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Showing posts with label Ecclesiology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ecclesiology. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First things first

"In my opinion, it is far more important (and is prerequisite) to recover a meaningful idea of church membership before trying to repair what has happened to our theology of the ordinances. It is difficult to make lasting and meaningful repair to the crack over the doorway before addressing the problems in the foundation." -- Bart Barber

Friday, October 25, 2013

David Thomas on the Church

David Thomas: The Greek substantive so often used in the New Testament, and always translated the church, or an assembly, is evidently derived of a verb that signifies “to be called out.” It must therefore certainly refer to something that is possessed of life, and is capable of hearing, understanding and obeying a vocation or command. So that the Gospel-Church, must signify a company of persons removed in compliance with some call. Tis customary indeed in some places, to call the house dedicated to divine service, ‘the church’: but this is not according to Scripture. The inspired writers as far as I can remember never use the word in that sense. Wherefore it properly refers to the people, and not the building where they meet to worship. Hence we are told in the Prayer book, that “the Church of Christ is an assembly of faithful men,” which though short, is I think when fully understood, a very just description of it. -- Originally found in The Virginian Baptist, 1774 and quoted in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. III No. 5, September-October 1995, p. 3

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Let the redeemed say so

We are living in a time when Baptist churches are extremely careless in receiving members — careless with those they receive by experience, careless with those they receive by letter, and careless with those they receive by statement. This article will deal with loose practice as it relates to those who are received on relation of experience and are requesting baptism.

Many are received having never given any profession of faith or testimony of a born again experience. The pervasive practice of asking leading questions, raising hands when every head is bowed and every eye is closed”, repeating someone else’s prayer, and signing cards has won the day among a majority. Instead of requiring an experience, John R. Rice suggests: You make the plans to take him to some good Bible-preaching church. Sit by him in the services. Walk forward with him and tell the preacher, “My friend here has trusted Christ and wants you to know it and wants you to tell the people that he has been saved.”1 Notice this third hand confession — a second party tells the pastor, and the pastor tells the church. John the Baptist would never have put up with such, and neither should we! Such practices of hyper-evangelism and easy believism have invaded the old Baptist faith. Beware! 

Even churches that are not involved in these questionable evangelistic methods often only require an applicant to relate his experience to the pastor and not to the church. Equally as bad is that some Baptists have reversed their stand against infant baptism and are now receiving 3 and 4 year olds. Anyone old enough to say yes and no at the right time can join some Baptist churches — they won’t even bother to find out if they understand what they’re doing. This is a very dangerous practice. I may be closed—minded, but I’ve never seen a 4 year old who has come to an age of understanding about sin and salvation.

The practice denounced by our brethren in the 1800’s as Campbellism — to simply confess belief in Jesus as the Son of God — now prevails in most Baptist churches (if they require that much). Alexander Campbell taught “that baptism should be administered to all who say they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, without examination on any other point.”2  He ridiculed mourning over sin, repenting of sin, or having any kind of “experience” of salvation. Chapter 8 of Christian’s History of the Baptists, Vol. 2 and Chapter 9 of Origin of Campbellism by J.H. Milburn are good resources on this philosophy.

What is the reason for such things? There are several motivations. First — to increase church membership. Some preachers (and churches) have no scruples. They will do anything, receive and baptize anyone, just to enlarge their church roll, have “the largest Sunday School” or “the fastest growing church”. They seem to feel the end justifies the means. Pray that they might see “the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Still others are compromisers. They don’t want to turn anyone away lest they hurt someone’s feelings. They don’t ask for a profession of faith lest it prove embarrassing to the person asked to relate their experience. They don’t want to cause any stir in the church. They are influenced by what others think.

Some have no concern for relating an experience because they themselves have no experience of salvation which they could relate. Some are plainly deceivers of the lost. Perhaps some are just misguided, having never been taught the proper way to receive members. Whatever the reasons — they are wrong!

The biblical pattern of receiving members requires a profession of faith (relating an experience of salvation). True biblical practice requires confession with the mouth. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:10).” “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God (I John 4:15).” A born again Christian has an inward desire to confess Christ and will not be ashamed to express his hope. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rom. 5:5).”

John the Baptist required credible evidence of salvation from all he baptized (Matt. 3:6-9). Should we require any less? I think not! His converts confessed their sins and gave evidence of repentance. He also expected to see fruit of their conversion in their lives. Too many are afraid to mention sin or preach repentance. They only mention believing and require no other belief than the devils have (Jas. 2:19). Oh that we might be fearless men for God like unto John the Baptist and stand on the same Bible ground where he stood.

Other verses that should be noted on this subject are Psalm. 66:16; Mark 8:38; Acts 2:41-47; 8:29-38; 19:18; & Rom. 10:9. The fact simply put is this — because salvation is a personal experience with God, the church will never know of our experience unless we tell her.

Notice the writing of a few Baptists not too many years ago in order to see that requiring a profession of faith was held up until recent years by most Baptists.

J. M. Pendleton in his Baptist Church Manual (1867) states, “Persons wishing to unite with a church must give an account of the dealings of God with their soul8, and state the ‘reason of the hope that is in them’.. .Great care should be exercised in receiving members. Many churches err at this point. They do not observe the requisite caution; For they receive persons who give, to say the least, very imperfect evidence of piety (p. 17-18).”

In a memorial sermon for Z. N. Morrell (1803—1883), pioneer Texas Baptist preacher, M. V. Smith said, “He (Morrell) condemned surface work in the revival meeting, deplored laxiness in receiving members, and insisted on purging our churches, as far as possible, of unregenerated material. He believed IN COMMON WITH THE GREAT BODY OF BAPTISTS (emphasis mine), that if the heart was changed, an applicant for membership could, in some way, make it known; and he was opposed to the increasing practice of asking leading questions of applicants for baptism. He said, ‘If they know anything of sin, penitence, faith in Christ, and the joys of salvation, they can tell it.’ Peter and Z. N. Morrell believed in heartfelt religion.”3

Edward T. Hiscox finished Principles & Practices for Baptist Churches in 1893. “The old Baptist way, from times immemorial,” - says Hiscox, “is, to have - persons wishing to unite with the Church to come personally before it and ‘relate their experience,’ tell what the Lord had done for them and in them. . . candidates must come personally before the Church and speak for themselves. And this custom should be heroically maintained. They need not plead timidity, and say they cannot speak in the presence of others. They deceive themselves. If they have experienced anything, they can say something about it. If their hearts have been changed, they can speak of it. If they know they love God, they can say so (p. 68,69).”

