CHURCH  TRUTH   -  Bible Counsel  -  Section C    
 
 

 A  CENTER CIRCLE
For saints who value
Bible-Only
 SOME FEATURE  PAGES
CHRISTIAN  EXPERIENCE

 There seems to be three great spheres of Christian experience:  Redemption Way,  Church Truth, &
Spiritual Life  (John 14:6).  Most believers can ap-preciate redemption way and spiritual growth, but church truth seems to be much neglected.  We need to take "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
It is not required by God to be gathered in a scriptural assembly, but there is a blessing for saints to meet on that ground and be a part of a collective testimony, as God intended for His church, and by His revival of 1827 AD.  Faithful readers here can gain some understanding of such fellowship, and may desire to be associated to also express the "one body in Christ", embrace "all the counsel of God", and show forth "unity of the faith" by the Word of Truth.  There is no such thing in the Bible as going to "the church of your choice", as many believers say.  Write to the Site Manager for further understanding and to find a Scriptural fellowship.
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CHURCH TRUTH  is about faithful compliance and conformity to what God intended in Acts 2: 41- 42 at the beginning of the church, and then the Epistles.  It speaks of obeying and honoring God collectively without innovations. One who is saved (Jn.3: 16) ought to follow the Word (see Jn.14:23-24; Jn.17:17; Titus 1:9; Phil. 2:2);  including baptism, the gathering locally, the collective testimony in the world; and obedience to the Word, a Godly walk, the Lord's glory and honor, etc.  A local gathering in accord with Scripture may be near to one to visit, if interested.

From time to time papers will be set forth here and on the Feature Pages herein, concerning various aspects of this truth.  We ought to love all saints everywhere and be a help, even if we cannot walk with all.    - RLD
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NOTE: When we speak of a scriptural assembly we need to be prepared to show what it is biblically, and what it is not by the innovations of men. This writer feels free to invite inquiry on each issue or order of Scripture ---and distinguish between what men have invented (and often prefer), and what some of us are holding as true to God's Word and that recovery of circa 1800 AD. One might disagree, and that is a choice, but Scripture is quite plain as to what God has intended for His testimony in the world. One can write for help herein to find such a fellowship.
 - RLD 08/15
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A Beginning Testimony

A FOUNDATION GUIDE FOR THE ASSEMBLY
By R. DeWitt, 2007; rev. 03/17

[Some understanding of the scriptural assembly locally and worldwide, and in testimony as shown in the revival of 1827 AD which first met in a home, and is now in many cities and countries worldwide.] 

Some Christians are associated with so-called High Churches who have a formal hierarchy of priestly men and many rituals, with their doctrines, rules, and form; some believers are at the other extreme with various independent, casual, and open sects who follow varied innovations to make them appealing and popular with men; and many Christian groups are somewhere between these. We need, rather, to endeavor to be yielded to God's Word, and that is what the fellowship from circa 1800 is about. A few thoughts are here from other papers to help Christians, who have never heard of the revival of AD 1827, and were not reared within a scriptural assembly. 

The Gathering Place according to the scriptural order for the church, is probably not like anything one has known from the various Christian gatherings they have seen in the world, who often denominate: take a name, have a hierarchy of leaders, follow rituals, ceremonies and rules, may embrace worldly ways, have entertainment and activities, programs, innovations, etc. Others form independent gatherings in homes and do whatever they all agree to do in the name of Christianity; yet also fail to bow to Bible-only.  

While many intended scriptural assemblies begin in homes until they grow larger, they need to do it in fellowship with the universal Church as God established for some help, rather than independency which is divisive (1Cor. 12:25); and certainly not to be exalting certain men among them. There are various ideas developed to please man, rather than true to the Word of God. One needs to decide if they want to be a part of a scriptural assembly as a worldwide fellowship in "unity of the faith" as God ordained, and as a local expression of that, or just follow traditions and the popular ideas of men.  

A true believer ought to seek to know church truth, church history, talk with the elders associated with the gathering, be baptized, pray much, and be an observer for a time before asking to be received into that scriptural fellowship, for unity with the revival of 1827 after the biblical order. It endeavors to hold to Bible-only for universal unity. Reception is not dependent on knowing all the Scripture, and one should come simply in faith as a learner. One should come with the thought of "one accord" as shown and in truth. Certainly, we do not expect perfection with any saints, but God has preserved the testimony and pathway that He ordained.

