Is the Great Commission only to Apostles?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Mrs. Bailey, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    No my friend. You re-read it. It says they were added. It says they were baptized. But it says nothing about causality. It does not say they were added BY baptism. Nor does it say the apostles added them.

    It says God was adding them.
  2. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    prosetithei -- continued action -- "continued to add..."

    tous swzomenous -- definite article with the present passive participle -- "...those who were being saved."

    The statement has direct reference to what has preceded, and describes the continuation of the same. "Being saved" is therefore identified with the conversion, baptism, and incorporation into the church family of those who gladly received the word of Peter. "The Lord added them," meaning that the Lord saves souls by converting and baptising them through the agency of the church and incorporating them into the church.
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I personally hold to a view that he Word of God converts by the Holy Spirit and adds to the invisible church which is from above. I know way many more who are in this situation than those who were converted under an ordained minister. I do believe in the local Church and its function in the believers life also. One can not be a Christian and deny the means of Grace God has given in my opinion, just like a baby that is born can not live with out physically being taken care of. A baby is born sucking from something. It is unable to nurture itself. There is no life outside. Just my humble opinion.

    BTW, the Apostles were ordained and sanctioned in Acts. 2. To argue against that is a theological problem in my estimation.
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Your eisegisis is blinding you. God uses means. I could take what you are saying and move farther away and say God saved without revelation. Are you willing to go there?
  5. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    No eisegesis at all. The eisegesis is asserting that verse 47, which says nothing at all about baptism, is talking about people being water-baptized into the Church. The text says nothing of the kind. It says God was adding to His church daily those that were being saved. So unless you believe in baptismal regeneration...

    ---------- Post added at 08:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:30 PM ----------

    I was saved by a non ordained co-worker witnessing to me. I never got to talk to the guy afterward (I worked construction and was moved around a lot), but a friend of mine, who was Pentecostal, took me to his church. It was the first church I had ever attended (basically: I visited a Catholic Church when I was 5).

    It was absolutely crazy. Not just tongue speaking, but tribal type "spirit" dancing, rolling around on the floor, etc. I was so put off by the experience, that I did not go to church again until I was 26 (I was raised in an atheist household: so when I saw that church, I just thought all modern churches were like that! LOL). I knew, from my own Biblical studies, that something was not right.

    So I spent several years growing in the Lord, knowledge of scriptures, etc., with no outside help (other than another friend of mine, who was also saved. We would discuss scripture for 8 or 10 hours straight sometimes.).

    Finally, I was introduced to a Southern Baptist Church, through my soon to be wife, where I am still a member.

    I would disagree with the extent of what you have said, but not the principal. It is very difficult for a believer to function outside of a local church. However, it is untrue to say that when a believer is separated from the assembly, he has no "life." Life comes from the Holy Spirit of God, not from the (local)church.

    It will, however, stunt your spiritual growth, leave you open to spiritual weakness, and even spiritual attacks, temptations, etc.

    The apostles were ordained and sanctioned long before Acts 2.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    First off it is hard to parse this.

    Are you asserting that someone can be a member of a local congregation without baptism? And are your saying this happened in the early church? I don't think you can historically nor theologically say this. Yes, I understand the numbers problem. But there were Elders and deacons set up for this problem. Yes, it was a problem. Especially in a persecuted Church. And I know about the persecuted church since I discipled a man who went to Russia as one in the Red country. Yes that is ,and or was, the hammer and cycle country.

    I do not know any Reformed or Particular Baptist guy who will tell you you are a part of a local church without baptism. Baptism into what? Christ? Yes, but it is also by a local Pastor or theologian who is ordained by a local church. Why would you desire anything else but that?

    I do not believe any of those baptized in Acts 2 where baptized outside of the local providence of the church. Do you really want to continue in this? I is outside the bounds of truth in my opinion.
  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    Out of curiosity, are you familiar with what the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession has to say regarding church membership?

