Must a Christian Widow Marry A Christians

In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul writes, ” The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” Does “in the Lord” in this verse mean that the wife, who is free to marry, must marry only a Christian man?

The phrase “in the Lord” occurs forty-seven times in the New Testament. Sometimes it does refer to people who are “in the Lord” where the phrase means that they are in the body of Christ–members of the church–Christians. One such example is in Romans 16:8 and 11. Here Paul is saluting members of the church and he describes them with short epithets. In verse 8 he says that Amplias is his beloved, in the Lord. In verse 11 he says that the house of Narcissus are in the Lord. These references certainly refer to individuals who are Christians and the phrase “in the Lord” here means “a Christian.” This is pretty much the case when the phrase is being used to describe a noun, pronoun, or relative pronoun to describe the location of the person or to answer the question, “Where does this person reside?”

However when a phrase is used with a verb it can mean that the action that is being referred to is to be authorized by Christ or that the action should be done within the confines of the teaching of Christ. Take the following passages as examples. In 2 Corinthians 10:17, Paul writes, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Here the prepositional phrase is referring to the verb “glory.” Instead of referring to location, it describes the instrument by which the main verb is to be accomplished. So in 2 Corinthians 10:17 Paul writes, “But he that glorieth, let him glory.” How? “In the Lord.” By the authority of the Lord; according to the instructions of the Lord; only as the Lord dictates. The idea is that the phrase answers the question, “How should I accomplish the main verb?” Another outstanding example of this kind of usage would be in Ephesians 6:1. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This passage is not saying that children may be disobedient to parents who are not Christians, but rather, that children are to obey their parents as they instruct them by the authority of the Lord.

Now when we get to 1 Corinthians 7:39, the context is a little ambiguous. Is the phrase, “In the Lord” used in the sense of answering the question “Where” or in other words, “To whom the widow shall marry?” Or, is the phrase used in the sense of “How” or in what manner is she to be married?

Those who argue that this means that she can only marry a Christian say that it would not be necessary for Paul to say that she can only marry by the authority of the Lord–that should be obvious! However, given that Paul has been discussing all of these different marriage situations and now he comes down to this last final situation, he wants to make it clear that he is not authorizing a widow to just go out and marry whomever she pleases regardless of the potential spouses previous marriage situation. Rather, Paul wants her to make sure that she abides by the Lord’s instructions regarding who may marry. So she may only marry someone whom the Lord has authorized to marry.

Does this person have to be a Christian? I don’t think this is what the passage means. However, if you are in this situation, my advice to you is that if you are NOT SURE, then choose the safe course. Marry a Christian. It is not worth taking the chance and losing your soul.

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What is the Gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38?

What is the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38? Do we receive it today?

We read in Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

First, I do not know of any topic of discussion that has been more heavily discussed in the church today than the meaning of this last part of Acts 2:38. Some additional questions that we could ask about the gift of the Holy Spirit are as follows. Is this something that the Holy Spirit gives? Is this gift the Holy Spirit Himself? Was this promise made to all believers universally? Was this made only to those present at Pentecost? These are just some of the questions asked in regard to this short sentence.

Let’s look at the context. Jesus had ascended into heaven a few days earlier. He told His disciples to remain in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). He said that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them (Acts 1:8). In Acts 2:1 we see that the apostles were gathered in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in other tongues. Now, many were standing by from many different nations who witnessed these miraculous events that the apostles performed. Some said that the apostles were drunk. However, Peter quotes prophecy that states that the Spirit would be “poured out” on all men (Acts 2:17) and that this was the fulfillment of that prophecy. In verse 33, Peter says that the promise of the Holy Ghost is what they now saw and heard. He goes on to tell them about the resurrection of Christ and their guilt for putting Jesus to death. Then, on account of the great guilt they have, the crowd interrupts Peter’s sermon when they ask what they need to do to be saved. Peter’s answer is for them to “repent and be baptized.” He then states, “AND, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In other words just as the prophets had promised that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all men; just as they see the promise of the Holy Ghost being fulfilled in their eyes; they too could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Ghost here is the miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is no reason to conclude otherwise from the context. All of the references to the Holy Spirit prior to this were referring to the miraculous nature of the Holy Spirit. There is no reason to conclude in this context that the “gift” of the Holy Spirit is anything less than the miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Now let’s turn to Acts 10:44-48. Here we find Peter speaking to Cornelius things that he needs to do to be saved. However, there was some doubt in the minds of the Jews present whether Gentiles could be saved. To affirm this fact, the Holy Spirit is sent upon Cornelius and all those in his house and they spake with tongues. This phrase that describes this miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit is found in verse 45. We read, “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The same phrase, “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is used in this passage. It is clear that in this passage it is referring to the miraculous. So “the gift of the Holy Ghost” in Acts 10 is the miraculous manifestation of the Spirit.

In Acts 11, Peter describes what happened to the house of Cornelius in the presence of other Jews. He states in verses 15-17, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” Peter says a few things that indicate that the gift of the Holy Spirit that Cornelius and his house received was the same gift of the Holy Spirit that occurred in Acts 2. First, he says that “the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us, at the beginning.” The significance of the phrase, “at the beginning” refers back to Acts chapter 2 and the events that happened therein. Second, he says, “God gave them the like gift.” He refers to the speaking in tongues as a “gift” like unto that which God gave “us.” The “us” in this context refers not only to the apostles, but also to all the brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1). When did the brethren in Jerusalem receive this “gift?” When they repented and were baptized. So the “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 refers to the miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Do we receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit” of Acts 2:38 today? No. We read in 1 Corinthians 13 that miracles were things that were going to be done away with when that which was perfect comes. That which was perfect (the complete revealed word of God) came. Therefore, the miracles were done away with.

Finally, an additional question arises regarding Acts 2:38. How can one say that baptism continues to be “for the remission of sins” if the “gift of the Holy Ghost” is no longer given? The construction of the English sentence does not necessarily imply that if one receives remission of sins, that therefore one MUST receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as well. We use this construction in our language as well sometimes where one thing is a lasting benefit, whereas another thing is only a temporary benefit. For example, we have seen TV commercials where if you buy one product you receive another free. Can those who advertise say “Send in your money now and you will receive the product, plus an additional gift?” Now suppose you wait a year and call that place. You say you want the product. They say, however, that they no longer have the additional gift. You can understand that perfectly well because it has been so long since the offer was made. The same idea is present here. The “forgiveness of sins” is ongoing forever. You can get that by repenting and being baptized. However, the additional gift has expired and no longer comes with the original product. We do not have to say of necessity that just because one is offered the other has to be given as well.

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Five Questions from a Baptist Friend

Question 1: Must a person be baptized to be saved? Question 2: Can one lose his or her salvation? Question 3: Are the members of the church of Christ the only ones going to
heaven? Question 4: If one loses their salvation, what do they have to do to get it back? Question 5: If the members of the church of Christ are the only ones going to heaven, where is that stated in the Bible?

Question 1: Must a person be baptized to be saved?

A: 1) In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commanded the apostles to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and by teaching them. Disciples are made by baptizing and teaching. So according to this scripture, a person cannot be a disciple until he is baptized. 2) In Mark 16:15, 16, Jesus commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be condemned.” Notice that it takes both belief and baptism for salvation. 3) In Acts 2:38, the men and women who had crucified Jesus asked what they needed to do be saved, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.” Baptism is said here to be “for the remission of your sins.” 4) In Acts 22:16, Ananias is telling Saul of Tarsus what he needed to do to be saved. He says, “And now, why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Baptism is said here to be for washing away sins. 5) In Romans 6:1-10, Paul is reminding the Christians in Rome what happened after their baptism. He said that baptism is like the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He says, “we are buried with him by baptism into death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead to the glory of the Father, even so we should also walk in newness of life.” Baptism places us into newness of life just like when Christ was resurrected he had a new life. 6) In Galatians 3:26-29 Paul writes that baptism puts us in Christ and makes us heirs to the promise. 7) In Colossians 2:11-13 Paul says that baptism makes us alive through Christ and gives us the forgiveness of trespasses. 8) In 1 Peter 3:21, Peter says that baptism now saves us.

So, in light of these passages we see the following (these numbers correspond to the scriptures above): 1) One cannot be a disciple unless baptized. 2) One cannot be saved without belief and baptism. 3) One cannot have forgiveness of sins without baptism. 4) One cannot have sins washed away without baptism. 5) One cannot have newness of life without baptism. 6) One cannot be an heir of the promise without baptism. 7) One cannot be made alive or have forgiveness of trespasses without baptism. 8) One cannot be saved without baptism. Study your own Bible on this issue. Be honest. Don’t just take my word for it.

Question 2: Can one lose his or her salvation?

A: Again, let’s look at the scriptures themselves. 1) In Acts 5:1, a couple named Ananias and Saphira lied to the Holy Ghost and fell down dead at the Apostles feet. Were they Christians before this? Yes. 2) In Acts 8:1-14 we see that many became Christians. One of those who became a Christian was a man named Simon. Later in the chapter, Simon sinned and Peter rebuked him. Peter commanded him to Repent. If Simon had not repented, would he have been saved? No. He was in the “gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” 3) In Acts 20:29,30 Paul is speaking to the pastors/elders of the church at Ephesus. He says that from among your own selves some will arise speaking perverse things. Can a person be an pastor/elder of the church without being a Christian? Yet, some would arise who would teach perverse things. Why the warning if they could not be lost? 4) In Galatians 5:4, Paul says that those who tried to justify themselves according to the Mosaical law had “fallen from grace.” Notice these words, “Ye are fallen from grace.” How could someone fall from grace if they never had grace? 5) In Hebrews 6:4-6, the writer says that it is impossible to renew someone to repentance. Who is that person? It is the person who: (1) was once enlightened, (2) tasted of the heavenly gift, (3) made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (4) tasted the good word of God, (5) tasted the powers of the world to come. Can a person be all of these things without being a Christian? Clearly someone must be a Christian to have all of these blessings, yet, we read that if they fall away it is impossible for us to renew them to repentance. Why would this be written if it were not possible to fall away? 6) In 1 Peter 2:20-22, Peter says there are some who (1) escaped the pollutions of the world through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and (2) knew the way of righteousness. They were Christians. He then says that (1) these have become entangled again in the pollutions of the world, and (2) turned away from knowing the way of righteousness. He says that these are like the dog returning to his vomit and the clean sow to washing in the mire. They have become lost again.

