Know Your Bible
April 2001

"Accept The Gift"

This was spotted on the marque of a denominational church whose preachers teach that if ANYTHING is done to have forgiveness of sin, salvation is no longer a gift. The idea is that if you have to do anything to receive a gift, it is no longer a gift but is earned.

In view of their teaching, I find this statement on their marque to be contradictory. Is not to "accept the gift" doing SOMETHING and if we do something it is no longer a gift but something we've earned? If not, why not?

Indeed, salvation is a gift. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) but is it free in that it demands or costs nothing of us? The gift of our salvation cost the Father His Son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."(John 3:16). The gift of our salvation cost Jesus His life. "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). The gift of our salvation came at a high cost to both the Father and the Son.

There is also a high cost for us to "accept the gift". We must "deny self". "And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23). We must deny self and follow Him (do as He says). And He says, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:10). Was Jesus EARNING anything from His Father? No, no more than we are EARNING anything when we do what He tells us to do. That is what it means to deny self and follow Him! Therefore when we do what He tells us to believe in Him (John 8:24), repent of sin (Luke 13:3), confess Him (Matthew 10:32), and be baptized into His death (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:4) we are not EARNING anything. We are simply denying self and following Him.

What cost God and Christ such a supreme price, does not come cheap to us. Jesus must be Lord (Ruler) over self, our lives, and all that we have.

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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Reader Response

On occasions we get response from readers of this bulletin. Most responses are sincere while others are demeaning. Concerning those responses that are of the former and not the later, we certainly appreciate receiving and reading what they have to say.

Such is the response from a gentleman in Brooksville, Fl. who responded to our article "Churches and Benevolence" in the Vol. 10, Num. 5, February, 2001 issue of this bulletin. He contends that churches in New Testament times took money from their treasuries and supported saints and sinners alike. In the bulletin article, we showed from the Scriptures that verse after verse showed the early church only relieved those who were destitute saints (Christians).

The verse to which the responder called attention was 2 Corinthians 9:13. "While by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men." He contends this verse gives proof of the church taking money out of it's treasury and helping sinners as well as Christians.

First of all, it should be observed that the word "men" is in italics. This means the word was supplied by the translators and is not in the original. The original text says, "unto them, and unto all." While the word was added by the translators to help us understand the grammar of the text, it does lend itself to misconceptions about the text.

However, to understand this verse we need to look at the word "all". If this is an unlimited "all" and it literally means "all men", then the church at Corinth must have had unlimited resources; a treasury with no bottom. To say that the church practiced benevolence to Christians and to "ALL MEN" would make the Corinthian church capable of accomplishing something which our own government cannot do! Now, did the church at Corinth practice limited or unlimited benevolence?

"All" has to be of the same class or group as to what is being discussed in the context of the passage. Going back to verse 12, we find the "administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God".Therefore, "ALL" belongs to the same class or group that the context reveals which are "SAINTS"! Saints and NOT sinners!

The word "all" is frequently used in a limited sense. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, "ALL things are lawful unto me...". Does this mean that fornication and sodomy were lawful for Paul? Surely not! The context shows that the subject under discussion in the context was eating meat sacrificed to idols. To make "all" apply to something outside the context is to not be "rightly dividing the word of God" (2 Tim. 2:15).

In Philippians 4:13, we read,"I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Does this mean that Paul or we can lie or steal with the strength of Christ. Of course not! Again, we must look at the context to understand what "all" has reference to. This passage is talking about physically suffering for the cause of Christ. To make this verse apply to that which is not a part of the context is to "wrest the scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16).

I'm afraid our responder still needs a verse to show proof that the church, from it's treasury, is responsible to take care of the sinners of the world. 2 Corinthians 9:13 is not the passage, nor is there one any other place. The New Testament specifies "saints", "brethren", "them that believe", and "believers". If there be any exception to this, let someone cite the book, chapter, and verse and we will be glad to print it in this bulletin.

Not only is church benevolence limited to saints, it is even limited among the saints. There are some of its own members which the church cannot care for. There are those who may be needy saints but if they have families, the families are commanded to care for them and not the church. "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." (1 Timothy 5:16). The church cannot, out of it's treasury, take care of those who will not work. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If the church is forbidden to help some of its own members, then how can it help any who are not members?

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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