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
True, historic Christianity has always acknowledged the fact that the new covenant officially went into full effect, in the realm of time, at the cross, not at Pentecost. To say otherwise, as the CoC does, is to promote a hyper-dispensational theory concerning the gospel that can never square with Scripture.
This is one reason why the CoC has always discouraged its captives from ever looking into historic, reformed confessions that reveal what the Bible has to say about God’s everlasting covenant, what the true gospel really is, the only way that it can be obeyed and how God’s eternal plan of redemption has never changed.
And all true believers need to be studied up on this, for our confessions have entire articles of faith concerning these biblical truths, which most Christians are not even aware that they have in their arsenal against these dangerously heretical cults.
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 demonstrate any ability whatsoever of harmonizing their hyper-dispensational theories concerning salvation, with the full council of God. For example, they cannot biblically answer the question: What gospel did the thief on the cross obey, according to Hebrews 4:2?
Because they cannot reconcile the CoC’s “new terms of salvation” (a different gospel) with Hebrews 4:2 and its parallel passages that are so intrinsically interconnected (e.g., Isa.53:1, Jn. 12:38, Rom. 3:29-30; 10:16 and Gal. 3:6-8). For in these passages, Isaiah, John and Paul reveal that the “report” of Isaiah 53 was nothing less than the pure and unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ, with nothing added to it.
Carefully notice that Isaiah, John and Paul never equated water baptism with obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:16), because the gospel of Jesus Christ does NOT include man’s own contributions. The sum and substance of the entire gospel is simply Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), nothing more, nothing less.
These truths not only confirm the fact that the true gospel was preached long before Pentecost, but they also further disprove the CoC’s theory of water baptism being a part of the gospel message.
Scripture reveals that the gospel of the Old Testament is the SAME GOSPEL of the New Testament, due to the fact that changes in dispensational covenants have NEVER meant changes in God’s eternal plan of redemption, which has always remained the same. A new covenant has NEVER meant a new gospel, but only a fuller manifestation of the SAME GOSPEL.
The full context of Hebrews 4:2 alone reveals that the gospel of the Old Testament is the SAME GOSPEL of the New Testament. Therefore, what was the ONLY GOSPEL that the thief could obey? CoC’s do NOT want to answer this question biblically, for to do so would be undeniably detrimental to the CoC’s sacramental salvation system.
When cults center their theology on the false notion that “God won’t just reach down to us, we must reach up to Him with our works”… then its revelations on salvation will vary, which is why the CoC came up with its “new terms for salvation,” which can never square with Scripture. But since God must reach down to us, His revelation remains consistent, which is why true Christians can harmonize their theology with the full council of God.
At the very start of His ministry, Jesus submitted to water baptism in order to identify with those He came to save, fulfilling all righteousness on their behalf (Mt. 3:15). And those who are saved are to identify with Christ in water baptism, which is also symbolic of their identification with His death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4).
This important part of their discipleship and ongoing sanctification is NOT a part of their justification whereby Jesus’ perfect obedience on their behalf must be imputed to their account through faith, solely by God’s free and sovereign mercy and grace. Only then are they able to bear fruits worthy of repentance (Mt. 3:8, 10), such as putting on (imitating) Christ in baptism (Rom. 13:14, Gal. 3:27).
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 false 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 seem to no longer be able to 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 often 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 are not true, for their heretical movement has been doing that to the penitent thief, and to Jesus our Savior, for centuries!
If one was to bring every CoC doctrine to this touchstone….all that went down at the cross…including the salvation of that thief….then the entire CoC cult would crumble into a million pieces.
If anyone doubts that the thief’s testimony is a death blow to the CoC, then all anyone has to do is read the CoC’s official literature, listen to CoC podcasts, watch CoC videos and interact with CoC members on that very subject, and one will quickly realize how desperate CoC’s are when it comes to the salvation of that thief. Only when he is brought up does one fully begin to recognize the CoC’s hyper-dispensational heresies concerning the gospel, which often go unnoticed until they are brought to this touchstone, where they are ground to powder.
God has graciously provided us with the exemplary testimony of the thief on the cross, because it is an illustrative monument of God’s divine mercy and grace. It is a glaring witness against all of the destructive heresies that the CoC heavily indoctrinates its captives into, and it especially testifies against the CoC’s re-packaged version of baptismal regeneration.
God’s Word gloriously champions baptism out of the hold of the CoC’s sacramental system of salvation, by revealing its true purpose and beauty, which the CoC sacrilegiously departed from when it introduced its profane pollutions.
To further prove this point, it’s finally time to go even deeper and re-examine the CoC’s hyper-dispensational heresies concerning the gospel. 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).
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 because he was still under the Mosaic dispensation. But God’s Word plainly reveals the opposite. Besides, 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 technically 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).
However, CoC’s will say Jesus forgave his sins before He died, so the thief was still saved under the old covenant when he was forgiven, and that’s supposedly why he didn’t have to be baptized in order to get saved, but that people must do so today. Yet, they still want to assume the thief was “probably” already baptized by John anyway. And back and forth goes their topsy-turvy theories that can never be harmonized with each other.
What they can’t seem to realize, is that NONE of that even matters, in light of the ETERNITY OF THE CROSS which reveals that the thief was saved in exactly the same way that every sinner, throughout redemptive history, has ever been saved, regardless of the two different dispensations that he lived under, and regardless as to whether John baptized him or not, for the essential content of God’s eternal plan of salvation has NEVER changed.
But CoC’s will still try to present their same worn-out and disproven theory of a so-called “probate period” between the cross and Pentecost, which is found NOWHERE in Scripture, in an attempt to promote their “new terms of salvation.” As a result, they constantly speak where Scripture is silent, because they are always introducing novel inventions that are completely foreign to Scripture!! Because one lie always lead to another lie, in an attempt to cover their last one.
This is why CoC’s trip themselves up after introducing a “probate period” between the cross and Pentecost, for they simultaneously claim that the Law of Moses (the old covenant) was nailed to the cross, while referencing Colossians 2:14, but they cannot have it both ways. For if that’s what was nailed to the cross, and there was no new covenant in effect until Pentecost, then that would mean weeks went by without any covenant at all. Do CoC’s REALLY believe the law of Moses was nailed to the cross? If so, then what covenant went into effect at the cross?
When such unreasonable contradictions are confronted, CoC’s will often try to do damage control by saying things like, “Well, only the power of the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross,” which only digs their hole even deeper. Such sad scenarios reveal the total desperation of those who try to uphold the CoC’s unbiblical, unworkable and self-refuting positions that can never be harmonized with Scripture.
CoC’s even teach that Jesus could forgive people, as He willed, BEFORE He died. But afterwards, He was then limited and could only forgive based upon one’s compliance with the “new terms” of His will (the CoC’s “New Testament Law”) that He supposedly left behind for His heirs. In other words, Jesus had one will BEFORE He died, and a different will AFTER He died, as to how He wanted to save people.
The CoC not only makes it seem as though Jesus is now limited in how He can save people, but it also makes it look as though God must operate within the limited bounds of how mankind operates. Man distributes his assets as he wishes while he lives, but after death, a man’s assets are then distributed according to the will they may have left behind. So, we must ask: Do CoC’s REALLY believe that the sovereign God of the universe must operate within the limited capacity of man? For Scripture clearly reveals that He doesn’t (Isa. 55:8-9).
And when confronted with the fact that Jesus Himself never water baptized anyone (because His main focus was THE GOSPEL), CoC’s will sometimes say 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). But such a biblically illiterate evasion can hold absolutely no water (pun intended).
