The Thief on the Cross

Dedicated to the Memory of My Beloved Grandmother

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Personal note: If only I could’ve presented the sum of all this to my CoC grandmother before she died. But it was not meant to be. Yet thanks to the testimony of the penitent thief, I still hold out hope that my grandma may have been saved. After all, I had sowed many seeds of the gospel in her life that may have even sprung up at the last minute. Only God knows. So I dedicate this article to her memory, for I loved her so very much, and today would’ve been her birthday. And who knows, maybe someone else’s grandmother is meant to come to Christ after reading this. I commit it all into God’s hands. May He be gracious to pardon this author and preserve the reader from anything that would not be solely for the honor of His glory.

THE PENITENT THIEF: A POWERFUL TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GRACE

The CoC is notorious for dishonestly claiming to have no creeds, while hypocritically condemning Christian confessions of faith that have been passed down for centuries, which even have Scriptures to back them up. This means that CoC’s are inadvertently condemning Luke, for he spoke of Christians setting in order declarations of faith that state the things most surely believed among them (Lk. 1:1-4).

So, CoC’s are obviously trying to be silent where Scripture speaks (Acts 19:36). But they boast that they are silent where Scripture is silent, and yet, they cannot even produce one biblical piece of evidence that says one is justified by water baptism! Still, they falsely teach that one must obey their water gospel once one has reached the mystical “age of accountability.”

Yet, the CoC is going to have a REAL problem trying to explain why Jesus Himself was not water baptized until He was in His thirties!! That fact alone indicates that water baptism is only part of our discipleship and ongoing sanctification, NOT a part of justification and the gospel itself.  Thankfully, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Jesus was faithfully obedient to His heavenly Father before He was ever water baptized, and we’re to follow His example.

But the CoC labors to instill legalistic fear, by repeatedly hammering it into people that they will go to Hell if they don’t believe in its Pharisaical formula for salvation that requires the external availability of water and a CoC mediator.  So anyone who believes the true gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, will be cruelly ostracized and demonized by the CoC and its staunch defenders who can no longer think for themselves.

Unfortunately, the cults are full of emotionally and spiritually immature people who have never been truly born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. This is why so many of them want to be controlled and told what to “do” to get themselves saved, for they have no internal substance.

So whenever they encounter a true Spirit-guided faith in Christ, it is such a shock to their system that they become bound and determined to try to destroy that faith wherever they find it. Their CoC conditioning causes them to tolerate and enable those who are on the same surface-level as themselves, no matter how wicked. But free and faithful followers of Christ pose too much of a threat to their false support system, so they will be shunned and/or scourged in their presence (Mt. 10:17).

And sadly, this is one reason why CoC’s have always bent over backwards to try to underhandedly debunk and undermine the common salvation that all true believers have with the penitent thief on the cross. No wonder they mercilessly make up things about us that aren’t true, for their heretical movement has been doing that to the penitent thief for centuries!

Because God has graciously provided us with his testimony, which happens to be a glaring witness against all of the destructive heresies that the CoC heavily indoctrinates its captives into. It especially testifies against the CoC’s re-packaged version of baptismal regeneration.

To further prove this point, it’s finally time to go even deeper and re-examine the CoC’s dispensational heresy concerning the penitent thief. This overwhelming task has not been taken on lightly. After much prayer, many sleepless nights and decade’s worth of intense Bible study, it seems to be God’s timing to finally bring the CoC to the plumb line once and for all.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:1-2).

So dear reader, you may want to brace yourself for this long, but well-worth-it journey into God’s Word, for He has “laid it on the line” when it comes to the CoC and other cults like it! For His righteousness is being exalted, and self-righteousness is being plummeted, as the plumb line of God’s Word dismantles and overflows the CoC’s hidden things of dishonesty.

“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place” (Isa. 28:17).

Here goes:

Just to recap:  Although the penitent thief was saved in EXACTLY the same way that every sinner has EVER been saved, CoC’s deceptively claim (or at least until they’re exposed) that he was saved without being baptized ONLY because he was still under the Mosaic Dispensation. But God’s Word plainly reveals the EXACT opposite, for the thief died AFTER Jesus.  

