International Church of Christ (Oahu church of Christ)
Charles Spurgeon the great preacher once said, that a mans ignorance of the precise time of his physical birth was no evidence that he was not alive. The proof of regeneration by the Spirit of God is the believers own persuasion that Christ is indeed Lord and savior and the evidence of the Spirits life in and through us. The things of the world fade and are replaced with a spiritual life.
It is our faith that is essential to salvation. faith means trust, its object is always God, not baptism and other human works. If faith is put in any other object no matter how sacred it will fail. The faith that scripture describes is a repentance of unbelief to believing. It means for one to be fully persuaded, to trust, to rely on. It is based on hearing a message Rom. 10: 17 faith comes from hearing the word of God. Our faith is in the one who spoke the word. We trust in what he said and in so doing we trust in the one who spoke it. Biblical faith is active, alive, vital, possessive not passive, objective not subjective.
Faith is a simple act of receiving Christ just as when a child receives an apple from you because you hold it out and promise to give him the apple if he comes for it. What the childs hand is to the apple, that is your faith to the perfect salvation of Christ. the childs hand does not make the apple, nor improve the apple. nor deserve the apple; it only takes it; faith is chosen by god to be the receiver of salvation." this is the means God chose . however man likes to work for something so he can fell good about receiving it. Eph.2:8-10 makes it clear God chose to give it freely so no one can ever boast that they did something to earn it.
Rom.6:14 " For you are not under law, but under grace."
If one is to keep the law then they must meet its requirement. Which is perfect obedience. James 2:10 states to break one point of the law means we are guilty of all ,because it is a unit. Imperfect law keeping is not law keeping at all.
Rom. 10:4 "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes." By trusting in Christ's work the law is fulfilled perfectly.
Gal. 3:19-25 states the law points out our guilt and was a teacher to bring us to the savior. "We are justified by faith" Once faith came we are no longer under the law it replaces it. all the commandments are kept by the power of the Spirit and it is by faith the law is established
Faith finds it origin in God and it is the initial act of obedience that puts one in right standing with God, receiving salvation once it is exercised. Our spiritual life starts at the point of faith needing no further acts such as baptism, the lords supper or living the Christian life. These are all acts of obedience after one is saved,
The I.C.C. also misrepresents what other Churches believe to prove they are wrong. "Well you know what when I hear you Dave, you saying that youve got to go out and share your faith you got to go out and really be committed to god and stuff like that. I believe thats a work and the Bible says we are saved by grace, I dont have to work. (Dave addressing this straw argument he set up) You sound more like a Pharisee there, its the Sabbath day I dont have to work."(audio Dave Kim who is Jesus? Mar. 2, 1997)
Actually this is a misrepresentation of the Pharisees who prided themselves by their works. I dont know of any Christian church that discourages people from doing good deeds. This is one of the ways to show that we are not following Christ. What we are saying is that true faith exhibits itself by our deeds. If one is not moved to do good showing compassion when necessary then they need to question whether they are living out the life of Christ that was suppose to be instilled in them.
So what of James statement "faith without works is dead."
James 2:17 " Even so, faith if it has no works is dead, (being alone).
The word alone is not in the Greek text. The literal translation "So indeed-faith, if it has no works, dead is itself." Vincent (1, p.744) "In itself." Expositors Greek testament : ( IV, p.444) " In its very essence, dead." A.T. Robertson :(VI, p. 35) " In and of itself inwardly and outwardly dead.
James is explaining what kind of faith results in salvation. If it is true faith it is alive. All works are acts of faith which one must have beforehand, even baptism.
It is a cause and effect, works are the result of the cause, they are related to the source which is faith. Faith that is not alive, without works, that faith is not saving faith. so there is a relationship of works to faith they prove one is truly justified that their faith is genuine.
When we say we receive salvation by faith alone it is referring to being the conduit to the grace of God. It is by faith alone yet it is accompanied by works.
The Bible never condemns faith alone but a faith that is dead, an empty profession. Its inward deadness is demonstrated by it's lack of an outward life. Good works and obedience demonstrate our faith to the people around us.
what is faith
Faith requires knowledge but not knowledge alone, saving faith is not blind faith either. One must have an intelligible understanding of what and whom they believe in. For one to be saved does not require a comprehensive knowledge of God, it could be the bare mini-mum, but it must be the right knowledge. One must believe in the heart and the mind. The heart cannot rejoice over what the mind is not convinced in. So there must be an intellectual accent that has the assurance that a certain proposition is true then one is persuaded and convinced of the truth and affirms it.
Charles Spurgeon the great preacher declared faith is not a blind thing for faith begins with knowledge, it is not a speculative thing for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It's not a impractical dreaming thing for faith trusts and stakes its destiny upon the truth of Gods revelation.
What they accuse the evangelical church of is that we have the faith of demons because we do not do the work that they boast in. James 2:19 "you believe that god is one, you do well, even the demons believe this and tremble." (this is sarcasm). The demons recognize and know Gods identity. They have knowledge and they assent to it's truthfulness. But they lacked the final element which is an act of their will to trust in Christ, they resist him. So this is not the same as believing unto salvation because the truth does not change their course of action or their nature. They are sealed in their corrupted state forever unable to change. Real faith has affection, we have a change of mind, our value system changes. Our perception of God is changed, where we were formerly hostile toward him we now see him as the very life needed to sustain us. We are no longer self reliant but God reliant. We embrace him and the work he has done for us. We understand that it is his work and their is nothing we can add to perfect it or complete it.
Faith shows that we have a change of mind, our value system has changed. Real faith has affection, there is love toward god whereas before there was none. Our perception of god has changed, where we were formerly hostile toward him we now see him as the very life to sustain us. We are no longer self reliant but God reliant. We embrace him and the work that he has done for us. We understand that it is his work alone and there is nothing we can add to complete or perfect it.
