When we attended our Bible study class this morning, there was a quote on the dry-erase board that kind of struck me. While it was in quotation marks, our instructor had not given attribution to the author of the quote. Also, our instructor may have injected some of his own thoughts within the original quote. Anyway, I thought I would share it with you.
“The history of the Church has been a great fight between two ideas: the false human idea (what we do to join or be identified with) and the biblical idea (what God does in all ages to call, move, convict, preserve for Himself, not from our merit, but by His good pleasure.)”
There has been centuries of discourse and arguments over what mankind must do to receive salvation. However, in reality, man can do very little to save himself. When I was growing up within the church of Christ, we learned what became phrased as the “five fingers of salvation.” Of course, I was to learn later that there is a sixth.
Each of the precepts of the “five fingers” by themselves will do nothing for us. All must be done, or there is no success. And, those six precepts, by nature, must be done in a logical sequence. Those precepts are “hear”, “believe”, “repent”, “confess”, “be baptized”, and “stay faithful.” Logic would dictate that one obviously couldn’t “believe” if they had never “heard.” One would never “repent” unless one had “believed.” Confession that Christ is the son of God, and our Savior, would likely not come until all the “hearing”, “believing”, and “repenting” had occurred.
I don’t’ remember which translation of the Bible was used at the time, but I was taught that each of the precepts (or steps) had verses that related those to salvation. In the precepts of “hear”, “believe”, “repent”, and “confess”, those verses spoke of falling short. In other words, we heard “unto” salvation, we believed “unto” salvation, we repented “unto” salvation, and we confessed “unto” salvation. It wasn’t’ until we got to the precept of baptism that we were baptized “into” salvation.
But, while one might have done all of those things, and done them in the correct and logical order, we ourselves could not have saved ourselves. It is like the story of the log. A man makes a camp somewhere and finds a log. From half of that log he creates a fire on which to cook his meal and with which he warms himself. Then, he takes the other half of the log and carves an idol of some god created within his mind and then asks that god to “save him”.
It was God and only God that gives us salvation. Toward that end, he even sent Jesus, a part of himself, to Earth in order that His sacrifice would be the path of our salvation. When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked for the task to be taken from him, if it was God’s will. But, he knew that if He didn’t make the sacrifice, mankind would never have hope of nor actually receive salvation.
So, the precepts of salvation are what have saved those of mankind that followed those precepts. Sadly, there are differing beliefs of what is membership within a church. In some cases, the members even “vote” in new members. But, Acts 2: 46-47 has a different method. I quote from the New American Standard Version of the Bible:
“46Day by day continuing with one mind in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
47praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Verse 47 states that the Lord was adding to the number…those who were being saved. So, how can “man” add to the church? No more than we could “save” ourselves can we “add ourselves to the Church.”
In our congregation, when one wishes to become members of “the congregation” many have already followed the precepts of salvation and have be put into the Church by God. Now, they are merely stating an intention to affiliate themselves with our congregation. No one votes, no one goes through a “vetting” process, and all that is done is an announcement that “X” individual (or family) wishes to identify with our congregation.
Then, in our congregation, on the fifth Sunday of those months have 5 Sundays, we have a fellowship meal in honor of those that have recently joined to worship with us.
There will come the time that when Jo and I start traveling, we will miss the association with such a great group of people. However, I have decided that in our travels, I will try to further God’s purpose by being something of a “campground minister.” It is my intention to study and worship with those that wish to do that, and to also serve as one to offer prayers for those in need.
While I am not a Bible scholar, there are tools that are available that can be helpful to those that are searching. One that we ran across a few years ago is a video series produced by Focus on the Family. The video series is 13 hours of what looks to be a classroom setting called “The Truth Project.”
Originally, the requirement of Focus on the Family was that one had to view the videos with a relatively small group before they could purchase the series themselves. After that was done, the “leader” would then provide a website and authorization “key” to allow us to order for ourselves.
I have watched the series several times and each time I watch it, I learn even more. It is a series that will show the fallacy of evolution, even using the words of Darwin himself. It is a very profound series. Perhaps someday, some of us can view it together. I sincerely hope so because it strengthens Christians and can convince those who might wish to be Christians.