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• The Church

AN ORDER OF SERVICE FOR DIVINE WORSHIP; DESIGNED FOR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS, FAMILY GATHERINGS AND CHURCH MEETINGS.

Sermon—“Don’t Give Up”

For the full order of service, including hymns and reading, please follow this link…

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In 1792, Francis Cox, a local farmer and dedicated Christian, built a chapel at his own expense for the purpose of divine worship. This he did in an isolated place called Waddesdon Hill, Buckinghamshire. Three years later, Henry Paice was ordained to the Gospel Ministry and became the first pastor. Within three years of the pastor’s induction, the congregation had grown to sixty-five members. According to a list in a Newspaper article attached to the Church Book, the people who attended the meetings had come from around thirty surrounding villages. In “Strict and Particular”, Kenneth Dix points out: “…as churches were formed and chapels built in their own localities, the need for these people to make a long journey to an isolated chapel in the country no longer existed.” The church dissolved in 1976 and the meeting house…

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“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me.”—Psalm 101:6

This and the following chapters are designed to give a sketch of some of the most noteworthy and useful of the exponents of the doctrines of grace during the nineteenth century; a few named did most of their work during the latter part of the preceding century, but, as they did not pass away till the earlier years of the nineteenth, they are included in these chapters…

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Is the Communion Table open or closed? Since all Christians recognize the Communion Table is restricted to professing believers, at the exclusion of all unbelievers, it is safe to say that there is no such thing as a purely open Table. And, since all discerning Baptists recognize the Communion Table is restricted to professing Christians that have been baptized, it is safe to say that there is no such thing as a purely open Table among Baptist churches. It therefore reeks of hypocrisy when the ‘Open Communionists’ accuse their brethren who subscribe to a restricted Table as being uncharitable, unkind, judgmental and legalistic. Unlike the open Communion Baptists who recognize only two restrictions on the Table (regeneration and baptism), I believe there are four restrictions—(1) An evidential…

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Chapter 3

5 Nov 2015, by

“Put thou thy trust in God,
In duty’s path go on;
Fix on His Word thy stedfast eye,
So shall thy work be done.”

The example of our Lord and Master not only gives to the scriptural rite of baptism by immersion its highest and most solemn sanction; but His sacred experience exemplifies the wonderful privileges often conferred upon Christians who loyally and lovingly follow His holy example. As He went straightway up out of the water the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Him; and there came a voice from heaven saying, “Thou art My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In like manner it not unfrequently happens…

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Chapter 4

5 Nov 2015, by

“I desire to follow providence, not to force it.”—Dr. Doddridge

“Happy the man who sees a God employed
In all the good and ill that chequer life!
Resolving all events, with their effects
And manifold results, into the will
And arbitration wise of the Supreme.”
Cowper.

The county of Suffolk will ever he regarded with interest by those to whom the Gospel is precious and important. Here pure and undefiled religion has long found illustrious exemplifications. In thousands of its cottage homes God has been honoured and His precepts obeyed. Its places of worship have often been associated with deeds of truest heroism, and with patient and prolonged efforts for the salvation of men, that were grand in their tenderness and…

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Preface

18 May 2015, by

The subject of eldership in Baptist circles has been one of the most misunderstood issues of recent years, with the result that it has become fashionable and even considered orthodox for churches to supplement or replace a single pastor with a team of ‘elders’. I contend this mode of governance is unscriptural, impractical and unconventional. This pamphlet is designed to argue the case why Baptist churches should retain their historic practice of appointing one bishop/pastor, assisted by a group of deacons. I have completed a comprehensive textbook on this subject, which is under review for publication. In the interim, this pamphlet is an abridged preview of the larger forthcoming work, and I extend special thanks to Adam Nixon who encouraged the pamphlet’s preparation, and to Yasmin Cooper and Kevin Price for their editorial notes and helpful suggestions.

Jared Smith

May 2017

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Introduction

18 May 2015, by

It is commonplace to hear it staunchly affirmed by preachers that the term elder is one and the same with bishop and pastor; that the term is usually used in the plural, indicating the early churches were overseen by a plurality of elders. Hence, it is argued, if churches today are to reflect the most Scriptural form of governance, then elders must be appointed as overseers.

• Some believe there is parity among the elders, wherein all share equal authority as teachers/rulers; whereas others believe there is…

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When the term elder is used within Christian circles, it conjures up ideas of ecclesiastical clergy, either elected to office by the congregation, or appointed to office by the denomination. In fact, it is only within Christian churches that the term elder is made to mean something other than persons honored in virtue of their age, wisdom and influence. This irregular interpretation is rooted in a flawed hermeneutic of several biblical texts which refer to elders. It is assumed, because a few scripture passages use the term elder when identifying a bishop/pastor, that therefore, most (if not all) references to elders in the early churches must be bishops/pastors. The absurdity of this presupposition is comparable to one who boasts that all…

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Ephesians 4:11: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

The apostles and prophets were temporary offices, laying the foundation for both the establishment and edification of Christian churches—apostles were primarily sent to organize new churches; prophets were appointed to nurture existing churches. The evangelists and pastor-teachers are permanent offices carrying out a…

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The Jewish Synagogue was not ordained by God as a religious institution. It came into existence as a result of God’s judgment upon the nation—The divinely instituted temple had been destroyed, the people of God scattered, and in desperation the scattered Jews established tiny groups which became known as synagogues. During the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, the Jewish Synagogue always…

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According to Robert J. Banks, in his book, “Paul’s Idea of Community”, the early churches met in the private houses of the well-to-do members:

“Whether we are considering the smaller gatherings of only some Christians in a city or the larger meetings involving the whole Christian population, it is in the home of one of the members that EKKLESIA is held (Acts 18:7,8; 20:8)—for example in the “upper room” (Acts 20:8; Lk 22:12; Acts 1:13). Not until the third century do we have evidence of special buildings being constructed for Christian gatherings, and, even then, they were modeled…

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It is sometimes argued by eldership advocates that they are reforming contemporary churches to reflect the type of governance found in the primitive churches of the New Testament era and the Baptist churches of the Reformation era. However, I have demonstrated that the primitive churches recognized elders as unofficial leaders (household heads), rather than the official leaders (bishops). As for the Baptist churches of the Reformation era, there is no evidence…

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Conclusion

18 May 2015, by

Eldership advocates are not only misguided in what they believe about elders, but they are also mistaken in their crusade to pressure Baptist churches into adopting elderships. Their error is enlarged by their misleading interpretations of scripture and historic Confessional statements. Such is the nature of their self-confidence and arrogance, that many churches are giving in to this pressure through sheer intimidation. Churches should not fear eldership advocates…

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The Church.

The word “Church” is never used in Scripture of a material building but always, as it signifies, of “the called out,” and denotes the redeemed community in its twofold aspect: the entire community of all who are called by and to Christ out of the world, the Church universal; then, every church in which the character of the Church as a whole is seen in miniature. A gospel church is of the Lord’s own institution; it has certain rights and privileges entrusted to it, and these it must neither barter nor sacrifice. In our congregations are not a few who love the Lord, and to whom we may feel a closer union than…

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As I am in the middle of finishing an exhaustive book on the subject of elders, it is frustrating that I am not yet ready to fire back at those who are exerting great effort in promoting this newfangled theory of a plural eldership in Baptist churches. Their forceful claims to have received an inner revelation from God’s Word to which our Baptist forefathers were ignorant, is quite frankly a very arrogant position to nurture. When they boast their theory of leadership in churches is the ‘biblical way’, they censure and condemn all churches who have…

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Introduction

10 Sep 2013, by

Clifford Pond served in the pastoral ministry among Grace Baptist churches for more than 50 years. Having seen the need for congregations to better understand the complexities of adopting a plurality of elders, he wrote a book entitled “Only Servants.” The back cover of the book offers a reason why the author is a respected authority on the subject: “Clifford Pond writes out of a lifetime of pastoral ministry, having served churches in Suffolk and Surrey as well as exercising a wider ministry at various times by responsible leadership in young people’s fellowships, associations of churches and the council of Grace Baptist Mission.”

In the fifth chapter, under the heading “Plurality of Elders and Deacons”, Mr. Pond writes:

“Since the Second World War every part of life generally has been questioned, and churches too have been put under the scrutiny of Scripture…For example, in the earlier part of this century the most common structure in local churches was a pastor with a group of deacons. In the absence of a pastor…

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A lecture on the ordinance of the Lord’s Table.

There are two ordinances Christ has established for His church: Baptism and the Lord’s Table. Baptism qualifies a Christian to become a member of the church; the Lord’s Table enables a Christian to maintain his membership with the church. Baptism symbolizes a believer’s submission to the will of God; the Lord’s Table demonstrates a believer’s discipline to the Word of God. This study seeks to provide an overview for the ordinance of the Lord’s Table.

