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WHAT BAPTISTS BELIEVE
Why They Believe It
by J. G. Bow, D. D.
Prof. Wm. H. Whitsitt was once lecturing on Baptist History. He said: "The Baptists in other days had many trials, persecutions and discouragements; they also had some peculiarities, some of them had 'Foot-washing, some of them had the 'Jerks, but the best thing they had was-religion."
Baptists hold and believe very many important truths, but the most important thing to every individual is the personal salvation of the soul. The most important work for Christians is the salvation of others. For this brings the greatest joy to them, the greatest of all blessings to those saved, and they glorify God in bearing fruit.
What Baptists believe is not from denominational pride, much less bigotry, narrowness, or selfishness, but because it is the truth through which God has ordained, to save men and women.
Any departure from truth is error. Error can only do harm, not good. We are not allowed to change "the truth of God into a lie," not even for popularity or convenience.
How could anyone suppose that Baptists would hold to a doctrine which was so unpopular with other denominations and the world, so uncongenial to depraved human nature, from any selfishness or bigotry? Are we not human? Do we not love to be popular and please our fellow men? Ah! but, "We ought to obey God rather than men." It matters little what men think of us, but it is of infinite importance as to what God thinks of us.
Baptists believe that man is dead, depraved, blind, guilty, condemned, lost, and helpless, and, but for the grace of God in Christ Jesus, hopelessly so. "Dead in trespasses and sins." "Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5:14).
Depraved means wicked, corrupt, vitiated. No use to discuss total depravity, and more than total sinfulness or total wickedness. God said, "There is none righteous, no, not one." Paul, proving that, all were alike under sin in an unregenerate condition, says, "For we have before proceed both Jews and Gentles, that they are all under sin. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way." (See Rom. 3:9-12.)
We do not mean that man is as bad as a demon, or as bad as he can be. You may put a drop of gall into a glass of water, and that water, all of it, is bitter, vitiated, corrupt, and unfit for drink. Not as bitter as it could be made, but it is all bitter. So every man, all the man, is deprived, sinful, corrupt. "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." You may reiterate till the day of your death that you dont believe it, but the fact remains the same. God who knows the heart said it. "Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15).
Blind-"In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph. 4:18). "And all the world may become guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19).
Now we gladly believe that God has graciously made provision for the salvation of the irresponsible-the infant and the idiot. Not because of what they have done, but only through his mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. No duties are enjoined upon the irresponsible, no commandments are given unto them, no requirements are made of them. They are not subjects of gospel address.
We believe every responsible soul, which is unregenerate, impenitent, unbelieving, is lost. No matter how much we love them, nor how lovable they may be. Condemned now. Not a chance or danger of being condemned after a while. "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). But listen to the good news-the blessed gospel. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Yes, "whosoever believeth in him."
Pardon sweet; at His feet, ever free,
Precious blood, like a flood, flows to me;
Come to Him, Oh ! come and live,
For so freely Hell forgive,
And wash all your sins away.
"We believe the Holy Scriptures teach that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel: that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial and obedient faith: and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, except his own voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, which refusal will subject him to an aggravated condemnation."
How saved? Baptists believe and teach it is wholly of grace. Spurgeon said, "Grace is the fountain and faith the channel through which salvation flows to the soul." Paul said, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). But there is no salvation except by grace through faith in Christ.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Faith in anything else will not avail. Faith in your church, your doctrines, your parents, your baptism, your confirmation, your obedience, your goodness, will not, cannot save your soul. Paul said to the Galatians, "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26).
Peter said, "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
We believe this is Gods plan, and hence the only plan of salvation; that God deserves all the glory, and all the redeemed will gladly sing, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truths sake" (Psalm 115:1). And again, "For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
Salvation-Oh, the joyful sound,
'Tis pleasure to our ears.
A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for our fears.
Buried in sorrow and in sin,
At hells dark door we lay;
But we arise by grace divine,
To see a heavenly day.
Salvation I let the echo fly
The spacious earth around;
While all the armies of the sky
Conspire to raise the sound.
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