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By: Paul Emerson

A recent news report in an Anabaptist publication reported that a Mennonite educator had left a Mennonite institution to take a similar post in an American Baptist institution. The news item was particularly noted by this writer because of the heritage from which he comes.

The American Baptist churches, formally the American Baptist Convention, and before that the Northern Baptist Convention, is the theologically liberal wing of the Baptist family. The present writer came to the Anabaptist family from the conservative wing of the Baptist family in 1984. This writer’s family had been Baptists for over 200 years, tracing their church family back to England. They were battle weary from the conservative versus liberal doctrinal struggles of the late nineteenth century continuing through much of the twentieth century.

The writer’s immediate family supported a break from the Northern Baptist Convention in the early twentieth century—a break which caused much painful interaction within the extended family. This writer well remembers heated discussions between his father and his uncle. This uncle was a minister in the Northern Baptist Convention, and the writer’s father was a lay leader in a congregation that had separated from the convention. The uncle was heard to say that it was just fine for a simple plowboy like this writer’s father to believe the Bible, the exclusivity of the Gospel, the miracles of Jesus, and the literal account of Creation, but the educated uncle knew better than that. No educated person with sophistication could rest his faith in such simplicities. Such attitudes still persist in most liberal Baptist circles, but they might not be so blatantly expressed. They are more hidden today than they were sixty years ago.

The point of the proceeding is this: The previously mentioned educator is apparently comfortable associating himself with a non-Mennonite theological group. Could it be that he is making no change at all? Could it be that he and the Mennonite institution he served have already left historic Anabaptist principles? Could it be that the basic doctrines of Christianity have been cast aside? If so, he is making no change at all by moving from one post-Christian, post-Anabaptist institution to another post-Christian institution that is part of a group that long ago left its Biblical moorings.

The historical perspective on all this seems to demonstrate that the mainline Mennonite body is following the same trajectory that others have followed in the past. Over time bureaucrats who often tend toward theological liberalism gradually gain control of the machinery of a denomination. The grass roots of the denomination wake up one morning and find that they are on the outside looking in. That wakeup call came to the Mennonite family at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1983, where an attempt was made to censor the previous Sword and Trumpet editor for proclaiming the truth. It was much too late for many who had been lulled into apostate sleep by a fake gospel. For northern Baptists that wakeup call came in 1907, and it was also too late for those who truly intended full faithfulness to the Bible. The liberal battle cry of “No creed but Christ” was a cop-out to avoid full submission to the Scriptures. So it is today. Christ cannot be truly known apart from the Scriptures. The Scriptures are to be acknowledged as completely trustworthy.

To continue full fellowship with a body that refuses to endorse the inerrancy and authority of the Bible is folly and will slowly pull one away from Christ and into the quicksand of total unbelief.

Written by: George Brunk

The execution of Timothy McVeigh, June 11, 2001, created a “stir” of debate and discussion around the world which revealed how fickle and foolish most of the people seem to be. The talk shows were pathetic and confusing. Few seemed to have any understanding of what the Word of the Lord has to say. A Jewish rabbi made a valiant attempt to justify capital punishment but the “tide” was against him. The prevailing view in Mennonite circles seems to be in opposition to capital punishment. Here is the “case” for capital punishment as I see it. We maintain that capital punishment is a legitimate exercise of the authority and power of civil government. Any attempt on the part of the church to deny that right to the state is unfortunate and indefensible. Having stated our position on this question, we support it with the following observations:

1. God is the giver of life, and He has the right to take it. We assume that few persons will dispute that. Who could challenge the fact that God has the right to judge wicked men at the end of days? Those who would deny the right of the civil powers to execute criminals would seem to be only one step away from denying God the right of passing judgment on the wicked. How long will it be until someone has the audacity to make such a public declaration?

2. God not only has the right to take life, but He has the right to delegate that awful responsibility to whomever He will. It is the thesis of this editorial that God has indeed delegated that responsibility to the civil powers. According to Romans 13, the civil powers are a terror to those who commit evil. “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4). Reference should also be made here to the fact that God commanded His people in the Old Testament to take life. Many mistakenly concluded, on the basis of that fact, that the church in the New Testament is free to participate in this awful exercise of taking life. This leads us to the next observation.

