23 May 2014

Arguments about the Bible?

Submitted by theshovel

A friend recently posed the following question:

i hope you don’t get surprised when i ask you questions yet im already a believer…any way is ok for a believer like me to get involved in argument about the bible with believers trying to correct them. Gilbert

Questions about whether something is okay or not seem to easily weigh us down, don’t they? I don’t live my life according to that whole perception of what is okay or not … rather, I have discovered that Christ being my life has everything to do with living as one who is alive. I am free to engage in discussions and arguments about the Bible, but it’s all so different from that old bondage. I’ve come to listen for what is really being said, and I found that there are usually other issues going on behind the scenes when people are arguing their doctrinal or scriptural views. So, I encourage you to listen with the living ears of the spirit who is your life!

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Comments

hello. I’ve been in a Bible study group and baptism has been a hot topic and I’ve been in the hot seat because everybody there thinks you should be baptized. I was wondering if there’s anything wrong with being baptized going through the motions but I refuse to change my stance on it not being necessary so if anybody has any thoughts on this I would appreciate it love you all. on a side note I get frustrated because baptism is mentioned numerous times in the Bible but yet I don’t seem to know enough to really prove that it’s not necessary that’s where I’m stuck. on the miraculous side it brought me back here to shovel looking to reaffirm the truth. On a good note one of the girls in the Bible study said to me on the side that she agrees with a lot of what I was saying but it makes her feel uncomfortable I thought that was amazing

Even if you argue that Baptism is not required for salvation, would you grant that a Christian who makes the decision to follow Jesus should follow the example of the bible and be baptized. If not, why?

Hello Yves! You know, as I grew up in the Christian faith as it were, looking back, I never felt the need to analyze the baptism demands that we hear about from time to time in certain circles. In saying that, I actually WAS baptized in a Jacuzzi shortly after coming to a realization of faith in Him. I thought it was kind of cool that I could EXPRESS publicly what I felt inside towards Him for I wanted to be identified with Him in every way possible! But I always liked this passage here regrading baptism:

">>Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"

It was just so clear that Peter[the Lords choice of a man on which to build His church]didn't even hold the water dunk as something required to be "saved" but rather deemed it all about the heart. It wasn't about getting cleansed outwardly as it were but rather about expressions of the inward cleansing of the cup. Paul related it to being baptized into "His death" and even went on to describe another debated act..circumcision. But oddly enough he only brought it up as something "of the heart" once again. I could imagine that Paul might even be saying something like this today: "neither baptism nor circumcision saves you but rather it is the cleansing of God in the HEART that is shown forth in you" Show that forth in all the world".

Adam

..and Jim thanks again for approving this as I was not [once again] logged in! ugh! lol

A

theshovel's picture

Hello my friend Yves (aka Sidney),

When a ritual becomes — in the minds of those who follow and observe it — something other than what it represented from the beginning, are we still following Jesus’ example in the doing of it?

For those who come together to witness a testimony to our union in Christ Jesus through his new life that has been risen from the dead, I have no reservations in the observance. However, for millions in the religious system, being baptized has become so far removed from its true meaning that its practice is more like the circumcision Paul told the Galatians NOT to do because it only sucked them into an obligation to the law. In other words, doing that which seems to be warranted or even demanded by the Scriptures might actually come against the life and spirit of the Scriptures.

I don’t know what your situation is, but you are free to be baptized and to encourage others to do so. However, if you are hoping that the ritual of water baptism might do something for you that hasn’t already been done for you in Christ, you might be setting yourself up for a series of endless requirements to bring about a sense of fulfillment. Being water baptized can only picture that which has already taken place in Christ, for those who believe in him have had their former existence done away with and have been made totally new in Christ.

Jim

Then you better be prepared to follow EVERY example in the bible and not just that one. And get baptized everyday And you or I or anyone will never be able to do that according to the flesh. However, because of what christ did, we are free from the notion of ever having to do something other than believe and love one another because in gods eyes, what christ did is good enough. Why isnt it good enough for you?

What Jesus did is and always will be good enough. I don't deny his power, but like every one here am seeking to live my life according to his will. One of the best parts about a life in Christ, is that you are free to choose how you worship him. Thank you all for your thoughts on the subject. I know it can be a touchy subject sometimes, but I am a big believer in thoughtful debate.

theshovel's picture

Yves, thanks for your gentle spirit throughout this discussion! I hope to hear more from you regarding your encouragements in Christ. :)

Jim

theshovel's picture

Excellent, my friend! I must have been making my response while you posted yours. :)

Jim

theshovel's picture

Hello my dear friend and brother Ricky!! :)

I grew up in the Lutheran denomination so I know how controversial it can be, especially if you do not “baptize” your children! While I received enough instruction over the course of 20 years from my teachers and pastors to cause some serious uncertainty regarding what might happen if a Christian was to die without being baptized, my mother definitely impressed it upon me on the day I told her that I would not be baptizing my first daughter. And I’m talking about severe warnings of hellfire and damnation of which I was not accustomed to. Now, that did happen once before, and that was the day I told her that I was going to attend a non-denominational Bible college that preached eternal security by grace through faith. Before that time, I only thought of my mother’s involvement in the church in terms of the decorative enhancements she made: flowers, sewing, etc. I had never heard my mom make such pronouncements of judgment upon anyone — especially upon me. So, I definitely came to understand how touchy the issue (or sacrament of baptism could be in the minds of those who hold it so dear.

One of the most cherished and quoted verses about baptism in relation to salvation is Mark 16:16. I am aware that it comes across as blasphemous and/or sacrilegious in many circles to suggest based on the omission of Mark 16:9-20 in many manuscripts that Mark’s seemingly authoritative statement may have well been added by some religious man or group, but I don’t put much stock in the claims made based upon that verse (nor of the other verses in the added passage). Either way, a teacher from years back did point out that even though it states that “he who has believed and is baptized shall be saved,” it did not say “but he who has not been baptized shall be condemned.”

And while that may be a valid point, I’ve come to realize that most of our main problems with examining the so-called requirements for salvation revolves around the fact that we’re looking for requirements and Biblical proofs. In other words, the religious mind has turned the written documents about the amazing deliverance through Jesus Christ into a legalistic manual!

And so those who want to prove which things God expects us to do in order to be saved camp out on their favorite verses to back up their claims. And this has turned the grace of God into a very ugly thing. We argue back and forth using the verses we love the best, and in the process we overlook the amazing work of God that he continually brings to pass.

Regarding the ritual of baptism that took place at the beginning, there can be no doubt that it happened. But the fact that it accompanied the spread of the good news in the context of a ritual they saw as a testimony to the work of God, it soon got to the point that Paul made some very strong statements as to the little importance he put upon it (check out 1 Corinthians 1). He told them that he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Let me just quote the passage in question:

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 1 Corinthians 1:11-17

Now, here’s a consideration for you regarding what Paul wrote. Do we even need this passage in order to prove whether or not baptism is necessary? Don’t misunderstand me, for I love what he wrote there and am glad to have it available. But I say that we don’t need any specific statements to make it or prove it to be true. For the truth is the truth. It only seems complicated to us because we’ve listened far too long to those who have used the Bible as a legal document upon which to form our beliefs.

It was the spirit of God within Paul by which he recognized the fleshly attempts of man in using a treasured ritual that declared new life rising out of death and turning it into a scorecard by which men might be categorized and named after the one (or the group) performing it.

Well, I could write much more, I’m sure, but I’ll stop here. :)

Jim

Jim,

Can you help me to better understand what you mean by "But I say that we don’t need any specific statements to make it or prove it to be true. For the truth is the truth. It only seems complicated to us because we’ve listened far too long to those who have used the Bible as a legal document upon which to form our beliefs." Specifically, what is the truth and what should my approach be to reading the bible?

theshovel's picture

Hello Sidney :)
You asked about my statement:

“But I say that we don’t need any specific statements to make it or prove it to be true. For the truth is the truth. It only seems complicated to us because we’ve listened far too long to those who have used the Bible as a legal document upon which to form our beliefs.”

What is the truth, you ask? It is Jesus Christ. Consider what he told his disciples the night before his crucifixion:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

Is Jesus’ statement true because he said it was true or is it true in and of itself, even before he said it? If we did not have a recording of the events that took place with the disciples, would he still be the truth? Would I be wrong in claiming that he was the truth if I hadn’t read these words? I realize that questions like these can sound very elementary or even nitpicking, but many have disregarded the truth of Christ under the premise that there is no exact statement made that seems to prove it to their own satisfaction.

I remember having a discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness who told me that he would believe what I was telling him about Jesus Christ if I could show him in the Bible where it stated it exactly as I had just said it. I, of course, pointed him to a few verses that pretty much said the same thing, but it was not exact enough for him. It was a setup, and I knew it. There were no exact statements that matched, but I realized that even if I could find a Bible verse that conformed exactly to his request, he would have found another way to disregard it. For him, truth was what you could prove to your own satisfaction.

It was in situations like that where I truly began to understand the nature of religious insincerity that hid under the cover of a seemingly sincere request for truth. Of course, it didn’t feel like I was truly understanding anything at the time, rather, I was feeling quite lost and insecure. Nevertheless, real confidence was growing within me as the deceptions I learned from the world were crumbling before my eyes. The real shocker, however, came in the realization that I had learned to handle the Bible in much the same way the Jehovah’s Witnesses did. After having spent many hours arguing with their emissaries, I came to realize that they stood upon a logical, intellectual, or sensible approach to the Scriptures.

In my own Bible training, I had learned how to study and present the “clear” gospel message. We claimed that the true gospel made sense, and it did, in a religious way. I had even created my own gospel tract (a small handout) where on the front there was a drawing of a man in deep confusion, and on the back the same guy is smiling and saying, “Now, THAT makes sense!” But how does the truth of Christ, that which is in total opposition to the very nature of man’s understanding, make sense?

That’s why I stated that the “clear gospel” makes sense in a religious way. For me, having grown up in a society that recognizes the Bible as having, at least, the possibility of divine authority, I could approach people on the basis its claims. Sure, they might have scoffed, but there was a good chance I could break through with specific statements of assurance of which they were unaware. Those who accept Biblical claims as being the basis of their faith are put upon a path of learning about God by more and more Biblical claims. The conflicts come when those of one group confront those of another group. That’s when they pull out their arsenals of Biblical claims to prove that they have the right understanding.

Why do I tell you all of this in response to your simple question? Because this is how our intellectual-based society approaches “truth,” and this mindset is exactly what needs to be shattered among those who belong to Christ. You asked me how you should approach the Bible, and yet I think the best suggestion I could give you has to do with how not to approach the Bible — which is what that long introduction was all about. You see, those who belong to Christ have the witness of God within them, and that’s why they don’t need any man to teach them. We can testify of the truth to each other, but when it comes down to it, your understanding of truth has been put within you by God himself. And if you find yourself standing upon particular statements of truth, rather than upon the one who is being testified to by the Biblical record, you might want to reevaluate your approach to the Bible.

Well, I’m getting ready to head off to work, so that all I can address for now. Hoping to hear back from you, Sidney.
Jim

Still a little confused. Are you saying that the truth of Christ is innate within us. If so, what purpose does the bible serve?

” … the truth of Christ is innate within us …”  <~sidney (i acknowledge that this is only a partial quote, but it is the part that i love and stand upon and my heart and mind embrace and bask in!)  :)

theshovel's picture

The truth of Christ has indeed been put within us, as Christ himself has been put within us. And yes, I know this can drive us crazy with speculations as to whether we might or might not need the Bible … or each other, for that matter. The Bible is filled with amazing testimonies of the workings of God. It contains the records of God’s faithfulness and promises that he fulfilled in his son.
Okay, it’s back to work for me. Jim

I’m home and will continue my thoughts. So as to keep things connected for you, me. and anyone else who might read this, I’m responding to what you had written:

Still a little confused. Are you saying that the truth of Christ is innate within us. If so, what purpose does the bible serve?

I’ve observed many responses over the years of this nature. Hey, I’ve had to deal with my own reactions. It’s one thing to read or quote verses that refer to how we don’t need any man to teach us (that’s in 1 John) and another thing to catch a sense of the impact. Consider Paul’s statements to the Corinthians:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

I had read and known these verses for many years before I started to catch on. Can we really read something like But we have the mind of Christ without it somehow undoing our religious perceptions regarding how we know God and the things of God? Here’s the thing about having the mind of Christ in this world: we are being convinced on all sides that this cannot seriously be true. And it doesn’t just come from the outside world, you know, from the unbelievers who want to tear us down, it hits us the hardest when it comes from those who should be encouraging us in the faith. You see, this treasure is found in the most unlikely places, which is in those whom the world despises.

Anyhow, God has sent those who were regarded by the world as unworthy, and he still does the same today. Those who see themselves as worthy in and of themselves and who compare themselves one to another cannot entertain the idea that God speaks through losers. That would be beneath God, wouldn’t it? Nevertheless, it has been through these losers that God “teaches” his truth, and the irony in it all is found when these teachers claim that you do not need any man to teach you, but that it is God who does the real teaching from within.

When I call it irony, I’m also including how the religious world has come to regard the apostles. After all, they are the real saints and holy men, aren’t they? But this is exactly the opposite of how they were regarded when they were alive. Sure, there were always some who stood by them and supported them, but in truth, they were mostly challenged and questioned and despised. When their words are viewed from the perspective of the fleshly religious mind — which they mostly have been viewed by zealous Christians — those words cannot help but become twisted, partly by being put on a higher plane. When we realize that their words are just like the earthen vessels that contain the amazing treasure of Christ, we find value in them.

Why? Because they testify to the truth that has been hidden within us. The testimonies of Christ in the Bible will resonate within our spirits because of the innate mind of Christ. Just because we might discover that we are no longer bound to those words after the manner of the religious mind with its false humility and pretenses of holiness, it doesn’t mean the the declarations made regarding what it is to be alive in Christ will not stir our hearts in the direction of the living witness within us. In the same way, just because our words and encouragements to one another may not be necessary for us to know God, our interactions with one another have much value. The value is life.

It makes no difference to me that most probably think I’m a heretic or a blasphemer for not telling you that the Bible is the way God speaks to mankind, but the words in the Bible don’t support such a claim. Maybe in the former times God spoke through men to the fathers, but now he speaks in his son. And his son is in us. But we are afraid of anything so potent.

We can learn many things through the recorded testimonies in the Bible, but we have also learned many false things under the premise of those legal documents. I encourage you to read the book, knowing full well that it testifies to the life that is found in you. :)

Jim

“The truth of Christ has indeed been put within us, as Christ himself has been put within us. And yes, I know this can drive us crazy with speculations as to whether we might or might not need the Bible … or each other, for that matter. The Bible is filled with amazing testimonies of the workings of God. It contains the records of God’s faithfulness and promises that he fulfilled in his son.

Can we really read something like 'But we have the mind of Christ' 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 without it somehow undoing our religious perceptions regarding how we know God and the things of God? Here’s the thing about having the mind of Christ in this world: we are being convinced on all sides that this cannot seriously be true. And it doesn’t just come from the outside world, you know, from the unbelievers who want to tear us down, it hits us the hardest when it comes from those who should be encouraging us in the faith. You see, this treasure is found in the most unlikely places, which is in those whom the world despises.

“We can learn many things through the recorded testimonies in the Bible, but we have also learned many false things under the premise of those legal documents. I encourage you to read the book, knowing full well that it testifies to the life that is found in you. :)”  <~theshovel

indeed proFOUND! to realize that we have the mind of Christ!!  and to realize that it is the very Spirit of GOD Who teaches us all things concerning Him ~ the Spirit of GOD teaching us through the mind of Christ!  it is too BIG for words to express adequately! :)

wink I see this reality of the truth that you present here Jim as being widely missed by we who are in Christ in favor of another more familiar sense[aka fleshly] of the result of our standing with God. The truth is the religious mind would have us walking carefully and rejecting all that is available to us in this world. They have made it dark and immoral and ungodly while God has decreed no such thing in Christ. For the mind that has not been reconciled to God ALL things either remain, stay or become evil.

Examples? It can be anything but here's a few.:

*Imagination[ a plain reality]

*Meditation[a plain reality]

*Affirmations[a plain reality]

I tried picking some of the most threatening ones so as to make a point. There are MANY things we are afraid and back away from in the spirit of “Pete” or for “Pete's sake” all the time everyday.[“Peter, kill and eat!”] Why do we do that? Because the world has made these divisions of good and evil. But consider this, we use our imagination ANYWAY. We meditate all the time ANYWAY. We speak to ourselves ALL THE TIME. Changing the way we speak to ourselves, think on things or imagine things is within the realm of 'clean stuff.' To the pure all things all pure but to the defiled everything is evil. We don't have to think in terms of that ghostly dangerous “Eastern stuff” or any other plain to God thing for that matter! We are FREE.

Now, do I who am free have to rub this into a fellow brothers face so as to make it more true or force him to agree with me? No. For I would keep it to myself and be happy if it caused him to fear. He's more important to me than that. But the Truth still stands and our freedom is how we are to walk before God. Jim thanks so much for testifying to this great reality!!!

 

Adam

enjoyed that adam!  :)

Sherri:

And I enjoyed not only you enjoying it, but I went back and read it myself and enjoyed it too! lol Freedom, it's precious.

Love,
Adam

theshovel's picture

Yes, being truly free means that I don’t have to prove it to anybody! :)

Jim

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