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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Let’s Pull the Trigger

Norman H. Wells

From The Church That Jesus Loved, 1973 (Chapter 6)

Dr. Noel Smith is the able editor of the "Baptist Bible Tribune." This paper is published weekly by the Baptist Bible Fellowship with headquarters at Springfield, Missouri.


Dr. Noel Smith has written a book called, "Jews, Gentiles, and the Church." This book comes closer to putting the finger on the basic problem of this age than any I have read. I highly recommend it to all our readers.


In this book Dr. Smith has some things to say about independent Baptists.


On page 99 Dr. Smith says, "I believe in associations, in conventions, in fellowships."


On pages 106-107 Dr. Smith says:


 "The fact that I believe in the New Testament independence of New Testament churches does not mean that I am an ecclesi­astical anarchist. In this lunatic world today everybody has got to go from one fool extreme to the other — exactly what the Devil wants. With apologies to Horace Greeley, it is good to know that a lot of independents are self-made men; it relieves God Almighty of a lot of responsibility. There is no such thing in this world as unqualified independence."


On page 106 Dr. Smith says, "The New Testament churches not only had fellowship, they had method. They had 'machinery' if you please. In spite of all the hollering and whooping and stomping by the lathered 'independents,' nobody has ever done anything in this world without method, without machinery."


This is rather a severe indictment of independent Baptists. According to Dr. Smith an independent Baptist is iii "ecclesiastical anarchist." Dr. Smith believes that independent Baptists have gone to a "fool extreme." Dr. Smith hopes that God is not held responsible for independent Baptists. He pictures independent Baptists as "hollering and whooping and stomping." He speaks of independent Baptists as, "lathered independents."


I AM AN INDEPENDENT BAPTIST. I pastor an independent Baptist church. In this capacity I would like to look at Dr. Smith's book.


The first chapter is called, "The Three Classes: As They Are." Attention is drawn to the fact that there are three distinct classes of people on the earth: Jews, Gentiles, and the church. The failure to recognize the Bible's classi­fication, distinctions, and implications of these three is given as the basic cause of the religious, social, economic and political chaos that exists today. It is pointed out that the world does not recognize these three classes but instead insists on, "Everything becoming one thing!" (Page 12)


In this first chapter Dr. Smith looks at the Jews as they are today. He sees the Jews so hopelessly divided that it has become impossible for them to even agree as to a definition of a Jew. They are at war with the whole world, and at war with themselves.


Dr. Smith looks at the Gentiles. He traces the history of the Gentiles from Cain, Nimrod, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, etc. to this present generation. From the time that Nimrod, "gathered the Gentiles to Babel and tried to create a universal state," (Page 17) the Gentiles have lived in the open rebellion and defiance of God that is described in Romans 1:21-32.


In chapter two Dr. Smith points out that the Jews, as a nation, were chosen of God by love and grace to be a miracle nation, a separated nation, a peculiar nation, a nation with a land, a nation with a language, and a nation to endure forever.


The nation of the Jews was chosen to teach the Gentile nations of the true God; to write down, preserve and transmit the revelation of God; to save the world from moral putrefaction: to give the world a prophet and King-Priest.


Dr. Smith points out that the Jews turned from the Scriptures and their mission but that God in His sovereignty will accomplish His purpose in the Jews.


Dr. Smith begins with the origin of the Gentile nations and shows that their desire has always been to make all nations into one nation. This has always been contrary to the plan of God and has brought chaos.


What happened to the Jew and Gentiles? What went wrong? I believe that Dr. Smith comes to an accurate diagnosis. They left God out! They departed from God's plan and method! Judgment and chaos have resulted. INSTEAD OF FOLLOWING GOD'S PRESCRIBED COURSE AND PLAN, THEY TRIED TO BUILD SOMETHING BIGGER AND BETTER AND GRANDER!


The entire third chapter (a third of the entire book) is devoted to the church.


Dr. Smith has done an outstanding job. Not only if we ale to have revival but if we are going to have survival we are going to have to recognize the truths that are presented in this chapter.


Better and with greater clarity than any other writer, Dr. Smith establishes that the original word that is trans­lated "church" in our English Bible means "assembly."


Dr. Smith establishes that the church of the New Testament was a local, material, visible, corporate entity. 'HIS WAS THE ONLY KIND OF CHURCH ESTA­BLISHED. There is not one single indication in the entire New Testament of any other meaning for church.


Now, I would like to look at some quotations from Dr. Smith's book that strike a particular response from my own heart and which I could not possibly more heartily endorse.


The teaching of the New Testament is eternally at war with your ecumenical church and all your centralized ecclesiastical systems. (Page 100)


The New Testament churches were completely inde­pendent of all external human authority. (Page 101)


The autonomy and independence of the New Testa­ment church is a corollary of its nature. (Page 101)


Genuine New Testament churches always have been autonomous and independent of external ecclesiastical authority. Genuine New Testament churches today are autonomous and independent of external ecclesiastical authority. Genuine New Testament churches always will be autonomous and independent of external ecclesiastical authority. (Page 103)


A wife packing up her glad rags and leaving her husband for another man is not one whit guiltier of adultery than the local church which turns from the authority of Christ to the authority of ecclesiasticism. (Page 104)


THERE IS NOT A LINE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT GIVES THE LOCAL CHURCH THE AUTHORITY TO DELEGATE ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO ANYBODY. —AMEN, AMEN AND AMEN. [Capitalization and Amens are mine. Ed.] (Page 104)


What happened to the Jews, Gentiles, and the church? Listen again to Dr. Smith, "The ancient Jews tired of God as their King and demanded that He abdicate the throne and turn it over to Saul." The Jews rejected God and tried to build something bigger and better and grander.


