by Dr. Gail Terrell
1.Why are you a Baptist?
Because Jesus Christ and all His apostles were Baptists, for they were all baptized by the first Baptist preacher.
2.Where do you find Scriptural authority for wearing the name Baptist?”
Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea.
God calls the preacher He sent to prepare the material out of which His Son was to organize His church, a Baptist. The only baptism that ever came from heaven; that God the Father ever sanctioned by audible voice; that the Holy Spirit ever approved by a visible manifestation of His presence; that the Lord Jesus, King of Glory, ever submitted to, was Baptist baptism. All other baptisms came from men. No man has followed Christ in baptism, until like his Lord, he has been baptized by a Baptist preacher with correct church authority.
If Jesus had been baptized to induct Him into the priest-hood, it would have been done by a Jewish priest, not a Baptist preacher. The very fact that God sent John to baptize shows that it was something new and not a continuation of an Old Testament rite or ceremony.
3.“Can you give chapter and verse?”
Yes. “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea” (Matthew. 3:1) God calls the man who baptized Jesus a Baptist.
If the Lord Jesus walked sixty miles to get a man whom His Father called a Baptist to baptize Him, that name ought to be good enough for any follower of His.
4.“Are the disciples of Christ ever called Baptists in the New Testament?”
No. They are simply called churches without any distinguishing name, as all churches then were of one faith and needed no name except the church of Jerusalem or Antioch or Corinth or the churches of Judea or of Galatia or of Asia. But let the reader bear in mind, too, that no New Testament church is ever called a Christian church; that the name Baptist came from God, while the name Christian came from the heathen; and that the name Baptist was first used in Judea, during the personal ministry of our Lord, of His forerunner, while the name Christian originated ten or twelve years after the death of our Lord at the heathen city Antioch.
5.“If so, where ?”
Nowhere. They are called disciples or believers or brethren or saints or sheep by the Master and the Apostles.
6.“Is it necessary to be a Baptist in order to be saved?”
No. Jesus saves, not the church. The blood of Jesus washes away the stains of sin, not baptism:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John. 1:7).
Men become children of God by faith in Christ:
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26); “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12);
not by the natural birth: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8); “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John. 1:13);
nor by obedience:
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19),
nor by works: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5);
nor by joining the church:
“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved ” (Acts 2 :47).
Men are born into the family of God by the new birth, but men are not born into the church. Luke says the Lord added to the church daily “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” ( Acts 2:47).
Salvation first, then baptism and church-membership.
7.“If so, which kind of a Baptist, there are about a dozen different Baptist denominations?”
No kind at all. A sinner is saved by the blood of Jesus before and without baptism, if saved at all.
In Exodus 12:13-28: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat un leavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the de – stroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”
The blood was applied in Egypt; they were not baptized until three days after at the Red Sea.
“And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left” (Exodus 14:22);
“And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2).
In Romans 4:1-25: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describe the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. O How was it then reckoned? when he was in cir- cumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that be- lieve, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only,but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the prom ise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 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, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” ,
Paul shows that Abraham and David were justified by faith without works; and that Abraham’s faith in a crucified and resurrected Christ was the same faith that we have to day. You ask how could Abraham’s faith be in a crucified and resurrected Christ centuries before His birth?
In Romans 4:17: “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were”
Paul talks on that very question.
8.“Does believing and obeying the gospel make one a Baptist or simply a Christian?”
Believing in Christ makes him a disciple or Christian; obeying God’s command to be baptized God’s way makes him a Baptist.
9. “Can a man be saved without being a Christian?”
Millions were saved from Abel’s day on down who are never called Christians. Yet they believed in Christ and in that sense were Christians. No man can be saved without repenting and believing in Christ,but millions of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and others, will be in heaven who never wore the name Christian.
10.“Can he be a Christian without be coming a Baptist ?”
Yes, he can be a Christian without belonging to any church. All children of God are Christians whether they ever belong to any church or not. We believe there are Methodist Christians, Campbellite Christians, and lots of other Christians who are not Baptists and never will be. But they are some of the kind that Paul says will be saved yet so as by fire in
1 Corinthians 3:10-15:“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation,and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth there upon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
11. “Do the same steps that make one a Christian make him a Baptist, too?”
No. Repentance and faith make him a Christian; but it takes New Testament baptism to make him a Baptist.
12. “If the gospel only makes Christians, does it not require more than the gospel to make Baptists?”
The Gospel only does not make Christians. Paul said: “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” (I Thessalonians 1:5).
It takes the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to make a man a Christian. It takes a Baptist preacher and a New Testament church with correct authority to make him a Baptist.
