“So much confusion exists today because of division that the honest seeker after truth finds himself in the maze of uncertainty.” (Quote from Churches of Today, by L.G. Tomlinson.)
I find myself here, in the maze of uncertainty, as I emerge from researching the beliefs of the Baptist church. Fortunately for me, I believe Galatians 2:17-21 as it reads “If we are those who desire to be saved from our sins through our union with the Anointed One, does that mean our Messiah promotes our sins if we still acknowledge that we are sinners? How absurd! For if I start over and reconstruct the old religious system that I have torn down with the message of grace, I will appear to be one who turns his back on the truth. But because the Messiah lives in me, I’ve now died to the law’s dominion over me so that I can live for God. My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me-we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine! So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor or peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothing.” (TPT)
Baptists allow for every person to have their own interpretation of the Bible, so everyone will have a differing slant to their belief in salvation and grace and what God requires, but typically they will follow a statement of convictions which summarizes their beliefs, known as “The Baptist Faith and Message”. The differences and similarities are all seen when a general search is done on the Internet. One example is that some Baptist readings state that The Lord’s Supper should be taken quarterly or yearly, but some Baptists online also argue the case that it should be observed every week.
Looking at the websites of some Baptist churches all around the world, it can be seen that they are very direct in what they believe. They are all very organized. They know what they believe, and they list it out for visitors to see.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit
Baptists believe that God is the one true God, the creator of the universe, and that he shows himself through the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, he lived a sinless life, he died on a cross and then was resurrected 3 days later, and that His blood washes away the sins of humanity. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father, God, and acts as a mediator, an intercessor. We are allowed a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and don’t need the priests of the old law any longer because as believers in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit who fills us and makes us holy temples of God.
This is true, as you can see in the following scriptures.
God the Father
"...being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny. For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!" Ephesians 4:4-6 (TPT)
"So Jesus said, 'I speak to you timeless truth. The Son is not able to do anything from himself or through my own initiative. I only do the works that I see the Father doing, for the Son does the same works as his Father. Because the Father loves his Son so much, he always reveals to me everything that he is about to do. And you will all be amazed when he shows me even greater works than what you've seen so far! For just like the Father has power to raise the dead, the Son will raise the dead and give life to whomever he wants. The Father now judges no one, for he has given all the authority to judge to the Son... I speak to you an eternal truth: if you embrace my message and believe in the One who sent me, you will never face condemnation, for in me, you have already passed from the realm of death into the realm of eternal life! ...For the Father has given the Son the power to impart life, even as the Father imparts life. The Father has transferred to the Son the authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man." John 5: 19-22, 24, 26-27 (TPT)
Jesus the Son
"Throughout our history God has spoken to our ancestors by his prophets in many different ways. The revelation he gave them was only a fragment at a time, building one truth upon another. But to us living in these last days, God now speaks to us openly in the language of a Son, the appointed Heir of everything, for through him God created the panorama of all things and all time. The Son is the dazzling radiance of God's splendor, the exact expression of God's true nature - his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word. He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One. He is infinitely greater than angels, for he inherited a rank and a Name far greater than theirs. For God has never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my favored Son, today I have fathered you." And this: "I will be the Father to him, and he will be the Son to me." Hebrews 1:1-5 (TPT)
"He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth. For God is one, and there is one Mediator between God and the sons of men - the true man, Jesus, the Anointed One. He gave himself as ransom-payment for everyone. Now is the proper time for God to give the world this witness." 1 Timothy 2:4-6 (TPT)
"But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life, you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit. And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of him. Now Christ lives his life in you! And even though your body may be dead because of the effects of sin, his life-giving Spirit imparts life to you because you are fully accepted by God. Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God's Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!" Romans 8:9-11 (TPT)
"We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. Yet we don't see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God's empowering presence. He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life." 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (TPT)
Baptists believe that the Bible is the absolute truth, and it must be obeyed. They do not rely on creeds or doctrines to tell them how to act, and they believe that any doctrine written by man can – even subconsciously – replace the laws of God.
"Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness." 2 Timothy 3:16 (TPT)
"For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account." Hebrews 4:12-13 (TPT)
The two ordinances- Believer’s Baptism and The Lord’s Supper
Baptists believe there are 2 things ordained by God: baptism and the Lord’s supper. To the modern Baptist, it is a sin for a believer in Christ to not be baptized or partake of the Lord’s supper. They are symbols of a believer’s faith: Baptism symbolizes the believer’s death to sin in comparison to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; The Lord’s Supper is a memorial to Christ’s death, and also symbolizes the believer’s anticipation to His coming again.
To a Baptist, baptism is the step into a membership with the church community. To become a member of the church and receive the privileges given to the community of believers, a person must be baptized into the church.
"Peter replied, 'Repent and return to God, and each one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to have your sins removed. Then you may take hold of the gift of the Holy Spirit. For God's promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your families, for those yet to be born and for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' ... Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand. They were all baptized and added to the church." Acts 2:38-39, 41 (TPT)
Baptists also believe in the importance of memorializing Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross with the Lord’s Supper. You can read in Galatians 3:21-25 the importance of Jesus’s death. “Since that’s true, should we consider the written law to be contrary to the promise of new life? How absurd! Truly, if there was a law that we could keep which would give us new life, then our salvation would have come by law-keeping. But the Scriptures make it clear that since we were all under the power of sin, we needed Jesus! And he is the Savior who brings the promise to those who believe. So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free. The law becomes a gateway to lead us to the Messiah so that we would be saved by faith. But when faith comes the law is no longer in force, since we have already entered into life.” (TPT)
"Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand. They were all baptized and added to the church. Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. " Acts 2:41-42 (TPT)
Baptists believe that because God’s grace is undeserved, believers in Christ should recognize their duty to share the gospel with the world. They must serve God in the form of living sacrifices, by serving others in brotherly love.
"And as a spiritual father to you, I will gladly spend all that I have and all that I am for you! If I love you more, will you respond by loving me less?" 2 Corinthians 12:15 (TPT)
"All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life." Acts 2:44-47 (TPT)
Separation between the church and civil governments:
Baptists believe that the government which the church is under should offer religious freedom and protection to the believers, but that in return, the members of the church should respect and obey the laws that the government puts into place. The government should not be in subjection to the church. With that said, the government should keep in place certain morals in accordance with God’s laws. (For example, laws against murdering.) Believers in the nation’s government should always, through prayer, seek peace with other nations. They should never push their religion off onto the people who they care for but allow freedom in their country. Baptists believe in Hell. Believers will not fall from God’s grace, but one can see a believer’s true faith through his stewardship.
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God's spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands." 1 John 5:1-2 (TPT)
"'Show me one of the Roman coins.' So they brought him a silver coin used to pay the tax. 'Now, tell me, whose head is on this coin and whose inscription is stamped on it?' 'Ceasar's,' they replied. Jesus said, 'Precisely, for the coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar. Well, then, you should pay the emperor what is due to the emperor. But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him.'" Matthew 22:19-21 (TPT)
Pastors and Deacons
Baptists believe that men are placed over the church to advise the members. These men must match the standards expressed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. Once a believer becomes a pastor, he earns the privilege to admonish the church and lead it into God’s grace. Deacons are civil servants, serving the members of the church with God’s guidance through the Bible.
"For those who serve in this way will obtain an honorable reputation for themselves and a greater right to speak boldly in the faith that comes from the anointing of Jesus!" 1 Timothy 3:13 (TPT)
As a Christian based after the Church of Christ, I don’t agree with everything that I read from the Baptist websites. Many of them spoke truths; they all have the right intentions: to live under the forgiveness granted to us by our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, spoken of in the Bible.