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America’s Greatest Orator


 

 

Vol.12, No. 5 TheBaptistVineLine.com October-December 2013

 

 

By J. J. Burnett.

 

 

Dr. Graves was born in Chester, Vermont, April 10, 1820. He was the son of Z. C. Graves, a well-to-do merchant, and a grandson of a French Huguenot who “fled to America,” after most of his ancestors “had perished” in the persecution which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantes. His mother was the granddaughter of a distinguished German physician and scholar by the name of Schnell. Dr. Graves was the youngest of three children. President Z. C. Graves, of the Mary Sharpe College, was an older brother, and Mrs. L. M. Marks was his sister.

 

 

The loss of his father by sudden death, when young Graves was only three weeks old, and the subsequent loss, to the widow and children, of an estate involved in a partnership business, were seemingly unfortunate events, but proved in the end to be “blessings in disguise”; the youngsters, of necessity, were brought up to work and save, and formed habits of self-reliance.

 

 

At the age of fifteen James was converted and baptized, uniting with a Baptist church in Vermont. In his nineteenth year he was elected principal of the Kingsville Academy, in Ohio, where he remained and taught for two years. He then went to Kentucky and took charge of Clear Creek Academy, near Nicholasville.

 

 

Uniting with Mount Freedom Church, Kentucky, he was “licensed” to preach, but without his knowledge or consent. For so great a work, he felt himself wholly unqualified. But he believed in preparedness for any calling and in hard work as an essential to success.

 

 

He was notably a self-educated, self-made man. For four years he gave six hours a day to teaching and eight hours to private study, covering a college course without a teacher, and mastering a modern language each year. Meanwhile he was digging into his Bible, with great

admiration for Paul as a model preacher, and purposing in his heart to be himself a preacher when he should be “qualified” for a calling so high and holy.

 

At the age of 24 he was called to ordination and set apart to the work of the ministry, Dr. Dillard, of Kentucky, being chairman of the “council” and preacher of the ordination sermon. July 3, 1845, at the age of 25, he came to Nashville and opened, in a rented building, the “Vine Street Classical and Mathematical Academy,” joining “by letter” the First Baptist Church. In the fall of the same year he took charge of the Second (now the Central) Baptist Church, served the church one year as pastor, but declined further service, in order to become associated with Dr. R. B. C. Howell as one of the editors of The Baptist.

 

 

His connection with the paper was editorially announced November 21, 1846, as follows: “We have the pleasure of announcing to our readers that the committee of publication have, at length, succeeded in procuring the services of an assistant editor for this paper, whom we here introduce in the person of our beloved Brother J. R. Graves, the indefatigable and successful pastor of the Second Baptist Church in this city. Brother Graves is already favorably known to many of you as an eloquent speaker and a very handsome writer.”

 

 

This was the beginning of an editorial career which lasted nearly half a century. As editor, Dr. Graves wielded a facile and a pungent pen, and week after week, did a prodigious amount of editorial and other work. When he took charge of The Baptist he was only locally known, and his paper had about 1,000 subscribers: at the beginning of the Civil War it had attained the largest circulation, it was claimed, of any Baptist paper in the world and no man in the South was more widely known than its editor, or had a greater influence upon the denomination.

 

 

In addition to editing and publishing his great paper he edited a monthly, a quarterly and an annual, besides editing hymnbooks for our churches and the great numbers of standard works issued from the presses of the Southwestern Publishing House; such as Robinson’s History of Baptism, Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, Orchard’s History of Foreign and English Baptists, Moses Stuart On Baptism, and other similar works – a character and volume of literature that necessarily influenced in a marked degree the thinking, the pulpit teaching and the denominational life of the Baptist people.

 

 

As author, he wrote and published, among other works, the following: The Desire of All Nations, The Watchman’s Reply, The Trilemma, The First Baptist Church in America, The Little Iron Wheel, The Great Iron Wheel, The Bible Doctrine of the Middle Life, The Exposition of Modern Spiritism, Old Landmarkism–What Is It?, and The Work of Christ in Seven Dispensations. Most of these works, as nearly all of his writings, were of a controversial nature and exerted a distinct influence wherever read.

 

 

As an organizer and promoter of Baptist interests he originated the first ministers’ institute in the State, and perhaps in the South, to train and equip pastors and help young ministers who were unable to attend theological schools. Without salary, or other compensation, he raised funds for the endowment of a theological chair in Union University, and without “fee or reward” he solicited and collected funds and other equipment with which to start the Mary Sharpe College–and drafted its “admirable curriculum.”

 

 

In 1848 he planned and set on foot the Southwestern Publishing House, Nashville, for the publication and dissemination of a sound Baptist literature, and later was instrumental in establishing the Southern Baptist Sunday School Union. Both these institutions did great good, and promised large success, but were destined to be destroyed by the Civil War.

 

 

In 1870 he submitted to the Big Hatchie Association the plan and constitution of a Southern Baptist Publication Society, and, in 1874, turned over to the society $130,000 in cash and bonds; but the financial crisis which followed, and other adverse conditions, wrecked the society’s plans

and caused its suspension.

 

 

As a logician and thinker, he was masterful and lucid, possessing in a high degree the gift which enabled him to so state his propositions that they came from his lips or pen with the force of axiomatic principles or self-evident truths. A judge in the city of Memphis, lecturing the bar on the importance of a clear statement of propositions, said: “The gift is as rare as genius, but may be cultivated. Of living ministers I know of no one who possesses it in a higher degree than Dr. Graves of the First Baptist Church in this city. He lays down his propositions so clearly that they come with the force of axioms, that need no demonstration – you can see all through and all around them.” (Borum)

 

 

As a polemic, controversialist, debater, Dr. Graves was a master. He was quite certain that he, and every other divinely called Baptist preacher was set for the defense as well as the propagation of the truth, that he was directly commissioned by the great Head of the Church to contend earnestly for the faith delivered “once for all” to the saints; and this he did amidst shot and shell from every quarter throughout a stormy life. His conviction in regard to truth and duty forced him to unsheath the sword-”the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” against the Lord’s enemies, against error and the sword was never sheathed; he fell fighting.

 

 

Dr. Graves had something like a dozen public oral discussions with representatives of other denominations, the last one, “The Graves-Ditzler Debate,” being a two weeks’ discussion with Dr. Jacob Ditzler, a professional debater of the Methodist persuasion. The debate was published, making a volume of several hundred pages, and was widely read. This contest has been called the “battle of the giants;” in it Dr. Graves fully sustained his reputation for fairness and scholarship, for ability and skill as a debater, and again proved himself to be a fearless, peerless and successful champion of Baptist and New Testament orthodoxy. He did not lend himself and his great powers to sarcasm and invective, vices all too common in polemical discussion. His one serious purpose was the refutation of error by correct interpretation of the Scriptures and sound reasoning. He would be courteous toward his opponent, but not at the expense of loyalty to Christ. He esteemed loyalty to Christ and his truth, above everything else, a cardinal virtue in a Christian minister.

 

 

He found no Scripture which commanded him to love error, or tolerate false doctrine; and if in his zeal for the truth and in the heat of debate he failed to exemplify perfectly the apostolic injunction to speak the truth “in love” (which is ideal), and if in his effort to cut off the head of error with the sword of truth he decapitated the errorist at the same time– that only proves that he was “human.”

 

 

The truth is, that while Dr. Graves could not make much allowance for the teachers of error he very greatly sympathized with the common people who, blindfolded, were led into the ditch by their “blind guides.”

 

 

The spirit and bearing of Dr. Graves, among his brethren and elsewhere, also his appearance and marked personality, are justly represented in the following newspaper reports of The Nashville American: “On the rostrum sits Dr. Graves; upon whose forehead is stamped strength, activity and vim, whose power from the press and pulpit is felt and acknowledged all over the Southwest; a man on whose every lineament is strongly marked immobility and stern inflexibility, driving with ungloved hand his Damascus blade into the vitals of error–a bold and fearless defender of the faith; yet gentle and meek as a child.” One of the most quiet and unassuming men in the convention is the great Landmark champion and upholder of the most strictly Baptist principles, Dr. J. R. Graves, formerly of this city but now of Memphis, editor and proprietor of The Baptist.

 

 

In personal appearance Dr. Graves is about five feet ten inches high, will weigh about 160 pounds, and has a fine face with a well-balanced head. His dark and almost black eyes show the true ring of metal, his fine brow and broad forehead give evidence (from the phrenologist’s point

of view) of a more than ordinary brain, his finely chiseled nose marks him as a man possessed of penetrating thought, indomitable zeal and energy, his mouth is expressive of sublime sentiments, and upon the whole his physiognomy indicates great reasoning ability.

 

 

His discourse, full of unction, full of logic, was eloquent and convincing.” “ As an orator, he is very powerful, and as a writer he unites strength, pointedness and clearness. He is fearless and boldly avows his sentiments and opinions, though they may differ much from those of others. “He has a wonderful command over his audiences, holding them spellbound for hours at a time. He uses no clap-trap, no trick of oratory, no prettiness of speech, but he is deeply in earnest, utters the strong convictions of his own mind and carries his hearers with him as by the force of a tornado.

 

 

Teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, statesmen, as well as the illiterate, all go to hear him, and bow before his power. Men bitterly prejudiced and hating him, hear him and are fascinated, go away resolved never to hear him again, but break their vows and hear him as often as they have opportunity.

 

 

His sermons are mostly doctrinal and as a rule strongly controversial. He is a great preacher, in the best sense of the word.” Controversial as he was and with all his fierce antagonism to error, he was nevertheless a gospel preacher in the fullest sense of the term. He never failed to emphasize the vital doctrines of grace and the necessity of the new birth. As in ancient times, “all roads led to Rome.” So in Dr. Graves’ preaching, “all roads,” led to Christ and the plan of salvation.

 

 

Great crowds went great distances to hear him, not altogether or mainly through curiosity, not because he was personally magnetic, which he was, but because they wanted to hear a man who was master of great subjects as well as of assemblies, discuss the great doctrines of the Word of God. The writer, [or J. J. Burnett, HLW] when a boy, went thirty miles to see and hear J. R. Graves, of The Tennessee Baptist and the Great Iron Wheel, and listened closely to a two hours’ sermon, a part of the time standing.

 

 

It is not generally known, I believe, that Dr. Graves was a specially gifted revivalist; and it is of record, however, that in his earlier ministry and before he was thirty years old, he had witnessed, in special meetings and under his immediate ministry, more than thirteen hundred conversions.

 

 

We have spoken of Dr. Graves as the author and recognized champion of a system of teaching known as “Old Landmarkism.” The system, the author claims, is contained, expressly or by necessary inference, in the New Testament Scriptures, and consists of ten distinct points of doctrine, constituting, like the ten commandments, an organic whole, so that, in the author’s view, to “break one” is to “break all.”

 

 

The title of the little book [i.e., Old Landmarkism, HLW] was suggested by two Old Testament Scriptures, “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set” (Solomon), and “Some remove the old landmarks” (Job.). I let Dr. Graves state the points himself, since his book is before me. At the close of chapter XI he asks the question,

 

 

What is the mission of Landmark Baptists? and his Tenfold Answer constitutes the substance of Old Landmarkism:

 

 

(1) As Baptists we are to stand for the supreme authority of the New Testament as our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. This is the distinguishing doctrine of our denomination.

 

 

(2) As Baptists we are to stand for the ordinances of Christ as he enjoined them upon his followers, unchanged and unchangeable till he come.

(3) As Baptists we are to stand for a spiritual and regenerated church, the motto on our banner being, Christ before the church, blood before water.

 

 

(4) To protest, and to use all our influence, against the recognition on the part of Baptists of human societies as scriptural churches, by affiliation, ministerial or ecclesiastical, or by any alliance, etc., that could be interpreted as putting such societies on an equality with Baptist churches.

 

 

(5) To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of the divine origin and sanctity of the churches of Christ, their unbroken continuity, etc.

 

 

(6) To preserve and perpetuate the divine, inalienable and sole prerogatives of a Christian church,

 

(a) to preach the gospel,

 

(b) To select and ordain her own officers,

 

(c) to control, absolutely her own ordinances.

