..To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"

 

 

What is an Anabaptist?

by

Ron Parsons


 

What is an Anabaptist?

 

 

Simply put, an Anabaptist is a person who has been baptized – sometimes soon after birth (often called “christening”); and sometimes as an adult, into a church system.  However, as their knowledge has increased and they have come to know Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour, they have been re-baptised into Him, because true baptism is a symbol of entering into His “death”, not entering a church.  So an Anabaptist is a twice baptized person.

 

Thus it is written:

*************** (Begin quote)

Acts 8:

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name [position] of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 

 

Acts 19:

4 Then said Paul, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were [re]baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus. 

 

Romans 6:

3 Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into [His] 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. 

 

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our “old man” is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

*************** (End quote)

 

At conversion, through the creative grace of God, men and women who were born “thorn bushes” in God’s sight, become “grape vines”.  Jesus told us, “You shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.  A good [grape] tree cannot bring forth evil fruit [thorns], neither can a corrupt [thorn] tree bring forth good fruit [grapes].  Every tree that brings not forth good fruit [after its kind] is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”  Matthew 7:16-19.   See this from another angle.

 

Of course, a grape vine can bring forth blemished grapes, for Christians are not necessarily sinless, but that is another matter.

 

Anabaptists [grape vines] come in many “suits” and “colours”.

 

What do I mean by this?

 

Let me explain.

 

In the beginning of what men call the “Christian” church, in the times soon after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new believers moved in all directions spreading the good news that God would transform “thorn bushes” into “grape vines” if they would accept His gift. 

 

Some made this move voluntarily, while others had to be pushed.

*************** (Begin quote)

Acts 8:

1 And Saul was consenting to his [Stephen’s] death [around 34AD].  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.  2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling [arresting] men and women committed them to prison.  4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

*************** (End quote)

 

Later they were joined by their former persecutor when Saul of Tarsus became Paul the apostle to the Gentiles. 

 

He wrote:

*************** (Begin quote)

1 Timothy 2:

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 

7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles [this includes anyone not in the Jewish church] in faith and verity.  8 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath [fear] and doubting. 

*************** (End quote)

 

This work was done to fulfil the command of the LORD which He gave before He left the earth to return to heaven. 

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Matthew 28:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth.  19 Go you 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 always [through the Spirit], even to the end of the world.  Amen.”

 

Mark 16:

15 And He said to them, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”

*************** (End quote)

 

We should see in this statement that their mission would result in two groups – those who believed and those who did not, regardless of nationality.  Thus the “church”, as the believers came to known, resided as small groups within the greater community wherever they happened to be. 

 

Remember these words?

*************** (Begin quote)

Acts 8:

1 And Saul was consenting to his [Stephen’s] death [around 34AD].  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

*************** (End quote

 

The church was soon made up of both Jews and Gentiles.  Paul wrote:

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Ephesians 3:

2.  .  .  you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you: 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effectual working of His power.”

*************** (End quote)

 

The system of adult believers congregating together to hear, and act on, the word of the LORD, continued for some time.  The apostle Paul set out their standard for us when he wrote.  “Give no offence, neither to the Jews [non-Christian Sabbath-keepers], nor to the Gentiles [Sunday-keepers], nor to the church of God [Christian Sabbath-keepers]: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.  Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you [these were baptism and the LORD’s supper].  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”  1 Corinthians 10:32-33; 11:1-3.  In this way the members of a church co-operated with each other, and with other churches, but looked to Christ as their Leader. 

 

This was in harmony with some other words of Christ.  “But be not you called “Rabbi” [spiritual leader]: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren [equals].  And call no man your [spiritual] father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Neither be you called masters [bosses]: for one is your Master, even Christ.  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant [minister].”  Matthew 23:8-11.

 

This behaviour brought about a surprising (to some) result: 

 

the unbelievers persecuted the believers; 

 

in many places and times, to death! 

