Doctrine

Abraham’s Faith Was Not Alone

Faith alone saves? Not according to Abraham, the father of the faithful.

When the Bible says Abraham believed God, it means he trusted God’s word to the extent that he acted upon what God had said:

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”” (Romans 4:16-22)

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” (Hebrews 11:17-19)

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:18-24)

If faith alone didn’t work for the father of the faithful, it won’t work for the children of faith either. EA

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

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That’s not what John 3:16 says!

Sinners Prayer

While doing some evangelistic work at a local festival I was given the above piece of paper (which, by the way, also happens to be a fake $100 bill on the other side) by an individual who had stopped at our congregation’s booth. After reading the piece of paper, I decided to look up John 3:16 because the wording under the scripture reference seemed to be a little longer than what I remembered the actual verse saying, and just as I suspected – it’s not what John 3:16 says!

The prayer and the promise on this paper is as fake as the $100 bill on the other side. And like the fake $100 bill, these tactics seem real until you open them up to the light of God’s word so don’t fall for it. No apostle or prophet of Jesus Christ ever taught anyone to pray a made-up sinner’s prayer to be saved; and not one time in the New Testament can a verse be found that says faith alone saves anyone. Peter didn’t say, “believe and pray to Jesus for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38. And Paul wasn’t told to, “arise and pray some more, washing away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” in Acts 22:16. So why should anyone say anything close to that today?

John’s gospel is full of people who believed in various ways but they still weren’t saved, so don’t miss the point of John 3:16 (which happens to include the new birth that was discussed at the beginning of the chapter)! The point of John 3:16 is about opportunity. It’s an opportunity to find salvation from the effects of sin by listening to God’s instructions which have been given unto us by the Son who was lifted up on the cross to be the answer to our sins.

Believing in Jesus involves actions, and these actions don’t include some prayer written by the inspiration of some man or woman. And this why you’ll find sinners praying in the New Testament, but you won’t find the sinner’s prayer because that’s not what John 3:16 says.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

Why don’t you keep the Sabbath commandment of God?

There are many in the religious world who contend for the present day observance of (and by observance I mean the keeping of, or adherence to) the Sabbath day commandment that is particularly found in the Decalogue (or the 10 Commandments) of God’s law. Such contenders, often with great zeal and emphasis, seek to challenge others, with an ultimate goal of revealing the “sin being committed”, concerning their failure to observe the Sabbath day, by asking why God’s commandment is so blatantly ignored and violated. In the face of such of a query, three easy reasons can be given in reply that explain why no sin is being committed due to the fact that such an observance is no longer required by God:

  • The Sabbath commandment is a part of God’s former law that humanity is no longer amendable to, in part or as a whole, due to the new covenant made available through the gospel of Christ (Colossians 2:13-17; Galatians 2:14-19; Hebrews 8:7-9)
  • The Sabbath commandment, which was plainly given and reiterated throughout the law of Moses and many following letters of the prophets, is not repeated a single time for the church as whole, by direct command or influential reference, but rather it is seen that the church had a custom of coming together on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

Therefore, I do not fail to keep the Sabbath because I have ill feeling towards the command or even because of some perceived rebellious spirit; rather, I do not keep the Sabbath day commandment because, as his word shows, it is not something that God requires from us today in order to live in harmony with his will as we look forward to experiencing that moment and eternal Sabbath from the works that are done in his name. EA

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:8-10)

Purg-a-what?

A large percentage of the religious world has been taught that a place of purging exists to prepare the unready soul for eternity, a place that goes by the name “purgatory” – but truth be told, what exactly is purgatory responsible for purging?

For one, purgatory, in the not too distant past, purged people of their money through the sale of indulgences to shorten the time needed for penance of sins before one could enjoy “full fellowship” with God after death. This practice was so prominent it led to the cultural proverb, “As soon as money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory’s fire springs” as well as becoming the issue of Luther’s 28th of his 95 thesis paper.

Today, purgatory purges authority from God’s word which lends no credence to the existence of such a place. The debt of Matthew 18:23-35 couldn’t be paid off; and the reward, or loss, of work in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 refers to the faithfulness, or the lack thereof, of those who were brought to Christ through personal work. Unlike purgatory, the word of God teaches that individuals are “justified now” and are “without condemnation” through the “sin purging” blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9, 8:1).

Purgatory purges, but it’s not purging what most people in the religious world are taught to believe. EA

who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)

The Offensiveness of the Gospel

For millennia the gospel of a crucified savior has offended people, and it continues to do so to this very day:

  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was the actual Messiah of the Jewish people.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was the prophesied and most authoritative prophet of God.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior offered himself for the sins of all of humanity.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was offered for any supposed sin of humanity.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior was a part of God’s plan to redeem mankind to himself.
  • Some are offended at the suggestion that a crucified savior is offensive.

Fact of the matter is, this crucified savior knew that he was an offense (Matthew 13:57), and so did his preachers (1 Corinthians 1:18-31), but the real shame comes from a “church” that is offended by the offense as much as the world. EA

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:4-8)

What does the phrase “Cross the Jordan River” mean to a Christian?

To understand what “crossing the Jordan River” metaphorically means to a Christian you have to first understand what it literally meant to the Jewish people.

God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would inherit a land given to them by God himself. But before Jacob died, the children of Israel found themselves living far away from that land in Egypt.

Generation after generation passed until the time was right; the time had come for the children of Israel to inherit the distant, but promised, land of Canaan. Add slavery, a handful of plagues, a law given by Moses, and forty years in the wilderness to the equation and you’ll arrive at the book of Joshua and the promised land.

But before Joshua could lead the people into the land flowing with milk and honey, an intimidating river had to be crossed – the flood stage Jordan River to be exact. But by the grace of God the people safely crossed the river; and by faith they received a land that they had only heard of through a promise that had been made so long ago.

As Christians we look back at the moment the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River into the Canaan’s land as a rite of passage. Once they crossed that river the promise became reality – and reality surpassed expectations.

In the same manner as God’s people of the past, we as Christians, who make up the people of God today, are looking for a distant land of promise that we have only heard of. As we travel through the wilderness of life we cling to this land by faith because this “promised land” is an expectation that comes from believing in God. Heaven is its name, and it’s waiting for God’s people (Hebrews 11:16).

But before we enter this “promised land” a rite of passage must be experienced – a “river” has to be crossed; this river is a cold river; this river is a wide river; and this river is an intimidating river to say the least. This “river” is called death.

But by the grace of God, this raging river can be crossed (Hebrews 2:14-15). Because in Jesus, the waters have no choice but to subside since he himself faced the waters, and crossed them, bearing God’s covenant for us upon his own shoulders so we may follow him across on dry ground to inherit the land we have only heard of through a promise made so long ago.

So if you have wondered what “crossing the Jordan River” means to a Christian, now you know. EA

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

Washed or Wet?

When it comes to water baptism, intentions make a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matthew 3:7-9)

When it comes to water baptism, purpose makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5)

When it comes to water baptism, the origin of the act makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When it comes to water baptism, the result makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

You can be sprinkled over, poured on and even immersed – but there’s still a difference between getting washed and getting wet in the water baptism that we read about in the New Testament of the Bible. EA

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” (Acts 22:16)