A Believer's Church

1st Corinthians 12:12-13, 27

"And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" Acts 2:47

by Derek Gentle

The Believer's Church is called so because it is composed of believers.  It can also be called the Doctrine of the Regenerate Church.  By either name, it is the Lord's Church as He is its true Head and owner. A regenerate church membership has been for Baptists a basic belief and a foundational doctrine.

Implications of the Doctrine of the Believer's Church:

Voluntary - No one is in the church because someone else decided for them. It is comprised of a group of people who have voluntarily entered into convenant together. If someone does not agree with the terms of the commitment, he or she is free not to join or to renounce it.

Children - The doctrine of a believer's church does not permit the baptizing of children who are not yet Christians nor counting them as members of the church. This is closely related to the voluntary nature of the church and the fact that infants are not yet in a postition to respond to Christ in personal commitment.

The Invitation - In the believer's church, everyone is invited to come to Christ for salvation, but the church is responsible to discuss the matter with each person professing faith in Christ and to see that they indeed do understand the gospel and are willing to come to Christ on His terms. Therefore, the manner in which people are invited to respond to the gospel of Christ should not limit the time to explore their understanding and readiness to respond.  The Somerset Particular Baptist Confession (1656) states:

That in admitting of members into the church of Christ, it is the duty of the church and ministers whom it concerns, in faithfulness to God, that they be careful they receive none but such as do make forth evident demonstration of the new birth, and the work of faith with power.

Some more implications involve:

1. Believers' Baptism

"See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may."  Acts 8:35-38
2. Distinctiveness in the World
"For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. . "' 2nd Corinthians 6:16-17

3. Priesthood of All Believers

"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood..."  1st Peter 2:5

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1st Peter 2:9

4. Congregational Government

The Lord governs the church through His people.  But they must indeed be His people for the church to operate properly and under the Lordship of Christ.  When the devil's children are allowed to run the church, you will have the devil's church.
"And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. . ."  Matthew 18: 17

"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together. . . deliver such a one to Satan. " 1st Corinthians 5:4-5

"Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" Acts 6:3

5. Church Discipline
"For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?"  1st Corinthians 5:9-13 (This is verse 12)
The puposes of church discipline are to:
  • Restore the sinner  (Galatians 6:1)
  • Protect the church  (1st Corinthians 5:5-6)