In order to more fully answer the last question that was posed in the previous post….”How was the Thief on the Cross Saved? (which the CoC cannot biblically answer)….Scripture reveals that he was saved the same way every Christian is saved…..by being brought to the end of himself and drawn by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ as his only hope of Heaven.
To recap on what was revealed in the last post….
Although the CoC falsely teaches that the thief was “probably” saved due to being previously baptized by John the Baptist…..it also admittedly teaches that John’s baptism was obsolete after Jesus’ death.
And the thief died after Jesus!
Scripture reveals that the two thieves had their legs broken in order to speed up death, but not Jesus, for He had already died! So the thief on the cross was no longer 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!
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).
Again, what one will never hear in the CoC, is that both Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 reveal the fact that both criminals were joining in with the angry crowd to blaspheme and mock Jesus. Yet, God changed the heart of the one thief and brought him to repentance.
In Luke 23:39-40 when the one criminal continued to mock and ridicule Jesus, the other criminal had miraculously been given the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). As a result, he began to realize the depths of God’s holiness, in contrast to his own sinful depravity. He was finally enabled to come to a right assessment of his desperate need of the Savior, Whom he had finally been given faith in.
The thief’s desire to be remembered by Jesus, was a plea for mercy and an acknowledgement that Jesus did indeed have an eternal kingdom. He finally realized that his only hope was in God’s divine mercy, and that access to that mercy was only directly through Jesus Christ. He realized that he had nothing to commend himself to God. Contrary to the false teachings of the CoC, he never pleaded a prior baptism, or any other good works to try to commend himself to God.
In the CoC, we religiously tacked the name of Jesus on to the end of all our prayers, yet we were not taught what it really meant to pray in His name, that He was our only hope, our only access to God, that we can have direct accessto God, through faith in Christ and in His finished work on the cross, and in His righteousness alone as our only hope of salvation.
Through Him, “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2). “For through Him we both have accessby one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18, KJV, emphasis mine).
Even the absence of physical water cannot keep us from the love of Christ and direct 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 Jesus Christ alone.
The CoC denomination (though it deceptively claims not to be one), teaches that it alone is “a place of sacramental encounter with God.” But true salvation is Not in its so-called “church membership package deal,” which comes with a load of legalistic luggage.
There are no fig leaves to gather in order to try to hide our sins, and no baptismal waters to swim through to get to Christ. There are no tedious tenets of legalistic patternism, no mechanical sacramentalism, no self-proclaimed hierarchy of power with the monopoly on salvation, no complicated steps, no baptismal mediators to go through, and no patterns to unpeel or perform to get to Christ.
There are not many ways to salvation, only one way. Jesus said He is the way. He never said that He merely paved a way through a pattern of performance or a lockstep, 5 step, check-off list.
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).
Recently my husband had a very interesting conversation with one of our “Church of Christ” neighbors (we are surrounded) who claimed that Jesus was able to directly forgive the thief on the cross only because He was still on earth. Shocked, my husband asked, “You think that Jesus could only forgive sins while He was on earth?!
Of course, they immediately replied, “No, that’s not what I’m saying.” So he asked, “Then what are you saying?” And their reply was…..crickets…..the sound of crickets. They had no reply. So they began to feel that their entire spiritual survival was at stake and therefore could only respond like a cornered rat when it becomes psychotic and goes into attack mode.
I used to do the exact same thing when any ray of light would threaten my CoC conditioning, because the CoC convinces its members that there is no way that a person can ever even have a fighting chance of making it to Heaven unless they are first water baptized by its members.
For the CoC’s baptismal regeneration doctrine to hold water (pun intended), it must plant many unfounded and unbiblical assumptions into people’s minds, such as: the thief on the cross was “probably” baptized by John earlier, or the thief was “probably” still under the Mosaic dispensation and therefore didn’t have to be baptized first, or the ridiculous assumption that Jesus could only directly forgive sins then because He was still on earth. For this is the devils “grasping for straws strategy” to try to keep its cover from being blown.
