Issue #581 -------
July 11, 2013
The partisan, when he is engaged in a
dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the
question, but is anxious only to convince
his hearers of his own assertions.
Plato (428-348 B.C.)
The other day I received an email from a reader who lives in Oklahoma. He wrote, "Our preacher says that since 'faith comes by hearing' (Romans 10:17), this clearly means that if something is not written in the Bible, then we can't have faith to do it. Therefore, he says, we can't use instrumental music in the worship. How would you respond to that assertion? Thank you for your help in this matter." I have subtitled this current study: "Silence and Anti-Instrumentalism: Legalistic Perception of Rom. 10:17." That is probably far more attention-grabbing in nature than truly reflective of the focus of this present examination of Paul's teaching in this passage of his epistle to the brethren in Rome. However, one thing the subtitle does reflect is the tendency of those who have embraced the CENI/silence hermeneutic to misuse and abuse certain passages in their quest to "prove" their party's positions, preferences and practices. In almost 40 years of service to the Lord as a leader among His people, I have seen this one verse (Rom. 10:17) twisted and turned in almost every imaginable direction in an effort to substantiate sectarian dogma. At best, such manipulation is a display of exegetical ignorance, but, in too many cases, I suspect it evidences something far more insidious, nefarious and devious.
The passage in question (as well as the immediate and overall context) has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with a so-called "worship service" (a phrase never found in the NT writings), or with anything connected with such an assembly of saints. It most certainly does not provide any authoritative basis for establishing a prohibition against the use of musical instruments as either accompaniment or an aid to individual or corporate singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs by disciples of Christ during this present dispensation. This is a sectarian stretch, the inconsistencies of which even a six-year-old could see through! Yet, legalistic party leaders continue to parade such "proof-texts" before "the few in the pew," many of whom will swallow just about anything presented from the pulpit without ever bothering to examine it for themselves. This has led to the dissemination, from the more rigid and legalistic factions of Christendom, of some truly ridiculous religious assertions, resulting in some of the most heart-wrenching cases of spiritual deception of men and women simply seeking something spiritually significant in their lives. Such truth-seekers deserve better fare than they are being served by these sectarians. So, in response to this reader's recent request, I would like to examine Roman 10:17 in much more depth than is often presented from our pulpits by party pulpiteers. By so doing, perhaps we may help clear up some of the sectarian silliness surrounding this scripture (and its supposed "silence").
To begin with, there are a number of textual matters that must be addressed. For example, the King James Version (as well as the New King James Version), which is based on the Textus Receptus, renders Romans 10:17 as follows: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Almost ALL other translations and versions have "the word of Christ," a reading based upon far more reliable manuscript evidence. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, a noted Greek scholar, stated that the phrase "of Christ" is the preferred reading, and that it "is strongly supported by early and diverse witnesses" [A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT, p. 525]. "'The word of God' is the reading of the Textus Receptus, but 'the word of Christ' clearly has superior attestation" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 115]. The phrase "word (Greek: rhema) of God" is certainly not unknown within the pages of the New Covenant writings, and it appears a number of times (including Eph. 6:17, where it is characterized as being "the sword of the Spirit"). However, that is not the usage here. Paul is speaking of "the word (Greek: rhema) of Christ," a fact made abundantly clear by the immediate context (as will be noted in more depth momentarily).
Second, as just noted above, the Greek word in the text for "word" is not logos, but rhema, which is an important distinction. The Greek term rhema is used far less in the NT writings than the more common logos. The latter word appears 330 times, but the former only 70 times. Rhema "denotes that which is spoken; what is uttered in speech or writing" [Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT and NT Words]. It is perhaps best defined as "an utterance" about some "matter or topic" [Dr. James Strong, The New Strong's Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 1354]. In other words, it has reference to a specific declaration or proclamation about a particular matter or topic of importance. Thus, a number of translations opt for a word other than "word" in this passage: "the preaching of Christ" (Revised Standard Version) ... "the message about Christ" (Contemporary English Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Charles B. Williams' The NT in the Language of the People) ... "a word proclaimed about the Messiah" (Complete Jewish Bible) ... "preaching Christ" (Good News Translation) ... "the Good News about Christ" (New Living Translation). In each of these cases an attempt has been made to capture the meaning of rhema more completely than is conveyed by our English term "word." It truly has reference to the proclamation of something of significance; an utterance of great importance.