Cobb’s Baptist Church Manual (1941), under the heading “Reception of Members,” tells us, “He is usually asked to relate his experience of grace. Many churches have, through the influence of preachers who want to make a show of members, gotten away from the old and scriptural way of receiving members into their memberships. The excuse is often offered that the new convert is timid and does not know what to say, but the Spirit that regenerated a heart can loosen a tongue to make a profession of Christ. . .Even though some statements may be awkwardly expressed, Christ will be. glorified in their professions, and a church will be spiritually strengthened (p. 49-50).”

In The Church Covenant: My Sacred Vows (1957) Albert Garner advises, “A personal, public confession of faith is required of the Lord from every man before he is a fit subject for baptism (p. 8).”

The statements of these men show what has been the practice of Baptists, as well as showing that Baptists must be ever on guard against encroachments on this practice. In not requiring professions of faith from new converts, we make it easy to add unregenerate men and women to the church. We soon become so loose in our practice that our churches are not “adding daily such as should be saved” but rather filling empty pews with empty people. We also rend from the new convert the blessing of making an earnest public profession, as well as stealing from the church the possibility of being edified by that profession. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” that Christ may be glorified. Let us firmly guard the ancient and God—honouring practice of requiring new converts to make a public profession of faith.

1. p. 31 Personal Soul Winning: How to Do It, by John R. Rice, Sword Publishers, c1961 
2. p. 78, A Baptist Source Book, by Robert A. Baker, Broadman, c1966 
3. pgs. 423, 424, Flowers & Fruits from the Wilderness, by Z. N. Morrell, Baylor, c1872, 1976
(Originally published in The Baptist Waymark)

Friday, September 13, 2013

6 points about church membership and church rolls

Should we have church membership and church membership rolls? Some think this is traditional, outmoded, and/or unscriptural. Is this taught in the Bible? Notice 6 general heads related to this topic.

1. Bible references to Christians as “in” and “of” particular congregations.
Phebe was a servant of the church of Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1). Certain prophets and teachers were in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Saul/Paul attempted to join the disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 9:32). The elders at Ephesus were identified by the church where they had oversight (Acts 20). The saints in Philippi were a church with bishops and deacons, an identifiable people who communicated with Paul “concerning giving and receiving” (Cf. Phil. 1:1; 4:15).

2. Biblical teaching of church discipline.
The biblical authority of church discipline is placed in the hands of the local congregation. The right to discipline indicates the role of relationship between the church and the one disciplined. Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians chapter 5 are good examples of local expressions of discipline of local Christians who were known locally. Their actions or indiscretions are known and the discipline applied was known as well. When certain men “which went out from us (Jerusalem)” sowed discord in the churches, the church at Jerusalem met in counsel to resolve the situation.

3. Biblical role of pastoral leadership.
Hebrews 13:7 and 17 exhorts Christians to remember and obey “them that rule over you.” The exercise of spiritual leadership is localized and carried out in the locality where local Christians are to follow the spiritual leadership. Peter exhorted the scattered elders to whom he wrote to feed the flock of God which is among you – those particular Christians in the particular places they were (I Pet. 5:2). So were the Ephesian elders to feed the flock in a particular place where God had placed them.

4. The exercise of spiritual gifts.
The nature of spiritual gifts localized in the individual Christians who are gifted mandate exercise among “local” Christians. One cannot edify those who lived 100 years past, or are yet 100 years in the future. Those who are afar off can benefit from them only in a minimal way. God’s placement in the body ordains exercise of gifts in that place.

5. The letters to the churches. 
In Revelation chapters 1-3, letters are written to seven uniquely identified churches, each of which are addressed, praised, warned and/or reprimanded individually. Other church letters are addressed to specific people in a specific place concerning their specific situation.

6. Final miscellaneous thoughts. 
We are to know them that labor among us (1 Thess. 5:12). The number of the names together of the Jerusalem church were mentioned by Luke (Acts 1:15). Those that gladly received the word and were baptized were added to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41).

Much that is "traditional" and unnecessary -- and sometimes unscriptural -- has grown up around the idea of church membership, church rolls and church letters. That is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath-water. A church is an identifiable group of baptized Christians who gather together in one place.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Receiving members

As most Baptists, we believe in regenerate church membership, that is, a scriptural church is made up of born again believers who have received scriptural baptism. Membership is voluntary on the part of both the individual and the church. People must request to be members. The church must accept their request. This is a fellowship matter that ought to be unanimous on the part of the church.

We receive members in three basic ways: (1) by profession of faith and baptism, Acts 2:41; (2) previously baptized believers by "recommendation", Acts 9:26-27, Romans 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 3:1; and (3) by restoration or reinstatement, Gal. 6:1, 2 Cor. 2:6-8. Many churches state this as four ways: by profession of faith and baptism, by letter, by statement, and by restoration. I don't disagree with this. I see "letter" and "statement" as two parts of the same category -- both are by "recommendation," in one case accepting someone else's recommendation and in the other accepting them on their own recommendation.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Restoring Church Discipline

RESTORING CHURCH DISCIPLINE
If Baptist churches do not restore church discipline, we will have no testimony left with the world. When a lost person looks at Baptist membership and sees unrepentant adulterers, homosexuals, gamblers, drunkards, gossips, liars, and embezzlers, we have become a laughingstock. We MUST restore church discipline.

