The Bible Answer Man

godwin_bible460Somewhere in Richmond recently I saw a van advertising “The Bible Answer Man” along with a telephone number that I quickly entered and stored in my cell phone.  That’s useful information: you never know when you’re going to need a biblical answer to a difficult question.  As I was scrolling lazily through the numbers on my cell phone yesterday afternoon I saw that one, which I had entered as “Bible Ans,” and decided to give him a call.

I needed an answer.

On Friday of last week I had stopped by the home of a church member who was upset about the idea of changing our membership requirements to include Christians from other denominations who have not received believer’s baptism by immersion.  I wanted to listen carefully, to hear what it was in all this discussion that was troubling him.  He said that what it came down to, finally, was obedience to Scripture, that if the Bible says we should baptize believers by immersion then that’s what we should do, and if anybody wants to be part of a Baptist church they should get in the water, not because it’s some man-made membership requirement, but because it’s what the Bible teaches! 

He said all this without anger, but he said it with conviction, with so much conviction that I drove away from his house determined to look into the matter further.  Would a change in our membership requirements really be a departure from Scripture?  If I had suggested that we stop making disciples or that we start baptizing babies that would be one thing, but church membership would be another, and I wasn’t sure the Bible said anything about that.  So I called the number I had stored in my phone and someone picked up right away.

“Is this the Bible Answer Man?” I asked.

“Sure is,” he said, with a friendly drawl.  “How can I help you?”

“I’m wondering about baptism,” I said.  “Can you tell me what the Bible says about it?”

“Well, baptism comes from a Greek verb that means ‘to immerse.’  It means to bury you under the water and raise you up to new life.”

“That’s what we believe at my church,” I said (I didn’t tell him which church).  “But what about people who haven’t been baptized that way?  Can they still be considered real Christians?”

“Of course they can,” he said with a snort.  “Baptism doesn’t save you!  What matters is what’s in your heart, you know?  Do you love Jesus?  Have you been born again?  That kind of thing.”

“I’m just asking because at my church we’re trying to decide whether Christians from other denominations can be members without being re-baptized.  Does the Bible say anything about church membership?”

He had a lot to say about that, mostly about how, in the Book of Revelation Jesus speaks to the church (singular) in Pergamum, Thyatira, Laodicea, etc.  “It’s not the churches,” he said.  “It’s just the church.  Like when Paul writes the letter to the Romans he addresses it to ‘the church in Rome.’  All those people there and only one church!  That’s why, when people ask me what church I belong to, I tell them I belong to ‘The Church in Richmond.'”

“But you could go even further than that, couldn’t you?” I asked.  “I mean, Jesus only has one church doesn’t he?”

“That’s true,” the Bible Answer Man agreed.

“And don’t you think he knows who belongs to his church and who doesn’t?”

“Yep.”

“It’s been a pleasure talking to you,” I said.

“Same here,” said the Bible Answer Man.  “Call me again sometime!”

Maybe I will the next time I’m looking for answers from the Bible, or even the next time I just need something to blog about.  Either way, I’m keeping his number on speed dial.

6 thoughts on “The Bible Answer Man

  1. What a great use for the Bible Answer Man. If all of life’s problems (especially those in the church), could all be that easy!

  2. I heard Hank talk of Apologetics. My only answer is that I believe. That I should transfer that belief to others I have found not possible.
    As to false teachers, I did not find them on the street corners or at the corner pub or at the grocery stores.
    I found them in the pulpits in the churches.
    It is my firm belief that you are saved by the calling of the Lord Himself. It is by His unmerited mercy and His gift of faith that you come to believe. It is by His calling that you become a Christian. In fact it is a miracle, that is to say the direct intervention of God.
    The work is done by Him to you.
    It is the shepherd to you not you to the shepherd.
    He starts a work in you by His Holy Spirit and continues it throughout your life.
    As to your growth it is He that teaches you as you go through your life. It is always He that causes the growth.
    It has been many years now since He saved me. I still wait for His coming. There are times when I perceive He is coming soon.

    CP

  3. Dear Pastor Somerville

    I know it is good to have some structure for the church organization.

    In a way, Baptism may be part of that structure. But, out of control church structure was not what Jesus wanted.

    However, proper dress in church, baptism or circumcision as noted by John is of the heart. Can we compare baptism and circumcision?

    Paul, a man for all seasons, compares baptism to death and rising again as a new person.

    Romans: 6:4: 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.

    Very powerful.

    I was married in the Greek Orthodox Church and to be married, I had to be baptised. No ifs, ands or buts. It is one of the Church rules.

    I was in the Navy at sea at the time. I often wonder why the Lord had me baptised at sea. Water stretching to the horizons.
    Tremendous symbolism. No more wondering, it was and is a big thing to God.

    Also, It is a public commitment. And, I love the dogma of the Greek Church. All that incense, singing, kissing the book, golden doors and priestly clothing. So comforting, so historic, clear back to the time of Jesus. It is a connection. It is a full immersion.

    The Baptist Church is all about baptism. It connects one to the church. To church history. To the Bible to the Jordan and to Jesus Christ. The full immersion.

    I am not sure this helps you. I enjoyed it as the Holy Spirit lead me through these thoughts.

    And, I enjoyed your “Bible Ans. Man” comments.

    Thanks.

    Robert Misen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s