My First Encounters with Pastors

Early in my walk I started reach out to local Pastors. I wanted to hear their side. I wanted them to explain why they teach what they teach, to understand their view. This didn't go well.


I contacted several local pastors via email, looking for their interpretation of scriptures pertaining to salvation. this "Un-named Pastor" and i had an interesting exchange or him quoting greek definitions and me showing him his definitions were incorrect. and subsequently him getting frustrated. Anyway, something just told me to share this. If you read, i am interested to know your thoughts...


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Our Email Exchange:


(Keith)

I just viewed your page, by a link I found on Google. I was curious, so I browsed. I’m curious and would like to see what you and other churches believe, by what and where I can find that in the bible. I figure the only way to find "the way" is match beliefs with what the bible says. I am curious about baptism: why I should do it, what it means, how your church does it, and what scriptures demonstrate how to baptize? Thank you for your time, and help.


(Un-named Pastor)

Thank you for your question! Rather than “preach you an entire sermon” on this subject, I’ll give you a condensed version.

We believe…   Baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and nothing we can do can help us “earn” salvation. This gift must be accepted by faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) is that Jesus (the Son of God) became flesh, died for our sins, and arose after three days victorious over death.

  Baptism is a “picture” of salvation. (Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12) It pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was done for us.

                Baptism, therefore, must be preceded by salvation. Acts 8:35-39 tells of a man who wanted to be baptized, but he had to be a believer in Jesus Christ before it could take place.

                Baptism is to be by immersion in water. The word translated “baptize” in our Bibles was translated from a word that means “to dip, to plunge, or to submerge”. The man in Acts 8 came “up out of the water”. Jesus, when He was baptized, came “up straightway out of the water” according to Matthew 3:16.

                In the New Testament churches, it seemed to be considered the action that caused one to become a member of a local church.  This is just a brief answer to your question. If you live in our area, you would be welcome to visit our church. We have literature that explains baptism more thoroughly available. If you don’t live in this area, I encourage you to find a Baptist church and ask personally this (or other) question(s).


(Keith)

Thank you for your time. I would like to visit churches, but thought i would narrow it down by asking for doctrine.  I am aware of those scriptures, and with respect and not to question your beliefs, i had just a few more questions in relation to the scriptures you gave. I do believe that grace was a gift given that cant be earned, but i believe in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians, Paul was writing(as in all his letters) he was writing to a church that had already preached and preformed baptism. This is found in the begin of that 2nd chapter, illustrating how they demonstrated the faith in Jesus Christ, which saved them. The bible also says "faith without works is dead", so faith alone( to me) cannot save me. Also, Romans 6 and Col 2, also explain a mans baptism in likeness to Jesus death-ressurection, also that baptism is the new testament circumcision(mark of gods people). Last question, Iv'e never seen a scripture that says faith gives you forgiveness of sins. "The wages of sin is death" which only a complete erasing or washing  can do. this being found in Col. 2:12-14, and even more importantly Acts 2:38 " Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins....." Thats pretty clear, which I've never seen it speak of faith remitting sin. Which also don't how you're church does it, but I've never seen anywhere in the book of acts where they baptized"Father, Son, Holy Ghost" which 90% of christians do. I know what Matthew 28:19 says, but cross referenced to Luke 24:46-47 it is worded differently, and carried out one way by the disciples. It was also the first thing preached which, to me, would put a great value of water baptism in jesus name.  And acts 2:41, speaks of baptism "added unto them 3,000 souls", and yes "them" can be considered the(first) church, but it seems to say more clearly in the 47 verse, " And the Lord ADDED to the CHURCH"..(THEM) "daily such as should be SAVED" which, to me, links the act in acts 2:38 to both remitting sin, and adding you to the church which is linked directly to salvation.

Sorry, a little lengthier than i planned. But once again thank you for your time and God Bless you


(Un-named Pastor) 

Thanks for your interest! The questions are valid and show that you have obviously studied the Scriptures or listened carefully to a preacher.

BUT, I think the questions are answered by the Bible very easily. The very Scripture verses you cite (for the most part) enforce rather than detract from the position I believe. Since I am trusting that your questions are sincere, I’ll take the time to answer them.

