New Testament Church
T. T. Martin (1862-1939) furnishes us with a wonderful example of what
Southern Baptists used to believe about the New Testament Church. Most
Southern Baptists, and most other Baptists have departed from the
scriptural doctrine of the Church. Even the most conservative (sometimes
called fundamentalists), among Southern Baptists, in their fight against
the liberals in the SBC, have neglected to restore the doctrine of the
New Testament Church. If Baptists are to survive, they must come back to
the Scriptural stand on the Church, that Baptists once held. If they do
not they shall come to the place where they are just another Protestant
By T. T. MARTIN,
By E. L. Bynum
T. T. Martin had a long and profitable ministry. He taught at Baylor
Female College, Belton, TX., 1886-88. He pastored several different
churches until 1900. He then served as a full-time evangelist from
1900-39. God richly blessed his ministry as an evangelist and he wrote a
number of good books. One of them is entitled "The New Testament
Church," which we are printing in a series in the Plains
Baptist Challenger. As the Lord provides the funds, we intend to
reprint this excellent book. It contains truth that Baptists need to pay
heed to. It was originally published by the Western Baptist Publishing
Company of Kansas City, MO, in 1917.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,"
"that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3 :16, 17). Then the Scriptures will assuredly make plain what a New Testament church is. If the Scriptures teach what a New Testament church is, then it is the only divine institution or organization on the earthall others are of human origin. Three questions, therefore, arise:
First, have any of God's redeemed people the right to change a New Testament church?
Second, have any of God's redeemed people the right, because of father, mother, husband or wife, because of business relations, social ties or political influence, to put their lives, their influence, in an institution that is not a New Testament church, any institution that rivals or apposes a New Testament church?
Third, is an institution that has changed the New Testament church teaching, that is of human origin, really a New Testament church?
By some, possibly by many, these questions may be considered as of minor importance, or of no consequence. But if it was of sufficient importance for the Spirit, by inspiration, to put on record what a New Testament church is, surely it is of sufficient importance for every redeemed man or woman to bow to that inspiration. Who is he that has grown so great that he has the right to trifle with the Spirit's record as to the New Testament church?
Further, is it honest, is it truthful, to pray "Thy will be done" and not do His will when we know what His will is?
From love for Him who redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2 :14) every redeemed one should bow to His recorded will as to a New Testament church, as well as to all other things. But further, He Himself said: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven." Earth's standards and earth's greatnesses shall shrivel and fade away in the blaze of the Judgment Day. "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved."
Redeemed reader, shall you meet your Redeemer and say, "Lord, your inspired Word did, not make plain enough for me to find out what a New Testament church was?" Or shall you say "I loved father, mother, husband or wife more than you?" Or shall you say, "I put social position, business advantage, or political influence above your will?" Not long, and you will meet Him face to face.
Let the reader give careful, prayerful attention to the closing two chapters, by B. H. Carroll of the South and R. S. MacArthur of the North.
T. T. Martin
Blue Mountain, Miss.
The author is known as one of our greatest Gospel preachers, and is an evangelist second to none. His tracts and books have had a deservedly wide circulation, and they will be read, more and more, with the passing years.
In this little volume the author is at his best, and has made a real contribution to the literature of this great subject. Baptists, of all people, should have an intelligent conception of the origin, nature and obligations of New Testament churches. It is the profound conviction of the writer that a large portion of our difficulties have come from a false definition of a church.
One's conception of a church should naturally determine his ecclesiastical alignment and denominational behavior. Should the author's idea of a church prevail, it will prove a mighty impetus to Baptist development and progress. May the blessings of the Head of Churches rest richly upon it.
J. W. PORTER, D. D., LL. D.
Jesse B. Thomas, in his great book, "The Church and the Kingdom," has forever settled the matter that the church emphasized in the New Testament is not universal invisible nor the universal visible church, but a local, visible body. It will be many a day before any intelligent man even attempts to reply to the book, and no one will ever really reply to it. The Catholic or Episcopalian who, in order to establish the claim of a universal visible church, will attempt to reply to the book, will have a task second only in hopelessness to that of the Baptist, Plymouth Brother, Methodist or Presbyterian, who has to attempt to reply to it to show that the universal invisible church is the one emphasized in the New Testament. And the one who has been driven from the wild, baseless claims for the universal invisible church to talking and writing much about "The Kingdom" will, in trying to reply to the book, find on his hands an equally hopeless task in trying to identify the New Testament church and the Kingdom.
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH.
By T. T. Martin, Evangelist.
But some things need to be emphasized concerning the New Testament church. The New testament church is not to be known or to be identified by a name, but by doctrines; for the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3 :15). Our Disciple friends, founded by Alexander Campbell, though their convention has designated the name as "The Disciples," persist, especially in the South, in calling themselves "The Christian Church," making the baseless claim that that is the New Testament name for the church, arguing that the church is the Bride and the Savior is the Bridegroom, and that the Bride ought always to be called by the Bridegroom's name. That does not always follow. And if it did, His name was not Christ; that was His office or calling; "Thou shalt call His name Jesus" (Matt. 1:21); and so our Disciple friends, to be consistent, should call themselves "Jesuits" and not the "Christian Church." Besides, the marriage of the Bride and the Bridegroom has not yet come, and it is always suspicious when a woman persists in calling herself by the name of a man before she is married to him. But the Disciples in the South persist in trying to force the name "The Christian Church" on the people, for the evident purpose of catching people with a name instead of the doctrines. Their chief doctrine is that baptism (immersion) is for (in the sense of "in order to") the remission of sins. If that is true, then the rank and file of Methodists and Presbyterians have no remission of sins, and hence are going to hell; and this issue ought to be faced honestly and squarely. As a matter of fact, to call the Disciples "The Christian Church" means that Methodists and Presbyterians and others are not Christians, and Baptists and others ought to have the Christian manhood not to be browbeaten into any such thing.
Only two doctrines are essential to a New Testament church. Other doctrines are important, precious, but only two are essential to a New Testament church. They are the way of salvation and the way of baptism. The commission makes this clear. Matt. 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples) all nations, baptizing them ...." A body of people holding these two doctrines and in this New Testament order may be in error on other doctrines; yet it is a New Testament church. A body of people may hold all other New Testament doctrines, yet if it fails to hold either of these, or fails to hold them in the New Testament order, it is not a New Testament church. This needs to be kept clearly and continually in mind. For instance, if there is in the West a church called a "Baptist Church" that holds immersion for baptism, but does not hold the New Testament way of salvation, then it is not a New Testament church. If there is a church in New York or England called a "Baptist Church" that holds the New Testament way of salvation, but does not hold immersion as baptism, then it is not a New Testament church. If there is a church called a "Baptist Church" that holds the New Testament way of baptism, but that one ought to be baptized before being saved, then it is not a New Testament church.
The first of the only two essential doctrines to a New Testament church is the way of salvation, the way to make a disciple.
FIRST NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH DOCTRINE.
When, the only time the question is asked in the New Testament, it was asked, "What must I do to be saved?" the answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). This can only mean to believe on Him in His real character. For one to believe on Him as a demon, or as having come simply to show how to raise children, or to run civil government, is not for one to be saved; and for a church to hold as a doctrine that one is to believe on Him in any one of these characters to be saved, is for it not to be a New Testament church. His real character is as Savior through real redemption: "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6); "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). Then no one is saved who does not believe on Him in this character, and no body of people is a New Testament church that does not hold this doctrine.
Only as Deity could He be a real Redeemer; for one dime can only redeem one dime, but one dollar can redeem ten dimes. If He were only man He could only redeem one man. But as Deity He could redeem the whole race; hence "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us)" (Isa. 7:14); hence Jesus said, "If ye believe not that I am" (the title of Deity) "ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). Then no one is saved, redeemed, who does not believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ, and no body of people is a New Testament church that does not believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ.
But the question comes, From how many of our sins does He redeem us? Titus 2:13-14, "Our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity." Then no one is saved who does not believe on Him as a complete Redeemer, as Redeemer from all iniquity; and no body of people is a New Testament church that does not hold that the sinner must believe on Christ as complete Redeemer, as Redeemer from all iniquity, in order to be saved. But no church which believes that the believer must join a certain church or be baptized or live a certain kind of life, in order to be saved, holds the doctrine that Jesus is Redeemer from all iniquity. Then none of these are New Testament churches. In such a body of professing Christians there may be, there doubtless are, saved people. But as a church it does not hold the doctrine of complete redemption, from all iniquity, one of the essential doctrines to a New Testament church.
NOTE: Included in this first essential doctrine of a New Testament church are two others, repentance and regeneration. Repentance, an entire change of mind and purpose, turning from sin and from all self-righteousness, as a helpless, lost sinner, and turning to God, comes before faith in Christ. "Repent and believe the Gospel." Then when one has believed on Christ he is born again: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1).
The first essential doctrine, then, to a New Testament church, as is shown by the Great Commission, is the way of salvation, the way to make a disciple.
SECOND NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH DOCTRINE
The other essential doctrine to a New Testament church is baptism. When our Savior was baptized He said: "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15) . The word "thus" has but one meaning; it means, in this way. Then only "thus," in this way, can one be baptized. Of all the vagaries of religious beliefs and controversies, no one ever claimed that Jesus was baptized in four different ways, though the world claims that there are four ways to be baptized. If when the Savior was baptized He was immersed, then nothing else is baptism; for he said "thus." If when He was baptized, some other act than immersion was performed, then immersion is not baptism, for he said "thus." If immersion is not baptism, what is the sense of "going down into the water" to sprinkle or pour a little water on a person? What is the sense of "Buried with Him in baptism?" What is the sense of "Raised in the likeness of His resurrection"? If immersion is not baptism, what is the sense of "He baptized Him"? (Acts 8:38). He could not have sprinkled Him; he could not have poured Him. It does not say "He baptized on Him," you sprinkle or pour the water; but it says "he baptized Him." Then he immersed Him.
If immersion is not baptism, if it is not the way Jesus was baptized (and He certainly was not baptized in four different ways, and He said "thus"), why will all denominations who teach sprinkling or pouring for baptism, receive one who has been immersed without resorting to what they call baptism? But it is claimed that this is "broad" and "liberal," and that Baptists are "narrow" and "bigoted" not to return the courtesy. The other man has no right to be liberal with my pocket book, and this is God's truth that we are dealing with.
If immersion is not the way Jesus was baptized (and remember that He said "thus"; then that is the only way) why would John Calvin, who started a new denomination that teaches that immersion is not baptism, say plainly that the New Testament teaches immersion? "The very word baptize signifies to immerse, and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church" (John Calvin's "Institutes" Book 4, Chapter 15). Why would John Wesley, whose work resulted in another great denomination that teaches against immersion, say that the New Testament teaches immersion for baptism? "'Buried with Him,' alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion" (John Wesley, Notes on Rom. 6:4). Why would Martin Luther, who started another great denomination that teaches that immersion is not baptism, say that the New Testament teaches immersion for baptism? "The term 'baptism' is Greek; in Latin it would be translated 'mersio' since we immerse anything into water that it may be covered with the water" (Martin Luther, Works Vol. 1, p. 7l, Wit. 1582). Why would the Catholic church come out and tell that they changed baptism from immersion to affusion, as they did at the council of Ravenna? Cardinal Gibbons in "The Faith of Our Fathers," p. 275: "Since the Twelfth Century, the practice of effusion has prevailed in the Catholic church, as this manner is attended with less inconvenience than baptism by immersion." It is a pitiable sight to see Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans going wild over "The Menace" (and that paper is doing a great work) for opposing and exposing the errors of the Roman Catholic church, and then turn and meekly take for baptism what the Roman Catholic church has substituted for what our Savior did and taught; and then after fastening it on their helpless children, tell them it is a terrible sin to ever repudiate this substitute for what our Savior did and the New Testament teaches.
If, now, baptism is one of the essential doctrines of a New Testament church, then no body of people which does not hold this doctrine is a New Testament church; and no body of people that does not hold immersion of a person after he is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, is a New Testament church. There may be, and there doubtless are, many saved people in such bodies of professed Christians; but they are not a New Testament church.
It has been shown that two doctrines only are essential to a New Testament church, and that these are the way of salvation, believing on Christ as complete Redeemer from all iniquity, and baptism. Surely it will not be denied by any intelligent person that Baptists hold these two doctrines, and no other body of professing Christians hold both of these doctrines. Not all bodies of professing Christians who are called Baptists hold these two doctrines; then not every body of people that is called a "Baptist church" or that calls itself a "Baptist church" is a real New Testament church; but, as a rule, Baptist churches do hold these two doctrines.
BAPTIST CHURCHES HOLD THESE DOCTRINES
Now, the Savior promised on two occasions that there should be real New Testament churches on the earth till He should come back again.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said: "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The New Testament church cannot be identical with the "church in the wilderness"; for Jesus would have had to say, "I am building" or "I have built," instead of "I will build." He could not have meant the universal invisible church; for again He would have had to say, "I am building" instead of "I will build." Further, the only other occasion on which the Savior used the word church before His resurrection and ascension was in Matthew 18:17; and there it absolutely means a local body of believers. (And this was before Pentecost; hence the church was in existence before Pentecost.) After His resurrection and ascension, to John on the Isle of Patmos, as recorded in Revelation, He used the word church about twenty times, and every time as referring to a local body of believers.
