CHURCHES OF CHRIST AND BAPTISM

A New Zealander writes, "I was wondering what statements of faith are held to by Churches of Christ. Down here they strike me as pretty odd. They believe in baptismal regeneration and consequently not in the baptism in the Spirit (which is what I call regeneration)." * * * As a nondenominational fellowship of autonomous congregations (among whom I live and serve), Churches of Christ and … [Read more...]

LET ME MAKE IT VERY CLEAR

Someone writes: "You seem to take the approach that people were initiated in different ways into the church, suggesting that Acts 2 is a pattern for the conversion of Jews and Acts 10 is a pattern for the conversion of Gentiles." * * * I am sorry if I left that impression. I am not suggesting a separate "pattern" for Jews and Gentiles -- or even one pattern (in the traditional sense of a … [Read more...]

SUMMING IT UP

A gracEmail reader writes, "Yes, Jesus paid it all, and salvation cannot be earned. But there still remains the question of how one 'appropriates' salvation. We talk in circles about this. I'm still seeking a biblical theology that makes sense, is faithful to the text, gives God all the glory for our salvation, yet calls us to holy living and unquestioning obedience." * * * Perhaps we will never … [Read more...]

LET ME MAKE IT VERY CLEAR

Someone writes: "You seem to take the approach that people were initiated in different ways into the church, suggesting that Acts 2 is a pattern for the conversion of Jews and Acts 10 is a pattern for the conversion of Gentiles." * * * I am sorry if I left that impression. I am not suggesting a separate "pattern" for Jews and Gentiles -- or even one pattern (in the traditional sense of a … [Read more...]

‘BORN OF WATER AND SPIRIT’ (2)

A gracEmail subscriber writes, "Jesus says that 'no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit' (John 3:5). I have heard for many years that this means that unless you are baptized, you cannot be saved. Is this a reference to baptism in water?" * * * Every human is born "of water" or "of flesh" into this world, and has a nature that "is flesh." Only those "born … [Read more...]

BAPTISM, OBEDIENCE AND WORK (1)

A sister on the U.S. Gulf Coast agrees that we are not saved by our works but insists that we are saved by being baptized in water. Baptism is not a "work," she says, since it is "obedience," and obedience is necessary for salvation. * * * Other than the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Salvation Army who spiritualize baptism, and certain dispensationalists who limit it to a previous "age," … [Read more...]

‘WHAT IF I DIED WITHOUT BAPTISM?’

A visitor to the web page containing these articles writes, "I repented and placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in April of 1961, but I was not baptized in water until ten years later. If I had died during that interval, would I have gone to heaven or hell?" * * * Only God, who alone sees all inner hearts and outer circumstances, knows for sure who is saved or lost. Should someone ask me … [Read more...]

BELIEVE IN BAPTISM?

A gracEmail subscriber asks point-blank, "Do you believe in baptism?" * * * Let me answer directly, carefully and specifically. No, I do not "believe in" baptism. If I did, my faith would rest on flimsy grounds indeed, for baptism has no inherent power to do anything except perhaps relieve my body of an outermost coating of dust. I "believe in" the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes … [Read more...]

HALF TRUTHS OR HOLY TRUTH?

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "What you say are Bible truths but they are not all of the truth. In addition to belief, immersion is necessary for salvation. To preach a half truth is to preach a lie. I am sorry for all the elders who invite you into their flock. I pray for those who will be subjected to your false teaching. There comes a time when a man needs to be rebuked and reproved. I am … [Read more...]

IF SAVED, WHY BE BAPTIZED?

A preacher in the Churches of Christ, among whom and from which I also serve God in his universal church, asks why the Gentiles at Cornelius' house were commanded to be baptized (Acts 10:48) if they already were saved. Their baptism could not be "for remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), he says, if they already had been forgiven. * * * Three reasons spring immediately to mind why Peter commanded … [Read more...]