To my father and mother, who first taught me to love the Bible and the Baptists, this book is affectionately dedicated.
I Foreword ................................................................ 7
II Why I Am a Baptist...................................................... 9
III Baptist Beginnings.................................................... 18
IV The Baptist Book....................................................... 27
V The Baptist Name........................................................ 36
VI The Baptist Peculiarities............................................. 42
VII Three Differentiating Baptist Marks ................................. 50
VIII The Baptist Program................................................. 58
IX The Church of God, Kingdom of God and The Family of God Differentiated..67
X Principles of Baptist Co-operation..................................... 73
XI Women's Work in Baptist Churches...................................... 85
XII Baptist Churches Conservers and Propagators of the Truth............. 95
XIII A Baptist Church the Climax of Divine Wisdom....................... 102
XIV Why Be a Baptist?.................................................... 113
THERE is nothing new in this book. Every truth contained therein can be found in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus was very fond of the Baptists. His forerunner was called by His Father "The Baptist." He himself walked 60 miles to get Baptist baptism. The only time that the three persons of the Godhead ever manifested their presence on earth at the same time was at a Baptist baptism, when the Son of God was baptized. The most intimate associates of God's well-beloved Son were all Baptists. In selecting His companions, He chose Baptists to be with Him. The first 12 missionaries sent out by the Son of God were all Baptist preachers. He was not ashamed to call them Brethren. He organized His church out of Baptists. He had these Baptist preachers do all His baptizing. There wasn't anybody present when He instituted His supper, except these same Baptist preachers. Not His mother or brothers and sisters according to the flesh, but three of these same Baptist preachers were chosen by Him to be near Him in every crucial experience of His life. In the language of the miners, they were His "buddies." They were a simple folk. Baptists have been a simple folk from that day until now. They are a people of one Book. Wherever the Bible is read and obeyed, the Baptists go and glow and grow. The writer of this volume is one of the simplest of these folk. He believes the Book from cover to cover and loves to preach it. Like his Master, the common people often seem to hear him gladly. This volume contains a few of the messages, which at District Associations or Bible Institutes or Debates or at other places, these Baptist folk, the same kind the Lord loved so well while here on earth, have asked him to put in more permanent form.
If the humblest of them away back in the backwoods or far out on the frontier or up in a hut on the mountain side or on the far-flung battle line on some mission field, shall be helped by any thing said herein to love the Book better and obey it more perfectly; or shall be encouraged to be more loyal to our Lord and to the church which "He purchased with His own blood," the writer shall be happy.
Why I Am a Baptist
I am going to talk this morning on, "Why I Am a Baptist." In the last chapter of Matthew, verses 18-20, you will find these words: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all 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: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." My text is found in Matthew 28th chapter, and 20th verse. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
Peter told us "to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." That is a good reason why every Baptist here today ought to be able to tell why he is a Baptist. Every Baptist ought to be able at any time to give his reasons for being a Baptist: and contrariwise, since the Master never established but one church, every man, who isn't a Baptist, ought to be able to give reasons, good and sufficient to satisfy the Lord Jesus at the judgment, why he is not a Baptist. For if the church that Jesus built was a Baptist church, then no churches but Baptist churches are churches of Christ and every man will have to face the Lord Jesus at the judgment and tell Him why he joined some church founded by an uninspired man, instead of the one founded by the Lord Jesus Himself. There is much talk now-a-days about a community church. Why should not Baptists, go in with all others and organize one church in every community? If it were left to us nothing would be more delightful. We like to agree and get along with other people. But it isn't left to us and to our
consciences. The Master's plain command to the first church was "to teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Church-membership is not left to your consciences or your whims or your reasonings; it is a matter of loyalty and obedience to Jesus Christ who bought us and saved us with His own precious blood. Conscience is not a standard of right or wrong for any man, for conscience is a creature of education and needs teaching. The conscience of the ignorant, or uninformed would say one church is right or none, and the conscience of the man who is taught would say another. So you see conscience cannot be a standard by which men are to regulate their church membership. A standard must be that to which all men can come, and which when submitted to will make all men do what the Lord, Himself, says do. That is why Jesus said, "teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The Bible is the standard and men's consciences never get right until they get right with the Bible and then they all agree. The fundamental and distinguishing Baptist doctrine and the one underlying all other Baptist doctrines is this: "The Bible, the Bible alone, is our only and all sufficient rule of faith and practice." If you can't find it in the Bible it isn't Baptist doctrine; if it is Baptist doctrine you can find it in the Bible. That is the shibboleth of this message this morning. Our authority for making this our distinguishing teaching is our marching orders, given us by the Lord Jesus, the Head and Founder of the First Baptist church.
The man God sent to make ready a people out of whom the Lord Jesus organized His church was called by God Himself the Baptist. (Matthew 3:1.) Mark you, he was not called the Baptist because he baptized. He was called the Baptist by the Lord before he ever baptized anybody, before he ever preached a sermon. He was called the Baptist because of the work God sent him to do. (John 4:1). His mission was set forth in these words: "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." His mission was the same kind of a mission that Baptists have always had. John was a Baptist because
his mission was to make and baptize disciples. Baptists are the only folks on earth who are still working at that kind of a mission -- who make men disciples, then baptize them and baptize nobody else except disciples or Christians. John the Baptist baptized Christ and all the twelve apostles and Christ's church is built on them, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). Since the material for the church Jesus built was made ready by a Baptist preacher it was Baptist material and the church organized out of it was a Baptist church. The church that Jesus called "My church" was therefore a Baptist church. To that church He gave His marching orders -- (Matthew 28:18-20). His marching orders are His program for that church and every other Baptist church until He comes again. His orders are very explicit: "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: 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."
Baptists are commanded to teach all things the Lord Jesus has commanded: they are not commanded to teach anything He hasn't commanded. That is why I say Baptist doctrine includes all things commanded and taught and practiced by Christ and His apostles and excludes everything else. If it isn't in the Bible it isn't Baptist doctrine: if it is Baptist doctrine you can find it in the Bible. Our orders tell us to go and preach the gospel to every creature: that's why we are Missionary Baptists. A member of this church or any other Baptist church who doesn't believe in missions or who doesn't do something for missions is a hypocrite and disobedient to the last orders of the Head of this and every other Baptist church. The Bible tells us that "Jesus made and baptized disciples" -- and His orders to us are to "go, make disciples" and then baptize them. "Disciples were called Christians" at Antioch". A disciple is a Christian. The Oxford Bible in Matthew 28:19 gives these words as the literal translation, "teaching all nations, or making Christians of all nations." Jesus baptized none but disciples or Christians.
He commanded us to baptize none but disciples or Christians. For that reason Baptists baptize no infants, no seekers, no sinners, no probationers, nobody except those who claim to be Christians; because Jesus, the founder of the first Baptist church, did not baptize anybody but disciples or Christians. He left us an example and told us to walk in His steps. That is why Baptists are sticklers for regenerated church-membership. Jesus started us that way and told us to "observe all things whatsoever He commanded."
Jesus walked sixty miles to be immersed in the river Jordan by the first Baptist preacher. That explains why Baptists are sticklers for immersion and for Baptist baptism. They were started that way and the Master told us to do as He said. The Bible, our guide-book, makes baptism so clear and plain that anybody can read it out of the Book, if they want to. That is why so many of the common people are Baptists. I could tell you this morning, if I had the time, how that when there were no Baptists in Germany, John G. Oncken, made a Baptist by reading the New Testament, started to England to find a Baptist preacher to baptize him. I. N. Yohannon, a Persian, converted under a Presbyterian missionary, read the New Testament and came from Persia to New York to get Baptist baptism. In the island of Cuba, Diaz became a Baptist from reading the New Testament. That is why in the state of Parihyba, Brazil, men converted under a Presbyterian Missionary and made Baptists by reading the New Testament, sent for a Baptist preacher in Pernambuco to come up and baptize them. Baptists take the Bible as it reads and don't try to explain it away. The Bible says that John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there (John 3:23). Baptists believe what the Bible says and hunt "much water," when they go to baptize. The Bible says that Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13). That is why Baptists go to the water instead of bringing the water to the candidate. The Bible says Jesus was baptized in Jordan (Mark 1:9). That is why Baptists baptize in water instead of putting water on the candidate. Years ago Brother
A. J. Preston met a prominent Presbyterian Judge in the city where he was pastor at that time, who said to him, "Have you seen the Birmingham morning paper? Did you read where De Witt Talmage immersed a man in the River Jordan the other day?" Bro. Preston said: "Judge, I want to ask you one question. How is it that when you read in a daily paper that a Presbyterian preacher in the 19th century baptized a man in the River Jordan, you say he immersed him: and then when you read in the Bible that in the first century a Baptist preacher baptized the Lord Jesus in the River Jordan, you deny that He was immersed?" The Presbyterian Judge has not answered him yet. The Bible says that Philip and the eunuch went down into the water (Acts 8:38). That is why Baptists do it that way today. The Bible describes baptism as a burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). That is why Baptists insist that immersion only is baptism. The Bible says that Jesus after His baptism came up straightway out of the water (Mark 1:10). It takes "much water," "going to the water," "going into the water," a burial and a resurrection and a "coming out of the water" to make a Bible baptism. That is why Baptists will not have any other kind. There isn't any other kind in the Bible and Baptists will not accept for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9).
The Bible says: "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). For that reason Baptists have no god-fathers or god-mothers or sponsors and do not believe in any proxies in religion. We do not baptize babies nor believe in infant membership because that puts a preacher or a priest or an ordinance or a church or a sacrament between the soul and God; and the Bible says: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). Baptists believe that infant baptism is a sin against God and against little children; because it takes away from the child the privilege and duty of obeying Jesus for itself in baptism after it has repented and believed in Christ for life and salvation. Because Baptist churches take the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, they are the only churches
that in all their history have never connected salvation with baptism, either for infants or adults; but have always contended that salvation is essential to baptism rather than baptism being essential to salvation. God's order is always salvation first and then baptism. "The Lord added to the church daily the saved" (Acts 2:47). Peter gave us a reason for the baptism of the household of Cornelius that they had already received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:43-47).
Because the Bible says: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Baptists do not believe that one church is as good as another and think it makes lots of difference what church you join. Since all other churches except Baptist churches were established by men -- to join any of them is to obey the commandments of men, and the Bible says, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Baptists do not believe that a wife ought to join the church with her husband unless the Bible teaches what his church teaches, because the Bible says: "If any man come to Me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). The first loyalty and allegiance of every blood-bought soul is to Jesus Christ and he ought to obey Christ, even if he had to forsake father and mother and wife and children and all kinsmen according to the flesh to follow Christ. Paul said when it came to following Christ, "he knew no man after the flesh." A man or woman should follow Christ in the matter of what church he joins, even if in so doing it means a house divided against itself (Matthew 10:34-36).
Baptists reject all other baptisms except Baptist baptism because there is no other kind in the Bible. Jesus and the twelve apostles had Baptist baptism. For that reason we receive no other except Baptist baptism. To reject Baptist baptism is to follow the Pharisees instead of Jesus. "They rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of John" (Luke 7:30). All rejecters of Baptist baptism are therefore followers of the Pharisees instead of Christ and
"despisers of the Church of God," which was built by Jesus out of persons, baptized by the first Baptist preacher (I Corinthians 11:22, 12:28, Acts 1:21-22).
Baptists are a Democratic people. "One is your Master, all ye are brethren," said the Lord Jeses (Matthew 23:8). Baptists have no bosses or overlords. For that reason, Thomas Jefferson got his idea of democracy from a little country Baptist church in Virginia, whose Saturday business meetings he used to attend. While this government is not a pure democracy, but a republic, Baptist churches are pure democracies; that is, "a government of the people and by the people and for the people." They elect their own officers. Peter was no pope or bishop. He called himself a fellow-elder with other Baptist preachers (I Peter 5:1). He did not appoint a successor to Judas Iscariot; but the 120 members of that Jerusalem church nominated two brethren and then after prayer gave their lots and the lot fell upon Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). Peter in Acts 6 did not appoint seven deacons; neither did the apostles as ruling elders or a college of bishops elect them, but the twelve called the multitude of disciples together and they chose the seven deacons. Baptists not only follow the Bible in electing their own officers; but they also track the Scriptures by receiving and dismissing their own members. In Acts 9:26 Paul tried to join the church at Jerusalem, but they refused to receive him because they were not satisfied about his conversion. In Romans 14:1, Paul tells the church at Rome "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye," (showing that the church received folks into its membership. In I Corinthians 5, Paul tells the church at Corinth to exclude an unworthy member and in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 the church at Thessalonica is commanded to "Withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly." If it isn't in the Bible, it isn't Baptist doctrine; if it is Baptist doctrine, you can find it in the Bible.
For that reason, Baptists, believe in Close Communion. Jesus Himself was a close communionist. He did not invite His mother, or the man in whose house He instituted the Lord's Supper to be present at that supper. How could you
have closer communion than that? Our marching orders put salvation and baptism before the Supper. The church at Jerusalem in carrying out its marching orders had first salvation, all that "gladly received his word," then baptism, then church membership, then continuance in the apostles' doctrine, and continuance in church fellowship before getting to the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:41-42). Paul told the church at Corinth, (I Cor. 11:18-20) quoting the Revised Version, that if there was division or heresy present it was not possible to eat the Lord's Supper. Open communion therefore is an impossibility. Open communion is the eating together of those who are divided into different sects and teach different and oft-times contradictory doctrines. All doctrines that differ from the Bible and the Baptists are heresies, and Paul says if there is division or heresy present it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper. So it is either close communion or it is not the Lord's Supper.
Finally, Baptists believe that if a man is once saved, he is always saved. No doctrine we hold is more abundantly supported by the Scriptures than this one. Jesus said of the man once saved that "he shall never perish;" that he "shall never thirst" and therefore can never go to hell because in hell they do thirst (Luke 16:24); that he shall "in no wise be cast out;" that "neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." Paul in Romans 8:28-30 shows that all God foreknew will be called, justified and glorified. Beginning back in God's foreknowledge and reaching out beyond time to final glorification, Paul plainly says that not a single one whom God foreknew would be saved, will ever fail to reach final glorification. Therefore apostasy is impossible. But in Romans 8:38-39 Paul puts it, if possible, stronger still. He shows that nothing in life "death nor life," nothing in heaven or hell, "angels, nor principalities nor powers," nothing in time, "things present nor things to come," nothing in space "height nor depth" and then for fear something had been left out he adds "nor any other creature," which includes the believer himself, "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord." Baptists believe those once saved are always saved, because the Bible says so. Baptists take the Bible alone as their only rule of faith and practice. That is why I am a Baptist. If you can't read it in the Bible it isn't Baptist doctrine; If it is Baptist doctrine you can find it in the Bible.
In J. R. Grave's Introduction to Orchard's History of Foreign Baptists, he says: "The reader should distinctly bear in mind that our author does not profess to write the history of our people in detail, but to demonstrate by testimony of both Catholic and Protestant writers -- our bitter enemies, that communities of Baptist have existed in all ages from the days of John the Baptist until now, maintaining essentially, the same faith and that 'the faith once delivered to the saints.'"
It is a distinctive tenet believed and taught by Baptist alone, that John the Baptist prepared the material and the Lord Jesus Christ organized the first Baptist church during his personal ministry here upon the earth. Of this the Scriptures give abundant proof. Old Testament types and prophecy point clearly to this. New Testament apostles and historians acclaim their testimony true.
In Hebrews 3:1-6 Paul invites careful consideration to the house Jesus built. These facts are clearly brought out in that passage. Jesus was appointed by His Heavenly Father to build His house and faithfully obeyed His Father's orders. He not only built His house, but was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, because He was greater than Moses and the builder is greater than the house He built. Moses was only a servant in his house; but Christ was the Son of God and Master of His own house.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16). Paul speaks of the church at Corinth as the temple of God. In Ephesians 2:20-21). Paul refers to the church at Ephesus as "an holy temple in the Lord." The resemblances between the temple of Solomon and the church Jesus built are very marked and striking. David prepared the material out of which Solomon built the temple (1 Chronicles 29:16). John
the Baptist prepared the material out of which Jesus built His own church. (Luke 1:17, Mark 1:2-3). Solomon built the temple out of the material David prepared. So Jesus built the church out of the material prepared by John. (Matthew 16:18, Acts 1:21-22). After the temple was finished it was dedicated with sacrifices (I Kings 7:51-8:1-5). After Jesus had finished the house His Father told Him to build, He dedicated it with the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 3:2, John 17:4, Ephesians 5:25). After the temple was finished and dedicated, then the Holy Shekinah came and filled it with glory (I Kings 8:10-11). Even so after the Lord Jesus had finished His church and put into it all the gifts enumerated, in 1 Corinthians 12:28, except the gift of tongues, then the Holy Spirit as the Divine Shekinah entered the church as the temple of God to make it His habitation forever (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Not only is the temple a type of the building of the church, but Zechariah foretells in his prophecy about Christ building His church. Note his words: "Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zechariah 6:12-13).
Note the detailed fulfillment of that prophecy in Jesus. He was the Branch. He grew up out of His place. His place was Bethlehem, but He grew up in Nazareth. In Genesis 41:32 Joseph told Pharaoh that when God said a thing twice, He did it because it was established. Twice does Zechariah clearly foretell that Jesus was to build His own temple or church. If we interpret Scripture by Scripture, that means that God had settled it before Jesus ever came, that He was to build His own church. How hard do men labor to prove this prophecy false by their efforts to set up the church on Pentecost. But it cannot be done. Zechariah answered all that before Jesus came. Twice does He say that Jesus would build His own temple and adds then that He should sit upon His throne
and be a priest upon His throne. The order of events as here laid down is first Christ building His temple, then His resurrection and ascension and then a priest upon His throne. That is God's answer to the Pentecost theory. Paul tells us plainly that Jesus would not be a priest, if he were on earth, (Hebrews 8:4). The order of prophecy was the order of fulfillment; for prophecy establishes things. His house was built here upon earth by Him. Then God gave Him after His resurrection and ascension all authority in heaven and on earth, fulfilling the scripture as to His sitting and ruling upon His throne. Then He became a priest upon His throne, ever living to make intercession for us. The Holy Spirit was not content however to prefigure the building of Christ's church in type and shadow and foretell it in prophecy. The New Testament is clear and explicit as to the founding of this first Baptist church.
To be a New Testament church a church must have been organized at the right time, at the right place, by the right person, out of the right material, must have the right officers, the right polity, the right discipline, the right doctrine, right practices, the right gospel and the right mission. The first Missionary Baptist church complies with every one of these requirements.
1. It was instituted at the right time -- during the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:28, "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." Holy Writ says the apostles were the first set in the church. In Luke 6:12-16 after an all night of prayer, Jesus called His disciples unto Him and chose 12, whom He named apostles. They were called out from others. That is what ekklesia means, "the called out." They were chosen to be with Him (Mark 3:14). He was the head and founder: they were the first members. No other church can qualify as to time except the Missionary Baptist church. It is the only institution on this earth that was instituted during the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus.
2. It was instituted at the right place. The church Jesus built and which He called "My church" must have been organized in Palestine -- God's country. It was as impossible for the church Jesus built to be organized out of Palestine as it was for Jesus to have been born out of Palestine. The only church on this earth which began in Palestine was the Missionary Baptist church. All others we know of were born either in Europe or America. They are not only too young to be any kin to the church which Jesus called "My church," but they fit neither prophecy nor history as to the place of their beginning. Jesus' church was founded by a Jew and its constituent members were all Jews. That is not true of any other church in the world except a Missionary Baptist church. The founder and all the constituent members of this church were baptized by the first Baptist preacher in the river Jordan. Peter said in Acts 1:21-22 that no man could be one of the twelve, unless he accompanied with them from the Baptism of John. No other church in Christendom can qualify as the church Jesus built, except a Missionary Baptist church, because the founder and constituent members of no other church were baptized by the first Baptist preacher in the river Jordan. The first Missionary Baptist church was founded in the right place -- Palestine.
3. The first Baptist Church was founded by the right person, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we have before proven, He was the Head, Founder, Builder, Master, Lord and sole Owner and Proprietor of His own church. He called it "My church." The glory of building His own church He did not and will not share with any other. It is His betrothed at present and will some day be His bride (2 Corinthians 11:2). He is very jealous over her and will not give up the honor of founding His own church to another.
4.The church Jesus built was constituted out of right material. His fore-runner made and baptized disciples as a preparation for the organization of the church Jesus built. John the Baptist, true to his God-given name, was very careful as to whom he baptized. He not only demanded that those
whom he baptized, should profess conversion before their baptism, but he demanded fruit worthy of repentance as the evidence of their salvation. He not only preached Jesus as the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of those who trusted in Him; but he magnified death to the old life in repentance and demanded that the tree should be made good by the new birth as a prerequisite to baptism. The Master Himself said of John the Baptist that among them that are born of women there had not arisen a greater than he. Out of this divinely chosen and well prepared material Jesus organized His own church. John made and baptized disciples. Jesus made and baptized disciples, though Jesus did not baptize but had His apostles do it. When the Lord Jesus was going back to heaven He commanded His church: "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20). The Oxford Bible in the margin says: "Go make disciples or Christians of all nations." It is significant that Alexander Campbell in his debate with Mr. Rice twice translated Acts 2:47: "And the Lord added to the church daily the saved." H. T. Anderson, a disciple of Mr. Campbell translated the same passage: "And the Lord daily added the saved to the church." And J. W. McGarvey, probably the most scholarly of the disciples of Mr. Campbell in this century, translates the same passage this way: "The Lord added to them day by day those that were saved."
Not only did John the Baptist and the Master and the apostles on and after Pentecost emphasize that only the saved should be added to the church; but in Acts 5:12-14, the inspired historian Luke, after telling about the fear that came upon the people after the death of Ananias and Sapphira, says that multitudes of believers, both men and women, were added to the Lord, but that none of them joined the church. When men and women are added to the Lord they are saved. These believers were saved in large numbers but because the Lord
killed Ananias and Sapphira, they were afraid to join the church. Not only is the proof abundant that in New Testament days all these preachers put salvation before baptism and added only the saved to the church: but Luke actually tells us that a great multitude were saved and did not join the church because the standard of church membership was so high that they were afraid to join the church.
5. New Testament church officers were bishops and deacons. They were both ordained. Jesus ordained the twelve (Mark 3:14). Men elected to be pastors of churches in Acts 14:23 were ordained. When Paul gave Titus instructions about setting things in order in Crete, he told him to ordain elders in every city. These elders were the bishops or pastors of the churches in those cities. In Acts 6:1-7, we are told of the election and ordaination of deacons.
6. The polity of this first church was given it by the Master in Matthew 18:16-18. "Tell it to the church" was His command. The doctrines and teachings of the church were given by the Master. They are included in the "all things He commanded." The New Testament is the law that governs Baptist churches in all things. "Nothing beyond what is written" is the Baptist shibboleth. Baptist churches make no laws. Their laws were handed down to them by the Master. In all matters of discipline and government the authority is in the church. Their action is final. The government of a Baptist church is a pure democracy. It is a government of the people, by the people and for the people under the headship of Christ, who is the head of each local church. There is no appeal from the decision of a Baptist church. The head of each Baptist church has said: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The only appeal from the decision of a Baptist church is to the Lord Jesus in heaven.
7. This church was not only founded at the right time, the right place, by the right person, out of the right material, with right officers, right discipline, right government, right
doctrine, and right practice: but it had the right gospel. Its gospel was the gospel of the Son of God and it began with the ministry of John the Baptist. Mark says so in the very first verse of his gospel. This gospel was not only preached by John and Jesus and the twelve and seventy during the personal ministry of Christ here on earth: but the Lord was very careful in Matthew 24:14 to tell them: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." No change in the gospel of the Son of God. John the Baptist preached it in his ministry. Jesus and His apostles preached it in theirs. Peter preached exactly the same gospel on Pentecost that he preached when the Master sent them out two by two. He said himself in Acts 15:9 that God put no difference between "us," Peter and the other Jews saved before Pentecost and on Pentecost and "them," the Gentiles saved down at the household of Cornelius. The Gospel of the Son of God has always been the same. He never had but one gospel. In the Gospel of John, John tells us very plainly about that gospel because he was writing to sinners and wanted to make it plain (John 20:31). The gospel of the Son of God, which began with the ministry of John the Baptist, and was preached by Jesus Himself, was good news of salvation through Christ. He is the only Savior and satisfies every need of the sinner's heart. When the sinner receives Jesus Christ he has eternal life. The believer has everlasting life right here and now as a present possession. When he gets it he can't lose it. That was the gospel the Son of God preached while here on earth.
That is the gospel He left for His disciples to preach, when He ascended on high and went home to heaven. Three things are magnified in the gospel of the Son of God. Remember them and tell them wherever you go. Eternal life is a present possession: the believer has it the moment he believes: when he gets it he can't lose it. "He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life." "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" That
is the Baptist gospel, because it is the gospel of the Son of God.
8. And last of all this church founded by Jesus was a Missionary Baptist Church because its mission from its very incipiency was to go and make disciples. From the day it was founded it was started a-going and a-preaching and a-giving (Matthew 10:1-10). First they were to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and preach the gospel of the Son of God to the Jews. That is Home Missions. Then after the resurrection of our Lord and just before His ascension He includes "all nations," "every creature" and "the uttermost part of the earth" in the commission, which He gave His church. As soon as He founded the institution, which He called "My church," He thrust them forth as missionaries, to go, to preach, to give until every creature shall hear the gospel of the Son of God.
We have now shown that the first Missionary Baptist church began at the right time, during the personal ministry of Christ: at the right place -- in Palestine: that it was founded by the right person -- the Lord Jesus: that it was built of the right material -- saved people, baptized by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus: that it had the right officers -- bishops and deacons: that it was Democratic in government and discipline: that its doctrines and practices are biblical and according to the New Testament: that its gospel was the gospel of the Son of God: and that its mission until Jesus comes again is missions to every creature.
In conclusion, we sum up some facts to show that this church was in existence before Pentecost.