Some say they honestly want to practice discipline, but have ignored it so long they don’t know where to start. They feel it unfair to discipline someone now when they have let others get by with the same sort of things in the past. A church must simply resolve to draw a line and say, “We have been wrong and lax heretofore, but, starting from this point, we put that behind and will practice scriptural church discipline.”

FIRST STEP
Once a church has reached by prayer, study, and conviction the point to exercise discipline, what comes next? Acknowledgments. This means admitting sin, repenting of it, and seeking the forgiveness of the church.

First, those who have done nothing should make their acknowledgments. They must acknowledge their guilt and complicity with gross sin and/or doctrinal error in the church by saying nothing to rebuke the guilty and doing nothing to help them.

Second, those involved in gross sin or heresy must acknowledge the error of their ways and seek the forgiveness of the church. This applies only to those who are repentant and trying to turn from sin.

Third, the church must extend forgiveness or exclude from membership. Those who are repentant should be forgiven. Those who are stubborn and unrepentant should be excluded. In some cases a church may need to labour with individuals over a short period of time to bring them into compliance with biblical standards.

These thoughts refer to cases of known public sin (I Cor. 5) and heresy (Titus 3:10). Broken relationships between brethren (Matt. 18:1 5-17) would be initiated differently.

EXCUSES
Many excuses are given for not practicing church discipline, but none are acceptable to God.

(1) “We’re all sinners and we can’t judge someone else because we sin too.” Yes, we all sin; but, hopefully, we are daily seeking God’s forgiveness and are trying to not wallow in sin as a way of life. Exclusion is for that church member who continues to live habitually in sin without remorse or repentance and has no intentions of changing.

(2) “If we excluded so-and-so, their family would leave and it would bust up the church.” If we are only playing church, it would be better “busted up”. Church discipline will not be popular with carnal Christians. Members will sometimes be lost, but a purged church is a stronger church.

(3) “The church has no right to exclude a member.” A church that cannot determine her membership ceases to be a church. When a person joins a church, he or she agrees to come under her discipline, and has no right to complain if he does.

(4) “We love them too much and wouldn’t want to hurt them.” God’s love for his children requires that He discipline us; parents’ love for their children requires disciplining them; a church’s love for her members requires that she discipline them. Fear and failure to discipline does not imply love, but the lack of it (or the lack of strength to apply it). Discipline for discipline’s sake is harsh, but discipline for correction’s sake expresses love.

REMEMBER 
A person is not excluded for sinning, but for refusing to repent of and turn from sin. 
Exclusion is not the goal; restoration is. 
Exclusion is the last resort when other efforts have failed. 
Church discipline must be applied equally. It is the same for the preacher’s son as the lay member’s son; the same for the fifth generation member as the new member; the same for the one whose family are church members as the one whose family are not members. 
Discipline will benefit the individual in its attempt to cure (I Cor. 5:5) and the church in its attempt to prevent (I Cor. 5:6-7).

From The Baptist Waymark, Vol. III No. 4, July-August 1995, p. 3

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tithing 101 on the radio

RTR: Tithing 101 with Gary Arnold will be on blog radio this Sunday morning at 10:00am Eastern/9:00am Central. Just click the link and go to the site to listen.

Gary Arnold is author of Tithing Today, a book that presents "an in-depth study of the Levitical tithe," shows "that the requirement to tithe ended at the cross," and teaches "how the New Testament Church is to be financed."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 7

FORM OF DISCIPLINE
The method and form of discipline in Baptist churches are democratic and should be rigidly enforced. The Bible is the only faith and code of laws, and Baptist churches are its only exponents. A Baptist church has absolute power within itself to discipline its members, to punish heresy, wrong-living and evil-doing. From the local Baptist church (there are no other kinds) there is no appeal to a higher church-court or tribunal, for the very good reason that such higher courts do not exist. No association, convention, board of ruling elders, nor school of bishops has the power to set aside or reverse the decision of a Baptist church. In this manner, Baptists declare, trouble in one church, or with one member, or with one pastor, can neither injure the denomination as a whole, nor should it bring about strife within the councils of the faith.

The disciplining of a member is the church's business and takes place in and through the local church itself. Any member of a congregation has a right, if he has knowledge of his guilt, to bring charges against any other member. Of course, such charges must be based upon some violation of Scriptural law, or denominational doctrine as based upon a "thus saith the Lord" in His Word.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

A revision of Walker's work by E. C. Gillentine is available from Bogard Press.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 6

RESULTS OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
There are several noticeable results about churches which exercise church discipline.

1. They are, as a rule, Spirit led, consecrated and devoted to the Lord and His Word.
2.They live morally clean lives and keep united in fellowship and brotherly love.
3.They have the confidence of the world. The outsider who looks on soon decides that such a church is no place for criminals and crooks to harbor.
4. They have the blessings, smiles and approval of heaven upon them. Living a separated life is a doctrine that is taught from one side of the Bible to the other. God has always taught His people to live separate and apart from the world.
5. Churches which practice church discipline will find that worldly minded and hypocritical members and certain kinds of people of the world will frown upon them. They will also find that the Lord and His consecrated saints will smile upon them.
6. Churches which practice strict discipline are, as a rule, humble, Biblical, spiritual, steadfast, unmoveable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, I Cor. 15:58.
7. Churches which practice strict discipline are, usually, soul-winning churches and are not mere member-getters. They believe in regeneration before church membership.

May God help all His churches to see and know the value of the precious doctrine of strict church discipline. We are taught in the Word to adorn the doctrines of our Saviour in all things, Titus 2:10. The doctrine of church discipline should be honored, taught and obeyed along with all other fundamental doctrines of the New Testament.

[Conviction for an offense, as a rule, means an exclusion from the church, although the congregation, the church, in minor cases, may inflict such penalties as demanding an apology, or a public expression of wrong-doing, repentance and a desire for forgiveness.]

