30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

October 17, 1999

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"What We Believe and Teach (2)"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth!" Once again, we 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 continue our study we began here on this program last Sunday when we talked with you on the subject "What the churches of Christ Believe and Teach." I want to encourage you to have your Bible ready as we discuss the Word of God so as to determine "What Is Truth." We will not pull out any creed book or any other such manual, but only use the Bible. All one needs to know in order to be saved eternally is found in the pages of our Bible, the inspired Word of God.

It is important and necessary occasionally to restate our position on certain subjects because the hatred wherewith the church of Christ is hated sometimes prompts people to misrepresent us and our teachings. For instance sometimes somebody says the church of Christ doesn't believe in heart felt religion. Well it's not so. The church of Christ contends for a real heart felt religion. The difference between the church of Christ and many of the religious bodies of people in the world today is that we use our intellect, our head, our common sense and not our emotions exclusively in matters of religion. We insist on a complete change of heart if one is to be pleasing to God. We insist that one should feel good about these matters, knowing that they are doing the right thing based upon the teachings of Jesus and the other apostles, but we do not believe one should feel so good that he makes a laughing-stock of himself. Often times people have more joy in putting on a show than putting on Christ.

Then too somebody says the church of Christ doesn't believe in repentance. Well it's not so. We insist upon a ceasing from sin. We insist upon a complete reformation of life of our members. Sometimes the very ones who accuse us of not believing in repentance teach their own members that they need not necessarily repent of a single sin they commit after becoming Christians. They tell them that the shed blood of Christ has already washed away even their future sins. And then they say "the church of Christ doesn't believe in repentance." Well we do believe in repentance. We teach children of the devil to repent or perish and cite them to Luke 13:3. Then we teach Christians when they sin to repent and pray God as Simon was told to do in Acts 8:22. We tell the sinning Christians what an awful fate awaits them if they do not repent. Acts 17:30-31 teaches:"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere torepent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." Yes we believe in repentance both before and after one becomes a child of God. If he doesn't repent before he becomes a Christian, he will never become one. If he doesn't repent of his sins which he commits after he becomes a Christian the last state is worse with him than the beginning, and he will spend eternity in hell. Never let anyone tell you that the churches of Christ don't believe in repentance. They do believe in repentance.

Quite often the churches of Christ are accused of believing that they are right and everybody else is wrong. Usually the expression goes something like this, "those people in the church of Christ think their little bunch is right and everybody else is wrong." I think it is expressed this way for two reasons. First, it may bring a little sympathy for the poor unfortunate denomination which is under consideration. Second, and much more important, it creates prejudice against the church of Christ. But for the prejudice that is in the hearts of the people against the church of Christ denominations would hardly exist. If you haven't thought of it in particular, you have no idea to what lengths people will go to keep people out of the church of Christ. I have heard of a situation in a town where a preacher was preaching on the radio that there was a young lady who was listening to the program. She heard this preacher on the radio preaching the truth as it written in the Bible. She knew she was wrong religiously. She had been taught all along by her Pastor that one church was as good as another, that it made no difference which church she belonged to. When she learned the truth she was baptized into Christ. When it happened, that same preacher who had told her it made no difference which church she attended went to her and told her if she continued in the church of Christ it would be an admission that her old Dad and Mother had gone to hell. What was he trying to do? Create prejudice against the church of Christ and play upon her emotions to keep her from doing the very things necessary in order for her soul to have salvation.