For one, 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). Even Romans 6 speaks of baptism being a “likeness,” a reflection, a demonstration, of our eternal union with Christ through His substitutionary atonement (Mt. 20:28, John 1:29).
Because believers are considered by God to be one in Christ, even in Jesus’ baptism of death (Mt. 20:21-23, Lk. 12:50, Mk. 10:38-39, Rom. 6:3-18). In other words, God sees Jesus’ death as their death; He sees Jesus’ resurrection as their resurrection, for Romans 6 is all about a believer’s eternal union with Christ. But the CoC falsely claims that it’s all about baptismal regeneration, for its philosophical concept of salvation-by-man’s-appropriation is founded upon Pelagian views of the Fall, which is at the very root of all the CoC’s heresies.
However, the biblical concept of salvation-by-God’s-application is founded upon sacred Scripture, which is why it’s the only view that can be consistently upheld by true believers. For if God had not appointed Adam to be the representative head of all mankind, and if God had not decreed the Fall, where Adam’s sin was imputed to all of his posterity, then there would’ve been absolutely no need for the last Adam’s representation of all who were objectively in Him by God’s divine decree (Eph. 1:4).
There would’ve been no need for His substitutionary atonement on behalf of all whom He represented. There would’ve been no need for the imputation of their sins to Jesus and the imputation of His righteousness to them. This is why the CoC is conspicuously silent concerning the absolute necessity of this double imputation, because the biblical doctrine of original sin completely destroys its sacramental system of salvation-by-man’s-appropriation.
Not only does the CoC fail to acknowledge the eternity of the cross, but it also contains no knowledge of clear category distinctions when it comes to a believer’s objective union with Christ in eternity, and their subjective union with Christ in time. God’s elect were in Christ (objectively speaking) before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9). They were even viewed by God as being objectively in Christ when He accomplished their redemption (i.e., Mt. 20:28; Gal. 2:20). Therefore, Jesus’ blood was objectively applied to them at the cross.
Then, at the appointed time, His redemption becomes an experiential reality in time. For His blood is subjectively and experientially applied to them when their heavenly Father draws them, with cords of love, to His Son, Jesus Christ (e.g. Song 1:4, Jer. 31:3, Hos. 11:4, Jn. 6:65-66).
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 hyper-dispensational heresies concerning the gospel are 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 was only forgiving sins while He was physically on earth (Mt. 9:6)? Because that would imply that Jesus is no longer exercising His power and authority to forgive sins today! And that would be such a terrible contradiction of Scripture. Jesus has pre-eminence in ALL things, and He is alive forevermore (e.g. Col. 1:18; 1 Jn. 1:9). Therefore….
“See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven; Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” (Heb. 12:25, 26).
Yet, if we went by the CoC’s line of reasoning, we would have to conclude that Jesus’ atonement no longer atones, for He accomplished it while He was still physically on earth. How ludicrous! Just because Jesus’ atonement took place on earth, that does not mean that it doesn’t still apply to us today.
Likewise, just because Jesus forgave sins while He was still physically on earth, that does NOT mean the same forgiveness doesn’t still apply to us today. God forbid! Jesus accomplished redemption while He was still physically on earth. And yet, it still applies to us today, just as much as it did to the thief on the cross. Our forgiveness depends upon the definite atonement of Christ, just as much as his did!!
Every believer throughout redemptive history has always been saved based upon what Jesus accomplished while still physically on earth. Even His resurrection was founded upon what He accomplished on earth (Heb. 13:20). And yet, the CoC has the audacity to claim we cannot be forgiven like the thief on the cross, all because Jesus forgave him while He was still physically on earth! Wow.
CoC’s also theorize that nobody can be saved today like the thief on the cross, because supposedly only the Father forgives sins now through Christ, for Christ is now in Heaven to advocate on behalf of His people. But they’ve created yet another serious exegetical problem for themselves, because Jesus also advocated on behalf of believers while He was physically on earth, and even BEFORE His death, but that never meant that only the Father could forgive sins then either (i.e., Lk. 22:32, Jn. 17).
Anytime we read in the Old Testament about God speaking or being revealed to people, it was the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:37; 14:6). And through His Word, God is still speaking to us today by His Son (Heb. 1:1). Yet, CoC’s falsely claim that no one in the O.T. was ever forgiven of sins “by Jesus speaking it to them” like He did to the thief on the cross. They even attempt to deceitfully mishandle Mark 2:1-10 to try to prove that no one today can be saved like the thief on the cross, which reveals such severe illiteracy when it comes to the whole of Scripture. But no surprise, for the CoC has always ignored the beautiful harmony that exists between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Jesus has always been the Mediator between God and man (Isa. 42:6; 49:8; 63:9, Mal. 3:1, 1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus wasn’t incarnate in the Old Testament, and yet, He was STILL forgiving sins even then (e.g., Num. 14:18-20). Or do CoC’s NOT believe that Jesus is God? Because that is exactly what their doctrine implies.
OF COURSE Jesus had the power and authority to forgive sins on earth during His incarnation, and even BEFORE His incarnation, and even BEFORE His actual atonement, and He is STILL exercising His power and authority 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 (Heb. 4:3).
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 (Acts 2:23, 4:28)! And since He is Infinite, He suffered an infinity on that cross that cannot be measured by time, for God is eternal, which means there is absolutely no way that our feeble finite minds could ever comprehend the torture He went through 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).
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). So, the gospel has also always been the same, for He is the very substance of the gospel (Psa. 119:89). The timeless nature of the atonement also proves that its saving benefits have never depended upon the time of its accomplishment. The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ was once for all time (Heb. 10:10, 12).
Therefore, all saints in the Old Testament still essentially experienced the same new covenant blessings (God’s unmerited mercy and grace), by virtue of the eternity of the cross and their eternal union with Christ (e.g., Deut. 30:6, Psa. 103:1-14, 130:4,7, Isa. 38:17, Micah 7:18-20, Jn. 3:3, Rom.4, Gal. 3:14).
So, whether the thief was under the old covenant, or the new, is completely irrelevant when it comes to the eternity of the cross and his eternal union with Christ.
Even in 2 Samuel 23:5, David spoke of the everlasting covenant of salvation (in present tense), and about how it was sure and ordered in all things, even though God didn’t “make it to grow” in his day, for it was only revealed vaguely in types and shadows in the Old Testament. Nonetheless, the gospel has always been a call to covenant union with Christ Who died as our surety to procure and provide all that God commands of us.
Anytime the gospel call has ever gone out within the realm of time, it has always been presented as an already accomplished fact. When Paul said “Be ye reconciled to God,” he was in keeping with all of the Old Testament prophets who were always outwardly calling for sinners to enter into the blessed benefits of the reconciliation that God provides, in His Son, to save sinners (Jn. 10:9, 2 Cor. 5:20, Rom. 5:10, Col. 1:22). Because, like all of the O.T. saints, Paul had faith in God’s promises that there would be some who would be irresistibly prompted by the effectual, inward call of the Holy Spirit, to respond in faith and repentance (e.g., Isa. 53:10, Jn. 6:37, 10:27).
These foundational truths must first be understood and acknowledged, in order to grasp the fact that even in the Old Testament, sins could only be forgiven based upon the eternity of the cross and what the Savior accomplished there in fulfillment of the everlasting covenant. The Old Testament saints were looking to Yahweh (the pre-incarnate Christ) for their salvation, just as believers today are looking to the SAME SAVIOR, for the SAME SALVATION.
“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22).
