Baptist Church Covenant Lesson 1
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Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality, to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotion; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances, to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment, to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger. To abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Saviour.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer, to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay.
We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.
Definition and History
"Covenant" means "an agreement, to agree, be of one mind, come together. A binding and solemn agreement by two or more persons, parties, etc., to do or keep from doing some specified thing; a compact. A solemn agreement between the members of a church, that they will hold to points of doctrine, faith, etc." Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 1975.
The most common church covenant we see was written by J. Newton Brown, a well-respected and noted Baptist preacher, around 1833. It was revised from some earlier covenant from 1830, most likely written by him also. He popularized this covenant when he printed it in 1853 along with the New Hampshire confession of faith (which he also did a little editing to). It became even more popular when Pendleton published it in his Church Manual.
Entering Into Covenant
"Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
Scriptural Salvation and Baptism.
Baptism is the entrance to the church. Entrance into church membership and with it the church covenant, first requires a positive experience of salvation and a public testimony before the church of faith in Jesus as Lord and savior.
Romans 10:9-11 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Acts 2:41 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Secondly, the person joining must be baptized into the membership of the church under the authority of that local church.
Acts 8:36-37 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye 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 alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Scriptural New Testament Baptism
Four requirements for baptism to be valid.
The Proper candidate, (saved) Acts 2:41, 8:36-38
The Proper method, (immersion) Matthew 3:16 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
The Proper motive (symbolic) Romans 6:3-4 3 Know ye 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 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.
The Proper authority. (the church) Matt 28:18-20
A Public Joining of Individual and Church
This is done before witnesses, as all covenants must be.
First, with God and the angels as a witness to our promises.
Secondly, with the church also bearing witness.
It is a solemn but joyful occasion, agreed to my both the person coming forward to join the church and the church body by acclimation or vote.
When both covenant together then there is beginning in unity, and the goal and hope of one body in Christ is clear seen.
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.
It is unpopular today to speak of church covenants, or requiring people to come before the church to be baptized and join the membership. We have become a self-will and stiff necked people. The idea of willfully submitting ourselves to a body of believers to most Christians is a repugnant idea.
We somehow believe that it is our right to demand baptism and with it church membership. Even worse we assume that it is not necessary as a disciple of Christ or that somehow it is a passive or automatic occurrence that comes with our salvation experience. Such ideas are entirely absent from the New Testament. Jesus instituted His church, during His lifetime and authorized it to oversee the making of disciples, baptism and training them.
When we ignore this authority, we make weak, unsubmissive believers and that is exactly what we see in our “Christian” world today. We have planted the seeds of our destruction by ignoring the authority of Jesus Christ and His church.