Church Leadership Issues and The Need for Healthy Accountability

It breaks my heart when I hear from fellow ministers who have been asked to resign or have been out-right fired from their ministry. It is equally heart breaking to hear about unhealthy church leadership that are making many of these decisions. To be fair, there are always two sides to every story and no one is perfectly objective but once you have heard enough of these you realize that there is a real need for healthy church leaders in our churches.

One of the most basic ingredients for healthy church leadership is healthy accountability. Often things get out of hand because things have gone unchecked for so long and leadership has “gone rogue” with no one to keep them in check or have a platform to test the integrity of their heart to be true spiritual leaders and shepherds. Everyone needs to have healthy accountability. No one is exempt from the basic need to have someone in their life who will call them into question if things get out of hand. We may not want it. We may not look forward to it. We may not always appreciate it. But we need it. That doesn’t mean it is forced on people. It has to be done in a way that promotes health and unity within the church body.

In years past, that has proven to be a very hard balance to strike. Accountability usually falls apart somewhere along the line and crosses over into an unhealthy dynamic. A lot of times that is because accountability can so easily be turned into a power play or manipulation to get people to do what leadership wants them to do that we have often avoided accountability like the plague. When that happens the cycle continues and things get more and more unhealthy. Past abuses of accountability like in the Crossroads movement have tainted that word for many. On a more personal level we live in a culture that values liberty and autonomy. We don’t like to have to answer to anyone. Accountability doesn’t come natural to our culture. In more communal cultures like in Asia, accountability comes a lot more naturally where the mentality is more about the group than about the individual.

There is a huge need in our churches, church leadership, ministry staff, and our marriages to have a healthy level of accountability. If we had leadership who were willing to be vulnerable we could avoid many of the issues that take place. On a side note, I will add that I have been tremendously blessed to work alongside elders who have been real shepherds and so anything I say here is in no way directed toward past or current church leadership that I have worked with. So, what does healthy accountability look like?

  1. There is no hierarchy
  2. There is no manipulation.
  3. It is done with the heart of a servant, not a master.
  4. Healthy accountability is about making someone better, not worse
  5. It is mutual so it goes both ways. That means everyone is open to it and no one is immune or above it.
  6. It has to be earned and as trust is built, accountability follows.
  7. Expectations and standards have to be clearly defined.
  8. It has to be carried out with 100% safety…in other words, you don’t have to fear the repercussions down the road.
  9. It should be done prayerfully

I believe that if more of our churches embraced this we would have far fewer issues and far healthier congregations. How have you seen accountability be done in healthy ways? How has that benefited your faith?

P.S. – I just noticed that Frank Viola just had a great post that runs along these same lines. Make sure to head over to his blog at Patheos and read his thoughts – Rethinking Leadership in the New Testament

75 Responses to Church Leadership Issues and The Need for Healthy Accountability

  1. Trey Talley says:

    Would you say there is a difference between discipline and accountability? If so, what separates the two?

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      Definitely related and a little hard to tease apart. Seems to me church discipline requires some sort of corrective action. Accountability is about having to give account for what you have done. It is knowing that someone will be listening and finding out about what you have done. That is more about oversight than just discipline. So to me accountability is a broader concept that discipline could certainly result from but doesn’t always necessitate.

  2. Agreed Matt! Humility plays such a huge role in accountability. It takes a lot to be open and honest with our brothers and sisters when this is not the type of community we have fostered over the years. I can’t even begin to express my thankfulness for the leadership we have. Speaking a little more on this issue, how would a church, that has been mired in the way of the hierarchy, go about overcoming their history and produce real change toward thus end?

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      In short the answer is people have to turn their hearts back to God and seek out the right leadership paths through the scriptures and through fervent prayer. The difficulty is, people who are mired in this already, probably won’t think there is any issue even as they leave a wake of devastation and broken ministers/preacher’s kids behind them.

      One of the problems we fave in our fellowship is that we have traditionally been more enamored with Paul than we have with Jesus. So when you read Paul and you see him running around establishing and fixing all these churches it is only natural to seek out that sort of apostolic authority or, say, give it to the elders. People want hierarchy. They want to know who is top dog. Unhealthy people want to be that top dog. The honest to goodness answer is there is only one top dog and his name is Jesus. Read that Frank Viola link at the bottom of the post for more on how scripture might shape our thinking on this.

      • Mark says:

        I agree that Paul was at the top of the totem pole. Jesus was second-fiddle to Paul from the pulpit and really only discussed in Sunday school. The rest of the apostles, and even the prophet John, were way down the pole.

      • Ken Sublett says:

        If you preach the “Just Jesus” and debunk or minimize Paul in any way then you lay a heavy charge against Paul who validated his ministry by “GOING into the world knowing that he would suffer and die.”

        Paul said that Jesus of Nazareth as SPIRIT allowed Paul to see and hear him to qualify him as an apostle to “guide him into all truth” as He promised the original apostles. Paul claimed that he preached what Jesus preached.

        Paul would have attended synagogue which was specifically PREACH the Prophets by READING the Word (Logos: regulative principle) for comfort and doctrine.

        Paul’s writing is a confirmation of Christ in the Prophets and a repudiation of all of the pagan and Jewish “fables.” He always points back to the Prophets to the spiritual people and the Law of the Monarchy for those who had been abandoned to worship the starry host (Acts 7)

        Christ (the ROCK) defined the Church in the wilderness inclusively and exclusively:
        Christ in Isaiah 58 commanded that we not seek our own pleasure or speak our own words.
        Paul repeated that pattern in Romans 15 exactly.

        If you ignore the Prophets where Christ defined the true REST for the godly people quarantined from the monarchy who engaged in activities Christ in Isaiah 1 and Jeremiah 7 said God did not command.

        Christ defined the LOGOS as the regulative principle which is EXCLUSIVE of “worshiping assemblies” when Jesus said that the kingdom does not come with observation meaning religious services. If you follow the “pattern” from the wilderness onward then the Kerusso is the evangelists SENT OUT. If you have APT elders they are Christ’s gift as the Pastor-Teachers. The elders are commanded to “teach that which HAS BEEN taught and to refute those who do not teach that which has been taught.” That describes the authority of the elders. Obeying the elders is to listen to “that which has been taught” and “watching the outcome of their LIFE.” Then those who had assembled themselves DISS-assemble themselves and go about their own lives and ministry until the next appointed hour which in the ekklesia or synagogue was one READING and mutually confessing the Word Once a Week.

        Paul validated the same LOGOS so that as a Disciple of the Prophets and Christ in a spiritual sense obeyed what Christ in the prophets defined

        All historic churches called themselves APOSTOLIC meaning that the prophecies made more certain by Jesus and left for our memory of the Apostle’s eye– and ear–witnesses.

        Therefore, if you deny Paul the right to point to and teach the inclusive and that to be EXCLUDED prophecies of the Spirit OF Christ, then by what rationale would one have for teaching “assembling yourselves, passing the plate, “music” (in error)” or any of the ACTIVITIES for which men “see godliness as a means of financial gain” meaning occupation.

