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Does It Mean Something To Be A Baptist

I have been asked to do some follow-up articles on an article where I mentioned some shocking things I recently heard from Baptist pulpits.

This will be the first of five articles dealing with the five subjects mentioned in that article:

  1. We shouldn’t make a big deal over being a Baptist

  2. We shouldn’t break fellowship over the mode of baptism

  3. Baptism by other denominations is OK as long as it is by immersion

  4. The King James Bible is just one of several good translations

  5. Fighting over doctrine is wrong

As all of you who read my blog know, I am a Baptist through and through. I make no apology for this. I am not against those who are not Baptists, but it cost me to become one. I am a Baptist because I believe that all first century Christians were Baptist in doctrine and practice.

Let me tell you a little of my journey from being a Pentecostal to being a Baptist. I was saved at the age of 17 in a Foursquare Gospel church (1958). God called me to preach shortly after my salvation. Four mounts after my salvation, we moved from Pedley, CA, a small town just out side of Riverside, CA, to Palm Desert, CA. Since I could not find a Bible preaching church there I dropped out of church until I went in the Army in 1959. I tried chapel services and was not fed so I quit trying until after I got out of the Army in 1969. Without going into the details, we started going to a small Baptist church. My wife was saved in this church and we were both baptized. It was in this church that God renewed my call to the ministry.

Even though we were members of a Baptist church, we were not really Baptists at heart. I had some Pentecostal baggage I had to correct. I had some real problems with the idea of eternal security. It was because of a discussion with my pastor on this subject that I became a Baptist. My pastor convinced me that if I could show him from the Scriptures that he was wrong he would change. I knew that this was the kind of church I wanted to be part of. The Bible was its final authority, and if someone could show that they were in error from the Scriptures (properly interpreted of course), they would change.

Needless to say, the pastor was not wrong and he did not change, I did.

It was Isaiah 32:17 that convinced me that we are eternally secure once we are save. It which says:

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

The phrase “assurance for ever” convinced me. You can’t get much closer to eternal security than saying we have assurance for ever.

The first subject on our list of things to discuss is, should we make a big deal over being a Baptist. If we are talking about salvation and becoming a Christian, the answer is no. No group has a monopoly on the truth. Anyone who searches the Scriptures can find the truth, both for salvation and for living.

If, on the other hand, we are talking about what any given denomination has given the world, the answer is definitely yes.

In the beginning of this age we had those who followed “the way” and those who were called Christians. These were not denominational names, they were just what others said about them. In the middle of the second century we see the beginning of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. This doctrine teaches that baptism is required for salvation, and that it washes away original sin. This caused a split among the churches. Those who remained faithful to the Scriptures would not accept the baptism of the churches who taught baptismal regeneration..

Baptismal regeneration caused worldliness to come into the churches because unsaved people became church members. Those churches that remained faithful to the Scriptures received two names from those who taught baptismal regeneration. The most familiar of these names was Anabaptist, which means re-baptizers. The second, less known name, was Cathar. Cathar comes from the Greek word katharos, which means pure. These faithful churches were called the pure ones.

There is an interesting fact about the Cathares that is worth telling. Of the seven churches in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, there are two that do not have anything bad said about them, the church at Smyrna, and the church at Philadelphia. When we plot the historical centers where the Cathares flourished, the furthest east of these cities was the city of Philadelphia in what is now Turkey. The Cathar movement spread west from there and covered most of Europe.

During what we often call the “Dark Ages” there were some 50 to 60 million Cathares and Anabaptists killed for their faith. That is equivalent of a town of 50 to 60 thousand people being wiped off the map every year for the thousand years of the Dark Ages.

The Dark Ages ended with the Reformation. At that time these people, the Cathares or Anabaptists, popped up with full grown churches all over Europe. Various groups of these people were sometimes known by other names throughout the Dark Ages, but the names Cathar and Anabaptist were attributed to all of them.

John Wycliffe is called “the morning stare of the Reformation” because it was his work in putting the Bible into a language that could be read by all. He sowed the seed for the Reformation. Wycliffe was a Lollard, which was one of the names given to the Anabaptists in England before the Reformation.

Without the Baptists, by what ever name they were called during the Dark Ages, we would have lost the Bible and the Gospel. Not all of these groups were always sound in every area, but they all stood against the Universal (Catholic) Church and for the baptism of scripturally saved people only. They would not submit to the Pope, they would not accept the baptism of unregenerate people (infants or adults), and they would accept only baptism by immersion from a sound New Testament church.

It was their efforts that kept the Received Text, from which the King James Bible was translated, pure through the time when Origen and others were corrupting the Greek text. Most modern Bibles are translated from the text which was first corrupted by Origen because he did not believe in the deity of Christ.

There is another important fact of history which you should know about Baptists. They were fighters for religious freedom (freedom of conscience). Twice in History they were asked to be the state church of a nation, first for America, and secondly for the Netherlands. Both times they turned down the offer because they believed in freedom to worship God according to the dictates of one’s heart.

The Puritans are given credit for freedom of religion in America. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Puritans left England for religious freedom and then persecuted all who differed with them when they got to America. For example they banished men like Roger Williams, John Clarke, and Obadiah Holmes from the colony of Massachusetts. When John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes returned to Massachusetts to visit a sick friend, and held a service in the friends house, they were imprisoned and fined for this great crime. Obadiah Holmes refused to pay the fine and was beaten severely. The goal of the Puritan magistrates was to beat him to death but God mercifully sustained him.

By the time of the American Revolution Baptists had increased to a great enough number that they had much influence in the founding of our nation. Baptist pastors served as chaplains in the continental army. One of them was John Gano, who was chaplain to George Washington. He is reported to have Baptized Washington. If you saw the movie “The Patriot” you will remember the church that was burned with all of the members inside. This was the church where John Gano was pastor, and it was a Baptist church.

John Leland, a Baptist pastor in Virginia, was running against James Madison for the first congress and was almost assured of winning. Madison met with Leland, and after a long discussion, Leland decided to step out of the race when Madison agreed to push for the Bill of Rights.

We need to know that we owe the freedoms we enjoy in America to the Baptists. Had it not been for them we would have had a state church and there would be no Bill of Rights.

I know that most of those who call themselves Baptists today really aren’t Baptists. They have compromised so much doctrine and practice that there is little or no resemblance with the Baptists who stood through the persecution of the Dark Ages and the Reformation.

I believe that we will see persecution before the return of Christ at the Rapture. I also believe that it is important that we be prepared to stand in those difficult times. The Baptists have stood from the time of the Apostles, and there will be a remnant of them who will stand again if persecution comes.

The Bible tells us to remember what our forefathers suffered that we might have the Word of God and the pure Gospel.

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. (Hebrews 10:32-33)

Let me say a few words about the major non-Baptist groups before I close this out. I think you will find a striking difference between the Protestants and Catholics and the Baptists.

The Catholic Church has corrupted just about every important doctrine that relates to salvation. They teach baptismal regeneration, salvation by grace plus works and sacraments, Mary is co-redemptrix with Christ and assists in salvation, etc. This church has a history of persecuting all who disagree with them. This church has been a chameleon throughout history, changing to become whatever is necessary to keep itself in power.

Protestant leaders, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Zwingli, put those who disagreed with them in prison or to death. Calvin even had one of his good friends put to death for merely suggesting some changes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

All of the reformers taught baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. Most of them taught covenant theology, a theology that applies the promises of God to Israel to the “church.”

The Protestants and the Catholics got together and agreed to stop persecuting each other, but only to persecute Baptists. At the Diet of Speirs, a joint Protestant/Catholic assembly, 500 special police were commissioned to hunt down and kill Baptists on the spot. The number was later increased to 1,000.

We know that Martin Luther said that salvation was by faith, but most of us don’t know the object of his faith. His faith was in his baptism as an infant, not in Christ. All of the reformers taught that there could be no salvation without baptism, therefore proving that their faith was, at least in part, in their baptism. This does not mean that Luther and the others did not trust Christ, but they trusted Christ plus baptism.

Who preserved pure Christianity, the Protestant/Catholics, or the Baptists. Listen to some Protestant historians:

“We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times, Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and who, long in the history of the church, received the honor of that origin. On this account the 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. The perfectly correct, external and internal economy of the Baptist denomination tends to confirm the truth disputed by the Romish Church, that the Reformation, brought about in the sixteenth century, was in the highest degree necessary; and, at the same time, goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics, that their communion is the most ancient.” (Dr. Ypeij, Professor of Theology in the University of Groningen and Rev. J.J. Dermot, Chaplain to the King of Holland [Dutch Reformed])

Even though we know that one doesn’t need to be a Baptist to get to Heaven, it should be obvious that if it had been left up to the Catholic Church and her children, the Protestants, the Gospel and the Word of God would be so distorted that it would be very difficult for anyone to find the truth.

In light of all of this, I ask you if we should make a big deal over being a Baptist?

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Misusing the Word of God

Nothing upsets me more that hearing someone violate the rules of interpretation so they can make a point. I was recently at a preacher’s meeting where this happened more that a few times. Preachers are charged with preaching the Word of God, not their own ideas.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make1 full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

This passage speaks of a time when they (those who profess to be Christians) will not want to hear sound doctrine. We live in that time. God said that time would come, but He did not cause it to come. It is the preachers who have brought this upon us because we are more afraid of people, than we are of God. Jesus said we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but to fear God, who can destroy both the soul and the body in Hell.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Many are afraid that if they preach what the Bible actually says, they will lose church members. They are right, but those you lose are not worth having anyway. I know from experience, if you preach the whole counsel of God, and preach it loudly and clearly, God will bless you with people who want to hear it, and who want to follow it.

Corrupting the Word of God is not a new thing. It happened first in the Garden of Eden when Satan corrupted what God had said so he could get Adam and Eve to fall into sin.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Satan was more subtil than any beast of the field. This means he was sly, cunning, and crafty. He insinuated that God was not good, and that He was withholding something good from them. When Eve misquoted what God had said, Satan contradicted God, and say they would not surely die.

There were false prophets in the Old Testament who did the same thing. There were those in Paul’s day who twisted the Word of God for their own purposes.

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17)

The word “corrupt” in this verse is the same word they used when someone added water to wine so they would have more volume to sell. We usually use the phrase “water down” to mean the same thing. That is only one way that the Word of God is corrupted. The modern Bible version corrupt it by changing the words, which changes the meaning. They add to, and leave out passages.

Our text commands us to preach the Word, and it means preach the Word, not our ideas. We are not to change it my adding, subtracting, or changing the meanings of words.

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

It is dishonest when we leave things out or add things that are not meant by the text. We are to preach the truth as it is spelled out in Scripture, and not as we see it. Commend means to present someone or something as worthy of notice. Our mission as preachers is to present the truth in such a way that it is noticed by every man’s conscience. Conscience has two parts, “con,” which means with, and “science,” which means knowledge.

Our text reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the quick and the dead. This verse tells us that what we preach is preached in the sight of God. We, as preachers, will give account to God for what we preach.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

Both the preacher and to hearer have responsibility according to this verse. The preacher is to watch for the souls of those God has put under them, and the hearer must obey what the preachers says as long as it is faithful to the Word of God. The preacher must preach it correctly, and the hearer must make sure that he does by checking it out by the Word of God.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

They had a ready mind which received the Word of God. They also checked it out by the Scriptures to make sure it was true. Anything that does not square with the Scriptures must be rejected.

I want to look at some the things that were said at the meeting I went to, and show how they did not square with Scripture. The preaching was very good overall, but these things did not line up with what God has said.

The first thing I want to look at is what was said when one preacher was explaining the importance of the phrase “the Lord Jesus Christ.” He explained the meaning of each part. Lord is His title, He is Lord of all. Jesus is His earthly name, and it identifies Him as Jehovah our Saviour. Christ tells that He is the anointed High Priest, the only mediator between man and God.

We must believe on Him in all of these aspects if we are to be saved for the consequences of our sin.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)

If we don’t believe on Him as Lord, we don’t believe we have to do what He says. This is a common error among professing Christians today. They say we are not under law, but under grace, and we have liberty in Christ, so we don’t have to follow the teachings of the law. My question for those who say this is, is murder or adultery OK now? I don’t think so.

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace, through faith, without works. The very next verse tells us that God has ordained that we walk according to good works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The truth is, we are not saved by works, but we are saved to work.

We must also believe that He is Jehovah, our Saviour. We must believe in His deity, and we must trust Him alone for our salvation. Jesus said we must repent or we will perish. We must turn from our own dead works, and turn to Him alone for our salvation.

We must believe that He is the only mediator between us and God. There are not many ways that lead to salvation. We must come through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Outside of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, there is no salvation.

I said all of this to show that the message preached was a good message. There is one point where the preacher did not line up with what the Bible says. To prove that Jesus is our High Priest, he told us that everywhere we see the title “Christ,” it is somehow related to His resurrection. If you just do a superficial search on the Scriptures, you will find that this is not so.

I know that this is a small point, but false doctrine always starts with small errors. When a preacher makes statements that cannot be backed up by Scripture, he encourages others to make small changes also. This is dangerous because when we add up the small changes, we have a major change.

In a different message, the same preacher taught on the covenants of God. For the most part, his teaching was pretty good. He did, however, make one major mistake. He told us that the Noahic covenant was between God and Noah alone, and that it is not for us. The rainbow was only a sign for Noah, and is not a sign for us. What did God really say?

And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:8-11)

He did not have us turn to the passage to see what it said, and he only quoted part of what God said. The thing that told me I should look deeper is that he quoted God as saying, “I establish my covenant with you.” You is plural, which means that the covenant had be be between God and at least to others. It was not to Noah alone. We see from the text that it was with Noah and his sons. It is also with their seed, that means everyone born on this earth, because we are all of the seed of Noah and his sons. You will also notice that it is between every beast of the earth.

God also explained the meaning of the rainbow.

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:13-17)

Here we learn that the covenant was between God and the earth. A token is a sign or mark that represents something. It is a reminder of what it represents. The rainbow is a reminder, both to man and to God, of the covenant that He made between Noah, his sons, and every living creature of all flesh.

This error is much more serious that the first because it takes away a covenant that God made with all flesh. Every time we see a rainbow, we are reminded that God will not send another world-wide flood to destroy the earth. It is a sigh of God’s grace toward mankind.

Another preacher taught that to be a saint, you must be the member of a New Testament church. The point that he was trying to make with the message was, only New Testament church members, not all the saved, will be caught out at the Rapture. He said it is the Rapture of the Church, not the Rapture of the Saints. To back this up, he used a number of passages of Scripture that speak of saints and faithfulness. Here are a couple of them:

And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. (Psalms 89:5)

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:2)

His contention was that if you are faithful, you will be a member of a New Testament church. This is true, but making that mean that if you are saved and not a member of a New Testament church, you are not a saint, is taking it further than the language allows. The fact that God’s faithfulness is in the congregation of the saints, and the fact that the Epistle to the Colossians was to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ, do not necessarily mean that only those who are in the church or congregation are saints.

Here is another of his proof texts: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints… (1 Corinthians 1:2a)

The problem is, he only quoted part of the verse. He ended his quotation where it says “called to be saints.” He based his argument on the fact that the verse says, “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,” and that this is written to the church at Corinth. He said that it is, therefore, talking only about church members.

Here is the rest of the verse, which he conveniently left out: …with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2b)

It is true that this was written to the Corinthian church, but it was also written to “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” This would mean that it is written to all who are saved, whether they had been baptized into a New Testament church or not. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

The Greek word translated “saints” means sacred, pure, or blameless. Our English word has the same meaning. The same Greek word is also translated as “holy.” Sanctified means to be made holy, which is the state of all who are saved, because all the saved have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

The Bible assumes that, once a person is saved, they will follow the Lord in baptism and be added to a New Testament church. This will always happen when a person is faithful, but it does not follow that a person is not a saint until such time as he is baptized into a New Testament church.

He also used the statement “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” to say that if we are not baptized into a local, New Testament church, we are not in Christ. He based this upon the fact that baptism brings us into the church (local), which is His body. It seems that he is saying that we are not in Christ when we get saved, but we must wait until we are properly baptized into a scriptural church.

Let’s take another look at what Paul said in Ephesians Chapter two.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When we are saved, we are created in Christ Jesus. This does not happen when we are baptized, unless the Catholics and Campbellites are correct when they say baptism is required for salvation.

Here is another passage that speaks to this subject. It is a bit long, and I won’t have time to look closely at it, but it does teach that all of the saved are in Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:1-9)

There is no condemnation to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” Does this only pertain to church members? You might try to imply that because it says, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Will that hold up to the rest of the Word of God? No, because condemnation is removed when we believe, not when we are baptized.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

We became saints the instant we are saved because our condemnation has been removed. It is only removed for those who are in Christ. To say that we are not saints until we are baptized into a New Testament church is to make baptism necessary for salvation. I say this because when we are saved, we are new creatures “in Christ,” and we have the Holy Spirit in us.

Time will not let me go any deeper into the subject of corrupting the Word of God. Many are misusing the Word of God today. Preachers have the responsibility to ensure that they don’t do this. The hearers have the responsibility to check out what the preachers say, and make sure they don’t follow the teaching that are based upon the misuse of Scripture.

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What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

We are living in uncertain, perilous times. There are pestilences, earthquakes, heaps of false teachers, abounding apostasy, fervor for a one world government and economy, global corporations and organizations that hate God’s laws and contribute massive amounts of money to anti-God causes, atheism, wars and rumors of wars, terrorism, modern Israel, preparations for the Third Temple. Are we seeing a fulfillment of prophecy? Absolutely, we are; but it is not the day of the Lord. It is the stage being set for the day of the Lord.

God’s people are pilgrim people. We aren’t in darkness. We have the mind of Christ in Scripture (1 Co. 2:9-16), the mind of the Christ in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3)! We must not follow the world’s thinking or share the world’s fears.

I am 100% sure that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only Lord and Saviour.

I am 100% sure that Bible prophecy is true. I love Bible prophecy. The Bible is the only book that describes the future accurately, and how wonderful and important it is to know the future! More than one-fourth of the Bible is prophecy. Obviously it is something that God wants His people to understand and know. Bible prophecy is great light, great hope, great comfort, great encouragement, a great motivator.

It was as a young Christian that I got the key to understand prophecy in the right way, and that is the “normal literal” method of interpretation. When I was taught that, it resonated deeply with me as the truth. I have studied prophecy ever since. I have studied all views of prophecy, but the only view that unlocks Bible prophecy so that it is light and not confusion, is the dispensational, Pre-tribulational view, and I’m not talking about John Darby dispensationalism, I’m talking about apostolic dispensationalism! There are still many things I don’t fully understand in Bible prophecy; there are questions unanswered. I am learning new things all the time. But you have to first stand back and settle the big things, and I have done that and I am 100% certain of what I believe. We are not called to debate uncertainties. We are called to rightly divide the Word and then preach and teach it as absolute truth. We are to speak as the oracles of God (1 Pe. 4:11), and you can do that if you approach prophecy with a consistent literal interpretation.

Let’s see what a great light Bible prophecy, rightly interpreted, is in these perilous, confusing times.

What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time

II. It is not the day of the Lord

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity

IV. It is Rapture time

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time (Mt. 28:18-20).

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 28:18-20)

This is God’s program for the church age. This is God’s program for God’s people today. This is what we must keep our attention on. When the disciples asked the Lord about Israel’s kingdom being restored, He did not correct them and say, “You must understand that the church is replacing Israel and that kingdom is fulfilled in the church.” Instead, He replied,

It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-9)

Christ said that it is time to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He repeated that and emphasized that in His teaching to the disciples between His resurrection and ascension (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lu. 24:44-48; Joh. 20:21; Ac. 1:8). The more God’s people today do this business, the more pleased God is with us.

After He was rejected by Israel, Jesus said “I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18). The church did not yet exist. It is not Israel. The church is a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament (Col. 1:26-27), but Israel was revealed fully.

The mystery is that the Gentiles will experience “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The Old Testament said that Gentiles would be saved, but there is not a hint about Christ dwelling in them and them being the participants in Christ’s glory. Church-age believers are a heavenly people (“seated in the heavenlies,” Eph. 2:4-6). They are “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:22-24).

God’s plans for the church and Israel are different, as we see plainly stated in Romans 11:25-27. The fullness of the Gentiles is the completion of the church which is composed of people whom God is calling out in this age from among the Gentiles (Ac. 15:13-16) by the Gospel (2 Th. 2:14). This is the business of the Great Commission, and this is the business of this present time.

We see in Matthew 28 that this is a very big work that requires the full attention of all of God’s people (Mt. 28:19-20). It entails preaching the Gospel to every soul of every place and time throughout the age. It entails baptizing those who receive the Gospel. It entails discipling every baptized believer thoroughly so that he or she learns to obey all things that Christ has commanded (“teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” v. 20).

The “them” that are to be taught in verse 20 are the baptized disciples of verse 19, every one of them. This means that every baptized believer is to be taught the whole Scripture, the whole counsel of God, the whole New Testament faith, taught how to understand and study the Bible for himself, taught every doctrine, taught and discipled in every aspect of sound Christian living. What a big work!

Christ commanded that all of His people are to be built up to do God’s perfect will. This includes all of the families. God’s instruction for the family is given to the churches (Eph. 5:22 – 6:4; Col. 3:18-21; Tit. 2:3-5). It entails the children and the youth. The divine purpose of the home is to raise up a godly seed for His glory (Mal. 2:15). The fulfillment of Christ’s Commission, then, requires that every church be a very serious, effectual discipling, Bible-training entity. This is such a huge job that it requires the dedication of every baptized believer in every New Testament church.

This Great Commission is done in the churches. It is not a para-church work. This is what we see in the Pastoral Epistles. It is what we see in 1 Timothy, where the church with pastors and deacons is called “the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3:15). This is what we see in Acts 13-14, which is the biblical pattern for the work of the church as the headquarters for world missions. This is what we see in the epistle of Titus, where preachers are instructed in how to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Tit. 1:5). This is what we see in the Acts and the New Testament Epistles. We see a church planting/building manual for the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission.

We see in Matthew 28 that this is the work of God’s people today until the end of the age (v. 20). We must keep our attention on this work and not be sidetracked. Christ’s Great Commission is not social work; it’s not kingdom building; it’s not an entertainment program; it’s not building a commune; it’s not preparing for the antichrist.

We see that Jesus has all power in heaven and earth. “Power” is exousia, which is also translated authority (Mt. 7:29; 8:9). God’s people have authority to do this great work. Christ is the highest authority, not parents or family or society or government.

We see that Jesus is with those churches that do this work (“lo, I am with you always,” v. 20). He is with us every moment, all of the time. He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5), which is a forceful, double promise.

This is the business we must keep our attention on. This is the business we must do no matter what is happening in the world. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded this, and He is with us, and He will open doors and provide our needs. We are “laborers together with God (1 Co. 3:9). He is ready to work!

In these times, churches need to focus more than ever on Gospel preaching to every creature and building godly families and really serious discipling of all of the members.

The greatest pandemic disease is not coronavirus that has killed thousands or influenza that kills 500,000 per year or tuberculosis that kills 1.5 million per year. The greatest pandemic on this globe is the sin virus that we inherited from the first man, Adam. Its fatality rate is 100%. The Good News is that there is a cure. The deadly virus of sin can be healed through saving faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and eternal death can be escaped. Dr. Jesus has a 100% success rate for those who come to Him by the door of saving faith.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The proclamation of this cure is the chief business of God’s people today. We are the ambassadors for Dr. Jesus. There is no other Saviour and no other salvation. If we get sidetracked from this business, it won’t be done. It can’t be done by big business or governments or NGOs or “social justice” organizations.

It’s not time to fret about the coronavirus. The redeemed in Christ aren’t of the world and must not share the world’s doubts and fears. It’s time to shine as lights in a dark place by the witness of the Gospel and to build true, sound, thorough-going New Testament churches to the glory of God.

II. It is not the day of the Lord (2 Th. 2:1-14).

God’s Bible-believing people are not to be perplexed, uncertain (“shaken in mind,” 2 Th. 2:1-2). We have great light; we are not in darkness and confusion. We can understand the times and know what is happening and what God is doing and what the devil is doing and what we should be doing.

We are not to be afraid (2 Th. 2:1-2).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timoyhy 1:17)

Fear comes, but it is not of God. If we walk with God and seek Him, He will give us power (spiritual strength by the Holy Spirit), love (concern for others, not selfishness), and a sound mind (right thinking according to God’s Word).

We are not to be deceived (2 Th. 2:3); we must know God’s Word and not be deceived by false teachers. The Bible warns about this many times. God’s people must learn how to understand the Bible properly and how to refute error. Every church must be busy teaching all of its people how to do this.

We are not to think that we are in the day of the Lord (2 Th. 2:3-4). The day of Christ is the day of the Lord; He is the Lord. To understand prophecy it is necessary to know what is the day of the Lord.

  • The day of the Lord is the day of the antichrist. This is what we see in the context of 2 Th. 2:2-4. He is called the “son of perdition” (v. 3) and “that wicked” (v. 8). He will come after the working of Satan (v. 9). He will deceive by means of lying signs (v. 9). He is going to claim to be God in the Third temple (v. 4).

  • The day of the Lord is the day of God’s wrath on this world, God’s judgment upon rebellion. The day of the Lord is mentioned 31 times. In each of these passages we see the same fundamental truths about the day of the Lord. It is a time of God’s wrath and judgment upon the nations; it is a time when God will be exalted and man debased; it is a time when God will deal with Israel and bring her to repentance and conversion. See Isa. 2:12-22; 13:6-12; 34:8; Jer. 30:7-11; 46:10; Eze. 30:3; Joe. 1:15; 2:1-11; Amo. 5:18-20; Oba. 1:15-18; Zec. 1:14-18. The day of the Lord is described in Revelation 6-18. There are seven years of judgment, and the judgments get increasingly worse as the years pass. But even the beginning judgments are terrible. See Revelation 6 – the antichrist comes on the scene as a man of peace, taking control of the world system (v. 2); wars and famines and pestilence that kills one-fourth of the people on earth (vv. 4-8); the death of the saints by martyrdom (vv. 9-11); great signs in the heavens (vv. 12-14); great fear among men (vv. 15-18). Later during the day of the Lord, the judgments grow even more severe, so that one-third of the earth’s remaining population perishes (Re. 9:15).

  • The day of the Lord is a time of great deception (2 Th. 2:9-12). The deception will be from the devil and from God!

  • The day of the Lord ends with the coming of Christ in power and glory to judge rebels and to establish His kingdom (2 Th. 2:8).

What about the falling away (2 Th. 2:3). This is the Greek apostasia, which is also translated “forsake” (Ac. 21:21). In context of 2 Thessalonians 2, it is associated with the revelation of the antichrist. The apostasia is Israel forsaking God for the false christ. It is described in Daniel 9:27; 11:32; Joh. 5:43.

Today the stage is being set for the day of the Lord, but it is not yet the day of the Lord. God’s people must keep their eyes on Christ’s imminent coming and on the business God has given us to do.

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity (2 Th. 2:7-12).

The mystery of iniquity is the devil’s plan to put his man on the throne of the world. That is the context.

  • The mystery of iniquity has been at work in the world since Paul’s day (“doth already work,” 2 Th. 2:7).

  • There is one who is restraining (2 Th. 2:6-7). This is a person (“he”). This can only be God, as no one else could restrain the devil. It is the Holy Spirit.

  • The Restrainer will be taken out of the way (2 Th. 2:7). That refers to the Rapture. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to take out of the nations a people for God’s name, and the Holy Spirit departs at the Rapture when this great work is finished.

  • This is the fullness of the Gentiles described by Paul in Romans 11:25-27. During this present time, Israel is blind, and that will last until “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” That is the completion of God’s eternal program to create a special group of people for His glory in this present time by the preaching of the Gospel. When the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, “all Israel shall be saved” (Ro. 11:26). This is explained in Ro. 11:27 as the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel, which is the new covenant of spiritual conversion and the restoration of her kingdom in her own land (Jer. 31:27-40; 32:37-40; 33:14-26; Eze. 16:60-63; 20:33-44; 34:11-25; 36:23-32; 37:15-27; Zec. 12:10-14; 13:1-9, etc.).

  • For now, the mystery of iniquity cannot be brought to fulfillment because it is being restrained by the Spirit of God. The mystery of iniquity is like a horse, but God holds the reins. God will restrain the mystery of iniquity until His work is finished for this age. Therefore, no matter what things look like in this present age, we cannot know the time of Christ’s coming for the saints. That is always in God’s hands.

  • We see this in 2 Peter:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This plainly states that the reason God is waiting is that He is continuing to save souls through the Gospel. How long will He wait? Only He knows, and He knows exactly. But from our standpoint we are to keep preaching and keep watching until that final soul is saved for this present age. Then our work will be finished and we will taken away to the Father’s house (Joh. 14:1-3) and God’s business with Israel will be consummated as described in Daniel’s amazing 70 Week prophecy (Da. 9:24-27).

This brings us back to the fact that it is currently church time and Great Commission time. That is what God’s people must keep their attention on until Christ comes. We must not get caught up in vain speculation about signs pertaining to the antichrist. We must not be share the world’s confusion and fear. We must not think that we are in the day of the Lord. Christ has given us our marching orders until He comes:

“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” (Mt. 28:19-20).

IV. It is Rapture time.

Paul had taught the believers at Thessalonica that they would escape the day of the Lord. “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (2 Th. 2:1-5). This refers to the teaching that Paul gave in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul taught the church at Thessalonica about the Rapture or the catching away.

  • The words “caught up” (1 Th. 4:17) are from harpazo, which is used for the catching away of Philip by the Spirit of God in Acts 8:39. “Rapture” is from the Latin “rapturo.”

  • At the Rapture the dead in Christ will come with Him from heaven and be united with resurrected bodies (1 Th. 4:14-16).

  • The living will be changed and will meet the Lord in the air (1 Th. 4:17).

  • This is to be a comfort, not a fear (1 Th. 4:18). This is because we are looking for Christ, not for the antichrist; we are looking for the day of deliverance not the day of wrath.

Paul continued his teaching on the Rapture and the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

  • There are two groups of people here: “they” (v. 3) and “we” (vv. 4-10).

  • They,” referring to the unsaved, are in darkness and the day of the Lord will come upon them as a thief, unexpected, because they do not believe God’s Word and are not watching. Their thoughts are only upon this world and the things of this world. They are trying to find “peace and safety” by their own resources.

  • We,” referring to God’s redeemed people, are not in darkness (1 Th. 5:4-5). We have the great light of God’s Word and the enlightenment of the Spirit of God.

  • We must not be spiritually sleeping (1 Th. 5:6-8). We are to be on fire for Christ, maintaining that first love passion for our Saviour, separated unto Him, holy, busy in His service.

  • We are not appointed to wrath (1 Th. 5:9-11). This is a clear promise of deliverance from the day of the Lord, which is the day of God’s wrath. God’s people in this age experience tribulation (“we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Ac. 14:22), but they will not experience the tribulation of the day of the Lord, for that is the day of God’s wrath on this wicked world. Every part of the day of the Lord is the day of His wrath, as we have seen. Every one of the seven-seal judgments described in Revelation 6-18 is God’s wrath. There is wrath at the beginning (Re. 6:16-17). There is wrath during the time of the mark of the antichrist in the second half of the tribulation when the antichrist proclaims himself as God (Re. 14:9-11). There is wrath at the end at Armageddon (Re. 14:18-19). There is wrath at Christ’s coming when all unsaved will be judged (Re. 11:17-18).

  • We are to be watching (v. 6). We see that the Rapture is imminent. It is to be expected at any time. We are not looking for wrath but deliverance. We’re not looking for the antichrist but for Christ Himself. We see this everywhere in the Epistles. It is the example set by the apostolic churches (1 Th. 1:9-10). They were churches of born again people who were serving and waiting. Paul said, “the day is at hand” (Ro. 13:12; Php. 4:5). “At hand” is eggizo, meaning “near, approaching.” The English phrase “at hand” is a metaphor to indicate something that is near, close by, at the ready, like your hand. It is used to describe the location of Jesus’ tomb. It was “nigh at hand” to the place of His crucifixion (Joh. 19:42). Paul used it to describe his imminent death at the hand of the emperor Nero (2 Ti. 4:6). The coming of Christ for the church-age saints is always at hand, imminent, impending. Titus 2:13 says we are looking for “that blessed hope,” which is the appearance of Christ, not the antichrist. James said, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” and “the judge standeth before the door” (Jas. 5:8-9). That is the language of imminence. Christ is to be thought of as standing up and getting ready to open the door and come for His people. It could happen any moment. It is to be expected at any time. Peter said, “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pe. 4:7). Again, this is eggizo, near, imminent, impending.

The Rapture is also described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

  • This passage describes what happens to the living saints at the Rapture. All of the saints will be changed, transformed into glorified bodies (1 Co. 15:54).

  • It is a mystery that was not revealed before (1 Co. 15:51). The Old Testament teaches about the resurrection, but the translation of living saints is not taught.

  • This great blessing is God’s gift in Christ (1 Co. 15:57).

