Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1951

Baptist Arguments Answered

H. F. Sharp, Blytheville, Arkansas

Almost every debate I have attended where brethren discuss the establishment of the church the following argument is made. If the church was established in the personal ministry of Christ or during the days of John the Baptist then when Christ died the church was headless, husbandless, and could not function as God-said it should. The church would be a widow. The church is the bride of Christ, and if married to Christ before his death, at his death would become a widow and was one for three days.

In an effort to escape the force of this argument the Baptists have taken an absurd position based on Isaiah 54:4-9 "Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou west refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer."

Here the Baptist preacher tells the audience the church was a Widow. Isaiah said the Lord forsook the church but for a small moment, and at no time did he ever forsake the church "but for a small moment" except when he was in the grave. Therefore, says the Baptist preacher, the church was established before Pentecost and the church was a widow; so down goes the argument that the church was established on the day of Pentecost!


The reasoning is wrong from several standpoints. (1) This has reference to God, the Father, and not Christ, His Son. Israel was God's bride. The church is the bride of Christ. (2) It shows false reasoning from another point: This prophecy has reference to God forsaking the children of Israel when they went into Babylonian captivity where they remained for about seventy years. See this old Jew in Psalms 137 tell of his being forsaken, "By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, 0 Lord, the Children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem who said, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof. 0 daughter of Babylon who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Is not this the sad cry of one who has done wickedly and now sees the terrible condition he is in and remembers the great joy and privilege he had in the city of Jerusalem? He remembered too late. Here is where God forsook his bride for a "small moment." (3) It is false from another position: Verse 8 "In a moment I hid my face from thee" —what was the reason of God's forsaking Israel ? In the same verse we read. "In a little wrath I hid my face from thee." So, as the Baptist would argue, the Lord got mad and ran off and died for the church—such foolishness. (4) Again we look from another viewpoint. Did the Lord die physically or spiritually? If physically, then the only relationship the Baptist church has to Christ is a physical relationship and we are almost persuaded to agree with that. If Christ died spiritually then that makes Him a sinner. Anyway one goes that would make this passage refer to a relationship of Christ and the church would make one ridiculously absurd and an object of pity.


Now let us notice one affirmative argument on the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost. This is from the same book, Isaiah. In Isa. 66:5-8 we find this prophecy of the establishment of the church, a prophecy that at no time could be fulfilled except on the day of Pentecost. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies. Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man Child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."

Now see the prophecy in its fulfillment on the day of Pentecost. "A voice of noise from the city"—Here is the descent of the Holy Spirit.

"A voice from the temple"—The preaching of the apostles. "A voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense" —Here are the terms of salvation revealed to the murderers of the Lord and to all. "Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man child"—Here the church is established without violence or bloodshed, a kingdom is born without the days of revolution as our great nation experienced. Where has anything like this ever happened? Who has heard such things? Notice that she is delivered of a man-child, and compare Pauls' statement that he made of the twain one new man in Christ. Here the man refers to the church. Here, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful of prophecies concerning the establishment of the church and one I have never heard a Baptist preacher attempt to deal with. In the article it has been the plan to answer one argument made by Baptists and give an argument that can be made by the affirmative. It is hoped that aim has been reached.


W. Earl Mansur, 241 E. Arlight, Monterey Park, Calif., Nov. 14, 1951: "Church work in Montebello is good. We are having fine attendance and interest at all services. We have not obtained title 'to our lots so our building program is stopped for the present I would like to book one or two more meetings in the mid-west for next summer. Write me at the above address."