13.“If a person can be saved and become a Christian without ‘joining’ the Baptist church, is it not unnecessary, a useless institution?”
No. A man may be born and live, as a savage used to do, without clothes all his life, but that does not prove that clothes are an unnecessary or useless thing. A man may live without hand or foot or eye or ear, but that does not prove that these are useless adjuncts to man’s anatomy. Baptist churches are the most important institutions in this world; for without them the truth would fall to the ground, as they are the pillar and ground of truth:
“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” (1 Timothy 3:15).
Baptist churches, useless institutions? Nay, verily. They are the pillar and ground of the once delivered faith. They are the custodians of the ordinances: “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2).
They are the only institutions that are divine on this earth. Without them (Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.)has failed of fulfillment.
Baptist churches are the only institutions on this earth of which the Lord Jesus is Head and who carry out his last com mission as He gave it. “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 28:19-20).
Baptist churches do not save anybody; but Baptist churches are the only churches on this earth that receive no one but the saved into their membership. Baptist churches will not take anyone to heaven, but a failure to belong to a Baptist church will cause many saved people to be “called the least in the kingdom of heaven:” (Matthew 5:19) when they get there, because of their willful disobedience to the plain commands of their Lord.
Alexander Campbell said in his debate with McCalla: “From the Apostolic age to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in everycentury can be produced.” If Mr. Campbell told the truth, then this world would be without New Testament baptism and New Testament churches, if it were not for the Baptists. Mr. Campbell was not a Baptist when he used those words.
14.“And if no reference to the Baptist church can be found in the New Testament, is it not an un-scriptural institution without Bible authority for its existence?”
Wrong again, Beloved. There were no other churches in New Testament days but Baptist churches.
A. Campbell well and truly said: “The church at Jerusalem was a Baptist church; the church at Samaria was a Baptist church.”
15.“Is not the Baptist church a human organization deriving its name from, and built upon, the ordinance of baptism?”
No. The name Baptist came from heaven, for God called John a Baptist. Baptist churches are built upon the one true and tried foundation. Jesus Christ, that the gates of hell cannot shake.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
16. “How then can it be the ‘household of God’ or church of the New Testament, which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone?”
Easily. Baptist alone claim Jesus Christ as the Founder and Head of their churches. All others have human heads and human founders. Baptists alone demand that everyone received into their fellowship shall acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and that He is Head over all things to His churches today. Campbellites have ruling elders usurping the Headship of Christ; and invest their ministry with episcopal authority in receiving members, thereby destroying the democracy and brotherhood of their members. Baptist only acknowledge the headship of Christ in all things.
17. “If John the Baptist founded the Baptist church, are not Baptists the disciples of John, instead of Christ ?”
No, indeed. John did not found anything. He only prepared the material out of which the Lord Jesus built His own church. No Baptist contends that John founded a church. Jesus did that Himself.
18. “As Baptists claim to take the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, why do they persist in such unscriptural teaching and practice as the following:
(l). “Exhort sinners to the mourners’ bench to get religion?”
Most of them don’t do it. Those who do, do so for the same reason that Philip joined himself to the chariot of the Ethiopian Eunuch, namely, to instruct or teach the sinner how to be saved.
II). “Declare feelings to be the evidence of sins for given?”
Because God says so. God says we know we have passed from death unto life because we love. Love is more than feeling, but love has “feelings”; and the man who loves, feels it. We believe in a salvation that is better felt than told, too. The child of God can feel a peace that “passeth understanding” a “joy unspeakable,” and a “love that passeth knowledge,” but he can’t tell the height nor depth nor length nor breadth of any of these experiences. We are sure we know some Campbellites, who have the same kind of salvation we have, namely, one they can feel; and we are awfully sorry for the rest of them, who haven’t got that kind.
(III). “Insist that we are justified by faith alone, that baptism has nothing to do with remission of sins, that it in no wise concerns our salvation ?”
Right there our good Campbellite friend gets down to the milk in the coconut. Baptists teach that we are saved before and without baptism; while Campbellites teach no baptism, no salvation. This man is honest enough to teach old fashioned Campbellism, which some of them now try to deny. Baptists don’t connect baptism with the procuring or appropriating or the assurance of salvation as do real Campbellites, because to do so would make salvation or the new birth to depend on “the will of the flesh” (i. e. the will of the man himself) and the “will of man” (i. e. the will of the baptizer), when in John 1:13:
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Jesus Christ says plainly that the new birth is neither of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man. We don’t connect baptism with salvation because the one book in the New Testament written to sinners, the Gospel of John, does not mention baptism in connection with the instruction given by Jesus Christ to any inquirer. It does mention faith every time. Baptists do not connect baptism with salvation because they believe that salvation depends wholly upon the finished work of Christ which does not need to be plussed by any sacrament of church or priest. As H. T. Anderson well said “Baptism for the remissions of sins is essentially Romish.”
