Spiritual Perspectives


HE WHO BELIEVES…

Gary W. Summers

     A few months ago there was left at our door half a sheet of 8½ x 11 paper, which would make it 4¼ x 11).  The type on it was just that one long column, and the margins were not justified.  No one had placed a title at the top or used line spacing between paragraphs.  Despite its unattractive appearance, Barb and I both read it.  At the bottom of the column was a “sinner’s prayer” in bold print. 

 

     One of the other peculiarities was its lack of a single Scripture reference.  To be sure, Scriptures were used and the book’s name is mentioned, but no chapter or verse is to be found.  Referenced are Matthew 7:21, 23, Romans 3:10, 23, and John 3:3, 5:24.  It is this last verse we want to examine: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

 

     The problem lies not with whoever wrote this column using only one verse of Scripture from a context; the problem is that the writer is intentionally deceiving the reader into thinking that this verse can stand by itself without any modification.  It and John 3:3 come right before the “sinner’s prayer”; so what is the reader supposed to think, if not that believing and being born again are all that are necessary to salvation?

 

     Actually, John 5:24 does not require faith in Christ as the Son of God.  It says one must believe Christ’s Words and believe in the Father Who sent Him.  Yet we know from John 8:24 that we will die in our sins if we do not believe the truth about Christ (that He is Deity).  Furthermore, John 5:24 does not mention repentance, which Jesus claimed was absolutely essential (Luke 13:3).  Neither does it mention baptism for the forgiveness of sins, although Jesus made it a requirement necessary for salvation (Mark 16:15-16).  Such is the danger of setting forth one verse—to the exclusion of others that might have a bearing on it.

     The second danger is citing a verse of Scripture with terminology that is not defined.  John 3:3 does mention the need for being born again, but the nameless writer of this column is careful to avoid John 3:5, where someone might get the idea that baptism is involved in one’s salvation, since water is mentioned.

 

     The reader of this column is then encouraged to “pray right now to receive Jesus and KNOW that you have eternal life.”  In other words, being born again must be equated with “receiving Jesus.”  Of course, such a notion does not come from the Bible, because there is not a verse in the entire New Testament where someone was told to “receive Jesus into his heart.”  People have heard that idea repeated so often that they probably think it is in the Book, but it is not.  Also absent are the words of this “prayer”:

 

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I realize I can’t make it to heaven any other way than through your Son, Jesus Christ. I ask forgiveness for my sins and I want to receive Jesus into my heart and life as my Lord and Savior. I pray this as sincerely as I know how, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

     First, no one can legitimately ask in Jesus’ name what He has not authorized.  In the great commission (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the apostles to baptize in the name of (by the authority of) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  This “sinner’s prayer” is absent from the Scriptures and not authorized by Jesus or any other member of the Godhead. 

 

     Second, praying sincerely is not sufficient.  Sincerity is required, but what man does must also be according to the truth (John 4:23-24; 8:31-32).  Saul was as sincere as anyone could be in persecuting Christians, but he was sincerely wrong.  Praying this prayer will not make anyone a Christian because God chose another means by which to save people’s sins.

GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION

 

Let us reason now together                             (Isa. 1:18)

That we all might learn and know                 (John 8:32)

What the Holy Bible teaches                 (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Of our Lord who loves us so.                     (1 John 4:11)

 

Follow each and ev’ry ref’rence                  (2 Tim. 2:15)

Of quotations written down,                     (1 Tim. 4:1-16)

For they’re of the Holy Scriptures                 (Matt. 7:12)

As you read where they are found.             (Luke 11:10)

 

Study them from ev’ry angle;                       (Acts 17:11)

Don’t believe just what you’re heard,           (Rom. 8:27)

For it may not be the gospel;                       (Acts 17:11)

We must take God’s Holy Word.                 (John 12:49)

                                                           And (Prov. 30:5-6)

 

Christ, who shed His blood on Calv’ry        (Luke 23:33)

Paid the debt for you and me,                         (Heb. 2:9)

Said that if we’ll all obey Him,                        (Acts 5:29)

We’ll be saved eternally.                        (1 Tim. 6:17-21)

 

We must try to help each other                       (Isa. 41:6)

And seek things which are above               (Luke 12:31)

So we’ll be with Christ our Savior,                   (1 Cor. 2)

And with God, of whom is love.                       (1 Cor. 2)

 

Although some who’ve read the Bible,      (1 John 4:13)

Yet, don’t seem to learn God’s plan,       (John 7:15-18)

