Tag Archives: salvation

Being Saved Like The Thief On The Cross — Byran Hatcher

There is a sense in which everyone is saved just like the thief on the cross. Every person that will stand justified and reign with the Savior is saved the same way the thief was as he hung nailed on a Roman cross next to the Lord. Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). From Adam until the Lord returns, every person is saved by God’s grace (His part in man’s salvation) and man’s faith (man’s part in salvation).

Every human being that has lived or will live can have peace with the God of peace and reside in the Heavenly realm for eternity. Such is the love of the Father. He desires that all men everywhere are saved from sin so that Heaven can be their eternal abode (2 Pet. 3:9).

Because the God of all Creation longs for His special creation to be with Him, He has revealed the plan, or eternal scheme, of how man can lay hold of eternal life. The Bible reveals God’s thoughts, plans, and Divine execution concerning the salvation of mankind.

The central figure of salvation is His Son, Jesus the Christ. God did not send His Son immediately into the world at the dawn of creation when sin first enslaved mortal man. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). He chose instead to make salvation a process.

In that process man came to realize: 1. He was eternally lost in sin; 2. He desperately needed to find a way back to God; 3. He was powerless to reach God again, and so required help; 4. Nothing in the physical realm would help him attain heaven; 5. Without an adequate sacrifice, any law that God gave would just serve to remind man of his sinful condition.

When rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15), the Bible student finds three distinct laws, or periods of a particular kind of law. In these three periods of time — the Patriarchal Era, the Mosaic Era, and the Christian Era — there were commandments given that might only pertain to one person for a short period of time. There were laws that only affected a specific group of people for a long period of time. How does the student of God’s Word determine which is which? Context. The context of the commandment is to be studied as well as the command. A sincere contextual study will lead the reader to understand if the commandment being studied is for him to obey.

An example of this is Abraham. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1). Does the Bible student read this passage and come to the immediate conclusion that it is necessary to leave their native land and become a pilgrim in some foreign place? It never would enter the mind. It is very clear that this commandment given by God (“The Lord said” is a commandment!) was to a specific person at a specific time and did not need to be obeyed by anyone else.

Now the Bible student comes to this passage:  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).

After reading this passage, many have concluded that merely saying “Lord save me” results in salvation. Is merely an acknowledgment enough for salvation today? It was not enough then, and it is not enough now. The Bible student must apply the same reasoning to this passage as to the one concerning Abraham: keep it in its context.

It must be kept in mind that other than these few spoken phrases and the fact that he is a thief being executed beside the Lord, there is no knowledge of his past. However, the things he does say exposes some things that he knows and believes.

“Dost Thou Not Fear God?”

This man believed in God. The question was uttered as a response to the other thief as he mocked Jesus and said, “If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:38). The conclusion the faithful thief made was that he and the other man were being punished, not by Rome or circumstance, but by the providence of God (Rom. 13:3). He also knew the Law. This demonstrates further to the reader that knowing the Law does not equate to obedience in every area.

“Due Reward Of Our Deeds”

He displayed godly sorrow.  Godly sorrow leads to repentance and repentance leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).  This man knew that when one did right God was pleased, but when one did evil punishment was a just reward.  Every man sins (Rom. 3:23), and this man was no exception.  Even though the consequence of his sin on earth was death, it did not have to be his eternal consequence.

The mocking thief was only sorry he got caught.  He demonstrated worldly sorrow.  His sorrow not only led him to physical death, but also to eternal punishment.  The Lord only said to the one, “Today, shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”

“This Man Hath Done Nothing Amiss”

Jesus was innocent! Even the men that were condemned to die with Him knew that He had done nothing to deserve death. The faithful thief knew the character and works of the Lord. Jesus was very popular because of His miraculous works and His doctrine (Luke 9:11). It was this very popularity coupled with His leadership that caused the Jewish council and chief priests to hate Him so fiercely. Their lawless hands raised Him on that cross, and all the people knew it.

“Remember Me In Thy Kingdom”

Such a phrase could not have been expressed unless it was heard and explained. This man was exposed to the teaching of John the Baptist, the disciples of the Lord, and Jesus the Christ. John taught the people, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). The disciples were told to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). The Lord said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

The thief must also have known something of the spiritual nature of the kingdom. He recognized the fact that he and the Lord were about to die. Yet, he still requested that he be a part of the kingdom – when the Lord comes into it. What great faith! Perhaps he heard the Lord say, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Taking all of this evidence of what the faithful thief said, is it reasonable that he heard about baptism as well? Spoken of John the baptizer, “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3). So, if the faithful thief heard John, then he heard about baptism.

Perhaps the thief was not in the Jordan valley. “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized” (John 3:22). When John the baptizer, the disciples, and the Lord preached repentance and the kingdom, they also baptized. Since the thief repented and spoke of the kingdom it is reasonable to conclude at the very least he heard of baptism, if not was even baptized.

To say that the thief was not baptized is like saying he had no wife and children.  There is no way to know if he did or did not because those facts are not revealed.

The New Testament Was Not In Effect

Assuming that this faithful thief was not baptized, does that extend to salvation today? The Hebrews writer records, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:16,17). Jesus spoke to the thief that he should be in Paradise, signifying that He was still alive and that His New Covenant was not yet in effect. Since this is the case, Jesus could save anyone He so desired in any fashion that He desired. Salvation is His power to give and to withhold.

Now that He has died and is at the right hand of God, His will is in full effect. That will commands, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). From Acts 2 forward, there is not one example of anyone being saved that was not baptized.

What is the main reason for desiring to be “saved like the thief on the cross”?  A desire to be saved without water baptism.  In essence, the masses crave a cheap salvation.

Conclusion

Salvation today comes like the faithful thief on the cross. From his very words, there is revealed a process of salvation. He heard the Word; He believed that Word; He demonstrated Godly sorrow and repented; He proclaimed his belief before men that Jesus was going to His kingdom and that he desired to be a part of that kingdom. Jesus granted that request. Jesus gave His grace and mercy to that man just before his legs were broken, and he gasped his last painful breath.

That man turned to Jesus as the source of his salvation.  Today all sinners that desire salvation must submit to that process in His revealed will and call on His name (Acts 22:16).

bulldband24@gmail.com

Byran is the preacher for the Cape Fear Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC.  He does mission work in Southeast Asia, is a part-time instructor of Fishers of Men, and is an instructor at Central Carolina School of Preaching.  He is married to Jennifer and they have two children in college.

 

 

The Necessity of Baptism For Salvation — Hugh Fulford

Baptism is an old and much discussed topic by gospel preachers.  It has long been a theological battleground, the subject of much discussion and many debates.  Preachers who want to be true to the word of God must continue to set forth what the Bible says about this subject.

Nearly every church as an “official position” on baptism.  However, the churches of Christ have no humanly determined “official position” on baptism or any other subject.  We strive to occupy the Bible position on this as well as every other spiritual matter.  The Bible alone is our “creed book,” “catechism,” and “church manual.”  It is the height of denominational thinking to talk about “Church of Christ belief, doctrine and practice.”  What we believe, teach and practice must always be that which God’s Word authorizes — nothing more, less, or else!

Three areas of disagreement exist where baptism is concerned.  The first is the subject or candidate for baptism.  Is baptism for infants or is it only for repentant believers?  The second concerns the action of baptism.  May baptism be performed by sprinkling, pouring, and/or immersion?  The third concerns the purpose of baptism.  Is baptism just a ritual that unites one with a particular religious fellowship or denomination after one has been saved, or is it a condition of salvation from sin and thus ultimately of eternal salvation in heaven?  It is on this last area that this article will address.

It should first be said that baptism stands between the sinner and salvation (Mark 16:15-16).  “But,” it is claimed, “one is not condemned for a lack of baptism, only for a lack of belief.  Therefore, belief is really the only thing necessary for salvation.”  No, lack of belief is the only thing necessary for condemnation because “he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  Christ clearly included both belief and baptism as essential for salvation.  However, baptism is not essential to salvation if one has no interest in doing what Christ said!

We must also note that baptism stands between the sinner and remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  “For” is eis in the Greek, and means “in order to,” never “because of.”  It is the same word used in Matthew 26:28 where Christ declared that He was to shed His blood “for the remission of sins,” obviously meaning that He did not shed His blood because the sins of mankind had already been remitted!  No reputable translation of Acts 2:38 renders it “because of.”  If one can be saved without receiving the remission of sins, one can be saved without baptism.

It must also be pointed out that baptism stands between the sinner and his sins being washed away (Acts 22:16).  Again, if one can be saved without having his sins washed away, one can be saved without baptism!

Consider also that baptism stands between the sinner and the benefits of the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3).  If one can be saved without the benefits of Christ’s death, then baptism is not essential to salvation.

Baptism also stands between the sinner and the new life in Christ (Rom. 6:4-6).  If one can be saved without experiencing the new life in Christ, baptism is not essential for salvation.

Note that baptism also stands between the sinner and them being able to legitimately wear the name of Christ (1 Cor. 1:12-13).  The inspired apostle Peter declared, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Yet if one can be saved without wearing the name of Christ, then baptism is not essential to salvation.

Baptism also stands between the sinner and being in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).  The body of Christ is the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).  One is added to the church when he is saved from sin (Acts 2:47).  However, baptism is not essential to salvation if one can be saved outside of the body or church of Christ.

