Know Your Bible
May 1999

"The Only One's Going To Heaven"

"I've heard that you 'Church of Christ' people think that you are the only ones going to heaven. Is that true?" We are often asked this question, and we appreciate the opportunity to explain what we believe. Would you please give careful consideration to these simple points from the Bible?

1) It important to remember that God is the judge of eternal things. Our personal opinions do not matter. What you think, what we think, what some religious denomination teaches -- none of this matters. In fact, Jesus said that many who think they are saved will be lost in the last day (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23). The Scriptures will be the standard of judgment (John 12:48).
2) The New Testament clearly teaches who will be saved. It describes a simple 'plan of salvation' that any accountable person can understand and obey. We must hear the truth (Rom 10:17), believe the truth (Hebrews 11:6), repent of our sins (Luke 13:3), confess our faith in Jesus (Romans 10:10), and be baptized for remission of sins (Acts 2:38). If we remain faithful, we are promised a reward in heaven (Revelation 2:10). This not a human dogma or creed. It is the plain and simple teaching of God's Word. If a person obeys these commands they will be saved. If they do not, they will be lost. It is just that simple. The only ones going to heaven are the ones who submit to God's will and obey His commands.
3) Now, where does the church of Christ figure into all of this? Acts 2:47 tells us that those who are saved are added to the church by the Lord. When you do what you must do to be saved (see point #2) then you are automatically added to that church which you read about in the Bible. This is not some man-made denomination. It is the church that belongs to Jesus -- it is the "church of Christ" (Romans 16:16). Therefore, the answer is yes -- you must be a member of that church to go to heaven. Do you see it?

---Greg Gwin

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"...Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth"

"Why don't you stay in one place?" "Why do you go from one book to another and one chapter to another to prove what you say?" These are statements that are made quite often when showing someone what God's word teaches. Many people think that everything to be known on a particular topic can be found in one verse or several verses found in one place in the Scriptures.

However, as 2 Timothy 3:15 teaches, we are to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Take, for example, the occasion of Jesus' betrayal and arrest. When Judas lead the mob to Jesus, they took Jesus but Mark records in chapter 14 verse 47 that "one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear." If this be the only verse we wish to read about this incident, we would not know who drew the sword, the name of the servant, nor which ear was cut off. We would not have all the details nor the full story of what occurred. It is not until we read Matthew 26:51 that we add to our understanding that the one who drew the sword was "one with Jesus". Then when we read Luke 22:50 we discover it was the "right ear" that was cut off. Then when we turn and read John 18:10, we learn it was Simon Peter who drew the sword and the servant's name was Malchus. It took us searching through four books to find all the information the Scriptures furnished about this occasion.

Yet, there are folks who think they can turn to one passage of Scripture and find all they need to know on the subject of what to do to be saved. Some turn to Acts 15:11 and find that "through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved," and conclude that grace is all that's necessary to save us. Others turn to John 3:16 and read that "whosoever believeth in Him (Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life." and conclude that all it takes to be saved is faith only. Someone else reads Matthew 26:28 where Jesus said, "this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." and conclude that all it takes to save us is Christ's blood. Still another finds and reads 1 Peter 3:21 that "baptism doth also now save us" and conclude we are saved by just being baptized.

What is the truth in this matter of what to do to be saved? Can we not see that it takes the things stated in ALL of these passages to begin to form the complete picture of what God would have us to do? One passage by itself does not tell us everything God says about salvation. Let's take all of what the Scriptures teach. Only then will we be "rightly dividing the word of truth".

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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Middle age brings with it many heretofore unknown joys -- such as heartburn. My doctor prescribed a popular medication for mine. Reading the package insert that came with the medicine, I was excited to learn that studies have dhown this medication to be over 80% effective in providing relief from heartburn after six weeks of treatment. However, the same studies indicated that a placebo or sugar pill was over 60% effective in curing heartburn over the same period of time. Imagine that! The best medication modern science can provide for heartburn is only 20% more effective than a sugar pill!

Of course, I suspect that the placebo never actually cured anyone's heartburn. But people took it, thinking it was effective medicine, and so either convinced themselves that they were getting better or actually got better on their own. The pill itself did no good; it was just a mind game. The placebo was only capable of directly producing a psychological effect, not a physical one.

There are placebos in the realm of spiritual things, too. These placebos are doctrines and beliefs which people think benefit their souls, but, in fact, have no positive spiritual effect. Now the folks who take spiritual placebos don't see it that way. They insist that they "feel good," and they cite this as evidence that their doctrines and practices are effective. For instance, there are those who say they have been saved by faith only, separate from or before baptism. Of course the Bible says that we are "justified by works and NOT by faith only" and that baptism also "saves us" (James 2:24; 1 Peter 3:21). But those who have taken the "faith only" placebo feel good, so they will take nothing else. The same is true of those who have taken the "personal salvation experience" placebo. These folks think that Jesus or an angel or the Holy Spirit have miraculously intervened in their lives to save them. Some of these individuals describe personal experiences involving visions or voices which made them "feel good." They cannot explain how a God who "shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34) could save them in this way, and yet fail to miraculously intervene in the lives of millions of other lost souls. Nor can they explain how they KNOW that what they saw or heard in their salvation experience was from God and not from Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 4:l).

What about you? Have you taken God's cure for sin, or are you still swallowing spiritual sugar pills?

--- Steve Klein

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