If the thief on the cross was saved because he was earlier baptized by John, then that would still throw a huge monkey wrench into the whole CoC system. For it admittedly teaches that John’s baptism was obsolete after Jesus’ death, and….. the thief died after Jesus! Scripture reveals that the two thieves had their legs broken in order to speed up death, but not Jesus, for He had already died! So, the thief on the cross was no longer 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, KJV).
It just goes to show, that
unless God, through His Word, has convinced a sinner how badly sin corrupts,
they won’t realize their desperate need for the Savior, and will be fooled into
believing they can, by their own corrupt “free” will, choose salvation by doing
something. Apostle Paul clearly warned that we need to be sure that we believe
the true gospel, not one that causes a fall from grace into work-righteous
legalism (Gal. 1:6-10).
Adding requirements other than faith in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, becomes works in disguise, which is why false doctrines are so tricky. Jesus’ blood didn’t just make His people “savable” depending upon their actions. His blood literally saves them, based on His work, His grace, His mercy, His will and His choice (Jn. 1:13, Rom. 9:16, 18, Heb. 9:12).
The true gospel is a call to faith in the righteousness of Christ alone and to full, confident assurance in His blood atonement for sins as our only title to Heaven. Baptism, like every other good work, is a pure act of obedience that God works in usto do, AFTER God has purified and cleansed our hearts by faith (Acts 8:37; 15: 8-9, Phil. 2:13). But if one is baptized in order to get saved, then it becomes an impure, meaningless and defiled work of the flesh that God has no part in.
An unregenerate act that attempts to appease God’s wrath, instead of believing Jesus has already done that for us, becomes a witness against us. So unless God first purifies our hearts by faith, nothing we do will be pure in His sight (Titus 1:15). It is dangerous ground when one tries to go through an outward performance in order to try to bribe God into saving them, for that is an abomination to Him!
In my book I go over all of the CoC’s false interpretations of Scripture and how any true believer in Christ who is led by the Spirit of God can see right through all of its shenanigans. In order to spot a counterfeit, one must get very familiar with the real thing. So….
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).
Although Jesus preached the gospel, which is Himself, the CoC claims
that the gospel wasn’t preached until after Pentecost, hence its obsession with
Acts 2:38. However, the Bible shows that John the Baptist preached the same
“remission of sins” doctrine before
Pentecost that Peter preached on
Pentecost, and both pointed to the righteousness of Christ for the
remission of sins. But CoC leaders claim
that their church didn’t come into effect until Pentecost, although the Bible
reveals that God’s church was in full
function way before Pentecost (e.g.
Mt. 18:17, Lk. 12:32, Acts 2:47).
So considering the fact
that the CoC teaches that one must be baptized into its church, and that
salvation is only in its “Church membership package,” it must first answer the
question…..exactly what church did John’s baptism put people into, if there was
supposedly no church until Pentecost?
So far, no CoC leaders have ever been able to give a biblical explanation for such heretical inconsistencies, for then they would have to admit that their religion did not originate at Pentecost, but in the early 1800’s by their false prophet, Alexander Campbell. But, sad to say, even after learning the truth, many would still rather follow in the footsteps of Esau, and forfeit an eternal inheritance for a bowl of Campbell’s soup (Gen. 25:29-34).
Apostle Paul asked, “Is Christ Divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13), for when spiritual leaders are elevated to the point of usurping the role of Christ in people’s lives, the inevitable result is always confusion and division. But the Bible says that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33)….and Christ is not divided.
The true body of Christ is His sheep, indwelled by the Holy Spirit Who never leaves them, despite the fact that they are often scattered by wolves in sheep’s clothing, as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Those who belong to Jesus are drawn to Him by the Father, Who teaches them the truth and builds their faith and trust in Him so that they are led to true repentance and an obedient, like-minded unity in the Spirit (Jn. 6: 37, 44, and 65).
In my book, I also go over encounters that I had with some true Christians outside of the “Church of Christ” who I then perceived to be over-zealous fanatics. Because they would seem so full of joy and enthusiasm when they would talk about Jesus and what He did on the cross. And, for the life of me, as a CoC member, I could not figure out why in the world anyone would be so joyful about Jesus merely making a way for us to save ourselves through works of obedience. Because, for me, it had always been horrible news (and rightly so), because I just knew I was going to fail on “my part” and end up in Hell. Any honest person would!
As a former, fourth generation member of the CoC, my testimony reveals that there is no true possession of the gospel in the CoC. There is just possession of a system that Jesus supposedly left us with. But the true gospel is that Jesus actually accomplished redemption on the cross for His people, rather than just making a system available, where one can redeem themselves. Jesus never made a way for God to lower His perfect standard of righteousness! On the contrary, Jesus fulfilled God’s perfect standard of righteousness on behalf of His people. He died for their sins so that they can have His perfect righteousness credited to their account, and so they can serve God out of a loving and reverent fear, rather than a legalistic fear.
In the CoC we were theologically conditioned to believe a different gospel and “hope for the best,” thinking our good would somehow outweigh the bad. But reality constantly testified to the fact that it was impossible! Although I believed in God with all my heart, I had a hard time believing in a Savior that supposedly died for everyone but allowed many that He supposedly died for to perish in Hell. Our false doctrines made me think that whatever He did for sinners, it must not have been enough to save us from ourselves, let alone save us from Hell. So although I thought that I had come to Jesus to be saved, I still lived in constant fear that He would allow me to perish in Hell if I didn’t do everything “just right.”
But I didn’t realize then
that I had come to another Jesus, one
not represented in Holy Scriptures. It
was a different Jesus and a different spirit that I had received; a
Jesus who was unloving and untrustworthy unless I “did my part;” a Savior who couldn’t
really save, unless I saved myself; a taskmaster who would meet me in the
waters of baptism, but leave me as soon as I rose out of the water and sinned
again. So I began to feel as if I would
have had more hope if I had drowned in the waters of baptism.
Yet, while going through the physical process, there was this grand illusion of resurrection to new life, because that’s what we were led to believe baptism literally did. While under such suggestive, baptismal regeneration conditioning, one couldn’t help but to imagine that one’s sins wereliterallybeing washed away in the water, due to the trick terminology used. But in practical reality… it never played out that way.
Inwardly, I had become even worse, for to my former guilt I had added
the sin of self-righteousness. But even though I was told that I was now a
Christian, my conscience was still far from being purged from guilt, no matter
how hard I tried to believe that I had actually come to Christ in baptism. I
was told that I had peace where there was no peace (Jer. 6:14).
Instead of carrying God’s
pardon sealed in my heart by the Holy Spirit, through faith in Jesus, I then
had to carry the added burden of trying to earn God’s pardon by throwing myself
into the CoC’s “second laws of pardon.” For
although we were taught that baptism was supposed to initially put one into Christ, and initially put one into right standing with God, we were also taught
that one could fall from grace out of
Christ as soon as one sins.
This was a classic example
of tap water theology, where one turns the grace of God on or off at will. One minute I would be repenting for a certain
sin that would immediately be replaced by another….and then another. And yet,
this was the vicious cycle that I had to learn to live with, as one who was
still dead in sins and trespasses, for I had not been truly changed and born
again by the sanctifying power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Instead, I was deceived by a false support
system that could only support me as long as I supported myself, by fulfilling
the “second laws of pardon” that allowed me to “grow in Christ,” which meant
gaining more salvation brownie-points. So,
like many, I became extremely “religious,” but still lived just as worldly as
any other lost sinner. Because, in the
CoC anything went, as long as it was socially sanctioned and/or popularized on
Since we didn’t have formal,
doctrinal positions to safeguard any kind of true, biblical structure in our
lives, we could believe or do anything outside the church that we wanted, as
long as we just kept a misguided trust in the CoC’s outward codes of behavior and
its unique interpretations of
I thoroughly go over how the CoC’s conditioning process produced a type of religious schizophrenia, for we had to disassociate our legalistic and perfectionist theology from our worldly lifestyles and our lust for worldly entertainment. This was the only way we could still claim to be Christian, and yet still fit in with the world. So, predictably, we ended up blending in perfectly with the world.
