Surely to any candid mind the facts are clear. Baptists of the historic sort have been shown to be the original Christians. The New Testament kind of Baptist churches have authority from Christ to carry out the work of the Great Commission. Sound Baptists and their churches have perpetual existence both promised and as a matter of historical fact. There is no hint or assumption anywhere in the New Testament that Christ's church would cease to exist before He comes. Neither is there any hint or suggestion that any other entity would succeed the church in doing Christ's work. Hence there is no room nor need for denominational organizations, associational machinery, mission boards or such like.
This Baptist perpetuity demands church succession. Churches do not mystically spring up of themselves. Baptist churches are gathered by men having previous Baptist baptism and church connection (authority). This is the consistent New Testament pattern as well as historic Baptist practice. No real Baptist believes that any unbaptized person, unless directly sent by God as John was, has a right to baptize others. No such practice can be found in the Scriptures or in the accepted practice of the Baptists. Such a practice must be viewed as an innovation of man.
In the mouth of three witnesses we have sought to establish the facts. We believe that these three witnesses - (1) historic Baptist testimony, (2) the testimony of non-Baptists, and (3) the testimony of the Scriptures positively settle these matters.
If these three witnesses are true, then all churches other than the New Testament Baptist churches are man-made and without Divine authority. Their members are unbaptized. This seems to have been the view of Tertullian who was born about 50 years after the beloved apostle John died. Tertullian wrote, "Baptismum quum rite non habeant, fine dubio non habent," which translates, "Those who are not rightly baptized, are, doubtless, not baptized at all".1
We doubt not that many members in man-made churches are sincere and well-meaning people trying to serve God the best way they know how. We do not disagree with much of what some groups teach. However, if the Baptists are in reality the "original Christians," then all other groups obtained what truth they may have from Baptists, for the New Testament was penned by Baptist hands.
Settle it then: salvation is in Christ and all who have savingly come to Him, having repented of their sins, are saved and safe! Not being a member of a Baptist church does not mean that a person is lost and, conversely, being immersed by a Baptist church does not mean that one is saved. The new birth, regeneration, is the absolute requirement for salvation.
There is, however, the matter of acceptable service to Christ - the matter of pleasing Him! There is the matter of properly carrying out His commission. Will you serve Him faithfully in the way He established? Do you dare, for whatever reason, think to serve Him according to your own desires and preferences?
There were those in Jesus' day who refused to submit to Scriptural baptism - the baptism of John - the only baptism the Bible endorses. We believe the baptism initiated by John is the only baptism God recognizes. Of the people who refused John's baptism, Luke spoke when he said they "rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:30). Surely no child of God would willingly and knowingly reject the counsel of God. Did not Jesus say that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him? (John 10:27). Follow Christ!
1 Tertullian, de BAPTISMO, cap. XV, p. 230, quoted by Abraham Booth, A DEFENSE FOR THE BAPTISTS, (London, E. & C. Dilly, 1778), [reprinted by The Baptift Standard Bearer, Paris, AR., 1985,] p. 25.
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