Errors of the church of Christ (31) – Baptism (2)

5. Moser argues about baptism similarly as he does about repentance: “If baptism is a condition of salvation which is given on the condition of faith in Christ, it too must be related to faith, and so related that its meaning will not oppose the meaning of faith. Now as confession is faith expressed by words, baptism is faith expressed by deed….This view of baptism sanctioned by scripture lifts baptism from a meaningless act of legalism to the high plane of salvation by faith in Christ.” (See Moser.) What do you think?

RT – I will not take exception to these words, but to say that “faith” is also a deed (John 6:29).

6. Regarding Acts 10:44-48, were Cornelius and the other Gentiles (who had heard the gospel, had received the empowering Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and had spoken in tongues and praised God) children of the devil before they were baptized? Or were they children of God filled with the Holy Spirit and later got baptized? Doesn’t the fact that they spoke in tongues prior to baptism prove that they were children of God and thus saved before they were baptized? Doesn’t Peter in Acts 10:43 make it clear that it was the faith that produced remission of sins, and that water baptism came later as a symbol of their new life in Christ?

RT – Does the fact that a donkey spoke by the power of God say anything about the spiritual standing of that donkey? Does the fact that Balaam was a prophet speak anything to his favorable standing before the Lord? The case of Cornelius is clearly an exception to the pattern (a word you hate) that God set forth. That which Peter said in Acts 2:38 – is it true? If it is, how does it relate to 10:44-48? Which one is the norm? Cornelius was told that he would be given words to hear in order to be saved (10:4-5, 22; 11:14). What words did Peter speak in order that he might learn of Jesus? Did he hear those words? Why did Peter command him to be baptized?

7. Doesn’t Peter make it clear in Acts 10:48 that this experience was the same way the apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Is there any record in the Bible that the apostles received water baptism?

RT – No, there is no explicit recording of such, unless we make an inference from Acts 1:22. Let me turn to question in your direction and ask you: Were they baptized? If so, why?

8. Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 12:13 show that baptism by the Holy Spirit is what places us in the body of Christ?

RT – That verse can be understood in one of two ways; neither way is troublesome.

9. Your motto is, “Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.” But don’t you break that rule all the time? For example, you say, “He that is baptized not shall be damned.” But that phrase does not appear in the Bible, does it? What does appear in the Bible is, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” So haven’t you twisted Scripture?

RT – I laughed when I read this. In fact, you twisted the words of what you think some say about the verse in order to perpetuate your straw man.


10, What do you think about Carl Ketcherside’s charge (please read chapter 9, Christians in Babylon) that, “To demand that one of God’s children be forced to submit to re-baptism at the hands of one of ‘our preachers’ in order to be in ‘our fellowship’ is sectarianism pure and simple…Such Church-of-Christ-isms like all other ‘isms’ are an insult to the persons and dignity of the Holy Spirit by whom we ‘are all baptized into one body.'”

RT – What Carl had to say is simply an opinion – nothing more. 


Errors of the church of Christ (30) – Baptism

“Being raised in the Church of Christ, I began a lifelong devotion to the Word of God. But there was an incident that began to shake my faith in the Church of Christ. When I was in college, a boy I knew was killed in a car accident on his way to being baptized. He had gone through an extensive process of learning the Christian faith at my church, had professed his deep and abiding faith in Christ, and had fulfilled every requirement to being a Christian—except being baptized. Most of my friends in the church believed that because he had not been baptized that this boy was in hell for eternity. This event started me questioning the teachings of the Church of Christ. In time, I studied my way out of this sect.”     —-Edward

Please see our article 101 Reason Why Water Baptism is Not Necessary to be Saved before proceeding. We also highly recommend this article Moser on Baptism for those who want to think deeply about the Bible.

1. Are we saved by water or by Christ’s blood?

RT – We are saved by the blood of Christ.

2. Next, if you are a Church of Christ person with an open mind, we ask you to read Leroy Garrett’s article about “one baptism”— chapter 37, One Baptism. Among many other points in this article, Garrett says, “We as immersionists must rid ourselves of the ungracious notion that those who do not baptize the way we do have rebellious and disobedient hearts. They can be mistaken without being degenerate. And they can be mistaken and still be Christians who are pleasing God, just as we can still be Christians when we are mistaken.” What is the difference, according to Garrett, in the etymology of a word and the meaning of a word?

RT – I do not know what Garrett said, but I can give a dictionary definition. As a noun it consists of the process of immersion, submersion, and emergence (from bapto, to dip) (Vines, pp. 98-99). That is the meaning of the word. In Scripture one is baptized in order to wash away sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), in order to be buried with Christ and resurrected with Him as well (Romans 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12), in order to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5), and in order to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). If one is baptized apart from what Scripture says they have not been baptized.

The purpose of this section is not necessarily to try to show that the view of the Church of Christ—baptismal regenerational of mature believers by immersion—is wrong, but rather to attempt to show that such a view should not by itself be used to as a hatchet to separate from other Christian groups. CC theologian Everett Ferguson in his book instructs against such practice (page 403): “Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 protests against any view of baptism which would make it a badge of distinction among Christians instead of a unifying act.”

RT –Yes, that is what he said, but it is evident you have not read him very well if you think he minimizes the subject of baptism in New Testament theology.

3. Ferguson also warns (page 195): “Baptism provides an objective assurance of having received God’s promised salvation in Christ. That may lead to the subtle temptation to trust in baptism for salvation instead of trusting in God, his act in Christ, and his word of promise.” As it seems that many within the CC have yielded to this temptation, it is asked, is your faith in Christ or in baptism (chapter 13, Sectarian Baptism)? What is the difference, according to Hook, in baptism for remission of sins and baptism to receive the Holy Spirit?

RT – Yes, that is what he said also. You should, however, included the remarks he made in the next paragraph with regard to those who put other things into a misplaced column, such as faith or experience, or doctrinal correctness, etc. a faithful Christian will always, and without exception, says his (her) faith is in Christ.

4. First, just a point of logic. Physical life, we’re sure you will agree, begins at conception rather than at birth. Similarly, we argue along with Cecil Hook that spiritual life begins with faith and not at baptism (chapter 27 beginning on page 98, When Life Begins). In the rest of this section we will attempt to prove this biblically. Comment?

RT – Spiritual life begins where the Lord says it does. Any analogy used to mitigate this is a false analogy. Biblical baptism is not to be understood or applied apart from what the Scripture says. Those baptized into Christ will be because of their faith (Mark 16:16).



Errors of the church of Christ (29) – Abraham’s Justification

5. In James 2:14 in the Greek there is a modifying adjective in front of “faith” which is left out in the King James translation, but is translated in other versions as “the” or “that” or “such.” So James is asking here, “Can such a faith save? Or, “Can that faith save?” Notice also that James does not deny that faith justifies; he simply says, “and not by faith only.” So James acknowledges that it is indeed faith that justifies. Most theologians down through the ages have insisted that the way to reconcile the biblical message of faith and works is to explain that works describe a true saving faith but do not save unto themselves?

6. James gives us the clues we need. First of all, James makes it clear how futile it is to think that we can be saved by our works. He insists that even one single sin on our part is equivalent to breaking the entire law (James 2:10)! Then in verse 14 he asks an explanatory question whether a dead faith can save us? (Can that faith or such a faith save us?) Of course he means, no it cannot. Then in verse 18 he says that a living saving faith is shown by our works. So James is not saying that we are saved by works, rather our obedience is evidence of a legitimate faith.

So, there is, then, a simple way to reconcile faith and works in a way that is faithful to Scripture without making Scripture contradict itself. We are saved by a living faith—that is, one which expresses itself in obedience. Note that this is very different from saying that we are saved by faith plus works or any such construction. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works can we boast.

RT – Okay, you and your “most theologians” remark is to be set aside. Let us consider the context. “Faith is to be understood how? I suggest one’s “subjective” faith, one’s response of the heart to the Lord’s will. It is used that way in 2:14, 17. In 2:18-20 “faith” is used in conjunction with “works” and the two are tied together. “Works” in this particular portion of the chapter is dealing with the good one may do toward another. In 2:21-24 “faith”, “works”, and “Abraham” are all tied together. The Scripture plainly teaches that Abraham was justified by works. The word “justified” means what? Two Greek dictionaries define the word “to declare righteous, justify” (Mounce, p. 374; Vines. P. 625). This notion of “forensic” and “vindication” (as some like to insert here, thus making a distinction) James says nothing about. It forthrightly declares that Abraham was justified by works! 

7. C. K. Moser gives several biblical examples of how it is faith that saves, regardless of whether or not that faith is expressed in some sort of action. He cites the stories of Jesus healing the blind in John 9 and Matthew 9. In one case, the blind man did something—washed in the pool of Siloam. In the other case, nothing was done other than what Jesus did. Moser asks, “Were these blind men cured upon different principles? In both cases the blind received sight upon the principle of faith in Christ. In one case faith expressed by overt acts, in the other case it was not. After all it is faith that the Lord wants….Faith expressed remains faith.” (See Moser.) Comment?

RT – If the recipient did not respond to what Jesus said that person would have to do, then that which was promised would not be granted. Jesus told the man to go to the pool and wash; if he did not go would he gain his sight? To ask is to answer. With regard to the account in Matthew 9:27-31 we learn that there was a response to what Jesus asked, and in this response it was the Lord’s doing that brought sight to the eyes. In both contexts we learn the following: Jesus called for a response, and in both contexts a response was given. Second, the accentuation is upon Jesus and less so upon those with whom Jesus interacted. Third, the matter pertains to physical healing.

8. What about repentance—isn’t that a work? Please see this link: Repentance. What is the relationship between repentance and salvation? What was Peter calling his hearers to do relative to repentance in Acts 2:38? Was this an action or a change of mind? Moser continues, “But salvation is by faith. Repentance, then, must in some way relate to faith. And it must relate to faith in such a way as not to oppose it.” We argue that repentance is merely the flip side of faith. If you turn to Jesus you will by definition turn from your life of sin and selfishness. You will automatically repudiate your fleshly nature.  This is the deep meaning of repentance. So, repentance is technically not a work per se. It is part of surrendering to Jesus that occurs at the point of a living faith. After we are saved by faith, we begin to show outward confirming acts such as confession and good works because of our gratitude for what God has done for us. Confession is faith expressed in words (Romans 10:9). Again, it is the faith that saves, not any expression of it. Comment?

RT – If a person is called upon to repent (Acts 2:38), that particular person is called upon to do something. If faith is a work (John 6:29), there is no possible way that repentance can’t be. You try to distinguish between an action and a change of mind, but if faith is a work – which is an “action” of the heart, then repentance is the same. Moreover, the New Testament does not say or even intimate that repentance is the different side to faith – not once! You said, “If you turn to Jesus you will by definition turn from your life of sin and selfishness. You will automatically repudiate your fleshly nature.” If this is not an action, nothing is.

9. What about baptism? Isn’t it a work? Just as repentance is technically not a “work” of man, baptism is technically, according to Titus 3:4-7, not a work of man either! Baptism is a work of God! This leads us into the next section. But before that, one last word. If we are wrong in this, our error is putting too high a view on God and his work (and too low a view on our own work). If the Church of Christ is wrong on justification, your error is putting too low a view on Jesus (and too high a view on man’s work)! Comment?

RT – It’s is good to see that you recognize that baptism is not a work of man, but it is a work of God. 


Errors of the church of Christ (28) – Faith, Works, Justification

The Relationship of Faith and Works in Justification

The Church of Christ is under the impression that evangelicals have no part for works in the salvation formula. This is incorrect. The evangelical understanding is that grace = salvation + works. Though the Church of Christ does not use such formulas, their interpretation is either grace + works = salvation (semi-Pelagian), or works = salvation + grace (full-Palagian). Note: The = sign in these formulas means “leads to” or “results in.”

We have attempted above to show above that the Church of Christ hermeneutic of legalistic patternism is flawed. So how should the Bible be interpreted? Because this is so crucial, we repeat. First and foremost the Bible must be interpreted in such a way as not to be contradictory. If the Bible is contradictory, it cannot be God’s word. Let us examine a statement made to us by a Church of Christ preacher regarding justification (how we are saved): “I completely teach, believe, and agree with this idea: No person who has ever lived, is living, or will live, can in and of himself do something by which he earns, merits, deserves, or is given salvation. Every person, however, who hears and does what God has said to do in the way that God has said to do it will be saved by the grace of God through the blood of Christ.”