Instead of being separate from the world as “salt and light,” our selective perceptions allowed us to choose those things which were of the devil, disassociate them from our theology, and still maintain our social status as a “Christian.” After all, it was still fashionable to be considered a Christian. But in instances where it wasn’t, we kept silent and made sure to never “rock the boat.”
In my book I unfold how compulsive conformity was the name of the game in the CoC. Far from promoting spiritual growth in the midst of life’s problems, the CoC’s system of theology served to promote neurotic and psychotic tendencies that affected how we viewed ourselves and God. Although we sincerely thought we were “doing right,” we were 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.” And there are many ways to Hell, but only one Way to Heaven….the true Jesus of the Bible.
Sadly, the “Church of Christ” embraces a false gospel and a false Christ that cannot save. As a fatal consequence, the CoC system collapses and falls under the same condemnation as Romanism and the Israel of Apostle Paul’s day, which embraced God but rejected His message (Rom. 10:1-3).
This is not a matter of splitting hairs, for there is nothing more important than knowing the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. And the issue is not whether doctrine or Christ saves, which is just a false dichotomy. The issue is what the gospel really is, Who Christ really is, and how He really saves. We are commanded to believe the gospel (Mk. 1:15), not a false version of it, which God places under a divine curse (Gal. 1:6-9). The CoC’s baptismal regeneration gospel is a fatally false gospel that leads to eternal damnation.
When a system claims to be Christian but
doesn’t have the doctrine of Christ, (the truth
about the work and Person of Jesus Christ), it doesn’t have the true God and
Savior, but falls under the condemnation of 2 John 7-11 as being a deceiver and
an anti-Christ. That’s what makes this so serious.
Over fifteen years ago, I began to realize that the Christ of the “Church of Christ” was not matching up with Scripture, for God was leading me to seek, to know and to trust in the true Christ. But, before then, I had been a self-righteous “Pharisee of Pharisees,” a devout follower of the CoC my entire life, heavily involved in its advance, and knowing it’s doctrines inside and out. I unfortunately raised my children in it for many years, and even taught its Sunday school for well over a decade. After all, I was trained very well.
My grandmother would have had it no other
way. She had already set the precedent
for all of us to become strict adherents of the CoC. But God, in His great mercy, kept me from
becoming another carbon copy, and He kept me too spiritually inquisitive to
continue to conform to CoC obscurity.
No wonder grandma was never
too enthused when I’d come running into her kitchen as a child, with new
discoveries about God’s creation; like the beautiful designs I’d find on a
butterfly or the design of His perfectly formed snail and periwinkle shells I’d
collect from the nearby branch that inspired my artwork. She always made it clear that it was
forbidden to talk about God on an intimately personal level, because it made
her so uncomfortable.
Grandma would even shy away
when I’d refer to the field next to the branch as “God’s Meadow,” a special
place I’d go to pray as a child, for God always seemed to be revealing Himself
there in the light of creation, as Creator of all things (Rom. 1:20). So it was very confusing to my quiet little
spirit when grandma’s air of condescension always relayed the message that it was
a waste of my time to write about it, or to express it artistically.
Because, as my Sunday
school teacher, she would religiously teach me gospel hymns and Bible stories. Even so, the emphasis was strictly on good, moral
behavior, to the exclusion of genuine faith in Christ, along with the mundane challenge
of surface-level questions at the end of class…as if Jesus was just an impersonal, imaginary, storybook character with
So it would always throw grandma for a
loop when I would ask her much deeper questions, like whether she looked
forward to being with Jesus (sadly she never could answer in the affirmative),
or about all the Scriptures concerning the link between predestination and salvation,
for our church always seemed to skip (or stumble) over those parts.
