There’s a major difference between privacy and pretense. Such a distinction is even recognized in secular circles, for confidentiality has always had its limits, especially when it comes to situations that involve a criminal-level of collusion.
However, the implications are even MORE serious when it comes to spiritual issues that have eternal consequences. Jesus’ apostle’s even named names when it came to disclosing information that had eternal implications that were crucial for bringing out into the open.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love” (Prov. 27:5).
Apostle Paul openly rebuked Peter for committing the sin of dishonest dissimulation (pretending), for he was hypocritically hiding his ham sandwich, so to speak, from legalistic Jews (Gal. 2:11-21). The cause of Christ was being obscured by a cover-up scheme, so Paul exposed it for the sake of the gospel. As a result, he was “loving his neighbor as himself” by rebuking such sin before all (1 Tim. 5:20-22), so that Peter would repent and so that others would also fear committing the same sin of pretense.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Imagine if Peter had been self-centered (like so many today), rather than God-centered. What if he had taken personal offense at Paul’s rebuke and tried to guilt-shame him for being so “disrespectful” of his public image? Worse yet, what if Paul had acquiesced to such an accusation and become a dishonest slanderer who disregarded truth and just began to bandy-it-about casually, instead of openly rebuking sin for the purpose of honoring God and His truth?
According to Scripture, it would’ve been considered hate for his neighbor and for God (e.g., Lev. 19:16). If Paul had succumbed to such false guilt manipulation and become a false flatterer (Prov. 20:19), he would’ve probably ended up having a grudge against Peter, and may have even become vengeful against him, for he would’ve incurred the same guilt and ended up having Peter’s blood and the blood of the others on his hands for not loving them and God enough to be open and honest about the truth.
But thankfully, by God’s grace, Peter seems to have humbly accepted Paul’s brutal honesty and must have recognized it as a blessing in disguise, for Peter never seemed to be portrayed as being resentful or bitter toward Paul for calling him out publicly. In fact, he seemed to respect him more than ever after that, for Paul was being a faithful friend (Prov. 27:6). Because, thanks to God’s glorious grace, Paul did not ignore or excuse sinful behavior that directly dishonored the gospel, but was obedient to God and His Word, which he obviously knew so well, for Leviticus 19:17-18 states the following:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Although it is honorable to withhold many personal details for the sake of privacy, it is never honorable to disregard the cause of Christ by allowing it to be blasphemed without repercussions. We are never bound by honor to disobey God. For instance, honoring dishonorable parents cannot ever mean “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness,” for one commandment cannot be kept by breaking another.
“Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies” (Psa. 40:4).
So bearing false witness by keeping up a superficial front that obscures the cause of Christ cannot ever possibly be a way to honor immediate ancestors who are involved in cultic collusion. It’s also no way to live, for such demonic oppression leads to pent-up anger, bitterness, resentment, depression and anxiety, which is all par for the course in secret keeping cults.
Therefore, God’s people must follow the biblical precedent to:
“cause them to know the abominations of their fathers” (Ezek. 20:4).
And personally, facing the truth about my own cultic background has been one of the most difficult challenges that I’ve had to come to terms with while sharing my testimony in Christ as honestly and as openly as possible.
For in doing so, it has not only been necessary to share some of the personal details of my own life, but it has also been necessary to reveal how my own family of origin has been deeply embedded in CoC collusion for generations. And how there were severe consequences whenever one’s cultic conditioning started to crack under pressure, including the likelihood of being over-dosed with prescription drugs when CoC cultism was combined with the belief that “psychotropic solutions” could fill the spiritual void that the CoC created.
But despite pressure to please, perform and pretend, a God-given love for Jesus and His truth enabled me to finally face reality with authenticity, transparency and integrity, in order to expose such cultic collusion and how it has played out within the context of family, while maintaining a fair amount of discretion without compromising the truth.
Only after careful consideration, unceasing prayer and a diligent study of Scripture did I fully realize the necessity of disclosing information that was crucial for exposing just how spiritually dangerous and abusive false religion really is, so that others could be warned.
“For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Lk. 8:17).
God’s Word also convinced me that it would be terribly wrong to waste the sanctifying afflictions that He has allowed me to suffer through, because they were meant to be set forth as examples and warnings for others, which is clearly exemplified throughout Scripture.
At the same time, I’ve discreetly withheld many details that were not absolutely necessary, for “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). So this labor of love has been a very delicate balance to try to maintain, and I’m sure I’ve probably not done it perfectly, but the Lord knows my heart.
Only by God’s saving grace have I been able to even attempt such a feat from a place of forgiveness and understanding. And, in light of such wonderful healing and insight, the disclosure of some very painful and bitter details has always been accompanied by biblical perspectives that have also helped others to excavate the important life lessons that are meant to be gleaned from such painful experiences.
