A Summary of Baptist Sentiments
EUGENE L. GARNER
Since "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by
the word of God" (Rom. 10:17), we accept the Holy Bible as
the infallible, verbally inspired word of God -- regarding
it as an all-sufficient guide in faith and practice, (2
In this library of 66 books, written by some 40
different writers, over a period of some 1,500 years, God
has unveiled His eternal purpose and clearly enunciated
the principles whereby men are prepared for fellowship
with Himself, and by which all will ultimately be judged,
There is ONE true God Who, as regards His works,
manifests Himself in three distinct personalities: Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.
As "the Father", He is the great intelligence who
purposes and wills, (Matt. 28:19; Jn. 15:26).
As "the Son", He is the great pattern and
accomplisher of works -- having created the heavens
and the earth, and "upholding them by the word of
His power", (John 1:2; Col. 1:15-17).
As "the Holy Spirit", He is universally present --
personally directing and performing His will and
purposes, (John 4:24; Psa. 147:5; Romans
Equal in every divine perfection (John. 10:30,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit execute distinct but
harmonious offices in the work of redemption, (Eph. 2:18;
2 Cor. 13:14).
God is absolutely sovereign -- rightfully doing
as He pleases (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; John. 10:35). The
scriptures, however, reveal His pleasure to act
CONDITIONALLY toward men -- accomodating His actions to
the response of their hearts toward His benevolent care,
We believe in the biblical account of creation,
which is consistent with every known fact of modern
science. No earthly creature has "evolved" from a lower
order, or come into being by accident. The same God Who
created all things in six days actively governs the whole
of His creation, (Psa. 104:6-23; Dan. 5:23; Jn. 1:1-3;
Acts 17:25; Col. 1:17).
THE FALL OF MAN
Created in righteousness and true holiness, man
was placed under the law of his Maker, (Gen. 1:21, 27;
Eccl. 7:29). By voluntary transgression the first human
pair fell from the holy and happy state of innocence --
imposing upon all their offspring a nature (inclination)
to sin, (Gen. 3:6-24; Rom. 5:12; Psa. 51:5; Rom. 3:23).
Thus, the sum-total of mankind are, by nature, TOTALLY
DEPRAVED -- in the sense that we are inclined to evil and
devoid of any positive righteousness, (Rom. 7:21-23; Mark
7:20-23). Thus, we stand justly "condemned already" to
eternal ruin -without any defence or excuse, (Jn. 3:l8;
Rom. 1:l8-2l; 2:1-16; Eph. 2:1-3; Ezek. l8:19-20; Rom.
Sensing the tragedy of human rebellion, whereby
fellowship was broken between God and man, the Son of God,
in unfathomable love, has condescended to take upon
Himself the nature of humanity that He might restore the
divine image in man and bestow upon us the very nature of
deity, (Jn. 1:1-14; 10:34-35; 2 Pet. 1:4). Born of the
virgin Mary (Lk. 1:34-35), Jesus was truly HUMAN. In fact,
He was the ONLY man who ever lived the life that God
intended man to live -- a life of TOTAL DEPENDENCE on His
heavenly Father. He came in the "express image" of God --
living a sinless life and manifesting every divine
perfection, (Heb. 1:3).
Having finished the work the Father sent Him to
accomplish, Jesus Christ voluntarily laid down His life as
a vicarious (substitutionary) sacrifice for human sin,
(Jn. 10:17-18; 1 Tim. 2:6). Raised from the dead, and
exalted to the right hand of the throne of God, the Son of
Man now sits as the sole mediator between God and man --
Himself MAN -- as our advocate with the Father, (Rom. 1:3;
Acts 2:32-33); He is the High Priest over the "house of
God" (the church), and the scriptures urge His believing
people to draw near to His throne of grace with boldness
-- knowing that He cares and is able to sympathize with
our need, (Heb. 10:21; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 4:14-16).
