Is the Great Commission for us today?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Pergamum, Nov 3, 2007.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I caught that. Either way I find it to be a silly point.

    By the way, the Confession for members on this board is the 1689 and not the 1644 LBCF.

    The 1689 seems to group the two ordinances under those able to administer both the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

    The use of the term preach in the Confession has a particular connotation that regards activity within the Church. Do Baptists actually allow women to preach within the Church?
    Even the above notes that only those approve and called by the church are permitted to preach. Ergo, a person would be restricted from baptizing unless approved and called by the Church.

    This again affirms the larger point (exclusive of gender) that the Great Commission is not rooted in individual activity.
  2. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    I am aware of this, but it is worth noting that Reformed Baptists hold both the 1644 and 1689 and, unlike some, do not treat the two as if the doctrines are at odds with each other.

    Rich, I believe you are not properly distinguishing between "preaching the Word" and "preaching the gospel." I believe there is a difference between being given responsibility to preach as a leader in the church in order to care for a flock and the preaching the gospel by sharing one's faith. All are called to do the latter including women, but not all are called to do the former.

    When the LBCF says preaching in the paragraph on baptism, it means the latter. It is crystal clear that this preaching is not related to a particular office, but to disciples.

    As noted in the following thread, it is not accepted among all Baptists that baptism ought to take place within the church. Some, such as Reformed Baptist John Gill, believe that baptism should take place outside the church service as an act that brings one into the church. Baptists, including many on this board (according to the poll), are often indifferent on whether baptism belongs in the church service as an element of worship.
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

  4. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    I'm finding different versions of the confession (variations between the 1644 and 1646?), but section LXI in another version reads:

    London Baptist Confession of 1644

    "The persons designed by Christ, to dispense this ordinance, the Scriptures hold forth to a preaching Disciple, it being no where tied to a particular church, officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other consideration, but as considered Disciples."

    You seem to say that it requires church approval, but it says "no where tied to a particular church, officer, or person extraordinarily sent" and "given to them under no other consideration." If it required church approval, wouldn't that be tied to a particular church? Honestly, I think it's crystal clear, both in this version and the other version of the confession.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  5. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member


    You say, "However, I do not believe it excludes a believer from sharing his faith." I have heard this statement before. Are there really people out there that take the Great Commission to say that individual believers should not share their faith? Does anyone have examples?
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Again, as noted in PM, if the 1644 and the 1689 are compatible then the only place in either document where those able to preach is found in the 1689 which I quoted and states that they have to be gifted by the Holy Spirit and identified by the Church as being able.

    If you wish to claim otherwise then you have yet failed to provide anywhere in either the 1644 or the 1689 where the qualifications for those who may preach along the way are found even though the 1644 clearly states that they must be so qualified.
  7. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    The 1644 is in harmony with the 1689 in that it does place qualifications on officers. In XXXVI, it states: "That being thus joined, every Church has power given them from Christ for their better well-being, to choose to themselves fitting persons into the office of Pastors, Teachers, Elders, Deacons, being qualified according to the Word, as those which Christ has appointed in His Testament, for the feeding, governing, serving, and building up of His Church, and that none other have to power to impose them, either these or any other."

    But several paragraphs later is XLI, which, as I noted, does not restrict the administration of baptism in the same way it restricts church officers.

    So both the 1644 and the 1689 present ordained officers as leaders of the flock, but the 1689 does not restrict baptism to this office, and the 1644 explicitly denies such a restriction. So they are in harmony.

    Dr. James Renihan clearly expounds on the 1644 and 1689 confessions, stating them to be in harmony in one another and notes that in the preface to the 1689, the first LBC is referred to as having the same substance. I really don't have any more to add to what Dr. Renihan says.
    Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689, James M. Renihan | The Reformed Reader

    I have been informed that in this thread that I am perceived to have a tendency for peevishness. If any of you have perceived this in any of my posts, I deeply apologize.
  8. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Again, Don, you have failed to answer the specific question.

    1. You believe this statement to only refer to qualifications on officers but it clearly states:
    This specifically states:

    a. That preaching can be performed by people who are not Church Officers.
    b. Provided they are qualified to do so and identified by the Church as qualified.