        • Mark says:

          Who here debunked Paul? However, when 51 of 52 sermons per year are on Paul, something is out of balance.

        • Ken Sublett says:

          That’s a good point Mark: sermons and songs were added just before the year 400. The command from the wilderness onward was to PREACH the Word (Logos, regulative principle) by READING the Word for comfort and doctrine.

          Paul, Timothy and many Gentiles were “wise unto salvation” because the synagogues were places to replace the pagan activities and be educated. The synagogue from the wilderness onward read the text–beginning to end, verse by verse–and gave the sense of it. This was limited to translating or otherwise make certain that the people understood the text.

          Paul points to Christ Who prophesied the TRUE REST for the non-abandoned and the future church both inclusively and exclusively: He solved all of the discording themes which arise when you presume to pass judgment on the text. This is the only thing commanded to edify or educate. That would almost guarantee that any young preacher would not run out of material and the elders would never fire them. I don’t know why there is such a high-preasure WORKS effort put into restoring the Laded Burdens. Jesus said, “cool it: come outside the masses, rest and learn of ME.” Is that hart to grasp? Jesus paid it all: follow His PATTERN to stand up to read and then sit down to discuss or meditate. I pity the role of “preacher” but they cannot REST and are purpose driven to try to take the kingdom by force. Try it: you might like it and half of the flock will not go away mad because you needed to upset the comfort zones Jesus died to give us.

  3. Jeff says:

    The body must be willing to follow their eldership. Provided they (the elders) are following the standard. This includes the preacher as well. The standard is the whole new testament, the new covenant. This idea that what Paul wrote or what Peter wrote is somehow less important or doesn’t carry the same weight as the actual words of Christ is troublesome. Jesus told His disciples just before He sent them out, “he who hears you, hears Me, he who rejects you, rejects Me.” Everything the inspired writers wrote is indeed from God. Everything we need is found there in, 2 Timothy 3:16f. Elders have the responsibility of following the standard, What many preachers fail to realize is they are in subjection to the Elders. Christ has put them over you, obey those who rule over you. Yes, there are Elderships that don’t follow the standard, there are biblical ways to deal with it, it’s the same as for any erring member. There are also rogue preachers who need to be dealt with, the same applies. The point is, we all have the same standard, we can follow it, if we have the right attitude and are willing to submit to the Lord.

    • Mark says:

      Who here is arguing over what is inspired or not? There just needs to be some balance. Paul mainly dealt with church problems and Jesus taught the people without worrying too much about church organization. One can learn from both and consult Paul’s advice when needed.

      Now since you brought up elders, they generally have not been to seminary, whereas ministers generally have been. Now who knows more about theology? Also, the term “rule” is a poor translation of what really means “look out for you”. There was no dictatorship being created here.

      • Jeff says:

        Mark, I pray that no minister of the church of Christ has been to “seminary”. There are indeed good schools for men to go to, too learn the bible, to learn how to preach. Seminary’s are denominational in nature, where one is influenced by doctrines of men. I have heard many preachers, preachers who were said to be very educated, but yet, they didn’t know the bible. Just because you went through a “seminary” doesn’t mean you know the bible either. Elders are to be older, men who have been shown or proven to be mature in the faith, not a novice as scripture puts it. It is God’s way for leadership in His church. No one needs to go to “seminary” to be educated in God’s word. In God’s wisdom, He created a book that all could understand and follow. I would say from what you have said that you must believe in the “pastoral” system, one man rule. Which is contrary to New Testament teaching. Elders, plural were to be appointed in every congregation. Also, the point being, to achieve balance, one must understand the whole counsel of God, understanding that what Paul, Peter, Timothy etc, taught was indeed from Christ, and just as important.

        • Mark says:

          Wow! Best wishes.

        • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

          Seminaries are denominational in nature? That is a very broad generalization. On one hand, it is impossible to preach and/or teach without our filters on. On the other hand, where I went to seminary, they taught us how to read and understand scripture so we could form our own conclusions. It was invaluable to my personal spiritual development and my ministry.

          Also, your logic could be applied to anyone who teaches anything about the Bible. You can also get denominational bias in a Sunday school class or a sermon, probably even more so than in many seminaries. So show me a place that is free from bias and I will tell you, dig a little deeper and eventually you will find it…because we are all human.

        • Ken Sublett says:

          Most once-Bible colleges turned into universities have had to add lots of “theologians.” They major in “theology” which is demanded as the traditions of church councils becomes a way that the Spirit speaks. One noted professor says that he does not ignore the Bible but he writes primarily from a theological basis. It may be that most of ‘our’ universites are now seminaries?

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      No one here is arguing that Paul is lacking inspiration or authority in his writings. It hasn’t been said. No one is pushing against elderships.

      • Jeff says:

        I know of no preaching school that is affiliated with the church of Christ that calls itself a “seminary”. Denominational bodies call theirs “seminaries”, why would anyone in the church of Christ even entertain such an idea? You were taught to form your own conclusions? Well theirs your problem. Don’t you think we should seek God’s conclusion, what He is saying? Truth is what God says it is, not what I may conclude it is. Your right, you can get “bias” anywhere. That’s why we need to be careful in where we educate ourselves. The bible is it’s own best commentary, let it interpret it’s self. When you say, it’s hard to preach without our filters on”, by that do you mean filtering God’s word so that it’s palatable? Or is it regarding our opinions?

        • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

          Jeff, theological graduate schools are seminaries. Why is that a big deal? What am I missing? There are several if these within churches of Christ. You already know that. Seminary is not in the names but that is how they are viewed.

          Do you form your own conclusions or are your conclusions always God’s conclusions? My answer to that is that we do our best to understand Hod’s intention in the text and live by it. Sometimes I will get it right and other times I will miss it. But I still try to know and believe what God desires for me to understand.

          Help me understand why seeing these as seminaries is an idea not to be entertained.

          I didn’t say making God’s word palatable. Why would you think I was saying that? I was talking about the filters we pass information through (usually unknowingly) when we interpret. Hope that makes sense.

        • Mark says:

          Webster defines a seminary as “an institution for the training of candidates for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate.” What then are the cofC schools for the training of ministers but seminaries?

  4. Jeff says:

    As far as being “accountable” all of us will be held accountable for what we do in the flesh, it will be the standard, the word of God that judges us all. John 12:48.

    • Jeff says:

      Matt, I know of no theological seminary associated with the church of Christ. When I Google “church of Christ Seminaries” I find nothing. All I find is Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc seminaries. There are schools of preaching, associated with the church of Christ, but I find no “seminary”. There are universities associated with the church. My point is, that term is used by the denominations, to denote their brand of doctrine. Mark’s definition is correct, that is what a seminary is. Schools associated with the Lord’s church have never used that term with regard to their schools, that I know of. Things are changing, for sure, there are those in the church who desire to be more like the denominations, to fellowship with them. There are those in the church who don’t see the distinctiveness of Christ’s church. They want to lump in every man made “church” and call us all one. That idea is contrary to bible teaching. So when you guys use the term, I can only think of a school associated with one of the denominations. If you attended one of this seminaries, you have been influenced by their false doctrine. As far as “filters” go, My brain is my filter, that is where information goes. How that information is filtered, depends on what I believe. If I have allowed myself to be influenced with false information and I believe that false information, my conclusion will be wrong. That’s the danger of associating with unfruitful works of darkness. 2 Cor 6 teaches us not to be unequally yoked with them. Verse 17, “therefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord.”

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Jeff, you know of no schools within Churches of Christ that train people for ministry? I do and I already explained above how that works out so I am not going to get into that again.

        I want to understand your position better, so allow me to ask a few questions for clarification.

        1 – Are all people who attend a church that doesn’t say “Church of Christ” on the door going to hell?

        2 – Should we fellowship someone who attends a church other than a Church of Christ?

        3 – Is it possible to read the Scriptures with ZERO bias, completely objectively?

        4 – Is it possible that we, in Churches of Christ, are correct on all points of doctrine and all the other “denominations” have gotten it all wrong?

        5 – At what point is a church a “man made church”?

        Thanks for any clarification you can offer.

  5. Jeff says:

    I know of no school associated with the church of Christ that uses the term “seminary”, to describe itself. There are schools that train men to be preachers.
    1. It depends on what they believe and practice. Scripture refers to the church as, the church, the Lord’s church, church of the first born, church of Christ, Christ church. It always refers to the one to whom it belongs, Christ.
    2. No
    3. Probably not, It’s the attitude we bring. We must ask ourselves, do I desire to know what God is saying and am I willing to accept it.
    4. Some congregations have strayed from the truth and become something other than the Lord’s church. Is it possible to have all of the doctrine correct? It’s not only possible it’s commanded. It is truth that sets us free, falsehood enslaves us.
    5.We know what the church is to look like, from biblical examples as well as biblical commands. We know how they worshipped, they came together on the first day of the week, they preached and taught God’s word. They sang hymns and spiritual songs without instruments. They preached God’s word, they prayed, they gave a free will offering. They observed the Lord’s supper. They were to be of one mind, of one accord having he same judgement. They followed God’s plan of salvation as taught in the New Testament. They understood and taught that every alien sinner must believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That they must be willing to repent of their sins, confess His name before men as Lord and Savior the Christ. They also understood and taught that every alien sinner must be baptized for the remission of their sins and that God Himself adds them to HIS church. They also understood that they then must live faithfully unto death. What has man done Matt? Man has created his own version of “church”. It’s nothing more than “will worship”. Man has decided he knows best. He has created houses of worship that look nothing like Christ’s church. They have forgotten that God gave Christ all authority. Christ built and died for HIS church. Why Matt do you think, that in the first century the church was most commonly called “the church”? It didn’t need a proper name because there was only one. There were no Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian etc churches. These all came along centuries later. Nothing like the Catholic church was seen until the 625 A.D. After the great apostasy of 1 Timothy 4:1 ” Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” If all those who say they believe in Jesus, worship, teach and believe different things and they are all ok in your mind, just who are the people of Matt 7:21f? They are people who thought they were followers of Christ but yet what did Jesus say, ” Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father.” he goes on to say, you think you have done many wonderful things in My name, but I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. There is only one church Matt, it is the church that Jesus built. We are either a member of it, or we are a part of something man made. If someone says the sinners prayer and ask Jesus into his heart to be his personal Savior, just where in scripture is that instruction found? There is but one way to enter into the kingdom of Christ and that is Christ’s way. Believe, repent, confess, be baptized for the remission of sins and God adds you to His church, Acts 2:38-47. All of the other “churches” that you wish to fellowship, teach and practice things that are contrary to biblical teaching. They are forgeries, counterfeit. They teach as commandments the doctrines of men. As Peter puts it they are wells without water. So why pray tell, would anyone who is a member of the church of our dear Lord, the bride of Christ, want to become a spiritual harlot and give their affections to another?

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      I am sorry that we are talking past each other here a bit. There is no CofC school that has seminary in its title but if you spend time around them, that is how they see themselves (at least, that is my experience). That word is used informally, in conversation with people in and around those institutions. I have been to them and I have experienced this and there is nothing wrong with it.

      What you are doing here is saying “because word X is being used then people must be doing Y” and that is not a valid line of reasoning. Here it is, “Because the word seminary is being used, it is by nature denominational and/or teaches to a specific denominational (in your thinking, non-biblical) teaching. That, again, is not valid logic. You have to take each institution by its own merits and by what they actually teach and not just by the broad, generalized assumptions you are throwing around here.

      Let’s get to your answers. I appreciate you directly answering the questions.

      #1 & 2: In answer #1 you said it is possible to be in a “denomination” and not be lost based on if they teach what the Bible teaches. And then in #2 you said that we shouldn’t fellowship those very same people. That is contradictory as best I can tell it.

      #3 – I agree 100%.

      #4 – From what I gather you are saying that there are churches who have all their doctrine correct without exception. I cannot imagine that is the case and that is ok because 100% correct doctrine was never made the basis of salvation in scripture, ever. Should we strive for it? Of course…we should strive to believe correctly and behave correctly (in obedience to Christ) but that doesn’t mean that we have it right on every single issue with no possibility that we got something wrong somewhere along the line. The reality is, when we sin…we get it wrong. Every time. We have all sinned. We all continue to sin. To say there is a church that is 100% right just misses the point.

      #5 – when did they give a free will offering? Scripture please. Also, if we can only fellowship perfect churches we have no one left to fellowship. By your standard, Paul should have had nothing to do with the church in Corinth and yet he very much still viewed them as Christians and treated them as such.

      We agree on many things and I appreciate your zeal and desire to believe right and do right. We shouldn’t ever cease to try to excel in seeking God, God’s will and a deeper/richer knowledge of God’s Word. But at the end of the day we are saved in spite of our own imperfection, not because we got it all right. It is by grace we are saved, through faith and this is not of ourselves, it is the work of God (Eph 2:8-9).

      Appreciate the conversation. This is quite the rabbit trail off the original post and that is fine. I hope it has been helpful to you.

