The Sweet Plausible Sophistries.

The task of all Christians is to grow in salvation through the grace given in Christ. At the same time, if we do not obey the orders of our Lord, how can we confront our internal and external adversaries; in this case even the grace of Christ will not help. The Lord has given us an indirect commandment to learn and keep things received from the apostles, (Mat 28:19, 20). Of course, we are not ideal students at the Salvation Academy, but the worst part is that sometimes we learn and obey what is false, to the detriment of what is true. In this scenario, we look like a man who rests on the staff of a broken reed, when he rests on it, it pierces his hand; thus misconceptions among which are: “Once Baptized Saved Forever,” “Unlimited Forgiveness,” and “The Abuse Of Authority.”

Let’s start with prayer. O Lord Jesus Christ, give us ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Also strengthen us in the conviction that You are among us for the benefit of our weak faith and sorrowful heart; for you are our Master and Lord. Thank You for teaching us Your commandments. Amen

The first sweet believable sophistry with which we begin is called “Once Baptized Saved Forever.” Some believe that the baptism with which they were once baptized should save them once and for all. Accordingly to this belief those who were baptized in Christ were permanently saved. The reason of this sophistry associates with (1 Peter 3:20-21) where the apostle says that Noah and his family were saved through water. Corresponding to this, we read also that “ … baptism now saves you.” Therefore, it leads people to believe that those who are baptized are always saved in virtue of this sacrament taught by some churches. This fact can be seen at https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Christ-As-Your-Savior; at that time the article was read 525,999 times. In page 13, under the picture of baptism, we read, The believer, Cornelius, who was a Roman jailer was baptized and his (house) family and servants were saved. (Acts 10:48) After every example of a person having faith and believing in Christ, he or she was, when possible, baptized to complete his or her salvation!” By the way, in addition to the heresy that we are discussing, the quote contains incorrect information that Cornelius was a Roman jailer, but this is only our remark, which is not our topic.

Now reflecting on the Noah’s ark as an illustration of something significant many commentators see it as Jesus Christ in whom we are saved. Next to this, the ark moving through the roaring waters was imagined as one’s baptism. When we think of God’s act of saving Noah and his family, we are always surprised at several things and one of them is about how much energy, patience, self-control and other virtues do people in the ark when they care about a large number of animals. These virtues were to belong to the righteous Noah, the head of the family, and other people in the Ark had to demonstrate the same attitude, believing and acting like him, otherwise they would not have been saved. Another miracle of this survival surprised us with its long term, which took one year, 365 days. Accordingly, our baptism, it was not completed with triple immersion in water, but its full accomplishment is yet to come. Our salvation depends not on the immersion but on how we live, according to the flesh or the Spirit, (Rom 8:13). “… by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” (The Small Catechism of Martin Luther). Having such a great example of the salvation of Noah, let us also move with godly fear in obedience to the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ, otherwise a shipwreck is inevitable.

The second fallacy in a row is “Unlimited Forgiveness” is the belief among some Christians that the gracious and kindness God forgives their sins without number, even regardless their severity; if sins are repented they are forgiven for Christ’s sake. This kind of belief seeks to blur the distinction between mortal and minor sins for the reason that any sin makes us guilty before the holy and just God, (Jas 2:10). Actually there is nothing wrong that God in Christ Jesus graciously forgives all our sins and remember them no more. Our salvation depends on the forgiveness of our sins, as well as on our honest struggle with our sins – whether we live according to the Spirit or our sinful flesh. But the essence of the problem found in the lack of sincerity of the confessor and in a misunderstanding of God’s justice.

Now let’s recall a couple of transgressions from the book of Acts to see God’s justice in forgiveness a sinner. Thus when baptized Simon, the former magician, asked Peter for spiritual power in exchange for money, Peter called him to repentance saying, “ … pray, if it is possible the intention of your heart may be forgiven.” Simon, in his turn, asked Peter to pray for him. The Scripture does not info a reader that the desire to intercede for Simon was Peter’s concern. Has Simon was honest in his repentance? According to the tradition, Simon continued his magic practice but as a false leader. The next sin in recollection is a lie against the Holy Spirit committed by the new Christians, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, (Acts 5). These types of transgressions may be regarded as a sin unto death mentioned by the apostle John in (1Joh.5:16). So, it is obvious that not all sins are forgiven to the baptized if they were not sincere in their confession.

In this connection we should not miss such sin as the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that will not be forgiven even in age to come, (Mt 12:31). It is widely affirmed and believed that this blasphemy is nothing but “unbelief in Christ.” Nevertheless, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with human unbelief, rather with what the words of Christ stand for, as for example, lying to the Holy Spirit or identifying the Holy Spirit with demonic power popularly; but this point is beyond the scope of the topic.

The next reason people believe in “Unlimited Forgiveness” is based on the word of our Savior in which he commands us to forgive a repentant brother seventy times seven, (Luk 17:4). For some reason, people believe that by giving this commandment Jesus also bound himself with the same kindness. Yes, our Lord is long-suffering and plenteous in mercy but it doesn’t mean that he has to forgive hypocrites who honors God with their lips, meanwhile their heart is far away from Him, (Mt 3:7,8; 15:8). For example, if Christians hate their brother in their hearts or are proud of the achievements of things that are actually evil in the eyes of God, then such sins are usually not admitted by those people, but self-justified. Today we notice that the contemporary message is out of balance, all attention is focused on the forgiveness of our sins, – the fear of sins has been exhausted. There are many who proudly insist, “We are people forgiven!” Yes, we are, but not under any circumstances. Our Lord is also solemn and just, please read these passages: (Mt 6:14; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26; 2Pet 2:20).

How many sins people have committed against God, humanity and nature which never been confessed and repented! They are as many as the sand which is on the endless seashore. O Christ, our God, have mercy and save Your people from the furnace of burning fire, (Dan 3:17) and deliver them out of the hands of the evil ones, (Mat 6:13). Amen

The third erroneous belief that we draw your attention to is what we call “ The Abuse Of Authority.” It is believed that people are welcomed to lay upon Christ their sins. “I lay my sins on Jesus, The spotless Lamb of God … ” we read from the first stanza of hymn # 606. In connection with this strange idea, we come across another equally strange formulation preached on the Internet, here it is, “Lay down your burdens at the feet of Christ …. who waits and watches, and winces in pain as His children ignore His help.”

Now let’s examine the conception of laying one’s sin upon the Lord who waits and watches, and winces in pain. First, those of us who think that we have rights to put on God our sins, they may not understand neither God’s justice nor His holiness. Here we proceed from the fact that taking sin from one person and loading it onto another one is an absolutely sovereign act of God.

Who did lay the sins of all people upon Jesus Christ? No one but the Son of God and, moreover, voluntarily in accordance with the will of his Father, (1Jn 3:5, 4:10; 1Pet 2:24). Yes, all people who believe in Jesus Christ have to repent and beg Him for the forgiveness of their sins; but Scripture does not support belief where it would say that a sinner is given the right to cast his/her sins on the Lamb of God.

The notable passage in the connection associates with (Mt 11:28) where it says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest … .” Jesus addressed this invitation to everybody who have ears to hear, who have recognized in him their Savior, who were aware of their spiritual downfall and feel themselves accountable to God for their transgressions. With tears and anguish a “lost and found” calls upon the Christ, “O Lord have pity on me a sinner! Have mercy. Forgive me for I have sinned against You.” This sound is scriptural. But if you follow the wrong idea, prayer sounds like this, “ O gracious Lord, I thank You for Your willingness to take my sins, so I joyfully lay upon You all my sins, thank You for Your great love.” This prayer is in full agreement with the hymn # 606 that says, “I lay my sins on Jesus, The spotless Lamb of God … ”

Now let us see another passage in support of the current discussion; it says,”Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you … ,” (Ps 55: 22). Some people may associate this burden with the sin of man, however, the “burden” here does nothing common with the sin of man. From the context of this psalm it is clear that David is concerned about people close to him, who pretended to be his friends, but in fact they were his enemies. So, the burden of David is his anxiety along with the care of how to break out of the hands of false and evil people. The history confirms that David and the people who trust in the Lord found in Him refuge and support against their adversaries. In (1Pet 5:7) there is same mind, “Throw all your anxieties upon him, because he cares about you.” Also it can be seen in hymn # 754: “Entrust your days and burdens to God’s most living hand: He cares for you while ruling the sky, the sea, the land. … ,“ Where the Scripture teaches us of putting on Jesus one’s burden, it is not about sin of man but about a person’s anxiety and care. For example, the “burden” we may load on Jesus are our anxiety or fear of the persecutors, or the threat to life like COVID-19, or something in connection with the failure to perform God’s work.

In such dangerous times as now, Christ invites us to bring him our anxiety or fear with faith and trust in His loving care, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest … .” (Mt 11: 28). At the same time, we should not be careless, but behave in accordance with God’s wisdom, “Hear me, your father, O my children, and do what you hear, that you all may be safe,” (Sir 3:1).

All of us who came to Christ found heaven for life because in Him God forgave our former sins, (2Cor 5:19; Col 2:13); in him we discovered a fountain of life and a source of all goodness. Great is his loving-kindness and compassion! Alleluia, glory to You, our Great God! Glory to You!

Dear Friends, those of us who believe and practice sweet plausible sophistries are at risk of being found as a barren tree, waterless desert, salt without salinity, lamp without oil and so on, (Mt 25). Keep in mind that the time of great opportunities is limited, and its end is drawing near. Thanks to the Lord, we all still have a chance to break out of the vicious circle of self-seduction; and having gone out of it, we may step by step grow in the righteousness of Christ, and living by this principle, we will not be ashamed of that day.

Here we pray. “O Lord, our God, from the time of Your first advent to the present day You have saved a great number of people whom no one can count. Glory to You, O Lord! And You continue Your saving work among us, the people of 21st century. Praise to You! O Lord. Almighty Father, we understand that while we are in this world we are in danger from many things, including heresies and the people who spread them. We implore You, firmly establish us in the truth, so that false teachings would not be rooted in our minds and hearts; prune us when necessary so that we yield the fruit of righteousness until our last breath, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

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