TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Today’s church of Christ bashers includes some of our own members. Accusations are being tossed around without regard for the facts. They misconstrue what we who claim membership in the church of Christ believe and they seem not to understand what questions are at issue. To make responsible judgments we need to know where of we speak. Whether you embrace our message or reject it you need to get the facts straight so that your judgment is not based on propaganda. Look now at some examples of what I refer to, some  facts about what we in the church of Christ believe and do not believe.

First: what we do NOT believe about baptism and the salvation procedure: 1. We do not believe that baptism is a “sacrament.” This word conveys the idea that something God appoints becomes “sacred” and then has magical powers. To illustrate, emperor Charlemagne, king of the Francs, when he conquered the Saxons, marched that army down to the sea shore and forced them at sword point to be baptized, thinking thus to save them. He believed baptism was a “sacrament.” We do not believe that baptism has any power within itself. 2. We do not believe in “works salvation.” The Bible is clear that we are saved “by grace, through faith, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) Baptism does not pay for our salvation nor does anything else we do. It is a condition on which Jesus promised salvation. 3. We do not believe in “water salvation.” The Bible says baptism saves, yes, but then adds, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21) That seems clear enough. The colossians were buried with Him in baptism and also “raised with Him,” not through faith in the water but “through faith in the working of God.”(Col. 2:12) 4. We do not believe in “baptismal regeneration.” Regeneration is not baptism’s purpose. The Bible is also clear on how that is accomplished. “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...”(Romans 12:2) The step called repentance would have more to do with this and the “gift of the Holy Spirit” would also help us achieve it.

So we do not believe baptism is a sacrament, we do not believe in works salvation, we do not believe in water salvation, and we do not believe in “baptismal regeneration.” You need to understand this, and especially so if you feel like passing judgment on the people who claim to be members of the church of Christ.

What we do believe about the salvation procedure: 1. We believe that Jesus gave to believers the power to become children of God, ”even to those who believe on His name.” (John 1:12) This ability is valid because He paid for it at the cross. According to the scriptures Jesus did not make them children of God at the point of believing but rather He gave them the power to become that. This is what John 1:12 says. He did not give them power to become what they already were. The text says that at the point of being receptive to Christ He gave them the power , or right, to become children of God. 2. We believe that Jesus specified exactly how that “power to become” is to be applied. This again, is specified in the Bible text. He said,“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) He told His disciples to “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mat. 28:19-20) That is how disciples are made. On Pentecost day (Acts 2) Peter told them how to use this “power to become.” He told them to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins. In so doing he said, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” (Verse 40) They could choose to do that upon believing. 3. We believe that saving faith requires us to believe two things, (1) that HE IS and (2) that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) We believe this because it is what the Bible text expressly says. Thus we believe Jesus’ promise will be kept. He will reward everyone who submits to His commands. (See Heb. 5:9) 4. We believe that Jesus warned about substitute procedures that will not save. In His warnings about false prophets he mentioned specifically the so called “sinner’s prayer.” He said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord,Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but He who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mat. 7:21) He then said that at the judgment He will say to many “I never knew you. Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” (verse 23) Verbally inviting Jesus into your heart is not the procedure God appointed. It is a human invention. 5. We believe that while we are not saved BY works we are not saved WITHOUT works. Jesus said again and again that He will reward each one “according to his works.” (Mat. 16:27, John 5:29 etc) One of His final statements on earth was, “Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to everyone according to his work.” (Rev. 22:12) At Revelation 20:12 John saw prophetically that “the books were opened” and the dead were judged by the things written there “according to their works.” Paul pictured it this way, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in this body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10)

The church of Christ did not write these passages, the Spirit of God did. Neither the church nor any group of men has authority to delete them. Those who negate them with faulty human arguments will answer to God, the one who did write them. At the judgment these Bible statements will still say the same thing they say now. The Bible says the “books” will be opened and we will all be judged by what is written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20:12) Instead of fighting against them we ought to join with Paul whose next statement was, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.” (Vs.11) Bashing the church of Christ will not prepare anyone for the judgment. Persuading people to accept the truth of God’s word will.

 

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