Instruction for Pastors

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.  I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:27-35

To the Little Flock

The verse we are about to read, study, and contemplate is to the small group of 12 of Jesus Disciples, and to all the Church of the Lord Jesus down through the years.

Jesus said,

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32  (KJB)

This fits well with and for a small local congregation [local Church, Body of Christ] of believers joined together; a people who loves God through His Son Jesus, loves His word, and endeavors to live for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ; also having a burden for others who are lost in their sins.

The following is commentary from the late Matthew Henry on this verse…

“They have better things to expect and hope for: Fear not, little flock, Luk_12:32. For the banishing of inordinate cares, it is necessary that fears should be suppressed. When we frighten ourselves with an apprehension of evil to come, we put ourselves upon the stretch of care how to avoid it, when after all perhaps it is but the creature of our own imagination. Therefore fear not, little flock, but hope to the end; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This comfortable word we had not in Matthew. Note, [1.] Christ’s flock in this world is a little flock; his sheep are but few and feeble. The church is a vineyard, a garden, a small spot, compared with the wilderness of this world; as Israel (1Ki_20:27), who were like two little flocks of kids, when the Syrians filled the country. [2.] Though it be a little flock, quite over-numbered, and therefore in danger of being overpowered, by its enemies, yet it is the will of Christ that they should not be afraid: “Fear not, little flock, but see yourselves safe under the protection and conduct of the great and good Shepherd, and lie easy.” [3.] God has a kingdom in store for all that belong to Christ’s little flock, a crown of glory (1Pe_5:4), a throne of power (Rev_3:21), unsearchable riches, far exceeding the peculiar treasures of kings and provinces. The sheep on the right hand are called to come and inherit the kingdom; it is theirs for ever; a kingdom for each. [4.] The kingdom is given according to the good pleasure of the Father; It is your Father’s good pleasure; it is given not of debt, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace; even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee. The kingdom is his; and may he not do what he will with his own? [5.] The believing hopes and prospects of the kingdom should silence and suppress the fears of Christ’s little flock in this world. “Fear no trouble; for, though it should come, it shall not come between you and the kingdom, that is sure, it is near.” (That is not an evil worth trembling at the thought of which cannot separate us from the love of God). “Fear not the want of any thing that is good for you; for, if it be your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, you need not question but he will bear your charges thither.”” MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY

I love hearing Jesus say to us “Fear not…” Here He is saying it to His little flock. Let us be very encouraged, and live for the cause; the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Baptist Succession in 1838

“It is not expected that we should give a church history in this limited essay. All that will be done is to glance at the existence of the church in each successive century ; and we shall only be able to notice where the true church flourished in one or two places at the same time. . . . Owing to the different languages of those nations where the followers of Christ have lived. and to the asperities of their opposers, the church has been known by the name of Baptists, Anabaptists, Wickliffites, Lollards, Hugonots, Mennonites, Hussites, Petrobrusians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Paulicans, etc.; and to oppose image worship, infant baptism, transubstantiation, and the unwarrantable power of the Pope, have ever been characteristics of this people. . . . 
We should keep in mind that nearly every question has two sides; and while the controversy between us and the pedobaptists respects church origin, we are happy to have their full concession that they are recent dissenters from the Roman Catholics; and that the Baptist church is not only the true church of God, but that for her ‘it is easy to trace a succession of witnesses for Jesus Christ against His rival at Rome.'” 
(The above quote is from “The Convert’s Guide to First Principles” by Israel Robords, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Haven, CT.  It was published in 1838, to instruct a large number of new converts in the church from a recent revival.  The quote is from pages 78, 79, 97, and 98 of the book.  Notice that in 1838 you have a New England pastor referring to a Baptist “succession” and a “true church.”  This is just further proof that J.R. Graves and the Landmark movement did not teach anything new in Baptist history.  A special thanks to Bro. Steve LeCrone for finding this important quote.  Note: The last sentence of the quote includes a phrase from Brown’s Bible Dictionary, p. 152. ) 

Baptists Are Drifting…

The word “Drift” according to the MERRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY means “to float or be driven along by wind, waves or currents 2: to pile up under the force of the wind or water”

The following is an email from Ben Stratton from the Landmark Southern Baptist list:

Baptists Are Drifting From the New Testament Pattern in Doctrine and Polity

Some Baptists are drifting from these orders because they are failing to teach believers to “observe all things whatsoever” Christ has commanded.  Luke tells us that the first church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.”
The New Testament records that believers were accepted into church members by baptism. . . Scriptural baptism is the door into the visible Church of God.  A believer coming from another denomination must be baptized to be a member of a Baptist church.  The proper way to enter a building is through the door.  Baptism symbolizes identification  with a (the) faith.  It is important that one believe in Christ; it is also important what ones believes about Christ.

