ESV - 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive s the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For t the promise is for you and u for your children and for all v who are far off, everyone w whom the Lord our God calls to himself." Acts 2:38-39
This is one of the most widely used passages in the Bible. On the sermon on the mount Jesus laid out the five steps to salvation that included baptsm. I agree that we recieve salvation through the grace of God, however I believe bapitsm is a requirement to recieve all the benifits of being a christian.
Acts 22:16..... Paul was told to "rise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on His Name".
No one can go to Heaven with unforgiven sins. Jesus came to take away our sins.
If we reject God's Plan of Salvation that is revealed in the New Testament we can't hope He will take us to Heaven.
No. Salvation is by repentance and Grace of God through Jesus Christ. Baptism is a public statement of your faith. Not all Christians have been baptized. Both water baptism and Baptism of the Holy Spirit occur after salvation.
Bong, thank you for your comment in the Q & A section about the distinction between salvation and 'Christian life.' That is an important distinction, though what we are really debating here is the actual practical and visible lines between these two and how to clearly discern them. If you have further insights into this, Mark and I would be grateful to hear them.
You are correct that we must separate the salvation requirement from that of how we should live as a Christian. Baptism was certainly 'Christian life' for Messianic Hebrews, but by no means is it commanded for us today (outsiders of God's covenant promises with Israel). This is no different than the REQUIREMENT for them also to 'sell ALL their possessions and give to the poor' (Acts 5-1-10). We'd be dropping like flies without barbecue if we were members of the church in Acts 5:11!
No. We are the church the body of Christ today and have different instructions, including water baptism. They, in Acts 5, were the church of God established by Peter. We however, are to follow Paul, not Peter (1 Cor 4:16, 1 Cor 11:1, Phil 3:17). I have a previous comment that details why and how this is OUR truth for today.
Also, salvation, being the free gift made available to us by God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, is the act of BELIEF in the verses you cited (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Hey Justin! How could there be hope of continued life after death if not 'ethereal', on the day our 'fleshy tablets of the heart' fail us?
Cool question Mark.
Actually I believe that the answer to how neither 'place,' (earth, or Yahweh's third heaven), is in any way 'ethereal' can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. Right now our bodies are called 'natural bodies' (Greek koine: 'psychikos soma,' literally 'soul-based body'). That includes our physical or 'fleshly' hearts where GOD somehow stores His great treasures, (2 Corinthians 4:7, Jeremiah 31:33).
As scary and almost 'crazy' as it sounds for GOD to risk this treasure storing it in 'earthen vessels,' Yahweh does know what He is doing. There is a 'backup' that is every bit as tangible and real, (arguably more 'real'), because it is super energized. That would be the 'spiritual body,' (Greek koine: 'pneumatikos soma,' literally, 'spirit-based body').
This is the type of body into which we will each be resurrected, and it is also the body which Jesus openly demonstrated during ten distinct 'visits' over a forty day period after His resurrection, revealing all of its various traits to more than 500 witnesses. From the descriptions in the gospels and the book of Acts, this type of body is material and tangible, capable of both eating and drinking, but also equally capable of some rather spectacular feats.
Jesus was able to pass through solid objects and return to being both touchable and able to touch mundane objects. He possessed the ability to manipulate the thought processes of others so His identity was disguised. He could travel great distances...
Jesus was also able to vanish suddenly and reappear. While some of these traits could be described as 'ethereal,' they are always combined with material traits every bit as real as our 'soul-based' body, only far superior in every way; indestructible, immortal, energetic and powerful, subtle, yet boldly raw and very real whenever convenient or desirable.
I also realize that we call this entire cosmos 'Nature' because the entire thing and every object in it is equally 'soul-based' or 'natural.' Yahweh's third heaven is not a location anywhere in this cosmos. It is the 'original' cosmos upon which this one is based. Our cosmos is governed by physical light since everything in it is essentially 'trapped' inside of the speed of light.
Yahweh's 'original' cosmos is based on Himself, since He is the 'energetic Essence' upon which physical light is based, (1 John 1:5), unless you would like to interpret this verse to mean that physical light itself is GOD. That would be idolatry.
So the 'third heaven' is a separate eternal cosmos that is not decaying, expanding or headed for a mathematically certain and fiery oblivion like this cosmos is. When we physically die, we are transferred from this decaying cosmos to the eternal material one with Yahweh and his divine ones, (his angels and archangels), along with all of the other souls awaiting the redemption of their bodies and their new 'spirit-based' body matching the type exhibited us by Christ Himself after His own resurrection.
