Fishers Of Men – Evangelism
Since an objective of this magazine is to defend the Cause of God and Truth as articulated by the Predestinarian Old School Baptists; and since a great number of readers have never heard of these people, then we trust none will be too offended with us if we do just that defend our faith in points of difference. A phenomenon we often experience is: a number of individuals speak and write critically of what we do or do not believe and practice having never once visited our churches to find out for themselves … somewhat like a turtle telling a bird how to fly.
Too often we hear that Predestinarian Baptists do not believe in preaching the Gospel to sinners; that we are non-evangelical.
We deal with this subject in this article.
First of all, merely because we do not preach the theories and practices of men, does not by any means prove that we do not adhere to New Testament acts, and proclaim New Testament doctrines AS WE UNDERSTAND THEM. We sincerely believe the doctrine of free and sovereign grace IS THE TRUTH. It is the sole true Gospel. We will not esteem anything else to be the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ. Hence, we believe those doctrines to be THE GOSPEL, and anything else to be a perversion of the Gospel, “which is not another.” (Galatians 1:7)
So, merely because we do not preach freewillism or conditionalism does not mean we do not preach the Gospel.
Indeed, we do not believe those who pervert the Gospel are preaching it.
Secondly, we know of no one on the earth to whom we can proclaim it except sinners.
We know from the testimony of Jesus Christ that “He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ (Matthew 9:13)
So sinners are the only ones having the requisites qualifying them for the Gospel.
Thus, we preach indiscriminately to all. “The foundation of God standeth sure, the Lord KNOWETH them that are His.”
But we do not!
When Christ called Simon and his brother Andrew, He said to them:
“Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
That was the beginning of evangelical preaching. But, I raise an honest question here.
Have you ever gone fishing for DEAD fish?
What good is a DEAD fish?
Indeed, how can a dead fish bite the bait or hang himself in the net?
The point is, true evangelical preaching is to catch LIVE fish.
Predestinarian Baptists are evangelical fishermen.
We indeed “go a fishing,” or we would not be sending forth this publication nor would we travel to so many places each year preaching to many or to few. Believe us dear reader, we go fishing, but we are not so foolish as to fish for dead fish, nor do we use “stink bait” as do the Arminians.
We go forth preaching the Gospel of free and sovereign grace with catching LIVE fish as our object. If any one who is reading this has ever been taught of God that he is nothing and less than nothing, totally unable by human effort to appease divine wrath or to obligate the Lord of heaven to save him; made to cry to God out of a broken and contrite heart, “Have mercy on me a sinner;” and to wait for his deliverance, then to such we address the Gospel of God’s free mercy to sensible sinners.
“For when we were WITHOUT STRENGTH, Christ died for the UNGODLY.”
Paul did NOT say: “For when we were barely able to wobble down an aisle, Christ died for the righteous decider!”
We are said by many to be “anti-missionary”, and while we do admit without apology that we deplore Rome’s “missionism”, yet we wish to explain WHY we prefer New Testament evangelism above Rome’s.
Surely if the foregoing is our stance, then any thoughtful reader ought to assume we have a better rationale than is so often imputed to us. According to our confession, and that of most Baptists; we, as Predestinarians, believe that Christ has established in His Church two classes of officers. They are elders or bishops and deacons. The New Testament bishop is also an elder as also the apostles. (I Peter 5:1)
“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers (or pastor-teachers); for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ …”
If there are any reverends, archbishops, rabbis, masters, or missionaries in the New Testament Church they are no-where recorded in the Scriptures. If we use the language of Ashdod, we will certainly embrace the concepts of Ashdod; rather, if we use the language of Rome, we will adopt the heresies of the Latin counter-church.
Predestinarian Baptists have NEVER embraced the Latin term “missionary”.
Consider if you will:
Paul was a Roman by birth. Yet not once did he ever use the Latin word “missio” in his letters. Rather, he used the Greek word “apostellw” (sent) in Romans 10 “how shall they preach except they be sent.” Indeed, if one looks closely at the above Greek word and compare it to its root word which is translated “apostle” (apostoloz ) one can see the apostles were “sent” or “commissioned” or “delegated” as the word means.
Why does not the New Testament then call the apostles “missionaries”?
Because they were not sent by Rome!
Also consider the preaching of the Gospel. Look carefully at the words for “Gospel” and the “evangelist”. Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. The word Gospel is evaggelisn, while the word evangelist is translated from “evaggeliotnz, or one who preaches the Gospel. Thus, any minister preaching the Gospel of free grace is an evangelist.
Again, the “evangelist” is not a “missionary”.
It is sometimes argued that the first church in Jerusalem was a Baptist church because they baptized by immersion; and Missionary because they “sent” out ministers. Thus, it is said, the New Testament Church was a Missionary Baptist Church. The Greek text will not allow this. The first church in Jerusalem “apostellw” (sent) out “apostles” and these were “evangelists — preachers of the Gospel”. Hence it was apostolic, and the true church is STILL apostolic, walking in the “apostles’ doctrine, faith, and practice; doing the work of an evangelist. And this work of an evangelist is preaching the Gospel, or good message, of the grace of God to poor sinners. Thus we believe; thus we preach; and thus we practice. We do not need Rome’s instructions oil how to follow Christ’ commandments.
We prefer both the New Testament terms and roles of the ministry: elders and deacons.
What profit is there to invent another office if the offices, which Christ established in the church, are what they are ordained to be?
And by what authority do we establish others even if we (as foolish men) judge them to be desirable and necessary?