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 5

RESTORING DISCIPLINED MEMBERS
In Gal. 6:1, we read: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." A church which is not in a condition to forgive an offending brother is not in a condition to discipline him. The spiritually strong members of the church should strive with all longsuffering and gentleness to reconcile the poor offender and bring him back into fellowship, if he will permit it.

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he pled with them to forgive such a man. He said, "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted by the many (the majority). So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him," 11 Cor. 2:6-8.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 4

CLASSES OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
There are three kinds or classes of church discipline mentioned in the Scriptures: (1) Cases which deal with personal offenses. (2) Cases which deal with public offenses. (3) Cases which deal with doctrinal offenses. Each of these should be dealt with differently. God gives us a plan, in His Word, for each separate kind. Let us consider them in the order named above.

1. Personal differences, Matt. 18:15-17. Details for such offenses are very clearly given here by the Lord Himself. We read "Moreover if thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 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."

Observe here that no mention is made of a church-sent committee. There is neither precept nor example for the appointment of a committee by the church to settle the matter. The above mentioned Scripture, as spoken by the Lord Himself, plainly states the manner in which we are to deal with personal offenses. When this plan is followed in spirit and in practice, the Lord will recognize it in heaven, Matt. 18:18. Heaven is the headquarters for all the Lord's churches, and all things that are done according to His divine plan are recognized and endorsed in heaven. Jesus is the Head over all things to His churches, and He is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

2. Public offenses, I Cor. 5:1-13. In this passage we have an example of how to deal with one who has committed a public offense against the church, the house of God. The ground required for dealing with such an offender is, according to Paul's instruction to the church at Corinth, a local congregation, on the basis of a common report based on facts.

First, before a church can act upon any case, her members must be gathered together, assembled, I Cor. 5:4. This cannot be done by circulating a petition around to the members. Bear in mind the Scripture reads "Let all things be done decently and in order," I Cor. 14:40. Paul warns of the danger of allowing such matters to go uncurbed and unnoticed too long. Observe I Cor. 5:6, 7 "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" A little sin and a little worldliness in the lives of a few of the members, if not removed, will soon corrupt the whole congregation. The remedy is found in verse 6: "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump." In verses 4 and 5 of this chapter the Corinthians are told what to do with the offender, "Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh (not the soul) that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." From this we understand that it is an injustice to the offender to allow him to go undisciplined. To do so will cause him to lose respect for the house of God.

In this passage we are instructed that we cannot, as a church, bother those wicked persons not in our membership, for God will deal with them. As far as those who are in the membership are concerned, the church has a Scriptural right as well as a responsibility to deal with them. Let us read I Cor. 5:12, 13: "For what have I to do to judge there also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." This is to be done on the basis of a common report. No church committee is mentioned...

Another example of public offenses is found in II Thess. 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us." This is a direct command to the church at Thessalonica. As in the case of the Corinthian church, there is no mention of a church committee. Just simply a common report based on facts that satisfies the church is all that is needed...

3. Heretical offenses. In Titus 3:10, Paul gives instructions regarding disciplinary measures as applied to doctrinal offenders. We read: "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject." This is not hard to understand, is it? Such an offender is to be admonished twice; after that, if he is not in harmony with sound doctrine he is to be rejected. As in the other cases, we find here no church-appointed committee is authorized to deal with the offender. The practice of churches naming committees to effectuate discipline is completely without Scriptural sanction. Accordingly, such a practice is a human invention, the which, instead of helping a church out of trouble, betrays churches into more and deeper trouble.

...We are insisting, however, that the Scriptures nowhere suggest nor make provision for a committee to function in church discipline. In fact, the practice of appointing of committees to chase down rumors against members, or to try members, is borrowed from some so-called churches, rather than found in the Word of God. God has given us no such example. By common report, as referred to above, we mean a report on which the church can rely as evidence on which it may deal with a disorderly member of any of the above-named offenses.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 3

THE OCCASIONS FOR CHURCH DISCIPLINE
1. The presence of unregenerated members, and their activities in church work, furnishes one of the occasions for church discipline.
2. The presence of unrestrained flesh furnishes another occasion for church discipline.
3.The presence and activity of untutored enthusiasts in the membership, who clamor for conformity to the things practiced by the world and some so-called churches around them, often present churches with difficult problems.

THE URGENCY OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
The presence of rebellion against the Word of God, the spiritual virus, the modernistic, formal and dissipating influences in the life of a church demands immediate and stern action. For a church to dodge this matter means spiritual ruin to her. Sometimes we hear some say, "If we were to discipline our church, we would not have many members left." This may be true in some cases, but this does not alter nor discount the doctrine of church discipline nor the urgency of it being exercised. The dominion of such carnality in our churches strongly challenges them to clean house for the Lord. Most churches must make a comeback in this regard and clean up, or else we shall soon find ourselves in a universal apostate condition.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Monday, July 08, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline 2

THE REASON OR PURPOSE OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
1. It will aid the church in getting rid of her unregenerated members.
2. It will aid in chastening the erring children of God in the churches.
3. It will be a constant reminder to the church and to the world that God's justice in judgment will find, the wicked in whatever state, condition or society they may seek to live.
4. It will increase the membership among those who want a clean, wholesome spiritual environment in which to live.
5. Weak members will be helped.
6.The spiritually ignorant will be helped.

On this particular doctrine we have sinned and some have almost come to the point of outright contempt for God's Word. Such contempt for divine instruction is mounting evidence of the exodus of the Lord from His churches and the entrance of Satan to the seat of leadership in many congregations in the name of Christ.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Excerpts from Church Discipline by L. S. Walker

I have decided to follow on with the theme of church discipline and publish excerpts from L. S. Walker's booklet on the subject in 7 posts over the next seven days (d.v.).

THE MEANING OF "DISCIPLINE":
The word "discipline" means: (1) To regulate one's moral and mental training according to strict rules. (2) To develop his character. (3) To cause him to render strict obedience to the teachings of God's Word. (4) To inflict punishment for disobedience.

