First of all, I need to say that I am not attempting to speak for all Independent churches. I speak only for myself. There are some Independent Baptist that do not believe in being independent. Other churches call themselves independent when interdenominational would suit them better.
What does the word "independent" mean? According to Webster's dictionary it means: (1) not dependent, (2) not subject to the control, influence, or determination of another or others, (3) not subordinate, (4) not depending on another for financial support, (5) self-commanding, (6) free from the rule of another, (7) not connected or related to another, (8) not connected with any party or organization.
This definition should teach us that an independent Baptist Church has no organization of any kind influencing it. The only influence exerted on the true independent Baptist Church is from its head, the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 1:22,23. Many Baptist churches say they believe just like we do, yet they will operate as the convention, association or board directs. Remember, Christ wants His church to look to Him only, not to anyone or anything else.
The question I am asked most often when I tell people I an independent is, "Are you missionary?" The answer is yes. Many times the name independent is associated with primitive (hard-shell) Baptist. I am not a hard-shell or primitive Baptist. I certainly believe in preaching the gospel to the lost. Rom. 10:13-17 teaches that lost people need to hear the gospel in order to be saved.
WHY I AM AN
I. CHURCHES SUPPORTED PAUL.
In II Corinthiansinthians 11:8 Paul says, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service." Paul, as a missionary, got wages from more than one church. Paul did not get wages from an association, board, or convention.
II. CHURCHES DISTRIBUTED MONEY.
2 Corinthiansinthians 8 is commonly used to prove that boards, associations and conventions are scriptural. The chapter has absolutely nothing to say about associations, or boards, or conventions. It is talking about church cooperation in the support of poor people. In verse 18, Paul recommends Titus, who is well known by the churches (there is no mention of denominational headquarters knowing Titus). In verse 19, Paul says the churches chose Titus to travel with him to deliver the free will offering. Who chose Titus? The churches of Macedonia cooperating together chose Titus, not the Macedonia Association. There was no such organization as the Macedonia Association, especially in the sense it is used today. This chapter teaches cooperation between churches, not associations of churches.
Think on this. If (that's a big if) there was a Macedonia Association, it was started by man, not by Christ. Jesus said in Matt. 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." I suppose all Baptists know that Jesus builds His church upon Himself, not upon man or man's ideas. A short summary of the beginning of the Lord's church reveals: (1.) Matt. 4:18-22 - Jesus beginning to call together his church from the material supplied by John the Baptist. (2.) Luke 6:12-19 - Jesus calling together a group of disciples from which He chose 12 apostles. (3.) I Corinthiansinthians 12:28 - The Bible tells us that God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Almost all Baptists believe these verses teach that Jesus Himself organized His church. But -- where is the "other" organization that Jesus started (the convention, association, or board)? It's simply not in the Bible, is it? Jesus never started the Macedonia Association. If there was a Macedonia Association, that association was started by someone other than Jesus, therefore it is a man made organization and wrong. Let me say again, I do not believe there was a Macedonia Association, but I do believe the churches of Macedonia cooperated together. I Corinthiansinthians 8 and I Corinthiansinthians 11:8.
III. GOD GETS GLORY THROUGH HIS CHURCHES.
Eph. 3:21, "Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end." This verse teaches that God will get His glory only through the kind of church organized by Jesus Christ during His personal ministry. Notice also that God will get glory in the church (1) throughout all ages, (2) world without end. What does that mean?
(1) throughout all ages. Christ intended for his kind of church to continue functioning until He came back. Christ is declaring that His kind of church needs no man made organization to help her give God glory during the church age.
(2) world without end. Christ will chose His bride from that church and that bride will continue to give God glory through all eternity. Will man made religious denominations continue throughout eternity? No. Neither will man made conventions, associations, or boards. When Christ organized His church, He intended for that church to operate in this world unhampered by any organization. Christ is the head of His church.
IV. THE BRIDE IS CHOSEN FROM THE CHURCHES.
As we have already mentioned, Christ will take His bride from His churches. II Corinthians. 11:1-3, "Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with Godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Who is Paul writing to? An association? A convention? A board? No. According to II Corinthians. 1:1, Paul is writing to the church of God that is at Corinth. Jesus Christ will choose His bride from the faithful of His kind of church, not from denominational headquarters. In Matt. 19:30 and many other places, the Bible records, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Many that are important in the movement of associations, boards, and conventions are not important at all in the Lord's church. In the day of judgment when all things are examined under the fire of Jesus eyes, (Rev. 1:14) these things will be revealed. Man may say that so and so is very important in the associational work, but does God say that person is important in His church? Let us work in the Lord's church.
V. CHRIST SPEAKS ONLY TO HIS CHURCHES.
Christ, or anybody else for that matter, never mentioned any organization except His church. Jesus used the word Ekklesia a total of 23 times, and each time He was talking about a local church, never any other organization. In Rev. 1:11, Christ told John to write unto the seven churches that are in Asia. Why didn't Christ direct the letters first to the associational headquarters? There wasn't one! There is no doubt in my mind that the churches of Asia cooperated, but there was no organized association.
VI. THE BIBLE IS WRITTEN TO CHURCHES.
When Christ inspired the apostles to write the 27 books of the New Testament, none of the letters were written to a convention headquarters. At least seven of the books were written to local churches, eight to groups of people, of whom the bigger part was churches, four were addressed to an unknown people, and eight were written to individuals. It must be that boards, associations, and conventions, have no word from God at all. We ought to be careful what we put our stamp of approval on.
VII. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS TO CHURCHES.
Matt. 28:19,20, Christ gives a definite final word to His church, "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 to unto the end of the world." All Baptists that are real Baptists know this is the Great Commission. God gave this commission to His church, not to a board, convention, or association. Why will men take this job from the Lord's church and turn it over to man made organizations? Do we believe that Christ can keep His promise? If the local church is commanded to be missionary, then let the local church be in charge of missionary endeavors. Don't let man made organizations be in authority.
VIII. CHURCHES REVEAL THE GLORY OF GOD.
Eph. 3:10,11, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." Local churches are to tell this world about Christ. An association or convention or board has no right to preach the gospel. They have no God given authority to do the work Christ wants His church to do. This is one thing that is wrong today. God's churches have turned their authority over to boards and conventions and associations. These organizations cannot do the things God intended His churches to do. They simply don't have the power of the Holy Spirit behind them. The Holy Spirit fell upon the church, Acts 2, not on denominational headquarters. So we see the "failure" of religion. It's actually the failure of local churches to do their job.
IX. CHURCHES ARE THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH.
I Tim. 3:15, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." This verse teaches; (1) How to act in God's church, not in an associational meeting. There are no instructions for associational meetings in God's Word. (2) If we want to keep God's truth intact, don't trust it to denominational headquarters, trust it to the Lord's local church. The local church, not denominational headquarters, is the pillar and ground of the truth. All organizations except the Lord's local churches will slowly leave the truth until they have no truth. This fact is readily seen by observing "creeping modernism" in conventions, associations and boards.
X. PASTORS ARE TO FEED CHURCHES.
Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Christ died for his church. This is the only organization on the face of the earth Christ died for. Why do we need more? Some say more mission work can be done through organizations than through local churches cooperating together. Isn't it a shame we have so much more faith in conventions, associations, and boards and so little in God's plan? How we ought to fall on our knees, and ask God to forgive us of this great sin.
XI. LOCAL CHURCHES HINDER SATAN.
Many people believe that "bigger is better". This is an Anti-Christ plan. Satan is weaving a three-fold cord, (political, economical, and religious) which will not be quickly broken. Eccl. 4:12. (1) Political: The powers of local governments have been turned over to state governments that have been turned over to federal governments that will be turned over to a worldwide government. Have things gotten better? No, they've gotten worse. (2) Economical: Our nation is no longer strong economically. Much of our commerce is dependent on the world economy. Instead of our economy stabilizing, it's getting worse. Before long we will leave the national money supply and will embrace a world money supply. Will this make things better? No, it will be worse. (3) Religious: Much of the power has been taken from the hands of local churches and placed in the hands of local boards, associations, and conventions. These local organizations have turned their power over to state organizations, which have turned their power over to national organizations, which have turned their power over to world organizations. Have things gotten better? No, they've gotten worse. We are seeing less and less of God's power and more and more of Satan's power. One of these days Satan's man will come along and use this three fold cord to take control of the world.
We may not be able to do much about the way governments are run today. We may not be able to control the economy. We may not be able to control world religious affairs. But surely we can do something about our own local church.
In closing, which is the most important to you? The church you are a member of, or your board, association or convention? Which one do you put first?
October 9, 1987