Know Your Bible
There are a great many people who believe that when one believes in Christ they are saved at that instant. They believe that one is a bonafide child of God with salvation assured. But the Bible certainly does not teach this. The Bible does teach that one must be a believer to be saved (Hebrews 11:6) but faith alone will not save anyone. (James 2:24).
The Scriptures teach that faith gives one the "power to become" children of God. "He came to his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:11,12). Now notice that the believer has THE POWER to become a son of God. But God does not make one a son of God simply because he believes. The option belongs to the believer and he is the one who must exercise it. He has the power to become a son of God but he also has the power to become something else. If one is a son of God at the point of faith, then they could not very well become something that they already were.
Faith Puts The Believer To Work
The whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews abounds with examples of believers who let their faith perfect itself in works of obedience. In not one example in the chapter was a blessing obtained before faith was manifested in obedience. "By faith Able offered;" "By faith Noah...moved with fear, prepared an ark;" "By faith...Abraham obeyed." There is not an instance in the Bible where faith was rewarded before the believer obeyed. God does not bless at the point of faith but when faith is shown in works.
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John12:42-43). During Jesus' personal ministry, many of the leaders saw Jesus' miraculous power and believed on him. But their faith was not strong enough to lead them to obedience. They feared the rulers of the synagogue more than they feared God. They knew that "the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." (John 9:22). I am sure no one will say that these believers were saved at the point of faith.
Three Thousand Not Saved By Faith Only
Peter told the Jews, who assembled on the day of Pentecost, to "know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). The hearers were pricked in the heart and said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" "Then Peter said, unto them Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." It is evident that the people who asked the question were believers but that they were not saved or else Peter would have told them they were saved. But instead of telling them this, he told them that their faith must be shown by obedience.
Paul had presented Jesus Christ as the one the Old Testament prophets prophesied of. Then he said, "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."(Acts 26: 27-28. There is no record in the New Testament that Agrippa ever obeyed the gospel. Yet he was a believer. Paul who was an inspired man said, "I know that thou believest." Is there a faith only advocate who will contend that Agrippa was saved? He was a believer who was almost a Christian. He was an unsaved believer.
One is not saved at the point of faith but faith is what puts the believer to work. If one believes, they have the power to become a child of God. The 3000 on Pentecost believed and obeyed and were saved. The Jewish rulers and Agrippa believed but did not obey and were lost. If you believe, why not let your faith lead you to obey Christ in baptism Galatians 3:26-27.
---William (Bill) Sowder
The God Of Your Choice?
With the multitude of religious organizations in the world today, it is quite common to hear preachers tell individuals to "go to the church of your choice". Perhaps it has always been this way.
Jereboam made two golden calves and then placed them in Dan and Bethel. (1 Kings 12:26-33). I wonder if the prophets of Jereboam told the people to "go to the calf of your choice"?
Paul preached to the Athenians who worshipped many gods. (Acts 17:16-34). I wonder if the Athenian philosophers said, "You follow your god, and I will follow mine; and we'll all get to heaven at the very same time"?
The same passage, Ephesians 4:4-6, that says there is "one God" also says there is "one body". "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." The Scriptures teach that the "body" is the church: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." The truth of the matter is, one does not have a church of his choice any more than he has a God of his choice!
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