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Now that Comedy Night is done, what are we supposed to do with ourselves? We’ve been so intensely practicing that we forgot about… gaming! Oh yeah. Mafia. That’s what we can do. Thanks, Alexa. And for the lesson time, we finished up the 3 M’s and 3 A’s for men […]

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Our Church’s Foundation

March 24th, 2011


The Teens of Faith have studied our church’s foundation for the last 4 weeks, and we’re just about to launch into some of what we call our Baptist Distinctives… what sets us apart from some other churches. But before I launched into a bunch of distinct teachings of our church I wanted to ensure a solid foundation… What’s the whole point of church, anyway?

Well, I guess you could say that the whole point of church is that it’s God’s plan! I wouldn’t want to be the one to mess with that!

I gathered most of the following thoughts from a series of sermons I heard by a friend of mine named Josh Merrill.

You see, in the Jews’ minds, their Messiah would come and set up this great big kingdom that would smash all their enemies. Yes, they were God’s chosen people. Yes, they have LOTS of promises still for their nation. Yes, there’s a kingdom promised, but it didn’t come when they expected.

While they were thinking that their Messiah would be a conquerer, Jesus Christ came to them with a new plan… a mystery… the CHURCH! Israel at that time had not succeeded in making God’s name known among all nations, and even Jesus’ disciples had to wonder… where’s this “church” thing going?

But Christ’s beautiful promise in Mat. 16:18 is that NOTHING would overtake the church. It is God’s plan and it is still going today. The “true church” was never “lost” as some religions teach. To say that an angel had to come and reinvent the church is to say Christ lied and failed. Further, the church is the pillar and ground of truth. Logically, without the church we essentially have no basis for truth itself! To God, the church is a pretty incredible thing, and it’s His plan for the time we’re living in right now!

But where did it come from, and what’s the basis of the church?

Well, it came from Christ. The book of Matthew is written basically for Jews to realize that Christ is Messiah and that He has authority to conduct ministry. In the Jewish mind, proper authority was necessary in order to conduct a legitimate ministry (Mat. 21:23). The Jewish religious leaders never questioned Jesus’ effectiveness in ministry… who could say that he didn’t perform the miracles he performed?! There was no denying Christ’s effectiveness, but these leaders led the people away from Christ based on their false teaching that he had no AUTHORITY to do the miracles.

For instance, in Matthew 12:22 and following, after Jesus cast out some demons, the religious leaders said that he didn’t have the authority to do so, and that his authority came from the Devil! The key is that Jesus accepted their premise and defended His authority–the very foundation of the legitimacy of His ministry.

All through the book He shows His authority over sin, death, sickness, nature, man and everything on earth, and He even overturned the Pharisees’ teachings by bringing in a new commandment (Mat. 5-7). So, the first principle is that 1) proper authority is necessary to conduct a legitimate ministry.

2) Christ transfered that authority to the church he started. If authority is so important, it would seem logical that it would be in something as monumental as the Great Commission (Mat. 28:18-20). Thankfully, it is!

18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power [emphasis mine] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsover I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The word power here does not mean “strength, might.” There’s another word that sounds like dynamite that is translated to that kind of power. THIS power, in Mat. 28:18, is referring to authority. In essence, Christ is saying, “I have the authority, and now I’m sending you out to conduct ministry in my name and with my power (authority, blessing, legitimacy.)”

With this new responsibility to win, baptize, and disciple all nations, Christ says, “I’ll be with you to the end of the world”–an obvious reference to the CHURCH and not individual believers. Some would say that Christ was referring to individuals or just to the apostles, but all the evidence shows here that He is referring to the only entity on which his blessing and authority lies… the church.

3) Churches transfer that authority as they birth other churches. Apples produce apples. Wheat produces wheat. Churches produce churches. Acts 13 shows us a neat story of how the church at Antioch sent out some preachers to start other churches, transferring that authority from one church to the next.

The whole book of Acts is literally a chain of churches that can be traced back to a source of authority… Jesus Christ. Without that source, no legitimate ministry could be conducted. Sure, their ministries might be effective, but results are not the goal… purity is.

4) Authority can be lost. Rev. 2 tells the sad story of what was once a legitimate ministry (the church at Ephesus). Somewhere down the line they lost their “first love,” as the Bible calls it, and Jesus warned them that if they did not repent, he would remove their candlestick. Sure, they might have been able to meet and conduct ministry, but they would no longer have God’s blessing, power, and authority. The only way to ensure God’s authority is to ensure that the church is lined up with Scripture in every way possible.

So, what about baptism?

Baptism identifies you with Christ, but it also identifies you with a certain set of teachings (Acts 2:42). In order to ensure the purity of the church, Baptists through the ages have rejected the legitimacy of other religions and have therefore rejected their members’ baptisms.

Would you expect Pastor Rench to accept as valid the baptism of someone who claimed to be baptized by the Boy Scouts? Of course not! That’s not a valid ministry! And they obviously don’t claim to be.

But we can use the Bible as our filter to apply the same principles to other ministries as well. Pastor has mentioned Joel Osteen before, a pastor who, on national television, rejected that Christ is the only way for salvation… even when challenged! In Mr. Osteen’s teaching, the prevailing message is that sincerity is all that’s needed to get you to heaven! That’s not what the Bible says!

Based on the Word of God and using the Bible as our filter, we can “judge righteous judgment” and state firmly that Joel Osteen’s church is not a legitimate ministry and does not have Christ’s authority on it. Yes, they’re effective at reaching thousands of people, but the end is not the goal. Purity is the goal. Is that mean? Judgmental? Hateful? Of course not! Why would it be hateful to say that we believe the Bible and we show people what the Bible says?! It’s not OUR words… it’s God’s!

So, based on Scripture, should we expect Pastor Rench to accept as valid the baptism of a member of Joel Osteen’s church? No. We cannot. If we want to stay pure as a church and keep the doors closed to impure doctrine, we cannot go down that road.

Has it always been that way? Who’s to say OUR church has that authority?

From the time that Christ started to church till now, if we are to trust Christ’s Word we have to trust that there has always been a true church represented on earth. Even in the days of the apostles, error was creeping in. As more and more churches were started, some grew larger than others and some required more and more to be “saved.” Eventually, Christianity became such a force that it got political, and in 313 the Edict of Milan was written to name Christianity as the official state religion. Catholicism was born and grew into a world force.

But even in that day a true church existed, rejecting the teachings and the authority of the Catholic church. These churches were the true churches and were often called by their leaders’ names. These groups like the Montanists, Novations, and Donatists were staunchly opposed to the teachings of the mainline Catholic church. They held unwaveringly to the foundational doctrines of what makes a true church, particularly the two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

These separatist churches were relentlessly persecuted by the Catholic church and all its “Protestant” and “Reformer” off-shoots, but despite the persecution these churches remained strong on the fact that they could NOT accept as valid the baptisms of those who came to them from other religions. When people came to them who, for instance, had been baptized as an infant, these separatists always RE-baptized them after they were saved, rejecting the old baptism as invalid.

Over time, the derogatory term anabaptist was laid on these RE-baptizers, and eventually the term became known as simply baptist. From that line we claim our roots, and therefore Christ’s authority to conduct ministry.

Shouldn’t we be more concerned about unity though? Wouldn’t we be able to accomplish so much more?

Billy Graham crusades have accomplished a lot, but they often team up people from all different religions. When people are saved at these crusades they’re often sent to local churches that don’t believe in eternal security, don’t believe in Christ’s deity, and teach what we would look at as false doctrine. With the importance of what the Bible teaches at stake, we constantly want to guard ourselves from any association that would attack our church’s purity.

Rev. 13 talks about a one-world government and a unified religion, but its worship and its motivation for being is led by Satan himself! Yes, one day we will COEXIST, as you’ll see on bumper stickers around town, but I don’t know that it’ll be a church I’d want to be a part of!

To be clear on the spirit behind our teaching, we do NOT hate people that disagree with us. Does all this mean the churches or other ministries we’ve mentioned in this article are filled with ignorant people that hate God? Of course not! We make no personal judgments on the character of these individuals at all! The simple truth is, we want to find out for ourselves what God says in His Word and line our lives up with that as closely as possible. Why would people NOT expect us to teach what we believe as though it were true?

Conclusion

Believe me, I know it’s been a long post! But we believe that it’s important for our teens to know why they come to this church. With the foundation laid, we will build in the future weeks on the distinctives of our Baptist forefathers. We’ll eventually learn a simple acrostic for Baptist that will be a help to our teens when they’re asked, “What church do you go to… why?”

Have a great week!




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