30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

January 2, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Questions For Your Preacher (2)"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?". I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. It has been our constant desire to call for Book, Chapter and Verse from God's Book, the Bible, for all that we teach and practice in the area of religion. If a practice or teaching cannot be found upon the pages of Holy Word of God, then by what authority can one practice or teach it? Since we shall be judged by the words of Christ, as clearly taught by our Lord in John 12:48, it behooves all of us to be sure that the things believed and practiced find their authority in that word. Once again, thank you for being in our audience at this time. Do you have your Bible, pencil and paper ready so that we might study God's Word together?

I made an effort this past week and will continue to do so this week, to get us to be more aware of those things that are being practiced in the religious world. In order to do this as effectively as possible I am asking for your cooperation. "How can that be?" you might ask. I have asked you to "Ask Your Preacher" about various teachings and practices seen in the religious world and perhaps being practiced in the church where you attend. Nothing should give your preacher greater delight than to assist someone to render obedience to the truth. However, before one can obey the truth, he or she must come to a knowledge of the truth. God saw fit to have preachers to preach the truth. This point we made in last week's lesson. But, that truth is revealed in the Book we call the Bible, and if a preacher is preaching something that the Bible does not authorize, then he is not preaching the gospel. It, therefore, is essential that you check up on the things you are being taught and be sure that they are founded upon a thus saith the Lord. One way in which you can do this is to "Ask your Preacher" to show you the passage from God`s Word that authorizes the things you are being taught. If he is certain that he is teaching the truth, he will welcome the opportunity to share with you those passages. If he should not be willing for you to inquire of him in these matters, there is something definitely wrong, and you should have the desire to find out what it is. Now last week I asked for you to write or call me if you found something that was being taught in error by your preacher. Based upon the response, I suppose that each person in our listening audience received satisfactory answers to your questions. Notice I did not say RIGHT answers to your questions, just satisfactory. Many times, people will believe any answer given to them. However, in most cases, one will not even bother to ask their preacher why they practice and teach the things that they do. Friends, I urge you to please take this very seriously. Find the truth in matters religious. After all, each one of us will give an account before God at the day of judgment for everything that we have done (2 Cor 5:10). Please make sure that everything that you are practicing religiously is in accordance with the teachings of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Let's now consider some more questions to ask your preacher.

1) Ask your preacher where the Bible teaches that the sinner is saved by faith only. This doctrine is taught by a large number of preachers today; many religious bodies hold this belief. If you ask many preachers what a sinner must do to be saved, you would be told that the only thing the sinner is to do is to believe on the Lord, that one is saved by faith only. One prominent religious body has this statement in its creed. It says: "That justification by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." That states it about the way many preachers preach it. So, if your preacher has been telling you this, would you not ask him to kindly show you where the Bible says a sinner is saved by faith only. Remember, you are not asking for a passage that says that man is saved by faith. I believe with all my heart that man is saved by faith, and so does every other believer. But, what I am asking is where is the scripture that teaches may is saved by FAITH ONLY. And there is a vast difference between saying that the sinner is saved by faith and that the sinner is saved by faith only. Faith only means faith to the exclusion of everything else. Faith only means there is nothing but faith in God's plan of salvation to save sinners - everything else in God's plan of salvation is excluded. If your preacher turns to Romans 5:1 and reads to you,"Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," call his attention to the fact that while this speaks of being "justified by faith," it does not say we are "justified by faith only." The word only is not there. Surely, men and women are justified by faith, but what we are asking is for a passage that says man is justified by faith only, or at the point of faith only. Preachers are preaching that justification comes by faith only in many religious denominations today. Carrying many souls away with them in this false teaching. But, where is the passage that so teaches this. If he is preaching this, surely he will open his Bible and show you why and where. If it is in the Bible, he will know where it is.

There is one passage where the words "faith" and "only" are joined together. It is found in James 2:24. If you will turn to that passage you will find this reading, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." This verse speaks of justification, but it says that man is justified by works. My friend, this is not what I think about it, this is what God's word says about it. The Bible says that "man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Yet, preachers today are teaching that man is justified by faith only. Which one will you believe? The preacher or the Word of God? Are you willing to risk your one and only soul on it?

Have you considered how contradictory the Bible would be if somewhere it says that one is saved by faith only and James comes along and says that justification is not by faith only? But, notice! If one is saved by faith only, that would mean everything else is excluded. Thus, justification would not include repentance. And yet, God commands men everywhere that they should repent; so states Paul in Acts 17:30. Jesus Himself said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish"(Luke 13:3). If man is saved by faith only this would remove repentance from God`s plan to save man. Yet, men are commanded to repent. The apostle Peter states, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us" (1 Peter 3:21). Does that not sound like baptism has some part in man`s salvation? And yet, if man is saved by faith only, then baptism is not a part of God's plan to save man, and Peter has made a mistake when he says that "baptism doth also now save us." The truth of the matter is that there are a number of things that are involved in the salvation of mankind. Man must believe that Christ Jesus is the Son of God (Hebrews 11:6); man must repent of the sins committed (Acts 17:30); man must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, etc.) There are a number of things mentioned that have to do with God's plan to save man. And yet, some preachers still say that man is saved by faith alone or only. You see friends, that makes no more sense than if I tried to get you to believe that man is saved by repentance only and point you to the passage of Acts 17:30 that says: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent," It says no where in that passage that man is saved by repentance only. Yet, I could try to get you to believe that is all you have to do in order to obtain salvation. Don't let anyone twist the scriptures to try to prove their idea of things. Look at God's Word for what it says and then obey each and everything that is required to do in order to obtain salvation. I ask you now, please ask your preacher where in the Bible that faith only is all that is required to obtain salvation.