Administering the Lord’s Supper to non-Baptists is also a departure from the New Testament pattern.  The Lord’s Supper is a family affair and is to be partaken by those of the same faith and order and in good regular standing with the church.  The New Testament substantiates this stand.

Being liberal may make one popular with man, but adherence to the scripture will make you popular with God.  Let us as Baptists join with Jeremiah in seeking the old paths of doctrine, polity, and morality.  J.V. Bottoms, Sr.

(J.V. Bottoms, Sr. was the longtime pastor of the Green Street Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  He was the first person to graduate from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary once blacks were allowed to attend there.  The above quote appeared in the American Baptist” newspaper in 1978.  This paper was the official organ of the General Association of Black Baptists in Kentucky.  It is interesting to note that in the 1970’s many of the black Baptist churches in Louisville were much more doctrinally sound than their white counterparts. )

Are Southern Baptists drifting? In many ways we are. We are drifting away from sound doctrine concerning Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Leadership qualifications, and away from church discipline.
We are drifting toward a crashing falls of destruction, and God will use others who are still standing for the truth, holiness, and glorifying the name of Jesus.

Let’s stand on Jesus and the Scriptures, expose the vile and wicked acts, and language of those who would lead others astray.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Teaching Baptists Distinctives

The following is by John A. Broadus on The Reason to Teach Baptists Distinctives:

I. Reasons Why Baptists Ought to Teach Their Distinctive Views
1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. We must teach these views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians, in separate organizations – from Christians whom we warmly love and delight to work with. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them. We sometimes venture to say to our brethren of some other persuasions that if points of denominational difference among evangelical Christians were so utterly trifling as they continually tell us, then they have no excuse for standing apart from each other, and no right to require us to stand apart from them unless we will abjure, or practically disregard, our distinctive views. But all this will apply to us likewise unless we regard the points of difference as having a substantial value and practical importance as a part of what Christ commanded, and in this case they are a part of what he requires us to teach.

And this teaching is the only way of correcting excesses among ourselves. Do some of our Baptist brethren seem to you ultra in their denominationalism, violent, bitter? And do you expect to correct such a tendency by going to the opposite extreme? You are so pained, shocked, disgusted, at what you consider an unlovely treatment of controverted matters that you shrink from treating them at all. Well, the persons you have in view, if there be such persons, would defend and fortify themselves by pointing at you. They would say, “I am complained of as extreme and bigoted. Look at those people yonder, who scarcely ever make the slightest allusion to characteristic Baptist principles, who are weak-kneed, afraid of offending the Paedobaptists, or dreadfully anxious to court their favor by smooth silence: do you want me to be such a Baptist as that?” Thus one extreme fosters another. The greatest complaint I have against what are called “sensational” preachers is not for the harm they directly do, but because they drive such a multitude of other preachers to the other extreme — make them so afraid of appearing sensational in their own eyes, or in those of some fastidious hearers, that they shrink from saying the bold and striking things they might say, and ought say, and become commonplace and tame. And so it is a great evil if a few ultraists in controversy drive many good men to avoid sensitively those controverted topics which we are all under obligation to discuss. The only cure, my brethren, for denominational ultraism is a healthy denominationalism.

2. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to other fellow-Christians. Take the Roman Catholics. We are often told very earnestly that Baptists must make common cause with other Protestants against the aggressions of Romanism. It is urged, especially in some localities, that we ought to push all our denominational differences into the background and stand shoulder to shoulder against Popery. Very well; but all the time it seems to us that the best way to meet and withstand Romanism is to take Baptist ground; and if, in making common cause against it, we abandon or slight our Baptist principles, have a care lest we do harm in both directions. Besides, ours is the best position, we think, for winning Romanists to evangelical truth. Our brethren of the great Protestant persuasions are all holding some “developed” form of Christianity — not so far developed as Popery, and some of them much less developed than others, but all having added something, in faith or government or ordinances, to the primitive simplicity. The Roman Catholics know this, and habitually taunt them with accepting changes which the church has made while denying the church’ authority, and sometimes tell them that the Baptists alone are consistent in opposing the church. We may say that there are but two sorts of Christianity –church Christianity and Bible Christianity. If well-meaning Roman Catholics become dissatisfied with resting everything on the authority of the church and begin to look toward the Bible as authority, they are not likely, if thoughtful and earnest, to stop at any halfway-house, but to go forward to the position of those who really build on the Bible alone.