When pressed for
clarification, obscure answers were always backed with the same escape clause, “Well,
we just can’t be sure what that means; we just have to try to do the best we
can and hope for the best.” Yet I knew deep down that God must have revealed
them in His Word for a reason, for “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto
us and to our children forever” (Deut. 29:29).
Looking back, it has become
increasingly clear, that our minds were blinded by the CoC’s theoretical
theories, which would cast such doubt, obscurity and confusion upon Scripture. However, God is not the author of confusion (1
Cor. 14:33). That is what deception does. It dismantles the capacity to think
God’s Word through, according to the language in which it was written, its
historical context, the identity and purpose of each author, and who it was
originally being addressed to in each situation. True, biblical exegesis interprets what the original
text actually conveys and means in
context, whereas the CoC’s unbiblical eisegesis
inserts foreign meanings into the text, which creates a pretext to hide the true meaning.
Without the standard rules
of interpretation, people are led to believe truth and error are just
differences in opinion. This began in
the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve to doubt what God had actually
said (Gen. 3:1). Those who are unstable
and unlearned are still taking portions of Scripture that are hard to
understand, and are twisting them to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). “In
whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,
lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God,
should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).
So even if one acquired a
Ph.D. in theology, it would still never be a cure for spiritual blindness.
Because, when it comes to spiritually
understanding God’s Word, and loving Who He really is, we must first be born from above and enlightened by the
Holy Spirit. For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for
they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Sometimes the truth hurts, because
it’s hard for our sinful flesh to accept God’s absolute sovereignty. We all
have our weak points and blind spots. And, while it’s true that we can’t
understand all of God’s ways, what He
has revealed to us, we are to accept and shout from the housetops,
and what He speaks to us in the dark, we are to speak in the light (Deut. 29:29,
Mt. 10:27). For “No
man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that
they which come in may see the light” (LK. 11:33).
these truths many are strengthened in their faith, for “he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made
manifest, that they are wrought
in God” (Jn. 3:21). But, there will
be some who reject and rebel against the truth, for “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh
to the light, lest his
deeds should be reproved” (Jn. 3:20).
Today, the “hive mind” stronghold
in our technologically advanced era is also dumbing down minds to the point of
disabling the ability to think theology
through. And when false notions are called into question or exposed, many
have a theologically conditioned response, where they automatically assume a
false persecution complex that triggers a hostile defense mechanism. Instead of a willingness to submit to the
judgment of Scripture with a teachable
spirit, many take personal affront.
Through the subtle art of
redefinition, many are being tempted to compartmentalize between the character
of Christ revealed in Scripture and the character of anotherChrist that’s being
promoted by society’s false religious systems. Many are willingly brainwashed against deep
theological studies that challenge faulty interpretations and preconceived
notions. A false gospel that’s hammered home repeatedly, programs minds to shut
out anything that challenges it, and blinds them to its spiritual
Still, we must not get
discouraged, for Jesus said His people will be led by the Spirit into all truth
(Jn. 16:13). They will be given the “Spirit
of truth; Whom the world cannot receive” (Jn. 14:17). They will know the truth and the truth
will set them free from the dominion of sin and false religion (Jn. 8:31-32). They will “be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), for
God teaches them by illuminating Scripture to their heart and mind (Jn. 6:45). Those who savingly believe in the true Christ
will not abide in darkness (Jn. 12:46), for God has ordained the means to rescue
This is why I write and “endure all things for the elect’s sakes,
that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal
glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). It is my duty
as a servant of the Lord, to use the means that He provides, in order to unpack
the truth, where Scripture interprets Scripture. It speaks for itself. What seems obscure in one place will be made
clearer in another, so that it can all be taken as a whole to get the full
Acts 17:11-12 tells us of
Apostle Paul’s encounter with noble-minded Bereans. These men and women were
not only ready to receive God’s Word, but they also searched the Scriptures
daily for themselves, to see if all they were being told was true. Not only does this scenario show us that
women are to be involved in theological matters too, but that we all need to
apply ourselves to know the truth, even if it threatens our status quo.