Before I leave this subject, I think it necessary that we return to James 2:24, where James states that we are saved by "works and not by faith only." What kind of works is James discussing? Is James talking about works of merit, or that man might do certain works of his own invention and then come to God and demand salvation based upon what he has done. OH, NO, my friend. The works that James has in mind are the works that man does in obedience to the commandments of Jehovah. You will notice that this passage in James chapter 2 refers to the "works of Abraham."(verse 21). It states that Abraham was justified by works. To what does James refer when he speaks of the works of Abraham? The fact that Abraham had to obey the commandment of the Lord when he offered up his son Isaac upon the altar. The work alluded to was not something that Abraham dreamed up to do in order for God to approve of him. No, it was Jehovah God who commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac. Abraham had to obey; Abraham had to comply with the command of God. Thus, Abraham performed works; the works of righteousness. We, too, must obey our God. We, too, must perform the works of righteousness in order to be saved. Jehovah God has never saved a single person who was not willing to surrender to His commandments and do whatever was commanded. And that is what is involved in doing "works." It simply means that I listen to the Word of God and then I obey what God asked me to do.

Once again, what has God asked the alien sinner to do in order to be saved from past sins? Man is required to believe in Christ Jesus as the only begotten Son of God. Jesus states, "Except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). And, if you die in your sins, you cannot be with our Lord. Man is also required to turn from his or her sins. That is called repentance. It is a change of mind that results in a change of life. And as stated already this morning, "Except ye repent, ye shall die in your sins" (Luke 13:3). Man is required to be baptized for the remission of sins. Hear our Lord as He speaks in Mark 16:15-16: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." This is what is involved in the new birth. In Romans 6, Paul states that "so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."That is verse 3 and 4 of Romans 6. Isn't it beautiful how God`s word explains itself over and over again. You see, this agrees with Christ when He said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Thus, the new birth involves the planting of the seed, the Word of God, into the heart of man. That seed germinates and brings forth a child of God. The place of delivery is from the watery grave of baptism, where one is raised to walk in newness of life. Thus Christ and Paul agree with each other.

But, back to our question for you to ask your preacher. Where in the Bible does it say that man is saved by faith only? I would be more than happy to hear from you our listening audience. But, it is my firm conviction that none will find that passage. And if it is not found, will your preacher continue to preach it and will you continue to attend somewhere where the truth is not being preached? Surely not.

2) Ask your preacher where the Bible says it makes no difference what a person believes just so he or she is honest and sincere about it. I am reasonably certain that you have heard that statement made by religious people. I know that I have heard people say that it really makes no difference what we believe, that if we are honest and sincere about it, God will save us anyway. Perhaps you have made that statement at some time yourself, and very likely you have heard your preacher say the same thing. So, why not go to your preacher and ask him for the verse in the Bible that says something like that? There must be a reason for a preacher to make a statement like that if he claims to be following and teaching what the Bible says. Hence, he should make the statement because the Bible says so; and if the Bible does say so, he surely will be happy to show you the passage. So, ask him to give you the book, chapter and verse for where this can be found.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, we have this statement from the pen of the apostle Paul: "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." This seems to be a very plain statement. It very definitely states that some would "believe a lie." Surely, there is a tremendous difference between believing a lie and believing the truth. The truth is recorded in the Word of God. If something is taught that is not found in the Word of God, then it must be a lie. The general idea of so many is that it does not really matter, provided one is sincere. Of course, he could not believe anything unless he is sincere. He might pretend to believe a thing and be insincere about it; but if he actually believed it, he must be sincere. While on this subject: it is my firm conviction that not all religious teachers are sincere; nor are they honest. I am not here to judge any man's heart; but Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." I do know that the inspired writers warned against "false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies...." (2 Peter 2:1). The apostle Paul stated, "that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats...." (1 Timothy 4:1,2). These warnings should alert us to the fact that there are false teachers in religion; those who lead you astray for their own personal gain. Is it not strange that so many religious teachers constantly have their hands out, asking that you send money to them, while in many cases, teaching things that the audience wants to hear instead of what they need to hear. In other words, if the price is right, they'll teach you anything!

But, back to the passage we mentioned earlier, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, where Paul states that some would actually "believe a lie." What about their sincerity? Can a person be sincere and yet believe a lie. Of course, they can. But will being sincere atone for their mistake? Will God save them anyway, just because they are honest about it? What did the apostle Paul say about that? Read it again, verse 11: "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth." The word "damned" is exactly the opposite of "saved." According to this inspired writer, what shall be the results of believing a lie? Even though honest and sincere, one who believes a lie shall not be saved. It seems as if Paul thought it made a difference what a person believes.

A lie believed will have the same effect as the truth believed. In Genesis, chapter 37, the story is told about Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery; dipping his coat in the blood of an animal; bringing the coat to their Father, Jacob; and deceiving him into believing that Joseph was dead. Jacob believed their lie and its effect was exactly the same as if Joseph was actually dead. He was grieved; heavy hearted over the death of his son. It was not until years later that he learned of their deception and lies. It made no difference how sincere and honest Jacob was, it was still a lie that he believed. This simply points out once again that a lie believed will have the same effect as the truth believed. It behooves us then, to be sure that what we are believing is based upon truth, based upon the Word of God. To believe an untruth or a lie will result in the condemnation of the soul, regardless of how sincere and honest the person may be.

In 2 Timothy 2:5, we read: "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." When people say it makes no difference what we believe, they often add: "We are all striving for the same place anyway." And who would argue with that conclusion. Surely, we are all striving to reach heaven when this life is over. And we should be assisting each other to have that same desire and expectation. But is striving the only thing that is necessary in order to reach that glorious reward? This is all that would be necessary if it makes no difference what we believe. But Paul tells us in this text just quoted that striving alone is not sufficient -- that a man may strive and still not be crowned, except he strive lawfully. The crowning referred to is the eternal reward in heaven -- the crown of glory that fadeth not away. But a man may strive and fail to get that crown. Why? Because he may not strive lawfully. But what does it mean to strive lawfully? It means to strive according to the law of the Lord. To labor in harmony with God's Word. If we strive or labor in something contrary to the law of God, no matter how honest and sincere we may be, we will not be crowned. The law of the Lord is revealed in the New Testament of Christ Jesus, and if one tries to go to heaven by some other way, God's Book offers them no promises. Truly, Paul says that it does make a difference what one believes. If your preacher says it make no difference what one believes, just ask him where the Bible says so.

3) Ask your preacher where the Bible says, "Once in grace, always in grace." Have you ever heard someone say, "Once a child of God, always a Child of God?" In other words, it is stated, "If a man is once saved, he is always saved. This simply means that a child of God can do nothing that causes him to fall away from the grace of God -- that if he is once saved, he could not possibly commit a sin that would cause him to be lost in eternity. There are preachers in almost every community who are preaching this. If your preacher preaches this, why not go to him today and ask him where the Bible says, "once in grace, always in grace."

While he is looking for the passage, you might call his attention to the language of Paul in Galatians 5:4, which says, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." Did you hear that? If a man can fall from grace, the theory of "once in grace, always in grace" cannot be true. The two ideas are contradictory. Paul states the possibility of one falling from grace. Does this sound like what some preachers are saying? Ask your preacher, "Can a child of God fall from grace?" Then if he says "No," ask him for the scripture that so teaches.

You can also call his attention to 1 Corinthians 10:12, which reads, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Your preacher might not like to read that passage, but you read it to him. The inspired apostle very clearly states that one can fall. When a preacher says that the child of God cannot fall, he must argue with the inspired Word of God. "Take heed" means to be careful. Paul is telling God's children in Corinth to "be careful," lest they fall. And if you will notice the context from which this passage is taken, there are examples of those who were God's children, displeasing Jehovah and suffering the consequences.

You might call your preacher's attention to Hebrews 3:12, which reads, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." You will note that the ones to whom this warning is given are brethren, members of God's family. Can a brother in Christ develop an evil heart of unbelief and depart from the living God? The Hebrew writer seems to think he can. What happens to the one who departs from the living God? Is that one still with God? Can one depart from God and still be with him? If one is not with God, do you honestly think that he or she will be saved in eternity? If that is not enough, this Bible verse states it about as plain as you can get. Again Paul writes: "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness" (Rom 11:22). To receive the blessings, the goodness of God we must "continue" in His goodness. It is necessarily implied from this passage that if one does not continue in His goodness, he falls from His grace and will suffer the punishment, the severity of God.

Be sure and ask your preacher for the verse in God's Book that teaches that "once one is in grace, that one will always be in God's grace." And when you receive the passage, would you please forward it on to me. I would truthfully like to examine the passage.

I see that our time is gone for this morning. Again, I wish to express my appreciation for your time and trust and pray that you will examine what we are saying. Not because I have said it, but because your eternal destiny will depend upon your response and reaction to these questions. Are we responsible to God for the things we believe and practice? I believe that the truthful examination of the scriptures this morning has answered that question. May God be with each and every one of you in the listening audience this morning as you strive to find the truth of God's will for you and then act upon that truth.

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"