Let's Be Baptists!
By Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
Matthew 16:16-1 8, "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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."
The word "church" here is the Greek word which means "called-out assembly," which, of course, refers to the local church, which is the only church in this age. There is a so-called church called the "invisible church" or the "universal church," which supposedly is composed of all believers, but all believers cannot yet be a church and will not be until the rapture because all believers have not yet become a called-out assembly. At the rapture all believers will become a church. Hebrews 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."
The doctrine of the universal church originated with the Catholic denomination - the word "catholic" meaning "universal." Throughout history there has been a battle between our Baptist forefathers and the Catholic church concerning the heresy of the universal church or invisible church. I make an issue of this because the church (local, that is) is the unit of battle in the warfare against evil and for God and good. To bypass this unit of battle or make light of this unit of battle is to lessen our effectiveness in the warfare.
Now notice Hebrews 12:22 23, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." The general assembly will be all the host of Heaven, and the church will be the called-out assembly of God's people. Consequently, there is only one church on the face of the earth today, and that is the local body of New Testament believers, like the First Baptist Church of Hammond and churches of like faith.
Before we enter into this study or discussion, let me say that I have the kindest feeling toward all believers, and I have no desire to be offensive, though I have no doubt that this study will offend some, perhaps many. However, if we reach the people we should reach for Christ, we will have to revive the emphasis on the local churches! Because of that, the eternal destiny of men, women, boys and girls will rest in our ability to emphasize the institution that Jesus started for the perpetuation of the Gospel and for the war against evil.
1. All believers do not form the bride of Christ.
Many have been influenced by the inter-denominational teaching that has infiltrated our Baptist churches that all believers form the bride of Christ. The simple truth is, there is no bride of Christ today, nor will there be until the rapture.
The word "bride" is mentioned only five times in the New Testament. First is John 3:29, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom 's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." Even a casual reading of this verse shows that it has nothing to do with all Christians forming at this present time a bride. This is the only time the word "bride" is mentioned in the Bible until Revelation 18:23, "And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." It is also mentioned in Revelation 21:2 "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." It is mentioned again in Revelation 21:9, "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb 's wife." Then, it is mentioned again in Revelation 22:17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Now follow me carefully. The only time the word "bride" is mentioned before Revelation 18 is in John 3:29 which has nothing at all to do with the church. In Revelation 18, the rapture has already taken place. We have already been called unto the marriage of the Lamb. No one is a bride until she gets married, and so we are not a bride now, and all the verses except John 3:29, which even mention the word "bride" in the New Testament, are mentioned after the rapture while we are in the air at the marriage of the Lamb. An engaged lady is not a bride. She must be married; then she becomes a bride, so all believers are not a bride until after the wedding. The wedding takes place in the air after the rapture, so all believers will not become the bride of Christ until the wedding takes place.
Again I make an issue of this because Baptists are being led astray by inter-denominational people concerning the doctrine of the local church. So, just as all believers will not become a church until we become a called-out assembly, all believers will not become a bride until this called-out assembly.
2. All believers do not form the body of Christ.
The local church is the body of Christ, as I am going to show you. Notice Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." Notice the words, "he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church...." Now the word "church" is the called-out assembly. Since all Christians have not been called out to assemble, then He is talking about the only church in existence now, which is the local church. And since He is the head of the body, and the body and the church are synonymous, then the body of Christ is the local church. He is the head of the called-out assembly.
Now in what way is He the head? He is the head in the sense that He owns it - like the president of a bank is the head of the bank. Christ owns the church; He is to run the church, and the church is His body in the sense of ownership of an institution. The word "body" is used in many ways, but it is often used concerning a group of people. This called-out assembly called the New Testament church is a group of people. They are a body of people. He is the head of that body. The word "head" means that He is the "Boss-man" of the church; He is to run the church; He is the King of the church.
