A Letter from the Past Reguarding the Necessity of Church Authority
by Clarence Savage and Elvis Gregory
Editor’s comment (Milburn Cockrell, editor of the Berea Baptist Banner, October 1999):
I printed in the April 10, 1976 issue of The Baptist Examiner a letter from a brother who expressed doubts about one church organizing another church. He asked readers of TBE to respond to him, if he were in error. Many did. The Pinehaven Baptist Church, Highway 69 South, Columbus, Miss., and Pastor Elvis Gregory were among those who responded. This response was written by Elder Clarence Savage who at that time was Adult Sunday School teacher of the church. It was typed by Bro. Gregory and sent to me. It is signed: “Pinehaven Baptist Church, Elvis Gregory, Pastor.” Hence I assume the whole church at that time personally approved of this letter. It shows what the Pinehaven Baptist Church believed in 1976, and what most of the other churches believed about church organization in the South at that time.
I think of many who preached in the Bible conferences at Pinehaven during the 1970s and who had a least convinced Bro. Gregory that they believed the same about church organization; otherwise, he would not have allowed them to preach in his church. If He were alive today, I wonder what Bro. Elvis Gregory would say about what some of these same men’s present stand is on the church. At least one man, whose name I could call had a mission and received some missionary support from the church about the time this letter was written, is now one of the ring leaders of the neo-Landmark movement. How the mighty have fallen!
In 1976 our Baptist people were more in unity on the church and fellowship was richer. No one can doubt what the Pinehaven Baptist Church and Pastor Elvis Gregory practiced as to church organization. The record speaks for itself as many know. The editor of this paper still believes and practices what Bro. Gregory contended for. I have obtained no “new light.” A great many cannot say this.
I am printing the article just as it was written and typed except for changing some misspelled words which Pastor Gregory asked me to change. The article was never printed due to its length. At the time I did not think it was necessary as nearly all our people were agreed on how a church should be started. A kind Providence has preserved this letter until this day. I am printing it in its entirety for two reasons. First, to show how far some have apostatized from their original position. Second, to demonstrate to the younger generation how strong our people were on church organization in 1976.
Milburn Cockrell, editor (Berea Baptist Banner, October 1999)
Pinehaven Baptist Church
Route 6, Box 515-A
Columbus, MS 39701
April 12, 1976
Dear Brother S. . . .:
In reply to your letter to the editor of THE BAPTIST EXAMINER, dated April 10, 1976, the following Holy Scriptures from the Authorized King James Version of the Bible are presented for your consideration, regarding the perpetuation of church authority.
The Scriptural answer to your very important question: “What Scriptural necessity do we find that requires the perpetuation of church authority only by the direct transference of that authority from one church by consent of her membership to another?” is based primarily on Matt. 16:18, 19; 18:18; Jn. 20:23; Acts 8:5-25; 10:34- 48; 11:22-26; I Cor. 5:1-13; and Rev. 3:7-13 where “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is emphasized as in Eph. 4:1-7 and I Cor. 12:12-25. In the “one body,” there should be no schism as in I Cor. 12:25 or Matt. 16:18 which is the ONE true church as in I Tim. 3:15 which “the true church” of Matt. 18:17; Acts 2:47 and at least 15 other places in the Book of Acts, three places in the Book of Romans and at least 50 other places in the New Testament from I Cor. 1:2 to Rev. 3:14, making a total of 70 times that “the church” appears in the Word of God where “the whole church” appears in three times (Acts 15:22; Rom. 16:23; I Cor. 14:23) where “every church” appears twice (Acts 14:23; I Cor. 4:17) where “no church” appears in Phil. 4:15, where “a glorious church” appears in Eph. 5:27 and “church of the firstborn” appears in Heb. 12:23, making a total of 113 times “church” and “churches” appear in the Bible. This is not taking into account the number of times that “body” and other references are made or used to refer to “the church” and “the churches” proving the tremendous importance attached to “the churches” of the New Testament. As a matter of fact, the entire New Testament is written primarily to churches as in Rev. 22:16; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22, so that to cause any kind of division, schism or disunity in the “one body” of Eph. 4:4 is contrary to all Scriptural commands instructions and admonitions making it mandatory for “the whole church” to be considered in all matters relating to authority because all authority and power is given to the Head of “the church” as in Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23 and Col. 1:18, so that for 2 or 3 members of “one body” to assume authority apart from consideration of the remainder of that particular body is tantamount to a schism or division of that particular body.
