Historical Baptist Distinctives

Most people think of Baptists as a group of people and churches that dunk people. While this may be a part of it, most people do not know that it was from its early days an acronym. That acronym stands for a set of beliefs that direct the practices of a church.
J.M. Carroll in his book “The Trail of Blood”, and R.C. Mosher in his book “On Baptist History” both trace this acronym set of beliefs back in history. The earliest mention of this, according to these books can be found to dates back around 350AD. While many more authors trace their roots back to the Anabaptists many years later, the exact start of this set of beliefs does not really matter. I might also mention that some of these groups also held other beliefs that we would recoil from. Many of these groups, known as “Baptist catholicity”, stayed within the Roman Catholic Church until the days of John Wycliff, 1370AD, and his translation of the Bible. Many began to then consider separation as the importance of individuals reading and living by the Scripture became apparent.
Since most of you have not long been attenders of a Baptist church, we will cover this acronym today as part of our study of the church. We are not saying that we hold these beliefs exclusively. We are not saying we anything more than this is what we believe as characteristics of this church.
Theme: Baptist is more than a name, it is our set of beliefs.

B = Biblical Authority comes first.

2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

1. Scripture is Worthy, Eternal, and Truth.

Some things hold true regardless of culture or the passing of time. 2+2=4

2. We are not anticreedalism or antitraditionalism. Nor do we elevate feelings, experiences of our own or others as equal to or above clear teachings of the Bible.

Baptists love the study of the Bible so much that they tend to recoil when someone says, “I had this wonderful spiritual experience…”, “God personally spoke directly to me and told me that …” or ''My religion teaches ...” In most Baptist churches you will hear people say, “The Bible teaches .... "

A = Autonomy of the local church.

1. Self Governing.

ie. No higher, outside authority to control our church.
1 Timothy 5:17–20 NKJV
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

2. Self Running.

ie. We choose our own leaders and way of doing business.
Acts 6:3 NKJV
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

3. Self Propagating - Self Growing.

ie. We do not expect growth to come from outside.
Acts 9:27 ESV
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:2 ESV
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

4. Self Correcting

2 Corinthians 2:6–8 - These verses not only speaks of the discipline the congregation had placed on a person, but also the need for restoration when the discipline worked!

P = Priesthood of all believers.

1.Each believer can deal with God in matters of sin. (Grace)

1 Peter 2:5 NKJV
you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9 NKJV
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Hebrews also talks about this. We preached on it extensively during our series in that book.

2. All believers have access to the Throne Room of God. (Petitions)

Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Baptists don’t depend on others to pray for them. In fact, Baptists are known for personally praying for others!

T = Two local church ordinances.

Baptism & Communion

I = Individual soul liberty.

We can decide what we believe God would have us do.
Donald K. Anderson says, “Baptists don’t force anyone to assent to or deny any doctrine. (Baptists were strongly against The Inquisition!) We do not coerce anyone to worship God against their will or to refrain from worshiping God as they believe they should, unless their worship involves a practice that violates basic moral and ethical principles.”
“Baptists do not believe in using imprisonment, confiscation of property, torture or other coercive methods as punishment for rejecting Christianity. On the contrary, Baptists have always championed religious liberty.”

1. Baptist church’s members/attenders can decide, based in Scripture, what they believe God would have each one do.

Galatians 2:4 NKJV
And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),

We must live in our liberty – not the expectations of others.

John 5:35 NKJV
He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.

2. Baptists believe that each individual can decide where and how God would have them serve Him.

Luke 9:23–25 NKJV
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Just as we believe in the Autonomy of the local church and the fact that each church can best discern how to follow the head of the church - Christ, so too Baptists believe that each individual should have Christ as the head of their life and seek to discern how, where, and when Christ would have them serve.

3. There are some restrictions to this liberty!

Galatians 5:1 NKJV
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Don’t let people easily take this away!
Galatians 5:13 NKJV
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
1 Peter 2:15–16 NKJV
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
Individual soul liberty does not equal autonomy! Some people wrongly conclude that if they have liberty, then they can do or not do anything they want. The Bible does not teach that.

S = Saved church membership.

1. Saved church membership must be verifiable.

Acts 2:47 NKJV
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Donald K. Anderson points out that “The Greek word for church is ecclesia, ... When used of a local church, the idea of the people being assembled together is also present. So, by virtue of the definition of the word ‘church,’ God's church is composed of people called out of the masses to God and for God. The Body of Christ is made up of believers, and the local church should reflect this.”

2. Saved church membership must be editable. (ie. changeable.)

Matthew 18:17 NKJV
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
1 Corinthians 5:5 NKJV
deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Those who vote on the direction of the church must have an active, vibrant walk with the Lord. That relationship with God is what should be affecting how they vote.

3. Why Saved Church Membership?

We have it for our protection and for the protection of the glory of God.
Imagine the person who has not been in church for years believing that they have the spiritual wisdom to direct the local church. Or imagine a person who chooses sin over repentance, but still believes they have the godly insight to help the church make its choices.
You may not have to imagine much at all. You may have been part of a church in your past that tried to do business with people like that. It is hard enough to work together as a spiritual group of committed Christians as we seek how God would direct the local body. When a church tries to also include those who are not living with Christ as the head of their lives, then this task becomes even harder. Baptist churches believe the church membership rolls are editable. People can be added and deleted.

T = Two church officers.

Pastors, Elders

Conclusion: Baptist is more than a name, it is a set of basic beliefs that we hold to.

This church is a Baptist church for more than a lack of a name. We hold to the beliefs that have been defined through the years as Baptist. This church was started that way on purpose. This church is lead by Pastors who hold to and teach these beliefs.
This is never an exclusive thing, but a way of working together in the local organization that meets in this place.
Response 1. If you disagree with something I have said, Please talk to one of the pastors about it!
Response 2. If you have never heard this before, Please check the scriptures!
Response 3. Knowing these things, how can we work together to bring glory to God as we live as a church?
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