By W. K. Wood
On this memorable occasion, it is well that we look back over the marvelous history of Baptists. This Association filled with glorious history outstrips in age most of the modern cults of today who claim so much for themselves, but whose history all lies within the age limit of this Association. The Campbellites, the Hardshells, the Nazarines [sic], the some seventeen different kinds of Holiness, Christian Scientists, and the Russellites, are all too young to do much boasting when compared to the Baptists of this Association whose lineage goes back to the days of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. Baptists are a peculiar people in name and in organization. Certainly the name Baptist is of divine origin. It came from heaven. God gave it to John. The name Baptist was given John because of the work God gave him to do. God named him and commissioned him. The record shows that Jesus was baptized by this Baptist preacher. This made him a Baptist. All the charter members of the church Jesus organized were Baptist. After an all night prayer meeting, Jesus called unto him his Disciples and out of them he chose twelve whom he named Apostles. These according to the divine record were baptized by John the Baptist and became the charter members of the first Baptist church in all the world. Now if Jesus, who is the head and founder of the church, was a Baptist, and the church members were Baptist, what else could it be but a Baptist church. It had everything in it that goes to make up a Baptist church.1. The Apostles were in it, "God set some into the church first Apostles."
2. They had an ordained minister. "He ordained twelve to preach."
3. They had an ordained ministry. "He ordained twelve to Gospel of the Son of God."
4. They had the ordinance of Baptism, for it is said, "Jesus himself baptized not but His Disciples."
5. They had the Lord's Supper with Jesus and he told them to observe it in memory of Him until He comes.
6. They could exercise church discipline for Jesus said, "Tell the church."
307. It was to this church he delivered the keys of the kingdom, namely the Word of God and the Spirit of God.II. Baptists are a peculiar people in that they have a succession or perpetuity from the days of Christ to this present hour. Jesus said it and history proclaims it. "On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end." If there were no history written this promise of divine inspiration would be enough to prove that Baptists have existed from the days of Jesus to the present time, however, our history has been preserved by others. Alexander Campbell said, "From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of Baptists and the practice of baptism has had a continued chain of advocates and public monuments of their existence in every century that can be produced."
8. This church undoubtedly kept some record of finance as Judas was Treasurer.
9. This church had a church roll at Pentecost of at least one hundred and twenty names.
10. Three thousand were added to this church at Pentecost, and the Lord has seen to it that members have been added and added ever since.
James Clark Ridpath, a Methodist, author of "Ridpath History of the World," said, "I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as 100 A. D., though without doubt there was a Baptist church then as all Christians were then Baptist."
An investigation was made by the King of Holland in 1819 as to the history of churches and a chapter is devoted to the Baptists. From this chapter we quote, "That Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrines of Gospel through all ages."
Certainly as we come together to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Greenup Association we should be able to say with all of our hearts.
Faith of our fathers living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy,
Whene'er we hear that glorious word
Faith of our fathers, holy faith
We will be true to thee till death.
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate,
If they, like them, could die for thee.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife:
And preach thee, too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life;
Faith of our fathers, holy faith;
We will be true to thee till death.
III. Baptists are a peculiar people in their message and mission. They received their message and commission from the Lord Jesus Christ. The commission to make and baptize and teach disciples was given to Baptists.
Baptists were there to receive it, no others were there, so how could they receive it. Catholics alone claim to have been there but their claim goes up in smoke, for the want of bishops, cardinals, and pope. Certainly Episcopals, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists were all too young to be there. We know that the Campbellites who depend upon water works to get to heaven, celebrated their one hundredth anniversary in 1911. Baptists were not only there to receive this commission but they are the only people who can carry it out. By the carrying out of this promise they will bring glory to Christ in the church for all ages to come. It must not be compromised. If we follow it we will preserve to the world the one baptism given therein by our Lord. It will separate us from alien immersionists and all others who are not sticklers for Baptist baptism. Our baptism in itself makes us a peculiar and a distinctive people.
Baptists were not in the days of Jesus a unionistic people. One cannot think of Jesus, the head and founder of the Baptists, having fellowship with the devil. He was never known to unionize with the Pharisees though they were the great religionists of his day, neither did He give them a chance to exploit their teaching or their personality in His pulpit. Sad is the day when teachers or preachers of heretical faith are given the chance to teach or to preach in our churches.
