A Texas subscriber writes that he left the Baptist church many years ago for the Church of Christ, “to follow Jesus more closely.” Most of what he reads in gracEmail is “contrary” to what he believes “about the church the Lord died for,” he says. As for preaching a “plan,” he refers me “to The Ephesians letter where you will find that God did indeed have a plan for the salvation of man before the foundation of the world. I love my Lord Jesus,” he affirms, “and his church, the church of Christ! There is only one church and those who have refused to be buried with the Lord in baptism to wash away their sins have not been added to it. Those who teach otherwise need to repent or they will surely perish.”
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Good brother, I am so happy to hear that you love Jesus, who is the only Savior and our only hope! And I am happy to hear that the reason you changed congregations was to seek to follow Jesus more closely. That is a very fine reason for doing anything, including — for some people — leaving a specific Church of Christ where Christ is not really preached. Those who know, trust and follow Christ in various Baptist churches are fully as much children of God saved by grace as those in the Churches of Christ. Neither of those groups — or any other group — has any exclusive right to say it is “the body of Christ.” Indeed, “the church for which Jesus died” is not listed in the Yellow Pages under any category or label.
There is an enormous difference between a “plan of salvation” which God himself accomplishes, and some theoretical “plan of salvation” which requires sinners to take the correct steps to ingratiate themselves to God. The first appears throughout Scripture (Jer. 31:31-33; Rom. 9:30–10:4; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Gal. 4:4-5; Eph. 1:3-14; Phil. 3:8-11; Col. 1:19-23; Titus 3:3-8; 2 Tim. 1:8-13). The second is found nowhere in it.
If someone is looking to baptism for salvation rather than to Jesus, that person needs to go back and relearn the gospel basics, for he or she has become very confused indeed. Baptism is the way we express and declare our trust in Jesus as Savior (Acts 10:43, 48). We dare not make it an idol in the place of Jesus who saves us (Col. 2:12). Nor dare we to ignore baptism, or to declare it irrelevant, for Jesus commanded it and he is our Lord (Matt. 28:18-20). Let us sing together, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness! On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is shifting sand.” That is the gospel truth.