      • Jeff says:

        Words do have meaning Matt, when certain words are used such as seminary, the only thing I can think is, a denominational school, because that is who uses it. When I answered question 1, I wasn’t thinking of a denomination, I was thinking of the possibility of a church of Christ, that might use another scriptural name. Since your referring to denominations, such as Baptist, Methodist, etc, I would have to answer, they are lost. They are the people of Matt 7:21f. They have never obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their worship is in vain. And we should have no fellowship with them. I have been asked that 100% thing before, it’s difficult to answer. No one is ever 100% correct. We are to strive for perfection, maturity. Paul said that he had never attained. He was speaking of his own personal conduct. But it can’t be an excuse either. How hard is it to meet on the first day of the week, teach God’s word, sing songs of praise without the use of instruments, to pray, to preach the word, to observe the Lord’s supper and to give of your means, 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. This is basic, the easiest to understand and follow. There are other doctrinal matters that need more study to learn, but study and learn we must. If it is impossible to follow the commands of Christ, then it is impossible for us to love Him. Again I say, Christ built and died for only one church, His. Denominations are false and man made. We can see clearly what Christ church looked like from scripture. What it taught and what it should believe, and how it worshipped. We can be that church, we must be that church if, IF we wanted to be counted among those who are saved. We as mere men have no right, no authority to change one thing about the Lord’s church. If we do, let us be accursed, and guess what we are, we are no longer the Lord’s church, we have become something that God doesn’t recognize. We are indeed saved by grace through faith. The saved, are saved by grace through faith. The unsaved are not saved by grace through faith, because they have never accepted God’s grace by being obedient. I like rabbits.

        • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

          Yes, words have meaning. I have said that over and over again as has Mark. This might help:

          Denotation – dictionary definition/literal definition
          Connotation – meanings associated with a given word

          You are using your connotations of seminary and turning it, in your mind, into the denotation.

        • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

          On what scriptural basis are baptists lost?

  6. Jeff says:

    On what scriptural basis are they saved? All men are lost until they obey the gospel. In Acts 2, that age old question was asked. What must we do? Peter said, repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins. It says, those who gladly received his words were baptized. They gladly received Peters instruction and did as he instructed. In verse 47 God added those who were being saved. That was the first gospel sermon. When asked what they must do to be saved, Peter told them. He didn’t say, recite the sinners prayer and ask Jesus into your heart to be your personal savior. The Baptist form of gaining salvation cannot be found in scripture, thus it is false and damning. They have perverted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who are “Baptist” have rejected, they have not accepted or received the words of Peter, therefore they remain lost. What seminary did you attend?

    • Mark says:

      Jeff, do the Baptists no longer baptize adults using immersion?

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      Jeff, there is no “Baptist form of salvation” that is universal to all Baptists. If you want to find out any sort of pseudo-official position, look at sbc,net, the southern baptist website – http://www.sbc.net/knowjesus/baptism.asp

      On that page, they lay out exactly why baptism is important, what it means, that it should be immersion, etc. They couldn’t be much clearer. Does it surprise you that is on their site?

      I know plenty of baptists who baptize for the forgiveness of sins, just as we in Churches of Christ do. If you want to say the sinner’s prayer is unbiblical, I agree. If you want to say all Baptists believe and practice that, you are wrong.

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      By the way, there are plenty of Baptists who are saying the sinner’s prayer is unbiblical. So I don’t get how you can say “those who are baptist have rejected, they have not accepted or received the words of Peter, therefore they remain lost” when if you actually talk to some baptists and listen to some of their preaching you will find that many of them are doing exactly what Peter said.

      • Mark says:

        From the website of a very moderate Baptist church.

        “Members of [XYZ] Baptist Church are followers of Jesus who have entered into the waters of baptism. At [XYZ], we baptize through immersion; we have a large baptistery up front and when members come to be baptized they are dunked under the water to symbolize death to an old way of life and rising to follow Jesus in a new way of living…..Baptism is a requirement of membership because it is a public expression of our private decision to follow Jesus in the way of discipleship.”

  7. Jeff says:

    Baptist do immerse in water, but they do so for the wrong reasons. At your suggested site Matt, I found exactly what I expected. “Baptism, demonstrates that you are really a believer”. “baptism does not save you, your faith in Christ does that”. Faith only doctrine. Baptist don’t baptize anyone for remission of sins, they do so as an outward sign of an inward faith, a faith that they believe has already saved them. Your site said baptism was a demonstration that you are really a believer, Mark says its a public expression. Phillip and the Eunuch, who was there but them, what public demonstration, what public expression occurred? In my profession as a funeral director, I hear many Baptist sermons. Almost always, there is an alter call, where they encourage people to invite Jesus into their hearts to be their personal savior, and to say this simple little prayer (the sinners prayer) and Jesus will come and they can be saved today. They also believe in the false doctrine of once saved always saved, the idea of you can’t so sin as to ever lose your soul. I guess John didn’t understand when he said in Revelation 2:10, ‘remain ye faithful unto death, and God will give you the crown of righteousness.” If there are Baptist who baptize for the remission of their sins, they would be the exception not the rule.

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      and yes, baptism does not save you. It is God who saves. There are mechanics of how God saves, yes and baptism is certainly a part of that. But baptism does not save in and of itself…that is correct.

  8. Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

    Baptism demonstrates non-belief of non-believers?

  9. B Admire says:

    layman person writing here – but I suggest Jeff you read Job 38-40 and particularly the first 14 verses of chapter 40. This is meant in humble suggestion. Could you adopt a kneeling position as you read those? Just rest yourself. REST from your quest to be so busy watching others. Bless you

  10. Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

    Jeff, Are you lost if you believe you are eternally secure? If so, where do you find in scripture that people are lost for believing that?

  11. Jeff says:

    1 Peter 3:21 says, “There is an antitype, which now saves us, baptism, not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. What comes first?, we hear the gospel message, we believe what we hear, we are willing to change, we are willing to confess His name, we allow ourselves to be baptized for the remission of our sins. Galatians 3:26,27 teaches that in baptism, we have put on Christ, we have made Christ our Savior. As for being eternally secure, My security depends on me, I can turn from God and like a dog return to my own vomit. The Baptist, believe that they cannot so sin and lose their salvation. They believe they can live as they desire and not lose their salvation, false doctrine. “Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound? God forbid.” B Admire, I like Timothy, am contending earnestly for the truth, that is what God has called His followers to do. I’m not taking God’s place, I am contending for what He has said. For those who refuse to heed His words, who is really placing themselves equal with Him? “fear God and keep His commandments”.

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      Does baptism save or does God save? My understanding of scripture is that God calls those who have faith in him to be baptized as a part of that faith being worked out. Romans 6 tells us that in our baptism we are connected with the Death, Burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is part of having new life in Christ. Those are not our works…those are the work of God in our lives. Baptism, in and of itself (apart from God’s working) doesn’t save. God saves. Period.

      Again, you are broadbrushing whole groups where it isn’t warranted. Not all Baptists believe once saved always saved. Even if they did, that wouldn’t be a salvation issue and I am glad that you didn’t say you are lost if you believe that doctrine, as you have no scriptural backing to make a claim like that. Scripture never once says you are lost if you believe in “once saved always saved” so let’s not say that it does.

      Jeff, we are all seeking the truth here and we all have to be open to be taught from scripture that our beliefs are either right or wrong. At the same time, having correct doctrine on every point was never, in scripture, the requirement for salvation or else none of us would have any hope as that would be works righteousness that scripture condemns.