Do you see the distinction between everyone today and biblical Israel, and how it pertains to our salvation? How one can become saved is what I try to focus on. It is the SIMPLICITY of Christ (2 Cor 11:3)
We're going to have to get on the same page regarding the foundation for salvation to continue with any meaningful conversation (I promise I did NOT mean to sound like Dr. Seuss). I say this with respect of your beliefs, but I cannot relent on the basic truth we have today regarding faith in Christ alone (Gal 2:11, Gal 4:16).
Let's get to the heart of the issue... Will Justin make it to heaven upon death? If yes, why do you think so? You don't have to answer that, but allow me to pit it this way also...If you DO NOT make it to heaven upon death, whose fault will it be and why?
Mark, for some reason I can't see your last comment here but the link directs me here to the discussion section, so I am reading your posting from inside my email and answering it here.
"Will Justin make it to heaven upon death? If yes, why do you think so? If Justin DOES NOT make it to heaven, whose fault will it be and why?"
I think that this question cuts to the heart of the matter nicely. I actually believe without any doubts that both you and I will be welcomed into heaven. However, if you are not physically baptized, you will find that this is 'unfinished business' and that you will need to inspire a physical human being to do it for you. I also have absolutely no doubt that you could inspire this almost instantly in someone even after your physical death because of your great love for Jesus Christ. So even if I or anyone else never manages to convince you of its importance, I am still not worried a bit for you or for myself as far as eternal salvation goes.
In Jude 1:22-23 we have what I believe explains not only the superficial clash of doctrinal concepts you and I are experiencing, but a solid explanation for ALL doctrinal clashing currently happening between genuine fellow believers. I address this in the question about 'hellfire' preaching as well. We are all converted by these three preaching techniques; 1) compassion preaching; 2) hellfire preaching; 3) holiness preaching.
We tend to get extremely attached to the one that reached us and transformed us...
I believe the one that fully reached you is 'compassion preaching.' This strongly emphasizes the simple mercy of GOD and removes all doubts from us. However, I believe that there really is only one true gospel and that this gospel shows no distinctions between Jews and pagans, (Galatians 3:28).
The Messianic Jews today believe our same gospel but many were touched equally powerfully by the 'holiness preaching' technique which is almost the opposite to your experience. They are equally enthralled and amazed by GOD's legal mind and complexity, which can be unimaginable to someone converted by His equally breathtaking simplicity.
Then there are those accepting the same gospel who find neither simplicity or complexity as compelling as GOD's righteous judgment and raw power. They can't understand why GOD's other traits even interest you compared to His unimaginable power and truest sense of justice found anywhere. So they think that you are both weird for not noticing this.
Yet, all of this is a single united phenomenon and everyone involved is equally headed for heaven. They are just 'milk drinkers' though, (1 Corinthians 3:3-4), until they can appreciate all three, which is when 'solid food' truly starts, (Hebrews 5:14).
The only real danger I see here is the small group of people in this mix who have genuinely attached themselves to one of these techniques as an 'idol' and have 'gone too far,' (2 John 1:9).
I don't believe that you are in any danger of doing this.
Ok, I think I can use your premise to make my point now. If you're sitting in a dark space, the light bulb might turn on...as mine did 2 years ago! Wait for it....
Jesus Christ was my 'physical human being, who was baptized on my behalf', thus being my savior.
Do you see?? There is NO human being other than HIM who is capable of doing ANYTHING to save my soul. We can only get to God through HIM, Himself in the flesh, Jesus Christ...by faith in HIM!
When you see this and believe this THEN will we be TRUE brothers in Christ!
I can't save MYSELF through ME being baptized for my salvation. My good friend Justin can't be baptized in my stead. Anything and everything required was completed and accepted by God THROUGH Jesus Christ. Jesus left ZERO 'unfinished business' for us to have to worry about completing!
The 'others' you speak of have a zeal for God, but are not submitting themselves to HIS righteousness. The below verses apply today!
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
The 45,000+ denominations can be ONE church, the body of Christ, through THIS truth, and not adding to it!
