Let the Bible Speak

The Bible vs. the Church of Christ

Booklet, 35 pages

Copyright © 1994 James L. Melton, Revised 2005

Suggested Donation: 50 cents

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of this booklet is to expose the false teachings of the so-called “Church of Christ.”  If you attend a Church of Christ, or you know someone who does, I challenge you to read this study carefully, checking all of the Scripture references in your Bible and praying for the Lord to show you the truth (John 16:13).  Remember, Jesus said SEEK and you shall FIND (Mt. 7:7).

 

In the following pages we will be quoting from various Church of Christ publications in order to show the reader that we are not misrepresenting standard Church of Christ beliefs.  If the reader grows to feel that we are being too harsh and judgmental in these pages, we invite him to come down South and tune into any Church of Christ radio broadcast on Sunday mornings.  No one has been more critical of the beliefs of others than the Church of Christ“ministers” who consume countless hours of radio time and countless newspaper columns trying to mislead millions of people with their heretical doctrines.  If anything, this publication is an attempt to offer some balance to the ongoing arguments.

 

 

How Campbellism Began

 

Historically known as “Campbellites”, the so-called “Church of Christ” did not appear on the pages of church history until the early 1800’s when Thomas Campbell, and his son, Alexander, left the Presbyterian church to restore the “true” church.

 

Thomas Campbell first organized the “Christian Association” which later became an independent church in 1811.  Thomas was appointed elder, Alexander was “licensed” to preach, and four deacons were elected.  At this time, none of the members had been baptized by immersion.  The first Campbellite church wasn’t named the “Church of Christ.”  It was named the “First Church of the Christian Association of Washington.”

 

Having strong argumentive abilities, Alexander became involved in a number of public debates and was often corrected by his father for his conduct in these debates.  Alexander’s theory was that “a week’s debating is worth a year’s preaching.”  (Memoirs, Vol. 2, p. 90).  Paul’s theory was somewhat different (I Cor. 1:18, 21; Rom. 1:29).  Needless to say, this same spirit of debate is still very present among his followers.

 

The Campbells weren’t baptized by immersion until June 12, 1812--a whole year after starting their “church.”  Being unable to find a Church of Christ preacher (since there were none before 1811), they convinced Matthias Luce, a Baptist preacher, to perform the service.  Luce himself was later rejected by his Baptist brethren.

 

Several years later (1825-1830), the Campbell clan (also called the “reformers”) was joined by Walter Scott, a traveling preacher who believed in baptismal regeneration.  The Campbells embraced his views and were later joined by Barton Stone (another ex-Presbyterian).  Together, the “big four” were ready to take on the world with the “true Gospel.”  The Baptists took the position that it was the “reformers” who needed to be reformed, and that remains our position to this day.

 

Today the “Church of Christ” teaches a number of heresies which every true Christian should avoid.

 

 

What is “the Church?”

 

The Church of Christ people fail to realize that the “true church” is a spiritual organism, NOT a physical organization.  In the tract, Introducing the Church of Christ, by Delton Haun (Haun Tract Co., Pasadena, TX.), we read on page 8 that,

 

The Lord promised only one kind and built only one kind–There is only one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church. (Col. 1:18)

 

Here Haun isn’t referring to the SPIRITUAL body of Christ.  He is referring to his own religious group, which he CALLS the body of Christ.  He is referring to his particular group of people who believe and practice  the same things, NOT a spiritual body of born-again believers.

 

This can be very confusing for an unsaved reader who knows not what it means to be born-again spiritually into the spiritual body of Christ (John 3:3, I Cor. 12:13).  The only “church” that the natural man can understand is a PHYSICAL church that he can see with his eyes.  A natural man who has never been saved cannot understand how it is possible for people to be “born” into the spiritual body of Christ.  Unfortunately, the Church of Christ people don’t understand it either.

 

On pages 9 and 10 of this same tract, Haun says that,

 

The church of Christ today is no more or no less than the New Testament church reproduced in doctrine and practice in this twentieth century.

 

Ah, yes, there it is!  There’s the same false doctrine that is taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Armstrong followers, and other cults.  There’s the foolish doctrine that says the true church CEASED TO EXIST for many centuries, but now the Church of Christ has risen up in these last days to restore the true church for all true Christians.  This is a common belief in the Church of Christ.  Another tract titled, Are You Looking for a Church?(Exum Press, Crystal Lake, IL.), says on pages 11 and 12 that the Church of Christ people are actually going back and becoming members of the

 

original church that Christ built

 

These deluded people believe that the true Church ceased to exist for about seventeen centuries, and that theirchurch has restored the true faith for today.  This would mean that such great Christian men as George Whitefield, John Clarke, Billy Sunday, and Charles Spurgeon were not really members of the “true church,” because the “true church” didn’t exist in their lifetime.

 

There is absolutely NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT for this doctrine.  In Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly said,

 

. . . . I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

The true church has existed since the day Jesus started it. Throughout church history millions upon millions have entered into the spiritual body of believers by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour (John 1:12, Rom. 10:13, I Cor. 12:13).  If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are a member of the true church, no matter which denomination you are associated with (even if your church or group doesn’t call it a denomination), and if you haven’t received Him, then you are not a member of the true church, regardless of how many religious groups you join.  Salvation is not in a church; it’s in a PERSON–the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

The Church Name

 

The Church of Christ claims to reserve for itself the only  scriptural name for a New Testament church.  This becomes a bit humorous when one considers the fact that the term “church of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.

 

On page 4 of George Baily’s pamphlet, Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Lambert Book House, Shreveport, LA), we read these words:

 

Since the church belongs to Christ shouldn’t the church be so called? It is certainly scriptural to refer to the Lord’s body as the “church of Christ.”

 

This is the result of human reasoning, not Bible study.  There is nothing particularly wrong with the term “church of Christ,” but it is insane to insist that this is the only scriptural name for the church when the term isn’t even found in the Bible!  A Bookmark of Basic Bible References, by John Hurt (Hurt Publications, Smyrna, TN), gives several scripture references to “prove” that the term “church of Christ” is the only scriptural name for the church. The references listed on this bookmark are Romans 16:16, Acts 4:12, Matthew 16:18, Philippians 2:9-10, Isaiah 62:2, and Colossians 3:17.  Of course, the term “church of Christ” is found nowhere in any of these references because the Lord never specified a particular name for the church.  The  disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch(Acts 11:26), but a specific name is never given to the church itself.

 

 

Music in the Worship Service

 

According to the Church of Christ, it is unscriptural to use musical instruments in worship services.  Only vocal singing is allowed.  On page 4 of Surprising things about the church of Christ, by Dub McClish (Valid Publications, Denton, TX), we are told the following:

 

The apostle Paul wrote the following instruction on this subject: “Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).  In a parallel passage he wrote: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God” (Col. 3:16).  Please notice that this is activity in which all of the assembled worshippers are to be involved.  Just as no one can do our praying, studying, or giving for us, no one can do our singing for us.

 

To what “assembled worshippers” do you suppose this man is referring?  There are no assembled worshippers in either of the above verses!  In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 the apostle Paul is instructing Christians in matters pertaining to their personal fellowship with Christ, not worship services.  The Church of Christ is very quick to quote these two verses out of their proper context, ignoring the two chapters in which they are found.  Neither of the two chapters mention assembled worshippers or worship services at all, and neither of the two chapters forbid musical instruments.

 

The Church of Christ position is that we are forbidden to use instruments in worship because the New Testament does not specifically authorize us to use them.  L.R. Wilson’s tract, The New Testament Church – It’s Music in Worship (Haun Publishing Co.) says the following:

 

In our efforts to follow the Lord Jesus Christ we are not governed by what He did not forbid, but by what He has authorized.

 

This statement may seem reasonable at first glance, but not when practical logic is applied.  There are many things that are used in worship services that are not specifically authorized by the Lord Himself.  For example, hymnals are not authorized in the Bible, nor are microphones, speakers, amplifiers, or pitch pipes,  but the Church of Christ still uses them.  There are many things that the Bible doesn’t specifically authorize, but this doesn’t mean they are forbidden.  God gave us all a brain to use when making decisions about such matters, and He has sealed real Christians with His Holy Spirit to lead and guide them in their decision making.  One who insists on looking for specific authorization in all things is one who insists on ignoring the internal leadership of the Holy Spirit because the Scriptures do not specifically mention all things.

 

The Bible is clear in stating that the Lord loves good music of praise and worship, and this does include musical instruments:  Psa. 33:2-4, I Chron. 25:5-6, II Sam. 6:5, I Chron. 16:42, Neh. 12:27, Rev. 5:8, 14:2, 15:2, and Psa. 150.  Please note that three of those references present a musical instrument in Heaven!

