30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
October 10, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth!" We do appreciate the privilege of coming into your home this morning as we further study the word of God. Some of you in the listening audience over these past few weeks might be wondering what does the church of Christ believe and teach. This morning we are going to attempt to give you a proper understanding of what the church believes and teaches. In order to do this, we are going to use as our source the Bible, the word of God. We will not pull out any creed book or any other such manual that you must be aware of, only the Bible. I believe that each and every one of you probably have a Bible in your home that you can use as we study together this morning. It is refreshing to know that the Bible has been our only text that we have used in our religious practice and it is the only book that we will use to show you that you can know what to believe and practice in matters of religion. So I now invite you to have your Bible handy and be prepared to search the scriptures to find out if the things that are being taught on this program are in fact those things that are authorized by God.
The churches of Christ believe and teach that the church, or kingdom, was set up on the day of Pentecost. The record found in Acts chapter 2. Of course there is a group of speculators in the church of Christ who teach that the kingdom is yet to be set up. It is a small group and getting smaller. Perhaps the time will come when they will merge (if they lack any being merged already) with the other sectarians scattered about the country. They have all gone out of the way and have altogether become unprofitable. Jesus said to those of his day that some of them would not die until the kingdom should come. Notice now these words of Jesus found in Mark chapter 9, verse 1: "And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." That an intelligent man could make himself believe, to say nothing of pushing the idea down other people's throats, that the kingdom hasn't yet come is beyond me. But what amazes me even more, is the numbers of people that will hold to this false teaching and then try and defend it. Friends, let me tell you right now, if you cannot defend your religious practice from the Bible only, citing book, chapter, and verse, then it is a practice that is vain as far as God is concerned. Everything that you and I do religiously that is approved of by God can be defended by the Bible.
Just as there are a few who teach that the kingdom will be set up in the future, so there are those who teach that the church was set up during the personal ministry of Christ. However these same people cannot tell you where or when the church was built. They don't care where or when it was built. They simply don't want it built on Pentecost because if they admit that it was set up on Pentecost, then they must admit that repentance and baptism are necessary steps to get into it. They cannot afford to admit that repentance and baptism are necessary, for if they do they will contradict one of their fundamental doctrines. I invite you to go and ask your preacher this very morning this question: "When was our church established and who established it?" Then hang on to your hat when you hear the answer. If the answer you receive is any answer other than on Pentecost by Jesus Christ, then you are part of a religious practice that is not using only the Bible as its authority in matters of religion. Any other answer you receive cannot be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in your New Testament, the covenant that we are under today. Then, once you hear the answer that is not in accordance with Bible teaching, what will you do with it? Will you continue to practice your religion in error or search for the church that is worshiping God in the proper spirit and truth (John 4:24)? I am convinced that many, many people today attend the "church of their choice" because of the tradition of their fathers, or because it is a religion that suits them. I ask you to honestly look at why you attend where you do. Is it because the church practices only that which is authorized by God? Remember the words of Jesus found in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
I also encourage you to look closely at the wording in your Bible concerning when the church would be built. It is a fact that the church is spoken of in prospect and promise before Pentecost, that is in future tense, and is spoken of as a fact on and after Acts 2, that is present or past tense. These false teachers don't believe us because they started a false religion before they fully knew what the Bible said about the church. I also call your attention to the fact that if the church was in existence before the death of Christ it was purchased on credit because Christ purchased the church with his blood. They pay no attention to us, because they espoused a false religion before they ever knew that Christ purchased the church with his blood.
We point out that the church could not have come before Pentecost because it was to come with the power or Holy Spirit and the power or Holy Spirit didn't come until Pentecost. The false teachers of today don't believe us because they espoused a false religion before they ever knew the church was to come with power.
We could point out a dozen other reasons why the church could not have been built in the life time or personal ministry of Christ. Christ lived under the law of Moses. If he set up the church while here, it was under that law. It was after the death of Christ that he gave the world-wide commission to go into all the world to preach. While he lived his limited commission was in effect. If he set up the church while he lived it was under the limited commission. Christ, the cornerstone, was "tried" in his death. If he set up the church while here he set it upon a corner that had not been tried. Christ became head of the church when he ascended to heaven to sit on David's throne. If he set up the church while he lived here on earth it was before he became head of it. While here, Christ charged his disciples to tell no man that he was the Christ. If he set up the church during his lifetime here it was before they could tell anybody that he was the Christ. But why go on? You can see my friends that the church was not set up during the personal ministry of Christ. It was set up on Pentecost.
