“Church membership is not left to your conscience or to your whims or to your reasonings; it is a matter of loyalty and obedience to Jesus Christ, who bought us and saved us by His own precious blood. Conscience is not a standard of right or wrong for any man, for the conscience is a creature of education and needs teaching.”
“For if the church that Jesus built was a Baptist church, then no churches but Baptist churches are churches of Christ, and every man will have to face the Lord Jesus at the judgment and tell Him why he joined some church founded by an uninspired man, instead of the one founded by the Lord Jesus Himself.”
--H. B. Taylor, in “Why I Am A Baptist.”
When Baptist enter the scheme of union by a process of compromise and cancellation, they are negotiating for a casket and a lot in the cemetery.”
--J. W. Porter, in “Random Remarks.”
With the facts presented in the forgoing chapters full before us, we are driven to the inevitable conclusion that Baptist churches are the only true churches of Christ—the only churches authorized by Him to carry out the Commission and to administer His ordinances. Many of our day will make almost any concession in order to be thought of as “broad.” How many, many times I have heard some individual who aspired to the position of one of great “broadness” remark, “Oh, it doesn’t matter which church one belongs to. One church is just as good as another.” That all sounds very nice, but can it be true in the light of the facts that we have studied? What right has any man to set up a rival organization to the one founded by the Son of God and to call it “just as good?” What right has anyone to call such a man-originated institution “just as good?” The church that Jesus founded is very dear to His heart. Its importance is indicated by the fact that to it alone He has committed the task of carrying on His work in the world. That His church is the object of His tender solicitude and care is indicated by the fact that in spite of persecution, wars, turmoils, the rise and fall of nations, the decay and death of human languages, He has preserved and perpetuated His church. Most certainly it ought to matter to any sincere Christian who wishes to be obedient to his Lord, as to which church he belongs to. He ought to want to belong to a church that can claim Jesus for Founder and Head rather than to a man-founded institution. He ought to want to be identified with the church to which Jesus committed His ordinances, the church , He perpetuated through the centuries and which has New Testament warrant for its doctrines and practices .
In revival meetings, particularly those of the “union” type I have often heard evangelists tell people to “join the church of their choice,” no matter which that might happen to be. Some may call me narrow for saying it, but I could not conscientiously tell anyone to do that. As I see it, a mere “choice” perhaps dictated by fancy, caprice, or mere sentiment, is not enough when it comes to setting the church question. The question with each Christian ought to be, “Which is the true church-the one that Jesus founded? Which is entirely scriptural in its doctrines and practices? It is a great thing to point a lost person to Christ. It is also a great thing to point a saved person to the path of full obedience. For a new-born soul to make a wrong choice with reference to the church, and to unite with a church whose doctrines and practices are unscriptural, means to start out on a career of life-long disobedience to Christ.
“Union” meetings, in which sentiment is more exalted than truth, and in which Christ’s commands are bartered away lightly for popularity’s sake, are the cause of many people entering upon a lifetime of disobedience. In such meetings where the full truth is not preached, people usually form their church affiliations upon the basis of which church, relatives of friends belong to, which church the evangelist belongs to, or something else equally trivial. In fact, almost anything may help decide, except the one thing of importance-the teaching of the Word of God.
BAPTIST CANNOT BE CONSISTENT AND MIX UP IN DENOMINATIONAL HODGEPODGES FOR UNION REVIVALS. For a union meeting to please all concerned, the preacher must keep his mouth shut on certain truths. For a preacher to preach what the Word of God says concerning the security of believers, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, church truth, etc., would be to wreck a union meeting. In such a meeting a Baptist cannot properly counsel new converts concerning “the all things.” That Jesus commanded without arousing indignation and criticism. Is it right to engage in meetings where a part of the plain teaching of the Word of God is not welcomed? The truth, the whole truth, as taught in the whole Word of God, without addition, or subtraction—that is what Baptist have always stood for. In so far as they engage in union efforts they depart from their time honored principles.
