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Baptist Church History (Part 2) - Baptist Distinctives

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For a master copy of the outline, click here: Baptist Church History

IV. The marks of a true church of Jesus Christ -- things to look for when looking for the true church throughout history.
1. Christ is the head and founder of the church.
A. Christ is the founder of the true church (Mat 16:18).
B. Christ is the only head of the true church (Eph 5:23).
2. The Bible is the sole authority of the church.
A. The scripture is sufficient for all matters of faith and practice in the true church (2Ti 3:16-17).
B. The true church is known for keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17).
3. Belief in the true God
A. The true church believes that God is a trinity of divine persons, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost who are one (1Jo 5:7).
B. The true church believes that Jesus Christ is God (Joh 1:1,14; 1Ti 3:16).
4. Salvation by grace, not works.
A. The true church believes that God saves sinners sovereignly by His election of grace (Eph 1:4; Rom 9:11; Rom 11:5).
B. The true church believes that eternal salvation is the completed work of God which is in no way conditioned upon human works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5).
C. The true church believes that Jesus Christ saved His people (Mat 1:21) by Himself (Heb 1:3 c/w Rom 5:19).
5. A regenerate and holy membership
A. The true church only admits into its membership penitent believers who have thereby shown the evidence of regeneration in their lives (Act 2:37-42,47).
B. The members of true churches are called saints (a holy person) (Eph 1:1, etc.).
6. Priesthood of believers
A. The true church is made up of a priesthood of believers (1Pe 2:5,9; Rev 1:6).
B. Those priests present their bodies as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), and offer the sacrifices of praise, good deeds, and giving (Heb 13:15-16).
7. Only three ordinances: baptism, communion, and feetwashing.
A. Believers baptism by immersion.
i. Baptism is the issue that has most distinguished the true church from the false church since at least the fourth century.
a. The true church only baptizes believers (Act 8:36-38; Act 8:12).
b. The true church only baptizes by immersion (Mat 3:6,16; Joh 3:23).
c. To baptize means to immerse in water by definition.
d. Baptize - Etymology - [a. F. baptise-r, -izer (11th c.), ad. L. baptiza-re, ad. Gr. βaπτξειν ‘to immerse, bathe, wash, drench,’ in Christian use appropriated to the religious rite, f. βάπτειν to dip, plunge, bathe.] 1. trans. To immerse in water, or pour or sprinkle water upon, as a means of ceremonial purification, or in token of initiation into a religious society, especially into the Christian Church; to christen.
ii. Infant baptism and baptism by pouring or sprinkling are inventions of men which didn't appear until at least the 4th century.
a. ""In the first three centuries, no natural infants appear in any writings, either authentic or spurious." Not one natural infant, of any description, appears to have been baptized in the Church of Rome during the first three centuries, and immersion was the only method of administering the ordinance." (G.H. Orchard, A Concise History of Foreign Baptists, page 36)
b. "We conclude this chapter with the words of CURCELLEUS, "Paedobaptism was not known in the world the two first ages after Christ, in the third and fourth it was approved by few; at length, in the fifth and following ages, it began to obtain in divers places; and, therefore, we (paedobaptists) observe this rite indeed, as an ancient custom, but not as an apostolic tradition. The custom of baptizing infants did not begin before the third age after Christ, and that there appears not the least footstep of it for the first two centuries."" (G.H. Orchard, A Concise History of Foreign Baptists, page 50)
B. Communion
i. The true church observes the Lord's Supper to remember, not repeat, Christ's sacrifice (1Co 11:23-26).
ii. The true church doesn't serve the ordinance to commonly known sinners (1Co 5:11).
C. Feetwashing
i. The true church observes the ordinance of feetwashing as Jesus commanded (Joh 13:14-15).
ii. Jesus instituted the ordinance of feetwashing the same evening that He instituted the Lord's supper (Joh 13:2-4).
8. Only two offices: pastors and deacons
A. The true church is ruled by a pastor/elder/bishop/overseer (1Ti 3:1-2; Tit 1:5-7; Eph 4:11; Heb 13:7,17).
B. The true church has deacons to serve widows' tables if there are enough widows to necessitate it (Act 6:1-6; 1Ti 3:8-13).
9. Church autonomy - each church is independent of all other churches
A. "The church" is not some mysterious, nebulous, invisible, undefined thing.
i. It is a local assembly of baptized Christians who assembly together regularly to collectively worship God by hearing his word preached, praying, and observing communion (Act 2:41-42,47).
ii. It is a body of Christians who assemble in one place (1Co 14:23).
iii. It is a collection of members of a body which all minister to their brethren with their gifts and talents (1Co 12:12-25).
iv. It is a local body who know and see each other and suffer together when one member suffers, and rejoice together when one member is honored (1Co 12:26-27).
B. True churches, as the churches in the NT were, are local independent bodies (1Co 1:2; 1Th 1:1; etc.).
C. There was not one hierarchical church in the NT, but rather independent churches (Gal 1:2; Act 9:31; Rom 16:16; Rev 1:11).
D. Church hierarchy and denominations are inventions of men which did not exist until the 4th century.
E. "During the first three centuries, Christian congregations, all over the East, subsisted in separate independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently without any secular power over one another. All this time they were Baptist churches;" (G.H. Orchard, A Concise History of Foreign Baptists, page 36)
10. Separation of church and state
A. The true church is totally distinct from the state (Mat 22:21).
B. Christ, not the State, is the only head of the true church (Eph 5:23).
11. Spiritual, not carnal, warfare
A. The true church wages spiritual, not carnal, warfare (2Co 10:3-5; Eph 6:11-17).
B. The true church suffers persecution (Phi 1:28-29; 2Ti 3:12), but never persecutes (Rom 12:17-21).

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Baptist Church History