Paul quoted Joel 2:32 in Rom. 10:13, to confirm the fact that Yahweh (or Jehovah) in the O.T. was the pre-incarnate Christ. After all, didn’t Adam and Eve walk and talk with Him in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-15)? Wasn’t Abraham in communion with Him also (Gen. 18:13, 17-33, Jn. 8:58)? Didn’t Jacob wrestle with the pre-incarnate Christ for a blessing (Gen. 32:24)? Isn’t Jesus the same Good Shepherd of the O.T. (Psa. 23, Isa. 40:11, Jn.10)? Isn’t He the same eternal Son of God in the O.T. (Psa. 2)? Isn’t the same Sovereign Savior and King of Glory in the Old Testament the same Sovereign Savior of the everlasting covenant that was promised and kept, even under the shadows of the old covenant (Psa. 24, Jer. 32:40)?
No wonder Hebrews 1:8-12 also applies Psalm 102:25-27 to Jesus! The O.T. saints were always looking for a fuller manifestation of God’s eternal plan of redemption, as they spoke of Christ “by the Spirit of Christ which was in them” (1 Pet. 1:9-11). Because Old Testament saints were saved by the same God Who gave them the old covenant, but they were NOT saved by virtue of the old covenant, or by the administration of it. They were saved by the same God, in the same way (through faith), and upon the same basis (God’s grace through Jesus and His saving work), with the same salvation that believers have today.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” Jn. 1:17).
Even O.T. observance of the law was derived from a God-given faith. When Paul referenced Deuteronomy 30:12 in Romans 10:6, he clearly connected the true purpose of the law with the gospel of God’s promise of free righteousness by faith, because the impossible demands of the law have ALWAYS been meant to reveal humanity’s desperate need to be spiritually regenerated by God’s free mercy and grace.
“For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16).
Both Paul and Moses essentially declared the same gospel, by placing the pardon of sins in God’s free promise of divine grace alone, which is why they both preached repentance and faith. This biblical fact also reveals that the move from the old covenant to the new was progressive, NOT contradictory, as the CoC would so deceptively have us to believe. The gospel of God’s free grace in the O.T. is still the SAME GOSPEL that we have today!
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them” (Heb. 4:2).
So please prayerfully think this through:
The law and the gospel constitute the sum and substance of God’s revealed truth, for there cannot be a revelation of our desperate need for the Savior without a revelation of how bad sin is in the eyes of a holy God. It’s impossible.
No wonder we find that the old covenant was confirmed AND enforced on Mt. Sinai, by God giving the impossible demands of the law, through Moses, to reveal people’s complete dependence upon His mercy and grace. The same gospel parallel was demonstrated when the new covenant was confirmed AND enforced on Mt. Calvary, by God giving what He commands, through Christ, to further reveal His justice and mercy. The providential parallels are astoundingly undeniable!!
Hebrews 10:11 makes it clear that animal sacrifices could never take away sins. Although the old covenant ceremonies revealed the hopelessness of sin, they also revealed the hope of good things to come, in order to relieve the saints from the constant ceremonial reminders of sin-guilt and to confirm them in the faith of Christ. In this sense, the law and gospel were joined together, because the gospel also reveals our sin-guilt before God and our desperate need for the Savior. So when God promised a new covenant, He revealed that it would NOT be a different way of salvation from the first, because the new is an EXTENSION of the very same eternal plan of redemption.
God revealed that the mode of administration under the old covenant would no longer be needed once a greater measure of His grace was given (Jer. 31:32-33). So, when Jesus enforced the new covenant by the blood of His cross, He confirmed the eternality of the gospel and God’s moral law, for they both reflect His unchanging character and our desperate need for His free mercy and grace.
When God said, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33), He revealed that the new covenant would still continue to confirm and even further validate God’s sovereign distinguishing grace, in virtue of Jesus’ atoning death, as the ONLY basis of salvation (Acts 3:18, Gal. 4:6), which was even being revealed under the types and shadows of the old covenant (i.e., Psa. 37:31; 40:8). Therefore….
“He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second” (Heb. 10:9).
Jesus made it clear to the Samaritan women at the well, that the hour was coming, when God’s people would worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:21-24), which required the taking away of the external ceremonies that had only been the “dead letter” of the true substance (Rom. 7:6). Therefore, Jesus’ fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, concerning the new covenant, was never a departure from the former covenant in its truest spiritual sense, for they both point to Christ alone as one’s only hope of salvation.
Scripture makes it so clear that all of God’s promises are ratified and established in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). A fuller manifestation of the everlasting covenant even further validated the very reality that had only been previously revealed figuratively. So, even though Jesus was falsely accused, by the Pharisees, of doing away with the moral principles of the law, He made it clear that He actually established the spiritual fulfillment of the very truths of the law that were figuratively represented in their external ceremonies (Heb. 10:1).
Ancient external practices were taken away because they can only be kept now in their ultimate spiritual sense. The eternality of those ceremonies was not in their temporary, external observance. Their perpetuity was only in the spiritual aspects of what those ceremonies signified (e.g., Gen. 17:13).
The superiority of the new covenant, since Jesus’ death, is that God’s people now have a fuller assurance of salvation, for a new and living way is more abundantly opened up to them, because the O.T. types and shadows have now been fulfilled, in the realm of time, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Heb. 6:11-15, 17-18; 10:1). As a result, we can now have a fuller view of the gospel, but it is still the same gospel, NOT the CoC’s new gospel!
However, to try to escape the clear force of Scripture, the CoC deceitfully claims that its so-called “new terms for salvation” could supposedly not be enforced until after Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Spirit’s outpouring at Pentecost. Hence, the CoC’s obsession with Acts 2:38.
But, according to Scripture, Jesus’ blood of the Covenant was poured out for the remission of sins, in the realm of time… AT THE CROSS!... NOT at Pentecost!! (Lk. 22:19-20, Mt. 26:28, 1 Cor. 11:25, Rom. 11:27, Heb. 9:22).
Furthermore, we read the following:
“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 accepted His substitutionary atonement as “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20). Jesus’ blood had already effectually sealed, fulfilled and enforced the terms of the new covenant, in the realm of time, AT THE CROSS...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).
And again, exactly WHEN was His new covenant put into effect and enforced 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 Holy Spirit’s official discharge be ushered into public ministry at Pentecost? For the assignment of the Spirit’s outpouring in Acts was grounded upon the fully enforced terms of the everlasting covenant, sealed by Jesus’ blood, so that the Spirit could then apply the benefits of those terms, in a unique and special way, to all whom the Lord added to the church (Acts 2:47), which was already in existence or else it couldn’t have been added to (Acts 2:47).
God’s church was already in existence or else it could NOT have been renewed and added to (e.g., Gen. 28:17, Mt. 16:18-19; 18:17, Lk. 12:32, Acts 2:36, 47; 15:16). Jesus has always been the Head of the church. Since there has always been one Great Shepherd, He has always had one sheepfold (Jn. 10:16) throughout redemptive history; sometimes referred to as God’s sanctuary, the house of Israel, the tabernacle of David, the heavenly Jerusalem, or the general assembly and church of just men made perfect, etc. (e.g., Ezek. 37: 26-27, Heb. 12:22-23).
So, a new state of the church beginning at Pentecost (the time of renewal), never meant an altogether “new church” that had never existed before. However, the CoC claims to be a “new church” that supposedly began at Pentecost, confirming the fact that it is, indeed, a heretical cult.
