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Talk To Ministers

VOL.4                                                                                                                                                 No. 5

If you love the Lord Jesus Christ and I love the Lord Jesus Christ, then why should we
not enjoy studying His Word together regardless of our denominational differences?
Original Series  Volume 1, No. 1                                                                            March 1988

At the time this was written, our address was UP WAY PUBLICATIONS ~ P. O. Box 1898 ~ New Smyrna Beach, FL 32070-1898

The message may be nearly 25 years old, but much of 
what I said then is, unfortunately,  still true today.

Dear Fellow Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

I am alarmed at a trend I have noticed in the past few months which seems to be on the increase. As those entrusted to explain, teach and preach the soul-saving, life-changing gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ministers have an obligation to preach, teach and counsel under the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit. We are taught that He is the "Spirit of Truth," and that He will help us to understand God's Word. Why is it, then, that of late, I have heard both the ministers with "doctor" attached to their names and those who take pride that they have never been to Bible College misquote scriptures in ways that clearly show they do not understand what God, through the inspired writer, is trying to communicate to us. Nor is it limited to any particular segment of doctrine, since I have heard a noted Baptist "Dr." on the radio, a local minister of a major denomination, another local minister of a much smaller "Spirit-filled" group and several other noted radio ministers with Presbyterian, Assemblies of God and other ties make such glaring misquotations that a child in the Primary Sunday School class should be able to say, "Pastor, that's not what MY Bible says!"

A number of years ago while ministering in the Chicago area, I heard John B. Jess on WMBI radio when he jokingly said that the largest denomination on earth is the "ignorant Brethren," in reference to the Apostle paul's often repeated "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren...." Unfortunately, it seems he is right.

I realize that often we ministers get so caught up in counselling, performing weddings and funerals, dedicating parks, praying invocations and, in some cases working to support families while trying to build a work for God where none of our doctrinal persuasion has been before. However, the truth is that we still need to study the Word. I cannot believe the number of ministers who have admitted to me that except for a brief passing over in Old or New Testament Survey in Bible College or Seminary, there are many areas of scripture they have never really read and studied for themselves, but then, while trying to illustrate God's dealings with man in a certain way, they will attempt to pull from memory some story from the life of some Bible character and completely turn the events around! While it may not be critical to salvation that the prophet Elisha cast a branch from a tree into the water to make the ax head swim and Solomon hardly passed his knowledge on to David and neither was he black, not all the misquotations I have heard are so unimportant.

Take the word "for" as found in Acts 2:38. If you look up the word "for" in a dictionary, there are up to 32 definitions in some complete dictionaries! Which one fits? It is apparent that to rightly understand which meaning of the word "for" applies in a given sentence, one must know what the sentence is talking aobut in the first place. If, as some teach, the word "for" in Acts 2:38 means "because" or "because of," then water baptism is not essential or even very important to our salvation since we are doing it only as an indication we have been saved. But if it means "to obtain, to receive, or to get," then it is necessary if one wishes to obtain, receive or get the remission (forgiveness) of sins and is of vital importance to our salvation.  So how are we to determine (assuming we are not knoledgable of the Greek) which of the definitions best fits the verse? First, we ask, "who is speaking to whom and why?" So, the Apostle Peter is speaking to the crowd on the day of Pentecost in response to their question, "What must we do?" Thus in response to a request for information on how to obtain what Peter and the others are exhibiting, his reply is to: 1. repent; 2. be baptized toobtain remission of sins; and 3. god will give them the gift of the Holy Ghost which they are desiring. Is this a valid understanding? We are told that John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the remissionof sins and the Apostle Paul likens baptism to our death to our old nature, burial with Jesus Christ and resurrection as a new creature with Him, in Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27 and Colossians 2:12. The apostles demonstrated their understanding of the command in Acts 2:41; 8:12, 16; 9:18; 10:48 (Please note that in Greek, the word "Lord" does not appear, but Jesus Christ does!); 16:14,15,33; and 19:5. A more controversial verse occurs in 1 Peter 3:21. It should be clear to all that the baptism commanded in Acts 2:38 is not at all optional, regardless of whether you read and study the Greek and Aramaic or just plain English, since not only does this reading agree completely with the immediate context, but with many other New Testament references. 

Some of you are now angry with me. Not only have I possibly referred to you as an "ignorant brother" but now I am quoting a weight of scriptures that indicates that "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..." is not the whole "plan of salvation." Please bear in mind that I feel a responsibility to every person to whom I have the opportunity of sharing the Word of God. If I mislead you and make salvation more difficult than God intended, then I can expect severe punishment for keeping yu from the Lord. Acts 16:31is but the opening sentence of a paragraph that continues through verse 33 and clearly demonstrates the Philippian jailer's obedience to Acts 2:38 -- belief, repentance and water baptism are all spelled out in his actions! Conversely, the former scoffers on the day of Pentecost gave a demonstration of the belief spoken of in John 23:16 and Acts 16:31 because without having believed the message of the Holy Spirit preached by the Apostle Peter, they would never have been "pricked in their heart" or, as we say today, "come under conviction." Truthfully, have you ever seen anyone come to Jesus for salvation without first believing they are sinners? The list could go on, but the answer is crystally clear and only a foolwould try to say that conviction of sin and a desire for salvation from that sin can come before belief has already taken place in the heart and mind of that person! And who can claim to have earned the right to salvation by any means? Only the Grace of God extends to us salvation free of monetary cost or obligation, and belief that anything you or I may do to merit, earn or deserve salvation is necessarily unbelief in the Grace of God, since grace is undeserved or unmerited favor. Thus, if we believe we can deserve or earn our salvation by being baptized or repenting of our sins, our belief is in the wrong thing. Only the Grace of God, manifested through the birth, life, trials, death, burian and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the words He spoke while on earth makes salvation available, paid the price, formulated the vaccine against sin. It is because of the Grace of God that you are permitted to believe in Him, to feel the conviction of the Holy Ghost, be sorry you have lived apart from Him and repent and to be buried with Jesus Christ in baptism to rise and walk in newness of life as a reflection of Jesus Christ.

I am pleased to report that final proofreading is completed on the FOUNDATIONS FIRM Bible Study quarterly which has been in the works since 1972. Printing is awaiting availability of funds.

In the original printed and mailed issue of this Talk to Ministers, there was a now very obsolete message about the Foundations Firm Bible Study series ( http://followersofjesuschrist.org/foundfirmbk1.html ) and information that the "Talk to Ministers" is published irregularly and that Magazines, books, tracts and newsletters are published as the Lord provides enough freewill gifts and offerings.

My teaching emphasis is on learning to study the Bible in complete context so that you understand the meaning that the original speaker or writer, by inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, intended, so that you will not be easily swayed by every wind of doctrine that comes down the road.

Your prayers for the Smith family and our ministries are strongly requested.

Yours for Jesus' sake,

Rev. Samuel M., Virginia Q. , Samuel M. Q., Caleb Q. Smith, Elijah Q. and Elisha Q. Smith

   P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734  U.S.A.         Printed in U. S. A.
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