 

 

(7) To preserve and perpetuate the scriptural design of baptism, and its validity and recognition only when scripturally administered by a gospel, church.

 

 

(8) To preserve and perpetuate the true design and symbolism (of the Lord’s Supper, as a local church ordinance, and for but one purpose–the commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ, and not as a denominational ordinance, etc.

 

 

(9) To preserve and perpetuate the doctrine of a divinely called and scripturally qualified and ordained ministry, holding office and acting for and under the direction of local churches alone.

 

 

(10) To preserve the primitive fealty and faithfulness to the truth, that shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, and to teach men to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded to be believed and obeyed.

 

 

This is the author’s own synopsis of his system, to which he adds these words: “Not the belief and advocacy of one or two of these principles constitutes a full Old Landmark Baptist, but the cordial reception and advocacy of all of them.” Of course these are not intended to be the landmarks bounding the whole Biblical system of truth or of Christianity, but only the landmarks of a New Testament church. He contended most earnestly for the preservation of all the great landmarks of the world’s spiritual heritage in the truth of God; not only for the local church and church ordinances, but for

 

 

(1) the inerrancy, the all-sufficiency and supreme authority of the Scriptures;

 

 

(2) the proper deity and atoning work of Christ:

(3) justification by faith; and

 

 

(4) the personality, power and work of the Holy Spirit landmarks, and more than landmarks, the very essence of Christianity, to be preserved at any cost by the churches of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

 

As to the acceptance by the denomination of Dr. Graves’ view of a New Testament church and its ordinances, it may he said:

 

 

(1) Many brethren (pastors and churches) gave him their endorsement and adherence, avowing their full belief in the landmark system, going the full figure and refusing to “commune” except in the local church where they held their membership, and only with fellow-members of the same

church.

 

 

(2) Other churches and pastors, making a difference between membership rights and non-membership privileges and recognizing the doctrinal unity and solidarity of the Baptist family, continued the practice, as aforetime, of so-called “inter-communion,” the members of one Baptist church communing, upon invitation, with members of another Baptist church.

 

 

(3) Still other churches (but very few in the South or Southwest), holding that the ordinances belong to the “kingdom” and not to the local churches and considering that the validity of baptism depends upon only two necessary things, no more and no less, that is, the right faith and the right act (immersion in water), continued the practice of recognizing so-called “Alien Immersion,” or the immersion of a professed believer by a denomination other than Baptist, or by no denomination, and at the same time practiced, accordingly, a communion more or less unrestricted.

 

 

As to the question of “church succession” the denomination has ever been divided. Everyone who believes the Bible [Matthew 16:18; 28:20, HLW] believes, of course, in some sort of succession, perpetuity or continuity for the church built by the Christ; and certainly every true Baptist is interested in discovering and verifying the succession promised by the great Head of the Church, and would be glad to see any visible foot-prints, to catch any possible glimpse, of a genuine Baptist or New Testament church along the track of history through the “Dark Ages” of Catholic apostasy and persecution, when the true church was evidently “in the wilderness,” whither she had been driven by Satanic power and where she was “nourished” and preserved by her divine Lord.

 

 

But whatever may be the truth of history and whatever our individual beliefs may be in regard to the question of succession, all must admit, I think, that “visible” succession, however well or however poorly established, is not the most vital thing about a church; the vital thing is that it succeeds directly from Christ and the New Testament.

 

 

The subject has its difficulties, involving three questions of importance:

 

 

(1) a question of correct interpretation of a passage of Scripture;

 

 

(2) a question of history;

 

 

(3) a question of emphasis.

 

 

Dr. J. B. Gambrell’s illustration of the “Lost Horse” [as I remember, this was of Robert E. Lee’s famous horse, Traveler. He was lost awhile after the Civil War. And the retired General offered a handsome reward to anyone who found him. HLW] shows the gist and relative merit of Baptist contention and differences on this point: “I do not place much stress,” he says, “on historical succession–but the New Testament reads as though things were started to go on. “Let me illustrate my idea of succession: a man lost a gray horse. He finds some horse tracks step by step for a hundred miles. Then he comes upon the horse–but it is a black horse. That is historical succession.

 

 

Tracks are not worth a cent. If, on the other hand, you find the gray horse, it does not make any difference if you do not find any tracks. The whole business lies in the identity; we have the horse hunted for. So, the man who takes the New Testament and finds a church in his neighborhood or elsewhere like the one in the Book, has succession.”

 

 

This puts the main emphasis in the right place, while it may be thought to depreciate in a measure, at least inferentially, the value of a history of an ancient and “peculiar people” with whose fortunes have been bound up in an age-long conflict the fortunes of the kingdom of God. In

this connection I may be permitted to say that while Dr. Graves was a successionist there is no evidence, I think, that he put undue emphasis on the fact of succession or on any sort of “mother-church” notion; he did emphasize church authority and with apostolic zeal contended for the recognition of the same.

 

 

As to the “validity” of ordinances, the Baptists of the South and Southwest stand almost solidly for four’ necessary things:

 

 

(1) A proper subject (a believer),

 

 

(2) A proper act in baptism (immersion),

 

 

(3) A proper design (to show forth), and

 

 

(4) the proper authority (a New Testament church)–all these being held as Scriptural requirements conditioning the valid administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper alike.

 

 

The Baptists of the North and East, we think, are coming, and will come, more and more to this position–a position that would seem necessary, if Baptists are to justify their continued existence as a separate denomination and assure for themselves a denominational future.

 

 

And these results, it must be admitted, have come about, in large measure, through Dr. Graves’ strenuous contention for a “Thus saith the Lord” in all matters of religion. His slogan was “Back to the New Testament.” And whatever may be our theory or practice in regard to some of the questions involved, or supposed to be involved in Landmarkism, there can be no doubt that Dr. Graves’ manifold contention and protest, by voice and pen, has been a great service not only to the Baptists but to the whole religious world.

 

 

For well-nigh half a century he stood as a bulwark against error, as a mighty breakwater against the incoming flood of a false liberalism which is the constant menace of a pure Christianity in a “Laodicean Age.”

