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
Unaffiliated Baptists are the descendants in the faith of people known by many different names in the past such as Waldenses, Albigenses, Donatists, Lollards, etc., but for over fifteen hundred years their kind was known most often as Anabaptists.
Their name has varied with time and location but their doctrines and practices have been consistent through out the centuries. They were given (by their critics) the name Ana-Baptists for several centuries as a sort of generic name because they did not practice infant baptism and refused to accept the baptism of the Roman Catholic church as valid since infant baptism and sprinkling are foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. The Anabaptists "rebaptized" by immersion, those who came to them from Catholicism or any other "ism" whose baptismal practices were alien to the Scriptures. Hence, their name "Anabaptists" (re-baptizers).
As time passed, the "Ana" was omitted and the result was a people called Baptists. It is an acknowledged fact of history that not all those named above were always sound in all areas of the faith. There has never been a time in the history of the church in which all people called by the same name practiced the same things in the same way. Many who claim to be Baptists today appropriated the name while compromising the truths of the New Testament. This is unfortunate for those who seriously contend for the truth.
Many pseudo Baptists today identify with Protestantism in the history of their faith. Biased historians (and most are biased) often assume that one false apostle discredits the other eleven. One not-so-sound church, flying the Baptist flag, cannot, and does not, speak for all Baptist churches, in this age or in the past.
Unaffiliated Baptists are often considered eccentric today when they insist that Scriptural baptism is the immersion of a believer by a church whose system of faith and doctrine has endured since the days of the apostles. It is not the name that people acquire that makes them right, but their continuity in the truth that Jesus Christ taught his first followers. Why is this continuity so important? It is bona fide evidence that the New Testament church truth still prevails and will prevail until He comes for His people.
Unaffiliated Baptists believe that Jesus Christ organized His church and ordained (appointed) the apostles in the church (compare Mark 3:14 to 1 Cor 12:28). They were already in the church when Jesus made them apostles. It was during Jesus' ministry as the first pastor/shepherd of His church. If the church did not come into existence until the day of Pentecost then of course this creates a problem of harmony and consistency of the Word of God.
All churches or religious systems that have their origin dated this side of the personal ministry of Jesus Christ are not an improvement on the church that Christ built upon "the Rock". Denominations are the result of an urge to "improve" on the original model.
The definition of the word "church" is a called out assembly. It was an assembly (church) upon whom the Holy Spirit came as its "guide into all truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit did not assemble them, they were already assembled, waiting for this event. The assembly was the same assembly to whom was given complete instructions by their pastor, Jesus Christ, as to what they were to do after he had ascended to His Father.
They were instructed to make disciples, baptize them and to teach them the things Jesus had taught them. Nothing new was added to these instructions on the day of Pentecost. No church today can claim a newer or revised or "improved" model of the Lord's final instructions to His church (Matthew 28:19, 20). What about other Baptist denominations?
What about others such as Free Will Baptists, Bible Baptists, Regular Baptists, Southern Baptists, and many, many more? Answer: It is generally true that all Baptist churches can be identified as being in one of two camps.
One camp, or type, is composed of those who believe that the word church is always descriptive of a local body of baptized believers. They deny the so-called "mystical, universal, invisible church" theory which says the church is made up of all the saved of all the ages. This group does not recognize the baptism of those who accept the "universal, invisible church" theory as being Scriptural, unless they were baptized in a true Baptist church. More on this later.
Concerning the Lord's Supper, they believe it is a local church ordinance to be observed in the assembly and only by the members of that assembly. When church members know each other personally they are able to know and judge whether or not they should observe the Lord's Supper at any given time. Why is that important? The church at Corinth was instructed in the fifth chapter of First Corinthians, not to eat with an immoral brother but rather to "put away from among you that wicked person".
In the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, that church was told that because of divisions and heresies among them at that time they could not eat the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:18-20). The above restrictions placed on the Lord's Supper could only be enforced by those in a local church situation where members know and are known to each other. One can see from this that the observance of the Lord's Supper can contribute to self examination of a church as regards their morals and doctrine. This, to Unaffiliated Baptists, is very important.
When a Baptist says (as some do) that the church is local in membership but its ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper, are universal in nature and open to all by acclamation, then consistency is abandoned. Those who embrace the false, unscriptural position of the "universal" church face a dilemma which leaves them no choice but to say baptism and the Lord's Supper is open and unrestricted, rather than under the direction and discipline of the local church.
There are other groups of Baptists who mimic the liberal, Protestant view of the church (universal) as being made up of all the saved without making doctrinal purity a test of church fellowship and they are generally no different from most Protestant denominations except in name. It is also a regular thing with them to accept without question, the baptism of anyone who comes to them from any other group who baptize by immersion.
