I am hearing about more and more young men that are turning away from the Independent Fundamental Baptists. I believe their actions are shortsighted considering most of them know little or nothing of the great fundamental Baptists of the past and the pioneering spirit they possessed. With limited knowledge many young men are changing their philosophy which unfortunately will lead to a disappointing end. Their thinking reveals a lack of appreciation for the previous Baptist pioneers who built churches and furthered the kingdom of God.
While not possessing first-hand knowledge of those whom they criticize a false confidence in new methods and philosophies is established. They fail to realize that they are heirs of the churches, colleges, missions and members of our spiritual forefathers. Disrespect to our spiritual fathers is equivalent to disrespect to our physical parentage. The first commandment with promise is to “honor thy father and mother.” We should show honor to whom honor is due according to the Scriptures. Anyone who disrespects his parents reveals ingratitude and a lack of understanding concerning all the sacrifices that were made on their behalf.
A disrespectful attitude is a reminder of the mistakes of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: — 1 Kings 12:8. Rehoboam chose the counsel of his peers and forsook the counsel of the wiser older men. Forsaking one’s heritage is a dangerous decision. Rehoboam’s decision led to the division of the nation and ultimately needless conflicts.
Our Baptist heritage is long and courageous. The early Baptists that came to America were friendly with the Indians and brought the gospel to them while the Puritans mistreated them. The early Baptists of America were persecuted and whipped for exercising their faith. These men and women stood their ground in the face of incarceration and heavy fines. They refused to pay the clergy tax to the established state church. Were it not for John Leland and the Colonial Baptists it is doubtful we would have the first amendment to our constitution providing us with our freedom to worship. These early separatists lived by Bible convictions and paid a price which secured our present freedoms.
America’s independence from England was fueled, at least in part, by the Great Awakening. These revivals were fueled by many godly men and women who were seeking a close relationship to God. The revivals associated with the Great Awakening were fueled by preachers that believed in separation from the world and obedience to Scripture. I find no record of any revival being produced by liberals or compromisers. The end of the great revivals of the eighteenth century was through the influence of the liberal theology of that day.
Periodic revivals occurred in the nineteenth century which produced great church building, colleges, non-profit institutions and revivals throughout the country. Periodic moving’s of God continued through the twentieth century. In the mid twentieth century Baptist churches were growing and winning the lost. Many of these churches were built as result of men leaving the compromising conventions of that time.
The fundamentalists of the mid twentieth century influenced me personally. I was saved while attending Tennessee Temple University. I was led to the Lord by Evangelist Dolphus Price and baptized by Dr. Lee Roberson. I saw firsthand over two hundred saved in a week of revival, many of whom became preachers and missionaries. None of these leaders were perfect but I was saved as a result of their courage to resist the compromise of the denominations of that day. I have been privileged to have known through the years many great Christians who are Independent Fundamental Baptists. I am indebted to them and everyone who was saved in a fundamental independent Baptist church is indebted to them as well.
No group of churches is without some failures. There have been failures of men I have known. There are a few bad apples in any group of people. There are approximately fourteen thousand Independent Baptist churches in America and of course many more on foreign fields. To criticize a few men or organizations of the past does not mean you can lump together all of the men and women who have served faithfully. Baptist churches are independent of each other and each assembly is unique. Baptists are bound by a few simple doctrines that identify them as truly fundamental Baptists.
Most of the problems fundamental churches are experiencing today are not because their standards are too high or their soul-winning is too aggressive. Most of the problems today are because the churches have lost their zeal once possessed by the men and women of the past. Their standards are not too high, they are too low. Their preaching has become teaching and their zeal is nonexistent. Courage to stand for truth is absent. Their vision has been altered and personal sacrifice is absent.
There are multitudes of dedicated men and women that we have never met but have labored tirelessly and faithfully for the cause of the gospel. They have faithfully stood strong holding onto the historic Baptist principles. Satan targets those that are the greatest threat to his cause and preachers are at the top of the list. Criticizing all of the men and women who served faithfully because of the failure of a few men is a foolish mistake.
There is no easy way to fulfill the great commission. Ministry requires sacrifice and hard work. The late E. M. Bounds said it well, “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”
Seeking counsel from men on social media is foolish. Instituting a new approach to ministry because it is trendy is not wise. It is like Rehoboam consulting with the young men. They convinced each other they were right while ignoring the counsel of the mature men. It is clear where these foolish ideas lead. Beware, because a man’s direction determines his destination. Following the wrong advice is dangerous. My teen years were spent unsaved and in the world because of the compromise of the American Baptist Convention. I know where compromise leads; I saw it first-hand. By the grace of God I have been blessed by the influence of fundamental men. It was through their influence that I was saved and that is why I am in the ministry today. Why would any preacher become critical of such a wonderful heritage?
Some of the objections I have heard are that the past men were not intellectually attractive. But consider the words of the Apostle Paul, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:” — 1 Corinthians 2:4. An overemphasis on education can lead to deadness. Trying to be intellectually superior will lead a man to a false security of accomplishment.
There are biblical truths that span every dispensation and unfortunately some of these truths are being ignored or twisted by a new generation. There are timeless truths that must not be abandoned. The following Bible truths must not be ignored.
· Believers must be separate from the world.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. — 1 John 2:15-16. Paul writing to the church at Corinth states, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:17 Separation from the world is not legalism. If done with the right motive separation from the world produces holiness. The church is a called out assembly – meaning Christians are called out of the world to be identified with God and His people. Accommodating and imitating the world is the exact opposite of the meaning of the word church.
· Christians are a peculiar people.
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. — Titus 2:14. The meaning of peculiar in this verse means a purchased possession. We are not our own we are bought with a price. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
· Music in style and substance should lift man’s spirit toward God and lead to a holy life.
The music of the world will attract people to the world. The music of Christians provides new songs in worship to a holy God. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. — Psalm 144:9. The most attractive element of today’s progressive churches is their worldly music. If their music was taken away they would not survive. If that is true what kind of commitment and dedication exists in their followers?
· The church has a clear command to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
God’s desire is not for believers to look and act like the world but to look and act like born again believers and reach the world. Unfortunately many Christians are more interested in the American dream than in the Great Commission. Christians must be zealous about preaching the gospel.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; — Colossians 3:23.
· Preachers should have a burden for their lost community.
The Apostle Paul revealed the great burden he carried to reach people with the gospel. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: — Romans 9:2-3.
Too many young men have accepted the counsel of other young men and are being led astray from their godly heritage. Man’s wisdom always fails but God’s wisdom prevails. The need of the hour is not more or new or better ways but a return to the ways of proven men who demonstrated the power of God in their lives. My prayer is, “Oh God, do it again!”