A Charged Battery Or A Living Connection
„And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:3)
The older I get the more clear and simple some things become. I do not mean that all things are simple, but some things become so. For instance the division between the Biblical, historical Baptist position and that of the Old Catholics seems clearer than ever to me, both in areas of sotieriology and ecclesiology. Furthermore I see how that Protestantism and many so-called Baptists are shot through with ideas borrowed from the Harlot. Those are plain words, but is time, and past, that plainness of speech be used in combating compromise and false doctrine.
We Baptists just cannot seem to learn from history. We ought to know that whenever Baptists compromise, Baptists lose. We ought to look at history and learn that liberal and inclusive views only serve to undermine the truth and weaken the Lord’s Churches. The „English experiment” with open communion ought to teach us that to leave off following the pattern of the Scriptures for the sake of fellowship with a wider range of brethren only results in the demise of Baptist Churches. We ought to be able to look at the pulpit affiliation of bygone days and see how much confusion this evil practice has bred. But we continue to sow, water, and cultivate the seeds of our own destruction. Today there are those who would have us believe that Churches are not necessarily involved in the Scriptural founding of new Churches. What they are doing is creating a hierarchy of ordained elders who they think are capable of doing the work Christ left to His Churches to do. Given enough time such a practice will eventually result in havoc in those Churches where this doctrine is tolerated. Perhaps we shall soon have a graduated ministry as elevated as any Romish or Protestant group in history.
Sacramentalism is the belief that grace and salvation are obtained or earned through physical acts such as eating bread and drinking wine or having a priest put water on a baby, etc. Some old-line Protestant groups openly espouse this view, although all of them claim to believe in salvation by grace. Nominal Baptists are not free from the taint of the old Harlot, for we have many today among the people called Baptists who also claim to believe in salvation by grace but who insist that some physical act performed by the sinner will bring about spiritual life. While once there were only the two divergent views, that of the Old Catholics and that of the Baptist forefathers, the one based on humanism and the other based on the Scriptures, in our day we have all shades and variations of compromised positions between the Catholic and the Baptist position. So, if you do not want to be identified with the unpopular Baptist position, you can choose any one of a multitude of compromises between that and the Catholic position. You do not need to align yourself with the Scriptures, just choose what you want to believe and you can find a „church” somewhere in the neighborhood that believes like you do and you will be welcome and comfortable there.
The Old Catholic system of works for salvation (Thomism or Arminianism) is not the only idea from the Harlot that is prevalent today. The Catholics argued that the bishop was the church and not that he existed for the benefit of the church. I see this same trend among some who yet call themselves Baptists in our own day. While Baptists have historically in the main believed that the authority for Christian work was in Christ and that He commissioned His Church and not individuals, that view is changing in some quarters. Some men want ordained elders to be viewed as separate entities from the churches; men who are above the judicial work of the churches; men who need no Church out of which to operate. Thus, in their eyes the ordained elder can do what Christ told His Churches to do. The ordained elder is the Church! He does not exist for the benefit of the Church, he is the Church or at least equal to the Church because he can do all that Christ commissioned His Church(es) to do.
Not too long ago I received an e-mail correspondence from a Brother (and I do regard him as a Brother in Christ) who is the pastor of what is at least called a Baptist Church. He wrote me among other things, the following sentences:
„First let me clear up some matters of misunderstanding. I do not believe that a mother church is necessary for a church to be a church, no one can show that from the word of God. However I do believe that scriptural baptism is necessary for a group of people to be formed into a church. I believe that authority is given in the ordination of a God called preacher and he has authority to start churches.”
It is not my intention to argue the matter of the need for a mother Church. Every Church established in the New Testament which we know about was established by a man operating out of and in good standing with a previously existing Church which sent him to do the work he was doing: hence a „mother Church”. I see this pattern so clearly that I am of the opinion that only willful ignorance would try to refute the concept that Churches bring forth Churches through the ordained men whom they send forth and who act with the authority of Christ through their home Church. If a man cannot be shown that from the Bible it is must be because his mind is already made up and set in concrete. I think such men cannot see because they will not see. I suspect they have a vested interest in another view and it might cost them too much to espouse the Bible view. It is useless to argue with one whose mind is already made up.
I wish to warn of a slightly different, though admittedly related danger. A careful and thoughtful reading of this Brother’s words; noting that he wrote to clarify some things; indicates that this man views ordination in a completely different light than the Scriptures teach. If I may put it simply, he views ordination as if his „battery” were fully charged when the Church ordained him. He has no need of a Church any longer, for his „battery pack” is full and he can, evidently, spend the rest of his life preaching, baptizing, organizing (in his opinion) true churches, administering the Lord’s Supper, etc. This Brother clearly states that he believes that the preacher was given authority at ordination. He fails to understand that delegated authority cannot be delegated! That is another subject, and one that needs to be understood. But it is important to note that in actuality (though it would not be admitted) this view makes the ordained preacher an entity to himself, no longer subject to the ordaining Church which is acting on the marching orders that Christ (who has authority) gave to her.
A thoughtful reading of the New Testament will disclose to the candid reader that when the Antioch Church ordained Barnabas and Saul (later Paul) these men did not become entities to themselves, acting apart from accountability or connection to that Church. Indeed they were acting on her behalf in all that they did and said, for it is the Church which does the work of Christ. They were not free lance preachers as this Brother seems to think is proper. They were arms and legs of that (local) Church body, if you please, reaching afar in doing the work Christ left to His Church. Indeed, they returned to that Church, reported to her and were, like all good Church members, subject to her. They could have been excluded had their conduct warranted it. So today, any sensible person will admit that a Church can, if necessary, exclude any member, even her pastor, for sufficient Biblical cause.
But this Catho-Baptist position regarding ordained men makes these men self-sufficient and free from the judicial work of any true Church. If, as the Brother wrote, „… . authority is given in the ordination of a God- called preacher and he has authority to start churches” this man is no longer in need of or subject to a Church. A true Church; even his ordaining Church; could not exclude him for heresy or for immorality and because his „battery pack” was fully charged at his ordination, he can continue to start true churches. He needs no real, living Church connection. He received authority at his ordination and that is that. That seems to me to be the clear position of the brethren who espouse this currently popular Catho-Baptist position. That seems to be the stated position of this Brother according to his words. They may not wish to admit it, but if the man received authority at his ordination, he needs no Church after he is ordained. After all, according to this view, his „battery pack” is fully charged with all the authority he will ever need!
To admit that exclusion from a true Church would nullify his ordination would be an admission that this Brother operated under Christ’s authority through a „mother Church.” Neither this Brother nor those like-minded with him will dare admit that at exclusion his „battery pack” would be drained of its authority. To do so would admit to the need of a „mother church.” Those who try to hold the Catho-Baptist position – i.e. that authority is given to a man at ordination; are on the horns of a dilemma! But they created the dilemma by trying to maintain that a man can act for Christ apart from a living connection with a Church; a „mother church” if you please.
This Brother says he received authority at his ordination. Where did he get the idea that he got authority at ordination? The Bible says Christ has the authority and told His Church to carry on His work. The Bible says the Holy Ghost calls men to preach and that when the Church of which they are a member recognizes this and ordains them and sends them out, they are sent out by the Holy Ghost (see Acts 13:4). There is nothing here about getting a „battery charged” with authority! There is no idea in Scripture that those sent forth severed their relationship or responsibility as members subject to the judicial work of their „sending Church.” There is no vertical transference of authority here. Christ has the authority and tells His Church(es) what to do. Churches do their work through their members and some members are to be set apart for special work!
