Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1 Peter 3:15

Some time ago I was given an article written by David Martin, Pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Bartlett, TN. I recently came across it again and decided to fulfill the requirements of 1 Pet. 3:15. For Pastor Martin's 13 "Questions A 'Church of Christ" Preacher Cannot Answer", you can visit http://www.biblebelievers.com/ and check the left hand scroll under "Church of Christ." This was my reply:

Dear Mr. Martin,
My name is Jeremiah Tatum and I preach for the Pulaski St. church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN. Some time ago a friend of mine copied your article on the church and gave it to me. I was cleaning out my office and stumbled on it again. I would like to answer your claims in the most respectful way I know how.
I am not a Campbellite. I had never heard this expression until I was 23 and had moved from the west to the south. I have found that this expression is mostly from this area because this man had a great deal of influence on this side of the country. I was raised in the church and had heard Alexander Campbell's name once or twice, but never as I recall from the pulpit. He was a good man, but he had several doctrinal misteps. We can admire any of those in times past who were working out issues of the church and salvation. But they have no authority. The Bible alone is authoritative with regard to all things spiritual. Now I would like to answer these questions you have supplied, which to me seem very easy to answer.

1. God has never in latter times hand-picked individuals for service. He has called all men by the gospel, and it is in the court of men that individually we reject or accept that call. There has always been a remnant of the church since it began. Anywhere people on this earth were doing the will of God as given through the holy Bible, the church has existed. But restoration does have it's place, for many have left God's design for the church only to adhere to human doctrine.

2. No person needs to be baptized by another church member in order to be saved. Paul was not sent to baptize, but to preach. People were still being baptized, but the emphasis in 1 Corinthians 1 is that only the subject in baptism was significant, and that each Christian must unite in the One who wears the name of the church and who was crucified for them.

3. God is not waiting for the baptistry, He is waiting for the sinner.

4. Have you read Gal. 5:4? what does it mean to become "estranged from Christ?" How can you lose a relationship that never existed in the first place?

5. Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us that our sins/iniquities separate us from God. There is no sin that the Lord can be pleased with. But we also know that God can wipe all of our sins away (Jer. 31:34). 1 Jn. 1:9 makes it clear that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It is not upon God to forgive sins of which we are unwilling to repent. Christians live in a saved state in which they receive continual cleansing. To argue that a saved person cannot so sin as to be lost is fundamentally incorrect. To believe that one who has accepted God at one time in their life cannot reject God later is also neglects the reality of free moral agency and the disposition of a God who is perfect in judgment.

6. God is not an Indian giver. Galatians 6:1 tells those who are spiritual to "restore such a one with meekness/gentleness, considering themselves." Who is to be resotred? Is it not the Christian who has fallen? Would it not take place through public confession of sins and prayer(James 5:16)?

7. There is no sin that is unforgiveable. But when Christ talked about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31) He indicated that when a person rejects the very means of salvation as given by the truth which the Holy Spirirt teaches, that person is in a state of damnation. But a person can leave such a doomed state by choice. As long as we have our faculties we have a choice. But if we choose to reject God's teachings we are lost.

8. People who believe that... when they trip and therefore say a cuss word and consequently get hit by a bus...that this combination would cause their soul to be lost, have no understanding of God's ability to forgive and the grace that makes salvation possible. We all should be praying to God who forgives us of sins, but that doesn't mean that every time we make a mistake we have to immediately pray over it to save our soul. This is preposterous and I know of no person who would believe such. These type of arguments are only used by people who are looking to silly ideas so that they can disregard simple truths.

9. The "church of Christ" is a Biblical name for the church. In the book of Romans Paul says "churches of Christ" to refer to several united churches. Any person who understands grammar understands that taking the singular from the plural would be to say, "church of Christ." There are other Biblical names for the church. You can find: church of God, the church, the Way, church of the Firstborn, and other examples. Any of these names are acceptable descriptions for the church of the Bible. This is why I am not a "Church of Christ." For more on this you may visit my blog spot article - "They're Church of Christ." View http://www.backtothebible.blogspot.com/

10. I can do without pitch pipes, pews, song books, indoor baptistries, and the like - if you can get by without instrumental music. I agree that we have no "specific authority" for these things.

11. This involves a more complete study of the Greek text. I cannot fully respond in a few sentences, but I would like to discuss it with you. One thought, however. When Saul was told to "arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 16:22), was he being told to wash away sins that had already been forgiven? No doubt he was already a believer in Jesus as the Son of God, but he was told to see Ananias for further instruction. Among the instructions given baptism was included.

12. No place in Scripture says that baptism is a "work of righteousness." If you can find it I would like for you to show it to me so I can understand this more fully. The Bible says we are saved by grace, among other things. Grace and love are the pinnacle elements of our salvation, but they do not act alone.

13. The house of Cornelius in Acts 10 received "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" just as the Apostles did on Pentecost. This was God pouring out the miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as He had already done to the Jews in Acts 2. This signified Gentile inclusion into the kingdom of God, and this was for the benefit of the revelation of God's will for this action to both parties. In this same passage Peter commanded that they all be baptized (Acts 10:48). I submit that a commandment is not a suggestion but a requirement of God which we obey because we love Him (John 14:15).

I appreciate your Bible study and I hope these things will be helpful to you as you seek to understand the nature of the church. I believe that we may have many misconceptions about each other because we unfortunately differ and have been told stories about one another that are not altogether correct. However, I humbly submit these ideas as one who desires to follow nothing but the Bible. I am a member of the church that I read about in my Bible, and I believe we all should be. I am open to discuss any of these ideas with you at any time. I am no expert, just one who is trying to do his best.

With my regards,
Jeremiah Tatum

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