I heard of a man who walked into the pastor’s office and began telling the pastor that he was a missionary for the “Invisible church”. He was asking for support in his “Mission work”, to which the pastor of the local church responded, by giving him an invisible check.
Most Baptist believe in the authority of the local church. The local church is visible congregation. It has a visible congregation, with officers pastors and deacons, and members who serve the other duties of that congregation.
When you look at the epistles [letters] which Paul the apostle wrote, they were written to local churches. The letters of Jesus Christ in the Revelation chapters two and three, is addressed to local congregations. There is much more emphasis put on the local church than on the idea of an “Universal or invisible church”. The Body of Christ functions in local churches.
The following is our Statement of Faith concerning the church:
“VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.”
As Baptists we do believe that the office of pastor is reserved for men. There is plenty of Scriptural evidence for this belief. In First Timothy 3:1-7 the qualifications of the elder/bishop/pastor is related directly to the male gender. For instance; “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”. I have a friend who pointed out, “When a woman can be the husband of one wife, then I can accept her as a pastor”. I believe he would have meant as long as she met the other qualifications.
The local church was established by the Lord Jesus. Each local church is made up of born again, baptized believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Every member is regenerated by the Spirit of God, reborn in Christ Jesus, and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and into the local church.
This will be addressed later: Baptism is by immersion, ie., putting under the water.