But, even so, there will be some readers who are left with a bitter taste in their mouth, because not everyone will be able to spiritually comprehend those life lessons or to clearly see and appreciate those blessed biblical perspectives, especially if they’ve not personally experienced them for themselves.
CoC’s are especially notorious for denying what Scripture actually conveys, for they don’t want to be held accountable for the eternal ramifications of teaching the exact opposite. As a consequence, CoC captives often end up suffering under spiritual bondage, due to developing an emotional attachment to its heretical theology.
As a result, they grow so accustomed to it that they are no longer able to see things for what they really are. So, when faced with the truth, a biased prejudice can often cause them to become neurotic in their opposition to it, for they have not been spiritually equipped to handle it. But God does not want us to worship Him in ignorance (Jn. 4:23).
For years, my grandmother kept several CoC pamphlets and booklets (the CoC’s secret creeds that they claim not to have) tucked away in her desk, which I’ve had in my possession since her death. Ironically, on the very front cover of the October 2001 issue of “The Spiritual Sword” it states: “Things Most Surely Believed,” which happens to be the Bible passage that Reformed confessions of faith also base their creedal stance upon (Lk. 1:1).
Apart from the obvious hypocrisy, this particular issue also happens to reveal the CoC’s real reasons for trying to hide and distort the truth concerning what it falsely calls Calvinism, and the undeniable, historical fact that Alexander Campbell was indeed at the headwaters of the CoC’s water gospel, for he laid the groundwork for the very first “Church of Christ.”
Campbell openly expressed his hatred against the true gospel after realizing he was not truly born again by the Spirit, so he began to hope the truth wasn’t really true. As a result, he devised his own scheme of salvation. And, like other cult leaders, he even came up with his own version of the Bible, called “The Living Oracles,” in order to further his sinister agenda.
Instead of trusting in the power of the biblical gospel, which compels undone and desperate sinners to throw themselves upon the mercy of Christ as their only hope, Campbell grew impatient, angry and down-right rebellious against God. Subsequently, he invented a short-circuited way of salvation; a salvation that bypasses all of the humbling spiritual struggles involved in waiting upon the Lord and submitting to His way of dealing with guilty sinners.
This is why the CoC has been marked with an inbred authority structure based on Campbell’s man-centered, synergistic concept of salvation, which the Bible calls “another gospel.” It is so contrary to God’s way of salvation that He places it and those who promote it under a divine curse (Gal. 1:6-8), which puts those who are entrenched in such CoC collusion on extremely dangerous ground.
Though CoC’s fervently attempt to keep it a secret, Alexander Campbell was a prominent leader of the very Restoration Movement that has bred so many American grown cults, including Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, etc., all of which initially claimed to restore “unity,” based on what was termed “the ancient gospel.” But what was actually “restored” was the Roman Catholic, sacramental concept of salvation, primarily, Baptismal Regeneration.
Consequently, this Campbellite collusion has secretly infiltrated many towns, churches and families, under the guise of “Church of Christ” (a misnomer) for over two centuries, which explains why these “keepers of secrets” will often display an irrational revulsion to being identified as Campbellites, because such clear category distinctions expose the CoC as being a full-fledged cult. So, they’ll try to save face by falsely accusing people of “name calling” if they point out these obvious and undeniable facts.
Though the CoC denies and tries to hide its history, or at least tries to revise it, (for it claims Christ as its founder), its literature proves that the CoC still holds its true founders in high-esteem and continues to teach their peculiar doctrines, which my grandma’s CoC pamphlets clearly revealed.
Although the CoC denies teaching baptismal regeneration, by trying to re-define it as something that only Roman Catholics do when they baptize babies, or when they ascribe saving power to the water itself. But despite its attempts to distinguish itself from Romanism, the CoC’s baptismal regeneration formula still dictates that one can only be spiritually born again through water baptism, just as Romanism does. Yet CoC’s secretly gloss over these facts. They don’t want to be “confused with the facts,” for they must deny what they have no excuse for.
Formerly well-known as Campbellism, this counter-reformation began to hide its true identity, for many Christians, especially those who were doctrinally equipped in the reformed Baptist camp, stood strongly against this Romanist system in the 1800’s. Because they could see it for what it really was…a heretical cult. But by claiming to have no formal creeds, the CoC managed to start flying more under the radar, so that it could spread like an undetected cancer.
Because, once its false doctrines are detected, they are easily destroyed by the power of the true gospel. As it has been demonstrated repeatedly, the CoC is embarrassingly incapable of defending itself against the onslaught of biblical exegesis which brings out the original and intended meaning of Bible passages that the CoC attempts to pervert with its own special brand of eisegesis.