 

(This might be a good place to read a modern author's thoughts on anabaptism today.)

 

This had been foretold: “John answered, saying to them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire’.”  Luke 3:16.

 

Moreover, in a letter to a young disciple, Paul reminded him that this was what he should expect as his baptism of fire. 

  

*************** (Begin quote)

2 Timothy 3:

10 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 [and the] persecutions, afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured [went through]: but out of them all the LORD delivered me. 

 

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

*************** (End quote)

 

Jesus had said:

*************** (Begin quote)

Matthew 24:

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake. 10 And then shall many [in the church] be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  11 And many false prophets [teachers] shall rise, and shall deceive many. 

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 

13 But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.

*************** (End quote)

 

Why?

 

The New Testament teaching brought to light that which has always been, but which was practically covered up during the Jewish dispensation, that ALL men are equal in God’s sight, but not all are in the church.  When Jesus said the people were to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” they marvelled at Him!  Mark 12:17.

 

Church and state demand different loyalties and they had not seen this. 

 

The states demand loyalties that all who live in them can give, regardless of their religious ideas; while God demands a loyalty that only he or she that is in Christ can give.  The state has a “sword of steel” which it can use to ensure obedience, while the church has only the “sword of God” the Bible, for moral persuasion. 

 

And this is right in God’s eyes, for He caused the following to be written.

*************** (Begin quote)

Romans 13:

1 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God [to operate in their sphere]2 Whoever therefore resists the power [of the State], resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  3 For rulers are not a terror to [those who do] good works, but to the evil [criminals]

 

Will you then not be afraid of the power? [Do you want to live in harmony with the State?]  Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: 4 for he [the civil ruler] is the minister of God to you for good.  But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil [criminal actions]

 

5 Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only for wrath [fear of punishment], but also for conscience sake [because it is right to do so]6 For this cause pay you tribute [taxes] also: for they are God's ministers [in civil matters], attending continually upon this very thing.  7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.  8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.

*************** (End quote)

 

There can only be a problem if one or the other goes outside of its ordained “space.” Just as the state should not interfere in what a man or woman thinks or believes, so religion should not attempt to make men obey its desires in their bodies.  In the time of the changeover from Old Testament to New Testament teachings this idea was revolutionary, yet it was spelled out when Abraham was given his commission.  “And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?’” Genesis 18:17-18. 

 

Unfortunately, the notion of “nation” became more important than “church” in the minds of the Hebrews who left Egypt in the exodus, and this took centuries to overcome, for “patriotism” is another “god”.

 

The heathen “way” is to have an “object of worship”, sometimes a god, sometimes a human leader, sometimes a rock or mountain, or a man-made item, etc.  The early Christians did not mount a crusade to have this “object” discarded and their “God” put in its place.  They were content to ignore it and worship in their own way, while being careful not to be seen to rebel against the law of the land, unless it affected their freedom to believe.  They lived on earth, following the customs and languages of their society in most instances, while remaining “foreigners” among them, in the world but not of it.    

 

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Hebrews 11:

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange [foreign] country, dwelling in tabernacles [tents] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God .  .  . 

 

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.  13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 

 

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a city.

*************** (End quote)

 

The Pagans ascribe the power and protection of their state to their “god”, and any departure from their religious system is seen as an attack against their society, which is why various states over the centuries have often persecuted the people of God as the cause of their political problems.  One of the early ones was when the emperor Claudius [41-54AD] banished the Jews (and this included the new Christians) from the city of Rome. 

 

The emperor Decius [201-251AD] wanted every householder to sign an affidavit that he and those whom he represented, were loyal to and had recently worshipped their “object” and enforced this with the threat of a death penalty. 

 

*************** (Begin quote)

http://www.thenagain.info/WebChron/Mediterranean/Decius.html

Because of the political instability, military and economic crisis, and the social upheavals in the Roman Empire during the third century, one of Decius’ main objectives was to restore the stability of the empire’s past.  In early AD 250, in an effort to unite the Empire against the threat of the Gothic invasion in the Balkans and the Sassanian Persians in the East and also as an attempt to restore the old virtues of Rome, Decius commanded that all citizens of the empire demonstrate their loyalty to the state gods and his divine reign through public sacrifice. 

