Baptist Distinctions

Faith Church March 28, 1992

- we're studying what God's Word says about the church
- today, we're going to look at some of the things distinguish us as a
    Baptist church.

- let me make a couple of disclaimers:
   - the commission is to make disciples, not "little Baptists"
   - we don't have the view that we're the only ones going to heaven,
      nor do we sit around all the time and criticize others who aren't
      Baptists

    - we want folks who are studying God's Word and applying it to
       daily life--so our general method is to simply do systematic
       study of God's Word

- it is important, though, for us to understand why our church is a
   Baptist church--and what it means to be a Baptist
- so, we're talking about the "Baptist distinctives"
  - I'm going to give you eight of them in the form of an acrostic

  - I'm not saying we're the only ones who believe any of the things
      - they're not distinctive in that sense

  - but they are distinctive in that only Baptist can say that we
    believe all of these things, and that we've held them historically
    for the last 300 (or more) years.

    B - biblical authority
    A - autonomy of the local church
    P - priesthood of the believer
    T - two ordinances (baptism and the Lord's table)
    I - individual soul liberty
    S - saved church members
    T - two offices (pastor and deacon)
    S - separation of church and state

- We have already discussed:

    .authority - scriptures.
    .regenerate membership
    .two offices.
    .two ordinances.

- Let's consider the last four:

I. Autonomy of the Local Church

    A. Definition

        "Each local church is sovereign in itself and cannot be
         controlled by any board, hierarchal system, or another
         church."

    B. How have denominations historically gone astray?

        1. a hierarchy is established
            - churches band together (often for good reasons) and have
              common leaders, mission boards, schools

        2. churches are required to give money to "hierarchy" without
           strings
             - i.e. give a percentage of your church's income to our
                    co-operative missionary program but you have no say
                    in what kind of missionaries we send with your
                    money.

        3. hierarchy exercises authority and makes decisions that
           aren't reflective of the desires of the local churches.

            - agencies (colleges, mission boards, social agencies) make
               great servants but terrible masters!

            - i.e. - schools work fine when the church's are telling
                what kind of pastors to produce.  But often, somewhere
                in the school's history, they begin that those kinds of
                decisions on their own.
           - i.e. the issue of inspiration/innerrancy
               - some denominations have been made up of churches that
                 believe in innerrancy but schools that did not. Over
                 time, the school will have educated the next
                 generation of pastors and have in effect taken control
                 of the denomination.

- point - the local church had given up it's autonomy

        - to complicate matters, in some cases, the denomination
          actually owns the church building--so if they don't like
          something thats happening at a school, mission board, or
          social agency--that's fine, they can leave the denomination
            - but the building belong to the denomination

- you can see why, with that kind of an arrangement--its not surprising
   that denominations have gone astray because they gave up the right
   and freedom to make decisions as a congregation.


      C.  Biblical support for autonomy

          1.  One head - Eph. 1:22,23
          2.  N.T. church selected its leaders.
              - Acts 6:5, 13:1-3
          3.  N.T. church final authority in disputes.
              - Acts 15:4,7,12,22,25
          4.  N.T. church final authority in church discipline.
              - I Cor. 5; II Thes. 3:14,15
          5.  N.T. never refers to "many" as "one."   Rev. 1:4,11


     D. Other examples of our autonomy

        - own our buildings/grounds
        - determine our own budget
        - call our own pastors
        - elect deacons
        - determine our doctrinal statement (contrast to groups who get
              their beliefs from some hierarchy and how frustrating
              that would be)

    E. What about our "fellowship"

        - might ask - but what about the fellowship our church is a
            part of?  Isn't it just another convention or denomination?

        - the answer to that is no.
        - we are an independent church.

        - we are a part of 2 fellowships:
           IFRBC, GARBC

        - those are purposely called fellowships
        - no control, we maintain our autonomy
        - we have banded together to do things as a group that we could
            not do apart.

        - recommend books

 


II.  Soul Liberty

      A.  The right and responsibility; believer to study and live by
          interpretation

          1.  Positive:
              Acts 17:11; II Cor. 5:10; I Jn. 2:27; Rom. 14:10

          2.  Negative:  Heb. 5:11-14

          3.  Result:  Baptists have never persecuted other groups.

      B.  Soul liberty does not ignore:

          1.  gifts of teaching given church.
              Eph. 4:11,12; Heb. 13:7,17; Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:4

          2.  need of other church members. Eph. 4:1-3,16

III.  Priesthood of the Believer (prayer)

      A.  Believers are priests.  I Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6

      B.  No mediator but Christ.  Jn. 14:6; II Tim. 2:5

      C.  Your advocacy provided.  I Jn. 2:1,2; Rom. 8:26,27

IV.  Separation of Church and State

      A.  There must be no overlapping of authority.

          "Render to Caesar - things that are Caesar's."
          "Render to God - things that are God's."

      B.  The state can establish no religion nor control the church.
          (To protect the right of worship)

          - Does not say the church cannot influence thought.

Note:

1st sentence of the Constitution:

"All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of
the United States which shall consist of a Senate and a House of
Representatives."

1 st sentence of the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech."
Only Congress can legislate, and they cannot legislate to establish
religion or prohibit or abridge.

Faith Church