What does it mean to be a Baptist? Matt. 16:18
Historically, Baptist’s have been evangelical Christians holding to the basic truths of the Christian faith and the following six principles:
The Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice;
Independent, autonomous churches;
Regenerated church membership;
Baptism by immersion of believers only, and the Lord’s supper as the two ordinances of the church;
Priesthood of all believers and soul liberty; and
Separation of church and state.
These are known as the “Baptist disincentives.”
1. Baptist believe in the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Old and New testaments and that the entire Bible is a revelation from God, infallible, inerrant, and is God’s written Word to Man.
“Verbal inspiration means that the Holy Spirit so guided and controlled the men whom He used to author Scripture that not only the ideas they wrote about, but their very words, came from God! They are, in reality, His Words!
“Plenary inspiration” means that the entire Bible is the Word of God! No further revelation is necessary until Christ returns!
“Infallible means that every guideline given to us by the Scriptures is true and proper!
“Inerrant means that God has kept the Scriptures from any error: Theological, philosophical, moral historical, or scientific. Every statement in scripture can be trusted in its entirety!
2Tim.3:16-17; All Scripture is given by inspiration of god, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the Man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
1 Peter 1:23-25 “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower there of falleth away: But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
2 Peter 1:20-21 “Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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.”
2 Tim. 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2. The independence and autonomy of the church is a principle derived from several clear Bible truths. If there can be no other spiritual authority than Scriptures, then there can be no group of men who can serve as a spiritual authority for the church. The church is obligated to God’s Word. Acts Chapter 6 clearly shows that local churches settled their own problems. They chose out and elected deacons. 1 Tim. 3:8-13 gives the qualifications for deacons. The responsibility of, qualifications for, and treatment of pastors is given in Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-16; I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Tim.3:1-7;
I Tim. 5:17-19; Titus 1:6-9, Heb.13:7, 16-17; and Gal. 6:6
In Matt. 16:18 Jesus had this to say about his church: “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock (Peter’s faith that Jesus was indeed the Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church is built upon the faith of the believers with Jesus as the head and must remain independent and autonomous.
3. The concept of a regenerated church membership is one that very few groups, other than Baptist, advocate. Acts 2:41 “Then they that gladly received His word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” The church is an assembly of saved born again baptized believers in Jesus Christ! A New Testament church is an assembly of Baptized believers for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and the carrying out of the Great Commission.
4. Baptism by complete immersion is the only mode depicted by the Bible. John’s baptisms, John baptizing Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch were all done where there was plenty of water. Scripture teaches that baptisms are a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
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 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.”
Col. 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
The Lord’s supper is taught in scripture as a memorial of Christ’s death (broken body and shed blood) and of His second coming as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 where twice it says, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
5. The priesthood of all believers is a doctrine that each individual believer may go before the Lord freely as his own representative. We are invited, as brethren in Christ, to enter into the “holiest by the blood of Jesus” in Heb. 10:19. We are told that we are a “an holy priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:5, and that we may “come boldly unto the throne of grace “in Heb. 4:16. And the concept of soul liberty is a related truth. This concept is also implied by the soul authority of Scripture. Soul liberty means that we are responsible only to God (as expressed though His word) for our doctrine, practice, and conscience. Each individual can interpret the Bible for himself. True service for the Lord must be voluntary.
1 John 2:27 “ But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him!”
Rom. 14:5 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth everyday alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
6. Separation of church & State. It is abundantly clear in the book of Acts that the New Testament church was almost always the object of persecution by the state. The principle of sole authority leads directly to the principle of separation of church & state. If the word of God is our only authority for faith and practice, then the state cannot become a spiritual authority over the affairs of the church or the spiritual lives of individual Christians. Peter & John made this truth clear in Acts 4:18-20 and again in Acts 5:27-29
U.S. Constitution – Establishment Clause.
The Baptist is one who holds to the great fundamentals of the Christian faith.
· The Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three and yet one, all fully God!
· The absolute inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Holy Scriptures;
· The incarnation, virgin birth, sinless life, death, burial resurrection, and substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ;
· The personal salvation of those who put their faith in the gospel of Christ; and
· The reality of the Second Coming, Heaven, and Hell.
Those who hold to these fundamental doctrines, along with the afore mentioned “Baptist Distinctives” are considered Baptist.