By Earl E. Robertson
Edward T. Hiscox, in his book, Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, says on page 22, under the heading of “Church Membership,” “It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, and one baptism’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.’ Now, it is different. . . .”
So, the “Doctor” affirms that some things in spiritual matters have changed since the days of the apostles. He tells us that in the days of the apostles “there was but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” This is true (Eph. 4:5). He tells us that “no differing denominations existed.” This is true also, if he means denominations claiming to follow Christ. There were various sects in Jesus’ day: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, et al. But these did not make claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Further, the “Doctor” tells us that “baptism was the door into the church.” All of this was true in the days of the apostles.
But to our chagrin, he says all this has changed! This raises many questions. If in apostolic days the “very act” of baptism constituted one a member of the church, and that baptism was the door into the church (as we can certainly read such in our New Testaments), we can say without fear of successful contradiction that such was by divine authority. That is, the Lord authorized such; he had Paul to write that baptism puts one into the one body (Cor. 12:13, 20) and that one body is the church (Col. 1:18). But if such were true in apostolic days, when did this authority change? What assembly changed it? By what or whom did this change come? Why did it change? Is God pleased with the change?
As one searches his New Testament to find where such a change was to take place or where such did take place, he is surprised to find no change either contemplated or having taken place! What the New Testament says at its beginning about baptism putting one into the Lord’s church (body of Christ) is exactly what it says about the same subject at its close. The doctrine had not changed. So, this leads us to conclude that some people were dissatisfied that what the Lord says about baptism “being the door into the church,” and have created their own way about the matter. But we must emphasize that baptism is still the act of obedience that puts one into Lord’s church. We do, however, admit that the baptism Christ commanded will not put one into a denominational church-it puts one into the church of Christ only. When the truth of Jesus is preached, believed, and obeyed, his baptism been submitted to, that individual is then in the Lord’s church (Acts 2:37-47). So if baptism today does not put one into the church of Christ it is because it is not the baptism Christ commanded. Dr. Hiscox is wrong in contending that baptism is no longer the way into the church of Christ. The Baptist church has no legislative power to direct the Lord’s Church. It might be a legislative body, but its legislation is directed to the Baptist church and not the Lord’s church. The Lord Jesus Christ is head over his church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23)-not the Baptist church. The Baptist church exists contrary to Christ’s teaching, not because of it. Jesus’ word is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8: 11), and the kingdom is the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1: 13). If he is king over his kingdom (and he is), then the citizens are his subjects and his word rules them. Therefore only those who subject themselves unto his authority are granted citizenship in his kingdom (church), and baptism into his church is within this authority (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Cor. 12:13).
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 24, p.2
April 19, 1973