As I’ve pointed out before, Scripture discloses that the two thieves had their legs broken in order to speed up death, but NOT Jesus, for He had already died (Jn. 19:31-33)! So the thief on the cross was NOT still under the Mosaic dispensation right before he died. Jesus died BEFORE the thief, so the New Covenant was immediately in force upon the thief BEFORE he died!

“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Mt. 26:28, Heb. 9:16-17).

And when confronted with the fact that Jesus Himself never water baptized anyone (because His main focus was THE GOSPEL) the CoC makes the excuse that it was because Jesus hadn’t died yet, for they point out that one must be baptized “into His death” (Jn. 4:1-2, Rom. 6:3). At first glance, that may seem plausible, but such a biblically illiterate evasion can hold absolutely no water (pun intended). 

For one, the CoC is still cornered by the fact that Jesus died BEFORE the penitent thief on the cross, and yet, the thief was STILL not required to be water baptized symbolically “into His death” before he could be saved!  Because a symbol cannot literally effect what it signifies. When one is truly saved they have been baptized by the Spirit, into the body of Christ. Water baptism is a ritual re-enactment of Holy Spirit regeneration (1 Cor. 12:13, Titus 3:5).

These revealed truths are just a few of the reasons why so many CoC’s are floundering to come up with new sophistry. Even to the point that they are entering into ecumenical alliances, for they are losing more and more ground every single day.  So whenever their dispensational heresy is biblically and publicly exposed and annihilated, they will then flip-flop all over the place by saying things like…..“Oh, well, we’re not that big on dispensationalism anyway.” 

Seriously? No repentance for deceiving the masses for centuries?  No confession of sin? No humility or remorse whatsoever? Why??  Because, that’s how cults operate. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses (which sprouted from the same “restoration” movement) continue to pull the same deceptive wool over their follower’s eyes today, rather than humbly repenting of all their failed prophecies and heresies that have ruined so many lives and eternal souls.

So, like their heretical counterparts, when CoC’s are confronted with the truth, they will attempt another route to deceive, by saying something along the lines of…. “Well, Jesus had authority to forgive sins THEN, because He was still on earth. So no one today can be saved like the thief on the cross.”  REALLY?!

Does the CoC truly believe that Jesus could ONLY forgive sins while He was physically on earth? Because that would imply that Jesus no longer has the ability and authority to forgive sins today! And that is such a terrible contradiction of Scripture. Jesus is God and still has pre-eminence in ALL things, and He is alive forevermore (e.g. Col. 1:18; 1 Jn. 1:9).

Jesus wasn’t incarnate in the Old Testament, and yet, He was STILL forgiving sins even then. Or do CoC’s NOT believe that Jesus is God? Because that is what their doctrine implies. OF COURSE Jesus had the power to forgive sins on earth during His incarnation, and even BEFORE His incarnation, and even BEFORE His actual atonement, and He STILL has the power to forgive sins today, apart from men’s works and their so-called “freewill” authorization.

Because, Jesus’ atonement was timeless. It was a spiritual reality before it even became a physical reality in time. God knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). His eternal existence transcends time, so He is NOT limited by it! Even from everlasting to everlasting, He is God (Ps. 90:2). In eternity past, the Lamb of God was already considered slain, even before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). So the atonement covered the entire realm of time itself (past, present and future).  

Therefore, even though Jesus forgave sins before His physical sacrifice occurred, that forgiveness was STILL based on His atoning sacrifice, which was grounded upon the eternal decree of God! And since He is Infinite, He suffered an infinity of time and eternity on that cross, which means there is absolutely no way our feeble finite minds could ever comprehend the torture He went thru for His own.  What unimaginable, indescribable LOVE!!!! 

“Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (Jn. 13:1).

Even in the Old Testament, sins could only be forgiven based on the coming Messiah and what He would actually accomplish on the cross, in fulfillment of the everlasting Covenant. Therefore, Old Testament saints were looking forward to the cross, just as believers today are looking back to the cross, for the forgiveness of sins.  Old Testament saints were saved by the God Who gave them the Old Covenant, but they were NOT saved by the Old Covenant!

