February 28, 2021
Why We Are Baptists | Rev Dr Taiye Adeola
Listen To The Sermon Below
Text: Ephesians 4:15 -16
People are drawn or attracted to churches for different reasons and each denominational entity stands out known by its peculiarities. Some people choose a church based on the appearance of the building, or the facilities in the building; it is the friendliness of the people or the programs that are done in the church that attract others. Important as the aforementioned attractions are, there are other qualities that a church must possess for it to truly be the church of Christ. First and foremost, the church must hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the inspiration and authority of the Bible and Jesus’ virgin birth, eternal deity, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and his return. Bible-teaching churches of all varieties hold these primary beliefs as essential truths.
There are also specific teachings and doctrines that set one church apart from the others. Baptists are distinguished from other Christian groups by specific Biblical distinctives known as “Baptist Distinctives”. The people who hold and practice those distinctive are known as “Baptist”.
The Baptists are found all over the world in more than a hundred countries and according to the Baptist World Alliance statistics with approximately 50 million baptized believers as members worldwide. There are several millions who are not baptised members who participate in and benefit from the Baptist churches.
The Baptists have made many meaningful contributions in practically every aspect of human life. Through evangelism and mission, millions have come to the saving grace of Christ. Baptists have also ministered to a plethora of human hurt – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Baptist hospitals, clinics, counselling centres, schools, and so on have been great blessings to humanity through the ministry of the Baptists.
No single doctrine or polity defines Baptists, but taken as a whole, they make Baptists a distinctive denomination. All Christians hold some of these convictions, such as a belief in God. Others such as belief in congregational governance are held in common with certain denominations. However, the entire combination of beliefs, polities and practice held by Baptists make them a unique fellowship of Christians.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE DISTINCTIVES?
It is important to know these Baptist distinctive because they are Biblical; they are part of God’s truth as revealed in His Word. The knowledge of these distinctive enables one to select a church that is faithful to these Biblical truths and helps members maintain the Baptist position of their church, preventing digression into unscriptural positions. Each member of a Baptist church needs to know what a Biblical Baptist individual and a Biblical Baptist church does and then do these things faithfully.
Baptists arrived at these distinctives through careful study of the Bible. That is why these teachings are more precisely called the Biblical distinctives of Baptists rather than Baptist distinctives. These teachings emerged as Baptist distinctives because individual Baptist churches have consistently and independently held to them, not because some group of Baptist leaders composed the list and then imposed the distinctives on local churches. Church groups other than Baptists have held some of the Baptist distinctives, and one may even find churches that hold all of the distinctives but do not call themselves Baptist. Such groups are “baptistic,” but for some reason, they choose not to be identified as Baptists. On the other hand, some churches naming themselves “Baptist” are not truly Baptist because they do not hold the historic Baptist beliefs or even the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Baptists are people of the Book above all else. And Baptists enjoy a priceless heritage of generations who have exalted God’s Son our Savior and have proclaimed God’s inspired Word.
What Are the Baptist Distinctives?
Basic Baptist doctrines and polities may be summarized and remembered by associating them with the letters that form the word “BAPTISTS.”
- Biblical authority (Matt 24:35; 1Pet 1:23; 2Tim 3:16–3:17)
- Autonomy of the local church (Matt 18:15–18:17; 1Cor 6:1–6:3)
- Priesthood of all believers (1Pet 2:5–2:9; 1Tim 2:5)
- Two ordinances (believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper) (Acts 2:41–2:47; 1Cor 11:23–11:32)
- Individual soul liberty(Rom 14:5–14:12)
- Saved and Baptized church membership (Acts 2:41–2:47; 1Cor 12:12; 2Cor 6:14; Eph 4:3)
- Two offices of the church (pastor and deacon) (1Tim 3:1–3:13)
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. 2 Timothy 3:15-17;1Thessalonians2:13;2Peter1:20,21
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, Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians8:1-5,19,23
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. 1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation5:9,10
The local church should practise two ordinances: (1) Baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion commemorating His death for our sins. – Matthew 28:19,20; 1 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, oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 12:12;2Corinthians6:14; Ephesians4:3
TWO OFFICES IN THE CHURCH
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
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
It is important to mention further that all of these play out in the Baptist beliefs in and doctrines on: The Bible, God, Trinity, Holy Spirit, Man, Evil, Fall of Man, Sin, Satan, Demons, Salvation, Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification, Glorification, and Deliverance. I will discuss a few of them
- BIBLE: The Bible is divinely inspired without error and is the standard by which all statements of faith and creeds are to be judged. Christ is the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted
- GOD: There is only one God and besides him there is no other. He is the creator of heaven and earth and all things therein. God is eternal and reveals himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit while continuing to be one God.
- TRINITY: The three revelation of God as father, Son and Holy Spirit each having distinct attributes but without division in nature, essence or being.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is inseparable from salvation. The Holy Spirit is the evidence of the life of Christ in every believer. He enters the believer once and forever.
- THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: The spirit-filled person manifests the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance which are evidence of the spirit’s control.
- THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- MAN: Man was created by the special act of God in God’s image. Man is a spirit being with the capacity to fellowship with God. Man, in the beginning, was innocent of sin and given freedom of choice. Man misused freedom by choosing to obey Satan rather than God and that brought sin into the human race.
- EVIL: The Bible reveals the destructive power of evil and shows how God deals with the problem of evil.
- THE FALL OF MAN: The fall of Man came as a result of misuse of the right of choice. The willful decision to disobey God constituted sin and brought about the fall.
- SIN: It can simply be defined as rebellion against God’s will. God does not classify sin as large or small. Any transgression of God’s will is sin. The greatest sin is unbelief with respect to Jesus Christ. – Gen.2:17; Psalm.51:5; John.3:18; Romans.3:23; :12; :16; James.2:9-11
- SATAN: God’s created angelic being, by his own free act, lost his original supremacy and dignity and became the prince of darkness. The angelic Lucifer became Satan when in pride he attempted to exalt himself above God. The bible, Christ and the Apostles present him as a real being of whom the saints are constantly warned. He has power over man limited to this life only. He was overcome by Christ and can be successfully resisted by the redeemed child of God.– Job.1:2; Isaiah.14:12-14; 64:6; Ezek.28:11-19; Matthew.4; Ephesians.5:11; 2 Thess.2:4-9; James.1:14-15; Jude.13
- DEMONS: Like Satan demons were created angelic beings of good. While some angels continue in their created function, others followed their master in rebellion against God and are bent on the destruction of the gracious purpose of God. Scripture indicates that some demons are bound and some are free to roam as wise, angelic beings, powerful but not almighty. Seeking human possession, they have wills, emotions and desires. They are fierce and wrathful. They seek to possess unbelievers and oppress the redeemed children of God. They can never separate the Christian from God’s love. Christians have authority in Christ to stand against demons. – Matthew.9:34; 25:41; Mark.9:20-26; 16:17; Luke.10:17-20; Acts.16:16; 19:15; Romans.8:38-39; Ephesians.2:2; 6:10-18; 2Thess.2:4-9; 2Peter.2:4; 1John.4:1-6; Revelations.16:13-16.
- SALVATION: For the Baptist, Salvation is God’s gift of new life to a repentant sinner who has put his trust in God and Christ. The old has become new and the saved sinner is now a new being in Christ, in consequence of God’s redemptive act through Christ and the Holy Spirit. This new life grace given has the past, present and future dimensions. We have been saved (Ephesians.2:5,8), We are being saved (Acts.2:47; 16:31; 1 Corinthians.1:18; 2 Corinthians.2:15) and we shall be saved (Acts.2:21; romans.13:11; 1 Corinthians.5:5; Philipians.2:12; Hebrews.9:1; 1 Peter.1:15; Revelations.12:10)
A saved person experiences:
New Birth – Repentance and Faith brings regeneration or a new birth, public commitment of life and loyalty to Jesus Christ as saviour and Lord.
Justification –ascribed to sinful man by God
Sanctification – the experience that begins with a new birth in which the believer is set apart and enabled by the Holy Spirit to grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ who was without sin and imperfection.
Glorification – Is the final and blessed state of the believer. Glorification is the blessed and glorious culmination of salvation (Genesis.3:15; Exodus.3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew.1:21; 4:17;16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke.1:68-69; 2:28-32; John.1:11-14, 29; 3:3-21; Romans.1:16-18; 8:1-18; 1Corinthians.1:18; Hebrews.2:1-3; James.2:14-26; 1 Peter.1:2-23; 1 John.1:6-2:11; Revelations.3:20; 21:1-22:5)
Baptists believe that all human being stands in need of salvation “for all have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God” (Romans.3:23) That the wages of sin is death (Romans.6:23) means rebellion against the source of one’s existence has placed the individual in a situation whereby one could not fulfil the purpose of one’s creation.
The giver of salvation is God. Our salvation is a gift from one God who has revealed Himself as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Our confession must always hold/bear the fact of the trinity in mind for any attempt to divide the members of the God=head in relation to the gift of salvation is not just futile but unbiblical.
JESUS is the only way of salvation. As Baptists, we believe that JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. This confession is based on our recognition that Jesus is God for only God can reveal the way of salvation and lead people in the way of salvation.
The content of salvation deals with our relationship with God and others. There is no salvation without forgiveness. A saved person is a forgiven and forgiving person. The only evidence that a person has been forgiven and has accepted forgiveness is that such a person is able to forgive others.
Another thing is the individual’s unique possession by God. Like the prodigal son, a saved sinner is received back by the father of love.
Another content of salvation is the initiation into the universal church. There is no experience of salvation without initiation into the church by the Holy Spirit. This is an enrolment of the convert into the community of saints.