by Benjamin Keach
Download here. (Pdf) (45 Pages)
THE GLORY OF A GOSPEL-CHURCH, AND THE TRUE ORDERLY DISCIPLINE THEREOF EXPLAIN’D
Concerning a True and Orderly Gospel-Church
Before there can be any Orderly Discipline among a Christian Assembly, they must be orderly and regularly constituted into a Church-state, according to the Institution of Christ in the Gospel.
1. A Church of Christ, according to the Gospel-Institution, is a Congregation of Godly Christians, who as a Stated-Assembly (being first baptized upon the Profession of Faith) do by mutual agreement and consent give themselves up to the Lord, and one to another, according to the Will of God; and do ordinarily meet together in one Place, for the Public Service and Worship of God; among whom the Word of God and Sacraments are duly administered, according to Christ’s Institution.1
2. The Beauty and Glory of which Congregation doth consist in their being all Converted Persons, or Lively Stones; being by the Holy Spirit, united to Jesus Christ the Precious Corner-Stone, and only foundation of every Christian, as well as of every particular Congregation, and of the whole Catholick Church.2
3. That every Person before they are admitted Members, in such a Church so constituted, must declare to the Church (or to such with the Pastor, that they shall appoint) what God hath done for their Souls, or their Experiences of a Saving work of Grace upon their Hearts; and also the Church should enquire after, and take full satisfaction concerning their Holy Lives, or Good Conversations.3
And when admitted Members, before the Church they must solemnly enter into a Covenant, to walk in the Fellowship of that particular Congregation, and submit themselves to the Care and Discipline thereof,4 and to walk faithfully with God in all his Holy Ordinances, and there to be fed and have Communion, and worship God there, when the Church meets (if possible) and give themselves up to the watch and charge of the Pastor and Ministry thereof:5 the Pastor then also signifying in the name of the Church their acceptance of each Person, and endeavor to take the care of them, and to watch over them in the Lord, (the Members being first satisfied to receive them, and to have Communion with them.) And so the Pastor to give them the right Hand of Fellowship of a Church, or Church Organical.
A Church thus constituted ought forthwith to choose them a Pastor, Elder or Elders, and Deacons, (we reading of no other Officers, or Offices abiding in the Church) and what kind of Men they ought to be, and how qualified, is laid down by Paul to Timothy, and to Titus. Moreover, they are to take special care, that both Bishops, Overseers, or Elders, as well as the Deacons, have in some competent manner all those Qualifications; and after in a Day of solemn Prayer and Fasting, that they have elected them, (whether Pastor, &c., or Deacons) and they accepting the Office, must be ordained with Prayer, and laying on of Hands of the Eldership; being first prov’d, and found meet and fit Persons for so Sacred an Office: Therefore such are very disorderly Churches who have no Pastor or Pastors ordained, they acting not according to the Rule of the Gospel, having something wanting.6
1 Act. 2.41, 42, 43, 44. Act. 8.14. Act. 19.4, 5, 6. Eph. 1.1, 2 and 2.12, 13, 19. Col. 1. 2, 4, 12. I Pet. 2.5. Act. 5.13, 14. Rom. 6.17. Heb. 6.1, 2.
2 Rom. 6. 3, 4, 5. I Pet. 2.4, 5, 6. Eph. 2.20, 21. Col. 2.19.
3 Psa. 66.16. Act. 11.4, 5, 6, &c., 23, 24. I Pet. 3.15. II Cor. 8.5. Jer. 50.5.
4 Heb. 13.17.
5 I Pet. 5.1, 2.
6 I Tim. 3.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Tit. 1. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Tit. 1.7. Act. 6.6. I Tim. 5.22. I Cor. 9.16, 17.
Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)
William F. Leonhart III
Q.2: Ought everyone to believe there is a God?