Mark, if what you are saying is REALLY the truth and that the 'compassion preaching' that rescued you from eternal damnation is the ONLY true path to heaven, then I will need you to explain 1 Corinthians 15:29. Is it a transcription error? Historical background information on an early heresy? A randomly dropped example of the 'other' gospel related only to Israel and genetically verifiable Jews? If so, how much Jew is a 'real' Jew and how much pagan is a 'real' pagan? I have Jewish blood from a single ancestor on my mother's side, but otherwise I am a pagan. Am I doomed according to your gospel because I'm a genetic anomaly or can I somehow join the 'pagan club' too?
"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:27-29).
"Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
No one knows which baptism 1 Cor 15:29 is, but we DO KNOW that it CANNOT be water. Look in the FIRST chapter at 1 Cor 1:17 and build upon that.
Where in Gal 3 does it say water baptism? In its context, THIS baptism is The Spirit performing it for us INTO CHRIST, occurring upon our BELIEF, not upon water. If you are saying that it's upon water, please explain Acts 10:44-48, where the Holy Ghost entered Cornelius PRIOR to water. Do you believe the Holy Ghost would have left Cornelius had Peter not DECIDED to command it? If so, please explain Eph 4:30 and Romans 8:38-39, where it is stated and implied that we today can't lose OUR seal.
Peter had not yet met Paul at the time of Cornelius. What happened when they did meet? Did they agree to go out and tell the world the same good news? If you believe this, that there is only 1 gospel and addressed to everyone, can you explain Gal 2:7-9 below?
"But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
(us and them).
The Bible explains itself when we 2 Tim 2:15 'rightly divide' it!
Regarding how much 'Jew or pagan' you have to be, maybe that's the disconnect.
Paul says Israel, as a nation, is currently in a fallen state. There is no amount of Jew or otherwise required TODAY to receive the free gift of salvation in this, the Eph 3:2 'dispensation of God's grace'. This is done on an individual basis for believers, rather than on a national level as was Israel's requirement to receive their King and kingdom.
EVERYONE may receive salvation today regardless of who they are or where they come from by faith. Paul was instructed by Christ in heaven to go tell this to unbelieving Jews first, and when they would not listen, go unto the Gentiles (anyone outside of Israel). God will still deal with national Israel, when His New Covenant is instilled in their hearts, and during His KINGDOM reign on Earth (2nd physical coming).
Remove the stoning of Stephen from the equation (which is what provoked God to go to Paul), and the New Testament would then be left with the gospels of the kingdom (M,M,L,J), all transitional aspects of Acts would be missing. The remaining books would be to convince Israel that they killed their King, but the kingdom could still come if all Israel will believe THAT. (Paul alone reveals to ALL that it's by belief in His shed blood that baptizes us into His body). Revelation is about the tribulation that living non-believers get to look forward to, and actual living Jews who must 'endure to the end'. Not much GRACE found in that time!
The Kingdom of God consists of two groups of believers:
#1. The actual Hebrew believers, who still await their promised earthly 'kingdom OF Heaven' (delivered FROM Heaven)....as in "thy kingdom come"....where Hebrews were taught to pray and ask for THEIR kingdom to literally come...and where THEY ask for forgiveness...as the 'times of refreshing' (Christ's 2nd coming...with His earthly kingdom) has still not yet come...
#2. Everyone else, who make up the church, the body of Christ...where by God's grace... WE are saved by FAITH in Christ's shed blood... by believing our sins WERE forgiven...through His shed blood...then having placed our faith in His blood...and not of works (like water baptism)...lest any man should boast...
I do apologize if I come across in any negative manner. That is NOT my intent. It may sound that way in order to stress the differences found by comparing scripture with scripture (1 Cor 2:13). My true intent is to help people see the SIMPLE truth (2 Cor 11:3), but it is ultimately not me, it is found in The Word of God (1 Cor 3:6). 'Rightly dividing' God's Word is the key to it laying out so perfectly (2 Tim 2:15).
Lastly, even Peter and Paul had an issue no different than ours (Galatians chapter 2)!
How could it be the same gospel if Paul had an issue with what Peter took to the GENTILES in Antioch? Galatians 2:21 CLEARLY says it all, religious law verses the death of Christ. Same God, but different instructions meant for two distinct groups.
