You need to know what is wrong with this argument.

A denominational preacher on TV, Adrian Rogers, in an effort to show that baptism is not UNTO the remission of sins, put forth an argument I have heard others use, including some of my own brethren. He said that in Acts 2:38 Peter commanded the people to be baptized BECAUSE OF the remission of sins, not “in order to” remission. He said that the Greek preposition “eis” means “because of.” What did he offer as proof? He cited Mat. 12:41 where Jesus said that Ninevah repented “at the preaching of Jonah” and the word is “eis” as it is in Acts 2:38. He interpreted Jesus as saying that Ninevah repented because of the preaching of Jonah.

Here is what is wrong with this argument:

(1) It contradicts the definition of the word. Denominational theologians take it upon themselves to arbitrarily redefine this word to mean “because of” or some other meaning. Responsible lexicographers do not concur. No recognized lexicographer ever defined “eis”as meaning “because of.” It is defined in every lexicon, dictionary, or commentary as meaning “into” or “unto” or “in the direction of.” It means that in Acts 2:38 and it means that in Mat. 12:41. If you read the book of Jonah you will find that the Ninevites repented “in the direction of” Jonah’s preaching. That record sets forth the adjustments the Ninevites made in their repenting. They changed from what they had been doing over to what Jonah preached. Thus they repented “UNTO” or INTO the preaching of Jonah. What Jesus said about it is correct.

(2) Try reading Mat. 26:28 with the “because of” definition. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for (“eis”) the remission of sins.” If “eis” means “because of” then Jesus shed His blood because sins had already been remitted. That, of course, is flagrantly false and so is the perverting of Acts 2:38 to accomodate an anti-baptism theory. What those who preach that theory need to look at is what else Jesus said in that passage. He said the men of Ninevah will rise up in judgment against men like you, who do not respond to God’s message as they did, but argue with it instead.

But someone says “Cornelius and the Gentiles with him received the gift of the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.” No, the text says they received the Holy Spirit Himself, not the gift of the Spirit” i.e. the gift given by the Spirit. “While Peter was yet speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” (Verse 44) Then Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Verse 48) This, as in Acts 2:38, was to receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit,” which is the new birth into the family of God. This is the purpose of baptism and Jesus said it cannot be achieved any other way. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Teaching that salvation occurs before and without baptism is a mistake with eternal consequences.

Jesus also said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Regardless of what arguments men may devise to try to prove that baptism is not appointed as a condition to salvation, these facts of scripture remain. They will still be true after the world has ended and we all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

No, this does not mean that in obeying this command we earn salvation. It simply means that, as Jesus said, we do the will of the Father in heaven and the Lord saves those who do that. (Heb. 5:9) For a more thorough discussion of this point read our companion article “setting the record straight.”





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Al Maxey says that his new book, “Immersed by one Spirit” is the account of how he changed his view of the purpose of baptism. The publisher’s announcements say the same thing. And what was that original view that he now calls error and where did it come from?

To track down the origin of that “error” you have to go all the way back to the Holy Spirit. Al’s original view was that the purpose of baptism is the remission of sins and salvation. He got that from the teaching and practice of the apostles. The apostles got it from Jesus who said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” And Jesus got it from the Holy Spirit. The record says that He was taken up “after that He, through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He has chosen.” (Acts 1:8) So the commandments He gave the apostles came from the Holy Spirit.

And what were those commandments? He told them to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things He had commanded them. (Mat. 28:19-20) Note that this is written in participles, meaning that “make disciples” and “baptizing them” occur at the same time. Thus, beginning on Pentecost day, the apostles taught people to be baptized for this purpose. When the people obeyed this Gospel the Lord added them to the number of the saved. Now don’t you know these heavenly messengers have been anxiously awaiting Al’s book so they can find out where they made their mistake?

