When Are We Saved?

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Often times when people are going someplace they will take a shortcut. This allows them to get to their destination quicker. Sometimes shortcuts get people in trouble. If one is not completely sure about the shortcut, they could find themselves lost. In this article Colby Culbertson shows us there are no shortcuts to salvation.

“When Are We Saved?”
Acts 9:18

Among religious sects, other creeds, and doctrines there are debates and controversies over the point at which a person’s soul is added to God’s fold. Many say that a person is in a saved condition once he believes in Jesus Christ as Lord, and accepts Him as their personal savior. Those who believe this do not believe the act of baptism plays any part in saving a person’s soul. They believe baptism is a symbol or expression of one’s belief.

I could use multiple examples to debunk this belief,but for length’s sake, I would like to refer to the conversion of the apostle Paul, known as Saul of Tarsus at the time. In Acts 9, Paul is hot on the path to Damascus to kill Christians as he had been appointed to do. On the path, a most extraordinary thing happens. Acts 9:3-6 reads, And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

​Notice in Saul’s unexpected encounter with the Lord there is no mention of him being saved because he believes. He clearly believes this is Jesus, because he addresses Jesus as Lord in verse 4. Saul is scared and confused at the great light. The question now becomes whether or not Saul is saved? He’s seen a light! Is he saved? The answer is no. In verse 4 Saul sees a light and this time hears a voice along with the light. Is Saul saved after seeing a light AND hearing a voice? No. In verse 5-6, Saul saw a light, heard a voice,and it’s the voice of Jesus Christ!! Surely Saul is saved now? If he is, he doesn’t know it! Because in verse 6 he asks the Lord, “what wilt you have me to do?” So is he saved then and there? No because Acts 9:18 teaches that Paul wasn’t saved until he was baptized. That’s why everybody else who desires to be a Christian today cannot become one until they too,complete the Biblical steps to salvation which ends in being baptized for the remission of sins as taught in Acts 2:38.

From this we gather and understand that salvation fully occurs once someone completes all 5 steps to salvation. There are no shortcuts when it comes to your soul’s salvation.

Colby Culbertson

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Things I Face Everyday

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What kind of influence do you have? Are you concerned about your influence? Just as sure as you have a shadow on a sun-shiny day, you have an influence that follows you. In this article Carter Culbertson tells us a way we can strengthen our influence.

One thing I face in my everyday life is the power of influence. Believe or not, when you wake up and go to school or work, you influence somebody. People watch your every move and notice how you do things. Influence starts first with being unselfish. Matthew 16 talks about denying oneself and taking up one’s cross. We need to learn to put Jesus first, deny ourselves, and put others ahead of our selfish desires.When we as people can learn to do this, we will have a very powerful influence over people in our everyday life. Just imagine if someone could say, ” you know Bob never thinks about himself, he’s always helping others and not thinking anything about it.” If someone can say that about you, that is absolutely huge.

Take a look at the Good Samaritan. Think about the influence he had on the victim, the innkeeper, and the disciples because of the good deeds he did. A man can have a good influence by putting away his selfish desires and putting the needs of others ahead of himself. It’s hard to find a person in the world today, who is truly not worried about themselves more than they are others. That’s why there is not as much influence in the world today as there used to be. So we see, our influence in this day and time is very important. We need to sit back and ask ourselves if we influence others, or if others influence us.

My Bible is Real

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The South is the land of Coca-Cola.  When I go into a restaurant and asked for a Diet Coke and they reply, “is Diet Pepsi ok”, I say, “I’ll take water.” In my mind Coke is the “real thing”.   There  are some people who doubt the Bible is real. In this article Aaron Battey shows us that the Bible is the “real thing”. 

 

My Bible is really what it claims to be. One thing the Bible claims to be is a book written entirely within the 1st century. Some people might say, “The Bible is a really good fairy tale, but that is all it is…a fairy tale.” In making this statement, it may be implied that the Bible was actually written much later than the 1st century and simply made out to be an early work. How do we know the Bible was not written in 1400 A.D. by a single man, made to look like a compilation of many different authors?

