Some of God’s People have been Called Stablers – Acts 2:41-47

Months ago, shortly after beginning this study we considered the Biblical title of “disciple.” The word is used two hundred fifty-five times in the New Testament – it is very common. At its root, there is a reference to “a follower,” “a learner” or “a student” – especially – a follower of Christ. But it means far more than simply a “pupil” or a “scholar.” It refers to someone who has begun to look at his teacher as his “Master.” “Master” was on of the titles Jesus’ disciples used when speaking to Him. Our commission is to lead people into discipleship under Christ. At that time, we examined several scriptures which describe various characteristics of disciples, and I’d encourage you to review them. One scripture which I did not use, because it doesn’t contain the word “disciple” is found in Matthew 19. It may not use the word, but it speaks about discipleship nevertheless. “One came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Notice the man’s flippant use of the title “Master.” I say “flippant” because he wasn’t really sincere, even though he might have meant it to be. “And (Christ) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” When the man asked which commandments, Jesus gave him some of the decalogue. “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt...

Some of God’s People have borne Really Strange Names – Genesis 5:21-32

I need to begin with an apology. Last week I teased you with the name of the son of Isaiah –“Mahershalalhashbaz.” As was the case of several other important men in God’s Word, it was the Lord who dictated his name. “Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.” “Before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.” Unlike many names which have simple meanings, in this name every syllable means something. “Mahershalalhashbaz” declares an entire sentence. It says something like, “In making speed to the spoil, he hasteneth to the prey.” I apologize for not giving you time to let that sink in. “Mahershalalhashbaz” means “In making speed to the spoil he hasteneth to the prey.” It makes almost no sense, except in the light of the upcoming judgment of God upon Syria and Samaria. The King of Assyria was making haste to come down and to spoil those two wicked countries. God knew it; God ordained it; and God prophesied through “Mahershalalhashbaz.” Let’s start this afternoon’s message with another Biblical name, which again has a special meaning. The Bible clearly tells us that, like Isaiah, Enoch was one of the Lord’s great prophets. Jude says – “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints. To execute judgment upon all.” We are not told that God dictated to Enoch the name of his son, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had....

Some of God’s People have borne Really Strange Names – Isaiah 8:1-4

The son of Isaiah the prophet has to be one of the most interesting object lessons ever ordained by God. The Lord commissioned his servant to take his wife and father a child, ordering that the baby have a very special name – “Mahershalalhashbaz.” Of course the lesson developed very slowly – almost as long as some of Jeremiah’s object lessons. First, there was the conception and nine months later the birth of the baby. But then the Lord added a few years after that before the full effect of the lesson was reached. “Before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.” Before this baby boy is able to say “dada” and “moma” the king of Assyria would destroy Syria and Samaria. But what about that name? “Mahershalalhashbaz.” Unlike many names which have a general meaning, every syllable in this name means something. It wasn’t simple like “David” which means “beloved,” or “Hannah” which means “grace.” “Mahershalalhashbaz” declares an entire sentence. It says something like, “In making speed to the spoil he hasteneth to the prey.” In all likelihood no one ever had that name before this little boy was born. And remember too that everyone spoke Hebrew, so they knew exactly what the name meant. Even though they might not have known what the name meant. One evening about a year ago, some of the brethren were talking and the name of a book was mentioned. Leonard Verduin wrote a book called “The Reformers and...

Some of God’s People have been known as Baptists – Matthew 3:1-6

In the course of this study we have considered about a dozen historical names and titles. We have looked at the Novatians, Cathari, Dontatists, Montanists, Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses and a few others. Other than the “Paulicians” none of these names are very closely linked with the Bible. Some were related to particular men – around whom Bible-believing people gathered – like Montanus. Some were so named because of the areas in which they lived – like the Waldenses. Some were given names which described their way of life – like the Cathari. The Paulicians were given their name because they tried to follow the writings of the Apostle Paul – rather than the growing traditions of Rome or the spreading heresies of Alexandria. Keep in mind that these names were known for a few years, even a few centuries and in certain places, but then they were forgotten or forsaken. Sometimes the name became extinct because the people who bore those names became virtually extinct. Sometimes those people were driven away, and at other times they were decimated by persecution. But the truth of God, and the promise of Christ in regard to the perpetuity of His church, remained in effect, and other people, sometimes in other places, arose and enjoyed, for a time, the Lord’s protection and blessing. Only one name came up in the second century and was heard again in every century down to this day. Only the name “Anabaptist” has passed through the tests and trials of time. But that doesn’t mean that the others were not valid or important in their own little niche....