A. Everyone ought to believe there is a God;1 and it is their great sin and folly who do not.2
The world is full of art critics. Everywhere we go, we see people standing in awe of great art. They study it, they marvel at it, and they even try to duplicate it. What they will not do, however, is recognize the existence of the great Artist who gave it birth. This great art of which I speak is the art of creation, and the great Artist, of course, is the Creator. God is not merely an Artist, though. He wears many hats. Like the great Leonardo di Vinci, God assumes the titles of Artist, Engineer, Innovator, Inventor, and a great many others. However, unlike Leonardo, God is the Chief among all others in these fields. He far surpasses all His creatures, as we noted in the previous section.
One great difference between God and all others is that His art, His engineering, His innovation and inventiveness pervades all of His creation. Painters place their signatures in the corners of their paintings. The signature of the Divine is pervasive throughout the vast scope of creation and notable in every detail of every element and atom. God is at once immensely God and intimately God. He is both the God of the stars and the planets (Job 38:31-33; Ps. 8:3; 136:7-9) and the God of our grief and our joy (Mt. 6:25-34).
Read the entire article here.
MENTONE, December 15, 1891.
MY DEAR SON, —
As I write I have sweet memories of your delightful companionship with me in this land of the sun. I seem to hear your pleasant voice even now. The Lord bless thee, my son, and thy spouse, and the little one.
I write this day joyfully because I feel better than for many a month. I am weak, but I have the hope that I have turned the cold comer and am turning to the warmer side of the hill. I am indeed a debtor to my Lord and to the prayers of His people, that I now live in the hope of a perfect restoration and in the expectation of future service.
AND YOUR MOTHER IS HERE. I know it is true for I see her, otherwise I could not believe it. And she is-well — she is splendid. I pray the Lord to guide you in your tried path. I think you must settle somewhere in. the Antipodes, because you could not bear the fogs of Old England. My hope is that some city will be grateful yet for your laborious and valuable services. You have yet a glorious work to do. The coming of a family about you points to a pastorate. God will open. a door into “a large place.” God’s own true benediction rest upon thee.
Your loving father,
C. H. SPURGEON.
God has never forced us to sin. To our shame, we do it willingly, gladly and readily. If the truth be known, we love sin. We may hate its consequences, but, left to our own devices, our inclination is always and ever away from God. All mankind has been smitten with the sin virus (Romans 6:6); it is, so to speak, lurking in our blood, continually spawning sins, its fowl children (Romans 5:12).
The awful problem with sins, however, is that they bring separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). God is holy: Because He is holy, He hates sins and hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). It may seem a foreign concept to our ears to associate ‘hatred’ with the God of love but before objecting to this picture, let me warn against the subtle sin of idolatry. Idolatry? Yes, idolatry! For when we reject God’s self-declaration and substitute Him for the God we’d like Him to be, we have become idolaters. Much as we would like God to be the God of love who is never at angry at sin or sinners, we must never project this false picture onto Him.
God refuses to fit our concept of who we want Him to be, in fact, He won’t even try. He’s got better things to do! As for us, the best thing we can do is bow before Him and worship Him as He is and for who He is.
God is Holy, and we are not. This knowledge is where religion finds a natural breeding ground as it germinates in the fears and guilt of sinful man. We really are laughable; we cannot create ourselves, but think that by practicing some religion or other, we can save ourselves. Yet, no matter how involved we become in our religion, no matter how zealous we are, we are impotent to stop sinning … and sins separate us from God. Religion cannot remove the virus of sin. Although, for the follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will limit and restrain the production of sins we remain sinners till the day we die. Remember this, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).
The good news for sinners (us), however, is that God is not only holy, He is also just. But how is this Good News? I can take some comfort knowing that He is loving, but surely there is no comfort in knowing that, in his unswerving justice, he will punish us and our sins? A just God will surely meet out punishment. This is far from good news. So then, how can God be just, and yet save me a ruined sinner?
Which brings us back to the Gospel, the best news, the old news and the ever-new news—Jesus!
Only in Jesus can God be both loving and just. Between the all-holy God and sin-filled believer, there stands the remarkable sinless person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is enough for the sinner, and He is enough for the Father. God punished our sins on Him. In grace, He became accountable for us and poured out His blood for us.