Also, it is extremely vital to one's understanding of this passage to determine if the Greek word Christou (which is the genitive singular form of Christos) is, in this text, a subjective genitive or an objective genitive. Which of these two one selects will impact one's interpretation of Paul's teaching here. Thus, is Paul talking about a "word/message FROM Christ," or is he talking about a "word/message ABOUT Christ"? If the phrase is a subjective genitive, then it refers to an utterance which Jesus Himself proclaimed. It is this view that is held exclusively by the legalists and patternists, for they then go on to insist that His teaching includes the teaching of His inspired writers. Thus, the "word of Christ" is said to comprise the entirety of the biblical record. It is this perspective that caused the preacher in Oklahoma to link a prohibition of musical instruments to the Romans 10:17 text. If Jesus didn't specifically "authorize" the use of musical instruments, either by His own statements or the statements of the NT writers, then it is thereby deemed "unauthorized" by virtue of "silence." After all, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." If you didn't "hear" it from Him (and, by extension, from the NT writings), then it cannot be considered a part of genuine "faith." Such is the "reasoning" of the legalists. Therefore, it is critical to their theology that Christou be understood as a subjective genitive. The other possibility, of course, is that this term is an objective genitive, which would indicate a proclamation about Jesus Christ, rather than some teaching or instruction He Himself gave (unless such a message from Him was about Him -- who He was and why He had come and what He had accomplished -- which would be a plenary genitive).
The reality concerning the text under consideration, however, is that it is grammatically ambiguous. In other words, the phrase "word of Christ" can be either subjective or objective genitive. Dr. Conrad, from the Department of Classics at Washington University, observes that "there is no clue whatsoever in the form in which this text is formulated indicating that it must be read in one of these ways rather than the other." Dr. Daniel B. Wallace points out: "Since the lexico-syntactic features in such instances are identical, appeal must be made to context, authorial usage, and broader exegetical issues" [Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, p. 113]. Dr. A. T. Robertson wrote, "The subjective genitive can be distinguished from the objective use only by the context. In itself the genitive is neither subjective nor objective" [A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 499]. Thus, to determine which usage Paul had in mind, we must examine authorial intent from the perspective of the context within which this phrase appears. One of the cardinal rules of biblical hermeneutics is that an obscure or ambiguous passage should be interpreted, if possible, in light of one which is clear and unambiguous. I believe, as we examine the context surrounding Rom. 10:17, that we do indeed have the necessary clarification.
Just a few verses earlier, in Romans 10:8-13, we read the following: "But what does it say? 'The word (rhema) is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' -- that is, the word (rhema) of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for 'Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved'" (New American Standard Bible). Please note that the apostle Paul uses the Greek term rhema in this passage, just as he does in vs. 17 (referring to the "rhema of Christ"). From this context it is obvious that he is speaking of a proclamation about the Lord Jesus Christ: it is the Good News that God has extended salvation to both Jews and Greeks by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. THIS is the "word" (the divine utterance) about the Messiah (the Christ) that is being proclaimed to the world. It is a truth God desires for the world to hear, and thus this message is entrusted to His messengers who spend their lives proclaiming this great proclamation about Jesus Christ. As Paul stated to the Corinthian brethren, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). This was his "message and preaching" (vs. 4), in addition to the fact that Jesus arose: "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18; cf. 1 Cor. 15). I must conclude, therefore, that Christou, based on the context, is to be understood as an objective genitive: it is "the message about Christ" (which, by the way, is the way it is rendered in about half our English translations and versions so as to clarify this usage, rather than "of Christ").
