Our Everyday Jesus

Our everyday Jesus

Mat 17:1  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Mat 4  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

For these Jewish men it was amazing to see Jesus on the same plain as Moses, the preeminent law-giver, and Elias (Elijah) the preeminent prophet, this was a big revelation to them.  They knew Christ was something special in their day, because they were with Him every day, but talking to these two put him even higher in their minds.  They realized that their everyday Jesus was very important to be talking with Moses and Elijah.

Mat 17:5  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

God the Father, interrupted Peter and exalted Jesus and did not even acknowledge Moses or Elijah.  Jesus did not need man to build Him a tabernacle, God has exalted His Son!  Philippian 2:9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Mat 17:6  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

When we see Jesus for Who He is, we will not struggle to fear God, it will overcome us.  Our everyday Jesus is more than we know, or understand.   We so often want to meet with Jesus and then build a a tabernacle (a place of remeberance) and go on with our life.  But God says that we are to go with Him and hear Him!  Worship is not just remembering, it is a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  Your religion is as cold and dead as a museum when you are not hearing the Saviour!

Mat 17:7  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

The fear of the Lord is not crippling.  It is overwhelming to our carnal senses, but we can arise and walk with Christ in His strength.

Mat 17:8  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

They came back down with their everyday Jesus.  He is somewhat like us, only not, he is the Son of God!  He walks with us, but only out of love, not sameness.  You and I may walk together, but it is becasue we are cut out of  the same cloth.  There is nothing everyday about Jesus except His constisency.  

Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12  Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13  And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17  Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. 

Which Bible do you use?

Which Version do we use?

Someone asked me a while back to articulate my stand on the Bible version issue and to explain why I only use the King James Version.  So I thought I'd share the short version here in this blog.

There are many translations of the Scriptures in the sense that men sat down with a Hebrew and Greek text and translated it to the best of their ability into English.  The majority of the versions agree in many areas.  But there are significant differences between the English versions today and they cannot all be right.  So which one is right?  Can we know for sure we have the exact words of God?  Do we really need scholars to verify the inspiration of God? 

Here are a few thoughts that have guided me to my conclusion.    

First of all, this is initially a matter of faith for me.  Every issue in life should be first judged from the Scriptures.  As a young man, I read passages such as Psalms 12:6-7  “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”  I struggled to understand that God breathed His Word supernaturally and what it meant that He has promised to preserve it.  All the questions of "how could the Bible be preserved when man was involved with it?" tumbled through my mind.  I came to peace that this subject just like the rest of my Christian life is first a matter of faith.  I can simply believe what the Bible teaches about itself.  Preservation is as real as the inspiration.  I can trust that the very Words of God are available today.

The next step was to determine where The Words are.  If you study the issue there were two different schools of thought in the world of translating.  One was "word for word" the other was "dynamic equivalency".  This distinction put the King James as the only mainstream version to value the word choices of the originals.  The other crowd simply felt they could paraphrase to capture the dynamic equivalent.   I believe faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  I have a deep respect for those who were careful to guard the word for word meanings of the originals into English.  It is kind of like two guys building a house.  One contractor follows the blueprints percisely.  The other guy says he will get pretty close, but he cannot be sure the blueprint isn't mistaken so he'll adjust along the way.  We all agree God wrote the blueprint without error, and He promised He would preserve it for every generation.       

One of the most powerful points in this discussion is that of history.  Has there been any spiritual awakenings like the revivals that have come through the preaching of the King James during its unprecedented 400 year history?  Many of the modern versions that were once touted as the version that would replace the King James have already died and are no longer printed.  I know the fruit test (by their fruits ye shall know them) applies to false teachers, but I think examining the fruit of a version is a valid part of this debate.

Ultimately, I have chosen to be a student of the Bible.  I pray the Lord will keep me from the haughtiness of ever being a judge of the Bible and presuming to correct it.  This is a slippery slope and it opens the Bible up to false teachers to do the same.  Who can rebuke them if the Bible believers are correcting it according to their understanding?  Believing God has preserved His Words is a faith matter, but it a safeguard against pride, presumption, and false teachers.  I have bound myself (by faith) to God's pure Words, and by God's grace, They will be my Guide.  If I am wrong on this I would rather face the Lord and say I had too much faith, rather than not believing enough and changing His Word.

A classic example of a false teacher shifting words to fit his teachings is Augustine when He changed Titus 3:5  "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" To  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”  This gave him grounds for baptismal regeneration and infant baptism.  Just one minor word changed, but what a drastic doctrinal shift.  

We're not threatened by other versions.  We don’t do a version check at the door.  We understand there is disagreement and confusion on this issue.  This is simply where God has lead me as a pastor to stand on the issue of Bible versions and I must be true to Him.   I must pastor according to the purity of my heart before God.  So whether it is simply to be able to read God’s Word in unison as a congregation, or to avoid Satan’s oft repeated question, “Yeah, Hath God said?” Cornerstone will only use the King James Version in its teaching and preaching ministries.      

I have found that it’s not the King James itself that is offensive, but rather it’s the concept that we can actually have the exact Word of God that has some people squirming.  Believing God has preserved His Word takes away the need for a professional to verify it.  It puts the Word of God back in the hands and confidently in the hearts of the common man who under the influence of the Holy Spirit are able to know the certainty of God’s Word.  False teachers often exalt themselves as the only teachers who really understand the truth as God gave it.  We see this in Catholicism.  We see this in the cults.  But now we see this in conservation Christianity when teachers say that we have to go 

through them to know for sure if we have the Word of God.  At Cornerstone you will find the straightforward preaching of God’s Word as God’s Word.

It saddens me that some are offended by this position.  But then, there will be those who do not like that we believe the Creation account, that Salvation is through Christ alone, that we do not baptize babies, that we still use the name Baptist, or any of the other distinctives we hold dear.  I guess I do not understand a faith that does not bring definition and clarity to one's walk with the Lord.  We live in a day when many Christians want to hide in the murky waters of ambiguity and multiple choice rather then building their life on the firm foundation of "Thus saith the Lord". 

There is much more on this topic that I could share, but I think this is enough for now.  God bless and may His Word be a light unto your feet!

What must I do to be saved?

What must I do to be saved?

We believe the Bible is the only road map to Heaven.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about Salvation.

There are no works that can get you to heaven.  Baptism is important, but it is not connected to salvation.  Church membership is a crucial part of Christian growth, but it is not part of how you get saved.  Charity is the overflow of a Christ-centered life, but it is not a means to salvation.  Even cleaning up your life, for all the good that it does, it will not get anyone into Heaven.  If someone (even a church) adds any works to the Gospel, they are preaching another gospel.  Salvation is putting your faith in Christ alone.   Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The journey of faith begins with accepting what God says about our sin, turning from our sin, and embracing Christ as the only remedy.  Romans 4:3  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

            Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

            Rom 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:6-10  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, ...  The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My Friend, Christ is waiting to forgive your sin and to bring you into God’s family.  Accepting the Scriptures is much like a traveler at an airport. He can profess all day long that the airplane can take him to his destination, but until he is in the airplane and it is speeding down the runway he has yet to put his faith in it.  It is often fear or our love of sin that will keep us in the terminal of indecision.  We must repent or turn from our sin, and enter salvation trusting the Pilot to bring us to His Divine Destination.  Christ has promised to “prepare a place” for each one who comes to Him, and He said all “...that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37

My friend, staying where you are is a destination in and of itself.  John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  Don’t stay where you are, in your sin, under condemnation.  Trust Christ and enter into eternal life.

You can begin this journey of faith today by trusting Christ alone as the only way to Heaven.  He waits to forgive your sins and to bring you into His family!

We would love to help you in any way we can! Please call us at (920)207-6019 if we can assist you with your walk with God.

The difference between a good church and a great church

Exo 33:1  And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 2  And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3  Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.'

After they worshiped the golden calf, God was fed up with the Israelite’s sin.  Listen to His judgment on the people.  God said, Go up with a messenger and take the land.  I will still fulfill My promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will still throw out the inhabitance of the land.  But I will not be with you, because I would have to destroy you if I went with you.

Exo 33:4  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5  For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. 6  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

Why were this pronouncement considered evil tidings to the people?

They could have had everything they wanted, but they would have missed God’s presence.

The song writer said “take the world, but give me Jesus.”

Great Churches understand:

1.  Apart from God’s presence, all earthly blessings lose their eternal significance.

  - Good churches have goals of acquisition.

  - Great Churches set goals for more time spent with God.   

  - Good churches are too busy obtaining and maintaining their blessings to even notice the lack of the presence of God.

  - Great churches are willing to sacrifice temporal blessings to walk with God and to obtain eternal rewards.

2.  It is not enough to have a pastor (angel or messenger) to lead in the right direction, every member is responsible to walk with God.

   - Good churches often have good leadership, but it’s possible to go through the motions of God’s will following a man, but not be in fellowship with the Father.

   - Good churches will have a good programs run by good people for good reasons, but programs will not substitute for God’s presence.

   - Great churches understand that all is vain unless God’s presence is here.

3.  That it takes time to deal with sin.

There is a temptation to keep going and do the good things and never stop to mourn over sin and properly restore fellowship with God.

We can continue on in the right direction without repentence, but we do so without God’s presence.

  - Good churches are content to turn an empathetic eye to sin, and say “Oh well, not a big deal!  Sin happens...  Let’s just stay busy.”

  - Great Churches understand that sin happens, but take time to mourn before God over their sin seeking to restore the offender in the spirit of meekness. 

How can we be a great church?

1. Practice personal humility.

2.  Always have a sensitive heart toward sin.

3.  Embrace interpersonal accountability.

4.  Alway remember "Busyness" is often the enemy of holiness! 

 - It is never a waste of time to thoroughly deal with sin in our own lives and in the body.  Great churches are not too busy to maintain their fellowship with the Father. 

I love this Hymn.  It reflects the spirit of a great church.

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Calvinism - truth or error?

What about Calvinism?

Many have asked where our church stands on the topic of Calvinism.  The answer is we reject Calvinism as heresy.  The next question that is asked is “What are you then?”  We believe God would have us to be Biblically defined and balance.  We are Biblicists.  We are neither Calvinistic nor Arminian. 

The Calvinist presents his beliefs in the acronym Tulip.

Total depravity

Unconditional election

Limited atonement

Irresistible grace

Perseverance of the saints

Calvinism is complicated.  Multiple versions abound, it is almost impossible to debate Calvinism, because there are so many variations.  So here are a few thoughts as to why we reject it, and most importantly please allow me to present a simpler and I believe more biblical alternative.

First, Calvinism works against the Scriptures.  It generates doubts.  Am I elect?  Are you elect?  How can we know?  Are you actually persevering?  God's Word is designed to help us understand the certainty of the truth. 

1Jn 5:13  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Pro 22:20-21  Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Secondly, Calvinism misrepresents God’s love.  To insert a God who chooses only some to eternal life, when witnessing to the lost breeds confusion and often disdain.  Does God really love the whole world or not?  How can I know if I am truely loved of God?

Lastly, Calvinism is often a wet blanket on evangelism.  If the lost are drawn irresistibly by God than for many it follows the lost will be reached without my personal investment in the process.  God could bring people to me, but why would I go out of my way to share the Gospel, when I might possibly be wasting my time on the non-elect among us.  Calvinism diminishes the concept of “to every creature” in the great commission.     

   Here is a Biblical alternative to Calvinism set to the acronym Daisy.


A-Accepted Election

I-Immeasurable Atonement

S-Saving Grace

Y-Yielding to the Spirit


We believe the Bible teaches that man is depraved and unable to save himself.  This does not mean however that man is not able to respond to the Gospel as the Calvinist would purport.

Man is capable of hearing the Gospel in his depravity and responding by faith.  Rom 10:8  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Accepted Election

A Calvinist teaches that there is unconditional election, which means basically, that God chooses some to go to heaven, and the others are left in their sin without hope of redemption.

We believe 2 Peter 3:9 which says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Unfortunately, there will be those who choose to reject the Gospel, and God will ultimately say to them “depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.   No one goes to Hell simply because God so wills.  If God’s sovereignty were to deny man’s free will, the effect would be that all would be saved, not just a select few.  God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Thankfully, there will be those who accept the free gift of salvation and enter into a group that is defined in the Bible as the “Elect of God”, a “chosen generation” and “the family of God.”   Biblically, election refers to those who enter into Christ by responding to the Gospel.     

Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Immeasurable Atonement

The language of Scripture is a powerful argument against the Calvinistic idea that the atonement was only for a select few, and in favor of full and complete atonement for any and all who call upon the Lord.  (Romans 10:13)  Whosoever, all, and any, these words mean what they say.  Salvation is for all who will call upon the name of the Lord.  When God so loved the world that He sent Christ, he dealt with a global sin problem.  We cannot measure it, only partake and enjoy it. 

Saving Grace

Irresistible grace speaks of God imposing His will independently on the believer apart from any exercise of his will, but this is not supported by the Bible.

Grace in the Bible is unmerited favor powerful enough to save the worst sinner and to propel any believer to new heights of Christian growth, but its power can be refused and frustrated.  (John 1:11, Gal 2:21, James 4:6)     

Yielding to the Spirit

A Calvinist would teach that the believer is inexorably drawn to sanctification, and if known sin is in the life of the Christian it is very possible that they were never actually saved.

The Bible teaches that if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, (Gal 5:16) and that we become the servant to whom we yield our members to obey. (Rom 6:16)  Willful obedience to God is the vehicle through which the Spirit accomplishes the work of sanctification.    


There are some who may disagree with this answer to Calvinism thinking that to agree would be to be untrue to a foundational truth of Christianity.  Nothing would be further from the truth. 

John Calvin leaned heavily in the formation of this doctrine on the teachings of Augustine of Hippo. 

Augustine was a major force in the advancement of Catholic Doctrine.  He was the first to advocate the use of legal sanctions and violence against those who disagreed with his doctrine. 

We can hold Augustine accountable for the horrors of the Inquisition and the torture and killing of those who believed in obeying God rather than man.

Freedom of conscience or Soul Liberty was equally detestable to John Calvin.  The bloodshed and tyranny that he invoked on any who disagreed with him is difficult to comprehend. 

Can either of these men be trusted to properly represent the heart of God concerning the Gospel?  It is my firm conviction that the Bible gives us the responsibilty to judge a teacher by their fruits.  (Mat 7:20)

Those who promote Calvinism today are quick to point to the Scripture above in order to invalidate the salvation of their fellow Christians, (especially those who disagree with them) but they are not so honest in examining the fruit of their own teachers.

May God give you wisdom as His Spirit leads you into the truth on this matter. 

How Great Thou Art Series

Josh Feemster | How Great Thou Art (Part 1)
Josh Feemster | How Great Thou Art (Part 2)
Josh Feemster | How Great Thou Art (Part 3)

The Art of Diminishing

The Art of Diminishing

John 3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease.

In every area of life, this verse should be heeded. 

It maybe that this one short phrase so completely sums up the essence of Christianity that the rest of Scripture could be seen as an explanation of this one thought.  I will be well guided in this life if I in every situation make much of Christ, and make little of me.  There is only one way through the minefields of this world, and this principle will show you the way.

If I will learn to die to self,

if I will keep under my body,

if I will take up my cross,

if I will leave all and follow Him,

if I will become a living sacrifice,

if I will forsake my ambitions for His,

If I will learn to give of myself,

if I will love sacrificially, 

If I will remember my Creator,

if I will endure hardness as a good soldier,

If I will walk in the Spirit,

and if I will exalt Christ,

It will be the fruit of learning to decrease while Christ increases. 

This is the heart and soul of Bible Christianity. 

The art of diminishing is this.  In every situation, my duties revolve around taking the attention and carefully fixing it on Christ and subtly slipping to the background so that Christ is honored above all.  It is the practical expression of humility.

Humility is an acquired art as it does not come naturally.  You may think that you will do it in the public arena, but in private it matters little.  But as it is in any area of skill, it is those who master the craft in private that ultimately have the opportunity to demonstrate it publically.  So often humility seems canned or clumsy, but it is simply a betrayal that we have not given ourselves to honing the skill in the quiet places in our hearts. Nourishing pride in the secret places of our lives will ultimately cripple our opportunity to publically exalt Christ.  Oh that I may exalt Christ in private, making little of me and my sufferings, so that when the opportunity arises, I can deftly point men to Christ and nimbly slip away while they are mesmerized by His beauty.  Lord, teach me the art of diminishing! 

A Bearer of Burdens

Gal 6:2  Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Is there anyone who does not have burdens?  You might eye the rich man, who has it all, and you will find him eyeing you and thinking in his heart life was simpler with out all this stuff and stress.  You might point at the young, and yet they long for the day when they will be free to run their own life.  Where there is a pulse there is a burden.  Where there is a heart that beats, that heart knows the heaviness of its burdens.  You do not have to go out in search of those who have burdens; you will find them all around you.  God does not call me to pine for someone I can help, but I am to seize the opportunity that He has already provided.   

A preacher once told me, “Preach to the brokenhearted and you will never want for an audience”

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” 

There is no doubt that Christ was intending that I be a Bearer of Burdens.  How do I love those God has put in my life?  I need to love through prayer.  I should love through care.  I can love by being there.  There are many things I can do.  

Our problem is almost never that there is no one to love; it is usually the one whom God is calling us to love.  To be selective in our love will leave us empty handed.  To love as Christ loved, is to know the joy of being used of the Master.   May we love God to the point that we can love our enemies, and our friends, and those who cannot figure out which side they are on.  May we find the grace to bear one another’s burdens.    

What is a Baptist? (Part 2)

What is a Baptist?

 If I said I was a musician, you may still have many questions.  What instruments?  What style of music?  With whom and where do you play?

To say “I am a Christian” in this day, is very ambiguous.  That could mean anything from a White supremacist, to an American, to a Jesuit priest, to devout Bible believer.  What kind of Christian are you?    There is a need for labels. 

We wouldn’t go back to the supermarket whose soup aisle was full of cans but no labels.  Just knowing it is soup is nice, but hardly enough to inspire confidence.  So it is with a church.  A label may still be misleading, but it is a place to start.     

Baptists were the original non-denominationals in the sense that each assembly was independent of the next.  But labels they had, they were known under many names.  Paulicians, Donatists, Waldensians, Ana Baptists, etc.  They were rarely self-imposed titles, but rather given by their enemies and onlookers.  

The modern non-denominational movement is often proud of their ambiguity, as though labels are wrong.  As Bible Believers, we don’t shy away from labels, they happen when you follow the Scriptures.  It is an opportunity to engage on biblical matters.  Labels are a product of transparency, the clarity of the Scriptures, and a dogged determination to live in the light of Its teachings.

The Baptist label is not a statement of pride or supremacy.  It is a statement as to the content and characteristics of the church. 

Modern Non-denominational churches will sometimes have solid doctrine and can be rich in biblical practices, but will fall for the oft repeated line that every denomination is corrupt therefore we must start over and build a right church or rebuild the church that Jesus built. 

It sound like a righteous statement, but it puts one in questionable company.

Catholics will say that the primitive church was in such disarray that it barely existed and that it all had to be brought under a single authority in order for it to survive.  But this claim is not supported by history.

The reformers all looked at the Catholic Church and said it is so bad that the true church doesn’t exist therefore we must start our own.  Methodist, Congregational, Lutheran, etc…  all go back to a human founder.

Mormonism and other cults say the same thing. Religion is such a mess and we are here to straighten it all out and restore the true church. 

But this thought breaks down in light of Scripture and fails to explain what Jesus said in Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  

There is a promised perpetuity given to the church that Christ started.

Church perpetuity means there will always be a remnant of churches that in faith and practice resemble the New Testament church.

This is the how Charles Spurgeon described this perpetuity:

"We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents…”

Baptist Churches individually don’t last forever, but there is a long and unbroken line of doctrine that can be traced back to the time of Christ.

Here are other voices that confirm Spurgeon’s understanding of Baptist perpetuity.

Two famous historians of the Dutch Reformed Church, Ypeij and Dermout, said, “The Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community that has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all the ages.”

Noted Quaker historian, Robert Barclay, says of Baptists, “We shall afterward show that the rise of the Anabaptists took place prior to the Reformation of the Church of England, and there are also reasons for believing that on the continent of Europe, small hidden Christian societies, who have held many of the opinions of the Anabaptists, have existed from the times of the apostles.  In the sense of the direct transmission of divine truth, and the true nature of spiritual religion, it seems probable that these churches have a lineage or succession more ancient than that of the Roman church.”