The second time that our Savior promised that there would be a New Testament church on the earth until His return was when He instituted the Lord's Supper. (He instituted the Lord's Supper before His crucifixion; all churches hold that the Lord's Supper is a New Testament church ordinance; then it follows absolutely that there was a New Testament church before the day of Pentecost.) In instituting the Supper, He said, "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death TILL HE COME" (1 Cor. 11:26). Then Jesus said that the real Lord's Supper would be celebrated on the earth "TILL HE COME." But everyone admits that the Lord's Supper is a New Testament ordinance. If, now, the Lord's Supper is a New Testament church ordinance, and the Savior said that the Lord's Supper would be on earth "till He come," then there has been a real New Testament church on the earth since the night our Lord instituted the Lord's Supper, and will be "till He come."
That this has been true, nine of the greatest men and historians have testified:
Alexander Campbell (Disciple): "From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced."
John Clark Ridpath (Methodist): "In the year one hundred all Christians were Baptists."
Zwingli: "The institution of the Anabaptists is no novelty, but for thirteen hundred years has caused great trouble to the church."
Cardinal Hosius (Catholic), president Council of Trent: "Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater numbers than all the Reformers."
Sir Isaac Newton: "The Baptists are the only body of Christians which has not symbolized with the church of Rome."
Mosheim (Lutheran): "Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of the modern Dutch Baptists."
Edinburgh Cyclopedia: "It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described under the appellation of Anabaptists. Indeed, this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time." Tertullian was born just fifty years after the death Of John the Apostle.
Prof. Wm. Cecil Duncan, professor of Latin and Greek, University of Louisiana: "Baptists do not, as do most Protestant denominations, date their origin from the Reformation of 1520. By means of that great religious movement, indeed, they were brought forth from comparative obscurity, into prominent notice, and through it a new and powerful impulse was given to their principles and practices in all of those countries which had renounced allegiance to the Pope of Rome. They did not, however, originate with the Reformation, for long before Luther lived, nay, long before the Roman Catholic church herself was known, Baptists and Baptist churches existed and flourished in Europe, in Asia and in Africa."
The king of Holland, in 1819, appointed J. J. Dermout, chaplain to the king, and Professor Ypeij, professor of theology in the University of Groningen, to write a history of the Dutch Reformed church. In the authentic volume which they prepared and published at Breda, they devote one chapter to the Baptists in which they say: "We have now seen that the Baptists who were formerly called Anabaptists (some of these Anabaptists churches were not real New Testament churches because they did not hold both the essential doctrines to a New Testament church. T. T. M.), and in later times Mennonite (some of these Mennonite churches, for the same reason, were not New Testament churches.T. T. M.), were the original Waldenses (likewise some of the Waldensian churches were not real New Testament churchesT. T. M.), and who long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account, the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through all the ages. The perfectly correct internal and external economy of the Baptist denomination tends to confirm the truth disputed by the Romish church that the Reformation brought about in the Sixteenth Century was in the highest degree necessary; and at the same time goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics that their communion is the most ancient."
The following testimony is taken from the great work, "Crossing the Centuries," by Wm. C. King, having as associate counselors, editors, collaborators and contributors, such men as Cardinal Gibbons, Bishop John H. Vincent, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, David Starr Jordan, former president Leland Stanford University; P. S. Henson; Patrick J. Healy, Catholic University of American; Lyman Abbott, editor The Outlook; E. Benj. Andrews, chancellor University of Nebraska; Benj. D. Hahn, authority on archaeology, philology and theology; Albert Bushnell Hart, Ph. D., LL. D., Litt. D., head department of history, Harvard University; W. H. P. Faunce, president Brown University; Geo. B. Adams, M. A., Ph. D., Litt. D., the University of Yale; E. B. Hurlbert, M. A., the University of Chicago; A. F. Schauffler, secretary International Sunday School Lessons Committee; Henry K. Carroll, editor staff The Christian Advocate:
"Of the Baptists it may be said that they are not reformers. These people, comprising bodies of Christian believers known under various names in different countries, are entirely distinct and independent of the Roman and Greek churches, have an unbroken continuity of existence from apostolic days down through the centuries. Throughout this long period they were bitterly persecuted for heresy, driven from country to country, disfranchised, deprived of their property, imprisoned, tortured and slain by the thousands, yet they swerved not from their New Testament faith, doctrine and adherence."
The greatest objection to Baptists on the part of other people is what is called "Close Communion." But it will now be shown that whenever there is "Open Communion," there is, in the sight of God, no Lord's Supper at all; that for Baptists to give up "Close Communion" would mean to blot the real Lord's Supper from the face of the earth; and that Baptists teaching and practicing "Close Communion" proves absolutely that they are the New Testament churches, and that they come down from the time of Christ.
THE GREAT OBJECTION TO BAPTIST CHURCHES.
Baptism is symbolic: "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom.6:4). Hence, in the nature of the case, when the symbol is absent, there is no baptism, for the baptism is the symbol itself. Likewise, the Lord's Supper is symbolic, and if the symbol is not there, then there is no Lord's Supper. In first Cor. 10:17, we are told what the Lord's Supper symbolizes: "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." Then the Lord's Supper is to be a picture, a symbol, of the Lord's one body. There is one loaf of bread to represent His one body, and the church celebrating the supper is to be "one bread and one body." Suppose now that those celebrating the supper are not "one bread and one body"; suppose they are divided, and so not one body? Notice God's teachings, I Cor. 11:18-20, "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper." Wherever, then, there are divisions in the body gathered round the table, God's Word says that it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper. But whenever there is Open Communion, there is always division. The very term Open Communion indicates that there are divisions. Then whenever there is Open Communion or divisions around the table, God's Word says it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper. Then in the sight of God there is no Lord's Supper at all, whenever there is Open Communion. The world calls it the Lord's Supper, just as the world calls sprinkling and pouring, baptism; but whenever there is division, Open Communion, God says it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper. Picture Methodists and Presbyterians and Disciples in Open Communion, the Presbyterian with his Calvinism, the Methodist with his salvation-partly of works, and the Disciple with his immersion in order to the remission of sins. Are there not divisions there? Why, if what the Disciple teaches is true, the Methodists and the Presbyterians have no remission of sins and are going to hell. They call it, and the world calls it, Open Communion; but God says it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper, because there are divisions there.
If now, when there are divisions, there is no Lord's Supper in the sight of God, then for Baptists to give up what is called "Close Communion" and practice what is called Open Communion, would mean that there would be no Lord's Supper on the earth at all.
Now, the Savior, in instituting the supper, said, I Cor. 11:26: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death TILL HE COME." Then Jesus said that there would be a real celebration of the Lord's Supper "till He come." But God's Word says plainly that it is not possible to eat the Lord's Supper when there are divisions, or Open Communion. Then Jesus said there would be the real Lord's Supper, which is without division, or Close Communion, "till He come." But Baptists are the only ones who do practice Close Communion. Then they are the churches that come down from the time of Christ.
