Identifying A New Testament Assembly

Compiled by Lonnie Ford for the Nepali Brethren



    1. For Christ being founder See Chapter four.

    2. Jesus is the Head of the Assembly.

      • The apostle Paul wrote the following in Colossians, about A. D. 64 -- "And he is the head of the body, the assembly: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence," (Col. 1:18).

      • No man is to be so arrogant as to presume to be the 'representative' over Christ, as head over the assembly.

      • No bishops are to have dominion over the assembly -- "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensambles to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," (1 Peter 5:1-4).

      • Preachers are servants not masters in the Assembly -- "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensambles to the flock," (1 Peter 5:3).

      • No body politic, whether designated, organized or not has any authority over the assembly.

    3. Christ must be the 'head', the authority of the assembly in all things.

    4. The assembly in turn has no right to make or repeal laws, only to recognize and obey the commandments of Christ.

  2. A MEMBERSHIP OF EQUALS -- composed of Scripturally baptized believers.

    1. Every member of the body is of equal importance.

      1. One must not say, because I am the hand, I am more important than another, (1 Cor. 12:12-27).

        • Each one is to recognize the position he or she holds in the body of Christ, the assembly, and to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of that calling.

        • Each member must realize the effect that their life has on the other members of the body, and take full responsibility for their part as a participating member of the body, (Eph. 4:11-16).

      2. Jesus Christ taught the assembly that they were not to lord it over each other, but rather to be servants of each other.

        • Mark 10:42-44; "But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will e great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." (cp. Luke 22:25-26).

    2. Therefore, the need for equality among the members of the assembly, as they meet in the assembly to worship and do His will is very important.

      1. Some of the things in which they are equal are:

          • Responsibility to the Father whom they worship.

          • Responsibility to the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of their inheritance to come, to grieve not the Spirit, quench not the Spirit, but to be led by the Spirit, (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19).

          • Responsibility to Son, whom they trust and obey.

          • Responsibility to each other, to build up in the most holy faith, (Jude 20).

          • Responsibility to the World, to preach the Gospel by word and deed, (Matt. 28:16-20; Romans 1:14-16).

      2. They are equal in the freedom to worship according to the scripture.

      3. They are equal in the right to participate in the transaction of the assembly in which they are members.

        • They are equal in their reception of new members or exclusion of those who are walking disorderly.

        • They are equal in the privilege and duty in choosing their officers.

  3. Recognition of only TWO pictorial ASSEMBLY ORDINANCES -- Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

    1. Baptism (Also, see outline under 'The Commission').

      1. Baptism is observed in many forms by various religious societies: sprinkling, pouring, dunking, submersion.

      2. Only one was instituted by God: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe," (John 1:6-7). John added, "And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water," (John 1:31).

      3. Only one form of baptism is acceptable to God and only one is recognized by God, and THAT ONE, gave He ONLY to His assembly the authority to administer.

      4. Jesus set the example:

        • Matt. 3:13-17; "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

      5. Jesus gave them the authority to baptize in the great commission.

        • Matt. 28:15-20; "So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power (Authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (age)."


        • 1) There is only one baptism given to the assembly to administer.

          • Eph. 4:3-6, "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

          2) There is only one mode or method.

          • Scriptural baptism is only by immersion.

          • The Greek word for "baptize" means immerse and never means sprinkle or pour.

          • It was designed to picture a death, burial and resurrection - therefore immersion.

          • The Scriptures about baptism make immersion absolutely necessary in the ordinance.

          • In passages like Matt. 3:11, 13 and Mark 1:5, we see that baptism must be in water.

          • In John 3:23 and Mark 1:9, it requires much water and a going down into the water, (Acts 8:38).

          • Romans 6:4 and Col. 2:12, show baptism as a burial in water.

          • Col. 2:12, shows also a resurrection from the water.

          • Then in Acts 8:39 and Mark 1:10 we find that baptism includes coming up out of the water.

          3) There are four things that are necessary for the administration of the ordinance of baptism.

          1. There must be the proper subject, a disciple of Jesus.

          2. There must be the proper authority, an Assembly of the Lord Jesus.

          3. There must be the proper purpose, to join ourselves to Jesus so that we might live in fellowship with Him.

          4. There must be the proper mode -- immersion.

      7. Any so-called baptism that does not meet these four conditions is not accepted as scriptural.

        • Baptism keeps the Gospel before our eyes, in that it sets forth the burial and resurrection of Jesus as 'begotten from the dead.'

