By Tim Smith
MATTHEW 7:13-14 Our Lord said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for
wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth unto destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gait, and
narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find
it" (Matthew 7:13-14). The path we take in this life is of the greatest
importance. If we make a mistake in choosing the right one, we will
suffer eternally for it "where [the] worm dieth not, and the fire is not
quenched" (Mark 9:46). What are some of the markers on the right path?
Are you on it?
THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY FAITH We cannot please God without
faith: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for
if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24).
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to
God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). There is adequate reason for us to
believe, for God has revealed the perfect New Testament to that end:
"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,
which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye
might have life through his name" (John 20:30-31). So, we must believe,
and the Bible is believable.
Belief that saves is always connected with the gospel of Jesus
Christ. After his resurrection Jesus told the apostles: "...Go ye into
all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not
shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). Now, they were not to go and preach
denominational doctrines or religious error of any kind, but the gospel
of Jesus Christ. This is what they were to believe. If one believes the
doctrines of men in the place of the gospel of Christ, he has not
satisfied this requirement. When Philip preached, the people believed
"...the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus
Christ, and they were baptized..." (Acts 8:12). The preaching he did
moved them to become citizens in God's Kingdom, not members of man-made
churches. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God" (Romans 10:17). It is the truth that frees from sin (John 8:32),
and the word of God is the truth (John 17:17). When we preach false
doctrines to the world, they cannot believe the truth, and therefore
they cannot be saved. If you were taught denominational doctrines before
"being saved", you were not saved, as salvation is in the truth (I
THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY REPENTANCE When the forerunner of the
Lord came preaching, he preached repentance (Matthew 3:1-2). When Jesus
began preaching, he preached repentance (Matthew 4:17). He said,
"...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
According to Luke 17:3-4, repentance precedes forgiveness. When the
apostles preached the first sermon in the name of the risen Christ, they
preached repentance before salvation (Acts 2:38). When Peter reasoned
with the Jews in Acts 3:19 he placed repentance before forgiveness.
Simon, an erring Christian, was told to repent before he could again be
saved (Acts 8:22). Paul warned about a time of restitution at the hands
of the Lord, stating that God has commanded "...all men everywhere to
repent" (Acts 17:30-31).
To walk in religious error is sin (Matthew 15:9). Therefore, if you
walked in the doctrines and commandments of men in denominationalism
prior to "being saved", you were not saved. To fellowship those in
religious error is sin (Romans 16:17-18; II John 9-11). Therefore if you
were "saved" in a church of men, you never really were saved, for all
churches of men are in competition with the church of the Lord and shall
not stand in the end (Matthew 15:13). Repentance must come before
THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY CONFESSION Jesus said that those who
would confess him before men would be confessed by him before the Father
(Matthew 10:32-33). Some refused to confess Christ because it was
unpopular before the world, and they "loved the praise of men more than
the praise of God" (John 12:42-43). Paul said that confession is "unto
salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). The classic example of confession is to be
found in Acts 8:37 when the Eunuch said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God."
Many today confess that they "believe that God for Christ' sake
has" forgiven them, but such a confession is foreign to the Bible. Some
confess their sins, and whereas we are all sinners (Romans 3:10, 23), we
are not to merely confess this prior to salvation, but the Lord Jesus
Christ. If you made an erroneous confession prior to "being saved", you
were never saved.
THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY BAPTISM Jesus was baptized to fulfill
all righteousness (Matthew 3:16-17). John the Baptist was a baptizer
(Matthew 3:6). Before his ascension to heaven Jesus instructed the
apostles to baptize the believers (Mark 16:16). Some were said to have
rejected the counsel of God by not being baptized (Luke 7:29-30). When
Peter answered the question of the heart-pricked Jews on Pentecost he
told them to be baptized (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to be baptized
(Acts 22:16). The Romans were told that it was when they obeyed from the
heart the form of doctrine that they were saved (Romans 6:17-18). The
form of doctrine was baptism, being like the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is not for the purpose of
joining a church of men, but "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38);
for the "washing away" of "sins" (Acts 22:16); to be saved: "The like
figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (I Peter 3:21).
If one was baptized for any reason other than this, his or her
baptism is not Bible baptism and does not stand to save the one so
baptized. The denominations of men do not baptize for this purpose,
therefore one baptized in them is still in need of Bible baptism, and is
THE RIGHT PATH HAS ONE ADDED TO THE CHURCH There is nothing in the
Bible about "joining the church". On Pentecost those who "gladly
received the word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto
them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). "The Lord added to the
church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). One cannot join the
church, the Lord adds one to it.
THE RIGHT PATH LEADS ONE INTO THE ONE CHURCH There is only one
church which pleases God. Jesus promised to build only one (Matthew
16:18). The saved were added to only one (Acts 2:47). The church is the
body (Ephesians 1:22-23) and there is only one body (Ephesians 4:4),
therefore there is only one church. "For we have many members in one
body...we, being many, are one body in Christ..." (Romans 12:4-5). We
were called into one body (Colossians 3:15). Paul, by inspiration,
wrote: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the
members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,...For the body is
not one member, but many...But now are they many members, but one body"
(I Corinthians 12:12-14; 20). The church of Christ is singular. Jesus
warned that all other churches were to be cast into the fire (Matthew
13:15). One church is not as good as another. The Bible clearly teaches
that there is only one church, and it is our duty to find it.
ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH OF LIFE? If not, why not obey the
teachings of the Bible today? If we have written words of truth in this
article, will you not obey them? If we are wrong, will you do us the
service of pointing out the error of our way? Call the church of Christ
in your community and ask to study the Bible with them today.
- via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere Church
of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation,
and he may be contacted at their website: