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Who Says You’re Saved?
The Goal of Union With Christ’s Body in Baptism
From a biblical perspective, when someone makes a commitment to Christ, that commitment should normally be accompanied by a commitment to Christ’s visible body, the Church, displayed in their baptism.
The goal of evangelism should be someone making a credible profession of faith in Christ. But who says the profession of faith in Christ is credible? Is it the person themselves? Is it enough for them just to say they made a commitment, a decision or to say, “I prayed a prayer?”
Many people remember praying a prayer “to receive Christ.” And then the question usually surfaces, “I wonder if I prayed it well enough?” Then they say, “I’m going to pray it again.” And when the next worship service or event comes up and somebody offers an invitation, they say, “Why not? I’ll ask Jesus again, to come into my life, be my Savior, be my Lord.” And this pattern often repeats and you begin to wonder, “Is my profession real, is it credible?”
Who determines the credibility of someone’s profession of faith? The biblical answer is the Church.
This raises a very important question in evangelism: Who determines the credibility of someone’s profession of faith? The biblical answer is the Church.
This focus on the authority of a local church community is often counterintuitive and offensive to much of rugged western privatized individualism in the evangelical church in North America today. Edith Schaeffer used to say, “Christianity is Jewish.” Our God is a communal God. The Christian religion, so to speak, is a communal religion.
You should never see the process of evangelism culminating in a mere profession of faith, sinner’s prayer kind of profession.
You should never see the process of evangelism culminating in a mere profession of faith, sinner’s prayer kind of profession. Instead you should be one of those rare individuals who holds out for that new believer to make a profession of faith before the ordained leaders of the Church who deemed it credible and through which they incorporate the new believer into the body through what? Baptism.
Evangelism is meant to reach its culmination not in a commitment to Christ that is an existential profession. Evangelism is meant to reach its culmination in a profession of Christ before elders, or pastors, or whatever you’re going to call them in your form of government. They meet the criteria in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and in Hebrews 13. They are those who you are called to obey because they will give an account for your soul.
You’re to be under their spiritual care, you are to be under spiritual authority in a local church, everyone is, whatever denomination you’re in. And they are the ones who hold what the Reformers often called the Keys of the Kingdom (Matt 18), and they are the ones who determine those to be admitted to the sacrament of baptism and the Lord’s Table.
A credible profession does not require a convert’s knowledge of when they believed in the past. It’s a very present profession now, saying, “I look now to Christ and I look to him alone.” And the culmination of this is baptism.
And it’s those who make a credible profession of faith, not those who can tell a story of when they believe. A credible profession does not require a convert’s knowledge of when they believed in the past. It’s a very present profession now, saying, I look now to Christ and I look to him alone.” And the culmination of this is baptism.
Please don’t misunderstand me regarding baptism. I am not saying that someone is not saved when at the very moment they first make a true profession of faith in Christ and possibly pray “a sinner’s prayer.” I’m not saying that. I’m also not saying that Christian water baptism saves you.
What I’m saying is the culmination of evangelism is meant to be incorporation into the body manifested through making a credible profession of faith before church leaders, followed by baptism.
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