“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (13) Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:9-13)
Often when speaking to visitors in our services and to prospective members, I like to tell them that we are historical Baptists. In this day, it is common to find churches that march under no specific banner but are what we sometimes term “generic Christians.” This means they fit in well with just about any group, especially those that have abandoned the teaching of specific Bible doctrines that would define their theological bent.
As historical Baptists, we observe the time honored confessions of faith that our Baptist forefathers have stood for. However, we do not believe creeds and confessions are superior to the Bible, and we observe them only as they agree with true Biblical teachings. Three very important confessions of faith reflect the interpretation of scripture as held by Berean Baptist Church. These are the First London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1644, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, and the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833. While we are not in agreement with every minute detail, these confessions largely represent the teachings of our church.
If I were to pick one portion of scripture that contains many of our specific teachings, I would choose 2 Timothy 1:9-13. Here are found these important truths: (1) Salvation is not by human effort but only through the grace of God bestowed upon depraved, unworthy sinners (v 9). (2) The means of salvation and those who receive it were determined by God before the world began. This determination was not based upon the condition of any foreseen goodness in man including faith in the gospel, but was based solely upon the grace of God and the good pleasure of His will (v. 9). (3) Salvation is in Christ and Him alone (v. 10). (4) Those that God has chosen are effectually called by the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the preaching of the gospel (vv. 9-11). (4) All those chosen, effectually called, and justified, are forever preserved in the faith so they can never fall away (v. 12). (5) Believers are not only preserved in the faith, they must also persevere in the faith (v. 13). Their continuance in the faith is evidence of their true conversion.
All of these beliefs are expressed in the aforementioned historical confessions of faith. We affirm these as important truths of scripture, and to deny these is not only denial of these historical statements of faith, but more importantly is denial of the Holy Scriptures. Because of 2 Timothy 1:9-13 and many other confirmations of the same truths spoken elsewhere in the Bible, we cannot be “generic Christians.” Paul, the apostle, encouraged Timothy to hold on to the sound truths he was taught (v. 13). These words are recorded and preserved for us that we might also receive the same encouragement as Timothy.
We make no apologies for believing, preaching, and being identified with the same truths our Baptist forefathers taught. If Christ and the apostles taught these doctrines, we want them to be our doctrines too!
Pastor V. Mark Smith