These would all be valid points, Mark, except for the undeniable fact that you just read verses with me that specifically state that we DO NOT look upon human beings after the flesh any longer, (2 Corinthians 5:16). The scripture can't be broken, so when the Holy Spirit was differentiating between what He recognized as a 'Jew' and what He recognized as a 'pagan,' surprisingly, it had NOTHING to do with the fleshly body of genetics. Just like my own genetics, (and probably others at both events, Pentecost and the fire baptism of Cornelius), included 'intermingled' Jewish and pagan blood.
How did the Holy Spirit make up His mind then?
"For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom." (1 Corinthians 1:22).
Pentecost was a divine sign from heaven and a rather evident one at that. The fire baptism of Cornelius and his men was a private matter, by comparison, and was the end result of a spectacular new intellectual conclusion reached by the apostle Peter regarding GOD's mysterious plan now revealed. That even those 'seeking wisdom' rather than only expecting signs from Yahweh would also be satisfied and fulfilled in Christ.
So now not only do we have three distinctly inspired 'preaching techniques,' (compassion, hellfire judgment, holiness), but we also have two distinct overall methodologies by which men seek GOD through Christ and find Him: 1) Witnessing signs from heaven; 2) Witnessing applied divine wisdom.
So I am a spiritual 'Jew,' (Romans 2:28). I was...
...converted by witnessing divine signs and miracles, which have continued throughout my life, particularly regarding my health. Witnessing my recoveries even saved one of my Jewish doctors who was treating me.
You are very likely a spiritual 'pagan' converted as your mind was opened to seeing Yahweh's spectacular divine wisdom that makes Socrates look like a toddler.
I have begun to appreciate that aspect of Yahweh now too. Regarding the 'physical order' of the baptisms, the Holy Spirit prepares us for fire baptism through the 'washing of water by the word,' (Ephesians 5:26), which does not need to include the actual act of public confession because we are still just 'tasting' the fire of the Holy Spirit, (Hebrews 6:4-6), from which we can still 'fall' by choosing against the full infilling and 'seal of GOD.' That's what these verses in Hebrews 6 are describing.
The inspired public confession of water baptism is crucial to being 'sealed for the day of redemption' because the evil powers that once 'owned' us can still lay claim of ownership until we make this decision public.
The 'baptism in blood' or 'cup of suffering,' (Mark 10:38), is something that ends sin in our mortal bodies, (1 Peter 4:1), and is the hallmark of full spiritual maturity, so it can only take occur after the 'seal of GOD' is in place. It fully prepares us for the redemption of our bodies, which is the final act of GOD's salvation, our 'legal adoption' as sons, (Romans 8:23).
If all my points are valid and we have arrived at what Paul says in 2 Cor 5:16 as the hinge, consider the following for the complete understanding (2 Tim 2:7):
2 Cor 5:16 summarizes my entire narrative! Notice that the chapter starts off by speaking of 'the earth' and 'flesh' and then transitions from that into the 'spiritual' and 'heavenly'. Paul states directly in that verse that Christ is who we no longer know in the flesh (His EARTHLY ministry). Everyone can know Him NOW spiritually through the heavenly ministry as given to Paul, and because of the cross! (Side note: It's why Paul uses the term "my gospel"). It was the gospel given to him ALONE.
All scripture is indeed profitable for ALL to LEARN (2 Tim 3:16), but not ALL scripture was written directly TO ALL. The Bible is a progressive revelation from God to man. This is why what was written regarding some early on, may not pertain to those who come in at a later point. i.e., we would still have a 'forbidden fruit' to watch out for! God's dietary restrictions alone change multiple times throughout the Bible.
This is not 'breaking scripture' as you stated, this is "rightly dividing", and why we are to "not be ashamed" to study in this fashion. God commands it! Otherwise, we take His perfect Word, put it in a blender, pour it down everyone's throat, and hope they digest OUR nonsense.
2 Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
I understand the purpose of many denominational churches baptizing symbolically, to show man their sincerity, but even THIS is dangerous as it could be misunderstood as a requirement, or worse, THE requirement.
I was water baptized when I was about 8 years old with that belief, that IT was the requirement for salvation. At that age I remember thinking the term meant to be 'saved' from drowning at sea. The second thought, almost instantly after, was that maybe you're thrown off a ship and then THEY 'save' you. Thought three, and welcoming THEN, was the realization that it was all completed in a 'church', and in a controlled environment.
