Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 8, 1961
NUMBER 6, PAGE 6,14a

Ask Your Preacher

Jack L. Holt, Cullman, Alabama

In Mark 16:15 Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." This command was given by Jesus to the apostles. In 1 Cor. 1:21 we read that "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Nearly all of us are aware of the fact that there are many preachers today and much preaching is done. Jesus was a preacher. "....From that time Jesus began to preach saying 'repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'." (Mk. 1:14-15) As a preacher, Jesus faithfully declared the will of the Father. In John 12:49 we read, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak." If all preachers imitated Jesus and declared only that which the Father has revealed all would preach the same thing. Moreover, as a preacher Jesus was ready to defend what He taught and to answer questions relative to His doctrine. Are preachers like that today?

As a general rule preachers have a better knowledge of the Bible than do others. In view of this, preachers are often asked questions concerning the teaching of the Bible. Surely, every preacher should be able and willing to give the book, chapter and verse for his practice and teaching. In view of the fact that a number of different doctrines are taught, and since the salvation of our souls may be involved, we need to ask questions of preachers about their teachings. John said, "Beloved believe not every spirit, but try the spirits for many false prophets are gone out Into the world." (I John 4:1) Jesus said, "ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) We can be purified only by obeying the truth, (1 Pet. 1:33) and we can enter heaven only by doing the will of God. (Mt. 7:21) Honesty, good intentions and obeying men will not make us acceptable with God. (Mt. 15:9) There is, therefore, the need to "prove all things, hold fast that which is good," (1 Thess. 5:21) and put forth every effort to see that we are approved of God. To do this we may need to follow the practice of asking the preacher for the Bible authority for our practice. May I suggest that you ask your preacher "WHERE THE BIBLE TEACHES WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH ONLY?" This is a very popular doctrine, much taught and believed. In the Methodist Discipline, 1910, pg. 6, we read: "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lrrd and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith and not for our own works or deservings; wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." Thus in this creed-book we find the doctrine of salvation by faith only clearly set forth, but where does the Bible teach this? The Bible says: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only." (Jas. 2:24) The Bible and the creed are in conflict. Just as no man can serve two masters, he cannot believe two conflicting doctrines. One can't believe we are saved by faith only, and "not by faith only" at the same time! Which do we believe? If your preacher teaches we are saved by faith only ask him for the BIBLE passage that so teaches.

As you ask this question keep in mind the fact that it is generally agreed that we are saved by faith. This the Bible plainly teaches. Paul said: "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God." (Rom. 5:1) John wrote: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) But let us also remember that there is a great deal of difference in being saved by faith, and in being saved by faith ONLY! In fact, faith only is no faith, for it is dead. James teaches: "Even so faith if it have not works is dead being alone" and "As the body without the spirit is dead even so faith if it hath not works is dead being alone." (Jas. 2:17, 26)

Faith is real or alive only when it obeys. We are saved by faith but when? This is the real question. If one is saved by mere belief alone then those who refuse to confess Christ can be saved. Note John 12:42-43: "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him but because of the Pharisees they would not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God." The Bible plainly declares that these men believed. Were they saved? If not, why not? If the Methodist creed-book is correct they were saved. But the Bible is right and "faith only will not avail." These men were not saved because their faith did not express itself in obedience. They had faith, but it was not the faith that saves for it was dead.

Let us approach the subject from another angle. What does it mean to believe on the Lord, or to have faith in Him? We know that God saves the believer, but what believer? We have already seen that He does not save every believer. Then what believer does he save? What is the faith that pleases God? The answer to these questions is as follows: God saves the believer that obeys, and blesses the faith that works. In Heb. 11, we have a number of illustrations of this truth. The divine writer here speaks of the believers that are acceptable and describes the faith that delivers. In verse 4 we read: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than did Cain...." Here we see that the expression "by faith" is followed by a verb of action. Abel was saved by his faith when his faith led him to offer what God commanded. He was justified by faith when his faith worked. And his works, instead of nullifying his faith demonstrated it. James said, "Shew me thy faith without thy works and I will show thee my faith by my works." (2:18)

In Heb. 11:7, we read of Noah's faith. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Noah's faith MOVED him to prepare an ark. The inspired writer teaches t.iat Noah's work in preparing the ark was by FAITH. According to some, if you do anything in being saved you nullify faith. Or if you do anything in being saved you are trying to be saved by works, not Christ. But neither Noah nor the inspired writer believed or taught such. Noah was saved by faith, yet by faith he built the ark. Noah was saved by faith yet, "All that God commanded Noah, so did he." (Gen. 6:22) Do we obey God's commands???

But Paul himself is an excellent example of "salvation by faith." Paul used the expression and included himself when he said, "Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God"....but when? When the Lord appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus he told him to "go into the city and there it shall be told thee what thou must do." Saul went into the city and for three days and nights not a morsel of food or drop of water passes through his rips. Finally Ananias came in and said: "And now why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) Paul arose ,ma was baptized. After this he received meat and was strengthened. Now when was Saul justified by faith? When did he have peace with God? Before or after baptism? Ask your preacher if he can find one example of a sinner rejoicing because of sins forgiven, after the Great Commission was given, except that sinner had been baptized in water!

In view of such it is no wonder that Paul wrote to the Galatians, "For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:26-27) We are children of God by faith in Christ, but we are baptized into Christ, thus we are children of God by faith when faith obeys. We are told by the Lord, "That without faith it is impossible to please God" (Ileb. 11:6) and further, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word In God." (Rom. 10:17) But the word says: "The like figure whereunto even baptism Both also now save us...." (1 Pet. 3:21) Do we believe it? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved...." (Acts 16:30) Do we believe 1 Pet. 3:21? Jesus asks: "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Lk. 6:46) So ask your preacher where the Bible teaches we are saved by faith only. Not by faith, but as the creed-book says — "By faith only."