Few people have enough time to dive into a complete series of video lessons or plough through a bunch of podcasts so, I wanted to record one short podcast to provide a brief, concentrated “executive summary” of what “A Faith that Obeys” is all about.
At “A Faith that Obeys,” we believe the Bible presents a clearly defined plan of salvation. This plan, God’s Plan, was established in 33 AD and has not changed nor can it change. The plan is still alive today and we should still be following that plan if we want to follow Jesus scripturally. I call this plan, “The Biblical Plan of Salvation.”
Now, there is a problem. A new plan developed over the last few hundred years which has become what I call, “The Modern Plan” or “The Traditional Plan of Salvation.” This plan is taught in almost every evangelical church today. When people hear about Jesus and are willing to make a life-long commitment to Him, it is at this critical point in their spiritual journey, the traditional plan is promoted as “the way” to be saved.
I created “A Faith that Obeys” to help people spot the difference between these two plans, and explain how the Biblical Plan of Salvation differs so greatly from a plan they may have followed. I want to challenge people to dig into the scriptures, so they can decide, for themselves which plan makes sense. I do this through a series of 11 short video lessons which can be watched at www.afaiththatobyes.org.
Jesus made only a few prophesies about future events. He made even fewer prophesies about people. On one occasion, Jesus made a curious prophesy about the woman who anointed him with expensive perfume during a dinner party.
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher, he said.”
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly, Jesus said.”
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Matthew’s account of this event adds the following information:
Matt 26:13 – “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Did History Repeat?
Now, the narrative of this event differs slightly in each Gospel. In Matthew, Mark and John, this touching event occurs with certainty, in the last week of Jesus’ life and focuses mainly on the disciple’s reactions regarding the behavior of the woman. In Luke, the focus is on the host of the banquet, Simon the Pharisee, and the event seems to occur much earlier in Jesus’ ministry; leading many people to believe that an anointing like this happened to Jesus at least twice.
Did this dramatic action happen to Jesus more than once? I don’t think so.
I can’t tell you how many times I have presented the Biblical Plan of Salvation to a friend or family member who, even though the take the time to patiently listen to me and even study the plan out… they reject it because they believe baptism is a work.”
The argument always comes down to those four words, and those four words constitute the firm foundation on which the entire argument rests!
“Baptism is a work.”
But guess what, there is a huge flaw in the reasoning. Let’s work through this together using logic and the scriptures.
Building Our Case
For the sake of our argument, let’s agree; baptism IS a work. This is our position. From this position we naturally and logically conclude, since baptism is a work, it cannot be necessary for salvation.
Sooner or later, someone will step forward to challenge our position. We need to mount a defense How should we begin?
A curious phrase, appears ten times in the Bible, nine of which concern Abram. We discover it first in Genesis. It’s a small, subtle, one line blessing for the man of faith, which will go on to rock the centuries of the religious world! Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
This important statement identifies a core ingredient of all religious faith, “belief.”
We look to Abram as our spiritual model, progenitor of the tithe, father to three world religions and a friend of the Almighty.
Armed with Abram’s “belief,” we climb mountains. The goal? A righteousness like that of the Patriarch!
We admire Abram’s faith as we surmise, Abram believed God and received righteousness. It is for this type of faith, we all strive!
As always, at A Faith that Obeys, we are compelled to define our terms before we begin our journey of discovery, striving for deeper understanding on that smooth, winding, country road of life and doctrine.
Works, that’s a funny sounding word when you just say it out loud.
This little word can have a variety of meanings.
A computer “works,” meaning it operates.
A municipality has public “works,” the infrastructure, built to support the smooth operation of a community.
A person “works,” meaning they put forth labor to produce something.
A religious person might perform good “works” or good “deeds,” meaning they are performing a religious activity or action for the purpose of pleasing God.
The Go-To Word!
When we have that debate about God’s requirement that a person must be baptized to be saved, it is often to this word, “works,” the argument turns. The anti-baptists say, “Man cannot be saved by works.”
I can’t argue with that statement.
They are correct because the Bible teaches, “Man cannot be saved by works.”
Surprisingly, both the anti-baptism folks and the folks who believe that baptism is indeed necessary for salvation agree on this point. We cannot be saved by works… so, what’s the problem?
The problem is we have not defined the meaning of the word, “works.”
What is a “work?”
Well, it depends on the “word use.” You know how the word is being used. This depends heavily on the context of where and how the word is being used.
If we are using the word “work” to refer to a “good deed” someone does in order to gain favor with God, that’s a different “word use” than if we say, “We are working FOR God” as God commands us to do.
Is Prayer a Work?
For example, when Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We don’t consider his instructions to mean we are to perform some kind of good deeds kind of work. We see his instructions and we are obligated to obey, to the best of our ability. In this case we might say to a friend, “I have really been working in prayer for you.” Continue reading “Workin’ on Works”
John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
This passage of scripture is used by the evangelical church to demonstrate that a person becomes a Christian when they accept Christ for the first time. A popular metaphorical formula was developed, probably in the 60’s to help people remember this plan of salvation. It reads like this: “Believe + Receive = Become.” In other words, if you believe in Christ and you receive Christ, you become a Christian. The problem is, this formula is wrong.
Grammar 101 – Verbs
The verb is not “become,” it is “gave.” When you believe and receive, God gives you something. He gives you the “right” to become. We don’t “become” anything upon our decision to receive the message with an open heart. While it may be true that God gives us a new gift, the “right to become his child,” this is not yet salvation!
The problem with this form of teaching lies in the conclusion it offers. The conclusion the Evangelical world presents is that a person is saved when they receive Christ. This is wrong; dangerously wrong.