I do not wish to convey the impression that Baptist are to be selfish, churlish, unsociable, unkind, or anything of the sort. They should rejoice when Christ is preached by whatever sect or denomination. They should rejoice at every soul that is saved. Their spirit should never be that of hostility or unkind controversy. But certainly their first loyalty and allegiance should be to Christ and His Word. On His commands there can be neither compromise nor concession. They are to “contend earnestly (not angrily) for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
Reader, you who have followed me through the pages of this book, if a Christian, are you also a member of a genuine New Testament church? It will pay you to be strict about the matter of your church affiliation. This is not a matter that affects your salvation, but it is one that affects your reward with God. Jesus taught that “He that breaketh one of these least commandments and teacheth me so shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The person that belongs to a church that minimizes and breaks some of the commands of Christ, necessarily lends his influence toward “teaching men so.” By so doing they place themselves in the class of those whom Christ said should be “called the least” in the Kingdom. The question of your church affiliation is something that you will one day have to give an account for when you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. It will pay you to do what is right about the matter irrespective of what it may cost you, and irrespective of what anyone in the world may think about it.
I have tried to set forth the truth on the church question in this book, plainly and simply. My aim has been to enable you who read to know your duty in the matter of what church you should belong to. As to whether or not you will DO what you know to be the right thing-that is a matter for which you are answerable, not to me, but to your Lord.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
BOOKS READ OR QUOTED
Below is given a partial list of books read in whole or in part, in preparing for this book:
A History of the Baptist, by John T. Christian.
A Short History of the Baptist, by H. V. Bedder.
History of the Baptist, by Benedict.
History of the Baptist , by Thos. Armitage.
Manual of Church History, by A. H. Newman.
History of Anti-pedobaptism, by A. H. Newman.
A Century of Baptist Achievement, by A. H. Newman
The Baptist Denomination, by Haynes.
History of the Christian Church, by Jones.
The Story of the Baptist, by Cook.
Progress of Baptist Principles, by Curtis.
The Baptists in History, by Geo. C. Lorimer.
Baptist History Vindicated, by John T. Christian.
History of the Christian Church, by Schaff.
History of the Christian Church, by Fisher.
History of the Apostolic Church, by Schaff.
History of the Popes, by Ranke.
The Ancient Church, by Kellen.
Ancient British and Irish Church, by Cathcart.
Church history, by Kurtz.
Source book for Ancient Church History, by Ayer.
Lectures on Baptist History, by W.R. Williams.
Distinctive Principles of Baptists, by Pendleton.
Doctrines of Our Faith, by Wallace.
Baptist Succession, by Ray.
Church Perpetuity, by Jarrell.
The Church, by Harvey.
Directory of Baptist Churches, by Hiscox.
The Ancient Catholic Church, by Rainey.
History of England, by Macaulay.
Ten Epochs of Church History, by Walker.
Baptist History, by Isaac Backus.
Guide to Study of Church History, by McGlothlin.
Ecclesiastical History, by Mosheim.
The Churches of the New Testament, by McDaniel.
Fundamentals of the Faith, by Nowlin.
World’s Debt to the Baptist, by Porter
My Church, by J. B. Moody.
The New Testament Church, by T. T. Martin.
The Church and the Kingdom, by Thomas.
Axioms of Religion, by Mullins.
Synthesis of Bible Truth, by Schofield.
The Mould of Doctrine, by Thomas.
Methodist Episcopal Church Discipline.
Baptist Beliefs, by Mullins.
Bible Beliefs, by H. B. Taylor.
Ecclesia—the Church, by B. H. Carroll.
Denominationalism Put to the Test, by Tull.
Baptist Churches Apostolical, by Newman.
Seven Baptist Fundamentals, by Connor.
The Baptist Faith, by M. P. Hunt.
The Baptist Position, by J. F. Love.
Baptist Law of Continuity, by Smith.
The Church a Composite Life, by Prestridge.
Compendium of Baptist History, by Shackelford.