Monday, August 16, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 5

Likewise Catholicism has taught for centuries that the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist) is truly Christ’s body and blood brought to the altar by the invisible “miracle” of transubstantiation. Luther and Calvin never divorced themselves from such idolatrous notions during the Reformation. This shouldn’t shock us too much, since both men were devout Roman Catholics all of their lives before “Protesting” about certain activities the Roman Church “indulged” in.

Lutherans and Calvinists adopted water baptism as a means of spiritual regeneration; they also contributed to the persecution of the Anabaptists, who believed in what is today called “the believer’s baptism”: that when someone hears the gospel and believes on Jesus for eternal life, they may be baptized if they consent. See Acts 8:35-39 for an example of this belief in practice; the eunuch confessed belief in Jesus Christ and was then baptized. Note that Phillip told the eunuch, “If you believe (in Jesus Christ) with all your heart, you may,” verse 37. Phillip wanted the eunuch to be saved before immersing him in water. The eunuch answered that, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” verse 37. Then, and only then on a confession of faith, was the eunuch baptized. This pattern is followed throughout Acts. This is what the Anabaptists believed and taught, and they were persecuted even to death by Lutherans for this.

Both practices, if true, contradict dozens of clear statements in the New Testament that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is profitable for Rome to continue this farce; but not for Christians who profess that salvation is a free gift of God, it is eternal, and one possesses life the moment one believes bereft of merit or works. Let me pose a quandary: if water baptism/the Lord's Supper save, then every verse which excludes those necessary stipulations in the New Testament is deficient; you would have to read in "faith, plus water baptism, etc" into every passage that excludes them, so as not to present a misinformed gospel message. This is terribly serious, dear readers. Either salvation in solely by God's grace (which by definition does not involve our works) or we through our efforts have become involved in procuring, maintaining our salvation. What does the Bible teach? Prayerfully consider, for any gospel besides the genuine article is anethema according to Paul, Galatians 1:8-9.

This applies to conditional salvation. If Jesus Christ was not the full payment for sins (past, present, and future) then His sacrifice was imperfect. We read, “But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin (again it’s singular!) by the sacrifice of Himself,” Hebrews 9:26; also see Romans 6:10. Jesus did not die to put away sins; He died to put away SIN ITSELF. When He died, sin died with Him and satisfied God’s judicial demands, Colossians 2:13-14. Christ’s righteousness is imputed on anyone who believes; while that debt of sin is utterly and totally cancelled as far as payment is concerned, John 5:24; 2nd Corinthians 5:17. Jesus told us that through faith in Him we have, “everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but [have] passed from death to life.” Look at Colossians 2:13 again. God has made us alive together with Christ, having forgiven you all trespasses. Does “all” in this verse only imply trespasses committed before we were saved, or simply “all?” If Christ only dealt with our sins prior to salvation, then we may concede the former; but since we have heard more than once that Jesus dealt with sin (not just ours, but all sin for all time) by dying on the cross, then we must agree that Paul was writing to tell us that “all our trespasses are forgiven.” God has perfect foreknowledge (Romans 8:29; 1st Peter 1:2). He made provision in Christ that was perfect; Jesus’ infinite sinlessness took away the sin of the world, John 1:29; 36!

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” Colossians 3:3. Died how? “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again,” 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15. First Paul speaks a paradox: you died, and your life is hidden. What have we died to? We have died to sin, of course, Romans 6:2, 7. Later in that chapter Paul tells us we are “set free from sin,” Romans 6:22. He speaks in a legal sense; we’re not dead to sin and set free from sin in the form of temptation. Daily life reveals this much to every saint. In a judicial sense, however, if you have, through faith in Christ, died to sin you now live by the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2:20.

Christ died for all, and all died: that is, Jesus died to sin and put it to death on the cross so that anyone who came to Christ in faith would no longer be subject to sin, and suffer God’s judgment regarding it. Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 5:15 that it is those who live (have accepted Jesus Christ by faith) should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them. It is a sad testimony that genuinely saved Christians can apostatize and live for themselves. But it does not change the simple fact that Jesus said, “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out,” John 6:37. He also testified that He should lose nothing of those who have been given Him, John 6:39. The word “should” in verse 39 of the KJV/NKJV Bibles is not in the original Greek, so Christ is not speaking about possibility, but certainty.
To be Continued.

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