Jesus, the Lord of glory, became a security and substitute for His people. He took our place in his doing, dying and rising. He ascended to the right hand of the Father (the place of cosmic authority) for us. And now, because of Jesus and His accomplishments on our behalf, not only love but also justice endorses our acquittal.
Jesus is Enough
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
DUTY OF DELIGHTING IN THE WILL AND WORKS OF GOD.
If any one supposes that religion consists merely of self-denial and painful austerities, and that it is filled with gloom and melancholy, to the exclusion of all happiness, he greatly mistakes its true character. False religions, and false views of the true religion, may be liable to this charge; but the religion which has God for its author, and which leads the soul to God, is full of peace and joy. It renders us cheerful amidst the trials of life, contented with all the allotments of Divine Providence, happy in the exercises of piety and devotion, and joyful in the hope of an endless felicity. Heaven is near in prospect; and, while on the way to that world of perfect and eternal bliss, we are permitted, in some measure, to anticipate its joys, being, even here, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are enabled, not only to pursue our pilgrimage to the good land with content and cheerfulness, but even to “delight ourselves in the Lord.” Our happiness is not merely the absence of grief and pain, but it is positive delight.
The delight which attends other religious exercises should be felt in the investigation of religious truth, and should stimulate to diligence and perseverance. Divine truth is not only sanctifying, but it is also beatifying. To the ancient saints it was sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; and the early Christians, in “believing” the truth as it is in Jesus, “rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” If we loved the truth as we ought, we should experience equal delight in receiving it; and careful investigation of it would be a source of pure and abiding pleasure. It would not suffice to employ our intellectual powers in the discussion of perplexing questions appertaining to religion, but we should find a rich feast in the truth that may be known and read by all. The man who indulges his skeptical doubts, and suffers himself to be detained by questions to no profit, is like one who, when a bountiful feast is spread before him, instead of enjoying the offered food, employs himself in examining a supposed flaw in the dish in which it is served. The glorious truths which are plainly revealed concerning God, and the things of God, are sufficient to enable every one to delight himself in the Lord.
We have before seen that love to God lies at the foundation of true religion. Love, considered as simple benevolence, has for its object the production of happiness, and not the receiving of it. But, by the wise arrangements of infinite goodness, the producing of happiness blesses him that gives as well as him that receives. It is even “more blessed to give than to receive.” But when God is the object of our love, as we cannot increase his happiness, we delight in it as already perfect; and all the outflowing of our love to him, finding the measure of his bliss already full, returns back on ourselves, filling us also with the fulness of God. God is love; and to love God with all the heart is to have the heart filled, to the full measure of its capacity, with the blessedness of the divine nature. This is the fulness of delight.
In the existence and attributes of God a sufficient foundation is laid for the claim of supreme love to him; but, for the active exercise of the holy affection, God must be viewed not merely as existing, but as acting. To produce delight in him, his perfections must be manifested. So we enjoy the objects of our earthly love by their presence with us, and display of those qualities which attract our hearts. Heaven is full of bliss, because its inhabitants not only love God, but see the full manifestations of his glory. To enjoy God on earth, we must contemplate him in such manifestations of himself as he has been pleased to make to us who dwell on his footstool. These we may discover in the declarations of his will, and in his works, which are the execution of his will. In a contemplation of these, the pious heart finds a source of pure, elevating delight.
When the Son of God consented to appear in human nature for the salvation of man, he said: “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” If the same mind were in us that was in Christ Jesus, we, too, would delight in the will of God. We should be able to say with David, “I will delight myself in thy commandments;” and with Paul, “I delight in the law of God.” We should yield obedience to every precept, not reluctantly, but cheerfully; not cheerfully only, but with joy and delight. It would be to us meat and drink to do the will of God, as it was to our blessed Lord. Our religious enjoyment would consist not merely in receiving good from God, but in rendering active service to him; like the happy spirits before the throne, who serve God day and night, and delight in his service. Not only should we delight to render personal service to our Sovereign, but we should desire his will to be done by all others, and should rejoice in his universal dominion. “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.”
