"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
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AUGUST 1, 2001
In this Issue:
SALVATION BY GRACE FRUSTRATED
THE KIND OF OLD LANDMARKER I AM
BIBLE CONFERENCES IN THAILAND
Salvation By Grace Frustrated
Twelfth And Final In Series
By Wayne Camp
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).
The word frustrate in our text is from the Greek ATHETEO. It means “to nullify, displace, set aside; to abrogate, violate, swerve from, reject, or condemn.” It means “to slight, refuse, adulterate, minimize, or make unnecessary.”
There is no sin which Paul more despised, and detested, and denounced than that of frustrating the grace of God. Paul allowed no quarter to any who sought to inject the merits of man, the works of the law, or the rites of religion into the scheme of salvation. The works of man in any form as a means of his salvation annulled grace according to Paul.
When Peter, on one occasion, seemingly sided with some Judaisers Paul withstood him face to face. When certain Jews sought to make circumcision essential to salvation Paul and Barnabas withstood them face to face. The dissension with these grace-frustrators became so great and so heated that it was determined by the brethren of the church at Antioch to take the matter to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for advice.
The sin of frustrating the grace of God is a terrible sin. We must oppose it, expose it, and seek to stamp it out!
WHY MEN FRUSTRATE GOD’S GRACE
Since it is so clearly taught in Scripture that salvation is by grace without any admixture of works or ordinances, one is made to wonder why any person who claims to believe and preach the Word of God would be guilty of perverting the glorious doctrine. Yet, the majority of men filling the pulpits of the world preach a grace-frustrating gospel which dooms those who believe it unless God in Sovereign grace intervenes.
An Insinuating Doctrine
Salvation by works is a very insinuating doctrine. It easily works its way into the thinking and the preaching of the non-vigilant preacher. It is so easy to get man and his efforts injected into salvation. The concept is that one can do something to “get saved.” Human agency is insinuated in the place of a Divine operation of regeneration.
Decisional regeneration has become a part of the average Baptist preacher’s message. “Decide for Christ.” “Make your decision now.” “Come forward and make your commitment.” The anxious seat, the mourner’s bench, the altar call, and going forward, have slipped into the philosophy of salvation as easily as shortening slides off the side of a hot skillet.
Salvation by works is the leaven of the Pharisees and has almost permeated the preaching in most churches. It eats like a canker as did the heretical teaching of Hymanaeus and Philetus. 2 Timothy 2:17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus.
A Plausible Doctrine
Salvation by works is a very plausible doctrine. It is the “way that seemeth right unto man.” The end of this false plan pf salvation is death, spiritual death, the second death which is the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).
Some preachers believe that salvation by works will help to make church members live right. They believe that salvation by grace is an encouragement to sin and salvation by works promotes holiness. These are both untrue positions. Those who teach salvation by grace can produce just as many (usually more) faithful members percentage wise as can those who teach salvation by works. One Baptist preacher declared in my presence: “I teach falling from grace to keep my church members in line.”
The Doctrine Agreeable To Our Fallen Nature
The doctrine of salvation by works is very agreeable to the fallen nature of man. When Adam and Eve fell in Eden and saw their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit, they set forth the first example or type of the doctrine of salvation by works. They did not repent and seek a covering from the Lord. They found a fig tree, plucked the leaves from it, and constructed their own covering for their nakedness. In the sun’s brightness fig leaves will roll up tightly. They are among the most easily crushed leaves that grow. These fig leaves could not cover the sin of Adam and Eve no matter how satisfied they may have been with their handiwork.
Cain, the eldest son of Adam, followed in his dad’s footsteps and brought a product of his own labor to present as a sacrifice to God. God rejected his offering because it reflected no faith but was a testimony that he believed himself capable of so serving God as to achieve an acceptable level of righteousness before Him.
