To the body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ
at Christ’s Church of the Valley, Bakersfield, CA;
May grace and peace abound to you in the Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jay, and I was elected to the position of Elder in your church for the year 2011. In order to be elected as an elder I had to meet certain biblical qualifications which, by the grace of God in my life, I have been enabled to meet. After having been interviewed and tested by the current Elders, It was determined unanimously by them that I am a man biblically qualified to be an Elder. One of those qualifications is that I must be able to defend biblical truth against false teachings. It is to this end that I find it necessary to write you this letter. You see, the other elders and I had a disagreement about biblical truth some months back. If this issue had been over some minor difference of opinion, I would not have been told by the Elders that I am “not qualified for any leadership position in the Church” and then asked to leave quietly. However, it is you the congregation who elected me; therefore they did not have the right to ask me to leave without involving you. The disagreement we have is over the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself! There is only one true Gospel, and any others are false. Those who follow other gospels (which are no gospel at all) will be eternally condemned! Therefore, I find it necessary to warn you of this deception which has come through their teaching and infected all of CCV.
You have been taught that in order to be saved you must believe in Jesus Christ, repent of your sins against him, publically confess him as Lord, be baptized in water, and walk in the newness of life (obedience to the word of God). This teaching claims to lay five small things before you that you must do in order to be saved, but that is a deception. When I asked the other Elders “when is a person saved”, they would not answer me but said that I was being divisive. Divisiveness was never my intent, but rather I am genuinely concerned for the salvation of the people whom God has called me to be a shepherd for. According to their teaching, a person is not saved unless he continues to walk in obedience to the word of God. Therefore, your salvation has something to do with your own obedience! It has something to do with keeping a law, or performing works. In fact, they teach that you only receive the Holy Spirit through “obedience in baptism” (stated in the new to CCV class materials and the “what we believe” statement). Therefore, salvation for them is based on obedience to rules (or law) from first to last!
This teaching is directly opposed to what the WORD of God speaks! For what does the word say? “So then, the law was our [the Israelites] guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” Or again “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also [Israelites] have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”  The reason that no one will be justified (declared acceptable by God) by the workings of any law or by doing good deeds is because even our most righteous deeds are no better than filthy rags before the Lord.Our works or deeds are tainted by our sinful desires, and motivations!
Over and over again the bible speaks of salvation as being only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! The idea of biblical faith carries three components to it. The first is knowledge. You must have knowledge of the true Christ and his promises. Second, you must believe that this knowledge is true. Third, you must place your trust in it. This genuine faith will always compel you to do good works after you are in Christ. Just as God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can see that this method of salvation has always been the same. All the saints of the Old Testament were also justified upon the basis of faith in God! God mentioned this in the Garden of Eden, he promised it to Abraham, and confirmed it in Christ who is the promised “seed” of Abraham! The law was introduced 430 years later but not for the purpose of salvation. For Paul says to the Galatians “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”Justification before God has never been possible through a law of works. For Galatians 2:21 says “for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Salvation is completely of the Lord, there is no other means of salvation available to men! That’s why Acts 10:43 states “All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Therefore, salvation is purely a matter of faith (knowing, believing, and trusting) in the finished work of Christ! For the scriptures testify that when we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive the promised Holy Spirit. Paul illustrates this point over and over again. He credits God as the one who “works” to bring us to salvation. For in Ephesians 2:5 it is written that God has “made us alive with Christ even when we are dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” And again a few verses later “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this [faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” After all, it had to be the work of God, because in our natural state we are “God Haters”, insolent, boastful, arrogant, and utterly sinful. In this state we are slaves to sin imprisoned by its power, without ability to reject sin as our master! Therefore, we must be rescued; we need a redeemer, someone who would come looking for us! That’s Christ, he left Heaven to come looking for each and every one of us, and he still sends His Holy Spirit to do the same. For the scriptures say “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” This means that God began the work, and he will complete it. What a promise!
Therefore, the Gospel message is simply this. God is Holy, and we are not. We have transgressed against his law, and are under his wrath. God sent Jesus as a man to perfectly fulfill every aspect of God’s law so that he could become the sacrificial lamb without blemish. Jesus being the perfect sacrifice died on the cross to pay the debt we owe God because of our transgressions of his law (sin). His death pays the price and frees us from God’s wrath. But, this is only half of the message so far. Jesus told us in Matthew 5:20 “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Since our works amount to nothing but filthy rags, and Jesus has earned perfect righteousness as a man, he clothes us in his righteousness!Christ is our righteousness! We are justified before God on the basis of the righteousness Christ earned instead of our own pile of filthy rags!
Do you see how deceptive this five point method of believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and walking in the newness of life in order to achieve salvation is? It tells you to trust in your obedience, your own righteousness, and the works you have performed for your salvation! This is not good news! It leaves you wondering if you have ever done enough to appease God. It leaves the worry of falling short squarely upon your shoulders. Those who trust in this gospel will certainly hear the words “depart from me, I never knew you” as Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21-27. They told Jesus they should be accepted on the basis of the works they did in his name! This will never work, you must trust in the righteousness of Christ given freely to you for your salvation. Would you add your own works, your own obedience, and your own righteousness to the perfect righteousness of Christ? If you did you would only be adding blemishes! Your good works of any kind are excluded when considering your standing before God. We stand before him in the righteousness earned by Christ alone!
At this point you might be thinking if this is true, then it does not matter if I continue to sin after being clothed with Christ. Paul responded to this same objection every time he preached the Gospel. In fact, if you don’t get this objection when preaching the gospel, it’s because you are preaching self-righteousness along with your Gospel. MAY IT NEVER BE, for you have been clothed with Christ, and you are united with him! Your own good works are of NO consideration what so ever in your justification before God, you stand justified solely upon the work of Christ. It’s only after you are justified that you are even capable of doing any “good works”. And it’s entirely appropriate for a child of the living God to pursue the good works God prepared in advance for you to do!
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Therefore, I recommend you take this issue with the utmost seriousness. Talk with your pastor and elders about this. If they refuse to repent and turn to Jesus on the basis of faith alone instead of any works or obedience, fire them, dismiss them, reject them! Unless they believe the only true Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are not qualified to be overseers in his Church. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
My heart is bound to you. God has not removed the burden he has placed upon my heart and the love that I have for you. I pray for you daily that God will open the eyes of those who believe and teach this false gospel and that they will see the true Gospel in all its beauty. I will continue to contend for your salvation, your sanctification, and your eventual glorification in the Lord Jesus Christ! If you need any assistance or desire to talk in greater depth about any of this, I eagerly make myself available to you.
With love in Christ, Jay