"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.XII Pg.8
July 1944

Obedience To Christ Settles The Church Question

J. Early Arceneaux

The minds of millions of men and women are clouded on the supreme question, What shall I do with Jesus? By other questions such as this: Which church shall I join? or, is it necessary to be identified with any church in order to please God and be saved?

In these questions it is rightly assumed that one ought to please God, and not simply seek to please himself or other men, by his course of life. "The whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments." (Eccl. 12:13.)

It is right to do one's duty. It is certainly wrong and sinful to fail to do our duty; and sin separates man from God. All who profess to believe the Bible will cheerfully agree that it is right to obey Christ. "Christ now has all authority in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18.) "We are under law to Christ." (I Cor. 9:21.) Christ, then is Lawgiver as well as Savior. He must be obeyed. "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation." (Heb. 5:8, 9.) He earned the right to require obedience as well as belief. "He became obedient to the Father's will even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:9.) "Who in the days of his flesh having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death," in the agony of Gethsemane uttered the thrice repeated cry, "0 Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will, but thine be done." It was God's will that He drink that cup even to the bitter dregs that sinful men might be reconciled to God. God commanded Him to die for your sins and mine. Jesus obeyed that command. He subjected His will to the will of His Father. He laid down His life. That is obedience. No man took it from Him without His consent.

If we can settle it in our minds that one ought to do right; and that it is right to obey Christ, the answers to many other questions will come out of the settling of this one.

It is a proposition which ought to be clear to even a casual reader of the Bible that the only book in the world from which one can learn what Christ commands, is the New Testament of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is in force now, since the death of Christ. (Heb. 9:16,17.) His death repealed the law of Moses, the Old Testament. (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 10: 9, 10.) We are not under the law to Moses. (Rom. 6:14; I Cor. 9:20.) After His resurrection, Jesus gave the worldwide, age lasting commission to His apostles. This commission is an epitome of the New Testament. Jesus in this commission states the conditions on which He offers us the forgiveness of sins. The gospel was to be preached. Men were required to believe it, to repent of their sins and to be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28: 18-20; Mark 116:15,16; Luke 24:46,47.) His royal promise, "He shall be saved," or shall receive the remission (forgiveness) of his sins, is made to those who obey Him by humbly submitting to these conditions. All agree that to believe is a "must" requirement. (Heb. 11:6.) But so also is repentance. (Acts 11:18; 17:30, 31; Luke 13:3.) But He who said believe and repent also said, "Be baptized for the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38.) He said to Saul of Tarsus, "It shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:6.) He was told, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." (Acts 22:16.) Baptism, then, whether man likes it or not, is one of Christ's MUST commands. (Acts 11:14; Acts 10:48; Col. 2:12.)

On the day of Pentecost, the day of the beginning of the preaching under the gospel commission, when men heard Peter preach and had been told what to do, the record says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41.) If you refuse to be baptized, you reject the word of the Lord. (Luke 7:29,30.) They had been commanded to repent and be baptized for (unto R. V., the scholarship of the world) the remission of their sins. (Acts 2:38.) They had been exhorted, "Save yourselves." Those who obeyed these commands are immediately referred to as "all who believed." (Acts 2:44.)

We know, then, that the command was addressed to the unsaved. The people who thus obeyed Christ are called the church, in the New Testament. When you obey Christ, you become a member of His body, the Church. The same process that saves you makes you a member of the church you read about in the New Testament. Christ is the builder of it (Matt. 16:18); He bought it with His blood (Acts 20:28); in it He reconciles men to God (Eph. 2:16). We are baptized into one body. (I Cor. 12:13.) We are baptized into Christ. (Gal. 3:27.) It is absurd to talk about baptizing a Christian into Christ, and it would be absurd to talk about being saved out of Christ. You must obey Christ in order to be saved. Obedience to Christ makes one a Christian. Christians constitute the body of Christ.

Have you obeyed Christ? Do you expect to be saved in disobedience? Christ will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel. (II Thess. 1:7, 9.) Why not obey Him? Why not go today and obey Him and be saved; become a Christian; then be faithful unto death that you may receive the crown of eternal life? (I Pet. 4:15, 16; Rev. 2:10.)

Why not obey the truth you know? And then study the New Testament to learn your duty? Be what it tells you to be. Do what it tells you to do. Thus follow Christ. Faith that obeys, saves. If you haven't faith enough to believe what God says about baptism and to be baptized because God commands it, you haven't the faith that saves. Baptism is a stumbling block placed at the door of God's kingdom to keep unbelievers out. We, too, must pass our Gethsemane and say, "Not my will, but thine be done." Why reject Jesus? "Why will ye die?"