Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Heresy History

Heresy is one of the churches greatest enemies and has been such since the beginning of the Lord's Church. Romans 16:17 and 1 Timothy 1:10 warn churches to recognize, mark, and avoid those that preach and practice heresy. Heresy abounds today and must be recognized, marked, and avoided. Many of today's most popular preachers and pastors are those whose teaching is heresy. Who am I to make such a statement? I am no one; but God's Word is Truth and teaching/preaching that does not line up with Scripture is heresy, a contrary doctrine. We as saints must be able to tell the difference between Truth and fiction-especially spiritually. It does not matter how large a church one pastors or how many books they have written. It does not matter that "some" of what is taught is Truth-that is the most dangerous type of heresy. . We are quick to use Scripture such as 2 John vs. 10 to not allow these heretical teachers in our doorway at our homes; yet their books are on our book shelves, their radio programs are playing in our cars, and their broadcasts are on our television sets. We must beware!
Heresy is nothing new, for it, as the church, has a long history. We first find heresy in the Judaism attempting to infiltrate the early churches. In Acts 15 there was a false teaching being introduced into the church that one must be circumcised or "ye cannot be saved." The Jews were used to rituals, and many that were saved found it difficult to leave their old customs. This false teaching was immediately exposed and corrected (vs. 11) "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." According to Doug Hammett in The History of Baptist,"there were three groups of Jewish 'Christians' with Judaistic tendencies:
1. Nazarenes-represented by the more 'moderates.' They maintained customs but accepted Paul's ministry.
2. Ebionites-openly taught the need for strict observance of law by all Christians. They ultimately came to reject Paul and his writings and developed the doctrine of Unitarianism.
3. Elkesaites-more of a secret society, philosophic and ascetic. The denied the deity of Christ."
The early foundation for cults were being laid down: works salvation, denying of Scripture, and rejecting the deity of Christ.
The Nicolaitanes are mentioned in Rev. 2:6, 15 as believing "which thing(s) I hate." The Lord recognized, marked, and told us to avoid such. Who were the Nicolatians? Their name means 'to conquer the people.' There false teaching was that of church hierarchy which the Catholics and such ran with. (there are sadly many 'dictatorial pastors' in Baptist churches today as well). It is the Church who our Lord has given the authority to.
Another heresy early was Gnosticism. Gnosticism was addressed by Paul in the book of Colossians greatly. It had its origins in Judaism and developed into a mixture of religious philosophy. The word 'Gnostic' means "I know". Gnostics believed they had special knowledge above that of normal believers. How this abounds today-ask Joseph Smith, Mary Eddy, Mohammad, Oral Roberts followers. They will tell you about their 'special knowledge.'
The heresy of Balaamism (Rev. 2:14). Balaam's doctrine was that of corruption, mixing paganism and pure religion. This abounds today in the inter/non denominational 'any thing goes' churches; Catholicism; and worldliness centered 'churches.'
One could talk of the Traditions and philosophies that were being introduced into churches-but the bottom line is this: Heresy was infiltrating the church early. Christians were warned immediately to recognize, mark, and avoid heresy. Those in the early church were characterized by 'proving' and 'preaching' Truth. Sadly today, we step around and dumb down Truth. Our 'offend nobody' philosophy does not work well with the Biblical command to separate.
Heresy has been around the church since the church's beginning, and continues to abound today; we must know the Truths of the Word of God and stand strong!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seeds of Church Problems

We now come to the latter part of the first century churches where seeds of problems were being planted and some even reaped. One area of concern was that of "Second Generation" Christians. There was a lukewarmness about them that made our Lord sick (Rev. 2 &3). False doctrine was being allowed in and considered by churches. This did not go unnoticed as Paul wrote about these things in 2 Timothy; Peter wrote an epistle on the matter in 2 Peter; John wrote about the problems in 1 John; and Jude addressed it as well in the book of Jude.
It is a trait unfortunately seen today in second generation Christians. A complacency mixed with a lack of Truth will always equal corruption. Our churches are becoming vacant as 'second generation' Christians seek something "New, better, more exciting, refreshing"....a.k.a. doctrine contrary to the Word of God/Flesh Pleasing.
When Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70 there was a great change in the complexion of Christianity. There was prior to this a great Jewish influence upon churches (some not good), which was severed with the fall of Jerusalem.
We do mark some important traits of these first century churches. They were independent churches, they were led by pastors, they kept the ordinances, and they were remaining pure in the faith. Unfortunately this did not go unnoticed by its enemies as seeds were being planted to attack these Biblical traits.
The seeds of 'big church domination/mega church/empire church' were being planted (Acts 15:1,2) though the church at Jerusalem was careful to 'trouble not' the church at Antioch (vs. 19). In A Concise History of the Baptists by G.H. Orchard, he writes:
During the first three centuries, Christian congregations, all over the East, subsisted in separate independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently without any secular power over one another."

These seeds are being reaped today and seen in the church Hierarchy of Catholicism and such and amongst Baptist as well in the Big church influencing the 'little church' to do it there way (ie "Pastor's School/Baptist Friends etc). Nothing wrong with a large Scriptural church, but there aren't just many good examples around to point to these days. It seems like many of the 'large churches' have pushed aside the KJV, standards, closed communion, alien baptism, etc in order to stay a 'large church.' They keep their pews full with their colleges and their pulpits "hot" with IAN PAISLEY, RICK WARREN-ITES, and such....I must go on, but you get the picture.
Though pastors were still leading churches by example and instruction, the seeds of 'priestly' offices and 'duties' were being sown as seen in 2 John 9, "those abiding not in the doctrine of Christ." There has always only been one way to God, there is only way to God, and there will only be one way to God for all mankind-through Jesus Christ our Lord alone!
Though churches were keeping the ordinances as they should, the seeds of sacramentalism were being planted as evidenced in Acts 15:1: "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." This of course was heresy taught by a sect of Pharisees; still, seeds for a works salvation were being planted.
Though churches were still pure in the faith, seeds of idolatry and heresy and paganism were being sown as evidenced in Revelation 2 & 3.
I just finished preaching through the books of 1 and 2 Peter. In 1 Peter, Peter taught and comforted the church in dealing with outside persecutions by Nero and such. In 2 Peter, Peter warned against Satan's other attack by corruption from within. The persecution had begun earlier as even Saul (Paul) was doing such; but as Satan soon found out, the more the churches were persecuted the quicker they grew. So, the tool of corruption was exercised and is still being used today. That is why our churches must know Truth-the Word of God! We have accepted for too long an 'entertaining style of preaching' that teaches only issues and pet peeves that has left our churches without a knowledge of the Word of God, weak, impotent, and susceptible to heresy.
Some of that heresy began to creep into the church amongst a 'second generation' membership that was luke warm and apathetic. We shall study those heresies and how they moved in next week.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Brief Intermission

We pause for a brief intermission in our study of the Church's Past to consider a thought. I was reared Baptist. I was reared conservative. I was reared to have standards. I was reared to stand for Truth. I praise the Lord for parents who saw to just that. I praise the Lord for His leading in my life in the Baptist Academies He saw that I attended. I thank the Lord for my four years at Fairhaven Baptist College where I grew and matured and 'sobered up' spiritually like never before. I thank the Lord for all that He taught me while serving at Cozaddale Baptist Temple as an assistant pastor. How I thank the Lord for what He has shown me while serving Him as pastor at Cozaddale Baptist Temple. What a wonderful church He has blessed me with! How I thank the Lord for a mature/maturing church, a church with high standards, strong doctrine, God-honoring music, and a spirit of learning and a love for Scripture. God is good!
I say all that to point this out. My family, my churches I have attended, the academies I have attended, the college I attended all stood for and practiced high standards! I saw and experienced ridicule and scorn for those stands. I have seen people leave Scriptural churches over areas they proclaimed were 'no big deal.' People want to make dress standards, music standards, dating standards, etc into what they proclaim 'non important issues;' yet it is those issues that lead them to leave a Scriptural church. It surely seems to me to be a 'big issue' if you must leave a church over it! Believe me, I've seen people leave over these 'non important issues.'
But now I come to my main point. I have never seen people get more belligerent over any issue as I have Baptist Doctrine. I must confess, our theme this year was "Answers to Questions" and we have looked at Baptist Doctrine and studied it from God's Word, we have had a Baptist Heritage Conference and looked at our past, and we have had a "Why I'm A Baptist" conference and studied just why we choose to be a Baptist. This has upset the apple cart far more than any standard taught and upheld!
By that I mean that yes, a few members have left due to us being 'too Baptist,' but the oddest thing is the ridicule and attack from outside our church. It has not come from the Non-Denominationalist, Charismatics, Catholics, or a cult; but 'Baptist.' Rumors, lies, scorn, and ridicule and unfortunately, not one pastor has called me to discuss anything.
Please let me answer the gossip:
1. NO, we do not believe that only Cozaddale Baptist Temple is going to be the ONLY Bride of Christ. What a foolish statement. What do we believe? Simply put, we believe that the bride of Christ are those churches that have prepared themselves by adhering to New Testament Doctrine. There must be salvation, Scriptural Baptism, and adhering to the New Testament doctrine. Now if one chooses to not agree with that statement, it really does not bother me. I have not quite grasped why someone would be so belligerent over the matter, for if they truly believe what they believe that all are part of the bride, then they and our church will both be fine. I do not believe just because 'Baptist' in on the church sign that a church is Scripturally correct, it must be practiced. Consider: The Bride "his wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19). There is preparation that must be accomplished for the wife to make herself ready. If one holds to a 'everyone is part of the bride' philosophy, then doesn't it constitute some 'works' to prepare yourself? This is of course not the only reason I stand as such, but to be considered.
2. Yes, we did get rid of our "Christian Flag." I have discussed this here: It was created by a Protestant as sign of 'unity' for the 'body' and 'kingdom' of God. I do not align with those that do not hold to true doctrine and cannot for Scripture has forbidden it:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17
Good News Though, we have designed and produced a Baptist Flag bearing the Word of God, the Ordinances, and the church being the Pillar and Ground of Truth.
I could go on, but my point is I believe we are living in the last days and there is and will be a 'falling away' (2 Thess. 2:3). That is why this year we have studied Church Practices, Church Pretenders, and now the Church's Past-for we must know what is Truth and what to stand upon. We will continue our study next week on the church's past, but I felt it necessary to clear the air, invite questions should there be any, and refocus as to why we study such. It does matter what you believe and the church has been entrusted with the Truth! May we be that Pillar and Ground of Truth!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Paul's Part

The Lord's churches were growing in number, blessings, and persecutions from without. One of the great persecutors of the early church was Saul of Tarsus. This same Saul who hated all those that called upon the name of the Lord was to be used mightily of the Almighty God. While on his way to Damascus to further persecute Christians, the Lord met him along the way (Acts 9). On that road, Saul was converted and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon after, his name was changed to Paul, his passion was changed to Christ, his purpose was changed to righteous, and his work would change the world.
The church at Antioch had become the great missionary center of the day, and it was from this church that Paul and his companions were sent out on three great missionary journeys.
The First Journey resulted in the establishment of churches in Salamis and Paphos, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Perga (Acts 13-14).
The Second Journey resulted in the opening up of Europe to the Gospel with churches being founded in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth (Acts 15-18).
The Third Journey involved the revisiting and strengthening of these churches and others (Acts 18:23-21:26).
It is important to note that Paul was sent under the authority of the church at Antioch (Acts 13). Each church established, was established therefore under the authority of the church at Antioch. These churches would send out men to evangelize other regions and more churches would be established.
Paul would be the Lord's instrument in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles (2 Tim. 1:11). Following these journeys, Paul would be taken to Rome and eventually beheaded and die a martyr's death in AD 68.
Much could be written about the ministry of Paul, but one can read of all this in Acts-Philemon in the New Testament. He was used of God to be the human author of most of the New Testament. He would be used to give to us much doctrine, teaching, and instruction for our faith and practice.
The Apostle Paul played an important role in seeing the Lord's churches multiplied. Again it is important to review that the Lord Jesus started the church, gave to it His authority, and the church at Jerusalem would start other churches. One such church was the church at Antioch which sent out the apostle Paul who started numerous churches. Each of these churches were independent and autonomous from any authority apart from the Lord and His Word.
The Apostle Paul played an integral part in the evangelism and establishment of other churches. These churches would grow and send out other evangelists of which we will continue our study.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ecclesia Explosion

When the Lord ascended into Heaven, He left behind an assembly of baptized believers ready to carry on the work of Christ (a church). He told that church when He ascended in Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." He then ascended up to Heaven as the church stood gazing. They then went to an upper room and continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the church. Following a business meeting of the church in Acts 1, the church continued in one accord until that day of Pentecost when the church experienced something wonderful.
On that day of Pentecost and the days to follow soon after, the church there at Jerusalem grew rapidly. From that small group listed in Acts 1:14-15 which we know total there was nearly 500 (1 Cor. 15:6), to soon an estimated membership of over 25,000! Quite the explosion!
That church would meet at Solomon's Porch at the Temple (Acts 5:12), private homes (Acts 12:12-NOT THE SAME AS THE MODERN DAY HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT WHICH IS UNSCRIPTURAL), and was pastored by the apostles with Peter seemingly taking the leadership (Acts 1:15). That church grew so much that soon the pastors could not meet the needs of the widows and such, and so that church elected deacons (Acts 6) who served the church.
The membership of this church at this time was Jewish and consisted of three types of Jews:
1. Hebrews-Jews from Palestine that maintained a Jewish lifestyle
2. Grecians-Hellenistic Jews of the Dispersion who were Greek speaking and had adopted the world's culture
3. Proselytes-Gentiles who had embraced Judaism and received circumcision
(**Sadly even then there was the beginnings of a 'church split' amongst these different groups within the church-Acts 6-and that is why deacons were chosen).
It is true that God's plan for missions was to take the Gospel to the Jew first and then the Gentiles (Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). Beginning at Jerusalem and then according to Acts 1:8 to Judaea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world.
The Lord would show in this pattern the authority of His church and then other churches would be started with that Authority of that Authority. Let us examine the Acts 1:8 pattern in action:
1. The receiving of power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you.
We see this take place in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Ghost (as promised by the Saviour) came and was received by that early church. There were many 'devout men' in Jerusalem at that time who came and visited the church and heard Peter deliver a powerful message and as a result repented, were saved, and then also received the Holy Ghost (upon salvation) and were baptized.
2.Witnesses unto me in Jerusalem. That day 3,000 in Jerusalem were saved, baptized, and added unto the church. They "continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship...and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
3. Witness in all Judaea In Acts 10 we see Peter with a group of believers from the church at Jerusalem going to Caesarea (the capital city of Judaea), and visiting with Cornelius. After preaching there, many were saved, received the Holy Ghost (upon salvation-it is important to note here that Peter did not have to lay his hands upon them in order to received the Holy Ghost; our Lord was teaching Peter and the Jews that the same Gospel, same God, same Holy Ghost was for the Gentiles as it was for them) and were baptized under the authority of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 10:47-48). Now the Jews and Gentiles in Jerusalem and Judeae had had received the Gospel. (Acts 11:1)
4. Witness in Samaria. In Acts 8, Philip was sent from the church at Jerusalem to Samaria (vs. 5). Here the people of Samaria heard the Truth and "believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" under that authority there at Jerusalem. (Important to note, here Peter and John came to see the believers and laid their hands on them in order form them to receive the Holy Ghost-this is because the Samaritans had a different place of worship in Mt. Gerizim than the Jewish Temple-John 4:21-22, but as our Lord told the woman of Samaria "the hour cometh when ye shall neither in the mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father...for salvation is of the Jews." It was not God's will that the Samaritan's have a separate worship than the Jews any longer; thus the Samaritans had to recognize the authority of the church that Jesus began by the laying on of hands by Peter and John in order to receive the Holy Ghost.) Now the Gospel was preached in Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria and all recognized the authority of the church Jesus started and the importance of having proper authority.
5. Witness unto the uttermost part of the earth.The Lord permitted persecution to come upon the church at Jerusalem to accomplish His purpose (Acts 8:14) and soon the Gospel was being preached unto the world through men such as Paul. In Acts 19 Paul met some disciples of John in Corinth who had obviously missed the preaching of John. Paul corrected their thinking and they too believed and were baptized Scripturally. Here Paul lays his hands upon them and they receive the Holy Ghost (again a recognition of proper authority). Now in Jerusalem, Judeae, Samaria, and the world was the Gospel being preached, souls were being saved, and people were getting baptized. The Holy Ghost from this point on will only be seen being received upon salvation-just as we received the Holy Ghost. God's purpose in that was to establish to all regions the Truth of God's Word and proper Authority.
The church had gone from the Lord and His disciples to 100's of thousands of believers across the world, just as the Lord said it would. What growth-what Ecclesia explosion! Now, with the Gospel and proper authority, churches would be established and our Lord uses a man named Paul to continue this great work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Primoris Templum