The Greek scholar Dr. W. E. Vine concurs with this understanding: "'the word of Christ' -- i.e., the word which preaches Christ" [Expository Dictionary of NT Words]. Dr. A. T. Robertson, another world-renowned Greek scholar, also agrees: "'the word about Christ' - objective genitive" [Word Pictures in the NT, e-Sword]. Yet another NT Greek scholar, Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, says this phrase used by Paul "could not signify Christ's commands" [The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 2, p. 674], but rather refers to the good news about what Christ accomplished for mankind (both Jew and Gentile) through His death, burial and resurrection. He referred to it as "the word concerning Christ" [ibid, p. 673]. Thus, the message about Jesus Christ is vital, for how can one have faith in (believe in) something or someone about which he or she knows absolutely nothing? And yes, this is exactly the point Paul makes in the context of this whole section of his epistle. "But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?" (Rom. 10:14-15). This saving message must be proclaimed, and such a proclamation requires proclaimers. Otherwise, this good news will not get to those who need to hear it so that they may believe. This, of course, raises the question as to the eternal fate of those who never come to this belief because they never get the opportunity, through no fault of their own, to actually hear this message of grace. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) opines that if this message never makes it to certain peoples (which, in fact, has been the case time and again throughout human history), then they would never have a chance to hear and believe this message, and thus "those who did not believe could not be blamed" [Barnes' Notes on the Bible, e-Sword]. He continued, "It could not be right, therefore, to condemn those who had not obeyed the gospel because they had not heard it; and hence, not right to make salvation dependent on a condition which was, by the arrangement of God, put beyond their power" [ibid]. This is a fascinating area of study, and for those who would like my view on this matter, please refer to Reflections #158 -- "Grace and the Caveman: Pondering the Parameters of Divine Acceptance of Human Response to Available Light."
Sadly, however, not all of those who DO hear this message believe it. Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah lamenting this fact: "But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?'" (Rom. 10:16). These particular people can't say that they didn't hear the message; no, they can't use that excuse, for Paul continues: "But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: 'Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words (Greek: rhema) to the ends of the world'" (Rom. 10:18). Again, in keeping with the context in this chapter, Paul uses the term rhema to indicate that he is referring to the "utterance" that has been proclaimed by the proclaimers (and in this particular instance, he has specific reference to the prophet Isaiah -- who, we know, was proclaiming the good news of the coming Messiah and His mission to mankind). Thus, again, we see the consistent theme of proclaimers/preachers/prophets proclaiming the utterance about the Son of God (objective genitive). Therefore, it is faith in Him, rather than faith in a system of doctrine or practice, that is sought and is, in fact, salvific. This being the case, it is completely contrary to the intent of the text to suggest this passage is all about such dogmas as whether or not one may sing praises with musical instruments accompanying or aiding said singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Another extremely important point that needs to be made about the text (Romans 10:17) we are examining in this Reflections is that in many translations and versions the English word "hearing" ("faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (English Standard Version) is rendered as though it were a VERB. It leaves the impression in the minds of those reading this verse that people are actively "hearing" (an action verb). IF this was what Paul intended to convey, he would have used the Greek word akouo (which indeed is a verb, and a very common one, meaning "to hear"). In fact, Paul does use the verb akouo in Rom. 10:14 (just three verses earlier): "But how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher?" However, the word used by Paul in verse 17 is not a verb. It is a noun. It is the Greek word akoe, which appears only 24 times in the pages of the NT writings and means: "a report, message, announcement; that which is heard." It is the very same word that appears in the previous verse (Rom. 10:16) where we find Isaiah saying, "Lord, who has believed our message" (most translations and versions render this word in vs. 16 as either "message" or "report"). In the very next statement Paul writes that "faith comes from akoe, and akoe through a rhema about Christ." Thus, Paul is not talking about people hearing (a verb), but rather about that which is heard (a noun). Our faith comes from this divine message contained in and proclaimed in the great utterance about Jesus Christ. It is a Proclamation with a Point -- the point is a Person!! When we perceive that Person in that proclamation, we either believe it or we don't. Those who do, embrace that Person in faith and are saved! Yes, there is "hearing" involved (as mentioned in vs. 14), but the focus of vs. 17 is the message itself contained in the utterance which we proclaim. What is that message contained in that utterance? -- It is the fact of the Messiah and His mission to mankind; His death, burial and resurrection. Those who embrace this great Truth in faith will live!
