5. The Fundamentals of the Church
We do not hesitate to say that the doctrines taught by the churches of the New Testament days are identical with the doctrines taught today by true Baptist churches. These constitute their distinguishing marks by which Baptist identity has been known across the centuries back to our Lord’s day on earth.
Across the centuries Baptists have believed and taught all the fundamentals of the Scriptures, thus making the Bible the man of their counsel. In sum, these teachings include:
Salvation by grace without any admixture of meritorious works (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 11:6; Titus 3:5).
Congregational form of church government, as already discussed in this message.
Immersion in water as the Scriptural mode of baptism (Acts 8:38, 39; Rom. 6:4).
Christ as the sole head over His church (Mark 12:10; Eph. 1:21-23).
The Bible as the sole written guide and standard of authority in religious affairs (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 5:39).
The right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15: John 5:39).
Freedom of worship, of conscience and of speech. The early Christians avowed and taught religious liberty. Tertullian, a Christian writer of the second and third centuries said:
“Every man should worship according to his own convictions: one man’s religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is accuredly no part of religion to compel religion.”
Justin martyr, a Christian writer of the second century, said:
“Religion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by words rather than by blows.”
It is an honor to Baptists that, while they have endured persecution for truth’s sake, they have never persecuted others for their faith. Indeed religious freedom is a trophy of Baptists.
Separation of church and state (Luke 20:21-25).
Baptists in every century have championed the cause of religious freedom. They have contended for separation of church and state, but not the separation of God and the state: that the one should not control the other, but both church and state should work harmoniously for the betterment of each. There can be no absolute freedom of religion where there exists a union of church and state. God is over all.
Individual priesthood of all believers (Heb. 4:14-16; Rev. 5:10; John 14:13).
Every believer has a right to approach God for himself. He is his own believer-priest, going to God through Christ alone for himself (I Tim.2:5). It is a sin to pray to any saint living or dead.
In addition to these nine points of fundamental tenets, Baptists believe and teach the doctrines of inherent depravity (Eph. 2:3); the convicting and converting power of the Holy Spirit in connection with the word of God (Acts 16:14); the security of the believer (John 5:24); a restricted Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; I Cor. 11:17-20); the blood atonement of Christ (II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 2:9) as essentially related to His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23); our Lord’s resurrection from the grave (Matt. 28:1-6); His ascension back to heaven (Luke 24:51); His personal and visible and premillennial second coming (Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:37-39); a bodily resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:51-53); and eternal hell for the incorrigible wicked (Luke 16:19-26); and an eternal bliss in heaven for the children of God (Rev. 21:1-14