No wonder so many CoC operatives seem to have the audacity to think that reality should conform to whatever they dictate it to be, which is why they’ve warmed up to other secret societies that also have sinister agendas. For in their mind, whatever is unthinkable to them must not really be true.
So, either they will have to continue to exist in a vacuum of cognitive dissonance; hoping the truth isn’t really true, or they will have to come clean, stop aligning with works of darkness, repent of all their damnable heresies and confess that the CoC’s baptismal regeneration formula is a false gospel.
Or else CoC captives will invoke the same dreadful judgment upon themselves as their false prophets, for “the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him” (Ezek. 14:10). Because once the CoC’s premises have been removed (and they have been, time and time again), its entire secretive sacramental system collapses.
But sadly, it seems that CoC collusion can get so deeply embedded, especially within the context of family dynamics, that the facts no longer have any bearing on its generational patterns of deception. So, when its operatives refuse to engage with Scripture and accept the reality that it presents, it’s no wonder when they begin to lose touch with reality in other aspects of their lives as well.
“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (Prov. 6:27-28).
Those who are involved in cultic collusions can only operate at the level they are so adapted to. But those of us whom God has given a strong sense of reality to, have been called to be peacemakers, “for the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that makepeace (Jas. 3:18). Unlike CoC operatives, we’re not called to be “peacekeepers” who secretly keep peace with evil where there is no peace (Isa. 48:22, Jer. 8:11, Mt. 5:9).
Instead, we carry the message that corresponds to reality, for Jesus laid down His life to make peace between God and sinners. For, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (Jas. 3:17). So that sinful CoC secrets do not have to be swept under the rug but can be openly acknowledged and brought to the forefront by the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only then can cultic sin cycles finally be broken, forgiven and healed, so that biblical generational patterns can be established.
If it’s possible, as far as it depends on us, we, as born-again believers, are called to pursue peace with all others (Rom. 12:18). But not everyone will cooperate, for there are those who have bitter envy and strife in their hearts, which is why they lie against the truth (Jas. 3: 14-16).
In such sad cases, we forgive them on a personal level, yet not to the detriment of truth by allowing them to continue in a sinful pattern of behavior toward us and the gospel, for they are still accountable to God for unrepentant sin (Jn. 20:23, 2 Tim. 4:14-15, Rev. 6:10).
Even in 3 John vv. 9-11 we find a biblical distinction between forgiving and forgetting, because forgiveness brings us freedom, NOT a mindless enslavement to ongoing trauma. The natural outworking of true honor toward a cultic family is a life of peace and joy in the Lord, NOT a life of blindly subjecting ourselves to their spiritual abuse.
…”he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured” (Prov. 13:18).
Honor does not mean compulsively subjecting oneself to sinful and toxic behavior or excusing it for the sake of “peace.” Honor does not mean blind obedience, pleasing or pretending. Honor also doesn’t mean having inordinate affections toward cultists by rescuing, enabling, excusing or hiding their cultic collusions. Such attempts at playing god would be idolatry, and God will not share His position with anyone or anything (Col. 3:5).
So, they must be allowed to incur the natural consequences of their cultic collusion (1 Cor. 5:5), in hopes that God will rescue them and restore their sanity. Only then can they learn to depend solely upon Him, rather than a wrongful reliance upon the CoC’s all-too-familiar-abuse-by-proxy, shaming and false guilt-manipulation tactics against those who reprove their heresies; those who refuse to blindly submit to heretical CoC cultism.
The Pharisees used the same cultic tactics against Jesus. So, in order for Christians to endure such persecution we must follow Jesus’ example, for He “despised the shame” that false accusers tried to place upon Him, for He was focused upon the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). Hallelujah!!!!
True honor does not mean keeping up a façade of enshrining a false family image, for that would also be idolatry and bearing false witness. Therefore, any relationships with CoC family must be based upon honesty, mutual respect, repentance and their acceptance of responsibility for any level of involvement in cultic collusions.
Whereas, if they maintain a position of excusing themselves and being deceitfully divisive, defensive, dishonest slanderers and gossips that are hostile toward the gospel, then a separation is in order (Titus 3:10).
Such biblical boundaries encourage them to be honorable by not allowing them the opportunity to replicate the same sinful CoC patterns of spiritual abuse. We can honor them without being compelled to accept their cultism or to remain in ongoing close relationships with them, especially when extremely abusive and horrific circumstances may limit and rule out certain ways of showing them honor.
In such cases, we can honor them by trying to help them to grasp God’s time-honored truth by modeling what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. For He commands our complete consecration to Himself and an alienation of affection toward anyone or anything that would restrain or hinder us from following Him in truth, for He plainly stated:
“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26)
Thankfully, this biblical alienation of affection is not the same thing as a worldly lack of natural affection, but rather entails God-given boundaries that protect God’s people from anyone or anything that would spiritually harm them, their testimony and the cause of Christ that they stand for. So we can rejoice in the fact that God still allows us the privilege of being good stewards of His blessings, and the wonderful privilege of still being allowed to love, bless and pray for those who persecute, abuse and hate us (Mt. 5:44), while remaining free from any influences that would tempt us to lose faith in Christ alone as our all in all.