I am sure heaven’s spokesmen will now rewrite the scriptures. The Holy Spirit will have learned that He was the element in which people were supposed to be baptized, not water, as Jesus and the apostles thought. Acts 2 will have to be revised. Instead of saying that He fell upon the 120 gathered in the upper room it will say that he fell in a nearby lake and filled it with Himself so they could be baptized in Him. In Acts 8 the eunuch will say, “Here is a lake. We can fill it with the Holy Spirit and I can be baptized there.” In the 10th chapter Peter, instead of commanding “water, that these should be baptized” will command the Holy Spirit to come back again and this time get it right, be the element in which they are baptized. In chapter 16 the account of the Phillipian jailor will say, “They took him, the same hour of the night, filled a bath tub with the Holy Spirit, and baptized him and his family there in.

After the corrections are made Revelation 20 will say, “All the dead, small and great, stood before God and the books were opened, and another book was opened which was Al Maxey’s book, and corrections were made in the first books according to what Al had written. Then all who wanted to go into heaven were sent there and the others were consigned to eternity in a mean old church of Christ, where they will have to hear the original version of the Bible preached every Sunday forever. There will be weeping and gnashing of pages.”

“According to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will turn away their ears from the truth and be turned to fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-3)



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In Mat. 7:23 Jesus said that at the judgment He will say to some people, “Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” Al discusses this in his Reflections and he just can’t figure out what their problem was. Maybe if he reads it again “you who practice lawlessness” he might get a clue as to why Jesus rejected them. Maybe if it were put in italics, “you who practice lawlessness” he might get it. Al, Jesus said their problem was lawlessness.

Al speculated in the opposite direction, He said, “They knew law, but not love; they possessed facts, but not faith!” Isn’that a remarkable conclusion? Especially so since Jesus said they were lawless and the previous verse indicates that they had a lot of faith in that they did many great things IN HIS NAME.

But instead Al says, “His concern was that they had no heart-connection with Him. They were going through the “religious motions,” but it profited them nothing!” I wonder who told Al that? The truth is I know where it came from. The fact is this is the favorite barricade of denominational liberalism against the light of truth, everything is a matter of what you “feel” in your heart, not a matter of what God has said.

Al just isn’t listening to Jesus at all. He lines up with Ellen G. White who wrote, “It is part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask.” (The Great Controversy, pg.525) He quotes Adam Clarke, who also lines up with that, along with Pulpit Commenary and several other denominational sources.What Jesus said just does not communicate. What His apostles said doesn’t either. For instance John’s inspired statement, “He who says ‘I know Him’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him. But whoever keeps His word truly the love of God is perfected in Him.”  (1 John 2:4-5)

Look again at that scene in Mat 7:22-23. In the previous verse (21) Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” Look at that again Al. He who does what? “He who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” But you just can’t figure that out, can you?

Al’s mistake is obvious, faulty logic. The fact that we cannot earn salvation, to him, means that we cannot do anything that will impact it. That is not sensible reasoning. And where did he get that idea? From denominational theologians. They have thought that way for centuries. The Bible demonstrates over and over that a gift from God is received when one meets whatever conditions God has placed there. For example, Naaman did not earn the healing of his leprosy when he dipped seven times in the Jordan river, but he received it at that point because that was the condition God had placed there. Conditional gifts from God is a Biblical idea. Declaring them unconditional when God has placed conditions there is unbelief.

As the bottom line Al says it is all about LOVE. To sum it up he wrote this: “Salvation is a GIFT, it is not WAGES due. It is for those whose hearts are filled with faith and love, not for those who sought to keep forms and laws.” But what did Jesus say about that? He said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) But Al cannot get love and commandment keeping together.

This is from the one who would presume to lead the brotherhood out of the “darkness” of obedience to God’s laws and into the “light” of human theology, the concept of lawless liberalism. But I wonder, how can you lead anybody anywhere if you can’t read? Even if your blindness is self imposed it is still soul condemning. Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind both will fall into the ditch.”(Matthew 15:14) I guess we can only pray that Al will some day open his mind to the words of scripture.

I still pray for you;



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For well over a hundred years advocates of the doctrine of salvation before obedience have tried to use 1 Corinthians 12:13 to deny that immersion in water is the baptism Jesus commanded and which puts one into Christ. Actually this is one of their weakest arguments because the Bible is so specific in what it says about the matter. But remarkably some of our own brethren have taken up that argument and now Al Maxey, who preaches for a church of Christ, has published a book with the above title, evidently thinking he has dug out a brilliant new truth to enlighten the church of Christ people. To see how weak it is in comparison with scripture you only have to look up some expressly stated Bible facts.

