Guest Post: Perilous Times, Dead Baptists, and the Church

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[The following is a guest post from Aaron Menikoff. Aaron serves as Senior Pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He will be speaking at the upcoming National Founders Conference in Charleston, SC in October]

As I write these words, news outlets are buzzing over the beheading of the American journalist Steven Sotloff. The second most-watched report is probably about the leaked photos of Hollywood actresses posing in the buff. Both stories are clear examples of human depravity run amok. Therein lies the paradox of our age: the human mind is daily bombarded with the terrifying and the trivial, the incomprehensible and the insipid. We aren’t the first generation to be overwhelmed by disdainful news and, should the Lord tarry, we won’t be the last.

Fredericksburg Baptist Church Steeple 101Though the problems we face change each day, the answer does not. God has chosen, through his church, to make known his “manifold wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10). Hope and peace, security and rest, light and truth are protected and proclaimed by communities who share one thing in common: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many live without any real sense of authority. The church is called to illustrate a different life, a better life. We are to live under the authority of Christ, our head and king. In so doing, we model a superior way for all to see.

As we head back to seventeenth-century England, we find a group of Baptists, long dead, who seemed to grasp the unusual importance of a biblical church for their age and for the ages. Their nation grew accustomed to political turmoil. Anglicans and Catholics, lords and kings fought for control. In 1688 the bloodless Revolution brought William and Mary to the throne, but for how long?

The Second London Confession of 1689 may have been signed in a climate of political confusion, but the pastors who affixed their name to this historic document were not confused about the church. Her head is Christ alone. Her members are believers. Her leaders are godly. And through this public demonstration of divine headship, regenerate membership, and godly leadership the world can see the gospel at work:

The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ; and do willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving up themselves, to the Lord and one to another by the will of God, in professed subjection to the Ordinances of the Gospel. (SLC, XXVI.6)

There is gospel-wisdom in these words. We live in perilous times. My prayer is that a modern generation of pastors and church leaders would share the convictions of the signers of the SLC and lead their churches to “walk together according to the appointment of Christ.”

Aaron Menikoff

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