It took 44 years to go from that, to questioning, to loss of hope, to despair, to last bit of hope, to then discovery, to awakening, to new understanding, to joy, to study, to awareness, to a 'new creature', to share with others the TRUTH; Salvation comes by FAITH in Christ alone. We don't have to be 'thrown to sea'. He is indeed our ship that protects us from the sea, and He is captain, who HE ALONE knows the route.
Salvation occurs upon our BELIEF that HE ALONE has already completed 'the voyage', on our behalf. Believers are then spiritually protected with Him in His body at THAT time. This happened spiritually by the Spirit Himself, not physically with water.
There is no need to go back into the already completed 'voyage' and throw ourselves into the water. THAT is exactly what falling from grace is, forgetting the cross (1 Cor 1:17).
Mark, your use of 1 Corinthians 1:17 brings up the next set of inheritances we receive, the distinction between an evangelist, (like Philip), who was formally authorized to water baptize, (which Paul actually was also early on, which is why he DID baptize two specific people that he could recall along with the entire house of Stephanas, 1 Corinthians 1:14-16), but that as a church planter and apostle, this was no longer his role. He was expressing gratitude to GOD for this because now that he is a church planter with great authority, the very thing that you are doing is what he feared most, potentially creating a mini-religion of your own around the apostle Paul himself and his powerful revelations and teaching. In other words, being 'baptized into Paul,' (1 Corinthians 1:13), instead of being baptized into Christ.
You are, in fact, 'breaking' not 'dividing' the scriptures when you avoid, ignore or try to alter them. And the phrase 'rightly dividing' doesn't actually mean parsing them apart, but properly distributing them to others like daily rations in the right way and at the right time, (Luke 12:42, Matthew 4:4).
You will have to admit if you are honest here that you haven't addressed any of my points at all. You keep dodging or ignoring them while focusing on your own personal interpretation of scripture. Each interpretation MUST be supported by 'two or three witnesses' found elsewhere in scripture, (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1).
Does the 'voyage' end here, at 1 verse that you say opposes the narrative, but in context actually proves it? We're at the 'shore' of spiritual freedom, but you prefer religion and 'MAN'S wisdom' and 'jump ship'?
Paul was "NOT SENT TO BATPTIZE", as is made clear. He NEVER mentions anyone needing to do it, or on behalf of someone else! He preaches the gospel of FAITH throughout his epistles, that BELIEF in IT is the good news for salvation NOW (1 Cor 15:1-4).
I in no way EVER said I am baptized into Paul, or worship Paul, which IS what was his worry. That would take away from Christ and the cross, just like water baptism, with the belief that it is IT that saves us.
I was MADE KNOWN THROUGH PAUL that we ALL can have a savior TODAY through Jesus Christ by faith alone in CHRIST and NOTHING of ourselves.
The religion you bring sounds very complicated, busy, and requires WORK on the part of its believers. Something one could be PROUD of. Does not 'pride come before the fall'?
I've been down the 'religious' road and it was a dead end. I choose life now, by faith in Christ! I pray that the eyes of others are opened to this truth, as were Paul's! We are 'FREED of the bondage' and brought to the "LIBERTY" found in the truth of the gospel of God's grace, Jesus Christ crucified (Gal 5:1).
"20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?"
2 Cor 4:4
Marc, I can clearly feel that your motives in convincing me of this doctrinal position are driven by genuine compassion for me and others, but that only convinces me more that you have simply been overwhelmed with the compassion of Christ and still just can't see the equal importance of His perfect justice and holiness, which are the two other preaching techniques used by inspired evangelists.
My concerns about the 'mini-religion' around Paul are warranted, even if they don't apply to you, personally. The fact that his name is even used on the front of your church doesn't inspire great confidence that I am completely wrong about this concern, (both brother Paul's profound concern and mine).
I am convinced that there are people in your church who have even 'gone to far,' (2 John 1:9), and made this their personal religion, though I don't get that impression from you. I just think that your great appreciation and gratitude for your own manner of personal transformation and salvation has made it impossible for you to see outside of it.
I find it hard to fault you for it since I admire great passion and I believe that even misguided passion as horrendous as Saul of Tarsus' decision to use the wisdom of Torah to try to destroy all Christians everywhere is something GOD even admired and took compassion on because Saul was ignorant and genuinely believed that he was right and 'on GOD's side.'
My point being that even if you or I, or both of us, are equally misguided somehow...
...GOD will admire our passion if we don't abandon it and turn into hypocrites. He will even find a way to reach us both and show us the truth, even if He has to knock us off our proverbial donkey to do it.
