Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 11, 1954
NUMBER 39, PAGE 2-3b

"Tell Me Why"-- Who Can Answer?

Ernest A. Finley, Wichita, Kansas

There is a popular song that is often heard, especially at weddings, that is entitled "Tell Me Why." We have chosen the title of this song as the title of our lesson. We believe that there are many doctrines that are taught by men today that are not in harmony with that which is revealed in the Lord's Will. Too often we mortals are inclined to accept doctrines and hold them with confidence when there is no divine evidence to establish them.

Many good and honest people deny that baptism has any part in the alien sinners salvation from sin. But if this be true, then "tell me why" Ananias told Saul of Tarsus to "wash away" his sins in baptism. "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name." (Acts 22:16) Did Ananias suggest that the element of water would take his sin away? Do we teach that there is anything efficacious in the water as such? No, but still Ananias told Saul that his sins would be washed away in baptism. Notice that Ananias did not tell Saul here what it was that would take his sin away, but he did tell Saul where his sin would be taken away. His sins were to be taken away in baptism. Why in baptism? Because baptism puts one into Christ. Baptism puts one into the death of the Lord, or into the benefits of Christ's death. "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3) All spiritual blessings are found in Christ. Certainly pardon for sin is one of these blessings. Thus when Saul was baptized, in coming into Christ his sins were taken away. That is why Ananias said "be baptized, and wash away thy sins." "Tell me why" do men deny this truth of God? Surely man is not wiser than God.

Along this same line, notice that Peter commanded men to be baptized "unto the remission" of their sins. (Acts 2:38) The expression "unto the remission" means "in order to receive" the remission of sins. It could not possibly mean that one should be baptized "because of" the remission of sins or because the individual already has the remission of sins. The word "unto" simply does not point backward. Thus man is arrayed against divine testimony when he asserts that one has the remission of his sins before he is baptized.

If one is saved before and apart from baptism, then "tell me why" did not the Lord say "he that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved"? That is what man teaches, "he that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved." But that is not what the Lord teaches us in the gospel. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16) It may appear that there is not very much difference between what man teaches today and what the Lord taught back there and still teaches in his word today. Is there much difference? Just one little word, the word "not." Jesus says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." But man says, "He that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved." Which do you believe? Man or God?

"Tell me why" man sprinkles or pours water on an individual and calls it baptism when the Truth says that baptism is a burial and resurrection? Hear Paul's words and see if you can observe anything in them to support the practice of sprinkling. "We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4) One does not have to stretch his imagination to see immersion in this passage of scripture. But one would have to add something to it that Paul didn't put in it in order to see sprinkling in it. With such evidence as this and many other passages, with the combined weight of scholarship testifying to the effect that baptism as practiced in apostolic days was immersion, "tell me why" will man reject this weighty evidence and practice something for which there is not the slightest thread of authority? "Tell me why," will you?

"Get saved and then join the church of your choice. Which church you are a member of is really of little significance. The church doesn't save anyway." These things are often heard from the lips of men. While we grant that the church does not save, we deny the suggestion that membership in the church is in no way related to salvation. Certainly, the church that was built by the Lord is far better than any counterfeit institution that man or Satan may establish. Jesus said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit." (Matthew 15:13, 14) If membership in the church has nothing to do with one's salvation, then "tell me why" Christ shed his blood for the church. No greater price has ever been paid than the price Christ paid for the church, but did Christ do all of this for a non-essential institution? Notice that Paul said that Christ's blood is the purchase-price of the church. "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) The sense in which the church and salvation are related is seen in the price that was paid for it. We cannot be saved without the blood of Christ. We must be redeemed by his blood in order for his blood to benefit us. Peter shows how his blood profits us, "Knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things . . . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Christ gave himself as our redemption price, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14) So Christ gave his blood to purchase us or to redeem us. But Paul says that by his blood he purchased the church. Thus, those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lord are those who compose his church. The church is a "people for his own possession," says Paul. No, the church does not save. The church is the saved, the redeemed, those purchased by the blood. That is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Christ is the Saviour of the church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) If Christ is the saviour of the body, the church, then membership in that institution is essential. One who has reached his blood in his church. One who is not in his church has not reached his blood, thus is not redeemed. So "tell me why" men will deny the essentiality of membership in his church. We should recognize also that all things that are essential to membership in his church are also essential to one's salvation. Can one become a member of the Lord's church without faith? No. Can one become a member of the Lord's church without repentance? No. Can one become a member of the Lord's church without baptism? Can he? No. Thus these things are seen to be essential not only to membership in Christ's church but they are also essential to one's salvation. The Lord clearly tells us this in his word.