Or take the Protestants themselves. Our esteemed brethren are often wonderfully ignorant of our views. A distinguished minister, author of elaborate works on church history and the creeds of Christendom, and of commentaries, etc., and brought in many ways into association with men of all denominations, is reported to have recently asked whether the Baptists practise trine immersion. A senator of the United States from one of the Southern States, and alumnus of a celebrated university, was visiting, about twenty years ago, a friend in another State, who casually remarked that he was a Baptist. “By the way,” said the senator, “what kind of Baptists are the Paedobaptists?” Not many years ago a New York gentleman who had been United States minister to a foreign country published in the New York Tribune a review of a work, in which he said (substantially), “The author states that he is a Baptist pastor. We do not know whether he is a Paedobaptist or belongs to the straiter sect of Baptists.” Now, of course these are exceptional cases; but they exemplify what is really a widespread and very great ignorance as to Baptists. And our friends of other denominations often do us great injustice because they do not understand our tenets and judge us by their own. As to “restricted communion,”for example, Protestants usually hold the Calvinian view of the Lord’s Supper, and so think that we are selfishly denying them a share in the spiritual blessing attached to its observance; while, with our Zwinglian view, we have no such thought or feeling. These things certainly show it to be very desirable that we should bring our Christian brethren around us to know our distinctive opinions, in order that we may at least restrain them from wronging us through ignorance. If there were any who did not care to know, who were unwilling to be deprived of a peculiar accusation against us, with them our efforts would be vain. But most of those we encounter are truly good people, however prejudiced, and do not wish to be unjust; and if they will not take the trouble to seek information about our real views, they will not be unwilling to receive it when fitly presented. Christian charity may thus be promoted by correcting ignorance. And besides, we may hope that some at least will be led to investigate the matters about which we differ. Oh that our honored brethren would investigate! A highly-educated Episcopal lady some years ago, in one of our great cities, by a long and patient examination of her Bible, with no help but an Episcopal work in favor of infant baptism, at length reached the firm conviction that it is without warrant in the Scripture, and became a Baptist. She afterward said, “I am satisfied that thousands would inevitably do likewise if they would only examine.”

But why should we wish to make Baptists of our Protestant brethren? Are not many of them noble Christians — not a few of them among the excellent of the earth? If with their opinions they are so devout and useful, why wish them to adopt other opinions? Yes, there are among them many who command our high admiration for their beautiful Christian character and life; but have a care about your inferences from this fact. The same is true even of many Roman Catholics, in the past and in the present; yet who doubts that the Romanist system as a whole is unfavorable to the production of the best types of piety? And it is not necessarily an arrogant and presumptuous thing in us if we strive to bring honored fellow-Christians to views which we honestly believe to be more scriptural, and therefore more wholesome. Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and Aquila and Priscilla were lowly people who doubtless admired him; yet they taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly, and no doubt greatly rejoiced that he was willing to learn. He who tries to win people from other denominations to his own distinctive views may be a sectarian bigot; but he may also be a humble and loving Christian.

3. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world. We want unbelievers to accept Christianity; and it seems to us they are more likely to accept it when presented in its primitive simplicity, as the apostles themselves
offered it to the men of their time. For meeting the assaults of infidels, we think our position is best. Those who insist that Christianity is unfriendly to scientific investigations almost always point to the Romanists; they could not with the least plausibility say this of Baptists. And when an honest and earnest-minded sceptic is asked to examine with us this which claims to be a revelation from God, we do not have to lay beside it another book as determining beforehand what we must find in the Bible. Confessions of faith we have, some older and some more recent, which we respect and find useful; but save through some exceptional and voluntary agreement we are not bound by them. We can say to the sceptical inquirer, “Come and bring all the really ascertained light that has been derived from studying the material world, the history of man, or the highest philosophy, and we will gladly use it in helping to interpret this which we believe to be God’s word;” and we can change our views of its meaning if real light from any other sources requires us to do so. There is, surely, in this freedom no small advantage for attracting the truly rational inquirer. But, while thus free to search the Scriptures, Baptists are eminently conservative in their whole tone and spirit; and for a reason. Their recognition of the Scriptures alone as religious authority, and the stress they lay on exact conformity to the requirements of Scripture, foster an instinctive feeling that they must stand or fall with the real truth and the real authority of the Bible. The union of freedom and conservatism is something most healthy and hopeful.

