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The Church Should Require Fruits PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lee Hanks   

The Gospel Messenger, December 1913

I was interested in reading an article from and esteemed Elder recently, where he was giving the brethren a word of warning about the way and manner in which members are received. He spoke of the cases in some sections where large numbers go to Associations to join, perhaps, where the members were not acquainted with them, and did not know of their daily deportment, and said he had seen, perhaps about twenty join at one meeting without telling an experience of grace. We should tenderly nurse and encourage the Lord's people to follow the Saviour. They all feel poor and unworthy, and need to be strengthened by sweet experimental and godly exhortation to walk in the footsteps of the Saviour. But it seems that it would be better for persons who have a hope to join the church where they are best known and where the members know of their fruits. They should love the pastor in their own community.

It is better to join the church and not a preacher. It is encouraging to the pastor for you to go and join the church where you live. It is true that some from deep impression of mind and comfort received from some servant of God desire that he should baptize them, which is all right. People should not wait for fleshly excitement to join. Preaching Christ and His fullness will reach the experience of God's humble poor without undue excitement. The first old Baptist preacher demanded fruits meet for repentance. When one offers to the church he should tell his experience before being received. It is a comfort to the church and each child of God to hear him, though in a broken, stammering way, tell what the Lord has done for him. It causes your fellowship to be stronger for him. We have seen children of God offer to the church and tell in broken sentences what the Lord had done for them. I felt that I wanted to embrace them in my fellowship. We can get so slack as to fill the church with the world. When unregenerate people get into the church, we then sooner or later will have trouble. Arminianism is there. When a boy I became disgusted with protracted meetings and propositions. These things may be indulged in mildly at the start, but will degenerate into Arminan practice and lead the church into Babylon. The Arminian world depends upon protracted meetings almost solely to augment their numbers. If Old Baptists use the same machinery that Arminians do, how much better will we be practically than they? Like causes produce like effects. I have never called on anybody to come up and give me their hand, and let me pray for them. This has been the practice of the Fullerite Baptists. Preachers are not mediators. It is dangerous to regard them as such. Christ is the only Mediator. I once saw a good, humble child of God offer to the church, and she seemed so full I was anxious to hear her experience, for I saw the image of Jesus in her countenance, but the preacher did not let her have an opportunity to talk or tell anything. I think this course unsafe for our people. We should be careful in the reception of members. Some of the humblest children of God can tell but little, but they can give evidence that they have passed from death unto life. How sweet those little experiences! We should not go to another extreme and not properly nurse and encourage the Lord's children to follow the Saviour.

L. H.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.