms of baptism for forgiveness and how this is obtained through water baptism.

      Having said all that, I will say this. The original posters concern was two-fold in my opinion. One, being that the father was baptized as an infant and the second, not being aware that it’s for the forgiveness of sins. I do not believe that a person must know everything about baptism in order to respond in obedience and receive what God has promised. In other words, if someone reads the bible and sees that it says everyone who believes and is baptized will be saved and responds, then I believe that person is saved. I also believe that it is our duty to teach ALL the benefits of being baptized according to Scripture. I would prefer that every man knows what God does through this act of obedience BEFOREHAND. The reality is that many have not been told but they have received instruction of some sort that is biblical. Another exercise would be to talk to people who have gotten baptized without learning this aspect. Their stories match Scripture. How they felt after they got baptized, matches Scripture but they were not given the biblical background for that experience, the verbiage. One guy said he wanted to be baptized because he didn’t feel clean. Another expressed that baptism was the real point at which they were turning themselves into God for good and never turning back. The point I’m making is that the genuine repentant soul experiences exactly what the Scriptures talk about without knowing the verses unless they have been taught something different which brings me to the genesis of “Faith Only.”

      Romans 10:9 being taught as the instructional passage for obtaining salvation did not start until sometime around the 1700s during the Great Awakening and possibly before then. This is significant when we consider that it wasn’t taught during the 1st and 2nd centuries of the church’s existence. Draw your own conclusion after studying.

      It is also good to know that not everyone who is COC accepts the view that the person who didn’t know is not saved. One such teacher within that organization would be Douglas Jacoby. He has done a phenomenal job of trying to teach that the Church of Christ is not solely within the ICOC but rather we have many brothers/sisters in other denominations who have responded in faith/obedience and been baptized and are saved having not known that it was “For”: the forgiveness of sins. He also makes it clear that they would need to be taught and receive that truth.

      In terms of infant baptism. I was baptized as a child as well and didn’t receive that baptism. One, who knew anything at that time? This was a decision made by my parents for me as a child. What I do think now is that with the level of information available and the kids just getting smarter at a younger age, we are going to see youth get saved at very early ages because they are able to understand the gospel. I’m good with that but as a baby, no. In Scripture I see that everyone makes a decision based on being taught the Word and infant baptism doesn’t fit.

      What can we say about the poster’s father. I’m always hesitant to say a person will not make it. I do believe that God has the final Word. I can’t tell you how many sincere people I have seen who have been lied to from the pulpit. It is my hope that God has mercy. I won’t teach anything other than what I see in Scripture but I will not overstep my boundaries and say what God will or won’t do with the soul of a man I don’t know. God knows that person, knows what the person knew and all of that. I’m comfortable leaving it to God and preaching the gospel as laid out in Scripture. I say, one shouldn’t take the chance thinking that God will understand if I don’t get baptized.

  44. garycummingsa says:

    It is all by faith, from first to last. Romans 1:6-17. Faith is not a work which can save,A person can be baptized a 1,000 times and still not be saved. It is by faith.

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