"It must be remembered that the word for 'report' in verse 16 and the word for 'hearing' in verse 17 are the same" [Dr. Charles Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 7, p. 246]. "Akoe is that which is heard; the message; it is not the act of hearing, but the thing heard: the message as proclaimed, as in verse 16" [Dr. William G. T. Shedd, A Critical and Doctrinal Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, p. 323]. The Holman Christian Standard Bible has captured the significance of this noun in verse 17 quite well -- "faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ." Others have rendered this word similarly: "faith comes from the report" [Hugo McCord's NT Translation of the Everlasting Gospel] ... "faith is awakened by the message" [New English Bible] ... "faith follows the thing heard" [New World Translation] ... "faith comes from what is heard" [Revised Standard Version]. Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, in The Expositor's Greek Testament, writes, "So then faith comes from a message (akoe), and the message (akoe) through the word (rhema) concerning Christ" [vol. 2, p. 673].
It should be fairly obvious at this point that the preacher from Oklahoma, who sought to use Romans 10:17 to support his anti-instrument dogma, doesn't have a clue what Paul sought to convey in this passage. The whole passage in this portion of his epistle to the Romans deals with the Lord Jesus Christ, and how our message to others must be drawn from this great eternal "utterance" about the Messiah so that we might bring them to the point of faith in His life, death, burial and resurrection. Even the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 53 of the OT prophetic book that bears his name (from which Paul quotes), places the focus entirely on Jesus. Paul "introduces the great fifty-third gospel chapter of Isaiah which describes the very death and the glorification of the Messiah. It is the central chapter of Isaiah 40 to 66, the very crown of the great prophetic poem. The very heart of the gospel Israel would not believe, neither then nor thereafter, not even after the Messiah had already come" [R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, p. 666]. "The prophet foresaw a repudiation of the message about salvation through a suffering Servant. History has sustained that prophecy: 1 Cor. 1:23" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 114]. Sadly, there are indeed a great many people who have had the message proclaimed to them, but who reject it in favor of something else. I fear those who use such passages as this to promote a party position or practice (such as an anti-instrument agenda), when the focus of the passage is the Person and Passion of the Messiah, have also failed to perceive the glorious proclamation of salvation by grace through faith in Him! One cannot help but think of the rigid religionists rebuked by Jesus for diligently searching the Scriptures, "because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is these that bear witness of ME" (John 5:39). Salvation is in the Son; thus, HE is our proclamation; HE is our message. All else is mere commentary. It's time for some of our so-called "proclaimers" to begin perceiving this truth, rather than continuing their promotion of party precepts and practices.
Special Note to Readers -- I have known Dr. Dallas Burdette for a number of years, and have been greatly enriched personally by his friendship, as well as by his numerous writings (which are powerful and insightful). Dallas also honored me by writing the Foreword to my second book: One Bread, One Body. He has recently sent me a copy of his newest book, and I highly recommend it to you. It is titled "Commentary on the Book of Revelation," Volume 1. The subtitle of this work is "An Unraveling of the Olivet Discourse as a Preface to Understanding Revelation." It is 440 pages, hardback, and very well done. Dallas has provided a great service to the people of God in this new work, and I would encourage you to get a copy. You may contact him at email@example.com for further details.
From a Reader in Kenya, Africa:
I just wanted to write and inform you that Bro. Jacob Agak, who was one of your Reflections readers here in Kenya, has just passed on to be with the Lord this evening (Tuesday, July 9). Please keep his wife Susan Agak and his four children in your prayers to the Lord. He had been studying with you from your writings for some time, and it was from this man that I learned of you and your work.