Decius then set up sacrificial commissions in all cities and villages to supervise the execution of the sacrifices and to deliver written certificates to all citizens who performed the sacrifices. 

A citizen’s refusal was regarded as a threat to the religious unity of the Roman Empire and a denial of the general goodwill to the sovereign.  Consequently, any citizen who refused to perform the sacrifices was subject to arrest, imprisonment, and execution.

*************** (End quote)

(Remember Daniel in the lions’ den, and his three friends in the fiery furnace?  Daniel chapters 6 and 3.  There has always been controversy between church and state.)

 

The new church gave many names to the “Heretics” as they called the Anabaptists.  Here are just a few, with their approximate dates: e.g. Donatists (4th and 5th centuries);  Nestorists (6th century); Waldenses 9th century); Albigenses (13th century);  Wycliffites (14th century); Hussites (15th century); Huguenots (16th century); Puritans (17th century).  They all “protested” but not all over the same ideas – their one common aim was to pursue the Bible teachings as they saw them independent of state control.  In amongst them were, of course, the “tares” (often the fanatics who came up with odd ideas), but their general tenor was to follow the gospel of Christ and live peaceably with their fellow-men.  They believed strongly in helping fellow-believers who had fallen on hard times, and were the fore-runners in the principle of leaving the world in a fit state for their descendants. 

 

In our eyes they made many mistakes and failed to see some obvious Bible truths, but God says of them: “To you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you no other burden. But that which you have already hold fast till I come.”  Revelation 2:24-25.  What they did was lay the foundation for our freedom of religious expression today and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude.

 

However, in the western world that which is called “Christendom” seems to be operating in the correct way now (there is no persecution of dissenters in most countries), but it isn’t really.  Over the centuries since the resurrection, there were great alterations made in the way the professed Christian church operated, and, in fact, still does.  It is our ignorance of these changes that leads us to think that all things continue as they began.  

 

It was these substitutions that brought about the awareness of the position of the Anabaptists. 

 

Change 1:

The first major change occurred around 321AD, and was in the composition of the church.  Instead of it being a group of believers in amongst a sea of unbelievers, a Roman emperor named Constantine, under the urging of the professed Christian leaders, made the new Christianity his state religion and ordered that all who lived in his empire should be baptized as “Christians” at birth.  This made a church consisting of the taught AND the untaught!  It was soon after this that the terms “visible” and “invisible” church were coined to cover up the obvious heathens who were officially in “the church.”   It was promoted that God’s real church on earth could not be seen by human eyes, which of course, is not true.  Faulty at times, and composed of “tares” as well as “wheat”, it was made up only of those who were of an age to make a profession of faith in the Son of God and were baptised into Him, but it was visible enough to persecute to death!

 

Constantine’s idea was that it was not important what men thought, but what they did in religion that mattered; ALL the people in a given area had to have the same religion to promote civil harmony.  The idea of separation of church and state was not in his mind.  

 

This union of religion and state, and religion being a matter of actions, was not a new idea. 

 

Constantine was fundamentally a Pagan, a sun worshipper, and every Pagan religion has been based on the same theory since Cain rejected God’s way and left his home near the Garden of Eden and went into the east and built a city to keep his followers separate from the people of God (the same principle built the Berlin wall).  “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.  And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, “Enoch”.  Genesis 4:16-17.  A few individuals do not build a city, but many of Cain’s brothers and sisters obviously went with him because they liked his way of religion.

 

Of course, when Constantine started his way, the true followers of the LORD could not go along with it.  Wholesale baptisms soon after birth, especially when they were just “sprinklings” or “pourings” and not “burials”, were not in their philosophy, so many had to argue against such an idea.  Because the “new Christianity” was now the state religion, this action made them “outlaws” or “heretics” in the sight of the state government, and so oppressive religious laws became the norm to deal with them. 