Notice Colossians 2:10, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." It says here that He is the head of all principality and power. Now what is that principality and power? It deals with government. Paul said that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Jesus is the head of all principalities and powers, and the word "head" is the same word that is used in Colossians 1:18 where it mentions that He is the head of the church.
So God is teaching us here that Jesus controls the affairs and destinies of the world. He puts up kings and sets down kings. He is the One Who is going to end up as King of the entire world. Now in the same way that He is the head of principalities and powers, He is the head of the church, as is told us in Colossians 1:18. That means He runs the church; He is the Boss of the church; He is to be the ruler of the church.
The church is His body like someone would say, "That's my coat. This is my tie. This is my pulpit. This is your microphone. This is your building. That's my home. This is my car. These are my shoes." In the same way, the church is His church, His body, because He owns it. It is a body of people who are owned by Him; it belongs to Him and He is the head.
3. There are three basic groups of fundamentalists today.
Group one is what I call "American Baptist fundamentalists." These are they who came out of the American Baptist Convention; that is, the old Northern Baptist Convention. These fundamentalists are basically your Conservative Baptists and General Association of Regular Baptists. Both of these groups came out of the American Baptist Convention.
Group two I call "Protestant fundamentalists." These people came out of the Protestant denominations. They came from the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, etc. Basically they are the interdenominational people today. They have started many Bible institutes, Bible colleges, etc. These are not bad people; they are fine people. I'm not trying to criticize them; I'm trying to identify them and name fundamentalism.
Group three is what I call "Southern Baptist fundamentalists." These are they which came out of the Southern Baptist convention or were influenced by someone who did. In this group we have the Baptist Bible Fellowship, the World Baptist Fellowship, those who were influenced by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Dr. Lee Roberson, and in latter years Dr. Bob Gray, myself and others who were Southern Baptists who left the convention.
These are the main groups of fundamentalists during this and the past generation.
4. Notice the identification of each of these three groups.
Group number one came out of the American Baptist Convention basically because of the Bible. They got tired of the liberalism of the American Baptist Convention and withdrew. This is true basically with both the Conservative Baptist Association and the General Association of Regular Baptists. This is certainly to be admired. They did not, however, pull out because of formalism. They retained their formalism to a great extent. Likewise, they did not pull out because of church organization. Therefore, they, to a large degree, retained the same type of church organization as the American Baptists.
Group number two likewise pulled out because of the Bible, because of the liberalism in the mainline Protestant denominations and not because of church organization or formal worship.
Group number three withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention not necessarily because of the Bible. Thirty, forty and fifty years ago when group number three withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention, most Southern Baptists believed the Bible to be the Word of God. We withdrew because we could not put up with the worldliness, the formalism and the high church organization of the Southern Baptist Convention. We pulled out because of differences on standards, pulpit leadership, prophecy, worldliness and formalism!
This means that groups number one and two have more in common today with each other than either does with group number three. Group number three is the old-fashioned preaching crowd, the hellfire-and-brimstone group. Because of this, the action in fundamentalism has been basically in group number three. The emphasis on soul winning, evangelistic preaching, standards, separation from the world and informal worship services have come largely from group number three. Group three would agree with groups one and two on the Bible, but would not agree on type of worship, standards, separation, etc.
Since one of the main things that separated groups one and two from group three is evangelism and soul winning, most of our growing churches have come from group number three, because, whatever errors the Southern Baptist Convention had, they, at least, in years passed, preached the Gospel; they did not have the high church organization; and they had, to some degree, evangelism and soul winning.
Though there are many admirable things about groups one and two, they, nevertheless, have not had the emphasis on the old-time Gospel preaching, the old-time religion, informal services and strong evangelism and soul winning as has group number three. Again, this does not mean we should not love them or even like them, but it is far better that group number three works within its own boundaries and circumference, loving and appreciating groups one and two and thanking God for them, but basically training its own preachers and doing its own work.