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J. A. Shackelford completed his “Compendium of Baptist History” in 1891. It was not his original intent to write a history of the Baptists, but rather prepare a chart “which would give a bird’s eye view of Baptist History, with its relations to the Catholic hierarchy, and the branches of the Romish church.” However, the amount of material acquired through research provided an abundant supply of historical facts which suggested a larger work should be produced. The finished manuscript is a superb summary of significant events which tell the story of Christ preserving His church through two millennia.

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An unusual interest has, of late, been awakened in the study of church history. This is a hopeful indication. It shows that many are disposed to turn away from human organizations, and seek for the true church of Christ, as revealed in the Gospels. It is worse than folly to suppose that the Saviour left his work so incomplete that uninspired men, of later years, must take it up and bring it to perfection. It must be a recognized fact that Christ established his Church, as a “pillar and ground of the truth.”

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The advent of John the Baptist into the world was not an unexpected event. Although his birth had not been announced by angels, as was Christ’s, yet God had declared, “I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me.”—Mai. 3:1. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”—Mai.4:5,6. Jesus declared that it was John of whom this was written. —Matt. 11:10. He also testified that Elias (Elijah) must first come, but declared that he had already come, and they knew him not.—Matt. 17:11,12.

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Before proceeding further it will be necessary to examine into the meaning of the word “church.” This word has come to be used in such a broad sense that it takes in and is applied to any religious organization, or society, whether a Scriptural church or not.

By some writers it is made to “include the entire body of professed Christians.” By others it means “the spiritual congregation, or aggregate of the regenerate, including the saints in heaven, the saints on earth and the saints yet to come.” The general usage of the word at present justifies both of these definitions, but its Scriptural use does not, nor was the word so used in the time of Christ and his apostles.

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The night before his crucifixion the Saviour formally assembled his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem, and with them he instituted the Memorial Supper. This was the closing act of his life as far as it related to his church, and was well calculated to remind it continually of the responsibility which rested upon it as the executor of his laws, and the administrator of his kingdom.

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A.D. 29. After the day of Pentecost the disciples went everywhere gladly preaching the word, while great success attended their ministry. In a very short time a second church was planted at Samaria, and soon another at Antioch. Persecutions were now inflicted upon the Christians everywhere, and Saul was on his way to Damascus, with authority to arrest men and women, and breathing out threatenings and slaughter against all Christians, when he was suddenly stricken down and made to cry out for mercy. Being converted to the Christian faith, he attached himself to the church at Antioch.

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“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. And to the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, times, and a half time, from the face of the serpent.” (Rev. 12:6,14 “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev. 11:7)

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Baptists have always been advocates of religious liberty. This constitutes one of their fundamental principles. They have always claimed the right for themselves, and others, to worship God according to their understanding of His word. They have always opposed a union of church and State, and have refused to accept any legislation in religious matters for themselves, and have opposed it for others.

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These articles are about the historically, and more importantly, scripturally authentic church practice known as Closed Communion. The practice is also known as ‘Restricted Communion’, and it is from the word ‘restricted’ that ‘Strict Baptist’ churches take their title.

Although the casual or unsaved visitor to a Strict Baptist church may indeed find the congregation rather stern, dull or strange at first meeting, the designation ‘strict’ has nothing to do with any such behaviour or dress code which might exist in such a church.

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Actually Strict Baptists are still around, but on darker days sometimes it feels like there are only two or three of us left. To understand where the others went, it’s helpful to know where we started. Leaving aside the obvious contention that John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul were all Strict Baptists, (which I would be happy to prove from the scriptures on another occasion) let us zoom forward instead to Great Britain in the 1700’s to see where the actual title came from.

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The writer contends that closed communion is not merely a practice dictated by a certain theological view of the church. On the contrary: A church which practices closed communion as the beginning of its theological thinking for church management, and diligently follows all naturally occurring corollaries of the full doctrine of closed communion, will soon discover that a closed communion table favourably governs correct practices in all areas of church life, and will preserve the existence of the local church.

The reverse has been demonstrably proved time and again:

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Closed communion is superior to open communion because it more effectively helps to protect and nurture the sanctity and industry of the church.

Specifically, the purpose of the communion supper is fourfold:

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