    All those who have been saved, by the internal work of the Spirit, are invisible saints, ergo members of the invisible or universal church. It is quite possible that a person will come to faith in Christ and, like your story, not be baptized or come under the authority of the local church. If a Christian has only the internal work of the Spirit, but is not part of a local church, they are not members of the visible church (visible saints). They are not strengthening their faith by partaking of the ordinance of baptism or the Lord's Supper. They are outside of accountability, in effect a "Lone Ranger" Christian. Randy is not saying that a person cannot be saved outside the walls of local church. That happens all the time. But a person is not part of the visible church just by conversion. This is why salvation does not exist outside of the church. The church is entrusted with the oracles of God, as it were; the Gospel contained in the Word of God. There is no other entity on earth in which salvation resides except the church. Once again, it doesn't mean a person can't be saved by an itinerant preacher at the beach, but the normal (or ordinary, as Matthew Winzer quoted from the WCF) means is through the church.

    Does this make a bit more sense?
  8. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    I think Damon is saying that salvation comes by new birth,Spirit baptism. He is not addressing water baptism. His point is that God added to the church[invisible] by new birth.
    Water baptism followed as a public confession of those who God had already saved by indwelling them with the Spirit allowing for a saving reception of the word.
    Most adults get saved before they attend a formal church service. At the point they are saved they are part of the Heavenly Jerusalem, Heb 12:22-24.
    As they confess that faith publicly by obeying the command to be baptized they are accepted as members in a local assembly. The baptism in Acts 2 was credo baptism,yes.
    But the actual adding to the church was accomplished by the Spirit quickening those who the Lord was adding.
    Matthew's position seemed to be saying that without the means used in a local assembly,salvation cannot take place.
  9. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am certainly not saying this. Sorry, this thread is derailing, and it is getting hard to stay on topic. Let me re-focus...

    My contention is that it is the privilege of every believer to share the gospel; which is the definition of the noun form of "euangelion"; i.e. to be a "good news-er." Evangelism is primarily the job of normal, pew sitters, or "laity." Evangelism is nothing more than what it means: telling people of the good news of Christ. We, as the body of Christ, are to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." This commission is not given to some church government, it is given to all Christians, as the body of Christ.
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I am Reformed, not Arminian. "Salvation" is a comprehensive term which means more than an eternal life insurance policy. It is more than regeneration, decisional or otherwise. Once we were not a people but now are we the people of God (corporate). Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (corporate). One must be saved from independency, libertinism, etc. One must be saved to service, sacrifice, etc. No person may be ordinarily considered as saved who has not been converted, baptised, and incorporated into the visible church of Christ. If a person believes otherwise, he does not believe the Scriptures and has not taken his thoughts captive to bring them into obedience to Christ.
  11. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    I do not wish to correct you, but that is NOT what is says, brother. It says "All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints."

    So, being part of the "visible church" has nothing to do with being a part of the local assembly (necessarily) according to the 1689 LBCF. It THEN says, that these people, who are "visible saints" should be the people who take part in local congregations.

    I agree. However, there have been many such people in scripture; though I agree God's normal operation is through a local congregation.

    That is not what the LBCF says. Basically, it says that all of those who profess Christ, and whose actions do not contradict that profession, are visible saints. It then says that local churches should be made up of these visible saints: not like nowadays, where any unbeliever can come in and be a part. That is all that it is saying.

    I disagree. The ordinary means of salvation is singular men and women sharing their faith. The work of the church is to train believers (hence the LBCF, which states that local congregations only be made up of visible saints). Train them to do what? Spread the Gospel. This is the normal biblical model: people get saved outside the church, and then are brought into local assemblies.

    ---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:56 PM ----------

    Of course, as a Baptist, I disagree with you. Salvation is individual, not corporate. A believer should, when possible, participate in a local assembly, however, for the purposes of mutual edification and public worship (1689 LBCF Chapter 26, article 5).
  12. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Each living stone is saved individually. They do not remain isolated. God places them into the body,yes.
    You are always mentioning this corporate aspect. The scripture also mentions it, Christ loved the church[corporate]and gave himself for it. That is fine. We each one of us get saved from our sins [personal,and individual sins]. Each person will give account of himself to God.
    Those rejected in Mt 7:21 are told depart from me, I never knew "you". There is a point in time where an individual person is translated from death to life. It is the norm that they will become a member of a local corporate assembly.
    That is God's design. I am also reformed and not an arminian. But I know God saves individuals, and add's them{the individual} to a corporate assembly Heb 12:22-24.
    In 1 cor 3 it speaks of you plural, or corporately, and you singular right?
    There is a corporate aspect yes, but the corporate is made up of the assembly of the saved.[individuals]

    ---------- Post added at 12:24 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:14 AM ----------

    While I agree with you that God saves individuals, it is the norm and design of God that they function in a local assembly. You just posted this;
    I do not think it is just a nice idea, or as you say a believer should when possible particpate in a local assembly.
    It almost sounds too casual the way this was worded. I do not think "local church membership" is optional, but commanded ,ie Heb 13:7,17.
    I am sorry if I am misunderstanding your view, or if I am not reading your post the way you intended it to be.Feel free to clarify your view .
  13. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Actually, I got that wording from the LBCF, brother.

    How about this; "If at all possible." For instance, a missionary to a foreign country might go years without contact with a local assembly. Or if a person moves, due to a job change, and no local assembly is extant. When a person lives in a locale which does not have a local assembly which is sufficiently doctrinally sound, they should, of course, not participate with heretics.

    This does not mean, though, that they are separated from "life" and certainly they are not separated from salvation. These things are separate from the local church: the local church is for public worship, instruction, and fellowship.
  14. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    thanks for you example for when this might not be possible. I did not see this wording in the confession;
    It reads this way;5._____ Those thus called, he" commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches", for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world.
    But I see what you are getting at. I was more addressing the ordinary course of events in response to Matthew looking at the corporate nature of the body.
  15. Mrs. Bailey

    Mrs. Bailey Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi again!
    Hmmm. While I have greatly appreciated the debate here I was hoping for some clarity. At any rate, it seems to have lead to a :worms:.

    Some have taken up their thoughts and departed with frustration, I fear. Some could uncharitably think that "a love for the lost" is not included in any of the stated confessions. I guess I'll leave that to you who have a better grasp on it than me.

    As it stands, we ARE sent by our Session, through the mission sending organization arm of our denomination. So, that all being said... my understanding from reading here is that one or all of these persons are perhaps in error and being a hinderance to the proper building of the Kingdom of God through his many graces, including the Church.

    Am I interpreting the majority of the many comments correctly?

    I do, indeed, appreciate all of the thoughtful discourse.

  16. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I think it boils down to this: 'lay-evangelism' advocates distinguish between the duties of the Evangelist office holder and the duties of all Christians as a difference of 'degree'. I believe it is a difference of 'kind' and, therefore, do not use the same word to describe both. The difference in 'kind' has to do with what Rev Winzer touched on earlier and that is the authority that is attached to the 'heralding' of the minister of the word. John the Baptist had the authority to demand people bring forth fruits worthy of repentance whereas my 12 year old daughter does not.

    That said, I know exactly what the word 'evangelize' means in modern parlance, just as I know what the word 'Reformed' means in modern parlance. ;)
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Would refusing to 'take part in a local congregation' be an example of 'destroying their own profession'?
  18. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    I believe the framers of the 1689 LBC inexorably linked the first and second parts of 26.2. How does a new believer become a member of a local church? I'm not talking about becoming a member of the universal (invisible) church, but the local church. It is through baptism that they are welcomed into fellowship. It is then, and only then, that are considered part of the visible church. Now, to borrow a term from Ken, in modern parlance the term visible church is not used often among Baptists, save for Reformed Baptists, but it should be. All believers, in ordinary circumstances, are commanded to become part of local churches. Ken was right when he asked:

    Absolutely, under ordinary circumstances. Unless a person is providentially prevented from joining a church, not taking part in a local congregation shows a disdain for God and His people. This type of behavior may be best examined over time, but the point remains that we are commanded to join with other believers.
  19. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sorry, brother. I was wrong about the exact wording here, but it is in there. Look at article 12...

    "As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do"

    "having opportunity" and "being possible" I believe are synonymous.

    ---------- Post added at 08:03 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:57 AM ----------

    Refusing, yes. If you showed that particular person that they were sinning by not attending church, and yet they refused to join themselves to a local assembly, this would indeed destroy their profession.

    However, this is greatly different from ignorance, or inability. God has shown me many things in His word, which I did not know were wrong until I read it in the scriptures. This is part of the sanctification process that all believers go through. Such a person, who is simply ignorant, is not sinning. In fact, since I believe in a Sovereign God, I believe God might have left that person ignorant of this fact for a reason.