3. In the Old Testament, we see a union of church and state in what is called a theocracy. In other words, Israel was a theocracy functioning as both church and state. This is a very fundamental truth that has been ignored by the mass of professing Christian people for nearly 2,000 years. This misunderstanding is perhaps more responsible than anything else for the confusion in the professed Christian community with reference to Christians participating in war. Such persons will say to us, “God commanded His people to take life in the Old Testament, so what is wrong with you?” We answer by asking why such persons are unable to recognize the principle of the union of church and state in the Old Testament and the separation of the same in the New. This leads us to the next observation.

4. In the new dispensation, church and state are divided, each having it separate assignment according to Romans 13 where Paul makes the clear distinction between “ye” (believers) and “he” (the civil powers). Some prefer to refer to the separate roles of the people of God, sometimes referred to as the church on the one hand and the civil powers or state on the other. To some readers, this may seem like an indefensible position for a nonresistant believer to take. Recognizing the difficulties and possible complications, we take the position without apology that, according to the New Testament, we believers cannot participate in the human butchery of war, nor could we participate in capital punishment. At the same time, we will not and cannot attempt to deny to the state, as a separate entity, that right.

In conclusion, let us make it plain that we are not arguing for the exercise of the death penalty nor are we urging the civil powers to take the lives of criminals. It is, however, the right of the civil powers to do so, and church people are out of order in their attempt to deny that right to the state or even expect the state to operate on the principles set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.

 

    Today we live in a sex-crazed society. From the clothing and entertainment industries, all the way to the education sector, sex permeates our senses at every turn. As the western culture casts off all moral restraint, the church faces ethical issues on many fronts. With abortion, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality on center-stage, birth control has often been relegated to the sidelines. Some consider the topic as a distraction from the more pressing issues at hand.

    The wise Christian will seek to understand God’s purpose for sex before confronting any of these hot-button topics. And when one understands God’s design, birth control can no longer be ignored.

 

The early church and sex

     Since the church’s earliest days, Gnosticism has subtly distorted Christian ethics. The early church fathers valiantly opposed its teachings, which took on many shapes and sizes. Basic Gnosticism labels all physical matter as evil, which implies that the body and its natural functions are evil.

    Unfortunately, this greatly impacted the early church’s view of sexuality. Augustine, a prominent theologian of the fourth century, believed that sex was only right when pursued for procreation. Any sex “which goes beyond this necessity, no longer follows reason, but lust" (Augustine).

    Nearly a thousand years later, little had changed. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of his day, condemned all forms of birth control, saying it would evade the true purpose of intimacy. Many church leaders agreed with this position.

    Reflecting on the Middle Ages, ethicists John and Paul Feinberg write, “Engaging in sexual intercourse without the intent of procreation was, therefore, considered sinful. This meant, of course, that intercourse with one’s pregnant wife or with a sterile woman was sinful, because procreation was impossible” (Feinberg 292).

    Interestingly, the Catholic church’s stance on sexuality and birth control has changed very little over the past fifteen hundred years. Rome still affirms the Augustinian belief that “procreation is the primary purpose of marriage” (Feinberg 292). While they do allow its members to use the rhythm method, all other forms, including barrier methods, are still condemned.

     

Sex designed for pleasure and unity

    When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he was visibly moved. “This is now bone of my bones,” he exclaimed, “and flesh of my flesh…” (NKJV, Genesis 2:23b). God’s perfect couple was naked and unashamed.

    Immediately following, God revealed His purpose for man and woman: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). One may conclude that becoming one flesh refers at least in part to sexual intercourse. Paul confirms this when he writes that going into a harlot is becoming one flesh with her (I Corinthians 6:16).

    Perhaps the most vivid example of God’s delight in marital lovemaking is the Song of Solomon. The writer minces no words when he paints graphic images of a married couple’s sexual love.

