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Sunday, 27 January 2013

An Open Letter To All Church Of Christ Members.

Please note: for the protection of privacy, no personal names are mentioned in this blog.

Dear all Church of Christ (C.O.C.) members,

You may be asking: Why am I writing a letter to you?

Well, there is a blogger among you, a member of C.O.C. whose short, to-the-point blogs have scored around 32,000 hits since his latest page opened in April 2012. This is quite a comparison to my page which had taken almost exactly two years and over ninety blogs to reach a number of 12,600 hits. Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with this. After all, to get to his number, he had posted over 270 blogs during that time, which averages about one a day, which is quite different to my weekly posting. He also has 1,262 followers, compared with my fifty, including myself.

Therefore, with such a large number of posts, their readers and followers, I had considered answering for a while. The final prompt occurred just last week, when I concluded my blog, I Have Much To Thank God For  - with a verse from Paul's letter to the Romans:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39.

The very next day after posting this, one of his blogs attacking the views of John Calvin appeared. Although I have absolutely no proof that this guy took his inspiration from any of my articles, nevertheless, the timing of all this had led me to speculate. As such, I ask for your patience in reading what I have to say - a response to the teachings and beliefs of the Church of Christ, which seemed to have made a massive hit here on this website.

But first I should state my faith, which is more than mere beliefs. I consider myself saved from the penalty of my sins, or better put, of my sinful nature. The price paid to Infinite Justice was by Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, atoning for all my sins - past, present and future - after allsince birth, all sins I have committed were future from the time of the crucifixion, therefore at the crucifixion, his death had to atone for all of them. Three days later, he rose physically from the dead, the only person ever in human history to accomplish this, proving two very important things: First, his Resurrection proves without a doubt that Jesus Christ is God and the Jewish Messiah. Secondly, his Resurrection guarantees our salvation. But I may add a third, namely that the Resurrection also proves that salvation is of no other source, only Jesus Christ Resurrected can give life as a free gift to all who would receive it.

Secondly, I too have been baptised in water, fully immersed, at a Baptist Church in Bracknell, my home town, in 1975. But I was already saved before then, back in 1973 when I first believed. And most important, is the consideration on why I was saved in the first place. To escape Hell? That is true, but it's only part of the picture, and a poor one at that. The main reason why I received eternal life was twofold - first, because God the Father chose me in his sovereignty as a reward for his Son for dying on the cross. And coupled with this, eternal life was given in order to enjoy everlasting fellowship with God and revel in his love - the same love eternally enjoyed between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact, this is why we are here, to know God our creator personally, and not as accidents in a long process of evolution, believed by the academics of the present. And for one, I believe in eternal security of the believer, simply because not to would be an insult to the very being of God himself, as I hope to show.

In just about all your blogs, you made a big issue on water baptism based on one verse in Acts - 2:38, where Peter replied that they should repent and be baptised for the remission of their sins, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. But you quote that verse without the context in which it was set. Peter was not talking to "wicked sinners" - such as thieves, murderers, whore mongers, drunkards and such like. Instead he was addressing a crowd of devoted Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost - the waving of samples of the crop harvest in dedication to God. These Jews were already devoted to God. And they were aware that they gave consent for the crucifixion of Jesus. They were all aware of that. But they believed that the sentencing to death of this person was done in justice, based on their belief that Jesus was an impostor who blasphemed by referring himself as God. Peter's sermon at the Temple was centred on the Resurrection, proving that the raising of the Son from death fulfilled Scripture and presented proof that while alive he was not blaspheming. The Jews present had to repent.

In this case the word repent does not mean "to turn away from sin." It meant to change your mind. The changing of the mind involved from believing that Jesus was an impostor to that he had risen, proving that he is indeed their Messiah and the source of salvation. Baptism was an outward showing of this change of mind and heart.

The case of Cornelius is another case in point. We are introduced to him as being a righteous man whose generosity to others and a devotion to regular prayer did not pass unnoticed before God. But the fact that he needed to repent was borne out by the message an angel gave for Peter to be sent for. We read of the message Peter delivered to his listeners. What he said about Jesus was more of a reminder than an introductory message. Cornelius was already aware of Jesus crucified. But he had to be told that this Jesus had risen from the dead, proving that he is the Messiah and therefore the fountain of life. When all the listeners believed this, the Holy Spirit fell on them all. Cornelius was a righteous man. He didn't have any known sins to repent of. But he had to change his mind about the Christ risen. That is repentance.

Then, after the Holy Spirit fell on them all, they were baptised in water. I think there is a reason why Luke portrayed events as they occurred. To confirm the message Peter gave to the crowd of devoted Jews at Pentecost. Repent and be baptised for the remission of sins. I don't think Peter meant "Repent and be baptised in order to have your sins forgiven," but "because your sins will be forgiven the moment you believe." If it had happened this way to Cornelius, then God is character-bound to accept everyone else in exactly the same way.

Therefore we conclude that what Peter preached at Pentecost is like as if I was to say, "I'm paid for the work I have done" (Work done first, then the payment.) Or, "he was awarded the trophy for winning the race." Or even, "he was sent to prison for his crime .

And the same applies to all of us today. Peter writes in his letter that the Lord is long suffering and it is not the will of him that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. That is changing your mind and believing that this Jesus has risen physically, proving that he is the Christ. Then be baptised in water to show to other men that you have changed your mind about the resurrection of Christ.

But you have made baptism a ritual to be performed in order to get saved. In this, you have put yourselves on the same par as the Roman Catholic Church, along with Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and all other groups who believe that some ritual has to be performed in order to receive salvation. You speak severely against the Roman Catholic Church, for example. You accuse this group for relying on their man-made Catechisms instead of on the Bible. Catholics believe, like you do, that without baptism there is no salvation. To add to this, the Catholic Church has always been hostile to any form of believer's security. So have all other groups who don't believe in eternal security.

You accept the teachings of James Arminius, who disputed John Calvin's treatise of the Sovereignty of God, Divine Grace and the Perseverance of the Saints. But you are by means not alone. Many Protestant groups accept Arminius' views too, most probably not realising that this Dutch theologian was a tool used by the Vatican to challenge the doctrine of Grace which Calvin highlighted.

James Arminius
Arminius was a student who sat at the feet of a Spanish monk, Luis de Molina. Molina was a Jesuit, a member of the Roman Catholic society founded in the early 16th Century by Ignatius Loyola, a priest who received a vision of the Virgin Mary (not God) telling him to go into battle and eliminate the "Babylonian hordes" - a reference to the Protestant Reformation and its enthusiasm in Divine Grace.
Molina was a Jesuit founded by Loyola with the intention to eliminate the Reformation and protect and promote the Papacy. He was Arminius' tutor. In 1588 Arminius wrote his thesis: A Reconciliation of Free Choice with the Gift of Free Grace, Divine Foreknowledge, Providence and Reprobation. Later, the followers of Arminius succeeded in having their document, the Remonstrance, signed by the Government, allowing such teaching to be passed without State interference.

Alistair Campbell, who followed Arminius, was the founding member of the Church of Christ. So you, along with so many other groups, believe that baptism is a ritual that must be performed in order to receive Grace, then one must stay faithful to remain in this grace. You rebuke the Catholic Church for so much of man-made doctrines, yet your beliefs are basically parallel to that of the Vatican. You run down many other groups such as J.W.s and Mormons, but they believe exactly as you do, baptism for salvation and staying faithful to be saved. And even atheists too, rebuke any idea of Once Saved Always Saved. Yet, according to you, atheists are confined to the lowest Hell.

But believing in Eternal Security does not cause me to want to sin! Do you really believe that Eternal Security is a licence to sin? If you believe this, then I would strongly recommend you examine your spiritual condition carefully. But let's get the facts right. There are numerous verses in the New Testament exhorting believers to live worthy of their calling, otherwise they will fall from grace. But these have nothing to do with losing salvation. Nowhere in any of his letters does Paul say, "If you don't hold faithful, you will perish in Hell." Such words don't appear at all in Paul's letters. What he is saying is that if you fail, you stand the chance of losing credibility among men. Let's take an example of daily living. You live and preach as a good Christian, exalting God and attempting to win converts. Then one day you are giving a lift to someone in your car, and another driver cuts you up. Immediately you lose your temper and you utter foul expletives. According to your companion, you have lost credibility and fallen from grace. No matter how "holy" you may try to be afterwards, your reputation as a Christian will never be restored. Chances will remain high that your "faith" is nothing more to him than pretence and hypocrisy.

So "loss of salvation" is what you put into those verses which they weren't implying. The same goes to this "overcoming" business found in places like Revelation chapters two and three. You put in to these verses that unless a believer overcomes his own sinful nature, he will end up in Hell. There are a couple of problems here. One I consider very serious. It is Revelation 3:21 when Jesus himself declares that he has overcame. But overcome what? Certainly not his sinful nature, or else we would have to admit that Jesus Christ was a sinner!