 FIRST, if the Bible is true, there is only one way of salvation. If we can agree on that, the issue becomes more clear. Salvation is either a gift, (that is, it cannot be purchased or earned by the receivers of the gift), or it is by works, (that is, we must do something ourselves in order to receive salvation). If it is not a gift, and if we need to do anything for salvation, then the blood of Jesus Christ is considered inadequate, (that is, it is not enough and something else must be added to it) to save us. Study the teaching of Jesus and see if you don’t agree. For starters, Jesus said, in John 3:16 that “…whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus, the Son of God) should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:17 “…that the world through Him (Jesus) should be saved.” Condemnation is for NOT BELIEVING; not for not being baptized. John 3:18 “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Read the entire third chapter of John. The only reference to water is in verses 5-6. Jesus uses verse 6 to explain that the “water birth” is “of the flesh” (or physical) and the “Spirit birth” is “of the Spirit” (or Spiritual). The truth that there is only one way of salvation is one of the most basic truths taught in the Scriptures. Jesus is the “water” in John 4 and the “bread” in John 6. Over and over, Jesus claimed to be the only way to be saved. (Study John 5:24; John 5:39; John 6:32-40; John 7:37-38; John 8:21-24; John 10:7-18; John 11:25-26; John 12:32; John 14:6; and over and over and over…

 SECOND, If there is only one way of salvation, and it is through Jesus Christ, none of our works can possibly have anything to do with our salvation. This is called “The Law of Exclusion”. If there is “one” way, there cannot be another. Being saved is not like travelling to a different city, which might allow several different ways. Your references to Scripture are interesting. Ephesians 2, as you noted, was written to a church; that doesn’t mean that is doesn’t say what it clearly says. The verses need to be considered in the context of the rest of the chapter and the rest of the Book. If you read verses 1-10, you should be able to see clearly (see v. 5) that they had been “dead” (v. 1) but God had saved them (v. 4-5), and had given them a special purpose (v. 10).  Interestingly, you “prove my point” with your references to Romans 6 and Colossians 2; baptism is a “likeness” or a “symbol” or a “picture” of the real thing. (You missed some much more convincing Scriptures, honestly.) I wear a wedding band, and have for over 40 years. I does not make me a married man, but it is a symbol or a picture (the likeness) of the fact that I am married. I’d be “just as married” with or without the wedding band. I wear it as an outward symbol to identify myself with my wife and with marriage. Acts 2:38 uses the word “for” which, in the Greek, is “eis”. The word is correctly translated as “for” but can mean “because of” which seems to fit into this context. Acts 2:41-47 is all part of the same “context”. Verse 47 and verse 41 seem to be speaking about the same thing, and neither should be taken along.

 This, too, has turned out as too lengthy. If this is hard to understand, I’d encourage you to read and re-read the Gospel of John. Then, interpret everything in the Scripture as keeping with the idea of “one way of salvation”.


(Keith)

Thank you very much. Although there is a difference of doctrine I really am appreciative of your time and efforts. Not many pastors take the time, or go these lengths to answer.  You answered my questions about your church and beliefs very well. Thank you again and God bless you.


(Un-named Pastor) You are welcome

(A FEW DAYS GO BY< MEANWHILE I AM RESEARCHING FURTHER THE DEFINITIONS HE GAVE)


(Keith)

I just wanted to share something. I double checked something before replying to your comment on "eis". My concordance said something different, but I double checked and found a link:

http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/1519.htm

now, in both places i never saw the definition "because of" or anything similar. as you will see, the most direct definition actually refers to "to" (remit sin), "into" (remission), or to jump ahead, even for the "result" of remission of sin. Plus, like i said before, I've never seen a scripture that says faith remits sin. i know you must have faith, hence mark 16:16 ( you must believe), but never said faith remits. And remission is necessary to erase the debt/or wages of sin.

Anyway, I have enjoyed to conversations, and also thought I would share what I had found several places.

Thanks again


(Un-named Pastor) 

Sorry! I was a thousand miles away from my library in a motel room when I answered you, and I was going (poorly) by memory. You are right; the word is “gar”; but you are wrong; “because” is one of the definitions, as you found out if you studied it thoroughly. 

Obviously, I am wasting my time, for apparently I misjudged you. I thought you were sincere; instead, you are trying to get me to change doctrinal positions. If you’ll read the first two paragraphs I wrote regarding my conclusion that there is only one way of salvation, and comprehend them, the discussion is worthy of continuing. If not, I’ll still believe the Bible is consistent and that the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient (without adding my works) to save my soul. I’m willing to trust in Him alone


(Keith) 

well, you were correct the first time. the word eis is used in acts 2:38(according to the greek text), which is the prepositional form of the English "for" and cannot be used to mean because of. "gar"(http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/1063.htm) is the conjunction form which one possible definition is "because", and has been translated "for"( i.e. james 1:13  http://greekheb-strongs.scripturetext.com/james/1.htm), but "gar" is not found anywhere in acts 2:38.  studying the use of prepositions and conjunction (especially pertaining to the word "for"),  I found they are not interchangeable. meaning, if the sentence formation calls for, or demonstrates, the use of a preposition you cannot use it as a conjunction. And vice versa. But regardless, like it says, eis is the word used and it is not a conjunction and does not carry that meaning. If that was what Luke meant when he wrote it,or when Peter spoke it, they would have used "gar" right?