In this connection let us now consider the scriptural meaning of Matthew 18:19, 20. Matthew 18:19 refers primarily to the authorized scriptural procedure of two members of a particular church asking GOD THE FATHER through the remainder of that particular body in the form of a motion being seconded by the other, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, for godly authority in a particular matter under that church’s jurisdiction as in Acts 1:15-26. On any other basis scriptural church authority is being ignored and thereby passed and the command of I Cor. 14:40 flaunted, when two or three or any portion (minority or majority) of that particular body acting without a scripturally authorized meeting of any portion of “the whole church” as in Acts 15:22 where the word “whole” does not mean every member of that particular church or even a majority necessarily of that church, but only the scripturally authorized majority of those who are properly assembled in scripturally authorized church capacity as proven by Matt. 18:20, which states that “where two or three are gathered together in my name” which means any portion of a particular body properly assembled in true church capacity, because “in my name” means according to the instructions or commands of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as “the head” of “his body” which is the “whole church” as in Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23 and Col. 1:18, according to the pattern set forth in Acts 1:15-26. It should be noted here that any “secret” assembly politically motivated is not a scripturally authorized meeting of a true church, but must be motivated by LOVE “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” as in Eph. 4:1-3; and only to the glory of God “in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Eph. 3:21.
On the other hand, where two or more agree to gather together without the above godly authority a door is opened wide for all forms and kinds of heresy, “doctrines of men” as in Col. 2:22, 23, and “doctrines of devils” as in I Tim. 4:1; without any leadership of the Holy Spirit as in John 14:16, 17, 26 and 16:13-15; without the prayer and authority of “my church” of Matt. 16:18 as in Phil. 1:19, 20; Eph. 6:18 and II Cor. 1:11, and without any disciplinary authority vested primarily by the Holy Spirit only in true churches as in I Peter 4:17, which violates Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23; I Cor. 5:4, 5 and II Cor. 2:1-11, so that all you can have on that kind of assumed basis is a man-made association, board, convention, council and such like instead of an authorized scripturally organized true church without any authoritative disciplinary connection whatever with “my church” of Matt. 16:18. Hence, the only way to preserve purity in “the churches of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is to scripturally, meticulously and orderly guard, protect and honour the ordained church authority as in Matt. 16:19 and I Pet. 4:17 and correlated holy scriptures, because on any other basis two or three “which cause divisions and offenses contrary to sound doctrine” as in Rom. 16:17 could easily organize a heretical church under the token name of a sound church in opposition to Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23; Acts 8:5-25; 10:34-48; 13:1-4; 15:1-41; 19:1-7; I Tim. 6:5; II Tim. 3:1- 5; Titus 3:9-11; II Thess. 3:6, 14 and II John 9-11, making it impossible for true churches to effectively discipline, exclude and correct any “leaven,” false doctrine, malice and wickedness that might arise in any true church and does arise from time to time in true churches as in Matt. 18:17; I Cor. 5:13 and Rev. 2:1 to 3:22; therefore, a disregard for and loss of this godly ordained disciplinary authority encourages apostasy, heresy, false doctrine, false teaching, false prophets, “grievous wolves,” and all kinds of “leaven” and the like, so let us never be careless, loose, lax and unconcerned about godly ordained church authority, administered by the Holy Spirit, which is next to the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ as in Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:49; John 20:22; Acts 1:8; 2:1-47; 5:1-11; 8:5-25; 10:34-41; 19:1-7; I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23; Col. 1:18; Rev. 19:7-9 and 21:9 to 22:5 and correlated holy scriptures. Just the same as the human body is next to the head of that body and just the same as the wife is next to the husband in authority in the human family, so that there exists only one kind of authority in the home, i.e. the same authority applies to all members or children of a particular family whether they are at “the swimming hole” or at the dinner table; just the same as the same authority applies to all phases of church operation whether it be baptism or propagating “the bread of life” by begetting new churches of like faith and order, making scriptural ordained church authority the greatest SUBJECTIVE AUTHORITY on earth today superseding all civil authority as in Rom. 13:1-14, where putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ” as in verse 14 is equivalent to being a faithful member of one of the true churches on earth today which is “my church” of Matt. 16:18 as proven by Rom . 14:1 where the only ordained “body” that can “receive” one who is weak in the faith is “the church” of Acts 2:47, so let us never be ignorant or confused regarding the godly order of church authority which is of infinite divine origin and of majestic eternal importance.
