[The following article, used by permission, was a publication of İBaptist Publishing House, P. O. Box 7270, Texarkana, TX 75505-7270]
A. During Christ's earthly ministry
B. The church not founded at Pentecost
IL Identity of the Church
A. Identified as Baptist in organization
B. Identified as Baptist by doctrine
III. Origin of Other Denominations
The Scriptures prove that Christ founded His church during His personal ministry upon earth. The first church was Baptistic in faith and practice.
That is sustained by plain Scriptural proof, as follows:
1. The typical significance of the building of the temple by Solomon to the building of the church by Christ is noteworthy.
|The Temple||The Church|
|1. Built by divine order, I Chronicles 17:2-12., 22:6-11||1. Built by divine order, John 4:34, 14:31; 17:4|
|2. Patterned after the tabernacle, II Chronicles 4||2. Bears comparison with the temple, Hebrews 3:3-6; I Corinthians 9:13, 14|
|3. Material prepared by David, I Chronicles 22:5||3. Material prepared by John the Baptist, Luke 1:16, 17, 77|
|4. Built by Solomon, II Chronicles 5:1||4. Founded by Christ, Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:19-22|
|5. Served by a priesthood, II Chronicles 5:11-14||5. Served by an ordained ministry, Mark 3:14; John 15:16|
|6. Finished before Solomon's death, II Chronicles 5:7-10||6. Founded before Christ's death, John 17:4|
|7. Contained the Book of the Law, II Chronicles 5:7-10||7. Given the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20|
|8. One hundred twenty priests sounded trumpets, II Chronicles 5:12||8. One hundred twenty saints prayed, Acts 1:15|
|9. Dedicated with the blood of beasts, II Chronicles 5:6||9. Dedicated with Christ's blood, Hebrews 9:12, 13|
|10. Prayer of dedication and intercession offered, II Chronicles 6||10. Prayer of intercession and sanctification offered, John 17|
|11. Fire came down upon a completed structure, II Chronicles 7:1||11. The church completed before the hour of fire, Acts 2:3, 41, 47|
|12. The glory of the Lord came upon a finished house, II Chronicles 7:1.||12. Divine glory was revealed after the church had been founded, Acts 2.|
The analogy indicates that the church was founded by Christ Himself during His personal ministry upon earth.
2. The charter members of the first church were John, Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael (John 1:35-47). They were called by Christ; they followed Him not long after His baptism and temptation, somewhere in the rural area not far from Jerusalem.
3. The call of the first disciples occurred before the imprisonment of John the Baptist (John 3:24). Jesus did not open His ministry in Galilee until after John's imprisonment (Matthew 4:12-18; Mark 1:14). The call by the seashore of Galilee was His second, when the disciples were called preparatory to their ordination as apostles (Mark 3:18-19).
4. The company of the Lord's disciples went with Him to the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee and returned with Him to Jerusalem (John 2:1, 12, 13).
5. The company increased in number (John 2:23).
6. The Lord's company administered baptism in Judaea while John the Baptist was baptizing "In AEnon, near to Salim" (John 3:22-23; 4:2).
7. John the Baptist called the Lord's company the bride of Christ, which he testified was then in existence (John 3:29).
8. The company was with Christ in Samaria, on His way to Galilee, when the Samaritan woman was converted (John 4:3, 10-15, 29, 31). Many of the Samaritans believed on Christ because of the testimony of the woman and also because of His own testimony (John 4:39, 41). John 4:43 marks the time of the opening of Christ's regular ministry in Galilee, harmonizing with Matthew 4:12 and Mark 1:14.
9. The company that followed Jesus from the baptism of John the Baptist is said to be the church, which attended to business by electing the successor to Judas Iscariot, and continued in prayer during the interval of ten days between the ascension of Christ and the dawn of Pentecost (Acts 1:14, 21-26; 2:41, 47).
The company assembled at Jerusalem consisted of "about a hundred and twenty," to which the three thousand were added on the first day of Pentecost. The company of a hundred twenty is called the church. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved," (or were being saved), Acts 2:47. That small company of a hundred twenty, called the church, had "companied with us," said Peter, "beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day he (Christ) was taken up from us."