  • The knowledge of this event is to cause God’s people to be steadfast and to be busy laboring for the Lord and not slacking off or getting sidetracked with other things (1 Co. 15:58). Every passage pertaining to the Rapture emphasizes that this great truth is to be a comfort, an encouragement, and a motivator for holy, diligent Christian living.

The Rapture is also described in John 14:-3.

  • These words were spoken by Christ after the first Lord’s Supper and before His trial at Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olives. He is preparing His “little flock” for His death. The words are addressed to Christ’s believers in this age.

  • This teaching is intended for comfort and peace (Joh. 14:1).

  • The subject is the Father’s house (Joh. 14:2). That refers to heaven.

  • There are mansions there (Joh. 14: 2). Those are dwelling places for royal priests (1 Pe. 2:9; Re. 1:6). Psalm 45:6-15 describes Christ with His bride in glory and it speaks of ivory palaces.

  • Christ said that He was going to prepare a place for us. This refers to His ascension.

  • Christ will come again and receive us unto Himself (Joh. 14:3). In the context, the purpose of the reception is to take His people of this age to the Father’s house to live in the mansions He has built. This is the Rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4. It is not meeting the Lord in the air and then returning immediately to earth. It is meeting the Lord in the air and being transported to the Father’s house for the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage of the bride.

If interpreted literally, and there is no other right way to interpret them, the Rapture described in 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 1, and John 14 is not the coming of Christ described in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19. These are different events; they happen at a different time; they entail a different people; they have a different purpose.

What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time

II. It is not the day of the Lord

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity

IV. It is Rapture time

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).
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Why Protestants Opposed Their Churches

At the time of the founding of America, all the mainline protestant churches believed in a state church. They believed that to be a citizen one must first be a member of the church that was sanctioned by the State. They all taught that the sword of the state should be used to enforce their religious beliefs. That being said, these men opposed what their churches believed on this issue. The question we must ask is, Why?”

Today I want to look at what influenced these men to go contrary to the teachings of their churches on freedom of conscience. There were two things that had never existed before the founding of the colonies in the New World. First, never before had the Bible been available to the common man. Secondly, the Baptists had never been a force big enough to influence the political leaders of the time.

Before I look at these, let me remind you of the text for this series.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalms 33:12)

The Hebrew word translated “God” is translated in several different ways. In this case it means the supreme God. It is also translated judge. This supreme God is the judge to whom the blessed nation submits. Lord in this passage is Jehovah, which means the self-existent eternal God. He must be the God of a nation if it expects to be blessed.

This verse is primarily talking about Israel, but I think it is safe to say that any nation who makes Jehovah their judge and lawgiver will be blessed of God. America, at the beginning, was just such a nation.

The god of modern America is no longer the God of the Bible. For most people, the god they worship is self. There is a second god that the people turn to when self cannot meet their desires, it is the government.

Although the effects of God’s blessings in America still remain to some degree, we are quickly losing them. This will continue until we turn back to God.

The Bible’s Availability

The need to return to the Bible is a subject deserving a series of its own. For the sake of time, I only want to look very quickly at four passages on this subject.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

There can be no real freedom apart from the truth. There is only one source of absolute truth, and that is the Word of God.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

To sanctify means to set apart for a purpose. God sanctifies people and nations by teaching them the truth. His word is truth, and only a people who follow it can be truly free.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (Psalms 19:7-9)

The law of the Lord (Jehovah) is perfect. It brings the soul to salvation, makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, and gives pure vision. It can be depended upon, it is always right, it endures forever. Its judgments are true and righteous.

Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. (Psalms 119:151)

With the Bible available to the average man, each person could study the Scriptures and come to a knowledge of the truth. This caused many to turn from the mainline Protestant churches to the Baptist position. Others remained in the Protestant churches, but believe the Bible instead of their religious leaders. This is one reason they came to believe in freedom of conscience.

Our Founding Fathers knew that apart from biblical principles, there could be no real freedom because something has to bridle the passions of men. It must be either religious faith or the government.

The Baptist Influence

For time’s sake, I will only look at three Baptist preachers who brought freedom to America. There were many more that I could refer to, but these will show where the influence that brought us freedom came from. The first of them set the principle into law, the second spread the Baptist faith throughout the colonies, and the third ensured that this freedom became a fundamental principle in America.

John Clarke

John Clarke was a Baptist preacher who founded the first Baptist church in the new world. The credit for this is often given to Roger Williams, but the church in Newport was founded by John Clarke about two years before the church in Providence.

Roger Williams was opposed to the government forcing people to be part of the state church. For a short time he espoused Baptist principles, but soon left the Baptists and became what he called a “seeker.”

Most historians give Roger Williams credit for the founding of Rhode Island. It was the first colony to have a constitution that gave freedom of religion. While it is true that he started the process, had it been left to him, the charter would never have been granted.

Williams and John Clarke sailed to England to request the charter for Rhode Island. They petitioned the King but he refused to grant it. Williams returned to America without the charter but John Clark stayed in England to fight for the charter. He finally received it after twelve years of petitioning the King. This reminds me of a parable told by our Lord.

… There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. (Luke 18:2-5)

The purpose of this parable is to teach us to continue in prayer. John Clarke’s prayer to God and to the King are what won the day.

Clarke was also the one who wrote the founding documents for the government of Rhode Island. It was the first government to enshrine into law the principles of freedom of religion. It was also used as a guide for the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

Shubael Stearns

Shubael Stearns was saved under the preaching of George Whitefield in 1745. He soon felt the call to preach the Gospel. He continued as a pedobaptist (those who baptize infants) until 1751. Through his study of the Scriptures, he came to the conclusion that the Baptists were correct. He was baptized by Elder Wait Palmer, at Tolland, Connecticut, on May 20, 1751.

He continued his ministry in New England for another two or three years. He, along with his church, moved to Virginia. After a short time in Virginia, he moved to Guilford County, North Carolina. He established the Sandy Creek Baptist Church and the Sandy Creek Baptist Association. From this church and association, Baptist churches were established from throughout the southern colonies.

Gov. William Tryon was determined to rid central North Carolina of Baptists. He declared war against them. It lasted from 1765 to 1771. The government forces prevailed, but during the Revolution the Baptist forces reorganized and were a major contributor to the winning of the Revolutionary War. During the Revolutionary War they were known as the “Over the Mountain Men.” Their harassment of Cornwallis allowed Washington to prepare for the battle in which Cornwallis was defeated and resulted in victory for the American colonies.

This would not have been possible without the labors of Shubael Stearns and the Sandy Creek Baptist Association. in 17 years, the Sandy Creek Association had spread its branches westward as far as the great river Mississippi; southward as far as Georgia; eastward to the sea and Chesapeake Bay and northward to the waters of the Pottowmack (Potomac River). It was mother, grandmother, and great grandmother to 42 churches, from which sprang 125 ministers.” In a generation it is estimated that 5,000 churches were established by this Association, and only God knows how many were saved. They did this by following the example found at the church at Antioch.

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3)

Stearns’ greatest contribution to the religious climate of his day was evangelism and church planting. The evangelism of Stearns and the Separate Baptists is different from that of most Baptists today. There was no plea to accept Christ, no sinner’s prayer was used, no read and sign on the back of this tract, nor psychological tricks used to get the desired response. There was only the preaching of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness.

To them salvation came from the Lord through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. With none of the modern-day techniques, Stearns somehow organized and evangelized a great portion of the South. Perhaps we would have more success in our evangelistic efforts if we would return to the methods of Shubael Stearns, which are the same as we see in the New Testament. (See my book Shipwreck Soulwinning.)

It was this proliferation of Baptists that gave them the political power to affect the founding of a nation. This brings us to one of the most influential Baptists at the time of the founding of our nation.

John Leland

Leland was a Baptist preacher who was known not only for his fiery sermons and evangelical zeal, but also for his opposition to slavery and his advocacy of strict separation between government and religion. Leland preached freedom in all aspects of life, exhorting his listeners to be free from sin, to oppose slavery and free others from physical bondage, and to be free from the “spiritual tyranny” of state-established religion.

Leland advocated for religious liberty protections in the Constitution. He was a friend to both Jefferson and Madison. He and his fellow Baptists supported Jefferson’s initial bill to ensure religious liberty in Virginia and took up the cause when Madison reintroduced it some years later. Tensions arose between Madison and Leland over the introduction of similar protections in the federal constitution. Madison did not initially think that additional amendments were needed to protect religious liberty. He felt that it was not necessarily because the Constitution said there could be no religious test for public office. Leland and his Baptist followers sharply disagreed.