4. There is yet another reason —one full of solemn sweetness: To teach our distinctive views is not only a duty to ourselves, to our fellow-Christians, and to the unbelieving world, but it is a duty we owe to Christ; it is a matter of simple loyalty to him. Under the most solemn circumstances he uttered the express injunction. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than five hundred of whom Paul speaks were present also: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The things of which we have been speaking are not, we freely grant, the most important of religious truths and duties, but they are a part of the all things which Jesus commanded; what shall hinder us, what could excuse us, from observing them ourselves and teaching them to others? The Roman soldier who had taken the sacramentum did not then go to picking and choosing among the orders of his general: shall the baptized believer pick and choose which commands of Christ he will obey and which neglect and which alter? And, observe, I did not quote it all: Go, disciple, baptizing them, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Shall we neglect to teach as he required, and then claim the promise of his presence and help and blessing?

Let us as Baptists be faithful in the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, from which we gather our Baptists Distinctives.

Posted by T.A.

Southern Baptists and Alien Immersion

I received the following article from the Landmark Southern Baptist GroupList, and Ben Stratton:

 

LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, conducted a study in spring 2008 among a representative sample of 778 Southern Baptist pastors.  These pastors were asked about several doctrinal questions that often dominate Southern Baptist debates.  Particularly interesting were the results on baptism.
 
Pastors were asked about their church’s practice of receiving members who were baptized in other churches.  Some of the results include:
 
1.  If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in another church that does not believe in eternal security, 26 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
2.  If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in a church that believes baptism is required for salvation, 13 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
3.  If the prospective new member had been baptized by sprinkling or pouring after conversion, 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism prior to admittance into membership.
 
4.  If the prospective new member had been baptized as an infant by sprinkling, pouring or immersion, 1 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
While this study was only of a small sample of Southern Baptist pastors (There are over 2400 Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky alone.) I was pleased with the results.  Notice that 74% of the pastors surveyed said they would reject the immersions administered by Assembly of God or Free Will Baptist Churches.  Even better 87% of pastors surveyed said they would reject the immersions administered by groups such as the Churches of Christ.  And only 1% to 3% are following the route of John Piper and allowing pedobaptists to become members of Southern Baptist churches. 
 
Overall I was very pleased with these results.  While it is true that Southern Baptists have a number of churches and especially younger pastors who are weak on church truth, this survey shows that the majority of Southern Baptist churches are still sound on the doctrine of baptism.  It also sounds how diligent we must be grounding our churches in the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints.  Jude 1:3
 
Who is coming into our churches?  Will there be any sure way to know what is believed by “Baptist” churches?  Are we just cooperating with all “evangelical” churches?  That seems to be the guideline nowadays.  Rather than Scripture.  Let’s just baptize everybody by proxy, then we can increase our numbers. :).
-Tim A. Blankenhsip

A Dry Wind

“At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘ A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people–Not to fan or to cleanse– A wind too strong for these will come for Me; Now I will also speak judgment against them. Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered!” Jeremiah 4:11-13 (NKJV).

The prophet continues to warn of coming judgment if there is no true repentance. The heart of God is grieved, and the heart of the prophet grieves as well. He does not speak these words with glee as a child rejoices in a new gift, or a teen rejoices in receiving a new car; or an adult male who has just gotten married and is going on the honeymoon. The prophet is practically in a begging mode, as to say please repent before the judgment comes.

Jeremiah is known as the “‘Weeping prophet”, because of verses like chapter nine verse one. We will look at that later, but we can tell this man’s heart is broken for his people. It does grieve the man or woman of God when they see judgment coming on the people and the people don’t see, or want to see it, and they refuse to repent.

The judgment that was coming was like a dry desert storm, a sand storm, coming relentlessly, and anything that got in its way would be devastated; and it was coming toward the people of God, “My people…” (v. 11). This storm that was coming was not to provide a refreshing breeze to blow away chaff from wheat, nor for cleansing. This was for judgment. In this storm, with this storm would be such strong winds that it is too strong to stand against, because it is for the name of the LORD; “These will come for Me;” and it is the voice of God who is proclaiming judgment, because of their hardened and cold hearts toward Him.

