Archive for July, 2007

Answering Common Sense Questions – #3

July 30, 2007

In the past few articles I have been addressing common sense questions that David Martin of the Solid Rock Baptist Church claims members of the church of Christ cannot answer clearly.  In this aritcle we will examining the third question that Mr. Martin poses.  The question is:

If the water pipes broke and the baptistry was bone dry, would my salvation have to wait until the plumber showed up? If I were to die before then, would I go to hell? If obedience to water baptism is the means of forgiveness of sins, then I would.

Once again we see that Mr. Martin has completely abandoned common sense with his question in spite of the claim that these are “common sense questions”.  We need only, as before, apply Mr. Martin’s logic to other biblical concepts to see how illogical this question is.  Remember that faith comes from hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and faith is certainly essential to salvation (Mark 16:16).  So what would happen if someone who had never heard about Jesus went to the local Bible book store but it was closed so he couldn’t buy a Bible. Would he have to wait until the store opened to be saved?  This individual could, of course, go to another store, a church, or even Wal-Mart to find a Bible and hear about Jesus Christ.  Likewise the individual wanting to be baptized but the pipe is broke could go to another church, a swimming pool or even a river or lake.  If he person who went to the closed Bible store were to die before he was able to hear God’s word would he then go to hell?  If hearing God’s word is necessary for forgiveness of sins then yes. 

I am sure Mr. Martin if asked whether one who had never had the opportunity to hear God’s word is saved would respond that in such an extreme case God is ultimately the judge.  Only God knows if the person truly had the opportunity to hear and just didn’t take the opportunity, whether or not there were other extenuating circumstances, and whether or not the man should justly be condemned to hell in light of these considerations.  However, I am also sure that Mr. Martin would never teach that because of some extreme hypothetical circumstance that it is not necessary to hear God’s word to be saved as he does with baptism.  Just as with hearing only God can determine if someone has had the opportunity to obey him in baptism, whether or not there were other extenuating circumstances and whether or not such a person should be justly condemned to hell in light of such circumstances.  However, such an extreme hypothetical circumstance does not negate the essentiality of baptism to salvation.  The rule is that baptism is required for forgivness of sins and the exceptions are up to God.

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Answering Common Sense Questions – #2

July 23, 2007

In my last article here I answered one of the “common sense” questions which Mr. David Martin of the Solid Rock Baptist Church has put forth as a question that members of the churches of Christ cannot answer.  In this article I will address the second question that Mr. Martin poses for us.

If a “Church of Christ” elder refuses to baptize me, will I be lost until I can find one who will? Do I need Jesus AND a Campebllite “preacher” in order to be saved? If I do, then Jesus Christ is not the only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and the Holy Spirit is not the only Administrator (1 Corinthians 12:13) of salvation – the “Church of Christ” preacher is necessary to salvation for he is performing a saving act on me when he baptizes me! Is this not blasphemy against Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost?

To begin with I have to note that Mr. Martin is being disengenuous with this question.  I know of absolutely no one in the churches of Christ that teaches that one must be baptized by a church of Christ elder.  Mr. Martin’s clear implication that we so teach is dishonest and not what I would expect from someone who claims to follow Christ. 

Despite Mr. Martin’s dishonesty, or lack thereof, there is a valid question hidden in there.  If another human being performs the act of baptism on me is this person not acting as a mediator between me and God?  The simple answer is absolutely not.  Lets examine the results if the same logic were applied to the gospel message. 

There is no doubt that the gospel the very power of salvation (Romans 1:16).   Hearing the gospel message is absolutely essential. In order for someone to hear the gospel message someone must teach them (Romans 10:14). Does this then make the preacher of the gospel a mediator between man and God?  Cornelius was told that Peter would come and tell him “words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”  Did the fact that Cornelius needed something from Peter for his salvation mean that Peter became a mediator between him and God?  No one would argue that the person who preaches the gospel message becomes a mediator or administrator of salvation though the hearing of that gospel message is necessary for salvation.  Likewise, the one who baptizes another does not become a mediator or administrator of salvation.

For another example of how rediculous and devoid of common sense this question is let us consider a person who is ordered to show up in court as a defendant.  If someone drives them to the trial so that they can comply with the court order does the driver become a mediator between that person and the judge?

