I Am A Baptist

I am a Baptist! That’s what the sign in front of our church says. It says Calvary Baptist Church. I was saved in a Baptist church. I was baptized into the membership of a Baptist. I was called to preach in a Baptist church. I was licensed and ordained in a Baptist church. I have had the privilege of being the pastor of three Baptist churches. I have preached in hundreds of Baptist churches over the years. I am a Baptist. I have the credentials and the scars to prove it. As one man said, “I was Baptist born, I was Baptist bred, and when I die, I’ll be Baptist dead! I am a Baptist!” That’s me! I am a Baptist!

One reason I am still a Baptist, after dealing with Baptists for thirty years, is that Baptists are a people of the Book. We believe the Bible to be the Word of God. We preach the Bible. We teach the Bible. We believe the Bible is the very Word of God. We accept the Bible as the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of the Living God. For true Baptists, the Bible is the foundation of everything we believe and it is the catalyst for everything we do.

While we are a people of the Book, there is more to being a Baptist than just believing the Bible. Out of our belief in, and fidelity to, the Word of God, come certain distinctives that identify true, biblical Baptists. There are some things that all Baptists believe, if that is, they are truly Baptist.

I thought I would share those distinctive marks of being Baptist with you in the form of an acrostic built around the word Baptist. This acrostic isn’t original to me. It comes from All About Baptists, and I bring it to you with very little editorial comment. My comments appear in parenthesis.

Begin Quote!

 

B – Bible Authority

The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” ~ 1st Thessalonians 2:13

 

A – Autonomy of the Local Church

The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” ~ Colossians 1:18
P – Priesthood of the Believers

Every born-again believer has direct access to the throne of God. Therefore, since every child of God shares in the priesthood of the believers, all have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ’s name. This is first and foremost a matter of responsibility and servanthood, not privilege and license.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 2:

 

T – Two Ordinances of the Church

We practice only believer’s baptism by immersion, which is the only acceptable mode for baptism because it alone preserves the picture of saving truth. No other form pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:1-5).

We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic ordinance, picturing Christ’s body broken for our sins and His blood shed for our redemption. It is not a saving ordinance, but helps us remember His death, and inspires us while looking forward to His coming. It is to be observed by regenerate, obedient believers.

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”
~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

 

I – Individual Soul Liberty

Every individual Christian has the liberty to believe, right or wrong, as his/her own conscience dictates. While we seek to persuade men to choose the right, a person must not be forced to into compliance, realizing that it is not always the larger group who holds the truth when, in fact, our heritage as Baptists has demonstrated the worth of every individual believer.

(No Baptist should ever force another believer into walking in lockstep with every tiny detail of their personal belief system in order for them to loved, accept, affirm that other believer as a brother or sister in Christ. Baptists believe that all believers have the liberty to believe as the Lord leads them, even if their viewpoint differs from ours. No Baptist should have to fear being attacked, vilified, or ostracized simply because he or she doesn’t believe like some other Baptist does on any given issue. This is especially true, if that issue is a secondary matter not related to a biblically defined, fundamental doctrine of the faith, e.g. The Virgin Birth of Jesus, the deity of Christ, the sinless nature of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the victorious resurrection of Christ, the ascension and return of Christ, the inspiration of scripture, and salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to name a few.

In my humble opinion, this is the primary area where many Baptists have ceased to be Baptist-like in their practice. Far too many Baptists have the opinion that they have, and they alone, have the truth. They give the impression that they have the right to determine what should be believed by every other believer. Anyone who disagrees with them is attacked, vilified, demonized, and marginalized. This is a cult-like mentality that has no place in Baptist life and practice. Those Baptists who react in anger and malice toward those with whom they disagree are not walking in Christlike love toward the brethren. Jesus said that love among the brethren would be the defining mark of His people, John 13:34-35.

As far as I am concerned, as long as we can agree on the fundamental doctrines of the faith, we can have fellowship. What a person believes about the rest of it is between them and the Lord. It certainly isn’t up to you or me.)

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. ~ Romans 14:12

 

S – Saved and Baptized Church Membership

Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”…”Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” ~ Acts 2:41, 47

 

T – Two Offices of the Church

The Bible mandates only two offices in the church–pastor and deacon. The three terms–”pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop,” or “overseer”–all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church. (Some Baptists view the Pastor/elder role somewhat differently. Again, that is their prerogative.)

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”…”For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1st Timothy 3:1-13

 

S – Separation of Church and State

God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.

End Quote!

If we Baptists would get back to being Baptists and start loving the Lord, and each other, like we should, we might actually see the Lord begin to bless us once again. As long as we continue to argue among ourselves, the world will see nothing attractive in us, nor will the Lord see anything He can use or bless for His glory. I believe that God will bless His people, but only when we live like we are His people. 

Alan

Glorious Service Last Night

We started our meeting at Pleasant Hill Baptist in Conway, SC. The Lord showed up in a powerful way. I preached from 2 Samuel 9 about the grace of God in salvation, using the story of David and Mephibosheth as the canvas. The Lord honored His Word. It was such a blessing to be in a service where the power of God was in such evidence. Please pray for the rest of the meeting. When you begin on such a high note, sometimes it is hard to get there again. Of course, that is in the Lord’s hand and I trust He will continue to meet with us as we seek Him for revival.

