OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          The all-powerful God of heaven has revealed His will to man in one, and only one, book, the Bible.  This book is our sole source of divine authority today.  It will be this book that will judge men in the last day (John 12:48; Rom. 2:2; Rev. 20:11-15).

          There are many religious groups who will acknowledge the truth found in the previous paragraph.  In fact, they pride themselves in being Bible believers.  However, they teach and practice things that are not in the Bible and do not seem to care at all.  Their disregard for God’s inspired Word is both shocking and troubling.  Let’s look at some specific examples to establish our case.

          One of the most glaring examples is in the use of denominational names.  In the first century, the disciples of Jesus were called Christians.  “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).  This name honors Christ who died to free man from sin.  This name tells the world exactly with whom the Lord’s disciples are aligned.  Men, however, are not satisfied to be called simply Christians.  They have chosen to call themselves by man-made designations.  Men pride themselves in such names as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, and a host of other names.  These names are not found in the Bible.  The Bible does not authorize their use, but men do not care.  They continue to wear their divisive name tags instead of wearing the name of Christ, the only name wherein salvation is found (Acts 4:12).

          Another example of something not found in the Bible is the doctrine of salvation by faith only.  At the outset of this brief discussion, let us assure our readers that we in no way want to diminish the importance of faith.  Hebrews 11:7 states:  “But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  Faith is an absolute.  Faith is an essential element in salvation, but the doctrine of salvation by faith only is not in the Bible.  Not one passage can substantiate the doctrine.  Not one!  In fact, the only verse in the Bible that puts the words “faith” and “only” together denies salvation by faith only.  James declared:  “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

          The words “only” has a powerful meaning.  One definition of “only” is:  “without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively.”  To say that one is saved by faith alone is to say that one is saved without anything else.  Is this truth?  Is one saved exclusively by faith without anything else?  Let’s read Luke 13:3 in answer to this question.  Jesus said:  “I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  Jesus informs us that one must repent in order to be saved.  Is repentance the same thing as faith?  No!  It is a different action.  If a person must believe and repent in order to be saved, he cannot be saved by faith only.  This inconsistency has been pointed out to Calvinists for years, but they don’t care.  They continue to deceive the masses by proclaiming that man can be saved by faith alone.

          Another teaching that some set forth that is not in the Bible is that baptism does not save.  Those who believe this are usually the ones who teach the doctrine of faith only.  It is interesting that those who believe that baptism does not save cannot produce one verse to substantiate their position.  On the other hand, those who believe that baptism is essential can bring forth numerous passages that prove one must be baptized in order to be saved.  Jesus taught baptism’s essential nature in Mark 16:16.  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”  Peter taught it to the Jews on the day of Pentecost.  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).  Saul of Tarsus was commanded to be baptized in order to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).  And, the inspired Peter informs us that baptism saves us in I Peter 3:21.  “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  These four verses, and others, prove baptism is essential to salvation.  Some, however, don’t seem to care.

          In I Samuel, King Saul did not care what God commanded him.  In verse 3, we read of God’s command to the monarch.  “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”  Saul disregarded the Lord’s will and did as he pleased.  “But Saul and all the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them…” (I Sam. 15:9).  Interestingly, Saul had deceived himself into thinking that he had obeyed God’s command.  In verse 13, he proclaims:  “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”  It is amazing that he seems not to care that he was in violation of God’s will.  Even after being confronted with his disobedience, he still argued that he had obeyed (I Sam. 15:18-20).  His self-deception did not constitute obedience.  His partial obedience did not constitute obedience.  His transgression led to his rejection as king.  “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he also hath rejected thee from being king” (I Sam. 15:23).

          This account in the life of Saul should cause all individuals who say they believe in the Bible as the Word of God to be sober.  It is not enough to “think” we have obeyed God.  It is not enough to partially obey God’s commands.  We must do as God has commanded us.  If not, we, too, will be rejected by God as Saul was.  The writer of Hebrews sums it up well.  “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.  For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? (Heb. 2:1-3a).