What We Teach, with an addendum on Baptist Distinctives
We believe that there is one true and living God. He is eternal and has manifested Himself in three distinct and divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These three Persons are equal in every divine perfection and they execute distinct and harmonious offices in the work of redemption.
(Gen. 1:26; Isaiah 45:21-22; Matthew 28:19; John 10:30; 14:10, 26; 15:26; I John 5:7)
- THE SON OF GOD
We believe that The Lord Jesus Christ, eternal with The Father, was begotten of The Holy Ghost, born of Mary, a virgin, and is both The Son of God and God The Son. He is both true man and true God; one person with two natures; tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.
(Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:1, 2, 14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 4:14-15)
- THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, converts the repentant sinner and places him into Christ, seals the believer, interprets The Scripture, and endues God’s children with power to be a bold witness.
(John 3:5-6, 16:8-11; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 2:10-14, 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14)
- THE SCRIPTURES
We believe that The Holy Bible was divinely inspired by God and given to man as the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man. By the “Holy Bible”, we mean that collection of 66 books (Genesis to Revelation) of the Old and New Testaments, which we believe is the very Word of God. Inspiration without preservation would be meaningless, and the original manuscripts are no longer in existence, therefore we believe that God has supernaturally preserved His Word, without error, for us today in the AV 1611 (King James Version) of The Bible. We believe that this preserved Bible is the final authority for us in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine. We also believe that Christians should not only believe The Book, but also practice what It commands and teaches.
(Psalm 12:6-7; II Timothy 3:15-17; James 1:22-25; II Peter 1:21)
- ETERNAL SECURITY
We believe that all of the redeemed, once they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, are kept by God’s power and are secure in Christ forever. We also believe that The Word of God strictly forbids the use of Christian liberty as a license to sin.
(John 10:27-29; Romans 8:34-39; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:30; I John 5:13)
- THE CHURCH
We believe that a New Testament church is a congregation of baptized believers that associate together by a covenant of faith that is based solely upon The Word of God. The offices of ordination are pastors and deacons, and the Biblical ordinances are water baptism and The Lord’s Supper. We believe in the autonomy of the local church which means it is to be free from any external authority or control. We believe that the mission of The Church is to be a witness to a lost world of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It is the function of the local church to preach the gospel and baptize new believers but its primary function is to instruct and teach the saints with The Word of God in order that they might be a proper witness to the world.
(Matthew 18:15-20, 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-21, 6:1-7; I Corinthians 11:20-34; I Timothy 3:1-13; II Timothy 2:2)
- BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
We believe that salvation must precede water baptism. We believe that Scriptural baptism is the immersion in water of a believer in the name of The Father, of The Son, and of The Holy Ghost under the authority of the local church. Water baptism does not save you but is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an identifying mark of the believer, and the first step of obedience. Salvation and Baptism are a prerequisite to become a part of the local church.
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance in which members of the church, by the use of unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, are to remember and commemorate the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. We believe that there are three prerequisites necessary in order to participate,
Scriptural Baptism (first step of obedience for the believer) and
(Matthew 3:16, 28:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42, 8:26-39; Romans 6:3-5; I Corinthians 11:23-31; Colossians 2:12)
We believe in the Biblical doctrine of Separation. This belief is explained in three ways.
The separation of the local church from all affiliation and fellowship with those who deny the doctrines of the “faith which was once delivered to the saints” and from those individuals and organizations similarly associated including Charismatics, Hyper-Calvinists, Arminians, Promise Keepers and so on.
The separation of the individual believer from all worldly practices that may dishonor The Lord Jesus Christ.
The separation of church and state.
(Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; I John 2:15-17; II John 9-11; Jude 3)
- CIVIL GOVERNMENT
We believe that God has ordained and created all authority. This authority consists of three basic institutions;
Every person is subject to these authorities, but all (including the authorities themselves) are answerable to God and are governed by His Word. God has given each institution specific responsibilities with the understanding that no institution has the right to infringe upon the other. The home, the church, and the state are equal and sovereign in their respective biblically assigned spheres of responsibility under God.
(Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 5:21 – 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 2:13-15)
The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority.
( II Timothy 3:15 – 17, I Thessalonians 2:13, II Peter 1:20, 21 )
AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body.
( Colossians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 2 Corinthians 8:19, 2 Corinthians 8:23 )
PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER
“Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God–whether we are a preacher or not.
( I Peter 2:5, I Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:9, 10 )
The local church should practice two ordinances:
(1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and
(2) The Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins.
( Matthew 28:19, 20, I Corinthians 11:23 – 32 )
INDIVIDUAL SOUL LIBERTY
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself.
(Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9)
SAVED, BAPTIZED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
( Acts 2:41 – 47, I Corinthians 12:12, II Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 4:3 )
The Bible mandates only two offices in the church–pastor and deacon. The three terms–“pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop,” or “overseer”–all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church.
(1 Timothy 3:1-13, Acts 20:17-38, Philippians 1:1)
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.
(Matthew 22:15-22, Acts 15:17-29 )
Pastor Jason Burton