These words of Jesus, the core of his great exit commission just before He ascended into heaven, were taken seriously by the 12 apostles:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” March 16:15, 16
In turn, thousands of disciples of Christ Jesus moved to turn the world toward the acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God! For more than 500 years the church grew by spreading the simple New Testament teachings of salvation.
Oh, there were false teachings along the way, several of them in which man thought he was wiser than God and knew a better way, but for the most part the church grew by the simple message that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah from far back into the nearly 4,000 years of Old Testament history.
Folks who came to Christ did so by believing Jesus was the Christ, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus, submitting to baptism in water for the forgiveness of sins, and promising to live faithfully for the cause of Christ until death. They partook of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) every first day of the week (Sunday).
Much later, 900 to 1,000 years later, the Roman Catholic Church had dominated, spreading their doctrine of salvation by works. The Protestant Reformation rebelled against the RCC during about 100 years of intense debate in which Calvinism became prominent, a series of doctrinal issues that claimed that one can only be saved by grace through faith and not by works, a notion that is very biblical, as the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-10.
However, Calvin and others who agreed with him decided baptism into Christ was a work and therefore no longer to be accepted as a necessary part of salvation. The total disregard for the Christian doctrine of baptism for salvation that had been taught clearly from the beginning of the church in the first third of the first century all the way into the 15th century, was tossed out, although no one ever did prove that baptism was a work.
The last 500 years has seen a big change in church doctrinal philosophy that causes one to ponder.
Ponder what? Ponder just how God could have allowed such an important doctrine as man’s salvation to have included baptism, along with faith and repentance, for 1,500 years.
Silly God! Didn’t he know baptism was a work and therefore not possibly a part of one’s salvation? Of course, the fault is not with God, Who never once claimed baptism to be a work. The fault was with man, who claimed baptism to be a work to justify other false doctrines.
Julie and I got back from a trip to Ireland (both Irelands) a month ago. It was breathtaking to see and hear how Ireland came to know Christ. Did you know Patrick (known as St. Patrick to many and to whom is associated St. Patrick’s Day every March) was neither Catholic nor Irish?
Patrick was a slave, kidnapped from Roman-controlled England, and taken to Ireland. He was either English or Welsh — most believe Welsh — who after escaping slavery and Ireland had a dream in which he heard Irish people, whom he loved, calling him back to Ireland to help them spiritually.
Patrick was born and died in the 5th century (400s A.D.). Christianity had not yet spread to Ireland. Patrick was considered the first Christian missionary to take the gospel to Ireland. As Romanism had not yet become an official religion (that would come 100 years or more after Patrick’s death), Patrick could not have been Catholic. He was, as most followers of Christ at that time, simply a Christian.