However, to try to escape the force of Scripture, the CoC will then deceitfully claim that its so-called “terms” of the New Covenant were not enforced until after Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Spirit’s outpouring at Pentecost. Hence, the CoC’s obsession with Acts 2:38. However, according to Scripture, Jesus’ blood of the Covenant was “poured out” for the remission of sins… AT THE CROSS!... NOT at Pentecost!! (Lk. 22:19-20, Mt. 26:28, Rom. 11:27, Heb. 9:22)

“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18).

Jesus’ blood was no longer being “poured out” for the forgiveness of sins after His resurrection!! Despite the CoC’s dishonest claims, there were absolutely no further “terms” to be fulfilled on “our part” for the remission of sins in order to make His work effectual, for Jesus said, while still on the cross, “It is finished.” Because salvation is NOT about what we do but is about what He has done.

How else could He have been resurrected? For the resurrection itself was PROOF that God the Father had ALREADY accepted His Substitutionary Atonement as “the blood of the everlasting Covenant” (Heb. 13:20). Jesus’ blood had already effectually sealed and fulfilled the terms of the New Covenant, in the realm of time, in order to “save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).

“For this is My covenant unto them, WHEN I shall take away their sins” (Rom. 11:27).

So again, exactly WHEN did this occur in the realm of time? According to Scripture, it occurred at the time of HIS DEATH! (e.g. Heb. 9:26)…. NOT AT PENTECOST!!  

How else could the official discharge of the Holy Spirit’s work be ushered into public ministry at Pentecost? For the assignment of the Spirit’s outpouring in Acts was grounded upon the already enforced terms of the Everlasting Covenant of grace, sealed by Jesus’ blood, so that the Spirit could then apply the benefits of those terms to all whom the Lord added to the church (Acts 2:47).

In this sense, all of the Holy Spirit’s operations today are in subordination to what Jesus has already executed/enforced (i.e., John 16:13, Joel 2:11, Acts 2:16). Christ’s ministry to His disciples in the upper room, before His crucifixion (Lk. 22:11-12), and their receiving of the Holy Spirit, after His resurrection (Jn. 20:22), preceded the commencement of the Spirit’s work in the upper room at Pentecost.  So they still have a conjoined mission.

Now, dear reader, please prayerfully think this through:

The Old Covenant was established AND enforced on Mt. Sinai by the giving of the Law through Moses. The exact, reverse parallel was demonstrated when the New Covenant was established AND enforced on Mt. Calvary by the giving of grace through Jesus Christ! The providential parallels are astoundingly undeniable!!

For even MORE evidence, please read the following verses:

“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mt. 27:50-51, Mk. 15:38, Lk. 23:45).

The tearing of the veil, at the moment of Jesus’ death, indicated that His sacrifice was a definite, complete and effectual atonement for sins. It signified that “the Holy of Holies” was open for all of His people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile. They have access through faith into this grace (Rom. 5:2). For Jesus is the object of their faith, because He ALONE (apart from our own works)… is the way through the veil (Ex. 26:31-33, Jn. 14:6, Heb. 6:13-20; 9:1-28).

Jesus’ death inaugurated and ratified the restoration of “all things” (i.e., Mt. 17:11-12; 3:1-15; 20:28; 26:28, Phil. 3:9). And this was confirmed by the fact that the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, to reveal that the Old Covenant was completely eradicated and no longer in force (Mt. 27:51).  

The torn veil revealed permanent and unparalleled access to God the Father through Jesus Christ.  All spiritual barriers were immediately REMOVED, and free access by grace was immediately ENFORCED, by the death of Christ. It was a dramatic illustration that the Mosaic Dispensation was completely done away with and that the New Covenant was everlastingly established in its place, so that believers could “have confidence to enter the holy places” by the blood of Jesus, Who is the “new and living way” through the veil, His flesh (Heb. 10:20).

The legal transaction was FINISHED and revealed publicly AT HIS DEATH. Therefore, the CoC’s so-called “terms” of the New Covenant were NOT awaiting “enforcement” at Pentecost, as the CoC so blasphemously claims.  Jesus had already “enforced the terms” of the New Covenant AT THE CROSS!  And those “terms” did NOT include water baptism for salvation!