 

This is the spirit of Satan, because he is the one who accuses.  It is written: “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.’ And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.”  Revelation 12:10-11.  It is Satan who wields the “power of death” and the Anabaptists of the day felt so strongly over their beliefs that they were prepared to die for them.  Hebrews 2:14.

 

As part of the package of change, the official day of worship was altered from the last day of the week (God’s day) to the first day (the sun’s day).  This change, which can appear slight because the two days are side by side (and many true followers of the LORD kept both for a while), was really major because it signified a change of god!  Baal (boss) worship, and the use of force became a standard part of the new church.  The Prince of peace was changed into the god of war and the Anabaptists became “conscientious objectors” in the eyes of the “church”. 

 

(In the Second World War both sides professed to be Christian, and both sides asked their god to bless them and give them victory!  Religion was used to bind the people together in a concerted war effort.  As in the Constantinian situation the war was “blessed” by the church leaders, and the battle “padre (father)” went out with the troops.  Yet He who had refused to participate in earthly politics was still used as the head of the new church. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from here” but that was ignored.  John 18:36.)

 

Change 2:

In the situation in which all in the “state” are also considered members of the “church” there is no place for individual religion, for to be religious in private was to undermine the purpose of the new “church” which was to hold the “state” together in one common bond.  So private or separate meetings to read the word of God were banned. 

 

Christendom, as the so-called “Christian kingdom” came to be called, cannot allow secessions, for in the minds of its rulers they are rebellion.  This caused many civil wars, some literal and some spiritual, between the church/state and the “heretics”.  Jesus told them (and us), “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues [churches] you shall be beaten: and you shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.” Mark 13:9.

 

So now re-baptism and Sabbath-keeping became the signet of the true Anabaptist, although many groups of them still held on to the sun’s day.

 

Change 3:

Another Pagan idea was a hierarchy of leaders with one man, the Supreme Pontiff, as the top dog, and in the new system this position became known as Christ’s representative on earth, or as the “head” of the church.  This new church also took over the offices of bishop and deacon and made them into a religious concept separate from the “laity” or common people.  This was the Nicolaitane principle – clergy controlling the laity.  The people responded by making their ministers (who should be servants) into demi-gods, giving them titles, and looking to them with exaggerated respect.  Even today, many religious systems use titles such as, Rabbi, Father, and Pastor etc. to keep separate those who should be “brothers”.

 

Jesus spoke regarding His church in those early centuries: “But this you have, that you hate [dislike] the deeds [actions] of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate .  .  .  But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam [an apostate prophet], who taught Balac [a king] to cast a stumblingblock [the god of force] before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols [having received a “blessing” from them], and to commit fornication [in the name of religion]

 

“So have you also them that hold the doctrine [teachings] of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them [the doctrines] with the sword of My mouth [the truth].”  Revelation 2:6-16.

 

Change 4:

Along with the divide between the “religious” and “secular” members of the new church came the thought that only licensed, or ordained, ministers could do the work of God.  Those who preached without a license were naturally flouting the authority of “the church.”  In order to sort this problem out the new church set a man in each area (parish, diocese, presbytery, conference, etc.) to control it, he (and his assistants) being the only ones with authority to teach church-authorised words.  This soon degenerated into homilies on social issues, and the sacraments of marriages and funerals.  

 

There’s nothing wrong with having areas to look after, it’s the “control”, the “kingly power”, that’s the problem.  It was there very early in the church experience, for John tells us: “I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence among them, receives us not.  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, prating [talking glibly] against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither does he himself receive the brethren [those I sent], and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church.” 3 John 1:9-10.  This attitude intensified after Constantine and the state began to pay the salaries of church leaders.

