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By the late Dr. B. F. Dearmore, Long a Leader Among
Real, Bible Believing Direct Missions Independent
Baptists, and Father of the Webmaster

Copyright 2001 by James H. Dearmore, Garland, Texas
Permission granted to print copy for own use.

Chapter 4

I know of no better way, than by the study of the early churches, to discover the church of today. Certainly there are not 1440 churches. (America has 1440 religious bodies) (Ed. Note -- This 1440 number was an estimate which was commonly accepted in the 1940's, when B. F. Dearmore wrote this, but I suspect the number now would be much larger.)

I. The Church was and is a Local Body.

(A) I Corinthians 1:2, and in almost every letter that Paul wrote he addressed them to a local body. Revelation, chapter 2 and 3, is addressed to local churches. Matthew 18:17 could not be spoken to any but a local church.

(B) The church is not an invisible or universal body. In the first place, there is not one scripture to indicate any such thing. In the second place, try to apply Matthew 18:17 to an invisible church, "and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the (invisible) church."

Or, again, applying the same scripture to the universal church idea, we have: "and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church (all christians)." Don't you think it would take quite a while to do so?

Some have said "church" sometimes means a local body, sometimes an invisible body, and sometimes a universal body. In other words, they want the privilege to change the meaning to fit their own unbiblical interpretations.

We must not neglect the "Radio Church of the Air" (or the "TV Church", or other such abominations). This is an innovation of recent years. I am not opposed to radio or TV programs, teaching scriptural truths, sponsored by some church, but the "Radio Church of the Air" and the other para-church organizations of our day, are not found in the Bible, nor is there any biblical principle which can be stretched to justify them.

The "Radio Church" (or any other para-church organization) cannot perform the functions of the church scripturally, as given in the Great Commission. There the Church was commanded and authorized to make disciples, baptize, observe the Lord's Supper, and and teach them all the other things "I (Christ) have commanded you."

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." --- (Matthew 28:19-20).

Imagine, if you can, baptizing or observing the Lord's Supper over the air, or in some universal, invisible "Church".

II. The Church Was and Is a Democratic Body.

In Matthew 18:17-18, the church as a local body is commissioned to withdraw fellowship from members who will not hear its commands. ''Let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican. '' and ''whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever Ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

In Acts 1:15-26 we have an account of a democratic local church nominating two men, "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias." This was done in a regular, old-fashioned Baptist election.

III. The Church Is a Missionary Body.

The Great Commission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:27: Acts 1:8) all stress the fact that the church is to "Go into all the world."

In Acts 13:1, 4, Paul and Barnabas were sent by the church at Antioch and by the Holy Ghost.

John the Baptist was a missionary sent from God to the world "There was a man sent from God whose name was John." John 1:6.

John came to prepare a people to receive Christ, the world's greatest missionary, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17.

IV. The Church Is a Body That Teaches the Eternal Salvation of the Soul.

As we have proved in the beginning of this outline, Christ organized the first church. In John 10:28 he taught the church about salvation, "And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish."

Fifty-three times in the New Testament, salvation is referred to as "eternal" or "everlasting."

Peter, after Christ, the first pastor of the Jerusalem Church, believed and taught eternal salvation. In I Peter 1:5 he says, "Kept by the power of God."

Paul, in Romans 6:23, taught and preached, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord."

James 1:18, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth . . . with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James, then, believed we are saved by God.

He also believed Ecclesiastes 3:14, "I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it."

John, in his first epistle, says it is impossible for the spirit of a saved man to sin. Without sin no one would claim that you could be lost again. ". . . Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin. because he is born of God." I John 3:9.

Jude believed in eternal salvation, for he said in verse 1 that he was "preserved in Jesus Christ;" and in verse 24, talking about Christ, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy . . ." etc.

V. The Church Is a Body That Scripturally Observes The Lord's Supper.

What do we mean when we say scripturally? We mean in the same way, so far as materials used and as to who observes it.

(A) Christ used grape juice and the unleavened bread.

The word "wine" as used in the Bible, means grape juice, either fermented or not fermented. Isaiah 65:8 says that the new wine is in the cluster. Certainly no one would suggest that there could be fermented wine in the cluster.

(B) Who partook of the first Lord's Supper? In Luke 6:13 Christ named twelve disciples as apostles. In I Corinthians 12:28 God set first in the church apostles.

When Christ instituted the Supper He had only this church, the twelve apostles, present. His own mother was not even there; only the church partook of the Supper. Who are we that we should invite others?

In I Corinthians 11:28 Paul told the church members to examine themselves. A fair reading will show that some had been partaking in an unworthy manner. He was not talking to non-church members.

VI. The Church Is a Body That Scripturally Baptizes.

In Matthew 28 the commission was given to the church. In Acts 2 about 3,000 souls entered the church by baptism.

When Christ was baptized, He approved the ordinance by word and deed; the Holy Ghost approved it by coming as a snow-white dove; God the father approved it by speaking from Heaven.

The mode was and is by a burial, Colossians 2:12, "Buried with Him in baptism ..." and Romans 6:4 "buried with Him by baptism ..."

The ordinance is given to the church. The agent of the church is the pastor, or some one designated and empowered by the church.

Baptism's importance is shown by the fact that Christ was baptized, and He said, "Thus it becomes us to fuffill all righteousness."

VII. The Church Is a Body That Studies and Teaches the Bible.

In the "great Commission," the church is commanded twice to teach.

(1) Teach people how to become disciples. That is the commission of the church toward the world.

(2) Teach baptized believers to "observe all things" that Christ has commanded. That is the commission of the Church to the Church members.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15.

What is the word of truth? The Bible is the Word of Truth. Romans 3:4, ". . . yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; . . ."

John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." Search what? The Scriptures.

According to the first chapter of John, the Word is as old as God. It became Scripture when written.

There is no indication of a command to study anything other than the Bible.

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