        • Our personal baptism shows our union with the Lord in His death, and in His resurrection to a new life, (Romans 6:4, 11).

        • Romans 6:4, 11; 4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    2. The Lord's Supper:

      1. The Lord's Supper is a memorial feast of communion, which speaks of one's fellowship in the local body relationship and with Christ.

      2. It is also the feast commemorating the Sealing of the New Covenant, and the provision made available to each body member to maintain this relationship.

      3. Therefore, it is not open to those outside of this local body relationship.

        • It is not open to those not subject to the discipline of the local body in which it is being observed, (1 Cor. 5:11-13).

        • General references, (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:17-29).

      4. Consider these questions:

        • 1) Whose is the Supper? It is said to be the Lord's Supper, therefore we have no right to change or in any way alter the order established by the Lord, (1 Cor. 11:20).

          2) What is its purpose? It is a memorial of His death, it speaks of communion with Christ and His body, of being partakers of Christ, (1 Cor. 11:24-26).

          • It is also the celebration of the sealing of the New Covenant with the Blood of the Covenant, (Matt. 26:26-29).

          3) To whom was it given? It was given to the Lord's Assembly, (Acts 20:7; cf. "general references" above).

          4) Who is to partake? Only, Assembly members who are walking according to the New Covenant order, who have examined themselves and dealt with any sin -- are to partake. (Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 5 and 1 Cor. 11).

          5) Is open communion possible? No!

          1. Paul's statement in (1 Cor. 11:18-20) shows that open communion is impossible! "For first of all, when ye come together in the Assembly, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper."

            • Suppose that four denominations are gathered together in "open communion."

            • There are divisions and heresies among them, for they certainly do not believe and teach the same doctrines.

            • In fact many of their doctrines are completely contradictory one to the other.

          2. Paul says that such a group cannot eat the "Lord's supper," and if they partake, it will not be the "Lord's supper."

            • Open communion is impossible!

      5. Christian denominations generally agree that only the baptized should take the Supper.

        • We as Baptists do not accept anything as baptism except immersion, administered by a scriptural New Covenant Assembly.

      6. Scriptural Assemblies that do not invite others to partake of the Supper, are being consistent with their convictions about baptism.

      7. The Biblical distinctive in Baptist faith and practice of closed communion, has resulted in the disdain and wrath of the Protestant world.

        • 1) By Closed communion we mean:

          1. That 'The Lord's Supper' is only offered to such as have made a public profession of faith; and have been properly immersed in water baptism.

          2. They are active members in good standing, in that particular scriptural assembly in which they are to observe the Supper.

          3. They 'judge themselves' as individuals, and so partake of the Supper.

          4. They also 'judge themselves' as members of one body in particular -- the local Assembly in which they are members.

  4. RECOGNITION OF ONLY TWO ASSEMBLY OFFICERS - pastor & deacon, (1 Tim. 3:1-16).

    1. The Pastor (bishop or elder) oversees the flock.

      • His qualifications, (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

      • His responsibilities - to feed, guard, warn, lead and care for the flock, are all clearly established in scripture, (1 Peter 5:1-4; Ezek. 34:1-10; Matt. 20:25-28; 1 Tim. 4:12; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; Titus 2:7-8).

      • His authority, (1 Cor. 4:1-4; Matt. 24:45-51; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Tim. 5:17-19).

      • His work is to be done in love, respect and prayer for all under his care, (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

    2. The Deacons must meet strict requirements and assume grave responsibilities, (1 Tim. 3:8-13).

      • It is not their responsibility to keep the pastor in line, but to serve tables, the widow's, etc. (Acts 6:1-7).

      • Faithful deacons free the pastor to devote himself to study and prayer, (Acts 6:4).

    3. (For more on the subject of the two officers of the assembly, see the section on assembly government).


    1. Though there are areas of agreement between Baptists and the various sects of Christendom, (such as the fact that all have sinned and need salvation by grace, hell, recognition of the Bible as God's Word, etc.), there are certain beliefs and practices that make us differ from other assemblies.

      1. We have not chosen to differ; our approach to the Word of God has made us so.

        • Nor do we glory in being different; this would involve us in spiritual pride.

        • But, if God has made the difference, we must hear Him, submit to Him and speak what He has commanded us, (Acts 4:18-20).

      2. New Testament Christians were taught -- instructed in the Scriptures.

        • There is a great need for such in our day, (Luke 1:1-4). But, some may object saying, "doctrine will kill our assemblies."