 

During his lifetime, Paul set an example against the sentiment, even then gaining influence in the church, that the gospel could be proclaimed successfully only by those who were wholly freed from the necessity of physical toil.  He illustrated in a practical way what might be done by consecrated laymen in many places where the people were unacquainted with the truths of the gospel.  At first he supported himself with his own savings, and then he accepted funds from other areas while working.  If they were not forthcoming, he went to full-time work.  His course inspired many humble toilers with a desire to do what they could to advance the cause of God, while at the same time they supported themselves in daily labour.

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Acts 18:

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 and found a certain [Christian] Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome [to cleanse the church/state]:) and came to them.  3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.  4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

*************** (End quote

 

The LORD employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose, and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in educating Christians.  As Peter wrote, we are all “a holy priesthood” able “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5. 

 

Aquila and Priscilla were not called to give their whole time to the ministry of the gospel, yet these humble labourers were used by God to show Apollos the way of truth more perfectly.  See Acts 18:26.

 

Change 5.

As soon as there were “ordained” priests and ministers there had to be a sacrifice they could offer, so the simple LORD’s supper which at first anyone could host and participate in or not as they desired, was turned into a ritual which was mandatory and supplied only by authorized persons.  It was made a “sacrament” in some systems [a word which is not in the Bible], the table was changed to an altar, and the “partaking” became “imparting”, for all the recipient needed to do was open his or her mouth and be “spoon-fed”!  Like infant baptism, the thought was introduced that the giving of the ritual bestowed the blessing.  The Anabaptist knew and accepted that they were only symbols of a blessing already received, so a clash came here as well.  Together with this, the study of the word dried up, and sermons based on one or two verses, or rituals of sacraments, took its place. 

 

Today, the professed Christian denominations look like churches within a state but they are not, for the religious laws they like to have passed affect everybody in the jurisdiction of the state.  Today, in the western world of Christendom, it looks as though we can all worship freely, but in fact we are only “allowed to” by the “established” church – it is NOT a right.

 

Only one country in the world guarantees freedom of religion by separating church and state, and God’s word tells us that that is in the process of change. 

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Revelation 13:

11 And I beheld another beast [a state government] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb [at first], and [then] he spoke as a dragon. 

12 And he exercises all the power of the first [church/state] beast before [in front of] him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was [then] healed.

*************** (End quote

 

The effect over the centuries of these modifications to God’s way was to establish a deception (the man of sin, 2 Thessalonians 2:3).  At best this led to a standard of worldly morality or goodness in the place of Christianity, and at worst, called the most sinful sinner a Christian because of his or her accident of birth-place!  They call themselves Christian – but we don’t have to agree with them. God says, “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”  Proverbs 14:11-12.

 

Let’s recap the changes we have mentioned:

 

1.  All the people in a given area are classed as being in the church.

2.  Infant baptism ensures this.

3.  The union with the state supplies the power for monopoly, and the change of day.

4.  The use of state force to exterminate dissenters is OK.

5.  Only those who are ordained are allowed to teach, which leads to kingly power.

6.  The LORD’s supper has become a sacrifice.

7.  The reading of the word of God is neglected.

8.  Permission is given to hold different views, but with reservations.

 

Where the doctrine of salvation does appear to be presented, it is often confined only to a spurious “justification by faith” such as: “only believe” or “let Christ into your heart” (without first having a removal) to the detriment of “righteousness” or the sanctification of perfection, which is little thought of, or even denied.  Then the emphasis is usually on forgiveness while cleansing is neglected.  Yet it is written: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, AND to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. 

 

(Click here to go to The Science of Redemption - a trilogy of faiths for more on this subject.)

 

It is also written:

*************** (Begin quote)

Colossians 1:

23 If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister .  .  .  according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: 27 to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily.

*************** (End quote)

 

And in another place:

*************** (Begin quote)

2 Peter 1:3-11:

The New Testament in Modern English, by J B Phillips, 1960 edition.

 

“He [God the Father] has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness.  It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature.