To me the Biblical, historical Baptist view is best likened to having a living connection with Christ and His authority through whatever Church sends a man forth. This „living connection” is in contrast to the „fully charged battery pack” view. I suppose in our minds, for lack of a better picture, it might be likened to a heavy- duty extension cord; but that is not a living connection. Someone more medically inclined might find a better picture within the human body – i.e. that of connecting nerves, tissues, or even blood vessels. This would be more in line with the Scripture which likens a Church to a body having parts with different duties. In this scenario the authority comes from Christ the Head through the (local) Church which is pictured as His body to that member of the body whose job it is to serve as an ordained elder. But the simpler, more crude if you please, electrical cord will do for the present purposes. The ordained man has no authority apart from Christ. And that authority (Christ) spoke and told the Church(es) what to do. Thus the ordained man is subject to the executive and judicial work of the Church which sent him forth. He did not send himself forth. He is not an entity to himself. He is not self-sufficient. He is not free to do the executive work Christ left to His Churches nor the judicial work either! He cannot act apart from connection with a true Church and follow the New Testament pattern! This connection is membership and good standing (subjection to the Church). A fully charged battery of authority was NOT received at any New Testament ordination! Only the Harlot has produced such an idea of a man having authority independent of a New Testament Church.
It is interesting to me that those of us who hold to the idea that a man must act in connection with a previously existing Church are libeled as being popish or tending toward the Catholic position when in fact the Catholic position is that the authority is in the Bishop. The Catholics say, any informed person will know, that the Bishops, Cardinals, etc. make up the Church; not the unordained members. It is the Bishop who ordains priests and dedicates the altars in Romish assemblies. (Without an altar which has the Bishop’s blessing and
has been given relics from the Bishop there can be no Mass and no Mass means to a Catholic no church!) Titles to Catholic properties are vested in the Bishop. Thus they govern apart from a vote of the membership. The actual popish or Catholic position is that position espoused by the Brother quoted above. For he has set himself and all ordained men above the (local) Church, exempted himself and all ordained men from the executive and judicial work of the Church, and made himself self sufficient. He needs no living connection with a Church. His battery is fully charged and he thinks he can do the work only men with a living connection to Christ could do in the New Testament.
And so we are presented in our day with another deception straight from the old Harlot herself and swallowed eagerly by those who do not want to be subject to a true Church of Christ. Brethren, these are evil days and it seems to me they are the closing days of the mess man has made of this world. We shall surely stand before the Great Head of the Church one day. Let us be faithful to follow the pattern of the New Testament. Ordination does not confer authority, it is the recognition by a Church of the call of the Holy Ghost on a man. It is the Church setting that man apart for special work, but that man cannot divest himself of a connection with a true Church and do the work of Christ. For Christ gave His Church the work to do and every ordained elder is just as subject to the Church of which he is a member as any other member.
It is „in the church” that Christ receives glory, not in the work of free lance men whose „battery” was fully charged at ordination and who operate or think they can operate apart from one of the Lord’s true Churches. Let us continue as our forefathers have done – that is in the pattern set forth for us in the New Testament. Let these Catho-Baptist brethren say and do what they will. Surely we cannot go wrong following the New Testament.
Arhive pe categorii: Mission
A Charged Battery Or A Living Connection
IS A LOCAL CHURCH MISSIONARY BIBLICAL?
(Or Look We For Another?)
By Missionary Don Stewart
Rom. 10: 15 „And how shall they preach, except they be sent…”
The Local Church Received The Command For Missions
Since the giving of the „Great Commission” to the church, churches now have a responsibility to be involved ‘in missions on a worldwide basis. The missionary outreach of the church is the key factor in determining a local church’s obedience to the command of Christ. (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20)
The Local Church Is The Only Plan For Missions
The scriptural plan of Acts 1:8 is for „BOTH” in Jerusalem and Judea. We must be involved in missions at home and abroad. As we seek to implement the plan of reaching the world for Christ, we of necessity find ourselves involved with the MISSIONARY.
In this article, we want to take a look at the biblical plan for sending the missionary. We would like to consider the missionary and how he is sent out. We want to compare other methods to the biblical plan of sending out missionaries. In answering these questions we must look at the earliest plan and practice for New Testament missions.