NOTE BY E. L. BYNUM: In the past few years there have developed three different positions on the Lord's Supper. There is now Open Communion, Close Communion, and Closed Communion. Open Communion means that anyone present, professing Christ may eat the Supper. Close Communion means that anyone who is from a Baptist Church of like faith and order, may partake of the Supper in any Baptist Church where they may be visiting. Closed Communion means that only the members of the local Baptist Church who are in good standing may partake of the Supper. In the opinion of this editor, only the Closed Communion position can stand the test of Scripture. The whole context of I Corinthians 5, is dealing with the sinful member of the Church who is a fornicator. Verses 7-13 puts it in the context of the Lord's Supper. In verse 11, we are not to eat with certain people. I Cor. 5:11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." Some might say that this is not the eating of the Lord's Supper. Verses 7-8 seem to put it in the context of the Lord's Supper. Even if it is not referring to the Lord's Supper, surely no one would say that we should eat at the Lord's table with people we were forbidden to eat with at a private meal. Verse 12 instructs the Church to judge those in its membership. There would be no way to judge strangers who might be present at the Lord's Supper in the local Church. I Cor. 5:12, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?" Paul told the Church at Corinth that they could not eat the Lord's Supper if there were divisions or heresies among you (I Cor. 11:18-20). If visiting Baptists are to be invited to the Lord's table, then we are possibly eating with those that may be heretics, or a source of division in the Church where their membership is located. They should be active in their own Church and partake of the Lord's Supper in their own Church. It is believed by this editor that in 1917 when T. T. Martin wrote this book, that Close Communion meant the same thing as Closed Communion today. Since this book was written there has been a redefining of the meaning of Close Communion.
Because Baptist churches are New Testament churches, they are under the most solemn obligation to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The question arises, What should be the attitude of Baptist churches and Baptists toward other churches?
SCRIPTURAL ATTITUDE OF BAPTIST CHURCHES.
Let it be understood that it should not be that of bitterness nor harshness. There is a vast difference between earnestly contending and bitterly contending. While there has been great harm done by Baptists' compromising the truth, there probably has been as great or greater harm done by the bitter spirit in which some of us have contended for the faith. Not only should there be no bitterness, but there should be tender love for everyone who is redeemed, whatever his religious errors may be; for, "Every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him" (1 John 5:1).
Baptist churches and Baptists should rejoice in all the truth that any people hold. "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:49-50).
But the question arises, Baptist churches being New Testament churches, what should be the attitude of Baptists and Baptist churches toward the religious errors of other people? Let two principles be laid down: whenever Baptists or Baptist churches make stronger efforts to reach other people in religious error than they make to reach outsiders, they are sectarians and bigots. Second, whenever they make less efforts to reach people in other religious bodies than they make to reach outsiders, they are cowardly bowing to a maudlin sentiment, and are betraying their trust in being unfaithful to their Lord. For instance, there are churches that do not teach the New Testament way of salvation through believing on Christ as complete, eternal Redeemer from all iniquity. Then whenever Baptist churches and Baptists make less efforts to lead these people to accept the New Testament way of salvation than they make to get the outside world to see it and accept it, it is from pure cowardice and a betrayal of their solemn trust. There are people who do not know the way of New Testament baptism. Whenever Baptists and Baptist churches fail to make the same effort to reach these people with this truth that they make toward the outside world, they are compromising and betraying their sacred trust. Whenever they make a greater effort to get them to accept this truth than they make to get the outside world to accept it, it is from a party or sectarian spirit.
This runs across the popular conception of denominational courtesy and comity. But who gave any man or set of men authority to set up institutions or doctrines contrary to New Testament churches and doctrines? And who made it obligatory that New Testament churches should bow to these institutions and doctrines and not "earnestly contend for the faith?"
It has been shown that the two essential doctrines of a New Testament church are the way of salvation and the way of baptism; "Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). But the remainder of the commission is still in force, "teaching them to observe all things." So many of our churches and people have stopped with the two essential doctrines instead of reaching out earnestly for the "all things." We should not only welcome all truth, but should yearn for it, and strive to incorporate all truth into our work and lives, "and the truth shall make you free." We would as well face the fact that while other churches are not New Testament churches, not standing for both essential doctrines to a New Testament church, yet some of them have gone far beyond some of our churches in reaching out after other truths and doctrines of God's Word, and in incorporating other truths and doctrines into their lives. How the lives and sacrifices of many of these other Christian bodies put some of our Baptist people and churches to shame! Oh, for a revival among our Baptist churches that will lead them to reach out intensely, earnestly for all the doctrines, all the teachings of God's Word!
A word in concluding these thoughts on the New Testament church, concerning the proper attitude of Baptist churches and Baptists toward other Baptists and other Baptist churches holding some religious errors. We should face the fact that some of our Baptist churches and some of our Baptists have greatly injured God's cause by bitterness and harshness toward other denominations, because of their wrong doctrines. But we have probably inflicted a greater injury on God's cause by our bitterness toward each other. The bitterness of Baptists toward other Baptists, whom they considered to be in error, is one of the great stumbling blocks to other peoples. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." It is true that Paul withstood Peter to the face because he was to be blamed; yet he did it in such a spirit that Peter afterward referred to him as "our beloved brother Paul."
PROPER ATTITUDE OF BAPTISTS TOWARD OTHER BAPTISTS
But, alas! so often when we oppose an erring Baptist church or brother, we do it in a spirit that burns and tears and crushes. We should oppose errors held by Baptists as earnestly as we oppose errors held by others. Whenever we oppose errors of Baptists less than we oppose the errors of others, we are sectarians and bigots. Whenever we oppose the errors of our brethren or others in a bitter, rasping way, we are unworthy of our Savior and Lord who, in rebuking bitterness, said: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them" (Luke 9 :55, 56).
To the question, "Why am I a Baptist?" I should answer by saying that it is because I believe that Baptist doctrines are the doctrines of the New Testament, as interpreted alike by the highest scholarship and by the understanding of unlearned but devout readers; and, furthermore, because these doctrines are, in many respects, in harmony with the views adopted by the best thought of today, whether in the church or without. If one were asked to state the fundamental idea of the Baptists, he might give it as this: Personal faith in the Lord Jesus alone saves the soul; or, stating the thought negatively in relation to baptism, baptism will not make a man a Christian. He might also enlarge the thought by saying: Obedience to the will of Christ as expressed in the inspired Scripture, including personal faith in Christ as the ground of salvation, baptism in the name of the Trinity as the profession of that faith, and loyalty to Christ in all other things which He has commanded. A Christian should, of course, be baptized, as a soldier should put on a uniform; but as it is not putting on the uniform which makes a man a soldier, so it is not baptism that makes a man a Christian. The man puts on the uniform because he is already a soldier; so a man should be baptized when he has become a Christian. A true church, therefore, consists of truly regenerated persons who have been baptized on the profession of their faith. Thus, Baptists refuse to give baptism to unconscious infants. They baptize only those whom they believe to have already becomes Christians, only those who show evidence of having met with an internal change.
