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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Believing in Vain

M. L. Moser, Sr.

From The Baptist Challenge, January 2014. Originally printed in January 1961

We are going to discuss the question, “Believing in Vain,” but before we do, we want to ask these questions. “Is it possible for a man to believe and yet not be saved?” “Can a man have a false or a spurious belief that does not result in salvation?” It is to that, that we want to devote our attention in this message.


In First Corinthians we read, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).


Paul here gives us a definition of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is amazing to me how many people do not know what the gospel is. In the course of my ministry, I’ve asked literally thousands of people, “What do you mean by the gospel,” and it is not one out of a hundred that can give me a clear-cut definition. For instance, I asked a man who is a leader in a church, (not a Baptist church however, but it could have been true in a Baptist church) how men are saved. He said, “Well, by believing the gospel.” And I asked him, “Well, what is the gospel?” And he hemmed and stuttered, and finally came up with “Well, I guess the gospel is doing right with God and your fellowman.” This ignorance of the gospel is appalling in this country.


Then again, there are some who confuse a picture of the gospel with the reality. We have a picture of the gospel. We might call it the pictorial gospel, which is baptism. Baptism is a picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. The reality is the good news of the fact that Christ died for our sins and that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day. That is the reality. We have a picture of it in baptism.

 

There are many people who are attempting to be saved or who think they are saved by the picture rather than the reality.


There are three parts of the gospel. Christ died for our sins; He was buried, He rose again according to the Scriptures. Now man must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. He must believe that Jesus Christ loved him and died for him upon Calvary’s cross; that through the blood that Jesus Christ shed upon the cross, salvation comes to the individual and he must believe that Jesus Christ is alive today; that He came forth from the grave a resurrected Savior. The facts of the gospel then are three: the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins.


Is it possible to believe in vain? Paul says that it is. There is a false or a spurious belief. When we turn to the word believe in the Bible, we find that believe and its various forms are used 471 times. Let me show you what I mean.


Speaking just of the New Testament, the Bible refers to the word believe, just the simple word believe, 123 times, “believed” which is past tense, 94 times, “believes,” two times, which is a total of 278 times. We find the word faith used 193 times. So the word faith and believe are used 471 times in the New Testament. There is no excuse for the ignorance that prevails in the world today concerning God’s plan for salvation, which is by faith in Jesus Christ. In Acts 16:31 we read, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”


Because of this confusion, there are multitudes in our churches today that have never been born again; that have never been saved. I’m convinced that more than three-fourths of the membership of all the churches in the United States is composed of unsaved men and women; men and women that never have been truly born again; men and women that sometimes are very religious and yet do not have a new life planted within them by the Holy Spirit of God.


There are three reasons for that. First, infant baptism. Did you know, infant baptism is one of the biggest curses this world has ever known. It is not found in the New Testament. It is absolutely foreign to the Bible. Believer’s baptism is in the New Testament. There is not one record, of one incident, of a single baby or infant, being baptized.


Only those who were old enough to be convicted of sin and to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ were considered fit candidates for baptism in the New Testament. This business of infant baptism has deceived multitudes of people into thinking that…they are saved. They say, “Well, when I was a baby I was dedicated to the Lord and they baptized me by sprinkling, and I guess everything is all right. I’ll take my chances with the rest.” Infant baptism cannot be a substitute for personal repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Then, the matter of child evangelism. Speaking of Baptists as a whole, we are just as guilty of infant baptism as all our Protestant friends, because we have turned away from the preaching of repentance and faith today to those who are old enough to be saved, and we are putting emphasis on little children. We are urging that we get them into the church.


There are many little children baptized into the fellowship of Baptist churches today that are not old enough to be saved. Some preachers take them in their arms and carry them down into the baptistry. The children are too small to know what it is all about, and even too small to walk down into the baptistry and out again. Oh the terrible curse (unsaved pastors, officers, and church members) of the last fifty years that has come upon Baptist churches because we have filled our churches with little children and there is no more scripture for the baptism of little children than there is for infant baptism. In fact, one is as scriptural as the other. Neither of them are found within the covers of the Word of God.


The third reason why our churches are filled with unbelievers today is because of false doctrines. Satan has deceived multitudes on the basis of salvation. He has deceived them about sin, about faith, about salvation, and as a result, multitudes in our churches have never been saved. They have a false evidence of salvation. They have believed in vain.


Why do so many people think they are saved and yet show no evidence in their lives that they have been saved? The Bible is very clear and very distinct on it. It won’t hurt each one of us to examine the basis of our faith. It won’t hurt each one of us to look into our own lives to see, in the light of the Word of God, whether we have been saved or not. Remember, the Bible says that in the last days many shall have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. The form of godliness in a Baptist church is to walk down the aisle, make a lip profession, submit to the ordinance of baptism, but without salvation.


Now certainly we ought to have the form. There is nothing wrong about the proper form, but the form alone will not save anybody from their sins. My wife has a dress model that she makes her dresses by. It is patterned after her; that is the form. But I don’t love that form. It may look like her, but it isn’t her. There is no life on the inside of it. Many of you may have the form of religion, the form of godliness, but unless the Holy Spirit has put life within the form, it is but a dead form.


May God help you to see what we are talking about when we talk about believing in vain, because to believe in vain never results in salvation.