1. Is it not clear that this statement—which is typical of how CC folks state justification—is contradictory? If grace is a free gift (Rom 5:15, 16, 18Rom 6:23), if it is unmerited favor—then God does not require ANY work in order to be saved. As Paul says in Rom 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

RT – This is pitiful! You assert that something is contradictory, but you did not demonstrate what is contradictory about it. O, you made an effort, but the effort you made bites you in the backside and you don’t even see it. You said, “then God does not require ANY work in order to be saved,” while Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). Now that is a contradiction! You can’t get around it because you said “God does not require any work…” (and you emphasized the word any). If God does not require any work, then that means work that includes God. Just pitiful!  

2. St. Paul clarifies what the Church of Christ is risking in its hermeneutic. He states, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Gal 2:20).” This is serious. By its legalistic patternism hermeneutic, the Church of Christ is nullifying the grace of God! It is giving too much credit for sinful man and too little credit to God and Christ’s finished work on the cross. As put by C. K. Moser, “If man must still work for salvation we have in Christ an atonement that does not atone!” See Moser.

3. We fully understand how difficult the concept—that our salvation is completely by Christ’s work and none of our own—is. This is incomprehensible for our Church of Christ brothers and so too for Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews, and every other religion. Yet the Bible insists over and over again that we are saved by faith and specifically not by our works (Romans chapters 1-9, Galatians chapters 1-3, Ephesians chapter 2, Titus chapter 3, etc). In fact, we count over 100 instances in the New Testament when it is stated that we are saved by grace rather than works. Yet the Bible commands us to obey! So how do we reconcile faith and works?

4. We have asked the CC why they keep coming back to James 2 in an attempt to show that salvation is through works, and the answer has been, because others “keep denying what it clearly teaches.” This answer implies that, in spite of insisting elsewhere that we are not saved by works, that in fact the CC really believes after all that we are. Is James contradicting the rest of the Bible? Perhaps we just can’t get it, but it seems clear to us that James himself is teaching that works are merely evidence of a true saving faith—that is, explanatory of the kind of faith that saves us?

RT – Your words are becoming boring. All you do is assert this or that, read what other men say, fail to show where something is wrong, and then put it forth like you are on the pontiff stand. In Galatians 2, what is the context of the word “works”, or does it matter? You bet it matters! Context is crucial to a proper understanding, and you have not been very good at including it in your essay. The straw man you have built with this effort of yours makes you feel good about the challenge you have set forth, but this has not turned out to be much of a challenge at all. Remarks on James 2 will be in the next post.


Errors of the church of Christ (27)

In this series of posts I have been incorporating the entirety of words from a particular website; this includes all misspellings and other foibles. The intent was (is) not for embarrassment, but to keep it as complete as I can. This has a down side; much of the material is not worth reading. Be that as it may, I appreciate you reading it and enduring the length. RT

Christians throughout the ages have pointed out that Christianity is uniquely different from all other religions and cults because salvation is through faith and not through works. Can you see that the view of salvation through works puts the CC in close company with false religions and cults? While we are not saying the the Church of Christ is a cult, we cannot help pointing out the similarities between the Church of Christ and Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons: They were founded at about the same time (early 1800’s) in reaction to Reformed theology. The refusal to read “apostate” literature. (If the Church of Christ reader has refused to read the links we have provided in this article, our point is proven.) God’s grace through Christ’s finished work on the cross only makes up the small portion left out by my man’s own meritorious works toward salvation. (See Christian Grace vs. Mormon Grace. See also Mormon document Grace vs. Works. Note how craftily this Mormon document quotes the Bible as well as Christian thinkers.) Their group restored the true faith. (See Mormon document Restoration of the Gospel.) Their group is the only one saved.

RT – The paragraph is a non-sequitur – you laying out these assertions and trying to draw a conclusion is completely false. There is no other point, as I interpret these words, than to align a group with another group and say, “See! Note the similarities; they are from the same stock.” Whatever is to be said about the Mormons will stand or fall on its own. Whatever is to be said about the Lord’s church will, likewise, do the same.

19. Isn’t salvation not of him who willeth, nor him that runneth, but of God that calleth (Romans 9:11) and of God that showeth mercy (Romans 9:16without regard to human will or exertion? Don’t we become sons of God by the power of God and not by the will of man (John 1:12-13)? Does anyone really seek after God on his own (Romans 3:9-28)? Don’t these verses clarify that it is the work of God, not of man, that saves us?

RT – Your underlined phrase is found where in Scripture? If it is not found, then you are guilty of adding to the Word – something the Lord is against. It is the work (power) of God that saves (Romans 1:16), but it is the response of man to that invite that the Lord requires of man (John 6:28-29).