Why do the denominations want it set up some other time? Because they don't like the keys Peter used to unlock it. What keys? Jesus said in Matthew 16:18-20: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ." Here in this text of scripture we can read that Jesus said he would build His church (future tense) and that Peter would have the keys of the kingdom of heaven (future tense). We find later in the book of Acts, chapter two, that the gospel was preached, the people believed it, they were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The kingdom, the church, has been unlocked by Peter's first sermon delivered on Pentecost and on that day 3,000 souls were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:36-47).
Now I ask, what happens when a man's sins are remitted or in other words forgiven? Why he is saved. What happens to a man when he is saved? The Lord adds him to the church. Ask any man who contends that the church was not set up on Pentecost just when it was set up and watch him twist. My friends, there isn't a man on this earth who can put his finger on the setting up of the church except that he point to the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles. At that time the power which was to accompany the kingdom came. Christ had been tried so as to become the chief cornerstone. His blood with which to purchase the church had been shed. The world-wide commission announced after his death was in effect. The law of Moses was taken out of the way so that the more excellent way could become effective. And so it was that we read that the Lord added to the church those that were being saved.
Yes friends, we believe and teach that the church was set up on Pentecost. Every religious man on earth who believes that baptism is for the remission of sins admits that the church was set up then. Every one who denies that baptism is essential to salvation contends it was set up elsewhere and at a different time. Any where, any time, they don't know, they don't care, just so at isn't Pentecost in Acts 2. They simply must remove all steps necessary to being saved and all steps necessary to becoming members of the church as far away from Acts 2 as possible. Acts 2 teaches that repentance and baptism are necessary to the remission of sins. They deny that emphatically. Acts 2 teaches the Lord adds the saved people to the church. They ignore that and set up a process by which people may join the church.
Furthermore, Acts 2 teaches that those who repent and are baptized may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They reject that and insist on the presence and work of the Spirit before one can be baptized. Acts 2 teaches that when people are cut to the heart by believing the word they must in addition to that repent and be baptized for remission of sins. They deny that and contend that at faith or when one believes he is saved without additional acts. Some even go to the ridiculous extreme of saying that repentance must come before faith. but Acts 2 teaches that people who believed what Peter and the Apostles were preaching were told right then to repent. True, people who believed in God as the Jews did before Christ came were told to repent toward God and believe the gospel. But ordinary intelligence should convince any rational being that unless one believed the Bible he could not repent of his sins. If he didn't believe the New Testament he wouldn't know he was a sinner. If he didn't believe the New Testament he wouldn't know God wanted him to repent. If he didn't believe the New Testament he wouldn't know how to repent or what repentance was. And if he didn't believe the New Testament he wouldn't know that God would forgive him if he did repent. Why do people make such ridiculous mistakes in religion? The answer is as obvious as the ridiculous mistakes that are being made. One of their most prevalent doctrines is that salvation comes at the point of faith, with no time in between for repentance.
They must either give up their doctrine of salvation at the very instant one believes, or they must give up repentance, or they must contend that repentance comes before faith. They choose the most ridiculous of the three absurdities. What's a good way out of the dilemma? Just admit that people should hear the gospel and believe it, and that they should repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and that the Lord would then add them to the church just as it is so clearly taught in Acts chapter 2!. I have known some good hearted individuals that I have studied with that were entrenched in religious error, that once they saw the truth of the Bible, responded the same way as those on Pentecost did. They believed the teaching of God, repented from their sins, confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and was baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. This is how it was done in the New Testament and is the way that Christ commands all to be saved. However, many people that I have studied with, even after seeing the truth of the word of God, refused to obey and continued in their religious error. These individuals are no different that the Pharisees of Jesus' day when He said: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9).
Yes we of the churches of Christ believe that the church was set up on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. We believe and teach that the gospel was preached then for the first time in its fullness and completeness. It was then that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was preached for the first time as an established fact. It was then that the world-wide commission was put into effect. It was then that people could be buried by baptism into the death of Christ. That is why that every case of conversion this side of Pentecost contains an announcement of the people being baptized. You see, before Christ died he hadn't said go teach all nations, baptizing them. He hadn't said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is why the thief didn't have to be baptized to be saved.
