"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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July 1, 2001
In this Issue:
SALVATION BY GRACE AUTHENTICATED
THE KIND OF OLD LANDMARKER I AM
Salvation by Grace Authenticated
By Wayne Camp
“Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Rom. 4:16)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
To AUTHENTICATE something is to prove that it is actually and precisely what is claimed without any admixture or adulteration. In this message our goal is to show, with God’s help, that salvation is by grace without any admixture of works, ordinances, or merit of men. The negative side of this message will be considered under the title “Salvation by Grace Frustrated” that will be in a forthcoming issue, if the Lord wills.
The first text for this series, Romans 4:16, sets forth the purpose of salvation by grace. It is the only way that salvation will “be sure to all the seed,” both Jew and Gentile seed. Salvation by grace assures the salvation of “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and the “other sheep” which are not of the Jewish fold (Matt. 15:24; Jn. 10:16).
The second text for this message is Eph. 2:8-10. This text sets forth both a positive and negative declaration on the subject. Positively, the text declares emphatically that salvation is by grace through faith. Negatively, the text declares that salvation is not the product of works for this would allow men to boast of their own works saving them.
The fact that salvation is by grace and not of works is the dominant theme of the Scriptures. To Titus Paul wrote: “After the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 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 3:4-5).
Paul uses three words in this Scripture that are very closely related in meaning. The first is kindness and means “benevolence.” This word is very closely rooted with the word “grace” in the original Greek. The second word is mercy. It means “to shew favor to those who do not deserve it.” The third word is grace. It means “unmerited, undeserved favor.”
The united testimony of prophet and apostle is that salvation is by grace. God does not owe us salvation. He is not obligated to save even one of Adam’s race. We cannot earn salvation. We do not merit or deserve to be saved. We cannot purchase it and all our righteousnesses are inadequate to achieve and secure salvation. We are so impotent in our natural state that we are shut up to grace.
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT GOD’S PLAN TO SAVE IS BASED ON AN ETERNAL AND GRACIOUS PURPOSE
Paul very clearly sets forth the fact that the salvation of sinners is based upon an eternal and gracious purpose. This is easily seen in II Timothy 1:8-9. “God; who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began:” Our salvation was and is according to God’s “own purpose and grace” and the elect were made the objects of that purpose of grace “before the world began.” This is that “hidden wisdom” of God that he “Ordained before the world unto our glory” (I Cor. 2:7). All these things that he ordained before the world assuring the salvation of all the seed were for “the praise of the glory of his grace” and “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:3-7).
ELECTION ETERNAL AND GRACIOUS
The election unto salvation is of grace and is eternal. It is not based upon works or foreseen faith. It is wholly of grace.
For those who may wonder, let it first be established by Scripture that there is an election unto salvation. What could be plainer and clearer than the words of Paul when he writes to the Thessalonians: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thes. 2:13).
This election is entirely of grace according to Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul wrote to those who thought that God had forever cast off the nation of Israel. He reminded them that Elijah once thought that he was God’s last man on earth. However, God told Elijah: “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal’ (Rom. 11:4) Paul then declares: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the ELECTION OF GRACE’ (V-5). Paul then argues that if this election “is by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6).
I marvel at how often I have heard men make the argument that salvation is by grace and use the above Scripture as proof. I have heard it in the seminary classroom, in Sunday School, and from the pulpit. While it may be used to teach that there is no way to mix works and grace, this passage is not teaching that salvation is by grace. It is teaching that the ELECTION TO SALVATION is wholly of grace. Verses five and six are clearly joined by the conjunction “and.” A careful reading of these verses clearly reveals that the election to salvation is wholly of grace without any mixture of works. “The purpose of God according to election” does not stand upon any good, any repentance, or any faith that is seen or foreseen in its objects (Rom. 9:11).
Not only is this election to salvation based entirely on grace, it is an eternal election. The elect were “chosen . . . before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Paul thanked God that he had chosen the Christians at Thessalonica to salvation “from the beginning,” (II Thes. 2:13).
JESUS CHRIST CAME TO REVEAL GRACE AND THAT COMING WAS ETERNALLY PURPOSED
None would argue, surely, that Christ’s coming was not a vivid manifestation of grace. “He was “full of grace and truth” Jn. 1:14). “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Cor. 8:9). Jesus was the fulfillment of all the gracious promises of salvation. He was the embodiment and personification of grace. His coming into the world was to proclaim grace as grace had never before been declared.
The purpose for him to come was established before the foundation of the world. He was “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). He was the Lamb who was “verily ordained before the foundation of the world” (I Pet. 1:18-20).
It is unequivocally evident that God’s way of salvation is by grace. It is also just as evident that our salvation rests upon an eternal gracious purpose.
THE SCRIPTURES DECLARED THAT SALVATION BY GRACE IS THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION
There are not, as some men claim, several ways to be saved. One person said to me on one occasion: “You get there your way and I’ll get there mine.” He was speaking of heaven. I declared to him: “You don’t have a way and I don’t have a way. We go God’s way or we do not go at all.
There has never been but one way of salvation. False teachers and satanically controlled preachers have declared that in different ages there have been different ways to be saved. Some have erroneously argued that you could be saved by the blood of Christ before he came to the earth and shed his blood and established salvation by grace.
These prophets of perversion fail to consider the fact that Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” They choose to ignore the fact that all the prophets declared of Christ “. . . through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). They willfully, stubbornly reject the plain teachings of Scripture that men’s hearts are purified in the same manner as they have always been purified. Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Peter, when before the congregation at Jerusalem to give an account of the events that occurred at the house of Cornelius, in defense of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, referred to the Fathers of Israel. He pointed out that they were unable to bear the yoke of the law and could not be saved by law. He then adds: “We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:10). According to Peter’s declaration the Fathers of Israel were saved “through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:10). This is why Paul could write that Moses esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26). Jesus declared: “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). Abraham and Moses, and all the prophets, and all Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith. “The Spirit of Christ which was in them” caused the prophets to give witness of Christ and to declare that “through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (I Pet. 1:11; Acts 10:43). God has “put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” just as he purifies the hearts of men today. Therefore we see that we are saved just as they were saved, i. e., “through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11).
Salvation by grace is the only way of salvation because it is the sure and certain way. God has not purposed any way of salvation in any age that is not sure. Paul declared, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace; TO THE END the promise might be SURE to all the seed” (Rom. 4:16). Just as God’s covenant with David was “ordered in all things and SURE,” so the covenant of redemption is “ordered in all things and sure.” Because it is sure Christ could be sure that all whom the Father has given to him would come to him (Jn. 6:37) He was certain to “give eternal life to as many as” the Father “has given him” (Jn. 17:2).
The salvation of Old Testament saints was sure also because they too were saved “through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11). Though they did not live to see the day that Christ actually came to the earth and died for their sins, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT THE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF OUR SALVATION ARE BY GRACE
There are many different aspects of the salvation that is by grace through faith. Salvation is wholly of grace; therefore every aspect of it is by grace.
Faith Is Of Grace
I once asked a Baptist preacher the question: “From where did you get the faith with which you trusted Christ?” He thought for a minute and answered: “I conjured it up within myself.” I assured him that “conjured up” faith is not saving faith. I further told him that if all the faith he had was a “conjured up” faith he would die and go to hell.
Some hold that faith does not save. Jesus declared to one woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Lu. 7:50). Jesus said of some, “Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Lu. 8:12). To a blind beggar whom Jesus had healed he said, “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Lu. 18:42). Paul wrote that we are “saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Therefore, we have Biblical authentication for the expression “saving faith.”
The source of this faith is the marvelous thing. We do not naturally have saving faith. That is the basis for Paul’s declaration that “all men have not faith” (II Thes. 3:2). Dwight L. Moody once wrote, “Faith is like hyssop, it grows everywhere.” A. J. Wall said: “I conjured it up within myself.” Men do not naturally have saving faith. It does not grow everywhere. It cannot be conjured up. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is sadly true that there are many in the condition of those to whom Jesus said: “My word hath no place in you” (Jn. 8:37). Again he said to them: “Ye cannot hear my word” (Jn. 8:43). Because his word had no place in them and they were unable to hear his words, Jesus said: “Ye believe me not” (Jn. 8:45).
God gives saving faith as he graciously regenerates the sinner who is the object of saving grace. Paul wrote: “Unto you it is given . . . to believe on him (Jesus Christ)” (Phil. 1:29). In Achaia Paul found those “which had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). Again Paul wrote of his own experience of salvation and said: “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant WITH FAITH and love which is in Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 1:14).