1. The apostles were in it before Pentecost (1 Corinthians 12:28).
2. The prophets and teachers were in it before Pentecost. (1 Corinthians 12:28).
3. It had an ordained ministry before Pentecost. (Mark 3:14).
4. It had the same gospel before Pentecost that it did afterwards. (Matthews 24:14).
5. It had a commission to preach before Pentecost and did it (Matthew 10:7).
6. It had authority to baptize before Pentecost. (John 4:2).
7. It had the Lord's Supper before Pentecost Hebrews 2:12, Matthew 26:30, 1 Cor. 11:2, 18-20).
8. It had a rule of discipline before Pentecost (Matthew 18:16-18).
9. The keys of the kingdom were given to it before Pentecost (Matthew 16:9).
10. It had a church roll before Pentecost with an 120 names on that roll (Acts 1:15).
11. It had a church treasurer before Pentecost (John 13:29).
12. It held an election before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-26).
13. To this church there were about 3,000 additions on Pentecost (Acts 2:42).
IVThere is a great deal of loose and foolish talk these days by ignorant and uninformed people. To read their writings and hear them talk, you would think that the Bible, instead of being written to guide us into all the truth, was written to teach everything in general and nothing in particular. The idea of Unitarians is that every sect in Christendom can find support for its vagaries in the Bible or that the Bible is silent on all distinctive doctrines and every man is left to his own whims and fancies as to what he believes. Such is not the case. The Son of God said: "Thy word is truth" The Bible is God's compendium of truth. No man is left to his own choice as to what he believes or what church he joins. So particular was the Son of God as to what church God's children join, that He said: "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:7-8).
The Baptist Book
That means that if a man says it doesn't make any difference what you believe just so you are sincere, the Lord Jesus says he is a hypocrite and that his worship is vain, heartless and only lip service. That means that if a man says one church is as good as another, that he is not obeying Christ at all but is a man-pleasing time-server, who if saved at all will be saved so as by fire and all his works burned up (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The Master never got off any such gush and sentiment. The Psalmist said: "I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psalm 138:2). God thus exalts the truth of His Word
above His own name or the name of His Son or the name of His blessed Spirit. God sets unlimited store by the truth of His Word. Nothing is higher or holier than the truth. Satan in the garden of Eden began his work with Adam and Eve by insinuating a doubt in their mind and getting them to put a question mark about God's truth. He is still at the same old tricks. When he gets men and women to say it does not make any difference what you believe or what church you join, just so you are sincere, it is equivalent to saying that believing a lie will do you as much good as believing the truth. The Bible says: "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).
Nobility of character is determined by just one thing, namely, by a man's attitude to the Word of God. "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Next to the rejection of the Lord Jesus the worst curse that God can pronounce against a man is to turn him over to Satan with all deceivableness. "because they received not the love of the truth."
It makes a great deal of difference what you believe and what church you join. John the Beloved, in both his second and third epistles, which were addressed, one to a layman and the other to an elect lady, commends them and their children for walking in the truth and loving the truth. And the most terrible execration, which John was capable of writing, he wrote against the modernists of his day, who put so-called new truth above "what is written" and against Diotrephes, who with malicious words, prated against the truth. The Bible is God's textbook on truth -- all truth, pertaining to life and godliness. There are no contradictions in it. It is the truth without any admixture of error because it is the Book of Him, who is the "way, the truth, and the life." Because the Bible is God's book, it is the Baptist book. The first Baptist church began during the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus here on earth. The New Testament begins
with the work of His fore-runner in getting a people ready for Him to build His church. The fore-runner said that Christ must increase and he must decrease. John soon passed from the stage of action and Jesus and His churches from then on until the end of the Book are the themes of discussion. Jesus and the Baptists are the theme of this book. These facts prove beyond cavil or gainsaying that the New Testament is the Baptist Book.
1. It Was Written By Baptists
The Holy Spirit chose just eight men to write. Matthew, Mark, James and Jude wrote one book each. Luke and Peter wrote two each. John wrote five and Paul wrote fourteen. All of them were Baptists. Matthew, John, James, Peter and Jude were all baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. Mark, Luke and Paul were baptized by others, who got their baptism from John. We know then that every book in the New Testament was written by a Baptist. If there were no other reason but that for saying the New Testament is a Baptist book, the fact it was written by Baptists, since it talks about Christ and His churches, would prove that it is the Baptist book.
2. It Was Written About Baptists
The New Testament was not only written by Baptists, but it was written about Baptists. It tells of the baptism of Jesus and the twelve apostles and multitudes of others by the first Baptist preacher. It tells of the organization by Jesus of the first Baptist church. It tells about the rapid spread of the Baptists and their doctrines and principles throughout the first century. It tells of their mission work throughout all Southern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. This Baptist book tells about the persecutions of Baptists for a generation or two after the ascension of the Lord Jesus. Like Baptists today these New Testament Baptists were a free people and had many contentions and discussions of their differences. This Baptist book tells about them and about the democracy of these Baptists of the long ago in settling their differences.
The letters from the writers of this Baptist book to Baptist churches and individuals are full of expositions of Baptist doctrines and of discussions of the problems and duties of the Baptist church members. There isn't a book in print today that discusses as many of the doctrinal and practical problems of discipline, missions, worldliness, the ministry, the Lord's Supper, speaking in tongues, the disorderliness of women speaking in the churches, church finances and a host of other things Baptist churches are wrestling with today, as Paul's two letters to the church in Corinth. The New Testament was written by Baptists and about Baptists and for Baptists and it will settle all their problems, if they will only read and obey it.
3. It Was Written For Baptists Of All Ages
The Lord Jesus promised perpetuity to Baptist churches. He plainly said the gates of hell should not prevail against the institution, which He called "My church." His world-wide commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 promised that He would be with His churches unto the end of this age. In Ephesians 3:20-21 He promised that God would be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus in every generation world without end. This Baptist book was written to encourage Baptist churches in times of backsliding or persecution, that there would be Baptist churches in every generation until He comes again.
Our enemies testify that our Lord has kept His promise and that Baptists can be traced through the centuries by a trail of blood.
Joan Bocher, of Kent, Anne Askew, and hundreds of other Baptists were murdered for their principles in the sixteenth century before the Smyth affair. The following edict was put forth by the Council of St. Gall, March 26, 1530: "All who adhere to or favor the false sect of the Baptists, and who attend hedge meetings, shall suffer the most severe punishments. Baptist leaders, their followers and protectors, shall be drowned without mercy." (Bullinger, Reformations-ge-schichte, 11, 287: "A History of the Baptists," by J. T. Christian).
In 1819 the king of the Netherlands appointed Dr. Ypeij, Professor of Theology in Gronigen University, and J. J. Dermont, his chaplain, to write the history of the Dutch Reformed Church. The Baptists kept getting in their way when they made a statement concerning them, closing in these words: "We have now seen that the Baptist, who were formerly called 'Anabaptists,' and in later time Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and who have long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages." Did these men tell the truth? They were not Baptists.
Alexander Campbell, in 1851, when he had been an ordained minister for forty years, and fifteen years before his death, said: "There is nothing more congenial to civil liberty than to enjoy an unrestrained, unembargoed liberty of exercising the conscience freely upon all subjects respecting religion. Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all countries, has been, as a body, the constant asserters of the rights of man and liberty of conscience. They have often been persecuted by Pedobaptists; but they never politically persecuted though they have had it in their power." ("Christian Baptism," page 409.)
The New Testament was not only written by Baptists and about Baptists and for Baptists, thereby giving overwhelming testimony that it is the Baptist book: but there is one other proof that is stronger than any of these.
4. It Was Written To Make Baptists
The last commission of the Son of God before His ascension to His Father's right hand said: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: 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." That
commission was given to His church. It could not have been given to individuals, because perpetuity was promised unto the end of the age. The only thing that was to continue unto the end of the age was His church as an institution. To that institution He gave this world-wide commission. His first command was to make disciples or Christians by preaching the gospel to every creature in all nations. Then He commanded His church, which was a Missionary Baptist church, to make Baptists out of all Christians, by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He who has all authority in heaven and in earth commanded His church to make disciples or Christians of all nations by preaching the gospel to them and then make Baptists out of all Christians by giving them Baptist baptism.
The command of the Lord Jesus is as plain and as imperative to make Baptist as it is to make Christians. Those are our orders until He comes back. First make them Christians and then make them Baptists. According to the orders of Him, who has all authority in heaven and in earth, it is as much our business to make Baptists as it is to make disciples. If the Lord Jesus by His orders can make His will clear and plain, it is His will that every Christian on this earth be a Baptist. Not by force is this to be done but by teaching. And just as they are not to be made disciples by force but by teaching, so they are to be made Baptists exactly the same way, namely, by teaching all Christians the all things He has commanded. The same Bible that will make Christians, will make Baptists if faithfully taught. Baptists will have two big accounts to settle at the judgment bar of the Lord Jesus. The first one will be for not going our lengths to make Christians by giving the world the gospel of grace. The second will be for not doing our best to make Baptists out of all Christians. The orders of Jesus include both. The Book is very plain about the plan of salvation. It is equally plain about church membership. The New Testament will make Christians if read and believed. The same New Testament will make Baptists if read and obeyed. It is just as plain and clear on the second as on the first. Salvation
first, then obedience in baptism and church membership. "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." That is the order of the Lord Jesus and these New Testament Baptists obeyed their orders. The orders haven't changed. They still read that way. First make them disciples: then make them Baptists. Every disciple or Christian ought to be a Baptist. Why aren't they? Because Baptists have sold out for pay and popularity. They try to make disciples: but they don't try to make Baptists. They are afraid they will be called narrow or be unpopular or the collection will fall down. How much better is that crowd than Judas? Selling out the Lord for dirty silver. Who is doing that? All Union evangelists are. All compromising pastors, who dismiss any of their services are. All the "mixed multitude" who because of inter-marriage with other denominations want the soft pedal put on doctrine are. Who else? Every Baptist school in the Southland is selling out for pay and patronage. A Baptist school, which is not trying to make Baptists out of its students is recreant to its Mastar's orders and untrue to a sacred trust. The business of every Baptist school in the land is first to make Christians and then to make Baptist out of all their students, who are Christians. Why should Baptist put any money in any school, whose chief business, is not first to make Christians and then to make Baptists out of all their students?