Now, I asked you these questions with complete sincerity. But if you feel like I've wasted your time, I am sorry. I took everything you said with an open mind, and researched it more thoroughly. I am sorry if what the info and links Ive gathered show something contrary. I truely wanted to understand your doctrine, and wasn't out to change it. Like I ve said before, I know what most churches believe, but when reading, I dont see it (i.e. baptism in Father, son, Holy ghost when acts 2:38, 8:16,10:43-48,19:5,22:16!, shows otherwise) But i thought the best way would be to ask, and look into the information that was given. Now, to your credit, I asked a couple others that never even tried to help me understand. So i thank you for being the only one that went the legnth you have.

Now, as a pastor i think you will agree that a lot of people will just listen and never look into anything for themself. Now i go by 2Timothy 2:15, and Hebrews 11:6, I take the word and the knowledge of God very seriously. So just because I dont just agree without studying, does that mean I've wasted your time?? I think its quite the oppostie.

But thank you again and God Bless you


(Un-named Pastor) Thank you! The reference to “wasting” time has to do with the fact that, as a Pastor, I am responsible to “lead and feed” the “flock” God has entrusted me to oversee. I am today involved in preparing messages/lessons for four services tomorrow and a meeting after the evening service. I also have two members of our “flock” that are in different hospitals in critical condition, and need to minister to them, too.

 By the way, the links you have sent me to do not, as you indicated, show anything contrary to what I believe. I sincerely want you to get to the place that you accept the teaching that there is only one way of salvation, and that it is through Jesus Christ. While you want to play with words (for instance, how to you even pretend to know what is supposed to be a preposition or a conjunction in the Greek language?), you are in danger of trusting your own good works for salvation.

 You mentioned the Book of James, and we never got to that, but you need to compare Romans and James and reconcile that they do not contradict each other. (Study, for instance, the references to Abraham’s righteousness.)

 Remember, Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6b)


(Keith)

Pretend. I haven't made any attempt to intentional insult you. I can't say i appreciate it very much, but thats ok, i understand. Honestly, i think you have pretended to even look at what I've sent you. You're reply was way to fast to really scrutinize/consider. If you had you would see it very clearly states that eis was used in acts 2:38( from the original Greek text), which AS IT STATES (not me) that it is preposition (eis) which only gar ( a conjunction) can mean "because of". Therefore, according to the original writings "because of" is not an accurate translation. And don't just listen to me or anyone else, i suggest as a shepard, as you state, being responsible for the flock, that you deeply consider translating the hebrew and greek text for your self, to see for yourself. I don't mean to offend, but that is how i found the mean. Please...Please, show me evidence that "gar" is used there, and i will accept it.  By the way, i only mentioned james 1:13, to demonstrate how the word for, used as a conjunction, was written(in greek). versus eis in acts. I dont dispute there is only one way...but i do believe, as you seem to, that the definition of "for" in acts 2:38 completely changes the scripture.

Lastly, I do know what a preposition is and a conjunction and honestly i think i would have a sad level of education if i didnt. However, i did reexamine both of those, as well as double check the origin of "eis" in acts 2.


(Un-named Pastor)

I apologize. I was not reflecting on your education, but a quick look at what you have just written might cause me to rethink that decision. I was reflecting on the Greek language and the way it differs from the English language.

Regarding your note, you are right. I did not take time to evaluate it, as I am rather busy today. But, I’ve had this discussion (or discussions almost exactly like this) for over forty years. I am losing interest in this one because  we want to focus on different issues. My issue is that all men are lost and need to be saved. I have been left here to fulfill the Great  Commission and winning, baptizing, and teaching are all involved in it. We simply do not agree on the way a person must be saved.

I believe, basically, that there are only two religions in the world. One religion, no matter what name it uses, believes that we (our works) must be involved in our salvation. The other, to which I hold dearly, believes that salvation is totally of God, by faith and not by works.

 I should never have strayed from that basic premise, and I would have not offended you, as apparently I have. Again, please accept my apology



My Conclusion

Considering the fact that I was a new convert and full of zeal I don't think I did too bad. I understand his frustrations but I don't think he was a careful as he could of and should have been. Being a Pastor you are constantly in the cross hairs and being questioned. From what I found out later from on of his members he doesn't take kindly to being questioned lol. Our faults aside, we see that when presented with evidence and information that what he said was incorrect, he didn't consider for a second. He even resorted to name calling and personal attacks. If it's not about us..it's not our gospel or our truth or our wisdom...why do we feel attack and go on the defensive when someone points out that we are wrong. We should be more patient, consider thoroughly, triple check our facts, and look for common ground.

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We all have different views, but the Church will always be ONE people.

Let's not promote division. Let's except one another's different views, sit down with each other, listen to understand, carefully consider, and look for common ground.

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