THE DOCTRINE OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
The doctrine of Church Discipline is founded on the emphatic Word of God. That this is true there can be no doubt. Jesus said to His church: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven," Matt. 16:19. The writer of this treatise has a burden on his heart to see the Baptist churches all over the land made better and enabled to do more for the cause of our dear Master. Undisciplined churches are robbed of their power to witness effectively for the Lord, because of sin, in their membership. In this they are severing their fellowship with their Lord. God cannot, He will not, bless a church in sin. In His Word we read: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin," James 4:17. A church that will not discipline its members is either ignorantly or willingly disobeying the Word of God. If God had not intended for His churches to have exercised discipline over their members, He would not have inspired His writers to put it in His Word.

From Church Discipline by Lester Stewart Walker, 1913--1982

Saturday, July 06, 2013

3 classes of Church Discipline

Yesterday I posted one blogger's comment about a "youth minister" who was caught having ongoing sexual relations with a teenage girl in his church. He wrote, "If he does not respond accordingly [repentance], he needs to be dealt with according to Matthew 18:15-17. But if he repents, we need to forgive. That is how we deal with these things."

Most American Baptists have lived through an entire generation or two (or maybe three) in which no discipline has been practiced in their churches. Sin is preached against generically and at times specifically, but no action is taken even when "it is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife." People have abortions, extra-marital affairs, live together out of wedlock, steal, get drunk and such-like -- and these things are not done in a corner -- all the while remaining members in good standing at their local Baptist Church. Brethren, these things ought not so to be!

Early in my ministry I read Church Discipline by L. S. Walker. In his booklet Walker categorized what he called "3 classes of church discipline": 1. Private offenses, 2. Public offenses, and 3. Heretical (or Doctrinal) offenses. Walker was correct and I have found no reason in the subsequent 30-something years to change, other than I have tweaked the wording of his third category. Resolution of each of these offenses are approached in a different manner by Christian and the church.

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  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.
1. Private offenses. A private offense is, as the name implies, an offense that occurs between two parties and generally will be known only unto them unless one of the parties tells others of the offense. A falling out between siblings is an example of this kind of offense. This is the type of offense whose resolution is formulated in Matthew 18:15-17. It is formulated in three steps, the following steps being unnecessary is the preceding step brings about the resolution. (1) Resolve the issue privately, no one else need be involved; (2) Take witnesses who might the negotiate between the parties toward a resolution; (3) Tell the church and let the church judge and resolve the issue. Any attempt to apply this to something such as a child sexual abuse case that the church already know about becomes ludicrous.

1 Corinthians 5:2b-5 ...that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present , concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
2. Public offenses. This is a sin that is publicly known or affects "the public" -- people other than just the parties involved. These include sexual sins such as fornication and adultery, violent sins such as murder and rape, and property sins such as theft. An example of the resolution of this type of offense is found in I Corinthians 5:1-13. In this situation in Corinth a church member was fornicating with his father's wife -- a sin so vilely reputed that the promiscuous Gentiles wouldn't even sanction it! The church already should have acted, and are urged by Paul to take immediate action. No one goes to the member privately. The unrepentant public offender is immediately put out of the church. This is initiated by the church and not privately by an individual. The steps of Matthew 18 do not apply. In matters of public offense which are also criminal, the church acts in her realm in regard to her member, and also allows the "ministers of God" (authority, government) to act in their realm of criminal punishment.

Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
3. Church fellowship offenses. This is an offense in which a church member causes division in the faith and practice of the church. Perhaps he or she adopts beliefs contrary to the faith of the church; for example, to reject the virgin birth of Jesus Christ or his blood atonement for sins are plain violations of the scriptures and bring one under the censure of the church. A divisive spirit that will not be corrected also falls under this type of offense. The individual might be divisive about matters on which the church would otherwise give broad leeway, such as eschatology. He or she might hold the doctrines "to the letter" but not uphold the law of love, trying rather to drive wedges between the believers in the church -- a church splitter. Titus 3:10 is the standard for such discipline. The church teaches and admonishes the member to return to the faith and practice of the church. The unrepentant offender, after being admonished twice, is rejected by the church from their fellowship. Because the offense is known to the church, this is not a private offense and the steps of Matthew 18 do not apply.

It is not uncommon to hear believers plead for the application of Matthew 18:15-17 to be inserted in all matters of church discipline. Such a plea is beyond the pale of scriptural truth and is a misunderstanding of biblical ecclesiology.

I don't have my copy on hand at the moment to compare, but the booklet by Walker or a digest of it can be found HERE.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Open Communion - Open Membership

DOES OPEN COMMUNION LEAD TO OPEN MEMBERSHIP?

First, I should define my use of the terms. By open communion I mean opening the communion service (the Lord's supper, the bread and wine) to anyone who professes to be a Christian by faith in Christ, regardless of his or her status concerning baptism or church membership. As far as I have observed, there is no truly "open" or "unrestricted" communion; all churches restrict it in some way. It's just a matter of how much it is restricted. By open membership in Baptist churches, I mean opening the church's membership to persons who have not been baptized by immersion. This varies in actual practice, and, I think, may be demonstrated sometimes as even receiving some who have only infant baptism. Apparently Baptist Union of Great Britain churches practice that, as well as some members of American Baptist Churches in the USA. But I believe most would only apply this in the case of one who received sprinkling or pouring after affirming faith in Christ.

Second, it is my proposition that open communion leads to open membership. I do not propose that every case of open communion leads to open membership, but that the practice of open communion over a period of time will generally lead to open membership. I will post below some evidence of the relationship between the two. If others have such evidence, I encourage you to post it in the comment thread. Those who have some evidence to the contrary should post that as well.

