Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Community or Conviction

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on April 22, 2010 at 5:25 am

Every church has something of its own personality.  There are certain ways of doing things that are distinctly preferential, geographical, or circumstantial.  These elements of church life are not deeply rooted in biblical exegesis or confessional standards. As you move from church to church and see how these various things work themselves out, you realize what is and what is not truly important or lasting.

There are other things, however, that are transcultural and transgenerational. They are issues of truth in and of themselves.   These things are not a matter of simply saying, this is how we do it here.  Over the years, I have known many people who have transitioned through Reformed Baptist Churches.  They came, they loved, they embraced, they propagated and then they left.  They may have left due to job relocation, a family matter, or through personal offense.   My personal tally is that virtually all of these people left off their confessional distinctives the moment they left the church.  What they say they embraced as being biblical turned out to belong to community and not conviction.

I have also witnessed another group of people who have been forced to leave their church behind.  The so-called pastor turned out to be a wicked man.  The flock was scattered. Among that group, not one has left the visible church and virtually all of them left with distinct confessional convictions intact.  Though they had been grievously abused in their so-called Reformed Baptist Church, they continued in that faith.

What makes the difference?  Why do some embrace a confessional perspective on the Lord’s Day or the Regulative Principle (I know, I know, I know, I know that it is worked out differently in different places—I know that) only as long as they sit under such a ministry, and quickly throw it off once they move to another place. We do not do that with the deity of Christ or the scriptures.

In our zeal to embrace the wider body of Christ who differ from us, we must not present the truth as anything less than it is.  Truth does not change with geography.  Truth does not change because some Reformed Baptists are fools.  Truth does not change because some pastors are immoral.   May God help us to know the difference between community and conviction.

Jim Savastio, Pastor
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. “Truth does not change with geography”

    Amen!

    Could it be that those who leave a church for unbiblical reasons are trying to create a better excuse than they have for leaving? After all, it sounds much better to say, “I left church x because I became convinced they were too strict on the RPW” rather than “I left church x because I had personal issues and had to keep dying to myself…” Related to this could be the bond we have with our sister churches: “I’m upset with RBC x. The folks at RBC y will want to know why I left. If I don’t have a good enough excuse for RBC y, I’ll be really uncomfortable. So I’ll just go somewhere that doesn’t have much fellowship with RBC x.”

    That doesn’t explain those who leave because of relocation, though.

  2. Thanks Jim for saying what I have pondered for so many years. The confessional distinctives that we embrace as Reformed Baptists are not easy to hold on to when we leave the supports of congregational life. That is, they are burdensome if we never really had a heart for them. Some of whom you speak are like Jehoash-

    2 Kings 12:2 Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

  3. Good post, appreciate the balanced perspective.

    May God indeed help us to know the difference between community and conviction.

  4. May we be preserved from becoming bored with the gospel and the means of grace.

  5. People who believe because of community do so out of the fear of man. “Everyone here espouses the RPW (or whatever other doctrinal perspective)so I will too, so I am not odd”. Such people always abandon the truth when they leave the church, it was only a matter of social convenience that they embraced it. When their community changes, so do they.

    People who believe because of conviction do so out of the fear of God. “I believe this because God’s word says says it, and I tremble before that word, and dare not disobey it, even if everyone in my church abandons it”. They take that truth with them wherever they go and are never content to let it go, nor will they, no matter where they go. Because God’s word does not change, neither do they. That is how you discern between those who fear God, and those who fear Him not.

  6. I am tempted……I am really tempted…..but I will resist !!! Enjoyed your article Jim…thanks….!!

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