Monday, July 6, 2009

Church Government

How is a Church to conduct business? We are posed with this question because there are many differing Church "models" that we see out there.

I believe in the Local Independent Baptist Church. I believe that a Church is to stand solely upon the word of God (KJV) for all things pertaining to it's doctrine, and practice. When we veer away from the Bible, and drift into tradition we are subject to all kinds of error. Just because something is antiquated, does not mean that it is right. I believe that the Church is to be run in the manner that God would have it to be run. (As it does belong to him). We can be sure that with all the different types of "models" we see, that they cannot all be the same, or even all be correct. If that be true we could say there is nothing amiss with the hierarchy system of Catholicism, and most of Protestantism; but we know that these systems are full of egregious errors that are reprehensible to the Bible believing Christian. What type of government is a Church to have, while still pleasing God? We see in the world today many types of governments, namely: Democracies, Monocracies, Representative Republics, Dictatorships, and only ever seen in ancient Israel was a Theocracy.

In reading the "Trail of Blood" I find that Mr. Carroll presents the idea that a true Church is to have a pure democracy as it's form of government. This idea is perpetuated throughout the rank and file of Churches today, and in some Churches it seems to work fairly well, but in others it sends things into total chaos. Most of the SBC Churches today are going to have this model of government, as well as your other Associated type of Churches. This system allows the membership the ability to control all the goings on within the Church setting. Many Churches using this model will inevitably revert to using boards, or committees to handle most matters. These boards, in many cases will have the ability to sway the Church in the direction they choose, whether the Pastor approves or not. In such cases the Pastor is relegated to a position of mere pulpit supply, and will be removed as soon as he says something a committee does not approve of. In a pure democracy the vote of the majority always has final say, and there can be little or no discussion about the outcome. What if the majority is wrong? Most any Pastor you speak to will admit that most Church members are simply incapable of making truly important spiritual decisions. Should a Church be left to that kind of leadership? In a true democracy as the majority rules; it stands, but what if the majority wanted to worship a pine tree, who could stop them?

Another form of government in the world today is a monocracy. This form of government will have a King who is appointed by birthright, that will typically have elected, or appointed Princes, or Senators (Ministers, etc.) under him. The King in this form of government is not the total supreme leader; as he has others delegated to various responsibilities, but he wields enough power to not be messed with. In this form of government the King will pass his power down to his son (typically his firstborn) at or near his death. This will take place until the people grow discontented, and throw him out of his position. (Usually killing him) This would not be good in a Church! Sadly I have noticed this form of governance taking place within many IFB Churches. There are some good points to this model, namely; the Pastor does not have a yearly establishment (As we see many Democratic Churches doing), he also does not reign as a dictator but has some sort of checks and balances placed upon him. The evils of this model though are found in that the Church will typically crumble when the Pastor leaves or dies unexpectedly. Another woe to this model is that many Pastors children are not called into the ministry by God, but rather by mom and dad, in order to fill the shoes of dad when he gets ready to retire or die. If God does not call a man into the ministry he needs to go and find him an honest job; no matter how well of an orator he may be! I believe that a Church should be able to stand with or without any one particular member. (That is not to say that it would not hurt.) I have always believed that if a Church could not make it without me; I need to leave, because they are not trusting Christ but me; and that holds true for any member!

America was established with the finest form of human government upon the earth; a Representative Republic. We the people democratically elect Representatives to voice our desires for our Country in their various forms of leadership. (America is drifting fastly away from this!!) These officials are sworn to uphold, and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign, and domestic. They are not to change the Constitution, but uphold it. (It is our right to change it.) Without doubt this is the finest form of human government in existence. It does not work well within a Church though; even though we see it all too often. These Churches are going to be the types where the people use the deacon, or some other member or committee to forcibly persuade the Pastor to do things against Gods will. The people within these Churches will typically go to a Deacon, rather than to their Pastor for advice, and would rather him just stay out of their business, and just say something nice on Sunday. While this is a wonderful form of government for a nation, it is a rather lousy form of government for a Church; because it removes the Pastor from his God placed position of authority, and places some other usurper into his position, turning it into a Bananna Republic rather than a Representative Republic.