That salvation by works is agreeable to our fallen nature is further revealed by a study of religion. All pagan religions teach salvation by works. Most denominations that call themselves Christian teach salvation by works. Mourner’s benches, praying through, baptismal regeneration and other such things are the product of the doctrine of salvation by works. The modern emphasis and exaltation of the human will and its ability stem from this agreeable nature of salvation by works. Most are more concerned about the exaltation of man than they are about the honor of God. Therefore, they claim for man the power and ability to come to Christ through his own inclination and “free” will. This still has a small amount of works in it and is not salvation wholly of grace.
Doctrine Based on Spiritual Ignorance
Salvation by works is a doctrine that is partly due to the spiritual ignorance of man. There are two types of spiritual blindness and ignorance set forth in Scripture. There is the ignorance of the unregenerate. There is also the ignorance of carnal and immature children of God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with, milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal . . . and walk as men” (I Cor. 3:1-3). In a similar vein Paul addressed the Hebrew Christians: “Ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God: and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Heb. 5:11-12).
A Positive, Untainted Righteousness
The person who teaches salvation by works is ignorant of the necessity of a positive, untainted righteousness in order to be saved. He feels that man is capable, if he wills to do so, of performing works of righteousness which will qualify him for heaven. The problem is that our righteousnesses are so inferior that they will in no way qualify us for heaven. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Isaiah uses the figure of filthy rags to illustrate our righteousness. Notice the imperfection pictured. He did not say that “our righteousnesses are as filthy robes, or filthy clothes.” He said they are as filthy rags. Rags rather than robes. Rags rather than a bolt of material or a piece of material. RAGS! Incomplete, imperfect! Not capable of covering us so that we could appear before God. Even if we could wash them, clean them, press them, and perfume them they would still be mere rags and would never qualify as a wedding garment or a robe of righteousness.
Not only are our righteousnesses as rags, they are as filthy rags. Some translate it “as menstrous rags.” Before the days of sanitary pads rags were used by women. During her period the woman was considered unclean and these menstrous rags were extremely defiled. Such a picture of our righteousnesses is a fatal blow to the doctrine of salvation by works.
Others say that these filthy rags referred to “leprous rags.” Leprosy is everywhere in the Scripture a type of sin and its filthiness and destruction. The leper must separate himself and if any come near him he was commanded to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” The leper had oozing sores that ate away at his body tissue. Disgusting mucus ran from those sores. He carried a rag to wipe this putrefying liquid from his body. Does this turn your stomach and cause you to shudder in disgust? Can you imagine God granting eternal glory to someone because of their leprous, menstrous rags of their own righteousnesses? The person who teaches salvation by works thinks that God will accept such putrefied, loathsome substitutes for the untainted, pure righteousness which the Bible teaches that God requires.
It is no wonder that Paul wrote: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:3). Again he declared that our salvation is “not of works”. (Eph. 2:8-9). Paul and David wrote of the “blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:6). Are you trusting in the filthy, menstrous, leprous, loathsome, putrefied rags of your own righteousnesses to qualify you for heaven? If so, you will face a sad and painful discovery when you burn in the lake of fire. The positive righteousnesses and definite holiness which God requires for salvation can never be accomplished by man with his filthy, ragged righteousnesses. It must be imputed by God through the perfect holiness and righteousness of Christ. This is a work of grace, not a reward for works.
Pride, Ignorance, and Deception
Because of deceptive pride many are deceived and will not trust Christ because of pride. To believe in salvation by grace puts man in the dust like a worm. He comes as a blind beggar before the majestic throne of grace. “Pride goeth before destruction” and pride will be the destructive force for many sinners. I hear them on the radio and see them on the TV drumming out their Satanic, criminal doctrine of salvation by works. They compass land and sea to make proselytes to their perfidious doctrine and make them twofold more the children of hell than they are themselves (Matt. 23:15). They, are blind guides leading their converts to the lake of fire. They are a generation of subtle, deadly vipers shooting their venom into the minds and hearts of all who will listen to their pernicious and baneful proclamations. These despise the truth of salvation by grace and “believe a lie” because God has sent them a strong delusion so that “they all might be damned” (II Thes. 2:10-11).
