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Does Reading the Bible Convince One of His Need for Salvation?

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Some Bible instructors and preachers who profess Christianity teach that it's impossible for someone to truly learn the gospel of Jesus and receive him as Savior simply by reading the Bible. They insist that the Bible is instruction only for the followers of Christ and that unbelievers must hear the gospel from a preacher to understand his need for salvation. The real life testimonies of unbelievers from all walks of life who fall under conviction unto salvation, reading their Bible, are boldly denied by such "Christian" teachers. On what scriptures do they base their beliefs?

One preacher quoted the passage of Romans 10:14 which says, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"

It's absolutely scriptural that God's plan of salvation involves his servants preaching his word. However, to say that one can't begin a relationship with God if no one preaches to him, leaves multitudes at risk of never being saved. There are two things very wrong with this scenario. First, it leaves someone's salvation up to whimsical man who may or may not preach God's word at any given time. Does this really sound like the all-powerful, self-reliant God of salvation described in the Christian Bible? Who would want to serve a God whose word is useless unless preached by one of his servants?

Either a very serious error in comprehension of scripture was made or deliberate twisting of it took place to conclude such a narrow-minded interpretation of Romans 10:14. The scripture speaks of the need for a preacher to preach the word of God. Did it specify that the preacher had to be a servant of God, a man? No, it didn't. It simply said that a preacher was needed. Did not God's word refer to itself as a preacher of the gospel? Yes, it did.

1 Peter 1:25 reads, "...The word of the Lord endureth forever and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." Is not the Bible the word of God? Does it not contain the words that came out of the mouth of God? Not only are the Lord Jesus' words recorded in the New Testament, but many Old Testament scriptures state what God actually spoke. They usually begin, "The Lord saith...." What is this but the preaching of God's word? Who is the preacher? The servant of God who recorded the word and the written form of that word. Since when does preaching have to be oral communication? God said that in the day one hears his voice, he's to take heed (Hebrews 3:8). His voice isn't audible so that it may be heard through a man, the conscious, or the written word.

In Genesis 12:1, Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, is seen being called by God for the first time. Abraham was an unbeliever. What preacher was there to tell him to believe to the point of obeying the command to leave his country and kindred? Was Abraham not truly saved because there was no preacher there for him? Any Christian preacher should be ashamed to think he wasn't when scripture says otherwise (Galatians 3:6).

It's worth considering an incident recorded in the Bible of when it does appear, on the surface, that a man cannot be saved unless someone preaches the gospel to him. The biblical passage of Acts:8:26-39 records when God spoke to Philip to go south heading towards Gaza. He came upon an Ethiopian eunuch who was returning from his trip to Jerusalem where he had gone to worship. The eunuch was sitting in his chariot reading writings of the prophet Esaias out loud. God told Philip to approach the chariot. He obeyed and heard the eunuch reading out loud the scripture of Esaias that speaks of Jesus being led, like a sheep, to slaughter. Philip asked the stranger if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" Scripture says that Philip, the servant of God, explained the passage to him, preaching Jesus as they traveled along.

They arrived at a body of water where the eunuch asked if he could be baptized. Philip responded that if he truly believed, he could be baptized. The two stopped and Philip baptized the new believer who went on his way rejoicing.

It certainly appears that the eunuch needed to hear the gospel from a man in order to be saved, especially since God sent Philip to him in the midst of his confusion. However, careful observation of very simply facts reveals what took place that day. First, note that the book of the Acts of the apostles is in the New Testament. Second, remember that the word of God that the Ethiopian read was Esaias, a book of the Old Testament during which Jesus is revealed only in shadows and types. Those types included deliverers of Israel such as Moses, Samson, Elijah, Gideon and Jeremiah who also preached to the Jews. They include the prophets as well, such as Esaias. God plainly and demonstrated that, under New Testament times, he requires that all focus be on his Son Jesus for salvation.

The New Testament scripture of Matthew 17:1-5 recounts the transfiguration of Jesus before his apostles Peter, John, and James. Scriptures says that Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. His face shined like the sun and his clothing became as white as light. One of Israel's deliverers, Moses, and one of her prophets, Elias, appeared with Jesus and talked with him. Peter suggested and offered to make three tabernacles for each of the three: Jesus, Moses, and Elias. Here is where the readers sees God's swift correction of his well meaning servant, Peter. Matthew 17:5 says, "While he (Peter) yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud which said, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.'"

When Philip taught the Ethiopian who read Esaias the prophet, he preached Jesus, overshadowing the prophet, who himself, pointed to Christ. The New Testament is a new covenant in the blood of Jesus, not of sacrificial animals. It's the time of grace which is fully wrapped up in belief in Jesus. God did not want the eunuch to look to an old covenant that had been annulled by the new, preached directly by the one whose death sealed it. This same truth is seen in effect when God sent the apostle Peter to preach Jesus to Cornelius and his household in the tenth chapter of Acts.

Notice that these people to whom Jesus was preached, did not possess a copy of the New Testament scriptures in which Jesus himself preaches. God is making it plain that Jesus must be preached in these times because that is his will. Where there is no supply of printed copies of the New Covenant, he never fails to use his servants to preach. Observe also that this is precisely why missionaries, when taking the gospel to pagans, always supplied them with New Testament bibles.

These Bibles continue to preach Jesus to the people, long after the deaths and martyrdom of the ministers who provided them. The Lord sees what each person has and doesn't have and often supplies accordingly. Those who were without a copy of his New Covenant were blessed to hear the preachers he sent to them. Those who are without a mortal preacher, but are blessed to have a copy of his New Testament, have a preacher available each and time they pick up their Bible to read it.
©2008


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