Saving faith is not a common, natural faith that grows out of the crack in the wall, as does hyssop. It is not in us waiting to be “conjured up” and “exercised.” One believes “through grace.”
The Gospel of Grace
The gospel that we believe through grace is “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). It is the good news of all that God, through grace, has accomplished for us. It is the good news of all that God, through grace, has given us. It is he good news of all that God, through grace, has done in us. It is the good news of all that God through grace will yet do for us.
Justification By Grace
Guilty sinners must be justified before God but it is impossible for us to justify ourselves. We cannot be justified by works “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). We know that “a man is not justified by the works of the law” (Gal. 2:16). We are shut up to grace for justification.
Paul assured that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Again Paul wrote that we are “justified by faith” and that we “have access by faith into this grace” of justification through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1-2). Since we are “justified by his grace” we are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). The guilt and penalty of sin are gone because of justifying grace.
Righteousness By Grace
If we are to come into God’s presence we must have a positive righteousness and an untainted holiness. Both are impossible for us because, at our best, we come far short of the glory of God.
How then can we ever stand before God in the beauty of holiness and righteousness that he requires? Again, we are shut up to grace. The man who works for justification, were he to achieve it, it would be imparted to him as debt or wages for he would have earned it. If he were to attain justification by works he could not glory before God. The only justification that glorifies God is that which he graciously imputes to believers (Rom. 4:48).
Eternal Life By Grace
“For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one, such more they which receive abundance of GRACE and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Here Paul tells us that the offense of Adam brought the reign of death upon the human race. Contrary wise, life reigns through the abundance of grace that came by the death of Jesus Christ. Eternal life is by grace.
Election Unto Salvation of Grace
In the first division of this message we went into some detail and set forth several Scriptures that reveal that there is an election unto salvation and that that election is according to the eternal purpose of grace that was ordained before the world for our glory. As Paul declared: “There is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5).
Redemption By Grace
One of the more familiar aspects of salvation is redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We did not deserve to be redeemed. We were in bondage and slavery to sin but we loved that bondage just as a hog loves to wallow in the mire. We would not redeem ourselves if we could and could not if we would. There is nothing so contented and stubborn as a hog in a wallowing hole on a hot summer day.
The sinner loves the bondage of sin so much that he does not even see it as bondage. When Moses came to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, the Israelites said: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians.” Yet, in mercy and grace God brought such pressure to bear upon them by hardening Pharaoh’s heart that they were made willing to go. Even so, the bankrupt, slaving sinner would willingly go on in his sin never realizing that he has not the price of his redemption. God in marvelous grace has redeemed us through the precious blood of his precious son, Jesus Christ. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his GRACE” (Eph. 1:7). Blood redemption is supplied according to the riches of God’s grace.
Regeneration By Grace
Jesus declared to Nicodemus. “Ye must be born again” (Jn. 3:7). That regeneration is absolutely necessary for by nature all are dead in trespasses and sins. A dead man cannot will his own resurrection and a man who is dead in trespasses and sins cannot and will not will his regeneration. He is as impotent spiritually as Lazarus was physically when Christ called him forth from the grave. Regeneration, which gives life to those dead in trespasses and sins, must be of grace. By nature we were “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). But, in spite of our condition and our practice, God in kindness, love, and mercy administered to us the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:4-5).
Calling of Grace
A man who is in sins and degradation must be effectually called out of it or he could never be saved. Jesus imparted life to Lazarus and then called him forth from the grave.
The call to salvation is certainly a gracious call. God “hath saved us and called us with a holy calling . . . according to his own purpose and grace” (II Tim. 1:9). Of his own call to salvation Paul wrote: “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace....” We had our backs to God and our ears tuned to the calls of the world, but in grace God has opened our spiritual ears and called us by his marvelous grace.
Sanctification Is By Grace
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. So declared God to Jeremiah. Certainly an unformed baby could do nothing to merit or deserve God’s love and favor. When God sanctified Jeremiah he did so out of pure grace. Paul declared that he was set apart and called by grace. Both his sanctification and his calling he attributed to grace.
Preservation And Perseverance of Grace
Preservation and perseverance of the saved are very closely related. They remind one of the two sides of a coin. Preservation is what God does for us and perseverance is what God does in and through us. God preserves his saints and causes them to persevere. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way” (Psa. 37.2). That is perseverance that is ordered, directed, and caused by the Lord. In the next verse David sets forth preservation. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (Psa. 37:24). The Lord orders the steps of his saints causing them to “will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). If they fall, preservation takes over, and God upholds them and refuses to utterly cast them down. He “forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved forever” (Psa. 37:28).
