This is my second letter to the leadership and congregation for the North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Florida. With prayer to God, I plead with this congregation again to consider all the words of Jesus Christ as believers to be disciples, baptized in Jesus’ name, who will observe all things that Jesus has commanded (Matt 28:19–20). I write this letter in love, honesty, and diligence in following Jesus Christ. I hope that you will also seriously consider the words of Christ’s Spirit written in the scriptures as presented here.
December 1, 2011
To the leaders and congregation of the North Jacksonville Baptist Church,
You are right to confess that Jesus is who He says He is (Matt. 10:32; John 8:24). Yet, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). I write to encourage you by the words of Christ that will never pass away (Matt. 24:35) and knowing that Jesus will be ashamed of those on judgment, who are ashamed of His words (Luke 9:26).
I plead with you that as you admit that no one can be saved by the works of men and we are not saved by saying a prayer as your minister teaches. Salvation and regeneration by prayer is not in the New Testament scriptures. Do we have life by the traditions of men or by the words of Jesus Christ (John 6:63)?
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Jesus said clearly that salvation follows faith and baptism, and not salvation before baptism. I am convinced by Jesus’ words and His work in washing us with water that baptism is necessary for salvation (Eph. 5:26). Only after someone is saved can they confess to the Father and be cleansed (1 John 1:6ff).
There is one baptism (Eph. 4:5). This is the baptism that Jesus established and commanded to be in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20). The scriptures define baptism in Jesus’ name to be baptism in water (Acts 10:47-48). Though you may have been baptized, you may not have been immersed in the baptism that Jesus commanded for the making of His disciples (Acts 19:1–5; Matt. 28:19). Acts 2:38 teaches that this baptism is into the forgiveness of sins. If you have not been immersed in water in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins, then you have not been saved yet and you have not been added to the saved, the Church (Acts 2:41ff). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added” (Acts 2:41). “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b). Believers are raised with Christ when our bodies of sin have been crucified and buried by baptism into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3–7; Col. 2:11–12). This is all through faith (Col. 2:12). In this obedient submission to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we know this is the gospel by which we stand and by which we are saved (1 Cor. 15:1–4; Rom. 1:16).
May we all desire to be the Church that Christ built and bought with His blood (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). I do not write to convert you to any denomination, but to simply be New Testament Christians and members of the Church of Christ Jesus. May we recognize Jesus Christ as the head of the Church rather any council or convention (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18). I plead with you to be sure to be His Church and be sure to have qualified pastors (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9), who are church elders (1 Pet. 5:1–3). For Christ’s Spirit established elders to govern His congregations (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Phil. 1:1). There are no other church pastors than these elders in the New Testament, and these are distinguished from the ministers of the church (1 Tim. 4:6ff).
I urge you to recognize the importance of the Lord’s Supper and not to partake of the supper monthly or seasonally (1 Cor. 11). This is a time when we commune with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). Christ’s Spirit instructed His Church to gather to partake of this supper (1 Cor. 11:33). Jesus commanded, “do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24–25). The Apostle Paul corrected the Corinthians for not assembling for this purpose (1 Cor. 11:20). Why did the Apostle Paul and his associates wait seven days to assemble on the first day of the week and why is the first day of the week described to be when the disciples assembled to break bread (Acts 20:1–7)? Was this bread not the Lord’s Supper since “the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16; cf. 1 Cor. 11:33)? May we all be diligent and remember that “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:23).
I plead with you in Christ’s name to observe all Jesus’ commands, reconsider your teachings in light of Jesus’ words, and preach the truth (Matt. 28:19). I welcome your response. Again, I am fully willing to honestly reconsider my position by the scriptures. I also plan to present this as another open letter. You can contact me at ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com or if you prefer by mail as this letter is addressed.
May God bless us all in the study of His Word,
Scott Shifferd, minister, the Church of Christ at Dean Road in Jacksonville, FL
Here is my previous letter: “An Open Letter to the North Jacksonville Baptist Church.”
