The world is very different than it was in the time of Christ. There are many different so-called churches that proclaim to believe and practice the way that Jesus taught in His personal ministry. With so many varieties, it leaves you wondering just who is really correct. The individual must search the scriptures
with humility of heart and seek the things that the Holy Spirit of God will reveal.
The Baptist church is the closest to those first truths taught by the Messiah and His apostles. We might go one step further and proclaim that the Missionary Baptist are the closest due to recent deception that has entered once sound Baptist churches. There are many traits that separate the "true" Baptist from all of these other doctrines. We will try to briefly discuss the most essential topics of difference.
The first difference that we would recognize would be in a combination of Hebrews 10:25 and I Thessalonians 5:19. Here we are taught to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together and also not to quench the Holy Spirit of God. It if not enough to just assemble in a form of worship. You must have the Holy Spirit to lead the service, to uplift the congregation, to empower the speaker, and to convict lost souls.
The second difference that we could discuss would be in the offices
of the church. We as Baptists have three basic offices. The first would be the lay member.
This office's importance must not be understated. The lay members consist of a body of
believers who have been sanctified by the Spirit of God. They have been saved by God's
glorious grace and have fullfilled the Lord's commandments by following their salvation in
a scriptural water baptism. Just as John the Baptist required "Fuits meet for
repentance"(Matthew 3:8), we require a testimony of their experience from nature to
grace. After their testimony the church must vote to receive them unanimously. This vote
is taken because only the church holds the authority to administer baptism, as it was
given by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19). The second office of the
church would be the deacon. The deacon obviously must first be a lay member and fulfill
all the requirements of that. This office is restricted to males as we learn in I Timothy
3:11,12. These deacons must undergo an ordination service. In this service the men endure
the careful review of trusted ordained brethren followed by a prayer and laying on of
hands. The deacon does not receive a divine call to his office. As in Acts 6:1-6, the
church chooses men who humbly meet the
qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3, and they separate these men from the general assembly to appoint them to the responsibility of the needs of the church. The third and last basic office of the church would be the pastor or undershepherd. This office would be considered the highest office in the Lord's church. We see in I Timothy 3:1,2 that this office is also restricted to males. We require the pastor to proclaim a holy calling from God and then to undergo the same careful review of trusted ordained brethren followed by a prayer and laying on of hands in order to ordain the candidate unto the full work of his ministry. We see in Acts 13:1-3 where the church of Antioch performed this same rite unto Paul and Bamabas before they sent than unto the work that God called them unto. The form of ordination service that we use has risen from tradition, but the basic necessities remain which are described in the scriptures. For the sake of
functioning in a modern church assembly, there are many other positions that we could speak of, but these are the basic three that have existed since the early beginnings of our faith.
The third major difference that we as Baptists ascribe to is our
faith and doctrine. We believe first of all that Jesus Christ was the only perfect
sacrifice that could have been made for our sins (Hebrews 9:12-15). He was born of a
virgin and conceived of the Holy Spirit, being the only begotten Son of God
(Matthew 1:18; John 3:16). Therefore, he did not carry the awful blemish of sin that every human has inherited. We believe that He willingly gave His life for the remission of sins so that the entire world would be given the opportunity to have eternal life (Matthew 26:52-54). We believe that He remained in the grave for three days and then arose unto a glorified body by the power of God, that He ministered another 40 days unto His disciples, and then ascended unto the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:1-6; John 20:26-29; Acts 1:9-11). Following his ascension, we believe that the Holy Spirit, or the Comforter, entered the world that we might be able to commune with God (John 16:7). Upon this fulfillment of
scripture, we believe that the Spirit must first convict the sinful individual, and then they must yield themselves unto "God repenting of their sinful nature and believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior" (John 16:8-11; John 6:44; Luke 13:3; John 14:1). When the sinner reaches this point of true repentance, we believe that salvation is delivered from God the Father (Ephesians 2:8,9). This marvelous gift of grace was not earned or deserved, but it was simply given by a mereiful and loving God. We do not see in the scripture where that salvation comes from a change of mind or anything that deals with the mortal man. It is spiritual and above the abilities of us as weak humans. In relation to the fact that we realize salvation does not come from any of our efforts, we know that it cannot be lost by any of our efforts. Romans 8:38-39 teaches that nothing can separate us from God's love. By reading Hebrews 9:24-28 we see that Jesus Christ died once for our sins and can understand that in turn we must only be saved once. In fact,
Hebrews 6:4-6 explains that if one was to lose their salvation they would have to crucify Jesus a second time to ever be able to come back to the repentance they once knew. Since the scriptures teach that the only return Jesus will make will be to bring God's children home, we can rest assured that there is security in the believer. We also believe that following this true salvation that Jesus Christ instructed us to perform two ordinances of the church by which we fulfill His commandments. The first ordinance would be scriptural baptism, as we spoke of earlier. This is done to show forth to the world the change that God has performed in the heart of the believer. The scripture teaches full immersion under water as a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:13-17). The second ordinance would be the Lord's Supper or Communion. This is to be administered by ordained brethren to symbolize the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We first take of the unleavened bread, which symbolizes the
sinless body of Jesus Christ, and then we take of the fruit of the vine, which symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed upon the cross. We are instructed to do this in remembrance of that holy sacrifice (Luke 22:14-20).
The fourth difference that we would have to recognize would be in
our church government. We wholeheartedly believe in the sovereignty of the individual
church. We believe that each congregation is a solemn and solitary power. We do not
believe that any church has the right to obtain power or
authority over any other church. We learn this so often in the Bible. We see this practice being performed by the New Testament churches in Acts 11:29,30; Acts 13:3; I Corinthians 16:3; 2, Corinthians 8:18,19. In these scriptures and many more we see where the members of old sent messengers, received members, sent missionaries, and in some cases excluded members. They did all of this independent from outside influence or from the influence of another church. Decisions and authority were always given by the decision of the majority, and that is still how we practice today.
The fifth difference of us as "true" Baptists would be in
our practice of church discipline. Many churches have developed their own method of
discipline, and so many more have adopted the theory of no dicipline at all. Again, the
Bible teaches plainly how that we should cany out dicipline. Matthew 18:15-20
teaches that if one of our brethren offends that we should first get him alone, then take others, and then bring him before the church. The Bible askes for no man and no less. We are not to condone sin in our churches, but we are not out to embarrass or harass each other cither.
The final difierence that we posses are in our duties as a church. Jesus Christ set up His church in His lifetime, and before He left He bestowed upon us some responsibilities. He commanded us to practice the ordinances that He left behind, and He commanded that we carry the blessed gospel into the entire world. Along the way, we are to teach these same truths that we have come unto the knowledge of by the grace of God almighty. Further, in Acts we see where it is also the responsibility of the church to care for the widows and the needy in the community. It was for this purpose that the office of deacon was first instituted. Therefore, we can see the importance of all of these duties.
When you speak of the faith and practice of a true Baptist, you
speak of a lot. The true Baptist's faith is in Jesus Christ completely. The true Baptist
practices the Bible in its entirety. We stumble and fail as humans do, but we cannot leave
cut any portion of the truth that has been passed down to us from
the saints of old. We must learn it, understand it, and pass it on to our children. After we've done that, we can have confidence in the fact that Jesus proclaimed that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church.
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