As we continue to study together through the Articles of Faith of the Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church this week I will again consider issues related to the ordinances of the church.  As I have established in prior Tuesday Tea posts the two ordinances of the church are baptism and communion.  The 10th Article of Faith, which we will study this week deals with the authority to administer those ordinances.

“We believe that no minister has any right to administer the ordinances of the gospel but one who is regularly baptized and called of God and has come under the imposition of the hand of the Presbytery.” (Article #10 from the Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church’s Articles of Faith)

Proper Process and Authority

“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4)

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Timothy 4:14)

The Apostle Paul in writing to the young minister Timothy and in writing the Epistle to the Hebrews records requirements for being a properly authorized minister of the gospel.  The first requirement being that a man is called of God.  While it is impossible for one to judge the intentions of men in most cases, it should be remembered and taught that the ministry is not a place of honor and praise but rather a place of service.  This is not to say that ministers should not be respected, for in fact they should receive more respect than they do today because they are doing God’s work, but they are not to be lifted up and worshiped themselves.  Thus, the first requirement on a minister is that he is called of God not of himself.

The second requirement being that the hands of the presbytery must have been laid upon him.  In other words the minister and deacons surrounding him must have approved of his ordination and call to the ministry.  There must be a level of authorization present in order for a man to assume the role of minister in the Lord’s church.  This is not to say that the presbytery overrides the calling of the Lord.  Rather it should confirm the man’s calling and his readiness to serve in the capacity of a minister.

Administering the Ordinances

In today’s world it has become all too common that the ordinances of the church are administered by anyone in the congregation.  This scene happens most likely on a weekly basis somewhere in the country — mother and or father are members of the church.  One or more of the children decide to join the church as well.  They choose – not required to – but choose to be baptized and the father or mother are the ones to baptize them before the church.

No where in that scene is proper authority honored and in fact it would appear as though the mother or father that does the baptizing is attempting to heap honor upon themselves just as the Apostle Paul warned against.

This belief is not because the church wants to exclude anyone from joy, but rather because the church is the Lord’s house.  In the Lord’s house the business must be conducted by those that have been authorized to conduct that business.  The church is not something for us to play with and alter as we choose.  The Lord calls men to oversee his church and as such they have proper authority to administer the ordinances of the church.

Let us strive to follow the Lord with due diligence.

May the Lord bless you this week,

Elder J.W.

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