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Question #359

Questions about the Crossroads Movement.

I came across your website and I think it’s great! Thank you so much for all of your hard work. The information has helped me a lot. I’ve been a Christian now for about a little over 2 years and I’m trying to gain greater understanding of sound biblical doctrine. I was reached out and baptized into the Los Angeles Church of Christ and I was hoping that you could provide me with some insight as to what biblical discipling relationships should look like. To what extent is a Christian to seek and follow advice of elders/spiritual leaders? What is meant by being “open” and “confessing sin” – confessing to the person with whom you have sinned against or confessing to anyone for advice? When does this become gossip?

The Answer:

If I read this question correctly, it comes from one who has been converted into what is commonly referred to as the “Cross Roads Movement.” It arose out of the church of Christ. It requires converts to be “mentored” for lack of a better word by one who is higher is the group. This involves confessing to that person the sins of the convert and it becomes a method of controlling the convert. There is certainly scriptural support for the concept of confessing our sins one to another (James 5:16); however, this does not support a “forced” or “required” confession by a novice to a superior. This practice smacks of the Roman Catholic’s forced confession to the priest. For a full discussion of James 5:16 please see “Class: James and Jude,” Lesson 10.

The concept of an open confession of sin probably comes from Acts 8 where Peter told Simon the Sorcerer to repent and pray that the thought of his heart might be forgiven. Simon’s response was to request Peter to pray for him. Thus those who have sinned publicly often confess their sins openly and ask the congregation to pray for them. This seldom contains the identification of specific sins. While confessed before the brethren, only God can forgive, and he already knows what those sins are.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with seeking spiritual advice from those whom you trust. A part of that trust would or should be that the one to whom you speak would respect your confidence and not confide it in others. Should such confidences be broken that would constitute gossip and/or tale bearing and would sin within itself.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)