    2. I am not arguing that the LBCF teaches that baptism is to be performed only by Church Officers. I only noted that, if, as is clear, that the Confessions are in harmony, then even the 1644 places a requirement upon those who are baptizing:

    a. You have failed to demonstrate conclusively that this is really gender neutral. Simply stating that every other case of men means mankind in the 1644 does not address the issue conclusively even within the document.

    (i) Can you give me any historical evidence from the minutes of the 1644 or the 1689 that the writers intended to convey that women could baptize?
    (ii) Can you give me any examples of men baptized by women along the way that are accepted as valid baptisms?

    b. If the 1689 and the 1644 are harmonious, there is no other place in either document where who is "able to preach" is spelled out except in the 1689 portion that I quoted above. As I noted, the 1689 does not require that the person be a Church Officer in that portion but it does require that their gift be identified by the Church.

    c. If you don't believe that qualification in the section of the 1689 applies to the portion about baptism in the 1644, then on what basis is the individual supposed to determine if they are qualified to preach? Is it their judgment call? Do they just suppose: "That includes me" and then baptize a person? Are you qualified to preach in the way spelled out in the 1644 passage and, consequently, may you baptize a man so that the Church you attend will accept the baptism of the man you baptized? Did you determine that on your own or did the Church tell you that you are qualified?
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Wow..I did not expect gender issues to pop up on this thread!

    I am very credo and I like Rich's verbiage of "derivitive authority"

    It does appear the the Great Commission was given to the leaders of the church for the whole church.

    Therefore the "every person a missionary view" is wrong, even as the view is wrong that our only duty is to bring someone to church for the "professionals" to handle it.
    The faith expands due to all of us. But everyone does not have the same role.

    Most of the spread of Christianity has been through laymen and not the clergy or pastors at all. They "share" their faith based on that derivitive authority from the church.

    Even women are to share that faith and they do it often better than men.

    However, baptizing is one of the things given to the Apsotles and now to the church. Therefore, we must conclude that the Great Commission belongs to "the church" as in its leadership and only to every single member secondarily. Otherwsie, every single Christian could baptise new beleivers, even women.

    The only NT examples of baptizing people I see are males who were designated leaders of the churches (of course Philip a deacon baptized, but he appears to have been sent out as an evanglest to Samaria on that occasion...can anyone clarify this point).

    Also, there are many verbs used when the NT speaks of sharing the Gospel. Preaching, proclaiming, teaching, heralding, etc. Women can do some of these and were said to do some of these in th NT but some of these verbs seemed reserved for elders/pastors of churchs in their official role. But, everyone of us can tell others, though we are all not called to preach from the pulput or baptise.

    I wish I had a handy list of those verbs and who did them in the NT...maybe the subject for another thread.
  10. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I would simply extend these remarks to add that the "making disciples" in the Great Commission includes Baptism but also "teaching everything I have commanded..." and that can only be achieved within the Church even if one argues that the baptism can occur outside a proper Church service. Even if the baptism could be conducted by other disciples, it would have to be sanctioned eventually by the Church when the baptized person came to Church. If they accept all the baptisms by those who are members of the Church then they'll be extending the right hand of fellowship and all privileges that are extended to the baptized. If they do not extend that privilege then, in essence, the person has not been baptized in the eyes of the Church and the "teaching" part of the Church's role cannot begin until the person is a visible disciple.

    Regarding this:
    I would agree that laymen have a huge role in the number of people reached for the Gospel but Christianity does not occur outside the Church so those reached are eventually pastored inside a Church or they're really not disciples of Christ. Hence, even though laymen plant the seed and bring in many, it is the purview of the pastors to nurture and establish.

    And, by the way, I completely agree that women play a huge role in the spread of the Gospel.
  11. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Can you elaborate on this?
  12. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    In the early church, before Constantine, most scholars trace the explosive spread of Christianity by laymen, tradesmen, and women who "gospelled" to their neighbors and spoke Christ in the confines of their workplace and families. There were not well organzied churches or designated leaders of these churches but laymen took the lead, met in homes and then later the catcombs and spread Christianity from the grassroots.