Notwithstanding, the terms of God’s eternal plan of redemption have always remained the same, which is salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And just because the Holy Spirit applied the benefits of those same terms, that were fully enforced at the cross, in a unique and special way at Pentecost, doesn’t mean that He applied a new way of being saved. Instead, along with many other spiritual gifts, He applied a greater evangelistic empowerment to spread the SAME GOSPEL, which is God’s ETERNAL plan of redemption. ETERNAL means it does NOT change, which is why it transcends any given dispensation!
Sadly, CoC’s fail to acknowledge the biblical concept of God’s application, but God has ALWAYS provided His people with what He commands, under EVERY dispensation. For the “terms” of salvation have NEVER changed and have never depended on the works of humanity! The “terms” of salvation, in EVERY dispensation, have ALWAYS been God graciously providing what He commands (Compare Ezekiel 18 to Ezekiel 36). The “terms” have always been a salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The terms have NEVER changed but have only become more fully manifested.
All of the Holy Spirit’s operations at Pentecost were in conjunction with all that Jesus had already executed, enforced, and put into operation at the cross (i.e., John 16:13, Joel 2:11, Acts 2:16). Even Christ’s ministry to His disciples in the upper room, before His crucifixion (Lk. 22:11-12), and their further receiving of the Holy Spirit, after His resurrection (Jn. 20:22), preceded the commencement of the Holy Spirit’s work in the upper room at Pentecost.
Such perfect parallels not only reveal a conjoined mission in the Godhead, but they also reveal a difference between the initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit for salvation, and the filling of the Holy Spirit for greater evangelistic empowerment (Also see: Num. 11:25, Mt. 3:16, Lk. 1:15; 24:49, Acts 1:8; 5:8; 6:5-8; 7:55-56).
But, the CoC would deceptively have us to believe that the filling of the Holy Spirit, in the book of Acts, was a saving operation that had never occurred before. However, the same group of already saved disciples in Acts 2:1-4, were again filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:31. Therefore, we must ask CoC’s: Were those saved disciples in Acts 2:1-4 supposedly “saved again“ in Acts 4:31? Furthermore, we must ask them: Was the Apostle Peter “saved again“ in Acts 4:8? But they cannot answer, unless they finally want to come clean and confess that the CoC’s heretical doctrines are not supported by Scripture.
Contrary to the CoC’s false doctrines, the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt and sealed believers who were alive during the Mosaic dispensation, even before they were ever “filled with the Holy Spirit” during the new dispensation (Acts 2:4, 32-33; 4:31; 6:5, 8; 7:55, 56). Or else they could have never been saved (e.g., Lk. 10:20, Jn. 15:13; 17:14). No wonder Paul commanded those who were ALREADY SAVED to then be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19).
CoC’s even falsely claim that there were people under the old covenant being “grandfathered” into the new covenant by virtue of all the good works they did while under the old covenant. Therefore, CoC’s are in lock-step with the Pharisee’s who also believed they were saved by virtue of their good works. But Scripture reveals that even under the old covenant they could only be saved by God’s grace, through faith, because it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for any of their imperfect works to save them (Acts 15:10).
Even the Gentiles, who didn’t participate in the old covenant ordinances, were being drawn into the SAME eternal inheritance as the fathers of the O.T., the exact SAME WAY (through faith), upon the exact SAME BASIS (God’s grace through Christ and His work on the cross). Because, “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE” (Acts 15:9)!!!! To even further confirm this truth, Scripture states:
“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, EVEN AS THEY” (Acts 15:11, emphasis mine).
God’s eternal plan of redemption progressed even further after Pentecost, but that does NOT mean that His eternal plan of redemption ever became a different plan of redemption, or a different way of being saved. Moreover, Jesus’ confirmation and enforcement of the new covenant AT THE CROSS (the very crux of redemptive history), was even further confirmed by His resurrection, but that does NOT mean that there was a different way of being saved after His resurrection (Mt. 27:50; Mk. 15:38; Lk. 23:45,Heb. 9:26; 13:20).
Regardless of the CoC’s dishonest claims, there was NEVER any so-called “new terms for salvation”… “beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47). Pentecost always meant a renewal of vows and consecration to God, NOT a “new gospel” (Lev. 23:15-21), because the true gospel of Jesus Christ had its “beginning” long BEFORE Pentecost (e.g., Gen. 3:15, Isa. 53:1, Mk. 1:1-2, Jn. 12:38, Acts 8: 32-35, Rom. 3:29-30; 10:16, Gal. 3:6-8, Heb. 4:2; 9:15; 10:1-4).
Furthermore, Scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt and sealed believers who were alive during the Mosaic dispensation, even BEFORE they were ever “filled with the Holy Spirit” during the new dispensation (Acts 2:4, 32-33; 4:31; 6:5, 8; 7:55, 56). Or else they could have never been saved (e.g., Lk. 10:20, Jn. 15:13; 17:14). No wonder Paul commanded those who were ALREADY SAVED to THEN be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19).
The permanent regeneration, indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit has ALWAYS been essential to salvation (e.g. Isa. 63:11, Jer. 31:31-34, Ezek. 36: 26, 27, Jn. 3:3, Rom. 8:9-11, 1 Cor. 2:10-16). Just because the Spirit’s outpouring in Acts was a unique and special gift to believers, doesn’t mean that it was a new way of being saved, as the CoC would so deceptively have us to believe (Acts 15:8).
For instance, John wasn’t referring to the saving operations of the Spirit when he said, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified,” because Jesus’ disciples were already saved. Besides, the word “given” is not even in the original Greek (Jn. 7:39). So, John was obviously referring to the Spirit’s special outpouring, or else no Old Testament saints could have ever been saved, because no one can be saved apart from the saving operations of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9).
In John 3, Jesus even reprimanded Nicodemus for not being familiar with water being symbolic of the purifying and regenerating agency of the Holy Spirit under the old covenant (e.g. Ex. 30:18, Deut. 21:6, Ezek. 36:25). Scripture interprets Scripture.
In direct opposition to the CoC’s false doctrines, believers in every age have ALWAYS been permanently indwelt, sealed and regenerated by the Holy Spirit (e.g., Deut. 30:6, Lk. 1:15, 41, Jn. 3:10). Or else no one could have ever been saved or filled with the Holy Spirit afterwards. Scripture clearly reveals that the O.T. saints were savingly indwelt by the SAME saving operations of the SAME Holy Spirit as today (e.g., Psa. 116:10, Isa. 63:11, Lk. 2:25-35, 1 Cor. 10:4, 2 Cor. 4:13, 1 Pet. 1:11).
These biblical realities further confirm the fact that the CoC is in grave error when it teaches a conditional and temporary indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. It also further reveals that the CoC is deceiving people when it leads them to believe that the Holy Spirit had never indwelled, sealed and regenerated believers before Pentecost, for Scripture proves otherwise.
Now, for even MORE biblical proof that the new covenant went into force at the cross and not at Pentecost, we read the following:
“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, symbolized the fact that His sacrifice was a definite, complete and effectual atonement for sins. It signified that entrance into “the Holy of Holies” was immediately open for all of His people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile, apart from the old covenant priesthood.
They did NOT have to wait until Pentecost to drop the ceremonial law, because the torn veil rendered it completely unnecessary for the sacrifices of expiation to continue (Dan. 9:27, Heb. 10:10, 14, 18). The O.T. prophets declared no time gap or interval between “the suffering of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). Because, contrary to the CoC’s counterfeit claims, there was never a so-called “probate period,” between the cross and Pentecost to prove God’s will, because the proof was already clearly being revealed for all to see!
