FREEDOM EXISTED IN NAME ONLY
1638 – Conditions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had become intolerable for any who held views that tended toward liberty of conscience or baptism for believers only. Isaac Backus stated that the Massachusetts Court ruled that if any group wanted to meet and establish a church they had to first have the approval of the magistrates and the other ministers in the area. If you did not get approval you were not admitted to the “freedom of the Commonwealth”. There was great controversy. The House of Deputies was dissolved and reappointed to suit the ministers. Pastors, men, women and children were banished from the colonies and others were put to death as heretics. Massachusetts made a law that everyone was taxed to pay for the support of religious ministers, even though they had no vote in choosing them. Under this terrible influence. John Clarke, the Baptist preacher, his brother Joseph, and many others moved away to Rhode Island. On March 7, 1638, they entered into a Covenant to incorporate themselves into a body politic, submitting everything to God and following His absolute laws as guide and judge. Backus stated, when they could not find laws to govern themselves in the New Testament, they returned to the laws of Moses and elected a Judge and three Elders to rule over them. On March 12, 1640, they changed their plan of government and elected a governor and four assistants until they came under a Charter from England at a later time. It becomes very clear that any government of men is as fallible as the men who govern, and that the trials and errors of the colonies, endeavoring to set up systems of government to guarantee order and yet give the people governed liberty of conscience, resulted in a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that brought the leaders as well as the people under the law. Our Constitution was not thrown together but was born after much travail by millions of people over hundreds of years of suffering. God bless America.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 94-95.
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Tag Archives: church
The Transforming cup of sorrow
1898 – A BAPTIST PREACHERS LIFE IS TRANSFORMED AND A CHURCH HAS GREAT GROWTH BECAUSE OF THE CRUCIBLE OF SORROW IN 1898 – February 9, 1898 was the lowest day in the life of George W. Truett the pastor of the renowned First BC of Dallas, Texas. It was the day that Rev. George W. Baines, Pastor of the First BC of Cleburne, TX preached the funeral of Captain J.C. Arnold, Chief of the Dallas Police Department from the pulpit of the Dallas church. On the 4th of February, Arnold, his 30 year old pastor, Truett and Baines, had gone quail hunting East of Cleburne. As they prepared to return to Baines home, Dr. Truett shifted his hammerless shotgun to the other arm and it accidentally discharged into the Captains right leg. Though he was rushed to Dallas for treatment he died the next evening Feb. 5. When they found that it was a blood clot to his heart that caused his death, Truett could not be consoled and continued to pace the floor filled with agony and self-condemnation telling his wife that he would never preach again. Her attempts to console him were futile. He continued to say as he paced, “My times are in thy hands.” That night his ministry was transformed and he reluctantly allowed the details to be told. He had a vivid three-fold dream. He saw our Lord Jesus Christ standing by his bedside and said, “Be not afraid. You are my man from now on.” He entered the pulpit the next Sunday with drawn face and sad eyes. Things were different, the results cannot be disputed. During his 47 years as pastor he saw more than 20,000 members added to the church. By the time of his death in 1944 perhaps no other preacher was better known.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 54..
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RECIPE FOR SPIRITUALITY
Among those who are dedicated followers of Christ Jesus, even extending to those who might be classified as nominal Christians, there is a common desire oft expressed and somewhat diligently sought. It is to be a truly spiritual disciple. Accordingly, men turn to the devices of flesh in the pursuit of greater levels of spirituality. Those things do indeed generate a considerable amount of religious activity: greater offerings, more determination to wear a clean mind and abandon common carnal thinking and doing. Many such activities may be commendable, but it is also possible that in spite of some laudable activity, spirituality is being sought in all the wrong places.
Are you thinking with me about this?
God’s people should be aware of a certain passage of scripture, and they should put its suggested activity into action. I refer to I Corinthians 14:12, “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” What a marvelously simple, but profound idea. Look at it more closely:
1. “Zealous” means to be boiling hot as in an obsessive pursuit.
2. “Spiritual gifts” means the possession of recognized spirituality so bestowed by the Lord.
3. “Seek” means to earnestly diligently search.
4. “Excel” means to do excellently, far above the average.
5. “Edify” means to build up, to enhance reputation.
6. “Church” means the saved, baptized, called out assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ.
With an understanding of the meaning of the terms of this precious verse of scripture, we may restate it in amplified terms in the following manner: “Even so ye (you, plural) are boiling hot in desire and pursuit of spiritual gifts that you and others identify as coming from God, earnestly, diligently search out ways and means to do much more than the average disciple to build up the reputation of the called out assembly of Jesus (the church) as a spiritual institution in the community.” What a wonderful, practical way our Lord has chosen to elevate one’s spirituality. Every church member ought to be so engaged. I believe this to the core of my soul because that is the kind of Christian I am!
