The Bible teaches that sinners are saved by faith. Any number of passages can be presented showing that such is the case (John 3:16, 18, 36; John 8:24; Acts 16:31; Romans 5:1; et al). But there are other passages that attribute salvation to repentance (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30-31; et al). The passages affirming that salvation is by faith do not veto the passages showing the necessity of repentance.
There are any number of passages that attribute salvation to baptism, often connecting faith and baptism as well as repentance and baptism to salvation, but in some instances mentioning only baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; et al). The passages showing that one is saved by faith do not veto those that attribute salvation to baptism, just as those that attribute salvation to God’s grace do not veto those that attribute salvation to man’s obedience to the gospel (Matthew 7:21; Romans 6:16-18; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Hebrews 5:8-9; Revelation 22:14; et al). The preaching of that which is of first importance (I Corinthians 15:1-11) does not veto the necessity of also preaching the God-ordained response to that which is of first importance (Acts 2:37-38).
It is a strange system of hermeneutics (interpretation) that takes only a part of what the Scriptures say about a matter and concludes that such is the totality of Bible teaching on the subject. One of the several questions that the diligent student of the Scriptures asks is, “What else does the Bible say on this subject?” When Satan tempted Christ, he quoted scripture by saying “It is written,” and proceeded to cite Psalms 91:11-12 (Matthew 4:6). But Jesus reminded the devil that he had not taken into consideration everything God had said on that subject, and went on to point out what else God had said about the matter (Matthew 4:7). Therefore, in order to understand what the Bible teaches on any subject, we must take into consideration all that the Bible says on that subject!
A certain preacher was dismayed at the thought that people who had not been baptized/immersed might be lost. He was equally dismayed to think that all the good, pious people who were aligned with religious parties not sanctioned by the word of God might also be lost. He announced to his wife that he was going to the woods and staying until he found the “answer” he was looking for. She asked him, “How do you expect to get an answer.” He said, “I don’t have the slightest idea. Any way God sees fit to reveal it—through the Bible, by sending someone to talk to me, by a word from heaven, or by an inner understanding. That is up to him.”
The man drove some twenty miles from his home to a wooded area and spent the next few hours praying in every position he could think of—walking, kneeling, lying on the ground, crying and pleading with God to “reveal” His will to him. Getting no immediate answer, he returned to a picnic table at the edge of the woods where he had left his Bible, stood it on its spine, and let it fall open to where it would. It fell open to Psalms 115, and in verse three he read: “But God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.” Voila! He had his answer! For some “reason” this verse vetoed everything the New Testament says about the conditions upon which God forgives the alien of his sins; everything the New Testament says about the singularity of the body of Christ, the church; everything the New Testament says in condemnation of doctrines originating with men; everything the New Testament says about the sin of religious division; everything the New Testament says about how God is to be worshiped; everything the New Testament says about the cessation of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit; everything the New Testament says about the everlasting punishment of the wicked!
I marvel at this man’s hermeneutic! “Bizarre” does not begin to describe his approach to discerning the will of the Lord. But it is a glaring example of how when a person has his mind already made up as to what he wants (and is determined!) to believe, there is no end to which he will not go to vindicate his preconceived notions.
Hugh Fulford (May 29, 2012)
June speaking schedule:
June 10: Leeville Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN (all services)
June 20: Portland Church of Christ, Portland, TN
June 27: Hartsville Pike Church of Christ, Gallatin, TN