Bayshore Friends Church
Monday, December 17, 2018
You Are No Longer a Servant But a Friend!

Friends Overview

Friends Overview
 
Friends, also called Quakers, had their origin in seventeenth-century England.  As a young man, George Fox longed for a genuine faith which he did not find in the legalistic church of his time.  He looked in vain for human help, and studied the Bible so thoroughly that he learned much of it by memory.  After four years of searching, he found inner peace through trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior.  Soon he began to tell others about the Gospel of Christ as God's way to free people from sin.  As Fox shared the reality he had found, others responded and joined him in spreading the good news of salvation.  Thus a movement of Christian renewal was born in 1647 which was to become known in the time as the Friends Church, or Society of Friends.  A rapid period of growth began in June, 1652, in northern England.

The Message of Friends

Fox and early Quakers declared that salvation is a personal matter between the individual and God.  No human mediator or outward ordinance is needed.  Therefore, the Friends message with its clear, spiritual interpretation of the Gospel was a logical conclusion of the Protestant Reformation.  With its emphasis on spiritual reality and without dependence on outward rites, Quakerism fulfilled the development of doctrine begun over a century earlier by Martin Luther.

Friends ventured to rediscover New Testament doctrine in its threefold nature of knowing about Jesus Christ historically, knowing Him personally in religious experience, and following his lifestyle.  They recognized the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing sin and leading people to new life in Christ.  Rather than merely dispensing with all outward ordinances, they taught positively that true baptism is that of Christ's Spirit within, and real communion takes place in fellowship with the Bread of life.

Friends As A Church (Society of Friends)
 
The message of Friends attracted thousands of people, and the early Quaker movement grew rapidly; some have called it an "explosion".  They are thought to have taken the name "Friends" from the statement of Jesus in John 15:14 that "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you".  They also called themselves "Friends of Truth" or "Publishers of Truth".  The term "Quaker" was originally a derisive nickname.  For legal reasons it became necessary in English to use the name "Society of Friends" as English law recognized only one established Church.

Many consider the word "church" belongs to the total body of believers.  Therefore, some Friends hesitate to use the word to refer to any one part of the body (as a certain denomination) or to the building used as a place of worship.  In a spiritual sense Fox and his followers did use "church" freely when referring to the group of believers to whom they ministered.  Today, many Friends congregations call themselves the Friends Church.  Others are careful to use the term "meeting" for a group of believers and "meetinghouse" for a place of worship.