20. Are we dead in our sins, or just merely sick (Ephesians 2:5)? Can a dead man respond? Aren’t we therefore made alive by the work of Christ alone, just as Larazus was raised from the dead?

RT – Since you mishandle the Scripture like you do, I doubt you took note of what Paul said in Ephesians 1:13. Yes, man is dead in sin, but that means, exclusively, that he cannot raise himself up from his “deadness” toward righteousness (John 1:12-13) because there is nothing within him that has that power. There has to be a life-giving power that comes from outside man, and that power is in the word of God (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:22-23).

21. Just as our physical birth is not something we earn nor have any control over, isn’t our spiritual birth likewise something we do not earn nor have any control over (1 Peter 1:3-5)?

RT – No “control over” – what is that supposed to mean? There no earning (a word you are so fond of), but there is such a thing as obedience. The word is used twice in the very chapter you referenced!

22. Is CC theology similar to that of Pelagius, who who in the 4th century taught that man by his own powers, without the imputation of the Holy Spirit, can turn himself to God, believe the Gospel, be obedient from the heart to God’s Law—and thus merit forgiveness of sins and eternal life? Wasn’t this theology declared a heresy even by the Catholic Church—which places a high importance on obedience—because it is contrary to Holy Scripture, being the same works righteousness theology as the Galatian heresy and the Pharasaic heresy?

RT – Can’t say anything about Pelagius, but I can say what the Scriptures teach. Acts 8:12; 18:8 – will you deny it? It’s a strange thing to me, but I did not see the word “merit” in either passage. Your insertion of this word is just another example of your determination to follow the teachings of man.

23. Here is a single question that may quicky determine whether the CC is in fact legalistic: If it would bring more people to your church to hear the gospel, would you allow instrumental music?

RT – The question demonstrates more about you than it does faithful Christians. People of conviction don’t compromise with error; people who fail to have biblical knowledge will incorporate such man-made innovations.

24. We suggest reading an article by John Marks Hicks of David Lipscomb University: Legalism. Then, if you are a CC member, would you consider taking this Legalism Questionnaire?

RT – After you define “legalism” and it is an accepted definition, then consideration might be given to it. In this whole treatise of yours, however, you have not once defined the term. Thus, it’s not likely you even know what it means. 


Errors of the church of Christ (26) – Legalism

13. This brings up another point. In the New Testament, there is a difference between commands  to non-believers and to believers. Non-believers are told to repent and believe (for example Acts 20:20-21). We argue that all other commands in the Bible, including baptism (!), are to people who are already Christians. Check out what Robert Morey says about this and then let us know what you think. Each of these video clips is about 9 minutes in length:

Morey on Obedience 9-14

Morey on Obedience 10-14

Morey on Obedience 11-14

RT – Let me encourage you, then, to set forth your argument. I look forward to your effort. In the meantime, let me ask you about what Peter said to those in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Did Peter require any of those to whom he spoke that they needed to believe his message before they could repent? If so, where does Peter so require it (what verse or verses)? You’ll have to do better than asserting Acts 20:20-21; from this, what do you want me (or others) to make of it? I look forward to you pressing me on this.

14. What specific work is required for salvation (John 6:27-29)? Faith, right?

RT – Sure, but I think you may not like what the Lord said; He said it is a work and you have said, plenty of times, that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, but we have here at least one work that the Lord required. Hmm. Moreover, should we look at Acts 2:38, or how about John 3:5, just to name a couple of others?

15. Are we reconciled to God by what we do or by what God did to present us holy in his sight (Col 1:21-22)?

RT – So, I am to understand that man has no obligation from God to give a single response, right? If that is correct, then Jesus was wrong (John 6:27-29)! Yet, if you say a person must respond in faith, then there is something a person must do. I guess that answers a part of your question.

16. How does the CC respond to those who may accuse them of following the letter-of-the-law and not the spirit-of-the-law? For example, the Bible says we should care for widows and orphans (the letter of the law), and were astounded to hear a CC person tell us that charity should thus be limited to these groups. But Jesus gives the example of caring for the outcast and others who need help (example, the Good Samaritan) and commands us to be merciful (Mat 5:7). Is the CC attitude legalistic in this regard too, adding insult to injury to the Christian faith?

RT – You do too much listening to people, rather than reading the Lord’s Book. That which the Lord said in His Book, a faithful Christian will do.

