Eight Baptist Distinctives
It is very important to understand that not all Baptist folk worship in the same style, but all “True Baptists” believe in these eight Baptist Distinctives! It is what makes us Baptist. These teachings may be remembered by association them with the letters that form the word “Baptists.”
The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority. 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21
The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body. Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19, 23
“Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God-whether we are a preacher or not. 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 5:9, 10
The local church should practice two ordinances: (1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins. Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptist have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:91.
Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 4:3.
The Bible mandates only two offices in the church-pastor and deacon. The three terms – “pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop,” or “overseer” – all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church. I Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17-38; Philippians 1:1
God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19- 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government towards righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.
Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior; and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge and holiness; to give it a place in our affections, prayers and services above every organization of human origin; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly as God has prospered us toward its expenses, for the support of a faithful and evangelical ministry among us, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout the world. In case of difference of opinion in the church, we will strive to avoid a contentious spirit, and if we cannot unanimously agree, we will cheerfully recognize the right of the majority to govern.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotion; to study diligently the word of God; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be kind and just to those we employ, and faithful in the service we promise others; endeavoring in the purity of heart and good will towards all men to exemplify and commend our holy faith.
We further engage to watch over, to pray for, to exhort and stir up each other unto every good word and work; to guard each other’s reputation, not needlessly exposing the infirmities of others; to participate in each other’s joys, and with tender sympathy bear one another’s burdens and sorrows; to cultivate Christian courtesy; to be slow to give or take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, being and mindful of the rules of the Savior in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, to secure it without delay; and through life amid evil report, and good report, to seek to live to the glory of God, who has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light.
When we remove from this place, we engage as soon as possible to unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
Articles of Faith
1. The Scripture
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by divinely inspired persons, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for the author, salvation for its end. And truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.
2. The True God
We believe the Scriptures teach that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
3. The Fall of Humanity
We believe the Scriptures teach that Humanity was created in holiness, under the law of the Maker; but by voluntary transgressions fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all human kind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.
4. The Way of Salvation
We believe that the Scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God; who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and by his death made a full atonement for our sins; that having risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the most tender of sympathies with divine perfections, he is in every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Savior.
We believe the Scriptures teach that the great Gospel blessing secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin; and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood; by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.
6. The Freeness of Salvation
We believe that the 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 cordial penitent and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, but this person’s own determined depravity and voluntary rejection of the Gospel; which rejection involves him or her in an aggravated condemnation.
We believe that the Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists of giving a holy disposition to the mind that is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith, and newness of life.
8. Repentance and Faith
We believe the Scriptures teach that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heavily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our prophet, priest and king, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Savior.
9. God’s Purpose of Grace
We believe the Scriptures teach that election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sacrifices and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of humankind, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of the means in the highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the Gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence.
We believe the Scriptures teach that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means especially the word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.
11. Perseverance of Saints
We believe the Scriptures teach that such only are real believers as endure to the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark that distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and they are kept by the power of God through faith and salvation.
12. The Law and Gospel
We believe the Scriptures teach that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of God’s moral government; that it is holy, just and good; and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen humanity to fulfill its precepts, arise entirely from their love of sin; to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy Law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the Means of Grace connected with the establishment of the visible church.
13. A Gospel Church
We believe the Scriptures teach that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws; and exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His Word; that its only scriptural officers are Bishops or Pastors and Deacons whose Qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.
14. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe the Scriptures teach that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation; and to the Lord’s Supper, in which the members of the church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.
15. The Christian Sabbath
We believe the Scriptures teach that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, or Christian Sabbath, and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations, by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public, and by preparation for that rest that remains for the people of God.
16. Civil Government
We believe the Scriptures teach that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interest and good order of human society; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the Kings on earth.
17. Righteous and Wicked
We believe the Scriptures teach that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among all persons both in and after death.
18. The World to Come
We believe the Scriptures teach that the end of the world is approaching; that at the last day, Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave for final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of humankind in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.
Mount Tabor Baptist Church
10500 NW 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33150
Church Office Hours:
Monday – Friday
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM