Baptist Hospitals

March 23, 2013

I came to the great state of Texas from the great state of South Carolina after having been educated in the great state of North Carolina. While in the Carolinas and traveling to Texas through, lest any be offended, four other great states I found something more common than kudzu though less common than grits.

Baptist hospitals seemed to be everywhere. I admit that since I am a Baptist and I work at a hospital they may have just stood out because of that, but there were quite a few around to stand out. Now, how much Baptist is left in them since they were built, I do not know. There are colleges once built or at least heavily funded by Baptists that should remove Baptist from their name since they teach things contrary to Christianity let alone Baptist distinctives. Therefore, there may be some Baptist hospitals that perform abortions, give birth control to teenagers without parental knowledge and other non-Baptistic practices. However, it is good that Baptists saw a need and endeavored to fulfill that need in the name of Christ.

Hospitals fulfill a multitude of functions from outpatient care to short and long term inpatient care. They have many services and personnel to treat a patient no matter what their illness might be as well as to give support and education to loved ones of the patients. They have many rooms. No matter what the primary specialty of a hospital they all have some ability to provide emergency care. They have emergency rooms or ERs.

I am not sure who it was, but one of my mentors spoke often of the Church as being a hospital. This concept goes along with Christ’s teaching that the sick need a physician not the healthy. (Mark 2:17,Luke 5:31) Sin is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. Non-Christians suffer heavily from its effects. Christians still carry it in remission, but can have severe outbreaks of the disease suffering great pain and heartbreak until repentance, confession and the filling of the Holy Spirit cleanses wounds and forces it back into remission.

The Non-Christian will suffer two deaths from the disease. While it is not spiritually deadly for the Christian, it can wreak havoc and rob him of the fellowship and blessings he so desperately needs in this world. The complete cure will come when we cross over into glory be that by the undertaker or the upper taker.

Therefore the church is really a hospital and to be an effective one it needs several ERs. Indeed, it should never open its doors unless it has an Emmanuel Room. If God is not present, it is a morgue not a hospital. Unless the Great Physician is in charge there will be no healing of soul, body, spirit, or emotions. The building may be dedicated to Him. There may be much talk about Him and His prowess amidst great public relations campaigns to attract visitors. However, if He is not present it is only talk and a vain flurry of activity.

Matt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (KJV) Isa. 7:14

The glory of the Gospel, even the very power of the Church, is the fact that God became manifest in the flesh so that He could be with us in a form our feeble flesh could understand. He had to be with us in the flesh to die for us. Now, that the price has been paid by the only acceptable sacrifice, He can live in us as His temple, and not buildings.

In order for the building to be a hospital, there must be people in that hospital with God present with them through the indwelling of the eternal Godhead. Without that it matters not how large or beautiful you make the building, it will not be a hospital because the main ER will be empty and only death will abide there.

If the main ER is properly staffed the next ER the church must have is the Evangelization Room. Earlier, I said that sin is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. It symptoms vary in degree and many may live their whole life not realizing that it is in them. They are like many people who you see one day and they look healthy and they would even tell you that they feel good and the next day you read their obituary.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they were healthy and did not come to Him for healing. Those who had the ravages of the disease and felt its pain came looking to Him for healing. The woman at the well knew she had a problem, but she did not know there was a cure until the Great Physician made a house call. She went away healed. The rich young ruler came in for a yearly check up only to find that he was not as healthy as he thought and did not like the prescription. He went away sick unto death.

Matt 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

Jesus still spoke to the religious leaders trying to show them they were sick despite their constant denials and verbal assaults. He sought out people like the man with the unclean spirit at Gadarenes who no one would have brought to Him and who could not come to Him. He went and sought those who thought that there was no cure. He did not leave people in a state of denial or with false feelings of security. He made sure all the dying had opportunity to be cured.

Followers of Jesus, do we do the same? Are there people we write off as hopeless because of their habits, color, creed, or verbal abuses? Are you content to let religion be a private matter and let the religious but lost just go to Hell? Are you not willing that any should perish or are those whom who have said in your heart, if not verbally, to Hell with them?

Will the poor not be able to pay the expenses of your building? Will snot-nosed trailer trash kids soil and tear up your gaudy waiting room? Are the wealthy your preferred clientele? Do degrees of academia move you to visit more than degrees of need by folks not so well educated? If these things are in your heart, you had best check your Emmanuel Room. It may be empty because the Physician may have left while you were picking out the color of the carpets.

With that last paragraph, I entered the next ER, the Edification Room. Many Christians do not enter this room. Many pastors do not build one. This one requires commitment, time, work, and becoming involved with other people. We have little of all those things in the average Baptist hospital.

3619 oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay’); feminine (abstract) of a compound of 3624 and the base of 1430; architecture, i.e. (concretely) a structure; figuratively, confirmation: KJV– building, edify (-ication, -ing).

