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Question #363

Please comment on this quote from a Baptist.

Please comment on the following textual summary distributed by a local Baptist Church teaching a lesson on the above subject:

"Not all Christians are the same age or the same growth level..Some Christians are still young children. The Scripture text establishes the idea that we are at different levels of faith and growth. We must, therefore, learn to love each other and to respect each other's actions in matters where the foundation of our faith is not in question. Spiritual arrogance is to be avoided at all costs. There are some areas that we can be tolerant about such as, for instance, how often we take the Lord's Supper and whether when we do take it that we serve grape juice or real wine. Some Churches serve grape juice while others serve wine. This issue has no bearing on salvation. But we can only have zero tolerance for those who deny the resurrection of Christ because our whole system of salvation turns upon His being alive. The way in which we practice our religion should not be held up for ridicule because we all belong to Christ. Christ died that we might have this freedom will we now deny it to our brothers? Christ will judge us all when He returns in glory".

The Answer:

The Restoration Movement had a motto that there should be “in matter of faith unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things charity.” That seems to be what this article is saying but in more words. Disagreements arise not from this principle but from disputes about which matters fall into the realm of faith and which fall into the realm of opinion. For example, this article suggests that how often the Lord’s Supper is observed in a matter of opinion. However, the example of scripture is that it should be observed “Upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). Some might say that this does not say “every” first day of the week. On the other hand when God used the same linguistic structure when he commanded, “Remember the Sabbath,” did he mean every Sabbath, or only quarterly or annually? To ask the question is to answer it.

It is sad but true that such urgings of tolerance are often used these days to suggest that those who defend the teaching of the scripture on matters of faith are intolerant and unloving. The truth is that it is those who are seeking to shift matters of faith into matters of opinion are the ones doing violence to the Word of God.

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)