    In the New Testament, Paul admonishes the married that their bodies are no longer their own; they belong to their spouse. Thus, they should not withhold themselves from each other except for prayer and fasting (I Corinthians 7).

    One must conclude that God designed sex for pleasure within a marriage relationship. Unfortunately this function has been stifled and even condemned across the centuries.

 

Sex produces new life and responsibility

    Having children is an important aspect of marriage and must not be ignored. God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). The Psalmist rejoices in the beauty of new life when he writes, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14).

    All throughout Scripture, we see God’s love for children. He defends the orphan (Deuteronomy 10:18), he gives children as an inheritance (Psalm 127:3), and those who hurt children would be better off dead (Matthew 18:6).

    Materialism has greatly altered society’s view of children. In contrast with the eastern mindset that views children as assets, the western culture counts children as financial liabilities. Couples entering marriage must renounce this mindset and embrace children as priceless gifts from God.

    When children are viewed as gifts, parents will embrace the huge responsibility to provide and care for them. This includes not only their financial needs, but also their emotional and spiritual needs. Parents must prepare their children in every way possible to serve God and love others.

 

Possible reasons for birth control

   After one establishes a Biblical perspective on sex and children, one may consider possible reasons for family planning.

    Birth control grants young couples more time to prepare financially, emotionally and spiritually for raising a family. When the wife struggles with health, she might need a substantial gap before she can handle another pregnancy. Couples with a growing family may use it to avoid greater responsibility than they can handle. In fact, Paul writes to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8).

    Before marriage, couples must come to an agreement on if they will use any form of birth control, and if so, what form of birth control they should use. A Christian couple seeking to honor Christ will need wisdom as they consider the available options.

 

Birth control methods

Medical

    The pill has been a topic of much controversy. Since 1960 when the first pill was approved by the USFDA, millions of Christians have used the pill without really understanding how it works. While its main function is to prevent ovulation (the formation of a woman’s egg), it has a backup function that few know about; it thins the uterus wall so that the blastocyst (fertilized egg) cannot implant, thus resulting in an early abortion.

    Pharmaceutical companies have effectively hidden the pill’s abortive capabilities. Christian author Randy Alcorn shares his extensive research on the pill in the booklet “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” He concludes that the pill, while not primarily designed to cause abortions, does function as an abortifacient when prevention fails (Alcorn). It is sobering to consider how many Christian couples have unknowingly killed their children by using the pill.

 

Surgical

    According to an extensive survey, 23% of sexually-active couples have been sterilized (Mosher 7). It now ranks as the most common form of birth control  and is intended to be permanent. This involves a basic surgery, either performed on the man or the woman, to sever the tubes in one’s reproductive organs. For the man, his semen will no longer contain sperm. For the woman, her egg will no longer enter the uterus where it would be fertilized.

    Undoing sterilization is possible, but cannot be guaranteed. Successful reversals may pose significant health risks during future pregnancies.

    Disabling one’s God-given reproductive system carries major implications. It permanently states that new life is not welcome. It takes the womb into one’s hands while removing it from God’s. Except when extreme health issues may require it, sterilization should not be considered by Christian couples.  

 

Barrier

    The barrier methods are less controversial and have been proven to work fairly well at prevention. Simply put, these methods prevent fertilization by barring semen from uniting with the egg. Unlike the medical forms of birth control, there is no possibility of abortion using these methods. The main ethical issue is whether prevention is right or not.

    Interestingly, the Catholic church does not approve of any of the barrier methods because of their understanding of the purpose of sex. As mentioned earlier, they view God’s design for sexual intimacy as primarily reproductive. To use barriers, in their view, is discarding God’s purpose for sex, thus removing the purpose of intercourse.

 

Natural Family Planning

    The biggest advocate for natural family planning is the Catholic church. The commonly used rhythm method  tracks a woman’s cycles, signs and body temperature to determine when she is fertile. When fertility is determined, the couple may either abstain from intercourse or use a barrier to prevent fertilization.