 

 

The Lord’s Supper

 

Like the Roman Catholics, the Church of Christ places far too much emphasis on the Lord’s Supper.  In the pamphlet, What is Expected of Me as a Member of the Church of Christ? (Standard Publishing Co., Cincinnati, OH.), Fred Gardner tells us on page 20 that,

 

Fidelity to this service almost invariably results in a continuance of a fervent spirit for the Lord and his work.  It helps maintain us in our “first love” (Rev. 2:4), and to keep us doing the “first works” (Rev. 2:5).  When week by week we visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master for our sins and the sins of those about us, we do not fall away from a fervent love for Him and an earnest working for the Salvation of those about us–the “first love” and the “first works.”

 

We agree fully that a Christian needs to labor to keep the “first love” and to do the “first works” for the Lord, but this has nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper.  Revelation 2:4-5 say nothing—absolutely nothing–about the Lord’s Supper.

 

Notice that Mr. Gardner’s comments about having to “visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master” in order to stay in fellowship with Him are not based on any Scripture.  Does he give chapter and verse for this reasoning?  Are we told in the Bible that our fellowship with Christ is based on our visualizing his body and blood?  No, we are not told this.  The Bible tells us to walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7).  A church member can observe the Lord’s Supper fifty-two weeks a year, but if he hasn’t been born again then he is still lost and going to Hell, regardless of how often he visualizes the body and blood of Christ.  It is the application of the blood of Christ that saves (Heb. 9:14, 9:22, Lev. 17:11, etc.), and nothing less.  It is self judgment and confession that keeps the believer in fellowship with Christ (I John 1:1-10, 2:1-2).  In fact, it is before the Lord’s Supper that the believer is to get in fellowship with God, not during the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:30-32)!

 

Mr. Gardner also misleads his readers about how often to observe the Lord’s Supper.  His position, like most all Campbellites, is that Christians should observe the Lord’s Supper every week, yet God’s word does not teach this.  The standard passages on the Lord’s Supper are found in Matthew 26:26-28 and I Corinthians 11:23-26, yet neither passage speaks of observing the Lord’s Supper on a “week by week” basis.  I Corinthians 11:26 says,

 

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.

 

Only a false teacher would assume that the words “as often as” actually mean “week by week.”

 

On page 9 of “Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ,” by George Baily, the writer states that

 

The Bible tells us that upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7).  Since the Lord said that the Lord’s Supper was observed upon the first day of the week, we gather that this was a weekly affair.

 

The Scripture reference given for this statement is Acts 20:7, which says

 

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

 

Mr. Baily claims that “the Lord said that the Lord’s Supper was observed upon the first day of the week,” yet that’s not what the verse said!  Acts 20:7 only says that the disciples came together to “break bread.”  Mr. Baily wants his readers to think that the two are the same, but they are not the same.

 

Also, he failed to mention the fact that the original Lord’s Supper was observed at nighttime (Mat. 26:31), and that it was not observed on the first day of the week (Sunday).  In his carelessness, he also failed to point out the fact that the practice of breaking bread was done on a daily basis from house to house, not on a weekly basis in the Churchof Christ!  If that’s not enough, he also failed to mention that meat was included in this practice (Acts 2:46)!  Why?  Because it wasn’t the Lord’s Supper; it was only the breaking of bread in Christian fellowship.

 

There is no specific day in which Christians are told to observe the Lord’s Supper, and nowhere in the Bible are we told to observe it on a weekly basis.  The Lord loves His church and He gives us liberty (II Cor. 3:17) to make certain decisions for ourselves.  This is evident in the fact that Paul wrote “as often as” in I Corinthians 11:26.  The Churchof Christ has terribly butchered the Scriptures concerning the Lord’s Supper.

 

 

Resurrections and Judgments

 

The Church of Christ believes in a general resurrection and judgment for all people, both saved and lost at the same time. This perversion of truth is known as A-Millennialism (No Millennium).  The first seven verses of Revelation chapter twenty speak of a coming one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints on this earth. This reign immediately follows the Second Coming of Christ, which occurs in Revelation 19:11-21.

 

A-Millennialism cannot be correct, because Revelation 20:1-7 clearly tells us that there will be a one thousand year reign.  To say that there will be no Millennium is to simply DENY the word of God.

 

True Bible-believers take the Pre-Millennial view, which is the correct view, according to the word of God.  Notice the order of events in Revelation:  The Church Age ends at 3:22, and the church is not mentioned again until 22:16.  John’s going up to Heaven in 4:1-2 pictures the calling out of the Christians, immediately following the Church Age of chapters two and three.   (The church’s departure from the earth is also mentioned in I Ths. 4:13-18 and I Cor. 15:51-52). Revelation chapters 6 through 18 cover the Tribulation period that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24:21.  This is when the Antichrist will rise to power and deceive those who were not caught up to meet the Lord because they were not true believers (I Ths. 4:16-18, II Ths. 2:11).  Then the first ten verses of Revelation 19 cover the events in Heaven immediately preceding the Lord’s Second Coming, which follows in verses 11 through 21.  After that, we see the one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints appearing in 20:1-7.  This is the promised Kingdom of the Old Testament (Isa. 2:1-4, Dan. 7:27). Satan is doomed in Revelation 20:10.  The wicked are judged at the White Throne Judgment in verses 11-15 and cast into the lake of fire.  Eternity begins with chapters 21 and 22.

 

The above is the order in which the Lord reveals these events to us.  If He’d intended for us to adapt some other interpretation then He’d surely have told us.  The Bible is perfectly clear in stating that the 1,000 year reign of Christ will come immediately after the Second Coming.  That’s very clear to see.

 

Now, consider this incredible remark by a Church of Christ author:

 

The Bible certainly does not teach that there will be a 1,000 year period AFTER the second coming of Christ.

 

This quote comes from page 1 of The Rapture, Tribulation, and Pre-Millennialism, by Grover Stevens (Stevens Publications, Lubbock, TX.).  He arrives at this false conclusion by perverting II Peter 3:9-10 and saying that “the day of the Lord” means “the day of his coming,” meaning one specific day in which the Lord returns and burns up the world, leaving no time frame for a 1,000 year reign on the earth.  Nice trick, Grover, but some of us aren’t impressed.

 

Mr. Stevens doesn’t say anything at all about II Peter 3:8.  In typical Church of Christ fashion, he ignores verse 8 and quotes verses 9 and 10.  Why did he skip verse 8?  Because verse 8 includes Christ’s 1,000 year reign!!!  Verse 8 tells us that one day is as a thousand years in God’s eyes, so the “day of the Lord” can very well include the 1,000 year reign!  The Church of Christ assumes (big mistake!) that the “day of the Lord” is only a 24 hour day, but the Bible never says this a single time.  Therefore, the “day of the Lord” can begin with the Second Coming and end a thousand years later with the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

 

How do we know this?  We know this because Revelation 20:5, which is never quoted by the Church of Christauthors, speaks of a “first resurrection” for the Christians before the 1,000 year reign. Lost people are not brought up to the White Throne Judgment until after the 1,000 year reign in Revelation 20:11-15, and this is called the “second death.”  So, there is a “first resurrection” for the saved BEFORE the Millennium, and there is a “second death” for the lost AFTER the Millennium.

 

The saints are resurrected BEFORE the Millennium so they can reign with Christ DURING the Millennium, but the Church of Christ OMITS the Millennium altogether, making the First Resurrection and the Second Death one and the same. By doing this they create a “general judgment” for everyone, which is entirely unscriptural.  We are told in II Timothy 2:15 to “rightly divide the word,” which is exactly what we’ve been doing since page 1, but the Church of Christ has no intention of rightly dividing anything.  They are fully set on wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16).

 

 

Water Baptism and  Salvation

 

Of the many heresies taught by the Church of Christ, baptismal regeneration is probably the most well known, and also the most harmful.  This is the ancient pagan belief that a person must be baptized in water in order to receive cleansing from sin and the right to enter Heaven.

 

Let’s begin with page 2 of Delton Haun’s tract, Must One Be Baptized to Go to Heaven?  Haun says the following:

 

As we begin this brief study let us note the question concerns us, not Abraham, nor the thief on the cross.  These men lived and died in past ages before Christ’s death and before the terms of pardon were announced publicly on the day of Pentecost for all who lived in the Christian age.