Personal note: If only I could’ve presented the sum of all this to my CoC grandmother before she died. But it was not meant to be. Yet thanks to the testimony of the penitent thief, I still hold out hope that my grandma may have been saved. After all, I had sowed many seeds of the gospel in her life that may have even sprung up at the last minute. Only God knows. So I dedicate this article to her memory, for I loved her so very much, and today would’ve been her birthday. And who knows, maybe someone else’s grandmother is meant to come to Christ after reading this. I commit it all into God’s hands. May He be gracious to pardon this author and preserve the reader from anything that would not be solely for the honor of His glory.
THE PENITENT THIEF: A POWERFUL TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GRACE
The CoC is notorious for dishonestly claiming to have no creeds, while hypocritically condemning Christian confessions of faith that have been passed down for centuries, which even have Scriptures to back them up. This means that CoC’s are inadvertently condemning Luke, for he spoke of Christians setting in order declarations of faith that state the things most surely believed among them (Lk. 1:1-4).
So, CoC’s are obviously trying to be silent where Scripture speaks (Acts 19:36). But they boast that they are silent where Scripture is silent, and yet, they cannot even produce one biblical piece of evidence that says one is justified by water baptism! Still, they falsely teach that one must obey their water gospel once one has reached the mystical “age of accountability.”
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 has been imputed to their account by faith, solely by God’s free and sovereign mercy and grace.
But the CoC labors to instill legalistic fear, by repeatedly hammering it into people that they will go to Hell if they don’t believe in its Pharisaical formula for salvation that requires the external availability of water and a CoC mediator. So anyone who believes the true gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, will be cruelly ostracized and demonized by the CoC and its staunch defenders who can no longer think for themselves.
Unfortunately, the cults are full of emotionally and spiritually immature people who have never been truly born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. This is why so many of them want to be controlled and told what to “do” to get themselves saved, for they have no internal substance.
So whenever they encounter a true Spirit-guided faith in Christ, it is such a shock to their system that they become bound and determined to try to destroy that faith wherever they find it. Their CoC conditioning causes them to tolerate and enable those who are on the same surface-level as themselves, no matter how wicked. But free and faithful followers of Christ pose too much of a threat to their false support system, so they will be shunned and/or scourged in their presence (Mt. 10:17).
And sadly, this is one reason why CoC’s have always bent over backwards to try to underhandedly debunk and undermine the common salvation that all true believers have with the penitent thief on the cross. No wonder they mercilessly make up things about us that aren’t true, for their heretical movement has been doing that to the penitent thief for centuries!
Because God has graciously provided us with his testimony, which happens to be a glaring witness against all of the destructive heresies that the CoC heavily indoctrinates its captives into. It especially testifies against the CoC’s re-packaged version of baptismal regeneration.
God’s Word 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 dispensational heresy concerning the penitent thief. This overwhelming task has not been taken on lightly. After much prayer, many sleepless nights and decade’s worth of intense Bible study, it seems to be God’s timing to finally bring the CoC to the plumb line once and for all.
“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:1-2).
So dear reader, you may want to brace yourself for this long, but well-worth-it journey into God’s Word, for He has “laid it on the line” when it comes to the CoC and other cults like it! For His righteousness is being exalted, and self-righteousness is being plummeted, as the plumb line of God’s Word dismantles and overflows the CoC’s hidden things of dishonesty.
“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place” (Isa. 28:17).
Just to recap: Although the penitent thief was saved in EXACTLY the same way that every sinner has EVER been saved, CoC’s deceptively claim (or at least until they’re exposed) that he was saved without being baptized ONLY because he was still under the Mosaic dispensation. But God’s Word plainly reveals the EXACT opposite, for the thief died AFTER Jesus.
As I’ve pointed out before, Scripture discloses that the two thieves had their legs broken in order to speed up death, but NOT Jesus, for He had already died (Jn. 19:31-33)! So the thief on the cross was NOT still under the Mosaic dispensation right before he died. Jesus died BEFORE the thief, so the new covenant was immediately in force upon the thief BEFORE he died!
“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Mt. 26:28, Heb. 9:16-17).
However, 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, even though they hypocritically claim to be “silent where Scripture is silent.” When in fact, they constantly speak where Scripture is silent, because they are always introducing novel inventions that are completely foreign to Scripture!! For 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, but they cannot have it both ways. For if it was nailed to the cross, and there was no new covenant in effect until Pentecost, then that would mean weeks went by without any law at all.