These people set themselves up as the judges of what one must do to “get” saved. They are unwilling to bow down and admit that they are totally dependent on the Lord for salvation. The salvation that is by grace is just not acceptable to the proud and haughty who, if ever saved, must be able to take some of the credit.
While pride is usually a factor, some seemingly are simply blinded to truth. “As it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear” (Rom. 11:8). In their blind ignorance of the salvation of God which is wholly of grace, these Jews set out to obtain salvation by their own efforts. Paul prayed that they might be saved. “For,” he said, “I bear then record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3). Spiritual ignorance, such as that of Israel, always manifests itself in proclaiming some system of salvation by works.
HOW MEN FRUSTRATE GOD’S GRACE
The insinuation of works for salvation is one of the most common errors of those who frustrate the precious grace of God. This is very clear from the following words from the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others . . . the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Lu. 18:9-12). This is the declaration of a man who sought to be saved by his own righteousnesses and works. He trusted in himself that he was righteous. The publican cast all his hope on the mercy of God. He had no trust in his ability. He would not even lift his eyes to heaven “but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” This man believed his only hope was divine mercy and grace and he “went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased” (Lu. 18:13-14).
Those who exalt themselves by insinuating their own works into the way of salvation will one day be abased. In the awful humiliation and terrible torments of hell, they will see the real value of their own righteousnesses and works. When they cry out, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works,” he will say to these fig-leaf theologians, these grace-frustrators, “I never knew you depart from me, ye that work iniquity’’ (Matt. 7:22-23). What a sad day and destiny awaits those who frustrate the precious grace of God and insinuate works for salvation!
Grace is also frustrated when certain rites and ordinances are set forth as essential to salvation. Circumcision was instituted as a token of the Abrahamic covenant. God clearly said: “It shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you” (Gen. 17:11). It was not necessary for salvation, nor was it ever intended to be. As a matter of fact, during the forty years of the wilderness journey the children of Israel did not circumcise any of their children. When Israel had crossed into Canaan, God commanded Joshua to have all the male children and adults who were born during the forty years circumcised at Gilgal. Had circumcision been essential to salvation, surely it would not have been left off for such a period. However, there were false teachers who taught that circumcision was essential to salvation. They said: “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, Ye cannot be saved (Acts 15:1). These false teachers stirred up a heated controversy at Antioch. Two times in his epistle to the Galatians Paul wrote: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6). Again he said: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15). Circumcision was commanded by God. It was the token of the Abrahamic Covenant. It was not, however, essential to salvation. Those who taught that it was essential were gospel perverters and grace frustrators.
Baptism is also set forth as essential to salvation by many false teachers who frustrate grace. Baptism is a command of God for believers. It is a token or symbol of our identification with Christ. In baptism we say in symbolic language: “When Christ died, I died. When Christ was buried, I was buried. When Christ arose, I arose.” Baptism is not, however, essential to the salvation of the soul. To the Corinthians Paul wrote: “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius...and I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. Yet he said to them: “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Cor. 4:15). If baptism were a part of the gospel and essential to salvation how could Paul have begotten all of them through the gospel without baptizing all of them? That baptism is not a part of the gospel is clearly seen in another statement of Paul: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (I Cor. 1:17). Mr. Gospel Perverter, Mr. Grace Frustrator, there is no way that you can twist these verses around and make them suit your doctrine of baptismal regeneration. They will testify against your damnable heresy when you stand before God in judgment!
Others frustrate the grace of God by making penance, prayers, the mourner’s bench, etc. essential to salvation. Salvation is by pure, unadulterated grace and God will punish with a rod of iron those who frustrate grace by making any work or ordinance essential to salvation.
Insinuating The Human Will
Many make much of the human will. The majority of preachers in our day advocate a fantastic and unbelievable power for the will of depraved, unregenerate men. Others talk about man’s “power of choice.” The fact that the Bible declares that “whosoever will may come,” or essentially that, in no way teaches that any have the ability or will to come to Christ. The fact that the Bible says that “whosoever believeth has everlasting life” cannot be construed to teach that the natural man has the ability or the will to believe. Even though the Bible commands “all men everywhere to repent,” none should pervert this Scripture into teaching that one can will spiritual repentance for himself.