As the ancient saints delighted in the will and government of God, so they delighted in his works. They saw in them the manifestations of his wisdom, power, and goodness; and they delighted to meditate on them. His glory, displayed in the heavens, and his handy work, visible in earth, they contemplated with holy pleasure. They rejoiced to remember, “It is he that made us;” and, in approaching him with religious worship, they were accustomed to address him as the Creator of all things; “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”
The goodness displayed in God’s work awakens gratitude in the pious man. While he enjoys the gift, he recognises [sic] the hand which bestows it; and each blessing is rendered more dear, because conferred by him whom he supremely loves. He sees in creation a vast store-house of enjoyment, and blesses the author of it. He receives from the providence of God the innumerable benefits which are every day bestowed, and he blesses the kind bestower. God is in every mercy, and his heart, in enjoying it, goes out ever to God, with incessant praise and thanksgiving.
The trail of our delight in God is experienced when affliction comes. The pious man feels that this, too, is from the hand of God. So thought all the saints, of whose religious exercises the Bible gives us an account. They bowed under affliction in the spirit of resignation to God, as the author of the affliction. So Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” So David, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” So Eli, “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” So Paul’s companions, “We ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done.” The ancient saints believed in an overruling Providence, and they received all afflictions as ordered by him, in every particular; and on this faith the resignation was founded by which their eminent piety was distinguished. To the flesh, the affliction was not joyous, but grievous, and, therefore, they could not delight in it, when considered in itself; but, when enduring it with keenest anguish, they could still say, with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” They firmly believed that the dispensation was wisely and kindly ordered, and that God would bring good out of the evil; and, however oppressed with suffering, and filled with present sorrow, they still trusted in God; and delight in him alleviated their misery, and mingled with their sorrows.
Let love to God burn in our hearts while we contemplate his existence and attributes. Let delight in him rise to the highest rapture of which earthly minds are susceptible, while we study his will and works. The grand work of redemption, into which the angels especially desire to look, and which is the chief theme of the song of the glorified, is fitted to produce higher ecstasy; but even the themes of creation and providence may fill us with delight, if we approach them as we ought. When the foundations of the earth were laid, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; and angels now delight to be the ministers of God’s providence. Let us, with like devotion to Almighty God, delight in his will and works.
 Ps. xxxvii. 4. Delight thyself in the Lord.
Ps. xl. 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God.
Ps. cxix. 47. I will delight myself in thy commandments.
Rom. vii. 22. I delight in the law of God.
Ps.. cvii. 22. Declare his works with rejoicing.
 Eph. i. 3
 Ps. xxxvii. 4.
 Ps. xix. 10.
 1 Pet. i. 8.
 Acts xx. 35.
 Ps. xl. 8.
 Acts iv. 24.
 Job i. 21.
 Ps. xxxix. 9.
 1 Sam. iii. 18.
 Acts xxi. 14.
John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology
by David Cason
I. Preliminary Considerations
If the great debate over who should be baptized could be distilled into one question, it would be this:
Should only those who personally profess gospel faith be baptized, or should the children of those professing believers be baptized as well?1
When an argument is made for the latter, paedobaptist2 view, an appeal is inevitably made to those instances in the New Testament when a “household” is said to have been baptized. Since all agree that every other recorded instance of baptism is that of a professing believer, the interpretation of these texts is crucial. Only in these “household” passages can the paedobaptist allege that the Scriptures record the actual baptism of the non-confessing child of a believer (or, put more carefully, the baptism of one party on the basis of another’s faith). A close exegetical examination of those passages is therefore desirable.3
If they evidence a difference from the other recorded New Testament baptisms, or exegetically connect with the Old Testament concept of household circumcision4 , much legitimate ground is gained in the argument for infant baptism. But, if the texts in question fail to yield such evidence, the argument for the practice of infant baptism will have been dealt a substantial blow.