Many in this group accept members from other denominations and churches as valid candidates to partake of the Lord's Supper with them. As has been stated previously, they see the Lord's Supper as an ordinance over which the local church has no right to regulate or restrict to anyone because of their "universal church" views. Departing from the Scriptures and taking this "universal church" view compels them to eat the Lord's Supper with a cult member if the cult member so chooses. The Lord's Supper then becomes subject to the control of those outside the (local) body of Christ.
It makes no sense for the Lord to say, "Come out from among them" and at the same time tell us to have fellowship in the Lord's Supper with them, in an ordinance the very purpose of which is to show the unity or "oneness" of the (local) body of Christ. To take such a position is to shirk the responsibility of the church to exercise discipline in the membership concerning morals and doctrine, and to allow the outsider to usurp the responsibility of the local church, and decide for himself whether or not to participate. This position undermines the independence and autonomy of the church.
So then, the Unaffiliated Baptist position is that the Lord's Supper was instituted by the Lord Jesus himself and was shared only by members of that church (local), which obviously was the only church in existence at that time.
The fact that the Lord's Supper was instituted by the Lord before Pentecost is another proof that the church had its beginning with the personal ministry of Jesus.
First Corinthians 12:13 is a favorite Scripture of liberal Baptists to show that their "mystical, universal, invisible church" idea is the correct one. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." When this Scripture is interpreted to say that the Holy Spirit baptizes people into the "invisible church", a serious error is made.
First of all, there is no such teaching in the Bible that declares the Holy Spirit to be a baptizer (active voice) of any sort. Secondly, we must remember "that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20). We must understand this verse in the context of all of the rest of the verses in scripture that talk about this same subject.
What is being discussed here? Verse 12 makes it clear that the unity of the body (local) here is being contrasted with the disunity of the body (local) discussed in chapters 1-3. Therefore, verse 13 is discussing the basis for the unity of the local body. The word "by" can mean one of two things in English. First, it can mean "by means of" as in: "I got to New Jersey by the Lincoln tunnel." Second, "by" can mean "by reason of" as in: " I was sent to the store by my wife."
If we compare scripture with scripture we can easily see that we are baptized into the membership of the local church "by reason of" the regenerating work of the one Holy Spirit ("Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5), that washed us in the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26), and renewed us unto eternal life (Titus 3:5), and made us a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
A text out of context is a pre-text. Consistency dictates that a verse be in harmony with the chapter, as well as with the rest of the scripture dealing with that subject. To be an honest student of the Scriptures we must consider the context in which a statement is made. This verse under consideration was addressed to the church at Corinth.
The body of Christ is certainly mentioned numerous times in the chapter but never in the sense of an invisible body. In verse 27 the church at Corinth was told, "Now ye are the body of Christ." Invisible? No! Was the first church invisible when Jesus set the apostles in it? No! The words universal and mystical are not in the vocabulary of the Bible, by inference or otherwise!
Let us consider Philippians 1:27 for more light. The saints at Philippi were the recipients of this passage of Scripture which reads, "Only let your conversion be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." The "one mind" compliments the idea that spiritual condition (salvation) and mental attitude (unity) is the subject considered, and these two are the requirements for admission into membership in local New Testament Baptist Church.
After reading the entire 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians the only conclusion an honest and fair minded student can come to is that the subject is the real, live relationship of members of a local church to one another in the same local church.
The chapter mentions the effect of the sufferings of one member on the rest of the members; verse 26. It is without logic to think that a visible member of an invisible church could even know about, much less sympathize with the sufferings of another visible (yet somehow invisible) member located elsewhere in this mystical disjointed body. The passage certainly makes a lot more sense when seen as members of a local church (the church at Corinth in this case) who have been baptized (in water) into the membership of the local church on the bases of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
The "universal, mystical body" idea began about the time of the reformation which was actually meant to be a reformation of the Roman State "Church" (catholic means universal) by men (Roman Catholic Priests) such as Martin Luther and John Calvin.
After the expulsion of these men from the Roman "Church" by the Pope, they and their followers became known as "Protestants" in the sixteenth century. In the process of time there arose many different leaders with varied reasons for rebellion against Rome. The Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians as well as many other so-called Protestant "Churches" are the result.
There were many "Anabaptists" at that time, but they were not involved in trying to reform Rome. History shows that they suffered as much persecution at the hand of Protestants as they did from Rome. The doctrines and practices of Unaffiliated Baptist churches today began in Galilee fifteen hundred years before the reformation (Acts 10:37 and 13:31) before the name Ana-Baptists (later shortened to Baptists) was invented by our enemies.
What evidence is there to say that the Unaffiliated Baptists have such a long history to reach back to Galilee and the days of Christ on earth? Answer: The historical record of the trail of blood for eighteen hundred years, shed by myriads of martyrs who believed the very things the Unaffiliated Baptists hold as truth today. Their record of dying a torturous death for what they believed to be the truth was recorded by those who tortured and murdered them to be used as evidence against them and is not a fabrication of their own making.
To say that God has not had true churches in every century since Jesus called out his disciples and set the Apostles in the church is to say that Jesus lied when he stated: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Jesus promised that this would never happen in Matthew 16:18, and His promises are always true. There are untold numbers of people past and present who say "we are the true people of God".
How may we know for sure who is telling the truth? There is only one way and it is an ancient way; do as the Bereans did in Paul's day; search the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-12). Compare what you hear Unaffiliated Baptists teach and practice with your own Bible while praying for God's help in your search for the truth.
Without exception no people past or present can boast of their own integrity in the faith as the reason for the church's survival until now. The Lord's churches are still alive and well today because of His promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20. The so-called reformed "church" by its own admission states that the truth did die; the gates of hell did prevail, but they (so they claim) have re-established the faith to its original purity.
The cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Armstrongites believe that God has raised them up because there was no truth left to be found on earth. In Romans chapter 10 we find a description of some of the Jews who had more zeal than knowledge and who went about establishing their own righteousness even as they failed to listen to the apostles preach the righteousness of Christ.
Who Are We?
1. We are a people whose system of faith predates the reformation by fifteen hundred years and predates the day of Pentecost by three and one half years.
2. We are a people who have survived because of the promise Christ made to His churches that we would continue until he comes again and not because we are more militant than others.
3. Our record is one of having been persecuted but never persecuting others. Judgment and vengeance belong only to God.
4. We are a people who have never had any head or authority over us but Christ. We have no pope, archbishops, superintendents, presidents, apostles, home office, boards, ruling elders, presiding elders, standing committees or any other form of human authority over us.
5. We are a people who believe that the church is nothing more or less than a local assembly of baptized believers and is in no sense a "universal, mystical, invisible" aberration, nor is it a denominational conglomerate.
6. We are a people who feel we have no obligation or command from Christ to condone heresy or compromise any truth for the sake of unity or peace or numerical power. We choose to have no part in the "free spirit" of ecumenism so popular with the worldly "new age" movement being promoted by the humanists.
7. We are a people who believe that "whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." It is believers who are baptized and added to the local church. Church membership was never meant to be a means of escaping hell, but a means of faithfully serving the Lord.
8. We are a people who believe the great commission recorded in the 28th chapter of Matthew was given to the local churches and to no one else. We do not believe that a churches' responsibility to Christ can be "farmed out" to any other man or group of men or women such as a Missionary Society, Missions Board, Convention, Association, or Para- church organization (a term borrowed from ecumenism and Neo-evangelicalism and without scriptural support) operating independently of the authority of the local New Testament, Holy Spirit guided assembly, the local church.
9. It is not true that Unaffiliated Baptists teach that salvation from hell is only found in our midst and all others are doomed. Baptism and church membership come after personal salvation which may occur at any time and at any place anyone repents and trusts in God the Son for salvation.
10. It is not true that Unaffiliated Baptists believe that all men walk in darkness until they become Unaffiliated Baptists.
11. It is true that Unaffiliated Baptists believe that Christ was talking to his visible, local church when he called them the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). This was before the day of Pentecost, which most Protestants assume to be the day of the origin of the church. There is no record in the Scriptures of anything having its beginning on the day of Pentecost. It was on this promised day that the church was endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). This promise also included the coming of another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to indwell the church as their "guide into all truth" (John 16:7 & 13). That promise also says the comforter would abide (remain) with the disciples for ever (John 14:16). It is true that He is still with his churches even now and is guiding them into all truth as He promised.
Those who claim that Pentecost is repeated from time to time are saying that Christ did not keep his word that the Comforter would abide for ever. If He abides for ever there is no need for a repetition of the event of His first advent, including the signs that followed. A true disciple comes under the "teaching and guiding" influence of the Holy Spirit today when he becomes a member of the (one, local) body of Christ where the Spirit dwells (John 14:16-26; 16:13).
It is still true that there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). The one Lord is Jesus; the one faith is that system "which was once delivered unto the saints" according to Jude 3. The one baptism is water baptism. If Holy Spirit baptism is a present day event then there are two baptisms, or water baptism is no longer a commandment. At the time of the writing of the letter to the Ephesians by the Apostle Paul, the baptism of the Jerusalem assembly in the Holy Spirit had already happened, once for all, never to leave them, and never to be repeated.
In the process of time members die and new ones are added to the assembly but the Holy Spirit abides. When members leave one area and move to another and begin to assemble in the new location they become a local church in the new area. The Holy Spirit does not make a new entrance in each such case; he is omnipresent and his office continues as "guide" and "teacher" in any and every local assembly of water baptized believers who practice the Baptist (Biblical) distinctives. That is what Jesus meant when he said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
His churches are still going into all the world. New Testament churches are being established by those who are members of previous assemblies who were in turn members of previous assemblies. So the continuity of His churches is assured as Christ promised.