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
AND THERE IT WAS!! The torn veil confirmed what God had done in Christ, AT THE CROSS!! It was an even fuller manifestation of the SAME gospel. It was a fuller manifestation of access through faith into this grace (Rom. 5:2)!! For Jesus has ALWAYS been the object of true saving 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).
Even the observance of God’s perfect standard of righteousness (His moral law) springs from faith in Christ, for faith alone has ALWAYS been the only way to enter into God’s promises, NOT faith plus our own works. Irrefutably proving the fact that the CoC’s “new terms for salvation” is a complete sham.
Jesus’ death officially and immediately executed, inaugurated and ratified the new covenant (Mt. 26:28). IT WAS IMMEDIATELY PUT INTO FORCE!!! 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 done away with and no longer in force (Mt. 27:51), for its types and shadows were fulfilled in Christ, the very sum and substance of the TRUE gospel (Isa. 61:1-3, Lk. 4:17-22).
The torn veil clearly revealed permanent and unparalleled access to God the Father through Jesus Christ. All spiritual barriers to a fuller revelation of God’s grace were immediately REMOVED, and a believer’s free access to God by grace, through faith, was immediately REVEALED, even further, upon the death of Christ.
It was a dramatic illustration that the temporary Mosaic dispensation was completely done away with and that the New Covenant was everlastingly established in its place, so that believers could have a fuller assurance and “confidence to enter the holy places” by the blood of Jesus, Who is the “new and living way” through the veil, His flesh, without the burdensome animal sacrifices that had only foreshadowed the reality (Heb.10:20-22).
Just as God’s original command to love was called “new” when it was more clearly set forth by Jesus (Jn. 13:34, 1 Jn. 2:8), God’s original plan of redemption was called a “new and living way” when it was more clearly set forth by Jesus AT THE CROSS.
The spiritual transaction was FINISHED and revealed publicly AT HIS DEATH. Therefore, the CoC’s so-called “new terms for salvation” 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), for Jesus fulfilled all that had previously been prefigured in types and shadows.
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). The old covenant was always meant to be temporary for it was only composed of “the shadows of the good things to come”(Heb. 10:1-4, 11-12).
Through HIS DEATH, Jesus removed all spiritual barriers, for all time, between God and men (Heb. 7:27; 9:15). Only then did the way into the most holy place become more fully manifest (Rom. 16:25-26, Eph. 3:9-12, Col. 1:26, Heb. 9:8, 1 Pet. 1:19-20). How do we “get INTO” Christ?? Just as 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, emphasis added).
We can only “enter into” Christ and His everlasting covenant of salvation, through faith in His blood, to declare HIS RIGHEOUSNESS for the remission of sins (Rom. 3:25)!! 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 added).
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 misuse Romans 10:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:17 to still try to prove their false claim that the CoC’s water gospel and its so-called “new terms for salvation” (which they claim is Acts 2:38) didn’t come into force until AFTER Jesus’ resurrection. Are CoC’s REALLY that clueless? Because they constantly refute their own arguments!
The very fact that the thief on the cross was not required to confess Jesus’ manifest resurrection in time (for it hadn’t occurred yet), is even further proof that one can only be saved because of the ETERNITY OF THE CROSS and what God already considered to be accomplished there (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
Jesus’ resurrection was an even fuller manifestation of the SAME GOSPEL, which gave Jesus’ followers even MORE assurance of salvation (Rom. 10:9)!! So, just because the thief hadn’t acknowledged the full manifestation of Jesus’ resurrection in time, that does NOT mean that he wasn’t still saved by believing the gospel. For Jesus’ resurrection was included in His death, because His resurrection was based upon His shed blood of the covenant, on the cross (Heb. 13:20). In this way, the atoning death of Christ was joined to His resurrection, and the thief witnessed, and trusted in, Jesus’ sacrificial death.
Yet, CoC’s will often bring up the 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 definition of the gospel, which includes Jesus’ resurrection, in an attempt to dismiss the fact that the thief on the cross obeyed the gospel. But they fail to acknowledge that there are differences in DEGREE when it comes to believing the gospel, but there are NOT differences in KIND.
For instance, Romans 10:9 says that if you confess the Lord Jesus AND believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved, because divine revelation had progressed after Jesus’ resurrection. That fuller manifestation of God’s eternal plan of redemption further increased their faith and enlarged it, but it was STILL the same KIND of faith that all the O.T. saints possessed, with essentially the same content, but with an even more expanded view of the SAME truth. Also remember the example of Apollos in Acts 18, who had to be shown a fuller view of the same gospel.
And the thief on the cross obeyed that gospel! No wonder he was STILL blessed with the same saving benefits, of the same grace, that all saints have ever been blessed with, in every age, throughout redemptive history! He was saved under the EXACT SAME TERMS OF SALVATION (through faith), UPON THE EXACT SAME BASIS (God’s grace through Christ and His atoning sacrifice) that every sinner throughout human history has EVER been saved, including all O.T. saints who were also saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Messiah ALONE.
Because God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for any of their flawed works to save them (Acts 13:39; 15:10). No one has ever been, or ever will be, saved by their own works (e.g., Ezek. 20, Mt. 19:26). All people, in all ages, have only been saved by the supernatural circumcision of the heart (Deut. 30:6, Acts 7:51, Col. 2:11). Scripture is so abundantly clear, that all O.T. saints were saved the same way that we are saved today, for they too had the common testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10)!!
But the CoC falsely teaches that people were saved in the O. T. under the old covenant of law, so that it can portray itself as a system that possesses the new covenant of a “believing immersion” in Christ,to replace the old covenant of a “believing circumcision.” It teaches that a so-called “salvation by circumcision” has been replaced with “salvation by water baptism.” But Galatians 5:6 makes it clear that circumcision never saved anyone, so neither can baptism, for both ordinances were meant to be a pledge of one’s commitment to the Lord, not as a way to get themselves saved.
So, are CoC’s REALLY willing to dismiss the fact that Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, has ALWAYS been the very HEART of the gospel (1 Cor. 2:2)? Because that is EXACTLY what their false doctrine entails!
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 discharged ALL of the sins that He bore for ALL of His people (PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE)…AT THE CROSS (Heb. 13:20-21).
The thief on the cross was saved because he obeyed the gospel, for there has always been only ONE GOSPEL that saves! He realized that apart from God’s merciful, saving grace he was a doomed sinner. He repented and trusted in Christ alone as his only hope. Therefore, he obeyed the EXACT same terms of salvation that EVERY saved sinner in human history has ever obeyed. Because changes in dispensational covenants have NEVER meant changes in God’s eternal plan of redemption, which has always been the same.
A new covenant has NEVER meant a new gospel. According to Scripture, there has NEVER been a “covenant of works for salvation” made with fallen humanity. God has NEVER ordained a “salvation-by-man’s-works” ever since the Fall of mankind, for the entrance of sin made it impossible for anyone to ever please God apart from His free mercy and grace in Christ that enables us to believe (e.g., Jn. 15:5, Acts 13:48, Gal. 3:8-16, Phil. 1:29, Heb. 4:2).
All the blessings that were lost in Adam are procured and restored by Christ, because He fully satisfied God’s divine justice and wrath against sin, on behalf of all who are in eternal union with Him.
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).
Therefore, the thief on the cross was saved in exactly the same way that every sinner, in human history, has ever been saved, regardless of the two different dispensations that he lived under, for the essential content of God’s eternal plan of salvation has NEVER changed.
Yet, wicked people have never wanted to face God on His terms, but instead they’ve always tried to run from Him in hopes to appease Him from a distance with their own works (e.g., Ex. 20:19, Heb. 12:19-20). They’ve always preferred to do things according to their own “terms” instead of God’s terms. Likewise, the CoC makes up a fictitious way of being saved that actually shuts the door of heaven on those who adhere to it.
