Baptist History sets us apart; The best way to describe a Baptist is to describe what Baptists believe. Independent Baptist is not a denomination, rather a doctrine. The doctrine, which is from the Bible, developed Baptists. Baptists did not develop the doctrine. The doctrine was here first. By following the doctrine we became what we are. We are Baptists because we follow what Jesus Christ taught in the New Testament. Below is an acrostic of B-A-P-T-I-S-T-S. We will take each letter and connect it with the various distinctive doctrines of the Baptist faith and practice.
We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are revealed from God, and that they contain the only true system of faith and practice. “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.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
The word autonomy comes from two words – Self and Law. It means “Self Governing”. Thus an autonomous church governs itself without any outside human director or control. Every Baptist church is granted the right to be self ruling or self directed. We are independent of all other churches and bodies of men, as to the administration of our own affairs – as long as we follow the authority of the Bible. “..Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21 (KJV)
P: PRIESTHOOD of the Believer
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. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 (KJV)
T: TWO ORDINANCES
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: “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.” Acts 2:41-42 (KJV)
Notice that these early members of the First New Testament Church continued what was established by the Lord Himself. He conducted the first Communion and was Baptized first by John the Baptist.
Before the Lord ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples what we call “The Great Commission”. This can be found in Matthew 28:18-20. The passage reads as follows: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Teach What? Salvation. After they have been saved and baptized then we disciple them. Then we do what verse 20 says…“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.”
BAPTISM BY IMMERSION
When one is buried, they are not sprinkled with dirt. they are buried in the earth, completely covered. Baptism by immersion is a spiritual burial in water… “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 the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” Romans 6:3-5 (KJV)
This is a picture of the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
There are three conditions to the privileges of the Lord’s Supper: Salvation, Baptism (membership in the Family of God), and Godliness (Christian conduct).
There are two elements: the bread and the fruit of the vine. The unleavened bread symbolizes the purity of Christ Jesus (Hebrews 4:15), and the fruit of the vine symbolizes His precious blood that He shed for our sins (Hebrews 9:22).
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus, Himself, before His death on the cross and can be found in Matthew 26:26-29.
This ordinance is designed to be a memorial of the death and suffering that took place while Jesus was on the cross. It is a time of solemn reflection for us believers to remember the great and terrible price that was paid for our sins.
I: INDIVIDUAL SOUL LIBERTY
Free will is a God-given right. The Genesis account of creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, however, make it clear that this choice holds great responsibility. Every individual has the liberty to choose what their conscience or soul dictates according to the scripture. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (KJV)
S: SALVATION and BAPTISM as a church membership qualfication
Qualify by: Salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ followed by scriptural Baptism.
Qualify by: Transferring membership from another church of like faith and doctrine.
“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.” Acts 2: 41-42 (KJV)
T: TWO OFFICES
There are two offices within each New Testament Baptist Church according to the Bible: that of the Pastor (referred to as ‘Biship’ or ‘Elder’) and Deacon. “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons..”
Philippians 1:1 (KJV)
S: SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Baptists firmly believe that neither the state nor the church has a right to pass laws that obligate people to conform to a religious belief, much less to persecute those who do not conform to such. Individual believers do have the right to vote and to express their views as citizens of a country, but they do not have the right to persecute those of a contrary belief. Similarly, governments have the right, and indeed the responsibility, to make just laws, and to require taxes to be paid to support the legal structure necessary to do this, but they do not have the right to control a church, much less to persecute those who hold to their own beliefs. All citizens of a country should be free to believe and practice their religious beliefs without fear of coercion or persecution. “..Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:21 (KJV)
Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, especially of religious freedom. Baptists, therefore, ought to resist efforts to co-mingle church and state and to strive for a friendly separation of the two that results in religious freedom. Church and state should be separate….A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal…. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36 (KJV)