Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Faith is much more than easy believism. A true, saving faith bears fruit in acts of love.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6 (NIV)
Faith "alone" is not enough. A true assurance of salvation involves sincere repentance as well. Repentance is much more than "a change of mind about who Christ is." It involves a change in the pattern of sin, or as Acts 3:26 says, "turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;.... Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Acts 3:19 & 26
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance
A believer's willingness to be baptized has a direct bearing on their salvation. Is this taught in your church?
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away they sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
In it [the ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also -- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.
I Peter 3:21 (NIV)
Laying on of Hands
Hebrews 6 refers to baptisms [plural]. The gift of the Holy Spirit is legitimately conveyed by the formal ordinance of laying on hands. Is this practiced in your church?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
I Timothy 4:14
Laying on hands to administer to the sick is also a practice of Christ's true church. Is this done in your church?
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
In Christ's true church, laying on hands is the means that God uses to ordain ministers. Does your church follow this biblical pattern?
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Resurrection of the Dead
Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
I Corinthians 15:51-53
It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.
It is common for our evangelical friends to use passages like John 5:24 and Romans 8:1 as prooftexts to say that "believers" will be exempted from the judgment that the rest of the world will face. Many maintain that there will be a separate "believers' judgment" solely for the purpose of determining rewards. Some evangelical teachers even maintain that there will be anywhere from three to twelve separate judgments. If this is the case, then Hebrews 9:27 incorrectly refers to "the" judgment.
While it is true that believers who faithfully endure to the end will find forgiveness and eternal life through the atonement of Christ, there is no passage in the Bible that says believers will have an exemption from the judgment that others face. II Corinthians 5:10 is said to be a reference to this "believers judgment."
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
II Corinthians 5:10
First of all, this is not just a special judgment for believers, but for all people. Secondly, this passage does not simply refer to a judgment of rewards. The words "or bad" even indicate the possibility that they might receive something other than a reward. But in addition, there are many other verses that indicate this theory of a special exemption cannot be substantiated:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
I Peter 4:17-18
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.
I Peter 1:17
If we [believers] deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV)
Do not be fooled. Judgment must begin at the house of God. As to the criteria by which we are judged, God is no respecter of persons. He will judge according to every man's work. Even those who have "received the knowledge of the truth" and been "sanctified" and are "his people" will face the same judgment that others must encounter. It is obvious that this is not simply a judgment of rewards.
Believers will not be exempted from the judgment that the rest of the world has to face. For the benefit of those who have not read all of the above questions and answers, the following additional information about eternal judgment is provided:
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me...... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not...... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Matthew 25:34-36, 41-43 & 46
Who are the righteous that pass on to life eternal? Christ seems to indicate that it is those who believe and bear the fruit of obedience in their lives. Obedience will be a criterion for judgment. This is not just a criterion for judging non-believers. Nothing in this passage suggests that believers will be given a free pass to escape this judgment.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:26 (NIV)
A just God will judge each person based on how they have individually responded and will apply the same standard to all people.