Baptist Distinctives (5-8)
3 February 2019 AM – Galatians 6:6 – BaptDist19 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Sadly, many Christians do not know what they believe nor why they believe it. In the last four sermons, we examined the first four Baptist Distinctives. The remaining four, we are going to combine and look at together.
Transition: As we examine these Baptist distinctives, note carefully both their meaning and how they apply to the Christian life.
1. Independent: Self-supporting, Self-governing
a. New Testament churches were self-supporting
1) We do not believe in taking funds from the government.
2) In the O.T., God planned that His people tithe to support His work. (Malachi 3:8) “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”
3) Jesus confirmed tithing during His earthly ministry. (Luke 11:42) “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
4) Each church must support its own ministry. (Galatians 6:6) “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” (cf., 1 Timothy 5:17-18) I am a missionary and our church does not pay my wages, however, it is our goal to support a pastor one day.
b. New Testament churches were self-governing
1) They elected their own officers. (Acts 14:23) “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” The word “ordained” in this verse means, “to vote by stretching out the hand.”
2) They made their own decisions. (2 Corinthians 8:19).
3) They solved their own problems. (Matthew 18:17) “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (See, Mt 18:15-17)
4) They functioned as separate local churches. The Bible names several local churches including those at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica.
O So, as Baptists, we believe each local church is to be self-supporting and self-governing.
2. Soul Liberty and Priesthood of All Believers
a. Soul liberty grants liberty of conscience
1) Soul liberty is the belief that every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose in his soul or conscience what he believes is right.
2) All people ought to have soul liberty. (Cf. Ec 11:9)
3) Soul liberty does not ignore truth or accountability. For example, you have the liberty to play with a dugite snake, but you must be ready for the consequences if he bites you. Believe as you wish, but God is right and He will judge you by His truth. (Romans 14:12) “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
4) Wise people will govern their soul liberty by the Bible!
b. Priesthood of believers grants access to God
1) In the OT, a priest was a man chosen by God to intercede with God for men.
2) When Christ died, He removed the sin wall between God and men. (Mark 15:38) “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
3) Every true Christian is a priest today. (1 Peter 2:9) “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” Every Christian can talk to God and study the Bible without going through an earthly priest.
O So, as Baptists, we believe that everyone has the right to believe as he wishes though he will give account to God, and that every Christian is a priest with direct access to God.
3. Two Leaders: Pastor and Deacon
a. Pastors are shepherding leaders
1) The Bible uses three names for the leader of a local church: Pastor/teacher (Eph 4:11), elder (Ac 14:23), and bishop (1Ti 3:1). Pastor means shepherd.
2) Pastoral candidates are restricted to those who are qualified (1Ti 3:1-7).
3) Pastors are chosen by the assembly (Ac 14:23 above).
4) Christians are to follow their pastor’s leadership. (Hebrews 13:17) “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
5) Pastoral leadership is a big responsibility. (1 Peter 5:2-3) “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
a) Like a shepherd, he must feed his flock spiritually.
b) Like a shepherd, he must lead his flock willingly.
c) Like a shepherd, he must guide his flock by example.
b. Deacons are supportive leaders
1) In the Jerusalem church, the office remained vacant until needed (Ac 6:1-6).
2) The deacon’s role is to support the pastor’s leadership and to help with manual duties. (Acts 6:2-3) “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”
3) Deacons must be qualified (1Ti 3:8-13) and chosen by the local church.
O So, as Baptists, we believe that the pastor leads the congregation and deacons help him with manual tasks.
4. Separation: Personal and Church
God is holy. Holy means separate, set apart, particularly set apart from all that is evil.
a. Christians are to be personally separated and holy
1) God commands us to be holy. (1 Peter 1:16) “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
2) God desires that His children separate from all evil. (2 Corinthians 7:1) “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
3) Separation is for our protection. (1 Corinthians 15:33) “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
4) The Bible shows us how to separate from evil.
a) We must to separate from evil doctrine. (Romans 16:17) “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
b) We must to separate from evil conduct. (1 Thess. 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
c) We must to separate from evil speech. (Ephesians 4:29) “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
b. Our church is to be separated and holy
1) When a church consists of separated members, it will naturally separate from evil.
2) A church must separate from worldly methods, worldly music, and unbiblical doctrine (cf. 2Co 6:17).
3) A church must separate from other churches and groups who are not Biblically separated. (Amos 3:3) “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
O So, as Baptists, both our members and our church are to be separated from evil and to be holy.
Conclusion: As Baptists, we are distinct from other churches because we are independent (self-supporting, self-governing), we believe in soul liberty and believer priesthood, we have a pastor as our leader and deacons as helpers, and we seek to practice separation from evil.
If you are a Christian, God wants you to hold these distinctive doctrines dear to your heart. They are not optional. They are biblical.
If you are not a member of our church, you ought to join. I urge you to speak to me about that need in your life.
If you are not yet a Christian, God’s door to forgiveness and eternal life is still open to you. He is still saying, Come unto Me!
Song: Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord – 337