5. Group three built few schools in which to train their preachers.
Because of that, we sent our students to group number two to go to college and to be trained for the ministry. They came back with a belief in the Bible, but with formalism, different music on Sunday morning from that on Sunday night, error concerning the universal church and with influence from group number two. Because of this, an interdenominational influence has crept into our Baptist churches. We got the people saved, got them called to preach, sent them to schools in group number two only to see them come back, in many cases, to criticize our informality, our type of music and our soul winning and evangelistic zeal! Group number three has helped to populate the schools of group number two.
However, in the last few years, group number three has been building colleges. It is now possible for group number three to train its own preachers, and while we should have a high regard and a sincere love for those in groups one and two, we should, nevertheless, train our own, thereby avoiding the influence of interdenominationalism, formalism and oftentimes weak standards coming from the group one and two schools.
6. Group number three has failed to publish enough books and literature.
I was in a church recently pastored by a fundamental preacher. He has one of the fine churches in America. I looked at his library. I picked out 15 books. To my surprise, 13 of his books were written by group number two. Two of his books that I picked at random were written by one man in group three, and I am that man. We have sent our preacher boys to group one and two schools to be trained. They have come back and diluted our Baptist heritage. They have come back mixed up on the doctrine of the church. They have come back having been taught a certain form of church organization that we believe not to be scriptural. They have been taught that churches should be operated by committees, and in some cases, they have been taught to wear a gown while preaching on Sunday morning.
Let me emphasize that I am certainly not angry, nor do I feel negative toward fundamentalists in group one and fundamentalists in group two, but there are philosophical differences that should cause each group to educate and train its own preachers and likewise to write its own literature.
I came home from this church where the pastor had 13 of the 15 books that I picked written by group two. I was shocked! So at random I picked 15 books from my library. To my amazement, all 15 were written by group two! Consequently, I have encouraged our group three brethren to write books and literature.
It's a natural thing that preachers in group three do not write. Most of us are busy winning souls and building churches, so we have left the non-aggressive people to write the books that train the aggressive people to be non-aggressive.
I'm suggesting that we coexist, but let each group stay within its own group as far as training is concerned. Let us fellowship with each other, but not organize together! Let us keep peace from a distance rather than up close.
Let me illustrate. One of the largest churches in America became pastorless. The former pastor had served for over 40 years and had built one of the great soul-winning churches in America. He was one of the founders of group three, having pulled out of the Southern Baptist Convention and having led many others to do the same. The church sought another pastor. They chose a pastor from group one. He was not a bad man. He believed the Bible, but his beliefs about church organization, red-hot evangelism, etc. were different from his predecessor, and the church was harmed greatly because of his ministry. The church certainly should have had a warm feeling toward this pastor, though he was a member of group one, but they would have been very wise to have called a member of group three to be their pastor.
We must fill our next generation with independent, New Testament Baptist churches that are informal in their services, evangelistic in their fervor, soul winning in their practice, and independent in their spirit.
At this writing I am 66 years of age. I have pastored the same church for over a third of a century. I realize that before many years I must step down. I constantly keep before my people the importance, not only to call their next pastor from the ranks of a Bible-believing group, but also from the ranks of a group that agrees with the First Baptist Church on types of public services, the King James Bible, separation, standards, soul winning, evangelism, the old-time religion and old fashioned preaching.
This church is a perfect example. First Baptist Church of Hammond thirty-five years ago was a member of group one. It was a church that had been influenced by the American Baptists and later by the Conservative Baptist Association. These were good people; my predecessor was a fine man who believed the Bible, but he preached in tails and striped pants. The church services were ultra formal. There were 22 committees. The church was highly organized, far beyond the New Testament pattern. I was not their type of preacher. They contacted me. I felt led to come, but bedlam broke loose. I was group three; they were group one. Because they loved me and believed in me, the great majority of the people went with me, though not totally understanding my position or philosophies. Now through the years we have had a strong group three church, but it took a war to make it so.