Peter declared that God “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3). We have not dealt with all aspects of salvation. There is adoption, acceptance in the beloved, forgiveness of sins, glorification and other blessings. A study of all these would reveal that they too are of grace (Eph. 1:5-7; Rom. 8:28-30). Since salvation is by grace and is of the Lord then it follows that every aspect of salvation is of grace and is a blessing that God either works in us or for us.
Salvation by grace is the divinely ordained way of salvation.
Salvation by grace is the eternally ordained way of salvation.
Salvation by grace is the only way of salvation.
Salvation by grace is the authenticated way of salvation.
If you are ever saved, Dear Sinner, you will be saved by grace. If you are never saved by grace, you will never be saved. It is all of grace or it is not of grace at all.
RETURN TO TOP
THE KIND OF OLD LANDMARKER I AM
(Eleventh in a Series)
BIBLICAL FIGURES OF THE CHURCH
SHOW IT TO BE ONE LOCAL ASSEMBLY
In ten previous issues of this publication I have shown with quotes from reputable Baptist writers that a local New Testament church is an assembly of scripturally baptized believers who regularly assemble together in one place for worship and service in the Lord’s kingdom work. Before I return to those quotes, I want to deal with some metaphors that are used in Scripture to refer to the New Testament Ecclesia that also show that it is one body meeting in one place. In this article we will consider three of these metaphorical representations of the church in Scripture—house, building, and body.
A TRUE NEW TESTAMENT ECCLESIA IS THE HOUSE OF GOD
A New Testament Ecclesia is a house of God. When Paul wrote to Timothy who was pastoring the church in Ephesus he used this metaphor to represent the congregation there. 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Peter also used this idea of a house to represent a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
A house has visibility; it can readily be seen. A house has particularity being one specific structure, not two or three separate structures. A house has organization; it is built together in an organized and orderly manner. A house has locality; it is built together in one location. In my entire life I have never known of someone saying, “Part of my house is located in Possum Grape, Arkansas, and part of it is located in Sao Palo, Brazil. No! A house is confined to one locality. If another building that one inhabits is located elsewhere, it is another house.
A New Testament Ecclesia is the Lord’s house in a given locality. The notion that one of the Lord’s houses can be partially located and assemble in Tennessee and another part of that same house of the Lord be located and assemble in a foreign country is a total distortion of the figure of a house. The house of God in which Timothy was exhorted to know how to behave himself was the local, visible, assembling body in Ephesus.
When churches start “missions” in a foreign country they are depriving the members of said mission from having a house of God in their locality. They assemble in Mexico while the “house of God” in which they are supposed to behave is located in the United States. Or they assemble in the Philippines and never assemble in the “house of God” of which they are members in the United States. How can this be? How can one be a member of a “house of God, which is the church of the living God” in another country if he never has, and probably never will assemble in that house? A church that has part of its members meeting in the United States and another part of its members meeting in the Philippines, and yet another part of its members assembling in Mexico, is a divided house (if it be a house at all) to say the least.
A TRUE NEW TESTAMENT ECCLESIA IS THE BUILDING OF GOD
The type of ecclesia set forth in the New Testament is spoken of as a building. A building has locality. My wife works for an electrical contractor in Memphis. They have contracted the electrical work in a large complex several times over the last few years. They have wired Building A, Building D, Building H, Building K, etc. Each time a new structure is added in the complex it is a new building. One would think the owner of this complex rather stupid if Building A was on the north side of the complex and he announced he was going to build another part of Building A over on the south side of the complex. This would put it well away from the current Building A with other buildings between the two structures. When the structure is complete, someone sends a repairman to do some work in building A. Where does he go? It would be very confusing, to say the least. The building may cover four acres of ground but to be one building it must be in one locality and be one structure.
Paul told the church at Corinth that they were God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. To be God’s building they must have locality. They must assemble in one location. For the same building of God cannot be located in more than one place. It is certainly a distortion of the figure of a building to have something that is called a church that regularly assembles in two or more places.