Hello Scott. Know this was a while back.
Really appreciate your forum here, and your willingness to promote the sum of all truth found in God’s, word. I have heard the reasoning from many about the thief on the cross not being baptized for his salvation (Even used that reasoning myself before my conversion). I do find it easier to understand that it is more in line with his healing of the man with palsy in Luke 5:20 – 24. “Thy sins are forgiven” The same tends to be the case with the thief on the cross in the sense that Jesus forgave the man his sins as he stated to those Pharisees, as he the Son of Man, had the power on earth to forgives sins in Luke 5:24. The thief evidently heard something of the preaching about the Lord’s kingdom, thus his statement to Jesus. It was easier for Jesus to tell him “Today you will be with me in Paradise”. I hope, Patricia, can find a direction of thought in this as I did. To realize, that Baptism, (immersion) came from God, and was commanded of our Lord, is obedience of faith that brings God’s, saving grace on us just like it did to the apostles, is so refreshing. Romans 1:5-6. As also the called of Jesus Christ. God’s grace has appeared to all men, but to receive it is the greater blessing. Titus 2:11-12.
I would say to Patricia. When there is a contradiction of Man’s teaching with God’s, word, no hypothetical reasoning will change the truth. Most of the time the issue is mens idea of what faith ( belief ) is instead of what the word of God, tells us. Jesus, words in Mark 16:16 are not contradictory of any of all other scripture. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. Please go with Jesus, he is the word.
Love in Christ, brother.
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If baptism is necessary for salvation how was the thief on the Cross saved?? Just curious!
That is a common question. The thief on the cross may or may not have been baptized. We don’t know. Furthermore, the thief died before Jesus commanded baptism after He resurrected (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16). Paul revealed that there is one baptism (Eph 4:5). Jesus commanded that baptism, and Peter preached baptism in Jesus’s name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). That is the baptism that partakes of the reality of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection (Col 2:12–13; cf. Rom 6:4; 1 Pet 3:21). Paul revealed that believers are saved by grace when God raises them to new life (Eph 2:4–9). God works to raise the repentant believer to new life from baptism (Col 2:12–13). Baptism is the point of uniting in Christ’s death and the beginning of the newness of life (Rom 6:1–5).
The thief died under the Old Testament system before Jesus rose from the dead. However, Jesus’s death and resurrection completed the Old Testament bringing in the New Testament (Heb 9:15–17). After the thief died, then Jesus rose from the dead and commanded baptism and salvation in His name. For this reason, Peter revealed that baptism saves through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:21; cf. 1 Pet 1:3).
Scott, now I am really confused—what about people who believe, but for whatever reason (health, etc.) cannot be baptized?? Are they not saved?? Perhaps I am understanding this all wrong–are you saying without baptism, we are not saved?? Thank you for your previous in-depth reply.
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God knows those repentant believers who desire to unite with Christ in baptism. I cannot make any legalistic claims upon someone not being physically able to be baptized. God is merciful, gracious, and steadfast in love. He has the proragative. However, for most people, this scenario does not apply. Marginal oddities would not negate any of Jesus commands.
The Scriptures reveal that baptism is the moment of salvation and sanctification. I cannot deny that. Baptism came from God through Christ not by the wisdom of man
We can supposed various scenarios into an infinite regress of possibilities. For instance, what happens if someone is about to believe and he dies? What happens if someone repents but does not yet believe that Jesus rose from the dead? What happens if someone believes that Jesus resurrected from the dead but that person dies before confessing faith (Rom 10:9–10)? What happens to the person who believes that Jesus is the resurrected Lord but they have not yet repented? We know that God saves by grace through faith (Eph 2:8–9). The Scriptures also reveal that God raises believers from burial in baptism into newness of life (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12–13).
Lastly, remember that the Pharisees rejected baptism because they rejected the purpose of God (Luke 7:30; cf. 20:1–8).
well said brother
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