Since I moved to the Bible Belt I have been shocked to see that the churches here are less doctrinally sound than those out west. I think my disappointment is best expressed in this thought: If we could afford it we would seriously consider moving out west again. My wife and I have discussed just such a thing.
I am sure, however, of the fact that God led us to where we are so we will stay until He leads us elsewhere. I hope He doesn’t because we are tired of moving, but if He so leads we will move.
The Bible passage that best expresses what we believe is God’s present calling on our lives is Jude 1:3-4 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Solid Foundation Ministries has for its goal the encouragement and exhortation of churches to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” If something was right in the first century is is right now. If something was wrong in the first century it is wrong now. We seem so unaware of what is happening in our churches, and I mean in our independent, fundamental, Baptist churches.
Baptists have departed from their historic position on a few very important doctrines. We must fight where the battle is raging. Maybe God moved us here so we could see the battle more clearly. There is one basic Protestant doctrine that has permeated many otherwise very good independent Baptist churches. This doctrine has led to compromise in other areas.
There are a good number of independent Baptist churches within driving distance of where we live. So far I have talked to one pastor who does not believe in the universal church or universal body of Christ and that one did not see the importance of the issue. Don’t misunderstand me, most of the independent Baptist churches we have visited are good churches. They stand on the right Bible version, they preach the true Gospel, their people, for the most part, live good Christian lives.
So, what is my issue? Their separation from the world and from false teachers is soft. They lift up non-Baptists as authorities even when they teach a false gospel. I told one pastor that one of the people he mentions often, and whose commentary is one of his favorites, believes in salvation by works. I gave him quotes proving this to be true and he just made excuses for the man.
Listen to what Paul had to say about those who preach another Gospel:
II Corinthians 11:4 “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
Galatians 1:6-9 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
The Greek word translated accursed here is αναθεμα (anathema) which means “a (religious) ban or (concretely) excommunicated (thing or person).” The word “excommunicate” means to put out of fellowship or to have no relationship with. It does not mean to shun like some religions do because our purpose in excommunication is to restore the person to fellowship as we are told in II Thessalonians 3:14-15 “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
The universal church doctrine also destroys the purpose of the two ordinances give to the New Testament church. The main purpose of baptism is identification with the true Gospel. It is also a commitment to walk in newness of life. It identifies the person who is baptized with the Lord, His Gospel, and the doctrine of the church who baptizes. It makes them a member of that church.
The refusal to accept alien baptism has been a Baptist principle since the time of apostles (Acts 19:1-5). I was recently talking to a pastor about a family that didn’t join our church in Bellingham because we would not accept their baptism. In the conversation I let him know they were fine Christians, but they were interdenominational and not Baptists. His response nearly floored me. He asked it the problem was that they had been sprinkled instead of immersed. That they had alien baptism didn’t seem to even cross his mind.
Alien baptism (for those of you who don’t know what this means, it is non-Baptist baptism) is dangerous because it opens the door for other protestant doctrine. One of baptism’s main purposes is to maintain purity in the church (local of course).
Likewise, most of the Baptist churches I have visited in this area practice open communion. As long as the person professes to be a Christian he is allowed to partake. The Lord’s Supper is a church (local) ordinance. It primary purpose is to remember what Christ sacrificed for us. It, like baptism, has a secondary and very important purpose. It is to keep purity in the church. Like baptism, allowing non-Baptist to participate in the Lord’s Supper opens the door to other Protestant doctrines. One of those is that we receive grace by partaking. This is not so!
A third area where the doctrine of the universal church is hurting us is in music. Music is usually one of the first compromises that leads to accepting false doctrine. I am not an expert on what is, or is not, good music. I do know this, when we start accepting contemporary Christian music in our churches it always leads to decline. This even includes the toned down versions. It approves the contemporary artists and gets our people hooked on their music. I don’t have time to get into a long discussion on this but maybe I will in another post.
We often wonder why we are losing our children, and even some of our adults, to non-Baptist churches. When we teach that there is a universal church or universal body to which all Christians belong it is natural to think that one church is as good as another so we can choose the one we like the best.
It is time for the Baptist people to be reminded of where we come from. We are the original Christians of the first century. We are the Christians that kept the true Gospel alive during the dark ages. We are the people who brought freedom of religion to the United States. Our forefathers paid a heavy price to do all of this an more. Let’s not let this things be lost.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved