James E. Finley

Recently I turned on the TV in the middle of a program which featured a panel who would answer questions phoned in by the audience. As I began listening, one of the panel members was asked to respond to this question: "If a person dies without being baptized what state is he in?" In response to this query, the panel member first read Matthew 7:1 "Judge not that you be not judged.'' He then commented that this scripture forbids us to judge the condition of another person. Next he read 1 Cor. 4:4 "..., but He who judges me is the Lord." He commented that Paul was teaching here that only God could judge him and not another man. The third and last scripture to which he made reference was Jude 9. Here, the speaker explained, Michael, the archangel, refused to judge even the devil but said "The Lord Rebuke You." This he said further taught that only the Lord can judge. That completed his response.

As I was contemplating the above comments the picture changed to a choir in long white robes who sang a "jazzed up" version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The program then ended with the master of ceremonies inviting people to call in their questions to be answered on later programs. Then the MC announced that the program was presented by the "East Texas Church of Christ." With that bit of information I was shocked and very disappointed.

I believe that the man who gave the above answer knew better and was well qualified to give a better answer. He will answer for his failure to do so because be turned his back on an opportunity to teach the truth. Instead, he distorted the scriptures in order to hide the truth. The scriptures clearly teach that only the Lord will judge us in the end. With that we have no quarrel for who is the man who feels qualified for such and who would want that responsibility? As for Matt. 7:1, a little study will prove that the idea expressed there is that we should not judge harshly or unfairly lest we be judged in the same manner.

But think what the man should have taught in this situation. The scriptures are very positive with regard to the effects of baptism. Baptism saves (Mk. 16:16 & 1 Pet. 3:21); is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38); washes sins away (Acts 22:16); puts one into Christ (Rom. 6:1 & Gal. 3:27); and puts one into the body (1 Cor. 12:13). If these things are true would it not follow that one who is not baptized would not be saved, would not have his sins remitted or washed away, and would not be in Christ or the body? In short, such a person would die in his sins and the Lord will surely judge him. I am sure that our speaker was afraid that this kind of teaching would offend some, but it is the truth and nothing else will help whether it offends or not.