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Monday, October 15, 2012

Baptism

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 Peter 1:22-23).
     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 salvation.
     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 not saved.
     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:
http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

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