Our Lord commanded us to go “unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Every town, every village, every city, and every community needs a New Testament church. Those of us who know the Lord as our Savior and are part of a Bible-preaching New Testament church should be fully aware that the greatest thing happening in our town is what takes place in and through the local church that is obedient to His command. This is the work of God.
God made us for eternity, not just for time. People get many things they need for time in other places; but they can get what they need for eternity in a New Testament church.
There are certain things we should all understand about the New Testament church. The church started with Christ and His disciples and was empowered at Pentecost. The Lord Jesus gave ordinances to the church. These are the things He ordered that we do—baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are not ministerial ordinances; they are local church ordinances. These things are done under the authority the Lord gave the local New Testament church.
Christ also gave us doctrine, our beliefs and teachings. The sole authority for our faith and practice is the Word of God. We are not creedal people. We do not have creeds that we read and go through repetitiously. We are people of the Book. The Bible, the Word of God, is our sole authority.
Baptists are not Protestants. We are not Catholics. We are not Jews. We love all people, but we are Baptists. When tracing the beginning of our doctrine and principles, we do not find a Martin Luther or a John Calvin or a John Wesley. We find none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus gave His disciples a body of doctrine, and because we have an infallible Book that is preserved forever, we can hold the Word of God in our hands and hide it in our hearts. The same body of doctrine the Lord gave His disciples has been handed down through the centuries and delivered to us. It is our solemn responsibility to give it to the next generation.
I am grateful for everyone who is truly a Christian, and I am grateful for the opportunity to tell those who are not saved how to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. I certainly do not have the idea that the only people who will be in heaven are Baptists. The people who will be in heaven are those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and the precious little ones who have died in the safe care and keeping of Christ before they came to the time of accountability. This is in God’s hands.
As Christians, we should have a spiritual understanding of the local church. It is the work of churches to start churches. The church I have the privilege of pastoring was started by another church. It is not the work of mission agencies to start churches. It is not the work of Christian colleges to start churches. Starting churches is the work God gave to churches.
The bride of Christ, the church, can give birth. Mission agencies and mission boards can start more mission agencies and mission boards, but it is not their responsibility to start churches. It is the responsibility of churches to start churches.
The simplest definition of a local church is “a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together to carry out the Great Commission.” Because it is the responsibility of churches to start churches in the cities, the communities, and the towns where churches are needed, this must be done by other Bible- believing, Bible-preaching churches.
We need to understand the ministry of the local church. Let us give our lives in service to God through the ministry of the local church. God’s work in this world is the work of the New Testament church.
The Bible says in Acts 1:8 that we are to be witnesses unto Him
“in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
We must place the emphasis where God places the emphasis, “unto the uttermost part of the earth.” There is no place to stop. There is no place where we arrive, then end. By the very nature of the New Testament church, it must continue to be a church with a pioneering spirit, always pressing beyond, “unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
We live in a world of more than six billion people. We live in a country with nearly 300 million people and nearly 3,200 counties. Churches are to plant churches to reach these people with the gospel. What a glorious thing to be a part of a local assembly of baptized believers who hold the Bible as their sole authority for faith and practice! What a privilege to be in a place where children can grow up hearing the Word of God!