Well doesn't the church of Christ believe and teach that they are right and everybody else is wrong? No. Let me emphasize that answer. No, the church of Christ doesn't believe their little bunch is right and everybody else is wrong. The church of Christ believes that everyone who does what the New Testament says for him to do is right and that everyone who does not do what the New Testament says for him to do is wrong. Friends you believe that too. Don't you? But did you know that there isn't a sectarian preacher on this earth that will admit that? They can't afford to admit that those who do what the New Testament says to do will be saved. They contend for something else. So the next time you hear somebody say the church of Christ believes they are right and everybody else is wrong, you tell them they are either mistaken or are deliberately misrepresenting the church of Christ. Tell them we believe all who do what they are told to do in the New Testament are right. Tell them if they are doing what the New Testament tells them to do we believe they are right. As a result of this, then they will want to associate themselves with individuals that are practicing New Testament Christianity. They will search for the church that Christ bought and shed His blood for. Let me ask you, what church would one seek to find that is practicing New Testament Christianity? The Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Catholic church or Christ's church? Wouldn't you really want to be associated with Christ's church and not a man made denomination.

To illustrate the confusion that exists when people think in denominational terms, let me tell you a short story that I heard several years ago. There was a lady who approached a business man and asked for a donation on a church building. "Yes, I will give you $100.00," replied the man, "if you will erect a sign saying, This is a church of Christ." "Oh, no! We couldn't do that because it is not a church of Christ," answered the woman. "Very well," replied the man, "I will still give you $100.00 if you will put up a sign saying, "This is not a church of Christ." "Oh, no, sir. You know we could not do that because it is a church of Christ." I wonder, what kind of church it was? People reject the Lord's name for men's and then still claim to be His. "church of Christ" is not a denominational title, but a description of Christ. Incidently, see what some churches who call themselves "of Christ" are practicing and teaching and we are still led to wonder: What kind of church is it?

Then too, we are sometimes accused of believing that the world would have been without the truth and without a New Testament church if it had not been for Alexander Campbell. Well it's not so. We not only believe, but we know that we could and would have all the truth we now have if Alexander Campbell had never been born. The churches of Christ have never before or since the birth of Alexander Campbell ever taught a single thing that originated with Campbell. I am forty five years old and have been a member of the church of Christ for thirty three years, but never before or since I became a member have I done or tried to get anybody else to do a single solitary thing that originated with Alexander Campbell. No member of the church of Christ ever did anything that originated with Campbell. Those who have never heard of Campbell need never to hear of him. They can become Christians and members of the church of Christ without ever hearing about him. What part did he play in establishing the church of Christ? Absolutely none whatsoever.

But our preacher said "Campbell started the church of Christ and thus added another man-made church to all the other man-made churches." Friends, if your preacher said that, he deliberately misrepresented the truth. Your preacher knows, whether you do or not, that Alexander Campbell wanted all man-made churches abolished. Your preacher knows if he has read history, and if he hasn't he shouldn't discuss the matter, that Alexander Campbell came out of a man-made church that he couldn't read about in the New Testament and became a member of the church of Christ which he could read about in the New Testament. Your preacher knows or at least should know that. Alexander Campbell spent his time and energy trying to get all people out of man-made churches which are not found in the Bible and into the church of Christ which is found in the Bible. No, we do not believe that Campbell and his teachings are indispensable to the truth. We believe Jesus Christ built His church. That He laid down the conditions on which He would save us, and that when we are saved Jesus himself adds us to the church he established. Why does your preacher think it is so important to make you believe the church of Christ is a man-made church? I'll tell you why - it's because he knows that the one he is in cannot be found in the Bible and he satisfies himself by saying, "Oh well, the church of Christ cannot be found in the Bible either." Ah, but the church of Christ can be found in the bible. It is the ONLY church that can be found in the Bible. When the apostle Paul sent his letter to the Romans, what churches greeted them? Why it was the only church mentioned in the Bible - the church of Christ. Romans 16:16 says: "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you."