The pattern of New Testament evangelism which Predestinarian Baptists practice is derived from the exclusive examples of the New Testament. The CHURCH at Antioch laid hands on Paul and Barnabas, WHOM GOD HAD CALLED, and sent them forth “for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2-4)
Follow them, and observe them, without preconceived “missionary concepts”, and you might be shocked. You will be reading precisely the habits of Predestinarian Baptists in an unbroken perpetuity of practice since they arrived on these shores in the early colonial period.
That ORDINATION was the ONLY official act of the church at Antioch!
They “preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.” (Acts 13:5)
When individuals expressed a desire to hear the Gospel, it was preached to them. (Acts 13:7)
They did not barge in uninvited trying to make decisions. Electing grace was preached. (Acts 13:17)
The law was applied. (Acts 13:17-21); then the promises of God (Acts 13:22); and the resurrection of Christ (Acts 13:23); baptism by immersion practiced (Acts 13:24); the crucifixion of Christ exhalted (Acts 13:28: Acts 13:37); and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38); justification by faith was insisted upon (Acts 13:39); and “as many as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed,” (Acts 13:48) … and none other.
Only LIVE fish!
No mission boards had anything to do with it.
Paul was not an agent of a mission board or church!
God, rather than the local church or mission society directed him.
They “assayed to go into Bithynia: but the SPIRIT SUFFERED THEM NOT.”
God directed them into Macedonia by a vision, (Acts 16:9) and a “certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, which worshipped God, heard us.” (Acts 16:14) and “the Lord OPENED HER HEART (the Gospel didn’t) so that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” and was converted. (Acts 16:14)
And, believe it or not, Paul BAPTIZED HER without asking Antioch Church! (Acts 16:15) She brought forth fruit unto God meet for repentance, (Acts 16:15); and Paul judged her faithful to the Lord and abode in her house!
That, without any theological hair-splitting, is how Predestinarian Baptists have always done in New Testament evangelism.
Read the book of Acts, THAT is the only book on evangelism which is necessary. No handbooks on personal evangelism or soul winning, outlines or courses in psychology or sociology are needed. It is just as effectual today, as then, because it is God’s commandment.
Our new readers should give thought to what we have set forth. On occasion, some of the Predestinarian Old School Baptists’ meetings are attended by hundreds of sinners saved by free grace, and that represents only a small fraction.
If we are so unevangelical; why, then, are there more of them, more than all other Predestinarian supralapsarians put together?
They do not have nearly enough elders to serve all the churches, yet they seem to have more believers than all sovereign grace Baptists combined.
By what justification can they be called non-evangelical, except that writers of tracts and histories are ignorant of them, and of the New Testament?
This writer once read a Baptist history in the which the author claimed we would all die out in fifty years. That was in 1830’s. Yet, we are far more numerous now, than any “Calvinistic” Baptists of whom we are acquainted.
Have the social gospel advocates made a big enough mess to admit the Predestinarian Baptists’ old school evangelism was right all the time?
Consider, if you will: Have Baptist churches which picked up the new progressive innovations been captured time and again by the Pelagian heretics?
Is it not true that what the Predestinarians replied to the New School advocates of the 1830’s has now become fact?
That is, that the New School Baptists would eventually become a party with a “Calvinistic Creed, an Arminian clergy, and perhaps a Popish ritual?”
To many of us reared among the New School Baptists and brought to the revelation of free grace truth, the Scriptural question was effectual:
“How can two walk together except they be agreed?”
To all of us, it could not be done. But how can one reject Arminian immersion?
It appeared to us that one could not “come out of her” and yet “stay with her” at the same time.
How can one become “unbaptized’ from the baptism of Mystery Babylon?
Who, in the “Christian” religion, compose those “synagogues of Satan” to which John refers in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9?
We know of but two kingdoms in the spiritual realm: “the kingdom of darkness” and the “kingdom of light;” and but two gospels: “the gospel of Christ” and a “perverted gospel which is not the gospel;” and but two systems of religion: “freewill” and “free grace;” and only two sacrifices: a “sacrifice to devils.” and a “sacrifice to God.”
We are not trained in logic, but it appears logical to us that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of light and revelation proclaiming the Gospel of free grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
If our logic is correct, then Mystery Babylon is that kingdom of freewillism or Arminianism. If so, the Word of God (to those who are elected unto salvation and sanctified through the Spirit and belief of the truth and those who are found in that institution or system) is “come out of her, MY PEOPLE, that ye be not partaker of her SINS, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
Are we considered too bold to call evangelically upon God’s people in a freewill institution to come out of her?
Is it arrogance to tell a quickened sinner to “come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean, and I will be your Father, and ye shall be my sons and daughters”?
Is it bigotry for us to say to such lovers of free grace: “Behold the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9) seeing that Paul wrote “I have ESPOUSED you unto Christ as a chaste virgin”?
Predestinarian Baptists insist first of all, that every individual is faced with a holy imperative: “Ye MUST be born again,” as an inward sovereign quickening by the Spirit of God. Without this, there can be no evangelical repentance, no godly sorrow, no view of God’s justice, no lost estate, no true sinnership, no deliverance, no view by faith of our perfect sacrifice and no view of completed redemption.
In short, no true salvation at all.
Secondly, if that birth be begun, “He that bath BEGUN a good work IN YOU will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
The entire work of grace is by free, unmerited, and undeserved grace.
“Salvation is of the Lord.”
By Stanley C. Phillips