17. The CC has been known to define legalism as either (a) “putting human tradition above God’s commandments,” or (b) “taking one commandment out of context and twist it to make it contradict another.” Haven’t we already shown that Church of Christ theology in fact is guilty of both definitions?

RT – Whoever defines “legalism” as you have described is the one to whom you need to address your question. The “straw man” you have built concerning “church of Christ theology”, I imagine, makes you feel good concerning your ability to destroy.

18. Is not faith very much alive before good works are performed, and not because of good works? Christians in the historic orthodox faith thus believe that we are saved by grace through faith and strongly agree that a faith without works is dead; that is, a true saving faith will be accompanied by works. Christians also believe that faith before it has a chance to work is a saving faith—for example, the thief on the cross. The CC would have others believe that faith is dead until one rises out of the water. Thus someone on his way to be baptized could not be one whose faith is working by love. Isn’t this view therefore legalistic and contrary to Scripture?

RT – A biblical “faith” is described in Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 4:16-22. I can’t improve upon what Scripture teaches. Faith is a work of God, just like all commands of God are a work of God. You can relegate God’s command, if you so desire, to something non-essential, but no faithful Christian will do such. 


Errors of the church of Christ (25) – Sequence, Law, and Cecil Hook

6. The CC seems to make a distinction between the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” as if there were two law systems operating in the Bible. But isn’t it correct that the Bible teaches that “the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7)? And isn’t the law of Christ described as perfect (James 1:25)? What law is then perfect—both the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” because they are one and the same!

RT – Nothing I can add to this, but one thing: Are you sure you want to accentuate the word “law”? After all, you have been repelled by that word throughout this treatise.

7. What source does Jesus quote when he declares, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”? Isn’t it Leviticus 19:18? Aren’t all Ten Commandments repeated or alluded to in the New Testament? What is the context of the law of Christ in Galatians 6? Isn’t it bearing others’ burdens with the glory only in the cross of Christ?

RT – The Ten Commandments are mentioned in one way or another in the New Testament, but what is it you are trying to say by this? Do you desire to maintain that the Ten Commandments are for us under the new covenant to obey? **** Based on a previous remark of yours, I find it interesting that you are interested in the context of Galatians 6. That the “cross of Christ” is connected with the life and death of Jesus is a given, but just exactly what do you think that “cross of Christ” entails? A “law” by its very nature is a standard by which another will be judged. That standard can either be compromised or obeyed. What in the “cross of Christ” tells us to bear one another’s burdens? Are verses 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the law of Christ (or, the cross of Christ)?  

Please bear with us on some further thoughts on the Law of Christ. As Cecil Hook points out (chapter 7 beginning on page 20, Repentance Before Faith), an incorrect interpretation of this turns Jesus into a diabolical creature if we think of him giving us a law and then saving us from our transgressions of that law. It would be like someone pushing you down into a well, then throwing you a rope. Besides making Jesus into a nasty character, this idea is not biblical. John 3:17 says that “God sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by him.” So, whatever Paul means by the law of Christ, it is not meant to be something that condemns us! It must therefore mean that the law of Christ is a phrase that merely emphasizes or  gives certainty to what Paul preaches continuously in the New Testament—that we are saved by faith in Jesus. This fact (belief in Jesus for salvation), then, is so certain that it becomes a law, like a law of logic, or a law of physics—something given us by God rather than a set of commands to be obeyed.

RT – Cecil Hook is no one’s authority. If you desire to have him teach you, that is your prerogative; I won’t. If there is a God-ordained “law” of any sort it is man’s obligation to comply with that God-ordained standard, and this you know is true. Thus, regardless of what Hook says (or any other), the Lord said what He did, and for man to not obey that which has its origin in heaven is deadly. Moreover, Hook (and you, evidently) failed to understand how “law” is applied in eternal things. A standard of right has been set forth by God. When man fails to meet that standard of right conduct – which is God’s law – then it is not God who thrusts the man down the well, but the actions of man that put himself there. Consequently, when the rope is let down for man to grab hold of, it is the Lord’s mercy that prompts it. Jesus did not come to condemn (John 3:17), but in His coming He did come to instruct (Titus 2:11-12). If man lives by that instruction, then he has reached for the rope Jesus let down into the well – a well that we were residing in when he came (and still are in if we refuse to obey). Perhaps you ought to look at John 3:18-21 to get a better and clearer picture. Only someone with your theological persuasion would and could say: “So, whatever Paul means by the law of Christ, it is not meant to be something that condemns us! It must therefore mean that the law of Christ is a phrase that merely emphasizes or gives certainty to what Paul preaches continuously in the New Testament—that we are saved by faith in Jesus.”


