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  • Theology Club: The Berean Bible Society

    The teaching of the Berean Bible Society has had a tremendous influence on the many Mid-Acts churches in the world since it came into existence. In fact, the writings of Cornelius Stam, the man who founded it, have greatly enhanced my understanding of the Word of God. But an early mistake he made has resulted in the teaching that the Twelve are not in the Body of Christ and therefore the Hebrew epistles are not for us. To explain his error let us first look at the following verse from the pen of Paul:

    "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all"
    (Ro.4:16).

    This verse speaks about two different groups of believers, those without the law and those with the law. Both groups together make up the total number of the saved who have ever lived. All people down through history who have been saved have been saved on the principle of grace and they have all received salvation through faith.

    Stam correctly understood that principle and in his book Things That Differ Stam wrote the following:

    "We have no illusions as to man's utter inability to please God by works as such in any age. Man has always been saved essentially by the grace of God, through faith. There could be no other way to be saved" (Stam, Things That Differ, [Berean Literature Foundation, Twelfth Printing, 1985], p.15).

    Stam is correct that the only thing that is "essential" in order to be saved is faith. But then he says:

    "Note carefully that while God refuses works for salvation today, He required them under other dispensations"
    (Ibid., p.21).

    The word "require" means "to demand as necessary or essential" (Merriam-Webster Online).

    Therefore Stam is saying that in other dispensations works were "essential" in order to be saved. That idea directly contradicts what he said earlier, that only "faith" is essential for salvation.

    If "works" were essential for salvation during other dispensations then it cannot be said that salvation during those dispensations was "essentially by the grace of God through faith." That is because if "works" were essential then it is not of grace:

    "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt" (Ro.4:4).

    Stam himself recognized this principle, writing that "Grace is not grace if mingled with works. The two principles are mutually exclusive (Rom. 4:4,5)" (Stam, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, [Berean Literature Foundation, Second Printing, 1984], p.87).

    Stam attempts to justify his ideas in regard to works being required for salvation in past dispensations by saying:

    "Faith would most assuredly approach God in God's way at any time, and to seek to gain acceptance with Him in any other way would, of course, be unbelief and self-will. Thus, while works never did or could save as such, they did once save as expressions of faith"
    (Stam, Things That Differ, p.15).

    "...Does this mean that works will be efficacious in themselves? No. They will avail only as the expression and evidence of faith"
    (Stam, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p.89).

    The Lord knows the heart of man and therefore he does not have to rely on "expressions of faith" as "evidence" of one's faith in order to know whether or not a person has faith:

    "...for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart"
    (1 Sam.16:7).

    It is certain that a man's "expressions of faith" do not serve as "evidence" as to whether a man has faith or not in the eyes of the LORD.

    Even though Stam taught that the Twelve were members of the Body of Christ it was not until after he passed away to be with the LORD that the new leaders of the Berean Bible Society decided that those who were saved under the law could not possibly be members of the Body of Christ. That is because all those in the Body of Christ are saved by faith apart from works of any kind.
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