Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 9 September 2014
Page 2

Editorial

Salvation Summarized

Louis RushmoreEssentially, the biblical plan of salvation for today can be summarized, encapsulated and briefly stated in just nine (9) words – one short sentence. Numerous additional New Testament Scriptures could be marshalled respecting the plan of salvation for non-Christians, but just nine words in one little sentence reveal enough information to identify the point at which one’s sins are removed.

Furthermore, the scope of the authority of the Speaker – Jesus Christ – who made the nine-word statement encompasses heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18 NKJV).  Our Lord and Savior said, and it is recorded, in Mark 16:16 (NKJV), “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” One has to marvel at the simplicity of our Lord’s declaration, which is equivalent in simplicity to 1 + 2 = 3. Belief + baptism = salvation! The plan of salvation could not be any simpler than that, and any thinking mind can easily understand it, too. Frankly, someone would have to have the wrong kind of help to misunderstand that straightforward statement of Jesus.

Some people mistakenly make an unwarranted distinction between the words of Jesus and the speeches and writings of the apostles of Christ and other writers of the New Testament. Actually, God and the Holy Spirit are behind both the words of our Lord (John 12:49-50) and of the writings in the rest of the New Testament (Matthew 10:19-20; 2 Peter 1:21). Nevertheless, Red Letter Edition Bibles highlight the words of Jesus Christ in red letters, and therefore, Mark 16:16 appears in red letters: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” By everyone’s estimate, among those who have any regard whatsoever for the Bible, there is no higher authority than the words of Jesus Christ Himself – in red letters or in black and white.

Despite the indisputable fact that Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…,” most people today read it differently than what our Lord uttered. They read it as though our Lord said, “He who believes is saved, and if he wants to, he can be baptized.” That is not what the Son of God said! Think about that contrast – really contradiction – for a moment.

Someday, every soul will appear before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ to answer for his or her deeds and hear either a sentence to a devil’s hell or an invitation into heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10). Jesus Christ pictured the Judgment scene in Matthew 7:21-23, which reads:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew [approved of] you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Remarkably and lamentably, some are pictured in that text of trying to negotiate with our Lord, but it did not work. I cannot imagine a sadder passage anyplace in the Bible than that of sincere souls arriving before the Judgment Seat of Jesus, expecting to be ushered into heaven, but instead being consigned to hell. How terribly sad!

Further, I can imagine our religious neighbors finding themselves in that situation respecting their treatment of our Lord’s words in Mark 16:16. I can hear friends, neighbors, family members and coworkers objecting and attempting to negotiate with Jesus at the late date of being before the very Judgment Seat of Christ. “Lord, Lord, You fail to understand! We voted on that. It is no longer, 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved…,' but now it is, 'He who believes is saved, and if he wants to, he can be baptized.'” Really, how do you think that is going to work out for them?

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” That message is for non-Christians and how they can become the children of God – how their sins can be removed. However, other passages address how sins that creep into the lives of Christians can be removed. The apostle Peter told a new Christian named Simon who had committed sin, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). Likewise, the apostle John also wrote about how sin in the lives of Christians can be removed. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

There are two (2) laws of pardon in the Christian Age in which we live: one for the non-Christian and one for the Christian. A person cannot effect the removal of sin and becoming a child of God by trying to misapply the second law of pardon to the non-Christian. By the same token, Christians do not need to be baptized – part of the first law of pardon – again to combat sins in their lives. Salvation can be summarized for non-Christians and Christians by correctly applying the appropriate Scriptures to each group. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).


Editorial

The Sadducees

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Rodney NulphIn studying the New Testament, one often comes across the name “Sadducee” (some 14 times in the KJV). To simply read over the word “Sadducee” without any knowledge of that group is to miss some really great nuggets. Understanding the historical background to the Bible aids in ones’ understanding of a particular text and the overall message. Such is the case with some facts regarding the sect of the Jews called the Sadducees.

Background

The origin of the Sadducees is a bit ambiguous, although most historical information records that they originated sometime around the time of the Babylonian captivity. One of the major difficulties in describing the Sadducees is that most of what we know about them comes from their opponents. They themselves left no written records of their history, their organization or their views. Most scholars believe that they were not a numerous group, but that they were extremely influential due to their wealthy, affluent lifestyle. In fact, Josephus records that they could persuade none but the rich. They also largely controlled the Sanhedrin (the highest court of the Jews). Interestingly, according to Josephus, Annas the High Priest was a Sadducee.

Beliefs

The name “Sadducee” means “to be righteous,” which is somewhat of an oxymoron given their beliefs. The Scriptures sum up in a concise way the Sadducees’ beliefs, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit…” (Acts 23:8a). The Sadducees boasted loyalty to the written Law and vehemently rejected the oral traditions of the Pharisees. Like the other sects of Judaism, the Sadducees believed the Torah or Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) was more authoritative than the rest of the Scriptures. Although they believed in God, they did not believe in the action of God in their daily lives, and nor did they want God to intervene in their “well-ordered” lives. They believed that prayer was merely a mental exercise, but that it had no bearing on the outcome of circumstances. They loved their comfortable, elegant lives on earth, and so there was no need to long for or believe in eternity.

Boiling It Down

While few, if any, would claim to hold to Sadduceeism today, some still follow their belief system. For example, some believe that prayer changes little, but rather it is merely a spiritual exercise. Some love the world so much that any thought of leaving it brings fear and anxiety. Still others believe that God merely “wound up” the universe and walked away, thus having no influence in daily activities, circumstances or outcomes. Like the Sadducees, sadly, far too many people fail to view the entire Word of God as authoritative and simply “pick and choose” what is convenient.

 The problem is that many who believe like the Sadducees today are often in positions of leadership in churches and schools of higher learning. They might not be wealthy (not all the Sadducees were), but because they are well educated, they seem to reflect an aristocratic view of themselves. Their education and their positions have unfortunately impressed others and gained for them a following. Testing our beliefs with the Word of God is the only sure way to never fall into the “blind leading the blind” trap. Jesus said it best to the unbelieving Jews of His day. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Follow Jesus, for no one else is worth following!


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