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Should a Christian Give to the “Salvation Army”?

Each December, department stores are packed with holiday shoppers, bedecked with Christmas decorations, and at nearly every entrance will be a red kettle next to a person ringing a bell. The Salvation Army seems to be as much a part of the Christmas season as Santa Claus. This raises the question: “Should a Christian give to the Salvation Army?” This is a good question that should be carefully considered by every member of the Lord’s church as they decide how to use the money with which God has blessed them.

William Booth (1829-1912), a New Connection Methodist minister, organized the Salvation Army in the late nineteenth century. Brother Owen D. Olbricht, in his 1972 class booklet, Studies in Denominational Doctrine Book Two, says that one of the original purposes of the Salvation Army was to “help those in poverty”, and that they “provided boarding-houses, orphanages, maternity hospitals, and settlements in the poor quarters of the city” (p. 25). However, the Salvation Army is more than just a benevolent society. It is a religion with a well-defined body of doctrine, including much error.

While this denominational group holds to some of the more common errors, including total hereditary depravity and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, there are some other religious errors that may come as a surprise to those who have never researched the group.

Not only does the Salvation Army believe baptism is unnecessary to salvation, they refuse to practice it. The same is true of the Lord’s Supper. “As it is the Salvation Army’s firm conviction that these ceremonies are not necessary to salvation nor essential to spiritual progress, we do not observe them” (The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, p. 160). These words are a far cry from the teachings of the New Testament (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 20:7). They assert, “Water baptism was evidently not intended to be perpetually observed” (p. 163) and that the reference to the Lord’s Supper by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 “should be interpreted spiritually” (p. 165).

The Salvation Army has corrupted the worship revealed in the New Testament as well. Christians are commanded to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), but the Salvation Army adds instrumental music to the worship service. Women preachers are accepted within the Salvation Army, dating back to the founder’s wife, Catherine Booth. The Scriptures clearly state that women are “not…to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:12). Additionally, the Salvation Army finances its work in ways not authorized by the Scriptures, including those red kettles you find outside department stores during this time of year. In the New Testament, the church financed its work through the contributions of its members (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Returning to the question, “Should a Christian give to the Salvation Army?” I would counter with the question, “Should a Christian support an organization that teaches religious error?” What saith the Scriptures? Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

A Christian has no more business giving to the “Salvation Army” than he does to any other humanly-originated false religion or denomination.

[Editor’s note: This article was originally written many years ago and has appeared in several church bulletins over the years. The topic was mentioned in our Wednesday night Bible study last night, so I thought it was a good time to bring it back to the forefront.]

President Biden on Unity

The White House

I watched part of President Biden’s inauguration speech today. He made some good points, even though I would disagree with the way he would apply some of those points. The President spoke of the importance of unity. “Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things—important things.”

I can’t help but wonder if Biden’s speechwriters were influenced by the letter to the Ephesians. Regarding anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, and violence, the Holy Spirit commanded through the pen of the apostle Paul, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Regarding joblessness, do we not all have work to do in the Lord’s church? “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Regarding hopelessness, Paul wrote, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at the time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13).

The President affirmed, “With unity, we can do great things—important things.” I wholeheartedly concur! “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Did Paul—inspired by the Holy Spirit—tell us to strive for something in the church that is impossible to achieve? “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Mission: Possible (With God)

Mission Possible With God

Job 42:1-6

I. With God, it was possible “back then”

    A. The Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17; 3:1-6, 14-15)
    B. God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 15:1-6; 16:1-2; 17:15-19; 21:2)
    C. God’s deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 3:11-12)
    D. The evangelization of the world (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:5-6)
    E. Preaching even to Caesar (Acts 23:11; 25:1-12)

II. With God, it is possible “today”

    A. 7.8 billion people in the world, but the church is losing 300 preachers each year
    B. Individual Christians have a responsibility to be active in the work of evangelism
    C. Don’t know enough? Study and learn! (2 Timothy 2:15; 2:2)
    D. Utilize sound resources like to increase your personal knowledge

The Christ and His Kingdom (Luke 9:18-27)

The Christ and His Kingdom

Luke 9:18-27

I. Who is Jesus? (Luke 9:18-20)

    A. John the Baptist declared Jesus’ divinity (John 1:29-30)
    B. His enemies spread lies
    C. His admirers stopped believing He was the Messiah, but still held Him in high regard (Luke 9:7-8, 18-19)
    D. His apostles declared “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20)

II. Predicting His death and resurrection (Luke 9:21-22)

    A. A warning to tell no one (Luke 9:21)
    B. The apostles’ reaction (Matthew 16:22-23; Isaiah 55:8-9)

III. Submission to God’s will (Luke 9:23-26)

    A. Desire, denial, and daily walking required (Luke 9:23-24)
    B. Nothing in this world is worth losing one’s soul (Luke 9:25-26)

IV. The kingdom (Luke 9:27)

    A. The kingdom is not still-future-to-us (Acts 2)
    B. Premillennialism is a false doctrine

Love and Truth in Evangelism

          Jesus said in Mark 12:31 that one of the greatest commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He said this is the “second” of the great commandments, the first being, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Jesus explained what it means to love Him in John 14:15, when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
          Would it not follow, then, that loving your neighbor would involve encouraging them—gently and tactfully—to obey God? Certainly, we must consider our words carefully, refusing to compromise while maintaining God’s loving message of grace and mercy.
          Paul encourages his readers to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). May we never forget there are two parts to the admonition: speak the truth, and speak in love. There are too many religious types that leave out one or the other. Some, full of what they believe is love, teach about God’s grace and mercy but ignore the need for obedience. Others are full of vitriol as they point out God’s disdain for sinful activities and lifestyles.
          The point of teaching the truth is to bring sinners to repentance, patiently presenting God’s will (2 Timothy 4:2). We must make them aware that their actions are not approved by God, whether it is covetousness, homosexuality, fornication, hatred, or any of the other sins exposed by inspiration (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21).
          We cannot force anyone to obey Him, but we can point them in the right direction. Our Lord said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). When that last day comes, not one soul that is alive today will have an excuse for disobedience and rebellion.
          Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). There is no other option but Christ.