Jesus never told us to do anything, that He did not first set an example. He made and baptized disciples (John 4:1-2). Then He taught them all things needful for the Christian life. That is the business of Baptists everywhere: make disciples, make Baptists, make Missionary Baptists. That ought to be the business of Baptist churches, Baptist Sunday Schools, Baptist schools and everything else that is Baptist. Jesus was a teacher as well as a preacher. He confined His teaching to opening to His young preachers and missionaries the Scriptures. That ought to be the mission of every Baptist school. He left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. Three years or three and one-half of teaching the Scriptures, not only made home and foreign missionaries out of all His preacher boys,
but it so saturated the very atmosphere of that first Baptist church with the spirit of missions, that when persecution arose, all the men and women in that church went everywhere "gossiping about Jesus" (Acts 8:1-3). If Baptist schools of this Southland gave a four years' course in the study of the Bible, all their students would go back home to set this whole land afire on Missions, just like they did in New Testament days. Churches, schools and every other agency of the Baptists ought to exist to make Christians: make Baptists: make Missionary Baptists. If they are not run for that purpose, they ought to die; the sooner the better for this wicked world. The New Testament was written to make Christians: to make Baptists: to make Missionary Baptists. Time and space would fail me to cite the many examples of those, who have been made Baptist by the New Testament. Judson and Rice on different ships, going out as Congregationalist missionaries, were made Baptist by studying their Greek Testaments, to meet Marshman and Ward, two English Baptist missionaries already on the field.
A Methodist presiding elder in the "Pennyrile" district of Kentucky held a meeting between Owensboro and Central City. A very prominent business man was converted, but did not join the church. A few weeks afterwards the presiding elder saw one of the stewards on the train between Owensboro and Central City and asked him about his convert. A Baptist deacon was sitting just behind the elder and steward. They either did not notice or did not care, who heard them. The steward's answer to the elder was that the new convert was reading his Bible. The significant comment of the elder, with a shrug of the shoulder, was: "Well we had as well say good-bye to him. He will go to the Baptists." How any man expects to meet the Lord Jesus, except with great embarrassment, who knows the truth about baptism and church membership, and will not obey it, is more than I can understand.
J. B. Jeter's third wife was a Presbyterian. A baby was born in that home. His wife said something about like this: "Mr. Jeter, you knew I was a Presbyterian, when you married me.
As an honest Presbyterian I believe that our baby ought to be baptized." He consented on condition that she would consent to his holding the baby while the ceremony was performed. She thought it would be a feather in her cap to have the most prominent Baptist preacher in Virginia and one of the best known Baptist editors in the South to hold their baby, while a Presbyterian preacher baptized it. So she consented. J. B. Jeter announced in his church in Richmond, that he would be out of his pulpit to be present at the Presbyterian church and why. That church was jammed and packed. The scholarly and dignified Presbyterian preacher preached and then announced that those who had babies to be baptized would please bring them forward. Bro. Jeter and his wife arose and he took the baby in his arms and they walked to the front. He was careful to get at the end where they were to begin. Quite a number of other parents had children present for that purpose. Just as the honored pastor of that Presbyterian church raised his hand to say the baptismal formula and baptize Bro. Jeter's baby, Bro. Jeter said somthing like this: "My brother, you and I have been good friends for many years. My wife has been a member of your church for years and I have never tried to proselyte her to my faith. But as a Baptist I believe that we ought to be able to give a 'Thus saith the Lord' for all that we do. This is my baby as well as my wife's. Before you sprinkle my child, I want you to take your Bible and read out of the Book your authority for what you are about to do." The scholarly, old-school Presbyterian preacher slowly raised his hand and pronounced the benediction. Mrs. Jeter soon became a Baptist. She said that her pastor was one of the most scholarly Presbyterian preachers in all the South. If he could not find infant baptism in the Bible, then it must not be there. If infant baptism was not in the Bible, she had never been baptized, for infant baptism was all she had ever had. With an open Bible she soon was led to the truth and obeyed her Lord in baptism. The Bible was written to make Baptists and it will do the work in every regenerate heart if they will only read it and obey it.
VThe Baptist name is as divine as a Baptist church. Both came from heaven. Both came from God. John was the name given the fore-runner of Jesus at his birth. He was called "The Baptist" because of his mission. These facts are very clearly stated in the Scriptures about his official name, "The Baptist." That name came from heaven. God gave it to him. It was given to him because of the work God gave him to do. He was "sent from God" (John 1:6). God called him "The Baptist" before he started to preaching (Matthew 3:1). He was not called "The Baptist" because he baptized: for God called him "The Baptist" before he came to Jordan or preached or baptized. God gave him the name. God sent him. God sent him to preach. God sent him to baptize (John 1:33). God sent him to baptize only one class of folks, namely, those who were made disciples or Christians before their baptism (John 4:1). That those, whom he discipled, were saved before their baptism is clearly proven by his demanding "fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3:8). The axe was laid to the root of the tree. They died to their old or past lives of sin. They confessed their sins (Matthew 3:6). John taught them to believe on Christ (Acts 19:4). They received Jesus as God's Lamb to bear away their sins. That was faith in Christ. The tree was good or in other words they were born from above by receiving Christ (John 1:11-12).
The Baptist Name
Then having a new heart, a new life, they bore fruit. Luke tells us in Luke 3:8-14 the character of fruit John demanded before he would baptize them. In His opening sermon, called the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 6-8. Jesus Himself, made it very clear and plain, that only those, who had been born anew and were fruit-bearers could get His sanction and approval as subjects of baptism.
Having had some understanding of why God chose this name and gave it to the fore-runner of His Son, who was to prepare the material, out of which Jesus was to organize His own church, let us now see if the Bible gives us any reasons as to why that name was chosen. You will find that there are a good many scriptural reasons, laid down in God's infallible and inerrant word, as to why God called John "The Baptist."
1. The Name Baptist is the Only Name In the New Testament That Stands for a Baptized Disciple.
All who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior are brethren (Matthew 23:8). All true believers are His disciples. Discipleship comes before baptism (John 4:1). All who have believed on the name of Jesus as their Savior and Lord are God's children (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26). All the elect are called sheep. Before their salvation they are called lost sheep (Matthew 10:6, John 10:16). All the blood-washed are called saints (Heb. 10:10,14, 13:12). All disciples are Christians (Acts 11:26). Every one of these titles may be scripturally applied to unbaptized believers. Not so with the name Baptist. Webster's latest unabridged dictionary defines a Baptist as "one of a denomination of Christians, who maintain that baptism should be administered by immersion and be administered to believers only." The name Baptist is scriptural and is the only name that is scriptural, that is used as a denominational name or can be so used. The name Baptist came from God: the name Christian came from the heathen. The name Baptist is a denominational name. The name Christian, according to Webster's latest and best, includes all believers in Christ. Note what he says. "One who believes or professes or is assumed to believe in Jesus Christ." According to the lexicons as well as according to the Scriptures, all of God's children are Christians. The only name in the New Testament that stands for baptized disciples or believers is the name Baptist.
2. The Only New Testament Name, that Conforms to the Great Commission Is the Name Baptist.
In John 4:1 we are told that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." John made disciples and then
baptized them. Jesus made disciples and had the twelve baptize them. When He went to leave His last and final orders to the church He had established, He said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: 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" (Matthew 28:18-20). What John began and Jesus continued, His churches were ordered to carry on and carry out without the changing of one jot or tittle until the end. The first Baptist made and baptized disciples. Jesus and the twelve and the seventy made and baptized disciples. When Jesus was going away He commanded His churches to make and baptize disciples until He comes again. The name Baptist is the only name that is a constant reminder of the commission given by the Lord Jesus to His churches until the end of time. It is a church name because it stands for a church program, the very program, that Jesus gave to His churches to do and to keep until He gets back. According to Mr. Webster the name Baptist stands for the how and the whom of baptism, namely, the baptism of saved people by immersion. All others baptize babies or baptize sinners to save them or baptize in some other way besides immersion.
