(Ask the Pastor is a weekly series that appears in the Northwest Baptist Church Sunday Bulletin. This question and others in this series are submitted from those who attend Northwest Baptist Church)
Question: Why are you a Baptist? – Stewart
Answer: I think an important distinction needs to be made before I get into the heart of my answer. When I consider my faith, I do not consider the label “Baptist” as my identity. I am a Christian first and foremost. I belong to God through the sovereign grace and mercy of God through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. When the Lord calls me home, He will not consider my denominational identity. Heaven will not be segregated with different denominations, but will be the unified redeemed Bride of Christ. If I were in a town that did not have a solid Baptist Church to attend, I would join or attend another like-minded church (even if they were a different denomination).
It’s also important to note that just because a church has the label of “Baptist” doesn’t qualify it as a good church. There are many terrible Baptist Churches. As you may have noticed there are many different flavors of Baptists. Just because a church is “Baptist” doesn’t mean they will agree on doctrine, methodology, or philosophical endeavors. The question is not if it is a “Baptist” church, but if they are a healthy church. What makes a church healthy? A healthy church has a robust, faithful, and central view of the gospel.
I believe that a healthy church will also have the same basic theological principles held by those in the Protestant Reformation. These principles were stated in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are: “Sola Fide” – by faith alone, “Sola Scriptura” – by scripture alone, “Solus Christus” – through Christ alone, “Sola Gratia” – by grace alone, “Soli Deo Gloria” – glory to God alone.
But, why do I pastor a Baptist Church? I have been attending or pastoring a Baptist Church for the last 25 years. Being a Baptist has been my heritage, but not my identity. There is a faithful heritage of Baptist’s that have held to certain distinctives. These same distinctives are important to me and why I pastor and belong to a Baptist Church.
(1) The Bible is the authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word of God.
(2) Salvation is by “grace through faith” in Jesus alone.
(3) The local church has two ordinances and are for believers —believer’s baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper.
PREVIOUS POST ← Ask the Pastor: Is Worry Indicative of a Lack of Faith?