THE CASE IN THE NORTH CAROLINA BAPTIST STATE CONVENTION
The North Carolina Baptist State Convention had a controversy that was caused by some churches receiving as members those who had not been baptized by immersion as believers, and the reaction of other churches to this. In 1972 the Convention established a committee to report on the problem. The committee asked the "differing" churches to identify themselves. Although over 20 churches were thought to be involved, in 1973 only twelve churches voluntarily identified themselves and eleven of them presented their case to the committee. It can be seen in the churches' defenses of their practices that they definitely had made the connection between open communion and open membership. This is documented in Perspectives in Religious Studies 1977 - Documents Concerning Baptism and Church Membership: A Controversy among North Carolina Baptists (c. 1977 by Association of Baptist Professors of Religion). The cover also carries the heading, Special Studies Series No. 1. It should be noted that all the churches did not have exactly the same practice, and that they did not necessarily acquire it from one another. The general nature of the policies was that "we...accept into membership baptized believers from other Christian groups, whatever the form of their baptism...(p. 8)." And from pages 38 and 39: "Another determining factor for some of these churches moving to their present position was that they considered a discrepancy in the custom of Baptist congregations practicing 'open communion' but 'closed membership'.
What to us was the inconsistency of recognizing the Christian standing of so many while not opening to them the doors of membership was further impressed upon us as we considered our practice concerning the Lord's Supper. For many years we had given explicit recognition to the membership of other Christians in Christ's Body by sharing the Lord's Table with them in worship. If to invite them to the Table was to affirm our belonging to each other in Christ, how could we continue to refuse them membership if and when they sought it?...If we believed, as we did, that the Lord would receive them at His Table, how could we not receive them into our fellowship especially since that fellowship was ours only because we recognized that we were his.
We extend to a Christian from another Christian body the right hand of fellowship as a brother in Christ and welcome him as we welcome any Christian to the Lord's Table.
There is another way we may possibly differ from our fellow Baptist churches. We believe that no one is qualified to participate in the Lord's Supper who has not been baptized. One must be "in Christ" before he may receive Christ into himself as a member of a body of faith. Many Baptist churches across this state, however, practice "open communion" and "closed baptism." This means, in effect, that such churches offer the Lord's Supper to people whom they do not recognize as having been baptized. That may be a not-insignificant heresy. In any event, we know of no church of any denomination, which follows this practice, other than some Baptist churches. It is a practice which we are unable to embrace.
There are only two ordinances of the Christian church - communion and baptism. Some years ago we realized that closed communion was a dividing rather than a unifying element among Christians. And so we took steps to invite all Christians to take holy communion with us. Our present policy regarding baptism tends also to divide rather than unify and the acceptance of this proposed change would tend to encourage unification.
On the day of her organization by the Mecklenburg Baptist Association the proposed Statement of Faith was amended to provide for "Open Communion," the inclusion of all Christians in the observance of the exceedingly profound Ordinance of the Lord's Supper. Across the years we struggled with conscience in the contradictory demand that practicing Christians desiring to transfer from another Christian Church be required to submit to a re-baptism by immersion in order to share our fellowship.
It is interesting especially in the third church quotation that they held that baptism was a prerequisite to communion and thought this was the general belief of all churches except some Baptists. Of course, the discrepancy was resolved in their case by recognizing non-immersions as baptism.

THE BAPTIST UNION OF GREAT BRITAIN
The following is copied and pasted from the Baptist Union website. It would indicate that some BU churches will accept persons without further baptism beyond infant baptism. What if I were baptised as a child? Many people who turn to Christ have already been baptised as a small child. If this applies to you, be baptised again as a believer. Baptists believe that baptism without faith is not the baptism of the Bible. What if I have been confirmed? If at your confirmation service you meaningfully confirmed the promise made on your behalf by your godparents, then some Baptist churches will welcome you on your profession of faith. 

The bold emphasis is mine to show the point I want all to notice. I have not found specific quotes to show the BU churches' connection of thought between open communion and open membership. The quote above is just to substantiate the claim I made about the Baptist Union in the first post. It appears that at the point in time the BU is consistent in its view of open communion and open membership.

AUSTRALIAN BAPTISTS 
Excerpts from the following article by Rowland Croucher discuss Open Membership in Australian Baptist Churches. I have given his categories of membership, as well as his "further reading," in which one may find interesting material on the subject. Croucher sees the open/closed communion/membership questions as being related.

(Paper presented to the School of Ministry, Whitley College Melbourne, July, 1992. A 2010 update may be found HERE.)
...The relationship of a person's faith-to-baptism-to-church membership is one of the most complex issues in contemporary Baptist faith and practice. Most Australian Baptists have resolved the closed/open communion issue (in favour of open communion), but only a minority of our churches have moved to an open membership position...The key question: 'Why is it possible to be accepted into the family of God but not into the family of a Baptist church?' Baptists have given many answers, which can roughly be summarized into six broad categories:  [1] HARD CLOSED: Here members are only those baptized by someone with authority in one's own Baptist denomination. Many U.S. Southern Baptists, for example, will re-baptize other Baptists.  [2] SOFT CLOSED: These churches will not re-baptize someone already immersed as a believer, unless the baptism took place in a sectarian group.  [3] MODIFIED CLOSED: This - with the 'soft closed' position - is the stance of most Australian Baptist churches. Here a believer who is unbaptized, or was baptized as an infant, is given 'associate' status, and may vote on secondary matters in church meetings, and generally will not be eligible for the office of deacon or elder.  [4] MODIFIED OPEN: In these churches only those who are baptized can be members, provided the individual regards their baptism - of whatever kind - as valid for them. This is the position of about 70-80 of our Australian churches.  [5] PLURALIST OPEN: These churches (eg. in parts of the UK and in North India) go one step further and allow options for either infant or adult baptism, choosing sprinkling, effusion or immersion.  [6] WIDER OPEN: This position allows the individual, in consultation and prayer within the community of faith, to reach a conclusion about baptism that is valid for them, but may be a full member of the church during this process.  Further reading: T. Bergsten, 'Baptism and the Church', The Baptist Quarterly, Vol 18 nos. 3 & 4 (1959), pp. 125-131, 159-171.  D. Bridge and D. Phypers, The Water that Divides, IVP, 1977.  A. Gilmore, Baptism and Christian Unity, Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1966, pp. 58-74.  Thorwald Lorenzen, 'Baptism and Church Membership: Some Baptist Positions and their Ecumenical Implications', J. Ecumenical Studies, 18:4, Fall 1981, pp. 561 ff.
AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES IN THE USA
The following represents the membership views of one Arkansas church in the ABCUSA:
 Membership Information Membership at Judson is open to baptized believers of all Christian denominations. Our baptism should unite, not divide us. When we baptize, we practice immersion. We welcome as Associate Members those who wish to continue membership in their home church. Our members come from many denominations and our communion table is open to all believers. A welcoming class is held for all who desire membership in Judson American Baptist Church.
The church web site may be viewed here.