3. The Name Baptist is a Differentiating Name.
It differentiates and distinguishes all who hold it from all other sects and denominations. It marks out the people who wear it. God said His people are a peculiar people. The name Baptist marks out the peculiarities of those who wear it. It distinguishes those who practice immersion only from all those who do not. It distinguishes those who baptize saved people from those who do not. It distinguishes those who are baptized Christians from those who are not. It distinguishes those who have Baptist baptism from those who have not. It distinguishes those who reject infant baptism from those who follow Rome and receive it. It even goes further than that. The name Baptist is so distinguishing a name, that heretical
Baptist sects, such as Hardshell Baptists or Free Will Baptists or Seventh Day Baptists have to use a pre-fix of some kind in front of their names to mark them as "sick" Baptists who are following a stranger. The only sheep that will follow a stranger is a sick sheep. So with Baptists. The pre-fixed Baptist is a sick Baptist or his pre-fix is a nickname. Like the Israelites in Old Testament days, Baptists have had many names; but they have always been the same people. The pre-fixes are soon dropped; but the name Baptist abides. God gave that name to the first one because of the work He sent him to do and it has been here ever since.
4. The Name Baptist a Divisive Name.
The Lord Jesus said: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). The Lord Jesus intended that His people should be a separate people. In New Testament days they were the sect everywhere spoken against (Acts 28:22). The Lord Jesus foretold the night of His betrayal and crucifixion, that His people would be a despised and a rejected people. The name Baptist is divisive in any community or crowd. He said they hated Him and they would hate His people (John 15:18-25). Everything that makes for unity among Baptists makes for division between Baptists and all other people.
Baptist churches are never united unless they are separated from everybody else. There are no exceptions to that rule. The Lord Jesus sees to that. If Baptists are friendly and obedient to Christ, Christ's enemies are not friendly to them. "Friendship of the world is enmity with God." There is no straddle or compromise. You are wholly on Christ's side or wholly on the world's side. The Baptist name meant separation from the world in the first man who wore it. John the Baptist lost his head because he would not compromise on the divorce question. Paul declared: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). Seven ones to make one. No unity unless agreed upon those seven ones. What are they?
"One body" -- A local church. Each local church the body of Christ in that community and He has no other.
"One Spirit" -- The Holy Spirit. Each Baptist Church built for a "habitation of God in the Spirit" in the community where located.
"One hope" -- The finished work of Jesus Christ. Not a dozen or an hundred ways to heaven. Jesus is the way.
"One Lord" -- The Lord Jesus. No human lords over God's heritage. The Lord Jesus head over all things to each of His churches. "One is your Master -- and all ye are brethren." The Lord Jesus the one and only Lord of Baptists.
"One faith" -- Which the Word calls "the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints." No new truth. If new, it isn't true: if true it isn't new.
"One God and Father" -- The Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Father through Him. No universal fatherhood of God. He has no Ishmaels, no "bastard" children, no "woods colts." Every child of God like Isaac, a child of promise and supernaturally born (Ephesians 1:19-21) [Galatians 4:22, 23, 28 - ed.].
The name Baptist has always been a divisive name because it stands for the whole truth without compromise. All Baptists have not so stood, but the name stands for division and separation. And God blesses and prospers them when true to their name. That is why "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Separation means persecution and persecution means multiplication and growth. A compromising church is always a dying and waning church. God so wills it and works all things after the counsel of his own will."
5. The Name Baptist an Exclusive Name.
The Lord, who founded the first Baptist church, never aimed for them to take in everybody and his dog. "Without are dogs." Baptists have no fellowship for lots of folks and lots of things. They are not inclusive, but exclusive. In 1 Corinthians 11:19-21, R.V., Paul said these wise words: "For there must be heresies among you that they which are approved may be nade manifest among you. When therefore ye assemble yourselves together it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper." God never intended for Baptists to be a "mixed multitude." Through all their history, when the "mixed multitude" have
corrupted our churches, they have sloughed off the heretical and the wordly. The name Baptist stands for cleanness and separation. The Lord Jesus sees to it that they are true to their name. About 100 years ago Baptists sloughed off the Hardshells and Campbellites. We are now in the process of sloughing off the Modernists and Unionists and Highbrows. Heresies are permitted to crop out among Baptists that the approved may be made manifest. Paul said, that is the only way for Baptist churches to rid themselves of the worldly and the heretical. If the churches do not put out the heretics and the worldly, the indwelling Spirit, who abides in each local body of Christ, causes that crowd to get out, because He has no fellowship with them. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (I John 2:19).
The very name Baptist stands for separation. By instinct and tradition and teaching and creation and history and love they are a separate people. The Lord Jesus their head, the Holy Spirit their life, the New Testament their rule of faith, their individualism one of their fundamentals -- all combine to make and keep them an exclusive rather than an inclusive people. Nineteen hundred years of teaching and of persecution by all other sects has served to accentuate their exclusiveness. It will always be so. The Lord Jesus started them that way. And they get more so, rather than less so if possible. You cannot make Baptists like anybody else. They are a free people and you cannot bind them. And their freedom and their one-ness in Christ and doctrine, because they all believe the same Book, make them throw off all ritualism and formalism and tradition of men and seek the heights of freedom and fellowship in the heavenlies.
VI"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14).
The word here translated peculiar means having "special and distinct characteristics or habits."
Thayer defines the Greek word translated peculiar "a people selected by God from the other nations for His own possession." The idea is the same. God's people are a people chosen by Him to be unlike all other nations and people, with special and distinct habits and characteristics. Baptists are now and have always been that kind of people. God made them so. They please Him best when they are most unlike other folks. He did not choose them because they were peculiar. They were just like other sinners until He created them anew. When He made them over by the new birth He made them peculiar. He chose them and redeemed them and created them anew as a people for His own possession: and His purpose for every one of them is to conform them to the Image of His Son. That means that by His grace and His Spirit and His Word and His Providences, He is making them more and more peculiar all the time.
The purpose of this chapter is to call attention to and stress some of their peculiarities. The more peculiar they become, the more they become like Christ, the better they please our Heavenly Father, the more heavenly and unworldly they become, the more people take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. These peculiarities are common-place with us; but they were not in New Testament days. Neither are they generally known on this earth today except in a very limited territory in the South. Instead of trying to hide
their peculiarities and magnify their likenesses and agreements with other denominations God wants the Baptists to maintain their separateness and magnify the things, wherein they differ from all other denominations. If you think the writer has put it too strongly, read these words from the lips of the Son of God. "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). He came to send division, according to His own testimony. How does He cause division? He causes division by making His people different from other folks. The things wherein they differ are their peculiarities. Why does He cause division? Because He wants His people to be wholly unlike anybody else (2 Corinthians 6:11-18). Wherein are Baptists to be a peculiar people? Ought they to glory in their peculiarities or to be ashamed of them? I maintain that their peculiarities are their glory and that in humility and meekness, because they are God given, they ought to be gloried in.
1. The Baptist Gospel is the Only Gospel
The gospel began with the first Baptist preacher. In Mark 1:1 we are told that John's ministry was the "beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Is that so or not so? The Bible tells it. The Holy Spirit thought it of sufficient importance to open up the second gospel with that declaration. Is it so? If it is, then there are several very common utterances abroad in the land that Baptists ought to quit endorsing and circulating. If the gospel began with John the Baptist, then the first gospel sermon was preached by the first Baptist preacher. Since Paul says there is but one gospel, the man who doesn't preach the Baptist gospel, does not preach any gospel at all (Galatians 1:7-8). If there is but one gospel and gospel preaching began with the first Baptist preacher, then every man, who preaches the true gospel, got his gospel from the Baptists and preaches the Baptist gospel. If the first gospel was the Baptist gospel, then honest preachers of the gospel everywhere ought to tell, that there is but one gospel and that it came from God to them through the Baptists. If God gave the gospel to the
world through the Baptists, then the Baptists are under supreme obligations to God and to the world to give to them the gospel in its purity. The gospel is a Baptist gospel and Baptists owe it to the Lord Jesus to give the gospel to every creature. That is the ground of missions, according to Paul. It is a debt: a Baptist debt: a debt that Baptists owe to every creature. Listen: "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Romans 1:14-15). Missions are not charity. Missions are a debt Baptists owe a lost world. Missions are preaching the gospel to the literate and to the illiterate. The Baptist debt is not schools, nor hospitals, nor humanitarian service, nor relief for men's bodies. The Baptist debt to the world is the gospel. The gospel began with the Baptists. It is a Baptist possession. Its publishing to every creature is the Baptist debt. This gospel, that began with the first Baptist, not on Pentecost, is to be preached, the very same gospel, not another until Jesus comes again. (Matthew 24:14). Baptism is no part of this gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17).
The gospel is Christ's death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification or in other words the finished work of Christ (1 Corinthians 151-3). The gospel is for the lost -- not something we do for Christ but something He did for us. Baptism is for the saved -- only the saved. That is why baptism is no part of the gospel. They are not the same kind of folks. The gospel is for the lost. Nobody but the lost. Baptism is for the saved, nobody but the saved.
2. A Baptist Church is the Only Church.
That is the second peculiarity of the Baptists. The church Jesus called "My church" was a Baptist church. The material was prepared by the first Baptist preacher. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we are told that the apostles were first in the church. Luke 6:13-16 tells of their selection by Jesus and the names of the first apostles. In Acts 1:22 Luke tells us that a man could not be one of the twelve apostles unless he had accompanied with them from the baptism of this first Baptist preacher.