 

Notice how quickly Haun attempts to avoid the issue of the thief on the cross.  This is because the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized (Luke 23:42-43).  Was this really a time before Christ’s death or before the terms of pardon were announced publicly? No, it wasn’t.  The thief died after Jesus died (John 19:31-33), for no one ever died in His presence.  The thief died in this present age, not in a past age, and the “terms of pardon” were made very clear a long time before Acts 2.  The Gospel of John points out over and over again that one is saved by believing on Christ (John 1:12, 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, etc.), not by water baptism.  In fact, after Jesus had arisen from the dead and returned to Heaven, John tells us that we can have life through Christ’s name by believing on Him, not by getting baptized in water (John 20:31).

 

Haun tells us on page three of his tract that “be baptized” means to be “immersed in water.”  This is where the Church of Christ people err so greatly.  Church of Christ members are taught that there is only one kind of baptism, and that, of course, is  water baptism.  The Bible teaches otherwise because the Bible says that there are some baptisms which are not water baptisms.  Evidently, the Church of Christ wants people to assume that all baptisms in the Bible are water baptisms.  Such an assumption would cause a person to think that Galatians 3:27 and Romans 6:3-4 are referring to water baptisms when they are actually referring to the spiritual baptism that places the believer into Christ’s body.

 

Spiritual baptism, a subject never discussed by the Church of Christ, is far more important than water baptism because it is through this baptism that the new believer is placed into the body of Christ.  I Corinthians 12:13 says,

 

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

 

This baptism cannot be a water baptism, for there is no water anywhere in the verse.  I recall an instance when a preacher attempted to convince me that this verse does refer to water baptism.  He claimed that the words “by one spirit” simply mean that the water baptism is spirit led.  That is, the candidate is being baptized “by one Spirit” in the sense that the Holy Spirit is leading the preacher to baptize him in water.  This will not do.  The Lord knew these people would teach such heresies, so He “spring-loaded” the verse to combat their fallacy.  Notice that the verse says, “and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  Question:  Does the baptismal candidate “drink” of the literal water when he is baptized?  No, he does not, so the baptism cannot be a water baptism.  One can be, and should be, filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), but he cannot be filled with water without drowning!  The baptism of I Corinthians 12:13 has to be a spiritual baptism.

 

To insist that all baptisms are water baptisms is to openly deny the word of God.  John the Baptist clearly spoke of three different baptisms in one verse!  John said in Matthew 3:11,

 

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

 

Now, please read the verse again carefully.  There are three separate baptisms in one verse, so it is unscriptural to assume that all baptisms are water baptisms.  It is unscriptural to say that “be baptized” means to be “immersed in water,” because to be baptized means to be immersed in anything!  An immersion in fire is a baptism in fire, an immersion in water is a baptism in water, and an immersion in the Holy Ghost is a baptism in the Holy Ghost.  When we read the words “baptize” and “baptism” we should not immediately assume that we are reading about a water baptism, and, when we see the word “water,” we should not immediately assume that we are reading about baptism, because we probably aren’t.  For example, the water in John 3:5 has nothing to do with water baptism.

 

Now, let’s look at a few “proof texts” used by the Church of Christ to “prove” that water baptism is essential for salvation.

 

A famous one is found in Mark 16:16, where the Lord Jesus Christ says,

 

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

 

According to the Church of Christ, one will be damned if he is not baptized.  Delton Haun says on page 5 of his tract that

 

Jesus is pointing out what it takes to be saved.  He describes the kind of man who is pardoned.  That man is one who believes and is baptized.  Jesus did not say that the man who believes shall be saved or that the man who is baptized shall be saved.  He said both belief (faith) and baptism are essential.  It is like saying two plus two equals four.  Faith plus baptism equals salvation.

 

The Church of Christ specializes in confusing people by taking verses out of context and ignoring the rest of the Bible.  Did you read verse seventeen, which speaks of the apostolic signs of casting out devils and speaking with new tongues?  Does the Church of Christ practice these signs?  No, they don’t.  Do they practice verse eighteen by drinking deadly things, taking up serpents, and laying hands on the sick?  No, they don’t.  The only thing they want from Mark chapter sixteen is verse sixteen, because verse sixteen mentions baptism.

 

Nevertheless, the true believer is not intimidated by the Campbellite’s misuse of Mark 16:16 because the verse does not teach baptismal regeneration–in or out of its proper context– and it certainly does not teach that “faith plus baptism equals salvation!”  The verse plainly says, “. . . he that believeth not shall be damned.”  One is damned for not believing.  No one is damned for not being baptized.   It is the sin of unbelief that damns the lost soul to Hell, and this is very well confirmed by many portions of Scripture, which Delton Haun chooses to ignore in his tract. Please note the following:

 

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)

 

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he thatbelieveth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3:15-18)

 

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  (John 3:36)

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  (John 5:24)

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:47)

 

. . . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31)

 

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

 

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

 

Wherefore also it is contained in the scriptures, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious:  and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  (I Peter 2:6)

 

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)

 

Now, who in their right mind would choose to ignore these plain and simple salvation verses by charging to Mark 16:16 and trying to confuse matters?  Any confusion that may have arisen in Mark 16:16 is cleared up in the above verses.  What the Church of Christ thinks that Mark 16:16 means is irrelevant.   According to the Scriptures, a sinner is saved by believing on Jesus Christ, and a sinner is damned by not believing on Jesus Christ.  That’s perfectly clear to anyone with average reading ability.

 

The water baptism in Mark 16:16 follows the individual’s belief as a good testimony, just as taking a seat follows stepping onto a school bus.  The key element in one’s salvation is his belief on Christ alone.  Water baptism is important, and it should always follow one’s salvation as a picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ, but it cannot save anyone.

 

The Church of Christ also uses Acts 2:38 for their beliefs about baptism:

 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

About this verse, Delton Haun’s tract says the following on page 7:

 

Peter said it is necessary for men in this age to be baptized to obtain pardon.  The preposition “of”  means “in order to” and is so rendered in some translations. (Living Oracles, Anderson, Macnight, Goodspeed)  The English Revised and American Revised say “unto.”

 

Notice how Church of Christ authors must refer to other translations in order to find support for their false teachings.  This is a standard practice among the cults: ESTABLISH MORE THAN ONE AUTHORITY SO YOU CAN CHOOSE THE ONE YOU PREFER AT ANY GIVEN TIME.  (Please read that again!)

 

We will stick with the Book that God uses, the King James Bible, and we’ll show the reader why Acts 2:38 does notteach that a person has to baptized in water in order to be saved.

 

First of all, the same Peter who is preaching in Acts 2:38 later learns a few things about salvation that he did not know in Acts 2.  We know this is true, because in Acts 15:11 Peter says that we are saved “through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   In Acts 15:11, Peter says nothing about baptism.  Why not?  If it’s so important, why didn’t he mention it?  Very simple, at the time of Acts 2:38, Peter didn’t fully understand salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  God had to reveal this to Peter, and, by the time we reach Acts 15:11, Peter gives us God’s salvation plan for today.  Why is it that we never hear the Church of Christ quoting Acts 15:11?  If God didn’t stop with Acts 2:38, then why did the Church of Christ stop there?

 

Secondly, please notice that there are no Gentiles (non Jews) in Acts 2:38.  Every individual present is a commandment keeping, Sabbath observing, temple worshipping Jew.  Being gathered at Jerusalem on Pentecost, a Jewish feast day, these Jews heard Peter’s stirring message about Christ, the one they had crucified.  They came to realize that they had crucified their Messiah.  They had already been told how to be saved in verse twenty-one (calling upon the Lord, which the Church of Christ never mentions), and they were “pricked in their heart” in verse thirty-seven. So they asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  Notice that they did not ask, “What must I do to be saved?”  (The answer to that  question is found in Acts 16:31, not Acts 2:38.)  These Jews wanted to know what to do in light of the fact that they had crucified their Messiah.  This is a national situation concerning Israel, not an individual situation dealing with lost sinners.  No individual in the chapter asked how to be saved.

 

The third thing to notice about Acts 2:38 is that the term “for” does not always mean “in order to,” like the Church of Christ teaches.  A good example of this is found in Luke 15:14 where the Lord Jesus tells the cleansed leper to go and offer  a sacrifice “for thy cleansing.”  The man wasn’t offering a sacrifice in order to be cleansed, because he had already been cleansed in verse 13.  He was offering a sacrifice because of the cleansing that he already had.  So,    the word “for” sometimes means “because of.”  For instance, if you go to jail for stealing, is it in order to steal or is it because of the stealing that you’ve already done?  Also notice how “remission of sins” follows belief in Acts 10:43, and precedes water baptism.

 

Also, please take note of the fact that the Jews of Acts chapter two received the Holy Ghost after they were baptized.  However, the believing Gentiles of Acts 10:44 received the Holy Ghost before  they were baptized, and Peter was preaching there too, just as he was in Acts 2:38.  Why didn’t Peter tell the Gentiles in Acts 10:44 the same thing that he told the Jews in Acts 2:38?  Answer: GOD DIDN’T GIVE HIM A CHANCE!  God went ahead and sent the Holy Spirit before anything was said about baptism, because He didn’t want anyone confusing baptism with salvation.

 

Now, this reveals to us a great truth about the Book of Acts:  It is a Book of PROGRESSIVE REVELATION.  God reveals more and more about salvation by grace through faith as the Book progresses.  This should be expected when one considers the fact that this is the first century when God’s dealings with man change from law to grace.  Peter learns a valuable lesson about grace in Acts 10:14-15, and by Acts 15:11 he is well established in the doctrine of salvation by grace.

 

Another verse used by the Church of Christ to teach Baptismal Regeneration is Acts 22:16.  This is where Ananias tells Paul to

 

. . . arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

 

Revelation 1:5 plainly tells us that it is the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST that washes away sin, not water baptism, so there is obviously more to Acts 22:16 than the Church of Christ teaches.

 

Why did Ananias say this to Paul?  Well, who was Ananias?   According to Acts 22:12, he was a Jewish proselytewho still followed the Old Testament law.  He still followed the law because he, like Peter, did not yet have full understanding of salvation by grace.  Obviously he didn’t, or he wouldn’t have been following the law. Being a “devout man according to the law,” Ananias associated water baptism with the Old Testament laws of purification(John 11:55, 2:6, Num. 19:7-22, Acts 21:24-25), which were for washing the flesh, not the soul.  He didn’t have a clear understanding of the Blood Atonement of Christ, which washes away all sin.

 

The Church of Christ also uses I Peter 3:21 to teach that water baptism saves people, but, as anyone can clearly see, the verse says that it is a “figure,” not a doctrine.  Water baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  When a believer is baptized he is being identified with Jesus Christ, but it is his belief  that, brings salvation, as we’ve already seen.

 

Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:27 are frequently used by the Church of Christ to teach that water baptism is essential for salvation, but there is no water baptism in either of these verses.  These portions of Scripture are speaking of the spiritual baptism of I Corinthians 12:13 which puts the new believer into the body of Christ.  Water baptism does not place anyone into the body of Christ.  The Holy Ghost places us into Christ the moment we receive Christ as our Saviour, and this has nothing to do with water baptism.  Remember, to “baptize” means to immerse.  To be baptized into Christ is to be immersed into Christ, not into the water (I Cor. 12:13).

 

Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that,

 

Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . .

 

The “gospel” is defined in I Corinthians 15:1-4 as being the good news that Christ died, was buried, and then rose again on the third day, and the subject of water baptism isn’t mentioned once.  Baptism is important, and all true believers should submit to water baptism (Acts 10:47, 8:37-38, Mat. 28:18-20), but trusting water baptism for salvation is a terrible and unscriptural mistake.

 

Friend, you have seen how the Bible interprets itself.  You have seen the truth about the doctrines of the Church of Christ.  According to Romans 16:17-18, these people should be marked and avoided.  We urge you to start looking for a true Bible believing church where the word of God is preached and taught correctly.  If you’ve never been saved, we urge you to carefully and prayerfully read the next section of this booklet.

Understanding God’s Salvation Plan

 

The rest of this booklet is a copy of our popular booklet by the above title, so we’ve intentionally used a different type style.  Over 50,000 of these booklets have been printed and shipped since the mid 1990’s.  It has brought lost souls to Christ, and it has strengthened the faith of many Christians.  As you read the subsequent pages, continually ask God to show you the true condition of your heart and your greatest spiritual need.

 

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10.

 

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

 

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12.

 

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

“For the wages of sin  is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

 

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10.

 

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13.

 

Only God knows how many dear souls have been led to the Lord Jesus Christ by the above verses of Scripture.  These verses, commonly referred to as the “Roman’s Road,” are used worldwide by Christian workers in an effort to present God’s salvation plan to the lost in a step by step fashion.  The Roman’s Road is wonderful for getting straight to the point and dealing with the primary issues of sin and salvation.    Millions have come to know Christ after reading these verses (including myself), and it is our prayer that millions more will come to know Him in the future.

 

But there is a problem.  Because of the habitual use of such quick and easy portions of Scripture, more and more Christians are developing a very shallow concept of New Testament salvation. Time and time again  I find myself speaking with people who profess to be saved, and yet they aren’t sure about their eternal destiny. Many of these people can tell of a  specific time in their life when they prayed and asked the Lord to come into their heart and save them, but still today they live in a state of uncertainty.  This should not be happening.

 

Then there are others who have never been saved and really do not understand the need to be saved.  Someone says, “Well, they probably just don’t care.”  Yes, that’s often the case, but not always.  I believe there are many people who would like to have a better understanding of Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offers, and I believe that many such people WILL receive Christ once they truly understand their need for Him.

 

Friend, if you fit into one of these  categories, this tract is for you.   This tract has been written for the sole purpose of helping people UNDERSTAND New Testament salvation.  Whether you’re saved or lost, this tract can help you .  So why not set aside a little time and read the following pages, prayerfully and carefully?  You will not be disappointed (Luke 11:9-10).

 

 

God’s Personality

 

There are many things that can be said about God in this study, but the one thing that must be said is that God is a RIGHTEOUS and HOLY God.  So often we hear of God’s love for US, and we very seldom think of God standing alone without man in the picture.  Let’s first consider God Himself, without even thinking of mankind.  Let’s take a look at the personality of God Almighty.

 

Exodus 15:11 says, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?  who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”  The seraphims of Isaiah 6 praised God, crying “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:  the whole earth is full of his glory.”  If something is holy, then it is whole or complete.  God is holy.  He lacks nothing, for he is complete.  God simply cannot be improved upon.

 

Someone has said, “God without man is God, but man without God is nothing.”  How true these words are!  One who wishes to know God must IGNORE himself.  It was God who created man.  God existed first, without man in the picture.  So, in order to really understand New Testament salvation, we must first focus totally upon the eternal God of Glory.  We must know something of God’s personality.

 

We must realize that God never has and never will do anything wrong for any reason. God has always been holy, and He always will be.  He says in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  God never has and never will make one single adjustment within His person.  His state of sinless perfection is eternal.  If the entire universe were to turn against God, including all the hosts of Heaven, it would not change God.  He would still be the eternal God of Glory.  Consider these strong portions of Scripture from the Book of Isaiah:

 

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.  To whom will ye liken God?  or what likeness will ye compare unto him?”  Isa. 40:17-18.

 

“I am the LORD:  that is my name:  and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”  Isa. 42:8.

 

“. . . .Is there a God beside me?  yea, there is no god; I know not any.”  Isa. 44:8

 

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no god beside me:  I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”  Isa. 45:5

 

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  Isa. 46:10.

 

So let’s first understand one great truth:  with or without us, GOD IS GOD.  He is the unchangeable, holy, and eternal God of Glory.  Regardless of what happens, this will always be true.

 

God’s Relation to Man

 

Genesis chapter one gives to us the account of the creation, including the creation of man.  We read in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”    Man was created in the image of God.  That image, as we have already seen, was an image of RIGHTEOUSNESS.  It’s an image of absolute holiness.  God did not create man in a sinful condition.  It would have been foolish to do so!  God created a sinless man in HIS OWN IMAGE.  Luke 3:38 tells us that this first man, Adam, was actually “the son of God.”  No other man after Adam is called a son of God.  But Adam was called this, because he was made in GOD’S IMAGE.

 

Being absolutely sinless, Adam was now ready to carry out God’s plan.  God is a SPIRIT (John 4:24), but He created a PHYSICAL earth.  So He needed a physical being to rule over the earth.  Genesis 1:28 tells us that God gave Adam DOMINION over the earth and over all of its inhabitants.  “Why?” you may ask.  Couldn’t God manage to run things for Himself?  Sure He could, but He wanted something more.  God had a very special reason for creating man.  Notice how clearly the reason is given in Isaiah 43:7: “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”  Why did God create man?  He did it to bring GLORY to Himself!  All through the Bible we find that God wants to be GLORIFIED (Psa. 22:23; 50:15; Mt. 5:16; John 12:28; Rom. 15:6; I Cor. 6:20; etc.), and the beginning was certainly no exception.  God wanted to form a living being out of the ground and have that being live in close fellowship with Him.  God wanted His human creation to live in RIGHTEOUSNESS.  God wanted to see His children prosper!  He didn’t want them to fail; He wanted them to prosper.  This would bring honor and glory to His name.  Just as any respectable father delights in watching his own children live right and succeed in life, God wanted the same for His children!  Like any responsible father, God knew what was best, and He had a wonderful plan for His children.

 

So God created man and placed him in a perfect environment.  Would man be obedient and fulfill God’s will, or would he become disobedient?  God had to put man to the test.  He had to give man a choice.  God could have FORCED Adam and Eve to always obey Him, but that would be against His nature.  God wanted man to LOVE Him and ENJOY serving Him, so a choice was given.

 

Rather than populate the entire universe at once with newly created humans, God, in His infinite wisdom, placed one man and his wife in a garden and gave them a choice. You know the story.  Adam and Eve chose to disobey God by eating of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1-6).  Satan’s way seemed more pleasant at the moment, so man fell into sin by disobeying God.

 

Worst of all, man LOST the IMAGE OF GOD.  God was still holy, but man was now UNHOLY.  Man was now a transgressor against God.  Man had failed the test.  In his sinful condition, Adam could not carry out God’s divine plan.  He was no longer qualified, for he was now a sinner.

 

At this point, God could have chosen to destroy His creation and start with a new one, or He could REDEEM the fallen creation.  He chose to redeem fallen man.  He chose to set forth a master plan that would allow man to become RIGHTEOUS once again.  Being the merciful God that He is, God chose to work out a wonderful redemption plan for fallen man.

 

But wait!  This will be no easy plan, because Adam and his wife aren’t the only sinners.  Every child born after Genesis chapter three has been born in Adam’s SINFUL  image (Gen. 5:3).  All men are natural sinners upon being born into the world:

 

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12.

 

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5.

 

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10.

 

Men are no longer made in God’s image.  In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said “Ye are of your father, the devil…” in John 8:44.  God is not a sinner, so sinners are not God’s children.   Sinners are natural-born children of the Devil.  Paul writes in Ephesians 2:2 that lost sinners are “children of disobedience.” This is because we naturally receive SIN NATURE  at birth.

 

In addition to this, we must also realize that we cannot rid ourselves of this corrupt sin nature.  We are “stuck” with a fallen image of unrighteousness.  Unless God works a miracle in our lives, we are absolutely hopeless–forever doomed to the eternal fires of Hell.  We cannot earn our salvation by performing righteous works, because our righteousness is no good.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is like “filthy rags!”  Instead of being clean in the eyes of God, men are FILTHY, because of the sin nature in us all.  God is holy, but we are unholy.  He is Godly, but we are ungodly.  He is righteous, but we are unrighteous.  Our sin nature stands like a brick wall between us and God, separating us from His dear fellowship.

 

Now try comparing a HOLY God with unholy men.  Contrast the two in your mind.  You see, there must be a separation.  Just as you keep your clean laundry separate from your dirty laundry, God must keep Himself separate from ungodly man. God is not a sinner, so He cannot fellowship with sinners.  Unless sin is somehow removed from man, there is no hope.  Unless man is somehow redeemed from his fallen nature, God has no choice but to sentence him to Hell forever.  The sin debt must be paid so that man can regain his original righteous image and his fellowship with God.  Someone must pay the price.

 

 

God’s Redemption Plan

 

There once was a king who had a very strong reputation for enforcing the law in his kingdom.  He never compromised for anyone.  If someone broke the law a penalty was always required.

 

Then one day this king sat upon his throne hearing case after case, when suddenly a very shocking thing happened.  A young man was brought in for judgment.  He had been caught red-handed in theft.  The whole kingdom stood in silence to hear the king’s judgment.  You see, this was no ordinary case: the young man was the king’s son!

 

Being as broken hearted as he was, the king knew that he still must give judgment.  Justice must be done.  One hand would have to severed. Then suddenly the king surprised everyone by ordering HIS OWN HAND to be cut off.  He chose to pay the penalty himself!

 

This is precisely what God did for you and me.  Notice these important words from Isaiah 53:5-6:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

 

Just as the king suffered and fulfilled the law for his son, God came to this earth and fulfilled the law for us.  Jesus Christ was God manifested in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16),  and He came to FULFILL the law (Mt. 5:17)!  The law demanded a payment for sin.  Either man could spend eternity in Hell, paying for his sins, or God could make the payment Himself.  God, because of His love for lost man, chose to make the necessary payment Himself.  He gave His only begotten Son as a payment for our sins:

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

 

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.”  Galatians 3:13.

 

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  II Corinthians 5:21.

 

All men are born under “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).  We are under a curse.  But the Lord Jesus Christ came to our rescue by dying and paying for our sins.  Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”  It took only one offering to pay for our sins.  Now that the payment has been made, all men can be “perfected” through Jesus Christ!  Through Christ we can be set FREE from the law of sin and death!  Through Christ, and Him alone, we can escape the curse!  Through Christ, we can be saved!

 

After Jesus pays for the sins of the world and returns to Heaven, a very special Gospel (Good News) message is preached by the Apostles and early Christians:

 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31.

 

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9.

 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

As lost and doomed sinners, we must take God at His word and believe that Jesus Christ is our only hope for salvation.  We must trust that His payment for our sins is sufficient.  We must STOP trying to “do good” that we might go to Heaven.  Our good works cannot save us, as the above verses reveal.  Only the good work of the Lord Jesus can save us.  We are hopeless without Him.  As a criminal sits upon death row awaiting the electric chair, we sit upon the death row of eternity awaiting Hell Fire.

 

 

God’s Imputed Righteousness

 

While sitting upon the “death row” of eternity, our only hope is for God to MAKE US RIGHTEOUS, for we cannot establish righteousness for ourselves (Rom. 10:3).  We read in Romans 4:5 the following words:

 

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

 

God’s  desire is to MAKE us righteous by GIVING us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!  This portion of Scripture goes on to say:

 

“. . . .Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”  Romans 4:7-8.

 

God has a way of cleansing us from our sins and giving to us HIS righteousness so that we may have Eternal Life.  Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Colossians 1:14 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. . .” The “blood” spoken of here is God’s Blood (Acts 20:28).  The blood of the Lord Jesus was not natural human blood;  it was PURE blood from the Father above.  Remember, Mary was a Virgin; so the blood of Jesus Christ came from His heavenly Father.  This blood was shed at Calvary to be an ATONEMENT for our sins.  The atonement can make us “at one” with God, just as Adam was in the very beginning.  Through the Blood Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can have our sins washed away (Rev. 1:5), thus being placed back into God’s righteous image.

 

All throughout the Old Testament, God required a blood sacrifice from His people.  This blood was obtained from various animals such as bulls, goats, and lambs.  Sacrifices were made daily, because people would sin daily.  By offering to God a sacrifice–something of value to them–men were showing God that they were aware of their sin nature and desired forgiveness.  Upon seeing this, God would then accept their sacrifice and forgive their sins.  This is called remission.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “. . . .without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  These many animal sacrifices served as a foreshadow or a  type of the blood of the Lord Jesus that would eventually be shed at Calvary.

 

However, FORGIVENESS of sin isn’t enough.  A penalty still must be paid.  The law must be fulfilled.  The record must be cleared.  God could cleanse His people TEMPORARILY from their sins with animal sacrifices, but only the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ could CLEAR their sin record forever.  The Old Testament sacrifices were for forgiveness, but not for making a person CLEAR from sin (Ex. 34:6-7).  This is why Jesus had to come and CLEAR the record forever.  He came to wipe the slate clean for all Eternity.  When you receive Christ as Lord and Saviour, you receive a CLEAN RECORD!  You receive HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and since you are trusting Him alone for your salvation, God will not impute sin to you!

 

Suppose you receive Him as your Saviour.  What then?  Then you become a “son of God. ”  John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”  You RECEIVE Christ by BELIEVING on Christ.  You can be “born again” SPIRITUALLY (John 3:3) by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.  Once you truly turn to Christ alone, asking Him to wash away your sins, you are FORGIVEN and your sin record is CLEARED forever.  Your soul has been made RIGHTEOUS through the Blood of Jesus Christ.  That’s precisely why He came and died.  Once you have been born again  you will be in God’s family for the first time in your life!  God’s human creation was lost in Genesis chapter three, but you, a part of that growing creation, can be FOUND and REDEEMED to God this very moment!

