In the February 2001 issue of The Christian Chronicle there was a front page article that caught my eye. It was about a gospel preacher, Barre Cox, who had been missing since 1984 and presumed dead. But amazingly just recently he was discovered alive in Dallas, TX. According to the report, he had been kidnaped near his home in Abilene, TX and driven to Memphis, beaten senseless and thrown in an automobile trunk. Because of the assault he had amnesia and could remember nothing about his previous life. Eventually he sought to build a new life based on a new identity. Under his new name, James Simmons, he eventually ended up in Dallas, TX. The article does not go into detail to explain how he was discovered but it does say that he and his wife had been in contact and had exchanged pictures (Their marriage had been legally dissolved after seven years. Neither had remarried.).

I don't know all the details of this. There might even be the possibility that this is an episode where Cox might have disappeared on purpose. But it caused me to wonder what it would be like to wake up some day and have no idea who we are. What if you could not remember who you are? You would have to start all over with a completely new identity and life. Our lifestyle might be completely different from what we were living. Imagine how our thoughts and personality would be completely blank and would need to be refilled.

But isn't this very much like some are behaving in the body of Christ. Some are acting like they do not know who they are as a people. Many of us are working overtime trying to throw away the distinctive teachings of the New Testament and be like all the other religious groups in the world. Do we know who we are?

God's word clearly teaches us that Christians are to be distinctive, different from the world. Peter tells us, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10). In Romans 12:2 we are commanded, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Do We Know Who We Are.... Concerning Becoming a Christian?

The New Testament is clear that one becomes a Christian when they are baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (See Acts 2:38, 47; 20:28; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). We have also understood that the New Testament teaches that baptism is by immersion in water, not by sprinkling or pouring water on someone's head (See Acts 8:36-39; Romans 6:3-4).

But just recently some among us have forgotten who we are and starting embracing teachings contrary to the New Testament, in order to be like the world. Some are beginning to question whether a person really has to be immersed in order to be baptized or is sprinkling just as appropriate. But the most serious aspect of our "amnesia" about salvation issues is the desire by a number of us to make baptism optional and the taking up the old denominational mantra of "salvation by faith only."

Among the boldest statements made by these brethren is one by Rubel Shelly where he stated that we cannot contribute "one whit" to our salvation and that we are saved by faith alone, apart from any obedience.
But the boldest one comes from Max Lucado, from a new booklet that Word Publishers have distributed as an "evangelistic tool." Here he states, in speaking to those who are not Christians, "Would you let him save you? This is the most important decision you will ever make. Why don't you give your heart to him right now? Admit your need. Agree with his work. Accept his gift. Go to God in prayer and tell him, I am a sinner in need of grace. I believe that Jesus died for me on the cross. I accept your offer of salvation. It's a simple prayer with eternal results."

Brethren, this last paragraph, along with the Shelly comments, teach faith only salvation. They teach that baptism is not essential for salvation and that we have been wrong for years in trying to insist on immersion for the remission of sins. This flies directly contrary to all that the New Testament teaches.

What has happened to us? We are forgetting who we are! We are not individuals who believe in the convenient words of men but those who want a thus saith the Lord for all matters! Brethren, we must not forget who we are!

By Grady Scott

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