Yet, when such unreasonable contradictions are confronted, they 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 and unworkable positions that can never be harmonized with Scripture.
And, when confronted with the fact that Jesus Himself never water baptized anyone (because His main focus was THE GOSPEL), CoC’s often make the excuse that it was because Jesus hadn’t died yet, for they point out that one must be baptized “into His death” (Jn. 4:1-2, Rom. 6:3). But such a biblically illiterate evasion can hold absolutely no water (pun intended).
For one, the CoC is still cornered by the fact that Jesus died BEFORE the penitent thief on the cross, and yet, the thief was STILL not required to be water baptized symbolically “into His death” before he could be saved! Because a symbol cannot literally effect what it signifies. When one is truly saved they have been baptized by the Spirit, into the body of Christ. Water baptism is a ritual re-enactment of Holy Spirit regeneration (1 Cor. 12:13, Titus 3:5).
These revealed truths are just a few of the reasons why so many CoC’s are floundering to come up with new sophistry. Even to the point that they are entering into ecumenical alliances, for they are losing more and more ground every single day. So whenever their dispensational heresy is biblically and publicly exposed and annihilated, they will then flip-flop all over the place by saying things like…..“Oh, well, we’re not that big on dispensationalism anyway.”
Seriously? No repentance for deceiving the masses for centuries? No confession of sin? No humility or remorse whatsoever? Why?? Because, that’s how cults operate. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses (which sprouted from the same “restoration” movement) continue to pull the same deceptive wool over their follower’s eyes today, rather than humbly repenting of all their failed prophecies and heresies that have ruined so many lives and eternal souls.
So, like their heretical counterparts, when CoC’s are confronted with the truth, they will attempt another route to deceive, by saying something along the lines of…. “Well, Jesus had authority to forgive sins THEN, because He was still on earth. So no one today can be saved like the thief on the cross.” REALLY?!
Does the CoC truly believe that Jesus could ONLY forgive sins while He was physically on earth (Mt. 9:6)? Because that would imply that Jesus no longer has the power and authority to forgive sins today! And that is 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).
But CoC’s still try to 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 refuted their own line of reasoning, 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 O.T. 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 O.T. and N.T.
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 STILL has the power to forgive sins today, apart from men’s works and their so-called “freewill” authorization.
Because, Jesus’ atonement was timeless. It was a spiritual reality before it even became a physical reality in time. God knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). His eternal existence transcends time, so He is NOT limited by it! Even from everlasting to everlasting, He is God (Ps. 90:2). In eternity past, the Lamb of God was already considered slain, even before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). So the atonement covered the entire realm of time itself; past, present and future (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 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 under the old covenant 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).
Even in 2 Samuel 23:5, David spoke of the everlasting covenant of salvation (in present tense), and 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 O.T.
When the gospel call goes out within the realm of time, it is always presented as an already accomplished fact. When Paul said “Be ye reconciled to God,” he was outwardly calling for sinners to “enter into” (by faith) the blessed benefits of the reconciliation that God has accomplished, in His Son, to save sinners (Jn. 10:9, 2 Cor. 5:20, Rom. 5:10, Col. 1:22). Because 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 basic truths must first be understood and acknowledged, for even in the Old Testament, sins could only be forgiven based upon the foundation of what the Savior accomplished on the cross in fulfillment of the everlasting covenant. Therefore, O.T. 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).
Also, Paul quotes Joel 2:32 in Rom. 10:13, which reveals 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 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 God Who gave them the old covenant, but they were NOT saved by the old covenant! They were saved by the same God, in the same way (through faith), and upon the same basis (God’s grace through Jesus’ saving work), with the same salvation that believers have today.
Think about it:
Even O.T. observance of the law was derived from the righteousness of 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 freerighteousness by faith, because the impossible demands of the law have ALWAYS been meant to reveal our desperate need to be spiritually regenerated by God’s 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 reveal His justice and mercy. The providential parallels are astoundingly undeniable!!
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 its old mode of administration would no longer be needed once He gives a greater measure of His grace (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.
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 as the ONLY basis of salvation (Gal. 4:6), which was even being revealed under the types and shadows of the old covenant. 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.
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 new 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).
But to run from this truth, some CoC’s have even attempted to prove that the new covenant wasn’t immediately in effect at Jesus’ death by pointing out the fact that His disciples were still observing the Sabbath right after His death (Lk. 23:55-56). Yet again, without realizing it, they refute their own argument!! Because ironically, Jesus’ disciples were also still observing the Sabbath, even AFTER Pentecost!! (See: Acts 13:14, 16, 26, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:1-3, Acts 18:1, 4, Acts 19:8, etc.). So, once again, CoC’s get ensnared in their own contradictions, when they keep trying to evade the truth.
Jesus never came to destroy the moral law of God, for it is still just as essential today as it was then, especially when it comes to revealing our desperate need for God’s free grace and mercy through His Son (Mt. 5:17). Indifferent things such as circumcision, Sabbaths, etc., could still be kept or neglected after Jesus’ death, for there was nothing in those observances that would have been in conflict with faith in Christ, as long as they were not done legalistically in order to obtain a pardon of sins.
For instance, circumcision (like baptism) was only a pledge of consecration, not an attempt to gain a pardon of sins. But there is absolutely NO mention of any animal sacrifices being performed as a sin offering by any of Jesus’ disciples after His death, because, if they had done so, they would’ve been committing sacrilege against the finished work of Christ. Yet, the CoC’s heretical doctrines imply that they would have done so.
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). So, Jesus’ disciples would have had no excuse for not knowing that they had been fulfilled in Christ, when He was so openly established as the spiritual substance of what those ceremonies signified.
Yet, according to the CoC’s heretical line of thinking, Jesus’ disciples would have had to still be sacrificing animals as a sin offering, even after Jesus’ death, supposedly because they didn’t have proof of the new covenant going into effect until Pentecost. But can they provide “book, chapter and verse” for such a blasphemous view? Absolutely NOT!! If only CoC captives would sit down, study God’s Word for themselves, and actually think this through, then they would clearly see how the CoC has duped them.
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 sinsin 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. 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 throughout redemptive history; sometimes referred to as the house of Israel, the tabernacle of David, the heavenly Jerusalem, or the general assembly and church of just men made perfect, etc. (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 the “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, meaning it does NOT change!
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? They cannot answer, unless they want to repent and finally come clean and expose the CoC’s heretical line of reasoning.
Contrary to the CoC’s false doctrines, the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt andsealed 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 filledwith the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19).
CoC’s 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)!!!!
“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. 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., Mk. 1:1-2).
Scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt andsealed 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.
For even MORE 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 all of the old covenant ordinances, because the torn veil made it IMPOSSIBLE for the sacrifices of expiation to continue (Dan. 9:27)!! 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 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).
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17).
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 legal 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). 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).
Because the blood that Jesus shed was the blood of the everlasting covenant! According to Scripture, even Jesus’ resurrection was only possible because it was founded upon the very covenant that He sealed with His very own blood. For we read the following….
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20-21, underlining mine).
But CoC operatives seem to have a very low reading comprehension when it comes to Scripture. Even when faced with indisputable evidence, they continue their charade when they 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 staved 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 death of Christ was joined to His resurrection, and the thief witnessed His death, in person.
No wonder the thief was STILL blessed with the same saving benefits of the same grace that all saints have 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 (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)!!
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 obeyed the gospel! 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 (e.g., Jn. 15:5, Gal. 3:8, 16, 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 every age, 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 accessby 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.
“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.
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 cannot be saved.
Apart from Christ andwhat 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 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, was ever 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 us 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 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 and trusted in the pre-incarnate Christ (Ex. 3:3-6, 14).
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 4:24-25.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).
Even Hebrews 11:13, 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 called into the everlasting covenant are effectually called into it. Unlike many in the O.T. (the majority being unbelievers, e.g. Ezek. 20) who were under the temporary old covenant that was cut by the blood of animals, ALL who are effectually called into the everlasting covenant are those whom God has cut a covenant with by the precious blood of Jesus (Lk. 22:20). Therefore, they are actually given what God commands (Heb. 10:16-17), for Jesus actually obtained their redemption (Heb. 9:12-15).
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 kingdom and His people have always existed in Christ, for His eternal plan of redemption is eternal (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). God’s kingdom is spiritual, which is why Jesus reigns in His people by faith, love and the good works that proceed from those God-given graces (Eph. 2:10).
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), 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 teachings, 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 (similar to Darby-Scofield’s hyper-dispensationalism) imply that God’s character has changed, and that man’s spiritual needs have changed, which are both an absolute impossibility!
Yet, the CoC teaches 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 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, includes a remnant from EVERY tongue, tribe and nation (Rom. 1:16, Mt. 28:19, Rev. 5:9; 14:6), which is why the word “world” is used in Scripture to describe 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 is 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 for salvation”… “beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47), but only an even more powerful continuation of the SAME gospel, which was to be even further expounded upon “beginning at Jerusalem” where Christ had been crucified. No wonder Paul equated the gospel with God’s eternal plan of redemption, how it was given before the world even began, and how 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 the first, 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. This is how a true believer is “justified before men,” so to speak.
However, our works can never justify us in God’s eyes. Scripture is clear that we can never be “justified before God” by our own works (Rom. 4:2).Therefore, 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).
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, will never seek any phony remedy or fake refuge that cults have to offer (Jn. 10:5).
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 the Covenant of grace, which Jesus procured for him, so that he was able to spiritually apprehend Jesus by faith. Just as all 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!!!!
