Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 10, 1958

Reviewing A Baptist Tract

Roger M. Hendricks, Dayton, Ohio

Into my hands has come a tract entitled "3 Steps You Should Take." It was printed by the Baptist Testimony Publishers, Inc. located at 141 Michigan N. E. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The tract proposes to teach the lost how to receive the forgiveness of sins and be pleasing to Almighty God.

Review Of Step One

The first step mentioned is the step of faith. "You should take the step of FAITH (which requires courageous action) . . ." states the tract. With this we heartily concur. However, we are made to wonder just what the author meant when he penned the words "which requires courageous action." Could he mean that in order for faith to save it must be an active faith; a faith which produces obedience to God's Word? It appears that this is his meaning because he further declares, "Christ, Himself, warned — 'Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' (Matthew 7:21)."

It certainly requires no "courageous action' to merely give mental assent to the fact that Jesus is God's Son. Faith alone requires no "courageous action" and will not bring salvation. (James 2:24.) It does take "courageous action," however, to obey the will of the Father in heaven as required in Matthew 7:21 which our author quotes. And we are delighted to see him link the "courageous action," which is required by faith, to the doing of God's Will. He is teaching that faith must be followed by obedience; that faith "requires courageous action," which is synonymous with doing "the will of my Father which is in heaven." That he recognizes the import of what he is teaching, we seriously doubt in view of what follows.

Review Of Step Two

Note carefully the introductory statement under step two as listed by our writer. "You should take the step of OBEDIENCE to Christ and be BAPTIZED (Matthew 28:19-20) . . ." It should be noted that under step one he declared that one should take the step of faith. By this he meant that one must take the step of faith. He meant that the step of faith is a necessary one. Now, under step two he uses identical terminology and states that one should take the step of obedience (especially baptism). But, whereas, "should" under step one meant must; "should" under step two does not mean the same. It does not suggest necessity! For the writer plainly affirms, "Baptism is not necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 1:17) . . ."

What we would like to discover is this: If one "should" take the step of faith (and salvation cannot be obtained without it) and one "should" take the step of obedience or baptism, how is it possible that baptism is not as essential as is faith? If one "should" have faith and one "should" be baptized, are not faith and baptism of equal importance? Are not both necessary?

The verse given to prove the non-essentiality of baptism (1 Cor. 1:17) proves no such thing. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . ." If one will but read a few following verses in 1 Corinthians one, he will discover that Paul did baptize. Did Paul baptize without authority for doing so? Certainly not! The apostle is simply pointing out the primary duty of any gospel preacher, viz., to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether the individual preacher, himself, baptizes those who believe or whether another performs this act in obedience to God's command, matters not. Certainly Paul was to baptize or see that the believers, whom he taught, were baptized. The commission as given in Matthew 28:19-20 (mentioned by the author of the tract) applied to Paul as well as to the other apostles. It is a perversion of 1 Corinthians 1:17 to claim that it teaches the non-essentiality of baptism. (Cp. Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21.)

The final statement found under step two reads: "If you love the Lord you should obey His Word and be baptized ..." Does "should" mean must? The writer seems to be confused! At times (when he desires it) "should" means must. At other times (of his own choosing) "should" means if you want to. It should be noticed that he is teaching that one can be saved without loving God. He says that if one loves God, he will be baptized. But baptism isn't essential to salvation. So a love of God isn't essential to salvation. The Bible teaches that one must love God in order to be saved. (1 Jno. 4:7,8; 1 Cor. 13:1ff.) But if one loves God, he will "obey His Word and be baptized." (See 1 Jno. 5:3.) Thus, one must "obey His Word and be baptized" in order to be saved. (See 2 Thess. 1:7-9.)

It is amazing how one can be so inconsistent as to quote Matthew 7:21 (see quotation from tract above) and at the same time teach that obedience to God is not essential to salvation. (Cp. Heb. 5:8,9.)

Review Of Step Three

"You should . . . become an active member of a congregation of believers which has a reputation for teaching the Word of God (Not merely catechisms or other religious manuals containing mens views. They are often wrong.)" We might add that one should be a member of a congregation where the Word of God is taught, not merely where it is reputed to be taught. But we could not worship where the writer of the tract worships if the congregation teaches the non-essentiality of obedience as does he. His teaching concerning baptism came not from the Word of God, but from the "catechisms" or "religious manuals" of men. In fact it probably comes from THE STANDARD MANUAL FOR BAPTIST CHURCHES, by E. T. Hiscox. On page 20 of this "religious manual," which contains "men's views," we read: "Baptism is not essential to salvation . . ." The Bible nowhere states that baptism is not essential to salvation! Truly "religious manuals containing men's views" are "often wrong".

The author says, "... you belong in a church — but not just 'any church' . . ." With this we agree. Men "belong" in the church which the New Testament tells about. This is the church which Christ established. It is the church which accepts and properly respects the Word of God. It is the church of Christ!