        • This idea is contrary to the Scriptures, which everywhere teaches the need of STUDY in order for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, (John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3; 2 Peter 1:1-21).

      3. Jesus clearly taught that such as love Him will keep His words.

        • In (John 14:23) Jesus said -- "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

        • In verse 21, Jesus said the same thing in reference to His commandments, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him," (John 14:21).

        • Where do we find the Words and Commandments of Jesus?

        • Is it not from the study and instruction in the Word of God?

        • The reading of books about the Bible has become very popular in this day.

        • There is no doubt that some value is derived from the volumes of information that is published and read every year.

        • Yet nothing must ever be allowed to take the place of the prayerful reading and meditation of the Word of God, or sitting under the contextual, expository preaching of the Bible.

      4. The Psalmist in the 119th Psalm said that the way to being Blessed, the way to Christian stability, the way to fruitfulness comes to the man, woman, boy or girl that "seek Him with the whole heart," "that delight In His word" and that "meditate in it day and night."

        • Listen to the Psalmist in (Psalm 119:1-2), "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. {2} Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

      5. That's the thesis of this Psalm, and this thesis has been expressed repeatedly in every conceivable way throughout the whole of the Psalm.

        • Look at Psalm 119:89 -- "Forever, O LORD, thy Word is settled in heaven." That is why it pays to give our heart and life to the Word of God.

        • It is settled, it is absolutely settled, it is never going to change.

        • What was true, moral, and right, still is true, moral and right.

        • Times have changed, cultures have changed, environments have changed, but God's Word has never changed and need never change.

      6. This Holy inspired Word of God is relevant today as it was in every generation.

        • Jesus said that same thing in the opening words of His sermon on the mount -- "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall never pass away."

        • Jesus was preaching the context of Psalm 119:89, "forever oh Lord thy word is settled in heaven." Why?

        • Because the Word of God is the expression of the will of God.

        • This eternal purpose (will) of God will be fulfilled, it is as unchangeable as God Himself. His Word is settled.

        • It is not going to vacillate, it is not going to change.


      1. Baptists believe that both the Old and New Testament, are the inspired Word of God. Both are necessary and profitable.

      2. When the apostle Paul addressed Timothy in his second letter to this young brother, the New Testament was not complete as we know it today, yet Paul said, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

        • It is obvious that Paul, in his reference to "all Scripture," meant to include both the Old and the New Testaments.

    3. How do Baptists then, regard the Old Testament?

      1. The Old Testament is the record of God's covenant dealings with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants.

        • It was of Abraham and his descendants that God made the Nation of Israel, then established them as His elect covenant people.

        • This same covenant, made long ago with Abraham, was also a covenant made with Christ, as the seed of Abraham, (Gal. 3:9-15).

      2. This makes the writings of the Old Testament inseparable from those of the New Testament.

        • The New Covenant, as set forth in the New Testament, is a continuation of the covenant made long ago with Abraham, however the new is based on better provisions, (Gal. 3:9-15, Romans 4; Heb. ch. 6-8; esp. 7:22).

      3. We recognize the Old Testament as being God's Word, thus necessary and profitable for our day, (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

        • 1) For examples, (1 Cor. 10:11).

          2) For learning, (Romans 15:4).

          3) As a shadow, figures and patterns of the good things to come, (Heb. 9:23-24; 10:1).

          4) For revealing Jesus to our hearts, (Luke 24:27).

          5) For strengthening our faith, (Romans 10:17).

      4. We recognize that the Mosaic Law and the law of the Tabernacle, were integral parts of the Old Testament which were fulfilled in Christ, (Matt. 5:19; Luke 24:44; 16:16; Gal. 3:10-14; Col. 2:14).

        • These parts of the Old Testament have been fulfilled, in the sense that they are superseded by a "new and living way," which Jesus our High Priest consecrated for us, (Heb. 10:20 cp. Heb. 7-10).

        • This does not mean that the all that was written in the Old Testament has been fulfilled and done away.

        • There are many promises and prophesies of the covenants in the Old Testament, which have not come to pass or been fulfilled, (Gal. 3: esp. 14-29).

        • However, the Law Covenant was fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.

    4. How do Baptists then regard the New Testament?

      1. This section of our Bibles that we call the New Testament, is a collection of 27 books which elaborate on the New Covenant order.

      2. As stated above, this New Covenant, as set forth in the New Testament, is the same in substance with those covenants that preceded it.