The thief on the cross knew NOTHING of a truncated, minimalist gospel! He knew the gospel in its fullness and entirety!! And he knew it much better than we could ever imagine knowing it, for we were not there with him next to Jesus on the cross!
Just because some Calvinists have become so adept at presenting the gospel in a systematic way does NOT mean the thief wasn’t saved just because he was not able to perfectly articulate what we call the five doctrines of grace today. He didn’t have to do any such thing. But that also does NOT mean that he didn’t know and believe what is called “five point Calvinism” today. He obviously did know and believe the gospel!!
Just because the Synod of Dort presented the five points of the gospel (in 1618) in a systematic way to refute the evil Remonstrants five heresies (whose teaching later became Arminianism), does NOT mean that one has to do so today in order to be saved! UGH!
It is tragic that we live in such apostate times that those who stand for the true gospel are falsely being seen as “perfect knowledge advocates” which makes one wonder if that’s how many professing Calvinists see Calvinism now….as just dry, dead orthodoxy that produces pride in those who actually defend the gospel.
If this is the kind of division and havoc that is wreaked by Arminians when they are pandered to, then compromise with them is much more dangerous and harmful than previously thought!! If only compromising Calvinists could realize that Arminians are bound and determined to win them over to their false gospel.
No wonder moderate Calvinists go to the extent of calling them brother or sister, which is basically saying they affirm the same gospel, because they’ve allowed Arminians to evangelize them for years on end, rather than heeding Apostle Paul’s example (Gal. 2:5). No wonder we are now witnessing such apostasy in this wicked generation.
It is sad that this mindset is becoming an all too common excuse for counterfeit Calvinists to capitulate and popishly declare Arminians to be saved, rather than witnessing to them. Besides, if they are truly saved, then they are not truly Arminian at heart, and we should never attribute their salvation to Arminianism, for it strips the gospel of its essential content and replaces it with a completely false version. Their salvation should only be attributed to God’s true gospel of sovereign, free, saving grace! If they are truly saved, then Jesus will provide the means for their escape from those who are teaching them such deadly error.
True Christians can still have un-crucified Arminian notions. Yet part of the sanctification process is that these fleshly notions are to be increasingly mortified, not glorified and treated as mere theological mispunctuations, or as a “less consistent” version of the same gospel. To do so is extremely unloving and negligent of spiritual leaders. Yet this is the kind of leaven that is now leavening the reformed camp, which is why we are witnessing the falling away, as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy (2 Thess. 2:3).
Hopefully Rob Zins will still stand by what he has written concerning this very issue:
“It seems obvious that faith is empty if God can be stripped of His content. His content is expressed through doctrinal propositions which He Himself has revealed. The first ingredient toward apostasy is the assertion, “It is not the truth about Jesus that is the basis of conversion, but rather the truth of Jesus that really counts.” This terribly unnatural separation of the doctrinal truths of Christianity from Christianity itself has led to the ruination of the Gospel. Indeed, it has taken root in Evangelicalism already. We are being told that one is saved by coming to a person—not by believing something said about the person. This is typical ecumenical nonsense, and leads easily into the Roman error of coming to Jesus in the Eucharist. We are converted only when we come to the right person, believing the correct message about Him. One cannot hope to separate Jesus from the message He preached. One cannot hope to have a relationship with God except on God’s terms.”
Robert M. Zins, Th.M., On the Edge of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance with Rome, (Huntsville, AL: White Horse Publications, 1998), p. 116.
If one were to search social media to try to find a friend that they had graduated high school with, would it not be foolish and a waste of precious time to click on a profile of someone who had graduated from a completely different high school? For it is a known fact that the identifying elements of what a person has done is closely and intimately connected with the identification of who the person is. The same goes for the identifying elements of the biblical Jesus and His gospel.
What Jesus has accomplished on behalf of His people, identifies Who He is. He is a complete and actual Savior, not an incomplete, hypothetical Savior that depends on man’s libertarian “free” will to grant Him authorization to save. Therefore, if one were to believe a completely different account of Who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on behalf of His people, they would have the wrong profile, the wrong Jesus and the wrong gospel. Arminianism does just that.
My husband and I personally have dear friends and family that are Arminians, yet when it comes to the gospel, there is no biblical sanction for us to be unequally yoked spiritually with them, by partnering with them in ministry or by granting them a public platform or by funding them in endeavors that would further a heretical infiltration that would undermine the doctrine of Christ and render evangelism to free-willer cults completely futile. Scripture strongly warns against this (2 Jn. 1:11).
A ministry is not under God’s full blessing as long as it is leading people away from one road to Rome….onto yet another road to Rome. Many professing Christians could have a much better success rate and better discernment if only they would focus specifically on persistently and unrelentingly exposing the evil root of all Christian cults, Arminian freewill-ism, rather than leaving wide open, theological gaps that lead right back to Rome.