That said, I would at least like to continue to try to use scripture to convey what I believe are vital truths. One problem convincing me is that I am not only convinced by multiple 'witnesses' in scripture, (confirming independent confirmation), but I have personal experiences of conscience that reinforce these scriptural beliefs that would then need to be 'explained' in a new way, since they can't all just be delusion. Especially, since most of them happened before I even understood the scriptures related to them
For example, like my irresistible need to be publicly baptized a second time. I went through the entire process twice at a completely different church ministry, including retaking classes designed to help a person understand the scriptural importance of water baptism and its spiritual significance in helping liberate us from our former 'masters,' by standing up and disowning them in front of everyone while accepting Jesus and His saving resurrection in their place.
Even my personal experience with the 'baptism in blood' in all the interesting and creative ways GOD can manifest that form of 'shared suffering' as aspects of the passions of the cross. That too is on the same road for everyone equally and we need 'proxy' help with that too. It all fits for me.
You believe that I am a member of a PHYSICAL 'church' actually named "The Church the Body of Christ by Paul's Gospel"?
No wonder we can't come to an understanding! I wouldn't blame you if that's the case! I may be assuming too much, but would it 'inspire more confidence' if it were brought to your attention that the name of the SPIRITUAL body I'm referring to was given to Paul alone (not the 12) by God Himself? Key point!
(Eph 3:6, Eph 1:22-23, Romans 7:4, 1 Cor 12:12, 1 Cor 12:27, Eph 4:12, Eph 5:23)
If someone at a physical 'church' is handing you material other than a King James Bible, I would recommend considering the source of this 'wisdom', which is MAN. You don't need ANY material other than The Word of God!
Our conversation has forced me to think of God's ultimate message to us in 1 word: LOVE!
If our focus becomes that, then our way of 'looking through the telescope' may then merge.
Those who understand nothing more than John 3:16, and anyone outside of Israel, through Paul's gospel in Eph 2:8 and 1 Cor 15:1-4, can apply to EVERYONE because of God's LOVE!
Below are these verses interwoven, with Paul being in ( ). This is solely for the purpose of showing how the messages in context of salvation work so beautifully together for both groups:
'For God so loved the world (for by grace), that he gave (it is the gift) his only begotten Son (how that Christ died for our sins...and that He was buried), that whosoever believeth in him (through faith) should not perish (are ye saved), but have everlasting life (he rose again the third day).'
I've been overlooking LOVE. God ultimately wants us to be with Him, but we're not capable of doing that on our own due to our 'corruptible flesh' (no one meets The Father but through Jesus). God used the law to prove to us that fact. He had to sacrifice Himself through Christ in the flesh to 'wake us up', the only way WE in the flesh would ever understand what the cost truly means, HE LOVES US! Our belief that Christ's death paid the price on our behalf is acknowledging His love for us, thus making us THEN acceptable to Him!
This is why doing anything to 'work our way in' causes the "falling" into "debt". We have overlooked His grace, His LOVE!
Mark, I have actually seen physical brick and mortar churches with names like that, but it really doesn't bring me any less pause or concern when I see it personally advertised online in a forum like this one.
Granted, I am far less concerned about it now for you personally, but when I imagine real world churches filled with people following the identical doctrines you are explaining here, they might as well be your physical congregation too and I would have grave concerns about who this might physically attract and why.
I do not believe that the apostle Paul's personal revelations are any greater than the other apostles. In fact, very disturbingly and graphically Paul ends all doubt about this by calling his revelations an 'aborted baby,' (1 Corinthians 15:8, 'ektrōma'), while comparing them to the other disciples.
It is usually translated in a flowery and sanitized way like 'untimely birth,' but the word 'ektrōma' is the Greek medical term for an aborted fetus. Paul is making clear in no uncertain terms that his 'separate' revelation should in no way at all be perceived as 'superior,' and, in fact, it is in every way 'inferior' precisely because it will inevitably lead to idolatry in certain people, whereas the revelation given to the other apostles is not as conducive to this weakness and vulnerability because it is intact as part of one system of thought and worship.
The "as OF" in 1 Cor 15:8 indicates that it is figurative, 'by analogy'. You are correct on the meaning of the word itself, but not the literal application. For instance, having 'eyes as of fire', or 'like unto fire' it is a figurative statement for better understanding, not LITERAL fire.
