Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1958
NUMBER 48, PAGE 13a,14c

Ifs That Demand A Why

Gordon Wilson, Henderson, Nevada

It might be a little difficult to explain exactly what we mean when we say that there are certain "ifs" that demand a "why," but the reader will best understand as we go along and give a few examples.

I. If the Bible is not the word of God, why has it stood undestroyed through all the centuries? Surely no one would be foolish enough to say that the reason the Bible has not been destroyed is that no one has attempted its destruction. This Book has certainly had more enemies than any ever written by man. The Koran, the Veda, the Tripitaka, and other so-called inspired books have had little opposition. Their enemies have virtually ignored them, and their few vocal opponents have offered nothing better. These books have made their progress among the more ignorant peoples of the world, without opposition. They have not been fairly tried. But the Bible has passed the "trial by fire." Learned men, educated men, have denied its inspiration but have died, leaving its influence unimpaired. Entire schools of scientific minds, trained in the science of Textual Criticism have examined the Bible thoroughly but have been unable to prove a single error in it. Now, how can we account for the fact that this Book has been often impeached, often condemned, but still stands undestroyed, on any other ground than the fact that it is God's word, "which liveth and abideth forever?"

II. If the Bible is a sufficient guide in religion, why do churches have creeds and manuals written by men?

I ask this question, because almost every one I talk to in the denominations says, "Oh, we follow the Bible as our guide." Well, why do they have their humanly written Creeds? Everything should have an excuse for existing. Why have the creeds? Says one: "They are a statement of our faith." But is not the Bible a statement of your faith? If it is not, then you do not believe the Bible. Says another: "The creed is an addition to the Bible." If so, then it is sinful because it violates the teaching of 2 John 9, Rev. 22:18, and other passages. Someone else suggests: "Our creed is a condensation of the teaching of the Bible." That means that part of the Bible is left out, and only that part included which the creed writers believe. So the creed is still wrong because it declares part of the Bible unnecessary to faith. Again, if the creed poses as a substitute for the Bible it violates Gal. 1:8,9. If the creed is supposed to interpret the Bible (the usual claim), it is a denial of the infallibility of the Bible authors. If the infallible men who wrote the Bible were unable to write it clearly enough to be understood, then I doubt that fallible men could make it any clearer. Why, then, have the creeds, if the Bible is a sufficient guide?

III. If it makes no difference what one believes religiously, why did the Lord condemn the commandments of men? "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:9.) It would seem foolish for Jesus to condemn the teaching of men's commandments if it really does not matter what people believe. Yet, there is a popular idea that if a person is honest and sincere he will be saved no matter what he believes. We can show examples from the Bible of persons who were both sincere and honest, but still not saved. Saul of Tarsus is one such example. (Acts 9). If these examples mean anything, they mean that it takes more than a good heart to be saved. Indeed, it takes obedience to the commandments of Christ, (Heb. 5:8,9). Honesty and sincerity are virtues absolutely necessary to salvation, but one can be sincerely mistaken. It is essential that we believe the truth, (John 8:32, 2 Thess. 2:10-13). We must believe the gospel, (Mk. 16:16.) If I believe one doctrine, and you believe a contradictory doctrine, we do not both believe the gospel, unless the gospel contradicts itself. If the gospel contradicts itself, God has a contradictory power for salvation. (Rom. 1:16.) This is as silly as saying that any of His other powers are contradictory, such as the power of gravity. Of course it makes a difference what one believes in religion.

IV. If denominational preachers are sincere, why will they not defend what they preach in public debate? There was a time when most of the preachers would engage in honorable discussion on any question of their doctrine or practice. Evidently they thought they had the truth, or at least some scriptural ground upon which to defend what they taught. But any gospel preacher can tell you how hard it is to get sectarian preachers to put their name below propositions these days. Why have they stopped debating? That public discussion is one of the finest ways of teaching is a proven fact, from our side at least. A. Campbell was convinced that "a week's debating is worth a year's preaching." Most of us have seen instances more people being baptized as a result of one debate than a preacher would likely baptize in a year's preaching. Perhaps this is why the denominational preachers, most of them, have quit debating. They have lost too many members as a result of it! But when a person reaches the point that he will not debate for fear of losing, he has lost confidence in his doctrine. Why keep preaching it? Are these preachers really sincere in what they preach? We will not indict the honesty of the large membership in the denominations, but we do seriously doubt, and for good reason, the honesty and sincerity of most of their leaders. If they are sincere, why will they not defend what they preach?

V. If baptism is not essential to salvation, why is it mentioned in connection with every case of conversion in the New Testament? The Acts of the Apostles is often called the Book of Conversions, because it gives several thousand cases of conversion. Every converted person on record in the book Acts was baptized, and they were baptized in order to receive the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38.) There are about nine specific cases of conversion recorded in this book, and it is specifically stated in each case that they were baptized, or were commanded to be baptized. Read about the devout Jews in Acts 2:38-41; the Samaritans, including Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:12,13; the eunuch of Ethiopia in chapter 8:36-39; Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9:6, 22:16; Cornelius and his household, Acts 10:47,48; Lydia and her household in chapter 16:14, 15; and the Jailor at Philippi, Acts 16:30-33. Read about the Corinthians in Acts 18:8. and the Ephesians in Acts 19:1-5. After reading all of these passages of scripture, how would you harmonize what the Bible teaches about baptism with what most preachers preach, and most people think? Does the book of Acts make baptism seem more important to you? If it is not essential to salvation, how can we account for its such frequent mention?

VI. If you are not a Christian, why not obey the gospel NOW? We can give many reasons why you should obey the gospel; how many reasons (not excuses) can you give for waiting? No doubt, some of you who are reading this paper need to be saved. If the Lord should come at this very hour He would find you procrastinating, saying "someday." But if the Lord shall not come yet, still you may die, for life is short and uncertain. But eternity is endless and sure. You are alive NOW. You have time and opportunity NOW to do the Lord's bidding. NOW is the only time you have; yesterday is gone, and tomorrow has not come, may never come. Believe in the Lord trusting in His plan for salvation. Repent of all your sins. Confess Jesus to be God's Son. Be buried with Him in baptism, arising to walk in a new life. Why not NOW?