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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Questions and Answers-Part 6
Questions and Answers-Part 6 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   



Q. What are the meanings of the word elder, bishop, pastor, and minister?
A. Elder (an ancient Jewish title) means older, one having age and authority over younger persons; in ancient times age was essential to authority, because age is generally accompanied by experience and wisdom, and persons of age are usually appointed or chosen to positions of authority in modern times; among the ancient Jews, elders were the fathers or forefathers, the heads, representatives, judges, and rulers of families and tribes, and the Jewish Sanhedrin or Assembly was composed of elderly men, and it was the Supreme Court of the nation, to whom were referred the more difficult cases from the lesser courts of elders in the towns and cities, but, under the Roman government, while the Sanhedrin could condemn a person to death, only the Roman procurator or governor could have the sentence carried into execution; in the New Testament an elder is a person possessed of superior spiritual wisdom, and authorized by the church of his membership to preach and administer the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper; even the Apostle Peter (whose false or pretended successors, Roman Catholic popes assume to be lords over the church and the world), calls himself by the humble title of elder (I Pet. 5:1). Bishop (a more modern title) means overseer, and a bishop in the New Testament is a spiritual overseer of a church, and is the same as an elder (Acts 20:17,28); Peter calls Christ the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Pet. 2:25). Pastor means feeder or shepherd, and he is one who should provide good pasture for his flock, and guide, heal, and preserve them; God is called our Pastor or Shepherd (Psalm 23:1); so is Christ (John 10:11; I Pet. 2:25); and so are God's ministers (Jer.3:15; Eph. 4:11). Minister means servant or attendant; Christ is called a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man (Heb. 8:2); angels are also called ministers or ministering servants to the heirs of salvation (Psalm 104: 4; Heb. 1:13,14).

Q. What may be said to comfort one who is troubled because not realizing the love of the dear Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved poor sinners to such an extent that He the eternal Son of God, became a man to suffer, bleed, and die for them?
A. None are troubled on that account who do not believe in and love the Saviour. All our love for Christ, compared to His love of us, is but as the heat of the moon compared to the heat of the sun; it is cold indeed. When by an eye of faith we behold the King in His beauty, we esteem Him as the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely, and we desire to love Him infinitely more, and to serve Him infinitely better, and to be with Him and like Him forever. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).

Q. When we have small but comforting evidences of our acceptance with the Lord, can we rely on these as coming from Him, or are they the products of an overwrought imagination?
A. If these evidences are in accordance with the teachings of the Scriptures, they come from the Lord. If we feel sinful and unworthy of the least of God's mercies, and yet hope that He has given His dear Son to bear our sins in His own body on the accursed tree, and mourn over His undeserved and unparalleled sufferings for our transgressions, and hate the sins that slew Him, and desire above all things else to be conformed to His perfect character, and earnestly wish to obey all the holy commandments of God, and to be resigned to all His providences, however afflictive, and love his dear people because we believe they are His people, and heartily enjoy the preaching of the pure gospel of salvation by grace, we may be sure that these feelings are from the Lord, and that He is our Heavenly Father, and is preparing us by His Holy Spirit and the blood of His dear Son, for a blissful and everlasting abode with Him in glory.


Q. Are all human beings obliged to commit all the sins they do, and do all God's people do all the good that His grace enables them to do?
A. Such wild statements are unscriptural, pantheistic, and fatalistic; they virtually charge all the blame for all sin upon an essentially, infinitely, and eternally holy God, and exempt man from all accountability and all just chastisement or punishment, and they should not be fellowshipped by any sound and orderly church.

Q. About what per cent of Primitive Baptists believe that God decreed all things that occur and all the means necessary to bring about all events?
A. To the best of my knowledge and belief, not more than about one-tenth.

Q. Did some leading ministers of former ages believe in this doctrine?
A. Yes; a few among Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Baptists; though the most of them were careful to modify it as is done in the London Baptist Confession of 1689, which declares "yet so as thereby God is neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established," but God "leaves," "permits," and "gives over" His creatures to sin, and at the same time "most wisely and powerfully bounds, disposes, and governs their sins to His most holy ends."