The will of man is controlled, directed, and motivated by the heart and mind. The carnal mind is “enmity against God” and the heart of the natural man hates God (Rom. 8:7; Jn. 15:18). There is no way for the will of an unregenerate man to overcome the evil heart and mind and will to come to Christ. A change of heart must be wrought by the Holy Spirit before one can come to Christ. Therefore the Psalmist wrote: “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa. 110:3). Again he wrote: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee” (Psa. 65:4).
Man can do only that which is according to his nature. The new birth cannot be willed by man. Of those that believe on Christ, John declares that they do so because they “WERE born, not of blood, nor of the WILL of the flesh, nor of the WILL of MAN, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). Jesus declared that “no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent. me draw him” (Jn. 6:44). Again, our Faithful Witness of truth has said: “No man can come to me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jn. 6:65).
Those who claim for the human will the power of self-determination which actually enables it to conquer the depraved heart and mind and enables the unregenerate sinner to will the new birth, repentance, faith, and salvation do despite to the grace of God. They frustrate grace by their freewillism as much as others do with other heresy.
SOME OF THE CRIMES COMMITTED BY GRACE FRUSTRATORS
Yes, I did say that grace-frustrators are criminals of the worst sort. They rob God of the glory for salvation. They rob Christ of the glory for what he accomplished by making it insufficient for salvation. They make proselytes who are “twofold more” the children of hell than they are (Matt. 23:15). The drunk, the dope-pusher, and the prostitute are not the greatest enemies of the souls of men.
Mr. Baptismal Regenerationist, you frustrate grace and you are a criminal who is guilty of high treason against God. You are a viper with an extremely poisonous bite. You are a ravening wolf who devours men’s souls. You are of your father the devil and the works of your father you are doing. I pray that God may “give” you “repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” that salvation is wholly of grace. If God does not grant you repentance then may he “let” you “be accursed” for your Satanically inspired perversions of the gospel of grace (Gal. 1:6-9).
There are several crimes committed against God and man by those who frustrate grace. First, they nullify and reject grace when they insinuate works into the way of salvation (Rom. 11:6-8; Gal. 2:21). Secondly, they make the death of Christ a useless atrocity for if righteous is achieved in any way by works, “then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). Thirdly, as already has been mentioned, they rob God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit of the glory that is due them. Fourthly, they leave lost, helpless sinners who knew their own inability with no hope (Matt. 23:15). Fifthly, they rob Christians of their assurance if they listen to these peddlers of perversion. They will even tell us that we are lost because we are not trusting baptism for our salvation. They may, and do, tell us that we are lost because a certain formula of words was not pronounced over us when we were baptized. Other frustrators of grace tell us we are lost because we did not spend time praying our way through some undescribed barrier at a mourner’s bench.
Dear Reader, you should beware of these false teachers who frustrate the grace of God. If not already saved, may you look to God, and his Christ for “neither is there salvation in any other.”
RETURN TO TOP
THE KIND OF OLD LANDMARKER I AM
(Twelfth in a Series)
"Out of the simple polity of the apostolic time, in accordance with which each congregation chose its own bishops or presbyters and deacons...there was developed...a system of presidential administration in which the chief elder (or bishop) directed the affairs of the local church with the assistance and advice of a Board of presbyters. As the responsible head of the church he soon came to have chief control of the finances and such control tended to increase his relative importance. As Christian work spread from older centers the newly established congregations were kept in relations of dependence on the mother church, or rather, as integral parts thereof. Thus the pastor of the central church would have the supervision of a greater or smaller number of outside congregations over each of which a presbyter of the central church came to preside. Thus arose diocesan episcopacy... " (A History of Anti-pedobaptism: From the Rise of Pedobaptism to A.D. 1609. By A. H. Newman, p. 11. Emp. Mine, RWC).
Here, we have an account of how the simple New Testament pattern of each assembly of scripturally baptized believers being a local visible church in one single locality became corrupted. In the testimony of the new witness I will call today, there will be corroboration of the proposition set forth by Bro. Newman.
Dear and kind Reader, please read quotation from Bro. Newman again. Are there not Landmark Baptist churches today that have swerved from the simple polity of apostolic times to embrace a form of diocesan episcopacy? Are there not Landmark Baptist churches that practice keeping newly established congregations in other locations in a relation of dependence on the “mother church” and as integral parts of her? One of the arguments that we use for rejecting the observance of Christmas is that the churches of the first four centuries of our history did not observe the pagan holiday. Should we not also follow the example of the churches of the first three centuries in rejecting diocesan episcopacy?
Different groups have corrupted this New Testament pattern to varying degrees. Roman Catholics stand at the top in this corruption. The Church of England (called Episcopalians in America), Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists as well as others have followed them. Landmark Baptists are not guiltless in this corruption for there are churches among us that, on a much smaller scale, practice diocesan episcopacy.
In the testimony of the witness I will call in this article we will see again that in the early practice of New Testament church each congregation of scripturally baptized believers was a church, not a mission that was kept as an integral part of some other church. But, before we continue let us review our witnesses thus far called.
OUR WITNESSES REVIEWED
Once more, I want to review the testimony of the witnesses called thus far:
WITNESS 1: James Robinson Graves
“The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.”
WITNESS 2: Elton Wilson
“How local is the local church? IT IS LOCAL ENOUGH TO ASSEMBLE. How local is the local church? IT IS LOCAL ENOUGH TO OBSERVE THE LORD'S SUPPER.”
WITNESS 3: H. Boyce Taylor
“Our first reason for contending that the word ekklesia never means any thing but an organized and an assembling church is that the Lord Jesus, who is the author of the Book of Revelation, uses the word ekklesia 20 times in Revelation and every time He uses it, He refers to a local organized and assembling church.”
WITNESS 4: Eld. Milburn Cockrell
“In order to have a church, baptized saints must come together in one place at the same time.” “Twenty times the word church is used in the singular number, and it points to a church which meets in a certain place.”
WITNESS 5: ELDER CURTIS PUGH
“New Testament usage, secular usage and the Septuagint usage of the word “ecclesia” indicate it was only and always used of an organized, congregating body of people in a given locality.”
WITNESS 6: ELDER BUEL H. KAZEE
Just one church in one locality sent some messengers to another church in another locality . . . .
WITNESS 7: ELDER BRUCE ALLEN
“. . . ekklesia . . . in its Christian application . . . means an assembly of believers called out to worship in one place together.”
WITNESS 8: Elder Joe Wilson
These three things: 1. Locality. 2. Visibility. 3. Organized for a purpose inhere in the meaning of the word. A true “ecclesia” cannot exist that does not have these three ingredients.
WITNESS 9: Elder Ben M. Bogard
“A CONGREGATION is just as local as the wife is . . . “Remember the word CHURCH always means CONGREGATION, never anything else. A congregation is necessarily LOCAL. It would not be a congregation if it were not LOCAL.”
WITNESS 10: Eld. C. D. Cole
The N. T. never speaks of one particular assembly or church as a part of the whole, but of each assembly as “the whole church.”
WITNESS 11: Elder B. H. Carroll
Locality inheres in Ecclesia. There can be no assembly now or hereafter without a place to meet.
WITNESS 12: Elder Jarrel E. Huffman
“The church is a local organization, a single congregation.” (The Berea Baptist Banner, January 5, 1987)
“Each local EKKLESIA has tangibility, reality, locality, and can and does assemble.” (Unpublished Book on the Church).
WITNESS 13: Elder Hezekiah Harvey
Bro. Hezekiah Harvey was born in England and was converted at the age of 18 years in New York City. He was educated at Madison University and Hamilton Theological Seminary in Hamilton, NY. He was what men of his day and later called “A thorough Baptist.” For 30 years he was a Professor of Theology at Hamilton Seminary.
I first became acquainted with some of the writings of Bro. Hamilton when he was published in The Baptist Examiner. The first quote that I shall bring to your attention is from that paper.
Bro. Harvey wrote on the issue that we have now considered in eleven past issues of this paper. I am the kind of Old Landmarker who believes that a New Testament type of ecclesia is a local and visible assembly of scripturally baptized believers. I do not hold and Scripture does not support the notion that two or more assemblies of Scripturally baptized believers meeting in two or more locations can correctly be called ONE New Testament ecclesia. This is the trend and practice that Bro. Newman called diocesan episcopacy. In the episcopal form of church government the bishop superintends several congregations of professed and baptized believers that have other elders of the church as Missionary-Pastor. And, Dear Readers, I believe it amounts to diocesan episcopacy even when it is practiced by Landmark Baptists. Let us return to the ancient Landmark of our forefathers. Of the New Testament type of ecclesia, J. R. Graves wrote,“The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.”
Our current witness, Bro. Hezekiah Harvey wrote concerning the word ecclesia,
"Its ordinary use in the New Testament is to designate a specific, local assembly of Christians, organized for the maintenance of the worship, the doctrines, the ordinances, and the discipline of the gospel, and united, under special covenant, with Christ and with one another; as, ‘the church at Jerusalem,' ‘the churches of Galatia' " (THE CHURCH, Hezekiah Harvey, p. 27, 1879 edition, From The Baptist Examiner, May 14, 1977). Editor’s note: This quotation is also found on page 27 of the 1982 reprint of this book.)
The following things should be noted from this statement by Bro. Harvey concerning the word ecclesia in the New Testament. First, he said the word designates a “specific” assembly of Christians. Secondly he says it designates a “local” assembly of Christians. Thirdly, he says the word designates an “assembly” of Christians. Fourthly, he says it designates a “specific local assembly” that is “organized.” If Bro. Harvey is right, and I firmly and confidently believe that he is, this mitigates strongly against the notion that a true New Testament type of ecclesia can be composed two or three specific assemblies of Christians. It militates against the idea that two or more assemblies of Christians meeting in two or more locations can be one local assembly.
Can two or more separate assemblies meeting in two or more separate locations that may be located in two or more cities, states, or nations still correctly and scripturally be called “one specific local assembly?”
I do not jest. I do not joke. I do not banter. I do not tease. There are Landmark Baptist “churches” that regularly do this very thing. They practice what Bro. Newman calls diocesan episcopacy and their diocese may reach from Tennessee to points on other continents in countries half way around the world. They hold as an integral part of their church folks who regularly assemble in other specific local assemblies in other specific localities and still proclaim on the rooftops that their two, three or more assemblies are really one assembly, one New Testament ecclesia. How can this be?
CHURCHES OF THE SECOND AND THIRD CENTURIES
According to our current witness, Bro. Hezekiah Harvey, the churches of the second and third century did not practice diocesan episcopacy. According to him and an Episcopal witness whom he quotes, each assembly of scripturally baptized believers was an independent New Testament ecclesia. It was a specific local assembly that was organized as a church.
Bro. Harvey wrote,
The fact is, moreover, everywhere obvious that the charge of a primitive bishop was, not over a diocese as now understood, but over a single church or congregation. This is shown by undoubted authorities. Campbell, an eminent Episcopalian historian, after quoting many Fathers of the second and third centuries, among others Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian, concludes: “Now, from the writings of these Fathers it is evident that the whole flock assembled in the same place, epi to auto, with their bishop and presbyters, as on other occasions, so in particular every Lord’s Day—or every Sunday, as it was commonly called—for the purpose of public worship, hearing the Scriptures read, and receiving spiritual exhortations. . . . Again, as there was but one place of meeting, so there was but one communion-table, an altar, as they sometimes metaphorically called it. ‘There is but one altar,’ said Ignatius, ‘for there is but one bishop,’ and accordingly but one place of worship.” A further evidence that the primitive bishop presided over only a single congregation is seen in the fact that in the comparatively small territory of North Africa there were six hundred and ninety bishoprics, many of them known to embrace only a small town or village. Diocesan episcopacy did not become common till the fourth century, when the church was modeled after the empire. Ignatius is the only authority for the episcopacy during the first three centuries, and even he everywhere speaks of the bishop as over only one congregation, or parish. (The Church: Its Polity and Ordinances, Hezekiah Harvey, Backus Book Publishers, Rochester, NY, 1982. Originally published 1879 by the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA, Pp. 102-103).
After pointing out that the primitive bishops (pastors), those in the earliest history of the church age, were over a single congregation, Harvey then quotes the eminent Episcopal historian Campbell who wrote,
“Now, from the writings of these Fathers it is evident that the whole flock assembled in the same place, epi to auto, with their bishop and presbyters, as on other occasions, so in particular every Lord’s Day—or every Sunday, as it was commonly called—for the purpose of public worship, hearing the Scriptures read, and receiving spiritual exhortations . . . Again, as there was but one place of meeting, so there was but one communion-table, an altar, as they sometimes metaphorically called it. ‘There is but one altar,’ said Ignatius, ‘for there is but one bishop,’ and accordingly but one place of worship.”
The expression,sunhcqhsan epi to auto, is translated “were gathered together.” The expression “epi to auto,” used by Campbell, has the idea of being gathered upon the same location or at the same place. It is impossible to gather together in more than one place. Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. They were all gathered in one place, one single location. The expression “kata to auto” has a very similar meaning. Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
The Episcopal historian, Campbell, after studying the early church writers—Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Ignatius, and others—declared that the primitive order was for each church to meet in a single place for services. According to Harvey and Campbell—one a thorough Baptist and the other an eminent Episcopalian historian—those early churches met in one place, not two, three, or more places.
Campbell quotes Ignatius, as he concludes,“‘There is but one altar,’ said Ignatius, ‘for there is but one bishop,’ and accordingly but one place of worship.”
I might add that Bro. Harvey quoted Campbell approvingly and to prove that even this eminent Episcopalian admitted that no diocesan episcopacy existed on earth until the fourth century of the church age. As Campbell himself confessed,
Diocesan episcopacy did not become common till the fourth century, when the church was modeled after the empire.
In these quotes from Eld. Hezekiah Harvey we have evidence that with the churches of the first through the third centuries there was only one meeting place for each church. Each church was composed of only one assembly that met in one specific location. As the eminent Episcopal historian, Mr. Campbell wrote after examining the writings of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian, writers of the first three or four centuries of the church age, concludes:“Now, from the writings of these Fathers it is evident that the whole flock assembled in the same place, epi to auto . . .”
Each church in those early days, according to these witnesses, was a true New Testament type of ecclesia. Each church was a specific, local, visible, organized congregation that regularly assembled in one place. Bro. Harvey and his witnesses ably back up that Old Landmarker J. R. Graves who wrote,“The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.”
And, Dear Reader, “THAT IS THE KIND OF OLD LANDMARKER I AM!”
—Wayne Camp, Editor —
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BIBLE CONFERENCES IN THAILAND
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A very important part of the work we do in Thailand when we go is to conduct Bible conferences. The picture to the left was made in March, 2001, when I was there. Folks from most of the churches came together in the village of Pa Tong Eh for four days of intensive Bible teaching, singing, praying and fellowship. Morning services in which I would teach and answer questions on Scripture would begin about 9:00 or 9:30 and would not end until around 12:30. A number of the people are taking notes and all are very attentive. They are so very eager to learn.
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Preaching/teaching at Pa Tong Eh with two translators. Bro. Anond, next to me, translated to La Hu. Bro. Paul, one of the pastors, translated from La Hu to Lisu.
In order to have the conference in October, it is necessary to rent a church building in Chiang Mai. Then funds must be provided to pay for the transportation of the people to the city. It is also necessary to provide the rice, chicken, pork and other food for the people while they are there. In the picture to the right, Bro. Bill Lee is preaching while Bro. Anond translates. Most of the Li Su folks present in October, 2000, were able to understand La Hu, therefore we had only one translator. Bro. Anond Phoothaptim translated for Brethren Green, Lee, and Camp. He was very tired by the time the conference ended.
In October, 2001, Brethren Bill Lee, Jack Duplechain, Jack Green, and James Duval, will have three Bible Conferences. There will be a three or four-day conference in Chiang Mai at a Chinese Baptist Church building that will be rented. There will be a two-day conference at the Lanna Baptist Church, in Lampang, Thailand, where Srithone Kongkaw is pastor. There will also be a two-day conference in Mai Sai, a city located on the Thai-Burma border. The pastors and some other members from the nine churches in Burma will come to Mai Sai to a Chinese Baptist Church Building that will be rented for the services. This will be the first conference for these pastors and churches and will be very important. Please pray for the brethren as they preach and teach in this conference.
Of course, Sis. Janice Lee will be making this trip and administering medical care in the various villages to which the group will travel. Also, Bro. Bill Lee’s brother is going to accompany them on the trip and make videos of the work which will be used to inform folks here in the states about the great door of opportunity that has been opened over there.
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In October, 2000, Brethren Lee, Green and I preached in a Bible Conference at the Lanna Baptist Church in Lampang where Bro. Srithone Kongkaw is pastor. I was there again in March, 2001. for special services in which I spoke (Picture to the left) on the subject Are All the Spiritual Gifts Mentioned in I Corinthians 12-14 for Today?
This was a very well received study. The messages at Lanna Baptist Church are translated to the Thai language since all their members speak Thai. Bro. Srithone has a very good work going in Lampang.
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No, this is not a slow boat to China. It is a slow boat that was rented by the Lanna Baptist Church for all but one service of the conference on Spiritual gifts. I preached on this boat Saturday night, Sunday morning, and brought a short message on Why Re-Baptism is Sometimes Necessary on Sunday afternoon just before the Lanna Baptist Church baptized seven folks.
CURRENT ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
We appreciate all those who inquire about how they can help in this work. Here are the plans for the October trip that I have described elsewhere. The three conferences—Chiang Mai, Mai Sai, and Lampang—will cost about $2000.
The churches in Burma are in need of Bibles. Some of these have already been purchased with money given by Pilgrims Hope last year. More will be needed and will be purchased when the group arrives there. About $500 would buy a good supply of Bibles. These dear people from Burma often have mere fragments of a Bible.
Medicine to be used on the trip will run about $1000. This will be administered as the group visits as many churches as possible. At the Bible Conferences medicine will also be administered to any who are sick or have physical problems will be treated.
Money has been coming in for the land and buildings to be built at the new children’s center in Chiang Mai. Bro. Anond, who is a licensed architect and mechanical engineer is drawing plans for these buildings. Of course, more money is needed for this.
There are also plans to buy two or three tracts of land that will cost a total of about $3000 or more. I looked at two of these pieces of land when there in March. As an example, one tract is about 10 acres of very good land that will cost $1200.
Some have already sent offerings that will be used on these projects. That is deeply appreciated. We are not begging for money for we believe God will move on the hearts of those who should give. I simply publish these facts to make our readers aware of this mission opportunity.
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SOMETIMES YOU DO HAVE TO EAT
Here Bro. Anond and I are enjoying a meal in the home of his aunt who lives in the village of Ho Sum Suk. She is a member of the Landmark Baptist Church of that village. She fixed us a La Hu delicacy that was very expensive in their economy. It was a meatloaf type entrée made with ground lean pork and was very good. In this bamboo La Hu style house this lady had a small refrigerator sitting on a piece of plywood on the bamboo floor.
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This page was last updated Friday, March 04, 2011