The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Norman H. Wells
From The Church That Jesus Loved, 1973 (Chapter 18)
When did the Baptists begin? Where did they start? What is their origin? We would like to look at the answer to these questions.
"And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT" — Matt. 16:18.
This is the first mention of the church in the Bible. It states the fact for the first time that Christ will build a church.
We would like to notice the promise that Christ made to this church. He said, "AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT."
THIS IS GOD'S PROMISE OF PERPETUITY TO THE CHURCH
This language can only be accepted as meaning that neither the powers of death nor of Satan would ever triumph over the church. Despite the fact of death, disease, martyrdom and persecution, the church was to live on and never die. Men and generations were to pass, but the church was to live on.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? TO WHOM DOES IT APPLY? Certainly it cannot mean that the particular assembly that existed during the lifetime of Christ was to continue and never die! It cannot mean that the particular church at Jerusalem was to continue from generation to generation and never die because this has not happened.
The word "church" as used in Matt. 16:18 is used abstractly and generically. To use a word abstractly and generically is to use it apart from any application to a particular subject. To use a word generically is to use it in a general way and not specific. It is used in reference to a class, order, kind or sort.
We do not have to leave the New Testament to find, examples of words that are used abstractly and generically, "For the husband is the head of the wife." (Eph. 5:23)
The word "husband" and the word "wife" are used abstractly and generically. This refers to all husbands and all wives in a general application. No specific husband or wife is named. If this were brought down to a particular husband or wife it would have to be something like, "Husband John is the head of his wife Mary."
Another example is found in Eph. 6:1. "Children obey your parents in the Lord."
The word "children" and the word "parents" are used generically and abstractly. What is said applied to all children and parents of all ages. It has particular application to each individual child and each individual parent.
THE WORD "CHURCH" IN MATTHEW 16:18 IS USED ABSTRACTLY AND GENERICALLY
The expression, "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" does not mean that one particular, local, church would endure throughout all generations. This promise is to all churches in a general application. IT MEANS THAT THE GATES OF HELL WOULD NEVER PREVAIL BECAUSE THERE WOULD ALWAYS BE CHURCHES AFTER THE ORDER OF THE ONE THAT CHRIST ESTABLISHED.
For example, it could be said that, "There will always be a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, and nothing can change this." This would not be accepted as meaning that one particular husband or one particular wife was going to always exist but that there would always be, in every age, a particular husband and particular wife.
THIS PROMISE IN MATTHEW 16:18 IS TO BE ACCEPTED AS MEANING THAT IN EVERY AGE THERE WOULD BE IN EXISTENCE THOSE PARTICULAR CHURCHES OF CHRIST LIKE UNTO THE ONE CHRIST ESTABLISHED! Other Scriptures bear out this truth.
Accepting this fact that there will be those churches titer the order of the one established by Christ in every age means THAT THOSE CHURCHES HAVE TO EXIST TODAY! This means there has to be in existence today those churches that can be identified with the church that Jesus built.
Accepting the fact that the church that Christ established exists today makes it necessary for all true believers to desire to identify themselves with this church.
BAPTISTS BELIEVE THEY ARE THAT CHURCH
The people that are today called Baptists began when Christ established the first church and they have existed in every age. They might not have always been called Baptists but they were always there and today's Baptists are identified with them.
WHO WERE THE FIRST BAPTISTS? They were the ones that Christ used to establish the first church.