Despite the fact that Madison had drafted much of the Constitution, Leland had more votes than Madison for the Orange County seat at the Virginia Convention on ratifying the Constitution. Leland agreed to drop out of contest for the seat if Madison would work to include a religious liberty provision as an amendment to the Constitution. Madison then won out over his other opponents to attend the state ratifying convention. Leland’s ideas of freedom of religion were eventually included in the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia state constitutions.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Persuade means to convince by argument or reason. Argument does not mean to be angry, it means to present your case as a lawyer does in a courtroom.

There is an old saying that says, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” It means you can force someone to say they believe something, but you cannot force them to truly change what they believe.

The Bible way of reaching the lost is through the presentation of the truth in convincing arguments. The sword can only bring outward compliance. Persuasion brings about an inward change that shows on the outside.

Excerpts From Leland’s Writings

“Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a preeminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” – A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)

We will give account for everything, including every word we speak. If the government can force compliance, then the government must answer to God for what it forces. However. Each individual is responsible for what he does. The government’s job is to ensure freedom so each individual can make his own choices.

“Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free.” – Right of Conscience Inalienable.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

Since everyone must give account of himself to God, each should have the right to follow the dictates of his conscience.

“Truth disdains the aid of law for its defense — it will stand upon its own merits.” – Right of Conscience Inalienable.

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalms 85:11)

In the end truth will triumph.

The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)

Truth is forever established, but lies will only last for a moment.

The Government of Christ a Christocracy (1804)

The fondness of magistrates to foster Christianity, has done it more harm than all the persecutions ever did. Persecution, like a lion, tears the saints to death, but leaves Christianity pure: state establishment of religion, like a bear, hugs the saints, but corrupts Christianity, and reduces it to a level with state policy. (p. 278)

Forced Christianity has done more harm than all the persecutions we suffered for our faith. Persecution separates true Christians from nominal Christians. We value most those things we must fight for. When we are forced to be “Christians,” the things of faith lose their value.

If freedom of religion has a down side, it costs nothing to believe. Until the late 1800s we had freedom, which we should have, but there was still contention between different doctrinal positions.

In the early 1900s, unity became more important than truth. The Fundamentalist movement limited truth to five doctrines. Baptists had resisted this in previous attempts at this kind of unity, but we joined the interdenominational fundamentalists and started sending our young preachers to interdenominational schools. This resulted in compromise of truth. Baptists lost their distinctive character and ceased to be a force for truth and righteousness. This was the beginning of the fall of America. If we don’t turn back to our roots, this great nation will cease to be great.

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Biblical Principles In America’s Founding

Last week we looked at what caused the Protestant founders of our nation to believe in freedom of religion when the churches to which they belonged believed that there should be a state church, and that their religious beliefs should be enforced by the sword of government. This week I want to look at some of the biblical principles these men used put into our great founding documents. For time’s sake, this will only be a brief overview of these principles and their biblical basis.

Sovereign authority of God, not sovereignty of the state, or sovereignty of man

Principle found in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution

That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalms 83:18)

Jehovah is the sovereign ruler over all the earth. This means that He has established what is right and wrong, and He has the right and power to punish those who transgress His precepts.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)

All power comes from God. He has ordained civil government and we are to submit ourselves to it. The purpose of government is to punish those who do evil and praise and protect those who do good.

There is a problem with civil government. All men are sinners, and civil government is run by men. God has provided instructions for when civil government goes bad.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

If there is a conflict between civil government and God’s law, God’s law is to be followed. As with the three Hebrew children in Daniel, when government demands something contrary to God’s law, we don’t comply, but we still submit to the government. For these three faithful men, doing so meant being cast into a fiery furnace.

Existence of objective moral values, Fixed standards, Absolute truth, Sanctity of life

Found in the Declaration of Independence (“unalienable” rights—life, etc., “self-evident” truths)

The Ten Commandments

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me – Our first responsibility is to God and His law

  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image – Nothing should be worshiped but God

  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain – This is more than just swearing, it is using His name in any frivolous way.

  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. – One day of the week is to be set aside for God

  5. Honour thy father and thy mother – The New Testament shows this includes obedience

  6. Thou shalt not kill – This has to do with murder. It includes abortion

  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery – Keep yourself pure until marriage, and then be faithful to your spouse.

  8. Thou shalt not steal – Stealing is taking something that is not ours without permission, including your employer’s time

  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness – This is more than just telling a lie. When we claim to be a Christian and live like the world, we are bearing false witness.

  10. Thou shalt not covet – This is an improper desire for something that is not ours.

These commandments are but a summary of God’s law. They cover everything but need to be fleshed out to fully understand them. I have given them in their most basic form. Read them in Exodus Chapter 20 to see them in full.

The commandments are not optional. When we violate them, we suffer consequences.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Somethings are right and some things are wrong. Woe unto those who reverse them. Woe is an expression of coming trouble and lamentation. The trouble in our nation comes directly or indirectly from our calling good evil, and evil good.

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) (Romans 2:15)

God’s law is written in the hearts of men. Their conscience lets them know when something is wrong. We can dull our conscience so it doesn’t bother us too much.

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1 Timothy 4:2)

We do this to try to avoid feelings of guilt, but we still know that certain things are right and certain things are wrong.

All men are sinners

Principle found in the constitutional checks and balances

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)

There is no person who is without sin. The essence of sin is selfishness, usually manifest in pride. People are always looking out for themselves. This includes political leaders.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Because no one can be trusted not to let personal interest influence our leaders, they built checks and balances into the Constitution. Our founders gave each branch of government rights and procedures to check the other two branches. We will look more at this later.

All men created equal

Found in the Declaration of Independence

How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands. (Job 34:19)

God does not care whether someone is a prince, a rich man, or a pauper, they are all the same to Him. He made us all, and He judges us all the same, except that he expects more from those He gives more.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)

This is not preferring or judging differently, it is expecting us to use what He has given us for His glory. Until recently, this was the attitude in America. We have all been given freedom and we used to be expected to use it to bring glory to God. Today, this freedom is deemed to be the right to do what we want even when it is contrary to the precepts of God. We expect no consequences for our sin.

By the way, equality is equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. The harder one works, the more he profits. The less one works, the less he profits. The left wants equality of outcome. This is why instead of giving winners trophies, they give trophies to everyone who participates. This foolishness stifles the desire to improve oneself.

Judicial, legislative, and executive branches

Found in the Constitution

For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. (Isaiah 33:22)

God divides His governance into three parts. Let’s look at these three parts of God’s governance. A king is the chief of a sovereign nation. We have a president in America as the chief executive officer. He is the one that is responsible for the daily operation of the Government. He has a check on the legislative branch of government with his veto power. He has a check over the judicial branch by appointing the judges and justices of the court system.

The legislative branch makes the laws. Neither the president nor the courts have this power. It has a check over the executive branch by providing oversight and have the power of impeachment. It has a check over the judicial branch by approving the judges and justices.

The judicial branch rules on the constitutionality of the laws and judges on the application of laws. These are checks on both the legislative branch and the executive branch.

Because of the sin nature of man, our founders built these checks and balances into our system of government by the Constitution.

Freedom of Conscience

Found in the First Amendment

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

The whole purpose of government is to enable people to live quiet and peaceable lives. Each member of society has the right to do as he pleases as long as he does not step on the rights of others. The first amendment gives freedom to believe as one chooses, to peaceably assemble, to speak has one pleases, and to seek redress from the government when their rights are trampled upon by another.

Republican form of government and warnings against kings

Found in the Constitution

It may surprise many of you, but our republican form of government comes from the Bible.

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: (Exodus 18:21)

Moses’s father-in-law is giving advice to Moses. He told him to take some God-fearing men and set them to be rulers over different size groups. This is what we do in America. In our elections we choose representatives to make decisions on the running of our nation.

Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. (Deuteronomy 1:13)

Since the first passage was advice given to Moses by his father-in-law, let’s look at another passage that reflects a conversation between Moses and God. Here we see the same principle, but this time it is from God.

The biggest problem with this system is that we have ceased to choose godly men. Instead, we choose those who promise to give us the most from the government. If we would choose leaders who stand for righteousness instead of leaders who promise to give us things, we could turn this nation around.

This was one of the greatest fears of our founders. They knew that there would be great problems if the people learned that they could vote themselves a paycheck or gifts from the government.

Importance of governing self and family as first level of governance

Found in the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Knowing the sinfulness of man, our founders knew that something had to control the sinful passions of the citizens. It would either be the government, meaning they could not be free, or it would have to be religion. When there is a fear of God, people will do what is right. When there is no fear of God, they will follow their sinful lusts.