 

Conclusion

    History is an insightful teacher. It reveals error that springs from a wrong understanding of sex. It challenges the contemporary Christian to view sex through a Biblical framework. God designed marriage unity for pleasure and delight. He purposed that it would result in new life and responsibility.

    Based on this understanding, couples will seek God’s leading for family size. Some may surrender all use of birth control. In such cases, they will need encouragement, and at times, financial assistance. Others will use family planning and must not be judged too quickly.

    Out of this understanding, Christian couples will navigate the various methods of birth control wisely. They will purpose in their hearts never to use methods that will kill their offspring or will reject the life that God desires to place in their family.

    When couples embrace sex as God’s pleasure-filled, life-destined gift, they will be able to make wise decisions on their use of birth control.

 

A few questions for couples to consider before using birth control:

  1. Why are we preventing?
    Do our motives stem out of selfishness or care?
    Do we view children as liabilities or assets?

  2. How are we preventing?
    Will we risk aborting our own child by using the pill or other medical means?
    Will we use a natural method such as a barrier or the rhythm method?

  3. When will we allow children?
    Will we just wait for an “accident” to happen or will we be intentional about allowing life to come about?

 

A few questions for couples who will not use any forms of prevention:

  1. Are both husband and wife convinced that this is how God is leading?

  2. Are we committed not only to receive the children God sends, but also to care well for each one?

  3. Do we look down our noses at those who seem to be using some form of family planning? Will we extend grace towards those who come out at a different place in regards to family size?

 

Works Cited

Alcorn, Randy C. Does The Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Sandy, OR: Eternal Perspective Ministries, 2011. Print.

Feinberg, John S., and Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics For A Brave New World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. Print.

Holy Bible: The New King James Version, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Bibles, 1982. Print.

Mosher, William D., and Jo Jones. Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2010. Center For Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Of Hippo, Augustine. "Of the Good of Marriage." Church Fathers: Of the Good of Marriage (St. Augustine). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Article written by I.M.

By: Danielle Mast
Note: This essay was submitted as part of the homework for the Biblical Ethics class at Elnora Bible Institute. Used by permission.

Infertility is one of the most painful things a couple can go through. The gut-wrenching pain of not being able to get pregnant, the desperate helplessness to “fix it,” the pain of watching other parents with their children, and the emptiness. It is wrong to dismiss these feelings as selfish, unreal, or illegitimate. These feelings are real, and they hurt terribly. Some couples turn to in vitro fertilization to provide an answer to that need. For the Christian, however, is in vitro really an option?

How it works
It may seem like a good solution to the pain of infertility, but in vitro fertilization is wrong for the Christian because it includes an enormous loss of life, involves masturbation, and takes control from God.

In vitro fertilization is the process of joining sperm and eggs outside of the womb in a petri dish. In vitro itself means “in glass.” The American Pregnancy Association describes the process of in vitro fertilization this way:

In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus (americanpregnancy.org).

In vitro is often a long and wearing process of cycles: the woman is given medication to overstimulate her ovaries to produce more ovum, or eggs, than normal. When her body has produced enough eggs, physicians harvest her eggs and combine them with sperm provided by the man through masturbation. The fertilized embryos that are produced are watched for several days before some of them are selected to be placed in the woman’s uterus. If none of the embryos implant into the wall of the uterus, the cycle is repeated. Enough eggs are produced from the first cycle that enough fertilized embryos should result for five to six cycles.

Loss of life

This may sound like a simple surgical procedure, but there are some significant problems with in vitro fertilization that are not mentioned in the American Pregnancy Association’s summary. The fertilized embryos created when the sperm and eggs are joined are not all used, and many of them die in the fertilization process. In vitro fertilization includes an enormous loss of life. Randy Alcorn writes the following in his book, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?

“Three to six of [embryos conceived outside the womb] may be implanted in a uterus in the hopes one may live, but the majority die, and some are frozen or discarded. In the best-case scenario, two to five die in the attempt to implant one, and often all of them die” (Alcorn, p. 118).

