NEW TESTAMENT ESSENTIALS THAT MANY PROFESSING FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST CHURCHES ARE GRADUALLY LOSING
"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die"
For fundamental Baptist churches, the New Testament with its 27 inspired canonical books is the infallible manual for faith and practice. While accepting the entire 66 books of Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments as God’s Holy Word and needful for successful Christian living and service, fundamental Baptist churches draw their particular operational structure from the pages of the N.T.
The N. T. sets forth several imperative essentials upon which genuine N. T. local churches are based. Unfortunately, some professing Fundamentalist churches are gradually abandoning their Biblical roots and losing these necessary essentials.
1. Some professing fundamental Baptists are gradually losing the SCRIPTURES of the N. T. congregations. Historic Biblical Fundamentalists believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of all of the original words of Scripture-II Tim. 3:16-17. Verbal refers to the actual precise words being given by God without error, while plenary deals with the complete written record as being equally inspired. By texts, the writer does not refer to the corruptible deteriorative material on which the words were placed but to the actual words themselves.
Fundamental Baptists also adhere to the providential preservation of the words that were given by divine inspiration-Ps. 12:6-7. Divine inspiration automatically requires providential preservation, a major tenet of the faith to which Christ Himself intensely adhered-Matt. 4:4 and Matt. 24:35. In the sacred Scriptures, God divinely promised to preserve three distinct persons and/or entities. (a) the Saviour—Acts 2:21-36, (b) the Saints—John 10:28-29 and (c) the Scriptures—I Peter 1:23-25.
Discerning Fundamental Baptists believe that the Scripture texts have been providentially preserved in the Hebrew O. T. Masoretic Text and the Greek N. T. Received Text [RT], and that these words have accurately transmitted in the English language via the King James Version, an English version in which saints can place complete confidence and trust-John 17:17.
Sadly, some professing fundamental Baptists are forsaking the reliable RT and trustworthy KJV for the apostate based Critical Text [CT] and the multiplicity of undependable modern versions based upon this defective text. Acceptance of these modern versions has produced a generation of Biblically ignorant saints and a maze of spiritual confusion among so-called Bible-believing churches.
2. Some Professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SIMPLICITY of the N.T. congregations. In an article that appeared in the Plains Baptist Challenger (Apr. 2004), the article author declared: "The apostolic churches were distinguished for their plainness and simplicity of worship." In a sermon entitled "Reasons for our polity," that was preached at the Asylum Avenue Baptist, Hartford, CT on Feb. 2, 1888 by Pastor George M. Stone, he stated: "we cannot surrender the simple organization of the church as it has been given to us in the N. T. We ask our brethren in other churches only to give up what man has added to this."
In the N. T., the following simplicity traits were clearly manifested in the early churches: (a) simplicity of foundation—I Cor. 3:11; (b) simplicity of faith—Eph. 2:8-9, (c) simplicity of fellowship—Acts 2:42, (d) simplicity of framework—Phil. 1:1, (e) simplicity of finances—I Cor. 16:1, (f) simplicity of fishing—Matt. 4:18 and (h) Simplicity of filling—Eph. 5:18.
Apostasy begins to set in when churches turn from simplicity to complexity in their operational structures. Tragically, some professing fundamental Baptist churches are turning to organizations outside the local church such as para-church colleges and seminaries, associational entities, mission societies, etc. and are permitting these groups to determine their spiritual agendas, a sad trend.
3. Some Professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SHEPHERDS of N. T. congregations. Under the N.T. polity, pastors were not sovereigns who reigned as kings nor did they act as slaves who reported to the rule of boards. N.T. pastors were portrayed as shepherds who ruled with compassionate watch care and love-Heb. 13:7, 17, 24. In II Tim. 4, Paul exhorted Timothy the pastor to (a) exposit the Word—II Tim. 4:2-3, to (b) evangelize the wayward—II Tim. 4:5 and via Paul’s example to (c) expose the world—II Tim. 4:10
The Biblical responsibility of local church shepherds involves the ministry of guiding, guarding, and governing local churches (Acts 20: 28-31), responsibilities that some pastors are abandoning to boards and committees who cannot and do not fulfill these Biblical obligations. In the N.T., deacons never acted as "boards" that controlled the operation of churches. Deacons are to be servants of the churches and helpers to the pastor (Acts 6:1-3) acting as his valuable advisors and assistants. I Tim. 3 discusses the demeanor of deacons, while Acts 6 concentrates on the duties of deacons.
Unfortunately, in some professing fundamental Baptist churches, church assemblies are being ruled by boards and committees and the pastor has become a business CEO (chief executive officer) or a hireling whose chief concern seems to be his salary and his future retirement package.
4. Some professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SOUL-WINNING of N. T. congregations. According to Christ’s command, the sole reason for a local church’s existence is the fulfillment of the Great Commission mandate-Matt. 28:18-20. That mandate was so important that it was delineated five separate times in the first five N. T. books, each time with distinctive information and instructions that elaborate on the essential meaning of this great divine dictate: Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:28 and Acts 1:8.
The focus that should be at the top of every N. T. church’s ministry is the winning of lost souls to Jesus. Every local church auxiliary should maintain an intense evangelistic focus on souls, both home and abroad, seeking to reach the unconverted by every legitimate method tool God has given (I Cor. 9:20-22). There is no substitute for the believer’s personal witness in his neighborhood and at his work (Acts 20:21) and the daily corporate witness of believers as described in Acts 5:42.