Some of God’s People have been known as Anabaptists – Acts 19:1-5

Over the last couple of months I have said that I would not be ashamed to be called a “Donatist,” a “Montanist” or an “Albigense.” But something that I haven’t done is stop someone, telling them, “Hey, why don’t you address me as one of the Waldenses,” or “Call me a Paulician.” With tonight’s subject, I will change my approach just a bit. If you walk outside the front of our building and look up at the sign over the door, you’ll see that I actually do call our church “Anabaptist.” Not only am I not ashamed to be called an “Anabaptist,” I actually encourage people to do so. While agreeing with most of the Novatian’s doctrines, it would be probably be inappropriate to call our church a “Novatian” congregation, because we are separated by centuries and personal relationships. But all of those groups that I have just named have been called “Anabaptists” from time to time, and true Baptist churches are still practicing a kind of anabaptism today. I believe I have told you several times how much I like the little book – “Chamber’s Etymological Dictionary.” It is about a hundred years old, and was published primarily to explain the source of common words. But it is also highly accurate in other ways. When I googled the word “Anabaptist” the first three dictionaries on which I clicked all tried to talk about the Anabaptist Mûnster rebellion, which I will get to in a few minutes. But those references are highly misleading, because anabaptism is about 1,500 years older than Mûnster. This little dictionary properly says, “Anabaptist, n,...

Some of God’s People were known as Waldensians (#2) – Matthew 16:13-19

The Bible teaches that Christ Jesus started His church during the days of His earthly ministry. On several occasions, He spoke about different aspects of church responsibility, discipline and theology. The word “church” (ekklesia) is used prior to the Pentecost which the Protestants mistakenly say was the founding of the church. In Matthew 18 Jesus was teaching his disciples about how to treat misbehaving believers, saying, “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.” That statement shows that the disciples not only knew what a church was, but that one already existed. Those disciples were members of the very first church, which Jesus started in Mark 3. “He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him (ekkaleo) whom he would; and they come unto him. And he ordained twelve that they should be with him, and that he might sen them forth to preach.” In Matthew 16, Christ said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ has been building His church before and ever since He made that statement. Not only does this establish that Jesus was the founder of Christ’s church, but it also teaches that it would be indestructible. The Bible teaches that Christ’s church will remain in existence until the end of time. The “Great Commission” concludes with the words, “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Baptists believe, God’s people believe, that Christ founded His church during His earthly ministry, and that there have been representatives of that first church in every...

Some of God’s People were known as Waldensians – Revelation 18:1-5

Originally, most people’s family names had some special significance – they had some meaning. Some of you may know what your last name meant in its original language. My family name probably means something in its original language, but I’m not sure I really want to know what it is – “Oldfield.” But for the sake of illustration let’s make some silly assumptions. Could I assume, based on my name that I am the legal heir of the oldest property ever owned by man? Could I go to the World Court in the Hague and argue that my name proves my rights to the property first farmed by Adam after he was driven from Eden? If not Adam’s property, then perhaps Noah’s – that might have an even better chance of being true. Of course, the idea is ludicrous. My name doesn’t prove anything of the kind. But it does provide an illustration which applies to this lesson. In our study of the names applied to the people of God from the days of the Bible down to today, we come to the famous “Waldensians.” I say “famous,” because they are or were a people who came out on OUR side of the Dark Ages, we have more information about them than we do others – like the Paulicians and Montanists. However, after saying that, it must also be said that they still felt the wrath of Catholicism and experienced the propensity of fallen Christendom to re-write history. We have documents of the Waldensians, but we also have conflicting histories of the Protestants and Roman Catholics. So we must...

Some of God’s People were known as Albigenses – Matthew 10:16-28

For those who are acquainted with history – not the edited history of some people who abhor the truth – but the actual Medieval history of Europe, the name “Albigenses” shines like a lighthouse into the Dark Ages. And it should also resonate like a trumpet to all of its children today – “You too can bring glory to Christ in the midst of a dark and Satan-controlled world.” There is a little town in Languedoc, of Southern France, called Albi, but it was formerly was known as Albiga. In some ways it might be compared to Coeur d’Alene. Today it is just about the same in size and population. And it is nestled against the Midi-Pyrenees Mountains – not the Alps which are further east, but a smaller and lower range of mountains. It grew up on the edge of River Tarn, just as Coeur d’Alene lays on the edge of the lake. But here is where the similarities end. For a long time, Albiga became the focal point for the defense of the Truth and a shelter for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. A small community, far away from the great centers of the world – Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem – was a beacon to the rest of the world. God particularly blessed Albiga. Mosheim declares that from the beginning of the 11th century to the middle of the 13th Paulicians began migrating from the Balkan Peninsula to this place in France. Apparently the local governor gave to them his protection. As we saw last week, the “Paulicians” arose in eastern Turkey about the middle of...