I am so very sorry to hear of the death of this good man. He and I had written back and forth a number of times, and he truly loved the Lord. My heart breaks for his wife and four children, and the rest of the family there (both biological and spiritual). He and his influence will be greatly missed. I would ask the readers to please keep this family in your prayers as they deal with this tremendous loss. May God bring them comfort and peace. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in [Unknown]:
With regard to your article "Already You Are Clean" (Reflections #580), if Jesus Christ Himself declared the apostles clean, then I see no point in the church having to redeclare them clean by baptizing them in water. Furthermore, they had also been washed, justified and sanctified by being baptized with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. However, as you stated, they may have been baptized in water merely as an example to others, or "to fulfill all righteousness." Yes, I believe that we in the Churches of Christ may have gone beyond what the Bible teaches concerning the "essentiality" of water baptism. We most certainly know that we have gone beyond what Alexander Campbell believed on that subject, and he was our teacher.
Many today would probably be jolted right out of their pews if they were to discover the thinking of a great many of our early leaders within the Stone-Campbell Movement on this topic. For example: Walter Scott (1796-1861), often considered one of our movement's greatest preachers, devoted much of his life and ministry to peeling away the many layers of human doctrine and tradition that he believed had hidden "the central truth" (which he called "the golden oracle") that Jesus was the Messiah, and that our salvation was in Him, not in the perfect performance of religious practices. Scott also is known for developing "the five finger exercise," which he later lamented, as he believed its purpose was misunderstood and misapplied (indeed, it was even reworded) to give undue emphasis to one digit over the others. In an article titled "Union," which appeared in his publication "The Evangelist" [September 25, 1844, p. 292], Scott wrote that he sought "to push back the Christian profession on to its original basis: the Messiah. We did this, and the people were received to the remission of sins on the primitive faith of Jesus as the Son of God. But although this was the actual and practical restoration of the central truth in our religion to its proper place in the Christian system, many failed nevertheless to see it, and were carried away wholly by the easier and more popular generalization of faith, repentance, baptism, etc., till, in fact, they do not know their own principles when they are advocated." Scott was most certainly not suggesting baptism had no place in the evidencing of one's faith; indeed, he considered it a vital part of one's public testimony. However, "the central truth" upon which salvation and fellowship were established was an act of God (sending His Son), not an act of man (demonstrating faith in that gracious gift by being baptized). In failing to grasp this truth we too often sacrifice a Savior for a sacrament (replacing a Person with a practice), assuming our salvation to be in the latter rather than the former. This has truly been one of Satan's most subtle, yet successful, subversions of the gospel of grace. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in West Virginia:
I just read "Already You Are Clean." Wow! I never really thought about this: that there are no scriptures about the apostles being baptized. Interesting! Thanks! I also would like to thank you for your article "Pondering the Royal Law" (Reflections #579). I grew up in the Churches of Christ, but lately I've been feeling so upset, because I just don't feel right there. I've been struggling for answers. I've prayed that when I read my Bible I will read it with "fresh" new eyes. Your article pretty much sums up exactly what I feel. So, thank you so much for helping me with my struggle. I appreciate you!
From a Reader in Michigan:
I like everything in your article "Already You Are Clean" except the last two paragraphs -- too Baptist for me. Cornelius is an example, among other things, of how a person cannot be good enough on his own to merit salvation. We cannot argue that and then argue that he was saved already. I think we can say that baptism is normative for most situations, without being so rigid and legalistic as to lament the one who misunderstands the timing or dies on the way to the baptistery. I personally doubt that the apostles were ever water-baptized, but if someone wants to make a mountain out of that molehill, so as to deny the normative nature of baptism for all, I would simply say: "Are you an apostle? If not, then shut up and hold your breath!"