A statement by Bro. C. D. Cole comes to mind again. He wrote,
“To a man in Florida who would not unite with any church or particular congregation, and who insisted that he belonged to the big church of Christ, the writer said something like this:—In the N. T. the churches could be located and written to. I would like to write to your church; please give me its address and the name of its pastor. Needless to say, he was shut up.”
If one part of God’s building (ecclesia) meets in one place, another part of God’s building, meets in another place, to which place would I address a letter? Ah, but you answer, “To the place where the ‘mother’ church meets.” Why would I address it to that location? Are the members in the other location not qualified to receive mail addressed to the church of which they are members? Are they second-class members? If they have a pastor, is he a second-class pastor? Is the pastor at the “mother” church superior to the pastor at the “mission”? Is the ordained elder who is working on a foreign field but holds membership in a church in the United states under the authority of the pastor of the “mother” church? If so, does that not create two orders of elders in the church—the ruling elder in the “mother” church and the subjected elder in the mission?
Paul again uses the figure of a building to represent the church in his epistle to the church which was located in the city of Ephesus. Ephesians 2:20-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
A New Testament Ecclesia is a “building fitly framed together.” It is not fitly framed apart with one part framed in the United States, another part framed in Canada, another part framed in Mexico, and/or another part framed in the Philippines. Dear Reader, there is no way under heaven an ecclesia can truly be an ecclesia if it is divided into more than one assembly regularly meeting in more than one place. And there is no way a building of God can be a “building fitly framed together” if, in fact, it meets in separate assemblies in different cities, states, countries, or continents.
Of this “building” that is “fitly framed together” Paul further told the church at Ephesus that “ye also are builded together for an habitation of God.” How can a divided church with assemblies meeting in more than one place be said to be “builded together”? The truth is it is unframed apart and not built together as a true New Testament ecclesia is.
A TRUE NEW TESTAMENT ECCLESIA IS A BODY OF CHRIST IN ITS LOCALITY
Paul addressed his first epistle to the Corinthian ecclesia in this manner. 1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth. He addressed it to a true ecclesia which regularly assembled in the city of Corinth. And, he called that church the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. In this chapter Paul is very careful to promote the unity that must exist in a body (church) of Jesus Christ. In verse twelve he emphasizes that the church at Corinth is one body though they have many members. 1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
It is evident from this verse that the New Testament type of ecclesia is one body. It is one body that meets in a particular locality. As the church that Paul is addressing here, it may meet in the locality called Corinth. 1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth. It was not located in Corinth and one or more other localities. It was located in Corinth. Can you imagine Paul writing and saying something like this, “Unto the church of God part of which is in Corinth, and another part of which is in Thessalonica, and yet another part of which is in Rome”? Perish the thought. Paul did not hold to churches being divided up into parts and scattered across the world. When he addressed a church, he could always address it in one particular locality.
To the Corinthian ecclesia Paul would write a second epistle. In that he would still address it in one local place. 2 Corinthians 1:1 “. . . church of God which is at Corinth.”
When he wrote to the church of the Ephesians he addressed them in like manner. Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus.
Again, Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna.
Again, Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos.
And again, Revelation 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira.
Once more, Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis. Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
See some other instances that are similar.
Acts 8:1 And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem.
Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem.
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch.
When Paul and Barnabas returned from their missionary journey, they went to Antioch to tell them of all that God had accomplished with them during the trip. Acts 14:26-27 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. They were able to gather the “church that was at Antioch” together at Antioch because that was the one locality in which the “church that was at Antioch” met. They did not have branches of their church that were scattered here and there. Arms and legs of this body in Antioch were not scattered in the places where Paul and Barnabas had gone preaching.
There was a church that was in Cenchrea. Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.
There was a church meeting in the house of Aquila and Priscilla. Romans 16:3-5 Greet Priscilla and Aquila . . . Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Gaius was the host of a whole church in his house. Romans 16:23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you.
There was a church in the city of Philippi. Philippians 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
There was a church that met in the house of Nymphas. Colossians 4:15 Salute . . . Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
Paul addresses another assembly which met in a house. Philemon 1-2 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, 2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house.
Though James does not name the exact location of a church, it is obvious that he has reference to a specific, or any specific local church. James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church. Notice that these elders of this church were close enough for the sick to call for them. Again, this shows that a New Testament church body is local in nature, meeting in one locality.