“you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and according to all that the Lord your God says, so declare to us and we will do it” (Jer. 42:20).
Just like the “restoration” cults of today, hypocrites in every generation pretend to be all about “obedience,” but once any of God’s people begin to extol that which ALONE produces TRUE obedience, they want nothing to do with it, which reveals their true colors and the fact that they’d rather take at least some of the personal credit for their own salvation, instead of giving God ALL of the glory for His merciful grace through the saving work of Christ ALONE.
No wonder they maliciously try to stir up ill-will against the true God of the Bible, and His people, by playing upon the biased prejudice that most people already have against the true gospel, by saying we promote “an excuse for disobedience” when we point to the testimony of the thief, even though nothing could be further from the truth!!
Yet, out of sheer desperation, they even attack the word ALONE, by theorizing that if a person cannot find the exact phrase “faith alone” for salvation in the Bible, then that must mean we are saved by faith PLUS our own works. They don’t seem to realize that they are revealing the absolute ridiculousness of their own line of reasoning!
For example, just because one cannot find the exact phrase “Christ alone” in Scripture, that does NOT mean that we should worship Christ PLUS other gods!! Yet according to the CoC’s faulty line of reasoning, we are supposed to conclude the opposite of what God’s Word actually conveys in context.
God’s saving gifts of grace and faith in Christ alone as our only hope of heaven, are not mere “ideas of Calvin,” because they are actual biblical facts according to God’s Word. So CoC’s can call Scripture “Calvinism,” in a derogatory way, all they want, but it will never change what God has set in stone, which is the biblical fact that no one has EVER been saved any other way than by Christ alone. God commands that we look to Christ alone for all that He offers to us for salvation. Since salvation is based upon the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, then salvation has to be by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Him ALONE.
And ironically, while CoC’s vehemently attack people’s faith in Christ alone as their only hope, they will still religiously tack the name of Christ ALONE to the end of all their prayers! Which also goes to show that they really don’t understand what it truly means to pray in Jesus’ name, that He is our only hope, our only access to God, and that we can have direct access to God through Christ, by faith in His finished work on the cross and in His righteousness alone as our only hope of salvation.
They can’t seem to understand that through Him, “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2). “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18, emphasis mine). But thankfully, NONE of the CoC’s disproven theories can ever erase the biblical reality that even the absence of physical water cannot keep us from the love of Christ and access to God through faith in Him (Rom. 8:35-39, Eph. 3:12). No external circumstance can prevent “whosoever will” from partaking of the Water of Life freely….by God’s grace alone, in Christ Jesus ALONE.
“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Rom. 4:16).
Just as Scripture reveals, even faith in Him is attributed to the mercy and grace of God ALONE. Therefore, our own works cannot be connected with it for justification. If the gift of faith had not been procured by Christ, then it would not be by grace.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
So again, what can CoC’s not comprehend about salvation being in Christ ALONE? Since salvation is in Christ ALONE, then it is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in HIM ALONE. No matter how much they want to arrogantly add their own works into the equation, Scripture cannot be changed. Either Christ will be ALL of one’s salvation, or NONE.
Sadly, if CoC’s continue to “neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him (Heb. 2:3-4), then they will not inherit eternal life.
Apart from Christ and what He accomplished at the cross, there would be no eternal plan of redemption, no good news, no gospel, no regeneration, no mercy, no grace, no true faith, no works of faith, no true obedience, no true repentance, no confession of sin, no pardon of sin, no baptisms, no love of truth, no love of God, no love of people, no Holy Spirit empowerment, no sound doctrine, no gospel preaching or teaching, no holy calling, no saints, no assembling together of the saints, no everlasting blood covenant of salvation, no propitiation, no reconciliation with the Father, no resurrection, no intercession, no justification, no perpetual priesthood of Christ, no throne of grace, and no hope of new heavens and a new earth.
Nevertheless, CoC’s still relentlessly attack and mock the only way that sinners can be justified before a holy God, by saying things like “that’s a lot of ‘alones,’” as if we are “adding more alones” by attributing everything that pertains to life and godliness to HIM ALONE (2 Pet. 1:3). How ludicrous of them to say that we are the one’s adding to Scripture by looking to Christ ALONE for our salvation! Ugh!!
Yet, this is how ridiculous CoC’s can get when they try to project their own guilt of adding to the gospel, onto those who want to give all the glory to God alone. CoC’s even type up huge “to do lists” of all that they think they must do in order to get saved, intermingled with Jesus and His work here and there, as if He and His works are on equal footing with them and their works, if not lower. It is truly blasphemous!
For they try to establish their own righteousness for salvation, rather than relying solely upon the blood and righteousness of Christ ALONE (Rom. 10:3). They are not satisfied with Christ alone, so they attempt to bring in other aids for their salvation. As a result, they end up completely cutting themselves off from having access to heaven, which is only through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
No wonder they reject the “old paths”….
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16).
Even in Ezekiel we see God freely offering grace, but the people insisted on their own obedience to the law for salvation. So, God gave them over to it, and held them strictly accountable to it, in order to show them their absolute inability to live up to His perfect standards of righteousness, and thus, their desperate need of His mercy and grace (Ezek. 18).
By the time we get to Ezekiel 36 it becomes painfully obvious that the people are unable to obey God’s perfect precepts, so God finally tells them that He is the only one Who can save them and enable them to obey, by giving them a new heart and spirit, by virtue of His merciful grace.
No one, not even O.T. saints, has ever been saved by being obedient (Heb. 7:19). Even Ezekiel chapter 20 makes it clear that the O.T. fathers were disobedient to God. They were sinful rebels and God saved the souls of a remnant of them, ONLY because of His unmerited grace and mercy upon them.
Although God, His gospel, and the spiritual needs of humanity have never changed, 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).
In the O.T., the gospel was often referred to as the promises and glad tidings (Acts 13:32, Rom. 10:15-16, Gal. 3:8, 14, 2 Tim. 1:1, 1 Pet. 4:6). In Isaiah, the gospel was even referred to as the “report” (53:1), and “the sure mercies of David” (55:3). Because the gospel has ALWAYS denoted the promise and doctrine of Christ, and how one abides in it by a faith that is granted and maintained by God’s grace (Gen. 3:15, 21; 6:8, Jonah 2:9, Hab. 2:4, Jn. 12:38, Heb. 11, 2 Jn. 1:9).
Even before it was more fully manifested in this “gospel age” (Rom. 1:1-2), the gospel has always been “the law of faith” and “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” that sets believers free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 3:27; 8:2). This is also why the gospel is referred to as “the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19), and “the riches of His goodness” (Rom. 2:4). For God’s eternal plan of redemption has never changed, because it has ALWAYS been founded upon God’s free mercy and grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone, NOT with the inclusion of man’s works (Lk. 1:73, Rom. 4).
Although CoC’s try to put the cart before the horse, good works are the result of salvation, not the cause. No matter what, the cause must always precede the effects. Even from the beginning, Abel was killed by his jealous brother Cain, all because his righteous works were THE RESULT of his salvation by God’s grace, through faith in the promised Seed (Gen. 3:15, Heb. 11:4, 1 Jn. 3:12).
Spirit-guided Simeon, Anna the prophetess, the woman at the well and all of God’s people had been faithfully awaiting His arrival (Lk. 2:25-38, Jn. 4:25, 1 Tim. 3:16). Even Moses believed, obeyed and trusted in the pre-incarnate Christ (Ex. 3:3-6, 14). For their salvation, by God’s grace, enabled them to bear fruits worthy of repentance (Mt. 3:8-10).
