More than 20 years ago, when visiting a congregation on a Sunday evening, I preached a sermon on the identifying marks of the church. After the service, the preacher approached me and revealed to me that the teenagers in that congregation needed it because they had never heard a sermon on the subject. In these days of ignorance of the Word of God, every congregation needs to hear, and every individual Christian needs to study, the fundamentals of the faith. While we do not have space to cover all of that material in this article, following is an outline one could use in such a study.
Today, people need to be taught that authority in religion is a must. Then, they need to be taught who and what is the authority. God has now spoken through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). We will be judged by the words of Christ (John 12:48). The only source to which we can go to learn what we must do in order to be saved, is the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Need for Salvation
Sin separates man from God (Isa. 59:2). Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), and since the wages of sin is death (6:23), man needs salvation. God did not predestine man to sin, but He knew that He would. Thus, Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). That means that God had a plan for our redemption all along. That is also what Jesus had in mind when He fulfilled Psalm 78:2. He opened His mouth in parables to utter things that had been kept secret from the foundation of the world (Mat. 13:35). Jesus went to the cross and shed His blood to redeem us from sin (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). No one can save himself. Salvation is of October 2013 Defender 5 God, and by the plan that He put in place.
Man’s Response to God’s Plan
If there has ever been a subject in which more error has been propagated than how man must respond to God’s plan for man’s redemption, I do not know what it would be. Most of the religious world have been taught that all one has to do for salvation is believe Jesus is the Son of God, and accept Him as their personal Savior. This error will no doubt be responsible for the loss of more souls than any other doctrine ever devised by man. When the Calvinist claims that he cannot so sin as to lose his salvation, he is right that he cannot do so, for by denying the necessity of obedience he has never had salvation to lose! The New Testament is very clear that God has chosen to save men by the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). That means one has to hear it. When one hears the Gospel he must believe it, repent of his sins, confess his faith in Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins. There is no other way to be saved from sin, because this is the plan that God made. When Jesus died on the cross, He put this plan into place, and the apostles began to execute it when they first preached the Gospel in Acts 2, telling the people to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. As the old hymn affirms, there is no other way.
The church is an indispensable part of God’s plan. It was there from the beginning (Eph. 3:10-11). When men claim the church is not important, they are saying the blood of Christ is not important. That blood was the purchase price (Acts 20:28)! Jesus died to save His body, the church (Eph. 5:23-25). Christ, not the newly elected son of perdition voted on by Catholic Cardinals, is the head of the church. As the head of the church, Christ has the say in all things to it (Col. 1:18). The worship, work, organization, and all other things pertaining to the church are found in the plan of God for man’s redemption.
The Life That Keeps the Saved Saved
The New Testament tells the child of God how he must live. The description is summed up by Paul to Titus in the trio of words: soberly, righteously, and godly (Tit. 2:12). The child of God is to be zealous in good works (Tit. 2:14). It is the Lord who determines which are the good works (Col. 3:17). How man worships God, and how he conducts himself is determined by God, not by man.
Because of the ignorance that exists in the world, and even in the church, study of these fundamentals is needed badly in our preaching, our Bible classes, our homes, and in our individual lives.