Memory Verse: 1Corinthians 3:9-11
Prayer: That Baptists might learn to work together on the basis of Bible cooperation.
Key Verses: Amos 3:3; Jn. 17:21-23; Luke 9:49,50; Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 16:5-19; Neh. 6:
1-16; 2Chron. 19:1-3; 2Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 1:22,23.
“We then as workers together with Him” (2Cor. 6:1). As a citizen I can and do cooperate with other good citizens, even though they are not believers, in support of anti-abortion - pornography ban - child abuse - prayer in schools, etc. We cooperate voluntarily in worthy causes as a citizen without compromise of our beliefs. Many religious leaders and TV evangelists are spending much effort and their supporters millions to fight certain evils in our country, but they do it in cooperation with Catholics, Charismatics, Mormons, Jews, Moonies and whosoever would care to join their bandwagon. As a Baptist church I feel that we would compromise much truth to cooperate in any way with the world or worldly religious men or groups. In the work of the Lord Jesus Christ we do not cooperate with anybody but true Baptists, because nobody but Baptists even try to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.
All history unites in testifying that a general defection from the primitive faith and church order did take place throughout the entire Roman Empire, in the third century, and those remaining faithful were actually ruthlessly excluded by the corrupt majority. These uncorrupted witnesses of Jesus were called “Cathari” at first, the Pure, and afterwards by the names of their most prominent ministers and leaders, as Novatians, Donatists and others. And after they fled to the valleys of the mountains from the face of their implacable persecutors, they received the general name of “Waldenses” and “Vaudois”, which meant the inhabitants of “valleys” or “valleymen”. Now these pure and primitive churches did not in any way recognize other denominations than their own, as scriptural churches. Therefore, they did not acknowledge their ministers as having any authority to preach or administer the ordinances; nor did they receive their immersions as valid. They invariably baptized all who came over to them, and from this fact they became known by the general name of Anabaptists (Rebaptizers).
Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent (A.D. 1550), declared the Anabaptists a pernicious sect and a terrible heresy. The Romish church and all her harlot daughters have persecuted Anabaptists for centuries. Would we now seek to cooperate with the enemies of Christ in any way or work? Our liberal brethren are extravagant in their praises of the reformers: Luther, Calvin, Zwingle, and Knox, and they speak of them as evangelical ministers; and of their societies, now called Protestants, as evangelical churches. They have so great a desire to affiliate, and in every way recognize, and seem to prefer them to their own brethren, especially if their own brethren are Sovereign Grace Baptists.
Let me give you concrete examples from the word of God. In Nehemiah, Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and other enemies of Israel asked Nehemiah to meet with them concerning the building of the walls of Jerusalem. But Nehemiah would not. Why not? Were they not all citizens of that goodly city? Why should there not be cooperation in that building enterprise? Nehemiah refused to meet them for conference and maintained his separateness, because there could be no cooperation even in building the walls of the city, without compromising both the Jews’ separateness and their teachings. Again, Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab to fight the enemies of Israel. God helped Jehoshaphat in this battle and delivered him. But after he was home, God sent Jehu, the seer, to him with these words: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?” (2Chron. 19:2). Again later on Jehoshaphat joined with Ahaziah in a trading venture to make ships to go to Tarshish. God sent Eliezer, the prophet, to tell him that all his ships would be broken up because he “joined himself with Ahaziah” in a business venture (2Chron. 20:35-37). In all of these ventures the Lord refused to work with his own servants because in each case God’s servants were in cooperation with those who were His enemies. The N.T. plainly forbids all such cooperation in 2Cor.6:14-18. God gives us a clear call to separation. Baptists cannot work with God, if they go into partnership with anybody but Baptists.
The only way that we can work with God, is by finding what He is working at and what His plans are and do it His way. Bro. Wayne Reynolds said, “Do what you know to do, before you try to do what you don’t know what to do” (sermon, “Knowing God’s will for your life” 4/29/95 Bible Conference). Our cooperation is not primarily with each other, but with God. When we cooperate with God, we work together in harmony and unity. Then the work goes gloriously and it looks so easy we wonder why we failed before. We fail for the same reason Moses failed in Ex. 18:5-27 and Num. 11:10-25. Moses had been trying Jethro’s plan but it failed, and Moses wanted to die. When he turned things over to God, God brought victory. The price of cooperation is giving up your own way and going God’s way according to the Book (Dan. 2:20; Acts 1:8; 2Cor. 2:14-16, 3:5).
The second principle of cooperation in the Lord’s work is that the local church must be the center of cooperation. Each local church is a body of Christ. He is the head, so to cooperate with Him we must cooperate with His body, not a program, not a convention, nor a committee from anywhere (Eph. 1:21-23). Jesus is the head over all things to each local church (Baptist), which is His body. In 1Cor. 16:1-4, there is an example of benevolent giving, which giving was through the local churches under the headship of Christ. All dividing of gifts was done in the local church, and one of their members went along to see where their money went and came back and reported. Christ is the head of every man, as well as the head of every local church (1Cor. 11:1-3). No man is under any obligation to cooperate with anything that has a woman as the head of it. To cooperate with a church out of cooperation with Christ, would be to be a party to and partaker of their rebellion against the authority of Christ, the head. God will get the job done through us if we cooperate with His plans (Eph. 4:15-16). God divides no work of His with rivals, it must always be accomplished on His terms - unquestioned obedience to Him - in all things. If you work by yourself and independent of your church, you may be operating, but you are not cooperating with the church, which is His body.
The third essential in Baptist cooperation is that there can be no cooperation except on the Book (1611 AV). Baptists are a people of one Book. Many Baptists have programs that cannot be found in the Book, therefore they get little support or money for their projects. The Bible is plain and no one has to be educated to find the truth on any question in the Bible. Baptists are a self-governing, self- propagating and self-supporting people, when they follow the Bible. Baptists never thrive anywhere unless the Bible is supreme. That is why in so many educational centers, spirituality is dead and formalism and infidelity have right of way (James 3:13-18). The Bible is the only source of wisdom. All other education is from beneath.
The new man, the spiritual man, feeds and grows upon the word of God (1Peter 2:2). Cooperation is a matter of the spirit - the new man (Isa. 54:13). John in writing to Gaius, shows that the heart of all cooperation is in being fellow-helpers to the truth (3Jn. 5-8), so our church cooperates in the support of missionaries.
One final note, when we as a church exclude a member, that person can no longer participate in the Lord’s Supper. Nor do we permit members in good standing from sister churches to partake, neither should we partake in another church when visiting if asked to so. Other religious bodies may practice intercommunion with anyone or everyone, but let not Baptists do so. But do let us cooperate with our kind of Baptist churches when we can.