I certainly do not believe, and have never left the impression in my studies, that Cornelius was saved "because he was good enough." As Paul states, "There is no one righteous, not even one; ... there is no one who does good, not even one. ... For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:10, 12, 23). Cornelius was not accepted by God because he was "good enough," but was accepted on the basis of his faith, just as Peter says he and the apostles were. "And God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith ... we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are" (Acts 15:9, 11). Peter said he was preaching this to Cornelius, "Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins" (Acts 10:43), and "while Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message" (vs. 44). Yes, they were accepted by God (evidenced by the outpouring of the Spirit) and they were cleansed by faith, just as the apostles were. Were Cornelius and his household later baptized in water? Yes, they were. Was the purpose to "cleanse" them? Not according to the text. Was it a vital evidencing of faith that they and others needed to share and witness? Yes. But, to invest this act with sacramental significance undermines the message of grace proclaimed that day. Thankfully, more and more people within our faith-heritage are beginning to grasp this vital gospel truth. As for the last two paragraphs, brother, my hope is that they would be perceived as simply "biblical," rather than reflective of the distinctive theology of any one denominational group (including our own). However, if indeed one's views can be demonstrated to be consistent with revealed truth, then I would suggest it speaks well of those groups of disciples who concur with that revealed truth, and it would thus not serve us well to disparage them in any way. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in Texas:
"And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21). I believe that this constitutes a simple public confession of faith that Jesus is Lord (although many say otherwise). It seems logical to me that, when faced with a dynamic situation, crying out to the Lord and confessing might just save one's life. I am not saying, though, that the person should not then follow up with baptism.
That particular statement ("calling upon the Lord"), employed in connection with one's salvation, is also used by the apostle Paul (Rom. 10:13) in the same context as the passage being examined in this week's issue of Reflections. I have done an in-depth study of the concept of "calling upon the Lord" in Reflections #246, to which I would refer those readers who might be interested in looking at this in greater depth. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in Texas:
I haven't written in a while, but I always love your articles. This one ("Already You Are Clean") may ruffle some feathers, but I agree with you in all that you wrote. It isn't that difficult to come to the same conclusions as you did unless one has the same blinders on that has kept him in the dark all along. Bless you and all you do.
From a Reader in Tennessee:
Thank you, Al. You have helped me so much over the last few months with your articles! I appreciate you very much!
From a Reader in Georgia:
Brother, I thought Amos 6:5 had been long ago dropped from the Instrumental Music debate. But, Lord have mercy, it has showed up again! I couldn't believe it. But, I "maximized the Maxey" on them and gave them your article "God Hates Lamb Chops: An In-Depth Study of Amos 6:4-6" (Reflections #410). You are a tremendous resource, brother! "God hates lamb chops" (LOL). Responding by sending them that piece was almost too much fun for me -- actually, I did try to avoid taking any pleasure in it, but it was difficult, I must admit. The degree to which some people will leave their minds behind in a debate is astounding! Have a great week, Al, and thanks again for all the tremendous resources.
From a Reader in Tennessee:
Al, surely you can understand the Scriptures better than you seem to! You do not even begin to understand Ephesians 2:8. Until you do, your whole belief system will be wrong (just like the Mormons, the Catholics, and the Jehovah's Witnesses). You need to start all over and learn the truth, just as they do. That means putting away what you think you know, and learning the truth. Al, please let me help you understand the Scriptures before Judgment Day gets here. Please don't continue deceiving yourself and others any longer.
From a Reader in Texas:
Thank you for your deeper studies and for your understanding of God's Word. Also, thank you for sharing these with us.
From a Reader in Georgia:
Your article "Already You Are Clean" was very timely for me personally. I appreciate the work you did on this immensely, and I will undoubtedly fall back on it again and again (as I do many of your works) as I attempt to encourage others to see the truth of our salvation by grace through faith. Again, your article was exceptional! Well-done, brother!