THE WAY OF SALVATION
We believe that SALVATION, as set forth in the
scriptures, embraces the whole scope of God's purpose and
grace to deliver unworthy men from the destruction of
certain and eternal death UNTO the bliss, privileges,
glory and honor of the perfect REST of His coming Kingdom
-- ruling as co-heirs with Christ in the inheritance of
the earth. Salvation is wholly of grace, through the
exercise of a faith that is divorced from any "fleshly
work", but which inevitably "works by love", (Eph. 2:8-10;
On the basis of his first trust in Jesus a person
IS SAVED (delivered, loosed) from the guilt and penalty of
past sin and becomes the possessor of a new life that is
both REAL and ENDURING. Thus, the true believer HAS BEEN
As the saved man yields his life to the true
mastery of Jesus Christ, through whose resurrection-life
he experiences daily triumph over the power of sin,
salvation may be regarded as a CONTINUING PROCESS -- in
the sense that one's LIFE is so acceptable to God that it
reaps eternal dividends, (Matt. 6:19-21; l6:24-27; 2 Pet.
1:5-11). Only when one is freed from the very PRESENCE of
sin, and changed into the glorious likeness of His dear
Lord, will the experience of salvation be complete -- that
which Paul described as being "in Christ Jesus with
eternal glory", (Phil. 3:20-21; 2 Tim, 2:10).
We believe in the eternal security of all that is
truly abandoned (entrusted, committed), in faith, to Jesus
Christ. Since there is no merit in man (Titus 3:5), it is
God who takes the initiative in salvation -- satisfying
His own sense of justice and changing the sinner. The
condemned sinner can only yield himself into the hands of
God and trust Him fully, (2 Tim. 1:12). So trusting in the
Lord, he will NEVER COME INTO CONDEMNATION (Heb. 7:24-25;
1 Jn. 2:1-2; Rom. 8:35-39; Jn. 5:24), for the very
righteousness of God is reckoned to him, (Rom. 4:5; 2 Cor.
NEW TESTAMENT CHURCHES
We believe that Jesus Christ is the Founder,
Head, Lawgiver and Sustainer of the only church
(institution) that He recognizes, approvingly, in the
world today. From material prepared by His forerunner,
John the Baptist, Jesus personally called out specific
disciples to follow Him designating them as His "little
flock", the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world",
(Matt. 4:l8-22; 5:13-16; Luke 12:32).
By definition, we recognize a New Testament
church as: "a called-out body of scripturally baptized
believers (always a local body), covenanted together for
mutual edification and the carrying out of the three-fold
task set forth in the Great Commission" which He gave
before His ascension to the Father's right hand. The task
committed to the church is that of: 1) Making disciples;
2) Baptizing disciples; and 3) Teaching those baptized
disciples how to be "disciples indeed", (Matt. 28:18-20;
Independent, though ever subject to the lordship
of her Living Head, each local assembly is a
dwelling-place of God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:22)
sent by Christ to: direct, comfort, teach, reprove, exhort
and administer His perfect will among His people.
We deplore the careless, presumptuous application
of so many new covenant promises to those who have never
identified themselves with the Christ through baptism and
a walk of faith-obedience, (Rom. 6:1-13). To the church
(institution) is made many "exceeding great and precious
promises", (2 Pet. 1:3-1l). Experience of promised
blessings require diligence to DO God's will. To lay claim
to those promises while living outside the sphere of
covenant fellowship may only be regarded as an attempt at
We regard church membership as a PRIVILEGE, not a
right. While one's faith in God is his own personal
consideration, his WALK, as a part of the body of Christ,
is a matter that concerns the whole body. In the church
one must "walk worthy" of his "high calling in Christ
Jesus". This requires lowliness, meekness, forbearance and
love, (Eph. 4:1-3). When fellow-body-members can actually
"esteem others better than themselves" the unity of the
Spirit will be preserved. But, failure to do this will
lead to confusion, discord, schism and every sort of evil:
requiring DISCIPLINE -- the last resort of which will
require the body to sever its fellowship with the
offending member, (2 Thes. 3:6, 14; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; Matt.
Being the only ecclesiastical tribunal the Lord
has on earth (Matt. 16:19), His church is a self-governing
body and is the sole judge, under the limitations of the
Scriptures, as to its measure and methods of labor. Each
congregation is such a tribunal, where Christ Himself
presides - having ratified in heaven what is done on
earth. The majority governs in each assembly, but we seek,
by brotherly discussion and prayer, mingled with love and
forbearance, to secure perfect unanimity, according to the
will of God. We recognize no church officers other than
pastors and deacons.
The perpetuity of our faith, doctrines, practices
and ordinances has been effected by the Holy Spirit's
personally planting and preserving local congregations of
like faith and order for the past nineteen centuries,
(Matt. l6:l8; 28:20).
Our heritage is not that of a mere sectarian
"name" that may be proudly traced through the ages.
Rather, it is charactrized by holy living and a "trail of
blood" willingly shed by our forefathers rather than
repudiate or compromise the principles set forth by Christ
and His apostles. Never assuming a name for themselves,
the true people of God have ever been willing to accept
the designations applied to them by their enemies. Thus,
the principles for which true Baptists stand today may be
traced back to the days of our Lord through such
historical appellations as: ana-Baptists, Waldenses,
Albigenses, Paulicians, Donatists, Petro-Brussians,
Montanists, Novatianists and a host of lesser known
followers of Jesus -- whose love for the Lord and His word
surpassed their love for their own lives.
TWO PICTORIAL-SYMBOLIC ORDINANCES
Within the church our Lord has set two (and only
two) symbolic, pictorial ordinances: baptism and the
BAPTISM is the immersion of a believer in water,
by the authority of a local New Testament assembly. It
declares one's death to sin (crucifixion with Christ), and
his resurrection (in Christ) to walk in a new way of life
in which "Christ is ALL" (Matt. 3:5-6; Acts 8:26-29; Rom.
6:4; Col. 2:12).
We emphatically deny that our Lord, or His
apostles, ever urged ANY believer to SEEK a so-called
"baptism of the Holy Spirit" -- there being but "ONE
baptism" commanded and practiced in the New Testament
order, and that WATER BAPTISM, (Eph. 4:5; John 1:33; Matt.
The LORD'S SUPPER, involving the partaking of
unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine by a LOCAL
church, looks back to the suffering and death of Christ in
our stead; it points forward to His second coming, (Matt.
26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26, 28). Requiring the exercise of
discipline over the lives of those who participate in its
observance, one may scripturally participate in this
ordinance ONLY in the local church where he is a member in
good standing, (1 Cor. 5:11-13; 11:17-20; 2 Thes. 3:6,
14-15). Such as disregard these divinely -- appointed
restrictions, governing the Lord's table, eat and drink
damnation to themselves -- not discerning the Lord's body,
(1 Cor. 11:29).
Apart from a local New Testament church NO group,
or individual, has any scriptural right or authority to
administer EITHER of these symbolic ordinances.
We believe that Jesus Christ, who was born of a
virgin, and suffered the death of crucifixion as our
substitute, was raised BODILY from the grave and ascended
BODILY into heaven -- being seated today at the right hand
of the Father to make intercession for us, (Matt. 28:6;
Acts 1:3; 1 Cor. 15; Heb. 7:26; 1 John 2:1-2).
In harmony with the testimony of faith,
manifested in our observance of the symbolic ordinances,
we expect to share in the experience and glory of His
resurrection as freely as we have entered into the
experience of His death, (Phil. 3:19-20). Aware of the
Father's purpose to bring "many sons unto glory", we now
enter joyfully into His sufferings that we may rightfully
anticipate a share in the glory that is yet to come, (Heb.
2:9-10; Rom. 8:16-18).
We recognize the promise of "a better
resurrection", for such as walk in the obedience of faith
-- involving the highest quality of life in the coming
Kingdom of God. Paul desired it, but laid no claim to
having "attained" the full assurance of its possession
(Heb. 13:35; Phil. 3:8-14).