These verses make it clear faith is born of God and overcomes
In 1 John 5:4 " for whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." vs 5 shows us who possesses this faith " Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the son of God." Real faith is born before any ceremony or deed.
Grace finds its source in the giver, who is God, who is motivated by love. It puts the worst observer in the highest favor, accepted in the beloved by His work alone. It is to be freely pardoned, grace is a free gift, however, it did cost God the life of His Son. It is God reaching down to helpless sinners that know they are unable to merit God's favor by any deeds of their own. Grace means we abandon ourselves and work through His grace, not for it. We begin in Grace, we stand in Grace and we finish in it. If you reverse the process it is then based on our righteousness. Rom. 4:4-5 4 "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness . . ." Rom. 11:6 "And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." It is by faith one finds themselves in God's grace.
Faith and Works
The major false views are when one adds the law or trusts in ceremonies to be part of grace. Once again grace ceases and we approach God on our own deeds. When someone trusts in their own deeds or a ceremony, such as baptism, they will not be saved because they have not used the conduit that God has given.
Eph. 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9. not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, . . ." From faith proceeds works, otherwise we are doing good works to be created in Christ Jesus. No one becomes spiritual by performance. We relate to God by our position in Christ, not by our condition of behavior, which is through obedience. We obey because of love which comes from position, we are not obeying to receive His love or grace. That would be earning it, as in a job
Eph. 1:6" to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
He forgave us while we were still sinning; that's grace
Rom. 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The Bible continually assures the believer that Christ paid the full penalty for our sins, that there is nothing we need to do for salvation except believe on His sacrifice and resurrection.
Eph. 1:7 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Col. 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
Rom. 3:24-"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
The debt is paid in full, there is nothing for sinners to do except to receive the pardon, it is given as a free gift. When someone receives a gift they don't say let me do something to earn it or work to keep it or to prove they deserve it. Christ shouted with His last breath, "It is finished." To suggest otherwise is a serious challenge to God. John the Baptist announced Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Either He does or He does not. Grace is unmerited favor, it is unrelated to any deed we might do. It is not withheld because of sin nor is it lessened because of any sin. God's grace is consistent; it neither increases nor decreases because of our performance. We are told to continue in the grace of God, it is always there for us to walk in. Paul says when sin abounded grace abounded even more.
Their Gospel is obedience = grace + faith + obedience =+ (behavior,discipleship, baptism, etc.) This means our change in behavior is needed to have God's favor for salvation. Grace that has conditions is not grace at all. This church's doctrine makes one end up walking on eggshells. Is it any wonder people feel strange when they leave? But because of their training they are convinced there is nothing else but this as Christianity.
Grace cannot be worked for. If it is earned, it becomes payment, a salary. This is like the economical system of the world. God's economy is different. Neither can it be deserved by our behavior or deeds, otherwise it ceases to be a free gift. True grace is, God did the work and you received the benefits. The same Greek word for grace, charis, is also used for the gifts of the Spirit, charisma. We don't earn the gifts, they are freely given, distributed by God as He wills. So it is with salvation
Titus 3:5-7 5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Here the scripture contrasts our own works to the Savior's work we receive by grace. It is by the Holy Spirit, and through Jesus Christ that achieves what man cannot do by himself.
Those who claim to follow the Bible and depend on their own works for being declared right before God have not begun to understand the Biblical view of repentance and faith. Let me give you a practical example of grace. Imagine a swimmer far out from shore who gets a cramp and tries desperately to swim in. The more he tries, the less energy he has. As he struggles, he becomes panicky, seeing that it is hopeless to continue in his own efforts. Along comes the lifeguard who grabs hold of the weakened swimmer, that, by now, is going under. The swimmer can now cease from his own efforts and relax in the care of the lifeguard, who is able to bring him safely to the beach. This is what is meant by ceasing from your own work and trusting in Christ's work. He's trusting in the lifeguard, not himself, to bring him safely to shore.
The New Covenant is not dependent on us to fulfill, He will fulfill it. He is a God who watches over His word. In Phil. 1:6 he writes, ". . . He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Our part is to continue in the salvation already given. He is the author and finisher of our faith. It is not how we hold onto Him, but how He holds on to us. We cooperate as He empowers us to live the life. Grace and law cannot co-exist, they are two different covenants. We are either under one or the other. To trust one's own works of obedience alongside Christ's work is adding to the Gospel and puts one under the law, of which they are obligated to keep the whole thing. This is spiritual suicide. This is why the law was a curse, because no one could keep it by their power. This is why grace is so powerful and we are so powerless. Grace flows from God, its origin is not from man.
Nowhere does the Bible teach that man is not saved until he is baptized nor does it teach man is not saved without baptism. The new man is produced by the work of the Spirit not by water.
There is no mention of any blessing that is connected with baptism that is not also given at the point of faith.
The new covenant is the blood of Christ, his death, its not water. There is no forgiveness without the blood of Christ, there is forgiveness without baptism..
1 Cor. 1:21 ". . .it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." What was that message? A few verses before He tells us, vs. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." SAVED (past tense). How? Through faith. The cross is sufficient because it is Christ's work for us, the Savior is a person, the God/man.
Rom. 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,"
It is harder to truly believe than it is to be baptized or do deeds. Those who try to prove they are of god by laboring would cease their efforts instantly and trade it for Rom.10:3-4 "For they being ignorant of Gods righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of god. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes." Phil.3:9 "And being found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law (by works) but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith." Faith is a gift, baptism is a work of man. whenever faith is called a work, it is called the work of God.
We are saved by grace through faith alone, grace will always be spelled
Articles are taken from the spiral bound book International Church of Christ Birth of a Cult. (click> on books)