The Local Church Is The Biblical Practice For Sending Missionaries
Since the Bible is our rule of faith and practice, then it must be the source from which we derive our plan for commissioning and sending missionaries today. In some areas of our churches today we have departed from biblical practice, although we want to have a fundamental theology. It was the practice of New Testament churches to send out missionaries by and through the local church. It is apparent that many churches have departed from the practice of New Testament churches in sending out missionaries. (Acts 13:1-4)
The Local Church Is The Agency Of Missions
Christ gave the authority and responsibility for reaching the world today to the church. Thus, we need to look at the missionary and his biblical authority. First, we have his authority from God. (Acts 13:2) Every missionary must be a God- called man. Second, we have his sending authority or agency., (Acts 13:3) The agency upon which Christ conferred His authority was the church. We have no other agency mentioned in scriptures to have this authority. (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:1-4)
The Local Church Has A History In Missions
In tracing the history of New Testament missions and missionaries, let us consider the book of Acts. Here we see established the historical pattern for missions. It is interesting to note I that before the rise of Protestants that the local church was the only agency to reach the world for Christ. As time progressed we found the Missions Boards coming into existence following a Protestant pattern.
In Acts 13:1-4 we find the only agency God commissioned possible that time, methodology, and conveniences have removed us from the foundational plan of the missionary being sent out under the authority of a local church?
The Local Church Has The Responsibility In Missions
Is it right that we would confer the authority given to the local church, to another agency or plan not ordained of God? Would we be justified in giving the rearing of our children to an agency not ordained of God? To each we should reply with a resounding „No.” Then let me ask why we have given the sending of missionaries over to agencies outside the church. We do have local church authority and local church responsibility. We must also remember that there is accountability.
Does the local church get an outside agency to win souls, visit the sick, run our bus ministry, and teach our Sunday School? The responsibility biblically was given to the local church for sending out missionaries. Let us not neglect that which we have been commissioned to do and neither should we neglect the manner in which it is to be done.
The Local Church Received The Pattern For Missions
In the scripture we not only find divine instruction but we also find divine patterns. Acts 13:1-4 gives us one of those divine patterns. The men of Antioch were men of prayer and fasting. They wanted to know the will of God and also to do the will of God. Thus, they were willing to follow the Holy Spirit’s instruction to send Paul and Barnabas to the work of which God had called them to. Thus, we understand the Holy Spirit’s instruction was for the Missionary to be sent by and through the local church. Today we often find ourselves trying to improve upon God’s plans through our own methodology.
We often act as if God is no longer on the throne and that the patterns of Scripture are outdated. The patterns are no more outdated than the scriptures. We do have a God who preserves. God can still accomplish His purpose in the same patterns as He did in the New Testament churches.
We find as we study each of Paul’s missionary journeys that each begin and end at Antioch his sending church, with the exception of his journey to Rome, which was interrupted by prison confinement. The local church was his sending agency and authority. It was the local church that established his credibility. Twice in the New Testament we find the word RECOMMENDED, both times it is in reference to the church at Antioch recommending Paul the missionary to others for the work. (Acts 14:26,27; 15:40)
The Local Church Received The Rights For Missions And Missionaries
Today we hear so much about rights that we find ourselves asking who really has the rights to missions and missionaries. We have three basic methods of operation today regarding sending missionaries to the field. The three methods of operation are: the local church missionary, the independent missionary, and the mission board or parachurch agency missionary. Which one really has the rights? Only the Bible can answer that question. We must be willing to put our methods up against the patterns and authority of the Word of God.
Let us consider each method:
Who is the INDEPENDENT MISSIONARY? We must point out that he is often erroneously confused with the Local Church Missionary. Webster defines INDEPENDENT, as not subject to control and self-governing. The independent has no sending agency, no church authority, and no scriptural authority because he operates outside the authority of the one Christ commissioned to reach the world. He is truly independent, self-governing.
Who is the PARA-CHURCH MISSIONARY? Webster defines PARA, as akin to, along side of, and going beyond. We might compare by thinking of the PARACLETE, (Holy Spirit) as one who is called to your side or aid. Is it necessary, as some think, that the church needs one called to its aid to go beyond and do what the church either cannot, or maybe really will not do? Is there an agency to which Christ gave His authority for a time when the church would no longer fulfill its duty?
As we compare further, we find in operation today Mission Agencies who give managerial, supervisory, and investigative direction to and for the church and the missionary. Webster uses these terms to define a board. While it is true that Mission Boards provide a great service for the missionary and the church, we must ask if this method is for convenience, and was it part of the New Testament pattern for sending missionaries to the field? We find that in this method the point of authority becomes either directly or indirectly the Mission Agency. Thus, they usurp the New Testament Local Church Authority. As pastors, we would not think of having deacons from different local churches serving as deacons together in our local church.
Today so many have practiced the pattern of mission agencies that they have made grave effort in rejecting men who are following biblical patterns. Brethren, we need a fundamental theology with a fundamental practice.
Who is the LOCAL CHURCH MISSIONARY? We would say that by every evidence of Scripture, he is the true biblical pattern for missions. He is called of God, sent by and through the local church. His funds are handled by the local church. (We do believe and preach storehouse tithing don’t we?) He is not an INDEPENDENT because his authority is the Local Church. This plan may require a little more work and faith on the part of our Pastors, people, treasurers and secretaries but it is a local church operation. We could actually save money in this plan and be able to send more to the field.
The Biblical Pattern Answers Its Critics
Quite often an idea may seem new because of lack of use over a period of time. When the idea surfaces again it may give rise to skeptical questions due to a lack of familiarity. We would. like to consider three often repeated questions, particularly in reference to the local church missionary.
(1) „What happens if the pastor dies, or leaves for another church?”
Do we tell our new visitors not to join the church or our members not to tithe because the pastor might die or leave? It is possible that there are events and circumstances beyond our control that we must trust God for? Is not the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord and He turneth it about whithersoever He will? Brethren let us be careful that we do not reveal our lack of trust in the power of God. God can still operate His plan and keep His children. He can take care of His man.
(2) „What about the accountability of the local church missionary?”
In Acts, it was to the local church that Paul rehearsed all that God had done. It was the local church at Antioch he reported to. He also corresponded with the Philippian church concerning their financial support of his ministry. We are accountable to our authority. We must make sure that our authority is the one Christ commissioned. We must remember that we are accountable for implementing the right plans and patterns. We need not be accountable to another agency not ordained of God but to the one that God ordained. In the light of Scripture the local church is the ONLY ONE with commissioning and sending authority. Is our practice Biblical or convenient?
(3) „How do I keep track of the local church missionary?’ 9
In a day when we can go to the phone, telegraph, and the post office box, do we not have a tremendous advantage over Antioch who tried to keep track of Paul? Who keeps track of the pastor, the Board Director? Is this not why the church at Antioch recommended Paul to others?
The Biblical Pattern Plus Its Advantages
Today churches are faced with calls from more missionaries than they can possibly support. The mission dollar must be used wisely and biblically. The question is often, what can we do to further our missions support?
Should we support mission board directors and mission board secretaries as missionaries? Should we support mission headquarters buildings in place of missionaries? We could get more to the field if we used our own local church secretaries, treasurers and buildings and use the excess revenue to send out more missionaries.
While the harvest is plenteous and the laborers are few, should we not do all that we can to send all that are called to the harvest of souls and the establishing of indigenous churches? Let us once again return to a biblical practice of sending missionaries to the field by and through the local church. Brethren, in a day when one out often churches that a missionary goes to is able to support him, we must ask if we are doing things right.
Many churches are spending much of their money in support of agencies which operate outside of the authority of the local church. We need to support missionaries not agencies. We need to be practical but not at the expense of the Word of God. Let us return to the „Great Commission” to the church. Let the church send the missionary to the field. „How shall they preach, except they be sent.. ? ” Let us look for the local church missionary who is biblical in theology and practice.