 

 

Dr. E. T. Winkler, editor of The Alabama Baptist, writes: “Extreme as the views of Dr. Graves have by many been regarded as being, there is no question that they have powerfully contributed to the correction of a false liberalism that was current in many quarters thirty years ago.”

 

 

Dr. S. H. Ford, in his Christian Repository, endorsed this statement, adding these words: “We differ with Dr. Graves in some things, but honor his heroic life-work in meeting and exposing error wherever uttered.”

 

 

Dr. Cathcart, in The Baptist Encyclopedia, speaking for Northern Baptists, says: “Dr. Graves in his peculiarities represents a section of the Baptist denomination, a conscientious and devoted portion of our great apostolic community, but in his earnest and generous zeal for our heaven-inspired principles, he represents all thorough Baptists throughout the ages and the nations.”

 

 

Dr. Graves, as already indicated, took a great interest in young preachers. He was jealous of any influence that might affect their moral or doctrinal stamina, or turn them aside from apostolic ways. He was ever anxious that our theological seminaries turn out New Testament prophets after the order of Paul and John the Baptist.

 

 

The writer has a vivid recollection of his first personal acquaintance with Dr. Graves. It was during a seminary vacation and while acting as a supply pastor for a church in Memphis. In going his rounds he dropped into the office of The Baptist to have a talk with the editor. Though busy furnishing “copy” to the printer, he arose from his desk to greet his visitor, but most of the greeting, as we remember, was

a sudden and dramatic reference. to a “Jacob staff,” a “Gunters chain”, and a “compass.” For five or ten minutes he warmed to his subject, giving the young preacher “points” on theological surveying, running boundary and divisional lines, giving metes and bounds, establishing corners, setting up landmarks, etc., that in future generations no “true Israelite might ever lose his inheritance;” in it all laying special emphasis on the fact that there is and can be no true “orientation” of doctrines, creeds and systems, except as they are brought to and examined in the light of the New Testament Scriptures.

 

 

Dr. Graves was a thorough believer in the equality and spiritual democracy of all believers, and was opposed to a minister accepting any title of distinction that would put him above or apart from his brethren. For this reason he refused more than once to be made a D. D. [Doctor of Divinity] Whether or not he accepted the LL.D. conferred upon him by Union University and appearing after his name on the title page of some of his works, I cannot speak advisedly. Perhaps the publisher, following a time-honored custom, used his own discretion in the matter.

 

 

Dr. Graves was a popular presiding officer and a skilled parliamentarian, presiding with dignity and consideration for his brethren. He knew how to preserve order and dispatch business, and was ever watchful in keeping from before a Baptist deliberative and advisory body matters over which it could have no jurisdiction. He was frequently president of the West Tennessee Baptist Convention and for a number of years was moderator of the Big Hatchie Association.

 

 

Dr. Graves was married three times–all “fortunate” marriages, his companions being women of “taste and refinement.” His first marriage (1845) was without issue. His second and third wives were sisters, Miss Lou and Miss Georgie Snider, daughters of Dr. George Snider. The living children of the second marriage are Mrs. O. L. Hailey and James R. Graves, of Dallas, Texas, and Mrs. R. H. Wood, San Antonio, Texas. The living children of the third marriage are W. C. Graves and Z. Calvin Graves, of Memphis, Tenn.

 

 

Dr. Graves died at Memphis, TN. closing his earthly career, June 26; 1893.In this sketch the writer has purposely refrained from eulogy, believing that facts are more eloquent than eulogistic words.

 

As to Dr. Graves’ gifts as an orator many competent judges will agree in the opinion and endorse the unqualified statement of one of our ablest speakers and writers when he says: “I regard J. R. Graves as the greatest orator America ever produced in any calling.”

 

(From Sketches of Tennessee’s Pioneer Baptist Preachers by J. J. Burnett, originally printed in Nashville, 1919, now by The Overmountain Press, Johnson City, TN.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Order at the Lord’s Table


 

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?

 

Mark Clements

 

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.

 

 

James Candler

 

 

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ECCLESIOLOGY (Study of the Church) Lesson 2