        • It is a continuation, confirmation, of the covenant made long ago with Abraham, (Gal. 3:9-15, Romans 4).

        • As the New Covenant, it is first and primarily applicable to the New Testament Assembly, which is the sphere of covenant-life in this age.

      3. As Baptist we believe:

        • 1) That the New Testament is our only and sufficient rule of faith and practice.

          2) That all the New Testament is our rule of faith and practice.

          3) That the New Testament is all our rule of faith and practice.

          4) And that the New Testament will always be our rule of faith and practice until the glorious return of Jesus.


      1. We have the responsibility to not only believe the Word, but also to commit ourselves to its energizing, transforming power so that it becomes the very essence of our life and practice.

        • In the Great Commission Jesus placed great emphasis on the word "All."

        • He said that the work of the assembly involves ALL power, ALL places, ALL peoples, the observance of ALL things He has commanded, ALL the days until He comes again.

      2. The question of every heart should be, "Lord, what will you have me to do?"

        • Where will a New Covenant believer find the answer to such a question?

          1) Is conscience a safe Guide?

          2) Shall we search for the answer in the traditions and writings of men, (Matt. 15:8-9)?

          3) Have we the liberty to select what we want to obey, while ignoring the rest of God's Word, (Jer. 36:20-32)?

          4) Should we sit in judgment of God's Word?

          5) Should we try to imitate other groups, conforming ourselves to them and their practices so that we might be uniform, (Psalm 106:34-48 esp. verse 35)?

      3. Surely, the greatest respect that we can show to God's Word, will be to accept what it says as right, and obey it, (2 Peter 3:15-17).

        • This is the only way to avoid change, (vs. 17).

        • It is dangerous to twist God's Word so as to fit our own desires and prejudices, (2 Peter 3:16, 2 Cor. 2:17).

    6. We have a weighty responsibility to "search the scriptures."

      1. Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

      2. We must "hold fast that which is good," (1 Thes. 5:21; 2 Tim. 1:13).

      3. We "strive lawfully" only as we obey God's Word, (2 Tim. 2:5).

      4. God's Word will build us up and enables us to stand, (Acts 20:32).

      5. By it we will be able to detect false teachers and teachings, (Rev. 2:2; Isa. 8:13-20).


      1. Jesus gave us all we need.

      2. If it is not written, it is not necessary, (2 Tim. 3:17; 2 Peter 1:3).

      3. God has given a definite program for us to follow.

        • By faith God's plan is workable.

        • Failure on our part does not justify a change of God's way.

        • Nor are we obligated to make God's way work by use of our wisdom or strength.

      4. To tamper with God's word -- adding to, or taking away -- is a very serious infringement on God's order, (Rev. 22:18-19).


      1. It will never be out of date.

      2. It will never be outmoded.

      3. It will always be adequate:

        • To lead the lost to Christ.

        • To lead the believing one's into covenant fellowship by being baptized into scriptural New Testament assemblies.

        • To instruct each body member in the way of Godly living.

        • To rescue us from our backsliding.


      1. The principle by which Jesus lived His earthly pilgrimage, was clearly expressed both in His prayer in the garden and in His words to the tempter, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord" or "never the less not my will but thine be done."

      2. This was the secret of the power, the wisdom and the grace of His life.

        • Because, from childhood He lived consistently with this principle that, "man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

        • He clearly revealed that there are no insignificant words that God has revealed about Himself, (John 20:31, Duet. 29:29).

        • All that He has said is for our use, our understanding and our application.

        • Every word that He has spoken is important because every Word of God is Truth.

      3. If you want to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and forgive like Jesus you must, "live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

        • The Psalmist said, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste," and again in the 119th Psalm verse 18 he said, "Open mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law."

        • Why, Psalmist Why?

          • 1) The scripture is not only able to make us "wise unto salvation," but is also the "Power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth," (2 Tim. 3:15; Romans 1:16).

            2) The Word of God is "truth" and it is this truth that sanctifies, (John 17:17-19).

            3) Because God always deals with us according to His Word, (Psalm 119:65).

            4) It's this Word "that converts the soul, that makes wise the simple, that enlightens the eyes," (Psalm 19:7-8).

            5) Because it is the Word of God that cleanses us, (Psalm 119:9).

            6) Because it's the Word of God that empowers us and keeps us from sinning against God, (Psalm 119:11).

      4. Now the scriptures tell us that David was a man after Gods own heart.

        • By reading the 19th Psalm and the 119th Psalm, we can see that David lived by this same principle of life.

        • David knew that no man could live a Godly life apart from the Word of God dwelling in him richly.

        • David was a man who delighted in the words of God and meditated on them day and night.

        • God's words were more precious to him than fine gold.

        • They were sweeter to him than honey, (read Psalms 19:7-14 and Psalms 1:2-3).

        • The psalmist was fully persuaded that purity of heart, purity of life and purity of motives is the only worthwhile goal.

        • He was passionately persuaded that it was worth the most strenuous effort, because it brought the "blessings of God."

        • Are you? Do you want to be like Jesus and live a victorious life in harmony with the Fathers will?

        • This is an attainable goal, made possible because the very Word that enlightens and gives wisdom also quickens, transforms and energizes us to live in harmony with God and His will.

  6. THE AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF DISCIPLINE, BY THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY, OVER EVERY MEMBER - according to New Testament principles, (Matt. 18:15-18; Eph. 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-7/14-15; etc).

  7.         The first notable division in church history was caused over laxness in the implementation of this principle.

    1. It is necessary for our Assemblies to be called back to the New Covenant doctrine of Congregational discipline.

      1. In our day, many assemblies of the Lord have become tolerant of sin, in order to maintain high numbers or to maintain a status quo comfort zone.

        • However, tolerance of sin in the Lord's Assembly, shows an indifference to His holiness, His sanctity, His purity and will ultimately bring the wrath of God upon that assembly.

      2. The Lord's Assemblies today seem more willing to ignore sin than to denounce it, and more ready to compromise God's Word than to proclaim it.

        • The excuse of 'tolerance' and 'patience' has given way to license.

      3. It is a mournful fact that many Assemblies refuse to take sin seriously.

        • Just like Israel at Ai, the Lord's Assemblies today cannot stand before their enemies while ignoring sin in their own ranks, (cf. Joshua 7:1-26).

      4. Our Assemblies face a moral crisis within our own ranks.

        • Our failure to take a strong stand against evil in our midst, and our tendency to be more concerned about what is expedient or comfortable than what is right, has robbed our Assemblies of Biblical integrity and power.

      5. I am sure that assembly discipline, is the most ignored area of spiritual life in our modern Assemblies.

      6. I should add that it is ironic that this rejection, is often justified "in the name of love, patience and tolerance," because when the Apostle John wrote that we should "love one another," he also wrote: "And this is love, that we walk after His commandments," (2 John 5-6).

        • Assembly discipline is a command from the Lord for His local assemblies.

        • If it is ignored, we do so in direct defiance to scripture.

        • When it is properly carried out, it is a profound display of spiritual love.

      7. To put it another way, true spiritual love dare not ignore the use of the various forms of discipline wherever they are applicable.

        • It is no more love for us to watch a brother in the Lord's assembly, pursue a course of sin unchallenged, than it is love for a parent to watch his child walk unhindered into disaster.

        • Love necessarily challenges sin in ourselves and in our brethren.

      8. If we desire, as I know we do, God's blessing in our Assembly, it is absolutely essential that we conduct ourselves according to God's Word.

        • He tells us how to conduct ourselves in "the house of God," (1 Tim 3:15).

        • We must not look to the world for such guidance.

        • If we are to practice spiritual love, we must practice Assembly discipline.

    2. On the other hand, it will do the Assembly no good if we practice the proper forms of discipline, without the spirit of love and humility which characterizes disciples of the Lord Jesus. Note the following Biblical counsel on discipline:

      1. Dealing with private offenses.

        • When one member wrongs another (Matt. 18:15-17), Christ counsels the wronged person to approach the offender, as a sheep that went astray, in view of bringing them back to the fold by persuading them to change their behavior.

        • If unsuccessful, a second attempt should be made, accompanied by one or two unbiased witnesses.

        • If this attempt fails, then and only then, the matter should be brought before the entire Assembly.

        • If the erring member rejects the wisdom and authority of Christ's assembly, he or she severs themselves from its fellowship.

        • However the assembly must confirm his or her condition.

        • If, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the assembly has carefully followed the Biblical counsel, then its confirmation of the erring member's condition has been acknowledged in heaven.

        • Jesus said in Matt. 18:18, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

      2. Dealing with public offenses.

        • Though "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), flagrant and rebellious offenses bringing a reproach on the assembly, of which the offending one refuses to repent, must be immediately dealt with by disfellowshipping the offender.

