WHAT IS A REFORMED BAPITST (SHORT VERSION)
“What is a Reformed Baptist Church? Is your congregation half Reformed and half Baptist? Do you sprinkle and immerse? What do you mean by Reformed Baptist?”
The Reformed Baptist Churches are a group of independent local congregations committed to historic Christianity and in particular, historic Baptist principles.
“Oh! So you are a Baptist group?”
Yes, we are Baptists with a difference. Let us explain. The formal, doctrinal basis, (secondary to the Bible), of Reformed Baptist Churches is the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. We are historically in the Baptist tradition. We believe in the baptism of believers only. We believe that only baptized believers should be members of local churches. In this sense we are unashamedly Baptist. We are Baptists in the tradition of John Bunyan, Benjamin Keach, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
The problem is that you may have met not a few people who call themselves Baptist who are not that kind of Baptist. Tragically, Baptist churches, like other churches, have been subject to the erosion and dilution of their biblical convictions. In recent years, however, the God of grace has been pleased to create a thirst in many across our land and across the world for biblical revival and thoroughgoing reformation. Not a few have looked back and discovered how far modern evangelical and fundamental Christianity has deviated from historic Christianity. They are sickened by the man-centered worship of the church today and want to return to the God-centered worship of historic Christianity. The names of the great Reformers, Luther, Calvin, Knox, and many others have once again begun to be revered as those God was pleased to use to restore the great gospel truths of Scripture alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and faith alone to the church. The writings of their godly successors in the Puritan tradition, John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, George Whitefield, yes, and Spurgeon too, have once again begun to be appreciated as treasuries of Bible truth. This is why we say that we are a Baptists with a difference.
“So what exactly do you believe?”
Another good question! Many in our day give too high a priority to many secondary issues in choosing a church. The first and most important thing to consider in choosing a church is what they believe. We are happy to tell you what we believe.
• We believe in sovereign grace.
In other words, we teach that God is sovereign not only in general, but especially in salvation (1 Cor. 1:26-31; Eph. 1:3-11 ; Rom. 8:28-32). Salvation is by grace alone plus nothing (Eph. 2:8-10). A man is saved only when God gives him the willingness and the ability to repent and put his faith in Jesus Christ, the one who suffered the wrath of God in the place of sinners (Phil. 1:6, 29, 30; 2 Tim. 2:24, 25 ).
• We believe in the centrality of the local church in the Christian’s life (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 13:17). There are too many “Lone Ranger Christians” around today who think that it is sufficient to be a member of an invisible church. The problem with invisible churches is that they have invisible members and invisible officers. The help and the accountability they give is also invisible. We believe that Christians need each other and need a good local church to instruct, counsel, and, if need be, correct them.
• We believe that the preaching and teaching of the Word should be central in the life of the local church. The Apostle Paul said the church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). In the figurative language of Revelation 1:20 local churches are lampstands. In other words, they are essentially sources of light, the light of the Word of God. Many other things ought to be part of the local church: good fellowship for Christians, generous benevolence to the poor, missionary and evangelistic endeavors toward the lost, but it must never be forgotten that the fountain of all these things is the proclamation of the Word of God. Where Christ removes the lampstand the church ceases to exist, even if the shell of a social club, a charitable organization, or a mission program remains (Rev. 2:5).
• We believe the church should be a spiritual family which cares about the spiritual welfare of its members (1 Thes. 5:12-14; Phil. 2:1-5). Becoming a member of a local church is a covenant commitment to the Lord and to the members of a local church. It means willingness to be transparent, willingness to be humble, and willingness to undertake the obvious responsibilities of such a commitment (Eph. 4:1-3, 25-32). Such a commitment ought not to be lightly undertaken or frivolously forsaken.
• We believe that the policies, practices, and worship of the church should be ordered by the Word of God. The Word clearly says that the local church is “the house of God, the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). As such the will of God revealed in the Word of God must regulate church life. `Lord Pragmatism’ (`what-will-work’) and `Lord Tradition’ (`the-way-we’ve-always-done-it’) rule in many churches, not the Lord Jesus. Our modern generation of church-goers needs to be told that when these two `Lords’ rule the church the result is condemned as “will-worship” (Col. 2:23) by God’s holy Word!