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The Wednesday Word: I am a Member of Christ

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Ephesians 5:30.

A dear friend of mine, when he was young, was approached by a gang of teenagers demanding to know whether he was Protestant or Catholic. Perhaps I should give you some background. This happened at the beginning of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland when tensions between Roman Catholics and Protestants were raging high. I also should mention that my friend was a very dark-skinned young man from India. He smiled at his antagonists and said, “Lads, I am a Hindu.” The leader of the gang then sternly looked him up and down and said, “Yes, but are you a Protestant Hindu or a Catholic Hindu?”

Many times, I also have been asked what I am. In other words, what camp do I belong to spiritually?

That’s easy to answer.

I am Catholic. The word ‘Catholic’ means “universal.” I am not, however, Roman Catholic. I am not under the authority of the man who falsely claims to be the head of the ‘True Church’. He is not the Vicar of Christ and I give heed neither to him nor to his imagined infallibility. The truth is, all Believers are Catholic. We are discovered right across the world (Colossians 1:6). We are those who trust in Christ alone for salvation. Simply put,

We are members of Christ!

I am Baptist. Basically, a “Baptist” is one who baptizes or has been baptized by immersion. In this sense, I am Baptist. However, I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and like all true Baptists put no confidence for salvation in having been baptized, albeit by immersion. Our trust is in Christ Alone!

I am a member of Christ!

I am Presbyterian. Presbyterians believe in leadership by a body of leaders. Paul appointed such qualified elders in the various groups of Christians he worked with (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). In this sense, I am “Presbyterian,” I believe in elders but I am not a devotee of any particular Presbyterian denomination.

I am a member of Christ.

I am a Congregationalists. This term, Congregational, indicates the independence of a Christian assembly in a given locality. Congregationalists hold that there is no such thing as a central government that presides over many churches. The New Testament communities practiced autonomy (Acts 20:17,28). In other words, each assembly was responsible for its own affairs.

In this sense, I am a “Congregationalist,” but I am not a member of The Congregational Church.

I am a member of Christ!

I am an Adventist. This term signifies one who is looking for, expecting and waiting for Christ’s second coming. (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). I am an “Adventist” in this sense, but I am not a member of The Seventh Day or any Adventist Church.

I am a member of Christ!

I am Brethren. Jesus said to His followers, “You are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8). I am one of the brothers (brethren), but not a member of any Brethren Assembly whether Closed or Open.

I am a member of Christ.

I am Pentecostal. Around AD 30, on the Feast of Pentecost, the Spirit was given in His fullness (Acts 2:1,4,16-17,33,38-39). The Spirit came with the chief purpose of magnifying and exalting the Lord Jesus. I fully endorse and adhere to this pre-eminent work of the Spirit. In this sense, I am “Pentecostal,” but I’m not a member of any Pentecostal Church.

I am a member of Christ!

As believers, we are first and foremost members of Christ. Every blood washed, saved person is a member of Christ. That does not mean we are independent of each other. No indeed! Every believer will want, if able, to join with other like-minded believers to worship, receive the bread and wine and to be instructed in the Word. Although we are members of various kinds of churches, believers are first and foremost Christians (Acts 11:26).

We are members of Christ.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Mile Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

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Definitions and Other Challenges

February 23, 2016 Leave a comment

By Tom Chantry

I have been writing this week on questions of local church polity as they have been addressed by Reformed Baptists, and on the comparative model of Presbyterianism. I have a few suggestions to make – theses for debate, if you will. Before I come to them, however, I have a number of further observations to make on the state of our churches and the ministry within them. Consider these challenges which must be addressed if we ever wish to arrive at a more sensible polity.

1. The names of offices have become seriously confused.

When we have attempted to name the offices of the church, we have entered into a realm of confusion. The only office explicitly called an “office” in our English New Testament is that of bishop. (I Timothy 3:1) Yet we do not often use the word “bishop” because its accepted meaning in the wider culture is different from that used in Scripture. A bishop is an overseer of the church, and there were several of them in Ephesus (Acts 20:28), but society has been trained to think of a “bishop” as a single officer over many churches. Unwilling to….

