Marvin L. Weir
The story is often told of the Bible class teacher who reads a verse of Scripture and someone asks, “What does it mean?” The teacher quickly replies, “It means what it says.” This answer is not suitable for every question that is raised, but it does cut to the heart of the matter regarding the accuracy and finality of the Scriptures.
Most religious groups today teach that baptism is not necessary for one to become a child of God. The question asked on Pentecost was easily understood and so was the answer. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38). What does Acts 2:38 mean? It means what it says. Baptism is required for one to have remission of his sins and become a member of the Lord’s church.
Jesus said to the apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). This verse clearly states that the gospel requires one to be baptized to be saved. It means what it says!
Ananias told Saul of Tarsus, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Is it not easily understood that baptism is necessary in order to wash away one’s sins? If Saul of Tarsus was saved per denominational teaching, he was saved in his sins! Such is not true! Please note that Paul’s “praying” and “fasting” did not remove his sins (Acts 9:9, 11). It was the act of baptism that washed away his sins (v. 18). Acts 22:16 means exactly what it says.
Another popular false doctrine today is that a child of God cannot sin so as to be lost. Many folks believe in the “once saved, always saved” dogma in spite of what the word of God clearly states. Paul said to the Galatians who had obeyed the gospel, “Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). How can one “fall away” from grace if he were never saved? How can a person fall from some place he has never been? He cannot! Galatians 5:4 means exactly what it says!
Peter warns, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22). What do these verses of Scripture mean? They mean exactly what they say. It is possible for a child of God to choose again a life of sin and fall from the grace of God. The Scriptures give an “un-get-aroundable” example. Have you ever scrubbed and cleaned a pig until it is spotless? This pig has been washed and cleaned but the first opportunity it gets it wallows in the filthy hog pen. God uses the well known habits of an animal to teach a spiritual truth that one cleansed from his sins can fall from grace.
Another popular false doctrine today is that one is saved by “faith only.” The Discipline of the Methodist Church teaches: “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” The Bible, however, teaches, “Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith” (James 2:24, emph. MLW). To make sure there is no misunderstanding the Holy Spirit continues in saying, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). These verses mean exactly what they say – one cannot be saved by faith only. It is an impossibility! Faith alone is worthless and dead. A casual study of Hebrews chapter 11 will reveal that these great heroes of faith acted upon their belief. There can be no misunderstanding when James states, “Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from (thy) works, and I by my works will show thee (my) faith” (James 2:18). What does this verse of Scripture mean? It means exactly what it says!
Can one who desires to go to Heaven attend the church of his choice and please God? The Bible says, “And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This verse means what it says. Christ promised to build His church (singular). The apostle Paul teaches that there is only “one body” (Eph. 4:4) and that God “put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22 -23). These verses mean exactly what they say. There is only one body over which Christ is head, and it is the church that He built!
What does it mean to “seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33)? What does the Bible mean when it says, “not forsaking our own assembling together” (Heb. 10:25)? What does it mean to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37)? The words “seek ye first, “not forsaking our own assembling together,” and loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind are easily understood. These words mean exactly what they say!
The Bible always means what it says! Man can choose to ignore the Scriptures, but such does not change the fact that the Word of God will judge him (John 12:48). It would be well for all to remember that the words that Jesus has spoken will mean exactly what they say in the Judgment.