This first church was a Baptist church therefore because it was built by Jesus, who was Himself baptized by a Baptist preacher. Its first members were baptized by this same first Baptist preacher. Even Alexander Campbell admitted in his debate with Mr. McCalla, a Presbyterian, that the church at Jerusalem was a Baptist church. No other church except the one Jesus built was built out of Baptist material. No other church except the one Jesus built had a baptism, that came from heaven (John 1:33, Luke 7:30). No other church except the church Jesus built was built by one person of the Godhead. Since no stream can rise higher than its source, the only church in this world, that is a divine institution, is the Baptist church: for no other church, except the Baptist churches had one person of the Godhead for its founder. No other church except the Baptist church was founded in Palestine. No other church except the church Jesus built had in its foundation Christ and the apostles (Ephesians 2:20). Since the expression "the church of Christ" is never found in the singular in the New Testament, but in the plural, we know that the church, which Jesus called "My church" is an individual, local, organized, and assembling body. The only church in the New Testament, that is called a body of Christ was a local church. In 1 Cor. 12:27 the definite article is left out, so that the literal of that passage is: "Ye are a body of Christ and members in particular." In other words each local body of Christ is composed of individuals, not a universal body, composed of churches or other organizations. The church which the Lord Jesus built was not only a Baptist church, but He promised that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. He kept that promise.
Alexander Campbell, who traced a succession through the Baptists, says: "The disciples of Christ are the same race, call them Christians, Nazarenes, Galileans, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Waldenses, Albigenses, Protestants, or what you please. A variety of designation affects not the fact which we allege; we find an unbroken series of Protestants -- a regular succession of those who protested
against the corruptions of the Roman Church, and endeavored to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints, from the first schism in the year 250 A.D. to the present day; and you may apply to them what description or designation you please." ("Campbell-Purcell Debate," 1837, page 77)
Again Mr. Campbell says: "Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all countries, has been, as a body, the constant asserters of the rights of man and of liberty of conscience." - Christian Baptist, page 409.
Mr. Burnett, one of the leading editors of the Disciples of Mr. Campbell, said in "What and Where Is the Church?", page 73: "Christ founded His church upon a rock, and it has been there ever since. In the days of Alexander Campbell it was wearing the name 'Baptist Church.' With Alexander Campbell we say, the kingdom was with the Baptists before he and his coadjutors started the Reformation."
The only church on this earth that was founded at the right time -- during the personal ministry of Jesus Christ: at the right place -- Palestine: by the right person -- the Lord Jesus: of the right material -- the born again, who brought forth good fruit before their baptism: and to which the Lord Jesus promised unending perpetuity, was the first Baptist church, which Jesus built out of the material made ready by John the Baptist. Baptist churches are the only churches on this earth, whose baptisms like a gold dollar are worth one hundred cents to the dollar the world around. The only church on this earth that Jesus could join if He were here, on His baptism, is a Baptist church, for all others say John's baptism is invalid. Baptists say the only baptism that is valid is John's baptism: for it is the only one that came from heaven. Baptist churches are the only churches on this earth, that will not be plucked up by the roots, when Jesus comes, for He said: "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up" (Matthew 15:13).
3. Salvation the Condition of Baptism.
A third peculiarity of the Baptists is that they are the only church in Christendom, that never have in all their history and
do not now, make baptism a condition of salvation, either of adults or infants. Baptists have ever taught that babies who die in infancy, as well as all other unaccountable persons, go to heaven when they die. The only sin they have is the Adamic sin and Jesus as the Lamb of God took away that sin for the whole world (John 1:29, Romans 5:12-21). Jesus tasted death for every man in bearing the penalty of the Adamic sin for the race. Every man who goes to hell, goes there for his own sins, not for Adam's.
The Baptist shibboleth for 1900 years has been blood before water, Christ before the church, salvation before baptism. In the Old Testament type of redemption in Exodus 12, that order is very clearly stressed. The blood did two things. It protected them from the wrath of God and delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. Paul interprets that experience for us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. The blood was applied in Egypt. They were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea three days afterward. That passage also throws some light on the meaning of baptize eis remission. Israel was baptized eis Moses (I Corinthians 10:2). Moses had been their Mediator, deliverer and leader for some time. They were baptized eis Moses, not in order to get him to be their Savior and deliverer, but because he was their Savior and deliverer. So in Acts 2:38. If we interpret Acts 2:38 in the light of Israel's experience and every Old Testament type and shadow, as well as in the light of the whole body of teachings in the New Testament, it must mean be baptized because of the remission of sins.
Prof. A. T. Robertson of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, than whom there is no greater Greek scholar in this country, said in answer to a query in Western Recorder: "It is perfectly good Greek to translate eis 'because of' in Acts 2:38." The Gospel of John was written to sinners to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. The only mention of individual, personal baptism in that gospel is where it is said "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." That reveals two facts. First, only those, who had
been made disciples or Christians, were baptized by John the Baptist or authorized to be baptized by the Lord Jesus. Second, in this whole gospel, in which again and again the personal conversations of Jesus with individuals or groups or crowds are recorded, He never mentions baptism. There can be but one explanation to that, namely, that baptism is not for lost men, but for saved men. This was His uniform teaching and practice always. All others except Baptists, either baptize sinners, as one of the conditions of salvation or baptize babies. One of the outstanding peculiarities of Baptists has always been, that they make salvation a condition of baptism, rather than baptism a condition of salvation.
4. Baptists Are Individualists.
This too is peculiar to Baptists. Alas, that some Baptists, who are not very well informed, do not live up to it. Their churches would be saved lots of trouble if they did. Their anxiety for numbers and greed for gain however cause them to pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Baptists never baptize children on the faith of their parents. There are no proxies in the religion of the Lord Jesus. Every individual repents for himself and believes for himself and is baptized for himself and that too as a voluntary act of his own. Baptists do not teach that a wife ought to join the church with her husband or vice versa. That was one of the heresies of W. H. Whitsitt that caused him to lose his position as President of the Louisville Seminary and Professor of Church History in that institution. Baptists are individualists. Jesus was an individualist. He plainly taught everywhere that homes ought to be divided, two against three and three against two, rather than disobey the truth or be disloyal to Him (Matthew 10:32-39). He taught very clearly that His disciples ought to follow and obey Him, even if it broke up homes (Mark 8:34-38, 10:29-31, Luke 10:25-35). Every duty is an individual duty of the individual soul to Jesus Christ our Lord. He should be obeyed at any costs and at all hazards. Jesus said: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things, which I say?" " Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to hearken
than the fat of rams, for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
5. The Bible Is the Final Authority.
Baptists are the people of the Book. The Bible is the final word on every subject on which it speaks. There is no appeal from it. It is the court of last appeal because it is the perfect Book."The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). If the Scripture can not be broken, it can not be amended or reversed or changed. It is the final word on all questions of truth or doctrine or duty or life. Jesus said so. It is an unchangeable authority. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17-18).
W. C. Wilkinson in his book, "The Baptist Principle," says that this underlies all other Baptist principles. We base and build all other teachings and obligations on this fundamental and final principle, namely, that the Bible is the final authority on every question. The Bible, the Bible alone, is our only and all sufficient rule of faith and practice. "Nothing beyond is written." "It is written," was the answer of the Son of God to the devil in every test. In other words, the Son of God said, the Book is final. No amount of argument or explanation or sophistry can answer or do away with the Book. The Bible is God's final answer on all questions. It needs no supplement. When the rich fool in hell wanted Lazarus sent to his brothers to warn them not to come to that place of torment, Jesus said No, they have the Book. If they will not hear that, they will not hear at all. No supplement or addition to the Bible. "It is written" is God's final and authoritative answer on all subjects.
Three Differentiating Baptist Marks
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesian 1:22-23).
"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:21-22).
"From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).
This is the greatest of all the church epistles. There is much confusion in the thinking of Baptists, as well as God's people generally, as to what Paul was talking about in this epistle, when he spoke of the church as the body of Christ. There are numbers of reasons, which to me are unanswerable, for maintaining that in this epistle as well as elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul was talking about a local Baptist church, the church at Ephesus.
First, the word ekklesia, which is translated church, as B. H. Carroll said in his discussion with W. J. McGlothlin, has as its "essential ideas, organization and assembly." The only church that has both organization and assembly is a local church. Prof. Royal of Wake Forest College, when asked as to the meaning of ekklesia, said: "I do not know of any passage in classical Greek, where ekklesia is used of unassembled or unassembling persons."
Second, the Lord Jesus used the word ekklesia twenty-three times, three times in Matthew and twenty times in Revelation.
In every instance He used it of a local church. Whenever He spoke of a larger group than the members of the local church, He always said churches.
Third, Joseph Cross (Episcopal) in his book, "Coals From the Altar" says: "We hear much of the invisible church as contra-distinguished from the church visible. Of an invisible church in this world I know nothing: the Word of God says nothing: nor can anything of the kind exist, except in the brain of a heretic. The church is a body: but what sort of a body is that which can neither be seen nor identified? A body is an organism, occupying space and having a definite locality. A mere aggregation is not a body: there must be organization as well. A heap of heads, hands, feet and other members would not make a body: they must be united in a system, each in its proper place and pervaded by a common life. So a collection of stones, bricks, and timber would not be a house: the material must be built up together, in artistic order, adapted to utility. So a mass of roots, trunks and branches would not be a vine or a tree: the several parts must be developed according to the laws of nature from the same seed and nourished by the same sap."
