I recently listened to a lesson by Mark Broyles on some things we often miss in scripture and he brought out some points that have helped me tremendously. I’m sure many if not most have had a similar conversation and/or debate with someone who differs in their understanding of Scripture. For example take someone who believes that salvation is merely of faith and the other person believes that baptism is what saves us. The conversation typically goes a little something like this.
Faith: “Have you not read John 3:16 where it says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”?
Baptism: “Well yes but you’re missing the point. Have you not read Acts 2:38 where it says ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”?
Faith: “Well you haven’t read Ephesians 2:8 where it says ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’”
Baptism: “Well you don’t understand 1 Peter 3:21 where it says ‘Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’”
That conversation could keep going and going couldn’t it? What’s the problem with that conversation. I can’t count the number of times I know I have approached it this way thinking I was making a good strong stand for the truth. We say that it’s difficult to teach people the gospel because they come with their predispositions and proof-texts to support them. That can be true but haven’t we done the same thing?
The problem with that approach and debate is that we’re pitting scripture against scripture. Both parties coming to the table with their passages of choice and then engage in a battle of the will. Is God pitted against himself? God doesn’t talk out of both sides of His mouth and doesn’t teach conflicting things. Is there any chance that our passages can undermine, negate, or cancel out the other passages? Of course not because Scripture doesn’t work that way. If we find ourselves fighting scripture against scripture we’ve sadly missed the point.
In regards to the illustrated conversation above dealing with faith and baptism they are not separate but one. Biblical faith always responds. That’s the challenge James presented in James 2:18. How can one claim to have faith in God and not do all that has been asked of us to do?
Let’s remember as we study and strive to teach others to understand and use Scripture in the right way. It is possible to go about teaching the right things in a wrong way. Let’s teach people the full gospel of Jesus Christ and to have true biblical faith, faith that responds.