The Wrong Path
When a person is taught they become a Christian when they first believe and receive, it sets them on a false path to Heaven. Just think about it. If I follow this unbiblical practice and believe I am saved at the time of my acceptance there is no point in a variety of other commands Jesus gave his disciples which always precede the forgiveness of sins. Because I believe I am already a Christian, what is the point of confession, repentance and baptism, all of which precede the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, when we look at those issues in the Bible.
Following this incomplete pattern does not lead to salvation. Yet this pattern is presented, practice and promoted, with vigor, by most Evangelicals today. It bears a striking resemblance to a pattern Jesus identified in his own ministry. Take a look. Continue reading “John 1:12 – A Most Misused Scripture”
I recently converted the entire lesson series at A Faith that Obeys to audio. This is the first lesson from that series. Eventually, all eleven lessons will make it into the Podcast feed so be watching for them.
In case you are not aware that there is an entire video series available, it all begins at afaiththatobeys.org.
Today’s lesson is something which has been on my heart for years. I have shared the Biblical Plan of Salvation with many religious leaders, pastors and elders over the years. They are pretty quick to reject it. The one common factor in each case was their lack of willingness to listen to me… to hear me out.
Several years ago, I was amazed when I discovered that the Bible actually talks about this condition quite a bit so I thought I might share that lesson with you today.
Have you ever considered the critical emphasis, the Bible places on our ability or our willingness to “listen?”
From the opening accounts of Genesis where Adam and Eve listened to… but chose not to obey God’s commands, to the very end of the ages where the angel of Revelation tells us, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches;” there is an extraordinary and unmistakeable emphasis placed on our need to constantly listen for God’s direction and commands.
Regarding God’s directions, sometimes the message comes from the most unexpected place. This is why we must always be on our toes… carefully listening. Once, God’s direction came from from a burning bush. Once it came by way of a gentle whisper. Once, it happened all over Pharaoh in the form ten plagues. Godly advice even came from Jethro, Moses father-in-law, who was a pagan priest of Median, not a Jew.
Sometimes Godly direction or prompting comes through that patient small voice of a neighbor, close relative or even a child. God’s message might come to us in a variety of ways but the only reliable verification of what we hear are the scriptures themselves. Not every prompting which seems to come from God is from God. And, we must always carefully test the message.
The only way we can ever be sure is by carefully evaluating what we hear by exposing it to the light of scripture. While God providing direction might come from a variety of sources… God’s commands… which must be obeyed… will ONLY come from the Bible.
We must carefully listen for both God’s direction and commands. Let me present a few passages of scripture and consider just how critical listening is, EVEN for salvation. Continue reading “An Awesome Gift”
Everyone agrees; it is a serious thing to misquote scripture. Jer 14:14 and Deu 18:20 tells us about that! However, scripture is often misused and misquoted. There are a handful of favorites. How about, “Money is the root of all evil?” That’s a misquote. The Bible actually says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Money itself is not the problem, the problem is greed. (1 Timothy 6:10)
Misusing or misquoting the Bible is commonplace. It can be excused when coming from an atheist and frankly, an atheist using the bible as his source of authority when arguing about a religious matters ought to be excused. Misquoting the bible can be understood when when it comes from a believer who is not really familiar with the scriptures. But misquoting the bible should never be tolerated when it comes from some of our greatest and most trusted biblical scholars!
A Stunning Revelation
Recently, in the course of my regular, daily Bible study, I was absolutely stunned when I realized how pervasive, entrenched and completely accepted one particular misquote has become. Entire denominations have been built around this misquote. Yet, when I stopped to really think about it, I was left flabbergasted. How could a biblical error so obvious be so missed and even accepted by some of our best biblical scholars? Continue reading “Misquoting Scripture”
The web site is coming together nicely. I have forums up and running and organized the way I hope helps folks find things easily. I just got a new Google Voice Number which is 304-607-2386 or 304-607-AFTO and I have added that to the contacts page… which is also new. Just by clicking the phone number above, you can now leave a voice mail comment or suggestion.
On the Contacts Page, you will find links to just about every imaginable avenue with which you may contact AFTO. You can email us, snail mail us, drop us a voice mail, get involved in The Forums and more. I am even looking for like-minded contributors. You’ll find all that info on the Contact Page.
I have reworked the Podcast Page and it is looking pretty spiffy. On that page, you can find links to subscribe to the Podcast through iTunes, Android, Google Play,Stitcher, Email or a plain ol’ RSS feed, so you can subscribe from any of your favorite Podcatcher Apps. Podcasting is such an under-estimated technology. The fact that AFTO is on the same playing field as CNN, The New York Times, Grace to You and a multitude of other media and religious organizations just boggles my mind! Podcasting and Blogging both give the average Joe a soapbox to the world. Amazing!
I have two new Podcasts I am working on. The first one is “How to Argue” and the second one is “Defining Grammar.” Those are working titles and will probably change. I am not currently working on any new video’s just yet, but you will notice that I mention… in the last video about baptism, called, “Faith Alone – The Grammar,” that we are about to discuss the most prominent scriptures used by the Evangelical Community in their position. That’s the next video. (I just got a haircut so I need to let it grow back in just a bit so matches the other videos before I go back into the studio.) Speaking of editorial issues…
I have been alerted to a error in a couple of the AFTO videos. I called the word “and” a preposition. How did I do that? I know it’s a conjunction! I even correctly call it a “coordinating conjunction” right after one of the incidences. This means, I need to go back to the original videos, re-record that brief section, then edit, crunch and upload the fixed copy back to the server. Why do we always spot typos and mis-speaks after the thing has gone to press? I guess that’s why God gave us second editions.
By the way, does it ever bother you that the Bible you read every day just might be a second edition printing? Just asking.