By Don Wright
When someone is going to argue something in an attempt to prove a point, it is best if he has some facts to substantiate his claim. A fact is simply a piece of information presented as having objective reality, i.e., it is an actual truth. Some people, however, do not like facts, especially when they are contrary to the position they hold. The old saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts” is how some people really feel. Nevertheless, facts are important and when it comes to spiritual matters, facing the facts can be a soul saving experience. So, let’s face some facts.
Fact #1: The pleasures of sin last but for a season. It would be naive to say that there is no pleasure in sin. The Devil is no dummy. Well, actually the Devil is a dummy, but he knows enough to realize that unattractive sin is not going to lure too many people to it. In order to catch a fish, you have to have bait that is going to be desirable to the fish. Satan at least knows this much about sin and people. Most sin, therefore, is attractive at first glance. It is pleasurable to the flesh to experience. But the attractiveness of sin wears off soon enough. Its pleasure is transitory. The Hebrew writer wrote, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:24-25).
Getting drunk with the boys may be fun at first, but soon the pleasure fades away and the drunkard is left with a hangover. It may be satisfying to the flesh to commit fornication, but the gratification is temporary and the end result is often some kind of disease or unwanted condition (Rom. 1:27).
Let’s face the facts! There is some delight in sin, but the pleasure is fleeting and the end result of unrepented sin is eternal damnation (Matt. 25:46).
Fact # 2: There is only one church. From man’s perspective a person can choose the church of his choice. From God’s perspective, however, there is no choice to be made. How can you choose between one? The fact is Jesus did not built a plurality of churches, he built just one. When promising to build the church, Jesus used the singular in referring to the church. He said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18), not churches. In his inspired writing, Paul consistently referenced the fact that there is one church or body wherein Christians can be found (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13). Would it be popular to affirm that all the man-made churches in the world today belonged to Christ? Yes! In fact, that is what most of the religious world affirms. But that is contrary to the facts you read about in the Bible. The fact is Jesus built just one church even as he declared he would; and facts do not change just because they are unpopular with the majority.
Fact # 3: Of those who have reached the age of accountability, only those in the church that Christ built are saved. Where can you find a Christian? There is only one place! You can find a Christian in the church of Christ and nowhere else. Why do I say that? Consider the following facts. In order to be a Christian, one has to obey the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). Those who refuse to obey the gospel are lost (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Paul closes the door on the concept that ignorance is excused by God. Those who know not God are lost and there is no one to blame but themselves. God has revealed his will to mankind in plain fashion. It is not his fault if people refuse to listen to him. Be sure to read Acts 17:30 in regard to ignorance.
Now what happens to those who do obey the gospel? The Bible answer is that their sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), righteousness (justification from God) is imputed unto them (Rom. 4:5-7), and they enter into fellowship with God. But something else happens too. That person who obeys the gospel is immediately added to the church. Acts 2:47 declares, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” What does the Bible teach about the saved? They are added to the church. What church? We have already faced the fact that there is only one church; therefore, we know what church the saved are added to, don’t we? It is the only church there is which belongs to and was built by Christ. It is the church that wears his name because it belongs to him. The saved are added to the church of Christ. If you are saved, you must, then, be a member of the body of Christ. That’s where you were placed upon your obedience to the gospel. If you are not a member of the church, you are not saved. If you were, you would be a part of the body since that is where God places all of the saved.
What about all the talk among some more liberal brethren of finding Christians in every church (denomination)? It’s error. You cannot find a Christian in any denomination. It may be that a person who has obeyed the gospel has left Christ to follow a human doctrine in a man-made church, but upon doing that, the person ceased to be a follower of Christ. In other words, there may well be many wayward brethren in different denominations, but true Christians can only be found in Christ. The church does not save, but it is made up of all the saved. That is a fact that must be faced.
Fact # 4: Baptism puts one into the church of Christ. Faith only may put one into the Baptist church. Having some water sprinkled on one’s head might make one a member of the church of the Nazarene. Being baptized as an infant might satisfy the Catholic church; but only scriptural baptism puts one into the church of Christ. That baptism is more than an outward sign of an inward grace can be seen by such passages as Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; and Galatians 3:27. For those who may deny the necessity of baptism, it should be observed what baptism does. It washes away sin (Acts 22:16). It is a part of becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). It is the place where God cuts away our sin in a spiritual operation (Col. 2:12). It puts us into Christ (Gal. 3:27). It should be remembered that all spiritual blessings, including salvation, are found in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Since baptism puts one into Christ, one should readily see its importance.
Let’s look at the words “into” and “unto” for just a moment. The prefix un means “not.” For example, we talk of those who are unskilled, undressed, unashamed, etc. The suffix to in the word “unto” describes movement towards something. For example, I might say, “I drove my car to the bank.” “Unto,” then, means moving towards something, but not there yet.
The prefix in indicates entry and reveals location or position. For example, “I was in the bank.” The suffix to in the word “into” describes contact. I might say, “Put your pedal to the metal.” Therefore, “into” means entering in and contacting something.
Now let’s see the application of this. Faith brings us unto righteousness (Rom. 10:10). Repentance brings one unto life (Acts 11:18). Confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:10). All of these things (faith, repentance, and confession) are necessary, but they only send us in the right direction. They help one move towards Christ, but they do not put one in Christ. Baptism, being the final step in obeying the gospel, is the thing that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27). Don’t just walk up to the door of Christianity, step inside by being buried in the waters of baptism (Rom. 6:3-4). Face the fact! Without being baptized, you are still outside of Christ, not a member of his church, and therefore still living in sin.
Bible facts are important. They don’t change because of the opinion of man. They do not change with time. The facts that we just looked at are as true today as they were