A number of times in the first letter to the ecclesia at Corinth, Paul refers to them as the body of Christ. His statement to that church shows he was strictly and particularly addressing an ecclesia located in one place—the city of Corinth. He says to them, “Ye are the body of Christ.” This one assembly was a complete body of Christ.
They were one body meeting in one location though they were many members. 1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many. This body with its many members regularly assembled together. 1 Corinthians 11:18 . . . when ye come together in the church. 1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together.
Just as the human body is one body, one entity with one locality at any one time, so the church is one body with many members while assembling in one place. (See I Cor. 12:14-27).
How many times have you said, “I can only be in one place at one time”? Or, “I cannot be in two places at the same time”? As I write this I need to go outside and mow my lawn. If my body were like some alleged church bodies, I could leave an ear, a mouth, a brain, an arm and hand in the house to answer the phone and take the rest of my body out to mow the lawn. But, my body is one body that God has tempered together in one single unit that can only be in one place at one time. 1 Corinthians 12:24 God hath tempered the body together.
Has God tempered the body of which you are a member together or is it severed, splintered, or divided into two, three, or more assemblies that regularly meet for worship and service in two, three, or more localities? I hope that no one stoops low enough to accuse me of being an idiot or ignoramus who believes every member of a church must be present every time it assembles to be a true church. I am not saying that at all. But, I am saying that when the members do assemble as a church, they must all assemble in one location, not two, three, or more locations.
We Landmark Baptists cry to high heaven that the ecclesia of the New Testament is a local visible body. We decry the notion of the universal visible body claimed by Roman Catholics. We condemn the doctrine of a universal invisible church now in existence with some members on earth and some in heaven and never assembling. We denounce those as heretics who teach a regional church such as “The Presbyterian Church of the United States” or “The Presbyterian Church of Japan.” We boldly deny that there is any such creature as “The Baptist Church” that is supposed to be composed of all the Baptist Churches. But, are we not inconsistent when we insist that the ecclesia of the New Testament type is a local visible body and then have “churches” that regularly assemble in two, three, or more localities and never assemble together as one body in Christ?
In conclusion let us notice again a few of the testimonies of our witnesses.
Mr. Landmarker himself, J. R. Graves wrote, “The ecclesia of the New Testament could, and was required to assemble in one place.”
Eld. Elton Wilson wrote,
“How local is the local church? IT IS LOCAL ENOUGH TO ASSEMBLE.”
Eld. Boyce Taylor wrote of Jesus’ use of ecclesia,
“He refers to a local organized and assembling church.”
Eld. Milburn Cockrell wrote,
“In order to have a church, baptized saints must come together in one place at the same time.”
Eld. Curtis Pugh wrote,
“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.”
Eld. Buell Kazee wrote,
“Just one church in one locality sent some messengers to another church in another locality . . .”
ELD. BRUCE ALLEN wrote,
“. . . an ekklesia is literally an assembly of people called out to a particular place . . . and that in its Christian application it means an assembly of believers called out to worship in one place together.”
Elder Joe Wilson wrote,
“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.”
Elder Ben M. Bogard wrote,
“A congregation is just as local as the wife is . . . A congregation is necessarily local. It would not be a congregation if it were not local.”
Eld. C. D. Cole wrote,
“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’.”
Eld. B. H. Carroll wrote.
Locality inheres in Ecclesia. There can be no assembly now or hereafter without a place to meet.
Each of these writers bears witness to the fact that a church cannot be a New Testament type of ecclesia unless it regularly assembles in one place. Therefore, it cannot be a house of God, a building of God, or a body of Christ unless it assembles in one place for worship and service.
As Bro. Milburn Cockrell wrote,
“In order to have a church, baptized saints must come together in one place at the same time.”
And, Dear Readers, That is the kind of Old Landmarker I am!
—Wayne Camp, Editor—
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The footsteps of the Baptists of the ages can more easily be traced by blood than by baptism. It is a lineage of suffering rather than a succession of bishops; a martyrdom of principle, rather than a dogmatic decree of councils; a golden chord of love, rather than an iron chain of succession, which, while attempting to rattle its links back to the apostles, has been of more service in chaining some protesting Baptist to the stake than in proclaiming the truth of the New Testament. It is, nevertheless, a right royal succession, that in every age the Baptists have been advocates of liberty for all, and have held that the gospel of the Son of God makes every man a free man in Christ Jesus. (John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, Vol. I pp. 22-23)
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This page was last updated Friday, March 04, 2011