This is from an ABCUSA church in Colorado:
Calvary has open membership. In other words, if you have been baptized (regardless of the form) you are received openly as a member of this congregation based on your Christian experience. If you have been baptized as an infant and would find it meaningful to be immersed as an adult, you are encouraged to do so. Please talk to one of the ministers. Pastor’s classes are available for all ages.
Their web site is here. [This was copied in January 2002, but is no longer available.]

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Punchard and Congregationalism

According to Wikipedia, "The idea that each distinct congregation fully constitutes the visible Body can, however, be traced to John Wyclif and the Lollard movement which followed after Wyclif was removed from teaching authority in the Roman Catholic Church." The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The earliest literary exponent of Independence was Robert Brown, from whom the dissenters were nicknamed Brownists."

In contrast to these statements, in his books A View of Congregationalism and History of Congregationalism George Punchard compiles biblical and historical evidence of the practice of congregational church government, long before John Wyclif or Robert Browne.

About George Punchard:
PUNCHARD, George, editor, born in Salem, Massachusetts. 7 June, 1806; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 2 April, 1880; graduated at Dartmouth in 1826, and at Andover Theological Seminary in 1829. From 1830 till 1844 he was pastor of a Congregational church in Plymouth, New Hampshire; associate editor and proprietor of the "Boston Traveler," of which he was also a founder, from 1845 till 1857, and again from 1867 till 1871. He was secretary of the New England branch of the American tract society, and the author of a "View of Congregationalism " (Andover, 1850), and a " History of Congregationalism from A. D. 250 to 1616 " (1841 : 2d ed., 3 vols., New York, 1865-'7).

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Origin of the Church

In his book The Doctrine of the Church, Kenneth Good divides the different origin of the church theories into three main categories.[1] These are:

     1. Covenant view. The church begins with Abraham, or some even go back to Adam.
     2. Dispensational view. The church begins with the ministry of Christ, either before or at Pentecost.
     3. Ultra-dispensational view. The church does not begin until the ministry of Paul.


Covenant view
Reformed/Covenant Theology teaches (with some variation in details) that the church is made up of the elect of all ages, and therefore the church must have begun with the first person who was saved. This is the common view, although some begin the church with the nation Israel.

Dispensational view
     1. The Church began with John the Baptist or at some time during the Lord’s earthly ministry.
     2. The Church began on the day of Pentecost, specifically on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.


Ultra-Dispensational view
The Church began after Pentecost (some in Acts 13 and others in Acts 28).

In his book Churches and The Church, John R. Rice divides the different origin of the church theories in a slightly different way that Good. He sees “three principal and important theories.”
[2]

     1. At Pentecost.
     2. In the lifetime of Jesus.
     3. When the first soul was saved.

It is perhaps preferable as simplest and most representative to divide the theories chronologically rather than theologically, as does Good. This because some, such as Rice, hold an early chronological origin of “the church” while approaching the Bible generally from a pre-tribulational pre-millennial interpretation rather than Covenant Theology. Such an approach can yield four or five principal theories.

     1. When the first soul was saved.
     2. With the Abrahamic covenant.
     3. In the earthly ministry of Jesus.
     4. On the first Pentecost after Jesus crucifixion.
     5. Under the apostolic ministry of Paul.


When the first soul was saved

After relegating other views' origins to "a misunderstanding of the word church," Rice writes:

When, then, did this body, this household of God, this holy temple which is now growing
by the addition of every convert—when did this body, the church, begin?

I suppose it would be when the first living stone was laid on the foundation. And that first stone, I suppose, was Adam who, cast out of the Garden of Eden for his sin, surely looked to God for mercy. Does not that coat of skin, which God made to hide Adam’s nakedness and Eve’s, picture the righteousness of God which covers the poor, naked sinner? If so, then Adam was saved, and became the first living stone built upon Christ, the foundation stone. Or if it were not Adam, then perhaps it was righteous Abel...[3]

C. H. Spurgeon’s view agrees with Rice, though he approaches the subject and arrives at his conclusion differently. Noting there is "Only One Covenant of Grace" Spurgeon writes:

“Surely, beloved brethren, you ought not to stumble at the anachronism of comprising Abraham, David and others, in the fellowship of the Church! If you can understand how we, who live under the present economy and, unlike those Jews, have never been circumcised, are nevertheless accounted the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, you can have very little difficulty in perceiving that those Old Testament saints, who were participators in the faith of Christ’s death and resurrection, were verily baptized into Him according to the Spirit. Neither time nor circumcision founded the faith of Abraham. He rejoiced to see Messiah’s day; and he saw it and was glad. He believed in God who 'Calleth those things that be not as though they were.' It were well for us to walk in the footsteps of the same faith.”[4]

With the Abrahamic covenant

Beginning the church with the Abrahamic covenant is a common part of Protestant “Covenant Theology.”
I have not found Baptists who move within Covenant Theology -- which posits continuity between the covenants and "churches" of the Old Testament and New Testament -- make a clear statement on when the church began.[5] But this idea of continuity possibly puts them in the camp of believing the church starts with God's promise to Abraham. They would acknowledge themselves as the true heirs of the "Old Testament church" since the people of God are essentially one. Consider the statement of Richard C. Barcellos:

"The Reformed Credos then say, 'Now let us look at our New Testaments. What we should see is the inauguration of the same New Covenant promised in the Old Testament, one New Covenant community (not Israel and the Church but a transformed or New Israel, which consists of those only who know the Lord) and New Covenant privileges given to New Covenant citizens only.' In others words, the Reformed Credos say that the Old Testament doctrine of the New Covenant prophetically rescinds automatic infant inclusion and the New Testament bears the fruit of that by reserving New Covenant ordinances to New Covenant citizens, that is, believers, those who are of faith, the seed of Abraham, all who know the Lord...It is interesting to note that in Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11, he makes a distinction between Israels (Romans 9:6). In other words, within Old Covenant Israel there were two groups: believers and unbelievers. All of the Israelites considered here by Paul were covenant members, however, the majority were cut off after Christ inaugurated the New Covenant. Why? Because of their unbelief. Why were others (Gentiles) grafted in? Because of their belief. Here we see both covenantal continuity and discontinuity. The believing Jews went from being Old Covenant citizens to New Covenant citizens-continuity; and the unbelieving Jews went from being Old Covenant citizens to those who were cut off- discontinuity. "[6]

In the earthly ministry of Jesus

Ben Bogard and B. H. Carroll are representative of Baptists who believe the church started sometime within the ministry of Jesus Christ while on earth. All may not pinpoint the beginning the same as another, but nevertheless agree on a beginning in this period and before the day of Pentecost.

"When our Lord established His church He declared He would build it up, edify it, enlarge it, and the gates of hell should not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18) The Greek word “oikodomeso,” in Matt. 16:18, translated “will build” means “will build up,” “enlarge,” “edify.”  His church was already in existence when He uttered these words, as can be proved by numerous passages, hence we are forced to so under this passage."[7]

“Was the church instituted, established, or organized on this Pentecost? There is not a syllable on that in Acts 2. Christ instituted the church. He established it in the days of his flesh. The church was this day accredited – received its credentials. It was a house complete, but empty. It then received its Inhabitant, but the church was not instituted, nor established, nor organized on this Pentecost.”[8]

On the first Pentecost after Jesus’ crucifixion

Billy Graham’s comment summarizes an origins view that is held by many Baptists:

"To summarize, it is my belief that Pentecost instituted the Church. Then all that remained was for Samaritans, Gentiles and “belated believers” to be brought into the Church representatively. This occurred in Acts 8 for Samaritans, Acts 10 for Gentiles (according to Acts 11:15), and Acts 19 for belated believers from John’s baptism. Once this representative baptism with the Spirit had occurred, the normal pattern applied---baptism with the Spirit at the time each person (of whatever background) believed on Jesus Christ. "[9]

"We believe that all who are united to the risen and ascended Son of God are members of the church which is the body and bride of Christ, which began at Pentecost and is completely distinct from Israel. Its members are constituted as such regardless of membership or non-membership in the organized churches of earth. We believe that by the same Spirit all believers in this age are baptized into, and thus become, one body that is Christ's, whether Jews or Gentiles, and having become members one of another, are under solemn duty to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, rising above all sectarian differences, and loving one another with a pure heart fervently."[10]

The House Mountain Church’s Doctrinal Statement above provides further detail, while H. C. Thiessen succinctly states:

            “The Church was born in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost with 3,000 converts.”[11]

Under the apostolic ministry of Paul

I have not found any Baptists who believe what some consider the “ultra-dispensational” view of the origin of the church, such as held by Charles Baker or E. W. Bullinger. Perhaps such a view leads one away from Baptist ecclesiology and does not exist among Baptists.

Multiple dates

For others, the date of the origin of the church may not distinctly matter. Or, in some cases, an individual may posit different origins for different “churches”. In other words, one might think the New Testament church (congregation as an organization) begins in the Gospels, while holding that the church as a body of redeemed persons began in the Old Testament or on the day of Pentecost. Notice David F. Reagan sees one origin for the local church, and another for the universal church:

When did the Church Begin?...it depends on what you mean by the church. The institution of the local church obviously existed during the ministry of Christ, else how could He give the advice to "tell it unto the church" (Matthew 18:17)? However, if you refer to the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23) that includes all believers in heaven and in earth, this probably began after Christ left this world and sent the Comforter--the Holy Ghost--for it is the Spirit that places us into the body of Christ as per 1 Corinthians 12:13.[12]

Conclusion

Baptists disagree not only what the church is, but also on when the church originated. Their church origin theories can be helpfully understood within four or five categories that sort and clarify their understandings. These points and quotes above do not exhaust the possibilities of beliefs that Baptists hold on the time of the origin of the church. Nevertheless, these categories listed above address the major viewpoints.




[1] The Doctrine of the Church, Kenneth Good, pp. 37-38
[2] Churches and the Church: a Convincing, Scriptural Study, John R. Rice, p. 23
[3] Churches and the Church, John R. Rice, pp. 23-24
[4] "Old Testament Saints: Members of the Church," From Sword and Trowel, March, 1867. Since the answer to the paper’s correspondent contains no signature, the response is presumably by the editor, C. H. Spurgeon. Concerning dispensations, he says, “…however various they may have been, His covenant has endured the same through them all. It is a mere truism that Abel was not circumcised, that Noah did not observe the Passover, and Abraham was not baptized.”
[5] This certainly doesn’t mean they do not exist.
[6] Paedoism or Credoism? A Reformed Baptist Argument for Believers’ Baptism Based on Covenant Theology, Richard C. Barcellos, a pastor at Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA
http://reformedreader.org/porc.htm
[7] The Baptist Way-Book, Ben M. Bogard, p. 30
[9] The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham, Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1978
[10] Doctrinal Statement of House Mountain Baptist Church, Corryton, Tennessee
[11] Introduction to the New Testament, H. C. Thiessen, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 1955, p. 136
[12] When did the Church Begin? David F. Reagan, Antioch Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee [Accessed 27 March 2013]