Victor I. Masters once said, "The seed bed of church unionism is in the hearts of the backslidden, complacent and world conforming, professed religionist."
If we stay with the great commission there can never be spiritual union with those who hold and practice error. Baptists have the
truth, Baptists have all the truth. They are custodians of the truth. They are not nearest to the truth, they have the truth, the truth is in His doctrines and His doctrines is the truth. To compromise our doctrine is to sell the truth. Shall we abandon it to them that hate the Lord or shall we prove an undying love to Jesus by keeping his commandments and faithfully proclaiming His word.
IV. This leads to the fourth and one of the most important things that makes Baptists a peculiar people, namely their doctrine.1. The Bible is their rule of faith and practice. "To the law and to the testimony they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them." Those who reject the word think lightly of Jesus.
2. Another doctrine peculiar to Baptists, and we hear very little of it today, is the depravity of man. Since the fall of man "There is none righteous, no not one." There is none that doeth good, there is none that seeketh after God. Every faculty of man has been ruined by sin.
3. Baptists are a peculiar people that they believe in the doctrine of election "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Thank God even so at this present time there is "a remnant according to the election of Grace."
4. There is another great doctrine peculiar to Baptists which they treasure and hold dear to their heart, it is the doctrine of salvation by Grace. "For by Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
5. Baptists are a peculiar people in that they are sticklers for the order of repentance and faith as taught and preached by Jesus and the Apostles, "Repent ye and believe the Gospel." "Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." "Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish." "He that believeth not shall be damned." God's word is not faith and repentance but repentance and faith.
6. Baptists are a peculiar people in that they believe with all their heart and soul in once for all salvation. God never saved any man twice. Certainly the Saviour who saves has power to keep the one he saves. It isn't hard for people who are really saved to believe this great truth. The Psalmist declares "He forsaketh not his Saints, they are preserved forever," and Paul would say, "I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things
33present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes: That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never, forsake."
V. Baptists are a peculiar people in that they recognize no ecclesiastical power nor organization having any lordship over the churches. With most of the religious denominations of today there is some kind of ecclesiastical jurisdiction over each particular congregation. The Catholics have an autocratic form of government and their people are subject to a so-called unfallible [infallible] pope. There are others who have an episcopal form of government governed by a general body with a graded series of courts and with a supreme court whose decisions must bind all within their denominations. Baptists are opposed to all such, they hold that a New Testament church is a local congregation of baptized believers bound together in love for preaching of the Gospel and to keep of the ordinances until Jesus comes, and not an organized denomination. Each Baptist congregation is complete in itself and has final say over its own affairs. There is no appeal from the church to an executive board, association, or convention. Greenup Association is today one hundred years old, but it cannot dictate to a church one day old. Jesus would say, "Tell it to the church." It is the only pure democracy on the face of the earth. In His Baptist democracy we find equality. Baptists are saved just alike, they are baptized alike, they have one vote alike without regard to race, education, wealth, age or sex. The members are equal, the majority decides. Surely we can say it is a democracy of the people, for the people and by the people.
You will remember that it was on one Saturday afternoon that Thomas Jefferson was attending a business meeting of a Baptist church, having witnessed their procedure he endeavored to give the Constitution of the United States to the people, for the people, and by the people. Patterned after this Baptist church.
VI. This leads us to the sixth peculiarity of Baptists, namely the separation of Church and State. B. H. Carroll says, "The state, a secular body for secular ends can never be united to the chuch [church], a spiritual body with spiritual ends, without irreparable injury to both. United with the state the church can never obey Christ. There cannot be a union of church and state without persecution for conscience sake and there cannot be free speech by the church against national sins when the state holds the purse. There cannot be a pure and converted ministry when politicians appoint the preachers. The blackest pages of American history are those which record the evils of the union of church and state in Massachusetts, Connecticut
and Virginia, in every one of them Baptists were persecuted unto blood and stripes and imprisonment. They whipped Obediah Holmes, imprisoned Clark and Roger Williams. In Connecticut our Baptist fathers had the choicest part of their farms and gardens sold under the sheriff's hammer to raise the funds for the building of a house of worship for another denomination and for the support of its preacher, who had virtually no congregation in that community. In Virginia, Craig Lundsford, Waller and others were imprisoned, the products of Baptist farms were seized to support cock-fighting, horse racing."