The one Jeremiah refers to as coming “…up like clouds…” is Nebuchadnezzar, and his military might, coming with great speed, and power. It almost seems that the Nebuchadnezzar and his force was almost right outside the city, and if not they were coming with great speed and would be to Jerusalem very soon. When the watchman sounds the warning, there is little time for repentance; it is time, however for repentance. The prophet describes the horses of the king of Babylon as being “swifter than eagles”. The description of the coming is almost as though it had already taken place, yet it is a future event, but not to distant future.. Notice the prophet’s words, “Woe to us, for we are plundered.” They have waited to long to repent to avert the judgment. It is, however, never too late to repnt and receive the cleansing, forgiveness and favor of God.

We live in a world, especially the United States of America, where no one ever sees the judgment of God. Some frown on the thought that AIDS could be the judgment of God upon our nation, and the world because of the “innocent who suffer from it”. Babies, the spouse who was infected due to an unfaithful spouse, a bad blood transfusion all considered to be the “innocent ones”. I wonder how many babies, and innocent spouses died in the flood? God is righteous and just, and He can judge however He chooses, and still be righteous and just in doing so. I myself, am not pleased with what is happening in the State of California, but with the allowance of marriages between same sex couples, I find it to be God’s judgment that there have been hundreds of fires started the week following the States verdict, were started by lightning. Not only that but there have also been a few earthquakes. God is not judging??? What about the floods in the midwest, and the thousands of acres of farmland that is under water??? What about the tornadoes that has touched many lives, homes, cities, and States??? A Dry Wind dries things out, and makes them right for burning. At the time of this writing there is a real “dry storm” brewing on the coast of California, and they need some wet rain. Lord, “In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2.

God is calling for the repentance of His Church, His people; and for His people to be faithful in proclaiming His Word. If you are a Christian, you are a watchman. That requires faithful attention to the judgments of God. If God’s people are blind to them, we can never expect the unrighteous to repent. God’s judgment is coming, it is already here, and it is real. God is patiently awaiting, but for not much longer.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Baptism And…

The past two years in the Southern Baptist Convention churches has been alive with discussion, and sometimes with angry discussion, over the matter of Baptism; especially as it relates to the International Mission Board (IMB), and its authority to send missionaries.

Baptism is a matter concerning the Christian and the local church where they are potential members or members.  We are first of all, baptized into one body by one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).  The Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ, and because of the Christian’s desire to be near like minded believers, the Christian desires to become a part of a local church.  Becoming a part of a local congregation means identifying with that church through water baptism, giving personal testimony of one’s faith in Christ Jesus, and His death, burial and resurrection, shown in like baptism.

The point I want to make is this.  When an individual becomes a member of a local church, they should have a heart of submission; first to Christ Jesus, and secondly to the ordinances, members, and leaders of the church they are joining.  The IMB made a rule in 2005 that any missionary candidate not being baptized in a SBC church would not be affirmed for the mission field.  My personal belief is that they should accept the call of the local church that did receive them, and accepted their “alien baptism”, however, this is an agency of the SBC, and they have made this ruling.  If you are going to be a missionary through the SBC/IMB, then where is your heart? 

If I were to ever change to another belief system, another denomination, and they required me to be baptized to become a member, of their congregation, then, I would gladly do it.  If I was not prepared to submit to their ordinances, rules, covenants, and leadership, then I would not join.  I, however,  will be a Baptist until Jesus comes again, and then, there will be no more denominations.  There will be only Christ like people, with Jesus Christ as King.

What to do when a person comes wanting to join our church who has been a member of another denomination?  We will require baptism.  If they refuse to submit to that, then they can go elsewhere.  These are usually types of people who will be trouble anyway.

-Tim A. Blankenship

J.R. Graves – 1820

J.R. Graves was born in Vermont in 1820. In 1841 he moved south and united with the Mount Freedom Baptist Church in Jessamine County, Kentucky. In May of 1842 Graves was ordained by this church. What is interesting is that three years before J.R. Graves joined this church, they voted on two doctrinal questions related to landmarkism. The below quote is from S. J. Conkwright’s 1923 “History of the Churches of Boone’s Creek Baptist Association” , under the Mount Freedom Baptist Church section on page 98.

“In January, 1838, on a motion made by Joseph Minter, the following two questions were put to a vote.
1st Query: Is it right that a member of this church should commune with any other church that is not of the same faith and order? Answer: No.”
“2nd Query: Is it right for this church to receive a member’s baptism valid that was baptized by another society, that is not of the same faith and order with us? Answer: In the negative.”

