Want Some Answers ???
I just see another email has come from you, so I'll answer this one first.
>>Dear Dr Mark, Thank you for so speedily responding to me. It is a pleasure to find someone who is willing to reason with me from the scriptures. I have discovered that most people resort to attacking my character. Now I obviously believe that the CD's understand the truth or I would not be part of them. But I have no fear to question their teachings and to put them to the proof. The truth should hold up to questioning if it is indeed truth. That is why I like to talk to bible students like yourself who I take at face value that you are sincere as I hope you will with me.<<
Normally I don’t have time to reply speedily. And when there are a couple of important mails to answer time is hard to find. I have discovered that most CD’s are not the free thinkers they claim. They “obviously” follow the CD sect and all their doctrines. And ‘obviously’ never have a different view, and never admit the CD sect is wrong. Their idea of 'questioning' is governed by their sect. And their sincerity is not the proof either. ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death’ (Pro. 14:12).
In the end you must decide who will be the final authority - CD’s or the Bible. You seem to say it’s the Bible, we shall see. Taking the Bible ‘at face value’ sounds good, but it’s the Holy Spirit Himself who is the Teacher and Interpreter (Jn.14:26 15:26 16:13-15). The Word is the sword of the Spirit and the new birth is His creation.
>>As you know "the heart is decitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it"? Only God. We can so easily decieve ourselves. We must recognise what the scriptute says of the nature we inherited from Adam. I take we both agree that the scriptures can make us "wise unto salvation" Therefore we must believe them above what any man tells us including our paster, priest or cult founder. We can listen but we should have the Berean spirit and go to the scripture to find out what one says is true or not.<<
Yes the heart is 'deceitful'. When Paul said ‘wise unto salvation’ he was referring to the OT Jewish Scriptures. The Jews, although they knew the Scriptures were not wise to salvation. Because they did not believe Jesus was the Way and Truth and the Life. Instead they followed a system of laws and religion to earn and work their way to God. If Jesus said to them, you must be born again, they would not listen 'above, what any man tells' them, but claimed Moses was their ‘founder’.
The reason Jesus (God in the flesh 1 Tim.3:16) opposed the Scribes and Pharisees was because their religion resulted in no one “entering into the Kingdom of God” (Mt.23:13). It was based on works and their doctrines and they were hostile to those who were truly God’s people. They would not honour the Son as they honoured the Father, so they didn't really believe on Him, or were His (Jn.5:23-24).
I can name all the CD doctrines, and will you follow each one on every point without alteration? I think so. CD’s don’t believe Jesus is the Truth, they ‘listen’ to John Thomas, he’s regarded as a prophet. He searched the ‘scripture’, he has done the thinking for them. For example, Robert’s (a clone of Thomas) wrote,
"Nothing will serve [save] a man in the end, but an exact knowledge of the will of God as continued in the Scriptures, and faithfully carrying out of the same" [pg.231 "Christendom Astray" Roberts].
This should concern us because even the greatest Biblical scholar would not claim to have "an exact knowledge of the will of God as continued in the Scriptures". And even the most humble and godly saint would not dare to suggest that he has faithfully carried out 'the same'. CD’s believe Salvation is a kind of mental assent (as Catholics teach) instead of something God has done for us and placing trust in what Christ did for us on our behalf.
Most CD booklets provide the steps to "work" out salvation. The first is 'knowledge'. We must work to have a correct understanding of CHRISTADELPHIAN "truth". In other words the doctrines of Christadelphianism must be accepted [ie none can be saved who believe the immortality of the soul for that "nullifies the whole system" [pg230 Roberts]. None who believe the Trinity will be saved either [pg.1-2 God is not Three. Mansfield].
And baptism of course is "essential to salvation" without which NO ONE can be saved [pg2 'Baptism essential to Salvation' Mansfield]. And then, one must work and live right [ie a life long attendance keeping the Lord's Supper and a life long effort to be a good Christadelphian]. If these Christadelphian 'conditions' are not obeyed the result is "...the effect of shutting out from [heaven] the great majority of mankind" [pg.226-227 Roberts]. Salvation for Christadelphians is gained from effort, striving, faithfulness, and 'a life long process', meeting the 'conditions'. In other words, it's WORKS. If these works don't exist there is no salvation [pg.243 Roberts]. Do you deny this, yes or no? If 'yes' then you have a problem with Christadelphianism. If 'no' you have a problem with the Bible. You wrote,
>>I wondered if would challange that I was born again. I well remember the day I accepted Jesus as my personal saviour. Those who were with me at the time believed I was. Who can doubt my siscerity? To do so would be to attack my character. Now if as you claim I in fact was not born again that night how does one know? Do you need to speak in tongues? How can you or any one else be sure? Are you really born again or do "feel" you are? Where is the proof? If I was in error as you claim maybe you and others are too? Is that not the logical conclusion to your reasoning?<<
I can only read what you say (you could claim anything). I wasn’t attacking your character I was answering your question. You asked what I think. So, ‘what do I think? Well, by what you say, you are confused and don’t know. I say, you haven’t really been born again. You wrote “Now I do not believe I was born again at the time”, and I agree.