Abraham seen His day and rejoiced (Jn. 8:56, Gal.3:8, 16). For God’s everlasting covenant of salvation was concluded with Abraham BEFORE there was ever even a temple, circumcision or the law of Moses, etc. (Heb. 2:16, 8:10 and 11:18). God’s Word clearly reveals that those who belong to Christ are of the Seed of Abraham BY FAITH, and heirs according to promise (Rom. 4, Gal. 3).
Therefore, we must ask CoC’s how they could ever truly believe that God has a DIFFERENT eternal plan of redemption today, in light of these truths. Because, if they still refuse to believe that God’s eternal plan of redemption was concluded with Abraham, then according to Scripture, they cannot be a spiritual descendant of Abraham (Heb. 2:9, 16; 11:18), which would mean that they are NOT of Christ!!
Do CoC’s truly believe that God’s eternal plan of redemption changed at Pentecost? If so, then how was it eternal? How can any professing Christian deny that all of the Old Testament saints were justified by faith in Christ alone, for Jesus was Immanuel (God with us) from the very beginning (Isa.7:10-17, Lk. 1:26-38)?
By faith, Daniel declared the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself” (Dan. 9:26). In the Old Testament, all of God’s people were urged to believe in the Son of God (Psa. 2:7, 11, 12), for all O.T. sacrifices were only pointers to a fuller revelation of God’s love and mercy in His Son (Psa. 40:6; 51:16-17). Also, compare Psalm 40 to Hebrew 10 for further confirmation. Agur even spoke of the Son of God (Prov. 30:4). By faith, Isaiah also foreseen the coming glory of the Messiah (Isa. 12:41; 45:22), which was reiterated in John 12:32-41.
All of the O.T. “Feasts of First Fruits” foreshadowed Jesus’ coming resurrection (i.e., Lev. 23:10-11). They symbolized justification by God’s grace through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In verse 11, the words “to be accepted on your behalf” described how Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is imputed to all who believe, including all O.T. saints, which perfectly coincides with Romans 4:23-25.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).
Even Hebrews 11:13, 17, 33, 39-40 proves that none of the O.T. saints ever received the promises of God based upon any other way of salvation other than by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, just as God’s people do today, who ALL have the SAME eternal inheritance and share in the SAME saving grace that He bestowed upon Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David and every other saint, prophet, patriarch and godly king in the O.T.
The only difference is that we now have even STRONGER consolation during this present reign of Christ and His kingdom, which is why God encourages us to overcome obstacles just as effectively as the O.T. saints did, and even more so, due to the fact that we have an even firmer foundation for belief than they did, because all of God’s promises have been more fully manifested in Jesus Christ (e.g., Hebrews 11:40 and 12:23).
Jesus’ resurrection, made possible by His shed blood of the covenant, also gives us even stronger assurance of salvation today (Rom. 10:9). The external O.T. ceremonies that ceased in practice were also given even more spiritual significance when Jesus fulfilled their shadows by His very substance. Therefore, the new covenant is “not according to that which He had made with their fathers” (Jer. 31:32), because there’s no need for candles once the sun has risen (Mal. 1:11; 4:2)!!
The new covenant is “new” because those who are brought into the everlasting covenant are effectually called into it. The temporary old covenant, which God made with many (of which a majority fell away) could not actually provide the reality that its ceremonies signified (Heb. 8:9), for the blood of animals could never perfect anyone (Heb. 10:1-11).
But all who are effectually called into the everlasting covenant are those whom God has determined to save, to the uttermost, by the efficacious blood of Christ (Lk. 22:20, Heb. 7:25). The new covenant actually provides them with what God commands (Heb. 10:16-17), for Jesus actually obtained their redemption (Heb. 8:10-13; 9:12-15; 10:11-12), which the old covenant priesthood could never do.
The temporary Mosaic Law could only reveal people’s sins and their desperate need of the Savior (Gal. 3:19). But it never had the power to actually enable anyone to live godly. However, the new covenant, which is expressed in the New Testament, not only reveals the eternal moral law of Christ more fully, it also more fully reveals how God powerfully grants what He commands, by effectually calling His people into His irresistible grace, which is His divine power that actually accomplishes His purposes.
The Mosaic Law could never do this, which is why its observance has now been fully replaced by the preaching of God’s kingdom (Lk. 16:16, Rom. 10:4). And this is why the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people, in fullness, after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (Jn. 7:39). Therefore, we now have a fuller view of Christ as our moral standard of righteousness, rather than the external, Mosaic form of law. Thus, the N.T. gives us a clearer view, and a deeper conviction, of our own spiritual heart condition, which is where all of our external actions spring from.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17).
Therefore, in the O.T., even the remnant that was saved, while under the old covenant, was only saved by being effectually called into the everlasting covenant of grace by the redeeming blood of Christ. Although God’s church was in its infancy in the O.T., God’s gospel, His church, His kingdom and His people have always been secured in Christ, for His eternal plan of redemption is eternal (Psa. 102:28, Isa. 2:3, Lk. 1:32, Eph. 1:11). His kingdom is in this world, but it is not “of this world” (Jn. 18:36, Rom. 14:17).
“The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all” (Psa. 103:19).
God’s kingdom is spiritual, which is why Jesus has always reigned in His people through faith, love and the good works that proceed from those God-given graces that He procured for them (Eph. 2:10). When Jesus referred to His people, He said “the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:21). For His people make up His body, the church, the kingdom of heaven (Psa. 74:2, Mt. 16:18-19). And they enter in by Holy Spirit regeneration, through faith (Mk. 1:8, 1 Cor. 12:13). As a result, they become a “new creation” that will eternally inhabit the “new Jerusalem” (2 Cor. 5:17, Rev. 21). Water baptism is then performed as an outward demonstration of what has already occurred inwardly (Rom. 6:3-5).
No wonder Jesus told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God had come upon them (Lk. 11:20). He also told His disciples that they would see the kingdom of God come with power (Mk. 9:1), Not by observation (Lk. 17:20), but by experience, because the Holy Spirit would be more abundantly poured out, in order to empower them to spread the SAME gospel even further (Acts 1:8). No wonder Paul equated the gospel of God’s grace with the kingdom of God that Jesus and His apostles preached (Acts 20:24-25, 1 Cor. 15:11, Gal. 2:6-9). For they are ONE AND THE SAME!
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Despite the CoC’s hyper-dispensational heresies, there was NEVER one way of being saved in the O.T. and another way of being saved in the N.T. God forbid! Such false teachings imply that God’s character has changed, and that man’s spiritual needs have changed, which are both an absolute impossibility! Therefore, CoC’s have dealt falsely with God’s covenant (Psa. 44:17).
Yet, they still insist on promoting another way of salvation, a different kingdom (its earthly organization) and a different gospel, which blasphemously implies that there’s more than one God. But, 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.
In Ephesians 4:5-6, Paul confirmed this one way of salvation, in one God, for all of God’s people are one in Christ, by faith in Christ alone, in every age. No wonder Paul described the salvation of God’s people as being grafted into one tree by faith, and how they are the “true Jews” or “spiritual Israel” by faith (Rom. 2:29; 4:11; 11:17, 20, Phil. 3:3, Gal. 6:16; 3:29, Rev. 2:9).
