The earth presents many sad sights to those who have eyes to see. Where truth should be exalted for the hope and salvation of perishing man, we see contradictory creeds and bitter conflict. Instead of a generous distribution of the earth’s bounties amongst her children, we see millions toiling in hunger; instead of peace and prosperity, we see war preparations and oppressive taxation.
The great doctrines of the Christian faith are based upon facts. Deny the facts and you falsify the doctrine. Deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ and he becomes the son of Joseph and not the Son of God: he is made a man of his time and no more. Deny the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and it strikes at the very foundation of the faith and makes Christ’s apostles false witnesses, and leaves the dead in their graves for ever. Deny the fact that Christ worked true miracles and he is robbed of his authority and real status, because he said that the miracles were signs of his divinity. In the end the seeker for the truth has to show a spirit of independence and look carefully at the teaching of the Bible itself rather than accept conclusions second hand.
One of the first things the New Testament emphasises is that doctrine can be defined. Sometimes today it is said that the Christian faith cannot be stated in propositions and that it is something mystical which cannot be analysed. If that be true, here is a strange thing — the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Galatians marvels that some of them had turned away from the truth and had departed from the gospel to another. The point to notice is this:
how can it be said that somebody has departed from something if that something cannot be defined?
Surely the teaching of the New Testament is that there is a definable objective standard by which judgements can be made. Now if Jehovah, the Lord God, has gone to great care to reveal the truth about Himself and His purpose it is illogical to behave as though it does not matter, and that people can please themselves about what they believe.
In the Old Testament there is a passage which settles this point clearly:
“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
Trembling at the word of God means understanding it, believing it and obeying it. People are not entitled to please themselves if that leads them to be indifferent to what God has revealed. Men and women ought to look carefully and sincerely at their beliefs.
Vital Doctrines to be Discovered
Those who have responded to the exhortation to look penetratingly at their own religion and measure it by the word of God have often been surprised to discover that things they had believed all their lives were untrue! The writer acknowledges that this was his experience: such a process exposed the false doctrine of the immortality of the soul and its associated ideas concerning the destiny of the soul after death. It brought release from the doctrines of demons and devils and disembodied spirits and instead brought to light the real and vital significance of resurrection as the method of survival, at the second coming of Jesus Christ as King of the World. It brought enlightenment and understanding concerning the kingdom of God — a realisation that it is a real kingdom to be established on the earth, in the very place where the kingdoms of men are crumbling to decay. It opened up the prospect of life eternal, a life unsullied by sin and unwearied by any disability, a life immortal and wonderful, to be lived with Christ in the Kingdom of God.
It also brought the sobering conviction that one of the most solemn commandments of the Lord had never been obeyed: to be baptized. With an understanding of the Bible doctrine about baptism it became evident that what had previously passed for baptism in the form of christening was quite out of harmony with scriptural teaching and practice. The word of God demonstrated that baptism is an act of obedience, resulting from faith — a voluntary burial in water as a sign of death to the old life, and a rising again from the water to a new life of obedience.
In the days of the infant church many believers were stoned, beaten, starved, hunted, hounded and eventually martyred. They endured all this because they believed that what they had to say was vital. In the words of Peter,
“We ought to obey God rather than men”.
If it does not matter what we believe or with whom we worship, then they were mistaken in their determination to preach the truth at all costs.
Next: Examples of Living Faith
- Belief of the things that God has promised
- God showing how far He is willing to go to save His children
- Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
- June’s Survey – Baptism by immersion: Necessary for salvation?
- Why baptism really matters – e-book
- Rebirth and belonging to a church
- United people under Christ
- Can You Be Cleansed Of Sin?
- Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?
- Sozomen (440): Baptism is By ImmersionRussty Reborn
- Blessings of Baptism
- Make your membership count for something
- Parents in the Household of Faith (Week Nine to Ten 11.25-12.5.2018)
- George Fox on the experience of early Friends
- Between the Lines: Does “baptism” really mean “baptism” in Rom. 6:3,4?