        • Upon learning of a case of sexual immorality in the Corinthian Assembly, Paul urged immediate action "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," he said, "when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. . . . Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump," (1 Cor. 5:4-5, 7).

        • Do not associate with anyone who calls himself a believer, he said, "but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat . . . . Expel the wicked man from among you," (1 Cor. 5:11, 13).

      3. Dealing with divisive persons.

        • A member who causes "divisions and offenses" (Romans 16:17), "who walks disorderly," refusing to obey Biblical counsel, should be avoided so that "he may be ashamed of his attitude." "Yet count him not as an enemy," Paul said, "but admonish him as a brother," (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).

        • If the "divisive man" refuses to listen to the "second admonition" of the assembly, he should be rejected, "knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned," (Titus 3:10-11).

      4. Restoration of offenders.

        • Rather, they should attempt to restore each one to their relationship with Christ, through repentance and a new resurrection life.

        • Disfellowshipped individuals can be restored to Assembly fellowship, when they reveal sufficient evidence of genuine repentance, (2 Cor. 2:6-10).

    3. It is especially through restoring sinners to the Assembly, that God's power, glory, and grace are revealed.

      • He longs to liberate the captives of sin, transferring them from the kingdom of darkness into the light.

      • God's Assembly, the theater of the world, displays the power of Christ's atoning sacrifice in the lives of men and women.

    4. (For more on Assembly Discipline see 'Assembly Government' and 'The Functioning Body').


    1. Independence and dependency are matters of degree; some depend on the Lord more than others, we must learn to be dependent on Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and independent of every influence outside His body, the assembly.

         The assembly independence, is a principle rooted deeply in the New Testament teaching and practice. But, it is no where stated or inferred in the scriptures that Jesus has called existing local assemblies to be dependent on each other. Rather, it is taught that each local assembly is to lean heavily on the strong arm of their God's sufficient grace; He is able to supply every need, and has promised to do so.

      1. True spiritual liberty is necessarily restricted.

      2. There can be no lasting freedom except it be freedom under law.

        • Biblical independence restricts us to carrying out Christ's work in His way, for His glory, and according to His instructions.

        • Many assemblies live in spiritual bondage, through the false notion that they must conform to a pattern that is acceptable to others, but "the fear of man brings a snare."

        • Ours is an age that attempts to cultivate ecclesiastical unity and exercise ecclesiastical authority, yet this is in direct violation of the New Testament principles, Jesus said "it shall not be so among you," (Matt. 20:25-26).

    2. What is meant by Assembly independence?

      1. Stated Negatively:

        • 1) By "independence," we do not mean that spiritual anarchy being practiced by many today in their revolt against New Testament order.

          1. No pastor has the right, under the guise of independence, to "lord it over God's heritage," (1 Peter 5:3).

          2. Nicolaitanism did not die out in the first century; nor is it less dangerous than it was then.

          3. Jesus still hates it, (Rev. 2:6, 15).

          2) We do not mean that an assembly is at liberty to make its own laws.

          • A New Testament assembly is granted only that liberty, which will enable it to practice New Testament principles.

          3) Nor do we attempt to equate independence with the practice of isolationism.

          1. An isolationist (individual or assembly), is one who fences himself in -- refusing to cooperate or fellowship with others; though this is practiced by some, it is not the pattern set in the New Testament.

          2. Assemblies that are truly independent can fellowship on a New Testament basis.

          3. It is ridiculous to continue accepting members from an assembly which we refuse to fellowship.

      2. Stated Positively: Independence involves separation from binding alliances with anything outside the local assembly (religious, political, economical or social) that would, in any way, hamper its liberty to obey the commandments of Christ.

        • 1) From the State -- not submitting to its control, or accepting its support in matters of religion.

          2) From Other assemblies -- not recognizing the action of one as necessarily binding on another; yet, attempting, by love and forbearance, to work harmoniously with others as all submit to Christ.

          3) From councils, organized associations, conventions, fellowships or external organizations.

          1. Such groups have no right to legislate for the local assemblies.

          2. Nor have they any moral right to castigate (criticize, or persecute), those assemblies exercising their Scriptural liberty, in choosing not to align themselves with such organizations.

      3. New Testament Assemblies are to be independent in practical experience.

        • True independence involves absolute devotion to Jesus Christ as head of the Assembly, (Eph. 5:23).