How can you or ‘anyone else be sure’ they are truly born again and really a Child of God? The answer is simple. It’s what you place your faith in. Salvation is by grace through faith, not by faith through grace. Salvation is a divine work, not a human procurement. What do you place your faith in? In Christadelphianism or God?
The Bible gives the assurance. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" [Rom. 8:9]. If you do not have "the Spirit of Christ" you are not a child of God but unregenerate and lost in sin. Needing a spiritual birth, not a religious system of rules with no guarantee of salvation. I have the guarantee of salvation while you only hope to be saved.
Note what Jesus said, "He [the Holy Spirit] shall be with you and shall be in you" [Jn.14:17]. The reason why you are unsure about the new birth, salvation, the Holy Spirit, and sucked into a ‘non-Christian’ cult, is because the Holy Spirit leads and guides into all truth [Jn.14:26 16:13-14]. If you don't have the Holy Spirit within, how can He help and how can you be sure? You can’t.
Also ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children (Rom 8:16). And if there's uncertainty how salvation is attained, then there will be confusion over whether it can be maintained. So I have the assurance of sin forgiven, eternal life, and that I’m God’s child (that you don’t). I don’t just ‘listen’, but by a new birth, I'm a partaker of God’s promises.
Don’t live in a state of disobedience to what God commands. You must be born again and the enemy (who you don’t believe exists) doesn’t want you to obey. Jesus said, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again." [Jn.3:6-7]. You wrote,
>>You say the truth is not a system of doctrines. The word doctrine means teaching does it not? If Jesus had not taught us how to be born again how would we know. When Christ says "I am the way the truth and the life no one can come to the Father except through me" was that not teaching us the way to the Father. I believe this scripture. I do not interpret it . I accept it at face value. The way to the Father is through Jesus. Hopefully we are agreed on that one.<<
We still disagree here. It’s Jesus (not me) who basically said that ‘the truth is NOT a system of doctrines’. CD’s teach contrary to Jesus. He claimed ‘He is the way’, not a set of ‘teachings’ which only CD’s follow. He is the Truth, not a set of teachings. Do you believe this? If Jesus is the Way, then, the Way is not the CD religious system. If Jesus is the Truth, then the Truth is not a system of doctrines.' Who will you follow, CD’s or the Bible?
Salvation is only found in a Person (not a system). CD’s make a detailed, unnecessary list of teachings (doctrines) and works required for salvation. But the ‘way to the Father’ is by a new birth, and even that is not a work we do. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (Jn.1:12-13). You wrote,
>>Accepting Jesus as your personal saviour and recieving the Holy Spirit is the usual interpretion of what Jesus said in John 3. I believe what the scripture says. It says we must be born of water and spirit. I believe it. Am I in error? Then the Scripture is in error or God is a liar. He is not a liar. The Scripture is inspired so I believe what it says. I do not interpret this passage. I take it as face value.<<
But do you 'believe' it? You say you believe but have all the signs you don’t. Remember even “the devils also believe” (Js 2:19). They know about Scriptural inspiration and the commands but just wilfully disobey. Even though you know the command to be born again you trust a non-Christian sect instead. Strange, don’t you think? They tell you how to interpret every verse and you follow them.
When I received Christ as Saviour I received the gift of eternal life here and now. CD’s will disagree, they don’t take the Bible at 'face value'. Yet the Bible states he who hears and believes "has everlasting life… and is passed out of death into life" [Jn.5:24]. "He that hath the Son hath life and he that believes not this testimony of God concerning His Son hath made Him a liar" [I Jn.5:10-12]. God is not “a lair” it is those who say they “believe” yet are not born again. They say they believe but in reality won’t do what the Bible plainly commands. They call God 'a lair', saying He does not give the gift of eternal life. ‘He that has the Son does NOT have eternal life’. That’s calling God 'a lair'. You wrote,
>>In verse 16 of John 3 we are told there are two options. To perish or have everlasting life. It seems very clear to me. I do not interpret this passage. I take it at face value. I believe that Jesus says here. Some people say it does not really mean perish because we are already immortal! It takes a real stretch to get that out of this passage does it not?<<
Perhaps only one option? They who "believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. It’s those who believe who are saved, not those who ‘work’. ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (Rom 10:9-10). This is not 'very clear to' CD’s, they don’t believe Jesus. They claim those who ‘believe’ in fact, do ‘perish’ at death and they who believe in Him do not have ‘everlasting life’. Do you ‘obviously’ still follow a CD interpretation of this verse?