The Purpose of Baptism

There are many opinions about baptism in the 21st century religious world. Most recognize that baptism is important but disagree on its place in God’s plan for saving man. Since it is an important topic, we would be wise to seek the counsel of God on baptism.

“For the remission of sins”

Acts 2:38, Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

According to this passage, Peter says that baptism is “for the remission of sins.” What does that phrase mean? In English, we recognize that “for” can have a few different meanings. It could mean that baptism is done with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins. Another way to understand it is that baptism is done because of the remission of sins, or because remissions of sins was already accomplished. So which is it?

This is not the only passage in the Bible that uses the phrase, “for the remission of sins.” I am a firm believer in the idea that the Bible is its own best commentary, so let’s look at the other passage in which the phrase “for the remission of sins” is found.

While instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said about the cup, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Now, apply the above meanings to this passage. Was Jesus’ blood shed with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins? Or was His blood shed because the remission of sins was already accomplished?

Obviously, the first view is correct. If remission of sins was accomplished before His blood was shed, then why was His blood shed? Just as Jesus’ blood was shed in order to accomplish the remission of sins, likewise we are baptized in order to accomplish the remission of sins.

Not baptism alone!

Let us pause for just a moment to clarify that the Bible does not teach salvation by baptism alone. The Scriptures are clear that one must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe (John 3:16), repent (Acts 2:38; 3:17), and confess his belief in Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37). All of these things work together with baptism to bring about God’s grace in a person’s life. It is neither faith alone (James 2:24) nor baptism alone (Mark 16:16) that saves, but an obedient, active faith.

“Wash away your sins”

When Jesus appeared before Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). For three days Saul fasted and prayed (Acts 9:9,11) until Ananias came and said, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

So follow the events: Saul believed, then started fasting and praying, and then Ananias said stop praying, be baptized, and wash away your sins. That’s a lot different than what many say today! Many teach that when you believe and say a prayer, you’re saved at that point, and then later you can be baptized if you want. But Ananias placed baptism before the washing away of sins!

Necessary or not?

The North American Mission Board, an organization of the Southern Baptist Convention, says, “While baptism is important, it is not necessary for salvation.” They argue against the clear statement of Mark 16:16, in which Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” NAMB argues, “Mark 16:16 is silent concerning whether the person who believes but is not baptized is saved or lost.”

Jesus is clear in His command. Why must man take His plain statement and twist it and make excuses and try to find loopholes? Jesus said believe, be baptized, be saved. Nothing is said about belief without baptism because there is no such thing; if one truly believes and understands, he will simply obey what Christ commands without looking for a way out.

Where do you stand?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died so that your sins could be forgiven? Have you had your sins washed away by the saving blood of Christ? Have you been baptized for the remission of sins?

If you need assistance in obeying this simple command of the Lord, the only One who can save you from your sins, please contact your local church of Christ today.

Fervent in Spirit, Serving the Lord

          No matter what one’s role is in the church, he is expected to be zealous in performing the will of God in that role. In the words of James Burton Coffman, “A lazy Christian is a contradiction of terms. Having been saved from the guilt and ravages of sin, the Christian is man at the zenith of his best powers.”
          It is not possible for one who truly understands what God has done to be apathetic. Christianity is not a hobby; it is a way of life. The church is not a social club; it is a spiritual family.
          The elders are not overlords; they are shepherds who care for your soul. The deacons are not junior elders; they are servants who carry out specific works in the church. The preacher is not a performer; he is a student and messenger of God’s Word.
          Members are not spectators; they are essential parts of the body, and if the church is going to be healthy, every member must be just as fervent in spirit as the elders, deacons, and preacher as they serve the Lord!

Not Lagging in Diligence

          In Romans 12, Paul offers a number of short exhortations to his readers. The King James Version translates the first part of verse 11, “Not slothful in business.” The Christian should be diligent for his employer, but the context this verse has more to do with the business of the church.
          We sing a song, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.” Do we mean those words when we sing them? Do we truly want to “be busy every day in the vineyard of the Lord,” or are we just giving lip service?
          All disciples are to be actively engaged in the work of the Lord’s church. We should be busy making disciples (Matthew 28:19), encouraging each other (Hebrews 10:24-25), and helping the needy (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27).
          We do not always see the fruit of our labors, but we must not give up. If we are mocked or rejected or persecuted by those around us, we keep obeying God (1 Peter 2:19-20). The things we do in the name of the Lord are not done in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). May we never lag in diligence when it comes to the Lord’s work.

Giving Preference To One Another

          Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). This passages speaks to how we treat each other in the church. Paul had just written, “Let love be without hypocrisy,” in verse 9; our actions must match our words!
          In another place, the apostle wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
          Do you see a brother or sister in need? Whether it is a spiritual, emotional, or physical need, it is our duty (and should be our delight!) to fulfill that need. Listen to each other and offer whatever assistance you can.
          Our primary goal is to get to heaven, and secondary is to take as many with us as possible. This congregation is full of Barnabas-type encouragers, saints who want to see each other in glory. Keep lifting each other up and looking out for the eternal interests of your brothers and sisters in the Lord.