As you can see, the word means a building. We are the building where God lives based upon the cornerstone and foundation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-7) We are strongly encouraged to build upon that only foundation that can be laid. It determines our ministry here and our rewards there. (II Tim 2:19-21; 1 Cor 3:12)

Most Christians expect the pastor or full-time ministers to all the edification. After all, according to Eph 4:11 that is their job, right? That is partly right. The full-time ministers are to edify the saints and bring them to maturity and strength in doctrine (13,14). However, if I am to do my job, I have to speak the truth in love to you. (16) I must tell you that the reason those folks do this is so that you can learn to do the work of the ministry and you can edify or build the Church. We are a team. Pastors teach you to edify you. You teach others to edify them. This means we work together in love to build/edify the Church! (16) This is no spectator sport. No one is to be an arm chair quarterback. We are all to be on the field playing our positions in our special teams.

1Thes 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (KJV)

The Thessalonians knew how to do this. Paul was affirming that knowledge and encouraging them to continue.

Rom 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. (KJV)

Edification is not a selfish thing. We are to edify our neighbor and seek to please him even if it means curtailing some of our own activities. Read Romans 14 and 15. Paul is telling the strong to please their brothers and sisters that were struggling with grace. If that meant giving up some things so that the weaker would not have stumbling blocks or things to divert them from their growth then the strong must give them up. If our exercise of our freedom prevents the edifying or building of our brother then we must restrict that freedom. Why, that’s downright un-American!! Yep, but it is very Christian. Are you edifying your brethren or exercising your rights and tearing them down? If you do not care, may I escort you into the next necessary ER?
The Exhortation Room is not used often either or it is abused and only part of it is used.

It has two sides. One is imploration or making an appeal where you strongly urge people to do or not do things. The other is to comfort by means of consolation or by intercession. If the Holy Spirit is allowed to run the Exhortation Room, it will be balanced and powerful.

If the flesh runs the room, it will be unbalanced and damaging to all that enter. Appeals will be made that are unreasonable and not required by God. This is how the Pharisees functioned. They made appeals based upon what was appealing to them. They abused their authority to get people to respond to these appeals. They are still around today and will beat you up emotionally to make you submit to their will. They will use irrational fear, false guilt, and accusations of being against God’s man to make you submit.
The Holy Spirit does not work that way. He will not brow beat you. He will lovingly show you things that you should avoid and then show you the way of escape. He came to remove fear, not give it to you. Perfected love casts out fear. If you are guilty of sin, He will convict you specifically of the sin and urge you to confess it to restore fellowship. He will not leave you just feeling guilty without knowing why. That comes from satan and from men, but not God.

On the other side of exhortation, if flesh runs the room everything will be comfort, comfort, and comfort. This leads to preachers being afraid to exhort people to holy living and stand against the follies of their age because the people want to hear smooth things. (Isa 30:9-13) They do not want their boat rocked. They want you to preach without meddling. After all, they built half a wall and half a doorway in their lives. What more does God want? They are lazy and they want to be told it is ok, because they are so stressed out. They want to be told that their dollar now and then is ok. Don’t worry about tithing. They want to be told that nothing bad that has happened to them is their fault. They want to be told they are fine spiritual folks because they show up at the church house on Christmas, Easter and the occasional baptism or wedding of a family member. It is always someone else’s fault and if you even hint they might need to review their position they are out the door to find someone who will hold their hand and tell them what martyrs they are Jesus.

For sure, the Holy Spirit does not work that way. He cannot just leave you in sin. He will not agree with your society. He will not contradict the revealed Word of God. If there is sin in your life, you will hear the truth from Him. When you repent, He fills you and restores fellowship thus giving you back the joy and power of your salvation. If indeed, you have been suffering for Jesus, He will comfort and console you. He won’t play cute games with you. He is here to bring to mind all things Christ taught and to speak of the One who bled and died for you. He has no time for games. There is work to do in you and in this world and He is no slacker.

1 Cor 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. (KJV)

As you can see, edification and exhortation go hand in hand in the ministry. The word comfort in this verse is a different one meaning consolation which means exhortation is used here in the imploration sense. This shows the need for both facets to be used in ministry if there is to be proper edification.

1 Tim 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (KJV)

In this passage, Paul is exhorting/appealing to Timothy to do exhortation as well as reading the word and studying and preaching doctrine.

Heb 12:5-6
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (KJV)

Here are the both sides in what we might deem an ironic situation. Here the Hebrews are be exhorted by appeal to remember a previous appeal to not despise the chastening of the Lord. Why? That reminder is to comfort them. Chastening is comforting?!?!? Yes, because it is proof you belong to Him. You do not correct the kids down the street, but you sure correct your own if you are a loving parent. If God has brought out the belt, learn from the correction, but through the tears rejoice that you are His child!