The torn veil further reinforced the fact that the “terms” of the New Covenant were immediately in force, and that the “terms” of the Old Covenant were immediately obsolete (Heb. 8:13). It also revealed that God was done with the visible temple and its religious system, for it was left “desolate” and was finished off by the Romans in A.D. 70, just as Jesus prophesied (Lk.13:35; 19:41-44; Mt. 24:15-28).

Through HIS DEATH, Jesus removed all spiritual barriers between God and men (Heb. 7:27; 9:15).  Like the old gospel hymn proclaims, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”….which is why …. “My anchor holds within the veil.”

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Heb. 6:19).

Because the blood that Jesus shed was the blood of the everlasting Covenant! According to Scripture, even Jesus’ resurrection was only possible because it was founded upon the very Covenant that He sealed with His very own blood.  For we read the following….

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant” (Heb. 13:20-21, underlining mine).

But CoC operatives seem to have a very low reading comprehension when it comes to Scripture.  Even when faced with indisputable evidence, they continue their charade when they try to utilize 1 Corinthians 15:17 to prove their false claim that the gospel and their so-called “terms” of the New Covenant didn’t come into force until after Jesus’ resurrection.

Are CoC’s REALLY that clueless? For one, the thief on the cross was NOT required to acknowledge Jesus’ actual resurrection, for it had NOT even occurred yet!! But he was STILL blessed with the benefits of the “new terms” of God’s Covenant of grace, for the “law of Christ” had been written on his heart (Gal. 6:2).

Are CoC’s REALLY willing to dismiss the fact that Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the very HEART of the gospel (1 Cor. 2:2)?? For that’s EXACTLY what their false doctrines entail!

Are CoC’s REALLY willing to be consistent with their false doctrines, which imply that all of the Old Testament saints died in their sins due to Christ not yet being incarnate, sacrificed and resurrected? LET’S HOPE NOT!! Because Jesus’ resurrection actually proved that God had already discharged ALL of the sins that He bore for ALL of His people (past, present and future).

Yet, in order to double down on their false gospel, CoC’s attempt to hide Old Testament pointers to faith in Christ alone, for they PROVE that the thief on the cross was saved in exactly the same way that every sinner has ever been saved, including O.T. saints who were saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the coming Messiah ALONE.

But CoC’s “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” by trying to explain away the fact that the true gospel was preached long BEFORE Pentecost.  For example, New Testament passages, such as Acts 8: 32-35, referred to THE GOSPEL in the Old Testament. Romans 3:29-30 referred to THE GOSPEL in the O.T. Also, Galatians 3:6-8 referred to THE GOSPEL in the O.T. And Hebrews 4:2; 9:15; 10:1-4 referred to THE GOSPEL in the O.T., etc., etc.  How much clearer can it be?!

“There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even in the Old Testament, God’s people were only justified by faith in the coming Messiah. Abel died for his faith in the promised Seed (Gen. 3:15). Old Simeon, the woman at the well and all of God’s people had been faithfully waiting for His arrival (Lk. 2:34, Jn. 4:25). By faith, Abraham seen His day and rejoiced (Jn. 8:56). By faith, Daniel declared the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself” (Dan. 9:26). By faith, Isaiah foreseen the glory of the coming Messiah (Isa. 12:41; 45:22), which was reiterated in John 12:32-41.

In Romans 3:29-30, Apostle Paul made it clear that since there is only one God, there has always been only one way of salvation, and that is by God’s grace, through faith. Paul even confirmed this in Romans 4 where he reveals how Abraham was justified by faith BEFORE the Law was given, and how David was justified by faith AFTER the Law was given.

If only CoC’s could follow Apostle Paul’s example, for he publicly renounced his former Pharisee-ism when he submitted to Christian baptism, which comforted those believers who had been fleeing his previous persecutions, for he publicly confirmed his conversion through the ritual that represented it.

Having already been justified by faith alone BEFORE GOD, Paul was then justified BEFORE MEN, when he demonstrated his God-given faith by his works (Jas. 2:17-26). 