Rob Zins hit the nail on the head, concerning these theological gaps, when he stated:
“The Arminian jettisons the Catholic system while retaining the same two pillars, i.e., freedom of the will and universal atonement of Catholic theology! Thus, in critically critiquing the Catholic religion, we are left with short-handled hoes and dull shovels if we try to correct the Catholic error with something that is at base Catholic! The Catholic apologist is well aware of this and that is precisely why he picks on the evangelical Arminian. He knows the Arminian at heart believes in autosoterism.”
Robert M. Zins, Th.M., Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Fourth Edition, (Charlotte, NC: A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, 2010), pp. 78, 79.
Cautiously refraining from affirming someone as a brother or sister in Christ while they are still in serious, unrepentant error is very biblical, and it is not the same as anathematizing them (1 Tim. 5:22). Though they may not yet be right with God, that does not mean that God will not be pleased to remove the enmity of their heart and renew them in due time. This is why we must lead them to repentance, for to do otherwise would short-circuit the very means that God uses to draw His people all the way to Himself.
Charles Spurgeon once said that what has been nicknamed “Calvinism” is actually THE GOSPEL. And the thief on the cross obviously came face to face with it!!!
Consider the Calvinist Acronym T-U-L-I-P:
T-The penitent thief on the cross realized he was totally depraved and hopeless apart from the mercy of God. And there is NO indication that he didn’t. In fact, it was manifestly obvious to all that he did!! He had lost all confidence in his own goodness and his own abilities, so he never said anything like, “I’ve been baptized and done many good works, so I expect to be saved now” or… “I come to Jesus now by my own freewill”—NO, NO, and NO!
U-He witnessed unconditional election right before his very eyes. He saw that the other criminal on the cross was NOT receiving a special application of God’s saving mercy and grace, but was becoming even more hardened in his sins. He also witnessed that most were extremely hostile to Jesus and that very few loved Him.
Imagine the penitent thief being in rapturous amazement that Christ would say to him (a vile wretch), “Today YOU will be with me in paradise”—and the fact that Jesus NEVER said the same to the other criminal!
The thief experienced unconditional election right then and there when he seen that not all were given that unspeakable privilege. He was royally pardoned and the other was not!! He KNEW that he deserved the same punishment as the other criminal, if not worse, but was unconditionally loved anyway!! Surely he was awe-striken!!
L-He witnessed that Jesus being lifted up on the cross was NOT drawing ALL men to Himself, without exclusion, but was driving most away. For Jesus’ crucifixion has always been a stumbling block and foolishness to most (1 Cor. 1:23). Yet, this thief (a vile wretch) WAS being drawn to Jesus. Because God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), for He draws ALL KINDS of men to Himself, without distinction. So the thief not only witnessed limited atonement, he experienced the effects of it!! While the other criminal did not.
I-He experienced irresistible grace right then and there on that cross!!! He couldn’t help but to be drawn to the only light of hope given to him; thelight of the gospel of Jesus Christ was shining into his heart,irresistibly and effectually!! No wonder he didn’t resist it!! But the other criminal did NOT experience saving grace or else he would have come to Christ.
P-Jesus’ promise to preserve the thief for the kingdom of God caused him to perseverefaithfully to Christ to the very end, because that’s the effect it’s meant to have on God’s people!!! The thief’s God-given faith in Jesus and His promise caused him to persevere!!! Because God provides the ends, as well as the means, to bring His people safely home to Himself.
The Savior can never be treasured by those who are bent on endlessly defending their own self-righteousness, rather than submitting to His.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3).
But this thief on the cross had come to the end of himself, therefore, he treasured the worth of the Savior and His ability to save all who come to Him, or else he would NOT have come to Him, pleading for Jesus to remember him. And he would NOT have believed Jesus’ promise to preserve him if he had thought his own “freewill” had ANYTHING to do with his salvation!!!! Because if “freewill” could bring one to Jesus, it could just as easily reject Him.
If anyone showed evidence of “free-willism”… it was definitely the other criminal!!
This is precisely why we all need to be reminded of THE GOSPEL! For it is a declaration of God’s saving power to remove the enmity of one’s carnal mind and over-ride the sinful, fallen will of man by bringing the heart, mind and will into harmony with His will. And this is exactly what had happened to the thief on the cross, for he had initially been joining the angry mob in reviling Jesus (Mk. 15:32), but God’s free and sovereign grace changed him.
This is why it is so important to get people’s minds off of themselves and their own perceived righteousness, and onto Christ and His perfect righteousness, which is the only righteousness that God will accept, and it can only be imputed to us through saving faith in Jesus and His ability to save the vilest of sinners.