A reader commented on a past post and wanted to know “Could you be persuaded to blog on the subject of "Why I am a Baptist"? I mean explaining why you are a Baptist, as opposed to a Methodist, or a Catholic, or a Lutheran, etc., etc.” And then there was a corollary question, “why you are an Independent Fundamental Baptist, as opposed to Primitive Baptist, Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, etc.”
I would in fact be delighted to answer both of those questions. They are both important and useful questions. Those of you that read here would not get past the title of my blog before you realized that you are at a place where the author is unashamedly Baptist and that by conviction. There are important differences between Methodist, Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, Church of England, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, etc., and Baptists.
They are important differences and some of them carry eternal consequences. I am a Baptist because I am fully persuaded that the Baptist positions are Bible positions. I know that my Catholic and Protestants friends would disagree with me and they are free to do so. I would not deprive them of the liberty of drawing their own conclusions. Nevertheless I believe they are dreadfully wrong and wrong on important matters.
The topic at hand could provide enough material for a lengthy book in fact maybe even a systematic theology. It is difficult to deal with one area without quickly realizing that Bible doctrine is not isolated into nice little manageable sound bites that can be independently examined and considered without reference to related topics. All doctrine is related! That said, I will attempt to be as brief as possible realizing the never-ending connections that exist. For the sake of order I have identified eight areas where the Bible’s teaching finds representation among churches that are known as Baptist. Thus, for at least these eight reasons I am a Baptist! The eight areas are as follows:
Baptist accepts the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith and practice.
Baptists preach and teach that a man is justified by grace through faith.
Baptist practice congregational form of church government.
Baptists acknowledge only two church offices.
Baptists acknowledge only two church ordinances.
Baptist practice freedom of conscience.
Baptist practice believer’s baptism by immersion.
Baptists believe that it was their kind of church that Jesus started.
I will now set myself to providing a reasonable defense for the aforementioned premises.
BAPTIST ACCEPTS THE BIBLE AS THE FINAL AUTHORITY IN MATTERS OF FAITH AND PRACTICE
The Bible is inspired of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The Word of God is derived from the breath of God. Consequently it is the only authoritative word we have. Because the Bible is God’s word it is profitable for doctrine (what we ought to believe), for reproof (informing us where we are wrong), for correction (informing us how to get right), for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right).
2Pe 1:21 - For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
We acknowledge that God used men to record his word. These men were not writing their own thoughts but were writing as they were moved (borne along by) the Holy Ghost.
Baptists believe that the Bible is the holy oracles of God and consequently have a rightful place far above all human creeds and churches. Everything is to be examined and scrutinized by a “thus said the Lord.” If it measures up it can be accepted with confidence. If it is found wanting it can legitimately be discarded as rubbish and an attempt to subvert the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
For Baptist it is to the law and the testimony. It is the Word of God that is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
No other writings are placed on a level with Scripture whether it is church fathers, church councils, church dogma, creeds, popes, etc. . . .
While we admit that doctrinal statements may be helpful in providing a concise overview of one’s doctrinal positions the final appeal is to the Word of God.
The Berean spirit is the Baptist spirit.
Ac 17:11- These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
BAPTISTS PREACH AND TEACH THAT A MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Salvation is provided in grace and received by faith. All false religion incorporates some kind of works for salvation. When the false religions fall into the category of “Christianity” the proponents of a works for salvation system can usually be found doing a good deal of “bait and switch” with their terminology. Works generally become grace and grace generally becomes works. That which is clearly a work (like baptism) is claimed to be a sacrament or means of grace. They claim that it is not a work for they must in order to keep up the charade that they believe in justification by faith alone.
Ro 11:6 - And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
There is a clear distinction to be made between grace and works. The Baptists are meticulous in their guarding of this precious truth. It strikes at the heart of how a man gets to heaven. Thus when people tell us we just disagree on minor points we cannot take them seriously, for we disagree on how a man gets to heaven.
Ephesians 2:8,9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
No doubt every “Christian religion” accepts this verse but it is the Baptists that insist that when it says not of works then absolutely no outward act of obedience is required to be justified, including baptism. A person does have to raise a hand, bat an eyelash, nod the head, or walk an isle, much less present himself or have himself presented for baptism.
Romans 3:21-28 - But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
The righteousness of God is made available to us through Jesus Christ without the works of the law, any law, God given or otherwise. It is by faith that we are justified because of grace and thereby all boasting is excluded.
BAPTISTS PRACTICE CONGREGATIONAL FORM OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT
Baptists acknowledge no other ecclesiastical body as having authority over their affairs other than the church in which the business is conducted.
Mt 16:19 - And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mt 18:18 - Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Baptists believe that Christ is the head of every church.
Eph 5:23 - For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 1:22 - And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Col 1:18 - And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Baptists believe the Holy Spirit is the administrator.
Eph 2:22 - In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Every church is autonomous (self-governing). The will of God is discerned through pastoral leadership in conjunction with majority rule ever being guided by the Bible.
Acts 1:15-26 - And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
1 Corinthians 6:1 - Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
1 Corinthians 5:4,5 - In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
There are several examples of churches making final decisions concerning their own church.
