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Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

Little Word—Big Meaning

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Jesus once said, “We must work the works of him that sent me…” (John 9:4). Must refers to that which is necessary, indispensable, required, or obligatory. What are some things we must do (emph. DM in all quotes)?

• We MUST Believe in God: “And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11: 6). Belief is the necessary beginning point in anyone’s relationship with God. Those who genuinely believe in God also believe in His Word and in Jesus Christ, His Son. The context of this passage (all of the chapter) indicates that the belief God requires is more than a mere intellectual admission of His existence. Rather, it is one that cannot be defined apart from obedience to His will (cf. Jam. 2:14–26).

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From Heaven or From Men?

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            In His immortal Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:  depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Mat. 7:21–23).

            This passage teaches a great and fundamental Truth: the vanity, presumptuousness, and danger of doing anything that Jehovah has not authorized. In His sweeping principle, the Lord embraced every item that one might list as an ingredient of faithfulness to God and His Son. If one has his heart set on doing "all in the name of the Lord" (Col. 3:17), he will be faithful in all things.

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Recognizing and Interpreting Synecdoches

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Introduction

Both literature and the spoken word abound with figures of speech—words or phrases that are used to mean something other than their normal or literal meanings. Figures of speech are actually a “language within a language,” and in everyday speech we do not stop to think about them, but we immediately and automatically “translate” them. The Greeks called these “tropes” (from tropos, a turn) because they represent “turns” or variations from the normal and literal meaning of words. We expect the poet’s pen to be filled with figures, but prose contains its share of them, too. Additionally, both formal orations made from the public platform and ordinary daily conversations are liberally sprinkled with such word pictures. In fact, I have already used several figures in the foregoing comments (e.g., the spoken word for millions of words, the poet’s [singular] for all poets, pen for the actual words written by poets, filled with for containing many, the platform for any place of public address, liberally sprinkled with for frequently occurring, and perhaps others that have escaped me [escaped me for my failure to see them]).

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Denominationalism—Its Causes, Contradictions, Consequences, and Cures

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Manuscripts page.]

Introduction

The Apple Online Dictionary defines the religious connotation of denomination as “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church.” The honest and perceptive student of Scripture realizes that Christianity in the days of the apostles was vastly different from the maze of today’s conflicting, confused, and convoluted denominational structure commonly called “denominationalism.” An unknown (but appreciated) author has given us the following incisive description of denominationalism:

A denomination is a religious body with extra-Biblical peculiarities distinguishing it from the church revealed in the Bible. It is utterly impossible for any denomination to exist without men believing something, doing something, being something, saying something, or having something that is not in the Word of God. All denominations teach more or less of what is in the Bible. However, the things they teach that are in the Bible do not make them denominations, but the things they teach that are not in the Bible.

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Conversion Confusion

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

            Conversion is the theme of the New Testament. It embraces redemption, forgiveness, and salvation—the purpose of Jesus’ coming. To “convert” means to change/turn from one’s present course. One’s salvation depends upon his conversion (Mat. 18:3; Acts 3:19), so we must understand the New Testament’s teaching concerning it. Few subjects, however, involve more confusion than this one does.

           Conversion brings one from sinner to saint, from lost to saved, from non-Christian to Christian, and it involves three distinct and necessary changes.

  • Conviction change: Picture a “casual” unbeliever in God and Jesus—one who has just not thought seriously about the subject. He drives a car, consults a GPS unit, depends on a smart phone, and operates a computer. He knows such articles required intelligence, design, and manufacturing. He applies this reasoning to the universe and to his own body; he cannot attribute them to blind accident. He reads the Bible’s statement that an omniscient, omnipotent, eternal God created all things (Gen. 1:1)—the rational explanation of origins. He reads of Jesus in the Gospel, and moved by His miracles and His love for mankind, he believes in Him as God’s Son. His convictions have changed; the unbeliever now believes. Jesus said, “Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). To millions, belief alone equals conversion. What does the Bible teach?
  • Mind-life change: The Bible word for this change is repentance. The basic meaning of this word is a change of mind—the decision to turn from a life of sin and self to one that follows wherever Jesus leads through His New Testament. One may believe that Jesus is the Christ without deciding to abandon sin and serve Him. Repentance is the point at which he “makes up his mind” to do so, and then he does so (Mat. 3:8). Jesus said that one will perish if he does not repent (Luke 13:3). Does repentance complete conversion? The Bible answers, “No.”
  • Relationship-to-God change: While faith and repentance move one toward God and His Son, these do not bring one into fellowship with Them. This relationship change is accomplished in baptism, wherein one’s sins are forgiven, “washed away” in the blood of Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rev. 1:5). At this point—and not before—one is added to the church of Christ because he is saved (Acts 2:47). In baptism (i.e., immersion in water)—and not before—one enters “into Christ” (Rom. 6:3–4; Gal. 3:27). Thus believers on Pentecost were commanded to “repent and be baptized” to receive forgiveness of sins/salvation (Acts 2:38).

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