The Gentiles left the nations that God established and have been trying to build "one world" ever since.


The Christian world has left the idea of the indepen­dent, local church and is trying to build a "one-world church."


DR. SMITH HAS THE PROPER DIAGNOSIS! DR. SMITH HAS THE PROPER REMEDY! THE TRAGEDY IS THAT DR. SMITH WILL NOT APPLY THE REMEDY! He tells us how to load the gun but he won't shoot. I WILL! I'll pull the trigger and fire his own ammunition.


WHEN THE TEACHINGS OF DR. SMITH IN THE BOOK "JEWS, GENTILES, AND THE CHURCH" ARE APPLIED THEY CONSTITUTE AN INDICTMENT OF THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP OF WHICH DR. SMITH IS A PART.


Let us look again at Dr. Smith's words as already quoted.


"The teaching of the New Testament is eternally at war with your ecumenical church and all your centralized systems." (Page 100)


Let's pull the trigger!


THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP IS A "CENTRALIZED ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM." It is an organization with which Baptist churches identify themselves and through which they do their work. The Fellowship has a constitution. It has officers. It owns property. Through the Fellowship the churches centralize the training of preachers, their missionary work, etc.


Dr. Smith says the teaching of the New Testament is it war with this kind of thing. We agree!


"The New Testament churches were completely inde­pendent of all external human authority." (Page 101)


Let's pull the trigger!


THE CHURCHES OF THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOW­SHIP ARE NOT FREE FROM EXTERNAL HUMAN AUTHORITY. The churches have a vote but are required to submit to the majority rule of the Fellowship or keep quiet…or get out. To remain an identified part of the Fellowship regards accepting the Fellowship's decisions. This is human authority.


Genuine New Testament churches always have been autonomous... today are autonomous ... always will be autonomous. (Page 103)


Let's pull the trigger!


THE CHURCHES OF THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOW­SHIP ARE NOT AUTONOMOUS! To be autonomous means to be completely self-governing. It means to have self-determination without outside control. When a centralized ecclesiastical system such as the Baptist Bible Fellowship uses its centralized schools, papers, youth camps, etc. to indoctrinate the members of the local churches with a greater loyalty to the central organization than to the church then the church is no longer autonomous.


There is not a line in the New Testament that gives the local church the authority to delegate its responsibility to anybody. (Page 104)


Let's pull the trigger!


THE CHURCHES OF THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOW­SHIP DO DELEGATE THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE CENTRAL ORGANIZATION. The Lord gave the church and the church only, the authority to send out missionaries. The churches of the Baptist Bible Fellowship delegate this authority to their Mission Board.


AN ORGANIZATION SUCH AS THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP IS UNSCRIPTURAL.


The only organization established and commissioned in the New Testament is the local church. There is not one mention or hint of any other organization.


Search the Bible! A Baptist is supposed to believe and abide by a "thus saith the Lord." By what authority are organizations such as the Baptist Bible Fellowship organized? One thing is sure . . . it is not Bible authority!


MAN-MADE ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE BAP­TIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP HAVE ALWAYS PRODUCED COMPROMISE. The proclamation of the great Baptist truths has to be softened and finally stilled in order to maintain unity in the central organization. THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP IS CALLED BAPTIST . . . BUT CANNOT EVEN IDENTIFY A BAPTIST! Does a Baptist church ac­cept "alien immersion" as scriptural Baptism? Does a Baptist church practice open or closed communion? Are openly interdenominational churches that call themselves Baptist to be accepted as such simply because they support the Fellowship financially?


May I be permitted to give one more quote from Dr. Smith's book? He tries to justify the existence of the Baptist Bible Fellowship in the following quote.


I believe in associations, in conventions, in fellowships. We are told that in the New Testament we don't find any of them. No; and neither do we find the Sunday School or the Wednesday night prayer meeting. (Page 99)


Such things as Sunday Schools and the Wednesday night prayer meeting are in the individual church and con­trolled by the individual church and do not violate the principle  and mission of the church. Organizations such as the Baptist Bible Fellowship are outside of the church and are a violation of the principle and mission of the church.


THE BOOK, "JEWS, GENTILES, AND THE CHURCH," BY NOEL SMITH IS AN ANSWER TO PR AYER.


For years I have been trying to present the position of the independent Baptist. I have desired to be able to present this truth in such a way that Baptists would understand the tremendous importance of the return to the local church . . . God's way. Mine has been a feeble, faltering at­tempt. It has long been my prayer that one with the ability HI Noel Smith would be presenting the position of the independent Baptist. God has answered that prayer. Dr. Smith accomplishes this in his book.


I WILL NOW BEGIN TO PRAY THAT DR. SMITH, THE BAPTIST BIBLE FELLOWSHIP, AND EACH CHURCH IDENTIFIED WITH SUCH, WILL HAVE THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW THEIR CONVICTIONS.