After that, Paul went forth preaching the gospel of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus, with absolutely NO mention of water baptism being a part of that gospel (i.e., Acts 20:21, 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Because baptism is NOT a part of gospel preaching!  Instead, water baptism is part of the sanctification and discipleship of Jesus’ called out ones” (the elect, His church, His body, His scattered sheep), who obey the gospel… by coming to Christ through saving faith!!

It cannot be biblically denied that Paul often quoted Old Testament prophets when he spoke of justification by faith (i.e., Acts 17:3, Hab. 2:4, Rom 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Rom. 4:6-8, Joel 2:32, Rom. 10:12-13, 2 Tim. 3:15, 1 Cor. 15:3). Peter even quoted an O.T. prophet in Acts 2:31, who spoke of Christ, the object of that faith whereby one is justified.  For Jesus Christ is the main focus of ALL the Scriptures!

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Lk.24:27).

Job spoke of his faith in the coming Redeemer (Job 19:25:26). Micah faithfully spoke of Jesus’ birth (Mic. 5:2). In faith, Zechariah spoke of Him when he said a fountain would be opened for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13:1). In faith, Enoch spoke of Jesus when he prophesied that He was coming with thousands upon thousands of His saints (Jude 14). By faith, Moses chose the reproach of Christ over the riches of Egypt (Heb. 11:26).

All the Old Testament saints drank from the same spiritual Rock, “and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:3-4). For all works of the law pointed forward to Christ, Whom they were to believe in. Even now, the law (which extends to all works) points back to Christ, Whom we are to have faith in. For God’s people have ALWAYS been justified by faith, NOT by works (i.e., Rom. 11:6, Gal. 2:16).

And Jesus severely rebukes any who will refuse to believe what the O.T. prophets spoke concerning Him (Lk. 24-25; 24:44-47, Jn. 5:39). So this puts the CoC and its heretical agents on EXTREMELY dangerous ground, for its false doctrines are an out-and-out denial of what those prophets spoke of!!

Only in Christ Jesus do we have the key of knowledge that unlocks all of the Old Testament types and shadows, which happens to be the very key that all Pharisees, in every generation, have always tried so hard to hide (Lk. 11:51-53).

But despite their dishonest deceptions, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness on behalf of His people (past, present and future), which irrefutably proves that the penitent thief on the cross was saved in EXACTLY the same way that EVERY sinner (past, present and future) has EVER been saved.  And that was by saving faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by his own works.

He didn’t have to be told by cult leaders what to “do” to get himself saved (1 Jn. 2:26-27), because his heavenly Father drew him with cords of love to Jesus, Who spiritually revealed Himself to the heart and mind of that thief, while the Holy Spirit applied to him all of the blessed benefits of the Covenant of grace, which Jesus procured for him, so that he was able to spiritually apprehend Jesus by faith.

What a beautiful testimony of God’s grace that completely destroys all of the CoC’s damnable heresies! May all glory be to God alone!! For He sets the captives free!!!!

Copyright © 2022 by Lee Anne Ferguson

9 thoughts on “Dedicated to the Memory of My Beloved Grandmother”

  1. This is an excellent article. I used it to try to explain these points to my CoC husband, but to no avail. This is a keeper article to refer back to. I plan to read and reread it many times.

    1. Thanks for reaching out. We are just sowing seeds of the gospel, but it’s God Who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-9). Maybe someday those seeds will sprout up within your husband’s heart when you least expect it. After all, God has revealed through the testimony of the thief that He delights to save when least expected.

  2. I’m confused by some of your statements. At what point do you see someone as saved? When sharing the gospel, what are you saying the gospel is?