His now corrupted religious system became the foundation for his justification in doing what he says he was in the very next verse 'persecuting the church of God'. His eyes were opened to this error by Christ. He had been so attached (proud) of his religion, and not wanting to lose his stature in it, that he missed the obvious fact that Christ was indeed Israel's Messiah.
Read Phil 3 carefully, but here are verses 4 through 8 that are exactly what we're talking about:
"Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
What word in verse 8 is used as the 'analogy' of his past religious gain?
There is 1 congregation that I now belong, yet small, it is NOT a 'mini-religion'. Christianity, having FAITH in Christ, would be MUCH more prevalent if ZERO religious doctrine of man were added to it. Paul was to be Christ's example of this! Christ was the end of 'faith plus religion', and the beginning of 'faith plus NOTHING'!
The issue is not that of a physical place of worship (including a website), the issue is that the truth found in Paul's 'faith plus NOTHING' is either hidden, made a mockery of, outright ignored, but most often used to sprinkle just enough back in to Israel's 'faith plus SOMETHING' gospels of the kingdom. The result is confusion and contradiction by 'belief in WHAT exactly??'
The 'fear and trembling' spoken of by Paul is regarding 'working our salvation OUT' of ourselves due to who God, in His omniscience, has given control in the world as it is now (2 Cor 4:3-4). It is therefore URGENT to share with others what grace ACTUALLY means and it is done out of charity!
This is THE very reason I relented just slightly, which then showed me that God's love is the binding theme for all. Seeing these truths truly sets us free, but we first must WIDELY open our own eyes!
I understand your rejection of what I'm saying. I oppose the widely accepted religious theme. It's analogous to swimming in the opposite direction to the majority of the fish in the sea.
That's exactly what John the Baptist, Jesus and the 12, Paul and many others did and tell us to do also!
Do you see then why God 'cast men out' if these men are doing all the stated 'wonderful things' even if done the name of Jesus Christ?
"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.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:"
Verse 24 says it. They didn't build their foundation on Christ Himself. They never submitted to HIS righteousness. They were relying on their own SELF-RIGHTEOUS acts to be their means of 'buying their way in'. They were going by the 'faith plus works' requirement, but they were missing the FAITH part. Faith in the fact that CHRIST is the foundation, not anything they were doing of themselves
This is why I'm always stressing the significance of the current dispensation of God's grace (Eph 3:2). God only requires the FAITH part of the equation. We don't do ANYTHING in an effort to please Him. We see that faith in CHRIST ALONE pleases Him today.
How did WE TODAY find out this difference? Just as Moses was the conduit from God to Israel, Paul was chosen to be the Gentile conduit to us today.
Okay, you articulated that all very well and stated the position you hold clearly, but I need you to take this 'faith + nothing' to its ultimate end and imagine what a heaven with 'faith + nothing' actually looks like in order to then grasp what I am saying.
There is a very REAL place called 'heaven' that has a REAL government, REAL military forces, (the personal detail only protecting Christ while on earth numbered 72,000 angels, Matthew 26:53). There is a 'deliberative assembly' after which humans unwittingly model assemblies like Congress. It is called the 'Assembly of the Firstborn,' (Hebrews 12:23), after a title of Jesus referring to His resurrection, being the 'first among many brothers,' i.e. 'firstborn from among the dead,' (Colossians 1:18). Jesus presides over this deliberative assembly with the deciding vote.
You can't just show up and say, 'Here's my ticket by faith + nothing, go ahead and give me what I'm entitled too. Do all the work for me, learn for me, its all signed sealed and delivered so chop chop, hop to it."
They will respond this way:
"Who are you again and why exactly are you here? If you think you belong here, go and do what we told you to do. Yes, faith got you here, congratulations. You aren't under Yahweh's wrath. Join the club. Everyone here can say at least that same basic thing, but that's what you were SUPPOSED to do and then you did NOTHING more, (Luke 17:10, 19:20-24). Now go give your 'faith + nothing' to one wiser than you."
SALVATION is the issue, the SPECIFIC original question! What I'm SUPPOSED to do NOW is to HAVE FAITH, that it is through HIM that GETS me to heaven. THAT is step 1. What I do here AFTER that is to share the gospel! Step 3, what I do in HEAVEN, was never addressed, by me at least!