1 Corinthians 11:23-30
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup,” 1 Corinthians 11:28.
Every church has problems. If you think your church does not have problems, you are probably in denial. Imagine this scenario played out at your church.
One day, the leaders decide to hold the Lord’s Supper to remember and celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus. So, the members show up for worship, and each family brings food for themselves, but does not share with other families. Some families even bring their best wine to the church fellowship and become intoxicated by the time church is over. Others are too poor to bring food, but those church members who brought food do not think to share with those who have none, so the ones who came to church hungry, leave hungry.
Do you think that would ever happen in your church? No? Well, it happened in the church at Corinth, and God responded by sending the members a reminder on how to observe the Lord’s Supper. (Reread 1 Corinthians 11:23-30.) One of the most important elements in the observance of the Lord’s Supper for a church is unity in the body. Unity is one of the major reasons Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper. When you examine yourself—see yourself in the proper perspective before the throne of God—you will find that everyone is all the same at the foot of the cross. Everything that distinguishes you in the eyes of men falls away before the broken body and shed blood of Christ and everyone is all the same—saved by grace through faith.
JUST A THOUGHT - Will you thank God for Jesus today?
May I also add to this commentary that there none worthy to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper. We have been made worthy through the blood of Jesus Christ. Consider the eating and drinking unworthily is not if we have unconfessed sins in our life, it is considering the purpose we are partaking of the Lord’s Supper. If we are partaking for any other purpose than remembering the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, we are partaking unworthily.
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power,” Acts 1:7.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, His followers seemed to remain in a state of confusion regarding exactly who He was and how He would fulfill the Old Testament prophesies concerning Him. For example, the Old Testament prophet, Micah, foretold that the Messiah would one day restore the kingdom of Israel to its originally intended glory: “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8). Since Jesus proved He was the promised One, His followers quickly connected Him with the prophecies about the Messiah and expected Him to begin the process of world domination for the glory of God. What they had forgotten, over and over again, was that Jesus had given them a job to do while waiting for Him to establish His kingdom. His followers asked Him one last time and, one last time, He reminded them of each church’s duty until He returns—make disciples of all nations. After this reminder, He ascended to Heaven.
It is easy for a believer to become overwhelmed or sidetracked by his present expectations of God’s activity in the world. Each believer has his own idea of who God is and what he expects Him to accomplish now and in the future. Maybe it would benefit him to take the Lord’s admonition in Acts 1:7 personally. Should he not leave the timing of God’s activities up to God and get busy obeying the last commandment Christ gave to His churches? When you find yourself worrying about the future, pour your time, energy and resources into making disciples of Jesus Christ and trust God to handle everything else.
JUST A THOUGHT
Will you accomplish God’s plan for you today?
First Baptist church in Illinois
1823 – James Lemen passed from this earth. Even though he was fifty years old when he was licensed by his church to preach, he was an active and zealous minister of the gospel. Lemen, along with his wife Catherine, and two others, had been baptized when they had to break the ice in Fountain Creek, to administer the ordinance in Monroe County, Illinois. James had been converted to Christ, when the first evangelical minister came into the state in 1787. However he did not receive baptism until Josiah Dodge from Kentucky came to preach in the area. John Gibbons and Isaac Enochs were the other two that Dodge baptized. On the appointed day a great multitude gathered from all parts to witness the first baptismal service in the State of Illinois. At the waters edge a hymn was sung, scriptural authority for baptism given and prayer offered. Two years later the Lemens, along with a few others, united in forming the first Baptist church in Illinois. There pastor was Rev. David Badgley.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 10-12.
