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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A lesson given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Thursday Evening, November 17, 2016

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

You will be baptized this Saturday night. When you are baptized, you will become members of this local church. Let me tell you several things about what that means.

I. First, what is baptism?

When you are baptized by Dr. Hymers, you will be put under the water and then taken out of the water. This is a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus was crucified and buried. On the third day He rose from the dead. Just as Christ was put under the earth and then rose, you will be put under the water and then come up out of the water. When you are baptized, you are showing that you have trusted in Christ, who was buried and rose again. That is what our text says,

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Baptism must be done by immersion, by putting you under the water and bringing you up out of the water. When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, “they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water” (Acts 8:38-39). Philip did not sprinkle a few drops of water on the eunuch’s head. He put him under the water and pulled him up out of the water.

Baptism must be done to a person who has already trusted Christ. This is called “believer’s baptism.” Some churches sprinkle a little water on a baby and call that baptism. But a baby cannot trust Jesus Christ for himself, or understand what it means that Jesus died and rose for him.

Baptism does not save a person or wash any of his sins away. It is the Blood of Christ that washes sins away. The Bible says, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Some lost people think they are saved because they were baptized. But the water of baptism does not save anyone. It does not wash away any sin. Only the Blood of Christ does that. Baptism is just an outward sign that you have trusted in Christ who died and rose again.

When you are baptized, you will become a member of this local church. You will be able to take the Lord’s Supper with us after you are baptized. Now I want to talk about what the local church is.

II. Second, what is the church?

The Bible says,

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [food] with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

The church is not a building. The church is the converted people in the building. The Greek word translated “church” is “ekklesia.” The word “ekklesia” means “the called-out ones.” The church is the people who have been called out of the sinful world to trust in Christ. The church is a local group of people who have trusted Christ and who come together regularly to pray, to hear the preaching of the Gospel, to have fellowship, to eat together, and to do evangelism together.

The Bible says that the church is very important. Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The Bible calls the church “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). Cyprian said in the third century, “He who does not have the church for his mother cannot have God for his father.” If you are not a member of a church like ours, you are not a Bible Christian.

The Bible teaches that every Bible Christian must be part of a local church. Some people say they are part of a mystical “church” that is everywhere and nowhere. They do not go to a local church, but they say they are part of a “church” all the same. But the Bible speaks over and over again of local churches. The books of the New Testament are written to the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, the church at Philippi, the church at Colosse, the church at Thessalonica. They were written to local churches made up of Christians in these cities. Pastor Jim Gent said, “The apostles founded churches and they founded nothing else, and the local church is still, today, the pillar and ground of the truth!” (Jim Gent, God Says You Need the Local Church, Smyrna Publications, 1994, p. 90).

The early Christians were very active in their local churches. They were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46). “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). These people were together several times each week.

And so, today, Bible Christians should be very active in their local church. Dr. Jerry Falwell said that Christians should be in church “every time the door is open.” He was right. Dr. Hymers’ pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, said that you should make the church your “second home.” He was right. Come to church several times each week.

In our church, we meet to worship God and hear the preaching of the Gospel every Sunday morning and every Sunday night. Be in church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night. We meet on Thursday and Saturday, and sometimes on other days, for prayer and evangelism. In the Book of Acts the Christians “continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They met to hear the preaching of the Apostles. They met to eat together. They met to pray together.

Bible Christians will do evangelism. After He rose from the dead, Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Christ spoke not only to the Apostles but to every church and every Christian. He commanded every Christian to do evangelism, to bring lost people into the church to be saved. That’s why those words are in the Bible, “Go ye therefore, and [make disciples of] all nations.”

Be in church every time the door is open! Make the church your second home! And show your love to Christ by giving a tithe of your income.

III. Third, what is tithing?

The word “tithe” means “a tenth.” “Tithing” means giving one-tenth of your income to your local church. When you start coming to the church, you are visiting. You are our guest. We ask you not to put any money in the offering plate. But if you are a baptized member of the church, or if you are studying to become a baptized member, or if you have been attending for years, tithing is the right thing to do. You are supposed to give one tenth of your income to the church.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the Jewish people to tithe. The Bible says, “The tithe…is the Lord’s” (Leviticus 27:30). In the New Testament, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees. He said they “pay tithe.” Then He said they ought to have judgment, mercy, and faith, and “not to leave the other [tithing] undone” (Matthew 23:23). The Bible teaches tithing.

What you do with your money shows where your heart is. Christ said, “Where your treasure [your money] is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Then Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve God and [money]” (Matthew 6:24). What you do with your money shows whether you love and obey Christ.

Each week, set aside one tenth of the money you receive (your income) and put it into the basket when we take up the tithes. If you get paid every two weeks or once a month, divide up the tithe so you can give the same amount each week. If you are a student and your income is small, give a tithe of what you get. If you receive ten dollars a week, your tithe is one dollar a week. Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). If you are faithful in tithing when you are young and your income is small, then later when you have a job and you make more money, you will be faithful then as well.

A Bible Christian will serve God with his money. And a Bible Christian will love Christ and His church. He will be faithful and loyal to Christ and the church.

IV. Fourth, what is faithfulness to Christ and the church?

A Bible Christian will love Jesus more than they love other people, even relatives and friends. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Christ “stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, [is] my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:49-50). If your relatives try to stop you from following Christ and coming to church, do not listen to them. You should love your family, but you should love Christ more.

A Bible Christian will not have lost friends – friends who are not Christians. The Bible says, “Whosoever…will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). We all have to talk to lost people at school or at work, but they are not our friends. The friends of a Bible believing Christian are other Christians in the church.

A Bible Christian will stay in his local church all his life. The New Testament standard is “one church for one lifetime.” The Bible says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (I John 2:19 NKJV). People who leave their local church are not Bible Christians. People who leave the church they are members of, and go to another church, are almost always disobedient people who do not please God. Those who go from one church to another are often called “church tramps.” Spurgeon called them “birds of passage, which nest nowhere.”

A Bible Christian will practice Biblical separation. When people attack Christ and the church, you must separate from them. The Bible says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). These people will deceive you if you listen to them. The Apostle Paul spoke of people who have “a form of godliness, but [not] the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5). They claim to be Christians. They have an outward form or appearance of godliness, but they are not Bible Christians at all. Paul said, “from such turn away.” Turn away from them! Turn away from people who speak badly about the pastor, and criticize the church. Separate from them, and do not even answer a text message they send you. Just stay completely separate from people who criticize the pastor and the church. Do not even listen to their criticisms. Dr. John MacArthur was right when he said that people who leave the church are wrong. He said correctly, “The separation of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking [showing that they are not true Christians]” (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on I John 2:19).

The Reformation Study Bible says, “Their departure [leaving the church] was as much a renunciation of the church and its message as was Judas’ departure from the Last Supper, John 13:30” (note on I John 2:19).

Sometimes it is not easy to put Christ first. Sometimes you have to suffer for Christ. The Bible says, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). But the Bible also says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” in His Kingdom (II Timothy 2:12).

May you live for Christ and reign with Him when He comes to set up His Kingdom! May God bless you as you love and serve Jesus! Amen.

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