The scriptures distinguish clearly between “baptism in the name of Christ” (in water) and baptism in the  Holy Spirit.

Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to all the world and said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” He also told them, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5) It was these apostles who were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, not the people to whom they preached. The purpose was not to make them disciples but Jesus said it was to enable them to deliver the Gospel to the world. At verse 8 He said they would receive power “and you shall be witnesses to me in Judea, in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is exactly what happened. After the Holy Spirit came on the apostles they carried out this assignment. They never commanded anyone to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Look at what happened when this “power” Jesus spoke of came upon them in Acts 2. They did preach and some people were “cut to the heart” and cried out “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Notice the sequence. (1) They were baptized in the name of Jesus and then (2) they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Obviously being baptized for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit are two different things. Receiving the Holy Spirit Himself is yet another.

Then notice in the 8th chapter when they preached the Gospel in Samaria people were baptized. But the text says specifically they had not received the Holy Spirit, again showing that being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit are two different things. Verse 14 says when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God they sent Peter and John, who prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, “for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord, Jesus.” Notice, they had received the word of God, they had been baptized in the name of Jesus. But they had NOT received the Holy Spirit. How could it be made any clearer that baptism in the name of Jesus is not baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Yes, the scriptures are quite clear as to what the baptism is that Jesus commanded. In that same 8th chapter of Acts Phillip went to the eunuch in the chariot and “preached Jesus to him.” Then the text says  that as they went along they came to some water. They came to what? Water. And the eunuch said, “Here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Did Philip say? “No, we’ll have to find a lake that is filled with the Holy Spirit so you can be baptized in that element?” No. He said if you believe with all your heart you may.” Remember, he had “preached Jesus to him.”

Acts 19 demonstrates this truth again. The Ephesians had been baptized according to John’s baptism. Paul taught them correctly and they were baptized in Jesus’ name. Then Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Note the sequence. (1) They were baptized, (2) Paul laid hands on them, (3) They received the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not the baptism of the Gospel. These are two separate things in the scriptures.

“Faith only”people love to argue that the coming of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius meant that he was saved before he was baptized in water. But that case destroys their argument on 1 Cor 12:13 because after the Holy Spirit came Peter said, “Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 10:47-48) Again, notice the sequence.  After they had received the Holy Spirit Peter commanded them to be baptized “in the name of the lord Jesus.” For that he specified  “WATER.” Baptism in the name of Jesus is baptism in water and it was commanded after they had received the Holy Spirit.

Here is the key to their mistake. From whence comes the command to be baptized? How did the apostles know to command baptism and that its purpose was the remission of sins? It is obvious from what these brethren are teaching that human reasoning would not conclude that. They don’t. But Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them “into all truth,” (John 16:13) This is the sense in which “by one spirit we are all baptized into one body.” The Holy Spirit directed it. He is the source from which they knew baptism’s purpose and He is the source from which we know its purpose now. The mind of man would not figure that out and take people in that direction.

Also in John 16 Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convince the world of sin.” How would He do that? He directed the apostles in preaching to the people and that produced the conviction that is attributed to the holy Spirit. By reading the accounts of people being convinced of sin we see exactly how it was done. The same thing is true of baptism into Christ. By reading the accounts of this happening we see exactly how it was done. Every time the element in which they were baptized is specified it is water. It was done at the injunction of the Spirit. Thus “by one Spirit” we are all immersed into Christ. The Holy Spirit is not the element in which we are baptized. He is the provider of the directive that tells us to be baptized. It is a serious mistake to conclude that the Holy Spirit is the element. That mistake turns us from the purpose Jesus assigned to baptism.

