The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)


We asked a businessman recently if he ever carried his Bible to church with him. He said that he did not, but he did read it at home. We suggested to him that when he held his Bible in his hand he was holding the entire creed of the churches of Christ. We believe the text of the Bible says what it means and means what it says, and that anyone who can read, can read the Bible well enough to get its true meaning. Would it not seem unfair and unnatural for God to deliver His instructions to mankind in a form that we could not easily understand? That thought is absurd. Any religious creed not found in the Bible is worthless.
The creed of the Lord's church is found entirely in the New Testament. The first four books are the four Gospels. They tell of the life and activities of Christ, including His teaching and His death on Calvary. They also tell of His resurrection and Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
The book of Acts follows the Gospels and talks about the beginning of the church and what people did to get into the church. If every person in the world had a copy of the Book of Acts, or the Acts of the Apostles (as it is sometimes called) in their own language, everyone could know how to become a New Testament Christian. There is much teaching plus several examples on this point, in the book of Acts.
The balance of the New Testament basically deals with how to live the Christian life. The book of Revelation is a prophetic book concerning the church of the New Testament.
Many books have been written about human creeds of the various denominational churches. Human creeds are often changed by church leaders from year to year, but the original text of the Bible is always the same. Different translations have resulted in the various versions of the Bible. That is because of difference in scholarship taste. Some versions are better than others, but God's truth can be known and understood from any version, by an honest seeker. The actual original text is constantly unchangeable.
Jesus knew human creeds and private interpretations would come dividing and segregating people, so He warned, "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Second Peter 1:20 tells us that, "No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." We need not question what the scriptures mean; just believe what they say, as stated in the Bible. Stop and think for just a moment, if the Bible does not mean what it says, how can we know what it means? Some well educated men do not treasure the things of God. Can we trust men to explain the Bible? Let us believe what it says!

Paul wrote, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:11-13). Without some help we are not likely to misunderstand the Bible. Those who would twist and change the Bible would have us believe that an ordinary person cannot understand the Bible, but that is not true.
The story is told of a native believer, who wanted to be baptized. When his teacher, who had given him the Bible, came to him with a small bowl of water to baptize him, the native said, "But sir, I cannot get into that bowl!" No doubt he had read the scripture that baptism is a burial (immersion), and not sprinkling (Col. 2:12).
The Holy Spirit gives us this example: "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, see, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:36-39).
Again, the Bible says, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). We cannot be buried in a small container of water. How can a teacher make a mistake like that?
It should be said here that there are many good, honest, sincere, loving people everywhere and in every denomination. As important as these good qualities are, these traits of character are not the things that save us. Following the plain instructions of the Bible is necessary (cf. John 3:3-7; Romans 6:16-18; Hebrews 5:9 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Many saved people are good, honest, sincere, loving people - but not all good, honest, sincere, loving people are saved.
The Biblical plan of salvation, as set forth in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, cannot be ignored. However, many preachers and evangelists of world-wide renown do ignore it because they prefer the doctrines of men. We have never heard any of the popular TV and radio evangelists end their sermons as Peter did when 3,000 souls were baptized for the remission of their sins in Acts 2:38. Are these men greater or smarter than Peter? Jesus said men's doctrines are vain (Matthew 15:8-9). Also, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

So, if any person tells you just open your heart and receive Jesus into your life and you shall be saved, don't believe him! He is a false teacher! Nowhere in the Bible is such an offer made!  Nowhere in the Bible is such a statement made! Only if Jesus said it should you do it! Read the 9th chapter of Acts. Here Paul asked, "What will thou have me to do, Lord?" (Acts 9:1-18). When you follow the consequence of the answer, you will see that Paul was baptized (Acts 22:3-16). Read also 1 Peter 3:16-21.
It distresses us when some person makes a speech, or writes a book, and makes some statement far removed from the Bible that could easily mislead unlearned souls. In a book, "The Gospel According to Jesus," the author was discussing Christ's instructions to Nicodemus (John 3:3-7) and then he states, "This has nothing to do with water baptism; salvation cannot be accomplished by a bath." In the light of that foolish and unscriptural statement, read Mark 16:15-16. This author no doubt thinks that feeding the body is more important than being immersed in water because Jesus did feed 5,000 men once, besides women and children, and another time he fed 4,000, even though he did not baptize thousands. Does it mean that because He did not baptize any, but He did feed thousands that He was more in favor of feeding than baptizing? We suppose he also thought Naaman the Leper did not have a real healing when he dipped seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-19). From a human point of view, how could dipping in water heal leprosy? From a human point of view, how could immersing the body save the soul? It works because it is a part of obedience and obedience is what is important (cf. Luke 6:46).

The book from which we have quoted could not possibly be, "The Gospel According to Jesus." It clearly teaches the gospel according to man. Not one person in all the New Testament was converted without baptism. No real student of the Bible can deny that water baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is taught in the Bible (Acts 2:38). We have mentioned this blatant false teaching to show how readily one leaves the, "thus saith the Lord" to teach some abominable false human concept.
The Bible teaches that men get into Christ by being baptized into Him (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27). There is no other way set forth in the New Testament whereby we might get into Christ. The popular idea that we might believe into Christ is just not a biblical concept. We can believe in something without ever being in it.
We believe in China but that does not make us a member of China's population. If we did the right things, no doubt, we could become citizens of China. We are citizens of the Lord's family, not because we live a perfect sinless life, but because we have done the things that put us into His family...into Christ.
There is positively no other way to get into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are, other than to be baptized into Him (according to the Bible). Read books and listen to TV and radio preachers with your Bible open and check them out. There are a few good teachers, but many will fill you with error if you let them. Do not be deceived because of the cunning deceptiveness of human creeds, but rather follow the plain teaching of the Bible.

Read the Bible for yourself. Your preacher may not teach it, but be honest with yourself even if some preacher is misleading you. If Paul was baptized to get rid of his sins, should you not do it also? (Read Acts 22:3-16; 1 Peter 3:18-21). It was said of Jesus, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). Have you obeyed him?
Any doctrine based on a verse or two of scripture may be thought to be biblical. However, even Bible verses cannot be used to support a false doctrine if that doctrine is in open conflict with other Bible verses and examples. The Bible teaches there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). The Bible does not support more than one faith any more than it supports more than one Lord.


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