As you may know, I am an Independent Baptist. That does not mean that I am independent of Christ and His power. Rather, it is a Christian belief that teaches our churches are to be autonomous and self-governing. It has been said that our type of churches are “fundamentalist’s”. The church I pastor is independent, and we answer to Christ as our head. We are a local body of Scripturally baptized believers. Our desire is Christ. Our goal is winning the lost. Our direction is fulfilling the great commission. Our guide is the Bible.
As Independent Baptists, we hold certain values that separate us from other forms of modern Christianity. This has labeled our churches as “fundamental”. People have a hard time with that word. If it means that we hold to the fundamentals of New Testament Christianity, then yes, I am a fundamentalist. If you are saying that I am part of a group or movement that has an unspoken denominational bond with allegiance toward men that are fundamentalist, then no, I am not loyal to any particular man or movement. I am loyal to the Bible.
My love for the Bible, and rightly dividing the Word of Truth, has led me to be a Baptist by choice and conviction. The doctrines and church foundations of modern Christianity can be traced to specific founders, leaders, or movements. From Calvary Chapel, to Pentecostals, they each have a start in the last 200 years. Then you have what is known as the Reformers and the Protestants. These groups can be traced back 500 years prior to the founding of America.
Yet, when one studies the Baptist church, there is no real trace of reforming or protesting OUT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Why? Because they can be traced back to the times of the Apostles, which leads back to Jesus Christ Himself, and the founding of the visible church that He started. We believe that Jesus started one church during His earthly ministry, and it was a local, visible assembly that continued the work of Christ at Jerusalem after His ascension That local church in Jerusalem was persecuted, spread out, and started more local churches. Eventually, the Apostle Paul was called, and continued the work of establishing local churches.
And I say also 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.
~ Matthew 16:18
This pattern continued for years. The true churches were always the persecuted churches. They had different names through the centuries. They had different locations. Yet, they had a common bond that led to their continual persecution. This bond is the very same reason why Independent Baptists of today are still persecuted, from both the lost world and in the modern Christian realm. What is this bond? It is what I call:
The 3 Fundamentals of the Baptist Faith
As I look and see what has been given to us, and the price that was paid to keep the local New Testament Church pure, I am bothered by the number of churches I see dropping the essential doctrines of New Testament Christianity. What startles me even more, is that many Independent Baptists no longer hold the same position as our Baptist forefathers. These essential fundamentals I am about to share were stood upon until Catholic priests and Protestant reformers killed our Baptist forefathers. If these doctrines were worth dying for, then they are worth practicing today, no matter what movements or men say.
Fundamental One: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
As followers of the Bible, Baptists have always believed in the essentials of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Independent Baptists today have come to accept what is known as “the fundamentals of the faith”, which started in an effort to call Bible believers to continue to embrace the literal meaning and teaching of the Bible, while avoiding the liberalism that was creeping into Christianity in the early 1900′s.
What became the focus were the essentials of salvation and the Gospel, which was summed up in 5 doctrines which one cannot deny and be a born again child of God, they are:
- The Virgin Birth of Christ
- The Deity of Christ
- The Sinless Life of Christ
- The Vicarious Death of Christ
- The Literal Resurrection of Christ
There were other doctrines that were included in the essays that made up the founding of the “Fundamentalist” movement, such as: The literal miracles of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, etc. More can be learned in this article: The Fundamentals. While their intent was right, the method was flawed. This is where Baptists began to become ecumenical. It was here where doctrines such as baptism and the church were laid aside for the “sake” of the Gospel.
So why make such a fuss? Because many Baptists today base their “fundamental” points on only the 5 main Salvation doctrines fundamentalist hold to. That being said, if our strongest stand is predominately on 5 doctrines of Salvation only, then we will eventually compromise them. Why? Because the Church is the pillar and ground of truth. If we get the church wrong, then the truth will eventually be left behind. Before I get too far into the Church and the Word of God, let me continue on the Gospel.
Baptists have always had a strong position on the Gospel. This position is what led the Catholic Church to kill our Ana-Baptist forefathers. What was it that led to their bloody death? We believe that Jesus alone can save a sinner from his sins. If anything is added to Jesus or taken away from Jesus, it is a perverted Gospel. This Gospel was so life changing that pagans would not receive it because of the new life a person would receive upon calling upon Christ to save them. Therefore, pagan cultures killed our forefathers.
The essentials of the Gospel that were proclaimed, loved, and held to so dearly are the following:
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Death, Burial, and Resurrection
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Faith in Christ Alone
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
It was for this Gospel that our Ana-Baptist forefathers were slain. They preached that a person can only be saved by what Jesus did on the cross, how He shed His blood, and rose the third day. One must turn to that Jesus and trust Him to be truly born again. They denied works and religion for salvation. They preached against paganism, and were killed. They preached this Gospel message, and have now passed it down to our generation.
Fundamental Two: The Pure Word of God
In order to have a pure Gospel message, one must have heard it from the Word of God. Therefore, the second fundamental of the Baptist faith is that of the pure Word of God.
Before we get into the details, let me ask you this: Do you agree with relativism? One might ask, what is relativism? Simply put, it means there is no constant, and rules change based upon an author, movement, or society.
Imagine if one were to take the Word of God, and make it “relative” to our society in 2013. With the current trend of “coexisting”, all that we see above concerning the Gospel would be lost. Why? Because that is the world in which we live. I know of modern Christianity would not allow for the Bible to changed to modern society.
Would it surprise you if you found out that there is a line of Bibles that were established with the relativism mentioned above? They are known as Alexandrian texts, which go back to Alexandria, Egypt. One thing to note is that Egypt in the Bible often represents an unbeliever, or life prior to being born again. With that thought, why would one trust a Bible text based in the “world” with relativism as its source of inspiration?
The amazing thing is that modern Bible versions of today have their root in that Alexandrian text. Can you believe that? Modern Bible versions were changed to match the society of Alexandria, Egypt under two men, Clement & Origin. These men adapted the Bible to match the pagan belief system of Egypt. With that adaptation, many Bible verses where changed to leave out what we see as the Gospel mentioned above.
In all this, the church that stayed true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ also stayed true to the Word of God. Rather than using the Alexandrian Biblical text (known as the critical or corrupt text), the true church used what was known as the Antioch Biblical text. In the Bible, Antioch was the city from which the local church sent out Paul the Apostle to preach the Gospel. This was a mission minded church that took the Word serious and made sure people around the world heard its truth.
Rather than change the Bible to match society, it was thought that the Bible should be preached so that society would match the Bible. That mindset has always been the underlying foundation of the true church, as she continually took a stand upon the Word of God. While we took such a stand, the compromised religious establishments used and loved the texts founded under relativism, the corrupt critical Alexandrian texts. This compromised religious group eventually became the Roman Catholic Church as we know it.
While all this was going on, true followers of Jesus Christ saw the corruption, and went to their martyrs grave, standing upon the Word of God. The Antioch text was used by the true churches. Eventually, it was known as the text received by true followers of Jesus. This received text was used for only one Bible, the King James Bible. I would rather have a Bible with a pure history, than a Bible with relative corrupt history.
Please watch the video below to get a better understanding:
Similar videos can be found at: www.BigDealKJV.com
Fundamental Three: The Local Church
As a result of a pure Gospel, and a love for truth based upon a pure Bible, all that could be left was a pure church. The reason churches today are not pure is because they somehow forsake these pillars of the Baptist faith.
We understand how the true church could be persecuted by pagan religious groups for the proclamation of the Gospel, but here is where true churches have become persecuted by so-called Christians. It is found in what we believe about the local church. The doctrine we hold concerning the church has led to protestants and reformers killing Ana-Baptists alongside Catholics and pagans. What did we once hold that separated us from all forms of ecumenism and led protestants to persecute us?
Biblical Christianity has always taught that Scriptural baptism is only for the believer in Christ. We have always preached that baptism has no saving power, but is a testimony of our faith in Christ, a picture/symbol of what we believe it took to save us, and what took place in our heart when we were born again.
Most modern Christian churches would agree with that statement, but the true churches took it a step further. We believe that the above statement is part of baptism, and that it doesn’t stop with that statement. There are four other aspects of baptism we hold that led to the persecution of our forefathers which are:
There is only one baptism, baptism by water immersion for born again individuals
We do not believe in “Spirit” baptism. When Jesus said to go and baptize, His command was that of water baptism for the born again believer, which was modeled by Jesus Himself (Matthew 3:13-17 & 28:18-20). Paul later said there is one baptism (Ephesian 4:5). If that is the case, then there is a problem, because people teach two baptisms. There is either a contradiction in the Bible, or a contradiction in beliefs. We believe there is only one baptism, and it’s by water immersion.
Baptism must be administered by the proper authority
We believe that not just anyone can baptize another individual. As Christ administered baptism to His apostles, they in turn laid hands on preachers of the Gospel to continue the Gospel ministry (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Timothy 2:2 & Titus 1:5). This progression continued through the ages. We now have churches that have authority to baptize because of the roots, and churches that do not have that same authority due to their corrupt past. Ana-Baptists were persecuted heavily by protestants because they would not accept protestant or Catholic baptism.
A Scriptural example is found in Acts. Paul found men that had not heard the entire Gospel. When questioned about their baptism, it was not local church baptism. Upon confession of Christ as the resurrected Saviour, they were then Scriptually baptized by Paul (Acts 19:1-5).
Baptism joins an individual to a local church
Since we deny “Spirit” baptism, then there must an explanation for joining the body of Christ. It is found in Acts 2. After people were saved, the Bible teaches they were baptized, and “added unto them”. This gives two thoughts:
- The “them” in Acts 2 was the 120 in Acts 1, the first church. This means the church was not started on the day of Pentecost. Rather, we believe it was started in Jesus ministry in Matthew 16:18.
- Upon baptism, they became members of the “them”, the local church when they were baptized. They became part of a local body of Christ.
If prior baptism experience did not match the above qualifications, then the individual must be Scripturally baptized
If a person who was saved came to a true church and did not meet the above requirements of baptism, then the person was to be Scripturally baptized by that local church. If they had met the requirements, then a letter from the previous church or a statement of faith was given by the requesting member. Upon a local church vote, the candidate was accepted.
This practice through the dark ages led to many deaths, because we would not accept all baptisms. For instance, Catholics killed our fore-fathers because we would not accept sprinkling or infant baptism. Protestants persecuted our fore-fathers because we required them to receive Scriptural baptism by our churches, rejecting their baptism.
All this led to the name: Ana-Baptist. The word “Ana” means: re- or again. We would “re”baptize people if they did not met the above qualifications. In the Catholic’s eyes, we “re”baptized, because they were supposedly baptized as an infant, which is UN-Biblical. In the Protestant’s eyes, we “re”baptized, because we considered their churches to be impure and to have no Scriptural authority to baptize.
Local Church Communion
Having established the thought there of only one baptism for a local church ordinance, then communion must also be a local church ordinance. We believe that communion, or the Lord’s Table was given to the institution of the local church. Therefore, it is to be kept among the members of the local church. There are three thoughts to give reason that it was for the local church membership only.
Christ started the ordinance in a “closed” manner
In the Gospels, we find that only the 12 Apostles of His 120 followers were actually with Him when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Upon the actual ceremony, Judas was dismissed. With that thought, local church communion was started “closed”.
There were steps before the church of Jerusalem “broke bread”
Many use the term “breaking bread” as a phrase for performing the Lord’s Table. I personally do not subscribe to that thought. Breaking bread simply means that they ate and fellow-shipped. We “break bread” every time our church has a potluck or some other service with food involved That being said, IF “breaking bread” was a term used for communion, then there was a process to break bread with the church found in Acts 2:41-46:
- Received the Word (got saved)
- Scripturally baptized
- Added unto them (joined the local church)
- Continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine
- Continued in fellowship (active church membership)
- Then “breaking bread”
So, before they ever “broke bread” they were saved, baptized members, that held to Biblical doctrine and were active in the local church.