  12. Jeff says:

    According to 1 Peter 3:21 baptism does now saves us. Yes its a work of God, a work that must be obeyed. Those who believe in Him are called to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. It then can be said that they have faith, they had enough faith to obey. What kind of faith is it that balks at confessing His name? what kind of faith is it that balks at repentance? What kind of faith is it that balks at baptism and living faithfully unto death? Remember the demons believed also, were they saved? If a person believes in eternal security, what is it that they believe? They believe that they can live however they wish, sin no longer has a hold on them, why? because they have eternal security. It causes one to live unfaithfully and therefore they are damned. I have security, as long as I remain faithful. The New testament is complete with warnings about standing fast lest ye fall. Remember that Satan, like a lion, roams around trying to find those who he can devour. It’s not those of the world he seeks, he has them, its the Christian he desires. We can have hope Matt, if we follow God’s simple plan for salvation.

    • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

      Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:21. The analogy there is between Noah “being saved through water” and us being saved through water. Let me ask you this. Did water save Noah or did God save Noah? I am agreeing with you that baptism is a part of the salvation process. I am just clarifying the point, that in scripture, it is God who saves. He is the one with the authority to forgive sins. He has told us how to engage our lives into the process and baptism is certainly a part of it but baptism is only as powerful as the power of God working through it. You can certainly be baptized and just “get wet” because you are doing it to please someone, be popular in the youth group, etc.

      Now, it seems to me you are constructing straw men and then very easily tearing them apart. I asked if you thought people were lost if they believed in “once saved always saved” and here was your answer,

      “If a person believes in eternal security, what is it that they believe? They believe that they can live however they wish, sin no longer has a hold on them, why? because they have eternal security. It causes one to live unfaithfully and therefore they are damned.”

      I really don’t get it. You didn’t answer my question. I asked if the belief alone was cause for condemnation to hell and you said yes because it ALWAYS leads to X, Y, and Z. Does it? Is that fair? If you really answered my question, from scripture, you would have to say there is no place in scripture that Paul, Jesus, Peter or anyone else condemns people to hell for believing once saved always saved. You have no teaching that condemns. You have no example. You have nothing to stand on.

      The person you described wouldn’t be condemned for holding to that doctrine. They would be condemned because they are living in rebellion. It is entirely possible to believe in once saved always saved and not run your life down the trail you described. Let’s be fair, please.

  13. Jeff says:

    Yes Matt, it is God who saves us, it is through baptism that we put on Christ and have our sin washed away. It was Noah’s obedience that caused God to save him. I agree you can just get wet, that’s why you need to understand what and why you are doing it. Yes I believe the belief alone (eternal security) will cause someone to be lost, simply because, what’s the point in living faithfully? It does cause rebellion. If they indeed believe that wouldn’t they also teach it? Is it not sin to teach a false doctrine? Is it not true that what we believe, determines what we do? If the idea of once saved always saved is contrary to God’s word, wouldn’t that make it sin to believe it? If I believed in evolution, would that not be sinful and go against what God has said? If I didn’t believe in the virgin birth, would that not be sinful? To refuse to believe God’s truths is sin, to teach an untruth is sin. Yes it matters greatly what we believe. Why? “because faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God.” Rom 10:17. I don’t have eternal security, I have hope. Rom 15:4 “For whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Hope of what Matt? It’s the hope of heaven. Verse 13, we are to abound in hope. Col. 1:5 “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” The bible teaches that we do not now have eternal life. Titus 1:1-2, “we do not hope for what we have.” Rom 8:25, Rom 2:6-7. I hope for heaven because I do not have it yet, I can lose my salvation. It is possible for Satan to steal the seed (which is God’s word) out of my heart and I can be lost Luke 8:12. God’s promises have always been conditional, conditional upon my obedience and continued faithfulness, John 10:12. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27 understood that even he, could be rejected. Paul had hope, he didn’t have eternal security.

  14. Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

    Jeff, you are making wild conclusions using broad generalizations and assumptions here brother. At least that is how I read it.

    “es I believe the belief alone (eternal security) will cause someone to be lost, simply because, what’s the point in living faithfully? It does cause rebellion.”

    So it is impossible to believe in eternal security and still want to please God. Please explain to me how that is impossible. That makes no sense that because you can conceive of how someone might see it that way means everyone who believes it will ultimately fall into that trap. Honestly, I am amazed you are continuing down that line of reasoning.

    Also, “it does cause rebellion” is quite a different statement than it might or it can cause it. Let’s be realistic, please.

    “Is it not sin to teach a false doctrine?” – blatantly teaching false doctrine is a sin. Yes. Does it condemn to hell that you are wrong on any point of doctrine? I really need your answer on that question.

    • Jeff says:

      “Does it condemn to hell that you are wrong on any point of doctrine”. Ask Nadab and Abihu, Lev 10:1,2 or Uzzah, 2 Sam 6:12-19

    • Jeff says:

      “Does it condemn to hell that you are wrong on any point of doctrine”? Ask Nadab and Abihu, Lev 10:1,2 or Uzzah, 2 Sam 6:12-19.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        No, Nadab and Abihu show us that God didn’t look favorably on what they did in particular. It does not teach that God will strike you dead because you are wrong on a single point of doctrine. How do I know that? Well, Saul/Paul had his doctrine wrong and God turned him into the greatest missionary of all time. I get that from how Hezekiah celebrated the Passover all wrong in 2 Chronicles 30, wrong time, wrong way…unconsecrated priests. In that chapter it specifically says, “The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly.” (30:5) and “18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (30:18-20). And a few verses later, “The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.”

        How in the world? They directly disobeyed the commands of God on how to do Passover and God heard them and blessed them? No way. Not according to how you see it could God ever do that. So there you have it. They did what was contrary to/forbidden by the Law and God accepted them. They got their doctrine and practice all wrong and yet they were accepted by God. Did God get this wrong or are you misunderstanding the nature of God’s grace?

        So you have your Nadab and Abihu and throw in Uzzah too if you like. I have my Saul, David, Hezekiah, Abraham, Moses and every other person in the Bible who ever sinned or got something wrong and God forgave them and let them live. I will go with my list, unless it comes to offering strange fire or touching the Ark, in which instances we know what God has done in the past and best avoid it.

        You see, I am fully relying on God to save me. Do I want right doctrine? Yes, of course. Do I want to obey God? Yes, of course. Only a fool would want to be wrong and want to be disobedient to God. Just because I lean on grace doesn’t mean I am disinterested in the things of God or make me any less zealous for his ways. I hope that helps you see where I am coming from on this.

        • Mark says:

          I wish to add to the Nadab story. In verses 8 and following, there is a command to not be influence of alcohol while offering the sacrifices and performing the rituals. There is also a thought that Nadab and Abihu were either tipsy or drunk when they made the offering. Stop taking the bible out of context.

        • jeff says:

          I’m not saying God will strike you dead. I am saying, God doesn’t like disobedience. We will be judged for what we have done in the flesh.

