9.1 After baptism, a believer must make a reasonable effort to be separate from the ways of this sinful world,
9.3 Participation in occupations and pleasures which lead us to break the commandments of God, e.g. the use of force and excessive drinking of alcohol, are incompatible with a truly Christian life.
9.4 Baptized believers have a duty to meet with and fellowship each other, whenever and wherever humanly possible.
9.5 Baptized believers should regularly break bread and drink wine in memory of Christ's sacrifice.
9.6 Regular prayer and Bible reading are necessary for the baptized believer.
9.7 A baptized believer only has fellowship with those who hold true doctrine and realistically attempt to practice it.
9.8 Therefore whose who cease to believe or practice the Truth cease to be in fellowship with the body of true believers.
Note: A formal 'Statement of the one Faith' which has been in use for over 100 years is available from the publishers.
APPENDIX 2: OUR ATTITUDE TO LEARNING BIBLE TRUTH
It is quite possible to study all the basic Bible doctrines and yet still fail to appreciate the personal reality of their message. This fact can be very distressing for those who use a manual like this for the instruction of others who then seem to fail to grasp the principles covered.
There was much genuine response to the preaching of the Gospel in the first century. People "gladly received" the Gospel and were therefore baptized (Acts 2:41). Without a heartfelt response to the message - an "affectionate belief", as Robert Roberts often described it - there is no point in baptism. Those who receive it solely because of pressure from their partner or parents are unlikely to stay the course. Seeing we are interested in bringing people to salvation rather than in the number of baptisms, it is worth taking time in our preaching of the Gospel to ensure that our converts come to baptism with the right attitude.
Those at Berea "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily" to check out what Paul was preaching (Acts 17:11). This manual - indeed any human literature - is only an attempt to accurately reflect Bible teaching. For there to be a true response to the Gospel, there must be a mind sensitive to the Word, truly desiring to search Scripture on a personal level. This is something which the preacher of the Gospel cannot necessarily bring about; we can only draw attention to the relevant Bible passages. The believers at Rome "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered" unto them, before they were baptized (Rom. 6:17).
Those who stubbornly persist in the ways of the flesh will never be able to properly grasp the true message of the Gospel; they will end up having "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:1-7). We will never understand what we do not want to. If we have no real love of righteousness, no true desire to bring our lives under God's control, we will never be able to "come to the knowledge of the truth", despite all our Bible reading; our study will just be an academic exercise.
There are several examples of people reading Scripture, but in a way not reading it. This is a disease which we are all prone to. The Jews at the time of Christ appeared to have a great zeal for God's word; they trusted in the Old Testament writings as being inspired (John 5:45; Acts 6:11); they knew that through studying these Scriptures they could have hope of eternal life (John 5:39), and every week they publicly read them (Acts 15:21). In addition, some of them closely studied these passages during the week. However, they totally failed to grasp the real significance of these Scriptures, in that they pointed forward to Christ. Jesus told them plainly: "Search the Scriptures...for had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (You) hear not Moses and the prophets" (John 5:39,46,47; Luke 16:29-31).
We can imagine the Jews' indignation: 'But we do read the Bible! We do believe it!' But, because of their closed-minded attitude, effectively they did not - they read, but they did not understand; they looked, but they did not see. There are truly none so blind as those who do not want to see. At all stages in our spiritual development we must be on our guard against this.
Appendix 3: The Nearness Of Christ's Return
Christ's words in Mt.24:36 make it plain that we will never know the exact time of his second coming: "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (cp. Acts 1:7). However, when the disciples asked Jesus, "What shall be the sign of thy coming?" (Mt.24:3), he did not tell them that their question was impossible to answer. He did indeed give them signs that would be seen in the world just prior to his return. Jesus would not have given these unless he intended the generation living just before his coming to be able to broadly recognize that they were indeed living in the "last days". There is good reason to hope and believe that we are in those very last days.
The Signs Of Christ's Coming
In Matthew 24 and Luke 21, Jesus spoke of a time when
1) There would be false prophets claiming to be Christ
2) War and violence would fill the earth
3) "And there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes"
4) There would be apostasy from the truth
5) Men's hearts would fail them for fear because of the desperate state of affairs upon planet earth; "apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (Lk.21:26 N.I.V.).
It is true that the world has always been beset by an ever-increasing level of problems of this kind. Jesus was obviously aware of this fact; it is therefore fair to assume that he was speaking of a time when these problems would be so great that they would threaten to destroy the planet. There can be no doubt, to every thoughtful world observer, that this is indeed the present situation. The incredible optimism of human nature and its reluctance to realistically face up to our position, makes it difficult for us to appreciate the reality of this.
The following is just a fraction of the evidence available which demonstrates how Christ's words are now receiving a fulfilment:
1). In almost every continent there is a steady stream of charlatans and charismatics who lead men after them.
2) The following statistics demonstrate how dramatically the problem of war is increasing -despite concerted human efforts as never before to restrain it:
Century War casualties Number of major wars
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