​The Bible was undoubtedly written before 100 AD. First, Clement in Rome cited 11 new testament (NT) books by the date 95 AD. Second, Ignatius, writing from Smyrna in Asia Minor cited 24 NT books by 107 AD. Third, Polycarp from Smyrna in Asia Minor cited 18 NT books by 110 AD. Obviously the books had to be written before these given dates for the works to have circulated to Asia Minor for the eyes and ears of Polycarp and Ignatius. 

Not only do we have numerous early citations from the Bible before 100 A.D., we also have fragments of NT books that were found with the Dead Sea Scrolls dating between the time of 50 and 70 A.D (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics, 1998). These fragments are by no means the only earliest NT manuscripts that exist. Over 14,000 manuscripts of the NT exist today (Geisler & Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, 2004). Of those manuscripts, there are complete NT compilations dating all the way back to 200 A.D. (Ibid.). To add icing to the cake, early church fathers- men of the second and third centuries such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, and others- quoted from the NT so much (36,289 times exactly) that all but eleven verses of the NT can be reconstructed from their quotes.

Do not take the statements in this writing for granted. Individual study of the writings discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls from 1946 to 1956 should strike any sincere reader with awe. These facts should bring a new meaning to the Holy Bible which says, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Aaron Battey

The Truth About Fellowship

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The Bible declares that if a person obeys the will of God, then they will be part of God’s family. The church does not draw lines of fellowship based on race, ethnic background, social or economic status, intelligence, experiences, or how you were raised. The only lines of fellowship ever drawn will be when a person decides to stop following God, Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Thess. 3:14.

The church of Christ must be relentless in seeking to keep fellowship honest. Some have argued that we cannot withdraw from anyone because Jesus taught in the parable of the Tares that the wheat and the tares were allowed to grow together Matthew 13:28-30. This is a misunderstanding of the parable and ignores the plain teaching of Matthew 18:15-17, and 1 Corinthians 5. Both of these passages teach that church discipline is to be exercised on those who refuse to repent.

​A question I want to examine is: can congregations be dis-fellowshipped, withdrawn from, or only individuals? Some have argued that only Jesus can remove the candlestick from a congregation and therefore we cannot view any congregation as being unfaithful as long as corporate worship is the same.

Fellowship is first recognized as existing between an individual and God through Jesus. Therefore it would stand to reason that, fellowship will exist between a congregation of God’s people and God Himself through Christ. This would happen only if the congregation enjoys fellowship with the Father by “walking in the light.” John 1:6-7 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Some say that since a congregation is autonomous, (self-governing) that it cannot be dis-fellowshipped or withdrawn from. This is false because the extending or withholding of fellowship, either to individuals or congregations has nothing to do with the authority one may exercise over the one in question.

“Fellowship” is “joint participation” or “to have things in common.” In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul uses the term “withdraw” which means to withhold fellowship from those who do not deserve it. Who would this be? Within a congregation, it would be the brother or sister who is in sin and will not repent. Within the church universal, this would certainly refer to a congregation. Fellowship can be withheld from a sister congregation who does not deserve fellowship because of error, even if the corporate worship is the same. When a sister congregation is not “walking in the light,” faithful congregations not only have the authority to withhold fellowship, but the obligation to do so. It they do not, they too would be in error.

Faithful men and congregations are obligated to try to reprove or correct a congregation that teaches and practices error. If the congregation in error listens, there will be fellowship between sister congregations. If they refuse to listen, I ask the question, how can faithful congregations “continue to walk with them?” They (the congregation), as with any who teach error, must be marked and withdrawn from. Fellowship is to be with-held until they will repent. Yes, even if corporate worship is the same.

God’s people are commended for putting teachers to the test to see if they are true or false Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars. The truth on the issue of fellowship is not difficult to understand. It is my prayer that men would recognize this truth for the betterment of the Lord’s church.

Rick Martin