 

 

 

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Understanding the Presbyterian Model

February 16, 2016 1 comment

By Tom Chantry

Yesterday I wrote about some of the problems faced by Reformed Baptists in developing our polity. Differences between us have been exacerbated by the fact that some – but not all – of us have been influenced by Presbyterianism, particularly with regard to local polity. This problem is even further exacerbated by the fact that some have, I am convinced, completely misread Presbyterian polity. Is it possible that some Reformed Baptists have developed their principles of government in reaction to what was a basic mischaracterization of Presbyterianism?

It is with such thoughts in mind that I listened with great interest to a recent episode of the Mortification of Spin podcast. I urged yesterday that my readers listen to it before reading today’s post, and I want to repeat that advice today. Carl Trueman, an OPC Pastor, Todd Pruitt, a PCA pastor…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Few Polity Questions

By Tom Chantry

One of the issues which continues to bedevil the Reformed Baptist movement as we seek to adopt and apply not only the doctrine but also the polity of our confession of faith is the relationship of the title “pastor” to that of “elder.” For any of us to pretend that this matter has been resolved is probably to deceive ourselves. A number of positions exist, and our confession is less than absolutely clear in the resolution of these differences.

Since the Particular Baptist movement grew in the soil of England’s Puritan era, and since the 1689 Confession is in part a revision of the Westminster, we would do well to frame the discussion with reference to the definitions which exist in Presbyterianism, and then to ask whether and how Baptists have viewed the matter differently.

 

 

 

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Random Thoughts

December 15, 2015 Leave a comment

by Tom Chantry

Thomas Sowell hasn’t sued me yet, so here are some more “random thoughts on the passing scene.”

Everybody loves Owen. Presbyterians and Reformed on both sides of the sanctification debate are trying to claim him. Baptists have loved him for a long time; I wonder exactly how many of us have named sons after him? But when he showed up on a Baptist book cover, objections were raised by – of all people – an Anglican who wanted to claim him! All this would likely amuse the man himself, who was once stripped of his living by Presbyterians and denied preferment by the Church of England when he would not conform. At least the 17th century Baptists didn’t persecute him; herbivores at the bottom of the food chain never persecute anyone.

There are two types of theologians: innovators who present new combinations of thought, and plodders who defend the old paths. In fifty years the innovators will be remembered by many, but only as villains. Meanwhile a remnant will remember the plodders as true fathers in the faith.

 

 

 

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Infant Baptism: New Wine in Old Wineskins?

I am a Baptist, (namely, a Reformed Baptist),[1] not because I was raised to be so, nor because I’ve neglected to study the theological issues that divide Baptists and those of other denominations. No, I am a Reformed Baptist by conviction. That means, I’ve studied the issues and can confidently say that I am convinced of what I have believed as being thoroughly biblical. And while I have the highest respect for my Paedobaptist brethren, especially those of the Presbyterian denomination, I cannot bring myself to accept the practice of infant baptism as an apostolic, biblical teaching/practice. It is, to paraphrase the words of Christ, pouring new wine into old wineskins (Mtt. 9:17). Alan Conner, in his book, Covenant Children Today: Physical or Spiritual?, notes this as a crucial point in the debate over infant baptism and covenant membership.

 

 

 

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Reformed Baptists and the Purity of the Church

December 8, 2015 1 comment

by Tom Chantry

Having opened the week posting on the history of friendly interaction between Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists, I’ve made my way around to writing about a recent article by Westminster in California’s President, W. Robert Godfrey. Godfrey’s essay asks whether or not the Belgic Confession (one of the three confessional standards of the Dutch Reformed churches) indicates that Baptist churches are not churches, and, by implication, that Baptists are not Christians.

Godfrey’s conclusion is that our churches are churches, and our members Christians, even if our doctrine of baptism is imperfect. Far from taking offense at the implication that we are imperfect in this area (which is after all only to say that Godfrey actually subscribes to his church’s standards), I find myself challenged by the manner in which he applies his confessional standards with a spirit of charity.

This raises the question for Reformed Baptists: does our own confession lead us in the same catholic direction, and if so, are also we able to combine doctrinal rigor with a charitable outlook on the rest of Christ’s church?

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.