So, 1) Ananias and Saphira were Christians; they were lost. 2) Simon was a Christian, but he sinned and had to repent. 3) Some pastors/elders of the church taught perverse things and were lost. 4) Those who justified themselves by the law of Moses had “fallen from grace.” 5) Christians who had once received the Holy Ghost can so sin as to be impossible for us to renew them to repentance. 6) It is possible to escape the pollutions of the world (become a Christian) and be entangled in them again and be lost. Again, study your Bible and don’t take my word for it.

Question 3: Are the members of the church of Christ the only ones going to
heaven?

A: This is the toughest question, because many think that when a person says, “church of Christ” he means strictly the building down the road and the people that meet in it or any organization that has that name on their building. That is not what is meant by “church of Christ.” Again, let’s open our Bibles and study what the Bible says. 1) In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised to Peter that he would build His church. It is Christ’s church. It is the church of Christ (see also Romans 16:16). 2) In order to be a member of the church, one must be saved. In Acts 2, Peter preached the first gospel sermon and 3000 people were saved. In Acts 2:44 it says that the Lord “added” such as should be saved. To whom did he “add” these saved people? He added them to the church. The King James version has the word church. Some of the other versions do not. But whether the word is there or not, the saved were added to something. That something was the church. 3) We read in Ephesians 1:22, 23 that the church is the body of Christ. 4) We read in Ephesians 5:23 that Christ is the savior of the body which is the church. 5) We read in Colossians 1:18 that Christ is the head of the body, the church. 6) We read in Colossians 1:24 that the body is the church. 7) We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13 that we are baptized into the body.

So, 1) the church belongs to Christ; it is the church of Christ. 2) The saved are added to he church. 3) The church is the body of Christ. 4) Christ’s saves the body that is the church. 5) Christ is the head of the body, the church. 6) The body is the church. 7) We are baptized into the body. So, when we are baptized, we are baptized into the body of Christ that is the church of Christ. Those who are saved are in the body of Christ alone. Those who are saved are in the church of Christ alone.

Now, you may have a further question from this study. How do I know the church of Christ when I see it? Does the sign on the front of the building that says, “church of Christ” mean that this is THE church of Christ that we find in the Bible? No, not necessarily. The only way that you can know the true church of Christ is by seeing if those who claim to be the church of Christ are DOING what Christ said to do in His word, the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father
which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Many claim to belong to the Lord, but they don’t really belong to the Lord. The only ones who belong to the Lord are the ones who DO the will of His Father. If the building down the street says “Church of Christ” but they are not DOING what the Father wants to be done, then they are not the church of Christ of the Bible. I would not be a member of a church that was not DOING what the Bible says. The church of Christ must DO what God says to be the church of Christ.

You might also be wondering, why use the name “church of Christ?” We use the name church of Christ because 1) the church belongs to Christ, 2) the name honors Christ, 3) the name reminds us that we belong to Christ, 4) the name identifies us with Christ. There are OTHER scriptural names for the church in the Bible. It is also called the church of God and the church of the firstborn ones (two examples, there are more). The believers are called saints, Christians, believers, disciples, and followers. All of these are Bible designations. As I said, we must go by what the Bible says. When we designate things in some other way, then we are not following what the Bible says. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul rebuked the church at Corinth because they were calling themselves after Paul, and Peter, and Apollos. Paul said that he was not crucified for them, but Christ was. He rebuked them because they called themselves something other than what Christ called them. Some today call themselves by other names than what are in the Bible. Should we do this? No. We should do what the Bible tells us to do.

Question 4: If one loses their salvation, what do they have to do to get it back?

A: Look at the example of Simon in Acts 8:19-24. He had already been baptized (8:13). It only took one intentional sin to cause him to be “in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” But he repented and prayed and he was forgiven. Sometimes we sin unintentionally, or in ignorance. In that case, the blood of Christ covers our sins (1 John 1:7) but the faithful Christian will always ask to be forgiven of these sins of ignorance (1 John 1:9, 2:1).

Question 5: If the members of the church of Christ are the only ones going to heaven, where is that stated in the Bible?

A: Perhaps the most significant scripture on this particular question is Ephesians 5:23. This verse says that Christ is the Head of the church and the Savior of the body. In Ephesians 1:22, 23 we read that the body is the church. Whose church is it? It is the church of Christ. There is only one Savior of the church and there is only one church that is going to be saved. Ephesians 4:4 tells us that is the “one body.” That “one body” is the one church that belongs to Jesus Christ–the church of Christ. Please refer to question three in this series for additional explanation.

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