Ears to Hear?
Where or to whom did you go to for your spiritual convictions? Most people admittedly just assume that their parents told them everything that was needed for them to get by. In some ways, they may teach you the best way for you to live here on Earth, but is it sufficient enough for you to gain Heaven when you die? When I first started to write this article, I came across an article on this very same topic written by Mary Beth Kremski, and it can be read at this web address:http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0004fea1.asp. It is an excellent article with one slight problem, she belongs to the church that declares to be "the one true church" but this denomination is also an error-filled church with many false teachings. So rather than to just tell you about the article, I thought that I'd investigate some of those in that line of apologetics.
Have you ever seen or heard of James Akin? I came across an article of his that is a tear-jerking one for sure as he tells of how he was converted, including the death of his wife that happened about the same time. In this article, he writes some of the very same arguments that I've had people tell me before. However, there is one major flaw in his explanation. He writes "One passage that highlighted the sacramental manner in which God gives us his grace was 1 Peter 3:20-21, where we're told that "God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also; not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." The meaning of Peter's statement, "Baptism now saves you," is clear from the context of the passage. He's referring to the sacrament of water baptism, because he says eight people were saved through water. Baptism does not save us by removing dirt from our bodies. The merely physical effects of pouring water in baptism are unimportant. What counts is the action of the Holy Spirit though baptism, for in it we "pledge . . . a good conscience toward God," (that is, we make a baptismal pledge of repentance) and are saved "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." I began to discover this sacramental principle throughout the Bible. In both the Old and the New Testament there are incidents where God uses physical means to convey grace." He writes a little bit about his meeting with fellow apologist Scott Hahn and I could see the similarities with the two men as Scott was also converted to this denomination with the basic principle of "If it seems that good, how bad can it be?" The major flaw in their logic is as follows.
The part that they failed to mention in their reasoning is what the Bible teaches about what Jesus accomplished at Calvary's cross and that we are told in John 6:28, 29: "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.' Looking a bit more into Scriptures, we see that He came to earth to save sinners, not by sacramental means, but by taking our sins to the cross. As Peter tells us in I Peter 1:18,19,24- "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot ...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed." Understand that Jesus actually prayed to the Father that there might be another way, but there wasn't. And just before He died, Jesus declared, "It is finished." He did everything there at Calvary to clean us, purge us, wash us and redeem us with his blood. The only catch was it is applied only to those of whom trust in His finished work as John 3:16 tells us, "God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him, might be saved."
Looking back at Mr. Akin's theories above, we must remember that the Bible tells us plainly in Romans 4:4 if we are rewarded for doing something, then that is a wage, not grace. And by definition grace is unmerited favor, not something we earn. Romans 11:6 adds that, "if by grace then it is no longer by works, and if by works it is no longer by grace." So how can his denomination say that they are saved by grace through sacraments? It is an absolute contradiction of terms to say this in light of Ephesians 2:8 and 9, which says "you are saved by grace, not by works lest you boast." Concerning the explanation given to us in regards to the baptism, we are instructed to be baptized after having believed in what Jesus did by His death and resurrection, and we see that in Peter's example of the flood, no one got saved by the water, but rather through Jesus' death and resurrection the people got saved . For him to state that Christ works in this way, saying that, "This is how the sacraments work; God uses physical signs (water, oil, bread, wine, the laying on of hands) as vehicles for his grace, which we receive in faith" is an outright blasphemous statement that reminds me of Jesus warning about how great the deceptions would be at the end times, (Matthew 24:24) and how vital it is to know Scriptures for yourself. The whole idea is which way you choose to believe, for the Bible tells us that we must be born again, that is to have a heart-changing moment in which we trust completely in Jesus and His finished work. This is the point of one's salvation as we see in Ephesians 1:13, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."
So where do you start? If you have ears to hear, you'll start with God's word for It is the power to change you, (Romans 1:16 and 10:14-17), that you can grow spiritually with it, (1 Peter 2:2), and is complete to make you spiritually wise, (Hebrews 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:15-17), areas that are denied by his church. How do I know? My brother told me that in the early 70's he read Psalm 119 and it changed his outlook. In this Psalm, we find passages such as verse 9, " How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word." 11 "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You." and continues throughout as well as the New Testament of John 8:31 and 32 which tells us "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
So in closing I ask you not only if you have ears to hear, but to whom are you listening to and are you sure that the source is Scripturally correct? Just to be safe, check it out, for we only go around once.