LESSON 2
THE MEANING OF ECCLESIA

I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.As previously stated, most scholars agree that the English word “church” comes from a Greek word (kuriakos) which means “the Lord’s” and joined with day (hemera) or supper (deipnon) describe exactly what is refered to as being the Lord’s.
B.When the Greek kuriakos (church) is used to replace ecclesia (assembly), it is used to define what assembly. It is not simply any assembly, It is the LORD’S.
C.I. K. Cross says, “In Acts 19:39-41 the term is used twice. Once to refer to the ‘lawful assembly’ which was called out of the citizens of Ephesus to handle legal matters in the city. The other to refer to the assembly that had been called together to run Paul and his companions out of town. In either case the assembly, or ecclesia (for this is the word used here), was a called out group, called together for a specific purpose, and local in nature. This was the common usage of the term and always the proper definition of an ecclesia. THIS IS WHAT OUR LORD SAID HE WOULD BE BUILDING.”
D.Cross continues, “If Jesus Christ had intended to build another kind of company there were other words in the language He could have used. He could have used the word ‘Synagoga,” a term without such limitations and yet designating an assembly. It would certainly have been more fitting for a ‘universal company.’ He could have also used the word ‘panagris’ if he had a solemn assembly in mind of a massive and festal nature. But these were rejected in favor of the most limiting term in the Greek language with reference to an assembly; a term that can only be properly interpreted as an assembly local in nature” (Ibid).
E.Cross in another place says, “The word ‘ecclesia’ is more than a mere assembly. The word is really a compounding of two words. ‘Kaleo,’ to call; and ‘ek,’ meaning out, or literally ‘to call out.’ Thus, an ‘ekklesia’ is a Called out assembly, implying some conditions. The Lord did not call all Christians in the area that cared to assemble into His ‘ekklesia,’ but he was very selective about it in Matthew 4:17-22; Matthew 9:9; John 1:43,44 and on until he had 120 in that assembly by the time he went back to the Father. I Cor. 12:28 says that ‘God hath set some in the church (ekklesia)…,’ not all. The same passage states that He set the apostles in the ‘ekklesia,’ and on the occasion when the apostles were chosen there was quite a congregation of disciples present of whom he chose the apostles – and Paul says the apostles, not the crowd, were set in the ‘ekklesia’” (Landmarkism on Trial, Cross, p. 7).
F.Overby concurs, “To change the meaning of a word you must have good evidence that the speaker or writer of that word intended it that way. A basic principle that all scholars recognize is that a word must retain its usual meaning as long as the word used makes good sense that way. Only when it will not make good sense are we allowed to give it a new or rare meaning. If we apply this principle in this passage (Matthew 16:18), we will see that ‘assembly’ makes good sense so we cannot agree with those who would try to change the meaning here” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, pp. 26,27).
G.Roy Mason asserts, …I submit the proposition that the church that Jesus founded was the local assembly, and that to use the word ecclesia to designate a ‘universal,’ or ‘invisible’ church is to pervert its meaning, and to fall into serious error” (The Church That Jesus Built, Mason, p. 26).
H.Mason also says, “The word ecclesia rendered ‘church’ in English translations, was not a new word coined by Jesus, but a word already in current use at that time and moreover a word the meaning of which had become definitely fixed and established” (Ibid, p. 27).
I.A. C. Dayton said, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ consisted of certain individuals who, when assembled and organized, constituted an official body for the transaction of such business as might come before them. It was not merely an assembly, but an official assembly, consisting of persons specifically qualified, and who had each his specific rights and duties as a member of the ekklesia. It was not every resident in the city who was, strictly speaking, a citizen; nor was it every citizen who was a member of the ekklesia to which was intrusted the management of public business; but the ekklesia were called out from the mass… Every assembly was not an ekklesia, nor was every ekklesia an ekklesia of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, pp. 72, 73).
J.Again, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ was an assembly of called and qualified citizens, invested with certain rights, and registered in the city records” (Ibid, p. 129).

II.IMPROPER MEANINGS ATTACHED TO ECCLESIA.
A.The worship service (in contrast to Sunday School).
B.The clerical profession (so used in most modern terminology).
C.Building in which Christian assemblies meet:
1.Dayton says, “…history informs us that the Chrisitans had no such buildings (church-houses) for some two hundred years after this, (the time of the apostles), but continued to meet from house to house, or in the Jewish synagogues, or wherever they might. And the word (ekklesia) is never used in the New Testament, or any other Greek book written before or during the time of the apostles, to signify a house or building” (Ibid, p. 81).
2.This usage, so common even among those who know the truth, has come about by an original misconception of the word ekklesia.
D.All of One denomination:
1.That each denomination is a “branch” off the one big church.
2.Thus, the “Methodist Church,” the “Presbyterian Church,” etcl
E.Historical sense – the whole field of ecclestiastical activity in history since the days of Jesus here on earth – “the church in history.”
F.Modal sense:
1.Terms like “a scriptural church” “church of the N.T.,” etc.
2.These terms are not unscriptural as far as teaching, but the terms themselves are found nowhere in the Bible.
G.Universal, invisible sense:
1.That all the saved are in the mystical body, the church.
2.This theory is dealt with thoroughly in a further lesson.
H.From the modern usage of “church” one can easily see that the vast majority of those who use the word are totally ignorant of the Greek ekklesia.

III.QUOTES FROM RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS.
A.Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) – “An assembly of people called together; an assembly called out.”
B.Dean Trench – “Ekklesia, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” (Synonyms of the N.T., p. 17).
C.Edward Robinson – “Ekklesia, a convocation, assembly, congregation. In the literal sense a popular, or rather assembly, composed of persons legally summoned” (Lexicon).

D.A. H. Strong – “Ekklesia signified merely an assembly, however gathered or summoned. The church was never so large that it could not assemble” (Systematic Theology).
E.Vincent – “Originally an assembly of citizens, regularly summoned” (Word Studies in the N.T.)
F.Thayer – “Take the entire range of Greek literature in all its dialects, secular and sacred, and there is not one passage in which ecclesia means an invisible and universal spiritual assembly” (Lexicon).
G.Alexander Campbell – “Ekklesia literally signifies an assembly called out from others and is used among the Greeks, particularly the Athenians, for their popular assemblies, summoned by their chief magistrates and in which none but citizens had a right to sit. By inherent power it may be applied to any body of men called out and assembled in one place. If it ever loses the idea of calling out and assembling, it loses its principal features and its primitive use” (Ekklesia – The Church. Ross, p. 7).LESSON 2
THE MEANING OF ECCLESIA