With the Word of God as our foundation, we begin a study of church history with the "first church" Primoris Templum. Contrary to even a prevalent opinion, the church did NOT start at Pentecost. For one reason, if the church began at Pentecost, it then would deny what the Lord said He would do. In Matt. 16:18, the Lord said "I will build my church." If one believes in a Pentecost Birthday of the church, then it was the Holy Spirit that built the church. We know this is not so. The reason the Pentecost birthday theory is so prevalent is because it goes hand in hand with the universal church theory.
Rather, the first church was that church which our Lord Jesus Christ began during His ministry here on earth. The very first mention of church is found in Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The Lord Jesus took the materials prepared by John the Baptist (baptized believers) to build His church. He trained them for the missionary work, the commission of the church-the Evangelizing, Baptizing, and Discipling of others (Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15).
That first church was a visible, organized assembly of baptized believers doing the work of God-a true church. That first church had a Head (Matt. 23:8 "...for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren."), it had a Pastor (John 10:11, 14 the word pastor means shepherd), it had discipline (Matt. 18:15-20), it conducted business meetings (Acts 1:15-26), it had a treasurer (John 13:29), it was commissioned (Matt. 28:18-20), it did missionary work (Matt. 10:1-11:1), it baptized believers (John 4:1-2), it had a membership roll (Acts 1:13-15), it observed the Lord's Supper (Matt. 26:26-28), it had singing (Matt. 26:30, Heb. 2:12), it met for prayer (Luke 11:1-9, Acts 1:14), and those saved at Pentecost were "added unto" (you can not add to what does not already exist). We thus see that the church the Lord began, pre-pentecost was the first church.
That church and all churches it would eventually produce, were to continue this work until He comes again. Thus, with Christ as the Head of each church, the work of the church continues. This is why a church is referred to as "the body of Christ." The body refers to service. Many mistakenly believe that 'the body of Christ' is all believers here on earth. This is false teaching. The body of Christ is applied to every local, visible church. Each church is the body of Christ with Christ as its Head. How is this so?
Our Lord illustrated this in the instituting of the Lord's Supper in Matthew 26
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body."
Now which piece each disciple held was 'the body.' When our churches observe the Lord's supper, does any church use that same bread He used that evening? No, of course not. So today, every true New Testament church is the body of Christ. He is the Head of every true New Testament church.
That first body, the Lord and His disciples from whom He chose 12 as Apostles (Matthew 10:1,2; 1 Cor. 12:28) constituted the first church. That church would go on fulfilling the work the Lord trained it to do, and as a result other like churches were started which with His Authority started other like churches and thus begins our study of church history.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Holy History

Before we get into the facts and information of our Baptist history, we must lay day a foundational principle for study. Our historical study will be different than a world's philosophy of historical study. Ours is different in that our starting point of origin is the Bible! The Bible is the foundation upon which our history is built! We dare not look to the Bible to prove historical facts (which of course could be done), but we look to history to prove the facts of God's Word. It may not sound like a big deal, but in reality it makes all the difference in the world.
We start with God's Word and interpret the facts of history in light of God's Word. God's Word is Truth! "Facts" of history and science have changed over the years due to discoveries and inventions, but God's Word will always be the same,and consequently has always been right! So we must begin our study understanding that God's Word is the foundation upon which we build.
We then quickly discover that our Lord promised Perpetuity to His churches (Matt. 16:17-18). What is perpetuity? A dictionary will tell you that perpetuity is the state of being perpetual, endless; indefinite duration.Our Lord promised this throughout Scripture.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:18 If the 'gates of hell' ever prevailed, God's Word is in error.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Matt. 18:17 If there were to be a time of no church, this command is impossible
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 1 Cor. 11:26 The observance of the Lord's Supper was to be done by the church "until He come" therefore ensuring there will be churches until that time.

So one can see through these verses and others not yet mentioned, that the Lord did promise perpetuity. So what is Biblically meant by perpetuity? In studying the Bible and interpreting the facts of history in light of God's Word, one will come to the conclusion that a Biblical perpetuity as promised to His churches is that there has never been a day since the organization of the first New Testament church by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles in which there was not genuine New Testament church existing on earth." (A Manual of Church Historyby J. Griffith pg. 33). By perpetuity, we do not point to an 'identifiable unbroken chain of churches,' as we have already discussed the persecution, burning, and hiding of those churches which held to the doctrine of God's Word through ages. We do not mean the name "Baptist" was promised perpetuity. Throughout ages those which held to Truth were called by many names and titles. We definitely do not mean by perpetuity an 'apostolic succession.' The Lord's churches, since He began it with His disciples, have always been in existence on this earth.
I believe a study of Revelation 2 & 3 does not teach different 'dispensations,' but rather different types of the Lord's churches that have always been in existence. Pray and study accordingly. The Lord has promised to preserve Word (Ps. 12:6-7; 1 Peter 1:23-25); all His Children (Ps. 37:28; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Peter 1:5); the nation of Israel (Gen. 13:15; Rom. 11:1-26; Is. 49:5-8); this world (Gen. 9:16; 2 Pt. 3:7); and His churches (Matt. 16:18; Matt. 18:17; etc). What God promises to keep, He will keep. As much as I know I cannNOT lose my salvation, I am preserved by God, I also know that there has always been true churches based upon the promise of God.
Even other historians and historical figures concede:
We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists...were the original Waldenses, and who have long in history received the honor of that origin. Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles...which has preserved pure the doctrine of the Gospel through all ages." A. Ypeij-Dutch Reformed historian

From the apostolic age to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists have had a continued chain of advocates, and public documents of their existence in every century can be produced.Alexander Campbell (Campbellite leader

...the rise of the Anabaptist took place prior to the reformation...and there are also reasons for believing that on the continent of Europe small hidden Christian societies, who have held many of the opinions of the Anabaptists have existed from the time of the Apostles.Robert Barclay a Quaker historian

I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as 100AD, though without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then Baptists. John Clark Ridpath

Were it not for the fact that the Anabaptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1200 years, they would swarm greater than all the Reformers.Cardinal Hosius mid 1500's
With the basis being God's Word that He promised perpetuity to His churches, and in light of history and the facts known, we shall begin a study, century by century of those who stood for the faith, passed on from generation to generation an unspotted, pure faith, and those to whom we ought give honor to.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foundation of Church History

Many view church history as the history of all denominations. Seeing how that a 'church' is considered to be anything that one claims it to be or that 'the church' is all of Christendom, a proper study of church history is hard to come by. From our studies, we have seen that a true church is not what is described above, but those churches that have authority from the Lord, hold to New Testament Doctrine, and practice New Testament polity, and identify themselves as such. A true church is made up of saved, properly baptized, believers organized together to fulfill the commission. There will be a sought out purity, a Theocratic/congregational government, soul liberty, with the Word of God being the absolute Authority and the church the executive and authority in all church matters.
It is more of a challenge to study true church history due to the fact that for centuries true churches were hated, murdered, and persecuted as heretics. Their records burnt and destroyed, their churches forced into secrecy, and their writings condemned as heresy by both Catholic and Protestant. Most 'church history' books today are or are based upon Catholic and Protestant historians and view points.
It is therefore, without shame, that I confess that my study is a study of true church history, one can say, Baptist history. It is my desire to remind our generation and the one to come of the men and ladies who gave their lives, gave up their vocations, saw family and relatives put to death for the same faith we so freely enjoy today.
We owe them! We owe them more than to keep making heroes in our Christian Schools out of Calvin and Luther who put our fore-fathers to death for OUR FAITH. We owe them more than to keep praising the Anglicans and Puritans who beat Obadiah Homes for refusing a false baptism and church. We don't even know who men like Shubal Stearns, Isaac Backus, John Clarke, and Jenkin Jones are. We think the Waldensians are people that look for a poor sighted boy that wears red and white stripes! We must learn our history!
The legacy of failure to have taught these things in generations past is evident in the readiness with which members of Baptist churches change their affiliation to heretical churches. -J.W. GriffithA Manual of Church History