The founder of the Campbellites, Alexander Campbell, who vehemently resisted Baptists during the nineteenth century, wrote, “The sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism from the apostolic age to the present, have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced.”

Lutheran historian, Mosheim, said, “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... the origin of Baptists is lost in the remote depths of antiquity...the first century was a history of Baptists.”

John Clark Ridpath, a Methodist by denomination, and considered by some to be the greatest historian the religious world has known, said, “I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist Church as far back as 100 A.D., although without doubt there were Baptist churches then, as all Christians were then Baptists.”

Ulrich Zwingli, a Presbyterian contemporary with John Calvin, said, “The institution of the Anabaptists is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great trouble in the church.”

Catholic Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1564, said, “Were it not for the fact that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1,200 years, they would swarm greater than all the reformers...  If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and boldness of which a man or any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer and surer than those of the Anabaptist, since there have been none for the 1200 years past that have been more generally punished or that have been more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and have offered themselves to the most cruel sort of punishment than these people.”

In conclusion, Baptists have not persevered because of a man.  Christ’s promise of perpetuity is His promise to fulfill.  What is ours is to do our best to follow Him.  Individual churches that sin or apostasize will eventually die, or to use the Bible term from Revelation, Christ will remove the candlestick.  It ceases to be a spiritual entity in God’s eyes.  But while churches die, new ones are born.  You might look around and see a dead church with the name Baptist on the sign.  Do not judge all Baptist churches by one bad apple.  Jesus Christ was the first Pastor of the first church.  And from that time through the work of the Holy Spirit, that church has multiplied and they (under different labels) have persevered through many dark trials.  No where do we see a Scriptural admonition to rebuild the “Christian Church”.  We are not here because a man rebuilt the Christian church, we are here because God has promised that the church that Christ built would always be victorious over the very gates of Hell. 

Am I proud of being a Baptist?  No, I am deeply humbled.  

What is a Baptist?

Orthodox Christianity has for the most part held to some form of these fundamental Bible doctrines.

A departure from these important doctrines would certainly have reflected a departure from a simple faith in God’s Word and denigration of the Deity of Jesus Christ.  When a man or traditions of men are elevated to the level of the Scriptures there is a falling away.  History is replete with examples of this sort of apostatizing.

But these are not the only doctrinal earmarks that were important to the primitive church. (from after the apostles till the beginning Catholic church around A.D. 326)  In fact there has been a line of doctrine distinctives that have defined Bible believing people dating from apostolic times until the present. 

Notice this quote from C.H. Spurgeon:

"We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor I believe any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with the government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men". (From The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol.VII, Page 225).

Being a Baptist is not a badge of carnal pride, but rather it is an association with a line of noble Christians who believed the Bible tenaciously and were willing to die for their faith.  

Here is a basic list, added to the one above, that has defined historic Baptist peoples.

Historic Baptist Distinctives

  1. Independent churches

Historically, Baptists have repudiated the intrusion of anyone outside the assembly into the governance of the church.  The concept of the Catholic (which means universal) church has always been rejected of baptistic peoples.  The assembly was independent, though always seeking to co-exist peacefully with civil government, refused to be held accountable by any external hierarchy in any spiritual matters.  The governance was a simple form of democratic rule lead by the bishop/pastor, wherein the binding authority rested with the assembly of its membership.  Also characteristic of the early church was a distinct membership.  No one was considered a member simply because they said they were were a Christian, but rather when they aligned themselves with the doctrine and submitted to the authority of the assembly, the assembly voted to accept them into the membership.  There was a practice that still exists among some Baptist churches, and that is when a member moved to another city a letter of recommendation from one church to the other was sent to vouch for the believer because membership in one church did not guarantee membership in another.   Furthermore, there was to be binding arbitration within the church.  The disagreement was not to go to the courts but to be settled within the body. 1Co 6:4  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

  2. Regenerate Church membership

Act 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Historic Baptists believe that Christ is worthy of a pure bride and that regeneration is only possible through Salvation.  There is no way to function as a body under the administration of the Spirit if salvation were not insisted on.  Salvation, baptism, and doctrinal agreement in major areas were the prerequisite to church membership.

