Have you ever had that friend who said they were a Christian… They used the right terms most of the time, and you never really gave it a second thought? I am coming to realize that I, all too often, take people at their word on this too easily. What I mean is that there are a lot of “weird” beliefs out there that pass for “Christian” and without really digging deeper into it, things can seem good on the surface. While I love discussing theology, apologetics, etc… I generally do that with people who I attend Church or old friends with whom I grew up. I have a personal quirk/flaw… I am opinionated, so I try not to discuss things with brothers I may offend.
Today, I went to lunch with a friend of mine from work who I knew was a pastor. I didn’t know what church he went to, and so I figured I would dig around to see what I could learn- theology talk around the office is always a good thing. I started with a simple enough question: “What church do you go to?” He quickly replied with, “The Church of Christ.”
Now in my mind there were two options — one was the restoration movement non-instrumental Church of Christ, which can have issues with Baptismal Regeneration and can be hetrodox or can be orthodox. The other option was just pure trouble. It could be the International Church of Christ. I would put this one in the “Danger Will Robinson, Danger” category, aka. borderline cultic. Some of the problems that came to mind were:
- Baptism, by immersion, is essential to salvation.
- Baptism must be as a true “disciple” or it is not valid.
- Baptism must be performed in the International Church of Christ to be valid.
- Being a disciple is necessary to be a Christian.
After a couple of questions, it came to light that it was indeed the latter of the options… and I was disappointed. We began to discuss the baptism of Jesus, and he was making some common statements, about it being to fulfill the law and to be an example for believers to follow. I have had this conversation with people from various
There seems to be an almost universal ignorance of what law had to be fulfilled. Hebrews explains that Jesus is our High Priest. Now in order for Jesus to be a priest, he had to fulfill the legal requirements of priesthood. He had to be consecrated for the priesthood, which included a sin offering [not needed for the sinless Son of God], being washed with water (Lev. 8:6; Exodus 29:4), being anointed with oil (Lev. 8:12; Exodus 29:7), and being 30+ years of age may have also been a requirement (Num. 4:3). We see clearly in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus had these things done. He was washed in baptism and was anointed not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit, through whom he would do miracles.
I tried to explain this to the man, who as is commonly the case, wouldn’t listen to the other side. I love it when people act as if they can simply quote Acts 2:38 as if someone who disagrees with them has never read that verse, or perhaps that they used the Black Highlighter on it.
I have a couple of pieces of advice should you come across someone who holds to this view or a similar one:
- Ask them if Abraham was saved without baptism, and if the method of salvation is universal throughout the old and new covenants.
- Press the issue of Cornelius in Acts 10. Specifically, I would focus on the following and ask the question: Does the Holy Spirit indwell unsaved men?
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Act 10:44-48)
3. Press very hard on Romans 5:1ff, it says we are justified by faith. How can justified men be unsaved?