We must, as Baptists, study our church history. A proper study of true church history will remind us of the promises of God. We will see our Lord's hand in protecting His churches and ensuring that perpetuity promised to them. A proper study will also revive us in the pursuit of purity. When we understand what it cost those before us in the faith to preserve for us what we liberally enjoy today, it should make us "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:8. There is a generation following us, will they find faith?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Church's Past

Thus far we have spent a good deal of time studying and re-examing church practices, church pretenders, and now we will begin a study of the church's past. There are a myriad of books covering the subject of church history, and it is not my intent to exhaustivaly study the topic. I do desire to give honor to whom honor is due. I do desire to show gratitude to our Baptist fore-fathers, many of whom died a martyr's death so that we may have what we have today.
I believe it should be clear by now, but our church history starts with the church that our Lord Jesus began in His earthly ministry with that of His disciples. Our church history does not include the Catholic Church, protestant churches, or any man made denomination. Our church fore-fathers do not include men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, or Zwingli.
I believe it is imparative that we study and know our church's history. I believe most Baptist do not know their history, and the result has been a watered down doctrine and watered down separation. We have allowed our Abeka and Bob Jones curriculums to teach our children a false church history. We have glorified Luther, the Puritans, Anglicans, and Calvin and made them honorary Hebrews 11 inductees.
May we take a fresh look, allow the Lord to show us truth, and honor with a grateful heart those that took a stand for our faith.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Mission of The Lord's Churches

I feel as if we should conclude our study of church pretenders. I desire to make one thing clear, that I love the brethren. I love all those in the family of God. 1 John 3:14 reads, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." This love should not be challenged by correction and truth, but rather confirmed by correcting and sharing truth.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Prov. 27:26
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov. 27:17
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Heb. 12:6
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Eph. 4:15

Do I believe that all people on earth are the children of God? No, you must have put your faith in Christ to become a child of God (Gal. 3:26). Do I believe only Baptist are going to Heaven? No, we can and will go to the Father through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Do I believe the Kingdom of God was supposed to be our Lord setting up a kingdom with the Jews when He first came? No, he told Nicodemus in John 3, "the Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life...for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." He didn't come to conquer and set up a kingdom with the Jews the first time He came, He came to die so the world could be saved.
Do I believe in an universal, invisible church? No, the church found in the New Testament is a local, visible, organized body of baptized believers. There is no universal, invisible body preached in the New Testament.
Do I believe that only Baptist will be the bride of Christ in Glory? No, just because you are a 'Baptist' in name does not make you the bride of Christ. How you follow the doctrine in God's Word does matter!
The Lord's churches have been given a mission. That mission can be summarized two fold. First, the Lord's churches are to bring Eternal Glory to God. Ephesians 3:20-21 read,

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The most important mission of a church is to bring glory to the Name of God. This is accomplished by being obedient and carrying out God's purpose. It is the Lord's purpose that His church be without spot or wrinkle-holy and without blemish. We are living in a world of rapidly declining moral and spiritual standards. This decay is seriously affecting Christians and churches to a point that it is often difficult to tell Christians from non-Christians. The church out to be holy! The church ought to contrast the world! The church ought to contrast the world's philosophies, music, dress, and entertainment. The church ought to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). To allow worldliness is to commit spiritual adultery (James 4:4). Paul said in 1 Cor. 5:6 that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." The church must cease allowing sin in her midst! I am not referring to a sinless perfection, but an accepted worldliness that seems to be the normal today. This is foreign to God!
God's Word teaches separation (2 Cor. 6:17)! Separation from the world (1 John 2:15-16), separation from marrying unbelievers to believers (2 Cor. 6:14), separation in matters of doctrine (2 John 9-10; Rom. 16:17), and separation from unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). It is time true churches-the Lord's churches stood up and took a stand again! The church is to bring glory to God!
It used to be that churches preached against movie houses, now they are producing movies to be shown in them. It used to be preached that rock music was evil, now it is embraced and used in 'worship.' It used to be preached that men and ladies dressed different, now it is taboo to speak of such things and even promoted to keep 'coming as you are'. It used to be preached immorality was sin, but now it is coddled and accepted as normal-sadly with both laymen and clergy. It used to be preached that alcohol was an abomination, but now it is served in the foyers. It used to be preached that saints of God did not tattoo their flesh, now they bear Scriptures as a testimony on their backs and arms. It used to be preached that you did not use corrupt communication, but now it is what brings people in.
Oh for the day that churches still preached against Hollywood instead of meeting there for fellowship. Oh for a day when churches were more concerned for their prayer meeting than for their cruise in car show. Things like this are an abomination: and should Jack Schaap be promoting it, shame on him! The ROC does not bring glory to God ! Satan deceived the masses when he caused churches to think they were to be patterned for the lost! The church was designed by God for the maturing of the believer. The lost are to be won out in the world, and the church is to be a refuge from it! It is time churches quit pretending to be what they are not...if you want to be an organization with a good message that still coddles sin, then be that; but quit calling yourself a church!
The second mission of the Lord's churches is to evangelize globally. Each church is to be a soul-winning church. This does not contrast my last few thoughts. We should be winning souls to Christ, but the Lord sent us out to go and evangelize. I am not against a lost soul getting saved at church, but I am against a church fashioning itself to make the lost feel comfortable. Churches need to be maturing saints to go and evangelize, to bring the lost to Jesus.
Christ is our example (Luke 19:10), the disciples evangelized (John 20:21), the early Christians evangelized, and we today should evangelize! There is an urgent need for evangelism. Obediently leading souls to Christ is a wonderful way to bring glory to God! We need to keep sending missionaries from their local church (for God gets the glory in the church) to fields where the Gospel is not preached. This is our mission! To bring glory to God and to win souls.
I don't find car shows, carnivals, festivals, bingo, or gym nights anywhere in Scripture as the church's mission.
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Kingdom and The Church

These past few months, we have taken a closer look at the church, our Lord's churches, and distinguished between them and 'church pretenders.' We have seen how that the Lord's churches will distinguish themselves from false churches in that they will be upholding the doctrines of the New Testament, observing the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, will be practicing Biblical Church discipline, will be made up of members that are saved and properly baptized, will be autonomous from any other authority apart from the Word of God leading the church body through the Spirit, and will have the proper church officers fulfilling the role God has established for them.
Recently the stand taken by myself and our church has been under attack. Unfortunately, they have not come and spoken to me about the issue, but rather other pastors, friends, and family-even the college I attended. True friends have called me to let me know of their tactics, and I have spent time studying and praying about the stand and beliefs we uphold.
One area greatly under attack is in the area of the Kingdom of God and the church. From my studies, those in disagreement must have a strong Ruckmanite background (follower of Peter Ruckman). It has been stated and printed by others that the Gospel which the Lord and the disciples preached was different than that Gospel preached by Paul. It was stated and printed that the Kingdom of God, had the Jews accepted Jesus, would have been established when His ministry took place or that upon the preaching of Stephen, the Lord stood in anticipation of coming and setting up His kingdom had they accepted his preaching. Unfortunately, there is no Scripture supporting such statements. All this is said to contradict the teaching that our Lord gave to the local church His authority and commission to evangelize, baptize, and disciple; and to contradict the Biblical teaching that this is done through the local churches-visible, organized, local assemblies of baptized believers. This is to contradict the stand that not all believers are part of true churches. These beliefs lead to ecumenicalism, which is a Satanic end-time plan of the Devil.
The Bible teaches that their is the family of God (Eph. 3:14-16). The family of God is seen to be made up in this passage of all saved both in Heaven and on Earth. All those born again are part of the family of God. We are adopted (Rom. 8:15, Eph. 1:5), been made sons of God (John 1:12). We can address no one by any greater name than that of 'brother' and 'sister' in Christ.
The Bible teaches the local church, which we have studied in detail. The church is a local, visible body of baptized believers sent forth to evangelize, baptize, and disciple. The church was begun in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He started the church (not John the Baptist who made ready the material to start the church). He promised the perpetuity of the church in Matt. 16:18-19. He gave instructions for discipline in the church in Matthew 18. The word church means called out assembly. In the New Testament it is primarily found used in connection with a local church. If there was one invisible body or church made up of all believers, then how do we not 'forsake the assembling of ourselves together?' The Lord's churches are those local, visible, organized bodies fulfilling the commission under His Authority.
The Bible then teaches the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God. I have been told that the Kingdom of God is the Lord ruling on this earth. It is what the Lord wanted when He first walked in Israel with His disciples, what He would have set up had the Jews not rejected Stephen. I have been told it was the 'Gospel' that Jesus and the disciples preached-different than our Gospel. (one point of thought...then why baptism? Doesn't baptism represent the death, burial, and resurrection?). The Kingdom would, by other's definition, a physical ruling and reigning of Christ.
This is a novel idea, but one I try to practice...Let us examine God's Word-not Peter Ruckman's, not Dr. Ken Blue's, not Travis Burke's....God's Word.
When one is born again he is regenerated (given a new nature). He is Justified (given a new standing). He is sanctified (given a new character). He is adopted (given a new family). He is Translated (given a new King)!
Colossians 1:12-14 reads:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