    Likewise, it is not sinful for a Christian to move, for whatever reason, to a place which does not have a local assembly. Nor, wwhen they do so, have they been cut off from "salvation" nor from "life."
  20. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This discussion has been profitable to me. Thanks everyone.
  21. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    This has helped me understand the argument better. Thanks.
  22. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Is this what you believe Rev Winzer is arguing?

    What do you believe the LBC is saying here:

    By whom is the outward call offered? The confession says that it is by 'the ministry of the Word'. Who are these 'ministers of the Word' by whom the outward call is offered? Is a man damned because he rejects the gospel as it is presented to him by my 12 year old daughter?
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like the 1689 also thinks men need to be approved by the Church when it comes to the ministry of the Word. I was taught to share the word of God with others by my Elders. I was also encouraged by them and recommended to do one on one discipleship. I do not baptize anyone. I will not. I have not been commissioned by the Church for such a function. I am not an Elder nor a deacon. I personally do not believe I have the gifts for such works of office.
  24. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    So you were approved and called by your church for the ministry of the Word.
  25. Damon Rambo

    Damon Rambo Puritan Board Sophomore

    If you say that there is no salvation outside of the church, that is exactly what is being said, whether it is meant or not.
    The work of the ministry: let's see I heard that somewhere...

    Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
    Eph 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

    Notice that the work of the ordained men, is to equip the saints (laity) to go out and do ministry, which includes evangelism

    And in regards to your other question: a man is condemned already. If your 12 year old gives him an accurate portrayal of the gospel, and that man rejects it, yes indeed sir: he has heaped up judgment to himself. Your daughter (if she is indeed regenerate) is a daughter of the King.
  26. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    It was recognized that I had some gifts and teaching ability. I was not formally ordained. I will admit that I did lead and organize some home bible studies outside of the authority of the Church in the 80's. I recognized the importance of church authority later and taught some under the authority of the Church along with a group of very good men. Of course I was in the Baptist Church at that time during the 90's. I also taught very few Sunday Schools in place of one of the Elders. I was also very involved with a Friday morning mens group at the church and shared in teaching that under the Churches authority.

    But I was taught Systematic Theology and Christian History by my RPCNA Pastor in the late 80's. That is also where I learned the importance of being under the authority of the Church for my protection as well as for others. I was taught to share the Gospel and disciple others in the early 80's in a Parachurch organization. While in that organization I was very involved with a confessing Reformed Baptist church.

    While I was a member of the PCA I was given some responsibility to teach the teens along with another friend by the RE's and the TE. Since I am Baptist I had promised to promote the peace, unity, and purity of the Church. And I did.

    (2Ti 2:2) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am sorry but I don't see evangelism in the passage you quote. I am not necessarily disagreeing with you. At the same time even if sharing the word of God is something that is included here the confession is specific about recognized men who are approved and called by the Church to do it.

    LBCF 26.11b
  28. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I notice that your version of verses 11 and 12 teaches that evangelists equip saints for the work of ministry. It doesn't say that evangelists equip all of the saints to perform all of the duties of church ministry. Did apostles equip every single saint to be an apostle? Did the prophets equip every single saint to be a prophet? Did shepherds equip every single saint to be a shepherd?

    Just to clarify then, you believe that all saints are 'ministers of the Word'? Or only those who give an accurate portrayal of the gospel?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2010
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure why you are appealing to the fact that you are a Baptist. Reformed Baptists hold the same as Prebyterians. Please read Keach's Catechism, which uses precisely the same language as the Shorter Catechism in this regard:

    "Q. 92. What does God require of us, that we may escape His wrath and curse, due to us for sin? A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption."

    "Q. 95. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption? A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation."

    "Q. 96. How is the Word made effectual to salvation? A. The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation."

    Concerning your idea of the Great Commission, please read Samuel Waldron's Exposition of the BCF. He states unequivocally, "Christ's command to his people to walk together in particular churches is more than simply another one of his precepts. This precept creates the structure or context in which the Great Commission (especially the third part alluded to in the Confession) is carried out" (p. 317).
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  30. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Anthony, this is simply wrong. No living stone is saved individually. Even the apostle Paul, with his extraordinary vision of Christ, required the ministry of Ananias and was immediately attached to the disciples.
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