The word "perish" [apolonto] doesn’t mean extinction. Just as 'apollumi' (destroy) is not extinction, but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being. Note its use - the marring of the wine skins Lk.5.37, of lost sheep Lk.15.43,6 lost son 15.24, perishing food Jn.6.27. Buy any Dictionary of Greek NT Words. Look-up the words, perish, Spirit, Counsellor, death, Christ, hell, Satan, and God. Bible scholars of the Greek NT don’t support CD doctrine. Yet CD literature will deceitfully quote (ie W.E. Vine) and other scholars of the NT Greek and give the impression they have support CD doctrine. Eg, Vine wrote in "Heaven, Home of the Redeemed", a chapter titled "No Sleep of the Soul". I have this book! He refers to the extinction doctrine as "preposterous" (p.87. Pickering & Inglis London).
Look up Vine’s Dictionary and see, they teach the very opposite, and you can verify yourself. There is not one scholar of the NT Greek who is a CD. Ask yourself why no CD can read NT Greek. Read that again slowly. It should shock you!! If you could read NT Greek you wouldn’t be a CD. How can I be so sure? Simple, because the Bible does not support CD doctrine.
>>I believe I have the spirit dwelling in me for "The word of God is LIVING and active and sharper than a two edged sword." If I believe these verses, and I do then where is my error? I am not interpreting them according to John Thomas, B Hopkins, the Pope or anyone else. I am not interpreting them at all! J.T. agrees with them to. So what. His opinion really is irrevellant. I am not a brother of Christ (Christadelphian) because he told me to be or anyone else.<<
You believe you “have the spirit” dwelling in you? A “spirit” with a small “s”. To CD’s the ‘spirit’ is an electrical power, not a person. Instead of believing the Bible at face valve CD’s interpret it according to 'John Thomas' regardless of any other claim. Prove me wrong. Do you accept the truth, that the Bible calls the Holy Spirit “Him” or do you follow the CD interpretation? Do they tell you what to believe? Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as a Person not a force. Eg., I have received the Holy Spirit, He guides into all truth "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him". But I know Him; for He dwells with me and is "within" [Jn. 1:17, 14:6,16-17]. Have you received the Holy Spirit as a Person with a spiritual birth? I think not.
I’ve done the CD Bible studies and found their literature introduces contradictions between verses. Ever noticed this? You wrote,
>>Most people accept the religion they are born with. Their parents usually tell them what to believe and they accept it. They can only see it that way. It takes a real paradeim shift for a Hindu to become a Christian etc? Why? because the heart is very decitfull as the Scripture tells us. I recognise these things and so I am always putting myself to the proof against the word of God. I will listen to what you have to say and test it not by J.T. but with the uncorruptable word. Fair enough? Sorry about the spelling etc. By the way I'm Irish and am living in Canada Yours Truly, Paul<<
The Bible says we need more than just a ‘paradigm shift’, we need a spiritual birth (Ez.36:26-27). I know some have made a religion out of Christianity but true Christianity is different from religion. Religion attempts to reach God, Christianity is God reaching down to man. Religion is man's search for God but Christianity is God's search for man. Many religions claim also to believe the Bible. They observe ritual, commands, diet, customs, good works, and impose conditions for salvation etc., yet they are not true Christians.
If you really are sincere about following CD doctrine, then you have no choice but to test what I say not with the Bible, but by what CD’s say. Like it or not, CD’s do follow John Thomas to the letter. You can deny it all you want, but the truth still remains and the fact is well known. So you’ve not fooling anyone. He believes everything you believe, and you follow everything he taught. Why be hide your founder? Perhaps because he was widely recognized as having a corrupt doctrine?
Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end - a Divine work, not of us, or even our faith, for our faith is not perfect. When you realise this you will see that Christadelphianism is just a man-made religion. For the first time in your life you could really trust Christ as your Saviour and at last have peace with God.
My regards from down under, New Zealand that little Island next to Australia.