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Gospel Gazette Online

Vol. 11 No. 12 December 2009

Page 16

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to rushmore@gospelgazette.com

Must a Person be Baptized
to be a Member of the Church?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis Rushmore

Do you need to be baptized to become a member of the Church? If so why? Thanks for your help. Bill Dieringer

Only the Scriptures can define requirements for becoming a member of the church of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and the New Testament Scriptures have defined the requirements for becoming a member of the church of the Bible. One of those requirements is immersion (baptism) according to Acts 2:38, 41 and 47.

(38) “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… (41) Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (47)…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

“Remission of sins” of verse 38 and “saved” of verse 47 are equivalent terms relevant to redemption and contrasted with a state of being lost spiritually. Acts 2:38 and 41 stipulate that the transition from being lost to being saved occurs through one’s repentance and baptism. These saved ones are added to the church of the Bible by Jesus Himself, according to verse 47.

Hence, the saved are the church. Anyone not in the church is not saved (from his past sins). Anyone who has not been immersed for the remission of his past sins (baptized) is not saved and has not been added by our Lord to His church. The unprejudiced and honest mind cannot help but acknowledge that the New Testament teaches that baptism (immersion) has a part in salvation. “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins…” (Acts 22:16). “There is also an antitype which now saves us--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” (1 Peter 3:21).

Like faith (John 8:24), repentance (Luke 13:3) and professing Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:32), baptism pertains to obeying Jesus Christ, and our Lord saves those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). In addition, immersion in water resembles and imitates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“…as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).

Forasmuch as Scripture also says that one is saved by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 20:28), and our Lord shed His blood in His death, being baptized into the death of Jesus Christ places the new convert spiritually and symbolically into the blood of our Savior.

Yes, if we are talking about the church of the Bible, it is necessary for a person to be baptized to be a member of the church. Why? God through the New Testament says so! Why? The New Testament teaches that baptism places one into the death of Christ where our Lord’s saving blood may be contacted.


Louis Rushmore, Editor

Mr. Rushmore, I recently read your article refuting Mr. Arnold Murray on premillennialism. I have never heard of Mr. Murray until I read your article. Men such as Ryrie, Scofield, Pentecost, Hodges, Fruchtenbaum, and J. B. Hixon make a strong case for a literal millennial kingdom. Their interpretation of eschatology is consistent. Are you saying that these men are wrong also? Shalom, John Ivins

“…let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:4). We only borrow this statement from the apostle Paul to emphasize that what I or any other human being thinks is irrelative compared to what God through the Bible has revealed. In short, what can we discern from the Bible respecting the concept of “a literal millennial kingdom” or premillennialism?

  1. First century Jews rejected Jesus Christ and called for His crucifixion because He did not come to establish a literal kingdom (John 6:14-15; 18:36). Millennialists essentially make the same mistake, expecting a physical kingdom rather than a spiritual kingdom, and effectively reject Christ and crucify Him afresh.
  2. Jesus Christ used the words “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably upon the same occasion (Matthew 16:18-19), and the church or kingdom was established in Acts 2:47. Hence, the kingdom has already been established and millennialism is incorrect.
  3. The apostles Paul and John used the term kingdom to refer to the church in the first century (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9). Hence, the kingdom has already been established and millennialism is incorrect.
  4. Jesus Christ is already King of His kingdom and High Priest, at the same time, as Zechariah 6:12-13 taught would occur. However, the inspired writer of Hebrews teaches that Jesus Christ could not be Priest if He were on earth (Hebrews 7:12-17; 8:4); therefore, our Lord cannot be King on earth in a millennial kingdom, because that would conflict with Him being a Priest on earth.

The Bible is always right in its teaching, irrespective of who we may be, how studied we are or what other biblical matters we may have correctly learned. The doctrine of premillennialism or “a literal millennial kingdom” does not correspond to Bible teaching. God has another end-of-time habitation in mind for His faithful followers — and it is literally out of this world (John 14:1-3)!

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