 

“For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side, and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life.  Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge, your knowledge by self-control, your self-control by the ability to endure.  Your endurance too must always be accompanied by a real trust in God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness; and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.

 

“If you have these qualities existing and growing in you then it means that knowing our LORD Jesus Christ has not made your lives either complacent or unproductive.  The man [or woman] whose life fails to exhibit these qualities is short-sighted – he [or she] can no longer see the reason why he [or she] was cleansed from his [or her] former sins. 

 

“Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you.

 

“If you go along the lines I have indicated above, there is no reason why you should stumble, and if you have lived the sort of life I have recommended God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our LORD and saviour Jesus Christ”.

*************** (End quote)

 

 

 

Other points of contention were the modifying of the understanding of the human nature Christ took when He came to this earth; the bearing of the cross; and taking the oath; plus many others, such as the clergy wearing special clothes, using set prayers, not sharing the wine of the communion, etc. Most of these are of minor importance in our eyes, but they were indicative of a change of direction to those who lived with them.

 

Christ’s nature as a man:

The common understanding that was introduced into “Christendom” regarding the nature of Christ during His incarnation was that He came to this earth as a God (or as Adam before his fall) and therefore was able to handle temptation easily.  (There was also a faction who put forth the thought that He was the opposite – simply a good man!)  The truth is that that He came in the nature of a Christian, not the natural man – and intends to lift Christians to His standard. 

 

The “ladder” must touch both heaven and earth as mentioned in the following text!  Anything short of it leads to separation from God.

 

*************** (Begin quote)

Genesis 28:

12 And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed.”

*************** (End quote)

 

(Here's a bit from Crozier concerning the thought that the atonement was completed on the cross.)

 

Bearing the cross:

Jesus said, “And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27), meaning that Christians would have religious opposition like His, but this was also changed till it came to mean the sorrows and ills that all natural humans are involved in. 

 

Paul wrote to one church: “I have confidence in you through the LORD, that you will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubles you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.  And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?   [If I did preach circumcision] then is the offence of the cross [persecution] ceased.  I would they were even cut off which trouble you.  For, brethren, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’.” Galatians 5:10-14.  (All the apostles except John died violent deaths at the hands of the opposition.)

 

(An explanation of bearing the cross by the author of The Stepchildren.)

 

The oath:

The Anabaptists refused to take the judicial oath because it involved not only promising to tell the truth, (which they were quite willing to do, of course), but because it also required them to swear allegiance to the church/state system.

    

Wherever even one of these changes was introduced, those loyal to God’s way had to protest.  As more and more crept in they had to speak up more loudly.  When protest made no difference they then had to decide whether to go along with the new ways and keep silent, or speak up and leave, for to speak up often brought a charge of heresy upon them, the ultimate punishment for which was death.

 

Some went along with the new church in practice but kept their own thoughts. 

 

Many chose to speak up and stay, which either led them to the martyr’s stake or conformity with the new ideas!

 

Others, such as the Reformers, left and started new churches.  Unfortunately, these kept some of the ways of the old system (particularly Sunday-keeping), and became small versions (daughters, see Revelation 17:5) of it, and then they in turn persecuted those whom they saw as “heretics”.

 

Another good place for a diversion: Try my article on The Daughters of Babylon.

 

So today we have many denominations, all calling themselves “Christian”, yet all subscribing to one or more of these differences.  (See the attachment, The Belgic Confession, at the end of this article for an example.)

 

Any one of these departures from the truth should cause a true Christian to heed God’s word and protest.

 

More than one and they should consider His call, “And I heard another Voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.’ For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”  Revelation 18:4-5. 

 

Finally, the Anabaptist understanding is nicely summed up in the following quote, which is from the words of an Anabaptist named Peter Tesch who lived and died in the 16th century under the Reformers. 

 

From Quellen Hesse, pp. 247f. as quoted in The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, by Leonard Verduin, 1964. (The ellipses are in the original.)

 

*************** (Begin quote)

We believe and confess from the heart that we and all the children of Adam are so corrupted by original sin that we and all men would be with justice condemned by God forever, we along with our and their good works.  Also, that we receive forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, freedom, and the new birth and salvation, only through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we truly and with the whole heart believe.  This is that first righteous-making, which the Scriptures ascribe to faith in Christ, without any work or merit or contribution by man, yea, without his will, prayer, or desire, solely through faith in the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus. 

 

However, this faith must be engaged in all good works through love, which it is capable of doing, in Christ – all things being possible and even light, which were previously unpleasant and arduous.  Of this however, there are, if we look carefully, but very few as yet, persons who have a true, a living, a potent and saving faith; instead we see, by and large, a dead, barren faith and an empty imagination, in that men do not only omit to do the good but also perform the evil, voluntarily and freely.  Therefore it will not help those who boast of such a faith, with which they put themselves at ease in the midst of all boldness, lasciviousness, and excess  . . . This is predicated [said] of the bold, the audacious, the unfruitfully believing Christians (who in reality are unbelievers) and it is not applicable to the weak, the right-minded believers or the imperfect Christians, who can still slip and slide and fall, but who remain unrejected, seeing that they love the moral improvement in Christ. 

 

Therefore we think it necessary that in the sermons everywhere a faithful warning and admonition be given and that it be insisted on that even as the inability to do the good is in us by reason of the original sin so the ability to do good is present through faith in Jesus Christ, from God and of grace  . . . so that if one is somewhat faithful (which is much) so also will the greater that is needed unto salvation be given.  In this way offensive men may have taken from them the false excuse for their open blasphemy.”   

*************** (End quote)

 

As Paul told the Athenians, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men [and women] every where to repent [and change their ways]: because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance [a guarantee] to all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.”  Acts 17:30-31.  In that judgment we will be judged by what we COULD have known, not just on what we do know.

 

Today there are still Anabaptists.  Are you one?

 

oooOooo

 

Some of the comments in this article are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed, right or wrong, are my own.

 

 

 

 

Creeds & Confessions   Prayer & Devotions   C.R.C. Stuff

Belgic Confession Menu

Article 36: The Civil Government
Prev   Text File   Next

 

 

 

We believe that
because of the depravity of the human race
our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.
He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies
so that human lawlessness may be restrained
and that everything may be conducted in good order
among human beings.

For that purpose he has placed the sword
in the hands of the government,
to punish evil people
and protect the good.

And being called in this manner
to contribute to the advancement of a society
that is pleasing to God,
the civil rulers have the task,
   subject to God's law,
of removing every obstacle
   to the preaching of the gospel
   and to every aspect of divine worship.

They should do this
while completely refraining from every tendency
   toward exercising absolute authority,
and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them,
   with the means belonging to them.

They should do it in order that
   the Word of God may have free course;
   the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress;
   and every anti-Christian power may be resisted. *

Moreover everyone,
regardless of status, condition, or rank,
must be subject to the government,
and pay taxes,
and hold its representatives in honor and respect,
and obey them in all things that are not in conflict
   with God's Word,
praying for them
   that the Lord may be willing to lead them
      in all their ways
   and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life
      in all piety and decency. **


 

 

* The Synod of 1958, in line with 1910 and 1938, substituted the above statement for the following (which it judged unbiblical):


      And the government's task is not limited
      to caring for and watching over the public domain
      but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry,
         with a view to removing and destroying
            all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist;
         to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ;
         and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere;
         to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone,
         as he requires in his Word.

** The Synod of 1985 directed that the following paragraph be taken from the body of the text and be placed in a footnote:


      And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists,
      and in general all those who want
      to reject the authorities and civil officers
      and to subvert justice
         by introducing common ownership of goods
         and corrupting the moral order
            that God has established among human beings.

 

 

 

To contact me click here 

.To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"