Where in the Word is the Baptist Church?
All over our little town in front of certain homes, there are nice, neat little signs that read: “We Are First Baptist Cleveland.” In fact, there are not only several that I see daily on my drive home from the church building office, but even our neighbors more or less across the street from the parsonage where we live have one proudly displayed out on their front lawn.
And as I am constantly seeing those signs on display, I can’t help but remember some similar signs back in my home state of Maine, posted by another Baptist Church which I’m sure must have preached and promoted doctrines very similar in scope to the four Baptist Churches that share our little town here. Their roadside signs proudly proclaimed to people not only who they were, but in some cases, what they believed and based their theology and hope of salvation on as well. The only problem was, those signs’ messages were completely and utterly untrue – intentionally misleading or not is not mine to say – but utterly untrue they surely were! And this, not according to me, but according to almighty God Himself in His holy and eternally perfect word (Psalms 19 and 119)! So please don’t blame or judge me for pointing this out, for I’m just following orders (Eph. 5:11). Instead, just simply go ahead and examine these statements for yourself.
For example, one sign of theirs I will never forget reading sometime after my being biblically and therefore truly converted to Christ, was the one that they had set out on the front lawn of a home just past the exit ramp from the interstate, and just before the intersection where the traffic light was, which, of course, being a tractor-trailer driver at the time, I had to see every day when I passed through there on my way back to the terminal – sometimes even as I sat in traffic waiting for the light to change. It read, in part: “Bible Believing Baptist Church.” With all due respect, that simply could not be true. That phrase was a complete contradiction in terms biblically speaking… and here’s why.
The Bible unequivocally states that baptism is specifically FOR the forgiveness of sins and that it absolutely precedes salvation – and there’s no legitimately getting around that (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41). But what Baptist Church do you know of which believes, practices, preaches and teaches that though? Additionally, the Bible unquestionably says that “baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). And once again I would ask, where is the “bible-believing” Baptist Church anywhere on this earth which preaches and teaches exactly what that passage says – that baptism is the precise process through which, and the precise point at which, an alien sinner is summarily cleansed, forgiven, and subsequently saved? Peter certainly said it was; read it again. The bible repeatedly and emphatically emphasizes that baptism is where one calls on the name of the Lord to have their sins washed away (forgiven) and to be saved (Acts 2:38, 22:16), as well as the exact point in time at which one becomes a child of God by accepting God’s grace through their faith in the first place (Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:12). What Baptist Church teaches the biblical doctrine of baptism as seen therein, instead of adamantly and militantly denying this very critical, biblical, and divinely-inspired doctrine through insistence upon a sinner’s reciting the so-called “sinner’s prayer” – a practice never even once seen amid the thousands of documented New Testament conversions to Christ – in order to be saved?
Do the research yourself – PLEASE. Look up any Baptist Church on the web. Explore their teachings at length on this. How could any one of them be considered truly “Bible believing,” when they deny the biblical doctrine of the absolute essentiality of baptism for salvation? Oh sure, some pay lip service to following God’s word… and many of them make it sound really good (Jesus dealt with some folks in His day who did the same thing: Mark 7:5-13; and so did the Apostle Paul: 2 Corinthians 11:3-15). But dig deep enough into this doctrine and you will find they don’t believe the bible enough to follow it at all.
For instance, just for research sake, I recently googled “First Baptist doctrine baptism” or some such, and found the following statement on some First Baptist Church website (very representative of so many Baptist Churches) under their heading, The Baptist Distinctives:
Baptist Churches are modeled after the New Testament Churches. Other denominations believe some of the basic New Testament doctrines; however, for the most part Baptists are the only ones who have held to all of the basic New Testament doctrines down through the years.
Really? I mean… it sounds really good… except for the fact that it’s blatantly, biblically, and unbelievably untrue. Ask yourself: If Baptist Churches are truly modeled after New Testament churches, then why don’t they refer to themselves by one of the New Testament terms which God authorized and utilized for His churches in divine writ – terms such as “the church of God” (I Cor. 1:1), or, “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) – and not with a term of recognition completely contrary and foreign to what that New Testament they claim to be modeled after uses? For, “There is salvation in none other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And certainly the term “Baptist Church” never occurs in the New Testament – if so, where so? And after all, why should it? The Baptist Church wasn’t even in existence until 1607 when John Smyth finally founded it in Holland. It wasn’t even established until some 1574 years after Christ purchased (Acts 20:28) and established His church – the church of Christ, the one that carries His name by virtue of being His bride – in 33 A.D. in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2.
In Christ’s one, New Testament church (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:1-6) congregations – or “churches of Christ” as God divinely inspired the Apostle Paul to refer to them in Romans 16:16 – we would also note that their “pastors” were not simply their “preachers,” but were their shepherds, or elders (which is what the Greek word translated “pastors” that one time in Ephesians 4:11 actually means); and that as such, these elders/shepherds/pastors absolutely had to meet a very specific list of God-given requirements in order to serve as such. Do Baptist preachers (“pastors” as they call them) meet those God-insisted-upon requirements for “pastors?” After all, is that not one of the “basic New Testament doctrines” they claim to follow?
We never see instrumental music in the New Testament churches either – but we sure do see it in Baptist Churches (as well as apostate, although once faithful, but now fallen away congregations of even some “churches of Christ” tragically)!
But once again: the New Testament doctrine on baptism is that baptism is the exact point at which one’s sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), and that “baptism now saves you” (I Ptr. 3:21) – get that; look it up in your own New Testament: “baptism now saves you” according to 1 Peter 3:21! But the very same website that insists that the Baptist Church follows the doctrines of the New Testament, proudly proclaims of the First Baptist Church denomination and its doctrine on baptism:
Baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper are the ordinances of the local church…. Baptism by immersion of believers only pictures our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection… Neither ordinance has any saving merit… (Emphasis added).
How on earth can it possibly even remotely be considered as following New Testament doctrine, to deny everything the New Testament emphatically states about baptism being the very point at which one is saved, and either insolently, arrogantly, or even ignorantly insisting instead, that baptism does not save you, and that it’s only purpose is symbolic and not saving?!?!?
And it’s not only when it comes to baptism’s essentiality for salvation that Baptist Churches can’t possibly be considered completely bible-believing. What Baptist Church is there that believes the God of the Bible enough, so as to teach and preach the full council of God on such eternal truths as the fact that… believers can fall from grace (Gal. 5:4); that “faith only” or “faith alone” will save absolutely nobody (Jms. 2:19-24) – ever; or, that teach that denominations such as themselves are somehow okay in the sight of that same God who divinely dictated the entire Bible, and in His New Testament, insisted on no divisions (denominations) in the church (1 Cor. 1:10; Jn. 17:20-21; Eph. 4:1-6; Phil. 1:27-2:2)?!?
No, I am not First Baptist anything, nor am I any other deceived denominationalist diligently paying lip service to, but only following maybe a very few select parts of God’s all-authoritative New Testament doctrine (including on baptism – Matt. 28:18-20). I am a humble, grateful, and biblically-studied member of the Lord Jesus Christ’s one, undenominated New Testament church, just as seen promised, purchased, established by, and belonging to, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; the one church opened up by Peter on the Day of Pentecost just as Jesus had prophesied (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 20:28; Acts 2), instead of some man-made division never seen in Scripture, but established many centuries later by sinful men, insisting on doctrines other than Christ’s (1 Tim. 4:1-4; 2 Tim. 4:1-4) such as the “sinner’s prayer” for salvation sake, which suddenly surfaced as “official church doctrine” in the relatively recent mid-17th century as an edict arising not from Christ’s divinely inspired apostles, but from the uninspired attendees of the Westminster Assembly in England!
I am – we are – the Lord’s church as seen in Scripture (Romans 16:16). Who are you? And who’s church do you want to be found in when you come face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ (who bled and died only for His church), come Judgment Day? John Smyth’s? The Baptist’s? The Pope’s? Martin Luther’s? Or the Christ’s? It’s up to you. “But as for me and my house…” (Josh. 24:15), we shall choose to be found “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). And any biblically-informed person can’t possibly be in some church that doesn’t even appear or exist anywhere in God’s truth, and yet at the same time, be in the one church which both appears in, exists in, and upholds only His truth… can they? If so, how so? In other words, “Bible Believing Baptist Church” is a complete contradiction in terms. Because if they truly believed in and went by the bible – wherein the Baptist Church and many of its doctrines (such as the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ for salvation sake which is never found in any New Testament conversion to Christ) – then they wouldn’t honestly, and couldn’t possibly, be a Baptist Church, but would have to be a “church of God”/”church of Christ” (Acts 20:28/Romans 16:16)!
And so again I ask… Who (and who’s) are you? Can you find the church you attend in existence in the word of God or not? If so, in where is it’s “book, chapter, and verse” reference found? And wouldn’t you feel safer and more pleasing to God in the church that actually is in His word and is shown be the only one for which He bled and died? “The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). And if we can help you in any way to truly become a New Testament Christian, and therefore a member of Christ’s one, New Testament, blood-bought and undenominated church which has been in existence for the past 2,000 years or so now, since 33 AD (Acts 2), then we stand both ready, willing, able, and anxious to study the Scriptures with you!