Essential Baptist Principles™
As taught in the Holy Scriptures
|Volume 2 Current Article||January 1, 2003||issue 1|
And now abideth Faith, Hope, Charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:13
Charity is defined as love, benevolence, good will, and sometimes is referred to as ‘manifested love’ or ‘love in action’. I feel assured that if all of God’s children would at all times and in all dealings with their fellowman (especially those of the house hold of faith) practice charity then we would see a remarkable turn back to biblical principles. Without charity the 13th chapter of Corinthians teaches us that we are nothing. We can have gifts of prophecy, understanding, and all knowledge and all faith but if we lack charity, the scripture says we are nothing. If a person desires to be something in the house of God he must show forth charity, otherwise he is nothing. He may be a gifted speaker, have a vast amount of knowledge, hold a respectable office in the church, but if he has not charity, the scripture says he is nothing. This not only applies to preachers and deacons but it applies to every child of God.
Some of the attributes of Charity as taught in I Corinthians 13 are: Charity suffereth long, Charity is kind, Charity envieth not, Charity vaunteth not itself, Charity is not puffed up, charity doesn’t behave itself unseemly, Charity seeketh not her own, Charity is not easily provoked, Charity thinketh no evil, Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, Charity rejoiceth in truth, Charity beareth all things, Charity believeth all things, Charity hopeth all things, Charity endureth all things. Charity never faileth. But prophecies fail; tongues fail, and knowledge shall vanish away.
What I hope to convey in this first article appearing on the Essential Baptist Principles web page is that I feel in my soul that LOVE is the most important ingredient that could ever grace any publication or any endeavor a child of God attempts in this life. My strongest interest is in standing in the same Baptist Principles which John The Baptist, Christ and the Apostles stood which are revealed to us in the inspired scriptures ,the Old and New Testament. To feel this way is to exercise charity, which is one of it’s attributes (Charity rejoiceth in the truth). I hope the reader will know that I believe strongly that God has children in every nation, kindred and tongue. I believe that there are children of God in every group of people that endeavors to worship Jesus Christ. I also strongly believe that God has people in places that have never heard the scriptures preached or have never heard of the name Jesus before. All of his children in these groups as well as all segments of the Baptist family and all other churches no matter their name, will be with the Lord after this life is over because of LOVE, God’s LOVE.
The subject I’ve introduced would take many articles to come anywhere near being adequately covered. In fact I don’t think any man could ever adequately cover the subject. I John says that “God is Love”, that explains why you could never finish the subject. Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) If we keep the Lord’s commandments we are showing forth Love to him and also to our brethren. In light of this lets examine a few of the descriptions of charity and hopefully not misapply what true charity or love is. “Charity suffeth long”, Charity Beareth all things, Charity endureth all things: To be longsuffering is to be like Christ, that is one of his attributes and in our church and dealings with our brethren there is no doubt that we should be longsuffering, just as long suffering as the scriptural commandments tell us to be. The Lord says in Luke 17:3,4 “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying I repent: thou shalt forgive him.” The key words to notice in that text are; (thy brother, trespass, rebuke him, repent, and forgive). But we should not take that scripture and apply it to every act that a brother may commit against the church or the cause of Christ. Some sins a brother or sister may commit would be more serious than a trespass. To get the true meaning of scriptural Love and forgiveness we must rightly divide the word of truth. The scriptures also teach us to reject a heretic after the second admonition Titus 3:10,11. II John 10,11 reads “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God Speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Would it be showing true Love to use the attributes of charity (charity suffers long, charity beareth all things, charity endureth all things) to justify prolonging our scriptural duty in the just quoted scripture or would keeping God’s commandments be showing true Love. Surely the answer would be to follow God’s commandments. But just as firmly as we should be in keeping God’s laws, we should always endeavor to be charitable in following them. Should we not show charity even in situations where the church has to discipline a member by being kind, not puffed up, not provoked, not behave unseemly and all the other attributes of charity in carrying out the laws Christ gave to the church.
One more example, 1Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Does that imply that we can just Love away sins committed against a brother or the church; or should we deal with them in a manner we have been instructed to by the scriptures? Surely the answer would be to show forth our love of God by carrying out his instructions, while using and being ever mindful of the commandment, have fervent charity among yourselves. When we do so, the scriptures indicate we are showing that we love the children of God. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:2,3) There could be many more examples given but hopefully these will suffice to illustrate the point I want to get across concerning Love/Charity. I want to re-emphasize that I strongly believe we should always have Charity in all our dealings but at the same time not misuse the scriptures in failing to obey God’s Commandments.
In my short pilgrimage as a Baptist, I have witnessed a further erosion of Baptist Principles. The Zeal and adherence to scriptural principles that I first admired in the fathers and mothers I observed in Israel (the Church) have in many cases turned to untempered mortar. Many good soldiers of the cross have passed on and their stations have been taken over by men that seek changes in time honored Baptist Principles.
My earnest prayer is that God would grant me the wisdom that I follow the example our Lord set in always having charity in presenting and defending what I believe to be Essential Baptist Principles. The following words of the poet Phillip Doddridge, so aptly expresses my feelings. “Hast thou a Lamb in all thy flock, I would disdain to feed? Hast thou a foe before whose face I fear thy cause to plead” Elder Claude McKeeEmail this Article's Link to someone