Too, I have heard it hinted that we of the church of Christ believe in "water salvation." Well, it's not so. There isn't a church of Christ on this earth nor is there a member of the church of Christ on this earth that believes in water salvation. We know there is no healing or cleansing power in the water. We know water never has and never will save a soul. We believe Christ does the saving. Why are we accused of believing in water salvation? because those who thus accuse us know their members have more sense than that. They know if they convince them that we believe the water saves they will dismiss us as a bunch of cranks and will not investigate our plea. Friends, if you can do what Jesus said for you to do without coming in contact with water, go to it and God bless you. On the other hand, if you can't do what Jesus said to do without coming in contact with water, then contact the water, and quit calling us water salvationists. Quit saying you can get to heaven without baptism, but you can't get into our church without it. Quit saying you are saved and fit for heaven without baptism, but you can't eat the Lord's supper unless you are baptized, and you can't be scripturally baptized unless one of our preachers does the baptizing. No, water doesn't save. Jesus saves. If he said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, just do that and never again on this earth will anybody in his right mind question the fact that you are saved.

But friends, if you don't believe and be baptized, realizing that Jesus commanded it, people will very naturally question whether you are saved. You see, Jesus said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Well I say believe and be baptized and there will be no question about your salvation. Jesus said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but your preacher wants to question that statement and contend for something different. I'll tell you, my friends, you have no idea how many verses of scripture you and your preacher cannot take as they read. For instance the bible says, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." You have to contend that verse doesn't state the truth because one may be saved on other conditions. The Bible says repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, but you have to contend that baptism is not for remission of sins. The Bible says the Lord adds the saved to the church, but you say, No, people are to join the church of their choice. The Bible says we are buried by baptism and raised to walk a new life, but you have to say, No, we are raised to a new life and then buried. The Bible says we are all baptized into one body, but you say, No, we are baptized into dozens of different bodies. The Bible says take heed lest you fall, but some of you must contend that you need not take heed for you can't fall. The Bible says there is one body and that the body is the church. But you must contend that there is a multiplicity of bodies because there is a multiplicity of churches. The Bible says baptism doth also now save us, but you say it doesn't do any such thing. The Bible says baptism washes away sins, but you say, No, it isn t so, baptism can't do that. Why go on with any more examples? If you are in a church that cannot accept every verse of scripture in the New Testament just exactly as it is written, you know, and I need not remind you, that you are wrong religiously. Why not come out from among them and be separate. I have just cited to you several verses from the Bible and at this time I would like to read them from the Bible for your benefit. After all, I don't want you to take my word for anything, but rather the Word of God directly. Now listen as we read from God's Word:

Mark 16:16: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-

1 Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Eph 1:22-23 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure where unto even baptism doth also now save us, not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

One might say: Richard, why do you people preach so much on baptism and so little on faith and repentance?" Now that is a good question and I am glad to offer an explanation or an answer. Every religious body on earth so far as I know teaches the necessity of faith in Christ. Thus it is universally taught and believed that faith is necessary. I don't need to dwell on the subject of belief or faith. Also the subject of repentance is universally taught and believed. This being true, practically all religious people have believed in Christ and have repented of their sins. But about ninety-nine out of every hundred churches in this country say baptism is not necessary to salvation. hence we try to do enough preaching on baptism for us all. We don't like to be in controversy with our neighbors. We are not fighting just to be doing battle. We don't fall out with anything anybody does if it is in harmony with the New Testament. But friends, please listen to me, we sincerely believe that he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. be sincerely believe-that repentance and baptism are for the remission of sins. We sincerely believe that baptism washes away sins. We sincerely believe that baptism doth also now save us. We sincerely believe that we arise from baptism to walk a new life. If we are right in these matters, it follows that those of the contrary part are wrong. So we ask you again to take your New Testament Bible in hand and find out for sure whether you are in agreement with us. It's not enough to say one church is as good as another and all are right. If we are right that baptism is for the remission of sins (and remember the Holy Spirit through Peter said it was), then anyone and everyone that teaches differently are wrong. If you are right in believing that you can disregard this commandment and be saved, then we are wrong. Let's face the facts and act in a sensible manner. If somebody said you could go somewhere on a train standing up, but you should sit down and enjoy the trip. The application was you could go to heaven without baptism but you should be baptized and enjoy your trip. Don't be silly, friends. If Jesus, and then Peter and Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit commanded baptism, obey it to be saved. If they didn't, disregard it and go on to heaven without enjoying your trip.

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?"