You see, before anyone was saved, they were under the 'power of darkness'. They served their father-the Devil. They were under the authority of Satan, living in darkness, blinded to their spiritual state. Praise the Lord, after salvation, we now are 'partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light.' (see 1 John). We have been 'translated into the kingdom of his dear Son." God has now put us under the authority of His Son, no longer the Devil...Praise God!
So is this kingdom one of Christ ruling and reigning physically here on this earth? Well, let us look at God's Word. Romans 14:17 reads:
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Is it me, or did our Lord just define in His Word "the Kingdom of God?" It is not the physical, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! Now do not get me wrong, the Bible does prophecy that one day there will be the Lord ruling and reigning here on this earth during the Millennium-1,000 years-following the seven years of tribulation (Rev. 20); but most New Testament references of the Kingdom do not refer to this future Kingdom, but to a present kingdom. How is this possible?
Let us review? The Bible teaches that the Kingdom is not a physical kingdom now, but righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost. The Bible teaches that we, upon salvation, are translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.
Let us examine this further, how one gets into the kingdom. Jesus addressed it in John 3. In verses 1 & 2 a ruler named Nicodemus was 'buttering up' Jesus calling Him a good master. Jesus' response to him in verse 3 is:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
That word 'see' means to 'understand.' Example, I was teaching math today in school and one of my students who was struggling finally said, "Oh, I see it now." Jesus told Nicodemus, who had just told Jesus what a good master He was, 'You can't understand the Kingdom unless you are born again!" He went on to teach what being born again was, being born of water and Spirit. Some attempt to use this verse to say, "Baptism and Spirit Baptism." This is not the case, for the Lord explained what He meant in the next verse with "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." It is being born of water (natural birth when water sack breaks) and the Spirit (salvation). But in verse 5 Jesus says something interesting,
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
So, we see a difference in verse 3 and 5. You can't understand the Kingdom unless you are saved and you can't enter into unless you are born again!
I have met many people who can't understand why I go to church every week, why I like for men to yell the Bible at me, why I look forward to praying so much, why I read my Bible every day, why I don't do certain things they is foolishness to them, they can't understand because they do not understand that the Lord is the King of my life! They will never understand this until they make Him the King of their life-then, it all comes together doesn't it?
In Mark 10:13-15 we see children brought to Christ and the Lord saying "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." The attributes of a child is what makes up the Kingdom? Yes, an obedient, believing faith!
In Luke 16 Jesus is preaching on some money issues and the Pharisees didn't like it and they (vs. 14) 'derided him.' They began attacking Jesus in words. Jesus' response to them in verse 15-16 is:
And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail

We see here that the Lord rebukes the Pharisees for trying to justify themselves and their attempt to rationalize their self-righteousness. God knew their heart. The Lord knew that they had themselves upon the throne and not the Lord God.
You see, yes some day the Lord will set up a kingdom for 1,000 years on this earth and that prophecy will be in fulfillment, but the kingdom of God now is a partial fulfillment. We see from Scripture that the Kingdom begins upon being born again, understood after being born again when we are translated out of the power of darkness and into light. That the kingdom is not meat and drink (physical) but righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost.
Simply stated, we, individual believers, living on this earth have choices every day to do right or wrong. We are a testimony of the Kingdom of God when we have Jesus upon our heart's throne, when our life is one of righteousness, joy, and peace, we are partial fulfillments of what is to come. We are the Kingdom of God living on this earth! Only those who are born again can 'see' the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the pharisees that the Kingdom of God had been preached since John the Baptist (Luke 16). Before that time was the law and the prophets (sorry Dr. Ruckman, John was a New Testament prophet!). Since John, the Kingdom has been preached-allowing God to rule in man's heart!
When we leave this life, we enter Heaven and have no more 'choice' to do wrong. Thus we conclude that the family of God is all believers in heaven and earth; the kingdom of God is all those saved on this earth who has made Him the King of their lives-living a testimony of the day when Jesus will rule and reign upon this earth; and what of the churches of God?
Matthew 16:15-19 reads,
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Our Lord started the church during His earthly ministry here on earth with His disciples. Here our Lord promises the perpetuity of the church and then promises to 'give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven..." The keys speak of authority and the responsibility given to the church. The church has the responsibility to show men how to be born again (enter the kingdom) and then to disciple them to observe all things (allow Him to rule their hearts); thus the church has been given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven-which we have established is not a physical, but instead 'righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost.'
I'm glad I am part of the family of God; I'm glad I 'see' the Kingdom of God; and I must serve through the church to tell others how they can do the same!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Ignored Doctrine of Discipline

There are many traditions in churches today, many of which are not Biblically founded, yet they are not harmful and can be beneficial (ie "must have" Sunday School). There are other traditions in our churches that once studied from a Biblical perspective, are found to be wrong and unBiblical (ie the world's method of 'dating around' to find a spouse). Then there are other areas and practices that have gotten so far off course, that a fresh study would be of great benefit to correct our methods of practice. One can tell they are getting off course when they 'believe they are doing right" in the matter, but there is not the fruit that God promised there would be. Once such area is this of church discipline-an ignored doctrine in today's churches.
The fruit promised from God's Word is two fold. Either, the transgressor will be convicted and repent and then restored, or the transgressor will be chastened by the Lord even to death so that the spirit may be saved in day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5). The only other option is that the transgressor was never a child of God and thus was living in and by his flesh all along (which is probably the majority, truth be known). Yet, there are not enough "success" stories when it comes to discipline.
A church cannot be a Biblical church without practicing Biblical Church discipline.

The word discipline means training, cultivation, improvement, according to prescribed rules; subordination to law; administration of government and submission to lawfully constituted authority. It comes from the word disco which means 'I learn.' Discipline is the means God gave the church to assure the smooth operation of the organization and the maintenance of proper standards for membership. Its purpose is to prevent, restrain, or remove the evil that may exist, to encourage and protect the right, and to cherish the good; not to satisfy any personal prejudice, but to reclaim the wandering and guide the wayward. (From 50 Lessons on the Church by Normal Wells).
It is to the church that our Lord gave the authority to discipline (Mt. 18:17, 2 Thess. 3:6; Titus 3:10; 1 Cor. 5)
The typical practice of church discipline goes something like this: Larry gets into a vile sin and somebody finds out. They then go and tell the Pastor about Larry and his sin. The pastor will tell the other pastors and deacons about Larry and his sin and start a process from Matt. 18 where he will go and speak to Larry. Take another pastor/deacon and talk to Larry. Should Larry ignore all these, he will then tell the church about Larry's sin and they will 'vote him out'. Is this what is found in Scripture? Repeatedly, we read the goal of discipline is reconciliation! When practiced Biblically, it will be successful.
The greatest blessing that has come to our church over the years has been the result of practicing Biblical church discipline.