Thus we see that not only is the question that Mr. Martin asks dishonest but it not a common sense question but rather flies in the face of common sense.  The person that performs a baptism is not a mediator between the person being baptized and God but merely aiding them in compliance to God’s wishes.

Answering Common Sense Questions – #1

July 17, 2007

On the Solid Rock Baptist Church website there is an article written by David Martin, pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church, that poses thirteen questions he believes that the churches of Christ are unable to clearly answer.  In the introduction to his article he makes the following claim:

If you ask one of these “preachers” any of the questions in this tract, you won’t get a straight answer due to their “screwball” theology. You’ll have them in “hot water,” “swimming in circles,” trying to explain their heretical positions. They’ll be “hopping all over the pond” because they can’t stay too long in one spot without sinking in the mire of their false doctrines.

From this one would certainly that the questions that followed would be reasonable and logical questions that are very difficult to reconcile with the doctrine of the churches of Christ.  However, the questions that he asks are usually not reasonable or logical and are mostly able to be answered easily. 

The first question that he poses is :

According to the history of the “Church of Christ,” God used certain men to “restore” the New Testament Church in the early 1800’s. Where was the true New Testament church before then? Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). What happened to the church and where was the truth it was responsible for preaching before God restored it?

This question is actually an honest and important question.  As Mr. Martin points out Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church.  So if the church of Christ is indeed the church that Jesus built then what happened to it from the first century until the restoration movement?

What Mr. Martin has failed to realize here is that the restoration movement was not about restoring a New Testament Christianity that had been utterly lost.  Rather it was about restoring errant churches that had ceased following it back  to New Testament Christianity.  As an illustration consider a club that restores ’57 Chevy cars to their original condition.  Would it be logical to say that there are no ’57 Chevy cars in original condition in the world because most of them are in need of restoration?  Likewise just because denominational churches during the 1800s were in need of restoration to New Testament Christianity it cannot be logically argued that there were no churches following New Testament Christianity at that time.

It must also be understood that the restoration movement was confined to America but that in other places the church of Christ has never ceased to exist down through the centuries.  Since history is written by the majority we see small glimpses here and there of people that were persecuted by the Roman Catholic church and often categorized with other groups that the Catholic church viewed as heretics, much like people such as Mr. Martin today label us as Campbellites. There are several great websites that show us glimpses of these small groups of people holding to the same beliefs and practices as the modern churches of Christ that have existed throughout time.  Two of the best sites on the subject are:

So Mr. Martin’s question, while an important one, is not a particularly difficult one for the churches of Christ to answer in a very clear manner.  The question stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and scope of the restoration movement.

Churchianity

July 11, 2007

Recently Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church.  In reading some of the responses denouncing this statement I was reminded of a discussion I had not too long ago with a man who claimed that he was not a member of any church but simply a follower of Christ.  My religion, he asserted, is not Christianity but churchianity.  This seems to be a growing attitude among religious people today.  Many today say that they want to make Christians not church members out of people. This apathetic attitude concerning the church is quite perplexing to me in light of what the scriptures say about the church. 

Christ Died For the Church

It is the church that Christ purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28).   It is the church that is his beloved bride and that he gave his life for (Ephesians 5:25) and he considers her to be glorious and holy (Ephesians 5:27).  The church is obviously of tremendous value to Christ and thus we should not attempt to downplay its importance.

The Church Is The House Of God

Paul wrote to Timothy and gave him many instructions on how to conduct himself “in the house of God, which is the church” (1 Timothy 3:15).  The church is God’s dwelling place and assuring the proper beliefs and practices within it was important enough that Paul wrote Timothy to give him instructions on these beliefs and practices.

The Saved Are In The Church

Whenever a person is saved God places them in his church (Acts 2:47).  We also find that Christ is the savior of his Church (Ephesians 5:23).   Thus if you are not a member of his church then you are not saved. Since it is in Christ’s church alone that salvation is found then it is tremendously important that we are members of his church and his church alone.

It is impossible to come to the conclusion that the church is unimportant from scriptural evidence.  The Bible time and time again attests to the great value and importance of the church.  Thus it is important that we not only be members of a church but of the right church and we cannot simply dismiss the church as a nonissue.