He says that three to six embryos per cycle are implanted, and even in the best-case scenario almost all of them die. He writes further that there is a low success rate for implantation, even under the best conditions. He quotes Dr. Leon Speroff, who says that the success rate of implantation is 13.5 percent, and the actual survival rate for any embryo is just over three percent. According to Dr. Speroff, in the attempt to implant a child, twenty-nine out of thirty embryos die (Alcorn, p. 118). 

Twenty-nine out of thirty! If Christian believe that life begins at conception, that means in vitro fertilization allows twenty-nine children to die for the sake of the thirtieth. Some of those children are lost through miscarriages when they cannot implant to the uterus wall, but some of them are lost because they were not selected as the best embryos and were frozen. These frozen embryos are the primary concern of those against in vitro. What happens with the frozen embryos? Does the couple save them until they want them again? Do they dispose of them? Do they keep them in the freezer until their lives drain away? They have created children, and they cannot neglect them, kill them, freeze them, or discard them.

The question of whether or not in vitro fertilization destroys life rests on the Christian’s belief of when life begins. Life begins at conception: the moment that the sperm and the egg join and create a new person with new DNA and totally unlike anyone ever created before. The uniqueness of every single child starts at that moment of conception. In their article “When Human Life Begins,” the American College of Pediatricians wrote the following:

Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, induviated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development. The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being from the moment of conception (“When Life Begins”).

That means that from the very moment the sperm unite with the eggs in the petri dish, the actual lives of human beings are involved, not the potential for human lives. Twenty-nine out of thirty human beings are being discarded, neglected, frozen, miscarried, or even aborted if too many of the embryos implant in the wall of the uterus. Christians cannot play God with these lives! Randy Alcorn addresses this when he says,

“There is a big difference, a cosmic difference, between God and us! What God is free to do and what we are free to do are not the same. God is the giver and taker of life . . . His prerogatives are unique to Him. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He has the right to take human life, but we do not” (Alcorn, p. 112).

God has rights that we do not. He has not given us the right to decide which lives are worth keeping or worth risking. Life is too precious to sacrifice twenty-nine for one! As Walter Kaiser wrote, “Life is too valuable to waste for any reason whatsoever” (Kaiser, p. 114).

Result of masterbation

The fact that the sperm is usually produced through masturbation is another issue worth considering. Malpani Infertility Clinic actually advises men who may be concerned about producing sperm on demand to practice ahead of time. They also recommend that men bring titillating magazines or DVDs to arouse themselves (“Producing Sperm on Demand in the IVF Lab”). Jesus taught total purity and that Christians are to flee sexual sin. Christians cannot engage in activities that so directly contradict Jesus’ teachings.

Takes control from God

Another issue with in vitro fertilization that is harder to define, but equally relevant, is that of control. In IVF man grasps to control the building of his family. Physicians choose when to start cycles, which eggs and sperm to use, which fertilized embryos to implant, and which implanted embryos to remove if there are too many. Walter Kaiser, when addressing in vitro fertilization, wrote, “Embryos with desirable traits are therefore implanted, while those with undesirable traits, as specified by the parents, are destroyed” (Kaiser, p. 154). Although it may be argued that God can direct the choosing, the weaker and less-developed embryos, including those with genetic issues, are the ones left behind. 

Walter Kaiser also wrote, “Mortals were free to imitate the hand of God in what He had already built within the gene code itself. But they must also ‘guard’ it and ‘keep’ it as trustees enabled by God, not as usurpers who would challenge the Creator and assume His place and authority” (Kaiser, p. 160).

Although he was addressing genetic engineering, Kaiser makes a good point—man is to guard and keep God’s creation, not to challenge His authority and power in an attempt to fix something God may intend to stay broken. In vitro is essentially handpicking which embryos to allow to live and which to allow to die. This issue of humans choosing which children to allow to grow until birth seems dangerously close to playing God and grasping the control from Him in an attempt to fix a problem that is not understandable, instead of relying on Him to provide either children or fulfillment outside of children.

Wrestling with infertility

Infertility is excruciatingly painful. Feeling that pain is not wrong. Cristina Richie, an ethics and world religions instructor at Newbury College in Massachusetts addressed this issue in an article she wrote on IVF.

