Transforming Lives through the Discipleship of Jesus Christ
"Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -Matthew 28:18-20
Becoming ACTIVE Disciples Through Commitment, Witness, Love, and Relationship
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:14-21
DOCTRINE, PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES The Baptist denomination, like other denominations, is a religious organization united together as a body upon the basis of commonly shared religious perspectives, principles, interests and practices. As a Protestant denomination, the Baptist denomination was formed as a significant group that broke away from the English Church in the seventeenth century in revolt to the government's intrusion in religious affairs. As a result, the Baptist established and continues to maintain "Religious Liberty" as a cornerstone and a fundamental element of its denomination's religious principles.
Religious liberty refers to the rejection by Baptists and many other Protestants, of government or civil authority that is imposed, exercised, or exerted over a person's religious opinions, right to worship or the church's right to govern himself as a religious body.
In addition to its position on the issue of "Church and State," the Baptist also agree in their religious perspectives concerning certain teachings (doctrines) and religious practices which are based upon their understanding of scripture. The doctrines and religious practices which are distinctions of Baptist from other denominations include: (all based on New Testament understanding and perspective)
• Free and full salvation proclaimed to all in Christ
• No longer under the law, but under Grace
• God as revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the Three Persons of the Trinity or Godhead in which there is Equal Divinity and Complete Unity
• Atonement by the Sacrifice of Christ
• Justification by Faith, not by Works
• Conversion and Regeneration necessary for Salvation
• The Transforming work of Holiness by the Spirit in the Believer (Sanctification)
• True Believers are Kept by the Power of God until the Day of Redemption
(Personal Election of Believers)
• Believers have been Called to Righteousness (Personal Election of Believers)
• All Believers have Access to God through Christ without the need of any other Mediator (Priesthood of All Saints)
• The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting
• Endless Reward and Punishment given by Christ, the Righteous Judge at His Second Coming
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES:
The Baptist Church has two ordinances: Baptism and the Lord's Supper (often called Communion). These are known as ordinances in as much as they are religious practices the Church is commanded by Christ to practice and keep.
The Scriptures teach that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer in Christ, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, burial, and risen Savior. (Romans 6:4)
• Baptism by immersion in water as the proper method based upon circumstantial evidence of scripture.
• Baptism of a regenerate believer upon his/her own profession of faith in Christ. Infants are not regarded as proper subjects of Baptism since they are incapable of repenting and believing by faith. Unconverted persons are also not regarded as proper subjects because they have not repented and believed by faith. Only persons who are properly baptized upon profession of their faith in Christ may become members of the Baptist Church.
• Baptism is required in order to participate in the Lord's Supper. The Scriptures teach that the Lord's Supper is a provision of bread and wine, as symbols of Christ's Body and Blood, partaken by the members of the church, in commemoration of the suffering of our Lord; showing forth their faith and participation in the merit of his sacrifice, and their hope of eternal life through His Resurrection from the dead.
• The Baptist Church is self-governing and independent of all other churches. It is governed by God through the voting privilege given to its members as they act prayerfully, responsibly and are spiritually guided as a majority.
• The Baptist Church has two scriptural officers: Pastor and Diaconate (Deacon and Deaconess).
• The great mission or work of the Church is to spread the Gospel throughout the world. (Matthew 28:19-20)
THE BAPTIST FAITH
1. The Scriptures.
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.
There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself all perfections and being infinite in all of them; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.
3. The Trinity.
God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.
God from eternity decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet, so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin not to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.
Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life, not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.
6. The Fall Of Man.
God originally created man in His own image and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
7. The Mediator.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He forever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church and Sovereign of the universe who will come again in glory for all true believers among the living and the dead.
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.
Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk with God so as to please Him in all things.
Saving Faith is the belief, on God's authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces and leads to a life of holiness.
Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made, not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.
Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified by God's word and have the Spirit dwelling in them. This Sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ's commands.
13. Perseverance of the Saints.
Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church and temporal judgment on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
14. The Church.
The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all His true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to His commandments, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches, He hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which He hath appointed. The scriptural officers of a church are Bishops or Elders (Pastors and Deacons).
Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is a prerequisite to church fellowship and to participation in the Lord's Supper.
16. The Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by His churches until the second coming of Christ. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond pledge and renewal of their communion with Him, and of their church fellowship.
17. The Lord's Day.
The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private; resting from worldly employments and amusements with works of necessity and mercy the only exceptions.
18. Liberty of Conscience.
God alone is Lord of the conscience and He hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
19. The Resurrection.
The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God; the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.
20. The Judgment.
God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when everyone shall receive according to his deeds; the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment and the righteous into everlasting life.