Alan

Meeting At Rustic Hills Baptist Church

I am preaching through Wednesday at Rustic Hills Baptist Church in Bessemer City, NC. Jason Dowdell is the Pastor. The meeting went well last night, and we are looking for another good service tonight. The meeting at Rustic Hill will continue through Thursday. Pastor Scott Moneyham, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Drexel, NC will preach the Thursday service. Come if you can; pray either way.

Next week, Monday-Thursday, I will be with the good people at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Conway, SC. The pastor is brother Mack Hutson. Again, please pray for the meeting.

If you are a WordSearch Bible software user keep you ears open. Sometime in April WordSearch will release The Sermon Notebook as a module for WordSearch. If you are on their mailing list, you will receive the notification. If not, I will post the info here. Please pray for us as this exciting adventure comes to pass.

God bless you my friend!

Alan

Jubilee In LaGrange, GA

I am in LaGrange, GA for the annual Jubilee at Living Waters Baptist Church, where Richard Clinard is the Pastor. The service last night was great! Brother Stacey Lane, Pastor of Solid Rock Baptist Church in Morganton preached. I preached after he did. The Lord moved in the service and helped us with His Word. The meeting continues through Saturday. Please pray for the meeting, and if you are in the LaGrange area, stop in. they will put out a chair for you.

 

Alan

Let’s Try This Again

I’ve been away from the blog for a long time. My absence was intentional. For some reason, I seemed to have lost my passion for writing blog posts. I think I would like to try it again.

I am preaching this week, actually last night and tonight at White Plains First Baptist Church just outside of Anniston, AL. The Pastor is Brother Eric Snider. White Plains is a church God has blessed. They have experienced phenomenal growth over the past several years. There is a good spirit there, and it is easy to worship and preach at White Plains Baptist. Their Pastor is a tremendous preacher, and the Lord has honored his years of faithful ministry to this church. If you ever preach there, beware! They know their Bibles! That is a such a rare treat in these days of rampant biblical illiteracy.

We had a great service last night. A few hundred people came out to worship, and the Lord greatly helped us. I bless His name for that. Please pray for the service tonight.

Next week, March 7-9, Living Waters Baptist Church in LaGrange, GA will host a Bible conference. Many great preachers will be preaching in the meeting, along with one not so great preacher, yours truly. This is a good meeting. If you are in the area, please drop by for worship. The Pastor if Brother Richard Clinard. Brother Richard is a true man of God, and a powerful preacher in his own right.

Hope someone still stops by these parts. I will be posting some thoughts related to the iPad and about some of the apps I find helpful.

God bless!

Alan

Bitterness

I have been preaching through the book of Ephesians for about three years, on and off. I am currently at the end of chapter four right now and am to preach on bitterness tonight. Since this is an affliction that affects so many people, and by extension, so many churches, I thought I would share the portion of my sermon tonight that deals with bitterness. God bless!

Alan

In verse 31, Paul lists seven sins that are to abandoned by the children of God. Let’s take a little time to look at these sins, because they present an escalating attitude of resentment that can destroy our relationships with others.

a.  Bitterness – This word refers to a “smoldering resentment; a grudge-filled attitude.” Bitterness in the heart will fill a person with perpetual animosity. The bitter person will usually be sour and often filled with resentment and spite. Bitterness is mentioned first because the other attitudes that are mentioned in this verse flow out of bitterness.

Bitterness is dangerous, because the Bible says that it can become rooted in our lives, Heb. 12:15, and it will poison all the relationships we have in our lives. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right with God, Acts 8:21-23. It is one of the major characteristics of a person who is not saved, Rom. 3:10-14. And it often leads to destruction of faith and relationships, Heb. 12:15.

A clear example of the danger of bitterness is a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor. When Absalom rebelled against his father, Ahithophel joined the rebellion. When it became clear that David would prevail, Ahithophel went to his house and committed suicide, 2 Sam. 17:23.

The reason Ahithophel committed suicide was because he was bitter about something David had done to a member of his family many years before. Ahithophel had a son named Eliam, 2 Sam. 23:34. Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:3. David committed adultery with Ahithophel’s granddaughter, and Ahithophel could not forgive and get past the sin of David. His resentment turned into bitterness and it poisoned Ahithophel to the point where it caused him to turn on a friend, and to eventually commit suicide.

Bitterness, if allowed to exist in our hearts, will produce a root system that will grow until it has infiltrated and undermined every area of your life. The root of bitterness will send its tendrils into every area of your life, and eventually,  it will destroy you.

  • Bitterness will make you sick physically. As you fret and worry over what you think persons or institutions have done to you, your body will respond in sickness.
  • Bitterness will harm you emotionally. The root of bitterness will entangle itself around your peace. your joy and your happiness and choke the life right out of them. It will leave you a sad, empty shell.
  • Bitterness will destroy your relationship with others. As bitterness grows, you will become a negative, critical person. Others will not want to be around you and you will eventually be left all alone.
  • Bitterness will demolish you spiritually. As you fixate on the person, persons or institutions that you feel wronged you, you will lose your focus on the Lord. The object of your worship becomes yourself and your feelings. In essence, you become your own god. There is a sense that the object of your bitterness also becomes a god in your life, because they, and not the Lord, have your attention. Bitter people destroy churches, ministries and other people’s influence.

 

Don’t let that happen in your life. Deal with your hurts and refute to allow them to grow into a “root of bitterness” that will choke the joy and peace out of your life. If it allowed to flourish, that “root of bitterness” will destroy you and all the relationships in your life. Bitter people are sad, hard to get along with, and ultimately, they are selfish, because they care for nothing but their own feelings. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.