On two separate days in a row, I had the opportunity to evangelize a person who attended the “Church of Christ.” I experienced two completely opposite reactions. This intrigued me, and I was glad for the boldness that God provided, because it offered a graceful surprise in my life.
First of all, what is the Church of Christ? I do not think I am misrepresenting their beliefs if I state that they believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation. That is, true followers of the “Church of Christ” believe that until one is baptized, God has not imparted His grace to the believer, and thus, it is impossible for a person to go to heaven without that cooperation with God. The following link best describes their position and wikipedia seemed informative as well.
I’m not going to use this post to disprove their doctrine. Suffice to say it is a false teaching. If you are not planning on continuing reading for whatever reason, let me just state the salvation is in Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone. Man cannot add to Christ’s work on his behalf.
The first encounter was yesterday, June 24, 2010. I was at the ODOT main campus on the Hilltop. My wife and I had just bought a minivan and were going to do the title and license plate registration. Praise God for providing so abundantly for my family, by the way! Anyway, I stepped out of my car and a confused looking man was asking directions. I showed him where his building was and I then offered him a tract. He accepted it and said something to the effect of following the Lord as well. “Praise God,” I said.
So my wife and I went into the BMV, completed the work and left. Now the man almost seemed to be waiting for me in the parking lot. He came out and said “you’re pretty aggressive for the Lord.” He asked me what church I go to and I told him Berean Baptist Church on the East side. He told me he was raised Baptist. This always intrigues me…like people feel they’ll identify with me in some way. I’ve learned that most of the times I hear that it’s because the person has left…which interests me because it is usually for a reason. Now I’m not saying only Baptists are saved…but I do agree with the doctrine that is taught and believed. So for a person to tell me they “used to be Baptist” basically means they probably disagree about something I find biblical and important!
At this point I asked him what type of church he goes to now. He replied, Church of Christ. Ahhhh, my little alarm sirens went off in my head and I replied to him, “you know, the Church of Christ teaches that in order to be saved, one has to be baptized.” He nodded in agreement. So I told him that on the Day of Judgment there is going to be a group of people who are judged by their works and another group judged based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. He nodded in agreement. Then I told him that by putting his faith in his baptism, he has effectively put himself in the second group; that Christ alone is the basis for salvation and that the gospel he believes is a false gospel, or not a gospel at all. (Galatians 1:6-7, 1 Corinthians 1:17)
Long story short, at this point he stormed off. He was clearly frustrated or angry. This is what happens when your foundation is shaken. It’s like an earthquake. The Earth is our foundation. When it is shaken, like an earthquake, it is not only very frightening, but it is dangerous. The very thing that is supporting us physically, when it is not firm and solid becomes a point of tragedy. The same is true of people’s spiritual beliefs. If you question someone’s spiritual beliefs and get them to question them themselves, their very foundation is shaken. The first reaction of most people whose foundations are shaking is to cling to something; anything that they think is anchored. In the case of one’s spiritual foundation shaking, I think the first reaction of many people is to attack or get very angry at the person who is causing the “foundation-shaking.” I find this very common with religious people. The one thing I like about people who truly embrace postmodernism thought is that if they genuinely “practice what they preach” they are usually the most respectful people of my beliefs. But someone who is deeply steeped in a religion or cult, they are most offended when it is questioned. But at least that means they understand the message. When someone isn’t shaken up, I am concerned about them.
Thanks be to God that we inherit an unshakable kingdom! Hebrews 12:27-28
So today, I encountered Peter Ramirez. I spent too much time after work chatting with a coworker about cellphones. Had I not done this I wouldn’t have run into Peter. Isn’t God’s sovereignty comforting?
Peter is homeless and staying at Faith on Sixth. He is selling a homeless newspaper where he makes about 10 dollars a day. He had a look of genuineness to him when he approached me so I took some time to talk to him. Before we spoke for even a minute, he told me that I must be a Christian because I had such a humble spirit.
Hold on, PRAISE JESUS because that is NOT ME and didn’t COME FROM ME. To God alone be all the glory for that work.
Anyway, he told me he brings his sword everywhere and pulled out his Bible to show me. He was very excited to meet another Christian. He showed me a picture of Peter II, his son, for whom any believers out there can also pray! Thanks! (Proverbs 15:29, James 5:16, John 14:6 and Proverbs 28:9 are some of the reasons I only request prayer of truly regenerate souls, by the way, in case you wondered 🙂
Then I asked him where he is going to church. He replied, “Church of Christ on Livingston.” Now my little heart probably skipped a little. He seemed so nice and genuine. Many homeless people learn to play parts, in order to manipulate people to give them things. I didn’t sense that with this guy. I’ve had my share of experience with people of all walks of life from my past. My flesh said, don’t bother, he’s just going to get mad like the other guy and cause a scene. But my faith, (which, by the way is a gift of God’s grace Ephesians 2:8-9) said that the power of God is the gospel (Romans 1:16) and that God’s Word is the source (Romans 10:17, Is 40:8, 55:11). So I looked at him and told him what I explained above. I told him that the Church of Christ teaches that baptism is required for salvation. I told him that I knew that ONLY faith in Christ would credit our account with His righteousness. What a relief when he completely agreed and was glad. My heart rejoiced! I warned him to be very careful and that he should probably find a different church that preaches the Truth. We chatted several more minutes and he told me how I had encouraged him today. Praise God for that. I even mentioned to him that I had been a source of discouragement for so many for so long, that God alone deserves praise for His work in me! Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 2:9-10
The power is in The Word, dear Christian reader! It is not your cleverness, your good looks or your persuasive speech. In fact, if people are wooed by your preaching or evangelism, there’s a chance you’re not actually preaching Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, foolishness to the world that considers itself wise already! (1 Corinthians 1:23-25) But to those who are the called, the wisdom of God! Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 (For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: KJV) Are you ready to admit you are one of the foolish things of the world? Are you weak? Are you one of the BASE THINGS, things which are despised? If you cannot admit this, then maybe you are not part of the chosen! Inspect yourself and decide if your pride is more important than God’s Glory and come to Him for mercy, for it is abundant!