The perpetuation of scriptural church authority is accomplished here upon earth by the ADMINISTRATIVE SUBJECTIVE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in the personal absence of our Head and the Head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ, John 16:7. This is seen in Acts 8:5-25; 10:34- 48. As the authority to baptize is administered and perpetuated only by the work of the Holy Spirit without which work the Spirit of truth “cannot abide with” any other kind of assembly as in John 14:16, 17 and therefore any other kind of assembly without the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit cannot be “the pillar and ground of the truth” as in I Tim. 3:15 regardless of the name attached to that kind of assembly being in the same condition as all assemblies that never had a “candlestick” or after the candlestick is removed as in Rev. 2:5, which is equivalent to saying that the Holy Spirit does not “abide” in such an assembly since the word “candlestick” here means: “a portable lamp or other illuminator (lit. or fig.); a lamp stand (lit. or fig.); candle light; (light); white, (Strong’s, G 3087, 88, 22), which can only mean in this case the Holy Spirit, so that without the abiding presence of the Spirit or “the Spirit of truth” in an assembly there can be no spiritual illumination or SUBJECTIVE light (wisdom) from above and that assembly cannot be clothed with “white raiment” as in Rev. 3:18 and 19:7, 8; therefore, let us never forget the infinite importance of scriptural church authority vested primarily in “the Holy Spirit” on earth today as He “abides” in “my church” of Matt. 16:18 proving again that without scriptural Holy Spirit authority no assembly can know the “spirit of trust” protecting and guarding itself against “leaven” as in Matt. 13:33; 16:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 13:20; I Cor. 5:6-8 and Gal. 5:9; against the spirit of antichrist as in I John 2:22 and 4:1-4; heresies, schisms, divisions, false prophets, false doctrines, “goats,” “wolves” and such like as in Gal. 5:19- 21; Acts 20:29-31; Matt. 25:31-46; I Cor. 5:6-8 and Gal. 5:9.
It should be noted here that it is no longer necessary or needful for “my Church” to “speak with tongues” as in Acts 2:4; 10:46 and 19:6 because we now have “the written standard” or “the holy scriptures” as in II Tim. 3:14-17 along with the “Revealer” who is “the Holy Spirit” as in I Cor. 2:9-16 to make known the seven primary unities of Eph. 4:1-7 as follows: 1) One body, as to kind; 2) one Spirit of truth, as administrator of the one body; 3) one hope of your calling; 4) one Lord, as the head of the one body; 5) one faith as the work of God, John 6:29; 6) one baptism as an outward picture or symbol of an inward divine work; and 70 one God and Father of all eternal work as in Eccl. 3:14 and I Cor. 12:6). The result is that man is but a recipient of His SOVEREIGN GRACE characterizing every true assembly of “my church” or “one body” where the one “Spirit of Truth” abides as Comforter as in John 14:16, 17—Teacher as in John 14:26—Witness as in John 15:26, 27—and Administrator (reprover and guide) as in John 16:1-16 so that so called modernistic pentecostal charismatics of our day are denying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by denying every primary basic doctrine of the holy scriptures including the seven primary phases of “eternal salvation” as follows: 1) Election; 2) Conception; 3) Predestination; 4) Regeneration; 5) Justification; 6) Sanctification; and 7) Glorification; involving three primary phases of SOVEREIGN GRACE as follows: 1) Common grace; 2) Objective grace; 3) Subjective grace, for without a clear scriptural understanding of these primary, basic, fundamental and foundational phases of “sound doctrine” as in I Tim. 1:10; II Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9 and 2:1, it is absolutely impossible to be “sound in the faith” as in Titus 1:13-16 and 2:2: “earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” as in Jude 3; and “putting on the whole armour of God” and in Eph. 6:10-18, so that without scriptural church authority vested primarily in the Holy Spirit on earth today perpetuated directly from “one body” to another “one body” and with only assumed authority by a group of individuals regardless of size and intentions separated from “one body” and “one Spirit” which are indivisible and undivided in spiritual and scriptural authority, no such group can perpetuate scriptural church authority any more than a child can be born without the unity and union of sperm and ovum. Just the same as there must be a union of the Holy Spirit and a group of baptized believers typifying a virgin before a new “body” of “my church” can be begotten of like faith and order as in Acts 8:5-25; 10:34-48 and 11:22-26; just the same as there had to be a union between the Holy Ghost and the virgin Mary before the beloved Son of God could become Jesus, the Son of Man, as in Matt. 1:18-25 which means that the Holy Spirit must be united with every virgin group of baptized believers before they can become a true church of our Lord, meaning that the Holy Spirit only does His divine work of propagating true churches and church authority among faithful virgins, i.e., from “one body” of “my church” to a group of virgin baptized believers in perpetuating church authority and church succession according to the scriptural pattern of procedure recorded in Acts 8:5-25; 10:34- 48 and 11:22-26 which procedure is consistent with all other scriptures including all the missionary works of Paul, none of which was performed except by direct perpetuated church authority always direct from the church of which he was a member to many different groups of baptized believers being led by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we see scriptural church authority perpetuated in the organizing of new churches as well as the ordaining “elders in every church” as in Acts 14:23; reporting back to his home church at the end of his missionary journey as in Acts 14:26- 28, so that there is no scriptural support anywhere for the assumed, unscriptural procedure presented in next to the last paragraph of your letter appearing in the April 10, 1976 issue of THE BAPTIST EXAMINER.
