begins with Christ and the apostles. Other churches must date their origin with men in recent centuries, but Baptist churches had their beginning during the ministry of Jesus when He formed His church out of the material prepared by John the Baptist. In this sketch, we can only give a brief outline of Baptist beginning and history through the centuries. If you desire to make further study of this subject, there are many splendid volumes available. Ask Pastor about them.
Christ set up His church during His personal ministry here on earth. This was one of the things He came to do. (Matt. 16:18). Before He left the earth, He said that the work He had come to do was finished (John 17:4 and 19:30). Establishing His church was part of the work He had come to do, therefore it was established. The first members of the church were the apostles (I Cor. 12:28). This organization had all the essentials of a church. It had the gospel, an organization, a church roll, the ordinances, a commission, a treasurer, etc.
This church was a Baptist church for Baptist churches today are like it in organization, doctrine and practice. It was also organized out of material prepared by the first missionary Baptist preacher, John the Baptist (John 1:16; Matt. 3:1; Matt. 3:13-17; Acts 1:22).
A church organized out of people baptized by a Baptist preacher must be a Baptist Church (I Cor. 12:28). Furthermore, Baptists alone can trace their teachings and principles back through the ages to Christ.
Churches like this first church have continued to exist from that day to the present time. Christ promised that they would not cease to exist (Matt. 16:18). Churches like the one Jesus built have existed in every age down to the present hour. Those today who claim that they have restored primitive Christianity forget that the Church that Jesus built would not have to be restored for it would not cease to exist. If it did cease to exist for a time then Christ’s promise failed, and we know that is not true!
Historians of various denominations admit that Baptists have existed through the ages since Christ. Let us notice the statement of just a few of them.
Dr. John Christian (Baptist):
I have no question in my own mind that there has been a historical succession of the Baptists from the days of Christ to the present time.
History of Baptists, p.5.)
John C. Ridpath (Methodist):
I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as A.D. 100, though without doubt there were Baptists then as all Christians were then Baptists.
Comment: If all Christians were then Baptists, what kind of churches did they form? Baptist churches of course!
The first century was a history of the Baptists.
Alexander Campbell (Church of Christ, founder):
The Baptists can trace their origin to Apostolic times and can produce unequivocal testimony of their existence in every century down to the present time.
Cardinal Hosius (Catholic):
If the truth of Religion were to be judged by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the Anabaptists; since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more grievously punished.
(Orchard’s History of Baptists, p. 364.)
Many more similar quotations could be given but these are enough to prove that historians, even of other denominations, admit that Baptists have existed since the apostolic days!
The following table showing the origin of the various denominations is prepared from the statements of church historians:
|Church of Christ||Alex. Campbell||U.S.A.||1827|
|7th Day Adventists||William Miller||U.S.A.||1843|
|Christian Science||Mary Eddy||U.S.A.||1884|
The record of the founding of every other denomination (except Baptists) can be similarly given, and as these, they would fail to meet the three conditions named. Therefore none of these can be the church that the Lord set up while He was here on the earth. Can any church meet these three tests? Yes! Baptists can! No man this side of Christ can be named as the founder of Baptists. Nor can any date this side of His personal ministry, nor any place outside of Palestine, be set for their beginning.
Someone may say “All churches are members of the ‘Universal Church,’ therefore all churches are churches of Christ.” The answer is that there is no such thing in the Scriptures as “Universal” church. Nowhere is the word universal used in connection with the church. The only churches the New Testament mentions are local churches, and the church as an institution. A church founded hundreds of years after Christ set up His church does not become a church of the Lord simply by making the claim.