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Vital Church Truths
by R.J. Anderson
Chapter Seven-Church History
We believe this booklet would not be complete without a brief summary of church history. The most concise, clear, forceful statement, we have ever seen on that subject is found in the book "Church Truth," by the late W. Lee Rector, D. D., former pastor of The First Orthodox Baptist Church of Ardmore, Oklahoma, who granted me permission to use this material.
The Church Its Builder and Its Perpetuator
(1) Scripture lesson: Matthew 16:18 and 28:10
(2) Aspects of study:
a. The builder of the church is Christ.
b. The perpetuator of the church is Christ.
A. THE BUILDER OF THE CHURCH, BOTH IN ITS LOCAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS, IS CHRIST” I will build my church (Matthew 16:18), says the Lord.
1. The Master is the builder throughout the ages (Matthew 16:18).
(1) The Lord, and not Saints, is the builder. Saints are the materials out of which He builds. Ye are God's building (1 Cor. 3:9).
(2) The Lord, and not denominations, is the builder (Matthew 16:18). Denominations are human inventions and are not known to the Scriptures.
(3) The Lord, and not Christian Schools, is the builder (Matthew 16:18). Christian education, apart from local church control or divine worship, is unknown to the Scriptures.
(4) The Lord, and not Associated Churches, is the builder (Matthew 16:18). Church sovereignty is delegated, and not original. All church authority originates in Christ, the builder.
(5) The Lord, the builder, uses saved souls in His building (1 Cor. 3:9), and never calls upon the Saints to supply Wisdom for His building program. Had the Lord needed supplementary Divine agencies, he would have provided for them.
2. The Master builds His CHURCH, His witnessing agent, and abiding institution. Through the Holy Spirit who stands in it in His stead, He plants new churches and carries on through them. In His work”
(1) The Holy Spirit comforts the church (John 14:16‘17).
(2) The Holy Spirit teaches it (John 14:26).
(3) The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ to it and through it (John 15:26).
(4) The Holy Spirit preaches to it and through it (John 16:6‘11).
(5) The Holy Spirit guides it into all truth”doctrinal and missionary (John 16:13; Acts 13:1‘4). The church can have no Heaven sanctioned, Scriptural program, except it be initiated by the Holy Spirit. Programs for churches by committees, boards and denominations are without Bible sanction. They are human inventions, hence earthly.
3. The Master builds His church on Himself (Matthew 16:18), with the Holy Spirit the supervisor. Thus we have for the church of the living God”
(1) A divine builder (Matthew 16:18).
(2) A divine foundation (1 Cor. 3:11).
(3) A divine supervisor (Acts 13:1‘4).
(4) Divine light”the Word (2 Tim. 3:16).
(5) Divine material” saved souls (Acts 2:41, 47).
B. THE PERPETUATOR OF THE CHURCH AS AN INSTITUTION IS CHRIST” The gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18), the Lord says. As an institution, the Lord decrees continuous life for the church.
1. The Builder avows the church's perpetuity:
(1) Of His church, the Lord says, The gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
(2) To His church, the Lord says, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age, Matthew 28:20.
(3) To His church, he declares that the Holy Spirit will abide with you forever (John 14:16).
(4) Since the Lord thus affirms the church's perpetuity, we know it lives today. If there has been, or shall be, a moment in which a church like the first one has not obtained since He uttered these words, then He spoke falsely and we have been betrayed by the church's founder. Thank God, He spoke truly, and He perpetuates His church.
2. There are some warning facts about church perpetuity that should not be overlooked in this connection:
(1) We can't discount church perpetuity by subterfuges as some attempt to do and get by the Lord with it.
a. To hide behind the general church idea is to shame the Lord. As touching church perpetuity, He speaks of the First Church as an institution living on and on in other churches throughout the ages, each of which finds its roots in the First Church. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
b. To hide behind the perpetuity of the faith idea dodges the issue. Since the church is the custodian of the faith (Jude 3; 1 Tim. 3:15), to admit the perpetuity of the faith is to attest the perpetuity of the church. Both Pseudobaptists and Pedobaptists are wrong in their general church or faith perpetuity ideas about the church.
c. The historical appearances of Pedobaptists makes them too late to qualify as unprejudiced witnesses on church perpetuity. Church perpetuity condemns them.
(a) The Lutherans appeared 1530 A. D. ”1500 years too late.
(b) The Anglicans appeared 1534 A. D. ”1504 years too late.
(c) The Presbyterians appeared 1541 A. D. ”1511 years too late.
(d) Congregationists appeared 1602 A. D. ”1572 years too late.
(e) Methodists appeared 1744 A. D. ”1714 years too late.
(f) Disciples, or Campbellites, appeared 1827 A. D. ”1797 years too late. All of these have to oppose church perpetuity.
(2) Historical testimony of the centuries Baptist perpetuity.
a. During the first and second centuries, the Messalians, the Euchites, and the Montanists preached the Word and practiced the same according to Baptist message and method.
b. During the third, fourth, fifth, and the sixth centuries, the Novantionists held to and propagated Baptist doctrines and practices.
c. During the seventh and eighth centuries, the Paulicans became very numerous and brought down upon themselves the hatred and the hostility of the papal church organization, and these worshipers maintained Baptist peculiarities in faith and practice.
d. During the ninth century, the Waldenses became very dominant, and the glorious Gospel of the Son of God was preserved in its pristine purity. They were called by Roberson, the historian, Trinitarian Baptists. All orthodox Baptists are Trinitarians.
e. During the tenth century, the Peterines came into existence along with the affirms Waldenses and maintained Baptist preachments and practices.
f. During the eleventh century, the Waldenses, Albigenses, the Cathari, the Lyons, and the Anabaptists attracted renewed attention throughout Europe and perpetuated the Baptist faith and practice.
g. During the twelfth century, the Arnoldists, the Waldenses, and the Anabaptists maintained the pure Gospel and perpetuated Baptist peculiarities and practice.
h. During. the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and the seventeenth centuries, the Anabaptists and the Mennonites preserved the preachments and the practice of Baptists.
i. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, modern Baptists have maintained the pure Gospel, preaching and practicing according to the Apostolic and the Christolic message and pattern. The Baptist faith, proclaimed by brethren bearing different names during the centuries, has been perpetuated through Baptist churches. Our doctrine and practices, apostolic in character and kind, have come down through the centuries.
3. Christ, the Builder, has perpetuated His church because He has been with it all the centuries (Matthew 28:20). The testimony of Pedobaptists shows that Baptist churches, holding Baptist faith and practice, have abounded from Christ until now.
(1) Zwingli, a Swiss reformer of the sixteenth century, says: The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great disturbance in the church. Thus Zwingli traces Baptist baptism back to the second century, or within 200 years of Christ.
(2) Mosheim, a Lutheran historian and a Pedobaptist, says, The true origin of that sect which acquired the name, ˜Anabaptists' is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and consequently difficult to be ascertained. Thus Mosheim absolves Baptists from the criticism of being Protestant. Baptists are not Protestants. Baptist testimony abounded through groups called heretics, and by these Baptist churches, the light of the Word was shed forth day by day, and century by century. This was done according to the Apostolic message, pattern and practice.
(3) Dr. Dermont, chaplain to the King of Holland, and Dr. Ypeij, professor of theology at Graningen, received a royal commission to prepare a history of the reformed Dutch church. This history, prepared under royal sanction, and officially published, contains the following testimony to the antiquity and the orthodoxy of Dutch Baptists: We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account, the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through all the ages. Thus these historians carry Baptists back to the apostles and declare that Baptists have preserved the Gospel light in its purity down through the ages.
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