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Were New Testament Churches Baptist Churches?
Sermon Preached by Pastor Carroll Hubbard, of Salem, Ky.,
Before Old Bethel Association of Missionary Baptist Churches, October 1st, 1930

      Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-20, 28:18-20.
      Text: Matthew 16:18 — "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

      It seems from this text that the Lord Jesus, while on earth, built a church and to this institution promised perpetuity. The gates of hell were not to be successful in their opposition to this church. Whatever else "the gates of hades" mean, this does say that the churches of the Lord Jesus would encounter opposition, but that they would never be destroyed. Since Jesus established His church and promised it to perpetuity and continuity, then it is on this earth today or the Son of God stands convicted of an egregious error. To this same church Christ promised, "And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age" - Matthew 28:20. If Jesus' words are truth then he has on this earth a church (we here use the word church in its gereric sense) as the "pillar and ground of the truth," and it is ours to identify this church. Were New Testament churches Baptist Churches? We wax bold in saying that they were and that from the days of the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus until now there have been Baptist churches on earth.

      Baptist churches are not nearest to New Testament churches, nor are they close to New Testament churches, but they ARE New Testament churches. To be a New Testament Baptist church a church must have certain resemblances to the churches talked about in the New Testament. Baptist churches have all these requirements, as we shall see, and are, therefore, the churches talked about in the New Testament. We mention five of these requirements:

      I. As To Origin.
      To be a New Testament church, a church must have been instituted at the right time, at the right place and by the right founder. At all of these points, etc., Baptists can comply with the requirements while all others are "weighed and found wanting."

      1. As to Time. New Testament churches were begun during the personal ministry of Christ. They were already in existence before the Lord went away. He even sang songs in the church before His ascension. Hebrews 2:12 — "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church I will sing praise unto thee." To this church, Christ gave clear and definite instructions as to discipline. Matthew 18:16. Also He gave them the Great Commission and that before His death. Matthew 28:18-20. Then it is seen to be the height of folly to say that the Church that Jesus built did not begin during His ministry but on Pentecost. Thus before any people can claim to be New Testament churches they must find their beginning in the lifetime of the Lord Jesus. Who can do it? The following dates show that all other denominations fail to meet this requisite for a New Testment church:

      Catholics, A. D. 590-604; Lutherans, 1520; Episcopalians, 1534; Presbyterians, 1536; Congregationalists, 1580; Methodists, 1730; Campbellites, 1827. It is significant that the Campbellites have only recently celebrated their one hundredth anniversary.

      What about the Baptists? Their date of origin cannot be successfully and corsistenly placed this side of the life of Christ. Men well acquainted with history, who were not Baptists testify to this fact.

      Alexander Campbell — "The church at Jerusalem was a Baptist church; the churches of Samaria were Baptist churches."

      John Clark Ridpath — "In the year 100 all Christians were Baptists."

      Isaac Newton — ... "The Baptists are the only body of Christians that have never symbolized with the church at Rome."

      2. As to Place. The church that Jesus built instituted in the small confines of Palestine. All other denominations have had their beginning either in Europe or America.

      3. As to Founder. The founder of New Testament churches was Christ Himself. It was prophesied that He would build the temple of the Lord and the scripture cannot be broken. Zecheriah 6:12, 13 - "... Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of this place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord." It is evident from 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and Ephesians 2:22 that the temple here talked about in this prophecy refers to a New Testament church. Jesus did build His own church according to the New Testament. Matthew 16:18 — "I will build my church," cf. Mark. 3:13-14. What institution on this earth today can claim the Lord of Glory as their founder and head save Baptist churches? All others are "synagogues of Satan" and were begun by sinful and depraved men.

      Catholics, Pope Gregory; Lutherans, Martin Luther: Episcopalians, Henry VIII; Presbyterians, John Calvin; Congregationalists, Robert Brown; Methodists, John and Charles Wesley; Campbellites, Alexander Campbell.

