Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 24 Number 8 August 2022
Page 14

Questions and Answers

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When Are We Born Again?

George McNulty

George McNultyA lot of people believe that Saul (later better known as the apostle Paul) was born again on the road to Damascus. However, this is untrue! The Bible makes it clear that he was still very much in his sins. Therefore, Saul was unconverted until he did what the Lord told him to do. When Saul arrived in the city, he prayed for three days and was in his sins. So, Saul did not become, as some claim, born again when he fell to the ground when the Lord appeared unto him. All three accounts of Saul’s journey to conversion (Acts 9:3-4; 22:6-7; 26:12-14) tell us that, when he saw the light from heaven, he fell to the ground. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we read that he fell from a horse or a camel. This assumption is one that we have inherited from medieval art and human tradition, not from God’s Word! It is no more true that Saul was born again or saved on the road to Damascus.

Far too many assumptions are made about God’s Word, based upon human tradition and misunderstandings. In Acts 22:16, the Bible tells us that Saul was still praying and unhealed of his blindness. Only when he was baptized, that is, fully immersed for the forgiveness of his sins, was he truly converted. This is when Saul was born again and entered into the kingdom of his Lord. He did not become a Christian on the road as he fell to the ground because of the light of God the Son. Saul prayed for three days straight in Damascus, and yet he remained in his sins! Saul was only right with God when he obeyed the command to be baptized!

Many people have the mistaken belief that one who is a born-again Christian is somebody who was once a Christian, then stopped being a Christian and became a Christian once again. That is clearly not found in the Word of God. Again, human tradition is not confirmed by Scripture but instead clearly contradicted.

Many people believe that they are born again through prayer! Yet, Saul himself said in Galatians 3:27 that in order to be in Christ, we put on Christ when we are baptized! Our Lord Jesus said in Mark 16:16 that we must be baptized in order to be saved. In the realm of theological discovery, one simply must put aside everything he thinks he knows to embrace Scripture as the sole authority for understanding God’s will.

It is of supreme importance that a person is right with God in this life. In fact, it is the most important thing anyone will ever do. We find these somber words in the book of Revelation. “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (22:11). When tradition is cast aside and we let the Bible interpret itself, the meaning becomes clear. The state of our relationship to God when we die is the state of our relationship with Him that we will continue in for all eternity!

Will you, Dear Reader, obey the Gospel call to become born again in Christ through immersion for the forgiveness of your sins? Or, will you reject Him and His teachings in favor of man’s traditions? Be like Saul and waste no time in obeying the command of the Gospel! Remember, Scripture always supersedes human tradition. Trust in God’s Word and His promises. Obey before it is too late!

Did the Early Church
Practice Socialism?

Kevin L. Moore

Socialism is a political and economic philosophy that advocates community ownership and distribution of resources, typically controlled by the governing authorities. Does Acts 4:32-35 provide an example of socialism practiced in the early church, and does it set a precedent for all Christians to follow? The passage reads:

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (NKJV)

Contextually, multiplied thousands of Jewish people from distant lands had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 5), a large percentage of whom had learned and obeyed the Gospel to mark the beginning of Christ’s church (vs. 41, 47; 4:4; 5:14). Rather than returning home, however, many remained in Jerusalem for continued instruction and fellowship (2:42), perhaps some until they were later forced to disperse (8:1-4).

In the meantime, how were their physical needs to be met? A community spirit prevailed, coordinated first by the apostles and then by other godly men, which included selfless generosity and mutual sharing (2:44-45; 4:32-33; 6:1-3). This was a unique situation not necessarily applicable to more normal living conditions.

The Scriptures teach a balanced message of bearing one another’s burdens [when they cannot bear them alone] (Galatians 6:2), while each is to bear his own load [ordinarily] (v. 5). Accountable, able-bodied persons are expected to work and not to be unnecessary burdens on others. God expects people to provide for themselves (2 Thessalonians 3:7-13) and for their families (1 Timothy 5:8), while also helping the needy (Ephesians 4:28). The economic model of socialism, however, is not biblically enjoined.

[Editor’s Note: The contrasts between Christian fellowship wherein Christians voluntarily share their wealth and resources with less fortunate brethren and socialism are distinct. Socialism involves anti-Christian tenets: (1) ‘an economic and political theory advocating collective or government ownership and the dismissal of private ownership,’ (2) “a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done” (“Socialism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. 9 Jun 2022 <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism>). Voluntary contrasts with involuntary. Christianity is neither an economic program nor a political party. Private ownership differs from complete public ownership. Charitable distribution and involuntary surrender of property are opposites. The early church neither practiced socialism nor communism. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

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