Another form of the word is translated beseech.

Rom 12:1-3
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV)

There are many appeals being made here by Paul. I beseech you and myself to follow them. With our spirits right with God, He can then use us to make things right with man. Yes, the Evangelization Room makes man right with God, but we must use the Emergency Room to make man right with man.

Matt 25:34-40
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (KJV)

It has been said that Christians are so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Our eternal destination is very important and we must be sure that we will end up in the sweet by and by. It is also important to make the nasty now and now not so nasty.

Humans are such pendulums. We have such a hard time maintaining a balance in anything. We have groups that think they are hospitals when in reality they are restaurants, clothing stores, and motels. All of their other ERs have been closed down and all their energies go into putting blankets on people who are bleeding to death.

On the other end, some have shut down their Emergency Room preaching to people who cannot hear because their teeth are chattering so hard and their stomach is growling so loudly. They are naked or near naked and we cannot leave them into the hospital for decency’s sake. Their sickness has resulted in open wounds and foul smelling sores and we cannot allow them to disrupt the atmosphere of our hospital.

We must be balanced. Yes, if a person fares sumptuously all his life and goes to Hell, all that comfort will be forgotten in a nanosecond. The spirit of man is of infinite worth and all measures must be taken to prevent it from being lost forever. That does not negate needs in this life. If he suffers all his life and dies of malnutrition that too will be forgotten one nanosecond after entering Heaven or Hell. He needs to be kept alive to hear the Gospel and believe.

Jesus said that when we minister to the physical needs of a person we are ministering to Him. How far would you go out of your way and what would you do to minister to Jesus if He came to your house? Why not do that to the least of folks?
Jesus places great emphasis on caring for the poor. It is an outward expression of what is in your heart. Can a man love God and hate his brother? Not according to I John 3:14,15 and 4:20. How can we look upon the nakedness and hunger of our fellow man with callousness? How can his wounds and stench offend us when God sent His Son to die for us when we were naked, hungry, and stinking in our sin?

I am not forgetting the injunction if a man will not work neither shall he eat. I am not supporting unjustified welfare. I am saying we need to follow the instructions in the following verses.

Gal 6:1-5
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden. (KJV)

We all have burdens. We need to carry our own and not be shiftless. However, there are times when we all get weak and our burdens heavier than we feel we can bear. Jesus bore our burden of sin and shares the burdens of this life. Shall we not look out for our brethren and help them? How can we not and say the Spirit of love lives within us?

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (KJV)

I have been speaking about and to Baptists, but our hospitals need to be open all. While we have obligations to be good stewards and ensure that our own family circle of faith is provided for we must not close our hearts to others not of our particular creed or covenant. We must be benevolent to all men. Christ is Lord even of those who do not believe at all. We must love them and show them His love.

He is Lord of all those who are His children, but not of the Baptist family. We may not always be able to walk with them in agreement and need to minister separately, but we must not leave them bleeding in the street. We must also minister healing to them.

I am not preaching Ecumenism. False doctrine cannot be mingled with truth for the sake of unity or in the name of love. I am teaching Baptist distinctives: soul liberty and the priesthood of the believer. While we should speak the same thing if we have the Spirit of Truth in us, it does not always happen. Baptists do not agree in everything amongst themselves. Therefore in the family of God, there will be disagreements but we must still remember we are family.

I am glad that there are other hospitals out there that do not bear the name Baptist. It is good that there are other folks to share the responsibility of ministry. Like the hospitals that I passed on the highway, not all churches that bear the name Baptist are true hospitals. Some are closed to just seminars for the staff. Some have careless workers that care less and would only leave people in worse shape than when they came in. Some are into alternative therapies that have flair and are backed by big names, but are nothing more than placebos. Some have quacks that only know how to amputate even when only a Band-Aid is needed. Pastor Tim cut his finger at our workday and he required stitches. Had this been a spiritual cut, he would have lost his hand at some of the places I have been to that professed to be hospitals. Some are morgues. Some are like abortion clinics. A believer is barely conceived and because they are not fully mature they are ripped apart and thrown out of the church like trash.

All that sounds really bad, but Praise God there are some real Baptist and other hospitals out there. I may be reaching someone that is hurting. There may be someone out there that went somewhere that claimed to be a hospital and was not. You have been hurt and hurt bad by folks that should have comforted you and healed you. So have I, my dear brother and sister. Do not give up on God or His hospitals. He still loves you and He has a place where you can heal, grow and serve. Seek His guidance and before you commit yourself to a place claiming to be a hospital check their ERs. If they are not functional leave. If they are functional then stay there. May God grant you wisdom and healing! May he place you in an ER to minister to others. Keep looking up!!


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