The Word Of God should be our only authority for the Christian faith, not rules, creeds, the reasoning of various men and personal preferences. One should study the Word, seek some counsel from sound Bible teachers, and pray earnestly. Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL is a sound source of church history and ministry.

The Assembly Life concerns Christian love, happy fellowship, and the various Bible meetings and function as in Acts 2:41-42 and the Epistles ---a Godly spirit, and the care and fellowship for all the saints. Some small gatherings in homes grow to need a larger building in time for the assembly. One should stand apart from various sects and appreciate the truth of expressing the "one body of Christ” as given for the church, rather than the independent ways or mergers of the various religious sects of men. Mergers are not scriptural. A seeker ought to learn such as the ground of gathering, the history of the gathering, the form of gathering, the functions of the gathering, the priesthood of the gathering, etc.; all to know if God is honored, the Bible is followed, and there is liberty of spirit.

The Holy And Royal Priesthood (1 Pet. 2) is a precious truth given all saints, and something different than one will find in the various sects and systems, where the liberty and gifts of God's calling and participation is not allowed. One should study this and value the priesthood of the saints. Men are not called to make rules for others.  

The Order And Government Of God speaks of the scriptural form of the collective gatherings, unity worldwide, a Godly spirit, correction of waywardness, and honor to God; and God's mind and purposes for His testimony from the beginning of the church. This is by sharing of all the gathered saints and some guidance by elders. The saints worldwide should be essentially of one mind before God. 

The Honor And Glory Of The Lord ought to be paramount among the saints in the assembly and in our personal life, rather than pleasing men with their religious ideas.

The Collective Worship And Ministry speaks of communion at the Lord's Table and the Supper, as worship in both a collective and personal way by the working of the Spirit (Matt. 18:20), and the ministry shared in Bible studies and in messages delivered among the saints needs to be sound and esteemed; and those visitors in the "room (place) of the unlearned" can profit from it, as God says (note 1 Cor. 14:16) .  

[It is important to appreciate that in all this it is speaking of God's standards and testimony in the world after His order. There is no such thing in the Holy Scriptures as "a church of your choice", so one ought to seek to find what God intended for the church, rather than look for a popular place of convenience and our preference. One can learn more about such a fellowship at the site: www.biblecounsel.homestead.com and ask questions there. One cannot speak for others, and surely each child of God ought to pray earnestly to find God's mind for one's pathway.]   – RLD: CF15   

BAPTISM NOT FOR SALVATION
[Letter adapted for ministry and to avoid names]
                                                                                                                        3/01
Dear Sir:
Regarding your comments on the subject of baptism for salvation, I will try to respond to your thoughts. I will share some information then leave you to your "closet" (Matt.6:6) to talk with God.

  First, I must say, one can imbibe this erroneous reasoning about baptism by not understanding the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God ---profession and possession. Also, if one fails to see that baptism of repentance by John, the baptizer, is not the same as baptism today to Christ, they can get confused (Acts 19:1-6).

  You have emphasized that baptism always precedes salvation, yet that is not what we see in Acts 18:8 and other verses. Many also receive Christ at the point of death and are not baptized. One should also note that salvation is often implied as occurring before baptism (e.g. Acts 16:30-33; etc.), but either way God is glorified by the faithfulness of it. It is really taking a stand with Christ against the unbelieving world ---yet one must be "born again" for salvation by personal faith in Jesus Christ ---possessing Him (note 1 Jn. 5:10-13).

  Baptism is important to bring one into the sphere of mercy and privilege, like circumcision for Israel (see also the type Gen. 17:11). It honors God, but doesn't cleanse one of sin (see I Pet.3:21). "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7) to be saved, and that is by grace, faith, and the new birth, not by works. God says it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done" (Titus 3:5). How could one do works down in "an horrible pit" (Psa.40:2)? See also Isaiah 64:6 which says: "all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags". It doesn't preserve a soul whether one is baptized before or after they are saved. One should not get ceremonial about it, like Roman Catholics and their rituals to earn an entrance to heaven.

  Many verses show salvation is by faith with no mention of baptism (see Luke 23:39-43; John 3:14-16; Rom.3:24-26; II Tim.1:9; etc.). Please note John 3:14-15 and compare with Numbers 21:8 to see that salvation is by a look of real faith on the finished and perfect work of Christ on the cross. We must not try to add our works to that and dishonor Him, who paid such a great price to redeem us.

  Consider the following verses often misused by false teachers:
Mark 16:15-16 was a word to Israel and the world for repentance. It refers generally to the preservation of the soul. To be saved means to be preserved or kept, and is used in different ways in the Word of God. The verse is in two parts. It says he that continues to believe about God and is baptized shall be preserved (a beginning); and he that believes not ---in real faith by embracing the salvation of God, shall be condemned. This is consistent with all other references. It is referring to the Kingdom in general. It speaks only of repentance (see Matt.3:1-11; Acts 13: 24; especially Acts 19:1-6). 
Acts 2:36-38 says to the men of Israel to repent, which implies believing and conformity to Christ; and to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ unto (not for) remission of sins, and ye shall (thereafter) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Salvation is by the indwelling of the Spirit, not by Baptism. Baptism is obedience to show faithfulness and take a public stand.

Acts 8:12-25 is very important and should be studied prayerfully to see that baptism is not salvation or eternal life. Only the indwelling and sealing of the Spirit can bring salvation, and that was imparted to all present, except Simon the sorcerer, who was not faithful. He only believed (allowed) what Phillip was saying, like Judas Iscariot and some other curious followers seeking gain.

Acts 22:16 is rendered in another translation as saying that in addition to being baptized unto Christ, one should "have thy sins washed away calling on the Name of the Lord". This is consistent with all other references (note Rom.10). Salvation is not by our works of baptism or any other work. It is the free gift of God to true believers (“calling on the Name of the Lord”). God looks on the heart (I Sam.16:7).

Rom.6:3-4 refers to the testimony, being baptized unto (not into) Jesus Christ, and it is "like" unto Christ's sacrificial work---taking a stand with Him.

Gal.3:27 should be rendered unto (not into) Christ, and again refers to obedience and the testimony, not the spiritual new birth and salvation. Into or unto is the Greek word "eis", and it depends on how it is used. Unto (or near) the truth or Name of Christ is not salvation. Many have come near and heard and accepted (or allowed) the truth, but were not "born again" (saved). This was true in Bible times, as well as today. We can no way be baptized "into" Christ, for sinners are lost and down in a "horrible pit" (Psa. 40:1-3). We can only "look up", as shown in John 3:14.

Col.2:11-12 also refers to obedience and faithfulness in baptism as the result of God's work in our soul. God saves and we respond by faith. Baptism does not save.

Titus 3:5 tells us that God saves, not by our righteous works, but by our embracing the truth (“washing of regeneration”), and then the work of God in our soul (“renewing of the Holy Ghost”). Baptism only says we have embraced the truth.

I Pet.3:21 clearly says baptism is a figure and not for cleansing the flesh. It is only the "answer of a good conscience". It is not salvation of the soul.

  Now, my friend, I don't mean to be unkind. I only wish to share these thoughts. Please see the attached papers which may help to explain what baptism really is. The issue is whether one chooses to believe he must do a work to gain salvation, and I do not. I don't think God is pleased with one presuming to add to the redemptive work of Christ. Satan certainly would have man put his trust in self. 
- Yours in Christ, [R. DeWitt]

[ ADDENDUM: The followers of the teaching of baptism for salvation, don't understand the work of the Spirit of God in the new birth by faith alone. They need to also review Romans 10. They need to know, too, that the old order was done away, including "divers washings" and various rituals (Heb.9). They need to see that sinners cannot cleanse themselves. They must be washed by the blood of Christ (note Rev.1:5).  Water cannot cleanse one of sin. It is only a figure, as when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, etc. Water is also used in the Bible as of the Word of God at times.  One might take note that Paul attached no urgency to baptism (I Cor.1:13-14); and see Ephesians 5:25-26 and I John 5:6-8 to understand something of the spiritual meaning of water; and see John 1:12-13 to realize that God's salvation is not "of the will of man, but of God". - R.L.D.]