So with the temple of Solomon. It was no temple until the stones were quarried from Lebanon, prepared, gathered into Jerusalem and put each in its own place in the building. Whether the church is referred to as a temple or a house or a body, in every instance these two essential ideas are there, namely, assembly and organization. It is not a body unless the members are assembled and organized. It is not a house unless the materials are assembled and organized. It is not a temple unless the stones and other material are assembled and organized. Peter had exactly the same idea in 1 Peter 2:5: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
Fourth, Hort in his book, "The Christian Ekklesia" confesses the necessity of finding some other than etymological, grammatical or historical grounds by which to prove the idea of a universal church. He admitted that the use of the word
ekklesia was "always limited by Paul himself to a local organization, which has a corresponding unity of its own: each is a body of Christ and a sanctuary of God." Look at his statement. That "The Christian Ekklesia" ever refers to anything but a local church cannot be proved by history: it cannot be proved from the etymology of the word: and it cannot be proved by the grammatical construction of the Scriptures where used. The only ground, Mr. Hort says, on which the use of the word as referring to any thing but a local church can be defended at all, is on theological grounds. That means you can not prove it from the Greek New Testament at all: but you perhaps might read it into the New Testament from some book of theology.
Let us sum up a little.
The word church was used by the Master twenty three times and always meant a local church. Mr. Hort of the Westcott-Hort New Testament admits that Paul never used it of anything but a local church. Scholars testify that ekklesia was never used in classic Greek except of an assembled or assembling body. The two essential ideas in the word ekklesia are assembly and organization. Every illustration of a church in the New Testament such as temple or house or body, makes the veriest of nonsense if it is not assembled and organized. The etymology of the word ekklesia makes it of necessity a local church. The grammatical construction of the passages where used cannot be twisted to mean anything but a local church. Both Hort and Harnack testify that historically the word ekklesia was never used of anything but a local church, until long after the close of the New Testament. So you are on safe ground, when you say that the church, which is the body of Christ, is always a local Baptist church. In the three texts at the head of this chapter, the church spoken of was the church at Ephesus. These texts clearly set forth three marks of a church in New Testament days, that differentiate Baptist churches from all other churches today and prove conclusively that Baptist churches are the only church's of Christ on this earth.
1. A Baptist Church The Only Body of Which Christ Is The Head.
Christ is the head of a Baptist church in the sense that He is the founder of the first Baptist church. He is the head of each Baptist church in the sense that He is their only Lord and Master. He is the head of each Baptist church in that there is a oneness of life between Him and them. He is the head of each Baptist church in that His will dominates them just as your head dominates your body. He is the head of each Baptist church in that He is head over all things to each Baptist church. His word is their supreme law. He is their all and in all to them. That is not true of any other church in the world except of a Baptist church. When Alexander Campbell went to England he carried a letter from Henry Clay, introducing him as the head and founder of the church which he organized. John Wesley was the head and founder of the Methodist Church. Calvin was the head and founder of the Presbyterian Church. Joe Smith was the head and founder of the Mormon Church. Henry the Eighth was the head and founder of the Episcopal Church. Constantine was the head and founder of the Catholic Church. Mrs. Eddy was the head and founder of the Christian Science Church.
The only church of which Jesus was head and founder is the Baptist church: and the only church therefore which is a body of Christ is a Baptist church. The relationship between Him and each Baptist church is as vital, as living, as real and as close as that between the head and the body or between a vine and the branches. This mark of a Baptist church differentiates it from all other churches.
2. A Baptist Church Is A Habitation of God Through the Spirit.
All other churches not only have a human head: but they are bodies without the Spirit and are therefore dead bodies. All of their born-again members have the indwelling Spirit of God in them personally: but their church is not a body of Christ and is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The church
Jesus built was built for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22). Every Baptist church unless the Lord Jesus has taken away the candlestick, is a living organism. The unconverted members have a name to live and are dead: but not only has each living stone life in himself, but the whole body has the Holy Spirit abiding in it. He is their life. He vitalizes them as a body of Christ. He lives in them as His home in that community. He is there to infill them with power. He is the representative of Jesus their head and makes real the presence and power of Jesus among them. He is the vice-gerent of Christ in His body and all the movements of the body of Christ ought to be under His control. He said to the church at Antioch: "Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work, where-unto I have called them" It is His to direct in the call of a pastor, in the selection of deacons, in the enduement and equipping of all officers and teachers in the Sunday School. The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the finances of the church. It is His and His alone to tell each individual member of each local church how much he ought to give. Ananias and Sapphira, in a time when the church at Jerusalem was filled and mightily moved upon by the Holy Spirit were instantly killed, when they lied to the Holy Spirit about their giving and refused to give what He told them to give. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Paul plainly tells the church that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to divide out the work to each one severally as He wills. If our churches were not so faithless and so worldly, I believe that in every Baptist church there would be gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles and discerning of spirits, just as this passage says. In the very next chapter Paul said that prophecy and tongues would cease and revelation would be done away. All other gifts mentioned there are still possible to the Spirit-filled church.
3. A Baptist Church Is A Living Organism.
Here are the three differentiating marks of a Baptist church. It has a live head. The Lord Jesus is the head of every Baptist church and His connection with each body is vital
and lively. He works in them mightily. The heart of each Baptist church is the Holy Spirit. He indwells every one of them. His home in each local community is the Baptist church in that community. From that as a center, He works out His plans and purposes in the work and worship and walk of that church. His relationship to the living members of that church body is the same as the relationship of the heart to the members of your body and mine. Then each Baptist church is a body of Christ. The heads and founders of all other churches are dead or dying. All other churches are not bodies of Christ and the Holy Spirit does not indwell them.
A Baptist church has a living head -- the Lord Jesus Christ: a living heart -- the indwelling Spirit of God (Romans 5:5): a live and lively body. A Baptist church is not simply an organization: it is an organism. It has life in itself. Its life like the life of a vine comes from within, not from without. That is the difference between fruit and works. Works come from an outside pull: fruit comes from an inside push. When Baptist churches have to resort to suppers and bazaars and banquets and teas and picture shows and all other kinds of worldly entertainment to run the Lord's church, it looks very much like they have a name to live, but are dead. The Spirit's way is to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure and as He works in us mighitly, we work out our own salvation with and trembling.
The ladies' aid societies and W. M. U's. and B. P. P. Us. and R. A's. and G. A's. and Y. W. A's. and Sunbeams and clubs and lodges and boys' brigades and Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. and Boy Scouts and all the balance of the worldly organizations connected in any way with Baptist churches are so many parasites, that destroy their spirituality and power and will eat out their heart and destroy their life, if they are not cleaned off and cleaned out of the churches. The only living organism connected with any Baptist church is the church itself. Give it a chance and it will grow. It has life. It works from within outward. All other organizations have no life; their connection is external: just to the extent they
thrive, they weaken the vitality and power of the churches. Our churches are dying at the heart because of the bloodsucking organizations that are fastened on them. Cut off the societies and the churches will take on new life and grow. Missions are dying all over the South because they have been taken out of the hands of the churches and pastors and put in the hands of the women or laymen. The Holy Spirit does not work that way. Back to the churches as well as back to the Bible is the imperative need of the hour.
Now note what Paul says about a Baptist church in Ephesians 4:16. "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
Here is what is said in that text about a Baptist church as a living, growing organism.
First, it has vital and living connection with the Lord Jesus, the Head.
Second, the whole body is fitly joined together. That will kill all hot air and high pressure emotional evangelism. That will make Baptist churches very careful to see that those who join them are fitly joined together rather than the mad rush we have now for members. Fitly joined members are praying members, giving members, going members, working members and lively members. No pep nor spizzerinctum needed in that church. It gets its life from the Word and the Holy Spirit. The useless and unscriptural appendages on Baptist churches will all slough off, when we get back to the New Testament methods of evangelism.
Third, a church composed of lively members, having the same life of the Spirit on the inside and united with the Lord Jesus as their Head, will be compacted by that, which every joint supplieth: for every member will then be an active, working, living member.
Fourth, "according to the effectual working in the measure of every part." That is the secret of a happy, united church. All at it, always at it. But back of that is the effectual working
of the Holy Spirit, who works in them mightily. The effectual Spirit is the cause of an effectual church.
Fifth, "maketh increase of the body." A spiritual church is always a growing church, as well as a happy church, and an united church, a soul-winning church, and a missionary church.
And last of all, a body of Christ, that has all these other evidences of the workings of the Holy Spirit in it, will be constantly edifying itself in love. Selah!
Go to Chapter 8
[H. Boyce Taylor, Sr., Why Be a Baptist?, Second Edition, 1928. There were 1,000 copies printed in the first edition; there were 50,000 copies printed in this second edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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