Several months ago, I wrote a three-series post on “Baptist Distinctives.” (You can read part 1 here.) But as a shorter read, I just want to highlight a few reasons why I am a Baptist and why I cherish this title.
Although independent Baptist churches have no affiliation with a denominational headquarters, we strongly affirm our commitment to biblical truth and to these distinctives that define our name. This simple acrostic helps to sum up the core distinctives of Baptists:
Biblical Authority in all matters of faith and practice. We believe the Bible is inspired and infallible and is the final authority. It is from God’s Word that we understand and teach the fundamental doctrines of our faith as well as pattern our church polity. (See 2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17; Acts 17:11; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20–21.)
Autonomy or self governing power of the local church. We believe that every local church should be independent of a hierarchical framework or outside governmental structure. (See Colossians 1:18; Acts 13–14, 20:19–30; Ephesians 1:22–23.)
Priesthood of believers. God’s Word assures believers that we have direct access to God through our relationship with Christ. We believe and teach that the priesthood of the believer is the unspeakably precious privilege of every child of God. (See Hebrews 4:14–16; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; 1 Peter 2:5–10.)
Two offices within the church. Scripture only mentions two church offices—pastor (also referred to as elder or bishop) and deacon. These two offices are to be filled by godly men of integrity in each local church. (See Philippians 1:1; Acts 6:1–7; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9; 1 Peter 5:1–4.)
Individual soul liberty. We believe that each person must make a personal decision of repentance and faith in Christ. (See Romans 10:9–17, 14:1–23.)
Separation of church and state. The state should have no power to intervene in the free expression of religious liberty. (See Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29–31; Romans 13:1–4.)
Two ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Table (also called communion). These ordinances have no part in salvation and only serve as pictures of what Christ did for us. (See Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Acts 2:38–43, 8:36–38; Romans 6:1–6)
Separation and personal holiness. We believe that Christ’s ultimate sacrifice demands our complete consecration, and we desire that our daily living would reflect the holiness of our great God. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:16.)
I’m thankful to carry the name Baptist, and I’m thankful for the privilege to preach the Gospel of Christ and to teach others to build their lives on the inerrant foundation of God’s Word.