The Book of Job tells of Satan bringing accusations against Job. He said to the Lord, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9) Then again, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” (Job 2:4) But Job is not the only one whom Satan accuses before God. In Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as “the accuser of our brethren.”
Imagine that – Satan in the presence of God to accuse each of us. Do you think maybe he might be able to dig up some dirt from our past? Maybe find a skeleton or two in the closet. The reality for all of us is – “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
So where does that leave us? Can Satan really bring an accusation against Christians and make it stick? No! Listen to this reassuring passage: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)
How then does one receive this salvation from sin? The Bible puts it this way: “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 Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
It is not uncommon to hear churches describe themselves as “Bible believing.” It is usually said to distinguish themselves from other churches which have very little regard for the authority of the Bible. And we certainly agree it is a good thing to be Bible believing. However, the question is not only: Do you believe the Bible, but what else do you believe?
What if two explicit statements of scripture seem to contradict each other? Which do we believe? The problem is with us, not the scriptures. The scriptures do not really contradict each other. It is only our opinion of one or the other passage that is contradictory. Sometimes people have such a strong opinion based on one statement of scripture that they reject another explicit statement of scripture.
A common example of this: the Bible says, “By grace are ye saved through faith…not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Some people conclude that if salvation is “by grace through faith” and “not of works” then baptism cannot be essential to salvation. The problem is the Bible does not say that baptism is not essential. But rather the Bible connects the two. Jesus himself said. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) The apostle Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) The apostle Paul affirmed that we are “baptized into Christ.” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27) And the apostle Peter wrote explicitly, “Baptism does also now save us.” (1 Peter 3:21)
We should never form an opinion from one passage that contradicts another. We should believe both and let time help us come to an understanding of why the passages are not contradictory. The real believer will trust that both statements of scripture are true; then, in time, he may come to understand how.
The church at Thessalonica got off to a rocky start. The two missionaries, Paul and Silas, who first preached in their city, had to flee by night because of persecution. Later Paul wrote to them and mentioned their “having received the word in much affliction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) And again, “Ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)
But even though the Thessalonians suffered persecution for their faith, they still sounded forth the word of the Lord. Paul wrote, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak any thing.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8)
We enjoy much greater religious freedom in our country so that we need not fear persecution. That being the case it should be much easier for us to sound out the word of the Lord in our community. Let’s imitate the church at Thessalonica in spreading the gospel message.