Question: How do you respond to Christians who say, “As long as we Christians believe in the Trinity and that Jesus died for our sins...and we preach the gospel—let’s just put our theologicial disagreements aside”? Different denominations teach God’s Word differently from other denominations. For example, one church baptizes babies and the other doesn’t. Both believe they are teaching scripture! How do we reconcile this?
Response: It’s one thing to say that one believes in “the Trinity,” but one’s belief needs to be defined and compared to the Scriptures. Paul warns, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him [i.e., they embrace the false teaching]” (2 Cor:11:4) Are their beliefs concerning Jesus, the nature of the Godhead, the gospel, etc., biblical?
Catholics affirm the Trinity, yet Catholics baptize babies because it is (in their view) an integral part of the salvation process. So Catholics may believe in the Trinity, but they have “another gospel.” Other groups that insist upon baptism for infants have also formulated “another gospel.” They may very well believe in the deity of Christ and the Godhead comprising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But they are preaching a false gospel.
There is only one gospel. It is eternal and changeless. It is the gospel of the Kingdom, the only gospel that Jesus or His disciples or Paul preached, and the same gospel that we must preach today. Unfortunately, seldom is the gospel preached in the way that Paul preached it in Acts:17:2-3 and elsewhere. Romans 1, for example, reveals what must shock a Jew: that Christianity is not some new invention but the fulfillment of the same message the Hebrew prophets had proclaimed.
Yes, the gospel does pertain to the death and resurrection of Christ for our sins, as Paul declares in Romans 2, as David and the prophets declared, as Peter preached in his Acts 2 and 3 sermons, and as foretold in all of the Old Testament sacrifices. Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day, Christ was a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and although the disciples didn’t understand fully what it meant that Jesus was the Messiah (Peter in Matthew 16, for example, acknowledged Him as such), they did point their listeners to Him as the fulfillment of the prophets’ message.
Regarding baby baptism, the Bible shows us through the example of the early church that baptism is a declaration to the world of an individual’s receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior—a visible demonstration of an invisible occurrence, in which the person has died to sin, thus identifying with Christ in His death, and is born to a new and living hope, identifying with Christ in His resurrection. That’s not possible for infants.
One must exercise discernment in all of these areas, searching the Scriptures to see what God’s Word, not man’s, really has to say about it.