B. The church not founded at Pentecost
No institution was founded on the day of Pentecost. Those who teach the Pentecostal origin of the church use three sets of Scriptures: (1) The ones that mention Pentecost but say nothing of the church, (2) The ones that mention the church but say nothing of Pentecost, and (3) The ones that say nothing about either. The case cannot be made out by that sort of proof.
1. Jesus was Lord and Master (John 13:14).
2. Jesus was Head (John 13:14; Mark 12:10).
3. Jesus was King (John 18:37).
4. Jesus was the Shepherd (John 10:14).
5. The Shepherd had a flock (Luke 12:32). Paul called the flock the church (Acts 20:28).
6. There was a company which had been in existence from the baptism of John the Baptist (Acts 1:21). That company was the church (Acts 2:47).
7. Jesus had all power, so He did not have to wait until Pentecost to receive power (John 3:35; 10:18; Matthew 28:18).
8. Power was exercised by the Lord's disciples (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1). According to the latter reference the disciples were given both power and authority. They were to receive additional power on the day of Pentecost in order to meet the needs arising at that time -- power to speak in other tongues, to witness to multitudes assembled from seventeen nations at Jerusalem, and power to inaugurate a world-wide mission program (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1-18). Prior to that time the church had operated under a limited commission (Matthew 10:15).
9. The gospel was preached (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18). The world did not have to wait until Pentecost to hear the gospel.
10. Sinners were saved (Luke 7:49-50; 23:42-43; John 3:1-6). Salvation was not withheld from people until Pentecost.
11. Jesus declared Himself to be the Door (John 10:9), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Way (John 14:6), and the Light of the world (John 8:12).
12. Baptism and the Lord's Supper were administered (John 3:22; 4:2; Matthew 26:26-28).
13. There was an ordained ministry (Mark 3: 13-14).
14. Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Bride, the church, were together (John 3:28, 29).
15. There was a rule of discipline for the church which possessed authority to exercise the same (Matthew 18:16-18).
16. Christ had a house which He left upon earth (Mark 13:34). Paul called the church a house (I Timothy 3:15).
17. The church transacted business, voting in the selection of an apostle before Pentecost (Acts 1:26).
18. The apostles were set in the church in the second year of the Lord's ministry (I Corinthians 12:28; Luke 6:12-19). A church had to exist in order for the apostles to be set in one.
19. Christ had a kingdom while He was upon earth (John 18:36). The church was co-existent with the kingdom. The first church was Christ's kingdom established upon earth.
20. The elements of the kingdom were in existence then. (a) There had to be a king. Christ declared He was King (John 18:27). (b) There had to be subjects. His disciples were His subjects. (c) There had to be laws. Christ's commands were His laws. (d) There had to be a territory. The world was the territory (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). During Christ's ministry the world of operation was limited.
21. The kingdom was preached from John the Baptist's day, and men pressed into it (Luke 16:16). How could people press into something that did not exist?
22. Some were hindered from entering the kingdom (Matthew 23:13).
23. The kingdom suffered violence (Matthew 11:12).
24. Jesus declared that the kingdom was in existence (Luke 17:21). "The kingdom of God is within you," that is, "among (Greek, entos) you."
25. Jesus expressed no doubt of the kingdom's existence (Luke 11:20).
26. Christ rebuked people for not repenting and entering the kingdom (Matthew 21:31-32). Would it be reasonable, if a father should rebuke his son for not entering a house, when there was no house in existence? Jesus said the publicans and harlots, repenting and believing, "go into the kingdom of God before you" (the critical Jews).
27. In fulfillment of prophecy Jesus sang in the church which He had built (Psalm 22:22; Hebrews 2:12; Matthew 26:31). The church had to exist in order for Him to sing in her.
Originally, (1) none but believers were baptized; (2) baptism was held strictly as immersion; and (3) each church was an independent republic, knowing nothing of extraneous powers to dictate her policies. Those principles characterize Baptist churches of New Testament times and of today. The banner that waves over true Baptist churches is that of Jesus only. The ordinances that distinguish Baptist churches have their pattern in the Scriptures. The governing principles of Baptist churches are backed by divine authority. The Founder and Head of Baptist churches is none other than Jesus.
A. The Church identified as Baptist in organization
1. John the Baptist prepared the material for the first church (Luke 1:77).
2. Fifteen times in the first three New Testament books John is called Baptist. His name was not "Baptist" but "John" (John 1:6). John was called Baptist because of the divine authority back of him. By that authority he preached and administered baptism.
3. Both Christ and His first disciples received baptism at the hands of John. They went to a Baptist minister for baptism. If one should go to a Mormon for baptism, no one would consider him anything but Mormon because of his identifying stand. Jesus and His first disciples identified themselves with the doctrine and ministry of John the Baptist.
Some may demand that we point out in the Scriptures the particular name, "the Baptist Church." Why should such a demand be made in the face of all the array of facts that show that the first church was in all essential elements Baptist? A house built of bricks does not require a sign across its facade reading--THIS IS A BRICK HOUSE. Because it has brick material in it anyone could see what kind it is. Christ, the builder of the church, took Baptist material, prepared by John the Baptist, and built His church. That makes the first church easy to identify.
Some may want to know how John could be a Baptist and administer baptism since no one ever baptized him. That is easily understood. No one can be a man unless he is born of a woman, yet Adam was a man. The Lord started the human race by creating a man. When the Lord wanted a Baptist, He made one, and then authorized him to preach and baptize.
4. Jesus, baptized by John, was Himself a missionary, as was John (Matthew 4:23; John 6:57; 1:6).
5. The first disciples, who were baptized by the Baptist were missionaries. As a church they administered baptism (Luke 9:1; John 4:1-2).
An objection has been raised that the title, "Baptist" came from John and not from the Lord; therefore, Baptists obtained their name from a man. That is a mistake. The title came from God Himself. John had nothing to do with its origin. He wore it with distinction. In like spirit some wear it today. In identifying the first church as Baptist, the people of that name do not claim salvation for themselves alone. They teach that one should be saved before church membership. Church membership is not held to be synonymous with salvation.
6. The first church, composed of members baptized by John the Baptist and sent on a mission by the Lord, was in fact a missionary Baptist church.
7. The baptism of John was Christian baptism; it belonged to the gospel dispensation (Mark 1:1-3). The ministry of John marked the "beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ." John's baptism was the only baptism which Jesus and the first members of the church ever received. The church today is without Christian baptism, if John's baptism was not Christian.
8. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-21), given to the church, which we have shown to be essentially Baptist, enjoins upon His churches to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them as He taught His disciples. Jesus promised, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." That assures the continued existence of the church. From beginning until now the church was and is essentially Baptist. That should be sufficient to show the identity of the New Testament church. It is missionary Baptist.
B. The church identified by doctrine as Baptist
We can know a church by her peculiar doctrines as well as by her history. Those constitute her distinguishing marks by which Baptist identity has been known across the centuries back to the time of Christ upon earth. The doctrines which were taught by the churches of the first century are today taught by Baptist churches.
In a brief treatise like this, we are bound by limitations. Accordingly, we set forth only the distinguishing doctrines which identify Baptists along their pathway from the first Christian century until now.
1. Salvation by grace without any admixture of meritorious works (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5).
The first effort on record to prostitute that doctrine is found in Acts 15. Certain Judaizing teachers undertook to conjoin an observation of the Mosaic law with grace as a condition of salvation required of Gentile converts. That was near the middle of the first century.
By the end of the second century, the baptismal regeneration theory arose to disturb the churches. With infant baptism as the child of baptismal regeneration, the two theories have been perpetuated throughout the centuries as the most disturbing and damaging heresies known to the Christian world.
2. Congregational form of church government (Matthew 18:15-19)
By that is meant that each church has the authority, under the Lord, to govern her own affairs. Such a form of government necessarily implies three things: equality of the members, touching their voice in the governing affairs of the congregation; independence of each church; and each church is the highest tribunal in ecclesiastical matters.
In the first part of the third century the episcopal form of church government was an innovation imposed upon certain churches. That system robbed the churches adopting it of their autonomous rights and placed church government in the hands of bishops. By that time a corruption of the New Testament office of bishop as pastor, without governing power over his church, except by his Christian conduct and Scriptural teaching, had occurred.
3. Immersion as the Scriptural mode of baptism (Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:4)
Baptists contend that immersion, or dipping in water to a complete submersion of the body and rising again, is the only way of administering the ordinance as taught by the Scriptures and practiced by the New Testament churches.
Baptizo is the Greek word used in the New Testament about seventy times to designate the ordinance of baptism. In Greek lexicons the word is defined: "To dip, to plunge, to submerge, to immerse." Rantizo is the Greek word which means "to sprinkle." It is not used one time in the New Testament to designate the ordinance of baptism. Sprinkling, or pouring, was practiced by certain individuals in the early centuries, but it was not until A.D. 1311, at the Council of Ravenna, that sprinkling was decreed as a law of the Roman Catholic Church. Thereafter untold thousands of Christians were put to death for refusing to be sprinkled.
4. Christ as the sole head over His church (Mark 12:10; Ephesians 1:21-23)
The headship of Christ which He exercised over His church while upon earth was retained after He ascended to heaven. He did not leave it at Jerusalem, or Rome, or any other place upon earth. Roman Catholics make the false claim that the popes are successors of the Apostle Peter, and their bishops successors of the other apostles.
Christ possesses the sole headship over His churches; He is the sole Lawgiver. The churches, therefore, have no authority to legislate or make laws. They execute the will of their Lord and Master.
5. Baptists hold that the Scriptures are their only written guide and standard of authority in religious affairs (II Timothy 3:16-17).
That has been an identifying mark of Baptist beliefs throughout their illustrious history. They also believe in the leadership of the Holy Spirit who never leads contrary to the Word of God, which He inspired. The Scriptures constitute the ultimate authority for Baptist faith and practice.
Catholics hold that their church, with the Pope as the head, is the ultimate authority in matters of religion and other affairs. That doctrine has led to the Pope's arrogant claim of having authority to change the Bible at his will and to make Catholic traditions of equal standard with the Scriptures.
6. The right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures (II Timothy 2:15; John 5:39)
For the exercise of that right untold numbers of Baptists lost their lives in the dark days of popery. Every man is called upon to read the Scriptures and to decide for himself the course he is to pursue. He is responsible to God for his decisions. Priestcraft imposed itself early upon the Christian world by denying the right of private opinion in matters of religion, demanding upon penalty of death for infraction that individuals subject their thoughts and activities to priestly authority.
7. Freedom of worship, of conscience and of speech
Every man has a civil right to worship as he feels dictated to by his conscience, but he does not have a right to dictate to the conscience of others. Not only does he possess the civil right to worship as he pleases, but he also has the right to declare openly what his belief is. No one, however, has a Scriptural right to believe anything that is displeasing to God.
The early Christians avowed and taught religious liberty. Tertullian, a Christian writer of the second and third centuries, said: "Every man should worship according to his own convictions; one man's religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion."
Justin Martyr, a Christian writer of the second century, said: "Religion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by words rather than by blows. Torture and piety are wildly different; nor is it possible for truth to be united with violence, or justice with cruelty. Nothing is so much a matter of free will as religion."
Baptists in every century have championed the cause of religious liberty.
8. Separation of church and state (Luke 20:21-25)
Baptists have contended that the one should not control the other. Both church and state should work harmoniously for the good of each. There can be no absolute freedom of religion and worship where there exists a union of church and state.
9. Individual priesthood of all believers (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25; Revelation 5:10; John 14:13)
Each believer in Christ has a divine right to approach God through Christ for himself, not being compelled to seek mediation through a human priest upon earth. It was quite early in the Christian era, but sometime after the close of the apostolic period, that the priesthood was introduced into the Christian economy contrary to the plain teaching of the Scriptures. That arose from a growing desire for power on the part of some minister. It arose as vitally connected with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It has been a distinction of Baptists in every century to oppose that heresy, and at the same time to advocate the individual priesthood of all believers.
In addition to the above articles of faith, Baptists believe and teach:
Inherent depravity of man (Ephesians 2:3), the convicting and converting power of the Holy Spirit in connection with the Word of God (Acts 16:14), a regenerate church membership (Acts 2:41, 47), the security of the believer (John 5:24), a restricted Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 11:17-20), the blood atonement of Christ (II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:9), as essentially related to His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), the Lord's resurrection from the grave (Matthew 28:1-6), His ascension back to heaven (Luke 24:51), His personal, visible, and premillennial second coming (Acts 1:11), a bodily resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:51-53), an eternal hell (Luke 16:19-26), and an eternal bliss in heaven (Revelation 21:1-4).
ADVENTISTS, by William Miller, in America, A.D. 1843
CAMPBELLITES, by Alexander Campbell, in America, A.D. 1827 CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS, by Mary Baker Eddy, in America, A.D. 1866
CATHOLIC, Roman, an organic nucleus appearing from the rupture of the church at Rome, A.D. 251 -- From that time the movement gradually grew toward its present form. The hierarchy was established by Constantine the Great as a growth out of the union of church and state which he effected in A.D. 313. The Papacy was fully established in A.D. 606, when the first universal pope was recognized by Phocas, emperor of Rome, who invested Boniface III with the office of universal bishop.
CATHOLIC, Greek or Orthodox, appearing distinct from the Roman or Western Catholics, in A.D. 1054
CONGREGATIONALISTS, by Robert Browne, in England, AD. 1583
DUNKARDS, or Brethren, by Alexander Mack, in America, A.D. 1708
EPISCOPALIANS, by King Henry VIII, in England, A.D. 1540
FREE-WILL BAPTISTS, by Benjamin Randall, in America, A.D. 1780
HARDSHELL BAPTISTS, alias Primitive, in America, by Daniel Parker, A.D. 1832
HOLINESS SECTS: Pentecostals, Church of God, Assembly of God, Church of God in Christ Jesus, Church of Jesus Christ, and similar bodies, have had their beginnings since the Nazarenes, the parent of the Holiness movements, came out of the Methodist Church in 1885.
LUTHERANS, by Martin Luther, in Germany, A.D. 1530
METHODISTS, by John Wesley, in England, A.D. 1729
MORMONS, by Joseph Smith, in America, A.D. 1830
NAZARENES, by S. F. Breesee, in America, A.D. 1885
PRESBYTERIANS, by John Calvin, who labored in France and Switzerland, A.D. 1585.
QUAKERS, by George Fox, in America, A.D. 1648
RUSSELLITES, or Jehovah's Witnesses, by Russell, in America, A.D. 1884
UNIVERSALISTS, by John Murry, in America, A.D. 1770
1. When did the Lord found His church?
2. Explain the argument based upon a typical analogy.
3. Give other reasons from the Scriptures for the time of the origin of the church.
4. State some reasons why the church was not founded upon the day of Pentecost.
5. Is any group upon earth in any sense identified with the original church? Which one?
6. How is the Baptist identity sustained in the original organization or founding of the church?
7. In what other way is the church identified?
8. Give nine Scriptural reasons why the Lord's church may be identified as Baptist.
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|Lesson II||Lesson III|
|Lesson IV||Lesson V|
1. Lesson III is contained on pages 39-53 of the "hard copy" edition. The current electronic version of the book follows the formatting of the original document as much as possible, especially in the method of documentation and use of bold characters. The original use of indentions at the beginning of paragraphs and in certain other places is not followed. The current document was scanned. Hence, typographical errors associated with such a process are no doubt present. The editor, Philip Bryan, will certainly appreciate readers who notify him about such errors and he asks that they do so.
Since the book was published in 1974 some of the information is not current, and the reader is asked to be cognizant of that fact.