8. We have heard Church of Christ people say that when Paul speaks of not being saved by “law” he is only saying he is not saved by the “Law of Moses.” But please look at Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 again. Here Paul does not use the term law or law of Moses. He uses the term “works.” And please consider Romans 13:10 in Young’s Literal Translation: “Love therefore is the fulness of law.” Note that in the Greek there is no “the” in front of “law,” making law a general term and not just a reference to Old Testament law. Isn’t Paul making a general case that we are not saved by works of any kind?

RT –Yes, it is the case that man is not saved by works, and it is the case that Ephesians 2 is not addressing the Law of Moses. You will note, however, in 2:8 that Paul gives clarity to what we are to understand. The ESV reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Paul’s point is that no man is saved by his own doing; to say it differently, there is nothing that originates in man that he can do to be saved – this would be a work (or, the works) of man. Man’s salvation is a gift from God, as salvation has originated in God. That is the point, the only point!  The point in Ephesians is the same in Titus.

9. Note Galatians 3:21, again in Young’s Literal Translation. Doesn’t Paul make it clear that no law can give life? And Galatians 3:25: doesn’t Paul further clarify that we are not under any law (“guardian”)?

RT – Here you fail to notice the context. Galatians 3 is speaking of the Law of Moses, and it is THAT to which he addresses his remarks. The context makes this abundantly clear going back into even chapter 2. The Law of Moses, by its very nature (or God’s design) was not intended to save anyone (Acts 13:39); however, under the old covenant, one could not be in good standing (or, saved) with the Lord without having obeyed His will in regards to the law.

10. Do you think that only those laws that are repeated in the New Testament from the Old Testament are valid? Where is such principle of interpretation found in the Bible? We think that the better method of interpretation is that there are some laws that are cancelled or their importance neutralized in the New Testament (specifically the Jewish ceremonial and civil laws); the rest remain in effect (the moral laws).

RT – With regard to your two questions, the only proper way to answer is to allow the passage under consideration to make clear what is in view – this is known as context. I am not sure who “we” is, but if this is what you think is the better method then perhaps the question ought to be turned around on you: What principle of interpretation warrants a delineation of laws when the context speaks nothing about such a distinction? For instance, where does the New Testament delineate between moral and civil law?  

11. Is there any new law in the New Testament, or only new forgiveness and the fulfillment of the shadows of this forgiveness found in the Old Testament? (Here are all the scriptures in the New Testament about a “new covenant” or “new law”: Mt 26:28Lk 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Cor 3:6Heb 8:8-13Heb 9:15Heb 12:24Gal 6:2James 2:8-13. Do you notice a theme?)

RT – Your question is not clear to me, so I will answer as best I can. When Jesus came to the earth He came to fulfill the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17-18). When He spoke to those who were opposed to Him, He inquired as to their effort in searching the Scripture, and it was those that testified to Him (John 5:39-40). After He was raised from the dead, when He gave His commission to His chosen apostles, He said that all things written were fulfilled by Him (Luke 24:44). Paul said on two occasions that the Law of Moses, being fulfilled, was nailed to the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16 and Colossians 2:14-15).

12. Cecil Hook in the preceding reference link also suggests that the CC formula HEAR/BELIEVE/REPENT/CONFESS/BE BAPTIZED may be flawed, at least in the order given. Hook points out that the 3 times in Scripture that belief and repentence are coupled together in the Bible, repentance actually precedes belief! How can that be? Read his explanation. Clue: It has to do with the New Testament view of the purpose of the law.

RT – Is this the best that can be done? Peter told the Pentecostian crowd to repent and be baptized; he told those in Jerusalem to repent and turn again; Philip preached to the Samaritans, and when the locals heard they believed and were baptized; when Philip helped the man of Ethiopia understand the Scripture, he preached Jesus unto him. The eunuch saw water and asked about being baptized; when Paul was in Corinth, the Corinthians heard Paul, believed his message, and were baptized. In all this, all you have to call into question is what Cecil Hook said about the sequence???