I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.As previously stated, most scholars agree that the English word “church” comes from a Greek word (kuriakos) which means “the Lord’s” and joined with day (hemera) or supper (deipnon) describe exactly what is refered to as being the Lord’s.
B.When the Greek kuriakos (church) is used to replace ecclesia (assembly), it is used to define what assembly. It is not simply any assembly, It is the LORD’S.
C.I. K. Cross says, “In Acts 19:39-41 the term is used twice. Once to refer to the ‘lawful assembly’ which was called out of the citizens of Ephesus to handle legal matters in the city. The other to refer to the assembly that had been called together to run Paul and his companions out of town. In either case the assembly, or ecclesia (for this is the word used here), was a called out group, called together for a specific purpose, and local in nature. This was the common usage of the term and always the proper definition of an ecclesia. THIS IS WHAT OUR LORD SAID HE WOULD BE BUILDING.”
D.Cross continues, “If Jesus Christ had intended to build another kind of company there were other words in the language He could have used. He could have used the word ‘Synagoga,” a term without such limitations and yet designating an assembly. It would certainly have been more fitting for a ‘universal company.’ He could have also used the word ‘panagris’ if he had a solemn assembly in mind of a massive and festal nature. But these were rejected in favor of the most limiting term in the Greek language with reference to an assembly; a term that can only be properly interpreted as an assembly local in nature” (Ibid).
E.Cross in another place says, “The word ‘ecclesia’ is more than a mere assembly. The word is really a compounding of two words. ‘Kaleo,’ to call; and ‘ek,’ meaning out, or literally ‘to call out.’ Thus, an ‘ekklesia’ is a Called out assembly, implying some conditions. The Lord did not call all Christians in the area that cared to assemble into His ‘ekklesia,’ but he was very selective about it in Matthew 4:17-22; Matthew 9:9; John 1:43,44 and on until he had 120 in that assembly by the time he went back to the Father. I Cor. 12:28 says that ‘God hath set some in the church (ekklesia)…,’ not all. The same passage states that He set the apostles in the ‘ekklesia,’ and on the occasion when the apostles were chosen there was quite a congregation of disciples present of whom he chose the apostles – and Paul says the apostles, not the crowd, were set in the ‘ekklesia’” (Landmarkism on Trial, Cross, p. 7).
F.Overby concurs, “To change the meaning of a word you must have good evidence that the speaker or writer of that word intended it that way. A basic principle that all scholars recognize is that a word must retain its usual meaning as long as the word used makes good sense that way. Only when it will not make good sense are we allowed to give it a new or rare meaning. If we apply this principle in this passage (Matthew 16:18), we will see that ‘assembly’ makes good sense so we cannot agree with those who would try to change the meaning here” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, pp. 26,27).
G.Roy Mason asserts, …I submit the proposition that the church that Jesus founded was the local assembly, and that to use the word ecclesia to designate a ‘universal,’ or ‘invisible’ church is to pervert its meaning, and to fall into serious error” (The Church That Jesus Built, Mason, p. 26).
H.Mason also says, “The word ecclesia rendered ‘church’ in English translations, was not a new word coined by Jesus, but a word already in current use at that time and moreover a word the meaning of which had become definitely fixed and established” (Ibid, p. 27).
I.A. C. Dayton said, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ consisted of certain individuals who, when assembled and organized, constituted an official body for the transaction of such business as might come before them. It was not merely an assembly, but an official assembly, consisting of persons specifically qualified, and who had each his specific rights and duties as a member of the ekklesia. It was not every resident in the city who was, strictly speaking, a citizen; nor was it every citizen who was a member of the ekklesia to which was intrusted the management of public business; but the ekklesia were called out from the mass… Every assembly was not an ekklesia, nor was every ekklesia an ekklesia of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, pp. 72, 73).
J.Again, “The Greek ‘ekklesia’ was an assembly of called and qualified citizens, invested with certain rights, and registered in the city records” (Ibid, p. 129).

II.IMPROPER MEANINGS ATTACHED TO ECCLESIA.
A.The worship service (in contrast to Sunday School).
B.The clerical profession (so used in most modern terminology).
C.Building in which Christian assemblies meet:
1.Dayton says, “…history informs us that the Chrisitans had no such buildings (church-houses) for some two hundred years after this, (the time of the apostles), but continued to meet from house to house, or in the Jewish synagogues, or wherever they might. And the word (ekklesia) is never used in the New Testament, or any other Greek book written before or during the time of the apostles, to signify a house or building” (Ibid, p. 81).
2.This usage, so common even among those who know the truth, has come about by an original misconception of the word ekklesia.
D.All of One denomination:
1.That each denomination is a “branch” off the one big church.
2.Thus, the “Methodist Church,” the “Presbyterian Church,” etcl
E.Historical sense – the whole field of ecclestiastical activity in history since the days of Jesus here on earth – “the church in history.”
F.Modal sense:
1.Terms like “a scriptural church” “church of the N.T.,” etc.
2.These terms are not unscriptural as far as teaching, but the terms themselves are found nowhere in the Bible.
G.Universal, invisible sense:
1.That all the saved are in the mystical body, the church.
2.This theory is dealt with thoroughly in a further lesson.
H.From the modern usage of “church” one can easily see that the vast majority of those who use the word are totally ignorant of the Greek ekklesia.

III.QUOTES FROM RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS.
A.Liddell and Scott (Lexicon) – “An assembly of people called together; an assembly called out.”
B.Dean Trench – “Ekklesia, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” (Synonyms of the N.T., p. 17).
C.Edward Robinson – “Ekklesia, a convocation, assembly, congregation. In the literal sense a popular, or rather assembly, composed of persons legally summoned” (Lexicon).

D.A. H. Strong – “Ekklesia signified merely an assembly, however gathered or summoned. The church was never so large that it could not assemble” (Systematic Theology).
E.Vincent – “Originally an assembly of citizens, regularly summoned” (Word Studies in the N.T.)
F.Thayer – “Take the entire range of Greek literature in all its dialects, secular and sacred, and there is not one passage in which ecclesia means an invisible and universal spiritual assembly” (Lexicon).
G.Alexander Campbell – “Ekklesia literally signifies an assembly called out from others and is used among the Greeks, particularly the Athenians, for their popular assemblies, summoned by their chief magistrates and in which none but citizens had a right to sit. By inherent power it may be applied to any body of men called out and assembled in one place. If it ever loses the idea of calling out and assembling, it loses its principal features and its primitive use” (Ekklesia – The Church. Ross, p. 7).

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ECCLESIOLOGY (A Study Of The Church)


LESSON 1.
THE ENGLISH WORD “CHURCH”

I.THE WORD DEFINED.
A.Overbey says, “According to most scholars the word church comes from a Greek word meaning ‘the Lord’s’ with the word house usually understood.” (The Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T.. – Overbey, p. 7)
B.The Greek “kuriakos”:
1.Easton’s Bible dictionary says, “Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., “the Lord’s house), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. In the New Testament is is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession, as when we say the “Church of England,” the “Church of Scotland,” etc.
2.Smith’s Bible Dictionary says,
a.The derivation of the word is generally said to be from the Greek kuriakon, “belonging to the Lord”. But the derivation has been too hastily assumed. It is probably connected with kirk,the Latin circus, circulus, the Greek kuklos, (kuklos), because the congregations were gathered in circles.
b.Ecclesia, the Greek word for church, originally meant an assembly called out by the magistrate, or by legitimate authority. It was, in this last sense, that the word was adapted and applied by the writers of the New Testament to the Christian congreagation.
3.Kuriakos used in the New Testament.
a.Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (kuriake hemera), and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”
b.I Corinthians 11:20, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper (kuriakon deipnon).”