WHY I AM A BAPTIST
Conclusion No. II.
By R. S. MacArthur.
Till a recent date the idea that baptism will not make one a Christian was distinctly a Baptist doctrine; in the middle ages all but Baptists held the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. If one had been baptized, it was assumed by most church men that he had been made a Christian, and, without any demand for evidence that he was changed in character, he was admitted to all the rights of the church. This is true, for the most part, among the Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans of today, and to some degree even among those who claim to be more evangelical. All who were baptized in infancy are considered to be Christians, though they show no evidence whatever of an internal spiritual change. The rapid growth of Baptist churches in modern times results from a general discarding of the doctrine that Baptism will make a man a Christian. Evangelical revivals, like those of the days of Edwards and Whitfield and like those which followed Mr. Moody's preaching, add greatly to Baptists' numbers. When Mr. Moody said that baptism will not make a man a Christian, that no man is a Christian till he has truly repented of his sins and exercised personal faith in Jesus Christ, people immediately ask: "Why, then, should infants be baptized ?"
They adopt the Baptist principle that as no man puts on the military uniform till he has already enlisted as a soldier, so no one should be baptized till he has already repented and believed and become a Christian.
The New Testament Principle.
Now the Baptist principle is the New Testament principle. When certain Pharisees asked John the Baptist to baptize them, he told them they must bring fruit meet for repentance; that baptizing them would not make them holy men; that they must first give evidence of repentance, and then they could be baptized. First, belief, and then baptism, then the Lord's Supper; this is the New Testament order of the Baptist churches still. This Baptist idea, that baptism will not make a man a Christian, that it is unreasonable to baptize him till he has already met with a change of heart, commands the approval of all sensible men outside the church, and it is being rapidly adopted by all the more evangelical religious bodies. These churches must make more of infant baptism or less.
There is absolutely no place for infant baptism in an evangelical system of theology. Those who do believe in baptismal regeneration are logical but unscriptural; those who do not so believe and who practice infant baptism are both illogical and unscriptural. Many evangelical churches are beginning to realize their inconsistency. Not near so many infants are baptized among the Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Methodists as among the Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans. Why is this? It is because while the last named churches still adhere to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, the former, for the most part, have abandoned it, and they are coming more and more to see that if baptism will not make a child a Christian, there is little reason for baptizing the child.
Authorities Against Infant Baptism.
I unhesitatingly assert that there is not in the New Testament a single command for, or example of infant baptism. If there were, it could easily be found, but no one yet has made this discovery. How can men who adopt the famous dictum of Chillingworth, "the Bible, and the Bible only, the religion of Protestants," practice infant baptism? In so doing they depart from their fundamental principle; they cannot successfully antagonize the "churchianity" and traditionalism of the Church of Rome. Secular common sense and the evangelical religious thought of today are in this respect in harmony with the New Testament. The scholarship of the world is in agreement with this view. Many more authorities might be cited, but the following are sufficient:
Luther says: "It cannot be proved by the sacred Scriptures that infant baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first Christians after the apostles" (Vanity of Inf. Bap., Part 2, p. 8).
Neander says: "Baptism was administered at first only to adults, as men were accustomed to conceive of baptism and faith as strictly connected. We have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic institution" (Ch. Hist., Vol. 1, p. 311; Plant and Train, Vol. 1, p. 222).
Professor Lange says: "All attempts to make out infant baptism from the New Testament fail. It is totally opposed to the spirit of the apostolic age, and to the fundamental principles of the New Testament" (Inf. Bap., p. 101).
Hanna says: "Scripture knows nothing of the baptism of infants" (N. Brit, Review, August, 1852).
Tertullian is the first who mentions the custom and he opposes it. It was at the close of the Second Century, or about A. D. 200. His opposition proves two things: First, that it was in occasional use, at least; second, that it was of recent origin, since had it been long used some earlier record of it could be found (Neander Ch. Hist. Vol. 1, p. 311).
"All students of ecclesiastical history know that at an earlier period corruptions perverted Christian faith and practice. Among these, one of the earliest was that of undue efficacy attributed to baptism. Its sanctity was so exalted that it was believed to have power to wash away sins and cleanse the soul for heaven. By it the sick were supposed to be prepared for death, and salvation made more certain by its efficacy. Anxious parents, therefore, desired their dying children to be thus preparedญwashing in the laver of regeneration, as it was termedญthat they might be sure of salvation. And here came in that pernicious error of ‘baptismal regeneration' which gave rise to infant baptism, and which has through all these ages clung with more or less pertinacity to the clergy and laity of all churches which have practiced it."ญEdward S. Hiscox.
Professor Lange's words are weighty and should be carefully pondered by Protestant defenders of this papal emanation. He says: "Would the Protestant church fulfill and attain to its final destiny, the baptism of new born children must of necessity be abolished. It has sunk down to a mere formalism without any meaning for the child" (Hiss. Protestantism, p. 34).
Another statement of the Baptist principle is this: Baptism is not necessary to salvation. The assertion sometimes made that Baptists hold that no man can be saved unless he is baptized, is the falsest, absurdest, and most idiotic declaration that ever was made in ecclesiastical controversy. It is difficult to speak with courtesy of such ignorance or malice. The very reason why Baptists practice baptism and not sprinkling, is the fact that they hold that baptism is in no way essential to salvation. The history of the matter is this: The baptism of the apostolic churches was immersion, if the tautology of the expression may be permitted. So say Luther, Calvin and Wesley; so say all standard church historians, as Phillip Schaff, Dean Stanley, Neander, Hase, Guerike and Krutz. On this point there is absolutely no difference of opinion among specialists in church history. No writer worthy of being classed with the historians named would dissent from their position. There is no proof that sprinkling was ever practiced before the middle of the Third Century. Take the following among many other learned witnesses to the meaning of baptism:
WHY I AM A BAPTIST.
Conclusion No. II.
Baptism Not Necessary to Salvation.
Grimm's Lexicon of the New Testament, which in Europe and American stands confessedly at the head of Greek lexicography, as translated and edited by Professor Thayer of Harvard University, thus defined "baptize": "1. To dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge. 2. To cleanse by dipping or submerging. 3. To overwhelm. In the New Testament it is used particularly of the rite of sacred ablution, first instituted by John the Baptist, afterwards by Christ's command received by Christians and adjusted to the contents and nature of their religion, viz.: an immersion in water, performed as a sign of the removal of sin, and administered to those who, impelled by a desire for salvation, sought admission to the benefits of the Messiah's Kingdom. With `eis' to mark the element into which the immersion is made; `en' with the dative of the thing in which one is immersed."