Much more could be written along this particular view but ample scriptural proof has been presented to fully establish perpetual church authority “to be direct from an established scriptural church to another group of baptized believers as members of that “one body” by means of ordained ambassadors, messengers, evangelists, preachers and/or missionaries under the direction, administration, power and authority of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 13:1-5 as a scriptural standard of procedure conclusively proving with supporting scriptures with no established alterations, or alternatives that the church which was at Antioch under the administrative authority of the Holy Spirit ordained two missionaries and “sent them away” to preach “the word of God” under direct Holy Ghost and church authority resulting in establishing many scriptural churches, so let us never add to or take from this scripturally established standard procedure of perpetuating Holy Spirit and church authority as repeated in Acts 15:40, 41 with similar abundantly successful results; whereas, on the other hand, Barnabas and Mark altered this established scriptural procedure without Holy Spirit and church authority resulting in a blank record of accomplishments which conclusively proves the infinite importance of Holy Spirit and direct church authority.
Another irrefutable proof of the absolute necessity of “link chain” connection of direct church authority is Acts 8:1-25 where Philip the evangelist was ordained and scripturally authorized by the original church (which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ personally established here upon this earth which was baptized with the Holy Ghost at Jerusalem as in Acts 1:8 and 2:1-13) to preach Christ unto the people of “the city of Samaria” as in Acts 8:5, then baptize them that “believed” not before but after “they believed” as in verse 12, then “my church” of Matt. 16:18 at Jerusalem scripturally authorized “Peter and John” as in Acts 8:14 to scripturally organize baptized believers (who were at that time all members of the church at Jerusalem being baptized under the direct authority of that church) into a daughter church of like faith and order as in verses 15-17 and John 14:16, 17 as proven by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit as seen in the same passages, after which that newly scripturally organized church was authorized to administer discipline to one of her members, Simon as in verses 18-24; I Peter 4:17; and Matt. 16:19, emphasizing the eternal and tremendous importance of the perpetuation of church authority only by the direct transference of that authority from one church by divine approval of her membership, being led by the Holy Spirit, to another group of baptized believers, in this case the perpetuation of Holy Spirit and church authority at Jerusalem by the direct transference of that authority by vote of approval of her membership through “the apostles” to organize a group of believers into another church of like faith and order which is the holy way to preserve the purity of “my church” of Matt. 16:18 because “like begets like” as in Gen. 1:11, 12, 21-25, without which purity is lost along with the removal of the Holy Spirit just the same as church authority is lost when divine begetting is eliminated; for examples when plants are crossed, when animals are crossed and when races of people are crossed, the original characteristics are lost just the same as the original characteristics of the church of like faith and order of our Lord loses her characteristics of purity in like faith and order (including the seven unities of primary characteristics as recorded in Eph. 4:4- 6) when crossed or mixed with impurity, iniquity, falsehood, false doctrine, malice, wickedness, etc., resulting in removal of “the candlestick” and Holy Spirit “out of his place, except those repent” as in Rev. 2:5 after which removal she is an unscriptural and a false church even though her name remains the same as in Rev. 3:1 and from henceforth is unable to beget a true church regardless of the name or outward identification; by the same principles true church authority is lost in the absence of the Holy Spirit by unscriptural crossing, division, disunity, schism and failing to purge out “the old leaven” as well as inscriptural organizational procedures, the main one of which is assumed false authority and unscriptural participation instead of perfect scriptural authority coming directly from the “whole” true church.