When I was a young man in Texas, we were proudly Baptists. We loved the interdenominational people but did not run with them. We loved American Baptists but did not run with them. We loved the General Association of Regular Baptists and the Conservative Baptist Association, but did not run with them. We loved the fundamental Methodists but did not run with them. We thanked God that they preached the Gospel, but the doctrine of the local, New Testament church meant something to us back in those days, and the doctrines of informality and separation and standards meant something to us. We thanked God that they preached the Gospel and rejoiced at every soul they won, but organizationally, we kept to ourselves.
7. This influence from groups one and two is basically and historically a Catholic influence.
In about 313 A.D. the Catholic church was started, basically by Constantine. In the years following 1530, there was what we call the Reformation. The Protestants came out of the Catholic church. These Protestants included what we now call Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, etc. However, Baptists never came from the Catholic church. Baptists came from Jesus Himself, Who founded Baptist churches, or should I say He founded the first Baptist church!
Though the Reformation was led by some great men such as Calvin, Luther, Savonarola and others, these great men were not a part of our Baptist crowd. In fact, they persecuted our crowd. In some cases, our Baptist brethren were martyred, and in some cases they were martyred by Protestants. I teach our Hyles-Anderson College preacher boys to read the lives and biographies of the reformers but not to read the sermons of the reformers. Find their work ethic; study their character; ready their biographies, but not their doctrine. Read the doctrines of Baptist preachers!
As I understand Revelation 17 and 18, the Roman Catholic church is the mother of harlots mentioned there. Now if you are a mother, you have to have children. So, the Catholic church gave birth to some children. Who are they? The Protestants. Now with the passing of the centuries, the Protestants had some babies. Who are they? The interdenominationalists or what I called previously the Protestant Fundamentalists. Now just as the Protestants pulled out from the mother on the doctrine of justification by faith, they did not pull out from the mother in many other areas. They still favor their mother.
Now from these children of Catholicism were born other children. These are the interdenominational churches, and though they certainly are to be admired because of their stand and their withdrawal from Protestantism as it became liberal, they, nevertheless, still favor mama, and in some cases, they favor grandmother!
So today we have the Baptists who have been here since Jesus started the first Baptist church. We have the Catholics, the mother of harlots; and we have the Protestants, her children; and we have the interdenominationals, the children of the Protestants and the grandchildren of Catholicism. So, as the interdenominational schools and literature have influenced our Baptist churches concerning formalism, the doctrine of the church, church organization, etc., so did the Protestant churches influence the interdenominational churches, and likewise did the Catholic church influence the protestant churches. So our formalism comes from the Catholics by way of the Protestants and the interdenominationalists.
Again let me say that we should feel no animosity toward these our brethren in Christ, and we should realize that we are brothers and sisters. We should love each other, but as far as our church affiliation and church relationship is concerned, we should stay with the churches patterned after the church that Jesus started.
There are members of Baptist churches who are at this very moment upset with me, even as you read this chapter, and I'm not surprised. You have not been trained to be a Baptist, and you are living proof of what I am teaching in this chapter.
We live in a nice neighborhood. We have good neighbors. We speak to our neighbors. We are kind to our neighbors. We love our neighbors, but we don't eat with our neighbors, live with our neighbors, or sleep in the same house with our neighbors. Does that mean we don't love them? Of course, it doesn't. In no way am I suggesting that we not love and thank God for other Christians who are members of groups one and two, or for that matter, another denomination, but we should be proud that we are Baptists, just like we are proud of our families.
8. Churches should start schools; schools should not start churches.
The only institution that has been promised divine perpetuity is the New Testament church. No school has been made that promise, so if a school controls a church, there is no promise that that school can have divine perpetuity. If the church controls the school, the school is under the canopy of that promise. Christ is head of the church, not the school; so consequently, if the church has a school, that school does not have to die. It may choose to die, but it does not have to die. If a school starts on its own, it has to die. It may live for a while and serve for a while, but it does not have the promise of divine perpetuity.
