Know Your Bible
May 2004

You Can't Go To Heaven Without Having An Operation!

After having stated that we are "complete" in Christ, the inspired apostle Paul further says, "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11,12) These verses tell us that in Christ we can have a "circumcision made without hands" which takes place when we are "buried with him in baptism" . The "operation" is performed by God and the result is the "putting off" "of the sins of the flesh".

We would all agree that having our sins forgiven is a prerequisite to our entering Heaven. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." If it were possible to enter Heaven with sin, it would not have been necessary for Christ to have come to this world, shed His blood, and die on the cross in order that we might have the remission of sin (Matthew 26:28).

The question is: Have you had the operation that removes sin so that you might have the hope of Heaven? The operation to which we refer is the one described in Colossians 2. It is a "circumcision made without hands" that takes place when we are buried with Christ in baptism. Therefore, if you have not been "buried with him in baptism", the "operation of God" has not been performed and you still have your sins.

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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How Can I Know What Is Right?

I have always been intrigued by skydiving. It is a sport which interests me somewhat, but I will readily admit that I have not done a single thing to prepare myself for ever going up in a perfectly good airplane and jumping out with nothing more than some baggage on my back that is supposed to work when the ripcord is pulled. I have never studied anything about skydiving, never even read one book about it, and have never gone to any classes that are set up specifically for those people who might be interested in participating in that activity.

What would you think if, one day, I told you that I was going skydiving, knowing what I knew about it (which is nothing)? Would you try to talk me out of it? Why? I could tell you I had really thought about it, and that I felt I could do it right. I could also try to convince you by telling you I've seen exhibitions of skydiving on television, or that I've read some fictional stories about people who have jumped, and that it seemed to explain it fairly easily and seemed basically like a simple operation to me. "And besides," I tell you, "My parents think it's a good idea." Would you still let me go, with no further attempts at trying to convince me it did not seem like a good idea - at least in the way I was going about it? Would you think my skydiving attempt would be successful or not?

I am fairly confident that if you cared anything about me at all, you would try your hardest to talk me out of jumping out of an airplane with the limited knowledge that I had about the sport. You could easily see that I did not know all I needed to know about skydiving, and that further instruction was needed - by someone who knew something about it! You might even go so far as calling up a jump school and signing me up before I made my attempt. If you really cared, you might even call someone else to try to talk me out of it or, if that failed, hold me down until the plane took off.

This illustration serves to lead us to a much more important subject, but one which parallels the situation we have just described. When it comes to skydiving, I am sure none of us would really go about a skydiving attempt in the way I just described, but do we realize that many people go about preparing for eternity in the same way? Do we realize that many people approach the salvation of their souls with the same haphazardness? Isn't our soul's salvation a little more important than something as apparently exciting as skydiving? Yes! It is eminently more important than that - or anything else we may consider in our lifetime.

That being true, then how do I prepare? How can I know what is right? If I were to seriously consider skydiving, I am sure I would not necessarily seek out the cheapest instruction school, the cheapest equipment, or climb on just any old airplane. I am fairly confident that when our physical life was on the line, we would want the best instructor, giving the best instruction, with the best equipment and a reliable plane.

We should put just as much effort into our salvation as learning to skydive, if not more. Why? Because when you skydive, you usually are not awakened in the middle of the night and dragged to an airport, with no choice in the matter and no questions about having your parachute, forced to get on an airplane to do the jump. Skydiving just doesn't work that way, but your life certainly can end when you least expect it. Death comes to both young and old, and whether you are prepared or not, it is too late when the day comes.

Enough talk about skydiving. Let's get back to the important question: How can I know what is right? When it comes to the salvation of our souls, how can I know what is right - especially since there are so many confusing and conflicting messages about salvation out there in the religious world.

Seek God's Instruction. Since we want to know what is right when it comes to salvation, there is absolutely no other choice but to go to the source of salvation, God. Since He is the one who established the plan for man's salvation, it makes sense to go to Him and see what He says. And God did not leave us without a means of knowing what is right; He gave us His word for that very reason. If the creeds of men ever enter into the picture, it only brings confusion and certainly no clear answers. Man did not establish the plan, so why would we seek out their instruction?

When we consider the word of God, we find the psalmist saying, "The word of the Lord is proven" (18:30). That word "proven" means it is right, or truth. Every word of God is truth! Since every word of God is truth, we can trust that He has revealed the right plan to us. And He has. Within God's word, we find that our salvation comes through the name of Jesus Christ, and no other (Acts 4:12). We also find that He has told us all of the things that must take place or did take place for our salvation to be possible. We find that Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), that we must believe that He is the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30), and be baptized into Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). If you want to know what's right when considering salvation, why not just let God tell you?

Study God's Word. Once we go to the right source, we must then do some intense studying. I must emphasize study is what is needed, not just a superficial reading. Some read through the Bible with a thought already in mind, looking for "proof" that what they already believe is "true." This is called "proof-texting," a fallacious means of finding truth. Some so misuse the Scriptures that they make even the simplest texts confusing, too. I heard a preacher give a funny example once, saying that God prohibited wood splitting because Jesus said, in Matthew 19:6, "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." It really does say that, but what does it mean, considering the context?

Proper Bible study demands that we consider the context of each and every Bible passage. We must consider who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and what the situation is when the words are spoken. Failing to do this will bring confusion, but not the answer we are seeking. Paul admonished Timothy to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15) When we know God's word, we can know what is right!

---Steven Harper

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