Q. If the only witnesses against a member charged with disorder are outsiders what course should the church pursue?
A. Appoint a committee to investigate the matter, and if the committee becomes satisfied of the guilt of the member, the church should either reprove or exclude him or her according to the enormity of the offense.

Q. What was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6-15)?
A. It is not defined in the Scriptures, but it is supposed to be substantially the same as the doctrine (or teaching) of Balaam and of Jezebel, denounced in the same chapter (Rev. 2:4,20), that is, antinomian libertinism, "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness" (Jude 4), making the doctrine of salvation by grace an excuse for unchastity and idolatry.

Q. You criticise the Absoluters for saying they lose nothing in disobedience, nor gain anything in obedience. Now if they gain something in obedience that they would not in disobedience, do they not merit it by their obedience?
A. Merit means reward, and "reward" is found in the Bible eighty times, and to teach the truth as inspired men taught it, my answer must be, yes. Let God's children, however, not get confused here: the rewards spoken of in the Bible never refer to salvation of lost sinners, that is alone by grace. But God's people are under laws or statutes, "and in the keeping of them there is great reward" (Psa. 19:11). "Verily there is a reward for the righteous" (Psa. 59:11). "If thine enemy hunger, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee." (Prov. 25:20-21). Jesus said if in giving alms, if given in the right spirit and in secret - not to be seen of men, "thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Mat. 6:4). Also in the giving "a cup of cold water only .... he shall in no wise lose his reward" (Matt. 10:42). Paul said, "Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor" (I Cor. 3:8). If the preacher preaches willingly, he has a reward (I Cor. 9:17). In Revelation, last chapter, Jesus said, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." These are primitive truths and he who does not believe them should not call himself a Primitive Baptist. P.



Q. Does it take the unanimous vote of the members of a church, who are present in conference, to restore an excluded member?
A. Yes; even one vote against his restoration would prevent it for such a restoration would at once cause a division and disorder in the church. If one member trespass against another, the offended brother should first go alone to the offender, to try to gain him; and, if he does not succeed, he should take one or two other members with him as witnesses; and, if the offender still refuses to give any satisfaction, the offended member is to report the matter to the church for a final decision. Such is the law of Christ, as stated in Matt. 18:15-18.

Q. Is it apostolic to declare nonfellowship for a gospel church?
A. It is apostolical to cease communing with and to withdraw from all brethren who walk disorderly and not according to the inspired teachings of the Apostles (I Cor. 5:11-13; II Thess. 3:6). And, if an entire church continues to persist in disorder after having been humbly, lovingly, and faithfully labored with by her sister churches, they will be partakers of her sins if they do not separate from her (II Cor. 6:14-18; Rev. 18:4).

Q. Is it right for one church to call in question the dealings of another church with its own members?
A. Only when such dealings are plainly and grossly unscriptural; then the honor of the cause of Christ requires such action.

Q. Is it not a good thing to read our Articles of Faith at some of our conference meetings?
A. It is an old and excellent practice. The children of God believe the teachings of His Holy Word; and our Articles of Faith express briefly the substance of those teachings; and it is well to read them at least once a year, to refresh our own memories, and to show others what we surely believe.

Q. Has a Church a right to declare nonfellowship for the Pastor of a Sister Church without an investigation or Gospel labor?
A. A Church has no right to declare nonfellowship for the Pastor of a Sister Church without an investigation or Gospel labor. I never heard of such a case.

Q. Are there any conditions in the New Testament?
A. There are, as in Luke 13:3,5; John 8:34; 13:17; but these conditions of repentance, faith, and obedience are wrought in us by the Spirit of God (Ezek. 36:26,27,31; Zech. 12:10-14; Acts 11: 18; Gal. 5:22; John 16:7-14; I Cor. 12:3; Isa. 26:12; Philip 2:12,13).

Q. What is "the common salvation" (Jude 3)?
A. The eternal salvation common to all God's people, of which He alone is the Author. The word "common" here means general to all, participated in by all the elect of God, as in Acts 2:44; 4:32; Tit. 1:4.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 October 2006 )
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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.