Have you stopped to consider where we are headed for in Kentucky today with a Legislature and a Governor supporting a measure taxing Baptists and others to give money for the transportation of Catholic children to Catholic schools? It is high time that Baptists were protesting with all their might and main and make their voices sound like the rumbling thunders in the Legislative hall at Frankfort.
Bancroft says: "Freedom of conscience unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first the trophy of Baptists."
Judge Story writes: "In the code of laws celebrated by them in Rhode Island, we read for the first time since Christianity ascended the throne of the Caesars, the declaration as conscience shall be free."
Another has said: "If the power of Rome is unbroken, it will be on the anvil of a Baptist conscience."
Have the Baptists of Kentucky lost their conscience? Are we willing to be taxed to support Catholic schools? Baptists have fought, suffered, bled, and died for the right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, but how will Baptists vote when it comes to elect a legislature, to tax them to support Catholics against his conscience?
If we are to have soul liberty, there must be the entire separation of church and state. For this Baptists have suffered through all ages and their contention is traced through rivers of blood and tears.
Mrs. Hutchinson, during the reign of Charles I, wrote of the persecuted Baptists: "0 pitying skies, is there nowhere beneath your encircling dome a land where this agony can cease, because the soul is free?
O that God would give us another statesman like Patrick Henry, to rise in the halls of Congress for the defense of our Baptist heritage. Thank God for His coming to aid of Baptist preachers in Virginia. I had the privilege, the honor, and the thrill of standing between the pew, yea with my unworthy feet on the same spot where Mr. Henry stood when he said, "Give me liberty or give me death." And as
we cross the threshold of another century of Baptist history in Greenup Association, may we resolve to keep this heritage of Baptist right on even unto death?
O my brethren, what a debt of gratitude we owe to God for the great and good men of this Association who have made this hour possible to us.
Time would fail me to tell of Reynolds and Crum, who were pioneers to these mountains. Of Kelly who swam his horse across the Ohio River and preached the Gospel in wet clothes. Of Riley Branham who never dipped his colors, but gave to us a noble son in the person of Mason Branham, whose stand for Baptist truth was never questioned. He is living still in the person of two sons and a grandson who are proclaiming the Word.
Then there was D. Wood, with guiding hand carried us through many a storm. J. W. Mullens and T. J. Rigg were such a blessing to us all.
Who will ever forget the Christ-like spirit filled W. C. Pierce, who by precept and example evangelized and stabilized Greenup Association for more than thirty years? These have all obtained "a good report through faith." "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is yet before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross and thought lightly of the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary in your minds.
"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet." "Be not ye carried about with devils and strong doctrines . . . and the God of peace make you perfect to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.
Indeed we should be gloriously happy for this wonderful occasion that brings us together. Baptists have met the foes of the past, they have rested for these years upon the mountain of eternal truth, they have proclaimed this truth and are continuing to proclaim it until they are called unto the Lord's glorious presence. They are a people whose heart is the Lord Jesus and as a church built out of the material prepared by John the Baptist, set up during the personal ministry of our Lord as firm and as sound in doctrine as the rock of ages, whose ordinances set forth in picture the only and all sufficient Saviour, whose membership is equal, where every member is a king and priest, and where no one dare wear a crown.
These churches have stood and are standing on eternal promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. They are increasing in strength and influence and are lifting the light of the world to those who set in darkness. They are a people whose history, like the path of the just is a shining light that shineth more and more under the perfect day.
I love thy kingdom Lord, the church of thine abode,
The Church our blest Redemeer saved, with his own Precious blood.
I love thy church, O God, Her walls before thee stand,
Dear as the apple of thine eye, and graven on thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall, for her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given, till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy, I prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise.
Sure as Thy truth shall last, to Zion shall be given,
The brightest glories earth can yield, and brighter bliss of Heaven.
[From L. H. Tipton, "History of Greenup Association 1841-1941", Chapter IV; via SBTS E-Text, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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