Many adults come to our church from other denominations. In that light, there are continually questions on what Baptists believe among people visiting our church. We hope this will help to communicate why we have chosen to practice our Christian faith as members of a Southern Baptist Church.
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord
Southern Baptists believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation and eternal life. We believe a personal decision must be made by each individual to repent of his sins and trust Him as Lord and Savior. We do not inherit our Christianity from our parents. It is an individual's decision to receive God's grace through faith. (Revelation 3:20; 1John 5:11-13; Romans 10:9-10)
The Authority of the Bible
Southern Baptists believe the Bible is the authority for the way we practice our faith in moral responsibility, theological beliefs, and relationships with God and our fellow man. The Bible, not the church or preacher, has the final say in the way we practice our faith as Christians.
At First Baptist Church of Lacey, we teach that the Bible is the "God-breathed, infallible Word of God." It is perfect truth from cover to cover; and all Scripture in the Old Testament through the New Testament points to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, the Ultimate Word of God.
The Priesthood of all Believers
The Authority of the Local Church
Southern Baptists believe that every Christian has direct access to God through Jesus Christ. We do not have to go through a priest to confess our sins to God or to pray to God. This also means that all Christians are ministers. We may have different roles of leadership in the church (such as pastor, deacon, teacher, etc.), but every Christian is called to be a minister.
Believer's Baptism by Immersion Symbolic View of the Ordinances
Southern Baptists believe that the Bible teaches that when a person makes a decision to become a Christian, baptism by immersion follows that decision as a public testimony of one's faith in Christ. In the early church, scholars of all denominations agree, baptism was by immersion. A theological misunderstanding of original sin greatly influenced the church to start baptizing infants, and the mode of baptizing changed to sprinkling. Southern Baptists do not believe that baptism is required for salvation, but they believe that it is a symbolic testimony of our faith in Christ.
As Southern Baptists, we have two ordinances (not sacraments):
The Lord's Supper
We believe that the practice of observing the Lord's Supper reminds us of the great price Jesus paid for the forgiveness of our sins by sacrificing His life for us on the Cross.
Baptism by Immersion
This symbolically describes what occurs in salvation. We are completely cleansed of all sin, and we died to sin and selfishness (burial is symbolized as one goes under the water), and we rise to a new life identifying with the resurrected Lord Jesus (symbolized as one comes up out of the water). Baptism by immersion dramatizes the new life of the Gospel.
Emphasis on Missions and Evangelism
Southern Baptists are very mission-minded. however, some Baptist groups do not emphasize missions. Southern Baptists vary from Independent Baptists in our approach to missions. We voluntarily give funds (usually a certain percentage of a church budget) to the Cooperative Program, a joint fund which provides support for all missionaries, colleges and seminaries approved by the Southern Baptist Convention. Independent Baptists support missionaries from their local church. We feel we can support more people and do more mission effort though a cooperative effort, though each church is free to support any Christian mission work as God leads, whether or not the work is Southern Baptist.
Are you Comfortable being a Christian in a Southern Baptist Church?
The next time someone says something about what Baptists believe, you can know for sure whether or not what they say corresponds with Southern Baptist beliefs. With no creed but the Bible, belief in the priesthood of all believers, and the autonomy of the local church, Southern Baptists are a diverse lot. The stereotype of a Southern Baptist will be true of some but false for many others. Nevertheless, when asked to what faith one adheres, a Southern Baptist should first reply, "I'm a Christian," before he says, "I am Southern Baptist."
For Additional information on what Southern Baptists believe, see "The Baptist Faith and Message"