Believers must also exercise careful spiritual discernment about popular public speakers who are popular with the world and with broad Christiandom. While God is certainly able to make a congregation large (cf. Acts 2:41), Christ also warned, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). The size of a man’s congregation, or the worldly success associated with it, is by no means a reliable indicator of the presence of true and vital spirituality or Divine blessing. Popularity does not indicate orthodoxy and orthopraxy. F. B. Meyer had huge congregations and tremendous popularity in his day, although, as his many heresies validate, he did not have the blessing of God. The prophets of Baal in Elijah’s day had far larger congregations and far greater popularity than Elijah, and the Antichrist will command a greater following in the Tribulation period than any truly godly preacher in church history. What is more, the blessing of God and true faithfulness will not always lead to a large congregation—you can have Christ’s smile, keeping His Word and not denying His name, while yet having but “a little strength” (Revelation 3:8). Do not allow the desire for numerical growth to lead you to downplay, compromise on, or abandon one tittle of the truth. Far better to preserve the whole of the once-delivered and holy faith uncorrupted, yet be hated and rejected by the world, than to be a popular and accepted speaker but compromise it. For what is the eternal reward of the life to come in comparison to the temporal and fleeting reward of the praise of men of dust?
Beware of allowing error into your church, or into your own mind and heart, in the name of missions. It is a clear Biblical imperative for congregations to send out church-planters worldwide (cf. Acts 13:1-4), and God’s people should be very desirous that God would call them, or their children, to such a blessed work. The reading of the biographies of great missionaries of the past to quicken a passion for missions is most commendable. However, false doctrine and practice must not be allowed in the name of missions. Sending an F. B. Meyer out worldwide to blaze abroad Keswick and modernistic heresies, or sending out a George Grubb to assail Christ’s teaching on hell, fills the world with pseudo-Christian heresies rather than the pure gospel message and sows terrible worldwide confusion concerning the character of true Christianity and the faith Christ delivered to His churches. Keswick errors, continuationist errors, and many other errors are spread through biographies, testimonials, and other narratives of events on mission fields, the people of God relaxing their guard against false teaching because of the sacrifice or suffering of those in foreign lands. This must not be. Highly esteem Biblical mission work while refusing to bypass God’s eternal truth in the name of foreign missions.
You must also reject spiritualism in all its forms—even those which deny that they are spiritualism. The devil is very unlikely to openly admit that he wishes you to reject God and follow him to utter ruin. Rather, he will perpetrate a multiplicity of deceptions to make himself appear like an angel of light. There are far more people who worship the devil while thinking that they are worshipping God than there are who intentionally and knowingly worship the devil. Be careful—more careful than Meyer was—in recognizing all the workings of Satan in spiritism and avoiding them all.
Reject theological modernism in all its forms—for, indeed, it is a form of the working of the devil. Reject rationalism and begin all your thinking with the only truly consistent logical foundation—the Word of God. Reject higher critical nonsense about the alleged evolutionary development of Biblical religion and the Hebrew Scriptures and accept the plain self-testimony of the Almighty to His own works in His Word. Reject the fictional “Q” document and all higher critical ideas about the origin of the New Testament. Reject evolutionary lower critical ideas that deny the preservation of God’s Word in the common Received Text and treat God’s Book like some secular document. Indeed, reject evolution entirely and accept the truth of the creation of the world ex nihilo in six twenty-four hour days thousands, and not millions, of years ago. Every jot and tittle of the Bible is God’s verbally, plenarily inspired Word, dictated by the Holy Ghost through holy men of old. Recognize this fact and oppose every idea and teaching that conflicts with it.
Baptists must by no means accept what someone teaches simply because he claims to be a Baptist. Since all the first century churches were Baptist churches, Judas, along with the other eleven Apostles, was a Baptist. Ananias and Sapphira were Baptists. Diotrephes was a Baptist. F. B. Meyer was, after a sort, a Baptist also—he was even the president of a Baptist Union for a time, albeit one that was rapidly slipping into utter apostasy and theological liberalism. It is not enough that one claims that he is a Baptist—rather, his doctrine and practice must be tried by the Word of God.
Learn also from Meyer the danger of Baptists forming Unions, Conventions, Associations, and other forms of “Baptist” hierarchicalism not found in Scripture. The pernicious influence of Meyer’s modernism, and of many modernists like him, were able to corrupt many more churches because of their position in the Baptist Union. The leaven in the Union spread throughout the organization, corrupting church after sound church, until all that did not separate was leavened. Not a scrap of Scripture supports the existence of any denominational hierarchy—all that the Lord Jesus has authorized in the New Testament is the local, visible, independent and autonomous congregation. All Conventions, Unions, and the like are certain to fall into false teaching, for the Lord Jesus has not promised to protect them, nor has He promised His special presence with them—such promises are only given to His church. Nor can hundreds of assemblies with diverse views on all sorts of doctrine and practice unite in a Union, Association, or any other formal structure without setting aside some of what the Bible teaches, violating from the very beginning the requirements of Scripture to contend for all of the faith. Within the church it is possible that “no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3) at all than the truth is advocated—in all forms of Baptist hierarchicalism such purity is impossible. Churches of like precious faith can work together as they see fit, but once they form parachurch or suprachurch organizations the seed of compromise has already been sown. Let the Lord’s churches learn from the destruction of the Baptist Union, and countless similar organizations—let them remain independent, unaffiliated, and truly autonomous, that they may be truly holy—as separation, both personal and ecclesiastical, is inherent in true holiness, so ecumenicalism of any kind is inherently unholy—so that they may be truly pleasing to their sole and sufficient Head and Husband, Jesus Christ.
Learn from F. B. Meyer’s example the danger and damage unconverted church members can do—and how much the more danger there is in unconverted ministers. How much evil came to the Baptist churches of England through a failure to guard their baptistries and membership roles! How many more congregations would be faithfully practicing the truth today had previous generations rigidly allowed none to be baptized into the membership of their churches who could not clearly testify to personal conversion and possessed a life that bore the evident marks of supernatural regeneration? Modernism and rationalism were able to spread like wildfire in late nineteenth century British nonconformity because many church members and ministers were already unconverted and were thus susceptible to the wanton embrace of any alluring heresy that came along. How much better it would have been for F. B. Meyer personally—and for Baptists in his country generally—had he been forbidden to submit to God’s holy baptismal ordinance because of his lack of anything like a clear conversion? How much the more evil was it to allow him to enter the Baptist ministry in the same state? Let no one today deceive himself into thinking that results the less pernicious will result from a similar practice. Only churches that carefully guard their membership role, doing all that is in their power to restrict their congregation to true saints both by great care in who they allow into the baptistry and by the consistent practice of church discipline, can expect to be preserved from apostasy in the long term.
Unlike Meyer, you must cleave to and contend for a sound and robust Baptist polity. Love the Lord Jesus Christ, and, like your Master, be dogmatic and defend all the truths of the written Word. Defend, even unto death, believer’s immersion as a church ordinance and the door to membership in Christ’s congregation. Reject all liturgy and embrace the Regulative Principle of worship. Be jealous over the purity of Biblical worship, even as your God is jealous over it. Reject open communion; protect Christ’s precious Supper as Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 11. Preach the Word—all of it, from the verbal inspiration of Scripture, to the necessity of faith in the Triune God for salvation, to the fire and brimstone in the lake of fire, to the restriction of Spirit baptism to the book of Acts and the cessation of the sign gifts to the first century, to the historic Baptist doctrine of sanctification.
Are you a member of a Bible-believing and practicing historic Baptist church? Marvel, and be filled with humble and aweful amazement, at your glorious privilege—you have not only been chosen to be part of God’s spiritual and invisible kingdom through the new birth, but have been added by baptism to Christ’s own body, temple, and bride! What opportunities you have to walk closely with God! You are a living stone in God’s holy temple. Oh, how necessary it is for you to live like one!
See here for this entire study.