Consider that baptism also stands between the sinner and being in Christ where all spiritual blessings are found (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:3).  One of these blessings is salvation (2 Tim. 2:10).  So if one can be saved without being in Christ and receiving His spiritual blessings, then baptism is not essential to salvation.

We must point out that baptism also stands between the sinner and the benefits of the spiritual circumcision which Christ performs (Col. 2:11-12).  However, if one can be saved without undergoing this spiritual circumcision in which the body of the sins of the flesh are cut off, then baptism is not essential to salvation.

Finally, consider that baptism stands between the sinner and being saved and having a good conscience before God (1 Pet. 3:21).  Yet, if being saved and having a good conscience toward God is not necessary then baptism is not essential to salvation.

Brother J.D. Tant held eight debates with Ben M. Bogard, a famous Baptist preacher and debater.  The last one was conducted in 1937 in the Lone Start community about eight miles east of Greenwood, AR.  When brother Tant introduced 1 Peter 3:21 into the discussion as evidence of the necessity of baptism for salvation, Mr. Bogard responded, “Why yes, baptism is just a figure — a picture — of the salvation we receive at the moment we believe.”  He kept stressing that baptism was only a “picture” of salvation, but not a condition of salvation.

Brother Tant replied, “Well, it’s a pity Peter did not know that on Pentecost; otherwise, he would have said: ‘Repent, and get your picture taken for the remission of sins!”

Our study began with Christ’s statement in Mark 16:16 and ended with Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 3:21.  These statements serve as fitting summaries of all that the New Testament says with reference to baptism’s purpose.  Both of them declare baptism to be essential to salvation.  All of the other passages are but different ways of saying the same thing.

Have you been baptized — not because you believed you were already saved — but in order to be saved and enter into Christ?

huford@comcast.net

Hugh has been preaching the gospel of Christ for many years.  He lives in Gallatin, TN.

 

 

What Eve Has Taught Me – Debbie Kea

Eve. Mother of all living. First woman. First wife. First sinner. I’ve heard women speak negatively about Eve for most of my Christian life. But as I have studied her, I have developed a great sympathy. Let me show you why.

Sin.  We are all well aware that Eve was deceived by Satan (Gen. 3:4-7). She learned that just because something looks good doesn’t mean it is good. She learned that the Devil lies. She learned to listen to God.   We are critical of her; yet who of us has not sinned? The apostle Paul declares that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). As I review my own sins, I feel pity for the first woman. There is no record of any other sins of Eve, but this one teaches us serious lessons.

Obedience.  God’s first law was a law of obedience to Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17). They were clearly instructed by God not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obedience to God’s laws remains for all of us today if we are to be pleasing to our Maker. We must not only obey God’s commands but we are also to teach obedience to our children and our grandchildren. A lack of respect for authority has become one of the worst problems of our society. Lawlessness reigns in our world. Most importantly, this disobedience separates us from God.

Blame.  We have played the blame game since the beginning and we continue it still! When accused, it’s usually the first thing we humans do—point to someone else. It’s a rare individual that takes personal responsibility for his actions. Adam started this habit by blaming “the woman thou gavest to be with me” and Eve continued by pointing at “the serpent” who beguiled her (Gen.3:12-13). They both knew the truth; that’s why they knew they were naked—their guilt. Our task now as humans is to build our character so that we will be strong enough to admit our sins, repent of them and grow! We must be responsible for our own actions—to God and others. We must be willing to say, “Yes, it was me and I’m sorry.”

Power and Influence.  Eve teaches me that women have great power and influence. Adam was created first and had the responsibility to be the spiritual leader of his home; therefore, Adam should have stopped Eve from disobeying God but he didn’t.   We, as women, must recognize our role in the home as God’s plan. Paul tells us man was not created for the woman but the woman for the man (I Cor. 11:9). Submission and subjection are not inferiority. They are the role that God has given us as women. However, our influence and power can only be for good when we allow our husbands to lead our homes. We must use our influence for good there as well as everywhere we go.

Suffering.  Women have endured suffering since Eve sinned. She was banished from the garden. She suffered in childbirth. Most of us who are mothers understand this well. She suffered over her children. One of her sons was a murderer, and one of her sons was killed. She suffered great loss with both of them. We learn that children who grow up in the same household may very well take different paths in life.   Eve suffered watching her husband work by the sweat of his brow for over 900 years! Sin brings suffering.   Eve learned this.

Desire.  God told Eve that she would have desire only for her husband. This seems an odd thing to say at a time when Adam was the only man there! But as I think about this, I am reminded of many women whose desire is not for their husband but for other things, such as money, career, popularity or a variety of other cares of the world. Unfortunately, today we Christian women are considered peculiar if we care about what our husband wants instead of what we want. This is one of the contributing factors to the destruction of the home in our world now. The world sees nothing wrong with a woman satisfying a man in her career or job; yet Christian women are ridiculed for wanting to satisfy or help their husbands to be happy in their marriage!