II.SUGGESTED READING.
A.Ecclesia – the Church – B. H. Carrol
B.Ekklesia – the Church – Bob L. Ross
C.Theodosia Earnest, Bol. II – A. C. Dayton

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So What Is Important About Dogma?


Many people decry the idea of doctrine and dogma. They want the soft pleasing cotton candy religion that never takes a stand or even makes a statement. The shallowness of these people are astounding. The comprehension and understanding of God’s Word and God’s commands comes from study and understanding the very Word given by God for us to know. Doctrine and dogma are necessary to express who God is.

Without Doctrine how would one know how to get to heaven? The Bible is plain and simple on this doctrine, yet many have been given the wrong way. Those involved in teaching people the wrong way to get to heaven have blood on their hands. They have sent people into the flames of hell and stand before God guilty.

Let us have the plain simple doctrine of salvation, how to get to heaven. Ephesians 2:8-10 is so simple and clear that none should misunderstand what it says.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 

What is difficult with this scripture? “For by grace” . God’s grace has been extended to man because man is a sinner. That Grace that God extends to us is His own precious Son who has paid the price that we rightfully owe. “are ye saved through faith;”. We appropriate this grace by our faith in the risen Son of God, Jesus Christ. Now this is pretty simple so far and it is doctrine. “and that not of yourselves;”  This says that all we can do is trust in Jesus. We cannot be baptised – that not of yourselves; We cannot join a church – that not of yourselves; We cannot partake of the Lord’s Supper and be saved – that not of yourselves; There is not one thing we can do to get to heaven but simply trusting in the risen Saviour. Now how simple is that; yet there are many that being shallow and not understanding are missing the door to heaven. Notice the Key to understanding is “it is the gift of God;” We do not work (be baptised, join a church, eat the Lord’s supper, do good works) to receive a gift. Gifts are freely given and freely received.  God’s plan is always the best. When everything rest upon Him it then is none of us “lest any man should boast.”  When we trust the risen Savior we are “created in Christ Jesus” . Now comes the works. Once we are saved, we are then to go and witness to others.  Salvation and then good works. Very simple but many do not understand.

This is the doctrine of salvation and any other way is wrong and leads to the punishment of hell.

What is your final destination?

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KINDS OF BAPTISTS AND THEIR ORIGIN


There are some thirty different groups of people calling themselves Baptist, and this presents the problem of just who is scriptural. It has always been the practice of true Baptists to examine the doctrine and practice of the local Baptist church in determining the scripturalness of their baptism. I propose to give a quick list and run down of what a scriptural New Testament Church believes and teaches.

I. SALVATION BY GRACE AND GRACE ALONE. EPHESIANS 2:8-10
There are those religions and denominations that claim they believe in salvation by grace. The problem is they add to this. Now I call this adding to God’s Word which we are not to do. Some add sprinkling (which they call baptism but is not) and or church membership and or the Lord’s Supper to make a person’s salvation complete. This is not Biblical. The simple statement is “For by grace are ye saved…” When we add these other things, we have added to the truth and it then becomes untruth and therefore a lie and God hates lies. If any one that calls themselves a church, adds to grace anything for salvation, they cease to be a true church. That makes them a false church.

II. SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER/PRESERVATION OF THE SAINTS.  EPHESIANS 4:30
W
hat the Holy Spirit seals cannot be unsealed. To be held in the hand of God states preservation and safety. I know some say we can take ourselves out of the hand of God. That would make us more powerful than God and if more powerful than God we become a God unto ourselves. We are sealed unto the “day of redemption.” There is no room left there for losing ones salvation.

III. BAPTISM BY IMMERSION OF SCRIPTURAL CANDIDATE BY SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY. MARK 1:9-11
Being a
Dunkard is a wonderful thing. Now you say, what is a Dunkard? Why that is one that gets dunked all the way under the water to show the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 6:3-5 say we are buried with him. Sprinkling can never represent a burial. So in baptism we are buried just as he was buried and we rise just as He rose in newness of life. There is no way to represent this by sprinkling. Any so-called church that sprinkles, distorts the gospel of Christ. Sprinkling disqualifies a church from being a church approved by God to represent His Son here on this earth.

A scriptural candidate is one that has been saved. After salvation come baptism. Acts 2:41 and many other scriptures. Any church that violates any one of these five proofs does not have authority to baptise.

IV. LORD’S SUPPER FOR THOSE THAT ARE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OBSERVING IT.  I CORINTHIANS 5:11-13
The
church that is observing the Lord’s Supper must have authority to deny the Supper to people by with drawing fellowship from members that have committed any of the sins listed in verse 11. For a church to not exercise this command is disobedience. To permit those that are not members is a direct contravention of the Word of God and indicates that the church is out of the will of God. This passage proves that the church at Corinth practised closed communion. To take God’s Word and Supper and make it a social event upon the whim of humanistic thinking disqualifies a church from being called a true church.

V. THE CHURCH IS LOCAL ONLY.
There
are those that saw that if they wanted to maintain some unscriptural practices that I have listed above, they would have to  change the definition of the church. To be able to practice close or open communion these people knew that they would have to have a universal church. Therefore they borrowed a little something from the Catholics. The seven churches of Asia are said to be seven individual and distinct churches. There were 2 New Testament books written to the church at Corinth. Understand that the scripture used to prove a universal church is a passage addressed to a local church and was meant for that church. Misapplication of scripture has brought heresies into the world and this is a gross misapplication of scripture.

I know some say, well now there are a number of other truths that must be applied to see if a church is scriptural. here is my basis for using these five as a criteria of Judgement.

First of all, the church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus determined what His Bride would look like. To change any of these would be to change the Bride. Take away baptism and you would have a one legged Bride. Take away closed communion and you would have a one armed Bride.

Second, a church that believes these five will believe in the virgin birth, the inspiration of scripture, and the depravity of man. A church begins, normally, going wrong in the Lord’s Supper, baptism, or the church being universal and invisible. A church that holds the line on these five things will hold the line on women preachers and many other truths of the Word.