Understanding the pivotal importance of these verses, it is worthwhile to consider briefly some simple interpretive principles which apply to the exposition of the Word. Scripture is the interpreter of Scripture. The clear passages of Scripture must be allowed to interpret the dark, and the complete passages to interpret the elliptical. There exist in Scripture both detailed and abbreviated accounts of these “household” baptisms. It is neither sound nor admissible for the paedobaptist to use the shorter accounts in such a way as to bring them into conflict with the fuller narratives.6 This implies, naturally, that the passages must be exegeted. It is entirely inadmissible, though common enough in practice, to merely reference such passages as conclusive proof texts, or to dismiss anti-paedobaptist arguments with a casual wave of the word “house” or “household,” without looking at what the verses actually record.7 With these ground rules in mind, we turn to the Scriptural narratives.
Download the pdf here.
1 This is a modern way of putting the question. It ought to be stated, Should only those who profess gospel faith be baptized, or should those subject to that professed believer’s household authority be baptized as well? But because this more accurate phrasing seriously damages the paedobaptist argument in the modern world, the question is rarely framed in this more logically (and biblically) consistent fashion.
2 paedobaptist – one who advocates infant baptism
3 And yet, it is this close exegetical examination which is almost never present in paedobaptist apologetic. For example, James Bannerman, in his crucial and exhaustive work on the Presbyterian view of the church, spends 26 pages giving what amounts to a purely theological argument for infant membership in the covenant. He disposes of the household baptism passages in less than two pages, never undertaking an actual exegesis of any. Despite the lack of careful analysis, he does not hesitate to cite the verses as absolute and final testimony in favor of infant baptism, with overstatement that borders on the fantastic. He writes, “…nothing more is necessary, in regard to the practice of the Primitive Church in the matter of infant baptism, than to refer to the frequent and almost constant mention of the Baptism of ‘households’ and ‘families,’ in which it is morally certain that there must have been infant members….Such expressions as these, interpreted in the light of the previous undoubted practice of the Jewish Church, can admit of only one meaning….Under the circumstances of the Apostolic Church, the repeated mention of household or family Baptism is itself decisive evidence of the practice by which infants were baptized.” (Bannerman, James, The Church of Christ, 2:92-93).
Samuel Miller is carried away in similar fashion, but for Miller, two pages is two too many. After merely adducing three “household” passages, and admitting that there is no proof of actual infant baptism in any of them, he nonetheless offers them as a kind of impregnable defense. Miller writes “Now, though we are not certain that there were young children in any of these families, it is highly probable there were. At any rate, the great principle of family baptism of receiving all the younger members of households on the faith of their domestic head, seems to be plainly and decisively established. This furnishes ground on which the advocate of infant baptism may stand with unwavering confidence.” (Miller, Samuel, Infant Baptism Scriptural and Reasonable). Miller also exemplifies the characteristic misstatement of the question described in footnote 1 above.
John Calvin, after a discussion marked most by the number and diversity of its ad personam attacks on those who question the doctrine of infant baptism, dispenses with all the household passages in a single sentence. He writes, “For although this is not expressly narrated by the Evangelists, yet as they are not expressly excluded when mention is made of any baptized family, (Acts 16:15, 32), what man of sense will argue from this that they were not baptized?” (Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter 16.8).
4 E.g. Genesis 17:23
5 This is not a controversial doctrine. It is standard Reformation interpretive practice. The principle is so widely recognized that it was made a matter of confessional bond by the Puritan authors of the Westminster documents. “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of and Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:10).
6 Again, this is hardly an extreme notion. Every Calvinist regularly uses the “Scripture with Scripture” methodology when explaining the meaning of the word “world” in the various passages concerning the extent of the atonement. And no sound interpreter would say that the more limited narratives in the Gospel of Mark control the interpretation of the longer accounts given in Luke or Matthew.
7 This is the interpretive norm in paedobaptist treatments. See footnote 3 for some notable examples.
Disclaimer: I am not familiar with David Cason, therefore a link to this article does not mean that I endorse everything he believes or teaches concerning doctrine. However, linking to this article means that I believe he has rightly exegeted the “household baptism” texts over and against the paedobaptists interpretation of said text.