July 6, 2019
You may have noticed that there are a lot of people taking the name Baptist off of their signs. I understand some of the reasons they are doing that. There are plenty of crazy people who use the name Baptist!
When you hear the name, “Westboro Baptist Church,” what do you think about? You think about hateful protesters who do EVERYTHING they can think of to catch media attention for their little group. So, are there bad Baptists out there? You'd better believe it!
But, there are some pretty bad doctors out there… Why don’t we see doctors trying to find another name? Why don’t we see “emergent clinics” out in the world? You know, “River of life health care center.” Or, “Thrive clinic.” We don’t see that because while there are bad doctors, good doctors think that the name doctor still means something good and it is worth fighting for!
I feel the same way about Baptist! The term Baptist is good and only needs to be defined properly and fought for! It is up to us to define ourselves in our community and we will do that by the smiles on our faces, the truth we speak, and the love and compassion we show to the people we are reaching.
Just as an aside, before I go on, I would like to mention that I believe the reason many people are taking “Baptist” out of their names is because they understand that it stands for something, and the community understands that the name means something… And when a church wants to move away from that stance, they find that it is profitable to remove the name.
Personally, I say let them do it. I don’t want some nightclub, freakshow, barroom, cheaply executed version of what the world can produce going by the name of Baptist! If you want to turn the house of God into a concert hall / drunken orgy, then please, take Baptist off of your sign! I wouldn’t want you to pollute the name!
A few bad reasons to be a Baptist:
1. We are not Baptists because of our Descendancy.
There are folks out there who will attempt to run their spiritual genealogy all the way back to John the Baptist. They will say, “Because I was baptized by a man, who was baptized by a man, who was baptized by a man, who was baptized by a man, who was baptized by a man, who was baptized by a man, etc… ALL the way back to John the Baptist, I am a Baptist.”
That line of thinking has led many men to wrestle with certain scriptures. They interpret parts of the Bible to show that if you were not fully immersed in a “Baptist” church, then you are not a part of the bride of Christ. In other words, you will get to heaven, but you will be in the background the whole time… You are only a friend of Jesus, not his bride if you didn’t get baptized in a “Baptist” church… We completely disagree with that line of teaching.
1 Timothy 1:1-4, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”
Endless genealogies and fables… Paul tells Timothy in verse 1 that the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope! And I believe that anyone who puts their faith in Jesus is getting a first class ticket into heaven! It is by grace, not by baptism in a certain church!
2. We are not Baptists because of our Denomination.
Denomination simply means "a name." So if we go by that understanding, every church with a name belongs to a denomination. But commonly, denominations are religious structures that share human authority and guidelines. Each denomination is led by a man or woman who is the “head” of that organization.
For an example, let me give you the name of the largest “Christian” denomination: The Roman Catholic Church. Who is the head of the RCC? The Pope! Look at what the Bible says:
Ephesians 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.”
A man in our church told me the other day, and it is true, “Anything with more than one head is a monster!” And, the head of our church is Jesus Christ. We will gladly express at any time that we are not a part of any denomination and have no intention of being part with any denomination!
So, why are we Baptists? I’m glad you asked! We are known as Baptists because of our doctrine - just like those who bore the name before us.
Historically, Baptist people have adhered to certain biblical patterns of thought that have caused them to be distinctive from other religious, or even “christian” sects. Those distinctively Baptist teachings are best outlined by the acrostic B-A-P-T-I-S-T-S.
This is not a complete list of everything that Baptists believe. It is simply a list of Bible doctrines that Baptists have held to throughout history. It shows the Bible teachings that makes Baptists distinct from Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. etc.
B - The Bible is our sole authority for matters of faith and practice
Every member of the congregation, especially the pastor and/or anyone in a position of spiritual leadership, is subject to the authority of God’s word. No human opinion or church decree can usurp the teachings of Scripture. Whatever the Bible dictates, we, as Baptists accept as true. (2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Psalm 12:6-7, 119:128)
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 Timothy 3:15-17, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
Psalm 12:6, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
Psalm 119:128, “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
A - The Autonomy of the local church
A Baptist believes that Christ is the head of the church and the church is autonomous, or self-governing. Just as we refuse any man-made creed, we reject any religious "hierarchy" outside the local church that may dictate a local church's beliefs or practices. Any outside source that would seek to become the head of a church of Jesus Christ is in violation of Ephesians 5:23-24. (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 12:12)
Colossians 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.”
Ephesians 3:21, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
1 Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”
P - The Priesthood of the Believer
Every believer 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 His people. (1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 4:14-16, 1 Timothy 2:5)
1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
Hebrews 4:14-16, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
T - Two Ordinances
An ordinance is something that Christ ordered us to do that pictures and shows our faith in his death, burial, and resurrection. Firstly, baptism by immersion for believers picturing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Secondly, the Lord's Supper which commemorates Christ's sacrificial death for our sins. (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 3:7- 8, Acts 8:12, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 1 Corinthians 11:2, 23-32)
Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
1 Corinthians 11:2, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-32, “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.”
I - Individual Soul Liberty
Every person will give an account of himself, alone, to God. And, whether saved or unsaved, each person has the liberty to choose what he believes about God. Baptists have always been opposed to religious persecution. This liberty, however, 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)
Romans 14:5, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
Romans 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
2 Corinthians 4:2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
Titus 1:9, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
S - Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Every member of a Baptist church must be a born-again believer who has been baptized by immersion upon public profession within the local body. (Acts 2:40-42)
Acts 2:40-42, “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
T - Two Offices
Baptists have maintained only two offices in the local church as set forth in the New Testament: Pastor and deacon. The terms "pastor", "elder", and "bishop" or "overseer" all refer to the same office. (1 Timothy 3:1-10; 1 Peter 5:1-5; )
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.”
1 Peter 5:1-5, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
S - Separation of Church and State
God has established both the church and the civil government, giving each its own distinct jurisdiction. No church or government should control each other, nor should there be any alliance between them. Believers can and should promote righteousness in all areas of living, government included. (Romans 13:1- 7, Mark 12:17, Acts 5:29, Proverbs 14:35, 29:2)
Romans 13:1-7, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
Mark 12:17, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.”
Proverbs 14:35, “The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.”
Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
May God bless us as we strive to believe, teach, live, and obey each of these doctrines. God will give us power to live and obey these truths as we trust him to help us. There are those who want to take away these distinctive biblical truths from their preaching, teaching, and living. May God bless this church to be among those who strive to maintain these precious truths!