|Volume 19 Number 12 December 2017||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The late brother T. Pierce Brown once wrote the following profound and biblically accurate statement: “Church membership is the byproduct of salvation.” Some folks in their minds divorce church membership from salvation, but in reality, there is an inseparable, biblical link between them. One cannot enjoy salvation without church membership, and one cannot have actual church membership without first having been saved from his or her past sins. Despite what individuals might imagine, church membership and salvation are permanently tied together.
The very process by which one enters into salvation is the identical process by which one enters into church membership. The New King James Version reads, “…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Other translations, referring to church membership, read, “…the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 English Standard Version).
That process leading to salvation and church membership culminates at immersion (Romans 6:3-5) or baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, 41). Contrary to what general denominational dogma stipulates, water baptism does save from sin (1 Peter 3:20-21). Jesus summarized the divine plan for human redemption in Mark 16:16 as faith plus baptism equals salvation.
Corresponding to the physical act of baptism, at baptism, the Holy Spirit places the saved into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18) of Christ (Romans 16:16). Hence, salvation and church membership are the same activity. Therefore, to decry church membership is to denounce one’s own salvation. Furthermore, to falter in the obligations of one’s church membership (Hebrews 10:25) jeopardizes one’s salvation, too (Hebrews 10:26-31).
A Christian’s salvation is only as healthy as his or her church membership. The degree of activity with which one engages his or her church membership is an indicator of one’s spiritual health or salvation. Nevertheless, numerous New Testament passages encourage Christians to act like Christians! “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8 NKJV). The Lord’s church needs to act like the body of the saved—as individual Christians and collectively as congregations.
The Bible, A Book for All!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
The Barna Group recently completed an interesting survey, which found that the Bible plays an important role in the American armed forces, even for military personnel who aren’t particularly religious. Some service members who do not regularly read the Bible often turn to the Book during difficult times in their service to our country. Researchers found that 37 percent of non-Bible readers in the military read the Good Book when they are looking for comfort; 30 percent read it during a deployment, and 17 percent read it when they are separated from family. These results show that even among folks who are not regularly filled with Scripture, Scripture still brings a source of help that nothing else can provide. Of course, folks who are regular students of God’s Word have already learned this wonderful blessing and continually draw from His Holy Precepts. Interestingly, whether a person is a believer or an infidel, the Bible is truly a Book for all! Consider the following.
Firstly, for the atheist, the Bible is a book of condemnation. The atheist affirms that he knows God does not exist. While any reasonable, logical person understands clearly that statement could never be proven, there are still some who promote this sad theory. However, the evidence for the existence of God is overwhelming! By means of natural revelation (the creation), God has not left Himself without witness (Acts 14:17), so much so that His existence is clearly seen and there is no excuse for someone to not believe in God (Romans 1:20). Therefore, the Bible strongly condemns one who will not look at the irrefutable evidence for God’s existence. Truly, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” (Psalm 14:1a; cf. Psalm 53).
Secondly, for the agnostic, the Bible is a book of conviction. The agnostic declares that he cannot know for sure whether God exists and no one else can know for sure either. However, either God exists, and we can know it (because He revealed it to us), or else He does not exist (and the evidence we have is faulty). There is no middle ground! Because of natural revelation (the creation) and special revelation (God’s Word), we know that God exists. If the Bible is from God, then God exists! For the one who does even a cursory study of the Bible, it becomes abundantly clear that this wonderful Book is not a product of mere man! The harmonious unity, scientific foreknowledge, prophecy made and fulfilled, and much more evidence convicts the agnostic. Agnosticism is a position held by those who have not really, honestly considered the Bible (1 John 1:1-4).
Lastly, for the advocate, the Bible is a book of comfort. For those who have logically examined the evidence, God’s Word is a daily source of help and comfort through life’s struggles. What hope is there in this life if God does not exist? What hope is afforded the one who is not sure of God’s existence? However, to believe in God is to have hope and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). For those who are burdened, Jesus says come (Matthew 11:28-30). For those facing death, God is with you (Psalm 23:4). When we are so burdened with life that we are not even sure for what to pray, God’s Spirit is available (Romans 8:26-28). The Psalmist knew, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).
What a Book! God’s Revelation is truly a Book for all. One day, all will be judged by that Book (John 12:48). Therefore, it behooves us to study, seek and submit to God and His inspired Word. “Blessed is the man…” (Psalm 1:1-6).