God did not “replace” ethnic Jews or national Israel with His church (an error of “replacement theology”). Instead, He expands His church, builds His church and adds to His church, throughout redemptive history, for the gates of Hell cannot prevail against His “spiritual house” (Acts 2:47, Mt. 16:18, 1 Pet. 2:5). Jesus has always been the Rock foundation of His church (1 Cor. 3:11).
Therefore, the “everlasting gospel” that came to the Jews first, is made effectual in a remnant from EVERY tongue, tribe and nation, including Israel (Rom. 1:16; 11:5, Mt. 28:19, Rev. 5:9; 14:6), which is why the word “world” is used in Scripture to describe those who are effectually called into it (e.g., Jn. 3:16).
Yet, even after CoC’s have been confronted with all of the biblical evidence, the majority is still slipping in a DIFFERENT plan of redemption, not God’s ETERNAL plan of redemption. They continue to try to smuggle in a completely FORIEGN FOUNDATION for salvation that has never existed, and never will exist, because God’s eternal plan of redemption has always been, and always will be, based solely upon God’s grace through Christ and His work, NOT God’s grace through Christ and our work.
So again, there was NEVER any so-called “new terms” or “new laws” for a works-based-salvation, but only an even more powerful continuation of the SAME gospel, which was even further revealed and expounded upon “beginning at Jerusalem” where Christ had been crucified (Lk. 24:47).
This is why true Christians are able to harmonize their theology with the full council of God (including Hebrews 4:2 and its parallel passages (e.g., Isa.53:1, Jn. 12:38, Rom. 3:29-30; 10:16 and Gal. 3:6-8), unlike the enemies of the cross, because the gospel has never changed. God’s eternal plan of redemption remains the same, for “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
No wonder the Apostle Paul equated the gospel with God’s eternal plan of redemption! He proclaimed that it was given before the world even began, and that it became even more fully manifest at the physical appearing of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished at the cross…
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
But the CoC’s newfangled inventions were brought in to detract from God’s eternal plan of redemption, by introducing a DIFFERENT plan of redemption that unhitches the O.T. from the N.T., rather than revealing their intrinsic interconnectedness.
In the O.T. God promised a new covenant, and at the same time, He revealed that it would not be different in substance from His everlasting covenant, because the new is an EXTENSION of the same ETERNAL plan of redemption. In this sense, the new covenant was already in effect, to an extent, in the Old Testament. The very fact that Jesus was forgiving sins even BEFORE the cross, confirms that it was already in effect by virtue of the eternity of the cross (Gal. 3:17).
So, when Jesus enforced the new covenant AT THE CROSS….(NOT at Pentecost), He confirmed its eternality, because the cross is at the very crux of redemptive history. The TRUE gospel, even in its ultimate manifestation at Jesus’ second Advent, will STILL be the same eternal plan of redemption that God has ordained, NOT the CoC’s “new set-up fees for salvation” that are a modern counter-part to first century Judaism.
If only CoC’s could follow Apostle Paul’s example, for he publicly renounced his former Pharisee-ism when he submitted to water baptism, which comforted those believers who had been fleeing his previous persecutions, for he publicly confirmed his conversion through the ritual that represented it.
Only God can savingly justify a person through faith (Rom. 5:1). So, when James tells people to “show” their faith by their works (Jas. 2:18), he meant that a professing believer should be able to “show” (to prove, or justify their claim) by the fruits that come from a true and living faith (Jas. 2:24). Even God was said to be “justified” or proven to be faithful, in man’s eyes (Lk. 7:29). In the same way, a true believer is “justified before men,” so to speak, by proving to be a faithful follower of Christ and not just a false professor with no fruits to prove their claim.
However, Scripture is clear that we can never be “justified before God” by our own works (Rom. 4:2). Despite the CoC’s perversions, we are to never put the cart before the horse. Having already been justified by faith alone BEFORE GOD, Paul’s God-given faith was then justified (proved) BEFORE MEN (Mt. 5:16; 10:32-33), when he demonstrated his God-given faith by his works (Jas. 2:17-26). For that is the Scriptural order!!
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 6:1-2; 20:21, 1 Cor. 15:1-4, 1 Thess. 1:9). 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!! They are “grafted into Christ” by the Holy Spirit, through faith alone (Rom. 11:17-20).
There are other examples given to us in the Old Testament that foreshadowed how God’s people have ALWAYS been “engrafted into Christ” by faith, NOT by any works of their own. Saved Gentiles in the O.T. didn’t adhere to any covenant of works for salvation. For instance, Rahab, a Gentile harlot in the O.T., was highly commended in the “hall of faith,” NOT because she had any righteousness of her own that could commend her to God for salvation (Heb. 11:31). She had never even performed any of the ceremonial practices under the Law of Moses.
Rahab’s faith was counted as righteousness. She simply believed God and His promises. As a result, her God-given faith effectually worked by a love that rested in Him (unlike a self-generated, ineffectual faith that can only work by slavish fear). Her son Boaz also married a Gentile named Ruth, and because of her God-given faith, she gave up her entire family and culture to serve God and His people, for she too had a faith that effectually worked by love (Ruth 1:16). And these three are all honorably mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ, Who sprang from both Jews AND Gentiles, for He’s the Savior of both (Mt. 1:5).
The mystery of the gospel of God’s grace was there all along (e.g., Col. 1:26, Eph. 3)!! No wonder 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 had spoken of Christ, the object of that faith whereby one is justified. For Jesus Christ is the central 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).
Paul spoke of having the same saving faith that the O.T. saints had in the Messiah (Rom. 4:23-25, 2 Cor. 4:13, Psa. 116:10). Job spoke of his faith in the Redeemer (Job 19:25:26). Micah prophesied of Jesus’ birth (Mic. 5:2). Zechariah spoke of Him when he said a fountain would be opened for sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13:1). Enoch spoke of Jesus when he prophesied that He was coming with thousands upon thousands of His saints (Jude 14). 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 to Christ, Whom they were to believe in. Even now, the law (which extends to all works) points 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, 21).
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 keep hidden under loads of legalistic luggage (Lk. 11:51-53). CoC’s even blasphemously set up their baptistery as a stumbling block to keep people from direct access to Jesus which is through faith in Him alone. They commit sacrilege by setting up their baptistery in such a way that it obstructs a clear view of the marvelous beauty of redemption by God’s grace through faith that is found in Jesus Christ ALONE.
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. Because those who are satisfied with Christ alone, are able to resist every phony remedy and fake refuge of lies that cults have to offer (Jn. 10:5).
Although the true gospel initially tends to tear down sinners, by destroying their delusive hopes, by detecting their legality, and by pursuing them through every refuge of lies, it does so in order to point them to a crucified Savior as their only spiritual safety (1 Cor. 2:2). Because, before a person can truly be saved they must first be humbled into the dust by being given a clearer view of their sad, sinful condition in comparison to the divine perfections of God’s holy standard of righteousness, so that they will throw themselves upon the mercy of Christ alone as their only hope of salvation.
This is why it cannot be stated strongly enough just how far the CoC’s dangerous hyper-dispensational errors are leading people away from the truth. Although many sincerely think that they are “doing the right thing” by listening to CoC leaders, they are actually being led further and further away from the true God and Savior of Scripture.
Sincerity is no guarantee of Heaven. As it has often been said, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” 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).
And the thief on the cross was supernaturally led to that one way of salvation, which is why 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 (Song 1:4, Jer. 31:3, Hos. 11:4, Jn. 6:44), 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 God’s grace, which Jesus procured for him, so that he was able to spiritually apprehend Jesus by faith. He looked to Christ ALONE for his salvation, just as all of the O.T. saints did by virtue of the eternity of the cross and their eternal union with Christ.
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”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).