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The first to minister in North Carolina
1742 – Mr. Henry Sater deeded an acre of land to Henry Loveall, the first pastor of the Chestnut Ridge congregation for a church site, because the church had been organized in Sater’s home. Sater had come to America from England and had purchased land about nine miles northwest of Baltimore Town. He frequently cared for travelers, quite often Baptist ministers, who would be invited to preach. Being encouraged by the numbers in attendance, this sincere Christian erected a place of worship on his own land at his own expense. The church was organized with fifty-seven members. The church covenant began: “We…the professors of the Gospel of Christ, baptized on a declaration of faith and repentance, believing the doctrine of general redemption (or free grace of God to all mankind), …bind and settle ourselves into a Church.” It was signed on July 10, 1742, and the church continued on until the Revolutionary War. The church began as the Chestnut Ridge Church, but was later known as the Sater’s Baptist Church. The pulpit was temporarily filled by George Eglesfield of Penn., and later by Paul Palmer, whose ministry resulted in nine baptisms, who was also the first to minister the Word in N.C. as early as 1720. However, Henry Loveall, from N.J. is regarded as the first pastor, who baptized forty-eight converts in the four years that he was there. This activity was made possible because in 1649 the Colonial Assembly, through the inspiration of Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, passed an act of religious toleration. Though it was not as expansive as R.I., it did allow Baptists the right to exist. [ George F. Adams, A History of Baptist Churches in Maryland (Baltimore: J.F. Weishampel Jr., 1885), p. 27. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 628-30.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Baptists and church discipline
1776 – The Grassy Creek Baptist Church in Granville County, N.C. brought Aaron P before the church to give reason for not communing. He was corrected and later restored. However, the church was even handed in their discipline. “In 1770 Elder James Reed, the pastor was excluded for unchristian conduct. Elders Jeremiah Walker and John Williams, were called on as helps or as a council, to aid the brethren in this very serious difficulty.” Pastor Reed had been baptized by Shubael Stearns in 1756 and was the first pastor of Grassy Creek. It was not for morals or doctrine that he was dismissed, and after two years he was restored and enjoyed a long and fruitful ministry of almost forty years as their pastor. In 1798 at 72 he was called to his heavenly home. His last words were: “Do you see the angels waiting to convey my soul to glory?” On March 5, 1773, at a church conference, the question was asked and answered: Should a private transgression be made public?” The answer was “No” based on Matt. 18:15 concerning settling differences privately before they are brought before the church. These people were serious about church discipline. On Sept. 24, 1775, the church records show that Henry Howard and Lemuel Wilson were appointed to admonish sister J___C____ for living an immoral life, such as dancing.” They based it on the word “revellings” in Ga. 5:21 and I Pet. 4:3. Revellings referred to,“dancings in merry making, a jovial festivity with music and dancing.” They reported back on Nov. 24 that they had admonished her, she was present, but she found no repentance, she was then excommunicated. [Robert I Devin, A History of Grassy Creek Baptist Church (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards, Broughton and Co., 1880), p. 78. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 626-28.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
She was truly a “Gift of God”
1798 – Dr. Caleb Evans, two years after the death of Anne Steele, published her memoir, who wrote under the pen name of Theodosia (Gift of God). She had been confined to her “chamber” for some two years before her death suffering with the most excruciating pain imaginable, yet with a Christian dignity, joy, and peace beyond human understanding. When her time to depart came, she uttered not a murmuring word, but took the most affectionate leave of her weeping friends around her, and with these words on her lips, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” fell gently asleep into the arms of the Lord Jesus. She founded no church, built no chapels, went to no mission fields…she only wrote a few of the sweetest hymns, but her usefulness has far distanced her fame. She exerts an influence where history is unknown; she ministers by many a sickbed; she furnishes a song in many a night of affliction. Every Sunday hears her hymns in thousands of sanctuaries and her poems that were written in times of pain have been sung for two centuries in thousands of closets. Her body lies in a cemetery in the quiet village of Broughton in England. Besides her physical suffering, she also suffered emotionally from the tragic accidental drowning of her fiancé, Robert Elscourt, on the eve of their wedding. Many of her hymns reflect the Blessed Hope of the coming of her Lord. Her life was greatly influenced by her great-uncle, Henry Steele, who was the pastor of the Baptist church in Broughton for forty years, and then his nephew William Steele, who succeeded him, who was likewise a man of deep piety and ministerial ability. [Freda West, Great Baptist Women, ed. A. S. Clement (London: Carey Kingsgate Press Limited, 1955), pp. 30-31. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 615-18.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Why America became a Republic
1745 – Isaac Backus and others were excommunicated from the Congregational church at Norwich, Connecticut. The name of Isaac Backus is one of the brightest lights in Baptist history. He was born on Jan. 9, 1724 in Norwich. He grew up during the time of the Great Awakening under George Whitefield and other lesser-known men. In Nov. of 1741 a revival broke out in his home town, and Backus received full assurance of salvation. Many in the Congregational state churches did not look with favor on evangelism and these converts were called “New Lights.” However, wanting to receive communion, after 11 months, Backus finally united with the church. Starving spiritually, these “New Lights” in the congregation began meeting together for fellowship and Bible study. This division is what led to the impasse that caused the church to excommunicate them. The converts of the Great Awakening started Separate churches. Backus, called to preach and ordained, was quite at home in this movement and carried on an itinerant ministry for fourteen months until he took a church at Titicut, Mass. It was there that he became convinced of believer’s immersion, and on Aug. 22, 1751, he and six fellow church members were immersed on profession of their faith. At that point Backus formed a Baptist church and served for almost sixty years as evangelist, pastor, author and fighter for religious liberty in early America. It is estimated that he traveled over 67,000 miles and preached nearly 10,000 sermons. Backus was one of the main reasons that America adopted a constitutional Republic over Calvin’s “Geneva Theocracy” model. [B.L. Shelly, Dictionary of Baptists in America (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 36. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 614-15.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon