What Is a Baptist Church?
Jesus was the truth (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the head of the New Testament church (Eph 1:22, 5:23, Col 1:18). This indicates that Jesus would be the one that would set the standard for us to follow if we want to be considered a New Testament church in God’s sight. Jesus is the one that started the New Testament church and promised to build it (Matt 16:18). The church was to be the pillar and ground of the truth which Jesus gave (I Tim 3:15). The New Testament church was to hold onto these truths and not let them go. Jesus promised that there would continually be churches from after the time He died until the rapture that would be holding onto these truths (Matt 28:18-20). This verse was not only written to the Apostles because the Apostles would not remain until the end of the world. This was written to the New Testament church. Jesus promised that nothing would be able to stop the New Testament church from existing (Matt 16:18). Jesus would continually be glorified in the church (Eph 3:21).
The truths that Jesus gave in the New Testament for the church to adhere to are as follows:
- Only the Bible is to be used as the final authority for the New Testament church (I Tim 3:14-15, 6:3-5, II Tim 3:15-17, 4:1-4). The Bible tells us what sin is, who God is, how we can be forgiven, how to have eternal life, how to live life on earth, and certainly how to run a church. The authority to run the New Testament church comes from the Bible. Only the Bible is without error. The reason there are so many different religions today is because they have strayed away from only using the Bible as their authority. They have either subtracted or added their own traditions to the Bible. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible and God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the complete and divine revelation of God. The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the Church. Since the Bible is complete we do not believe in extra biblical revelations. Dreams, speaking tongues, prophecies, other publications, etc., are not authoritative or inspired. (II Tim. 3:16-17, II Pet. 1:20-21)
- Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. Salvation is only by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8-9, Titus 3:5)
- A saved person is eternally saved. (Rom 8:35-39, 1 John 5:11-13)
- Baptism is only for the believer. (Acts 8:12-13, 36-38)
- Church membership is only for those that have been saved by faith and have been scripturally baptized (Acts 2:41, 47). Participating in remembering His death at the Lord’s Supper, tithing, serving as a deacon or pastor, therefore, is not meant for the non-believer. Attending a church was meant for growth not for salvation.
- The Lord’s Supper and baptism are symbolic ordinances of the church. The word ordinance simply means that God ordained or appointed the local church to carry out these things. Neither the Lord’s Supper nor baptism is sacraments which aid in salvation. Jesus said, “It is finished” as He died on the cross.
- The priesthood of the believer. This simply means that every believer can pray directly to God through Jesus Christ, our High Priest, without a human intercessor (I Peter 2:5, 9, I Tim 2:5). Jesus is our High Priest (Heb 4:14-16, 6:20, 10:19-20).
- The New Testament church is to be separated from the government. God created three systems of authority. They are the home, the government and the church. A church is not to be controlled by a nation’s government, nor supported by tax monies. (Acts 4:15-20, 18:12-15, Gen 47:26, Matt 22:20-21).
- Each individual church is only to be supported by tithes and offerings. (Matt 22:21, 1 Cor 16:2)
- Each local church is to be independent. Each church is directly responsible to God for direction and guidance. No church is to answer to another church concerning its work. Notice that in Rev Chapter 2 each church was directly responsible to God for its wrong actions. God had the right to decide if these groups were to remain New Testament churches in His sight. There is no Biblical basis for any denomination. In the Bible, churches were addressed individually (Acts 9:31, 16:5, Rom 16:4,16, I Cor 7:17, 11:16, 14:33, 16:1,9, II Cor 8:1,18,19,23,24, Gal 1:2,22, I Thes 2:14, Rev 1:4,11). Each church was recognized as its own individual body which was accountable to correct itself. Within each church the members have a right to vote and elect its own officers, who are pastors and deacons (Acts 1:15-26, 6:1-7). They also decided on their own missionaries which reported back to these churches (Acts 13:1-5, 14:26-27).
- Individual accountability. God judges individuals. He has given them the freedom to decide what they believe (Rom 12:3-8, Rom 14:5-6,10-12, I Cor 3:13-15, 12:7-11, II Cor 5:10, Eph 4:7, Acts 10:35).
- The main goal of the New Testament church is to carry out the great commission. A church must be winning souls and striving to baptize and teach. (Matt 28: 18-20)
There were always churches that accepted these truths and built their ministries based on them. The world did not know what to call such people (Acts 9:1-2). Later, the world began to call such people “Christians” (Acts 11:26). The believers did not give themselves this name, but chose to accept it because it meant followers of Christ (Acts 26:28, I Pet 4:16). In the year 416 AD the Roman government combined with its state religion passed a law requiring that all infants be baptized. They claimed the name “Christian”, although they were truly not. True Christians and churches rejected this doctrine as this is not what Jesus taught. They rejected the baptism of infants, who obviously were not old enough to decide to believe on Christ for salvation. These people were labeled Ana-baptists. This literally meant the re-baptizers. To be called an Ana-baptist was a shame and a disgrace. The state church accused them of rebaptizing people that had been baptized as infants. These people believed that salvation was given by God, not the priests who baptized. They believed that baptism was an ordinance, not a sacrament. They believed that baptism was the way to make your faith in Jesus Christ public to your community, and that is all. Later, this name was shortened to the Baptists. This is how the name Baptist originated.
The name “Independent Baptist” or “Fundamental Baptist” came as a result of Biblical Baptist churches needing to differentiate between themselves and Baptist named churches that no longer are standing for those truths stated above.