All this comes down to a fundamental question: Do I believe that God’s plan and purpose for my life can include infertility? I think many times we try to force God’s hand into a different path for ourselves by altering circumstances beyond our control. Our feeling of entitlement— to better health, a different personality, a certain lifestyle—blocks the potential that God has for us to utilize whatever He has given us, even if this potential goes beyond our understanding (Richie, “A Christian Understanding of In Vitro Fertilization”).

Can God use infertility? Absolutely! Is it still painful? Yes, it is, and it will probably always continue to be. But instead of turning to in vitro fertilization, consider other options—working with children, discipling spiritual children, fostering, or adopting. It may be hard for women, especially, to give up the right or the need to carry their child through pregnancy, but there are other options. There are hurting children all over the world that desperately need homes. The Bible commands Christians to take care of the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the fatherless. 

Instead of turning to in vitro, Christians should seek God’s will about the pain of infertility, how He wants to use that pain for His good, and what His will is for them for their future.

Bibliography

Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?, Sandy, Orlando, 10th edition, 2011, pp. 112, 118; quoting Dr. Leon Speroff, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. William and Wilkens, 5th edition, 1994.

“In Vitro Fertilization: IVF.” American Pregnancy Association <https://www.americanpregnancy. org/infertility/in-vitro-fertilization/> (accessed 08 March 2017).

Kaiser, Walter C. Jr. What Does the Lord Require? Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Academic, 2009, pp. 114, 154, 160.

“Producing Sperm on Demand in the IVF Lab.” Malpani Fertility Clinic. <https://www. drmalpani.com/knowledge-center/articles/ sperm-sample> (accessed 08 March 2017).

Richie, Christina S. “A Christian Understanding of In Vitro Fertilization.” July 2012. <https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/ 2012/07/a-christian-understanding-of-in-vitro-fertilization> (accessed 07 March 2017).

“When Human Life Begins.” American College of Pediatricians. March 2004. <https:// www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins> (accessed 08 March 2017).

This editorial, which was promised in the August 2016 editor’s desk column, is a long overdue debt to the readers. In that column the subject of individual salvation was introduced with warnings about the ditches of legalism and Antinomianism. It is suggested that a re-reading of “What Is an Anabaptist?” Part 8 might be helpful as background to the present piece.

Let us begin with the goal of salvation. God desires that those who come to Him be transformed in spirit, mind, and practice. They are to be pilgrims on this earth and separate from the ways of the “world system.” Holiness is the command.

Therefore, any salvation message that does not include that goal of holiness is no salvation at all. It is not possible to be saved by mental assent to the Gospel facts. Simply saying the sinner’s prayer and going on as if nothing happened is certification that nothing happened! This has been the “sticking point” for Anabaptists from the beginning. There was no major disagreement with the Reformers over the great doctrine of justification by faith. The disagreement came when converts were allowed to go on sinning with impunity.

A simple Anabaptist understanding of salvation for today must include:

1. A realization and recognition of one’s utter sinfulness. (That is, there is not one thread of righteousness in us.)

2. There can be no relationship with God established by us. (That is, we can do nothing by ourselves to gain God’s favor.) 

3. Our condition is humanly hopeless.

4. The absolute unconditional surrender to Christ must take place. (This is called “saving faith” and includes a complete trust in the shed blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins.)

5. The integral companion of saving faith is repentance. (That is, a deep and continuing sorrow for sin and a complete turn-around from sin to God.)

6. The new birth, while instantaneous, only happens after a period of laborious struggle with the guilt of sin.

7. The new life in Christ continues with ongoing repentance and spiritual growth progressively toward holiness.

The above is intended as a very simple outline on individual salvation and is not in any sense exhaustive. It should be under- stood that many people who consider themselves born-again Christians are really not. We should never tire of hearing and sharing the Gospel.

If salvation has truly taken place, the person who has truly come to Christ should be expected to become a part of a Biblical community of faith (otherwise called a local church). There should be no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian. Christianity is a community proposition.

--Written by Paul Emerson

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