A gracEmail subscriber in the northeastern U.S. says that he belongs to a church which many have “left their denominational roots” to join, “to be part of the Lord’s church, to preach Jesus and the way of salvation stated in the New Testament.” He wants to know where I stand “in terms of the Gospel plan of salvation, who are the saved, is denominational baptism valid, and denominational fellowshipping among the Lord’s church.”
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I encourage you not to confuse “the Lord’s church” with some particular historical religious movement of which we happen to be a part. God’s program is worldwide and includes many brothers and sisters who know Jesus Christ, even if they never heard of our brotherhood of churches or the 19th century American movement from which those churches descended. Ironically, a fellowship of congregations all sharing a common name, in union with each other but not with other Christians, is itself “denominational,” for it is “denominated” or named in a separatist manner. Biblical baptism is not “denominational,” no matter who performs it — and it formally marks one’s entrance into Christ’s universal church, regardless of the sign over the church-house door.
The gospel is not a list of commands (“good do’s”) or a group of doctrines (“good views”) but good news. The good news is that God, in Christ, has atoned for our sin, reconciled us to himself, forgiven us for Jesus’ sake, and raised us to glory in the person of our holy representative, God’s beloved Son. Almighty God is kindly disposed toward sinners, whom he calls to repent and to trust his grace. What you call “the plan of salvation” is really a summary of some of our responses, internally and externally, to the good news that God has saved us in his Son.
I have attempted to set out, in several small booklets and articles, the excellent news which we call “gospel” — all of which you may read free of charge at my website. These include The Grace of God, One Life, Death & Judgment, Four Gospel Slogans, The Saving Love of God, and A Journey Toward Jesus. I also invite you to read more about the origins, developments and (under Christ) bright promise of our own church heritage in The Restoration Movement Fulfilled in Jesus Christ, also free online at the same place.