      II. As to Constituency — Membership.
      New Testament churches had a regenerated memberhip. Disciples were first made and then baptized. John 4:1. None were baptized into these churches but those who were already saved Acts 2:47 - "And the Lord added daily to the church such as were being saved." John the Baptist came to make ready a people for the Lord, and then this prepared people were organized into the First Baptist church. Who today can meet this requirement for a New Testament church?

      T. T. Martin has well said, "Baptist churches are the only churches on earth that require a person to profess to be saved before the person unites with the church or is baptized."

      Baptists have always advocated "blood before water, Christ before the church and salvation before church membership." This is the New Testament Way and the Baptist Way — therefore Baptists churches are New Testament churches.

      III. As to Doctrine.
      Much emphasis is placed on doctrine in God's Bible. The doctrinal test is indeed an important one, modern ecclesioligists and theological experts to the contrary notwithstanding. Baptist doctrine is Bible doctrine. The Bible is a Baptist book — written by Baptists, about Baptists, for Baptists and will make Baptists when read and studied with an unbiased and unprejudiced mind. If you can find it anywhere in the bounds of Holy Writ, then it is Baptist doctrine.

      1. Baptists believe the scriptures to be final authority on every question, hence they are our only rule of faith and practice. The fundamental law of a body of Christ is "Nothing above or beyond that which is written." 1 Corinthians 4:6. "All scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness" — 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

      2. Baptists believe in individual aceountability and responsibility to God. Romans 14:12. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to Gcd." For this reason we reject infant baptism as a sin against an open Bible and against unaccountable beings. We therefore look upon the Romish priesthood with disgust, knowing that believers are "a royal priesthood" unto God for themselves. There are no proxies in religion. Every soul stands before God for and in behalf of itself. For this doctrine Baptists have shed countless drops of blood in ages past.

      3. Baptists believe in the doctrine of Grace, rejecting all sacramentarianism, sacredotalism as well as Arminianism.

      (1). Total Depravity. We believe in universal, personal, hereditary, total depravity. especially would we emphasize now our belief in total depravity. By this doctrine we mean that every faculty of man is corrupted and vitiated by sin. It is therefore seen that man's will is not free but that it is biased by sin. The will is not a sovereign but a slave. The heart as the center of affection is "deceitful above all things and incurably wicked." Many of our people profess to believe in total depravity, but by other teachings that they hold they necessarily deny it. When Baptists really come to know and believe the truth on the totality of depravity, belief in unconditional election and the effectual call will be easy.

      (2). Unconditional Election. By this glorious doctrine we mean that God according to the good counsel of His own will foreordained some of mankind to eternal life and refused or passed by others; for the praise of His glorious mercy and justice. This election and predestination is not based on fore-seen merit in man for such election is another election, which is not another. Romans 9:11 — "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Ephesians 1:4 — "According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Baptists have always believed in this sublime and glorious doctrine. The farther back we go with Baptist confessions of faith, the stronger and clearer we find this doctrine stated. For example, we quote from a Baptist confession of faith published in 1665. "We believe that God in His Son did freely without respect to any work done, or to be done by them as a moving cause, elect and choose some to Himself before the foundation of the world whom He in time hath, doth, and will call, justify and glorify."

      (3). Particular Redemption. Matthew 26:28 — "For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed FOR MANY for the remission of sins." The Bible says that our Lord is to be satisfied as touching His atoning death and this must be because all for whom He particularly and especially died will be saved.

      (4). The Effectual Call or Irresistible Grace. Those who truly believe that man's will is depraved will now see the need of the effectual call for the elect. This God does in gloriously calling and saving all that He choose in eternity. John 6:44 — "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him."

"'Tis not that I didst choose Thee, for Lord, that could not be.
This heart would still refuse Thee but Thou hast chosen me.
Hast from the sin that stained me: Washed me and set me free,
And to this end ordained me, that I should live to Thee."
      (5). Security of the Believer. John 3:36 — "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Since Baptists believe in salvation wholly by grace and apart from all works they can but believe in the eternal security of every blood bought soul. In all these doctrines of Grace we can see that Baptist doctrine is Bible doctrine and therefore Baptist churches are New Testament churches.

      4. Baptists believe scriptural baptism to be the immersion of a believer in water as an act of obedience at the hands of an authorized administrator. Romans 6:4 — "Buried with him in baptism." Acts 2:47 — "The Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved." Matthew 3:17 — "... thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." These three scriptures plainly show that immersion is the only mode; a believer the only proper subject; and obedience to the Lord Jesus the only purpose in scriptural baptism. The word of God is just as plain in saving that there must be behind the act the right authority. Matthew 28:18 — "And he came and spake unto THEM saying ... make disciples of all nations . ... baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Here the Lord gave the Great Commission which carried with and in it the authority to baptize, to local Baptist churches. For that reason no other institution of God's footstool has authority to baptize anybody. May the day never come when Baptists shall lay down this prerequisite for scriptural baptism and receive all kind of alien immersion.

      5. Baptists believe the Lord's Supper to be a memorial ordinance to be observed in the local churches. 1 Corinthians 11:26 — "For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." The Lord's Supper is not a sacrament. It does not bestow grace upon the participant. It is a memorial of the broken body and shed blood of the Savior of men. Since it is to be observed in each local church as a church ordinance, it is close communion or no communion at all. 1 Corinthians 11:18 — "For first of all when ye come together IN THE CHURCH I hear that there be division among you."

      IV. As to Polity and Government.
      New Testament churches were democratic in government. Such a government is based upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus. Matthew 23:8-10 — "But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called master, for one is your Master, even Christ."

      New Testament churches received members by a vote of local congregation. Romans 14:1 — "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye." Acts 9:26 — "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple." Here Paul, just after his conversion, attempted to join the First Baptist church at Jerusalem, and because they didn't know of his experience of grace and were afraid of him, he was refused. Later, however, on recommendation of Barnabas, he was received.

      New Testament churches excluded members. 1 Corinthians 5:4 - "... When ye are gathered together." Paul here giving instructions to the discipline of the incestous man, says that it was to be done by the church as "they were gathered together."

      What other denomination can meet this requirement for a New Testament church?

      "Catholics give to their members no privilege but to obey the church. Lutherans have an episcopacy with legislative powers governing both doctrine and polity of particular congregations and individuals. Methodists have an episcopacy that leaves little room for the autonomy of the local church. Campbellites profess a congregational form of government but in reality the pastor is vested with episcopal powers to receive members without a vote of the congregation." — Roy Mason in The Church That Jesus Built. Can we not safely say that New Testament churches were Baptist churches?

      V. As to Mission.
      The mission of the New Testament churches is given in Matthew 28:18-20. This commission is a church commission. If it had been given to individuals then Jesus' promise of perpetual presence was made null and void when these individuals died. This commission could have been given to no other denomiantion for they are from 600 years to 1800 years too yonng to have existed at that time. Surely the Great Commission is a Baptist commission and the world is a Baptist opportunity. Let us remember that the words of the Lord Jesus when he said, "For unto whomsoever much is given of him shall much be required." Great is the Baptist heritage and serious and binding are Baptist responsibilities first to the Head of the church and then to a lost world.

      Our need in this hour is uncompromising loyalty to Baptist principles ard doctrines. We are rearing a generation of compromisers and apologizers for Baptist truth instead of contenders and agonizers for the "once delivered faith." Shall we sacrifice the blood bought principles and doctrines of Baptists for the praise and applause of a wicked world "that is no friend of grace to help us on God?" Surely we shall not, but will in the strength of our God give the Baptist message to the world "in spite of dungeon, fire and sword."

"Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed thrcugh bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign,
Increase my courage, Lord,
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy Word."


[From T. P. Simmons, Editor, The Baptist Examiner, Marion, KY, September 1, 1931, pp. 1-3; via digitized version by Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, Chesapeake, Ohio. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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