[forthright] Is Baptism Essential to Salvation? (Part 1)/Lessons from History

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004 13:47:22 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Today's Prayer: New babes in Christ
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COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

Is Baptism Essential to Salvation? (Part 1)
by Barry Newton

When sitting across the modern round table of
discussion with those who may disagree about the
essentialness of immersion for salvation, it has
been my experience that, typically, a fruitful
dialogue will be elusive if baptism is studied.
Instead, clarity on baptism arises after a
biblical understanding of salvation by faith is
achieved.

Do you agree?

Next article:  "Have Faith In Me"

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COLUMN: Reality Check

Lessons from History
by Stan Mitchell

"A nation that forgets its past has no future."
(Winston Churchill)

I recently spoke to a cleric in another state who
says his denomination is being "torn apart" over
the question of whether they should worship with
an organ, or a band. Personally he felt the organ
was more "reverent." I commiserated with him, for
division is always heartbreaking, but I also
pointed out (kindly, I hope) that while the Bible
says nothing about bands and organs, it says a
great deal about our worship in song.

For Churches of Christ it has never been about
what society demands. We have never adopted a plan
of action simply because "church growth studies"
say the church will grow thereby. We have always
looked to the past, for we are a Restoration
Movement.

What we learned from the days of Campbell and
Stone, and in the mid part of the twentieth
century is that when a church stands fervently for
the word of God, that there are people out there
who are hungry to hear it, and the church will
grow. In both periods, the churches of Christ were
the fastest growing religious fellowship in
America.

What we learn from the era of Constantine the
Great, when the church began to fall away from
scripture, and from the late nineteenth century
when churches of Christ divided when some moved
beyond what scripture said, was that when humans
begin to feel they are superior to God's word,
division and heartbreak is the inevitable end.

Of course we learn most when we turn to the pages
of sacred history - the Scriptures - and seek its
pages for warnings, commands, example and
precedents. We seek to restore the New Testament
church's love, her desire to obey God, her world-
wide vision. Going back to the Bible is not
divisive; leaving God's word for our own selfish
desires - now that's always divisive.

"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the
ancient paths; ask for where the good way is, and
walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls"
(Jeremiah 6:16, NIV).

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