Although it was not done by our founders, when the government started taking income tax, which required a constitutional amendment, they taxed families less than single people. The reason for this was, good families raise responsible children and, thereby, lessen the burden on the government enforcement of the law.

Fair trial with witnesses and presumption of innocence

Found in the Sixth Amendment

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:16)

Our Constitution requires a jury trial by our peers where the accused can bring in witnesses in his defense. It also requires presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.

These two principles have fallen by the wayside in our day. Today, because of the left and political correctness, guilt is often determined by accusation. If someone accuses another of child abuse or sexual misconduct, they are presumed guilty just because of the accusation. All it takes to have your children taken away from you is an accusation of abuse. We saw a good man nearly destroyed when he was up for approval to become a Supreme Court Justice simply because he was accused of sexual abuse. All of the accusations were shown to be false, but many, especially those on the left, assumed that he was guilty simply because he was accused.

Creation not evolution

Found in the Declaration

Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 give account of how the world was created. A careful study of these chapters, and an honest look at what they say, will find that they fit perfectly with science. Back in the 1980s, there was a meeting of 160 of the worlds top evolutionary scientists in Chicago. At the conclusion of the meeting, they made the statement that all of the existing theories of evolution were scientifically impossible. This is still true today.

Had they ended there statement at that point they would have been true scientists, but they did not. They went on to say that they knew evolution was a fact, they just didn’t know the mechanism. If they don’t know the mechanism, how do they know it happened. For evolution to have happened it would have had to violate known laws of science. When they said they knew it happened, they ceased to be scientists and became priests for the secular humanism religion.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)

God is not only the Creator of the universe, He is the one who holds it all together. The word consist means to hold together. According to what we know about electrical charges, the universe should explode, but something greater is holding it together. That something is the power of God.

Conclusion

Our nation was founded by men who, for the most part, were God-fearing Christians. They enshrined biblical principles into our founding documents. They even corrected the theological errors of the churches of which they were members. The churches did not change, but these men did. They did so because of the influence of Baptists. It is time that we as Baptists return to our roots and begin again to have an influence on our nation.

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America’s Only Hope

I don’t think I need to tell you that America is in really bad shape today. We often lay the blame on the fact that we are in the last days. We use passages like 2 Timothy 4 to excuse the condition.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

One thing that we seldom do is ask why this time has come upon us. Is it just something that God has ordained so it had to happen? I know that God foresaw it and recorded here so we would understand what happened, but I don’t think that is what He really wanted to happen. I am sure He would rather that we would remain faithful to His precepts. This does not take away from God’s sovereignty. Sovereignty does not mean He always gets what He wants, it means He has the right and power to correct and punish.

We also blame it on the liberals who have no moral compass to guide them because they have rejected the God of the Bible. They will do absolutely anything to get their way. If you will think about it, they are this way because there is no real righteous example for them to follow.

A French political scientist and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited America to seek the secret to America’s greatness. Here is what he said:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

The secret to America’s greatness was found, not in her resources, her institutions, or even in her Constitution. It was in her goodness that came from the pulpits of her churches being “aflame with righteousness.”

Here are some sad statistics that give insight into why America has lost her greatness.

  • 4,000 Churches close their door every year

  • 4 out of 10 American attend Church weekly

  • 4 out of 10 Church attendees will Divorce

  • 3 out of 10 Pastors report that their Children are not in Church

  • 9 out of 10 Pastors believe the Bible speaks to the controversial political issues of our day

  • 1 out of 10 Pastors preach on these controversial political issues

  • We “win souls” only to see most of them disappear in a few weeks or months (more later)

Neither President Donald Trump, nor any other politician, can make America great again. America has lost her greatness because she is no longer good. She is no longer good because American pulpits are not aflame with the preaching of righteousness.

We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

This was the solution for Israel of old, and it is the solution for America today. This will not happen until our preachers put on their big-boy pants and start making our pulpits “aflame with righteousness.”

Paul’s message to Timothy was:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

All preachers, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, revivalists, or any other name you want to give to a preacher, must follow the principles in this passage. Nothing else can stop the drift away from sound doctrine. It has been my experience that if we do this, those who are true Christians will love our preaching, and many of those who are not will respect us and want to know more. This is how I turned around three dying churches and got them back on the path to both spiritual and numerical growth.

Preach the Word

The first principle is that we must preach the Word of God. Notice that it doesn’t say teach the Word, it says preach the Word. Teaching is good and necessary for spiritual growth, but the Word must be preached if it is going to change lives. “This is what the Bible says,” is not enough. It must be “Thus Saith The Lord.”

I may offend some here, but verse by verse is good teaching, but it is seldom good preaching. I challenge you to find verse by verse preaching in the Bible. Bible preaching always preaches on topics. Don’t misunderstand me, we should do verse by verse teaching, but if we want our people to be sound in the faith we must teach doctrine. I have been told that verse by verse covers every doctrine in the Bible, but this is not wholly true. It does touch on every doctrine, but it does not get into the depth of doctrine.

Ask your church members if they can defend the deity of Christ to a Jehovah Witness. Can they defend eternal security to a Pentecostal? Can the prove, from the Scriptures, that it is God’s will to save all men, and not just a few that He chose in eternity past?

Read the writings of the old time Baptist church members and you will see that they could. I am not talking about pastors, I am talking about ordinary church members. I once asked these questions to one of our good and faithful church members, a man whose heart is set on serving God faithfully, and he could not defend these issues.

Be instant in season, out of season

This just means be ready at all times, when it is convenient (in season) and when it is not (out of season).

Reprove

This means we must be willing to point out error, even when it offends.

Rebuke

This means to make it personal and charge the person with his sin.

Exhort

Exhort means to encourage, through the use of strong language, to do what is right.

How are we to do this?

First of all, we are to do it with longsuffering. This simply means that we are to do with even though we may suffer some undesired consequences. It may cost us church members. We may suffer resistance from our deacons. It may offend the brethren. If we don’t do it we offend the God of Heaven, to whom we will all answer one day.

Secondly, we are to do it with doctrine. When I was a baby Christian, we never talked about discipleship or discipleship classes. They were not needed because our pastors taught doctrine from the pulpit. If you were in church you learned what we believed, why we believed it, and how to defend what we believe against those who teach false doctrine.

Why aren’t our pulpits aflame with righteousness?

We have been spoiled by men’s philosophies and traditions.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

It starts with a fear of man. We would rather offend God, and be accepted by men. We have been taught to be positive in our teaching because negativity drives people way. We have tailored our presentation of the Gospel so as not to offend the sinner. One of the first things we tell the lost person is, God loves you. Then we quote John 3:16. Next, we present all of the benefits of being saved. We make it all about the person, rather than all about God.

We do reap many benefits from salvation, but that is not why God saves us.

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

In our invitations, we use man’s psychological methods to get people to the altar. We ask inoffensive questions and have the people answer them by a raised hand. We ask these questions to prime the pump and take away any fear that the lost may have about raising their hands. We then ask those who are not sure of their salvation to raise their hands. Then, during the invitation, we use the fact they raised their hand to shame them to coming forward. Of course, we do it inoffensively, but we do it.

Where in the world do we find this in the Scriptures?

In Acts Chapter 2, Peter’s message told them that they were in dire trouble with God because they had just crucified His Son. On Mars Hill, Paul told the philosophers they would have to answer to the unknown God who created the universe. In Nineveh, Jonah told them that the city would be destroyed in 40 days. Steven’s message to the religious leaders when he was stoned told them how they, like their fathers, had rejected God and His precepts, and that they would be judged for this.

There was no invitation, yet people got saved in each case. I am not saying invitations are wrong, but that is the Holy Spirit that is to do the convicting and bring about a reaction.

In Acts Chapter 2, 3,000 got saved. On Mars Hill, a few got saved, and through them, the Gospel came to Europe and America. In Nineveh, it is estimated that something like on million souls repented and turned to God. Steven’s message only reached one soul that we know about, but it was the great Apostle Paul who was used of God to give us most of our New Testament.

Our problem is, we don’t believe what the Bible says about how souls are saved. I am not talking about the fact that it is by grace, through faith, without works. I am talking about what it takes to bring people to understand their need and desire to know how to be saved.

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

It is the preaching of God’s Word, not men’s plans and methods, that brings sinners to seek salvation and believe the Gospel. When preaching has its proper place in our soul-winning efforts we will see a good harvest. We will see professions that do not fade away in a few weeks or mounts.