Thus Jesus said, “Except a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) This is the one thing Satan does not want you to know and accept. All the good works in the world can not save. But getting into Christ and remaining there does make one saved. Paul said repeatedly that we are “baptized into Christ,” “baptized into His death,” that in doing so we “put on Christ.” Baptism is the only act of which the Bible says this. The promise of Jesus is “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16:16) We trust that because we have “faith in the working of God.” (Col. 2:12) Don’t let Al Maxey or anyone else deceive you into placing your faith in what human theory says will bring salvation. Jesus said expressly that merely saying to Him “Lord, Lord,” will not get one into the kingdom but doing the will of the Father will. (Mat. 7:21)



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Several have written me wondering why “church of Christ bashing” has become so popular. Al Maxey’s relentless attacks are a puzzle for many. What several of you said is true. He is drunk with self promotion. He is doing what he has seen pay off for others. He has seen Max Lucado sell out the truth, become popular with denominational people, and literally make millions in publishing materials. He has seen Rubel Shelly and others preach a compromised message and achieve fame, many speaking appointments, and even high positions in the church in the same way. He has seen radical left wingers acquire huge followings and build mega churches and other organizations, by preaching what most people want to hear.

On the other hand these same liberals have seen Gospel preachers who remain faithful to the word, barely make it financially, preach pearls of Biblical wisdom to small audiences, and receive ridicule and mockery from the religious elite. I am told that Billy Graham once spoke to a group of Gospel preachers and he said to them, “I know that sins are forgiven at baptism. But if I preached that I would be preaching to small audiences like you are.” What did Jesus say about the “broad way” and where it leads?

In John 13 Jesus expressed sadness about the one who would betray Him for thirty pieces of silver. “He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.” In that context He said His disciples would experience similar things. “The servant is not greater than his master.” Later, in chapter 15, He reminded them that He had said that and applied it this way: “If they persecuted me they will also persecute you.” (Vs.20) Then He stated why they do such things.  “All these things they will do to you for my name’s sake because they do not know Him who sent me.”

That is the heart of the matter right there. These men do not know the God of the Bible. They know the god of Joel Osteen. The God of the Bible said that He is a covenant keeping God and requires His people to be the same. The God of Joel Osteen says that “God loves you just as you are and he is going to give you great blessings today. You don’t need to be concerned about anything.” The God of the Bible said, “This is the covenant that I will make with them, I will put my laws in their minds and wrote them on their hearts…” (Heb. 8:10) The god of Osteen and Maxey says, “God’s covenant is a covenant of grace, not a covenant of laws. His gifts are not based on obedience to commands.”

Those who go that way are all on the same ground. They are not willing to a “level playing field” as the Bible specifies it: “Prove all things. Hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) That is a contemptious idea in their circles. They demand acceptance of their doctrines without question. They harshly condemn the very act of disagreeing with them. They know they cannot meet the truth of the Bible on equal footing so they will not try. They refuse to discuss or debate, they just tell you what to believe and if you do not quickly accept it they dismiss you as a trouble maker.

To demonstrate that this is the truth here is a debate proposition. I challenge any of  them to debate it. I will affirm that

The views of our current liberal element is not faith according to the Bible definition of faith.

Olan Hicks





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A brother wrote concerning me, “My friend at this year’s TULSA WORKSHOP felt that the purpose for church assemblies is to praise God. I see in apostolic writings that our LIFE must be lived to praise and please our God and in service for Him. But I fail to see in APOSTOLIC writings or in their example that the church was ever called to meet together in order to do their worshipping together. They were encouraged to live every day as praise to God. Isn’t that what the Word teaches?”

Here you have a half truth but some brethren see it as the whole truth and that is very harmful. Al Maxey, for example, in one of his “Reflections” articles entitled, “Superogatory,” argued that the assembly is only horizontal, for purposes having to do with our relationship with each other.

Jesus specified two things we must do in respect to God, not just one. “You shall worship (proskuneo) the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve. (letreuo)” ((Mat. 4:10) Worship God and serve God are the two basic responsibilities of believers. The first word means to prostrate one’s self before God and the second word means to do service to God, though it also is often translated “worship.” Somehow some brethren have gotten the idea that there is only one kind of worship, “letreuo,” the serving kind. Thus they see Romans 12:2, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service,” (letreuo) as indicating that all of life is a worship and no other is required.

That is a mistake. The word says many times that we are to live our lives in a way that glorifies God in all that we do, even in serving other people. But that is only one part of honoring Him as God. The word also says many times that we must worship Him in the sense of “proskuneo,” prostrating ourselves before Him. You say you have not found a passage portraying worship toward God in an assembly. You just haven’t looked far enough. The Bible does set that forth clearly and often. For instance Heb. 2:12  says it expressly,  “In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to you.”

You say the early Christians sang to each other, not to God.  I invite you to look again at Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16. The first passage says, “Speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in you heart to the Lord.” Making melody to whom? “To the Lord.” The second passage says, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Grace in your hearts to whom? “To the Lord.” I would say that your conclusion that our assemblies are totally horizontal and not vertical, is contradictory to what God said about it.

Some seem to think that to justify exercizing liberty in some matter such as instrumental music in the assembly it is necessary to say that the assemblies are not directed toward God. That is not so. There is no command from God either way on the choice of music. You don’t need to minimize the importance of the assembly to respect that. But surely you know that the assemblies are a command. The word says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,” (Heb. 10:25) and then shows how serious it is by adding, “For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no more sacrifice for sins, but an anticipation of judgment and of fiery indgnation, which shall devour the adversary.” I cannot harmonize this with your idea that our assemblies are purely horizontal, not vertical, and are not even necessary.

This brother said, “ They ate together, we can assume, each Lord’s Day, and during the meal they broke bread and drank wine together in honor of Jesus and in His memory. Some sang to the others. Some prophesied to the others. And God was praised and pleased by their assembling.” When you say this you reduce the assemblies to nothing more than a series of pot luck dinners. That is getting close to blasphemy.

Jesus said He would build His church. (ekklesia, assembly) Paul said there was one of these in the house of Priscilla and Aquilla. (1 Cor. 16:19) At this time the church could not own property for they were an illegal entity. So they often assembled in homes. And what did they do there? When Peter was released from prison by an angel he went to the home of Mary, “where many were gathered together praying.” (Acts 12:12)

The scripture says Jesus was given to be “the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23) As the head of that church what does He direct? In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth he said, “The things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (14:37) In that letter he gave many instructions about their assemblies. One of these was about the Lord’s supper. He said, “When you come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” (1 Cor. 11:20) But it should have been for he said at Verse 22, “Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” It appears they were mixing the sacred reason for assembling, the Lord’s supper, with a common intake of food.  On that basis I would say that you really need to rethink your concept that the reason for assembling was to eat. Paul went ahead and said, “Whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” (Vs. 27) He added that such a one eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (Vs. 29)

This is an important issue you bring up. The Bible says, “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” that Paul preached to them and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7) When you arbitrarily rule that this was a common meal you fly in the face of the grammar of the passage and set aside the one activity of which Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of me.”  I hope you will reconsider.

See the article “The Lord’s supper on Sunday” in the “pages” section on this site.



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Believers have stumbled over this question for centuries. Do works have anything to do with salvation?

After His resurrection Jesus sent His apostles to deliver His message of redemption to the world. He said specifically that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47)

A few days later the Holy Spirit came upon them at Jerusalem, as the Lord had promised, and they did speak the message of God “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4) Concerning repentance and remission of sins here is what they said about it. “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Verse 41 says, “Then they who gladly received his word were baptized and there were added to them that day about 3,000 souls.” Verse 47 says that the Lord continued to add to their number daily those who were being saved. The rest of the book of Acts records that they preached the word everywhere and in every case of conversion the text says they were baptized.

One of these cases was at Ephesus (Acts 19). They were first mistaught and baptized according to John’s baptism. Then Paul taught them correctly and they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus.

Later Paul wrote an epistle to the Ephesians in which he said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

In the 16th century the protestant reformation movement began in opposition to the Roman Catholic concept of works of merit. In opposing that they went to an extreme the other way and concluded that works are not involved in our salvation at all. They lifted this statement by Paul from the context of the preaching done by the apostles, as recorded in Acts, and developed an interpretation of it as meaning they were saved by a “grace” that did not require the doing of anything, specifically baptism. But they did that.

From these two opposite extremes was handed down to future generations an unsolved riddle and a confusing conglomeration of viewpoints. If Jesus spoke the truth when He said that “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved…”(Mark 16:16) then how is it that we are saved “by grace, through faith, not of works”? The Bible says both of these. Can they both be true?

