In the great sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old times…but I say unto you…” It was there that he was showing the distinction between the new law of the gospel of Christ, and the old law of Moses. This is a distinction that many people have never grasped.
Those people had not gone to the source of their information to find out with what authority their informant had spoken. People often make the same mistake today, but it is a wise thing to “Believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Paul warns us to “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
Ye have heard that it was said, “One church is as good as another.” But what does Jesus say about that? He said that exactly the contrary is true. He said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). Did you ever ask a person where he got his information when he said one church is as good as another, and that it didn’t make any difference which church you were in? The next time you hear a fellow make a statement like that, ask him for the source of his information, and watch him get embarrassed.
Ye have heard that it was said, “Baptism is not essential to salvation, and it has no connection with the remission of one’s sins.” But Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Ananias, an inspired minister of the gospel, said, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). So while you have heard to the contrary, the Lord and his disciples state that baptism does have a connection with salvation, and that it is essential.
You have heard it said, “The church was established with John in the wilderness, or during the personal ministry of Jesus.” But after John was already dead and buried, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). He gave rules and regulations for the government of the church, but Paul said in Hebrews 9:17 that these did not go into effect while Jesus lived—that there had to be a death on Christ’s part before they were effective. If the church had been established during the personal ministry of Christ, it could not have been governed by the word of Christ in his Testament.
Ye have heard it said, “A sinner can pray for salvation and get it.” And it is a common thing for sectarian preachers to tell sinners to pray for salvation. But the Bible says in John 9:31, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners.” And Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” But if a man be in Christ he is a new creature. (2 Cor. 5:17).
Instead of a sinner being told to pray for salvation, the Bible tells him, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). It matters not how much a sinner may pray for salvation, until he is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. In this law or rule, there is no change, and beyond it there is no appeal.
Ye have heard it said, “Men can go to heaven outside the church.” But the Bible says in Acts 2:47, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Ye have heard it said, “God has more than one church, and more than one flock today.” But Jesus said, in John 10:16, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. “Jesus said there would be only one. There is only one church or fold in the world today by divine authority.
In Ephesians 1:22-23, Paul said the church is the body of Christ. And in 1 Corinthians 12:20, he said, “But now they are many members, but one body.” Since this true, then it is certainly true that there cannot be two acceptable churches in the world. Only one can be right.
When you hear people say anything about religion—and so much is said—remember the divine admonition, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God, for many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The majority of religious teachers are wrong. The fields are white unto the harvest, and the labourers are few, but there are many false teachers. Be careful, lest you walk in the wrong way.