By William C. Sexton
Recently an article came across my path wherein the writer ridiculed the idea that repentance and confession are necessary conditions for forgiveness of sins. After his ridicule and rationalization, then he dogmatically declared, “The condition is continued striving after Christ and truth . . . .” Let us consider that declaration in light of God’s word and our soul’s eternal salvation.
1. The Bible says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; . .”; (1 Pet. 4:11). Also, Paul, the inspired apostle, said if we would be “justified” in our “sayings” and “overcome” when we are judged, we must “let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
2. It is strange how some will ridicule the idea that God covers all in the revelation, denouncing those who call for the acceptance of the Bible on all matters as being “Legalist.” The Bible claims that the forgiveness of sins for the non-Christian is conditioned on one coming to “Christ” wherein is salvation (2 Tim. 1:10; 2 Cor. 5:17); the Bible teaches clearly, also, that one is “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27). Now, all the ridicule and rationalization in the world will not change that: honesty, continued striving and searching, etc. will not, according to the scriptures, bring one “into” that relationship with Christ. In the same manner, the child of God who sins is told to, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thoughts of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22). Furthermore, the beloved man of God, the apostle John, said, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8). To offer salvation on conditions other than the ones set forth in God’s word, then is to offer something that is “strange” as the fire offered by the priests in Lev. 10:1-2.
3. One can ridicule the idea that such inspired teachings are complete and rationalize that there must be another category of sins which are not included in these passages otherwise “we’ll all be lost.” However, when one makes such a claim, he is turning from the “wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 2:9-16), which has been revealed to the apostles and which was spoken and written “in the words” which the; “Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Such was written so that we may read and “understand” (Eph. 3:3-4). God has preserved such for us, and we can chose to accept and abide in His wisdom or we may turn to and glory in man’s wisdom – ours and/or that of others. When we respond to God’s clear teachings with ridicule and rationalization, we are replacing Divine wisdom with man’s, All who follow us in such directives are under the same captive and destructive forces.
Beloved, we must be willing to walk by faith and not by “sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Therefore, we need to ask for book, chapter, and verse. If such is given, then we need to consider it honestly and carefully, to see if indeed such is the true intended meaning (cf. Mt. 4:1-11; 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:1-4). If we find that it is, then accept it, appreciate it and advocate it with fervor, zeal and love (cf. Acts 4:19-20; 5:29; 1 Thess. 2:13; Jas. 1:21-25).
4. If there is a verse of scripture which says “the condition (of forgiveness) is continued striving after Christ and truth,” then I do not know where it is and would like very much to have some one point it out to me. However, with my understanding of the scriptures, I believe that it is to be found right by that passage that say, “Once saved, always saved” or the passages that say, “Salvation is by faith only!” When we find one, we will find the other; if one is missing, so is the other!
It is sad when one gets himself so worked up that he will set forth dogmatically his plan while ridiculing the conditions set by God in His revelation, while they are also charging others with being “self-righteous.”
Satan, the opponent of man is working over-time deceptively to get you and me to accept such as the word of God. Some really run scared when some one calls them a “Legalist” (one who believes in a system of works). Beloved, I have heard that slander hurled at God’s people for 25 years. Denominational people always view the idea that one has to be baptized, to be saved as a system of work; so, people today who have taken up part of the same concept relative to a child of God being forgiven follow in their “father’s foot-steps.”
Our plea is: do not be deceived; God will not be mocked. Seed produces after its kind. I challenge each to ask the proclaimer of such statements as we have dealt with here to produce book, chapter and verse for such or to stop their mouths! As Jeremiah advised long ago, “ask for the old path, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16; cf. Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 15:6, 7; 2 John 9). To abide within the “teachings of Christ” is to have the Father and Son’s protection and blessings; to move beyond them is to be on one’s own! Where are you, my beloved friend? Where are those who are influenced by you? Can you abide by 1 Pet. 3:15 and follow the route you have chosen? Death is coming to all, and eternity has two places, and it will be a long time! Think.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 6, p. 107
February 7, 1980