The Bible harmonizes these two statements. We need to recognize that “grace” is a divine concept, not a human concept and therefore we must let God tell us what He meant by it. If we are saved by it, doesn’t that mean it is important to understand it? Look at the Biblical usage of that word and this riddle clears up.

The statement of Eph. 2 is not only that we are saved by “grace” but also that it is “through faith.” So we ask, Faith in what? What must we believe? God’s word tells us we must believe two things. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

Several times Jesus said that He will “reward each one according to his works,” (Mat. 16:27) Did He mean that the works earn our salvation? No. He meant exactly what He said, that He will reward what we do. This is one of the things we must believe, “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seeks Him.”

This principle is illustrated throughout the Bible. Hebrews 11 is a chapter of examples. Verse 30 says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.” Does marching around a city have power to make walls fall down? No.  The Bible says it occurred “by faith.” Faith in what? They believed God would do what He promised when they obeyed.

In Col. 2:12 this principle is applied specifically to baptism. “…buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God.” Faith in the power of the water or the power of the act? No. Faith that God will reward our obedience.

Abraham, the “father of the faithful,” is a prime illustration of this. The command to offer his son on an altar was an extreme test of his faith. Why did he do it? Hebrews 11:17-19 says that he did it “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead…” In reference to this James said that Abraham was “saved by works” in the sense that “faith was working together with his works and  by works faith was made perfect.” (James 2:21-22) Then he said it was here that “the scripture was fulfilled which says ‘Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”

Moses had no power to part the Red Sea. But when he stretched forth his rod as God directed, the sea parted. Naaman had no power to heal his leprosy. But when he dipped seven times in the Jordan river as God directed his leprosy was healed. (2 Kings 5)

Man cannot save himself. But the Bible says that “to those who received Him he gave power (or right) to become children of God.” (John 1:12) So, though man cannot save himself, he can choose whether or not to be saved. On Pentecost day 3,000 people used that power and were saved through faith in the operation of God.

The grace of God that brings salvation is a teaching grace. It teaches us that “denying unGodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12) The idea that when we trust God enough to obey His required conditions, we are being saved by works, is Satan’s lie. He deceived Eve into believing that obeying God is not necessary. He wants to sell us exactly the same lie.


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What did Jesus say about “He who does not believe”?  (Mark 16:16)

In Eph. 2:8 we read, “For by grace you have been saved…” Should we believe this? Are we saved by grace? What if someone tells us “You are not saved by grace, you are saved by the blood.” Should we accept that? They can quote passages that say we are saved by the blood. Is their conclusion right?

In Romans 5:1 we read, “Being justified by faith we have peace with God.” Should we believe this? Are we justified by faith? What if someone tells us, “You are not justified by faith. That would be something you do. We are saved by grace, not by anything we do.” Shall we accept that?

In 1 Peter 3:21 we read, “There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism…” Should we believe this? What if someone tells us, “Baptism has nothing to do with salvation.” I hear evangelical preachers saying this all the time. Should we accept it? In Acts 22:16 Ananias told Saul, “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” But what if someone tells us, “Baptism cannot wash away sins.” Shall we accept that and reject these verses?

Jesus said, “The words which I have spoken shall judge him in the last day,” (John 12:48) Did He mean all of His words or only those which are not cancelled out by human theory? ? Is some of what He said excluded? At the judgment when the books are opened, (Rev. 20:12) will they still say what they say now? What if I stand there rejecting part of what is written?

These are all in the New Testament. Is it possible to believe them all at the same time?

1. We are saved by grace.

2. We are saved by faith.

3. We are saved by baptism.

4. We are saved by the blood of Jesus.

If not, why does the Bible say all of them at the same time? When Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” He added, “He who does not believe shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) We cannot afford to disbelieve anything the Lord said.