The Scriptures give to the church, the authority to discipline. Many call it unloving, yet the opposite is true. (Prov. 13:24; Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19)-to discipline is to love! Failure to discipline is failure to love, it is neglect, it is disobedience!
The Great Commission is to Evangelize (reach those on the outside with the Gospel) and to Disciple (train those on the inside). To disciple is to discipline! To teach, train, improve, correct. A church cannot fulfill the great commission without practicing church discipline!
At times discipline is preventative, other times confrontational, but should always be corrective. Discipline is based upon the holiness of God (1 Peter 1:15-16). Discipline helps a church to be holy (Heb. 12:11), to clean out the leaven (1 Cor. 5), and to embrace the holiness of God. Discipline is based upon the commands of God's Word (Matt. 18; 1 Cor. 5; Luke 17). One should discipline because it brings glory to God (Eph 3:21), restores sinning believers (Matt 18:15, Gal 6:1), produces a healthy faith (Titus 1:13), win a soul who is falsely professing (2 Tim. 2:24-26), sets an example for the rest of the Church (1 Tim. 5:20), and protects the church's purity and power (1 Cor. 5:6-7).
Who should be disciplines?Should a church discipline over every sin? Prov. 10:12 says that "love covereth all sins." Ps. 32:1 reads, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." It is when there is a transgression that is unrepented of, blatantly participated in, and has caused a separation of fellowship and adherence to God's Word, that a sin must be dealt with. There are some sins so serious that the Bible forbids us from overlooking:
1. Fornication (1 Cor. 5:11)
2. Covetous (1 Cor. 5:11)
3. Idolatry (1 Cor. 5:11)
4. Railer (1 Cor. 5:11)
5. Drunkard (1 Cor. 5:11)
6. Extortioner (1 Cor. 5:11)
7. Heresy (Titus 3:10)
8. Disorderly conduct (2 Thess. 3:6)
9. Laziness-not working when they can (2 Thess. 3:9-13).
10. Those that cause divisions in the church (Rom. 16:17-18).
These are sins that our Lord commands a church to administer discipline over.
So how is the church to practice such discipline Biblically? In Luke 17 we can see another model of discipline. Please note the following from this text:
I. Sin is Present (vs. 1). Offences will come, and they will need handled. Most churches need to quit ignoring sin issues and a constant disregarding of holiness and realize our Lord told us they would be there-Handle them!
II. Simple are Perceiving (vs. 2). The world and a younger generation are watching and learning from how we handle sin. Perhaps this is why we have reared such a generation that doesn't fear God, doesn't hate sin, and is ignorant in church discipline; they never saw the generation before them deal with it! It must be taught that our Lord hates sin and there is a penalty for sin.
III. See it Personal (vs. 3). "If thy brother trespass against THEE." As a church, we are a body, one body, and if part of a body is wrong, it defiles the whole body. As a church, we most take care of our own members.
IV. Steps are Planned (vs. 3-4) If someone is wrong and is in sin such as we have discussed, there are clear Biblical steps to be followed. (Matt. 18)
A. You are to go to the person. Tell him alone, no one else. In that first church, the Lord was the 'Pastor' and the disciples the members. He told THEM to go to the transgressor. In Luke 17 it was the disciples that were to rebuke the transgressor. 2 Thess. 3:6 it is the 'brethren' at the church at Thessalonica that were to rebuke the transgressors. In Romans 16:17 it was the brethren that were to rebuke the transgressor. Each member, as they see the sin, should go to the transgressor discreetly in a spirit of meekness (Gal. 6:1) and confront the sin and call the sinner to repentance. Usually there will be more than one member who sees the transgression taking place and if each member does such privately, the transgressor is being overwhelmed with an outpouring of love and concern for the sinner-it's not just the pastor 'getting on to him.' The normal attitude in response is "well, who am I to judge?" Exactly! This DEMANDS PERSONAL DISCIPLINE AND WILL RESULT IN A PURER CHURCH-exactly why and how our Lord established it.
B. Take another with you to confront the transgressor (vs. 16). If the transgressor will not hear the individuals privately, the member is to take another member with him. This will no doubt enlighten others in the church as to the transgression, will confirm to others the transgression, but will undoubtedly show the transgressor that his church is concerned for him. It is established by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses (Deut. 19:15; 1 Tim. 5:19). Now the transgressor is seeing the seriousness of his sin, feels the love from his church, and should be convicted if he is a believer of his sin. Again, it's not the pastor and deacon threatening him, but his church loving him. (I will add here, that a pastor is a member of the church and too should participate in such).
C. Tell it to the Church (vs. 17a). If the transgressor will not hear the individual brethren, nor the 2 or 3 brethren that all have come to him, then it is the responsibility of the members to bring it before the church. By this time, having done all things Biblically, this comes as no 'shock and surprise' to the church, but rather a time of mourning and prayer as a church. The church all has one mind and has seen and attempted to reach the transgressor. Much, much, prayer has been put into the matter. There have not been just two visits by the pastor and deacon, but 50-60 members who all have gone to the transgressor in love. It is now that the entire church is made aware of the transgression and the entire church now has a responsibility to reach the sinner. It is not at this time a vote it taken to remove the sinner. For Scripture teaches then...
D. "If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen..." (vs. 17). The entire church has now gone to the transgressor. I know I have never seen this done, sadly. One can only imagine the overwhelming of love and concern and conviction this would place upon the transgressor. Unfortunately even then, some will not 'hear the church.' It is then...
E. Regard as a heathen (vs. 17). It is then the transgressor is to be excluded from membership. It is then the church would vote to remove them from the church in hopes that they will be restored as a result of the chastening of God. (1 Cor. 5:13, 11). The transgressor during this time should be treated as a lost person. Would we allow a lost person to come to church? Yes! Would we invite a lost person to the Lord? Yes! Would we fellowship, pray with, observe the ordinances with a lost person? NO! We would be burdened and pray for them in hopes that they get right with the Lord! There is an unBiblical spirit of 'Kick them out' in some churches, when it ought to be a spirit of mourning and calling and praying for reconciliation! Oh that we would reconsider our practicing of church discipline in accordance to God's Word.
V. Summons for Perfection (vs. 5) A proper practicing of church discipline would result in a maturing, increased in the faith, more holy church where sin is acknowledged, abhorred, and abandoned!
May we no longer ignore this doctrine of discipline; but rather practice and truly be a Biblical church!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Biblical Church Officers

Having demonstrated that the church is a Theocracy in essence and a democracy in viewing, who then are the officers of a church and what are their responsibilities? We study this as we are proving what is a Biblical church and which are church pretenders. A true church will have (or be seeking when needed) Biblical officers.
Before we begin our study, let us be reminded that Jesus Christ is the head of each church (Col 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). Each church is to recognize as it's Authority the Lord Jesus Christ-no man, no king, no ruler, but Him. Our Lord Jesus is the Head, our Advocate (1 Jn. 2:1), our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), our High Priest (Heb. 7:25), our Foundation of our church (1 Cor. 3:11). The Holy Spirit is the Administrator/Manager of each true church. Each church settles all matters under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that directs (Rom. 8:14), calls to special service (Acts 813:2-4), guides and equips in service (Acts 8:27-29; 1 Cor. 2:12-14; Jn. 16:13-14; 1 Thess. 1:5). The Word of God is the Sole Authority and rule of faith in a true church.
Having established such, it is Biblical that a church have officers from within. First, there is the pastor. The Lord gave apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 12:28) first to the church as gifts whose work was to work miracles, give the Scriptures through the Spirit, and help establish the church Christ started. These 'gifts' were done away with when this work was accomplished (1 Cor. 13:10).
The work of the pastor goes on. A pastor in God's Word is called an "elder," "bishop", "shepherd", "preacher", and "teacher." Each name refers to a duty a pastor has from the Lord. The pastor must meet high qualifications in order to be qualified for the position of pastor. These have been discussed before, but can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Tutus 1:5-8. A pastor is to preach the Gospel, win souls to Christ, teach the church, lead by example, visit his members, lead in church meetings, and have the oversight as under-shepherd of all matters of interest to the church. A pastor should be supported by the church (1 Cor. 9, 1 Tim. 5:18), respected by the church (1 Tim. 5:19), and loved and prayed for by the church. A pastor is not an hireling and should not be greedy of filthy lucre. Every church needs a pastor, for without one, a church soon strays; but that pastor must be a Spirit led, Biblically secure man of God.
The ONLY OTHER BIBLICAL office is that of deacon. The first deacons were chosen in Acts 6:1-7. At this time, that church was approximately the size of 6-8,000 members. The pastors were not able to meet the needs in visitation and widows were being "neglected." The pastors gathered the church and said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." Deacons were needed to be chosen so that the pastors would not neglect their main duty to "give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." Thus seven men were chosen to be the first deacons.
It is important to note that deacons were not Demanded in order to have a church, but a necessity as the church grew larger. The ratio of deacons to members here was about 1 per 900-1,000 members. Because of a protestant influence, deacons today are seen as a "counseling board" or "board of authority" or a "representative of the members to the pastor." This is not Biblical! Deacons are for service to the church. They were/are appointed over the task of administering relief, to be a
'pastor-helper.' Because of a misconstrued view of the office of deacons, many churches feel they need many deacons no matter their size. I know of a church that ran 22 each week and seven were deacons. This is not wise. Our church averages nearly 200 each Sunday and we have one deacon. I was recently asked when we would be ordaining more deacons, to which I responded, "When we average 1,400 we will consider this." In the Bible they were "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom."
These deacons had to meet qualifications as a pastor does. These can be found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. I would point out that his qualifications were "like" that of a pastor. There are a few differences to consider:
"not given to much wine" does not refer to drinking alcohol, but grape juice. I could explain this in detail, but it would take too much time, I would refer you to sermon and my sermon on "alcohol and the Bible."
"not greedy of filthy lucre" refers to the same as a pastor. I believe Scripturally speaking, there was such a demand for the office of a deacon, that they too had to be supported by the church as a 'full time position.' Thus they too could not be guilty of filthy lucre.
"Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." For a man to be a deacon, his wife must meet a qualification not found in reference to a pastor. Why is this? Perhaps because of the role of a deacon to care for the widows. A deacon had better have a thus qualified wife if he is to spend so much time with these widow ladies. I do not seek to be crude, but this is a fact to ponder.
THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Those are the only two offices found in the Bible for the local church. Today you will find trustees, treasurers (one could argue that the first church had one, but not many people would like to mimic him), clerks, Sunday School Superintendents-but these are all man made positions. These are not Biblical nor mandatory in God's Word. Is there anything wrong in having these positions? None at all as long as they understand their position is one of service not mandated in Scripture. Many of those from a legal perspective are mandatory in today's world.
In any case, there are only two Biblical offices found in God's Word, Pastor and Deacon; and one of those (deacon) is not mandatory, but entered into upon necessity as the church grows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Church Government 101

