Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         March 15, 2015                                                                                                                            NO. 2



We read the other day of a church that was issuing a LICENSE TO COMPLAIN to all members who applied and qualified. To qualify the applicant had to certify:

- I attend all regular and special worship services of the church, expecting a blessing from each experience.

- I pray each day for fellow-members of the congregation that they may be strong and faithful in the Lord.

- I see that my children are present and take part in the Bible classes that are provided for them.

- I volunteer for, gladly accept, and enthusiastically carry out responsibilities in the church.

- I visit the sick and shut-ins and help in evangelistic calling on prospective members.

- I regularly and systematically give of my income to the congregation, always praying for God's help in making me aware of my financial  obligations.

- I firmly believe others in the congregation are motivated by good will in their relationship to and actions toward me and interpret them  that way even as I anticipate their love and understanding of me.

It is interesting to note that the church reported that no licenses were issued. Those who applied were not qualified, and those who qualified did not apply!





Jesus said in Mk.16:16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Looking at this passage without prejudice, would you agree that if a person did what Jesus said in this passage he would be saved? I believe so. Yet, in spite of the plainness and simplicity of the passage many reach and teach a different conclusion. Why? Because some practice “eisegesis” (interpreting the text by reading into it one’s own ideas) with the text. They have decided what they read is not really what they want the text to mean.

  This reminds me of the story of the supposed horse thief I once read about. It seems there was a cowboy found forking the saddle of someone else’s horse, without permission of course. When he was caught and brought to trial, he was asked by the judge if he was the defendant or plaintiff in the case. The cowboy looking up at the judge with a puzzled expression answered. “Judge, I’m the one who stole the horse.”

  A lawyer happened to overhear the exchange and quickly figured the cowboy needed some first class defending. But in order to have a chance at winning, the facts in the case had to be ignored. So, the lawyer brought in the widowed mother of the man, his wife and children, put his arm around the cowboy and quizzed the jury, “Does this look like the kind of man who’d steal a horse?”

  This was too much for the jury, so they instantly brought in a verdict of “innocent.” The judge then asked the cowboy if he had anything to say and the man just grinned and said, “Judge, do I get to keep the horse?” Later, a friend asked him, “Did you or did you not steal the horse?” The cowboy replied, “Well, I sure thought I did” (bolding mine – t.t.), but after listening to that there lawyer, now I ain’t so sure anymore.”

  The story emphasizes the way many view the scriptures today. The plain teaching of a passage such as Mk.16:16 is analyzed and re-interpreted by some “wise men” who have decided their words are more inspired and more right than the inspired men who wrote the New Testament. These “wise men” explaining the word of God remind me of political speeches on TV. Even though the speech is recorded and printed, others take the words and comments and reinterprets what is said to fit what he wants the words to say. They assume (and rightly so in some cases) that the readers or audience will be “too dumb” to really understand the words without further explanation. Even when the words are plain enough they explain that it was not the whole truth. So the interpreter begins to explain what he thinks the speaker really meant.  I guess it takes a real educated man to convince someone that what he thought he read or heard was not really what the speaker meant.  Now let me apply the story to the subject of baptism.


Must one be baptized before he can be saved? What do the scriptures say? Mk.16:15-16; “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Acts 2:38; “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let everyone 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 22:16; “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” 1 Pet.3:21; “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

  Now without the help of some smart lawyer (preacher) who wants to “eisegete” the passages, answer the following questions. 1. If baptism precedes “to be saved” how can one be saved before he is baptized?  2. If baptism is “for the remission of sins” how can one be saved before he is baptized to have his sins remitted? 3. If baptism is “to wash away your sins,” how can sins be washed away without first being baptized? 4. If Peter, an inspired man, says that there is “an antitype, which now saves us, namely baptism” how can one honestly say that is saved before being baptized?  Why not just take the scriptures at face value and do as they say?

  Remember the cowboy when asked if he had stolen the horse said, “ I thought I did, but after listening to that there lawyer, now I ain’t sure anymore.” In the same way many who at first understand that one has to be baptized to be saved runs into some slick preacher who adamantly says “No. it doesn’t! You misunderstand. The scriptures don’t really teach that you must be baptized before you are saved.” One such preacher was E.C. Routh, who edited a book, “The Baptist Messenger.” In the chapter on “Baptism” he wrote the following; “Frequently, men and women who belong to the “Disciples,” otherwise known as “Campbellites” (his term for members of the church of Christ - t.t.) apply for membership in Baptist churches. Why is not their immersion accepted? We do not accept the immersion of “Disciples” for the reason that the design of baptism as well as the manner of baptism must be kept in mind; and any immersion which is designed to save is not scriptural baptism. We repeat that immersion alone is not scriptural unless it is the immersion of a believer by a New Testament church. One must first be a believer, and baptism must be to proclaim salvation, not to procure salvation.” End of quote. So after listening to “that there lawyer” (preacher) one just thinks they understand the need to be baptized in order to be saved. Now they are no longer sure. Read Gal.1:6-9; 2 Thess. 2:10-12.

  Routh is like the lawyer defending the horse thief. He doesn’t care about the truth. He is not going to accept the necessity of baptism before salvation, right or wrong. But denying the truth will not change it. Jesus still says “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” and all the arguments by preachers will not make it say otherwise. Unlike the lawyer who convinced the jury the cowboy was not guilty when he was, those who choose not to be baptized in order to be saved won’t be able to keep the horse (salvation) simply because their preacher said baptism was not necessary. God will not be fooled by such foolishness. His word will stand firm. “Let God be true, and every man a liar” Rom.3:4.

—Tommy Thornhill

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