Therefore, Theological Thoughts are prayerfully woven
throughout the fabric of this work, to help readers to think their theology through, for we are commanded to commit
ourselves to the Lord so that our “thoughts
shall be established” (Prov. 16:3). And comparison/contrast writings are
often the means that God uses to bring our thoughts into sharper focus. Proclaiming the light of the gospel and
exposing the lies hidden in darkness, helps God’s people to discern the difference
between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 Jn. 4:5-6). By
evaluating the evidence, they can make informed
decisions on what to believe, based on
what God’s Word actually conveys.
“Group think,” on the other
hand, thrives on spiritual ignorance, and manipulates minds on the basis of
gaining control and authority. This is
why many, who embrace the CoC system of thought, don’t even realize what they’re
being taught to believe, or the serious implications of those beliefs. And when false religion convinces people that
absolute truth is not really knowable or obtainable, it blasphemously implies
that God is not able to reveal
Himself and His truth to His people.
That’s when the devil slips in.
The more people can be convinced that God has failed to preserve and
reveal His truth…. the easier a
replacement system can be carried out.
Philippians 4:8 says our
thoughts are to be upon things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of
good report, all of which are a perfect description of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Yet, mixing the gospel with
worldly views, shows a low esteem for the authority and sufficiency of
Scripture. Worse yet, truth mixed with
error is no longer truth at all (1 Jn. 2:21), but becomes false, dishonest,
unjust, impure, ugly and a bad report. Sowing seeds of the gospel mixed with
worldly philosophies and opinions of man, leads to a false Jesus, and therefore,
becomes a false gospel. No wonder Scripture warns us to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). For what could be more manifestly evil than a
false gospel that leads to Hell?
The idea that one can “chew
up the meat and spit out the bones,” also has its limits when it comes to bad
theology, because it can lead to becoming an excuse for tolerating deceptive
doctrine, or for allowing it to go unchecked. Scripture warns that “alittle
leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). It also warns that we cannot be partakers of
the Lord’s Table and of the devil’s table (1 Cor. 10:21). Even common sense
tells us that chewing meat that’s mixed with bones can be a choking hazard.
When Paul identified false brethren, he was being wise,
discerning and loving by warning others. Yet the world still continues to accuse
faithful Christians of being unloving and judgmental when they warn of God’s judgment. But we are to never
cower or shrink back from exposing serious departures from the Christian faith
behind an unbiblical concept of love.
While “the truth sounds
like hate to those who hate the truth,” Christians are still commanded to commit themselves to pulling
down strongholds and “casting down
imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge
of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
(2 Cor. 10:4-5). This extends to
stern warnings to “have no fellowship
with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11),
for true “love rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).
Therefore, exposing error
and proclaiming the gospel are two aspects of the same task, which may be one
reason this documentary has proven the old adage true… that “truth shines brightest against the backdrop of error.”
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19).
There was such a deep resentment in the church toward any who seemed to live holier than we did, especially if they gave credit for their godly living to the power of God’s grace, rather than the oppressive CoC doctrines that we had to follow. Because we took pride in the fact that we believed one must live right. Yet we were hypocritical in how we actually lived, due to our false humility and self-imposed religion that had no true power against sinful indulgences.
“These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23, NKJV).
No wonder there was such a vicious
animosity and jealousy toward any who claimed to actually be saved. I remember verses (e.g. Rom. 12:3) that were pulled
out of context and used against them, to try to make them look like they were
evil for daring to have blessed assurance in Jesus’ power to save and change
them through simple faith in Him alone. ₂
It was falsely assumed that
all who claimed such assurance were
abusers of grace who thought they had a license to sin. The CoC system contained no knowledge of how a
truly saved person would battle sin and
serve Christ out of love, rather than legalistic fear. Therefore, it had to
resort to obedience-based control in order to keep its unconverted members in
So, consequently, we were theologically
trained to believe that if anyone had a right to God’s favor… it had to be us….because we worked for it. Since
our doctrines nourished the belief that we were better than others, we were
inevitably led to believe that God was indebted to us. So, sadly, we were not
only set up for boasting, but for inevitable failure, for we were paradoxically
proud to be “humble.”
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of
debt.But to him that worketh not,
but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for
righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
Although our doctrines indicated
that we had to be absolutely perfect or end up in Hell, deep down we all knew
that we couldn’t really pull off
perfection. So we excused our sins
(especially the sin of self-righteousness) by constantly and legalistically performing
what we thought was repentance for
our sins, according to our “second laws of pardon” doctrine.₃
This man-made idea is strikingly
similar to the Roman Catholic sacrament of “penance” (the so-called “second plank” of justification), where
one must try to regain the salvation one initially
had in baptism, but lost again and again due to sins committed after baptism. In summary, subsequent
works were necessary after baptism,
as a secondary means of justification.
So, although I was
constantly performing what I thought was repentance, there was never a true
removal of guilt, for the sin supposedly pardoned through repentance one minute
was replaced by another sin the next!
And it had the potential to land me in Hell just as surely as the one
previously pardoned! So, without the
true gospel, I had to try to stay sane by either adopting an antinomian view of sin (an abuse of
God’s grace as an excuse to live in sin), or else become an
Although our “second laws of pardon” were conditioned upon our own works, the CoC claimed that these works were exempt from Paul’s condemnation of works salvation, because they were supposedly works of a different category….those that baptism had made acceptable for salvation.
The CoC would also elusively dodge Paul’s condemnation of works salvation by giving lip service to the fact that one couldn’t earn salvation. But what was really meant was that one could not initially earn salvation, for one could not lay the sacramental groundwork for salvation, which Jesus supposedly did when He instituted baptism. But after baptism, “works” of repentance, faith, etc….could be meritorious, for they were now “baptized works,” acceptable for meriting or earning salvation. So, the gist was that one couldn’t earn salvation by works…until after baptism, which was still a salvation by works… just misleadingly worded different.
Out of a deep and abiding love for God and His people, I would like to announce the release of my first book.
Christ Rescued Me! ….from the “Church of Christ”is my personal testimony of how God used severe sickness and even spiritual abuse, to lead me to the true Christ as He is presented in the Bible.
is inevitable that many will be offended by all that “comes out in the wash,”
Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not
offended because of Me” ( Lk. 7:23).
We live in a
very clarifying time where God is bringing to the surface “the hidden things of dishonesty” (2 Cor. 4:2) in every corner of
the earth, so that a dividing line is being drawn between true followers of Christ and those who are “fall-a-wayers” from Christ (Mt.
My hope and
prayer is that His true followers will be blessed by this book as they come to
a deeper love and understanding of Who Jesus really is and what He actually
accomplished at the cross.
For a free preview, just go to Amazon.com and type in Christ Rescued Me! …from the “Church of Christ” by Lee Anne Ferguson. The Look Inside feature at the top right hand corner of my book cover will allow you to go through the Table of Contents, half of the Introduction and parts of Appendix 2. But the deepest and most personal portions of the book are chapters 1-30. Lord willing, within the next year, YouTube videos are being professionally prepared to elaborate on some of the most prominent parts of those chapters.
incidents, conversations and practices are real and accurately depicted, be
assured that a clarifying distinction has been carefully made between errors
and persons; reflecting only upon the deluding effects these errors have on
those believing them, the abuse that occurs as a result, and how the gospel and
those who proclaim it are marginalized and persecuted due to such error.