We left off our last study by pointing out that one of the privileges of being a member of a church is that members are able to vote upon church matters of authority (Acts 6:5). The government of a true church is 'members only.' There are different views of church authority today, but as seems to be always true-only one Biblical. Some believe in episcopal authority where authority is in a man, bishop, or pope. Some believe in Presbyterian authority where the authority is in a council or presbytery. Then there are Baptist.
Some believe in a headquarters in Nashville or Springfield. Others believe the authority is totally in a pastor who is led of God and all are to blindly follow. Some believe in a board within the church making decisions (deacons, trustees, staff). There are many views and books and philosophies, but WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
First, a true church inwardly is a Theocracy. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. God is the Final Authority. Each individual should recognize the sovereignty of God. How does God reveal His will to the church? Through His Word! God's Word is truly the mind of Christ. (John 1:1) As a church, we are to be of one mind in unity (1 Peter 3:8; Eph. 4). A Pastor's responsibility is the teach Truth (Word of God) so that members can perfect (mature) and have the mind of Christ. Consider the following in Ephesians 4:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

When a church is taught Truth, it will have the mind of Christ. The church having the mind of Christ can pray concerning any matter and will be led of the Lord through His Word to make decisions. Truly, a church is a theocracy inwardly speaking.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Eph. 5:23

Outwardly, the church would be seen as a democracy. The form of government of a local church is congregational. It was upon visiting a Baptist church that Thomas Jefferson would state that its government was the only pure democracy that existed in the world at that time and that it would be the best form of government for the American colonies. The authority for governing a New Testament church rests in the congregation-the people. No one man has authority over a group of churches or several churches. No church as authority over another church. Though the pastor has authority as an under shepherd, this authority is to lead, feed, and heed the church. As written above, his responsibility is to teach the Mind of Christ (His Word) so that a church can make proper decisions.
This is taught throughout Scripture. For example, the nomination and election of Matthias was by the local church in Acts 1:15-26). The first deacons were chosen by the church (Acts 6:2-3). Paul and Barnabus were chosen and sent out by the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3).
Each member is entitled to one vote as he feels God is leading him and the church abides by the opinion of the majority. If a pastor is fulfilling his ordained role as a perfector of the saints, this system of government works as God intended. Churches vote on matters of officers, elections, rolls, discipline, order, practices, finances, and service.
Even in Baptist churches, some will argue this by using Acts 4:35, 37, 5:2 where offerings were laid at the apostle's feet. This was not referring to a designation of authority, but rather to a geographic location. Offerings were laid there at the apostle's feet. Today at our church, offerings are laid in a plate that men pass. In other churches (more Scriptural?) offerings are laid in foyer in a box, in plate on platform, etc. The church has the authority! When we begin to put the authority in a man (even a good man) we head down a road the Catholics blazed centuries before us, and trust me we don't want to go down that road.
It is the church that has the authority to baptize, observe the supper, discipline, distribute monies, send missionaries, and add or release members. This is true church government.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Members Only

Thus far we have examined that a true church is constituted by only those that are saved and Scripturally baptized. These are two requirements mandated by Scripture. I received an "Anonymous" comment that found my last post "offensive". First, I refuse to post "anonymous" comments. Second, it is not my desire to be offensive, but it is my desire to preach and teach Truth. This is truth, and at times truth is offensive to those in disobedience. 'Anonymous' said that those who pleased their parents by being confirmed are no less 'church.' Actually, they are not part of any true church. Problem is that 'anonymous' has been taught error that being in the 'church' is equivalent to being saved. This is false teaching. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven and not a member of a true church. Also, our service to the Lord may require us at times to forsake our mother and father (Matt. 19:29). Anonymous also said that there are those who cannot be immersed for medical reasons. First, in all my years, I have not seen this to be true. Second, (at the risk of sounding blunt and uncaring-which I am not) it doesn't matter, God made no exceptions. Anonymous also said that they too were 'part of the baptist movement.'

No you're not.

I strive to be kind, have compassion, love as brethren, pitiful, courteous (1 Peter 3:8), but I also must reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering AND DOCTRINE (2 Tim. 4:2). I have no spirit of pride, but humility. I seek no applause, but rather giving honor to our Lord. In these days, especially these days, we must stand for truth. I pray this is received in the same spirit it is written in.
We must go on.

A true church is constituted of members only. And we are not talking jackets here (though they were smooth!) A church is made up of saved, Scripturally baptized, members of that local church. Those members were set there by God Himself to be joined to that individual body to please and serve Him.
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
1 Cor. 12:18

Members of a true church are received by their profession of faith in Christ and following that profession with a Scriptural baptism or by a church letter of recommendation (2 Cor. 3:1). These members will be received only if they are commended by their last church. This practice is Biblical, but sadly many times ignored today.
Many of our "Local church colleges" do not 'mess with sending and receiving letters' of the students joining while studying there-what a shame. Many 'large empire' churches don't have the time to do such minuscule tasks. Some smaller churches don't bother with keeping records. Other liberal churches do not require them because they are just glad to be able to love anyone and keep ignoring their sin. These practices have weakened and polluted our churches. It is no wonder our churches are filled with such filth and the world!
One joining a church from another church should only be accepted into membership if they can be recommended by their previous church. I am aware of the problems in this. Pastoral pride at times will never allow him to 'recommend' anyone that would leave HIS flock. This is why a pastor's qualifications include "of good behaviour, given to hospitality, striker, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous...lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." God does move people at times. Remember pastors, "God sets the members..." not us.
There are privileges and requirements of being a member. Members should attend all services and not forsake the assembling of ourselves (Heb. 10:25). Members should participate in observing the ordinances of the church (1 Cor. 11:2). Members should support their church with their offerings (1 Cor. 16:2). Members should use their talents to serve in any way through their church (Rom. 12:1-2). Members should live a life above reproach for the glory of the Lord in the church (2 Cor. 6:17). Members can pray for one another and bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2). Members can fellowship with and encourage one another (2 Cor. 6:14). Members should rebuke and if necessary discipline with the authority given to the church (1 Cor. 5). Members are able to vote upon church matters of authority (Acts 6:5). The government of a true church is 'members only.'
Oh the church, the true church, 'My Church' as our Lord described it, is a place of authority, power, and Truth, and each one is for Members Only!
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph. 3:21

