A Believer's Church
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1st Corinthians 12:12-13, 27
"And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" Acts 2:47
by Derek Gentle
The Believer's Church is called so because
it is composed of believers. It can also be called the Doctrine of
the Regenerate Church. By either name, it is the Lord's Church
as He is its true Head and owner. A regenerate church membership has been
for Baptists a basic belief and a foundational doctrine.
Implications of the Doctrine of the
Voluntary - No one is in
the church because someone else decided for them. It is comprised of a
group of people who have voluntarily entered into convenant together. If
someone does not agree with the terms of the commitment, he or she is free
not to join or to renounce it.
Children - The doctrine of a believer's
church does not permit the baptizing of children who are not yet Christians
nor counting them as members of the church. This is closely related to
the voluntary nature of the church and the fact that infants are not yet
in a postition to respond to Christ in personal commitment.
The Invitation - In the believer's
church, everyone is invited to come to Christ for salvation, but the church
is responsible to discuss the matter with each person professing faith
in Christ and to see that they indeed do understand the gospel and are
willing to come to Christ on His terms. Therefore, the manner in which
people are invited to respond to the gospel of Christ should not limit
the time to explore their understanding and readiness to respond.
The Somerset Particular Baptist Confession (1656) states:
That in admitting of members into the church
of Christ, it is the duty of the church and ministers whom it concerns,
in faithfulness to God, that they be careful they receive none but such
as do make forth evident demonstration of the new birth, and the work of
faith with power.
Some more implications involve:
1. Believers' Baptism
"See, here is water. What hinders
me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe
with all your heart, you may." Acts 8:35-38
2. Distinctiveness in the World
"For you are the temple of the
living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them.
I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, come out
from among them and be separate, says the Lord. . "' 2nd Corinthians 6:16-17
3. Priesthood of All Believers
"You also, as living stones, are
being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood..." 1st Peter
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim
the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
1st Peter 2:9
4. Congregational Government
The Lord governs the church through
His people. But they must indeed be His people for the church to
operate properly and under the Lordship of Christ. When the devil's
children are allowed to run the church, you will have the devil's church.
"And if he refuses to hear them,
it to the church. . ." Matthew 18: 17
5. Church Discipline
"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,
you are gathered together. . . deliver such a one to Satan. " 1st
"Therefore, brethren, seek out from
among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit
and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" Acts 6:3
"For what have I to do with judging
those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?"
1st Corinthians 5:9-13 (This is verse 12)
The puposes of church discipline
Restore the sinner (Galatians 6:1)
Protect the church (1st Corinthians
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