THE BAPTIST DISTINCTIVES

 

   Baptist churches are modeled after the New Testament churches.  Other denominations believe some of the basic New Testament doctrines; however, for the most part Baptists are the only ones who have held to all of the basic New Testament doctrines down through the years.  These doctrines have been arranged as an acrostic spelling BAPTISTS for ease in memorizing them.

BAPTISTS...



B  BIBLE IS OUR ONLY RULE OF FAITH AND PRACTICE

        Its laws and doctrines are the only basis of our authority. 2 Tim 3:16



A  AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

        A Baptist church is independent and governs itself.  We live in a day when the sovereign autonomy and independence of local churches is being challenged and even threatened by the drive toward the ecumenical merging of all "religions" into an apostate one-world church. 

        A New Testament church is independent of all popes, bishops, councils, conventions, associations, synods, conferences, or civil governments and its agencies that would seek to exert control over its operations and functions.  Baptist churches seek to conduct their affairs as the Lord directs through the Holy Spirit, because Christ alone is the Head of the church. Acts 15:1-30, Matt 18:15-17



P  PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVERS

        Every believer has the right and duty to approach God in prayer and praise for himself without the aid of human priests, preachers, mediators or human ceremonies, rituals or forms.  Christ alone is the believer's mediator.

1 Tim 2:5, 1 Pet 2:5&9, Heb 10:19



T  TWO ORDINANCES FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH

        Baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper are the ordinances of the local church.  These are symbolic acts which portray the two basic facts in our relationship to Christ.  Baptism by immersion of believers only pictures our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.  For this reason, a Baptist church does not baptize infants. 

        The Lord's Supper (communion) pictures our fellowship with Christ and is a symbolic memorial of His death till He comes.  Neither ordinance has any saving merit, but are matters of obedience to Christ's teachings. Acts 2:41-42, Matt 28:19-20, Acts 16:30-84, Acts 18:8, 1 Cor 11:2-32



I  INDIVIDUAL SOUL LIBERTY AND RESPONSIBILITY

        Soul liberty is the implementation of the truth that we must "obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) Each believer must give answer to God individually, and therefore, no other man and no church can act as his conscience.  Because of this, the believer has the right and responsibility to interpret the Scriptures for himself and will answer to God for the way in which he does so. 1 John 2:27, Rom 14:5, 1 Thes 5:21, Acts 17:11, 2 Tim 2:15



S  SEPARATION

        The first is personal separation.  The Scriptures clearly teach that a believer is a new creature in Christ and the old sinful ways are to be put off.  We are commanded to come out from that which defiles and be separate.  We are not to love the world, neither the things of the world, but present ourselves as living sacrifices unto the Lord. 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 4:22-24, Rom 8:11-14, 2 Cor 6:14-18, 1 John 2:15, Rom 12:1-2

        The second aspect of separation is ecclesiastical (church) separation.  A Bible-believing church cannot cooperate with any groups, churches, or organizations that deny the fundamentals of the faith.  We are told to mark those who cause divisions and promote doctrine different than the Bible teaches and avoid them.  The Bible is our standard, and we, as a church body, are to have no fellowship with those who reject or compromise its teaching. 2 Cor 6:14-17,
Rom 16-17, 2 John 1:10-11

        The last aspect of separation is political separation.  Human government is a God-appointed institution given to preserve the rights and liberties of the righteous and to restrain and punish the evil.  Believers are to be good citizens and "render to Caesar the things that are Caesars" until disobedience to God is involved, and then we must obey God rather than man. 

        But the Scripture is clear.  While human government encompasses all men, both believers and unbelievers, God has never given to civil rulers the right to govern the church, which is a spiritual body with Christ as its head.  Only saved persons rightfully belong to this company, and the officers and members of the church are not authorized in the Word to divide and jeopardize their spiritual ministry by seeking authority over civil government, or allowing civil government to exercise control in relationship to the church and its ministries. 

        Hence comes the doctrine of what some call the separation of church and state.  This is not to say that believers and churches may not take a stand on Biblical principles.  We must, as we are the salt and light of the earth, and we are obligated to earnestly contend for the faith. Matt 22:21, Rom 13, Acts 5:29, Matt 5:13-16, Jude 3



T  TWO OFFICERS IN A LOCAL CHURCH

        The Pastor(s) and Deacons are the only officers sanctioned by the Scriptures as the spiritual leaders of the church.  The body may appoint others within its number to give special responsibilities, but individuals or groups appointed by the body are not over the pastor or deacons in the exercise of their leadership. 

        Pastors are also called elder, bishop, preacher and teacher.  As a pastor-teacher he feeds, as an elder he leads, and as a bishop he oversees.  The terms are often used interchangeably in the New Testament.  Deacons are the Pastor's assistants and help him so that he may give himself to prayer and the study of the Word. 1 Tim 3:1-8,
Acts 6:1-4, Phil 1:1, Titus 1:5-18



S  SAVED, BAPTIZED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

        A church is a spiritual, not a social, economic or political organization.  The church is charged by the Lord to preach the Word and to worship the Lord.  This is impossible for men who have not been born again (saved).  The Scriptural order of events is salvation, baptism by immersion, and church membership. (Acts 2:41-42).  Anything other than this is man's ways, not God's ways.