There is much talk in the world today about living a life of “privilege” here in the United States of America. It is true, that those of us who have grown up in the U. S. live a life of position and privilege compared to the rest of the world. This sense of “privilege” can also carry over into our spiritual lives. How many of us were born and have grown up attending the services of the the church of Christ? How many of us were raised in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) to attend worship services of the church of Christ and to become Christians when we reached the age of accountability? How many of us are blessed to have grown up and live in what is commonly referred to as the “Bible belt” of the U. S.? All of these factors give Christians a privileged status compared to the rest of the world, however, Christians should not fall into the trap of feeling entitled, especially when it comes to salvation. These feelings may cause some Christians to become apathetic and lazy in living the Christian life.
Just because you are a Christian and a member of the church of Christ, this does not mean that you are going to heaven. Sometimes there is an attitude among members of the church that all Christians are going to heaven. We may have heard many sermons against the denominational belief of “once saved, always saved,” but how many Christians believe the false doctrine of “once baptized always saved?” Those Christians who believe this have a sense of privilege and entitlement that will lead them to eternal punishment if they are not cautious.
Now, let me be clear. Baptism is essential to salvation. I Peter 3:21 says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:". A person must hear the Word of God (Romans 10:17), believe the Gospel that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32), and then be baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Upon baptism, a person is a Christian, a member of the church of Christ, and a person must remain faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10). When a child of God stumbles into sin, he or she must repent and confess sins, and through prayer have forgiveness (Acts 8:22, I John 1:9). Having said this, let me focus with you on the being faithful part of God's Plan to save.
John the Baptist, an inspired man of God, spoke against this attitude of entitlement among the Jews, who were at the time considered the children of God. In Luke 3:7-8, he says, “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” In these verses, John the Baptist is warning the Jewish sects known as the Sadducees who were false teachers, and also the Pharisees who bound traditions of men upon people, false claiming that these traditions were equal to God's Word that their connection to Abraham alone did not mean they were going to heaven. He goes onto tell them that they needed to repent of their sins and bring forth the fruits of repentance.
Those Christians who believe the false doctrine of “once baptized always saved” will conduct themselves in such a way that they become complacent, or lazy in their Christian living. They are not zealous in living the Christina life. If you cannot see it at other times, this attitude of stagnation and laziness among Christians can most easily be seen when a congregation of the Lord’s church has an extra assembly, such as a Gospel meeting, lectureship, or Vacation Bible School that the Elders have deemed that the members attend. How many Christians will only attend one of these events being hosted by their home congregation on Sunday morning, but choose to just sit at home or do some other secular activity the rest of the week? These types of Christians are showing themselves to have an apathetic attitude towards worshipping the Lord which is not congruent with the life of a faithful Christian. We should have the attitude that King David had in Psalm 122:1,“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Friends, it is important to put God First (Matthew 6:33), and support your home congregation and proclamation of the Gospel (Titus 2:14). It is even worthwhile to accept those personal invitations given to attend a Gospel meeting, lectureship, or Vacation Bible School at a nearby congregation.
Christians who follow the false doctrine of “once baptized, always saved” may not study the Bible every day as II Timothy 2:15 commands. They may not attend the assembling of the church of Christ regularly as Hebrews 10:25 tells us to do. They may not be willing to participate in the various works of the church. Also, they may do others things that harm their influence, such as dress immodestly, participate in social drinking, be reluctant to help others as well as behave un-Christ-like in other aspects of their lives, all the while believing that their name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life because they were baptized in the past (I Timothy 2:9-10, I Peter 4:3-5, Matthew 5:41). Those who live their lives in this way must repent just as John the Baptist told the Jewish false teachers to do.
In the past, whenever I would look at the obituaries in the newspaper, I was always glad to read when a deceased person was listed as a member of the church of Christ. Like so many, whenever I saw those words printed in the obituary, I felt a wave of relief, thinking that the deceased person who was listed as a member of the church of Christ in their obituary was already in Paradise. I am still glad to read that a person who has passed away was a member of the Lord’s church, however, the more I study God’s Word, the more I see the importance of being a faithful Christian unto death (Revelation 2:10).
In order to go to Heaven, we are to be Christians who are fruitful and abound in good works (II Corinthians 9:8). We are to present ourselves as a light unto the world, and others should see more of Christ in us than they see ourselves. If we just “blend” in with the rest of the world in our choice of attire or our actions, then we not living the fruitful life of a Christian and we have bought into the false doctrine of “once baptized always saved.” I hope that we Christians will always have an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation toward God for all that He has done for us, and that we show this gratitude in our words and in our actions. Only then can we be the best Christians that we can be, and have the hope of reaching a home in Heaven one day!