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
H. Boyce Taylor
Taken from the book, Why Be A Baptist?, 1928
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:14).
The word here translated peculiar means having "special and distinct characteristics or habits." Thayer defines the Greek word translated peculiar "a people selected by God from the other nations for His own possession." The idea is the same.
God's people are a people chosen by Him to be unlike all other nations and people, with special and distinct habits and characteristics. Baptists are now and have always been that kind of people. God made them so. They please Him best when they are most unlike other folks. He did not choose them because they were peculiar. They were just like other sinners until He created them anew.
When He made them over by the new birth He made them peculiar. He chose them and redeemed them and created them anew as a people for His own possession, and His purpose for every one of them is to conform them to the image of His Son. That means that by His grace and His Spirit and His Word and His Providences, He is making them more and more peculiar all the time.
The purpose of this is to call attention to and stress some of their peculiarities. The more peculiar they become, in the sense of the more they become like Christ, the better they please our Heavenly Father, the more heavenly and unworldly they become and the more people take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. These peculiarities are commonplace with us, but they were not in New Testament days. Neither are they generally known on this earth today except in a very limited territory in the South.
Instead of trying to hide their peculiarities and magnify the things, wherein they differ from all other denominations. If you think the writer has put it too strongly, read these words from the lips of the Son of God. "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). He came to send division, according to His own testimony. How does He cause division? He causes division by making His people different from other folks.
The things wherein they differ are their peculiarities. Why does He cause division? Because He wants His people to be wholly unlike anybody else (2 Cor. 6:11-18). Wherein are Baptists to be a peculiar people? Ought they to glory in their peculiarities or to be ashamed of them? I maintain that their peculiarities are their glory and that in humility and meekness, because they are God-given, they ought to be gloried in.
The Baptist Gospel is the Only Gospel
The gospel began with the first Baptist preacher. In Mark 1:1 we are told that John's ministry was the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Is that so or not so? The Bible tells it. The Holy Spirit thought it of sufficient importance to open up the second gospel with that declaration. Is it so? If it is, then there are several very common utterances abroad in the land that Baptists ought to quit endorsing and circulating. If the gospel began with John the Baptist, then the first gospel sermon was preached by the first Baptist preacher. Since Paul says there is but one gospel, the man, who doesn't preach the Baptist gospel, does not preach any gospel at all (Gal. 1:7-8).
If there is but one gospel and gospel preaching began with the first Baptist preacher, then every man, who preaches the true gospel, got his gospel from the Baptists and preaches the Baptist gospel. If the first gospel was the Baptist gospel, then honest preachers of the gospel everywhere ought to tell, that there is but one gospel and that it came from God to them through the Baptists. If God gave the gospel to the world through the Baptists, then the Baptists are under supreme obligations to God and to the world to give to them the gospel in its purity.
The gospel is a Baptist gospel and Baptists owe it to the Lord Jesus to give the gospel to every creature. That is the ground of missions, according to Paul. It is a debt, a Baptist debt, a debt that Baptists owe to every creature. Listen: "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise, So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Rom. 1:14-15).
Missions are not charity. Missions are a debt Baptists owe a lost world. Missions are preaching the gospel to the literate and to the illiterate. The Baptist debt is not schools nor hospitals nor humanitarian service nor relief for men's bodies. The Baptist debt to the world is the gospel. The gospel began with the Baptists. It is a Baptist possession. Its publishing to every creature is the Baptist debt. This gospel, that began with the first Baptist, not on Pentecost, is to be preached, the very same gospel, not another until Jesus comes again (Mat. 24:14).
Baptism is no part of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17). The gospel is Christ's death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification or in other words the finished work of Christ (1 Cor. 15:13). The gospel is for the lost, not something we do for Christ but something He did for us. Baptism is for the saved, only the saved. That is why baptism is no part of the gospel. They are not the same kind of folks. The gospel is for the lost, nobody but the lost. Baptism is for the saved, nobody but the saved.
A Baptist Church is the Only Church
This is the second peculiarity of the Baptists. The church Jesus called "my church" was a Baptist church. The material was prepared by the first Baptist preacher. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we are told that the apostles were first in the church. Luke 6:13 tells of their selection by Jesus and the names of the first apostles. In Acts 1:22 Luke tells us that a man could not be one of the twelve apostles unless he had accompanied with them from the baptism of this first Baptist preacher.
This first church was a Baptist church therefore because it was built by Jesus, who was Himself baptized by a Baptist preacher. Even Alexander Campbell admitted in his debate with Mr. McCalla, a Presbyterian, that the church at Jerusalem was a Baptist church. No other church except the one Jesus built was built out of Baptist material. No other church except the one Jesus built had a baptism, that came from heaven (John 1:33; Luke 7:30). No other church except the church Jesus built was built by one person of the Godhead.
Since no stream can rise higher than its source, the only church in this world, that is a divine institution, are Baptist churches, for no other church, except Baptist churches had one person of the Godhead for its founder. No other church except Baptist churches were founded in Palestine. No other church except the church Jesus built had in its foundation Christ and the apostles (Eph. 2:20). Since the expression "the church of Christ" is never found in the singular in the New Testament, but in the plural, we know that the church, which Jesus called "My church" is an individual, local, organized and assembling body.
The only church in the New Testament that is called a body of Christ was a local church. In 1 Corinthians 12:27 the definite article is left out, so that the literal of that passage is: "Ye are a body of Christ and members in particular." In other words each local body of Christ is composed of individuals, not a universal body, composed of churches or other organizations. The church which the Lord Jesus built was not only a Baptist church, but He promised that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. He kept that promise.
The only church on this earth that was founded at the right time, during the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, at the right place, Palestine: by the right person, the Lord Jesus, of the right material, the born again, who brought forth good fruit before their baptism, and to which the Lord Jesus promised unending perpetuity, was the first Baptist church, which Jesus built out of the material made ready by John the Baptist.
Baptist churches are the only churches on this earth, whose baptism like a gold dollar are worth one hundred cents to the dollar the world around. The only church on this earth that Jesus could join if He were here, on His baptism, is a Baptist church, for all others say John's baptism is invalid. Baptists say the only baptism that is valid is John's baptism: for it is the only one that came from heaven. Baptist churches are the only churches on this earth that will not be plucked up by the roots, when Jesus comes, for He said: "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Mat. 15:13).
Salvation the Condition of Baptism
A third peculiarity of the Baptists is that they are the only church in Christendom, that never have in all their history and do not now, make baptism a condition of salvation, either of adults or infants. Baptists have ever taught that babies that die in infancy, as well as all other unaccountable persons, go to heaven when they die. The only sin they have is the Adamic sin and Jesus as the Lamb of God took away that sin for the whole world (John 1:29; Rom. 5:1221). Jesus tasted death for every man in bearing the penalty of the Adamic sin for the race. Every man who goes to hell, goes there for his own sins, not for Adam's.
The Baptist shibboleth for nearly 2,000 years has been blood before water, Christ before the church, salvation before baptism. In the Old Testament type of redemption in Exodus 12, that order is very clearly stressed. The blood did two things. It protected them from the wrath of God and delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. Paul interprets that experience for us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. The blood was applied in Egypt. They were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea three days afterward.
That passage also throws some light on the meaning of baptize eis (for in Acts 2:38) remission. Israel was baptized eis Moses (1 Cor. 10:2). Moses had been their mediator, deliverer and leader for some time. They were baptized eis Moses, not "in order" to get him to be their Saviour and deliverer. So in Acts 2:38, the folks on Pentecost were baptized eis remission. If we interpret Acts 2:38 in the light of Israel's experience and every Old Testament type and shadow, as well as in the light of the whole body of teachings in the New Testament, it must mean be baptized because of the remission of sins.
Prof. A. T. Robertson of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, than whom there is no greater Greek scholar in this country, said in answer to a query in the Western Recorder: "It is perfectly good Greek to translate `eis' because of' in Acts 2:38." The Gospel of John was written to sinners to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. The only mention of individual, personal baptism in that gospel is where it is said that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." That reveals two facts.
First, only those who had been made disciples or Christians, were baptized by John the Baptist or authorized to be baptized by the Lord Jesus. Second, in this whole gospel, in which again and again the personal conversations of Jesus with individuals or groups or crowds are recorded, He never mentions baptism. There can be but one explanation to that, namely, that baptism is not for lost men, but for saved men. This was His uniform teaching and practice always.
All others, except Baptists, either baptize sinners as one of the conditions of salvation or baptize babies. One of the outstanding peculiarities of Baptists has always been that they make salvation a condition of baptism, rather than baptism a condition of salvation.
Baptists Are Individualists
This too is peculiar to Baptists. Alas, that some Baptists, who are not very well informed, do not live up to it. Their churches would be saved lots of trouble if they did. Their anxiety for numbers and greed for gain however caused them to pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Baptists never baptize children on the faith of their parents. There are no proxies in the religion of the Lord Jesus. Every individual repents for himself and believes for himself and is baptized for himself and that too as a voluntary act of his own.
Baptists do not teach that a wife ought to join the church with her husband or vice versa. That was one of the heresies of W. H. Whitsitt that caused him to lose his position as President of the Louisville Seminary and Professor of Church History in that institution.
Baptists are individualists. Jesus was an individualist. He plainly taught everywhere that homes ought to be divided, two against three and three against two, rather than disobey the truth or be disloyal to Him (Mat. 10:32-39). He taught very clearly that His disciples ought to follow and obey Him, even if it broke up homes (Mark 8:34-38; 10:29-31; Luke 10:25-35).
Every duty is an individual duty of the individual soul to Jesus Christ our Lord. He should be obeyed at any cost and at all hazards. Jesus said: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things, which I say? (command)." "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Sam. 15:22-23).
The Bible Is the Final Authority
Baptists are the people of the Book. The Bible is the final word on every subject on which it speaks. There is no appeal from it. It is the court of last appeal because it is the perfect Book.
"The scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:3 5). If the Scripture cannot be broken, it cannot be amended or reversed or changed. It is the final word on all questions of truth or doctrine or duty or life. Jesus said so. It is an unchangeable authority. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Mat. 5:17-18).
W. C. Wilkinson in his book, The Baptist Principle, says that this underlies all other Baptist principles. We base and build all other teachings and obligations on this fundamental and final principle, namely, that the Bible is the final authority on every question. The Bible, the Bible alone, is our only and all sufficient rule of faith and practice. "Nothing beyond what is written."
"It is written," was the answer of the Son of God to the devil in every test. In other words, the Son of God said, the Book is final. No amount of argument or explanation or sophistry can answer or do away with the Book. The Bible is God's final answer on all questions. It needs no supplement.
When the rich fool in hell wanted Lazarus sent to his brothers to warn them not to come to that place of torment, Jesus said No, they have the Book. If they will not hear that, they will not hear at all. No supplement or addition to the Bible. "It is written" is God's final and authoritative answer on all subjects.