        • jeff says:

          God gave them the opportunity to repent. He didn’t Nadab, Abihu and Uzzah. Remember, those things written before hand, were written for our learning. It would seem to me, that God is a stickler for details. 1 Cor 10:5 concerning their Jewish fathers Paul said, “but with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” I don’t think God would require us to be obedient to something that can’t be followed, why do you?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Jeff, you didn’t address any of my points.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        You are saying that unless you have perfect doctrine and perfect practice, you are lost. Let me know if I have misunderstood you on that. I am showing you times when God accepted worship and people who weren’t perfect but it doesn’t seem to matter. If scripture can’t convince you then I guess there isn’t much more I can say.

        • Jeff says:

          2 Chronicles 30, in verse 6 the King addressed the children of Israel, “return to the Lord God of Abraham. V7 And do not be like your fathers and brethren who trespassed against the Lord God….you will be treated with compassion. Further down, concerning the feast of unleaven bread they acted contrary to what was written, Hezekiah prayed for their atonement. If the children of Israel had not repented and Hezekiah had not prayed for their atonement, yes they would have been lost. God did not accept their worship, they did things that were contrary, they trespassed against God. They corrected their worship and when they did, God was pleased.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        They didn’t correct their form of worship in that moment. They still did the feast the wrong way at the wrong time using unconsecrated, not authorized worship before the Lord. Now you are making my point for me. God did accept such worship because of where their heart was at. They were repentant and pliable. You have been saying all along that if we don’t worship just so (perfect practice) or have our doctrine just right, that God won’t accept it and that people are condemned to hell. Our very scriptures show that is not always a valid conclusion and that God is looking deeper through the practice to the heart that is driving the actions. Now we are getting somewhere.

        • Jeff says:

          2 Chronicles 30: 9 “God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you, IF, IF, you return to Him.” If their sin didn’t separate them from God, why would they have to RETURN? God did not accept their false worship. It was seen as a trespass, it was contrary. Hezekiah had to “atone” for their sins. They had to repent, which is a change of mind as well as a change of action. They were repentant and pliable after they had sinned. They realized their fault, and corrected it. God didn’t accept their worship, until after they had repented. Their hearts as well as their actions fell short of the command. Sincerity is not enough. You mention Saul, he was sincere in his belief that Christianity must be destroyed, he was sincerely wrong. He had to repent, change his mind as well as his actions to be found acceptable before God. If he hadn’t, he too would have been lost.

        • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

          So you agree Hezekiah can repent of his sin but if you believe in once saved always saved you are eternally damned because you have no hope if return since such thinking ALWAYS leads to a depraved mind? That’s interesting. Am I reading you right?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Let’s look a little closer at 2 Chron 30.

        “Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. 2 The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. 3 They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 5 They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.” (30:1-5)

        The designated time God had prescribed for them to celebrate Passover was the first month, not the third. They had to let the first month go by because they weren’t consecrated according to the Law. If violating a command is sin, they sinned because God said do it on the first month and they did it on the third. Second, the people had been commanded to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. They violated that command as well, as the last sentence in 30:5 states…it was a violation of what was written.

        “6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

        “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

        What is interesting about these next verses is that they are returning to God while violating his commandments. The very way in which they are “returning” violates multiple commands. Amazing. Based on the standard you have so willingly laid out in your previous posts, one would not be left with the impression that this is even possible. Wrong worship = lost. Wrong doctrine = lost. Violation of commands = lost. You have repeatedly made the point that only perfect obedience and perfect doctrine can save you and that God will accept nothing less. These verses show there is more to the story than what you have understood from scripture.

        “10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.”

        Now this gets even more interesting. The hand of the Lord assisted them in completing their plans to celebrate Passover in a way that was a direct command of God. Wow! How could God do such a thing?

        “15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord. 16 Then they took up their regular positions as prescribed in the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them by the Levites. 17 Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs[a] to the Lord. 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”

        There you have it…Hezekiah prayed God would work this out, in spite of their own imperfections and even their own ill conceived plan for carrying out Passover. Yet, I am thinking you wouldn’t even allow this sort of grace to a Baptist, who does things contrary to your interpretation of Scripture, all the while praying God’s mercy and grace upon their lives.

        “23 The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully. 24 Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves. 25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.”

        I love these verses because they scream of God’s mercy. In case there was any doubt, it is made clear. God heard them. God heard them and accepted them in spite of their imperfection. In spite of doing worship wrong. In spite of disobeying the commands of God. In spite of it all…God heard them and the people were blessed.

        I just don’t see how any of what you have said lines up with this passage. Help me see it.

        • Jeff says:

          Amazing! What one will do, how far they will reach, How they will twist scripture to their own destruction. Again verse 9, “If you return” You can’t return, unless you left. Verse 18, Hezekiah prayed that God would “PARDON” them You can’t be pardoned unless you have been found guilty. God and His mercy accepted Hezekiah’s plea and pardoned them. God has always required repentance. If that’s how who wish to live, hoping that God will ‘pardon” you in the last hour, go right ahead. Remember, “there was a time when God winked at their ignorance, but the day will come when He writes His laws on our hearts.” If we sin willfully, their is no more sacrifice, the blood of Jesus Christ avails nothing. God’s mercy is like a banquet table. he has offered the perfect sacrifice. he has laid it all out on the table. The Spirit and the bride say come. All ye that are heavy laden come. Its there for all men to come and accept. Even though it is a free gift we must accept it. The giver can if he so chooses, can place terms and conditions upon it. God chose to, by requiring us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. To repent of our sins, to confess His name before men, to be baptized for the remission of our sins and then remain faithful unto death. Matt from what you have been saying, I can only conclude that you don’t believe that. You desire to make concessions where God has not. You have been deceived into believing that Jesus is not the only door, that you can climb in another way. May God have mercy on your soul.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Jeff,

        I first want to address your final statement and then I want to talk about how this conversation has gone and some concerns I have.

        First, your final statement,

        “God chose to, by requiring us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. To repent of our sins, to confess His name before men, to be baptized for the remission of our sins and then remain faithful unto death. Matt from what you have been saying, I can only conclude that you don’t believe that. You desire to make concessions where God has not. You have been deceived into believing that Jesus is not the only door, that you can climb in another way. May God have mercy on your soul.”

        I agree with that first part 100%. That is what I teach. That is what I write here. That is what I have said in the comments on THIS post. I have no idea how you arrived at that conclusion unless you have ignored half of the comments I have made in response to you. Here is what I have said – you have to read it all before you jump to conclusions,

        “baptism does not save you. It is God who saves. There are mechanics of how God saves, yes and baptism is certainly a part of that. But baptism does not save in and of itself…that is correct.” – My point here is that baptism is a part of the salvation process (which you say I deny) but that ultimately it is the power of God that saves. Here it is again,

        “Does baptism save or does God save? My understanding of scripture is that God calls those who have faith in him to be baptized as a part of that faith being worked out. Romans 6 tells us that in our baptism we are connected with the Death, Burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is part of having new life in Christ. Those are not our works…those are the work of God in our lives. Baptism, in and of itself (apart from God’s working) doesn’t save. God saves. Period.” – There it is again. God saves and He uses baptism as part of his work in salvation.

        “I am agreeing with you that baptism is a part of the salvation process. I am just clarifying the point, that in scripture, it is God who saves. He is the one with the authority to forgive sins. He has told us how to engage our lives into the process and baptism is certainly a part of it but baptism is only as powerful as the power of God working through it. You can certainly be baptized and just “get wet” because you are doing it to please someone, be popular in the youth group, etc.”

        There I go again…”baptism is a part of the salvation process” but you said I don’t believe that. Let me speak for myself, please.

        If you want more you can read these:
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2010/08/10/john-piper-on-what-one-must-believe-to-be-saved/
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2011/08/01/the-beauty-of-baptism/
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2009/07/07/baptism-related-to-salvation-but-not-a-wor/
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2009/04/10/balancing-faith-grace-baptism-and-works/
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2012/07/07/the-sinners-prayer-is-making-the-rounds/
        - http://mattdabbs.com/2012/03/03/changing-the-way-we-see-steps-of-salvation/

        If you read any of that, you will find that we agree on baptism, repentance, faith, etc.

        Now, about how this conversation has gone. There are a few things that I very purposefully do when I have conversations like these to be fair to the person I am having somewhat of a disagreement with and I want to explain that process to you.

        1 – I always try to treat people with respect. I feel like I have done that here. If I have come across otherwise, I am sorry.

        2 – I allow people to state their own opinions by asking questions rather than me telling you what you believe and how wrong you are. I am not in the business of putting words in your mouth. Yet you have done that to me repeatedly. You haven’t asked me any questions in regard to what I believe. You have asked rhetorical questions but that is to make your point.

        3 – When I believe you have missed the point and I sum up what I hear you saying, I ask you if that is correct, so far you haven’t come back and said I have missed the point – that you have to have perfect belief and perfect practice to be saved. So I assume you believe salvation is based on our works and our beliefs. I have asked you at least once if you believe that as I have summed up your views and you have been silent.

        4 – I try not to make accusations and if I do I usually use the word “if” and then state my opinion – “If you believe X,Y,Z then I believe you are wrong”.

        All of this is an attempt to have a respectful, cordial, productive conversation. So I want to ask you, before you make wild accusations about my beliefs that run completely contrary to everything I have said, please just ask me. Ask me to clarify. Ask me what scriptures I am basing my view on – maybe there is actually something from scripture you haven’t considered. I want to have a productive conversation with you and I am praying for you and that we can do that.

        Blessings.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Great question – I was convicted by what I had learned from the Scriptures about Jesus and put my faith in Christ. At that time I realized my own sinfulness in light of Christ’s righteousness and repented of my sins. I publicly confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and was baptized for the forgiveness of my sins. I believe that at that time God gave me the promised Holy Spirit to be a seal of His promise and that I then had new life through Christ…connected to the death, burial and resurrection of my Lord. Through that process God took away my sin and gave me new life in Christ. I am eternally grateful for God’s grace and patience for me.

        • Jeff says:

          Do you believe that you were saved, at the point of baptism, or were you saved when you believed and before baptism?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        I stand in solidarity with Paul who in Romans 6 tells us that our old sinful self is done away with in baptism and that when we are raised/resurrected from the waters that we are united with Christ new, resurrection life.

        Having said that, I am not the judge for anyone else. Let God be the judge of what people do with these teachings. We try to pinpoint when God does what he does and we search the scriptures to figure it out. What I just said is the best I can reason it but I am humble enough before the living and powerful God in heaven to say that God can do as He wishes with whomever he likes and I won’t hold it against him.

        • Jeff says:

          Is God a liar? Is God the author of confusion? I don’t judge anyone else either, but the bible does. You believe and rightly so about Paul and his letter to the Romans. Why isn’t that for all men? You seem to hold out the idea that there are other doors to enter into the kingdom? Jesus said if you enter not through the door, and climb in by the window, you are a thief and robber, John 10:1. I believe that the bible is God’s inspired word. That I can know, what I must do to be saved and remain saved, and it applies to all of us. You said, “Let God be the judge of what people do with these teachings?” You are kidding right? You won’t use God’s word to instruct the lost? You won’t teach God’s word in such a way that people can be saved? You had rather wait, say nothing, agree with all, and let God sort it out? It will be to late for them Matt. God can do as He wishes, but he loved us enough to tell us before hand, how we can escape the wrath to come. His grace has appeared before all men, all we have to do is accept it. It would seem that you entered through the door, but, you won’t teach others that they too, need to do the same?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Allow me to respond to each of your points:

        “You seem to hold out the idea that there are other doors to enter into the kingdom?”

        - Please quote me from above where I have ever said that. You misunderstand me and need to read what I said again. All I have advocated as the way to salvation is Jesus Christ and him alone. I have never in all of my life said or taught differently than that. You have nothing to go on expect speculation and misunderstanding.

        You said, “Let God be the judge of what people do with these teachings? You are kidding right?”

        - You disagree that God is the judge? Really? So who is? Are you? You seem to know it all already.

        “You won’t use God’s word to instruct the lost? You won’t teach God’s word in such a way that people can be saved? You had rather wait, say nothing, agree with all, and let God sort it out?”

        - Do you know me? Have you sat in my Bible classes? Have you been a part of my studies with non-Christians? You speak out of ignorance here, friend. Again, please refrain from wild accusations and ignorant assumptions. They just don’t work.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        BTW, when I use the word “Ignorance” I do not mean it in a pejorative sense. I use it to mean you don’t understand what you are talking about and/or are basing things on a lack of understanding. I wouldn’t say you are ignorant of the scriptures. I would say you are ignorant of what I teach and say and do because I don’t know you, so of course you would be…that is why I don’t mean it in a pejorative way.

        • Jeff says:

          To your first response, you have in previous posts advocated for the denominations and their different way of entering the kingdom. In your post above timed at 3;49 pm the second paragraph you said your not the judge, let God be the judge on how people see these teachings. In other words, I hear you saying, I’m not telling them any different, let God sort it out. God will be the judge, John 12:48 says it is the word of God that will judge us. If you know the truth Matt, and I believe you do, don’t you think it should be taught, rather than accepting false doctrine? This whole argument you have with me was started with my questioning your acceptance of false doctrine. Maybe its not acceptance but rather a non willingness to speak against it. I have become the bad guy here because I believe that the truth should be taught and fought for. The truth can be known, it must be known. I accept no counterfeit teaching. If I have misunderstood your stance, please accept my apology, I can only understand you by what you say.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Jeff, the problem is you are understanding me based on what I haven’t said. That is where I am drawing the line. For instance, you just wrote…

        “To your first response, you have in previous posts advocated for the denominations and their different way of entering the kingdom.”

        - I have advocated time and time again for what we find in scripture. I have urged us to be careful in our judgments toward others.

        “In other words,” (there’s the problem…now you add things I didn’t say) “I hear you saying, I’m not telling them any different, let God sort it out. God will be the judge,”

        - I really don’t get this. When did I say I am not telling anyone any different? When did I say I won’t teach anyone anything? When have I said this? Please.

        “If you know the truth Matt, and I believe you do, don’t you think it should be taught, rather than accepting false doctrine?”

        - How am I accepting false doctrine by saying that at the end of the day God is the judge? I told you what I believe, we agree. Then you assume because I see that God is the final judge (which he is – says so in the Bible) that I won’t and don’t teach the truth? Again, wild assumption brother.

        “This whole argument you have with me was started with my questioning your acceptance of false doctrine. Maybe its not acceptance but rather a non willingness to speak against it.”

        - Here it is again – you are saying I am saying things and doing things that I haven’t said or done.

        If we can’t base our conversation on what is actually being said, then this is my last comment on this thread.

        “I have become the bad guy here because I believe that the truth should be taught and fought for. The truth can be known, it must be known. I accept no counterfeit teaching.”

        I haven’t called you a bad guy. I continue to try to talk with you about it because I care. I care about you. I care about truth. I care about God. We care about the same things. We are just having a misunderstanding in our communication – that doesn’t make anyone a bad guy.

        “If I have misunderstood your stance, please accept my apology, I can only understand you by what you say.”

        Thank you for saying that. If I have done the same, please accept my apology. God bless

        • jeff says:

          In your responses of 1-27, at 12:17pm and 12:21pm, it sure sounds like your accepting Baptist doctrine as ok, different, but ok. Do you take them to task as you have me? I don’t know, but my impression would be probably not.

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        I take people one at a time, not one denomination at a time. The reason for that is I have met Baptists who baptize for the forgiveness of sins and I have met others who pray the sinner’s prayer and think that’s it. So I don’t really know what “Baptist doctrine” is when it comes down to real people because they don’t all teach and believe the same thing. So I take them one at a time. If they have been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, praise God. If I am talking to a Baptist who prayed the sinner’s prayer and think that’s it, then we talk about what the scriptures actually say about baptism. I don’t lump everyone into one boat because in practice, it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t assume you already know what someone believes until they tell you themselves.

        • Jeff says:

          Ok, lets say the Baptist was baptized for the remission of sins, to what church did God add them? It would be His church right? We know from scripture what it looks like, right? What it did in faith and practice, right? We can recognize it when we see it, right? Does the Baptist church, any Baptist church look like the church we read about in scripture?, they use a one man pastoral system, not a plurality of elders as described by scripture. They use unauthorized instruments of music. They don’t partake of the Lord’s supper on each and every Lord’s day as the examples in scripture reveal. They don’t look like the church of the bible. With all that said, would it not be true, even though they were baptized for the remission of their sins, that they continue to live in sin and offer vain worship?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        “Ok, lets say the Baptist was baptized for the remission of sins, to what church did God add them?”

        Yes there are baptists who are baptized for that reason and yes they would be part of Christ’s church – there is only one church and it is Christ’s church. We can give the church all sorts of names but ask anyone in any of those churches whose church they belong to and they will tell you Jesus. Are there Baptists in Christ’s church? Yes, of course. Are there people who attend Churches of Christ who are lost? Yes, of course.

        “Does the Baptist church, any Baptist church look like the church we read about in scripture?” – Any Baptist church? Sure. Are there Churches of Christ that are way out there too? Of course. They believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he died for their sins and they accept him as savior, repent of their sin, confess Christ as Lord and are baptized into Christ – who am I to argue they are lost?

        “They use a one man pastoral system, not a plurality of elders as described by scripture. They use unauthorized instruments of music. They don’t partake of the Lord’s supper on each and every Lord’s day as the examples in scripture reveal. They don’t look like the church of the bible. With all that said, would it not be true, even though they were baptized for the remission of their sins, that they continue to live in sin and offer vain worship?”

        Not all Baptist churches operate as you describe. I have said it 50 times and I really can’t believe you keep doing it. Not all Baptists churches do things the same way. There are Baptists churches that use elderships. There are baptist churches that take communion weekly. There are baptist churches that baptize for the remission of sins. So what do you do with them? I call them Christians.

        Now, what if they have a pastor system instead of a plurality of elders? Tell me, book chapter and verse, where in the New Testament it says specifically and clearly that they are in sin for that practice. I need to hear from the Bible.

        Now, what if they take communion monthly. I want you to show me the verse that says that practice is sin. Where Peter or Jesus or John or Paul says you are sinning if you don’t take it weekly. I want the verse.

        Also, I want the verse that says if you use an instrument you are going to hell. It needs to say that if that is what you are going to say. Please back it up with scripture. Then we can proceed. Thanks.

        • Jeff says:

          I rest my case. You just proved it for me. You concede the point that the Baptist church is “way out there” but yet you continue to fight tooth and nail for their false doctrine. I accused you of this earlier, a point that you claimed was false. So which is it Matt?

      • Avatar of Matt Dabbs Matt Dabbs says:

        Jeff, I am done with this conversation. You took me out of context and again put words in my mouth. Anyone who is reading this is going to wonder how it is that someone can do this as many times as you have done it all the while I have asked you to stop and yet you keep on doing it. This has moved into the category of vain and foolish controversy that scriptures tell us not to engage in. I can’t have an honest conversation with you because you accuse me of things I haven’t said. I am out. God bless and best wishes to you. I pray that God will help you and I both to see clearly, to be humble and to seek the Lord.

  15. Mark says:

    Now while are on the topic Jeff, what is the correct formula for a baptism? And the reference , please.

    • Jeff says:

      Not sure what you mean by formula, but I’ll try.
      Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Mark 16:16, Rom 6:4, Gal 3:26,27, Acts 10:47-48, Matt 28:18, shows the necessity of baptism
      Rom 6:4, Col 2:12, John 3:3-5, Acts 8:38-39, Rom 6:4, Acts 8:36-39, John 3:23 shows the definition of baptism
      Rom 10:17, Acts 2:41, Mark 16:15,16, Acts 2:37, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38 shows who should be baptized.
      Acts 8, Acts 2, Acts 9,22,26, Acts 2:38 are examples of conversions.
      Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21 shows the results of baptism.
      If that’s not it I refer you back to Acts 2, where Peter preaches the first gospel sermon. They were pricked in their hearts, they realized what they had done. They now believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. You see their willingness to repent by their asking of the question, Brethren (because they were Jewish brothers) what must we do? Peter said in verse 38, repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. Verse 40 Peter said, be saved from this perverse generation. Those that gladly received his words were baptized that day and around 3000 souls were added among them. Verse 47 God added daily, those who were being saved. They were now believers because they acted out of faith and obeyed. They were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, which means by His authority. Christ has authorized no other way. That is God’s plan for man to accept His grace. Believe it or reject it, its your choice.

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