Suppose a group of churches starts a school. Again, it is outside the promise. The local church should start the school, not only so it may live but because it may stay stronger. If ten churches start a school, the school will be just as strong as the weakest link. Now I'm not criticizing the school if it lives for just a while, but it does not have the promise of divine perpetuity.
9. A fundamentalist is one who believes in the faith and practice of the original purposes and doctrines of an institution.
To put it another way, a fundamentalist is one who returns to the original faith and practice of any organization. You can have a fundamentalist Mason, a man who is a Masonic lodge member who returns to the original faith and practice of the Masonic lodge. You can have a fundamentalist member of the Parent-Teacher Association. You have fundamentalists in Iran.
If you are a Catholic, you go back to Constantine in 313 A.D. If you follow the faith and practice of the original intents of the Catholic church, you are a fundamentalist Catholic and go back to 313. If you are a Lutheran, you can be a fundamentalist Lutheran and go back to 1530 and the original intent of Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. If you are an Episcopalian, you can go back to the original faith and practice of the Episcopalians in 1531 and be a fundamentalist Episcopalian.
If you are a Presbyterian, you can go back to the original faith and practice of the Presbyterians when they were founded in 1540 and be a fundamentalist Presbyterian. If you are a Congregationalist, you can go back to the faith and practice of the Congregationalists when they were founded in 1603 and be a fundamentalist Congregationalist. If you are a Methodist, you can go back to the faith and practice of the Methodist church as it was founded in 1765 and be a fundamentalist Methodist.
If you are a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination, you can go back to 1812 to the original faith and practice of the Disciples of Christ denomination and be a fundamentalist Disciple of Christ.
So, if you are a Disciple of Christ, you go back to 1812 to be a fundamentalist. If you are a Methodist, you go back to 1765. If you are a Congregationalist, you go back to 1603. If you are a Presbyterian, you go back to 1541. If you are an Episcopalian, you go back to 1531. If you are a Lutheran, you go back to 1530. If you are a Catholic, you go back to 313. I am a Baptist fundamentalist, so I go back to the faith and practice of Baptist churches as founded by Jesus during His earthly ministry!
10. The perpetuity of Baptist churches does not follow the bloodline of Baptist denominations; it follows the bloodline of fundamental Baptists.
The perpetuity of Baptist churches is not in the American Baptist Convention. It may have been at one time, but when the denomination grew liberal, the fundamentalists could no longer endorse its faith and practice, so the ones who left carried the bloodline of independent, fundamental Baptist churches. To be quite frank, that means that the bloodline is in the split and not in the main body that has deteriorated and often even died.
I am simply saying the hope for America is in independent, fundamental Baptist churches that preach Heaven like it is, preach Hell like it is, fight sin, go soul winning, and take a stand for what is right and against what is wrong. That is the hope!
When I was a young man in east Texas, I pastored the Grange Hall Baptist Church in the country outside Marshall, Texas. Down the road from me was the Grange Hall Methodist Church. The pastor of that church was a fine young man whose name was Edmund Robb. Ed Robb was a fundamental Methodist, not a fundamentalist as I am, for I am a fundamental Baptist who, as I see it, goes back to the time of Christ, but Ed Robb was a good fundamental Methodist. He believed in salvation by grace. He did not believe you could lose salvation. He had revival meetings. He believed in separation. He and I were good buddies. We spent some time together. We fellowshipped together. We prayed for each other. I liked him; he liked me, but he never preached for me, and I never preached for him. Our church did our best to follow what we thought the Bible taught; his church did the best to do what they thought the Bible taught. We loved each other, we prayed for each other, but we did not organize together!
I am not asking group one to become a member of group three. I'm not asking group two to become a member of group three. I am asking for us to love each other. I'm asking for us to love all believers and, for that matter, love the souls of all men. I am asking, and using all the influence I have, that each group train its own preachers, stick with its own literature, maintain its own purity, train its own preachers, and study its own literature, while loving others who disagree. Let's be loving toward all believers, but let's be Baptists!
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY