• Chris Steele

Only Believe?

Chris' Corner -- Sunday, September 19, 2021


Traveling down the highway, on our way to Florida, we saw a mammoth cathedral-style church building. On a very tall typical interstate sign, was the name of the church, "Only Believe."

From what I know, "faith only" people believe, I found just what I thought on their website. Two points of eleven of their "Statement of Faith" say, (1) That the only means of being cleansed from sin is through repentance and faith in the precious blood of Christ. (John 14:6; Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:7). (2) In water baptism as an outward sign to the world of the regeneration of the inner man, not the washing away of sins. (1 Peter 3:21).

First, it seems odd when people say "only believe" then add repentance to faith as necessary in salvation. Peter did say in Acts 2:38, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Second, how can someone see the command to repent in that verse and not see baptism for the remission of sins?

Equally so, how can people push aside the power of baptism that saves and make it a mere "outward sign to the world of the regeneration of the inner man” and “not the washing away of sins." These folks use the reference 1 Peter 3:21, which says, "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).

To make matters worse, they add the bold and false words "water baptism is...not the washing away of sins." How is it the Bible tells us how Saul was told," And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' (Acts 22:16). Who is telling the truth? I'm going to put my trust in the Bible.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon says the word "faith or belief" (pisteuo) includes "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah"—the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ." (emphasis mine CES).

From Hebrews 11, we see how having faith or belief is conjoined with obedience. Every time one of the great patriarchs is commended for their faith, we see an act of obedience that follows. One example is, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son" (v17).

Belief by itself is not enough to save. James proved this at length (2:18–24). "But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."

It seems as though the Bible conflicts with the "Only Believe" church and their doctrine

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