Some of God’s People were known as Cathari – Colossians 1:9-14

From day one, fallen Christendom has been trying to blend two opposing kingdoms – Christ’s and the world. The ages-old idea of a homogenous society was once again in people’s minds. When Constantine became emperor, claiming the banner of the cross, that goal obtained a certain degree success. By law there was only one approved religion – the Alexandrian version of Christianity. It became illegal to worship any god but the corrupted version of Christ. And so, the Romanized churches began filling with pagans wearing crucifixes (so to speak). But with so many unregenerated church people, Christianity became a sham. Multitudes, both from the laity and priesthood, made little effort to live like the Christians they professed to be. And reaction to that worldliness and heresy was a part of the rise and growth of each of the groups which we’ve already addressed – the Montanists, Donatists, and Paulicians. One of the terms thrown against those people, and one which I’ve mentioned several times was “Cathari.” As J.T. Christian says, “On account of the purity of their lives (and doctrines) they were called Cathari, that is, the pure.” On your “Trail of Blood” charts, you can see that word, linking and over-lapping the other names. The Bible teaches us to baptize only those who “bring forth fruits mete (or worthy) of repentance.” And we hear exhortations like – “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Then there is exhortation after exhortation like...

Some of God’s People were known as Paulicians – I Peter 1:1-5

I’ve selected I Peter 1:1 as our text because it relates to a couple of important points. First, there is the word “parepidemos” followed by “diaspora” – “the scattered strangers.” This takes us back to WHO the people of God ARE in respect to this world. We are pilgrims on our way to the Celestial City – this world is not our home. “Our citizenship is in Heaven from whence we look for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” We are strangers scattered across the United States and the world with a limited time and a limited ministry. It is not our commission to build dynasties – denominations, Christian countries and governments. Our task is to glorify Christ in the church to which He has brought us. And this is precisely the point of this entire series of messages. My second purpose in selecting this text is to be found in the areas to which Christianity had recently spread. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” Please try to picture today’s country of Turkey. Pontus and Bithynia were districts within today’s Turkey, bordering on the shore of the Black Sea. Asia, Galatia and Cappadocia were essentially the rest Turkey, extending all the way from the Aegean Sea east toward Iran, Iraq and the Caspian Sea. As we see in the Book of Acts, the gospel of Christ rapidly moved north, as well as other directions. From Jerusalem it went to Samaria. Saul of Tarsus was saved trying to persecute Christians in Damascus, Syria, north of Israel and Samaria. Then...

Some of God’s People were known as Donatists – Revelation 2:8-11

I know that it has been several weeks, but I’d like to take you back to our first lessons in this series. I pointed out that God originally created an homogenous society – where every aspect of life was firmly knitted with every other aspect of life. And of course at the center of all things was Jehovah. But then along came sin, with its thoroughly disruptive tendencies. Satan drove a wedge between Adam, Eve and the Lord, when he convinced the woman to disobey God, and Adam willingly followed her. After their expulsion from the garden, despite the simplicity of the original family society, sin continued to create disunity – to the point of murder – fratricide. Ever since Eden, man has been trying to recreate a monolithic, homogenous society, uniting religion, politics, education, economics, and even recreation, but at its root was sin. And the leaders involved often resorted to force and violence to accomplish their goals. In our second or third lesson, I tried to show that Bible Christianity acknowledged the heterogenous nature of life on earth. Christ taught His disciples that they should render unto Caesar the things that belonged to Caesar while still rendering unto God the things that belong to Him. Christ teaches us to realize that while we live in a godless world we are not citizens of this world. Christ is certainly a King – our King – but He forbids us to pick up swords or rifles to defend Him or to extend His kingdom. There will be a day – coming relatively soon – when He will establish His...