THE COMING KING AND KINGDOM
Purposed from eternity-past, prepared "from the
foundation of the world", and assured by covenant and
promise in the Holy Scriptures, the Kingdom of God
(identical with the "Kingdom of Christ", "the Kingdom of
His Dear Son", etc.) will soon be established on this
earth. Jesus Christ (the "Son of Man" ), the One anointed
by the Most High to rule with a rod of iron, will return
to the earth as King. He will overthrow and depose all
usurpers, ascending to the throne of His ancient father
David, and RULE, in righteousness and glory, from Mt.
Zion, in Jerusalem.
The return of Christ will bring an end to a
period of Great Tribulation which has come through the
manifestation and despotic rule of the antichrist, the man
of sin and son of perdition, (Matt. 24:29-31; 2 Thes.
2:1-8). Coming " in the clouds", Jesus is portrayed as
riding a white war-horse -- leading a glorified army in
triumph over antichrist and a world that has gone mad in
willing subjection to his deceptive schemes, (Rev.
During the first 1,000 years of Jesus' reign
(sometimes referred to as "the millennium") He will JUDGE
the earth in righteousness -- wielding a " rod of iron "
and subduing all things to the perfect will of God. When
Satan is loosed for " a little season " (only to rebel and
lead others in rebellion against the Lord), He will be
quickly subdued and placed forever beyond the possibility
of interference with God's glorious reign over all.
Of His kingdom there shall be " no end ". God, in
the full radiance of divine glory, will make His dwelling
among His joyful, loving and worshipping people
forevermore, (Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 22: 3-5).
Life with Christ, in His kingdom, will be the
final abode of those who trust Him in life and walk before
Him in the obedience of faith.
Such as continue their rebellion against Christ
until death, or until He comes again, will receive their
final judgment at the end of the Millennium, (Rev.
These will NOT be judged to determine whether
they are "lost" or "saved"; apart from faith in Jesus ALL
MEN are CONDEMNED ALREADY, (John 3:18, 36). This judgment
will be "according to the deeds in the body" and will
determine the DEGREE of torment one is to suffer (in the
body) eternally in the lake of fire for his rejection
(refusal to trust) of the Saviour. This is designated "the
judgment Seat of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:10), where believers
will be judged for reward (though, in reality, Christ sits
on this same seat of judgment throughout the millennium),
and 2) "the Judgment of Nations" (Matt. 25:31-46), where
living men are judged at the Lord's return to determine
their positions in, and relationship to, the Kingdom of
PREPARATION TO LIVE
With the Psalmist, we need to realize that our
"times" are in God's hands. The few short days of our
present earthly sojourn are a time of probation -- after
which comes death and the judgment, (Heb. 9:27).
By many and varied witnesses (His creation, His
Spirit, His word, His Son and His people) God pleads with
men: "PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD!" To delay for a single
moment runs the risk of being TOO LATE.
Adequate preparation necessitates a genuine
heart-repentance toward God (an acknowledgement that one
is as bad and as desperately in need of divine grace as
God's word has declared him to be), and FAITH in Jesus
Christ -- both as TRUST in His saving power, and as
willing SUBMISSION to His rightful lordship over one's
life. This will include a persevering watchfulness in view
of the soon and certain return of the Lord from heaven,
(Acts 20:21; Luke 21:36; Hebrews 3:12-14).
We believe in free association with other
churches for fellowship and the fulfilling of those mutual
obligations imposed by the Great Commission. And, we
believe it IMPERATIVE, in these last days of apostasy,
that all who share a common love for Christ, and the
church purchased by His blood, dispense with all envy,
jealousy, malice and petty rivalries -- being knit
together by such a bond of brotherly love as is
demonstrated in a mutuality of respect, Christian
courtesy, concern and love for each other as will
demonstrate to the world around us that we are DISCIPLES