2Co 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

  3. Believer’s Baptism

Baptism was another important Baptist distinctive.  They insisted on the Bible pattern of Salvation first, baptism second.  It put the Bible believers at odds with the powerful religious authorities who connected baptism to church membership and salvation to membership in that particular church.  Unspeakable torture and death was often the price for rejecting the baptism of the State church and embracing biblical baptism.  Baptists rejected infant baptism because there was no faith first.  When one believed they were then baptized.

In rejecting Protestant and Catholic baptism, they became known as Ana-baptists, which means re-baptizers.  Baptists have not embraced that term arguing that the first baptism was not Bible baptism.

  4. Immersion

Another important distinctive is the mode of Baptism.  Baptism by immersion in water was the only mode practiced for several hundred years after Christ.  It was understood that it followed the example set by Christ in His baptism and also pictured the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.  Baptists have never embraced sprinkling or pouring as proper modes of baptism.  

  5. Soul Liberty

Soul Liberty, or liberty of conscience, was perhaps the most attacked Baptist distinctive throughout history.  Baptists have always held that every individual would stand before God and give an account for themselves.  We do not believe in family salvation, or that prayers for the salvation of the dead are meaningful.  One must trust Christ for himself while he is able to and no one could effectuate grace for another, or cause it to be withheld. 

Historic Baptists dismissed coercion in evangelism, but practiced a voluntary, willing submission to Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the church.  Baptists were persuasive in preaching, but there was a reliance on the Spirit of God to change an individual.  Baptists have never employed the sword, prison, torture, or confiscation to carry on the work of the Lord.  If you study church history, the Catholic and Protestant denominations have dark chapters in which they would employ coercive and violent measures to evangelize and maintain their membership.  Baptists have been persecuted much for their stand on Individual Soul Liberty.

Some have estimated the number martyrs at 50,000,000.  If it were a fraction of that number it is still staggering.  The chief perpetrator of these crimes were the Catholic and Protestant authorities.  Baptists have never used the power granted by God to civil government to punish evil doers to further the cause of Christ.   

Here are a few examples of suffering for the sake of conscience:  

"The king [James I], is a mortal man and not God, and therefore hath no power over the immortal souls of his subjects, to make laws and ordinances for them, and to set spiritual lords over them; he is but dust and ashes as well as we; yet, though he should kill us, we will speak the truth to him… for our lord the king is but an earthly king, and he hath no authority as a king but in earthly causes; and, if the king's people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all human laws made by the king, our lord the king can require no more; for men's religion to God is betwixt God and themselves."

King James I responded to Helwys' Baptist challenge of his "divine right" by arresting the preacher and putting him in prison, where he remained until death.

I will close with one more quote from the famous Baptist pastor, C.H. Spurgeon:

"History has hitherto been written by our enemies, who never would have kept a single fact about us upon the record if they could have helped it, and yet it leaks out every now and then that certain poor people called Anabaptists were brought up for condemnation. From the days of Henry II to those of Elizabeth we hear of certain unhappy heretics who were hated of all men for the truth's sake which was in them. We read of poor men and women, with their garments cut short, turned out into the fields to perish in the cold, and anon of others who were burnt at Newington for the crime of Anabaptism. Long before your Protestants were known of, these horrible Anabaptists, as they were unjustly called, were protesting for the 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.' No sooner did the visible church begin to depart from the gospel than these men arose to keep fast by the good old way. The priests and monks wished for peace and slumber, but there was always a Baptist or a Lollard tickling men's ears with holy Scriptures, and calling their attention to the errors of the times. They were a poor persecuted tribe. The halter was thought to be too good for them. At times ill-written history would have us think that they died out, so well had the wolf done his work on the sheep. Yet here we are, blessed and multiplied; and Newington sees other scenes from Sabbath to Sabbath.

As I think of our numbers and efforts, I can only say in wonder - what a growth! As I think of the multitudes of our brethren in America, I may well say, What hath God wrought! Our history forbids discouragement." (From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, Vol. 27, page 249.)

“Our history forbids discouragement!”  May God give us the strength to stand for truth in our day as our forefathers stood in theirs! 

Please read part two of "What is a Baptist?"