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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Religious Control over Baptism and the Lord's Supper


In the church that meets in our house, we have just recently been discussing this whole question.

(There are no instructions for nor any recorded instances of any of the following in all of scripture!)

-No scriptural baptism was ever done in a church building,
-No scriptural baptism is ever recorded as part of a church gathering,
-Nor was any scriptural baptism authorized or conducted by church elders or a church pastor!
-Scripture never teaches that a baptism must be publicly witnessed! (As far as the scriptural records go, Philip was the only man who witnessed the Ethiopian’s baptism and Paul and Silas were the only
witnesses of the baptism of the jailor and his house as it was done in the middle of the night!)
-Nor does scripture teach that the purpose of a baptism is to bear public testimony before men! Rather scripture expressly teaches that it is the answer of a good conscience toward God! (I Peter 3:21)
-Just as it is disciples of Jesus Christ who are to be baptized (Matt. 28:19), it is simply disciples of His who are commanded to baptize other disciples! (Matt. 28:7,9 &16)
No other credentials are scripturally required!

-Scripture does not lay any emphasis at all on the person who does the baptizing…out of 10 recorded baptisms of believers in the Book of Acts the baptizer is only identified in one of them. (Philip baptized the Ethiopian in Acts 8.)
But we do not know who baptized:
-the 3000 on the day of Pentecost, (could have been the apostles, the 120 or some of the 3000 could have baptized some of the others.)
-the Samaritans in Acts 8, (could have been Philip, husbands could have baptized their wives, parents could have baptized their children etc.)
-Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8, (could have been Philip or any of the other Samaritan believers)
-Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, (could have been Ananias or any of the other believers at Damascus)
-Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, (could have been Peter or any of the 6 Jewish brethren with him, or Cornelius could have baptized his own family)
-Lydia and her household in Acts 16, (could have been Paul or Silas and Lydia could have baptized her household.)
-The Philippian jailor and his household in Acts 16, (could have been Paul or Silas or the jailor could have baptized his own family.)
-Many of the Corinthians in Acts 18 (could have been Aquila, Priscilla, Paul, Silas, Timothy or any of the Corinthian believers themselves.)
-The disciples of John in Acts 19. (could have been Paul, Silas, Timothy or any of the disciples.)

To see a recent baptism conducted apart from such religious control click on "Baptism in the Bayou"

Eating of the Lord’s Supper is never recorded in scripture in a church building, in a church meeting, nor is it ever recorded as being administered by a church officer, pastor, elders or deacons!
There are only three recorded instances of breaking of bread after Pentecost:
-The saints broke bread in their houses. (Acts 2:46),
-Paul and his co-workers broke bread in an upper room in Troas. (Acts 20:11) and
-Paul broke bread on board ship. (Acts 27:35)
Neither the Lord Jesus nor any of the apostles ever taught that breaking bread in remembrance of Him was strictly a church function, that it had to be done in a church meeting nor that “credentials” of any kind were necessary for those who would serve or administer the supper to others!

While the Lord Jesus alone broke the bread, gave thanks for it and gave it to His disciples when He instituted the supper, scripture never teaches that any one person is to do that for others as we remember Him in breaking of bread today! Rather the scriptures clearly teach that it is “we” (a plurality of saints) who are to bless or give thanks for the cup and that it is “we” (a plurality of saints) who are to break the bread as we remember Him!
1 Corinthians 10:16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

All of the following ideas are totally contrary to scripture and are traditions of men which have been introduced in order to exercise religious control over that which Christ commanded every believer to practice as often as they eat and drink!
- that breaking bread in remembrance of the Lord Jesus is a church function,
- that such breaking of bread can only be done in a church meeting,
- that such breaking of bread can only be administered by a credentialed office holder,
- that anyone (pastor, elders etc) has any authority to decide for others who may or who may not eat  
   in remembrance of the Lord. In fact, scripture explicitly assigns that responsibility to each individual for
This fact is reiterated 4 times over in I Corinthians 11:27-29: “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
Since scripture is crystal clear that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5), every tradition of men that would place any other man (pope, cardinal, bishop, pastor) or group of men (consistory, elders, deacons, “table watchers” etc) between a believer and his or her Lord is a false tradition of men which usurps authority over the Lord’s own people!

That usurping of authority has at least two effects:
(1) It brings believers into bondage to control by religious leaders in matters over which God has given
      no such authority to men and
(2) It separates and isolates believers from other brothers and sisters in Christ who are members
      together in the Body of Christ!
If you are held in bondage to any such religious system which stands in the way of the obedience of any believer to their Lord to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), the writer to the Hebrews would urge you with these words, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Hebrews 13:13


Joia said...

Praise Him for the FREEDOM we have in Christ!

Jack Helser said...

When my wife and I first moved to Illinois from Washington state, the Lord prompted us to attend a traditional mainline church. Soon after arrival, two old gals made it a point to introduce themselves to us. Both were spit-fires, a blend of the charismatic, pentecostal and traditional, visiting churches all over town, stirring up excitement and praying for revival. To that end they were active in the community doing Bible studies with the 'unchurched' and 'spiritual warfare' - binding - loosing - spit in the devil's eye sort of thing. ;^)

We got involved with the worship team as soon as we arrived, shared our testimonies and some original music. Since I hadn't found a job yet, the old gals invited me to a morning prayer meeting. At the end of the meeting, Judy asked me to accompany them to the home of her niece, who was bed-bound with cancer and had not yet received Jesus. The old gals had been working on her for years. I didn't want any part of it but the Lord prompted me to go with them, so I halfheartedly agreed. The Holy Spirit then said to me: "and TAKE YOUR GUITAR". Argh! I obeyed!

The house was several miles out of town, surrounded by corn and soy fields. We went in, Judy introduced me to her niece and the women witnessed to her with KJV scriptures and then asked me to play a few worship songs. The niece was not impressed; in fact she looked to me like someone who was offended by it all.

After an awkward moment of silence, the niece asks me "Know any Arlo Guthrie?"

And in an instant, my memory was transported to a time 40 years before when a high school friend taught me an Arlo tune ...

I replied "Yes" and broke into the chorus of "Alice's Restaurant" which brought a smile to her face.

Judy and her friend Marge stood there gape-mouthed.

"Know any others" she asked?

I played as much of "City of New Orleans" as I could remember.

Again a moment of silence.

"Thanks" she said, "I'd like to receive Jesus now".

We prayed together and she received the Lord.

I asked her if she'd like to be baptized.

She said "yes".

Marge said "but you're not a pastor".

I replied "neither was Peter. Would one of you please bring a pan of water?"

Her aunt fetched the water straight away, I baptized her niece and we prayed again for her life and healing.

I can't tell you how many times I've reflected back on that afternoon, how simply being human and sharing a few half-remembered folk tunes was enough to convince the niece that she could have Jesus and continue to enjoy the music she loved.

As far as I know, she's the only person I've ever baptised with water.

On many occasions, I've celebrated the Lord's Supper with my wife, just the 2 of us, in our home. We've been out of the IC for about 12 years and the Lord has not led us to another fellowship or house church.

Bruce Woodford said...

Hey Jack,

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your story!

There are many outside the IC searching for fellowship with other saints on the same journey.

I'd encourage you and your wife to ask the Lord to connect you with other believers right in your own community with whom you can share fellowship and mutual ministry according to the gifts which He has given you for that purpose.

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce Woodford