Wisdom.  Satan tried to convince Eve that she could be as wise as God. We must not let Satan fool us in this. Instead of trying to be as wise as God, we need to recognize His power and greatness and our dependence upon Him! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). If we would truly be wise and happy, we would come to the One Who gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6; 3:13).

Salvation.  Like me, Eve needed salvation. God, through His lovingkindness, provided from the beginning a way for Eve to be saved, to be brought back into a right relationship with Him. Jesus would come and bruise the head of the serpent, Satan (Gen. 3:15). And my obedience through faith would find access to the Lord’s saving blood (Rom. 5:1-2; 6:1-4). God did not leave Eve without hope. Jesus’ blood reaches back to her (Heb. 9:15). Neither does He leave us hopeless, for Christ is the Savior of the world if we would hear His voice (John 10:27; 3:17; Heb. 2:9).

Eve, mother of all living, continues to teach us lessons today. Though I am empathetic, it is still clear that Eve sinned and was punished for it. She remains, not a myth, but a real woman, made to be a helpmeet for man, a position that no other creature could fill. God help us to learn by studying Eve to be obedient children so that we can fulfill our role as women in His kingdom.

keadebbie1955@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Five Blessings Of Being In God’s Kingdom – Vincent J. Eagen, III

The “Kingdom of God” is often a misunderstood term, even among the religious. Historically, God’s Kingdom was known as Israel, to whom he gave the Promised Land. God symbolically dwelt among them in the tabernacle (and later, the temple), gave them victory over their oppressors, and allowed them to face trials when they failed to follow him. Ultimately, God brought forth his own Son through them, and it was known that the kingdom would pass through him. The kingdom was taken from those who failed to follow God, and opened to others (the Gentiles). Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matt. 21:43). In Jesus’ lifetime, people expected an earthly kingdom, but Jesus clearly stated that his kingdom was spiritual (John 18:33-37; Acts 1:6-8). Clearly, the kingdom is the church.

Still, there are many today who make mistakes about God’s Kingdom, thinking it is a future earthly kingdom. Those who look only for a future kingdom are missing the point, and they are missing out on the glorious blessings God has bestowed on those who are Christians (for every Christian is a member of the church, and thus every Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of God). “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12)

Blessing #1—We are part of God’s family. Paul said, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the house hold of God” (Eph. 2:19). Isn’t it great to know that no matter where you go, when you find Christians there you are among family? Everyone in the kingdom is part of the same family. We have the love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters as we travel through this life. The Spirit through Paul illustrated it as a body: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). When something bad happens to a family member, we ought to feel sympathy for that member, and if something good happens, we ought also rejoice.

Blessing #2—We have forgiveness. Not just forgiveness for the sins we committed in the past, but forgiveness for our current sins as well. John was writing to people who were already citizens of the kingdom when he said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As long as we recognize our sin when we are convicted, and ask forgiveness from the Father, we have continual cleansing from the fountain of blessing. Under this blessing we could also include grace—that is God giving us what we do not deserve, and mercy, which is God not giving us what we do deserve.

Blessing #3—We are heirs. Seeing as we are children of God, adopted as it were into his family, we become heirs to the promise and joint-heirs with Jesus. We inherit all he has to give. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17). There are several things we inherit. The Hebrews writer described us as heirs of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). He also referred to us as being heirs of the promise: “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath” (Heb. 6:17).Peter wrote that the Christian husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Blessing #4—We have freedom. Paul said, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7). Since Jesus redeemed us, or bought us back, from sin with his blood, we are now freed from our burden of sin and the wages that come with that. According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. The faithful in Smyrna were promised by the risen and glorified savior that, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:11). In Revelation 21:8 we are told that the second death is the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, wherein all those who practice unrighteousness have a place. Because we are citizens of the kingdom, we are free from that burden.

Blessing #5—We have salvation. Because the kingdom is built on the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), and because Jesus lived his entire life without sin (Heb. 4:15), he was able to be that perfect sacrifice that could take away sin from any who would come to him. In Acts 2 we learn that God added to the church—which is the kingdom—those who were being saved. Thus, all those who are part of the kingdom have salvation.

James reminded those to whom he wrote that all good and perfect gifts come from above, from the Father (James 1:17). This suggests that everything that is truly part of the kingdom is good and perfect, and there for our help. Sometimes we get caught up in our lives here and we forget the glorious blessings we have as citizens of the Kingdom of God. When we catch ourselves slipping into that, it would behoove us to take a few minutes to remember who we are, and where our citizenship truly lies. When we take the time to focus on that with which we have been blessed, we will remember that there is no better thing than to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God!

chessed777@yahoo.com