A prime example of assumed false and unscriptural church authority is recorded for our edification in Acts 15:36-41 where “Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus” without “being recommended by the grace of God” as in verse 40 which is equivalent to saying that Barnabas and Mark left Antioch without Holy Spirit and church authority as Paul and Silas did in verse 40 and as Barnabas and Saul did in Acts 13:1- 40 and 14:26, 27 even though Barnabas must have been a member of the church at Antioch as in Acts 11:25-30; 12:25; 13:1-5; 14:26-28 and 15:2-4 and Mark must have been a member of the church at Jerusalem as in Acts 12:25 and 13:13, they left Antioch without Holy Spirit and scriptural church authority resulting in no scriptural record of favorable results; whereas, Paul and Silas left Antioch together “being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God” which is Holy Spirit and scriptural church authority resulting in a voluminous record of favorable results even most of the remainder of the New Testament, including the remaining 13 chapters of the book of Acts, the book of Romans, and on through the book of Hebrews at least, which unmistakably and impressively proves the tremendous importance of church authority. It should be noted here that John Mark accompanied Barnabas and without Holy Spirit and church authority from Antioch to Perga in Pamphylia as in Acts 13:13 and 15:37-39 with disastrous results in both cases; now with this kind of record in the holy scriptures and in our minds let us henceforth never minimize the infinitely tremendous importance of Holy Spirit and church authority remembering that Paul was never guilty of being or operating outside of it from his baptism as in Acts 9:18 around A.D. 35 until his Continued from page 195 A Letter from the Past death around A. D. 66 approximately 31 years later even though he was subjected to untold sacrifice, suffering, and persecution as a result thereof even unto death. On the other hand Judas Iscariot was continually operating outside of church authority politically dealing with the Sanhedrin resulting in the taking of his own life as in Matt. 27:3-5; Oh, what an impressive contrast in the lives of these two men for our eternal edification and contemplation to the praise and glory of God for ever and for ever. In connection with scriptural church authority we should note here the difference between Judas Iscariot and Peter; Peter was not guilty of operating outside of ordained church authority as was Judas even though Peter was guilty of denial within the bounds of church authority with contrasting results of conversion while Judas operating outside of the bounds of ordained church authority resulted in suicide—what a difference between ordained church authority and the violation thereof here presented in the holy scriptures for our edification—the difference between true conversion with Peter as in Matt. 26:69-75 and “a sin unto death” with Judas Iscariot as in I John 5:16 and Matt. 27:3-5, so let us steadfastly, diligently and faithfully guard scriptural church authority.
Since you agree that it is of prime importance in perpetuating the church by continuity of the lineage of scriptural baptism, how can you consistently separate the authority for baptism from scriptural church authority for begetting other churches of like faith and order which authority has the same source and cause in the Lord Jesus Christ and the same resultant means of preaching the gospel of Christ, even “my church” of Matt. 16:18? Let us now look at three scriptural examples of direct scriptural authority in true church organization as follows: 1) at “the city of Samaria” as in Acts 8:5-25; 2) “in Caesarea” as in Acts 10:34-48; and 3) “at Antioch” as in Acts 11:22-26; in all three cases the authority for organization came directly from “the first Church at Jerusalem” (which was organized by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ while He was “manifested in the flesh” as in I Tim. 3:16, before “he was taken up into heaven” as in Acts 1:9-11) so that in the first case at “Samaria” the church was organized by Peter and John directly from Jerusalem in the above mentioned passage; in the second case in “Caesarea” by Peter, directly from Jerusalem as seen in the above mentioned passage; and in the third case at “Antioch” by Barnabas, directly from Jerusalem as above passage reveals. It should be noted here that the direct scriptural authority to baptized and the direct authority to organize is identical and inseparable as in Acts 10:44-48 under Holy Ghost and direct scriptural church authority coming directly from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit through daughters of “my church” down to the present time making this “link-chain” connection of direct divine import of direct infinite importance not to be lightly esteemed and carelessly ignored. Therefore, we must conclude that the divine scriptural authority to baptize believers and the authority to organize churches in order to perpetuate the true church is direct, identical and inseparable.
In Acts 19:1-7, we have conclusive scriptural proof that the authority to baptize is the same identical authority to organize in that the Holy Spirit stamped divine approval on Paul’s baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus” as in verses 5 and 6 which means under the authority of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, just the same as the Holy Spirit stamped divine approval on Peter and John’s organization of the New Church at the city of Samaria with direct scriptural authority from “my church” at Jerusalem as in Acts 8:14-17 where also they being in both of these cases under the direct divine scriptural authority of the Holy Ghost. After all the persons involved had been baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” where Paul likewise had direct scriptural authority from “my church” at Antioch as in Acts 13:1-5 and 15:40, so that in the “open face” as in II Cor. 3:18 of those holy scriptures there is no way to truly deny that “the Holy Ghost” and direct authority from a church of our Lord is identical and inseparable in both scriptural baptism and scriptural church organization being administered primarily on earth by the Holy Spirit and secondarily by “my church” of Matt. 16:18 in both cases; hence, let us never misunderstand the tremendous importance of the UNITY of the Spirit in direct church authority as in Eph. 4:4, 5 looking “unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” as in Eph. 3:20 where the word “power” refers primarily to “the Holy Ghost” who is the “one Spirit” of Eph. 4:4, who is now on earth working primarily in “my church” which is the “one body” of Eph. 4:4 where this “one body” appears along with the “one Spirit.” Here we can see the emphasis of the UNITY and ONENESS of the primary divine administrative work (in the personal absence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) of “the Holy Ghost” along with the secondary direct ordained work of the scriptural perpetuation and perpetuity of “my church” and proving without controversy and without contradiction that divine ordained scriptural authority for baptism and church organization is identically ONE and the same coming directly from GOD THE FATHER through GOD THE SON by GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT manifested here upon earth ONLY in “the church” of I Tim. 3:15, just the same as “eternal salvation” is direct from GOD THE FATHER in ELECTION as in Eph. 1:4 and I Peter 1:2 through GOD THE SON in JUSTIFICATION as in Rom. 5:1, 2 and 6:23 by GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT in SANCTIFICATION as in Rom. 5:3-5; 15:16; II Thes. 2:13-17 and I Peter 1:2, 22 manifested here upon earth primarily in “the church” of I Tim. 3:15 and just the same as in I Pet. 1:2 where ELECTION is primarily the work of GOD THE FATHER, JUSTIFICATION primarily the work of GOD THE SON through the shedding of His blood on the cross of Calvary and SANCTIFICATION is primarily the work of GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT manifested here upon earth primarily in the resultant work and means of preaching “the gospel of Christ” to “every creature” in obedience to the command of the great commission making this DIVINE HOLY TRINITY (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), Three in One and One in Three—Oh, gracious God! what a glorious gospel that human eyes cannot see, that human ears cannot hear and that human hearts cannot receive as in I Cor. 2:9-16 and Isa. 64:4. It should be noted here that Acts 19:6 is the third and last scriptural record of speaking with tongues (the other two being Acts 2:4 and 10:46) proving that this kind of divine approval is not now necessary or needful since we have the Holy Scriptures “for doctrine for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” as in II Tim. 3:14-17; so that “man of God” will faithfully obey the holy scriptures by “rightly dividing the word of truth” after faithful study instead of wrongly dividing the Word of truth by hypocritically trying to practice modern charisma of so-called speaking in tongues as evidence of baptism “with the Holy Ghost” as in Acts 1:5 which is blasphemy and an abomination in the eyes of God just the same as trying to go back to Old Testament sacrifice of animals for “eternal salvation” after our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ “finished” the ONE effective sacrifice of shedding His infinite blood as in John 19:30 having thereby “obtained eternal redemption for us” as in Heb. 9:12; therefore, may we never be guilty of wrongly “dividing the word of truth” in ignorance, unfaithfulness, unbelief, rebellion and disobedience thereby denying as in II Tim. 2:11-13 the only Saviour “under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” as in Acts 4:12; “preaching another Jesus,” receiving “another spirit” and receiving “another gospel” as in II Cor. 11:4 and Gal. 1:6-9 observing that “tongues are for a sign to them that believe, but to them that believe not” as in I Cor. 14:22, who are guilty of using their tongues to deceive as in Rom. 3:13 “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” as in II Thess. 2:9 culminating in deceiving “them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles” of “another beast” as in Rev. 13:11-14. Just the same as the modern hypocritical charismatics are attempting to do on earth today in contrast to the “man of God” who by faith is not looking “at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” as in II Cor. 4:17, 18, and who by faith is “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” as in Titus 2:13-15; “even come, Lord Jesus” as in Rev. 22:16-21, Oh, gracious God! what a Saviour! Amen!
We have already conclusively proven from the holy scriptures that it is absolutely essential for a group of baptized believers to obtain direct scriptural church authority directly from another true church already in existence as in Acts 8:5-25; 10:34-48 and 11:22-26 in order to become a true church because “like begets like” as in Gen. 1:11, 12, 21-25 before that group can possibly become a true church or “one body” (as to kind) of the Lord Jesus Christ of like faith and order.
