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
Taken from the book, Biblical Baptist Missions, 1981
There have been four consecutive frameworks for God's dealings with His creation and for doing God's work. When Adam and Eve were placed in Eden, a Theocracy was operative. God dealt directly with man and man was God's agent in relation to the rest of creation. After the fall, there was a system of the household priest and sacrifice, without the complex and formal framework of the Mosaic law.
From Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob onward, God dealt with the world through His chosen people Israel. About four hundred years later, the nation of Israel was given a very detailed and precise guide for their relationship to God and the carrying out of His will and work. This involved a chosen priesthood and sacrifices. This continued until John the Baptist (Luke 16:16). John the Baptist prepared the material. Christ established His church and then left all aspects of His work on this earth in the hands of His church (at His ascension).
To recapitulate, we have, consecutively:
(1) A perfect Theocracy;
(2) A patriarchal priesthood (head of the family) with a continuing modified Theocracy;
(3) Israel, under the Mosaic law, as God's agent and witness in the world;
(4) The New Testament Church, established by Christ, as God's agent and witness in the world (empowered and aided by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit).
From Christ's earthly ministry until the end of time as we know it, God has chosen to work through Christ's body and bride, the local church. Until the New Testament, when Christ commanded to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's, secular government was not legitimized. Even under the Mosaic law, there was a modified, indirect Theocracy through the Aaronic priesthood and a judge or king.
The "separation" by God, of secular and divine in the affairs of the world was not as absolute as many claim. God did ordain secular government from the New Testament onward but it was to be based on Biblical principles of right, wrong, and justice. An "ecclesiocracy" was not established (notwithstanding the usurpation of secular power by the harlot of Rome from about 600 A.D. to 1500, and in some locations, to the present). It was clearly established when Christ ascended that all of His work on this earth was to be done through His local churches, working within the parameters of moral secular rule but not under the control of such rulers.
The basis of all of God's work in this world, from Christ's ascension to His return, is in, by, and through His local churches. Indeed, before His ascension, from His baptism onward, Christ's ministry was church based. Any work done for God outside the local church is extrascriptural and, in fact, unscriptural because it ignores commands and patterns left by Christ for His work.
Matthew 28:16-20: "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Massive amounts of time, effort, and finances have been and are being misused by "ministries" outside the local churches.
The essentials of all sound mission work are:
1. A sound local church obedient to the Great Commission
2. God-called men (church members) yield to God's call
3. Church separated men (examined as to salvation baptism, call, morals, doctrine, abilities, and zeal)
4. Church ordained men
5. Church sent men
6. Spirit-led men
Only a church based on the doctrine and polity of the Jerusalem church, from which the "candlestick" has not been removed for disobedience (moral and/or doctrinal), has the commission from the Lord to do His work on earth (in other words, a Baptist Church after the New Testament pattern).
I know some will be offended by this perceived "hardness" I believe these are required Biblical conditions and not "hardness" but soundness and obedience. This in no way indicates that there are not thousands of sincere Christians spreading the gospel with good intentions and the salvation of souls, outside a Baptist church. However, all such ministries outside a sound church are outside the Biblical command and pattern, are not "striving lawfully", and will not receive God's maximum approval blessings, and "crown" (eternal reward).
There are several scriptures that touch somewhat on this subject which are, in my opinion, commonly misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Mark 9:38-41: "And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. "For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."
This is not a blanket, ecumenical endorsement by Christ of any and all work done in Jesus' name. Conversely, I am not forbidding any to do work in Jesus' name. I am simply urging that the Biblical commands and patterns be followed. The reward mentioned in v. 41 is for kindness to Christ's followers and can be received even by the lost. It is temporal and not eternal.
In the Old Testament, Obededom, a Gittite (Gentile), was in no way qualified Biblically to guard the Ark of the Covenant. God, while definitely not approving this irregular procedure, did bless Obededom for his apparent respect for the Ark (and thus the God of the Ark). We do not know that Obededom was even a believer. (He was not a Levite as Strong's Enhanced Lexicon absurdly states, although there was another Obededom who was a Levite and Merarite, 1 Chronicles 15:18.)