That there’s only one salvation,                    ( Acts 4:12)

Which He’s given unto man.                       (John 10:28)

 

For it is so clearly stated:                           (Rom. 16:16)

Read Colossians, and you’ll see                    (Col. 1:18)

That there’s just one Church, His body—        (Eph. 4:4)

Just as plain as plain can be.                 (Heb. 1:2-3 and

                                                                     Matt. 16:18)

 

Now turn next to book Ephesians,

The fourth chapter; keep in mind                     (Eph. 4:5)

Where Paul spoke on this same subject        (also read)

And which won’t be hard to find.                   (1 Tim. 1:3)

 

Some have organized their churches,     (1 Cor. 3:2-11)

Which are build upon the sand,               (Matt. 7:26-27)

For they’re not found in the Bible,            (Jer. 10:23-24)

And therefore they’ll never stand.                  (Eph. 4:14)

 

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     While it is true that all are sinners and that no one can enter into Heaven except through Christ, God has a system by which we can obtain forgiveness of sins, and it is not: “Receive Jesus into your heart.”  The careful Bible student can read the entire book of Acts and never find a single instance of anyone being told these words.  On Pentecost Peter told the Jews who murdered Jesus to repent and be baptized.  All of Peter’s sermon is profitable, but notice especially verses 38 and 41 of chapter 2.   This is God’s plan for salvation.  Why do so few ever mention it?

TO MAN AND HOW WE SHOULD

 

God has said He will destroy them            (Hosea 4:5-6)

On that great and noble day,                 (1 Cor. 3:10-13)

If they’re not built by the pattern                 (Titus 2:7-8)

Of the truth, the living way.                      (John 8:31-32)

 

Men who’ve written creeds and doctrines, (Prov. 14:12)

They are sure to get a shock,                         Eph. 4:14)

If they don’t quit their rebelling                      (Eph. 4:18)

And all build upon the rock.                     (Matt. 7:24-25)

 

Take, for instance, pour or sprinkle              (Rom. 10:3)

Those who do so are not wise,              (1 Cor. 3:18-21)

For the Holy Ghost, through Peter,           (Acts 2:37-38)

Said on Pentecost, baptize.

 

And to baptize is the likeness,                     (Rom 6:1-5)

Which the Bible plainly shows,                     (Prov. 8:11)

Of our Lord when He was buried,                   (Col. 2:12)

And also when He arose.                               (Col. 2:12)

 

They must also be believers,                 (Mark 16:15-16)

Old enough to understand,                           (Prov. 3:13)

And which statement was made clearly      (Matt. 10:32)

By our Saviour’s last command.            (Matt. 28:19-20)

 

Children do not have such knowledge       (2 Tim. 2:3-4)

Of the Bible, we all know,                             (Prov. 9:10)

For the first book of Corinth’ans

Emphatic’ly tells us so.                              (1 Cor. 13:11)

 

Turn to Luke the eighteenth chapter

And the sixteenth verse; you’ll see

Jesus said they’re of the kingdom,              (Luke 18:16)

Just as plain as plain can be.

 

We should not neglect our duty                  (Heb. 10:25)

To partake fruit of the vine                   (1 Cor. 11:23-25)

And break bread on every Lord’s Day,          (Acts 20:7)

For our Christian life to shine                        (Matt. 5:16)

 

Once a month some have this service        (Heb. 2:1-4)

Just to suit a man’s made way,                  (Hosea 5:11)

But if they will read their Bibles,                     (Acts 20:7)

They will find out it won’t pay.                    (Matt. 15:8-9)

 

 

 

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     There ought to be, however, a thorough examination of all the conversions in the book of Acts.  Acts 8 is particularly instructive.  Thde reader will find that baptism is always included and that, when Jesus is preached, the eunuch asked if he could be baptized (Acts 8:35-36).  Reading the Scriptures is always more profitable than reading or listening to what somebody says about them.  Saul’s conversion is particularly instructive (Acts 9; 22).  The reader should watch closely to see when Saul was saved.  Only through a study of God’s Word do we come to a knowledge of the truth. 

WORK AND WORSHIP

 

For you’ll find that it’s recorded,                Jesus Himself

The apostles met to seek                                       said

In partaking of the Supper                           (John 13:15)

On the first day of the week.                          (Acts 20:7)

 

And we know that Jesus taught them—

The apostles what to do,                             (Heb. 10:25)

Guilding us for the future

Like of which themselves went through.

 

Now the present dispensation                       (Heb. 9:15)

Was made for both you and me,                     (Heb. 9:2)

As the old law  passed forever,                      (Col. 2:14)

When Christ died on Calvary.                     (Luke 23:33)

 

This shows us we should be careful           (1 Tim. 5:22)

Of the things we’ve learned or heard,           (Luke 8:18)

For we’re told in Revelation                               By John

We must not add to His word.                     (Rev. 22:18)

 

Or if any part’s deducted,

It will cause a world of strife,

For God meant, in this same chapter

Either way, we’d lose our life.                      (Rev. 22:19)

 

Paul, who was the great apostle,                  (1 Tim. 1:1)

Only told us all to sing,                                  (Eph. 5:19)

And that’s why we do not use them—            (Col. 3:16)

Organs, harps, nor anything.                    (1 Cor. 14:15)

 

Now as to the contribution,                         (Rom. 15:26)

We should always do our part,                     (Phil. 4:1-6)

Giving as we have been prospered,           (1 Cor. 16:2)

And which must come from our heart.  (2 Chron. 31:21)

 

For God loves a cheerful giver;                  (2 Cor. 9:6-7)

It’s a deed we should not shun,                   (Luke 17:10)

He will bless us if we’ll do so,                      (Luke 12:43)

Which He’s told us ev’ry one.                      (1 Cor. 16:2)

 

There are some who get real angry                (Prov. 1:7)

When we try to give them light,                     (Matt. 5:19)

Which pertains to their salvation,                 (Rom. 5:17)

And we know this is not right.                     (Rom. 13:10)

 

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[Edtior’s note: The above poem, which stretches across four columns, was found in a book in our church library.  It was printed on one side of an 8½ x 14 piece of paper and folded, as in tract form, so that there was one column per page.  The other side of the paper is blank—except for one column, which contains the picture of a rather elderly gentleman, whose name is printed as John E. Massey, although he signed it J. E. Massey.  He is the author of the poem, whose title runs across the top of each column.  The mystery is that, at this time, we do not know who this brother was or how this copy came to be in our library. 

 

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

 

Ev’ry one of whom despises                         (Matt. 5:44)

Our work we’re trying to do,                         (Rom. 12:2)

Of the Church of Christ, remember—         (Rom. 16:16)

It’s God’s word, not ours to you.                  (Luke 11:28)

 

We should all be open-minded                   (Rom. 12:16)

To receive His word with care.                 (Jas. 1:16; 25)

If we’re prejudiced or stubborn,                  (Prov. 21:16)

We will not get anywhere.                            (Rev. 22:14)

 

We should think upon these subjects,             (Isa. 1:18)

For Phillip’ans, four and eight                          (Phil. 4:8)

Tells us that we all should do so.                   (Jas. 1:25)

Then we should not hesitate.                           (Gal. 1:8)

 

It is light from earth to heaven                      

And there is no other way,                            (John 10:1)

But the simple, plain, pure gospel             (Prov. 8:9-11)

While on earth we must obey.                       (Gal. 1:8-9)

 

If the faith which you’re believing                (1 Cor. 1:10)

Can’t be proven by God’s plan,               in (John 17:21)

Then why not reject the precepts,                (Acts 26:18)

Which were gotten up by man.                 (Gal. 1:10, 13)

 

God said we must face the judgment          (2 Cor. 5:10)

Yes, He’ll try us ev’ry one                           (Rom. 14:11)

By the book which will be opened         (Rev. 20:12, 14)

Of the things of which we’ve done.            (1 Peter 1:17)

 

But there’ll be no condemnation                     (Rom. 8:1)

If we’ll worship, work and pray,                (Jas. 2:14, 26)

Live by nothing but the gospel,                   (2 Tim. 2:15)

We’ll be ready on that day.                        (2 Tim. 4:7-8)

 

I don’t desire this world of wealth

But only God’s spirit and power

To help me with what thoughts I have

For the good of mankind each hour.

 

   

 

 

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The tract has no address of either brother Massey or any congregation with which he worked.  No place of publication is listed, and no publisher is cited.  No address is provided as a means of ordering more copies.

 

The only other peculiarity is that someone hand wrote nine names on one of the blank columns (Margaret Jolly, Sharon Davis, Mary Keisler, Cindy Berry, Lisa Baumgarner, Tracy Keisler, ______ Sweat, and Jerry Berry), but these probably have nothing to do with the origin of the material.  If anyone has seen this information before, please give us whatever details you can.]

 

 

 

 

 

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "HE WHO BELIEVES… (09/25/05)."

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