Know Your Bible
February 2004


Edward T. Hiscox, in his book, Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, says on page 22, under the heading of "Church Membership," "It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism' and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, 'baptism was the door into the church.' Now, it is different..."

So, the "Doctor" affirms that some things in spiritual matters have changed since the days of the apostles when "there was but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism." This is true (Eph. 4:5). He tells us that "no differing denominations existed" back then. This is true also, if he means denominations claiming to follow Christ. There were various sects of the Jews in Jesus' day: the Pharisees the Sadducees, the Herodians, et. al. But these did not make any claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Further, the "Doctor" tells us that "baptism was the door into the church." All of this was true in the days of the apostles.

But to our chagrin, he says all this has changed! This raises many questions. If in apostolic days the "very act" of baptism constituted one a member of the church, and that baptism was the door into the church (as we can certainly read in our New Testaments), Acts 2:38-47, we can say without fear of successful contradiction that such was by divine authority. That is, the Lord authorized such; He had Paul to write that baptism puts one into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13,20; Gal. 3:27) and that one body is the church (Col. 1:18). But if such were true in apostolic days, when did this authority change? What assembly changed it? By what or whom did this change come? Why did it change? Is God pleased with the change?

As one searches his New Testament to find where such a change was to take place or where such did take place, he is surprised to find no such change either contemplated or having taken place! What the New Testament says at its beginning about baptism putting one into the Lord's church, His body, is exactly what it says about the same subject at its close. So, this leads us to conclude that some people were dissatisfied that what the Lord says about baptism "being the door into the church," and have created their own way about the matter. But we must emphasize that baptism is still the act of obedience that puts one into the Lord's church. We do, however, admit that the baptism Christ commanded will not put one into a denominational church -- it puts one into the Lord's church only. When the truth of Jesus is preached, believed, and obeyed, His baptism having been submitted to, that individual is then added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:37-47). So if baptism today does not put one into the body of Christ, His church, it is because it is not the baptism Christ commanded long ago and is still commanded today. Dr. Hiscox is wrong in contending that baptism is no longer involved in one being added to the Lord's church.

Jesus Christ is the Head of His church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22,23) so it is He that tells how a person becomes a member of His church. If Christ is the King of His Kingdom (and He is) then His subjects, those who have been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins, thereby being added by the King Himself to His Kingdom, He directs all the activities of His church by His Word, the New Testament. He has not changed the teaching concerning membership, worship, nor work of His church. So, what He told the church to do in the first century is what He tells them to do today. Nothing has changed.

----Adapted from an article by Earl E. Robertson

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The Creed That Needs No Revision

If you were to ask a Christian for a copy of the "creed" or "book of rules" of the church of Christ, he could only offer you a copy of the New Testament. The only written creed the church that Christ built has ever had is the New Testament. It was given by the inspiration of God, and is sufficient to furnish the man of God unto all good works, 2 Tim. 3:16,17. It meets the needs of the whole world, Mk.16:15. This is the only message we are authorized to use in the conversion of sinners, Mk. 16:15,16; Matt. 28:19,20. Jesus taught that the word of God is enduring and that by it we shall be judged, Lk. 21:33; Jn. 12:48. The authority of Christ, as expressed in the New Testament, is the only safe guide for the church. It is sinful for the church to submit to any other authority. The gospel is God's power to save, Rom.1:16. James says it is able to save, Jas. 1:21. Paul writes that it did save the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 15:1,2. The curse of God rests upon the man who preaches another gospel or dares to add to or take from it, Gal.1:8; Rev. 22:18,19.

In spite of plain Bible teaching, we find good, religious people subscribing to human creeds. Even those who subscribe to man-made creeds will not claim for them any saving power. They are but the products of human opinion and stand as barriers to the unity of religious people. Man-made creeds are based upon two wicked assumptions: 1. The New Testament is not sufficient to meet the needs and govern the people of God. 2. This supposed insufficiency can be remedied by weak, fallible, erring man. Without such assumptions there is no excuse for the making of any human creed.

Human creeds are objectionable for a number of reasons: 1. They are not inspired of God. 2. They do not meet the needs of the whole world. 3. They are not perfect. 4. They must be revised every few years. 5. We shall not be judged by them. 6. They set aside and make void the word of God. 7. They teach many things contrary to the New Testament. 8. They keep people divided on the question of religion.

They should, therefore, be laid aside forever, or better still burned and forgotten. As long as a single one of them is in force anywhere, division will exist. They are subversive of divine authority and of the peace, unity, and fellowship that should characterize those who desire to please God and go to heaven when they die.

As simple Christians we take the authority of Christ, as expressed in the New Testament as our only rule of faith and practice. It is the one creed that needs no revision. We invite all of you to meet with us on the New Testament in order that we may be united in work and worship.

---Rufus R. Clifford

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