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HOME CHURCHS AND THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE


onenewsnow has a story out of Dallas about home churches also called organic church or simple church.

The lack of knowledge of the primary character is this news article is simply astounding. This man left a church where he was a missions committee chairman. This man reached a position in a church that would indicate that he should have some knowledge of God’s word, yet it is evident that he missed Paul’s passage to Timothy – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. II Timothy 2:15,16.”

The first comment I want to make is that from the time of Christ there have been house churches. Almost every missionary has started in some ones home. Often this home was the missionary pastor’s home. Take a look at Philemon verse 2 – “And to our beloved Appia and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the Church in thy house. Home churches were known from the time of Christ until this very day. May I offer a phrase given to us by the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes – There is nothing new under the sun. House churches were mentioned several times by Paul. Now if these people were real sincere about getting to the most simplistic style recorded by God’s word, they would be a traveling church like the one Jesus called from the seashore of Galilee.

They brag about not having a pastor. How pompous can this be to deny the very office given to the Church in a shepherd capacity. God calls pastor for a reason.
Note that Paul instructed Timothy to not neglect the Gift of God. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. II Timothy 1:6.” Paul left Timothy at different churches to help them. Acts 14:23 says that Barnabas and Paul ordained elders in every church. Elders comes from the Greek word presbuteros and Thayer says – among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or Churches). The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably according to Thayer. Paul and Barnabas were ordained and sent with authority to begin Churches.

If I understand this article correctly, they have no right to observe the Lord’s Supper but yet they go through the motions by pinching off pieces of sour dough bread and drink wine and give the kids grape juice. They have no authority to baptise and I saw no mention of baptism. This indicates to me that they feel baptism is unimportant. It is amazing that Christ walked about 60 miles to be baptized by the only one that had authority, John the Baptist.

Take a close look at this quote – “In general, house churches consist of 12 to 15 people who share what’s going on in their live, often turning to Scriptures for guidance. They rely on the Holy Spirit or spontaneity to lead the direction of their weekly gatherings. Now we find that the Scripture is not their sole guide but a guide often. This is perplexing in it’s implication of the importance they place on Scripture. Is this a situation where we apply Scripture when it is convenient and thereby only use that part that we are in agreement with? What about the Holy Spirit they speak of? For the individual, the Holy Spirit convicts and draws and seals those that are saved. For the Church the Holy Spirit impowers to do the work that Christ has given it to do.

Now let us look at the Church that Jesus built upon Himself. To begin with it was a traveling Church that met on the side of a hill and received what we call the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew chapter 5,6, and 7. Every one of His Church members had been saved and baptized by John the Baptist (Acts 1:21.) We see Jesus and His Church as a traveling Church, a Church that met in upper rooms and homes. They were organized and had a pastor (shepherd) Jesus Christ. They even had a Church treasurer (Judas Iscariot). Matthew 28:19-20 gave this Church 3 things to do. Proclaim the Gospel. Baptise those that were saved. Teach them all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

In the 8th chapter of Acts great persecution came upon the Church and it was scattered. Follow Philip into Samaria and see the great work he did in preaching the gospel. Many were saved and baptised. Acts 8:14-17 tells us of Peter and John coming to examine the work that Philip had done and approved it and organized a Church there in Samaria by laying hands on the people and they “…received the Holy Ghost.” What a great example of mission work and Church organisation. O yes, the Church at Jerusalem gained about 3,000 souls in one day.

One more thing if I may. This house church was not about worshipping God. The statement, “… share what’s going on in their lives…”. Worship is all about God and not about us. God has called us to worship. This day everything is back wards. The terminology – I Think, I feel, indicates to me that it is about the people and not God. These people have come together and done something that they believe is religious and now they are satisfied with themselves. They can go home happy. No baptisms because no authority to baptise. The supper they observe does not honour Jesus because of wrong elements and they are not commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper. No doubt those that are saved will go to heaven but standing before the Bema seat and not have any rewards will not be good.

Understand, I have been part of house churches and they have been given authority and they baptised and scripturally observed the Lord’s Supper and grew and bought property and built church building because they needed a place to meet and a house was too small.

Zeal without knowledge is not good. A selfish inward turning of attention to do what pleases us is just as bad as misdirected zeal.Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

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What is the Problem?


While checking my facebook I saw a church that had a facebook account. I am always interested in our churches so cruised on over and found a web site for the church. I wanted to know more so entered the web site and while looking found their list of beliefs. I always check that page when it is available.

Upon inspection, I found some omissions that caused my feeble gray matter to stir. The glaring omissions were a statement of belief on the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

The first thought that came to mind – do they believe the same as I do? Yes they are supported by churches that believe as I do. Maybe they don’t believe the same.

The second thought was – what is their practice. They claim to associated with the American Baptist Association. The ABA beliefs are proudly proclaimed on their website and in the back of the Sunday School books they produce. So what is happening here?

Maybe they are ashamed of closed communion and scriptural baptism. Surely not because Jesus instituted it and taught it to His first church He called from the sea shores of Galilee. Jesus said, and I now paraphrase, those that are ashamed of me, I am ashamed of them. To be so ashamed of the Lord’s doctrine, as far as I am concerned, is to be ashamed of the Lord Himself.

Well, maybe it is a device. Catch the unwary and bring them in and then try to teach them. This then is a living lie to pretend to be what one is not. It is dishonest to bait and switch. Is this what some churches do is practice dishonesty to gain a larger crowd?

I know a mission work that received some members that had practiced “close” communion (which is really open communion in my mind) and those men became prominent in the mission work and when the missionary was going to resign, they thought it would be okay to call a pastor that believed in and practiced “close” communion.

Now I know that this mission receives money from churches that strictly believe in “closed” communion. Is this not receiving money under false pretenses? And if these churches knew, would they not stop supporting this work, and rightly so.

My prayer is that these missionaries or church planters, which is what they prefer to be called, would grow a conscience and be totally honest and up front and tell those churches that support them that they will not tell others either, they don’t believe these doctrines or are to ashamed to tell others.

What do you think?

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