Reading carefully his message to all seven churches, he seems to make a distinction between true believers and "hangers on" who may be in the church. To human eyes, these may be difficult to distinguish. But to overcome, I think, means to truly believe. To them, they will never be hurt by the lake of fire. Neither will they be removed from the lamp stand, which means the church on the whole, according to Revelation 1:20, not the single individual. When a "church" becomes filled with mostly unbelievers, then God is likely to remove it from his lamp stand.

But the true believer is more than conquerors, according to Romans 8:37. In other words, as believers we are already overcomers through faith in Jesus. And 1 John 5:4 says that he who is born of God overcomes the world, and what is it that overcomes the world but faith in Jesus. Jesus has overcome the world and he has given us the power to do the same. That is, it is God who works in us, and does the overcoming in our lives, because he is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 10:14, 12:2) Once saved always saved.

To believe that you can lose your salvation is an insult to God at least on three occasions:

1. It denies the Sovereignty of God. That is, Satan is able to steal a sheep from God's hand and the Lord does not have the authority to stop it from happening, even if a believer is a gift to the Son from the Father. It also means that the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the believer, is neither able or does not do a thing in keeping the believer safe.

2. It denies God's omniscience. That means that God does not know what is going to happen next. This boils down to God saving a person, not realising that this person will one day fall away and forever be lost.

3. It denies God's omnipotence. If both Jesus and Paul assures us that we would never leave the hand of God, then that also means that we are safe, even if Satan tries to draw us away. If we can just "walk away" from God's hand, that means we are going somewhere, and wherever that is, it was made attractive by the Devil. God has no power to keep us safe, or it is too weak. In short, Satan is stronger than God.

You are holding on to what really is a false gospel. It is another gospel, which isn't good news at all.
You are holding on to the tenets of Roman Catholicism, despite running it down and accusing it of being man's writings. You believe in baptism as a rite, so does Rome. You believe that salvation can be lost, so does Rome. You believe that overcoming is a human effort, so does Rome.

We simply believe that it is Jesus Christ who does both the saving and the keeping. He gets all the glory, and really, we have nothing to boast about. Without Christ, we are totally helpless, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.

In Christ's name,


  1. It's strange to call Jesus your Savior when you don't believe He actually saves you, but that you, through ritual, cooperation or effort, must save yourself. Even if Jesus lends aid He isn't a Savior; He's a partner in your salvation. Either Jesus is our Savior and we are saved (past tense) once we believe the gospel or not. Scripture makes this abundantly clear. Thanks for the post.

  2. Great post, Frank.

    We are kept by the power of God, and if anyone can take us away from him, it implies he is not able to stop them. While Calvin, and especially his followers went too far in couple of their teachings, Arminius is just as far off in the opposite direction.

  3. Amen and Amen. We didn't do anything to earn our salvation, and therefore we can't do anything to lose it. We are saved by grace through faith alone, not in any work, including baptism. The thief on the cross could not be baptized or do any work to merit being in Paradise with Christ, yet there he was, through faith in Christ alone. I wrote a blog post on "Must We Be Baptized?":
    Thanks as always for the excellent, thorough, Scripture-based post.
    God bless,

  4. Excellent post Frank, absolutely excellent. You have made your case well, and explained it thoroughly and most effectively. Without Jesus, we are helpless.

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to frequent Christian online chatrooms. I remember the way Calvinists would often (but not always) get very hostile if anyone at all questioned the Calvinist doctrines. It was like a horde of barbarians trying to browbeat people into accepting they were right. My view was that quite simply we do not need ANOTHER saviour, when we already have Jesus. Also, incidentally, if you have to argue and get angry to promote your viewpoint, you've already lost the battle.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I'll continue to read your blog.

    Excellent rebuke, by the way!

  6. Wonderful Frank!! If the Holy Spirit enters, then something happens...because the Holy Spirit is not dormant or just sitting in there twiddling His, He is active. Therefore, we never work for our,...we respond to His prompting because we ARE saved! This is why scripture says that a believer does not continue sinning...because they have a changed nature and the power to do so whereas the unbeliever does not have that power or the changed nature.


  7. "He who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ's day", Philippians 1: 6.

  8. I have nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award . Congratulations and thank you for so faithfully teaching, uplifting and inspiring through your blogs! The originators of this award request that you post 7 random facts about yourself and the names of 15 other blogs you would like to nominate for this award. The Versatile Blogger Award button can be copied from my blog. Well done and God bless!