When dealing specifically with this ordinance, Paul addressed a specific local church
In 1st Corinthians 11, Paul taught about their improper practice of the Lord’s Supper. It was to a local church, and not instruction for a “universal” church. The proper candidates were members of that church, and we know how they became members in the sections of this post. They next step was that they examine their hearts. If they were not right with God, then they were still unworthy. It was even closed to members of the church.
Remember, Baptism keeps the church pure doctrinally. The Lord’s Table keeps the church pure morally.
Local Church Purity
According the to Bible, God’s Church is the Bride of Christ. He requires that this Bride be spotless. Therefore, if a church changes in it’s doctrine, or does not keep it pure through the above mentioned ordinances, then how could it remain spotless? God’s desire is that His church remain pure. It’s a sad day, but many Baptist churches no longer hold to such doctrine, and therefore are on the brink of losing their “candlestick”. I don’t mean to come across as if we are the only ones God can use, it is just my desire to do my part to keep the church I pastor on the same page as God. In this, I find that there are two area’s in which God desires holiness and purity:
Purity of Doctrine
As mentioned above, there were doctrines that our Ana-Baptist forefathers suffered and died for. The primary doctrine has been, and will always be, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel alone, there are many points to consider that we have continually striven to keep pure, which are:
- Only Jesus can save: John 14:6
- Jesus was virgin born & sinless: Matthew 1:21 cf. Isaiah 7:14 & 9:6
- The Blood of Jesus is what washes away sin: Matthew 26:28, Romans 3:24-25, Romans 5:9, Colossians 1:14, Hebrews 9:12-14, 1st John 1:7, Revelation 5:9
- The Resurrection is our hope of eternal life: John 10:18, John 11:25-24, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 & 14-21
- Repentance is part of Salvation: Mark 1:15, Acts 3:19, 17:30, 20:21
- Works can never save a sinner: Romans 5:1, 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9
- Salvation begins a new life in Christ: John 3:1-7, 2nd Corinthians 5:17
There are many other doctrines, but again, I remind you that our Ana-Baptist forefathers stood upon the above principles of the Gospel. They were tortured and killed just to preach the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As churches in the days of the Apostles began to compromise the Gospel, we are admonished to watch for and separate from such false doctrine: Acts 20:28-32, Romans 16:17, Galatians 1:6-9, Titus 1:10-11
We are also to strive to keep our doctrine pure: 2nd Timothy 1:13 & 2:1-3, Titus 1:9
Purity of Life
Not only is God concerned with the local church as a congregation, but He is concerned for the individual members of a local assembly. He desires pure doctrine for the local church, and He desires a pure life from His children. If we are not living holy before God, then we are in sin. And I remind you that God will see sin a church, though it may be just one family sinning. He doesn’t take this lightly, for sin is a taint in the Bride as much as false doctrine.
A perfect example of God being concerned about sin in regard to a family in a local church is that of Ananias & Sapphira in Acts 5. They lied about how much money they made. Though they thought they were lying to Peter, they were really sinning against God. As a result of such impure actions, God took them home to heaven by taking their life. Why? God was concerned with the purity of His people.
Another example is found in 1st Corinthians 11. People were taking the Lord’s Supper with sin in their life. Paul told them that if they took it unworthily, then there would be a consequence, such as sickness and even death! Why? Again, God is concerned with the purity of His people: Leviticus 11:45 & 20:7, Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 1:4 & 5:8, 1st Thessalonians 4:7, Titus 2:11-14, 1st Peter 1:15-15
This is a simple article in regard to the position on which our Ana-Baptist forefathers stood. There has been 2,000 years of history in regard to God’s church. Such a study on all that was preached by Ana-Baptists would need several volumes of books. For more information on the subject, I recommend the following book:Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom From the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660