        • This is carried out:

          1. By love -- His love for the assembly, and ours for Him, (Eph. 5:25).

          2. By union, (John 15; Eph. 5:30-32).

          3. By the Sprit, (Eph. 1:22).

          4. By the Word, (Acts 20:32).

          5. Through the pastor feeding and leading, as under shepherd of the flock, (Heb. 13:7, 17; Acts 20:28).

            • Unity is possible only as each member is attached and attentive to the head.

      4. True independence -- helps to develop a sense of spiritual responsibility in every member of the assembly.

        • 1) We must learn to inquire: "Lord, what will you have me to do?"

          2) The ability to make and stand for a spiritual decision is the mark of spiritual maturity, (Heb. 5:13-14).

          3) Where are all those 'strong Christians' that modern programs were suppose to produce?

          4) Mechanical programs will never develop one's heart spiritually.

      5. No assembly should yield the responsibility of its spiritual decision to outsiders or assembly dictators (pastors or otherwise).

        • 1) To the assembly, as a body, belong certain definite and inescapable responsibilities.

          1. The responsibility of worshipping Jesus only.

          2. The responsibility of soul winning and missions.

          3. The responsibility of teaching men to observe all that Jesus has commanded.

          4. The responsibility of special situations and services.

          5. The responsibility of administering the ordinances.

          6. The responsibility of discipline.

          7. The responsibility of doing all God's work for the poor and needy.

            • Assemblies should take care of the orphans, instead of sending them off to an institution in an attempt to escape responsibility.

          8. The responsibility of determining whether a preacher is sound in the faith.

            • The fact that he went to a certain seminary does not guarantee his fidelity to the truth.

          2) The assembly must constantly guard against corrupting influences from without.

          1. This involves the matter of faithfulness to Christ.

            • We think little of one who attempts to influence another man's wife against the will of her husband.

            • Let us remember that we, as an assembly, are 'espoused to one husband' -- even Christ, (2 Cor. 11:2).

          2. The yielding of loyalty to spiritual influences apart from Christ, is a serious offense -- Paul called it sin, (Romans 5:17).

            • It is the very basis of idolatry (Isa. 1:3; Mal. 1:6), this was the sin that brought God's curses upon Israel.

            • The degree of idolatry is determined by the extent of infidelity to Christ.

          3. An Assembly sacrifices its independence, by attempting to imitate the programs of mere men; this is a turning from God's wisdom to man's wisdom and brings serious consequences, (Jer. 9:23-24; Psalm 106:34-36; 2 Chron. 36:15-16).

      6. Independence is the basis for Scriptural mission work.

        • 1) It must be remembered that the Great Commission was given to a local New Testament assembly; and as such we must accept our responsibility.

          2) The assembly is not authorized to 'subcontract' the work of Christ.

          • We must do the work ourselves, not appoint agencies.

          • The authority conferred by Jesus Christ cannot be re-delegated to another.

          3) New Testament privileges can be rightfully claimed only by such as accept New Testament responsibilities.

          4) There is nothing that justifies a departure from the Lord's instructions.

          • His ways always look ridiculous to the flesh.

          • Only by the eye of faith may we discern the wisdom of his plan.

      7. Actually claiming liberty to do all Christ has commanded without the influence of human wisdom, rules and regulations is the surest, shortest route to spiritual unity and cooperation in the work He has commanded.

      8. Baptist assemblies that are independent in practical experience, are at liberty to fellowship any scriptural assembly.

      9. We have been called to liberty.

        • Let us not use it as an instrument to gratify the flesh, our own, or others.

      10. Rather, may we, in the fear of God, learn to love and serve each other!

      11. Our guiding principle must be one of: 'Love toward all' entangling alliances with none!

  9. THE LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE FOR ALL MEN . . . involving a corresponding individual responsibility before God, (Romans 14:7-12).



        • John the Baptist called men to repentance, (Matt. 3:1-10).

          1. "The axe is laid at the root of the tree."

          2. This involved every tree.

          3. Men are called out from:

            • (1) Ancestors, (Matt. 3:9).

              (2) Family, death, brothers, sister, etc., (Matt. 19:29).

              (3) Government, ("Render . . . unto Caesar" ), (Matt. 22:21).

              (4) Commerce, (wealth, poverty, etc.).

          4. The Holy Spirit lays every heart bare before God, (John 16:8-11).

            • (1) We must deal with Him.

              (2) He enables us to come honestly before Him.

              (3) The truth makes men free, (John 8:32).