    ALso, self-designated men or locally designated evanglists itenerated (thus the letter of 3rd John to give oversight of this reality, which taught the early church to support the good, not even greet the bad and gives us a glimpse into how the Gospel was spreading at that time).

    WHen Christianity gained in favor with Rome and Constantine approved it, then larger institutions were set up and the laity's role decreased. But the explosive first period of the church was primarily the work of laymen.

    Thus, it is good that we reformed exalt the role of preaching and the role of the elders, but we would do well likewise to mobilize the laymen to evangleize too within their roles (and thus extends BEYOND just inviting people to the church). At periods where the laymen are active and spreading the faith, the church always spreads fastest and farthest.
  14. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I am not disagreeing with you but could you cite some references? I would like to research these very interesting claims. :book2:
  15. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Does Paul ever tell laypeople to evangelize? I see admonitions like "live peacably" and "be ready to answer" but not admonitions to go knocking on doors, or do anything "active," really. From Acts I was under the impression that the early church grew through the preaching of the apostles, evangelists, and other appointed ministers.
  16. christiana

    christiana Puritan Board Senior

    Of course! He was speaking to believers everywhere when in 2 Cor 5:20 he pleads:
    Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God!
  17. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Good question.....where are the PB wise ones? I would actually like a Pastoral take on David's question.:detective:
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Acts 8:1-4 speaks of the activity of Christians scattered in the persecution spreading the Gospel all over. Dr. Mark Terry (25 of "Evangelism") claims that the majority of the witness in Acts WAS laymen evangelism.

    "What is clear is that every Christian was a witness. Where there were Christians, there would be living, burning faith and before long an expanding Christian community." Stephen Neill traces this lay evangelism in A History of Christian Missions, 24.

    Herbert Kane sums it up, "In those early days the church WAS mission." (Christian Missions, 65)
  19. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I thank you for the link, Don, it is excellent and dare I say it, a must read for all Reformed Baptists, especially those who claim to hold to the 1st and not the 2nd LBC.

    However, I think you are drawing different conlusions from the historical evidence than Dr. Renihan does. (Being as well connected as you are, you may be able to query Dr. Renihan yourself and find that I am totally off base)

    I could not find anywhere in his paper where he states that the 1st and 2nd are 'in harmony' with one another as you assert. He does show that they are the same 'in substance' in that the 2nd is more 'fully and distinctly' an expression of 17th century Particular Baptist beliefs. The point that Dr. Renihan seems to be making is that the two confessions do not prove, as some claim, that there were two different varieties of 17th century Particular Baptists and that we can use the 2nd to define the 1st but not the other way around.

    From the paper:

    The 'latter confession', then being more fully and distinctly an expression of what these men believed, must have the final say. And the 2nd says...

    Then chapter 26 goes on to explain a sort of 'exception' to the ordinances mentioned above...

    However, no such exception (that I can find) exists for the ordinance of baptism or the Lord's Supper.

    In addition, Dr. Renihan makes it very clear in his paper that the source document for the 2nd LBC is the WCF. As you know it is virtually a mirror image of the WCF except in those specific areas where there is disagreement and then the 2nd LBC goes to great lengths to explain those differences. But nowhere (that I can find) does the 2nd LBC go to great lengths to explain a difference with chapter 27 of the WCF...

    If the 17th century Particular Baptists disagreed with the WCF on this point wouldn't they have clearly explained their differences?
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    IN Acts 2 God fearing Jews from all over came to Jeruslame and then seemed to spread this message back home,

    In Acts 11:19-21, we see the result of their faithfulness:

    Those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

    The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to minister to the new believers (Acts 11:22-23).
    How did these new beleivers come about if no one was sent before?
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    More on lay evangelism (or "witness" if you would prefer this verbage):

    The Legion fella that Christ healed was told to go tell people; which he did very effectively (Luke 8 I think).

    Third John was all about the travelling evangelists. Feed and house the good ones; DOn't even greet the bad ones.
  22. christiana

    christiana Puritan Board Senior

    Well, I may not be a 'PB wise one' but I can read and accept what God said in His word as truth and it clearly says that we, as believers are to spread the Word of the gospel to others! That is a command!
  23. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    As usual in these kinds of threads it is difficult to discuss these things because of the different definitions we all have for 'preaching', 'witnessing, 'evangelizing' etc. etc.

