Beginning At The Wrong Point
Dennis L. Shaver
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word or righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14).
There is no doubt that every child of God should be able to teach the saving gospel to another. We know that after the first persecution of the Lord's church that those who were scattered want everywhere proclaiming the life saving message of Christ. According to the writer of the book of Hebrews a teacher must know more than first principles. Every individual is aware that a teacher who has less knowledge than his student is inviting trouble. Such is the case with many of God's children. We are trying to teach when we have not yet gotten over the hurdle of first principles. Yes brethren we need to know more than that old stand-by, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). After all, we learned that before we were even Christians.
I might suggest that in teaching the gospel to the lost it is first easier to try and reach those with whom you are acquainted. Talk with your relatives, friends, fellowworkers, etc. and show an interest in them personally. Take the time to invite them to public worship assemblies with you and your family. Go out of your way to talk with them daily about some aspect of the Lord. God has done so much for us, and we limit our teaching to nothing, or a repeat of Mark 16:16. Can you not speak of the wonderful physical creation which our God has given for our earthly existence? The Bible does! Are you not aware of the care of our Lord in our daily lives? The Bible is! Is it possible for you to talk about God's command that we should obey those who have the rule over us? The Bible addresses itself to this matter! Do you know God's will on current issues of the day: war, peace, homosexuality, taxes, racial discord, union and management disagreements, etc.? The Bible teaches on each of these areas! Perhaps if we knew more than Mark 16:16 we could speak to others daily on the will of God concerning their total lives.
Yes, we need to teach Mark 16:16 and baptism is necessary for entering into Christ and salvation. However this is not all the Bible teaches, nor is it always the place to begin a study of the Scriptures or a discussion of the Lord. Study your New Testaments and notice the times Paul, Peter, and other New Testament Christians taught. How many times did they begin with "He that believeth and is baptized"? If they did not, Why do we? We do because of our complete lack of knowledge about God and our indoctrination on the subject of baptism!
It is my opinion that we fail to convert many to the Lord because we try so hard to "Baptize" and do not spend any time trying to "convert"! Many has been the time I have seen Christians become discouraged because "so and so" would not be baptized. Consider this: if you had tried. to convert them to the Lord rather than "get'em baptized" they might this day be a child of God. There is no need to go "loaded" when you teach with every argument in the world that proves baptism is necessary and that it must be immersion. When you have taught Christ, if one believes he will not argue with you about baptism. And, if he does not believe; persuading him to be baptized with argumentation will not bring him to the Lord.
Brethren, many times we fail to bring the lost to the Lord because we began our teaching at the wrong point. It is not necessary to begin a religious discussion with the doctrine of baptism, because many are not yet ready to understand, much less act on this basic principle of Christianity. However, you can teach about God's laws concerning homosexuality, adulterers, job relations, race relations, etc. and from this point convert them to the Lord. Yes, brethren, it is good, and it is necessary that we bring the gospel of our Lord to a lost world . . . but there is more to the gospel than the words of Mark 16:16, even if it is the only passage you have memorized.
Let us teach others, daily. But more importantly, let us begin at the proper point. You must live a life that reflects Christianity that others may desire to be a child of God. As Paul stated: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). To teach others this is our beginning point - my life!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, p. 642