A BETTER IDEA: Instead of deciding which passages to believe and which ones to throw out, wouldn’t it make more sense to accept the fact that they all come from God and try to understand how they harmonize? If we did such a study we would come to understand these statements the way God does. We would find that we are saved by each of these in a different sense. The blood saves in the sense that it is the purchase price. Faith is not a purchase price, it is mental acceptance of what God said. But it is not possible to please God without it. (Heb. 11:6) Baptism is a condition, not a purchase price. But Jesus said it is necessary. “Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Paul said “It pleased God by the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21)

The bottom line is “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”  (Heb. 5:9) It requires faith to accept and obey all that He said. But this is the faith that saves. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19) But they do not have the kind of belief that saves. Human theology denies too much of what is written in the Bible. God said of it, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways.” (Isaiah 55:7) Real faith trusts all that the Lord said and obeys it. To see how important this choice is read what Jesus said about it in Matthew 7:21-23.



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“Beware of false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing…” (Matthew 7:15) This is a warning from the Lord Himself about disguise and deception. We need to know that Satan will not come to us dressed in a red suit and carrying a pitchfork. He will not only look like one of us he will sound like one of us. He will often be dressed in a typical suit and will carry a Bible and will quote from it.

Why does he look and sound like one of us? Because he is one of us, but his views are now distorted. In Acts 20 Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves.” (V. 30) I think such a person  might even believe that what he is saying is the truth, may not realize he is speaking falsely. But Paul urged the brethren to be watchful and said that for three years he had “warned everyone night and day with tears.” Clearly Paul took the Lord’s warning very seriously.

This does not justify undue suspicion and criticism, being anxious to convict everyone as a false prophet who disagrees with you. But it does mandate something. What is that? It is a mandate to watch out for perverse doctrines that are covered over with slick, good sounding words such as “love, grace, unity” etc. Paul said that Satan deceived Eve with craftiness, or subtelty, and he feared that we might fall victim to the same thing. To be careful about that we must look beyond the “great swelling words of emptiness” Peter warned about, (2 Peter 2:18) The “sheep’s clothing” disguise means its errors are not on the surface and immediately obvious. They are couched in words that sound good.

Men speaking perverse things: Edward Fudge, Max Lucado, Al Maxey and others.

When a man tells an audience, “There is nothing you can do to be saved,” as these men do, he is speaking a perverse doctrine. When he explains, after being pressed, that he meant you can’t earn it, and then goes ahead and says, “My relationship to Christ does not depend on keeping commandments,” He further underscores the “lawlessness” doctrine of denominationalism.

When a man says, “I no longer claim to be ‘church of Christ.’ I am a Christian independent of any church group,” as Al Maxey did, he is speaking the perverse doctrine that Christianity exists apart from the church Jesus built. He says, “I want to be just a Christian.” But a Christian is in Christ’s church, a concept he rejects. He says that trying to restore the undenominational “church of Christ” is a divisive and sectarian idea.

When a man says, “There are many out there who love the Lord and they are my brothers and sisters in Christ,” he advances the notion that the denominational plan of salvation, which is “the sinner’s prayer,” put them into the kingdom. Maxey and Fudge  both endorse it as each one says that he himself “knelt and asked Jesus to come into my heart and life.” This implies that Jesus was wrong when He said that one does not enter the kingdom by saying to Him “Lord, Lord,” but by obeying the will of the Father. (Mat. 7:21) Souls are pointed in a direction Jesus said is wrong.

It is not a question of WHO is right. It is a question of WHAT is right. All the pious platitudes and flattering words cannot make wrong doctrines right. They can only disguise what they really are. These brethren say over and over “I love the Lord and I obey His word,” and “I love my brethren,” but the facts do not bear this out. According to Jesus, if you loved Him you would keep His commandments and if you loved your brethren you would not want to mislead them.

God is the only judge and the only lawgiver. We will all stand before His judgment when this life ends. In the meantime we all have the responsibility to refuse to be fooled by false prophers wearing “sheep’s clothing.” I believe that a man who truly believes the Bible will be willing to speak the truth plainly and will not need to mask what he says with an avalanche of words. The idea that we obey God’s commands not to be saved but because we are already saved, is a fundamental of ”antinomianism,” which the Bible calls “lawlessness.” It is wrong. The sheep’s clothing disguise does not make it right. Jesus spoke the truth when He said that only those who do the will of the Father enter the kingdom of heaven, not those who ask in words,  or pray what is called the “sinner’s prayer.” This is another Gospel. Don’t accept it and be lost eternally, even from a brother. Paul said even an angel from heaven could not make it true.