We also see dictatorships in the world today. (I Fear America is falling into this form of government.) We see examples of this in Cuba, Venezuela, and other places. Typically there will be some sort of a raving madman in the leadership, and if anyone dares question him they will be quickly banished to imprisonment or even put to death. Many people will be quick to say that anytime a Pastor gets any authority they do not like; that he is a dictator. Or sometimes when a Pastor has to do something that somebody thinks he shouldn't, they will say "He's being a dictator." I suppose that this may take place from time to time within a Church setting, but I doubt that it has ever been common. I can say this with confidence for two reasons; 1:A dictator must have the authority to imprison (When has a Pastor ever had that!?) 2: People flee in droves from dictators. Usually what we see when a Pastor is being accused of being a dictator it is by somebody who wants him to leave and them to stay; while in reality people flee FROM dictators. If it were possible a dictatorship would not work within a Church setting, and it barely works in a national setting.

The other form of government mentioned is a Theocracy. We only ever see this model perpetuated in ancient Israel, before they sought themselves a King. I understand fully that Israel and the Church are two totally different entities, and I reject 100% reformed doctrine; but I also understand the helpful similarities between the two. When God led his people out of Egypt he did it by the hand of a man whom he had chosen; Moses. God was King in Jeshurun, and Moses was his earthly appointee to guard over, lead, guide, teach, and shepherd Israel. This was a pure form of a Theocracy. Israel was Gods peculiar treasure, and he had a special way for them to be governed, a man whom he had chosen was to stand in the place for them, and tell them what God wanted for them to do. Moses was no one to mess with, when Miriam and Aaron did they found out why. When Korah, and his bunch did, they found out that you don't mess with Gods man. Today a Pastor is appointed to feed the flock of God. He is to care for their spiritual needs, and make sure they don't mess up with temporal things either. The Pastor is to faithfully declare the will, and word of God to his people. He is to have the authority to do Gods will, as God; not man gives him the authority to do so. When he stands and speaks we are to reverence his words as the true words of God himself! We find places where Moses messed up; just as there will be times when any Pastor will mess up. At these times we must remember to honour and respect him, and let God deal with him; just as he did with Moses. While the organization is totally different, the position is virtually the same between The Church and Israel, and Moses , and the New Testament Pastor. This will be the proper way for a New Testament Church to be governed; for it does belong to God, not a board of trustees. This does not give a Pastor total authority, but God.

When we view the proper government for a Church we again must remember to check tradition at the door. I have been attempting to do this for some time now, and have found that in all the teachings of the Bible it will make them much easier to understand. We cannot allow for error within the Church, as the day is at hand when Christ will return. If we will take the teachings of the whole Bible, and realize that the Church is precious to God, we will desire to do things right in his sight. I have forborne placing scripture references within this article, I do have plenty; those of you who still prefer the models of Democracy,Monocracy, Representative Republic, or Dictatorships, can you provide any scriptural or logical explanation as to why you would not support a Theocratic form of Church government?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Conventions, Associations, Fellowships, and the Autonomy of the Local Church

I believe in the Local Church. I believe that a true Church will be an independent, fundamental, Bible believing, Baptistic Church. (I say Baptistic because not everywhere will you find Baptist Churches in name; but they will be Baptistic in doctrine) I do not believe that any entity shall have any iota of authority, or sway over, or in a Local Church. I believe that the Local Church is the power head for the work of God in our age, and also the Bride of Christ himself. Due to these facts it is vitally important that we handle the Church in the manner that is befitting to Christ. There have been in relatively recent times many things come on the scene that may help, or also may hinder the workings of the Local Church, viz. Conventions, Associations, and Fellowships. I do not attempt to take to the fringe on any subject, and while dealing with this subject there are certainly those on the fringe. I fear that such stands will only marginalize us to those who are astute to the subject matter.

Today we have a few groups that have convened into what they term as "Conventions" such as the "Southern Baptist Convention",and the "Northern Baptist Convention". I believe it to be worthy to consult the dictionary for the clear definition of what a "Convention" is.

Convention: An assembly, as of delegates, to act on matters of common concern.

With the term defined we can readily see that there is already, in my opinion, an infringement on the autonomy of the Local Church. Any time that a group will be acting on a matter of common concern, it should always and only be "The" Local Church. There should never be a time when any group (whether made up of Church members or not) should have any say over what a Church is doing, and when acting as a Convention with real or supposed authority, they will inevitably infringe upon the desire of a Church. We also see commonly practiced within the forenamed conventions, that they will routinely ask for, and pressure Churches to give to different mission efforts through the Convention, thus leaving the Church without any say as to where, or who this is going to. I find this both unscriptural, and unethical for the Convention, and furthermore I find it reprehensible, and cowardly for a Church to allow them this power over them. I will not, at this time deal with the liberalness we find so rampant within these organizations,but may take this up at some later time.

Along with Conventions, we also have today Associations such as the "American Baptist Association", "Baptist Missionary Association", and others. We again will find the definition to be helpful in searching whether or not these are appropriate for a Church to be a part of or not.

Association: An organization of people with a common purpose 2. the act of associating

This definition would be wonderful for a Local Church, and this certainly should be true for a Church, but what about a group? In dealing with this one must look at just who they are associating themselves with, and make their judgement from there. Although there are some who will say that they do not associate with anybody, under any circumstances; I believe them to be on the fringe of the issue. There are very few Churches that can have a vibrant, active ministry reaching the lost for Christ without having anything to do with any other Church. I believe that whether we mean to or not, we all have some degree of association with another Church. When we make these associations, friendships, or partnerships we should always do so, not based on associational ties ("Well he's Bills friend, and I don't know him, but I will join up with him because I like Bill."), but rather based upon mutual agreements, and understanding. If an association is like this there is no problem with it , but we see today that there are many of the same characteristics between the named Associations and the previously discussed Conventions; certainly there will be as well, because these Associations are protestant to the Conventions. When any entity, other than a Local Church has the ability to accept or deny a missionary, they have taken the autonomy from the Church, and given it to a committee.

In more recent years there have risen groups termed fellowships; these have remained fewer in number, and never grown to the scale of the Conventions or Associations. There is a number of them that operate as groups within groups, viz. such and such county Baptist fellowship. The term fellowship by definition is:

Fellowship: Friendly relationship, companionship.

This term, as far as terms go is the least intrusive into the autonomy of a Church. This (fellowship) is what many Churches have with Conventions and Associations. (There are many good Churches within both Conventions and Associations) With this term being used it places a far greater responsibility upon the Churches to know who they are in fellowship with, due to what the Bible says about our fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. There are such groups as the Southwide Baptist Fellowship that have grown to greater levels, and typically when they do so, as with any group they begin taking on more authority over the Churches, and thus become unscriptural.

We can see that there are certainly many Churches within all three of these groups that are good, sound, God fearing Churches; but we also see the very opposite as well. This is a subject that has roots in the Bible, as we see many Churches working together to get the gospel around the world, and this was the goal of these groups when they had their foundation. What we observe though, is over time they begin to take on some sort of authority, and hinder their own beginning purpose. The Conventions have taken over many Churches, while claiming to help, they have destroyed the Churches. This happens when the Church gets off of it's foundation, and starts relying on a convention rather than Christ. Associations have also infiltrated the work of Christ, and rather a Church choosing their missionaries, they allow an Association to tell them who they should and should not support. This shows utter spiritual weakness within a Church when they cannot discern a good missionary from a bad. Fellowships are just as likely to take on the same attributes as Conventions , and Associations when they begin to expand in size, and influence. Does this mean that there are no good things within each of these groups? No! There is some good in each of them , but there is error as well. This error is of a dangerous kind, because it will undermine the autonomy of the Church, and that will destroy the Church eventually. This is what our Baptist forefathers held to be important enough to go to the stake and burn for; for at any time they could have turned the Church over to Rome, or England, or any of the other countries, and went scott free. These men gave their lives rather than give up the Church; why should we give it over today to ANY group civil, religious, governmental or otherwise today?!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How does our eschatology effect our practice?

There are many beliefs out there concerning eschatology, or the doctrine of the end time events; this article I will try to look at how these different beliefs effect our Churches, and personal practices.

I believe in the pre-millenial, pre-tribulational view of the end time events. I believe that we are presently living in what is termed the "Church age", or dispensation. I believe that we are in between the 69th and 70th week of the vision that Daniel saw concerning the end times. At the end of this age I believe that all those who have trusted Christ as their personal Saviour will be caught away to "meet him in the air", or be raptured. This will be the time when the dead in Christ will be raised in corruptible, and we shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Immediately after this takes place the tribulation will begin; and is a period of Gods wrath being poured out upon the Earth for 7 years. At this time there will be a great multitude come to know Christ due to the 144,000 redeemed out of each tribe of Israel, and the 2 witnesses that wield extraordinary power. As the wrath of God is being poured out on the Earth, there will be the marriage supper of the Lamb taking place in heaven. Once the days of this tribulation are fulfilled, the Lord himself will return bodily to the Earth, riding on a white horse with a sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth, and the armies (saints) of heaven following him. This is what is referred to as the battle of Armageddon, where the nations of the earth will be put down in defeat. The devil will at this time be bound up and cast into the bottomless pit for 1,000 years. Christ will at this time rule the world from Jerusalem for these 1,000 years with a rod of iron, and his saints will reign with him as he delegates them authority. After the 1,000 years are expired, I believe that Satan will be released from the bottomless pit, and go out to deceive the nations, but will soon be destroyed. Then will come the Resurrection of the unjust, and the Great White throne judgement of God, where the lost will be judged, condemned, and cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. The saved will then experience the New Heavens and New Earth, for all eternity with Christ. I know that there is a lot more to the end time events than this outline, but this is a basic overview of how I believe it will take place.

There are some who hold split-rapture, mid-tribulation, and post tribulation rapture views. There are also some who teach that there is no rapture at all. There are some who are post- millennial, and even a-millennial. I believe each of these views of eschatology have grave errors within them, and that the errors will make themselves manifest in some, or various ways in Churches, ministries, and personal lives. I cannot deal with all of the errors contained in the beliefs, but will try to see how they will effect our lives.

Those who hold to the split-rapture doctrine, will inevitably teach that there is a works salvation! Many will deny such a claim, but when you look at their teachings it is entwined within them so intricately so as not to be missed. If God were to punish one of his children with his wrath, it would make his word a lie, because we are not appointed to wrath. Furthermore they will say that those who are more faithful will be caught away first, and will not experience the tribulation, but those who are less faithful will have to be punished for their deeds; thus rendering the blood of Christ ineffective for the less faithful. When one is saved they receive the full atonement, and are seen as totally and completely righteous in the eyes of God, and placed on the same level as the most saintliest of all saints, in Christ. How can teachings such as this be said not to effect other doctrines, we can see so clearly how it effects soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and if we are off on that, the rest of what we believe makes no difference, because we are bound for hell!

The mid-tribulation view of the rapture is full of Biblicly irresolvable problems as well. Once again I will cite "we are not appointed unto wrath". Those who hold this point of view will certainly be effected by this doctrine as well. When one holds that we, as children of God will experience his wrath, if even for a period of time they are missing the very foundation of grace and redemption. They have no Biblical precedence for their doctrine either. When Noah was called into the ark; the flood came, he did not experience even a drop of the flood and judgement of God. Many more are the examples we could cite, but will forbear with that one. The mid- tribulation rapture leaves one with a certain fearful looking for of judgement, reserved for those false professors, who have known the truth and turned from it. Without any hope, a Church will inevitably not be as keen on reaching the lost as they should or could be, as we must have something better to offer than what the world, flesh and devil are already offering to them.

The view of the post-tribulational rapture carries with it the same foundational misunderstandings concerning the grace of God in redemption and salvation, as do the other views already discussed. This view also carries with it other absurdities concerning the visible return of the Lord for the millennium. This view, as best as I can tell does away with the time frame of the Judgement seat of Christ, and the Marriage supper of the Lamb, and puts them somewhere that I don't know where they can be found. The great absurdity though, is that this view teaches that Christ will come in the rapture on a cloud, and will immediately turn around on his white horse to the battle of Armageddon and the millennium. When one teaches these things, I have seen from personal experience that (all whom I have known to hold this view)they will become arrogant, and think that nobody else can have a clue about the Bible, due to their lack of agreement with them on this subject. This view will not only taint the doctrines of grace, but will also tend to add arrogancy to a life, ministry, and Church, which will never be conducive to spirituality.

Some out there hold to what is known of as a post-millennial view, or doctrine. This belief will present many problems for a person who holds all of the Bible to be literally true. This is a belief that Christ will return personally to the earth only after the 1,000 years of peace has taken place. Those who hold this view will typically not have a clear understanding of the true nature of mankind in his fallen state. The Bible teaches that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. In this sort of state of heart it will be utterly impossible for man to usher in any kind of peace to this world. We have seen numerous peace treaties throughout history, and have failed to see any of them bring lasting peace to even a region, nevertheless the entire world. To hold this view one must be lacking a foundational understanding of the nature of mankind, and this will inevitably make him less evangelistic, because he thinks all men are really pretty good. People with this doctrine will also be far less likely to hold the Bible as being literally true, and will think it to be more of an allegorical presentation of Gods will for mankind; to which I would strongly disagree.

There are also some who hold to an A Millennial doctrine; this is a teaching that says there will be no millennial reign of Christ. I do not know of very many who hold this view, and I could not say that they believe the Bible in whole or part. I would recommend any Bible believer to separate themselves from such a person and have no fellowship with them. To such a person who has given themselves over to such utter nonsense I would simply say "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him".

I believe upon clear examination of scripture in it's entirety; using proper study methods of comparing scripture to scripture, one will come out with the clear conclusion of the pre- tribulational rapture, and the pre-millennial return of Christ. These have been the standard of major theological intellects, and simple Christians who desire a sincere relationship with the Lord for many years. I believe both of them have scriptural precedence, and tie in with the overall plan of God. They both will help us personally with our responsibility towards God and our fellow man, and will also help the Churches to stay on track in these last days we are living in. Remember, Jesus is coming soon; so be diligent in all that you do.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Issues at hand

