I came across these paraghraphs recently in a little booklet by Louis Entzminger and wanted to share it. I had often thought of the first reference he uses, but I liked the way he quoted B.H. Carroll who developed the thought as follows:
I never could understand why some Baptists rejoice to say there is no church succession.
I would like for them to take hold of these two passages in this chapter, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord," coupled with the last verse, "Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever. Amen."
Whenever church work stops) then the glory stops. Did God intend for it to stop? If he did, why did he say, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"? And why should we tell the church when celebrating the Lord's Supper, "As often as you do this you show forth the Lord's death till he come"? Why does he provide for perpetuity? I am not discussing church history now. I am discussing God's purpose in establishing the church. Jesus said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." I do not believe they have. They have never been able to convince me that the gates of hell have prevailed against the church.
I believe that God not only has had people in all ages, but that he has had an organized people.
He provided for transmission: "The things which I have committed to you, the same commit thou to faithful men." How do men have faith? By hearing. How can they hear without a preacher, and how can they have a preacher unless he be sent? Did he not send the church all gifts – apostolic gifts, prophetic gifts, evangelistic gifts, and pastoral gifts? He set every one of them in the church. The apostles and prophets served the church; when they were taken away, there remained pastors, evangelists, teachers. On whose authority? Christ's. Where placed? In the church. I am satisfied that if the angels, after watching the unfolding of the wisdom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ, from the time Christ died until the time the apostles died, they have not had a recess since of a thousand years. They are not left in suspense, vainly bending over to learn more through silent centuries. The school goes right on. The purposes ripen. The ordinances continue to tell their story. Churches come from churches somewhat as horses come from horses. History cannot trace every detail of the pedigree showing how a certain drove of wild mustangs in western Texas are descendants of the Spanish barbs, brought here by the discoverers 400 years ago. The fact that the mustangs are here proves the succession, since only like begets like.
I do not undervalue church history, but far more important to me than fallible human records of passing events is the New Testament forecast of church history. The former may err – the latter never.
The booklet is "Studies in the New Testament Church". What books/booklets do you favor on this topic? You can read more of this lecture at http://sglblibrary.homestead.com/files/bhcarroll/Volume_15.htm.