Some of God’s People were known as Novatians – I John 2:18-23

It might be said that last week’s subject – the churches of the Montanists – were a REACTION to the growing false doctrines and unbiblical practices in some areas of Christendom. While that is not altogether untrue, it must be emphasized that the Montanists considered their churches to be true to the New Testament example. They were simply carrying on in the doctrines and authority of the churches established by Christ and His apostles. While certainly protesting the Alexandrian heresies and the Roman ecclesiastical system, they were not protestant churches, but the true original churches. I concluded last week’s lesson with a quote from a Protestant historian named Möller and another from the Baptist W.A. Jarrel. Möller wrote “Montanism was….not a new form of Christianity; nor were the Montanists a new sect. On the contrary, Montanism was simply a reaction of the old, the primitive church, against the obvious tendency of the day, to strike a bargain with the world and arrange herself comfortably in it.” Then Jarrel followed that with, “That the Montanist churches were Baptist churches is the only legitimtate conclusion from their comparison with the facts…..” In time, the name “Montanism” spread from Phrygia in Turkey in every direction – south into Egypt and across northern Africa, towards the east, and northwest into Italy and other parts of Europe. That success was not because of the arise of new churches necessarily, but because the older, sound churches, which opposed Rome and Alexandria were being given the “Montanist” label. It was not a name chosen by themselves, despite the fact that they eventually accepted it. It was...

Some of God’s People have been known as Montanists – Acts 15:5-11

Can we agree that at the time of the close of the Book of Acts, all the so-called “Christian churches” were true churches of the Lord? Can we agree that the only religious “ecclesia” using the name of “Christ” were assemblies of God? As we see in the first chapters of Revelation, there were growing problems, but weren’t they all still churches of God? If we make that assumption, and I do, can we also assume that most of the members of those churches were children of God? Sure there were a few ignorant and confused Judases, accidentally admitted to sound churches, but there were no baptized infants, and no open apostates. The members of the church in Jerusalem were primarily Jews – saved by the grace of God. And most of the members of the church in Ephesus were regenerate Gentiles. Some churches were filled with saved Romans, some with Greeks, and some took their members from redeemed “heathen” – according to the Roman definition. If we had the opportunity to visit several of those churches, wouldn’t we find a few external differences? For example, the sermons and lessons would have been preached in different languages. Despite that some sermons weren’t in Greek, Hebrew or English, the churches were still scriptural. The church in Jerusalem had several elders, while other smaller churches may have had only one. Perhaps during prayer, members of some churches all knelt, some stood with their heads bowed, but others raised their hands looked toward Heaven. I don’t think that those differences would render any of those churches un-Christian or unscriptural. Just because the...

At the Close of Acts God’s People were called Christians – Acts 11:26

This is the third, and probably the last part of the transition in this series of messages. Our theme has been and will continue to be the names and titles which have been applied to God’s people. Up until two weeks ago, we were looking at a dozen or so which come to us out of God’s Word. We looked at names like – “saints of God,” “the brethren,” “disciples” and “Christians.” And then I moved on to descriptive titles such as “sheep,” “salt of the earth,” God’s husbandry” and “light of the world.” Beginning next week, I want to introduce you to names like “Waldensians,” “Donatists,” “Novatians” and “Anabaptists.” Some of you are already acquainted with these, but to others they might be like a new dish which mother has just put on the supper table. Sometimes they look funny, and many of them taste a bit strange to our well-developed palates. Some people may be predisposed to ignore them because they aren’t your usual Biblical food. And admittedly, some of these are not without problems, but then, unlike you, I have my problems too. This morning, in my historical vignette, I included a 165 year old editorial by Sewell S. Cutting. When you heard it most agreed with what he wrote – “No Christian denomination has been so indifferent to its history as our own. Our (Baptist) fathers have been left to sleep in dishonored graves. The labors they performed – the sufferings they endured – the heroic characters they bore – have alike been forgotten. The books which, amid penury and toil, they wrote in defense...

God’s People are Outside Common Society – John 17:1-26

I called last week’s message “God’s People are a Part of Society.” But tonight I want to turn that inside out with the title “God’s People are Outside Common Society.” Here in John 17 we have the true “Lord’s Prayer.” It is an example – the greatest example – of Christ’s conversation with His Heavenly Father. It may be the holiest chapter in the Word of God – it is highly important and highly instructive. And as such there is a word used here which might seem just a little out of place. And yet, because of the way the Lord used it, you might not have even noticed. The word “cosmos” – translated “world” is used nineteen times here, with a variety of different purposes. For example there is verse 5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” In this case the word refers to creation. Then several times Christ prays for His saints – you and me – mentioning that we are “in the world.” “And now I am no more in the world, but these are IN the world…” “While I was with them IN the world, I kept them in thy name.” “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them INTO the world.” But then interspersed between those thoughts we have just the opposite. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me OUT of the world…” “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but...