How did our Particular Baptist forefathers view and do evangelism? James Renihan fills us in, with the help of some materials from his 1997 doctoral dissertation, “The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705: The Doctrine of the Church in the Second London Baptist Confession as Implemented in the Subscribing Churches.” (also see Edification & Beauty):
In order to account for the remarkable growth present among the Particular Baptists, one must remember this fact. Evangelism is at the heart of the doctrine of the church. New assemblies are planted as men and women are brought to faith in Christ. In these Confessions, practical theology is the necessary concomitant to ecclesiology. Doctrinal formulations are not merely theoretical constructions. They have very important implications and applications for life and ministry.
Historic Baptist theology brought together theology and practice. In the best puritan fashion, it was recognized that what we believe must influence what we practice, and that what we practice must rest on the theological truths we confess. These men and their churches sought to be faithful to that principle. As we strive to preach the whole counsel of God, and apply the principles of reformation in our churches, we must take hold of this perspective. Church planting ought to be at the very forefront of our agenda. In Particular Baptist Ecclesiology, the church was fundamentally the result of the personal and sovereign activity of Christ in calling sinners out of the world to salvation. From its roots in the New Testament, it was intended to be a holy community, separate from the world and focused on heaven. But, so important was the planting of churches that programs were established to promote their increase. Funds were raised, men were ordained and sent, and new congregations were organized. Does our theology of the church inform our evangelism? What more can we do?
This blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin; (1Jo 1:7,9) purgeth our conscience from dead works; (Heb 9:14) sanctifieth us; (Heb 13:12) justifieth us. (Ro 5:9) Thereby we are redeemed. (Eph 1:7 Heb 9:15)
They that are fellow heirs with the saints in the kingdom of glory, must be fellow sufferers in the kingdom of patience trough tribulation. (see Ac 14:22)
It is the liberty of the ministers of Christ, when they cannot edify the churches of God by preaching unto them, to endeavor their edification by writing unto them.
Christ’s deity “I AM,” and his eternity “the First and the Last” revealed and believed, and by himself applied unto sanctified believers, will abate their fears, and remove them. (Ps 56:3,4 Isa 8:12,13-14 Mt 14:27 Mr 5:36 1Pe 3:14)
You can get this book in several different ebook formats [most free]:
Hanserd Knollys was born in Chalkwell, Linconshire, and educated at Cambridge University. He was ordained to the priesthood in Church of England in 1631 and incumbent at Humberstone (Lancashire). Due to his Puritan convictions he became a dissenter and resigned his living, moving to London. In 1638 he was imprisoned for unlicenced preaching. Being allowed to escape he fled to America and established a church in New Hampshire. In 1641 he left America and returned to England arriving there in December of the same year. By about 1643/44 he had come to adopt baptist convictions.
In London he was instrumental in the formation of a baptist church at Great St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate. Knollys took part with Kiffin and Keach in many baptist endeavours. Knollys was one of the seven men who sent out the invitation to the 1689 General Assembly. Two years after he had subscribed the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, he was called to his Master.
Over at the Pure Church blog, Pastor Anyabwile writes:
Michael Haykin, in his book Rediscovering Our English Baptist Heritage: Kiffin, Knollys, and Keach, provides a valuable, crisp overview of the early years of Calvinistic Baptist development. Anyone looking for a quick read of this history (97 pages) and an introduction to the major figures pioneering the movement would do well to read this well-written, succinct summary.
Of the many things I appreciated about Haykin’s summary was the frequent attention he gave to the major lessons we may appropriate from these forebears for our own day. The concluding chapter draws our attention to three lessons in particular.