This is the first in what will likely turn into a series of articles, in which I would like to deal with some of the issues and practices we are seeing in our day within our Churches, and the implications of them. Today I would like to start with the King James Bible. We have seen much discussion, and debate concerning the use of the AV; some of which is to the extreme, but the issue still needs to be dealt with. So what are we to use? Are we to do as some and preach from the AV and study from others? Is the AV just our preference? Do we recommend our Church members to use what they want? All these are questions many people today are having; due to the fact that they were never taught the importance of the Scriptures. We must not be wishy washy on this subject, or any other for that matter; I may not agree with what somebody does, but if they can do it with conviction and clear conscience I can hold somewhat of a respect for them. We know that not all versions can be right, or the same ( as some will say) things that are different are not the same, remember. This article could never deal with all the truths and issues that arise out of the Textual issue, but I would just like to attempt to illicit some discussion on the subject. As I have said I believe that the issue goes to the extreme, when you go as far as some to claim double inspiration, or that the original texts can be corrected with the KJV. I will not give much time to these, as they are on the fringe of the issue. What are we to use is a good question from somebody; I will always answer with straight face and clear conscience that we are to stick with the KJV, due to it being the Inspired, Infallible, Inerrant, all sufficient, Plenary, Pure, Preserved word of God for the English speaking people of the world. Why would we ever recommend anything less than this?! Whether you agree with the KJV or not,these items should be of utmost importance to you. If we are to recommend the KJV for others to use it stands to reason that we would use what we recommend. I know of some who will use the KJV as their Bible to preach and teach from, but in private will use another version. This practice is very dangerous, as what you read from another version will stick with you after you have read it. This is a very deceptive form of hypocrisy, and I believe when the vail is removed we would find that these people were really wolves in sheeps clothing, and they did not with clear conscience believe in the KJV. I use the AV due to my personal study of the matter. I do not believe any other modern version has the proper foundation in the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament, and the Textus Receptus for the New Testament; and the ones that claim to use these, have a less than desirable, modern form of the language, which is filled with slang,and not proper speech. When we look at these other modern versions we will see that they use very perverted texts, and therefore they are corrupt to the core. When we review the committees that made these versions we will find all kinds of Heretics and perverts within these committees. I do understand that King James was not an Independent Fundamental Baptist also, but I do believe that he had enough of a foundation in the Gospel to get others saved. He may not have been what we would call Orthodox, but he did have a genuine good intention in what he authorized. He made in his edict of instruction for the translators not to add any of their own flavor to what was said, but to simply translate where needed, and stick to the former translations where possible. I believe that the KJV has proven itself true over the years, and therefore I can say that it is not just my preference, but is the Absolute Complete Word of God for the English speaking world. I have found that people who hold the KJV as a preference, usually are unwilling to take a stand on much of anything else, except when it comes to standards; then they will take up arms to defend their lack of standards! I find the implications of using other versions, to tend towards less standards of righteousness within the personal life, and within the congregation, typically women in pants, men in shorts, CCM, etc. I further find that those who use other versions will tend to have less of an orthodox view concerning Soteriology, Eccliesiology, and Eschatology, all of which are very vital points of doctrine. This is not to say that all who stand for the KJV will be more conservative, and orthodox, but it is far more likely. Look well to what you see around you, and I believe that you will find these things to be true, so if we are to stay with the "Old Paths" we would be well advised to stay with the Old Book (1611).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Point of salvation

I understand that there are many different opinions out there concerning the salvation of a soul, we can be sure that not all of them are right. I also understand that within our own ranks there are probably different opinions concerning it as well. One who is a Calvinist would be more likely to say that somebody can not get saved until God gets good and ready, to which I could agree to some degree, for without God drawing somebody they cannot come to Christ. But a Calvinist will also say that unless they hold out they never really got saved to begin with; thus teaching in all effect that the salvation of a soul is a process and not instantaneous. Some will say that salvation takes place when the person prays the "Sinners prayer" ( where did that come from anyway?) thus removing repentance and faith, if all one has to do is repeat the magical words. One may also say that until one makes a full repentance, and is willing to change their entire life they are not saved, thus adding, in all sincerity works if we must make the change. Some will even yet say that when one claims to believe in Christ they are saved, thus removing the draw of God, repentance, or even calling on the name of the Lord. As I have said not all of these are right, certainly though they all have a facet of the truth within them. Which one do we believe and teach? This is the most important subject concerning any man in this world, lost or saved, religious or secular, so who is right. I believe that the salvation of the soul takes place instantly, when God draws a sinner to himself (typically through preaching, witnessing, etc but not exclusively) and they are willing for God to make a new creature out of them, and by faith call on him in prayer confessing their sins before Almighty God, and ask Jesus the risen Saviour into their heart to forgive them of their sins and save their soul. I do not believe that the exact words are what is important, so long as they are calling on Jesus as their risen Saviour by faith, and ask him to save them. There are some who believe the words must be exact, but I do not.So I thus believe that salvation is obtained by the lost soul when they place their faith in him, and cry out for salvation. Thus making prayer the vehicle of their faith to Godward. (This article is written with the common understanding that we all agree that salvation is by grace through faith, plus nothing minus nothing.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More on Baptism

When one comes for Baptism, why do most Churches vote on whether or not to Baptize them? Where did this come from? Is it scriptural? The Church holds the authority, but must the ordinances of the Great Commission be voted on? If so, why not vote on winning souls, or partaking the Lords Supper?

Friday, March 27, 2009


Why do true baptist,rebaptise?Why would a church rebaptise a beleiver who has been previously baptised,by immersion,by Rick Warren?
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