Too many churches today are not the true church at all. The church Jesus Christ started has His DNA—His pure doctrine only. Let’s say the local non-denominational church in your area invited the Apostle Peter to preach. Of course, old Pete has been dead for a couple millennia, but say we found a way to teleport him up to present. Okay? Just play along.
Apostle Pete at the Non-Denominational church
So, Simon Peter gets up and preaches the same message he did in Acts chapter 2. He tells about Jesus and how the scriptures foretell His death for everyone and that He would live again. He quotes a bunch of scripture proving who Jesus really is. The pastor of the non-denom church is pleased because the crowd seems to be engaged with what the man is saying. This is good. They will probably come back again next week.
Peter wraps up his quick but powerful sermon explaining that the death of Jesus was caused by all of us. He hits the crowd pretty heavy with “you crucified Him. Yes, it was your sin the put Jesus on the cross.” The pastor winces. This could make some people feel bad and they might not come back. He cannot afford to lose any big donors.
Bro. Pete continues, “And this Jesus whom you crucified is both Lord Almighty and His the promised Messiah!” The crowd stands to their feet. They have been moved. They clap and worship the Lord. The pastor is moved, too. He’s glad they are standing and clapping for this sermon rather than walking out. That happened once when he had an entertainer—er—evangelist come once. He offended a lot of people.
So this is good, the pastor says. Pete is done speaking but people are coming forward. The pastor moves toward the microphone to ask people to ask who would like to ask the Lord into their hearts. However, people have swarmed up around Peter and are asking, “What should we do?” This should be no surprise because this is what the people asked in Acts 2:37 after Peter’s first Spirit-filled sermon.
“Please, preacher,” one man says, “I feel stabbed in the heart here. Your words have moved me but I don’t know what to do next!”
Of course, Peter will answer them no differently than he did in Acts 2:38. He begins, “You must repent—turn away from sinful living!”
The pastor nods his head guardedly.
“Then, every one of you,” Peter says, pointing his finger at them, “must be baptized—”
The pastor shoulder hugs the apostle and whispers, “Hey, my man, we like baptisms around here. We are doing a big push for baptism at Easter, so let’s not promote this too heavy today—we are trying to break our record from last year for how many we baptize.”
The elder turns to the pastor with a raised eyebrow, “What? Why would you make them wait? Today is the day of salvation, man.”
“Okay, okay,” the pastor backs off.
“When you all get baptized,” Peter continues, “you are to be immersed—put fully under the water—in the name of Jesus Christ—”
“Wait,” the pastor says again, his side-hug now becoming a death grip on Peter’s shoulder, “we don’t do it that way. I mean, the Southern Baptist Convention’s articles say… well, we simply baptize into ‘Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,’ ya’ know. Okay?”
“I thought you said this was a ‘non-denominational’ church,” Peter says hardly whispering, his eyes narrowing to slits.
“It is—and actually we prefer the term ‘undenominational’ now,” the pastor whispers forcefully, aware the mike is still on, “but I grew up Southern Baptist and that is how we do it… the ‘undenominational’ thing is just so more people will come. It is not cool to be part of a denomination these days.”
Peter turns to the people again. “You need to be baptized in the NAME of Jesus Christ for the cleansing away of your sins.”
“Oh, uh,” the pastor whispers, “baptism doesn’t wash away sins, Pete. I mean, that is a great analogy, but it doesn’t really do anything. We baptize people here to make them members of the church.”
“Baptism doesn’t make you a member of church,” Peter responds. “It makes you a member of Christ. Where do you get your theology?”
“Well, okay, but it really can’t wash away sins—that would be like works salvation. Ya’ know?”
“Jesus did the work, my friend. So yes, He works for my salvation. The work He did was on the cross. He died for me. I join Him in His death by baptism. Baptism is my act of faith of identifying with Him in what He has done for me. His death was mine and yours, too. Hasn’t anyone taught you this?”
“Well, um,” the pastor fidgets with his goatee for second. “Okay, but the washing away of sins—I mean, that would make salvation dependent on baptism.”
“Just as Noah and seven other people were saved by water, so we are saved by water—through baptism. Jesus Christ is the ‘boat’ we get into—I mean, haven’t you read those little books in the Bible with my name on them? Immersing a person in water into Jesus they are washed clean—not like a bathtub where you take dirt of their skin, but where their conscience is cleansed of sin, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!”
“Okay, well,” the pastor smiles kindly at the curious onlookers, “we will talk about this some more,” he whispers to Peter.
“And then,” Peter turns back to the people, “you will receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit that we received. You will receive it the same way we did. You see, when the promise came, we ALL spoke in languages we had not learned before. By God’s ability we spoke in other tongues—”
“Whoa there, Pete,” the knuckles on the pastor’s hand are turning white as his death squeeze on the apostle’s shoulder tightens. “We are not given to emotional extremism here. None of that tongues stuff. We don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. The Spirit comes when you believe, they don’t have to do anything loud and out of order, ya’ know.”
Peter says to him, “Where did you get that? We spoke in new languages—that was the sign Jesus told us to look for. That is how you know a person has been filled with the Spirit. After that first experience of Pentecost, we went to the house of an Italian military guy—a captain over 100 soldiers. When I preached there, God filled him and the people in his home with the Spirit. We knew He did it because we heard them speaking in tongues like we did. That’s how you know! And then there was the time—”
“I realize it can happen that way, but… Let’s go somewhere and talk about it, huh?”
Peter turns to the people, “God wants to fill you with the same Spirit the same way He did us! And this promise is for you—it is for your children—it is for everyone everywhere! It is for all who will respond to the Lord—those He is calling to Himself!”
“Oh, don’t tell me you are going to guilt everyone into this tongue-talking thing,” the pastor hisses. “That was just for the early church age and for you apostles.”
“It is for everyone!” Peter shouts.
Is your church part of the true DNA of Christ?
Somehow I don’t think old Pete is going to be invited back to your local non-denom church. Peter could not preach his message in most denominational churches either—not even the Catholic church who claims him as their first pope. If the apostle could not preach, administer baptism, or lay hands on people to be filled with the Spirit speaking in tongues in a church, is it even a church at all?
The original DNA of the church is this:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)
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