2 Samuel 6:11-12: "And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. And it was told king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness."
Christ roundly condemned the Pharisees although they named the name of God and professed a belief in the scriptures and a coming Messiah.
Matthew 12:32-34: "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
He specifically condemned their "evangelistic" efforts. Many today will cooperate with any kind of heretic in the name of evangelism.
Matthew 23:14-17: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the, temple that sanctifieth the gold?"
Christ's condemnation was personal and vehement when magnitude of the error and hypocrisy warranted it.
Matthew 23:33 "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
A careful reading of Mark 9:38-41 will show that John's condemnation of the person working in Christ's name was not based on any defined unscriptural practice or doctrinal departure but apparently on personality ("he followeth not us"). Tragically, there are many battles in God's work today fought over personality, not truth and principles.
Philippians 1:15-18: "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
Paul is not commending those who preach Christ of envy and strife. (I am aware that many consider those who are KJV only, local church only, and opposed to ecumenism and hierarchy as preaching Christ of envy and strife. Since these are Biblical positions, such an allegation falls of its own weight.) Paul says he is glad that Christ is preached but is set for the defense of the gospel. Though our ministries should be primarily positive, this does not preclude active condemnation of error and vigorous defense of truth.
Not only did Christ condemn error and its promoters, servants rightly did so, as well.
Matthew 3:7 "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who bath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Romans 3:8 "And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just."
This condemnation of error extended to faithful servants of the Lord when they fell into serious error or hypocrisy.
Gal. 2:11-13: "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation."
Many who depart doctrinally and morally are not saved (known by their fruits); but whether saved or not, serious error is to be condemned.
1 Tim. 5:20: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
2 Timothy 4:2-4: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
Titus 1:13-14: "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."
Peter and Jude both vigorously condemn those who have departed from the truth and it is clear that these were at least nominal Christians who were corrupting and hindering the work of God.
2 Peter 2:12-15:
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
Jude 3-4, 8, 10-13:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write- unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
There are always those who try to find exceptions to Biblical teachings, principles, and examples. Almost all of these "exceptions" are arguments from silence. Those who object to insistence on church authority in mission work try to point to Philip as a missionary with no church authority. I vigorously disagree. The commission is clearly to the church in the gospels and Acts 1. This establishes a precedent.
I believe we can clearly know that work blessed by God (e.g. Philip and the Eunuch) is according to the Biblical pattern. Acts 13 simply reinforces this pattern. The same is true for Ananias in Acts 9. We insist that the authority for baptism is in the church and we reject alien immersion. To argue from silence that the Bible breaks its own command and pattern is weak indeed.
Foremost among the reasons for the importance of church authority in God's work is the maintenance of sound doctrine. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). The promise of the Holy Ghost to lead into all truth was given to the church. The baptism and special empowering of the Holy Ghost was upon the church. (Individual believers have the indwelling, sealing, Holy Spirit.)
John 16:12-13: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
Acts 1:5 and 8: "'For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto -the uttermost part of the earth."
It is important that the ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper, be kept pure, because they are visible preachments of the gospel. Corruption of the ordinances, exemplified most commonly by alien immersion and open or close instead of closed communion, leads to corruption of the gospel which is portrayed.
It is outside the scope of this book to consider in detail the universal, invisible church heresy. It is pertinent to comment that this teaching is refuted by scripture. It is detrimental to sound mission work because it is detrimental to sound local churches.
I have utilized a full chapter to comment on the call and preparation of missionaries. Though the church is essential to mission work, it does not do the calling nor lead as to the field. God indicates in Acts 13 that He had called Saul and Barnabas to a specific work. He instructed the church at Antioch to separate them unto this work. The word separate is aphorizo and indicates moral and spiritual separation. (See 2 Cor. 6:17 where the same word is used)