Sunday, November 13, 2011

What about the Epistles? Are they for everyone?


Romans 1

 "1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:"

1 Corinthians 1

 1"Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
 2Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:"


2 Corinthians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:"


Galatians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
 2And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:"


Ephesians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:"


Philippians 1

 1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:


Colossians 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 1

 1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 1

 1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:


1 Timothy 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
 2Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Timothy 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
 2To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.


Titus 1

 1Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
 2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
 3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
 4To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Philemon 1:1
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,


Hebrews 2

 1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?


James 1

 1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.


1 Peter 1

 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.


2 Peter 1

 1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:


1 John 2

 1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:


2 John 1

 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;


3 John 1

 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Jude 1:1
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:


2 Timothy 2:15

King James Version (KJV)

 15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth 


 I realize that this is a whole lot of scripture- much more scripture than I usually use in a typical post. To some this will seem like overkill. However, sometimes, in order to understand a truth of the word of God, this is necessary.

There are many groups out there that espouse many different doctrines. They all point to scripture and on the surface, from a certain point of view, they all seem to make some logical sense. Yet, they cannot all be correct. Scripture commands us to study the word of God and to RIGHTLY DIVIDE (correctly understand) it.

There are many different beliefs on how to be "saved", or "born again". Everyone points to a pet scripture to try and prove their belief. One of the more popular ones is to use these verses: 


Romans 10:9-10

King James Version (KJV)
 9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ephesians 2: 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

1 John 1: 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                   

They say, from this- and adding John 3:16 to it- that we are saved by simple belief in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and all we have to do to access this is to believe and repent. 

Sounds good on the surface! Yet, in order to correctly understand a scripture, we must first understand the context of the verse. What is the conversation about? Who is the verse written to? This second question is the sincere point of this blog post. 

Who was Romans 10 written to? Sinners? Or saints? Unregenerate people who have never known the saving Grace of God? Or people who have already become God's children?

Answer:Romans 1: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:"                                 

So Romans 10 was written to people who have already been saved! The same can be said about 1 John 1:9. Who was this Epistle written to? 

1 John 2: "1My little children..." What does John mean by this? His fleshly children or spiritual children? 

 John 1

 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

3 John 1

 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

It is evident from these scriptures that John called his spiritual converts his "children". He's not alone in this. Paul did the same thing in 1 and 2 Timothy 1 and Titus 1, calling Timothy and Titus his sons in the Gospel. 

What about Ephesians? Who was this Epistle written to? 

Ephesians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:"

So, again, this letter is written to people who are already saved. Indeed, all the letters (Epistles), from Romans through Jude are written to already saved people. 

So does it follow that the doctrine of the majority of today's "Christian churches" is true? No. 

Does the Bible give any examples of teaching salvation to unsaved people? Yes. What does it say there that we must do to be saved?


John 3:1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
 9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
 11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
 12If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
 13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Here Jesus explains that we must a) believe (verse 16), b) be born of water and of spirit" (verse 5). 

Most groups whole heartedly accept verse 16, but either ignore or try and explain away verses 3-5. Rather than try and argue here, lets look at how this teaching translated into what the Apostles taught to unsaved folks. 

Acts 2: 37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

The day of Pentecost comes and the "church" is born (Acts 2:1-4). People gather and Peter preaches the first sermon of the church's history. The power and truth of his words is so convicting that his hearers become convicted of their own sins. They immediately ask, in essence, "How do I rid myself of this sin". 

It's a valid question. It's not very hard, if a soul is honest, to admit that we are sinners in the eyes of God. So what do we do with that knowledge? Peter gives us the answer.

Acts 2: 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

This answer agrees with everything Jesus taught in John 3. Jesus said we must believe. A person will not repent of their sins unless they first believe God exists and that they are indeed a sinner in need of a savior.

Jesus said we must be "born of water". Peter said we must be "baptized in Jesus name for the remission of sins". Paul says in Romans 6:4 that we are "buried with him (Jesus) in baptism". Peter says in his Epistles that we are saved by water in baptism, just as Noah and his family were saved by the waters in the flood. 

Jesus said we must be "born of the spirit". Peter said we would "receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". Paul said in Romans that if we don't have the spirit then we are "none of his". 

Read Acts 19:1-7 and Acts 8 and 10. The same plan of salvation is taught here as Peter taught on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

The Epistles are great scripture, but they are all, as you can see by the scripture references above, written to already saved people- explaining how to stay saved, not how to get saved. 

To get saved, do what Jesus, Peter, and Paul all taught:

Acts 2: 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.