|Two Distinctive Concepts|
|Written by Ben Winslett|
|Wednesday, 22 June 2011 09:33|
Every group within Christianity has certain distinctive concepts. By distinctive concept, I mean a concept or belief common only to that particular religious order. These distinct ideas are what makes a group stand apart from other groups. Just like blond hair causes a person to stand out in a crowd of brunettes, each groups' distinctive doctrines cause themselves to stand apart from other religious groups, for better or worse.
Two great distinctive concepts of the Primitive Baptists concern the size of God's family and the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ's true Church. Today, most American Christians believe in a very ecumenical concept of church. According to this viewpoint, anything called church is church, regardless or the Biblical validity of their doctrinal beliefs and/or practices. Also, usually accompanying this viewpoint is the idea that one must participate in "formal" church to some degree or another to be saved. The more conservative the group, the more perseverance is required for someone to be considered "safe." In short, the church has no certain identity in this world and encompasses all groups; and the family of God is small, being limited to, at most, practicing Christians (yet in most cases, a person's faithfulness is necessary for salvation). Church is big but God's family is small. Our view is basically the opposite viewpoint.
The Size of the Family of God
Primitive Baptists believe that God has a very large family. This family is referred to in scripture as "the elect" of God. These are people chosen by God from before the foundation of the world. However, this choosing was not based upon any foreseen merit, but purely by God's love, mercy, and grace upon them. In the New Testament alone, Christ, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and Jude wrote of election. The elect, or chosen, are those for whom Christ died and were redeemed by Christ's blood on the cross of Calvary. There is absolutely nothing which can take these beloved people from their God, for He died for them! They are secure in their Father's love through Christ their Saviour. Hallelujah! (Further reading: Romans 8 & 9, Ephesians 1, John 10)
But how many people were chosen? Well, Scripture is silent concerning the definite number or even the percentage of the human race which is chosen. To be frank, that is God's business and His business alone. The Lord knoweth them that are His. Yet, Scripture does inform us, in a general sense, as to the vast size of God's family. Consider the following scripture:
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation... - Revelation 5:9
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands... - Revelation 7:9
These two texts from Revelation depict God's family as being an innumerable host of people out of every nation, kindred, people, and tongue. Look over these verses again - every nation, every kindred, every people, and every tongue. This means that there are people all across this globe who are saved by Jesus Christ. Christ shed His blood "for many." Christ will bring "many sons" into Glory. Christ "was offered once to bear the sins of many." The Lord Himself is even described as being Lord Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts), which means "large numbers."
Yet, only 30% of the world population have heard some form of the preached word. Many less have heard the one true Gospel (Galatians 1:6). Among those who have heard, the majority have been Caucasian (white people). Yet we read that God's people are from every nation. Obviously, from this we conclude that there will be people in Heaven who were never privileged to worship God in a church body. Yet, "all will know Him from the least unto the greatest."
Because the Spirit moves as the wind, by the decree of God with no mediator between Christ and man, God is able to regenerate His children anywhere on planet Earth. They were chosen of God from before the foundation of the world. They were redeemed by Christ on the Cross. They will be regenerated by the immediate work of the Holy Spirit just the same! Romans 2 describes such folks as "spiritual jews" who, despite being ignorant of God's written word, do "by nature" the things contained IN His word because God has written His laws upon their hearts. That is grace worthy of the title Amazing!
One distinctive of our people is that we believe (as Scripture teaches) that God has a large people from every nation under heaven, even among those who never hear the preached word.
The Identity of the Lord's Church
While we believe that God's family is very large, encompassing all believers and also God's elect out of every nation regardless of whether or not they hear the preached word, we also believe that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has a very specific identity. In other words, the Church of Christ was established in a very specific way upon certain principles (the faith once delivered). This church would continue, perpetually, through all generations maintaining the ordinances, doctrines, and practices which were delivered to them. Groups holding to ideas contrary to the doctrines and practices of the First Century Church (and therefore the Bible) are therefore not in possession of the true Church. Of course, Christ gives and removes a church body's candlestick at His Will. He alone determines whether or not a group is a true church. Yet His word does give us very specific information pertaining the identity of the Church.
Consider the following scriptures:
"...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." - Matthew 16:18
"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." - Ephesians 3:21
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." - Ephesians 4:5
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." - John 4:24
"...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." - Jude 1:3
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." - Romans 16:17
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." - 2 Thessalonians 3:6
"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." - 1 Corinthians 11:2
I could continue but will not. From the above, we conclude two things.
This is not to say that folks who worship contrary to the early church are insincere, evil, or somehow less valuable in the sight of God than those who attempt to maintain true worship. God forbid! However, this does paint a clear picture that the church has a specific identity and heritage. This is undeniable. For a group to be possess the identity of the Lord's Church, their practices, ordinances, and doctrines must match those of the First Century Church as described in Scripture.
So how is this a distinctive? Well, unlike the ecumenical viewpoint (which is a growing fad in Western culture), we believe the Bible presents a very specific concept of church. Thus, the Church is a "remnant" of the family of God...a small group within a large group.
PBs believe that God's Church is much smaller and that the family of God is much larger than generally accepted among most religious folks today. These are our beliefs. These are two distinct ideas of our people. Does this ring true with you? Does it bring joy to your heart? If so, may I suggest that you find and unite yourself with this little band of soldiers? The truth shall make you free!
|Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 10:19|