With dismay, this writer notes that some professing Fundamental Baptist churches are virtually eliminating God’s timeless injunction and replacing it with such entities as lifestyle social centered cell groups, psychologically based "purpose driven" programs, pro-environmental social service ministries, sensually based religious rock concerts, pro-theatrical drama type worship services, and a host of other satanic substitutes.
5. Some professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SEPARATION of N. T. congregations. For obedient Fundamentalists, both personal—II Tim. 2:19 and ecclesiastical separation—II John 7-11) are not human options, they are heavenly obligations—Heb. 13:12-13. When admonished by the apostles, N.T. churches both preached and practiced Biblical separation, separation that not only required spiritual severance from apostates—Eph. 5: 7 & ll, but also when necessary withdrawal of fellowship from disobedient believers—II Thess. 3: 6 & 14.
The Scriptures call for spiritual separation (a) from sinful people—James 4:4, (b) from sinful pleasures—Heb. 11:23-25, (c) from sinful popularity—II Tim. 4:10, (d) from sinful poisons—Prov. 20:1, (e) from sinful places—Ps. 1:1, (f) sinful perversions—Heb. 13:5 and (g) sinful partnerships—II Cor. 6:14-18. From the inerrant Word, we also learn that we must separate from those (a) who deny the faith—II Tim. 2:16-18, (b) that which defiles the flesh—II Tim. 2:19, (c) that which destroys the family—Ps. 101:3, and those (d) who would deceive the followers of Christ—II Cor. 11:13-15.
However, in some professing fundamental Baptist churches, there is a growing tendency to move away from the Biblical separation practiced by our Fundamentalist Baptist forefathers. As more and more churches accommodate themselves to the world’s sinful culture, the Scriptural underpinning on which these churches rest is being undermined. Among some churches/pastors, there is a tragic erosion of this foundational block, as they make unscriptural alliances and associations with pro-ecumenical groups that are not of like faith and practice.
6. Some Professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SUPPLICATION of N. T. congregations.
From the N. T. record, it is abundantly clear that one of the major reasons contributing to the genuine salvation of sinners, the sanctification of saints and the success of consecrated servants was the great emphasis placed upon intercessory prayer by the early churches—Acts 2:32, 4:31, II Cor. 1:11.
In analyzing Scripture on this important theme, we learn that that prayer involves (a) worshiping-Matt. 6:9, (b) walking—Gen. 6:2, (c) wanting-Heb. 4:16, (d) waiting—Is. 40:31, (e) weeping-Neh. 1:3, (f) working—Heb. 5:1 and (g) warring—Eph. 6:18. In addition, the blessings of prayer are numerous: (a) Prayer brings delight to the Saviour—Prov. 15:8, (b) Prayer brings dependence to the soul—Heb. 4:16, (c) Prayer brings defeat to the seducer—Rev. 12;11, (d) Prayer brings deliverance to the saint—Ps. 50:15, (e) Prayer brings defense to the slandered—Ps. 50:18 & 20; (f) Prayer bring dynamism to the supplicants—Acts 4:19 & 31 and (f) Prayer brings discernment to the seeker—James 1:5.
In the N. T., believers prayed (b) before preaching—Acts 6:4, (b) during persecution—Acts 16:26 and (c) after preservation—I Thess. 5:17. Today, however, some professing fundamental Baptist churches are decreasing and even deleting prayer meetings from the church’s scheduled events. Just look at the average church calendar and see how many references you can find with regard to scheduled "prayer meetings." Recreational activities are mentioned abundantly, but prayer meetings are almost a non-entity.
7. Some professing fundamental Baptist churches are gradually losing the SONGS of N. T. congregations. In the N.T., group singing was a vital element in genuine worship. One of the last combined activities that the disciples enjoyed with Christ before his crucifixion was a hymn that they sang with Christ near the Mount of Olives—Matt. 26:30. When incarcerated in the "inner prison," at Philippi after having been severely beaten, the Scripture records that Paul and Silas "sang praises unto God" at midnight—Acts 16:25.
In Col. 3:16, the apostle Paul exhorted the saints that they should be "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Even in heaven, when life’s earthly trials and temptations cease, saints will be singing the new song of redemption by the blood—Rev. 5:9.
Bible-believing songwriters have literally produced thousands of great doctrinal hymns and gospel songs that are based on Scriptural words, phrases and events, with the overwhelming number centering on great doctrinal themes and concentrating on the person and work of Christ. This writer possesses several hundred gospel songbooks that contain a vast multitude of great gospel songs and hymns that are based on Biblical themes, and all of which have a wholesome rhythm [beat] with which they were composed.
Heartbreakingly so, some fundamental Baptist churches are replacing time honored gospel hymns with cheap throwaway "7-11" praise choruses [seven words sung eleven times!] that are sung once and forever discarded. Hymnbooks are being replaced by large video screens, and flippant sensually oriented idolatrous CCM entertainers are replacing godly musicians, as the musical distinctives between the world’s sensual sounds and wholesome Christian songs are virtually eliminated.
Fundamental Baptist churches need to constantly assess their ministries to see if vital N.T. essentials are being diluted, diminished or deleted from their church’s affirmations and agendas. Professing fundamental Baptist churches must act now to "strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die"—Rev. 3:2, lest they "let them slip"—Heb. 2:1 from their grasp and face the "just recompence" that such "transgression and disobedience" deserves-Heb. 2:2. DJ
PS: The writer is grateful for the faithful assemblies that continue to stand fast for these N. T. essentials without compromise; congregations that dot the American landscape, unheralded by the world, but not unnoticed by God—Rev. 2:8-11, 3:7-11. May their number increase!
Also in this issue:
|Editorial – October-November 2007 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.|