The Greatest Question

Torch

The question of all questions is “What think ye of Christ?” What one thinks of Christ determines his thoughts and actions on every question. The correctness of faith depends on the correct answer to the superlative question—“What think ye of Christ?” The question of how and when one is saved by faith through Christ is answered when the first question is resolved. The value of faith in salvation is determined by the use that is made of faith. How faith is to be used must be decided by what the gospel of Christ says; for apart from the testimony of the divine records no one can settle any question as to salvation through Christ.

Before all men today there are two plans of salvation offered. One is of human origin, and contradicts the teaching of Christ and his apostles. The other is Jesus Christ’s own plan, and it was revealed through the apostles.

Since the time of Martin Luther the doctrine of justification by faith alone has been taught as a leading theological tenet. It is taught in opposition to the teaching of Christ through his apostles. We should and we do emphasize justification by faith, as the apostles of the Lord taught it, but we refuse to add the word “alone,” and because we refuse to do that we are charged with teaching justification by works and water salvation. Paul and all of the apostles taught justification by faith, but never did they say faith alone. Why? “There’s a reason,” as certain advertising reads, and quite a sufficient reason. First, they would have contradicted the commission of Mark 16:15-16 which gave them authority to preach. Second, they knew that faith is a continuing state of mind. Faith was to be ever present, hence a life of faith. Hence, Paul said “Christ liveth in me.” Do you ask how? “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Thus Paul teaches that faith is ever present, all through life, and is directed all of the way by “the faith” of Christ. All students of language know that we may employ transposition of clauses in a sentence without changing its meaning, but rather making its meaning clearer. Transposing Rom. 1:16 it reads: “To every one that believeth it (the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation.” So here is the order: (1) There is a believer; (2) the believer is in possession of “the power” that is “unto” salvation; (3) when that “power” is used, the believer becomes saved. Power is necessary to the accomplishment of anything, physical or spiritual. The power must be used before there can be results. The power unto salvation is the gospel. That power and the use of it stands between the believer and salvation. Is the believer saved before and without the use of the power which is “unto”—in order to—his salvation? Who can imagine results without the use of the power necessary to the results? Thus it is that this passage, and every other passage quoted as a faith alone text, condemns the doctrine of salvation at the moment one believes.

What one thinks of Christ is determined by what he thinks of the gospel of Christ.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, TORCH by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

Rules for Studying the Bible

The True Method of Searching the Scriptures

RULE I: We must be satisfied, before we can read the Scriptures understandingly or profitably, that our kind Father intended them for his erring children of earth.

RULE II: In reading the Bible, the study of words is not to be disregarded.

RULE III: We should read, not to prove a system, but to learn the truth.

RULE IV: We should read the Bible with the idea that God is his own interpreter, and he has made it plain.

RULE V: The different portions of the Scriptures should be read with direct reference to their legitimate connections.

RULE VI: In reading, attention should be given to the character of the persons addressed.

RULE VII: The proper division of the Bible should be constantly before the mind of the reader.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, The True Method of Searching the Scriptures by Tolbert Fanning. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

Reading the Bible with Uncertainty

The True Method of Searching the Scriptures

Years ago, in our travels, we spent a night at a town in a southern state and heard the following conversation with the lady who presided at the supper table. She was asked:

“Are you a member of any church?” The lady in a feeble voice replied, “No.” “Why are you not?” “I could not get religion.” “Did you try?” “Yes,” was the reply, “I tried several years, and when I saw many succeed so easily, I felt that there was none for me; and I have not prayed since.” “Do you read the Bible?” said the fair inquirer. “Not now,” said the woman, with a sad heart. “Why do you not read?” Said she, “I cannot understand the Bible; and when I saw, many years ago, that I could not understand the Scriptures, I quit reading.” The next question asked was; “What part of the Bible did you read, to learn how to become a Christian?” “Oh!” said the lady, “I was not particular; I found very pretty reading in Job, the Psalms, and more; I believe in Proverbs.”

The reader will discover that this honest yet deluded daughter of an old preacher was looking up and down the Scriptures hoping that she would, by chance, light upon some place that would show her how to “get religion.” Her friends knew not how to direct her and were, indeed, so shamefully ignorant that they could not inform her; religion is not something which people “get,” but a practice. James 1:26. She had no idea of the object of the books of the Old or New Testament, and presumed she would as likely learn how to become a Christian from the Proverbs of Solomon, the Psalms of David, or the distresses of poor, old, afflicted Job, as any part of the New Testament. Her father ought to have been able to teach her that the Old Testament was not written for the purpose of giving information in reference to becoming the disciples of Jesus Christ. Indeed, she ought to have known, that it was written long before Christ was born or Christianity was revealed; and that Job, David and Solomon, all died looking for better things, but were not permitted to see the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healings in his wings.

If we are not mistaken, thousands of sincere persons read the Bible with quite as much uncertainty as this good woman; and it is to them, so far as intelligence is concerned, a sealed book.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, The True Method of Searching the Scriptures by Tolbert Fanning. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

Ananias and Sapphira

Now Concerning the Collection

While the church in Jerusalem was doing an exceptional work, not all among them were completely sincere. Ananias and Sapphira, a husband and wife, basically did what the others were doing. They sold a piece of property and brought money from the sale to the apostles (Acts 5:1-2). What was different about their contribution compared with the others in the previous chapter was that they “kept back some of the price” (Acts 5:2).

While it is not directly stated, we know the couple gave part of the proceeds of the sale, while portraying it as being the whole amount. We know this because Peter condemned them for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). We also see that their property, before and after the sale, was in their control (Acts 5:4). They could choose to give some or all of it. There was no sin in keeping some of the profit from the sale. The sin was their deception as they tried to make it look like they gave the entire amount they had received.

In reality, the only reason for them to do this would be for the appearance it gave to others. As we conclude from Peter’s statement, the money was in their control; therefore, they could keep back as much as they wanted. But they tried to make themselves appear to be as generous and caring as the other Christians like Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37).

We need to remember that what we give is personal. It is our decision and does not concern anyone else. Jesus spoke of the hypocrites who would give publicly “so that they may be honored by men” (Matthew 6:2). He then added, “Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” They wanted the praise of men. They got it, but that was all the reward they would receive. In contrast, our giving should be done in such a way that we could nearly say that our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3). When we give “in secret,” that is, give without seeking the praise of men, our “Father who sees what is done in secret will reward” us (Matthew 6:4). Our giving reflects a personal decision that we have made. We ought not desire to make it public.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, Now Concerning the Collection: A Study of Giving. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

Cain and Abel

Cain thought the first fruits of the soil a suitable offering, but God rejected both him and his offering, and he became a murderer and a vagabond.

Abel followed the law of God without interposing his own opinion and though slain, yet he lives and speaks in warning to the people of all ages, and of all kindred and countries, warning them, that it is salvation to turn from and reject human opinions and to walk in God’s appointments, even though it brings death. Even when man’s inventions bring present prosperity and triumph, it still is ruin, sure and eternal, to use them in religious service.

Cain and Abel plainly teach that an humble walk in God’s ways, free from the introduction of man’s opinions, even though it brings death, is infinitely preferable to following the opinion of men, though it brings present success and gives earthly power.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, Christian Unity: How Promoted, How Destroyed, Faith and Opinion by David Lipscomb. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!