WHAT WE'VE FOUND
in our study of God’s word.
(There’s lots more we’ve found,
but these subjects seem to come up
more often with people we meet.)
Baptism – The waters muddied by many. See The Seven Ones.
Change of Covenant – We have found it common to overlook passages like Galatians 3:23-25, Ephesians 2:14-16, Romans 7:4-7, 2 Corinthians 3:6-11 and the entire book of Hebrews. These passages teach that there has been a change of covenant, and Christ's blood has sealed and ratified it: "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28). It is also clearly taught that if we use Old Testament commandments to justify what we do as the people of God, we have stepped on to perilous ground (Galatians 5:4).
In Matthew 28:18-20, Christ sent his apostles out to teach people to follow his commands, not Moses', and we see in Acts 2:42 that Christ's followers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, not the law of Moses. So, while it's clear we gain important instruction from the Old Testament scriptures (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11), the way of the Lord for today is found in the apostles' teaching, which is "a better covenant, established on better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).
"Church" – See Instant Church. Nuff said.
Clergy/Laity – We find no scriptural justification for having a clergy/laity division in the body of Christ. The only thing said about priests in the church is that all the members are priests (1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10), and Christ is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14; 8:1-4; 7:24-28). The clergy/laity system lends itself to an active/spectator arrangement. But in the body of Christ, there are no vestigial organs, no “spectators”. (This solves the question some have about women priests. All the women are priests! There is simply no laity.) We realise this doesn't mean everyone can teach in the assemblies (James 3:1; 1 Timothy 2:12), or be elders (Titus 1:5-9) etc., but we can see that the "clergy/laity" distinction is not a feature of the New Testament way.
End times – Jesus Christ will return, and this could happen any time. Everything else Jesus predicted came about as he said it would, so there’s no reason for us to doubt that his prediction of his return will also be fulfilled as he said. We don’t go in for trying to predict when he will return, as Jesus simply taught his followers to be ready, “for you do not know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Therefore he said “you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 25:13; 24:44).
We have been asked if we are “pre-trib or post trib”. We are neither: we are “many trib” (Acts 14:22). The many convoluted doctrines around what’s supposed to happen leading up to Christ’s return seem to arise out of a tendency to follow popular winds of doctrine, and a failure to pay attention to what the scriptures teach (which is a lot more straightforward). What Christ said to his apostles, we say to all: Watch! (Mark 13:37)
Miracles – It’s obvious that the Creator of the universe could do miracles, and it’s plain in scripture that God also did miracles through people he empowered. That’s a matter of historical record. What we haven’t found is anyone today who can actually do what those historic people were able to do when God miraculously empowered them. In fact, we see scripture strongly indicating that that sort of empowerment was given for a limited time (Acts 2:17-20; Daniel 9:24; Hebrews 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10), for the purpose of confirming that those people really were bringing God's message for humankind (Acts 2:22; John 3:2; Mark 16:20). The distribution of gifts of the Holy Spirit was evidently tied to the ministry of the apostles (Acts 8:14-19; 19:6; Romans 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:6), and they are no longer with us. But their writings are (2 Peter 1:14-15), and the first century miracles still serve to confirm their word as being from God.
“Once saved always saved” – True enough, “if indeed you continue in the faith, having been established and steadfast and not drifting away from the hope of the good news which you heard” (Col 1:23). We recognise that God says the salvation we’re given is conditional upon our keeping the faith. “…you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you” (1 Cor 15:2). “…whose house we are if we hold firmly the confidence and the boast of hope firm until the end.” Then there’s all of these passages: 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Timothy 4:1; 6:10; Hebrews 2:1; 6:4-6; 12:15; James 5:19; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 3:17. These passages confront us with the stark reality that we can shipwreck our faith, we can fall from grace, we can wander or stray from the truth. If there’s some doctrine getting around which conflicts with what God’s word plainly says about this, we choose God’s word over that doctrine.
Repentance – God calls everyone to repent (Acts 17:30; 20:21; 2 Peter 3:9), but it is a word unfamiliar to many today. Some confuse it with being sorry. Sorrow is not repentance, but godly sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Some confuse it with confession, but confession is done with the mouth (Romans 10:9). Repentance is actually a change of mind and attitude that produces a change in one’s actions, which leads to salvation (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11). That’s how important it is: if we don’t repent and turn to God, we cannot be saved from our sins. It's something God's people must continue to do as they learn and grow in faith (Philippians 3:15; James 5:19-20; Rev 3:3).
Sabbath – We have been asked if we keep the Sabbaths. We are not Sabbath-keepers as a rule, for we have learned from the scriptures that it is no longer a requirement of God’s people. (See Change of Covenant above, and more under Tithing below.) But if individuals wish to observe Sabbaths, that’s fine, of course — so says Colossians 2:16-17 and Romans 14:5-8. Jesus said that God made the Sabbath rest day for man’s benefit (Mark 2:27), so there’s certainly no harm in having a rest day each week!
"Sinner's Prayer" – We have not found any scriptural precedent or instruction which even suggests that saying a prayer is how to become a follower of Christ and receive his forgiveness. The closest we've found to that is when Simon, who had already become a disciple, went off the tracks and was told to repent and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:13-24). But the rest of Acts details how people were added to God's family as followers of Christ — and there isn't the slightest hint of "asking the Lord Jesus into your heart". Read how they did it in Acts 2:36-38; 3:19; all of chapter 8; 9:1-19 (with 22:6-16; 26:12-18); 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 29-34; 18:8. In these passages, along with Christ's directives in Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:46-47, we get a full and clear picture of how to become a forgiven follower of Christ.
How to be saved from sin — forgiven by Christ's atoning death — is the most important thing a person must know, so if this is not clear to you after examining those passages of scripture, be sure to contact us for help. The confusion which abounds on this issue is not caused by God (1 Cor 14:33; Matt 13:27-28). His arch enemy does not want people to receive the benefits of God's grace, so he has sowed confusion to lead people astray.
Tithing – Tithing was a requirement of the Israelites under the law of Moses. With the abolition of that law and its replacement by the new covenant (Ephesians 2:14-15; Galatians 3:23-28; Hebrews 8:7-13; 9:15; Romans 7:6-7), that command was also abolished (and it was not commanded under the new covenant). The new covenant, “a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises”, instructs us to give willingly, cheerfully, and liberally. Now the only limit to our giving is what God puts in our hands (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Seeking to better understand and practise the way of the Lord.
Flawed (but forgiven) people following a flawless Lord.
Not in the entertainment business.