SEVEN PILLARS OF THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH COVENANT
THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH COVENANT
For as much as Almighty God by His Grace has been pleased to call us out of darkness into His light, and having been baptized upon a profession of faith in Christ Jesus, and having given ourselves to the Lord and one another, in a Gospel Church way, we do covenant together by the help of God:
(1) to be governed and guided by a proper Discipline agreeable to the Word of God; (2) to keep up the Discipline of the Church of which we are members in brotherly affection toward each other; (3) to watch over one another, and if need be, in the most tender, and affectionate manner, to reprove one another; (4) to attend our church meetings; (5) to not absent ourselves from the communion of the Lord’s Supper without a lawful reason; (6) to pay the tithe and give offerings for the defraying of the church’s expenses, and for the support of the ministry; (7) to not regularly depart from the fellowship of the Church, nor to remove to the bounds of distant churches without a regular letter of dismissal and placing it in the Church in which we hold membership.
These things we do covenant and agree to observe and keep sacred in the name of, and by the will of God. Amen.
Every Church organization must adopt and agree on a list of guiding principles or rules to govern it and determine how it will operate. In the absence of guiding principles, no certain boundaries are common among its members and chaos will inevitably ensue. To ensure that each member will abide by guiding principles and maintain their unity, a Church must formalize a Covenant.
What is a covenant? It is a contract or agreement between two or more parties. Covenant is a biblical term that is used in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it meant an agreement or pact between two individuals, such as Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:44-54), David and Jonathan (I Sam. 18:3) and husband and wife (Mal. 2:14).
It also means an agreement between God and His people, such as in Exodus chapters 19 – 24. God at various times in history covenanted with individuals. After the flood He made a covenant with Noah. God also made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17. In the New Testament, the word for covenant is rendered, “testament” in the Authorized Version (Heb. 9:15-17).
The seven parts of the Primitive Baptist Church Covenant are like giant pillars that support a magnificent edifice. Each pillar is essential to the overall strength and endurance of our fellowship.
FIRST PILLAR – A GOVERNING DOCUMENT
“To be governed and guided by a proper Discipline agreeable to the Word of God”
Meaning: We as Primitive Baptist believe firmly in the authority of Scripture. Article II says, “We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.” Therefore, our Discipline is based on Scripture. Though not inspired, it is agreeable with the spirit of God’s law.
References: II Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12; John 8:31-32
SECOND PILLAR – MAINTAINING AND ENFORCING OUR DISCPLINE IN LOVE
“To keep up the Discipline of the Church of which we are members in brotherly affection toward each other”
Meaning: No Discipline is worth having if there is not a unified commitment to respect, follow and enforce it. However, if it is not done in love we become as Paul says, “sounding brass” and a “tinkling cymbal.” In other words, we are simply making noise. Love is the foundation of all our dealings with one another. We are to speak the truth in love so that our hearts will remain tender towards one another.
References: Eph 4:15; Titus 2:1; II Tim. 3:14; Heb. 3:13
THIRD PILLAR – CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER (BODY MINISTRY)
“To watch over one another, and if need be, in the most tender, and affectionate manner, to reprove one another”
Meaning: As members of the same body of Christ we are commanded to care for one another. Just as our physical bodily parts work in harmony with each and assist each other when there is weakness, the members of the body of Christ is to minister to each other to maintain its health and Spiritual vitality.
References: Gal. 6:1; Phil. 2:3-4; Rom. 14:1; Rom. 15:1; Heb. 10:24
FOURTH PILLAR – FREQUENT CHURCH ATTENDANCE AND FELLOWSHIP
“To attend our church meetings”
Meaning: It is spiritually unhealthy and disobedient for a member not to frequently attend the assembly of the saints. God has made all of us interdependent. There is so much to be gained when saints come together in honor of the Lord to worship Him. We should also make every effort to frequent the assembly of our Association, Conventions and other Primitive Baptist churches that share in this covenant.
References: Heb. 10:25; Matt: 18:20; Acts 2:42, 20:7; I Cor. 5:4
FIFTH PILLAR – HOLY COMMUNION
“To not absent ourselves from the communion of the Lord’s Supper without a lawful reason”
Meaning: Just as the rite of Water Baptism is administered in obedience to heaven’s command, each saint should frequent the Communion of the Lord’s Supper for the same reason – it is heaven’s command. Holy Communion is one of two ordinances of the Church. It is a solemn and holy occasion in which the saints reaffirm their covenant with one another by reaffirming their covenant with Him. Holy Communion is a memorial to Christ’s atoning death and an anticipation of His imminent return. No saint should absent himself from the Lord’s Table without lawful reason. Lawful reasons would include sickness, physical impairment, unexpected emergency or crisis, etc.
References: Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; I Cor. 11:17-29
SIXTH PILLAR – BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP
“To pay the tithe and give offerings for the defraying of the church’s expenses, and for the support of the ministry”
Meaning: No church can function and do the work of ministry without money. Tithes and offerings are God’s ordained means by which the Church can have the material resources to fulfill the Great Commission, support the clergy and sustain the houses of worship and discipleship.
References: Proverbs 3:9; Gen. 14:18-21; Mal. 3:10; I Cor. 9:11-14, 16:2
SEVENTH PILLAR – AUTHORIZED MEMBERSHIP
“To not regularly depart from the fellowship of the Church, nor to remove to the bounds of distant churches without a regular letter of dismissal and placing it in the Church in which we hold membership”
Meaning: Membership in a Primitive Baptist church should be authorized, legitimate and officially recognized by each church. Thus when a member leaves a church, a letter of dismissal should follow him and be placed in the official records of the new church in which he holds membership. This enables churches to maintain authentic membership rosters and hold members accountable to one another.
References: I Thes. 5:12; Phil. 2:29; Philemon 15-17