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What is a Baptist?

Most Baptists will be first to admit that being a Baptist is merely their denomination, and that being a Christian is of foremost importance.  However, some choose to be a Baptist for good reason, you can take a few moments to read below as we explain why.

 

A Baptist is someone who has been baptised after being saved.

This idea follows the example of the original Christians.

It is clear that John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the early church disciples, baptised their converts by full immersion in water (often in the River Jordan).  The early Baptists received their name as a slur or derogatory term because they baptised their converts after professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was argued by their opponents that their converts had been baptised already as infants, and they were slurred re-baptisers or Ana-baptists.  The name was later shortened to Baptists.

 

Why did they “rebaptise” converts?

The Bible demonstrates baptism as full immersion in water as a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Matt. 3:15-17; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:41-2).  The word baptism is a transliteration of a Greek word meaning “to immerse, dip or plunge.” Baptists do not consider the christening of babies as baptism since they are not submerged in water, and furthermore they are not able to make a conscious decision to profess personal faith in Christ. This leads to the next question.

What does it mean to be saved or to profess faith in Christ?

 

The Bible makes it clear that every person born into this world is a sinner (Romans 3:10-12).  Since Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we, as their descendents, were born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12).  We say that we are only human but God states that we are sinners.  Our sin nature makes us enemies of God (Romans 8:7), alienated from God (Ephesians 2:12), under the wrath of God who is angry at our sin (John 3:18, 36), and without any ability to please God (Romans 3:19-20; 8:8).

If God were to execute the full weight of the law, He would have to send each one of us to an eternal hell to face the just punishment for our rebellion against His authority (Revelation 20:10-15).  However, we thank God that He is not only a God of perfect justice, but He is a God of gracious mercy and love.  The greatest love story ever told is that of the God-man called Jesus who came into this world 2000 years ago.  The Lord Jesus lived the perfect life and fulfilled the law of God perfectly (I John 3:5; II Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 27:19).  Wicked men took Him though, prosecuted Him falsely, and nailed Him to a cruel cross.  It was on that cross His Father poured out His wrath and judgment on Jesus – the wrath that we deserved was mercilessly poured out on the Son willing to suffer on our behalf (Isaiah 53:3-10).  The last words of Jesus before He died were: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

There is no more sacrifice necessary to pay for the sins of men, the Lord Jesus paid it all (Hebrews 10:10-14).  In fact, God refuses to accept any other sacrifice other than the blood of Jesus that was spilt on the cross 2000 years ago (Hebrews 9:22).

Believers are those who put their faith in the risen Saviour.  The Gospel is that Jesus, died, was buried and rose again so that He could pay man’s debt, remove Him from the righteous wrath of God, and free him to serve God with a clean conscience and a clean heart.  All God requires is repentance (turning away from sin) and faith in the blood of His risen Son, and upon this He will pardon.

Before anyone can become a Baptist, he or she must testify of believing this Gospel of great news!

Baptist is someone whose rule of faith and practice is the Bible.

 

A Baptist places no dependence on tradition or church teaching.

A leader from a prominent religion was asked what he based his faith upon and the answer was the Bible plus tradition.  The question was asked, “What if the Bible contradicts tradition, because it does at times?”  His answer was that he would first place his faith upon tradition.  The big problem with that thinking is that tradition and the church changes. Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”  A Baptist is one who places his faith in the unchanging Word of God.

A Baptist is a priest

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A priest can approach God himself without a mediator.

In I Peter 2:5, and 9, the Apostle Peter teaches us that every genuine, Bible-believing Christian is a priest.  John restates this in Revelation 1:6.  What exactly does this mean?  The Chambers dictionary defines a priest as a mediator between God and worshippers.  If the Bible states that all believers or Christians are priests, then we can go to God ourselves without anyone coming in between that relationship.

Hebrews 4:14-16 encourages us to do so and I Timothy 2:5 states that the only valid mediator (priest) between God and man is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some religions have taken the priesthood away from individual believers and have placed it into the hands of a select few.  This is contrary to the Bible, and it is the exercise of unfair control over men and women.

A Baptist can think for himself.

 

Thinking for yourself means no one telling you what you have to believe.

Some religions hold people in fear so that they can not and will not think for themselves.  According to I Corinthians 10:23, Christians have the God-given right to decide their own preferences and convictions.  No one has the right to force what he believes upon others as each individual has the right to exercise his own conscience freely before God (Romans 14:5).

To be able to make a valued judgment, it is appropriate for each individual to have the opportunity to hear what God has to say in His Word.  However, it is at the discretion of the individual as to whether he wants to hear or not.  We have the freedom to believe what we want to believe.  But remember, with this freedom to choose comes responsibility and accountability before God (Romans 14:10).

A Baptist is someone whose life has completely changed!

 

When the God of heaven lives inside a person, he will change!

The God of Heaven is a Holy God and He expects those who belong to Him to be holy also (I Peter 1:15-17). That is why those who belong to Baptist churches have been noted for distancing themselves from sinful habits and doctrinal error.  God stated that Christians are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14).  We cannot be salt and light in the world while acting like everyone else in the world.  A Baptist cannot just fit into his culture unnoticed!  The Lord Jesus expects us to be different and so we must be a little different for our light to shine.  This may cause confusion to some but most people should expect those who say that they are children of the Living God to not have certain habits and not act out certain forms of behaviour.

 

Would you like to read more about Baptists? Click here for the historic ebook by Thomas Armitage about the history of the Baptists, tracing from the time of Christ to 1886. This ebook is in pdf format. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to open it.