              (4) Every soul must become an inquirer: "Lord what will you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6).

    2. THE WORD OF GOD SPEAKS TO THE INDIVIDUAL SINNER, (John 5:23-25; 3:35-36; 3:18; Romans 2:16; John 12:48).

      1. In the matter of one's individual relationship, there can be no go-between.

        • That is, no assembly, proxy, priest or spiritual advisor, (1 Tim. 2:5).


      1. He is no respecter of persons, (Romans 2:1; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25; Jas. 2:9).

      2. He desires the voluntary submission of our whole selves, (Romans 12:1).

        • No one is coerced, forced or bribed, (Luke. 9:32).

        • The will of man is involved, (John 7:17).

      3. Mere outward obedience is not satisfactory, (Romans 6:17).

        • Those who love God will obey, (John 14:23).

      4. For our rejection or response to God's commandments, we must one day give account, (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10).

      5. It is impossible to shift our responsibility to another by hiding in the crowd.

        1. Pilate could not -- though washing his hands of Jesus; he was responsible for what he knew about Him, (John 18:33-34).

        2. Peter could not, (John 21:21-22).

        3. The Samaritans, to their credit, did not attempt it, (John 4:42).



        • As individuals, we have no right to submit to men in matters of religion, (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29).

      2. God and Caesar must both have their dues (Mark 2:16; Matt. 22:21), but Caesar has no right to infringe on the spiritual.

        • As believing ones, it is our duty to perform both that which is due to God and to Caesar.

          1. The civil government has no right to compel religious duty.

          2. Nor should any civil duty or demand hinder one in their performance of one's duty to God.

          3. The believing ones responsibility in civil matters, goes only to the point that those civil matters infringe upon Gods ways, (Acts 4:29).

      3. Liberty of conscience permits man the right of private judgment in all matters of religion.

        • It must be voluntary.

        • Infringement upon another man's conscience involves coercion (forcing); though some men submit to such infringement.

        • Baptists ought never to do so.

      4. Liberty of conscience involves the freedom to:

        1. Read the Bible for ourselves.

        2. Approach God according to the terms set forth in His Word.

        3. Worship God where we choose, anywhere and at any time.

        4. Gather where we will, so long as we do not disturb others.

      5. "God alone is Lord of the conscience," (Baptist confession of 1689; Acts 14:4).


      1. Persecution has ever been the lot of those who exercised a free conscience, in a walk of purity before God, (Dan. 3:16-18; 2 Tim. 3:12).

      2. Persecution might well be expected under the Caesar's and the idolatry of Romanism, but it did not end there.

      3. Leaders of the Protestant Reformation were equally as zealous in their persecution of Baptists . . . especially in Europe.

        1. Calvin burned Servetus at a stake near Geneva.

        2. Luther set the hounds of persecution upon the Baptists everywhere.

        3. John Knox desired to burn those who opposed his views on predestination.

      4. Baptists have never persecuted.

        • One of them once confronted Knox with these words: "Be these, I pray thee, the sheep whom Christ sent forth in the midst of wolves," (Can the sheep persecute the wolf?).

        • Knox replied: "I will not now so much as labor to confute by my pen, as my full purpose is to lay the same to thy charge, if I shall apprehend thee in any commonwealth where justice against blasphemers may be ministered as God's word requireth."

      5. The Presbyterians of Scotland persecuted the Puritans and forbade the printing of any confession of Faith.

      6. Because of the severity of persecution, the Puritans (largely Baptists) sought liberty in the New World (America).

        • George Bancroft, historian, testified that religious liberty was "the trophy of the Baptists."


      1. John Bunyan spent 12 years in Bedford Jail; there he wrote, "The Pilgrim's Progress."

      2. John Shackleford in Essex England.

      3. John Ireland at Culpepper in Colonial Virginia.

      4. Obadiah Holmes whipped on Boston Commons.

      5. John Clark imprisoned in Colonial New England.

      6. Baptist lands in Connecticut were confiscated and sold.

      7. Lewis Craig imprisoned in Virginia.

      8. Brown University was refused a charter except in Rhode Island.

    7. WHEN THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS MET AT CARPENTER'S HALL, a representative of the Baptists came knocking at the door (probably Isaac Backus), entreating that a guarantee of, "religious liberty for all, "be written into our constitution."

      • Anyone familiar with our national beginnings, must acknowledge that the Baptists played a leading role in securing the guarantee of religious liberty -- not merely for themselves, but for all men in our free land.