    Let us all agree with these things...

    'Preaching' is is a means of grace on par with Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

    'Preaching' is given to 'the church' for the gathering and perfecting of the saints.

    Although those who are not bishops or pastors may 'preach', they must be 'gifted' and 'fitted' by the HS and 'approved' and 'called' by the church.

    Notice, however, that I am not saying that many or all may be 'gifted' and 'fitted' or even 'commanded' to witness, or evangelize or 'share the faith' etc. (whatever those words might mean) but the Reformer's view is that when one 'preaches' they represent a specific church body and have been approved and called for that function.
  24. christiana

    christiana Puritan Board Senior

    This has been the subject of the last few sermons on the church and their responsibility that I've been privileged to hear! They have been very convincing, convicting and motivating! Please listen to what our responsibility is: - Search Results
  25. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    More thoughts:

    In the OED, the word 'preaching' is most often associated with the word 'sermon'. For example...

    and a 'sermon' is defined as a 'discourse' that is most often associated with the 'pulpit'...

    Also, the word 'keryssein' means to 'herald'. This evokes the picture of a herald who was sent by a king to a village to make a proclamation or report. The villagers would gather around and the herald would deliver his already composed message. The herald did not go from person to person, delivering the message to whomever he happened to enter into a conversation with. The whole event had an air of formality to it.

    It would seem to me that 'preaching', then is a sermon, sanctioned by a church, delivered from the pulpit,and fitted by the HS as a means of grace.

    With that definition of 'preaching' I don't see how all Christians are commanded to preach. If you want to argue that all Christians are commanded to 'evangelize' or 'witness' or 'share their faith' then that would be a different subject. :2cents:
  26. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    If the LBCF is not a mirror image in a section of the confession, there probably was disagreement. I think the fact that the Particular Baptists omitted this portion from the WCF, plus the testimony of the 1644, is sufficient to show that there was some disagreement with the view set forth in the WCF.
  27. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree with you Pergamum that lay evangelism is criticial. John Owen, for example, argued that there was a mandate on all believers to evangelise that arises from the command to do good to all people.

    However, what is regularly forgotten is that the Great Commission is not a command to evangelise. It is the command to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). And the way disciples are made is through "baptising" and "teaching".

    Hence, evangelism is only a part of the great commission. New converts need to be made into disciples who will persevere to the end and not be like the the two seeds in the parable of the sower who die out over time. The Bible doesn't teach once saved always saved, but the final perseverance of the saints. As Calvin said we can't be saved in the end apart from the church.

    Thus, the whole church is needed for the great commission because all believers have spiritual gifts that are needed for the whole body of Christ to be built up. The great commission is profoundly churchly.
  28. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    1Thess 1

    1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    2We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

    3Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

    4Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

    5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

    6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

    7So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

    8For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

    9For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

    10And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

    In verse 8,9, it sounds very clearly as if they were openly confessing Christ. I am sure they were doing the work of an evangelist. I did like how Rich had tied in the idea of a strong view of the local church.
    Discipleship should take place under the oversight of those who have the rule over us. How else
    could we obey ,
    Hebrews 13: 7Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,
    17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you
  29. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    How can the 1644 testimony be sufficient to show disagreement with the view set forth in the WCF when the WCF had not been done yet? Remember it came in 1646. Plus the purpose of the 1644 was different than the WCF. The 1644 was written to give an answer to the charge of heresy to some who were publishing tracts accusing the Particular Baptists of anabaptist heresies and uprisings. The 1644 was not written to be a definitive confession of Particular Baptist Theology as much as it was a defense that they were not heretics.
  30. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I am still not convinced that the 1st LBC carries any weight in this matter simply because it is vague on the qualifications of the adminster of baptism. Once again, Dr. Renihan, in his article listed above, states:

    And the 'True Confession' seems to say that baptism should be performed by a minister of the Word:

    It just seems to me that the testimony of the 1st LBC does not 'clearly' show that lay-baptisms are confessionally reformed. However, I will concede that our Baptist forefathers are not as clear on the subject as are the Presbyterian forefathers.
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