    1. Thanks for reaching out. You are not alone. There are many today who are confused when it comes to the gospel. Unfortunately, many have been given conflicting messages that de-emphasize the fact that the gospel is all about what God has done in Christ to save sinners.
      At what point can a person be seen as saved?
      Scripture reveals that the salvation of those who have been elected by God will only become manifest once they have been quickened by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 5:21). For instance, Paul even said in 1 Thess. 1:4-6 that he knew their election of God because the gospel had come to them, NOT in word only, but IN POWER, for they had become true followers of Jesus Christ by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, Who made the Word effectual in their lives.
      This is why it’s so important to emphasize that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone. Because, God and His Word can be trusted, wholeheartedly, to accomplish that which He has meant for it to accomplish, for He says:
      “So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).
      Many will be repelled by God’s Word, but He graciously opens the hearts of His people so that they can apprehend the gospel by faith (Acts 16:14). And this is exactly what happened to the thief on the cross, which is the only explanation as to why he differed from the other criminal (1 Cor. 4:7).
      Like all of us, there was nothing special about him that could have ever merited God’s favor, for, like us all, he had actually de-merited any claims upon His Maker.
      The gospel is “Trinitarian” in its nature, for it’s all about what God has done to save sinners, not about what we do. God the Father purposed salvation, God the Son purchased salvation, and God the Holy Spirit applies salvation.
      But false religion obscures the perfect harmony of the Godhead. There is an eternity of difference between “appropriation” of the gospel (which is man-centered) and “application” of the gospel (which is God-centered). If you’re interested, we can discuss these concepts further, depending upon whether you’re ready to engage Scripture on a deeper level.

      1. Okay. But I still don’t understand when someone goes from unsaved to saved according to what you said above. You are implying that is nothing we must do. However Christ told Paul to go to Damascus to learn was he was appointed by God to do. Part of that was to have his sins washed away by obedience in baptism per what Ananias was told by God to tell him.
        Also Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 that there are things we must do to be saved (house not falling).
        This is confusing to me compared with what you are saying.

        1. Hi Chris,
          The true gospel is a call to faith in the righteousness of Christ alone. It is a call to full, confident assurance in His blood atonement for sins as our only title to Heaven. Upon receiving the gospel by faith we then have the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we have been born again. How else could we believe except by the mighty working of His power?
          “Man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (Jn. 3:27). Believing and receiving are the fruits of Christ’s effectual atonement, not the cause. For we can only “believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ” (Eph. 1:19-20; 3:7).
          After we receive the gospel call in faith, our sanctification begins. Water baptism is usually one of the first acts of sanctification/discipleship, which God works in us to do, AFTER God has already purified and cleansed our hearts by faith (Acts 8:37; 15: 8-9, Phil. 2:13). Because Christians will inevitably work out (sanctification) what God has worked within (regeneration).
          But justification is a finished work of God, found only outside of our selves…in Jesus’ perfect obedience on behalf of guilty sinners. We can only be “justified by His blood.” (Rom. 5:9, 17-21). And it’s by the gift of faith applied to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit that we are able to apprehend these truths.
          “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
          The Bible makes it clear that we can only be saved by God’s grace, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Rom. 4:5, Titus 3:5). Baptism is a work of righteousness. Yet the CoC makes baptism and regeneration synonymous, which alters the true, biblical meaning of both.
          A spiritual coming to Christ is not a physical act. “Whosoever shall confess Me before men” (Mt. 10:32) is not a call for public action in order to become a Christian. It is rather the natural outworking of a true Christian, whose nature has been supernaturally changed, from enmity against God, to love for God. True repentance is when one is in complete agreement with God’s Word against themselves while turning to Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation.
          The true gospel reveals our desperate need of the Savior and how we must have the righteousness of Christ credited to our account by virtue of God’s mercy. Throughout Scripture we’re reminded that we are morally responsible to our Holy Creator. Yet Scripture never indicates a natural, spiritual ability to please God. This inability is a result of spiritual death (Jn. 8:24, 43). Until we have been quickened (made spiritually alive) by the Spirit we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
          Remember, the Apostle Paul said that he didn’t receive the gospel from man (Gal. 1:12). This ruins the CoC interpretation of Acts 22:16, which claims that Ananias gave Paul the gospel by telling him to be baptized to wash his sins away. Yet his zeal for Paul to be baptized was not to get him saved, but was to signify that he had already received the gospel from Jesus in person and had already surrendered to Him as Lord (Acts 26:15,16). This was a perfect illustration of how one went from unsaved to saved.
          Jesus had already promised to rescue Paul from the people He was sending him to (Acts 26:16-17), and Jesus had already changed his heart from that of a persecutor, to a praying man who was given his sight back and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:6, 11, 17,18). For he had already been God’s “chosen vessel,” to have Jesus revealed in him (Gal. 1:11-16)!
          So, naturally, AFTER all of this, Paul would want to finally come clean before the people in the act of baptism, to testify to the fact that God had changed him and that his sins had already been literally washed away by Jesus’ blood (Heb. 9:22, 26)!! Who wouldn’t? Baptism is a beautiful, symbolic ordinance to be once enjoyed by all who believe in the sufficiency of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. Whereas those who say it’s a requirement for salvation, mar its beauty by implying His grace and sacrifice wasn’t enough.
          Therefore, the person going through the ordinances must know and believe beyond all shadow of a doubt that their salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus’ perfect righteousness alone as their only hope of God’s acceptance, or else the ordinance becomes a witness against them.

        2. I’m sorry, I forgot to address the rest of your question.

          Jesus stated that we can do NOTHING apart from Him, for it is only by being in spiritual union with Christ that we are able to produce any good, spiritual fruit (Jn. 15:5). Even Apostle Paul stressed that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” for he knew and confessed that although he had a creaturely will to do good, it wasn’t a degree of good that could attain salvation, due to weakness of the flesh (Rom. 7; 8:8).

          Paul knew that he could be morally good, but not spiritually good enough to live up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness, for his willpower to do good could not produce righteousness unto salvation, which can only be by the faith of Christ (Rom. 9:30, Gal. 3:22). So, he realized his salvation was based solely upon God’s acceptance of Jesus’ perfect righteousness on his behalf (Phil. 3:8-9).

          But these biblical truths are unheard of in work-righteous religions, for their doctrines cause one to be more self-conscious than God-conscious. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:3-4).

          Even in the Old Testament, God’s people were justified only by faith in the coming Messiah, for “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). They all drank from the same spiritual Rock, “and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:3-4).

          Therefore, true salvation can only be built upon the solid Rock of Jesus Christ and His perfect righteousness, rather than the sinking sand of false religion (Matt. 7:24).

          1. Sorry for the delay in responding. I’m still studying to understand. Plus have many things on my plate.

            What I’m hearing you say is that the point one goes from unsaved to saved is when they realize Christ, being the Son of God, sacrificed himself for all of our sins, correct?

            So Paul would have been saved during his speaking with Christ on the road to Damascus according to this.

            However, Ananias was given a message from God to deliver to Paul (so it didn’t come from man any more than you could say that a prophet delivering a message from God was actually from man). (Not trying to be argumentative, but trying to see how that would be different).

            Ananias in his message from God to Paul (who was still blind and praying when Ananias arrived) told Paul to wash away his sins where the word used for wash means “to purify, to cause to be pure, to cause a state of moral purity” which implies that Paul had not achieved that state yet.

            I’m continuing to learn and reconcile what I’m reading from your writings with God’s word.

            1. Hello Chris,

              Remember, Jesus is not only the Son of God, He is also God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity (the Godhead). And it’s only by His blood and righteousness that one can be saved.

              Did Ananias ever have to give Paul the gospel (all that God has done in Christ to save sinners)? No, he did not, because Paul had already encountered the very substance of the gospel itself, and it was an effectual encounter, which is why he was able to believe and obey. For there’s a major difference between the general call of the gospel and the effectual holy calling that comes by way of the quickening, regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to those who have been ordained to eternal life (Please see: Acts 9:15; 13:48).

              “For our Gospel came unto you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance” (1 Thess. 1:5).

              The CoC’s false interpretations of passages such as Galatians 1:12 and Acts 22:16 are the exact opposite of what God’s Word cohesively conveys, in context, throughout the full counsel of God. For instance, the CoC claims that Ananias gave Paul its false version of the gospel when he told him to be water baptized to wash his sins away, when he was actually encouraging Paul to publicly demonstrate his conversion (which was through faith in the gospel of Christ), by going through the ritual that symbolically represented it.

              Please think this through:

              Did Ananias ever give Paul anything that even resembled a 5-step formula for salvation?” Obviously not, for even according to you, all he gave him was a command to be water baptized. Because nowhere in the Bible is it even hinted that baptism is not necessary for sanctification after we are saved. Also, nowhere in Scripture is it even hinted that one is justified by water baptism. Perhaps it will help you to begin a study on the crucial differences between justification and sanctification, which I thoroughly go over in my book.

              But just for starters:

              God leads those whom He has saved in paths of righteousness for His name sake (Ps. 23:3). “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). The ability to truly “cleanse ourselves” is the fruit of the work God accomplishes in those of us whom He saves, for “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 Jn. 1:7). “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10).

              This is why Christians will inevitably work out (sanctification) what God has worked within (regeneration). But justification is a finished work of God, found only outside of our selves…in Jesus’ perfect obedience on behalf of guilty sinners. Those, whom God has graciously provided with this perfect righteousness, are “justified by His blood.” It is a judicial act of God (Rom. 5:9, 17-21).

              Those, whom God has purposed to pronounce as “not guilty,” are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). They are enabled to believe through grace (Acts 18:27).
              This saving grace is not a mere aid to gain justification through works (self-justification). Instead, true grace is God’s divine power, which actually accomplishes His purposes. He doesn’t begin the work of salvation and expect us to finish it, for only He “is able to keep you from falling,” because God saves to the uttermost (Jude 24, 25)!

              It’s true that God accepts a Christian’s work done in Christ, but not as a means to get them to Heaven, but “their works do follow them” to Heaven (Rev. 14:13). God alone gets all of the glory, for they are works done in Christ.

              However, when CoC’s teach what they call “different terms” or “new laws” of salvation, they are actually promoting a form of subjective morality, which is extremely dangerous ground, for such unbiblical concepts are found nowhere in Scripture except when it warns of false teachers who promote damnable heresies.

              The law of Christ, on the other hand, is an actual biblical phrase that emphasizes and gives certainty to what is harmoniously conveyed continuously in the New Testament, which is the fact that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by works. This truth is so certain that it is described in Scripture as “the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ”…a biblical concept that is so absolute that it could be compared to the “law of logic,” so to speak.

              However, it can never be compared to what Scripture calls the WORKS of the law, for Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). In other words, He did not come to free us from our duty to obey His moral law, but He came to set us free from the curse of the law, because we can never follow God’s commands perfectly enough in order to attain salvation.

              Jesus never made a way for God to lower His perfect standard of righteousness so that our imperfect works could then be accepted as a means to appease God and enter Heaven. Jesus’ perfect imputed righteousness is the only righteousness that God can accept on our behalf. Anyone who tries to enter God’s kingdom any other way than by the precious blood and perfect righteousness of Christ ALONE (Heb. 10:19-20), are those whom Jesus calls thieves and robbers. And no wonder, for such would be an attempt to rob God of His glory. (Please prayerfully read: Jn. 10:1-16).

              Although there are many ways to Hell, there is only one way to Heaven, which is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6). He never even gave the slightest impression that He opened a baptismal door to Heaven as an initial entry point to God….for Jesus said that HE IS THE DOOR (Jn. 10:7)!

              No matter how deceptively convincing it may be… the “Church of Christ” rejects Christ, for it injects blasphemy, idolatry and mysticism into baptism when it promotes it as a way to enter Heaven, just as Romanism and other pagan religions do.

              Jesus expressly warned:

              “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men;
              for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Mt. 23:12-13).

              Even though Jesus clearly says that He Himself is the door of entry to salvation (Jn. 10:9), the CoC blasphemously claims that water baptism is the entry point of salvation! By doing so, it obscures the narrow way to Heaven and opens a broad way to everlasting destruction.

              Jesus never made a way for our imperfect works to have saving merit (worth)….as if God would ever accept imperfect obedience for entrance into His holy presence! For that would make Christ’s perfect obedience pointless! Jesus did NOT come to establish “new works of the law” or “new terms” or “new requirements” for salvation, because salvation has ALWAYS been, and ALWAYS will be, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ ALONE (i.e. Gal. 2:16; 3:24).

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