This is just one more historical example that proves that the vast majority of Baptists in the south, as well as the north, rejected alien immersion and open communion long before J.R. Graves published the Cotton Grove Resolutions in 1851. The idea that Graves invented the doctrines of Landmarkism is proved once again to be false. A special thanks to Bro. Jim Duvall for finding this important quote – http://www.geocitie s.com/baptist_ documents/ ky.jessamine. mt.freedm. bc.html

Email post by Ben Stratton Landmark Southern Baptist Group List.

Baptism and Church Membership

 The following was posted on the LANDMARK SOUTHERN BAPTIST email group list.  You will notice that it is a quote from an Southern Baptist Convention tract published  by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1970’s –

“A person must repent of his sin and profess faith in Christ as his Saviour in order to become a child of God. Then he attests his salvation by being baptized – immersed in water – by one who is authorized by a church to baptize him. This establishes initially his identity with a fellowship of children of God. Should he seek to join another Baptist church, the church which initially authorized his baptism verifies to the receiving church that the person has professed faith in Christ, and has been baptized. Subsequently, each Baptist church which one might seek to join receives verification to its satisfaction from the church where the person was a member just previously. J. Carey Wood

(The above is from a Southern Baptist tract entitled “What Is a Baptist Church?”. This small tract was published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1970’s. Notice the author of the tract teaches that baptism is an ordinance of the local church and that baptism identifies an individual with the church that baptized him. This is the reason the vast majority of Southern Baptists have always rejected alien {non-Baptist} immersions. This tract also shows where the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention stood on this issue even in the 1970’s.)

Water baptism [immersion], is the public testimony of the believer in Christ to his trusting faith in Jesus Christ as His crucified, buried, and risen Savior. This public testimony by immersion makes him the member of the local church. It is a picture of what Jesus has already done, baptizing each one who has trusted Him into His Spirit, making us a member of the body of Christ. The local church is the physical representation of the body of Christ.

Baptists and the Local Church

We hear much today of a universal church.  Is there such a character as a universal church, or as some would call it “Invisible church”?  Let’s see what the Bible says.

Consider this, Paul writing to the Local Church of Rome says, “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints…” (Romans 1:7) To the Local Church at Corinth he wrote, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints…” (1 Corinthians 1:2).  To the local churches of Galatia, he wrote, “And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia…” (Galations 1:2).  To the church of Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus….” (Ephesians 1:1).  To the church at Phillipi is written, “Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons…” (Philippians 1:1).  Though, the letter to the Colossians is considered a circular letter to be passed on to all the other churches, even this tells us the message is for the local congregations who have pastors and deacons; to the church at Colosse it is written, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse…” (Colossians 1:2).

Paul has put great importance upon the local church.  As Baptist we also put great importance on the local congregation.  The church is visible with pastors and deacons as its officers.  It practices the ordinances which Jesus our Head gave us to practice.  Those being the ordinance of baptism which is by emersion, ie., the putting of the whole saved individual completely under the water, as testimony of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The second ordinance only being received and participating following their obedience to the first, and that is the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is given us as a reminder of the Body of Jesus Christ broken by the whips, the hair of His face pulled viciously out, and the bruises from the beatings apart from the tearing of the flesh by the cat o nine tails.  These are ordinances and not sacraments.  There is no legitimate participation of these apart from being administered by the local church.

How does Jesus feel about the local church?  Well He established her.  He calls pastors and He builds His Church.  In the book of the Revelation are seven letters He has written to seven churches.  These are local churches.  He loves His Church which is seen in the visible local church.  When you forsake the local church you forsake Christ.

The local church is to be autonomous, ie., having the right and privilege of self government.  There can be no hierarchy which tells the local congregation what they must do.  As Baptists we are independent of any governing body, save ourselves, and Jesus Christ as the Head.  No higher power can tell the local church who their pastors shall be, who their deacons shall be, or what types of minsitry they shall have.  These are the decisions of the local church.

With the advent of television we have many people sending their tithes and offerings to television ministries.  If one is a Christian they should be in their local church; titheing and giving offerings in their local church; worshipping in their local church.  It was/is the church our Lord has established.

How does one worship in a universal/invisible church?  Where does one go?  What does one do?  How does one tithe or give offerings to that which is invisible?  The invisible church is merely excuse for not being a faithful, worshipper in a local church, where you will find people who love the Lord, and will love one another, and where there is solid Biblical preaching and exposition of the Word of God.

I know that all Baptists will not agree with what has been written here, but this is my convictions that God has given me in the study of His Word.  I pray that many who are faithful to His Word will agree with His Word.

BF&M -The Church

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.