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Researching the Church

In order to be confident as to which churches are part of the 'My Church'es the Lord spoke of in Matthew, one will have to endeavor to study and examine the practices of that church. By micro-examination, one should be able to find the common DNA (Doctrine, Nature and,Ancestry) to confirm relationship.
So what constitutes a true church and what separates it from church pretenders?
First, a true church will be made up of regenerate members. Salvation has always been a prerequisite to church membership (Acts 2:41-42, 47). Church members are those that 'call upon the name of the Lord.'(1 Cor. 1:2). These saints must secondly be Scripturally baptized. According to Acts 2:41, a person was to hear the Word, believe the word, then be baptized. All church members were to be baptized believers. What is Scriptural Baptism?
It is this baptism that has separated true churches from pretenders. It is this baptism that has given to us the name "Baptist". It is this baptism that has resulted in the martyrdom of our faithful forefathers. This baptism is of great importance!
Jesus knew it was important, that is why He walked 60 miles to be baptized by the only man authorized to do such at that time (John-the Baptist). The Holy Spirit knew it was important, for He too attended the Baptism of Christ and made His presence known. The Father knew also of its importance, for He voiced His approval when His Son was baptized that day! The Devil knew of its importance, for he too was there right after to tempt Christ and it is he that has caused much confusion and counterfeited true baptism.
Baptism was only administered to those that were saved already (Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12, 36-37; Acts 10:43-47). Baptism was only done by immersion as the subject was plunged beneath the waters (Mark 1:9-10; Matt. 3:13-16; John 3:23; Acts 8:30-39; Rom. 6:4). This immediately voids all 'baptisms' done by pouring and sprinkling. In Scripture, 'much water' was needed to properly baptize, and the subjects went 'down into' the water; furthermore, a burial is hardly represented by a sprinkling.
Baptism was also only administered in Scripture under the proper authority. Baptism is regulated by the Word of God. The authority to Baptize was given to the church in Matthew 28. A study of this authority will take one down this path:
John the Baptist was the first baptizer and had his authority from God (John 1:6). Jesus and the 12 baptized by John (Acts 1:21-22) and it was the church that was given the authority upon the great commission. 3,000 were baptized and added to that church at Pentecost (Acts 2:41). Phillip was sent out by that church and baptized, Peter was sent out of that church and baptized. From this church and its work of evangelism, other churches were started who also, upon their beginning of being a church, had the authority passed on to them to baptize. The apostle Paul was sent out of one such church, the church at Antioch, in Acts 13 with the authority to Baptize. This authority was passed on from church to church from generation to generation down THIS LINE of 'My Church'es.
Baptism from pretending churches was never accepted by the true church. The true churches demanded a 're-baptism' if the subject had not been Scripturally baptized (thus the term ana-baptist applied to churches such as ours during the times of the reformation).
Baptism has always been important to the true church because it pleases the Lord, proclaims the Gospel, and protects the church. It pleases the Lord in that baptism is the result of souls being saved! It proclaims the Gospel in that the baptism is a picture/type/figure (1 Pt. 3:21; Col 2:12; Rom. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Gal. 3:26-27) of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, the death of our old life to sin and resurrection of the new man to walk in newness of life, our faith in the Trinity, and our putting on of Christ. It protects the church from doctrinal error. Church pretenders have false doctrine taught in their 'churches.' By a true church not accepting their baptism and allowing membership from such churches, it is protecting the church from doctrinal error such as baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, etc. It protects the church from protestant denominationalism. Those that came out of the catholic church retained some/most of the doctrinal errors of the catholic church. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodist, Episcopal all believe in some form of baptismal regeneration and sprinkling of infants. The rest of the protestants branched off of them or accept their baptisms thereby welcoming in false doctrine.
The 'My Church'es are not protestant! We have existed since the first century and cannot accept the false baptisms of those that believe falsely. Consider the following:
Baptism is that wherein I was made a child of God.
-Episcopal Catechism
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament ordained by Jesus Christ for regeneration, remission of sins.
-Presbyterian Confession
Sanctify this water and grant this child now to be baptized to receive the fullness of thy grace and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children. -Methodist ritual
It is certain our church supposes all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again. -John Wesley
Concerning baptism, it is necessary for salvation and we condemn the anabaptist who hold infants can be saved without it. -Lutherans Augsburg Confession

Baptism protects the true church from inter/non denominationalism and the ecumenical hellish doctrine.
There are many pretending to be churches, but cannot be a true church, for a true church is made up of only believers who have been Scripturally baptized.
Now, let us look closer.....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prove It!

So with all the so many 'churches' in existence today, can we prove what churches are truly His Churches and which ones are pretenders? This is a matter of great importance. The world's religions push an ecumenical theme where all churches are accepted and should get along. This is a belief from Hell itself and will be used by the anti-christ and his prophet one day in uniting the world. A true Christian should have no part in this! It is the Devil that has brought all the confusion and intermarriage of belief. It is time more people stood up for Truth!
Churches that are 'My Churches' cannot join in with Billy Graham and have an ecumenical evangelistic campaign side by side with pretenders. 'My Churches' cannot accept the baptisms of infant sprinklers, works salvation preaching, pretenders. 'My Churches' cannot join hand in hand with those assemblies that have not Authority from on High, do not preach the doctrine of Christ, and hold no areas of separation from an ungodly world.
Due to a 'Fundamentalist' movement from Bob Jones and the like, 'My Churches' did join hands with the unscriptural, and sadly, most still cling today to the error of those before them. We proudly proclaim we are 'Fundamentalist', when it was the fundamentalist that sought to unite the 'My Churches' with the pretenders on the grounds of a few shared beliefs. Most Baptist churches and schools have a 'Christian Flag' that they pledge to, that was birthed by a Methodist and embraced by all protestants as a means of uniting 'My churches' with pretenders. (We should only pledge our allegiance spiritually to our Saviour and not "to the Christian flag AND to the Saviour..."...that was free.)
We have allowed protestant teaching to become our foundation in our Christian schools through Abeka, Bob Jones, and similar curriculum. In them you will read of the Wesleys, Luther, Calvin and the Puritans as our spiritual forefathers and to whom we owe our allegiance-Wrong! There were Baptist who stood for truth to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude today. Men like Isaac Backus, John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and Shubal Stearns were men who stood for truth in the face of persecutors who believed like Luther, Calvin and the Puritans.
Can we prove this? Are the 'My Churches' so different than the pretenders? At one time there was a great gulf between the two, but due to a lack of knowledge in Biblical Doctrine, our Baptist Heritage, and the teachings of most Christian school curriculum, the gulf between the two has been greatly diminished...all part of Satan's ecumenical plan. Marks of this tragedy is seen in a belief in pastoral absolute (pope) rule or plurality of elders teachings, open and close communion accepted, alien baptism accepted in the church, 'empire building' ministries that 'rule'-I mean greatly influence smaller churches, etc.
1. The 'My Churches' can be identified today in studying history. As stated before, if your church can trace its history back to a man-it is pretending to be a church. Consider the following:
a. Catholic church had its beginning with Constantine in the 4th century.
b. Lutheran church had its beginning with Martin Luther in 1520.
c. Episcopalian church had its beginning with Henry VIII in 1534.
d. Presbyterian church had its beginning with John Calvin in 1536.
e. The Congregational church had its beginning with Robert Brown in 1580.
f. The Methodist church had its beginning with John Wesley in 1740.
g. The Church of Christ had its beginning (ironically) with Alexander Campbell in 1827.
Of course we do not even mention men like Joseph Smith, Mohamed, or Mary Baker Eddy to name a few. The 'My Churches' began with the speaker of that phrase-Jesus Christ!
2. 'My Churches' will have doctrinal unity. The New Testament church today will believe the same doctrines as the first church. They will have continued in the 'apostles doctrine' and faith. Doctrine is of great importance. If a church holds to false doctrine, has held to false doctrine, and has ignored teaching of Truth-they are merely pretending to be a true church. This is why areas such as discipline, the ordinances, doctrine, and our commission is of great importance.
Can a church go wrong and then repent and be right? Definitely! Can I prove it! We shall see...