Who is a Baptist?
Being a Christian is about making a personal commitment to Jesus Chirst. We invite him into our hearts, confess our sins and resolve to live a new life by putting him at the centre of all we do. Whichever church we go to, we are first and foremost Christians seeking to worship God. Each church has certain foundations on which the church is built. Here are some of the important principles of what it means to be part of a Baptist Church
1) The authority of Christ and Scripture
Baptists roots go back to the time of the Reformation (in the sixteenth century) when authority was taken from two sources – Scripture and unwritten tradition. It wasn’t unusual for the greatest emphasis to be placed on tradition. The reformers argued that authority should only come from the Bible, the inspired Word of God. It is in Scripture and through the life of Jesus (as recorded in the Bible) that we understand how we are to live today. For Baptists, the final authority comes not from a centralised authority but from individual conviction gained from understanding the Bible. That is not to say that the authority of the community should be ignored but rather that individuals are encouraged to seek to discover what Christ is saying through his word for themselves, whilst listening to the wider church and their understanding as well.
2) A believer’s church
This second ingredient is that everyone should make a personal response to Christ, leading to believer’s baptism. This follows the practice that we see in the New Testament. Jesus himself was baptised. Jesus commands us ‘to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:18). On the day of Pentecost we read that some responded to the word that Peter preached: “So those who received his word were baptised and there were added that day about 3000 people.” Acts 2:41. There are many other examples in the New Testament of people believing and being baptised. Baptism symbolises dying with Christ and being raised to new life, leaving our old ways behind. It is a sign of cleansing as our sins are washed away and a public acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord of our lives. As the church is for believers it is also a means of entry into the family of the church. A baptismal service is a powerful event that often moves people to make a response to God, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
3) A self-governing church
While scripture does not tell us one set pattern about how churches were organised or how they should be organised, there are some principles that Baptists look to. For example, in Acts 6 we read of a problem facing the early church of Greek-speaking Christians feeling that their widows were being treated unfairly. When the Council of Jerusalem met (Acts 15) a problem was discussed and a solution brought to the whole assembly. The leaders helped to find solutions but these were not dictated to the church, they were brought for discussion and prayer. This is similar to how the church meeting should work, as believers gather together to discern the mind of Christ. Guidance from the Holy Spirit is sought through prayer and discussion.
All are equal before God and each of us has a calling to seek to understand what God is saying. Every church member can and should listen to God and seek His pathway for the Church. Therefore we believe that membership is a very important part of what it means to be worshipping in a Baptist Church.
4) How can I know God?
There are many different ideas about who God is and what He is like. Some people do not believe God exist, belief is a figment of the imagination and there is no God to know. However, Christians believe He not only exists, but there is the possibility that we can get to know Him.
Important things to know about God…
- God created the world, and everything and everyone in it.
- God made all humans and loves each person more than we can possibly imagine.
- God’s desire is to have a loving relationship with every person.
However, many reject the chance to know God and choose to live as if he doesn’t exist. People live in ways that are contrary to God’s design. God’s values of love, justice, mercy and humility are replaced by such things as love of self, greed, intolerance and pride. These things damage our ability to know Him. It is wrong of us to reject God. We expect wrong doing to be followed by punishment. That is only fair, after all. It makes sense that as God is ‘just’, we should expect to pay a penalty for our wrong doing.
However, because God loves us He keeps reaching out to us so that we might get to know Him. He sent Jesus Christ into the world to reveal more about Himself. Jesus pays the penalty for our wrong doing by dying on the cross. He died that we might be forgiven. It may be hard for us to understand how the death of Jesus releases power into the world making it possible for us to live new lives full of peace, hope and love. But many have discovered that this is so.
Important things to know about Jesus:
- Jesus is God’s Son – the Bible tells us many things about him and they show us what God is like.
- Jesus lived a perfect life to show us how we should live and how we can be in a relationship with God, his and our, Father.
- Jesus died for us to ensure our separation from God would be dealt with and ended.
This is important but there is more to knowing God than knowing about Him. Knowing God comes when we move from knowing about Him to having a relationship with Him.
Moving from know about God to being in a relationship with Him…
- Believe in the existence of a God who lives and who loves us.
- Say sorry to God for the things you have done to reject His love.
- Tell God you want to be in a relationship with Him and want to know Him personally.
While your relationship with God is personal, it is important to start attending a church and advisable to speak to a church leader who can support you. If you would like to know more, please contact us.
What is Christianity all about… Christianity Explored video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjQLAay1HqM