Let’s not Make the Same Mistakes . . . again.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Matthew 28:18-20

If there is anything that is clearly obvious, noticeable, and outstanding about New Testament Baptist churches, it is the fact that they are after souls. Of all of the things that Jesus did and said, one clear command keeps permeating His teaching to His churches, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” 

Today’s churches have varying degrees of commitment to keeping this command. Yet it remains at the pinnacle of Christian theology. Many of us are on the narrow pathway, and I say “Amen to the narrow pathway.” We are not interdenominational, non-denominational, universal church nor liberal in our theology. We are local church, New Testament Baptists. We practice Baptist baptism and closed communion. But the spectrum of our differences fans out considerably after we get past these issues. Sometimes we are prone to label, or condemn as liberals and modernists, all who do not agree with us totally in every thought and every practice.

God forbid that one of us should read a book that is not by an “approved” author or suggest, by a slip of the tongue, that a fellowship is something that you “join.” In fact, it appears to me that some fellows have the idea that, in order to be a “good fundamentalist” one must condemn SOMEBODY. I reject the art of sarcastic condemnation. I do not read of it in the scriptures. Sarcasm and condemnation reminds me more of a lost man than it does one of the servants of Christ. Following this thought lays the foundation for several points of self-evaluation.

We have all heard the statement, “If someone takes advantage of you once, shame on them; but if they take advantage of you twice, shame on YOU.” This kind of thinking has made us gun shy. Some of us are convinced that all ideas that were not born in our very own church are from Satan. Some are so inclined so as to believe that if they themselves are not in charge of what ever they are involved in, that it will surely come to nought. They cannot support it, vote for it, nor say anything good about it. After all, they have seen the direction that others have taken, so, all who attempt anything without their permission are probably going to fail. If they were consistent in the application of their skepticism, they could not participate in a youth camp, mother/daughter banquet, men’s conference, revival meeting, or Bible college, that was not owned, controlled, funded, organized, and run out of their own church. I really don’t know of anyone who is quite that consistent. But there are some things we must be on guard about.

  • We must guard against becoming a political machine. 
    Another word for this might be “denomination.” We are already Baptists, and we hold historic Baptist positions. This places us in the only denomination with roots in the Bible, but we must be careful to maintain the doctrines that identify us and keep us independent.
  • We must guard against worshipping our heroes.
    There is more than one decorated soldier in this army. So far, our loyalty to Christ has far out weighed any honors given unto men for this work. We must keep it that way, for His glory and honor.
  • We must guard against becoming a land holding company.
    We want to help churches, help their missionaries. We don’t want to help them by getting them so entangled with us that they are no longer free to choose the direction of their ministries. We don’t want them to be in debt to us. We should let our missionaries prosper as the Lord provides opportunity for them under their pastor’s leadership.
  • We must guard against allowing men to lead us who are not with us.
    Sometimes the position, power, or performance, of a man will cause us to look the other way when his doctrinal practices are considered. This practice will lead us back to places we have already been.
  • We must guard against retreating because of the failure of others to do right.
    Evangelizing the world is still the main, God given responsibility of every one of our churches. To stop, slow down, or fumble the ball because others have somehow disappointed us is beneath the dignity of our calling. We must preach for men to surrender to the Lord’s work, pray for their success, and give to their support. This is how we can keep the main thing the main thing.

No doubt, in time, all that is done by man will be affected by the corruption that is in man.  This is a self-evident truth when you look at the history of organizations. Even churches can be corrupted by corrupt men. This is no excuse for you and me who are aware of these sad truths to avoid our responsibility to our generation. We must serve Him better! Taking the gospel to every creature in the world is a MUST DO if we are going to call ourselves Baptists and claim to be soldiers in the army of the King of Kings. We must do it immediately, regardless of the failures of others; regardless of the pain, and regardless of the expense. We must go through the doors that are open to us, regardless of the loss of comfort and dangers involved. Otherwise, we only talk; little is done, Satan wins, and souls go to hell.

Robert Lewis