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Facts as opposed to propaganda:

In the summer of 1787 representatives met in Philadelphia for the purpose of writing the United States constitution. They struggled over it for weeks and had made little progress until 81 year old Benjamin Franklin rose and addressed a convention that was about to adjourn in frustration. Franklin, once an avowed agnostic, said this: “In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. . . .

Have we now forgotten this powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? . . . God governs in the affairs of man, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it. I firmly believe this. . . .  I therefore beg leave to move that  henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning.” The measure was not adopted at that time but prayer to open congressional sessions did become the practice and continued for nearly two centuries.

The ACLU came into existence in 1920, founded by Roger Baldwin, a man who said, “I am for socialism…” and added, “communism is the goal.” It took the ACLU about 50 years to get prayer and all religious expression in American public life declared unconstitutional by the supreme court but they did it. They continue to file law suits against any Christian activity that can be seen by the public. Their primary weapon has been propaganda. It centers on denying America’s Christian heritage and the faith of the founding fathers.

They have a staff of lawyers in every state who constantly argue socialist-communist principles before the courts. Hugo Black, in the early 60s, was the first supreme court chief justice to buy into their unGodly premises. Based on a fallacious argument about a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson they  got the first amendment reversed. Instead of protecting the church from government interference as originally intended, it is now turned into a mandate to silence God in every area of public life. They created the concept called “separation of church and state.” Since then others have come on board and those falsehoods are now believed by many among the populace.

Using the lie that the constitution mandates separation of church and state, (it says the opposite) they focus on their main target, which is to reverse the idea that the founding fathers were men of faith and picture them instead as deists and agnostics, whose intention was to establish a society without God, essentially socialist-communism. The fact is several of the founding fathers were evangelists. What these founders actually said is displayed in documents at the museum in Washington so any honest person can know that they were men of strong faith.

History books changed to accomodate them.

Marxist socialism is an enemy of God because of the nature of what it is. Its basic thesis is that man is sufficient within himself to chart his own way and does not need God. The government can supply everything. So in every country where it has prevailed they had to evict God. They are in process now of “cleansing” America from all vestiges of faith and the religious concepts that go with it. They call themselves a “liberties union.” It is remarkable how many of our freedoms are denied in the name of “civil liberty.”

They have succeeded in changing what students now study in school as “history.” We used to read about the Christian foundations that produced our great country. We read about the “New England Charter,” which confirmed the purpose of the first pilgrims as being to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the glory of God. But no more. We don’t hear about the statements of individual colonies, such as the Rhode Island Charter, which begins, “We submit our persons, lives, and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of His given us in His holy word.” Now hidden is the fact that those Biblical laws were the foundation for the United States constitution.

George Washington said it would be impossible to govern this nation without God and the Ten Commandments. President John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” Because of the ACLU not only is the faith of the founding fathers deleted from history but they are said to have been immoral men, without faith or patriotism. They have searched everywhere to find something dirty to discredit each of these men because they want to replace Americanism with socialism.

TV stations join in promoting this propaganda. The “History channel” presented a “documentary” on John Adams and did not even mention his faith. Recently they did one on Benjamin Franklin. They reported his earlier stance as an agnostic and gave that as who he was, along with the fact that he fathered a child out of wedlock, as though that were his life long moral character. We never hear them report the fact that the first Bible translated into English in America was published by the United States congress!

On the TV news channels there are many confusing discussions, often disputes, about the economy. This is because they are trying to figure out how to make socialism work, how to enable the government to take care of all our individual needs. They are into the socialist theory, without realizing it, and have no clue as to why it is not working.

It is not working because it is an idea that is not in touch with reality. The only money the government has is what it gets from us, by taxation or other means. There is no way to pour money into the economy from the government without getting that money from us, the tax payers. So when they promise they will cut taxes and increase government handouts at the same time, they are not adding two and two. The “Utopia” the politicians envision is a Marxist pipe dream. People who elect them are also living in a world of fantasy. America was founded on reality, especially including God. That is the only America that can retain its identity as the land of the free and the home of the brave.


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