Our purpose and what we'll be doing THERE and then, is irrelevant to step 1...GETTING there by FAITH! Step 2: How we work our faith OUT to others, is ADDED 'reward'.
YES! I Am absolutely placing my eternal salvation on Christ alone! When I arrive there, I might then have the following hypothetical coversation:
Me to God: "Now that I've done as asked by having faith in YOUR righteousness, which served as the KEY to allow me in, how may I now serve my God here?"
God (hypothetically of course): "Well Mark, I see that you have shared my good news with others so that they might also accept MY free GIFT, those standing with you in this new government, so I give you the following rewards...to MAYBE use for some of that stuff Justin spoke of, or maybe some of the stuff that you yourself thought you'd be doing, but here's the WORK I actually need you to do NOW..."
Me: "Can I see my friend Justin at this time, that I met on eBible.com back in the day?"
God (hypothetically): "Well....Justin isn't here actually. He thought that DOING a water baptism paid a part in getting here, never having faith that I alone paid his FULL price for him, when I was on the cross in the flesh, then known as Jesus Christ."
Okay, Marc, so I think that I can finally see what this boils down to in practical terms.
I believe in something called 'conscience-driven actions.' I distinguish them from 'ego-driven actions.' Ego-driven actions would disqualify me from salvation by grace through faith alone because my actions would end up being me + Christ, in any combination or proportion it wouldn't matter. If the 'ego' (i.e. 'me'), is involved on any level, in any way, to any degree whatsoever, I don't know the gospel yet. I am not saved. On this I actually think that we do agree and even did from the very beginning.
However, a 'conscience-driven action' is a post-salvation action that can ONLY happen after the Holy Spirit arrives and installs that new 'person' inside of you who is spiritually alive. The original me is now 'dead' and has no voice to express his 'ego' as he once did.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20).
You can't judge a corpse because death IS the judgment. I am free because I am dead. However, in practical terms, that also means I am in no danger whatsoever of any me + Christ scenarios. Dead men can't participate in those.
The new 'alive' me is conscience-based. He has no ego. What he does have are directives from Christ to be baptized publicly to make certain that the law is followed..
That 'law' is NOT the old 'law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2), it is the 'law of the Spirit of life,' also known as the 'law of liberty,' (James 1:25, 2:12).
There are things that Christ requires of us if we want to be intimate with Him or even enter the 'festal gathering,' which is the general population in heaven, (as distinguished from the government officials that make up then 'Assembly of the Firstborn,' Hebrews 12:23). The whole place is described by analogy like a giant 'Wedding Feast,' so even the general population of heaven is described as 'festal.'
We can be spared the horrors of hell and still not be active participants in the kingdom of heaven until we get some things straightened out about holiness, justice, and compassion. We are either 'dead' or we aren't. You can't hide an earthly ego in heaven. I don't have one left. If you are talking to me as if I'm unsaved, you are having a conversation with a corpse.
If you realize that I am saved, then you should be aware that you are speaking with Jesus Christ, only through a less than fully mature 'person' created in heaven to take the place of this dead man. So he remains an 'imperfect' version of Christ. This will continue until he obeys ALL of the dictates of conscience given to him. That includes three different baptisms. Water, fire and blood.
I am up to 'blood' but not finished with it yet. That's the way it is. I can explain it to you from scripture in detail and nothing I am saying cannot be shown there.
I see where you are coming from now also. If I understand you correctly, you're saying that you DO actually believe you've been saved through your faith in Christ. AFTER which, you were then baptized for whatever purpose you believe is, may, or may not, be stated in scripture. I'm good with that!
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Romans 14:5)
Imagine that! And it only took 35 pages of discussion to reach that conclusion! LOL.
I think the Holy Spirit had us hash out a lot of valuable peripheral doctrinal points here during our 'paroxysmos' which is a word that can be found here:
"And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24).
The word translated 'stimulate' there is the word above and medical science actually uses it to mean, "a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity." (English 'paroxysm').
This felt a little like that at times didn't it!
If this is what it was, we will both go out and increase our love and good deeds, so Amen to that.
Yes!! :insert rofl emojis here:
I will admit, this conversation opened my eyes on a few things I was in err on, which in turn got me over a MAJOR hump I have been struggling with for several months. I'm at a different level of peace now because of this. It may not have manifested had you not stuck it out with me. I greatly appreciate that, so THANK YOU my brother in Christ!