BAPTISTS ACKNOWLEDGE ONLY TWO CHURCH OFFICES
This is in contrast to the popes, cardinals, bishops, presbyters, elders, deacons, sub-deacons etc. . . . This whole religious hierarchy is not derived from the pages of the New Testament but a perversion of apostasy bought about during the first several centuries of church history. It is catholic in origin and the daughters of this mother of harlots have to one degree or another embraced her system of ecclesiastical officers.
The New Testament knows a simpler plan, Pastors and deacons. This is in keeping with congregational church rule.
1 Timothy 3:1 - This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The Baptist position is that Pastor, Bishop, and Elder are all terms denoting the same office simply different aspects of it. Much like President, Commander in Chief, and Head of State are all titles representing different aspects of the same office.
BAPTISTS ACKNOWLEDGE ONLY TWO CHURCH ORDINANCES
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They are ordinances in that they are two divinely appointed symbols given to the church to communicate gospel truth.
Baptism communicates the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as well as the fact that the believer’s life has been transformed by believing that message.
Romans 6:3-6 - Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
The Lord’s Supper likewise communicates truth concerning the gospel.
1 Corinthians 11:23-34 - For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
Baptists do not believe these are sacraments. The whole concept of a sacrament is not derived from the pages of the New Testament but forced upon it. Sacramental religion is Catholic in origin, not New Testament. The Protestants adopted their forms of sacramentalism from the Catholics because that is their origin. Sacraments and priesthood go hand in hand, never mind that the New Testament knows nothing of this kind of priesthood. To the contrary the New Testament teaches us the priesthood of the believer. Priesthood is remnants of the Old Covenant.
BAPTISTS PRACTICE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
Baptists believe that all men have the right to read and understand the Bible for themselves. We believe that we will all stand before God one day and give account for ourselves, what we believed, and how we behaved. Baptists have never been for coercion in matters of faith. This is not true of every one who has named the name of Christ. Whether it was the Catholics in Spain, Italy, France and all across Europe at certain times. Which by the way the Crusades were waged by Catholics they were not Christians. It might have been the Lutheran church in Germany, the Church of England in England. The fact is there were centuries when men were coerced into accepting creeds they did not believe. Dissent was squashed. Martyrs were made.
The Baptist position is for every man to know the Bible for himself and to judge all his teachers by that standard.
Ac 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
1Pe 2:2 - As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Ps 1:2 - But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Isa 8:20 - To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Joh 5:39 - Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
2Ti 2:15 - Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
BAPTISTS PRACTICE BELIVERS BAPTISM BY IMMERSION
We believe this is the only valid baptism and that any other baptism is invalid and alien to the practice of the New Testament.
In the New Testament it was only believers that were baptized.
Matthew 3:5-8 - Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Ac 2:41 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Acts 8:36,37 - And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Acts 16:32-34 - And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
Acts 18:8 - And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
In the New Testament baptism was by immersion.
Matthew 3:6 - And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Joh 3:23 - And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
Acts 8:38,39 - And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Immersion is the only mode in which the proper message is communicated, the message of the gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sprinkling and pouring is foreign to the pages of the New Testament and originated within the context of Catholic apostasy. Again, the Protestants brought their mode of baptism with them from the Catholic Church from which they are derived. The apple never falls far from the tree!
BAPTISTS BELIEVE IT WAS THEIR KIND OF CHURCH THAT JESUS STARTED
One of the primary reasons for this is because the Baptist churches are the churches that bear the closest resemblance to the pages of the New Testament. You will not find a “Holy Catholic Church” in the pages of the New Testament. It is not there. Their sacraments are not there. Their priesthood is not there. Their ecclesiastical hierarchy is not there. Their doctrines of Mariolatry, purgatory, transubstantiation, the saints, the rosary, holy water, penance, auricular confession, etc. . . . is not there!! Her daughters, the Protestants, more closely resemble her than they do the church of the New Testament.
Jesus started a church.
Mt 16:18 - And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church . .
Jesus promises that church a perpetual existence.
Mt. 16:18 – . . . I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The protestants would have us believe the gates of hell did prevail against the church that Jesus started for a period of time and that they recovered it.
Ephesians 3:21 - Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Paul indicated that God would get glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages. The Protestants would have us believe that is not true but that for hundreds of years the light was extinguished. The Holy Spirit said throughout all ages. In every age God has had his faithful witnesses holding firm to the New Testament faith that was once delivered to the saints. We believe that those faithful witnesses were in faith and practice Baptist and often were designated Ana-Baptist because they rejected the baptism of the dominant churches as being New Testament baptism.
It is obviously not Catholicism. The Catholic Church is the result of a slow departure from the word of God.
It is not the Protestants. They all readily admit they came into existence during the Reformation. They all have human founders, whether it be Martin Luther, John Knox, King Henry VIII, John Wesley, etc. . . . .
The Baptist church is the church of the New Testament, by doctrine, by practice, and by the promise of Jesus to perpetuate the church he started.
These are the short answers as to why I am a Baptist and a fullypersuadedbaptist at that!