This afternoon I took my wife to the HEB in Gatesville, Texas. I sat in the car and waited for her. I noticed the huge public billboard sign, which read: “The Gateway Baptist Church, ‘Doing Church Biblically Since 1950.’ ” Dr. Royse T. Cockrell is their local preacher.
The thought struck me that the “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) have been “doing church Biblically” since A.D. 33. The Lord’s church was established in the city of Jerusalem the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 2). The churches of Christ are patterned after the New Testament church in worship and in doctrine (2:42-ff). Can the same be said concerning the Gateway Baptist Church?
The “churches of Christ” take that appellation from the Bible (Rom. 16:16). The Gateway Baptists cannot find their name on one page of the New Testament. If so, where?? John the Baptist was not a member of the Baptist church. “Baptist” describes what he did; i.e., immersed or baptized. Baptist identifying a man-made denomination did not come into use until 1644.
The “churches of Christ” assert that baptism is essential to salvation. The Baptist denominations teach that baptism is not essential to one’s salvation. The Bible teaches that salvation only comes after baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21; etc.).
The “churches of Christ” sing songs of praise to God without the addition of mechanical instruments of music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; etc.). The Baptist denominations add to the Word of God by introducing mechanical music to their worship services. Where is the authority for such in the New Testament?
The “churches of Christ” realize that the Scriptures teach a Christian can so sin as to fall from God’s grace (Gal. 5:4; 1 Tim. 1:19- 20; 2 Pet. 2:19-21; etc.). The Baptist denominations assert the impossibility of apostasy. Where is such a doctrine taught in the Bible? Do we have an example of such? Are there examples of apostasy in the New Testament? Let us count the ways: Judas, Simon the Sorcerer, the Galatians, Hymenaeus, Alexander, Demas, et al.
The “churches of Christ” relate God’s plan of salvation in answer to the question: “What must I do to be saved?” One must hear the Gospel (Rom. 10:17; Acts 8:5-ff). One must have faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:24; Heb. 11:1, 6). One must be willing to repent of sin (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 17:30). One must confess faith in Christ as Lord (Mat. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10). One must be baptized (immersed) into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mat. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). One must be found faithful until death (Rev. 2:10). By way of contrast the Gateway Baptist church teaches that one must confess Jesus as Lord, (accepting Him as one’s personal Savior). Now, you must be baptized to “join” the Baptist church, but you need not be baptized in order to be saved according to Baptist doctrine! This teaching makes it more difficult to become a Baptist, than to be saved!