What We Believe According to the Scriptures *
By Rev. F. H. Kerfoot, D.D., LL.D.
It is enjoined upon Christ's people that they be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh a reason concerning the hope
* The late Rev. F. H. Kerfoot, D.D., LL.D., while serving as pastor of the Eutaw Place Baptist Church, Baltimore, Md., prepared this Confession of Faith for that church as an expression of what is believed by them according to the Scriptures. It is printed in tract form by the Baptist Sunday School Board, at Nashville, Tenn.
that is in them. 1 Peter 3: 15. And Paul enjoins upon Timothy, not only that he take heed unto himself, but also unto his doctrines. 1 Timothy 4:16. We herewith append the leading tenets which we hold, in common with all evangelical denominations, and also those which constitute our distinctive principles as Baptists. It is for the sake of the last that we are constrained to exist as a separate denomination.
DOCTRINES WHICH WE HOLD IN COMMON WITH OTHER DENOMINATIONS
We believe, in common with all evangelical Christians:
In one God, Maker and Ruler of heaven and earth, revealed as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, equal in every divine perfection. Read: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Matthew 28:19; Jude 20, 21.
In the Holy Scriptures as his infallible word, which are able to make us wise unto salvation. Read: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
In the fall of man and his condemnation as a sinner, and God's sovereign grace and love in his redemption. In salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, who was the "word made flesh," God-Man, who obeyed the law, suffered and died for the sins of men, is risen and exalted a Priest and King. Read: Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Acts 5: 31.
In the free offer of eternal life in the gospel to all, and the aggravated guilt of those who reject it. Read: Romans 10:11-13; Hebrews 2:3.
In the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and of repentance toward God, and faith in Christ. Read: John 3:5; Acts 20: 21.
In the justification and adoption of the believer, through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Read: Romans 3:23-26.
In the sacred observance of the Lord's Day for his worship and his work. Read: John 5:17; Revelation 1:10; Acts 20:7.
In the present life as man's only day of grace, and that, when this present life ends, man enters at once into conscious blessedness or woe. Read: 2 Corinthians 6:2; Luke 16:19-31.
In the resurrection of the body; the righteous, to eternal life; the wicked, to judgment and eternal punishment. Read: John 5:28, 29; Matthew 25:46.
And, in common with a large body of evangelical Christians, nearly all Baptists believe what are usually termed the "doctrines of grace," the absolute sovereignty and foreknowledge of God; his eternal and unchangeable purposes or decrees; that salvation in its beginning, continuance and completion is God's free gift; that in Christ, we are elected or chosen, personally or individually, from eternity,
saved and called out from the world, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; that we are kept by his power from falling away, and will be presented faultless before the presence of his glory. Read: Romans 8:9, 10; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4, 5; 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:2-5; Jude 24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5.
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF BAPTISTS
I. The Bible is an all-sufficient guide in faith and practice, and nothing should be taught for doctrine which cannot be found therein. read: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Matthew 15:9; 1 John 2:20, 21, 27.
II. The Bible makes every religious observance a matter of voluntariness, and hence, of individual responsibility or privilege. And while we recognize the right of churches to exercise scriptural discipline, and the right of governments to impose civil obligations, yet we hold that no church or government, or any power on earth, has the right to bind any man's conscience. This principle of voluntariness and individual responsibility also excludes every idea that religious duty can be done by proxy; hence, we reject the doctrines of infant baptism and sponsorship, and all efforts
whatsoever to perform duties for others. Read: John 18:36, 37; Romans 19:12.
III. The first religious duty or act which, the Bible requires of every person is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, we reject the doctrine of infant baptism, and every doctrine whatsoever which recognizes persons as in any way members of a church of Christ before they have given evidence of personal repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Read: Acts 2:37, 38; Acts 5:31; Acts 20:21.
IV. The Bible requires that every person who has exercised repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, shall be baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28: 19.) And the Bible teaches concerning baptism:
1. As to the act, it is immersion in water. Read: Acts 8:38, 39.
2. As to design:
(1) It is a confession of Jesus Christ as our Saviour and of our allegiance to the triune God. Read: Galatians 3:27.
(2) It is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Read: 1 Peter 3:21.
(3) It is the symbol by the washing of water, of inward cleansing. Read: Titus 3:5.
(4) It is the symbol of our having been buried to a life of willful sinfnlness, and of our having been raised again to walk in newness of life on earth. Read: Romans 6:3-5.
(5) It is the symbol of our having died with Jesus Christ, and of our having been raised with him into a life of acceptance before God; and also of our final resurrection with him to life everlasting. Hence, we reject the doctrine of sprinkling and pouring for baptism as the setting aside of the true ordinance, both as to the act and its signification, and the substitution therefor of human tradition. Read: Colossians 2:12.
V. We learn from the Bible concerning a church of Jesus Christ that it is composed of those who have been baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, after they have professed repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The association of such persons, in order to form a New Testament church, must be entirely voluntary on their part, and must be for the purpose of observing such ordinances and practices as are in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament concerning such organization. Read: Acts 2:41-47.
The New Testament recognizes as the proper officers of churches one or more pastors or elders, and deacons. Read: Philippians 1:1.
The New Testament shows also concerning
churches of Jesus Christ that every local church has the right to govern itself. It recognizes no right in civil governments to assume control over any church. It recognizes no such thing as priestly or papal domination, nor any authority in its own officers to be in any way lords over God's heritage. It recognizes no ecclesiastical courts or bodies of highest jurisdiction which shall have any right to interfere in the affairs of the churches. Churches may, in mere matters of expediency? associate and cooperate in Christian work if they see fit. Yet no association or council can have any power or jurisdiction, except what the churches see fit to allow. Read: Matthew 23:8-11; 2 Corinthians 1:24.
VI. The New Testament teaches concerning the Lord's Supper that it is a memorial ordinance, intrusted to the churches; and that it is to commemorate the offering of the Lord's body and his shed blood till he comes. A careful examination of these ordinances, as appointed by Christ, and of their essential meaning, and of the way in which they were observed by the apostles, will show that baptism, which is administered but once and for all time, should precede the Lord's Supper. And, inasmuch as God's Word gives us no warrant whatever for inviting unbaptized persons to the table, which is the Lord's table, we
dare not allow our Christian sympathies to lead us into giving such invitations, lest we be found changing the order of God's Word, and ministering to the confusion and obscurity of God's truth. We reject the idea that the Lord's Supper is designed to celebrate love among Christians, or is an ordinance for deciding questions of fellowship either in an individual church or between churches. And in declining to invite members of other denominations, we do not question their piety at all, but only declare that we believe them according to the example and command of Christ, to be unbaptized persons and not walking in the New Testament order of ordinances. Read: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.
[From The Baptist Message, SSB/SBC, 1911, pp. 202-209. This book was provided by Steve Lecrone, Burton, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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