Baptists wear none of the toggery or tinsel of Rome. Camplellites get their church salvation, baptismal regeneration, baptism for (in order to) the remission of sins, their teachings that baptism and communion are sacraments that confer grace on those who receive them, their weekly communion and their one man reception of members from the Roman Catholic church, not from the Bible.
(IV). “Invite people to join the Baptist Church?”
For the same reason that Paul attempted to join the church at Jerusalem, namely because they can’t get in the Church of Christ without joining it.
“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).
(V). “Call the church together to hear people relate their experience and then vote as to whether or not they are fit subjects for baptism?” Because the apostles so practiced. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47).
Because Paul taught the churches to do so. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1) and “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest per haps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (II Corinthians 2:6-8). And also because Baptist churches are pure democracies and the only way to ascertain the will of a democracy is by a vote. Monarchies, oligarchies, plutocracies, bureaucracies and aristocracies can settle things by ruling elders or a bishop or a pastoral boss, but democracies let the people vote to settle things.
(VI). “Baptize into Baptist church.”
Because Paul said: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). The church at Corinth was a body of Christ: “ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Every local Baptist church on earth today is a body of Christ. He has no other kind on this earth to day. We baptize people into Baptist churches because God told us to do so.
(VII). “Close communion, etc., etc.?”
We teach close communion, etc., whatever etc. includes, because the Scriptures so teach. A Campbell said open communion is both unreasonable and unscriptural. So said J. W. McGarvey and all other Campbellites of recognized scholarship. “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord ‘s supper” (1 Corinthians 11:18-20) shows conclusively that if there are sects or divisions or heresies present at the Lord’s table you can’t eat the Lord’s supper. It is no longer the Lord’s table but the table of men or of demons. God’s alternative is close communion or none at all.
19. “Where in the New Testament do you find authority for these things?”
All Scripture references bearing on doctrine, polity or ordinances of the New Testament churches plainly teach that the once delivered faith is the faith now taught and practiced by the Baptists. Given an open Bible and an open mind and a new heart and a Baptist will be the sure result.
20.“Baptists are unscriptural in name, doctrine and practice, why be a Baptist?”
Wrong again, neighbor. I am a Baptist because they are scriptural in origin, name, doctrine, faith and practice. The first New Testament preacher, John the Baptist, was a Baptist preacher. The material out of which Jesus Christ organized His church was prepared by this Baptist preacher and was therefore Baptist material. The church organized by Jesus Christ out of the material was the Baptist Church. The only time all three persons of the Godhead ever manifested their presence on earth was at a Baptist baptism.
Matthew 3:16,17: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
No man could be one of the twelve except one who was baptized by the first Baptist preacher. “Wherefore of these men which havecompanied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).
The only churches that have stood for the promise in Matthew. 16:18 to this good hour have been Baptist churches. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
As Ypeij and Dermout, who were not Baptists, well said: “Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and, as a Christian society, has preserved pure the doctrine of the Gospel through all ages.” I am a Baptist because the New Testament is a Baptist Book written by Baptists, for Baptist and to Baptists: and put in the hands of an open-minded inquirer it will make a Baptist out of him. I am a Baptist because the great commission is a Baptist document. It puts the emphasis or accent where none but Baptists put it, namely, on making men disciples or Christians before baptism. Then it commands all Christians to be baptized as Christ Himself was, namely, by a Baptist preacher. And finally, in contradistinction to modern Unionists and Fundamentalists, it commands all those who love the Lord to obey Him in all things, the non-essentials, as well as the essentials.
I am a Baptist because Baptist churches are the only ones that come up to the following tests of the New Testament churches, namely they were founded by the Lord Jesus Himself; have had an unbroken perpetuity and a wilderness history; Christ the only Lawgiver, Head and Lord; doctrinal conformity to the New Testament model; missionary activities, and have been the sect everywhere spoken against for 1900 years. With “meekness and fear,” and yet with cordial good will and sincere regard for all with whom we differ, we have given an answer to the questions asked as to the once delivered faith. If God should use it to bring one honest inquirer to the unity of faith and the fitly joining of such an one to a body of Christ or for the establishing in the faith of some who are already in such a body, we shall be greatly rejoiced; for as John said:
“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father” II John 1:4