I get E-mail and phone calls all the time from people who try to pin me down. It stands to reason. I am on six radio stations every day. I am on a local TV station. I have a web site that receives over 20,000 hits per day. When you have that much exposure, some people are going to hear you say and write some things that they do not agree with or that may cause them to wonder what I believe about certain doctrines.
Just last week, a very dear friend of mine asked me if I was a reformed Baptist. I know he will read this, and that’s OK, because I will tell you like I told him. No, I am not a reformed Baptist. I got a phone call from another Pastor friend just today. He wanted to now if I was a Calvinist. I am sure he will read this post, so I will tell you what I told him, no I am not a Calvinist. (By the way, I have nothing but love and respect for both these men. They are my friends and we are colleagues in the work of the Savior. We may not see eye to eye on every issue, but that is fine with me! I love them and respect them and pray for them as they lead the flocks they have been given. I pray for their ministries and for God to bless them in a great way. Their questions have merely prompted me to articulate some of what I believe. I hope that is all right with you two men!) Others want to know if I am an independent Baptist or a Southern Baptist. Like that issue even matters at all. I just tell them all that I am a “dependent Baptist“.
So, what am I then? Here is a nutshell is what I am:
I am a redeemed sinner who is saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. I am a plain old Baptist who rejects labels. I believe salvation is wholly of grace and is the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. I believe that man is a lost sinner, dead in trespasses and sins and that he cannot come to God by himself. He must be drawn to God by the Holy Spirit. I believe that a sinner must repent of sin and embrace Jesus by faith or he will never be saved. I believe Jesus gave His life on the cross for “whosoever will“. Anyone who will come to Him can be saved, if they will believe the Gospel. I believe the Gospel is this: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Cor. 15:3-4. And this: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. I believe the way of salvation is this: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” Rom. 10:9 and this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31. I believe in biblical election, predestination and foreknowledge. I believe in the absolute inability of mankind. Man is a dead sinner with no good in him at all. I believe in the preservation and the perseverance of the saints. I believe the redeemed are kept and that they will live like it. I believe that anyone who goes to Heaven goes because of God’s grace, and that is a biblical truth we should all embrace. I embrace, as far as I understand them, the great doctrines of God’s grace. I reject “easy-believism”. I reject this repeat this prayer after me and if you believe it with all your heart you will be saved/now raise your hand if you prayed this prayer/Amen, now you are saved/ mentality that has overtaken our Baptist churches. I reject the notion that everyone who bows in an altar and makes a profession is saved. In fact, I think the altar call, as it is practiced by many has done more to fill the church with lost people than anything else that could be named. I believe that our pews are filled with people who have never had a personal encounter with the grace of God. All they have is the promise of some preacher who told them they were saved because they recited his formula. I believe that when God convicts a lost sinner, opens his eyes to his condition and draws him to Jesus, he will come to the Lord and he will know what he needs to do and he will do it. I believe a lot more than that, but that is enough for today!
So, would I call myself “reformed“? No! (I realize that some of you would!) Would I call myself a “Calvinist“? No! (I realize that some of you would!) If I had to attach a label to what I am, I would say that I am a “Graceist” I would say that I am a Baptist in the same vein as Charles Spurgeon. I would say, most of all, that I am amazed to be saved! I ought to be in Hell! If I got what I deserved, that is just where I would be today. But, I praise the Lord that I did not receive justice. I praise the Lord that He did not reach down to me in fairness. I thank God that He came to me in grace and saved my soul in spite of what justice and fairness demanded!
I am a lot more than these things, at the end of the day, I am His and that is all that matters! What are you? I would like to know!