It should be noted here that baptism is only one of the seven unities that characterize and identify a true church or “one body” as to kind on earth today as in Eph. 4:4-6 who are faithfully walking “worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the good of peace” as in Eph. 4:1-3; “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” as in Eph. 6:1-18 while endeavoring to carry out the Great Commission as in Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:47-53; John 20:21- 23; Acts 1:8 and correlated holy scriptures with the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit as Comforter, Teacher, Guide and Administrator as in John 14:15 to 16:15 and correlated holy scriptures, remembering that the Great Commission involves preaching the gospel of Christ as in Rom. 1:14-17 which is characterized by seven phases of eternal salvation as in Heb. 5:9 as follows:
I. ELECTION by God the Father, Eph. 1:1-4; I Pet. 1:2;
II. CONCEPTION by God the Son, Rom. 5:19-21; I Cor. 15:22;
III. PREDESTINATION by God the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:5-14;
IV. REGENERATION or CALLING by God the Holy Spirit, John 1:12, 13; 3:3-5; 6:63; Acts 15:13-18; Titus 3:5; James 1:18; I Peter 1:23; I John 3:1-10; and 5:18;
V. JUSTIFICATION by Faith, Rom. 5:1, 2; 8:30; Titus 3:7;
VI. SANCTIFICATION by God the Holy Spirit, Rom. 5:3-5; 15:13-19; I Thess. 1:1-10; II Thess. 2:13-17; II Pet. 1:1-8; I John 1:1-10; and
VII. GLORIFICATION by God the Son, Phil. 3:20, 21; I Thess. 4:13- 18.
It should be noted here that most of the so-called preaching of today involves less than 10% of he whole gospel as outlined in the seven phases of “eternal salvation” above.
It has already been pointed out that Matt. 18:20 refers to a true church scripturally assembled even though all of the members of that particular body are not present at that particular time providing that those present are scripturally assembled for the proper purpose motivated by the LOVE OF GOD and verified originally on a “one time” basis by a true church of like faith and order as in Acts 8:5-25; 10:34-48; 11:22-26 as already explained dating back to “my church” of Matt. 16:18 after which this true “one time” scriptural authority is properly transmitted and received no repetition of such transmittal of authority is necessary or needful making that particular church qualified to transmit scriptural church authority to other groups of scripturally baptized believers thereby begetting new churches of like faith and order or “after her kind” as in Gen. 1:11, 12, 21-25.
We note here that after the “candlestick” has been removed or the Holy Spirit has departed (Rev. 2:5) or a true church falls away into a false church “it is impossible” to renew that false church “unto repentance” or to reorganize that kind of assembly into a true church as in Heb. 6:4-6; in other words, when the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit one leaves an assembly or church that particular assembly or church can never be organized into a true church or ever become a church of the Lord Jesus Christ just the same as the Catholic Church never repents but becomes more corrupt with time.
Your concept of a group of two or three “properly baptized members” of a local church or churches, “somewhere who desire, for reasons they determine to be logical and practical, to unite in fellowship as an ‘authoritative church’” would first have to become members of the same local true assembly for edification, jurisdictional and disciplinary purposes as in Matt. 16:19 and 18:15-20 after which Holy Spirit and direct scriptural church authority could be scripturally transmitted from the one true assembly of which they are all members at that particular time to the particular group after forming a mission for the purpose of organizing a new scripturally true church of the same faith and order. Otherwise “conventionism” is involved where the autonomy of the local church or assembly is destroyed which is completely unscriptural and therefore without godly authority re-sulting in false churches as in Rev. 17:1-18.
Your summation in next to the last paragraph of your letter is what principally happened in the original formation of the MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” as in Rev. 17:5 and all of her harlot daughters including the Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Campbellites, Hardshell Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Convention Baptists, Association Baptists, Board Baptists and all other false systems in Christianity, including Judism, Hinduism, Buddism, Mohammedism, Babylonism, etc., etc., etc. typified by Cain from Gen. 4:1 to Rev. 18:24 because “leaven” begins as a logical subtle improvement over the godly order of command as in Gen. 3:1-7 and 4:1-16 spreading to include all forms of idolatry, unbelief, iniquity and fornication culminating in total rebellion, blasphemy, disobedience and wickedness; so let us never be deceived into thinking that the true authority to baptize is different to true church authority to organize, because all true authority has the same godly and divine source as in Matt. 19:17 resulting in the same true ordained means as in Matt. 16:18, 19 and 28:18- 20 of preaching the true “gospel of Christ” to every creature as in Mark 16:15; hence, may we be faithfully steadfast in resisting false authority and false doctrines of the devil as in I Peter 5:1-11, “rightly dividing the word of truth” as in II Tim. 2:15; “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” as in II Tim. 3:14-17; learning how to “behave ourselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth” as in I Tim. 3:15.
The Pinehaven Baptist Church believes that: 1) “My church” of Matt. 16:18 is “one body” as to kind (see Eph. 4:4 to 6:24); 2) “my church” is Theocratic as to authority and government (See I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22 23; 3) “my church” is autonomous as to assemblies, other organizations and all other influences (see Matt. 16:19; 18:15-20; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:47-53; John 14:16, 17; 19:11; 20:21-23; Acts 1:8-26; 5:1- 16; 6:1-15; 8:5-25; 9:17-31; 10:34-43; 11:22-30; 13:1 to 22:21; and I Pet. 4:17). This position establishes the “one” procedure for procreative succession of the same kind of church from Matt. 16:18 to the rapture of this “one body” by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ directly from body to body, just the same as “like begets like” as in Gen. 1:11, 12, 21-25 where procreation preserves the same kind of plants, animals, etc. from generation to generation or from parents to offspring; this position guarantees autonomous governmental authority from one source of righteousness as in Matt. 19:17; 28:18-20 and Eph. 5:23 administered by no one on earth except “the Spirit of truth” as in John 14:16, 17 making this “one body” set apart from “the world” which “lieth in wickedness” which autonomous governmental authority can be transmitted from “one body” or church to another church directly only by the Holy Spirit as in Acts 8:5-25, etc. which means that this authority is not invested in individuals but only vested in true scripturally authorized churches where “the Spirit of truth” abides which is only in “my church” which is the “one body” which is “the pillar and ground of the truth” where the “one Spirit” abides along with the seven unities of Eph. 4:4-6 which characterize “my church,” so that the only possible way for true church authority to be vested in an assembly is for “the Spirit of truth” to transmit this divine authority directly from one church to another church of like faith and order, showing that all other procedures are false and “Vanity of vanities” Eccl. 1:2, 14, including the one you proposed in your letter which imagines and assumes that “perpetuated church authority is contingent upon the mutual agreement of born again properly baptized individuals, to gather together as a local assembly, to carry out the commission delivered to the church through the Apostles” instead of divine authority coming only direct from GOD THE FATHER through GOD THE SON, by GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT manifested in “my church” directly from mother branch to daughter beginning of another branch. On your basis a group like Simon of Acts 8:9-24 would be permitted by “mutual agreement” in direct violation of ordained scriptural procedure to gather together “by mutual agreement” without receiving “the Holy Spirit” as in verse 17 which was the transfer of divine authority directly from the church at Jerusalem directly to the group of believers who were baptized at the city of Samaria resulting in another body of like faith and order at “the city of Samaria”; also on your assumed false basis quoted above a group of “grievous wolves” as in Acts 20:29, 30 would be permitted to organized a false church under the guise of a true one without the transfer of divine authority by the Holy Spirit directly from an already established true church, resulting in a false assembly with the abiding presence of “the spirit of error” as in I John 4:3 and 2:22, 23; on this false and unscriptural basis numerous false churches, radio broadcasts, T V telecasts, so called gospel teams and various missionary endeavors have been organized including THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS of Rev. 17:1-18, her many harlot daughters of protestantism and all of her other myriads of harlot daughters.
Now we can more clearly understand the infinite importance of ordained scriptural church authority being administered only by “the Spirit of Truth” which abides only in “my church” which is the “one body” which is the “church of the living God.” Even though the Spirit of John 3:6 indwells every born of the Spirit believer as in John 3:1-21, but this “Spirit of truth” only abides in “my church” as Administrator, Teacher, Witness, Testifier, Reprover, Guide, and Comforter: as in John 14:16 to 16:15 making us realize that godly ordained church authority is the greatest authority on earth today next to the Holy Spirit as in Rev. 22:17 where “the Spirit” appears first and “the bride” appears next to “the Spirit” which means that “the church” is next to the Holy Spirit in ordained scriptural authority in accomplishing The Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20 expressed here as “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”
Our summation then from the above listed holy scriptures in perfect harmony with all other scriptures in the King James Bible is that perpetuated true church authority is contingent upon every newly organized church receiving the Holy Spirit and scriptural authority directly from an autonomous branch of “my church” dating back to Matt. 16:18, 19 conforming to New Testament patterns set forth in the holy scriptures cited above.
May the Holy Spirit reveal to you “the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” as in I Cor. 2:9-16; “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” as in Isaiah 64:4: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen” (Eph. 3:21).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Pinehaven Baptist Church Elvis Gregory, Pastor