Baptism is into the death of Christ and Christ hadn't died at that time. Christ hadn't said be baptized at that time. That is why Christ told a woman "thy faith hath saved thee". He hadn't died so she couldn't be baptized into his death. He hadn't said be baptized at that time so she couldn't have been baptized in obedience to him. For a man to say that you don' t have to be baptized after Christ commanded it because he saved a woman without it before he commanded it is to insult his own intelligence. "I don' t have to be baptized after Christ commanded it because he saved a man without it before he commanded it." Isn't that logical? I insist, my friends, that if everybody will study the Bible to rightly divide it they will conclude beyond any shadow of doubt that after the death of Christ when he appeared and told his disciples to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"; I say after that time we have no account of any one ever being saved without baptism. Those who disagree with us on this matter are not acting fairly with the people by going back behind or before the death of Christ and pointing out examples of people being blessed or saved without baptism. Nobody contends that baptism was essential to salvation before the death of Christ.
Sectarian preachers know we do not contend that baptism was necessary to salvation before the death of Christ. But being unable to come this side of the cross and cite a single case of salvation without baptism they proceed to set up a straw man and fight it. You never read in your life of a person this side of the death of Christ becoming a Christian without being baptized. You never heard of any one who ever read of a person this side of the death of Christ becoming a Christian without being baptized. I would remind you once more that in every case of conversion recorded in the book of Acts (there are no cases of conversion in any other book) there is specific mention of baptism as a part of it.
On Pentecost, in Acts 2, Peter said repent and be baptized every one of you. In Acts 8 when they believed Philip's preaching they were baptized. Simon himself also believed and was baptized. In the case of Cornelius and his household, Peter commanded them to be baptized as recorded in Acts 10. The Jailor was baptized the same hour of the night, Acts 16. When Lydia believed the things spoken by Paul, she was baptized. Annanias told Saul to arise and be baptized, Acts 22. Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized. Acts 18. Now why all this baptizing? Because the Holy Spirit didn't direct it? No, because the Holy Spirit did direct it. Because it wasn't commanded? No, because it was commanded. Because it wouldn't wash away sins! No, because it would wash away sins. Because it wasn't for the remission of sins? No, because it was for the remission of sins. Because he that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved? No because"he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).
Many false preachers and teachers, based on their practice, totally distort the passage of Mark 16:16. The Bible says "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Yet these false preachers and teachers make it say: "He who believes and is not baptized will be saved," or "He who believes and is saved will be baptized," or "He who is baptized and is saved will believe." Don't you see how ridiculous our religious practice can be when we cease to let the word of God, the Bible instruct us on what we need to do in order to be pleasing to God?
Friends, you just as well come out and admit that we in the church of Christ have the truth and practice the truth of God's word. You know that we of the churches of Christ are not trying to mislead you. You know we are your friends. We tell you to be baptized for the remission of sins and cite you to Acts 2:38 as a perfect example of that very thing. Your preacher tells you to be baptized because your sins are already remitted and cites you to the thief on the cross who was saved without any baptism and even before Christ commanded baptism. We tell you to arise and be baptized and wash away your sins and we cite you to Acts 22:16 as a perfect example of that thing taking place. Your preacher tells you to be baptized because your sins are already washed away and again takes you back behind the death of Christ to an example of Christ saving or blessing some one without baptism. We tell you that people are raised from baptism to walk a new life and take you to Rom. 6:4-5 for language that expresses that thought exactly. Your preacher tells you that you were raised to a new life before you were ever buried in baptism. We tell you that you are a child of God by faith in Christ for you have been baptized into him and we cite Gal. 3:26-27 as proof. Your preacher says you are in Christ by faith and then after you get into him by faith you then are baptized into him. That putting you into Christ twice makes no difference to them. Anything except what the verse says. What does it say? "You are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Note it friends; You are (present tense, right now) children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, For as many as have been (past tense) baptized into Christ have put on Christ. That's it, despite the efforts of sectarian preachers to twist it. You are children of God by faith for you have been baptized into Christ.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"