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Is Church a Matter of Choice? Part 4: Departure from the Teachings of Christ--Salvation

Posted by on in The Upward Call
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baptism immersionIf you like Fruit Loops cereal, there is nothing like the original. I have tried all the bargain brands, and if I am on an extremely tight budget or the original Fruit Loops are not available, then I may try the others. But I am always disappointed by the knock-offs and wish I had held out for the original because there is a difference unless you have gotten used to the others.


 When it comes down to finding a church to attend, many are offering a knock-off of the original plan that God has for our salvation. For whatever reason, many are preaching something that is not found in the Bible. Much like my cereal analogy, if you don’t know how good the original is, then it may be easier to accept a substitute; on the other hand, if you know the original, nothing else will do because of God’s command for obedience. Jesus says over and over again in John 14, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (15, 21, 23).


 I have mentioned previously in this series on the church that the “sinner’s prayer” that many congregations ask you to say in order to be saved is not in the Bible anywhere. It originated as a man-made doctrine that was substituted in for the will of God around the time of the Protestant Reformation. We are told to repent before God (Luke 13:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 7:10), but repentance is not the point when our sins are forgiven. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” This means that repentance is necessary for you to have your sins forgiven because it is necessary for us to accept the will of God. We must turn back to Him in order to progress to having our sins forgiven.


 What is the point that our sins are said to be forgiven according to the Bible? If you read the Word of God clearly, it is at the point we are baptized into Christ. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost at the establishment of the church, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit . . . So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:38, 41). The people who accepted Peter’s words were not already saved and being baptized to show others their faith, or to join the church where they were attending. There were no other Christians to show, no church to join yet. They were baptized to have their sins forgiven as Peter preached; they accepted his words as they were preached and God offered salvation at the point of having their sins forgiven in baptism because that was His will.


 In addition, listen to the words that were spoken to Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul). Ananias told Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). God forgives our sins at the point we are baptized, not at the point of belief as many preach. Furthermore, Peter tells us unmistakably that it is “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:21). God has said unmistakably it is at the point of baptism that he will wash away, or forgive, our sins. We cannot let men explain away what God has so clearly said in His Word. Anyone who tells you God doesn’t mean what he says, or that you need their explanation of what these verses “really” mean is trying to feed you a knock-off gospel. It is not authentic and it will not bring salvation! We must have only the Word of God to be able to stand before Him with confidence on Judgment Day (John 12:47-50; Gal. 1:6-12).


As we search for a church, these matters of truth must be at the forefront of our search. It is not a matter of choice for us; it is a matter of finding a congregation who uses the Bible for the basis of everything they do. Not in conjunction with the teachings of a denomination, or the teachings of men, but as the sole measure for being obedient to God. We must find the one church that Christ gave his life to establish. We must find the one church that God sent His Son to the earth to die for. We must find the church of the New Testament, not the church of our choice. May God bless you as you search for the one true church of Christ.

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