 

There once was a little boy who made for himself a toy sailboat.  While playing in the stream one day, the boat drifted away.  A few days later another boy found the boat.  The first boy said,  “Hey!  That’s my boat!  I made it myself, and I want it back!”  The second boy would not hand over the boat, but instead he offered to SELL it to the boy.  So the original owner and maker of the toy boat reached into his pocket and gave all his money to pay for the boat.  As he walked away, he held the boat to his chest and said, “You’re mine! You’re mine!  You’re mine TWICE!  I MADE you, and then I BOUGHT you:  YOU’RE MINE!”

 

Upon receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour, you will become God’s property (I Cor. 6:19-20).  You will become His child, His responsibility. You will become the property of God, for he BOUGHT you with his own blood (Acts 20:28).  Nothing can ever change that.

 

Friend, if you’ve never really been born again, please repent of your sins right now and place your total trust in Jesus Christ to save you.  Tell Him that you’re sorry for your sins and that you want to live for Him.  Tell Him that you want to have a new life in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).  Aren’t you tired of sin?  Do you not want to please God?  Repent of your sins right now and ask the Lord to save you.  He said that He would save you, if you will call upon Him (Rom. 10:13). Why not call upon Him right now!

 

If you have been saved, then the next section of this tract is very important for you.  Please read it immediately.

 

If you have not been saved,  the next section is NOT for you.  You will not understand it, and you will not believe it (I Cor. 2:14).  Our prayer is that you will meditate upon the things you’ve already read and ask the Lord to show you the truth.  May you find peace with God today.

 

 

God’s Promise of  Eternal Security

 

Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister, was crossing Westminster Bridge one day when he came upon a little girl who had just dropped a jug of milk.  The girl broke into tears as the glass jug shattered into pieces.  Palmerston had no money with him at the time, but he was able to stop her crying by promising her that he’d return at the same time the next day and pay her for the jug and the milk.  The following morning he was in the midst of a cabinet meeting when he suddenly remembered his promise to the girl.  He stood up and rushed out to the bridge and paid the girl the money.  You see, to him, a promise was a promise, and he had to keep it.  Nothing was more important.

 

With or without us, God will always be God.  He will carry out His wonderful plan, regardless of our actions.  He never HAD to promise us Eternal Security, just as Lord Palmerston never HAD to make the promise to the little girl.  But God CHOSE to promise us Eternal Security.  It was a pure act of grace on His part.  He chose to COMFORT and STRENGTHEN us by making the promise:

 

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28.

 

“Being confident of the very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6.

 

“Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  John 5:24.

 

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  John 6:37.

 

We are told in Romans 8:38-39 that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ, and the Lord tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  Eternal Life is a PRESENT POSSESSION  for the Christian.  If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you HAVE eternal life.  You will not go to Hell, for you have been saved by believing on the record that God gave of His Son (I John 5:11-13, which see.). If you have received Christ as your Saviour, then you have received eternal life, because Jesus Christ IS eternal life (John 14:6; Col. 3:4; Rom. 6:23).  He placed His Spirit within you to keep you and to preserve you (John 14:16-17; II Cor. 1:22); so you should be REJOICING in Christ, not WORRYING about losing Him!

 

You say, “But what if I sin after I’ve been saved?  Won’t I lose my salvation?”  No, because it really isn’t yours to lose.  You are totally God’s property.  You didn’t earn salvation by any good work of your own, and you can’t lose salvation by any bad work of your own.  Your salvation is based entirely upon the FINISHED work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Your conduct can affect your FELLOWSHIP with God, but not your RELATIONSHIP with Him.  You’re His son, if you’re saved, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

 

 

God’s Treatment of Disobedient Christians

 

What happens when a Christian sins?  If God doesn’t send us to Hell, then how does He deal with us about our sins after we’ve been saved?  This subject becomes rather easy to understand when we fully realize that we are now God’s CHILDREN.  We have entered into a Father/son relationship with God.  He will deal with us as a Father deals with a child–NOT as a judge deals with a criminal.

 

Christians need to understand that their BODIES have not been born again.  Only our SOULS have been saved.  Our flesh is still corrupt, and it will die one day.  Paul said that in the flesh dwells no good thing  (Rom. 7:18).  Since the soul has been made righteous through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has found it necessary to SEPARATE the soul from the body.  This is called spiritual circumcision. Notice these important words from Colossians 2:11:

 

“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.”

 

Instead of being PHYSICALLY circumcised as the Old Testament Jews were, we have been SPIRITUALLY circumcised by the Holy Spirit.  Our flesh has been cut loose from our righteous soul.  When you  received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your soul was SET FREE! The burden of sin was LIFTED, and the Holy Spirit of God came to live within your soul (not in your flesh!).  A Christian’s flesh is still corrupt and sinful, so we are to live in the SPIRIT, not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 8:1-9; Gal. 5:16). In Matthew 26:41, Jesus Himself said, “….the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Since the soul has been made righteous, God sees us as righteous individuals.  He does not see our sins, because Jesus PAID for our sins.  Our souls are FOREVER PERFECT (Hb. 10:14).  So, if I sin, I do so in the flesh, and God will deal with me in the flesh about it.  He will NOT judge my soul, for it’s sinless.

 

Let’s take an example of a Christian who sins against God.  For stronger emphasis, let’s take an extreme case where the sin committed is a most horrible sin.  Such a case is found in I Corinthians chapter five, where a man is charged with having his father’s wife.  That’s pretty bad, is it not?  Some would think that this man should go to Hell for this sin, but that’s not what happens to him.  Paul tells the Corinthians to  deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the FLESH, so that the spirit might be saved.  What happened?  God dealt with this man just as a Father would deal with a child.  God did not disown the man, but He DID chasten him in order to get him back in fellowship.

 

To “chasten” is to punish or discipline.  Revelation 3:19 tells us that God rebukes and chastens his children.  He does NOT forsake them, but He does correct and instruct them.  Hebrews 12:4-8 explains how that all of God’s children are chastened of the Lord.  In fact, Hebrews 12:8 actually says that you’re a “bastard” if you’re not chastened!  So there are two kinds of people in God’s sight: sons and bastards.  He corrects His sons, but He doesn’t worry so much about the bastards, because they’re going to get their punishment in Hell.  Notice these inspired words from I Corinthians 11:31-32:

 

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

 

You wouldn’t send YOUR children to Hell, and God doesn’t send HIS there.  But He does discipline Christians in order to keep them  in tune with His will.  No one gets away with sin. No one has a “license to sin.”

 

If you are a Christian, then you should always be conscious of the fact that YOU are not your body; you are INSIDE your body.  Your soul has already been redeemed, but you are still waiting for the redemption of your body (Rom. 8:23). Your body is no good, for it is still under the law of sin and death.  But remember, your SOUL has been made perfect by the Blood of Christ.  The words of the following poem by Dora Johnson illustrate this truth very well:

 

You tell me I’m getting old, I tell you not so;

               The “house” I live in is worn out– and, that, of course, I know,

        It’s been in use a long, long while, it’s weathered many a gale;

        I’m really not surprised you think it’s getting somewhat frail.

        The color’s changing on the roof, the window’s getting dim,

        The wall’s a bit transparent, and looking rather trim.

        The fountain’s not so steady  as once it used to be.

        My house is getting shaky,  but my house isn’t me!

        My few short years can’t make me old; I feel I’m in my youth;

        Eternity lies just ahead, a life of joy and truth.

        I’m going to live forever there ;life will go on–it’s grand!

        You tell me I’m getting old? You just don’t understand!

        The dweller in my little house is bright and young and gay–

        Just starting out on a life to last throughout eternal day.

        You only see the outside, which is all that most folks see.

        You tell me I’m getting old? You’ve mixed my house with me!

 

Being a Christian, you are like a prisoner chained up in his cell.  He is lonely and miserable.  Then one day someone comes in and cuts his chains loose, allowing him to begin moving freely in his cell.  He’s no longer chained to the wall, but he is still in the cell until someone comes and frees him completely.  Do you get the picture?  You are no longer “chained” to your sins.  You’re free from them.  Geographically speaking, you are still stuck in your corruptible flesh until the Lord calls you home to Heaven, but SPIRITUALLY speaking, you are IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.  If you slip and fall, you’ll do so IN CHRIST.  You see, there is a difference between falling IN Christ and falling OUT of Christ just as there is a difference between falling down IN an airplane and falling OUT OF an airplane!  Spiritually, we are seated in Heavenly places IN CHRIST, according to Ephesians 2:6, and that’s where we’ll stay – FOREVER!

 

 

God’s Judgment for Christians

 

God also has a separate judgment for Christians.  It is called the “judgment seat of Christ” in Romans 14:10 and II Corinthians 5:10.  This is not a judgment for determining whether or not we go to Heaven, but rather a judgment to determine whether or not we receive any REWARDS for our Christian service.  II Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

 

Unsaved people have their own judgment in Revelation 20:11-15.  No one will go to Hell from the Judgment Seat of Christ.  A Christian may lose his rewards, but he himself shall be saved (I Cor. 3:11-15).  All Christians will be judged for their Christian service at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so we  are supposed to be laying up treasure in Heaven (Luke 12:33-34).  We do this by SERVING GOD in this life.  Friend, get busy and serve Him!  Stop worrying about salvation (If you’ve been saved), and START earning some rewards!

 

 

God’s Will for Christians

 

There’s no way to list everything that God expects of you, but we can certainly trust God’s word to head you in the right direction.  The following are some of the more important duties of every new believer.

 

Get baptized.  Find a Bible-believing church and tell the Pastor that you’re a new believer in Christ and you need to be baptized.  Baptism doesn’t save your soul, but it was commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat. 28:19), and it was practiced by  the early Christians (Acts 8:35-39).

 

Join a Bible-believing church and be a faithful member (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25).  Start looking for a fundamental church that stands on the King James Bible, supports missionaries, preaches salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and believes in the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Blood Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection, and the literal Second Coming of Christ.

 

Start having private devotions with God.  Read your Bible, confess your sins, and pray on a daily basis (John 17:17; Psa. 119:11; Eph. 6:17-18; I Ths. 5:17; I John 1:9).  Make a special time for your devotions, and remain faithful to them.

 

Be a Christian witness (Acts 1:8-9).  Tell others what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for you.  Ask God to direct you to those who are most needful of your witness, and then begin telling them how Christ can save them just as He saved you.  Get some gospel tracts and give them to family members and friends.  Work toward winning lost souls to the Lord (Prov. 11:30).

 

Live a holy life for God (I Pet. 1:16).  You are a Christian now, which means you are supposed to be “Christ-like”.  You belong to God (I  Cor. 6:19-20), so yield yourself to Him and serve Him by putting Him first in everything (Mat. 6:33; Rom. 12:1-3).

 

Expose yourself to as much sound Bible teaching and preaching as possible.  Pay close attention to your pastor and teachers.  At church services, sit close to the front, take notes, and mark your Bible.  Saturate your home with good Christian literature and tapes. Seize every opportunity to grow in your knowledge of God’s word.  The more you know about God’s word, the more useful you will be in His service, and nothing is more important in your Christian life than GOD’S SERVICE.

 

If we can be of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

 

The Plain Truth about the Church of Christ

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Copyright © 1998 James L. Melton

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Properly called “Campbellites”, the so-called “Church of Christ” did not appear on the pages of church history until the early 1800’s when Thomas Campbell, and his son, Alexander, left the Presbyterian church to restore the “true” church.

 

Thomas Campbell first organized the “Christian Association” which later became an independent church in 1811.  Thomas was appointed elder, Alexander was “licensed” to preach, and four deacons were elected.  At this time, none of the members had been baptized by immersion.  The first Campbellite church wasn’t named the “Church of Christ.”  It was named the “First Church of the Christian Association of Washington.”

 

Having strong argumentive abilities, Alexander became involved in a number of public debates and was often corrected by his father for his conduct in these debates.  Alexander’s theory was that “a week’s debating is worth a year’s preaching.”  (Memoirs, Vol. 2, p. 90).  Paul’s theory was slightly different (I Cor. 1:18, 21; Rom. 1:29).  Needless to say, this same spirit of debate is still very present among his followers.

 

The Campbells weren’t baptized by immersion until June 12, 1812--a whole year after starting their “church.”  Being unable to find a Church of Christ preacher (since there were none before 1811), they convinced Matthias Luce, a Baptist preacher, to perform the service.  Luce himself was later rejected by his Baptist brethren.

 

Several years later (1825-1830), the Campbell clan (also called the “reformers”) was joined by Walter Scott, a traveling preacher who believed in baptismal regeneration.  The Campbells embraced his views and were later joined by Barton Stone (another ex-Presbyterian).  Together, the “big four” were ready to take on the world with the “true Gospel.”  The Baptists took the position that it was the “reformers” who needed to be reformed, and that remains our position to this day.

 

Today the “Church of Christ” teaches a number of heresies which every true Christian should AVOID.

 

 

A-Millennialism

 

A-Millennialism is the false belief that there will be NO Millennial reign of Christ and his saints.  The Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with prophecies of a coming kingdom age when Jesus Christ will rule over the earth.  For example, consider Revelation 20:1-6:

 

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.   And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,   And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

 

Read Revelation friend, and see for yourself that Jesus returns in chapter 19 and he rules for 1000 years in chapter 20.  This is denied by the Church of Christ, in spite of the many Bible prophecies about the coming kingdom (Dan. 2:44-45; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:6-7).  A-Millennialism is heresy!

 

 

Baptismal Regeneration

 

This is the false belief that a person receives the new birth upon being immersed in water.  By carelessly charging through the Bible and mis-applying Scripture, the Church of Christ has damned thousands and thousands of people by giving them a false hope for salvation.

 

It is certainly true that a few verses of Scripture seem to teach this doctrine at first glance, but it is also true that the rest of the Bible is true!  We must believe ALL of God’s word, not just the favorite Campbellite texts. Over and over again, God reminds us in His word that BELIEF on Christ is the main element in salvation, not baptism (John 1:12; 3:15-18; 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; 11:25-26; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 4:5; 10:9-13; I Peter 2:6, etc.).  The Campbellites like to ignore these simple verses, while confusing people with their favorite baptism texts.

 

One thing that the Church of Christ fails to teach about baptism is that Jesus Christ doesn’t baptize with water.  In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”  So the MAIN baptism in the New Testament is not a water baptism, but rather the Holy Ghost baptism.  Notice I Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  Are we baptized into the body of Christ by WATER?  No, we are baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit, just as John said in Matthew 3:11!  The Church of Christ ignores this Spirit baptism by pretending that all baptisms are WATER baptisms. The baptism of Matthew 20:22-23 is not a water baptism, nor is the baptism of Galatians 3:27,  Colossians 2:12, or Romans 6:3-4.

 

Acts 2:38 is another favorite Church of Christ text, and it has nothing to do with you and I today.  The Jews in Acts 2 received the Holy Ghost after they were baptized, but the Gentiles in Acts 10:44 received the Holy Ghost BEFORE they were baptized, proving that baptism isn’t essential for salvation.  By combining their  water gospel with Acts 2:38, the Church of Christ has invented a very damnable heresy which strives on the ignorance of those who have never read verses like Revelation 1:5 or I Corinthians 1:17.  ALL of God’s word is true, not just the Campbellite “proof texts”.

 

It is our duty to study and rightly divide all of the Bible, rather than believe everyone who manages to quote a verse out of context while ignoring a dozen verses that are twice as simple.  Friend, don’t allow yourself to swept in by these false teachers. Baptism is certainly important, but it cannot save anyone.  Jesus himself was baptized, but not to be saved (Mat. 3:14-15).  Also, the dying thief was NOT baptized, yet he went to be with Jesus in paradise (Luke 23:42-43).

 

 

No Sin Nature

 

The Church of Christ also teaches that men are not born with a sin nature, but rather BECOME sinners later in life.  Such a suggestion is almost funny to anyone who has taken time to read their Bible (Psalm 51:5; 58:3; Romans  3:10; 3:23; 5:12).

 

Men are BORN sinners with a sin nature, which is why Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3).

 

 

Lord’s Supper Required Weekly

 

The Church of Christ teaches that the Lord’s Supper is supposed to be observed on a weekly basis, but the Bible never says this once.

 

There is certainly nothing wrong with a church observing the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis, but no one has a right to command it.  The Bible never says how often this is to be done.  If you’ll read Matthew 26:26-28 and I Corinthians 11:23-26, you will see what God’s word says about this subject, and you will notice that God does not command a weekly observance.  Anyone who does command a weekly observance is ADDING to God’s word.

 

 

Musical Instruments Forbidden in Worship

 

Of the various heresies taught by the Church of Christ, this may be the most foolish.  The Bible is filled with musical instruments (Psa. 33:2-4; I Chron. 25:5-6; II Sam. 6:5; I Chron. 16:42; Neh. 12:27; Psa. 150), and there are even musical instruments in Heaven (Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2)!  To forbid instruments in worship is simply another case of ADDING to God’s word.

 

Two favorite texts for this heresy are Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, which speak of Christian music coming from the heart.  Neither verse forbids instruments, and neither verse speaks of a worship service.  Both verses are dealing with an individual believer’s personal fellowship with Christ, not church worship services!

 

Friend, don’t fall for the Campbellite heresies!  Stick with God’s word--all of God’s word!  Beware of anyone who stays “hung up” on just a few verses of Scripture.  All of God’s word is true, and we must understand the Scripture by comparing it with Scripture, not by seeking man’s private interpretations.

 

Acts 2:38 – Satan’s Favorite Bible Verse

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Copyright © 2000 James L. Melton

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“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  (Acts 2:38)

 

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups.  One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature.  The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved.  So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

 

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation.  While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation.  The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.”  The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all!  (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation.  Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

 

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation.  Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse.  In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls!  Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38.

 

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

 

 

The Truth about Acts 2:38

 

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2.  In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth.  In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38!  In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37.  So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word.  The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

 

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption.  It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.”  That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins.  However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

 

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”  Jesus made this man  clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.”  Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13!  It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing.  If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

 

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.”  Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah?  No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah.  So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38.  The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

 

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor.  Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew.  In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1).  A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present.  Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals.  No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37)

 

Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?”  Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do.  It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation.  Isaiah  66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”  The “nation” is Israel!  Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”  Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation.  The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

 

This is clear from what follows Acts 7.  In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism).  In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism).  In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism).  Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7?   Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60).  The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”  Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth.

 

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it.  Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters!  If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else?  Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us?  Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38?  Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me?  One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer.  Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs.  In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, “ . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water.  Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out?  Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation.

 

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use.  Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy.  All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults.  Baptism saves no one.  It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38).  Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism.  The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him  (Luke 23:42-43), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water.  In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water.  By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25).  Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

 

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone?  Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”   Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation?  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Rom. 5:1)  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Why not right now?

 

 

 

The One Baptism

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Copyright © 1999 James L. Melton

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Question: What comes to mind when you read the word “BAPTISM?”  If you answered “water baptism” then you aren’t alone.  Satan has been very successful in covering up the Scriptural truth about baptism and its importance.  Our land is filled with ignorant preachers (although well meaning ones) who are teaching heresies about water baptism while they have been completely blinded to the fact that there is another baptism which is far more important!

 

We only have to consider the words of Jesus Himself to realize this great truth: “And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Mat. 20:23) Here Jesus tells the mother of Zebedee’s children that her sons would be BAPTIZED with the same baptism as Himself, yet He and they too had already been baptized in water! There was yet ANOTHER baptism to come!

 

Again in Luke 12:50 Jesus says, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!”  He had been baptized in water in Luke chapter 3, yet here Jesus is speaking of ANOTHER future baptism.  What could it be?  Friend, I urge you to read carefully and check the references in your Bible.  By God’s grace, I intend to show you something that Satan has hid from millions for thousands of years.  His ministers are preaching the “water gospel” while the most important baptism is being totally ignored!

 

First of all let’s understand that “baptism” simply means “immersion.”  The word “baptism” itself does not indicate any certain KIND of immersion.  God’s word always tells us what KIND of baptism a text is presenting.  For example, John said in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” There are three different baptisms in one verse. So when Jesus said His followers would be baptized with the same baptism as Himself, He was not speaking of water baptism.  Likewise, when Paul said there is “one baptism,” he was not speaking of water baptism.

 

I Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  This is a SPIRITUAL baptism which places one into the body of Christ.  Water baptism cannot place one into Christ’s body for this text plainly states that this is done by spiritual baptism.

 

Now please consider a key passage of Scripture on this subject: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3)  We already know from I Corinthians 12:13 that we are baptized INTO Christ by Holy Spirit baptism, not by water.  Here we find that when this happens we are also baptized into His DEATH and we are identified with the same baptism as Jesus.  It is not necessary for me to die and pay for my sins on a cross, because I am already identified with Jesus Christ who has paid the price for me.

 

Now, if Jesus went through a baptism on the cross, then what exactly was He baptized in? The answer is found in the Old Testament where the prophets foreshadowed this very event: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.”  (Psa. 18:4-5) Notice how David compares his SUFFERING to being compassed about with water (like a baptism).  He wasn’t in a literal flood of water, but he uses this analogy to illustrate how deeply he had been immersed in suffering.  This is a perfect picture of the agony endured by our Lord on Calvary.

 

Again, notice Psalm 69:1-4: “. . .  Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.   They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.”  This is a prophecy about Jesus on the cross and the BAPTISM which He endured.

 

Psalm 88 also speaks of the same: “For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.   I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:  Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.  Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.  Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.”  (Verses 3-7) Verses 14 through 17 continue: “LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?  I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.  Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.”  Friend this is the real ONE BAPTISM which Satan has hidden from people.  It is the fact that Jesus suffered and died for our sins under the wrath of God.  He was baptized in GOD’S WRATH!  Jesus paid the price because we couldn’t!

 

Notice how clear the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is foretold in Lamentations 3:52-56: “Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.  They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me.  Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.  I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon.  Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.”  Jesus suffered and died under God’s wrath to pay for sin.  He was immersed (or baptized) in God’s wrath.  II Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  Jesus was immersed so deeply in God’s wrath that He became SIN for us, and His Father momentarily FORSOOK Him (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? – Mat. 27:46).

 

Jesus  paid the price and bore the curse of sin for us.  Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”  This very same chapter goes on to say, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (verse 27).  How does one get baptized into Christ?  By the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13), not by water.  When a sinner places his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and receives Him as Lord and Saviour, God’s Spirit baptizes that person into the body of Jesus Christ with all other believers.  He is BAPTIZED BY THE SPIRIT into Christ’s body (I Cor. 12:13).  This is the ONE BAPTISM which Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:5, and this is the baptism that Jesus said His followers would receive (Mat. 20:23), because it identifies us with the very baptism that Jesus Himself received on the cross (Luke 12:50).

 

Consider Micah 7:19, a verse often quoted in regards to salvation: “. . . thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”  What sea might this be?   It is the very sea that engulfed our Saviour upon Calvary’s cross, the sea of God’s wrath on sin!

 

Friend you may have been baptized in water, but have you been baptized in the ONE BAPTISM which takes all your sins away?  Only the BLOOD of Jesus Christ can wash away your sins (Rev. 1:5; 5:9; I John 1:7), and only God’s Spirit can bring you in contact with Christ’s redeeming Blood!  Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”  Water baptism cannot wash away your sins because water baptism cannot bring you in contact with the Blood of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps you’ve  placed far too much weight on WATER baptism and you’ve completely overlooked the REAL baptism that God has for you!

 

We aren’t saying that water baptism isn’t important.  It is important because it PICTURES the real baptism that we’ve just studied.  You should have the real baptism which washes your sins away, and then you should publicly illustrate your salvation by being baptized in water.  But don’t think for a second that the water baptism has power to save.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Once you exercise true believing faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, then you can become a child of God.  Only by receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour  can you enter the gates of Heaven.   There is no other way. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  (John 14:6) If salvation is only through Jesus, then it is NOT through water baptism.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ has come and PAID for your sins by shedding His own Blood on Calvary.  By receiving Him as your Saviour, you can be WASHED from all your sins in His precious Blood (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:14; Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19).  Notice these important words from Romans 5:8-9: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

 

Jesus PAID your way to Heaven!  Your church cannot  save you!  Your good works cannot save you!  Your baptism cannot save you!  Only by receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour can you escape the damnation of Hell.  Are you willing to forsake YOUR righteousness and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your ONLY HOPE for Salvation?  Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  Why not pray right now and ask the Lord to come into your heart and cleanse you from all sin?  Why not experience the ONE BAPTISM which can place you into the body of Jesus Christ RIGHT NOW?!  

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Author: Editor

An ordained Baptist minister. Worked for 10 years with a Christian publishing ministry where I was the circulation manager for a growing publication, The Sword of the Lord. I also did most of direct mail fundraising and promotion. I have pastored churches in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama & Arkansas. I served for some four years as Vice President of The Spoken Word of God ministry, Orlando, FL. This ministry was active in church planting in India and broadcasting the Scriptures via Trans World Radio and other radio outlets. My associate in this ministry later invited me to join him and his dad in starting a business working with churches providing multimedia equipment. I have done this work for the last 16 years. This blog, hopefully, will scratch an itch I have for communicating the Word of God to a broader audience via the Internet. I would be honored to hear from you via email.

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