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Session 5—Disentangling Distinctives

Published on 01/18/11

By Dr. Larry Oats; delivered during the MRBF Bible Conference October 2, 2008

Immersion and Lord’s Supper—The only two ordinances
Separation (Church & State, Ethically and Ecclesiastically)

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Message Notes

Disentangling Distinctives

VI. Immersion and Lord’s Supper, the only two ordinances

A. Introduction

1. The Bible teaches that these ordinances are each:

a) A memorial

b) A symbol

c) A prophecy

2. Authority

a) From Christ

(1) The Great Commission – Matt. 28:19-20

(2) The Last Supper – Luke 22:19-20

b) New Testament Teaching

(1) Baptism – Acts 8:38; 9:18; 10:48; Rom. 6:1-6

(2) The Lord’s Supper – Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-24

B. Baptism

1. Its only mode is immersion.

2. Significance

a) Baptism is a “figure” of salvation, literally a type. It does not put away sin, but is the answer of a good conscience, or an act of obedience to God (1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:17).

b) It is a memorial of Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3).

c) It is a symbol of the believer’s relationship to Christ (Rom. 6:4).

d) It is a prophecy of the believer’s resurrection with Christ (Rom. 6:5).

e) It is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

f) It is the introductory rite of admission into the local church.

3. The proper authority for baptism is the local church (Acts 2:41).

4. The proper administrator of baptism is whoever is designated by the local church to perform the ordinance.

5. The proper recipient of baptism is a regenerate individual who desires membership in the local church (Acts 2:41, 47)

C. Lord’s Supper

1. It is commanded by Christ (Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34).

2. It is to be observed in the local churches (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20, 33, 34).

3. Its significance is explained in the New Testament.

a) It pictures the communion of the saints with Christ and with each other (1 Cor. 10:16-21).

b) It is a memorial of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 11:24, 25).

c) Its elements are symbols of Christ’s body and shed blood (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24, 25).

d) It is a prophecy of His return for us and of our eating with Him in Heaven (Matt. 26:29; Mk.14:25; Lk. 22:16; 1 Cor. 11:26).

4. The New Testament spells out clear terms for participation at the Lord’s Table.

a) Regeneration – only saved people are to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

b) Baptism – the order was established by the early church. Godliness – Paul commanded believers whose lives were sinful to abstain from the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 5:9-12) .

5. Three theological positions

a) Transubstantiation – Roman Catholic

b) Consubstantiation – Lutheran

c) Memorial – 1 Cor. 11:23-24

6. Three types of administration

a) Open

b) Close

c) Closed

VII. S2: Separation

A. Separation of Church and State

1. Four possible relationships between Church and State:

a) The Church above the State, as in Romanist countries.

b) The Church alongside the State, as in the countries of Europe which have State churches.

c) The Church under the State, as in totalitarian countries.

d) The Church separate from the State, as in the United States.

2. We do not believe in the last relationship just because we enjoy it in America or not only because it is the most advantageous to religious liberty, but because it is taught in the Bible!

a) Matthew 22:17-22.

(1) There is a realm called “Caesar’s,” that is the realm of civil government.

(2) There is a realm called “God’s,” that is the realm of spiritual truth, represented on earth today by local churches.

b) Acts 5:29

3. What separation of church and state is not:

a)Separation of God and state

b) Separation of church from state

c) Not a constitutional term

4. What is the church’s relationship to the state?

a) Isolate—Christ did this

b) Participate—Acts 16:35ff

B. Separation ethically and ecclesiastically

1. Biblical Basis for Separation

a) Separation from unsaved individuals

(1) 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:2

b) Immorality

(1) 1 Corinthians 5:1-5

c) Doctrine

(1) Romans 16:17-18

(2) 1 Timothy 6:3-5

(3) 2 John 9-11

d) Life Style

(1) 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

(2) Refers to a believer who is purposefully walking disorderly

2. Theological Basis

a) God is holy

(1) I am to be holy – 1 Peter 1:15

(2) The church is to work toward perfection – Eph 5:27

b) Scripture warns of doctrinal decay

(1) 1 Tim 4:1-2

(2) 2 Tim 4:3-4

(3) 2 Cor 11:13-15

c) The local church and pastor have a responsibility to maintain sound doctrine

(1) Acts 20:28-32

(2) 1 Tim 3:15; 4:6, 16; 6:20

(3) 2 Tim 1:13-14; 4:15

(4) 2 Pet 3:17

3. Application

a) Levels of Association

(1) Personal

(2) Recreational

(3) Commercial

(4) Professional

(5) Educational

(6) Ecclesiastical

b) Variables in Association

(1) Is it a matter of orthodox doctrine? Christianity

(2) Is it a matter of doctrinal distinctiveness? Baptist

(3) Is it a matter of philosophical direction? Fundamentalism

(4) Is it a matter of significance to our church?

Our Distinctives as Baptists

The distinctives discussed in this study are not the traditions of men which have become distinctive of Baptists. They are, rather, biblical truths that distinguished the local churches in the New Testament era and are distinctive of all true New Testament local churches, regardless of the name they use. Baptists have historically espoused all these distinctives, thus they have become known as the Baptist Distinctives. Some other denominational groups accept various of these biblical truths, but not all of them.

The Baptist Distinctives need to be emphasized to every generation of Christians. This is especially true as many Baptists and Baptist organizations have moved away from their biblical foundations, convictions, and distinctives in recent years. Modernism and new-evangelicalism masquerade under the name “Baptist,” as they do under many other names today.

If these truths are not biblically grounded, they should be rejected. If they are taught in Scripture, then they should be believed, defended, and obeyed.

Dr. Richard Weeks, Maranatha’s first academic dean, was an avid bibliophile and Baptist historian. Well educated, he pastored for several years in Chicago before going to Pillsbury and then Maranatha to teach Baptist Polity and Baptist History, among other classes. Not content with the usual BAPTIST acrostic for the Baptist distinctives, he began a study of the various lists of distinctives identified by a wide variety of Baptist writers—old and new, northern and southern, American and European, and especially Fundamental Baptists of the early 20th century. From this study he created a list of what he thought the key Baptist distinctives were, without trying to force them into an acrostic grid. He also established an order to these distinctives, considering not so much that some distinctives are more important than others, but rather that some distinctives tend to flow out of other distinctives. The result was BRAPSIS2.

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