Professor Moses Stuart, one of the ablest scholars America has produced, declared: "Baptizo means to dip, plunge, or immerse into any liquid. All lexicographers and critics of any note are agreed in this" (Essay on Baptism, p. 51, Biblical Repository, 1883, p. 298).
"The Greek language," as Hiscox has said, "is rich in terms for the expression of all positive ideas and all varying shades of thought. Why, then, did our Lord in commanding, and his apostles in transmitting his command to posterity use always and only that one word `baptize,' to describe the action, and that one word `baptizma' to describe the ordinance to which he intended all his followers to submit ? The word `louo' means to wash the body, and `nipto' to wash parts of the body; but these words are not used because washing is not what Christ meant: `Rantizo' means to sprinkle, and if sprinkling were baptism this would have been the word above all others; but it was never so used. `Keg' means to pour; but pouring is not baptism, and so this word was never used to describe the ordinance. `Katharizo' means to purify, but it was not used for the ordinance. The facts are clear and the reasoning conclusive."
John Calvin, the great theologian, scholar and commentator, whom Schaliger pronounced the most learned man in Europe, says: "The very word baptize, itself, signifies to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was observed by the ancient church." Commenting on the baptism of the eunuch, he says: "Here we perceive how baptism was administered among the ancients, for they immersed the whole body in water."
Luther, the great German reformer, says: "The term `baptism' is Greek; in Latin it would be translated `mersio,' since we immerse anything into water that it may be covered with the water."Works, Vol. 1, p. 71 Wit. 1582.
Melanchton, the most scholarly and able co-laborer with Luther, says: "Baptism is immersion into water, with this admirable benediction." Melanc. Catec. Wit., 1580.
Adam Clark, the great Methodist commentator, says: "Alluding to the immersions practiced in case of adults, wherein the person appeared to be buried under the water as Christ was buried in the heart of the earth."Com. on Col. 2:12.
Frederick Meyer, one of the ablest and most accurate exegetes of the present age, says: "Immersion which the word in classic Greek and in the New Testament ever means."Com. on 7:4.
Dean Alford says: "The baptism was administered by the immersion of the whole person." Greek Testament, Matt. 3:6.
Schaff, the well known church historian, says: "Immersion, and not sprinkling, was unquestionably the original form. This is shown by the very meaning of the words, `baptize, baptizma, baptizmos,' used to designate the rite." Hist. Apos. Ch., p. 488, 1851.
Dean Stanley, the distinguished scholar and historian of the Oriental Church, says: "The practice of the Eastern Church, and the meaning of the word leave no sufficient ground for question that the original form of baptism was complete immersion in the deep baptismal waters."Hist. Eastern Ch., p. 34.
Prof. Fisher, of Yale College, the accomplished scholar and historian, says of the apostolic age: "The ordinary mode of baptism was immersion." Hist. Christ. Ch., A. 41.
John Wesley, the celebrated founder of Methodism, says: "Buried with Him, Alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion." Note on Rom.
Neander says : "In respect to the form of baptism, it was in conformity to the original institution, and the original import of the symbol performed by immersion, as a sign of entire baptism into the Holy Spirit, of being entirely penetrated with the same."Ch. Hist., Vol. 1, p. 310; also Plant and Train, Vol. 1, p. 222.
Schaff says: "Finally, so far as it respects the mode and manner of outward baptizing, there can be no doubt that immersion, and not sprinkling, was the original form."Hist. Christ. Oh. p. 488.
Pressense says: "Baptism, which was the sign of admission into the church, was administered by immersion. The convert was plunged beneath the water, and as he arose from it he received the laying on of hands."Early Years of Christianity, p. 374.
Krutz says: "Baptism took place by complete immersion."Ch. Hist., p. 41.
In regard to the teaching of the New Testament touching alike the subjects and the act of baptism, the scholars of the world are practically unanimous. The way that infant baptism and substitutes for baptism came to be practiced is easily stated. The idea had erroneously arisen that no one could be saved without baptism, and when a man was converted on his dying bed when too sick to be baptized, that is, immersedthe question arose as to what should be done. The idea was advanced that in such a case of necessity it would suffice to pour water on him. Thus the use of pouring and sprinkling came in with the unscriptural, unreasonable, and dangerous doctrine that baptism was essential to salvation. At first they were used only in cases of necessity. In the Greek Church immersion is still the standard of baptism. It continued such in the Roman Catholic Church for over a thousand years.
Immersion was the usage in the Church of England down to the time of the reformation, and is still prescribed in the Prayer Books. But pouring and sprinkling from their greater convenience came to be used more and more, till they finally largely supplanted baptism. But their use would never have been thought of but for the superstitious and abominable idea that a man's soul would be lost if he died without baptism. Now the Baptist declares that baptism is not necessary to salvation.
Therefore the Baptist says that if a Christian can be baptized according to apostolic usage and divine command, he should be; but if a man is converted on a dying bed, when he cannot be baptized, let him die without baptism. If a man's physical condition makes it impossible to obey the command, in his case it is not binding. The thief on the cross could not obey this command; still Jesus promised him Paradise that very day. A Baptist does not consider that he is ever at liberty to use a human substitute, such as pouring or sprinkling, for the divine command of baptism. Not considering baptism to be essential to salvation, he is not troubled at the idea of a convert's dying without baptism. It has been said that Baptists make too much of baptism; but, in fact, no religious body, except the Quakers, make so little of it as they. And the reason why they do not practice pouring and sprinkling as well as baptism is because it does not trouble them in the least to let a convert, who cannot yield obedience in baptism, die unbaptized. Their adherence to baptism, which in rare cases cannot be administered, shows that they are in the least `ritualistic,' but have very low ideas as to the necessity of baptism. They, however, regard Jesus Christ as the only King and Lawgiver in Zion, and His Word as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, and so they observe baptism as He commanded and as the apostles practiced and taught; And now this Baptist doctrine, that baptism is not necessary to salvation, the idea that a man's soul will not be lost, even though he dies unbaptized, is a doctrine which not only is supported by the Bible, but is one that commands the respect of men outside the church. The Baptists are not medievalist, but they are the especial exponents of Biblical and also of Nineteenth Century ideas.
Another point in which Baptists are the exponents both to New Testament and modern ideas is their doctrine of religious freedom, the tenet that the civil magistrate has no authority over a man's religious creed and usage. This was originally a distinctively Baptist idea. For this idea they have again and again shed their blood. It is not long since that if a man advanced the doctrine of religious freedom it was known thereby immediately that he was a Baptist. Baptists have been much praised for having first preached this great doctrine, now held universally in our own country and increasingly in other lands; but this doctrine is merely a logical deduction from the fundamental Baptist principle.
In the Jewish nation, and for that matter in ancient Gentile nations, as, for instance, the Roman Empire, the church and state were one. The Jewish high priest was a civil officer and the Roman emperor was Pontifex Maximus. The civil and ecclesiastical governments were identical, or at least originally affiliated; and, of course, the magistrate had authority in matters of religion. And in the middle ages, the prevalence of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration and the consequent nearly universal baptism of infants, made every child not only a citizen but also a member of the church. Thus church and state became again identified, or at least conterminous, and the civil magistrate became the servant of the church as well as the state.
The logical development of Baptist principles led to the great doctrine of religious freedom. A moment's thought will show that there is no ground for saying that the only reason why Baptists did not persecute, as did others, was because they did not have the power to do so. They often had occasion to speak on this subject. For instance, one Thomas Van Imwalt, a Baptist, confessor in Tyrol, when examined in prison, was asked whether in case his people had the power they would not force their doctrines on all nations, answered: "No, it would be foolish for them to endeavor to bring anyone to believe by force, for God will accept only a willing and unconstrained heart." They saw, in that day, that while a man might be brought to baptism and the Lord's Supper, he could not by force be brought to believe. And they believed that it was not baptism and other ceremonies, but only unconstrained belief, that made a man a Christian; they saw that it was impossible to make a man a Christian by force, and so they never attempted it, even when they had the power.
Salvation of Infants.
There is a doctrine held by all intelligent Christians which formerly was set forth by Baptists alone, namely the doctrine of the salvation of all who die in infancy. It is only in recent times that this doctrine has been generally held. It is not very long ago that if a man said the dying infant of a heathen or Turk was saved, all who heard him knew at once that he was a Baptist. But this doctrine, denied by others, was adopted by Baptists as a logical outcome of their fundamental principle. The doctrine that baptism wrought salvation led to the so-called baptism of infants; infant baptism would never have been thought of but for this doctrine of baptismal regeneration. This doctrine is the root of which infant baptism is the fruit, and its story is one of the most fearful the student of history anywhere finds.
In Leckey's "History of Rationalism" occur the following burning lines: "According to the unanimous belief of the early church, all who were external to Christianity were doomed to eternal damnation, and therefore even the new-born infant was subject to the condemnation unless baptism had united it to the church. At a period which is so early that it is impossible to define it, infant baptism was introduced into the church; it was universally said to be for the remission of sins, and the whole body of the fathers without exception pronounced that all infants who die unbaptized were excluded from heaven. All through the middle ages we trace the influence of this doctrine in the innumerable superstitious rites which were devised as substitutes for regular baptism. Nothing, indeed, can be more curious, nothing can be more deeply pathetic than the record of the many ways by which the terror stricken mothers attempted to evade the awful sentence of their church. Sometimes the baptismal water was sprinkled upon the womb; sometimes the still-born child was baptized in the hopes that the Almighty would antedate the ceremony. These and many similar practices continued all through the middle ages in spite of every effort to extirpate them, and the severest censures were unable to persuade the people that they were not effectual, for the doctrine of the church had wrung the mother's heart with an agony that was too poignant even for that submissive age to bear. Weak and superstitious women who never dreamed of rebelling against the teaching of their clergy, could not acquiesce in the perdition of their offspring, and they vainly attempted to escape from the dilemma by multiplying superstitious practices or by attributing to them more than orthodox efficacy."
To illustrate Mr. Leckey's remarks, we may quote from the decrees of a synod at Cologne in 1280. After prescribing immersion as the only regular baptism (as it was in the Roman Catholic Church for more than a thousand years) it goes on to say: "But in case there is fear that an infant will die before it is born, if the head of the infant * * * some one shall pour water over the head, saying, `I baptize thee.'" It will not be denied that the Caesarean operation has often been performed in Roman Catholic countries, and occasionally in other countries, that the child may be saved by baptism, even though the mother should die, her eternal safety being already secured. One does not like to refer to matters of this delicate nature; but it is time that the superstitions and barbarities which are thus connected with infant baptism were rebuked with great plainness of speech as unworthy even of the most degraded heathen. Some have called infant baptism a beautiful ceremony. But, in fact, it is the efflorescence of a most gross superstition, and, viewed in the light of church history, it is only horrible and repulsive. As the little infant is borne in its gay robes down the aisle, the language of the ceremonial is that except some drops of water be sprinkled on its forehead that beautiful little being would writhe in the flames of hell. Who dare, even in symbol, teach such a horrible doctrine? How can a few drops of water, or an ocean, change the child's relations to God? In any case, the child has no more penal sin than a rose or a snowflake.
THE DOCTRINE THAT ALL DYING IN INFANCY ARE SAVED WAS FIRST TAUGHT BY THE BAPTISTS. THEY HELD THAT NOT ONLY AN ADULT BELIEVER WOULD BE SAVED, THOUGH HE DIED WITHOUT BAPTISM, BUT THAT ALL DYING IN INFANCY WERE SAVED. This doctrine continually appears in the charges against Baptists who were put to death for their faith. For instance, Henry Craut, Justus Mueller and John Peisker were beheaded in Jena in 1536, not by Roman Catholics, but by their Protestant brethren, the Lutherans. Among their announced views was the doctrine that "all infants, even those of Turks, Gentiles and Hebrews, are saved without baptism." The first time this doctrine appears in a non-Baptist creed it is mentioned only to be condemned. The Augsburg Confession of 1530 says: "Damnant Anabaptists, qui improbant baptismum, puerorum et affirmant pueros sine baptismal salvos fieri." They (the churches putting forth this creed) condemn the Anabaptists (nickname of the Baptists) who reject the baptism of children and declare that children are saved without baptism.
Even in our own country similar opposition was once manifested against the Baptist faith. When Clarke, Holmes and Crandall were imprisoned and fined in Boston, Mr. Clarke, when standing stripped at the whipping post, had his fine paid by a humane man, who was greatly affected by the sight of a scholar, a gentleman, and a divine in such a situation. On asking, "What law of God or men had he (Clarke) broken?" Endicott replied to Clarke, "You have denied infant baptism and deserve death." Persecution of those who so deny is the natural result of the belief which led to the practice of infant baptism. We again affirm that it is a practice contrary to Scripture even as interpreted by non-Baptist scholars, and also to the sound reason of all intelligent men who are not prejudiced lay early training and one-sided education.
To sum up, I would say that the fundamental principle of the Baptists, and one formerly held by them alone, is that A MAN'S SALVATION DEPENDS SOLELY ON PERSONAL FAITH IN CHRIST AND THE RESULTANT CHANGE OF INWARD CHARACTER, AND NOT ON BAPTISM AND OTHER CHURCH ORDINANCES. As a result, they affirm that faith must be personal; that no man can believe for another, no parent for the child; and that, therefore, THE CHURCH IS NOT MADE UP OF "BELIEVERS AND THEIR CHILDREN" EXCEPT SO FAR AS THE CHILDREN ARE THEMSELVES BELIEVERS. THEY HOLD THAT ANY OTHER VIEW OF THE CHURCH IS WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE OR COMMON SENSE. They administer baptism only to those who profess faith in Christ and give evidence in daily life of having been converted. They administer immersion, the act of baptism in the apostolic church, and when this is impracticable they let the convert die without baptism. Holding that a man is not made a Christian by baptism and other outward acts, only by a change in his spiritual nature, which can not be brought out by force, they therefore insist that no outward force or form shall be used to make men Christians, and that the civil magistrate shall confine himself entirely to civil affairs, not interfering in purely religious matters. Holding that baptism is not necessary to salvation, they hold that not only believing adults, but also all who die in infancy, even the heathen children, are saved.
These ideas, which not very long ago were held by Baptists alone, are now held by the most enlightened men outside of the Baptist ranks, and I consider them also the teachings of the New Testament. This is another reason "why I am a Baptist."
IF I TAKE THE BIBLE ONLY AS MY GUIDE, I MUST BE A BAPTIST; IF I DISCARD IT AND TAKE TRADITIONS OF MEN, I COULD NOT CONSISTENTLY STOP UNTIL I HAD REACHED ROME. But I am not likely to start on the downward grade. If I were not a Baptist, logically I would have to be a Roman Catholic. The Catholics are perfectly consistent, but unscriptural; grant their premises and logically you must adopt their conclusions. THE BAPTISTS ARE ALSO CONSISTENT AND AT THE SAME TIME SCRIPTURAL; GRANT THE BAPTIST PREMISE AND YOU MUST ACCEPT THE BAPTIST CONCLUSION. But the Congregationalists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Episcopalians are not consistent. THEIR POSITION IS HALF ROMANIST, HALF BAPTIST. They have no logical standing ground; There are but two consistent and logical positions, one of which is held by the Romanists and the other by the Baptists. Every consistent, logical and unprejudiced thinker will take one or the other. HERE ON THE WORD OF GOD THE BAPTISTS STAND; they are consistent; they antedate existing denominational divisions; they are consistent Protestants; they are truly apostolic; baptism is the apostolic ordinance. Their position is impregnable. Historically, Baptists are not Protestants; doctrinally, they are the most consistent Protestants. While the Bible stands, they shall stand, and the "Word of God shall stand forever." God has given them wonderful prosperity. They are increasing in the United States today much faster than the population of this, the most rapidly populating country in the world; they are in sympathy with all progressive American ideas; and at the same time are loyal to the Word of God. They love their brethren of all denominations; they are ready to unite with them in all forms of Christian activity. They use constantly the Master's prayer for his disciples "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."
If ever there is organic unity, it will begin at the baptistry. Every denomination in Protestant Christendom and in the entire Roman and Greek churches can agree upon baptism, that is, immersion, as taught by our Lord and his apostles. The Greek church, numbering quite 90,000,000 of adherents, has ever been a stout witness on behalf of baptism. The Roman church joyfully accepts it, and all the Protestant churches join hands with these two great bodies. ON NO SUBSTITUTE FOR BAPTISM CAN ALL THE DENOMINATIONS AGREE. We are not now arguing a point; we are simply stating an uncontrovertible fact. Do men really want organic Christian union? Are they in earnest when they proclaim this desire? ARE THEY WILLING TO FOLLOW CHRIST INTO THE WATERS OF BAPTISM? Are they willing to join hands with the brethren in all centuries and in all climes? Here is the opportunity; here is the truly apostolic ordinance.
If they will follow apostolic injunction and example they all can say: "We are buried with Him by baptism into death." And then there may be, if it is desired, organic union without doing violence to the convictions of any, and in acknowledging harmony with the Word of God. It would be easy to fill pages with the names of learned authorities on all these points, and the simple-minded disciple of the Lord Jesus, with no guide but the New Testament, comes to the same conclusion. May the Holy Spirit lead all believers into all truth!
Reader, has Pastor MacArthur given good, sound, scriptural reasons for being a Baptist? If you are a real Christian, can you give as good, sound, scriptural reasons for not being a Baptist? If your Savior was not ashamed to be baptized by a Baptist, why should you be? If your Savior took His stand with a Baptist in doctrine and practice, why should not you? If it was important enough for Him to do this, is it not important enough for you to do it? Do not try to ease your conscience with the fact that great and good men have not done this. Were they greater and better than your Savior and Lord? Shall you think more of their example than of your Savior's example? Is it right to follow even your father or mother in preference to the example of your Savior? He said, "Follow me;" will you do it?
THE READER AND HIS LORD.
Your church relationship means your influence for the doctrines of that church. Is it right for your influence to be against the doctrines you believe? It is not a question of the name, though no one in this day has any more right to reject the name and be ashamed of it than John the Baptist had. But it is a question of the truth taught by the churchthe doctrines. The purpose of the church is to be "the pillar and ground of the truth."1 Timothy 3:15.
Let it be understood distinctly that the one who repents and accepts Christ as complete Redeemer, as complete Savior, is sure of heaven; for "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15 :3); and "Our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:13, 14), said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Hence, church relationship and baptism have nothing whatever to do with salvation. But He said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" and if He died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), and redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:13, 14), and gives us eternal life with the promise that we shall never perish (John 10:28, 29), and lets us know now that we are saved and certain of heaven (John 5:24), ought we not to love Him tenderly and sincerely enough to follow Him in baptism and let our church relationship be what His Word teaches?
Reader, do you love Him enough to do this?
Remember, Jesus Himself said, "If a man love me he will keep my words," and "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings" (John 14 :23, 24); and God's servant of old said, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice" (I Sam. 15:22); and the Savior said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). There was one who, facing his duty to the Savior, asked, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22 :10) who, when he saw the Lord's will, said, "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:16); and there was another who "cared for none of those things" (Acts 18:17). They represent two great classes today; with which class will you take your stand?
Baptist churches are the only churches on earth that require a person to profess to be saved before the person unites with the church or is baptized. If, now, the New Testament teaches this and you, reader, see that it teaches it, you cannot be true to your Lord and not take your stand in a New Testament church. If the New Testament does not teach this, then you cannot be true to your Lord and unite with a Baptist church.
Three closing questions for the redeemed reader:
First, if every other redeemed person on earth were in a real New Testament church, would you stand out against the New Testament church or would you unite with it? "But," says the reader, "the great majority of professing Christians are not Baptists, and never will be." That is doubtless true; but "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23 :2); and it is surely evil to know God's will and refuse to bow to it.
Second, our Lord taught us to pray, "Thy will be done." Is it right, is it truthful, to know his will, and pray, "Thy will be done," and yet refuse to do His will?
Third and last, "Despise ye the church of God" (1 Cor. 11:22)?
Source: The Plains Baptist Challenger, March, April and May 1999