From a Baptist Pastor in Alabama:
Thank you so much for your insights. I have read many of your articles, and I love them! I have for so long, as an evangelist, fought the battle of works vs. grace, but have finally made peace with the truth that God's redemptive work is accomplished by grace through faith ... alone! I am so glad to hear you say this also, for many people read your Reflections and, like myself, have great confidence in them! Thanks for your work in the furtherance of His kingdom. I live in Alabama, but if for some reason I ever find myself in your neck of the woods, I will certainly stop in for worship. Thanks again, brother!
From a Reader in Texas:
In the Readers' Reflections section of your latest issue (which I received today) someone commented that they wondered if their fellow Christians realized what a "treasure" you are. The person also mentioned that he/she did not let you know nearly often enough just how much they appreciate you. I feel the same! You have been such a blessing in my life, Al, that I simply do not have the right words to tell you how much you have helped me as I try to live the Christian life. I have not let you know this nearly enough. I have been negligent in doing that, so please forgive me.
God has truly blessed me with some wonderful opportunities to use the abilities He has entrusted to me, and I seek to do so for His glory and the enlightenment, edification and encouragement of His people. I readily admit that I am personally encouraged whenever I hear that my own small contribution to His cause has touched a fellow traveler in a positive way. I want to sincerely thank those of you who take the time to write and share part of your own journey with me (as a great many of you do), for your testimonies truly uplift me and help me keep on keeping on in my own walk. I pray that the Lord will continue to use me in whatever way He deems best in the years to come, and that others will continue to be blessed by my work. I thank each of you for being encouragers in my own journey toward our eternal Home. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in Texas:
"Already You Are Clean" is an excellent article, Bro. Al. Thanks again for sharing your conclusions with us. It is interesting to me that the first believers did certain things in common, but it is not once recorded that they all did them in order to gain salvation. It is my conclusion, therefore, that any good work they did was because they were saved, not in order to be saved. The baptismal regeneration folks have boxed themselves into a corner on several points. Whether they wish to admit it or not, "baptismal regeneration" accurately describes their position, because, to their way of thinking, you are lost without it (water baptism) and you are saved only if you do it (water baptism). The obvious implication of this thinking is that one is saved BY it (water baptism). Thus, their position is that the new birth (regeneration) is accomplished in water baptism. This being their position, "baptismal regeneration" is an accurate description of their belief, and yet this whole teaching flies in the face of the fact that we are NOT saved by anything we ourselves have done (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Frankly, baptismal regeneration is an erroneous teaching designed to bolster a works-oriented salvation.
From a Reader in Alabama:
Thank you so much for the work that you do within our "tribe" of Christianity. Your efforts at exposing the "invisible pattern" have been very effective in opening the eyes of many of us who were indoctrinated from childhood to accept Pattern Theology without question, and also without ever hearing an opposing voice. As I was reading one of your recent Reflections (Issue #577 -- "Perturbation of a Patternist: Review of a View by Hugh"), something dawned on me. It came by way of a childhood story that popped into my mind, which inspired me to go back and read it again. It quickly became apparent why that story had returned to my mind at that particular moment (as I was reading your Reflections). The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen, and is titled "The Emperor's New Clothes." In the story, a vain emperor is obsessed with wearing only the finest clothes, so he hires two con men who promise to make the finest clothes from a material that is invisible to anyone "too stupid and incompetent" to appreciate its superior quality. The emperor is excited: not only would he get an extraordinary new suit, but he would also discover which of his subjects were "stupid and incompetent." I'm sure you're familiar with the story. No one will admit that the clothes don't exist until an innocent little child declares the obvious: the emperor has no clothes. Yet, the delusion continues. The story ends with the king standing proudly (but naked) on his carriage with a servant holding his imaginary mantle. Bro. Al, I am growing very suspicious that the "List of Pattern Particulars" that you keep requesting of the legalists (and not receiving) is cut from the same pattern and cloth as the emperor's clothes, and that the loyal legalistic patternists continue to parade proudly in their religious garb, yet the weakness of their theology can be easily seen through, leaving them as exposed as the emperor's backside! Bro. Al, Thank You for proclaiming to the watching crowd, just like that child, the obvious truth!
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