The only hope for our nation is a return to God’s precepts and methods by God’s people.

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Are LDS Prophets From God?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints claims to have a living prophet to guide them in knowing truth. They discount the Bible because this, and other Mormon doctrines will not stand up to the test of Scripture. Article eight of the LDS Articles of Faith reads, “We believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly …” You will notice that it does not question the underlying text. It only questions the translation. If they really believe this they could easily show the mistranslated parts and correct them. Joseph Smith said that he did this and that it was completed by 1833.

“We this day finished the translating of the scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our Heavenly Father.” (A letter dated July 2, 1833, and published in Times & Seasons Volumn 6 page 802, signed by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and F.G. Williams)

I wanted to make those who read this aware of the fact that Joseph Smith did finish his translation of the Bible because the passages I have quoted in this article are from his translation. You will notice that they are identical to the passages in the KJV. This means that he did not consider these passages to be mistranslated.

This article is not about the Scriptures, but about prophets of God. If we are wise we will put anyone who claims to be a prophet to the test because we are told that there are false prophets in the world. We need a standard or an authority by which to test them. That standard and authority is the Bible.

Test the Prophets

The Bible warns of false prophets so we are to test what those who claim to be prophets.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

A true prophet speaks as he is moved by the Spirit of God.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KV)

We are to try them to see if they are speaking truth. This means there must be some authority by which we can test their prophecies. That authority is the Holy Scriptures, the Bible.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

The Bereans were more noble because they tested what the preachers said by the Scriptures. At that time the only Scriptures they had were the Old Testament books. This means that the New Testament was tested by the Old Testament. If it didn’t agree, it would have been rejected as the Word of God.

And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:19-20 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

Although prophets are not mentioned in this passage, it is speaking of those who pretend to speak for God. The law and the testimony are the holy Scriptures that had already been given by God through the earlier prophets. Those who pretend to speak for God, and say things that don’t agree with what has already been revealed, have no light in them.

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

In this passage we learn that even if the prophecies of a prophet come to pass, if the prophet teaches them to go after other gods, we are not to listen to him. God allows this to test our love and faithfulness to Him. The prophets of the Mormon Church teach their followers to go after a god who was once a man, and who changed into a god.

“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become” (the fifth LDS President Lorenzo Snow, June 1840)

The God of the Bible does not change.

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

This is as true for Jesus Christ as it is for Jehovah.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

Even the Book of Mormon says that God is unchangeable:

For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity. (Moroni 8:18)
For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? (Mormon 9:9 – This is quoted from Hebrews 13:8 and James 1:17)

Not only does the Book of Mormon teach that God is unchangeable, it also teaches that there is only one God:

And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. (Alma 11:26-29)

As you can see, the Mormon prophets not only disagree with the Bible, they disagree with there own scriptures. In so doing they teach their followers to go after other gods.

The next test of a true prophet is that what the prophet predicts comes to pass.

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22 Joseph Smith Inspired Version & KJV)

If we are going to try the spirits to see if they are of God, we must have a standard by which to try them. We have already seen that the authority they are to be tested by is the Word of God. We have seen that they are false prophets if they teach that we should go after other gods. Finally we have their own words to test them by. If they predict things that don’t come to pass, they are not speaking for the Lord and are false prophets. Let’s take a look at some prophecies by Mormon prophets that have not come to pass.

Unfulfilled Prophecies By Mormon Prophets:

Civil War Prophecy

Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5

“Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place. For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations. And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war. And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation. And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.”

Although many Mormons point to this “Civil War Prophecy” as proof of Joseph Smith as a prophet, many points in this revelation never happened or were incorrect. The Civil War was on the horizon and all who had any discernment could foresee its coming. However, the parts of his prophecy in bold print did not come to pass. No one can say that the prophecy was fulfilled when such a large part of is never happened.

The United States Government to be overthrown in a few years

I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 394).

Joseph Smith made this prophecy in May 6, 1843. However, the United States Government did not redress any of the wrongs committed against the Mormons in Missouri, and now over 175 years later, the U.S. Government still stands.

Congress to be broken up as a government

While discussing the petition to Congress, I prophesied, by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government, and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them – not even a grease spot. (Millennial Star, Vol. 22, p. 455. See also History of the Church (HC), vol. 6, p. 116, though when this prediction was incorporated into the official history, Mormon Church leaders decided to leave out the “grease spot” part.)

The petition was not heard nor was protection granted (Deseret News, Vol. 1, p. 59). Yet, Congress was never broken up and continues to function to this day. It is interesting that the compilers of History of the Church, added an editorial note in an attempt to soften or explain this prophecy. They state that: “This prediction doubtless has reference to the party in power; to the ‘government’ considered as the administration;” (note, p. 116). According to the note in The History of the Church, this means the Democratic Party, which was in control at the time. However, the prediction is that “Congress shall be broken up as a government” and Congress is made up of representatives from both parties. The Saints were making an appeal to the General Government, not to the Democratic Party, a point made by a summary statement in the left margin beside this prophecy as it is recorded in The History of the Church. It is obvious that this prophecy was not fulfilled because the Democrat party is still in existence today.

Finding Treasure in Salem, Massachusetts

This prophecy is recorded in Doctrine & Covenants Section 111. The introduction to this prophecy, found at the beginning of Section 111 states:

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Salem, Massachusetts, August 6, 1836. HC 2:465-466. At this time the leaders of the [LDS] Church were heavily in debt due to their labors in the ministry.

1. I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies.

2. I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality.

3. Therefore, it is expedient that you should form acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you.

4. And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.

5. Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them.

No treasure was ever discovered, nor did Salem ever fell into the hands of the Mormons.

Pestilence, Hail, Famine & Earthquake to Destroy the Wicked

And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say, wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled (History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 315-316).

Such a widespread destruction of the wicked of that generation never occurred.

Temple to be Built in Zion, Missouri

This prophecy comes directly from Doctrine & Covenants Section 84, the introduction of which states:

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, September 22 and 23, 1832. HC 1:286-295.

1. A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.

2. Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

3. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4. Verily, this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.

The Mormons were forced to flee Missouri due to persecution and a temple was never built on the “temple lot” in the lifetime of Joseph Smith or within the generation of his contemporaries.

Mormons teach that this prophecy did not mean that those who were alive at the time were the generation spoken of. However, 25 years later, Heber C. Kimball still believed it. He said

“They are holy places, and they will be held sacred even as Jackson County..” “and I shall yet see the day that I will go back there, with brother Brigham and with thousands and millions of others, and we will go precisely according to the dedication of the Prophet of the living God. Talk to me about my having any dubiety on my mind about these things being fulfilled.—I am just as confident of it as I am that I am called to be a saviour of men, and no power can hinder it.” (President Heber C. Kimball, December 17, 1857 Journal of Discourses, Vol 6. p. 190).

He said that he would be among those who would be there to see the temple built. As President and Prophet of the Church, what he believed should settle the issue.

After 140 years, the Mormon Church itself admitted this was a false prophecy. No temple was ever built on this property and the close-dated, unconditional prophecy never came true. Joseph Fielding Smith finally admitted there was no expectation this prophecy would ever come to pass:

“It may be reasonable to assume that in giving this revelation to the prophet the Lord did have in mind the generation of people who would still be living with the one hundred years from the time of announcement of the revelation, and that they would enjoy the blessings of the temple, and a glorious cloud would rest upon it. It is also reasonable to believe that no soul living in 1832 is still living in mortality on the earth.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 4. p. 112)

Of course Mormons have excuses for the prophecies not coming to pass, but the fact that they didn’t come to pass proves that the prophets who made them were not prophets of the true and living God. The Mormons, like the Jehovah Witnesses, try to change the meanings of prophecies when they don’t come to pass because if the prophecies are taken interpreted according to their obvious meanings it would prove that their prophets were not prophets of the Living God. We only need one of them to fail to prove this point. In the last one, even Joseph Fielding Smith admits that it is a false prophecy.

If the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, Joseph Smith, was a false prophet because his prophecies failed, the Church if built upon a pretty shaky foundation. Those Mormons who care about truth and their eternal destiny would do well to take a closer look at their religion. When they do they will find that it has no authority for what it believes except the ever changing opinions of fallible men. Their scriptures disagree with the doctrines taught by their prophets. Their prophets disagree with one another. The prophecies often do not come to pass. Only a fool would use this kind of a foundation as a basis for his hope for eternity?