We Believe/Purpose Statement
Although Baptist congregations are self-governing and are not obligated to subscribe to an imposed “official” creed, we here at Richland Baptist Church link arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and throughout the ages in affirming as truth the statements found in the historical confession of faith known as the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [that is, “universal”] Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” We respect and honor the work of God as he relates to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we believe a healthy church will function in the responsible exercise of all the spiritual gifts given by God for the edification of the Body of Christ and the reaching of a lost world.
Richland is a congregation made up of believers from a variety of Christian traditions. As a Baptist church we embrace historical Baptist distinctives: among which are self-government of congregations through a “democratic” process under the leadership of the Holy Spirit; the responsibility of the individual before God in the exercise of his or her conscience; and “believer’s baptism” (the decision to be baptized as a follower of Christ made by a believer for himself or herself rather than by parents). Believers who come from other traditions and who do not desire to go through “believer’s baptism” are more than welcome and are able to actively participate in the life and work of this congregation in almost every way; the exceptions being certain leadership positions and the ability to vote concerning official decisions of the church.
We are a church seeking to operate in obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord (Matthew 28:18-20). As such, we have defined our “Purpose” this way: “The purpose of our church is to raise up a loving community of Christian disciples who seek to be like Jesus in every way.” What is a “disciple”? We have said: “A Christian disciple is one who has chosen a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Savior of the world, and is committed to trust and follow Him through lifelong spiritual disciplines (worship, prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship, witnessing, service to others). A disciple continues to grow in intimacy with Christ and ministers through the power of the Holy Spirit to please God the Father.”
Baptists have been called a “peculiar people” in that we are very different from denominations which have official creeds enforced by hierarchical structures of authority. There is no Baptist Church; there are only Baptist churches. Each congregation is autonomous (self-governing) and we value the freedom of each individual’s conscience before God. Richland has historical ties to the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Fredericksburg Area Baptist Network (these entities are listed in chronological order according to the date of formation). Each of these is a voluntary association for the purpose of sending and supporting missionaries and extending and advancing the Kingdom of God in other ways at home and abroad. Being “Southern Baptist” is not at the core of Richland’s identity. We simply want to be the Church, representing our Lord well and carrying His great name with humility, grace, spiritual authority and power, as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Every denomination has strengths and weaknesses, which is why we need the full expression of the Body of Christ. With all of that said, for those who want a more comprehensive statement of doctrine Richland is comfortable with, we point people to the 1963 iteration of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement. As already noted, this was not intended to be a creed. The committee which drafted the 1963 Statement as an update to the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message Statement describes it as a “consensus of opinion” most Southern Baptist churches could agree with. The 1963 statement is included below in its entirety, including the introduction by the Committee on Baptist Faith and Message.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE
Adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention May 9, 1963
The 1962 session of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in San Francisco, California, adopted the following motion.
"Since the report of the Committee on Statement of Baptist Faith and Message was adopted in 1925, there have been various statements from time to time which have been made, but no overall statement which might be helpful at this time as suggested in Section 2 of that report, or introductory statement which might be used as an interpretation of the 1925 Statement.
"We recommend, therefore, that the president of this Convention be requested to call a meeting of the men now serving as presidents of the various state Conventions that would qualify as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention committee under Bylaw 18 to present to the Convention in Kansas City some similar statement which shall serve as information to the churches, and which may serve as guidelines to the various agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is understood that any group or individuals may approach this committee to be of service. The expenses of this committee shall be borne by the Convention Operating Budget."
Your committee thus constituted begs leave to present its report as follows:
Throughout its work your committee has been conscious of the contribution made by the statement of "The Baptist Faith And Message" adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925. It quotes with approval its affirmation that "Christianity is supernatural in its origin and history. We repudiate every theory of religion which denies the supernatural elements in our faith."
Furthermore, it concurs in the introductory “statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life." It is, therefore, quoted in full as part of this report to the Convention.
"(1) That they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for tile general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us. They are not intended to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed ill the New Testament, viz., repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
"(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.
"(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small have the inherent right to draw tip for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.
"(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.
"(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures, and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life."
The 1925 Statement recommended "the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . ." Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the "certain needs" of our generation. At times it has reproduced sections of the Statement without change. In other instances it has substituted words for clarity or added sentences for emphasis. At certain points it has combined articles, with minor changes in wording, to endeavor to relate certain doctrines to each other. In still others—e.g., "God" and "Salvation"—it has sought to bring together certain truths contained throughout the 1925 Statement in order to relate them more clearly and concisely. In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.
Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
A living faith must experience a growing understanding of truth and must be continually interpreted and related to the needs of each new generation. Throughout their history Baptist bodies, both large and small, have issued statements of faith which comprise a consensus of their beliefs. Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority. Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.
Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.
It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we believe.
Herschel H. Hobbs, Chairman
Howard M. Reaves
Ed. J. Packwood
C. Z. Holland
W. B. Timberlake
C. V. Koons
Malcolm B. Knight
Dick H. Hall, Jr.
Charles R. Walker
Walter R. Davis
V. C. Kruschwitz
Luther B. Hall
Paul Weber, Jr.
R. A. Long
C. Hoge Hockensmith
Hugh R. Bumpas
David G. Anderson
E. Warren Rust
James H. Landes
R. P. Downey
THE BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
Ex. 24:4; Dent. 4:1‑2; 17:19; josh. 8:34; Psalm 19:7‑10; 119:11, 89, 105, 140; Isa. 34:16; 40:8; Jer. 15:16; 36; Matt. 5:17‑18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44‑46; John 5:39; 16:13‑15; 17:17; Acts 2:16 ff.; 17:11; Rom. 15:4; 16:25‑26; 2 Tim. 3:15‑17; Heb. 1:1‑2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19‑21
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
A. God the Father
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.
Gen. 1:1; 2:7; Ex. 3:14; 6:2‑3; 15:11 ff.; 20:1 ff.; Lev. 22:2; Dent. 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chron. 29:10; Psalm 19:1‑3; Isa. 43:3, 15; 64:8; Jer. 10:10; 17:13; Matt. 6:9 ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9‑11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6‑13; 17:1‑8; Acts 1:7; Rom. 8:14‑15; 1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 4:6; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7
B. God the Son
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself the demands and necessities of human nature and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the nature of God and of man, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
Gen. 18:1 ff.; Psalm 2:7 ff; 110:1 ff.; Isa. 7:14; 53; Matt. 1:18‑23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16, 27; 17:5; 27; 28:1‑6, 19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1‑18, 29; 10:30, 38; 11:25‑27; 12:44‑50; 14:7‑11, 16:15‑16, 28; 17:1‑5, 21‑22; 20:1‑20, 28; Acts 1:9; 2:22‑24; 7:55‑56; 9:4‑5, 20; Rom. 1:3‑4; 3:23‑26; 5:6‑21; 8:1‑3, 34; 10:4; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1‑8, 24‑28; 2 Cor. 5:19‑21; Gal. 4:4‑5; Eph. 1:20; 3:11; 4:7‑10; Phil. 2:5‑11; Col. 1:13‑22; 2:9; 1 Thess. 4:14‑18' 1 Tim. 2:5‑6; 3:16; Titus 2:13‑14; Heb. 1:1‑3; ~:14‑15; 7:14‑28; 9:12‑15, 24‑28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21‑25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7‑9; 3:2; 4:14‑15; 5:9; 2 John 7‑9; Rev. 1:13‑16; 5:9‑14; 12:10‑11; 13:8; 19:16
C. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the assurance of God to bring the believer into the fulness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
Gen. 1:2; Judg. 14:6; job 26:13; Psalm 51:11; 139:7 ff.; Isa. 61:1‑3; Joel 2:28‑32; Matt. 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28‑32; 28:19; Mark 1:10, 12; Luke 1:35; 4:1, 18‑19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16‑17, 26; 15:26; 16:7‑14; Acts 1:8; 2:1‑4, 38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17, 39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1‑6; Rom. 8:9‑11, 14‑16, 26‑27; 1 Cor. 2:10‑14; 3:16; 12:3‑11; Cal. 4:6; Eph. 1:13‑14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:19; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:1; 2 Tim, 1:14; 3:16; Heb. 9:8, 14; 2 Peter 1‑21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6‑7; Rev. 1:10; 22:17
Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; wherebv his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Gen. 1:26‑30; 2:5, 7, 18‑22; 3; 9:6; Psalm 1; 8:3‑6; 32:1‑5; 51:5; Isa. 6:5; Jer. 17:5; Matt. 16:26; Acts 17:26‑31; Rom. 1:19‑32; 3:10‑18, 23; 5:6, 12, 19; 6:6; 7:14‑25; 8:14‑18, 29; 1 Cor. 1:2131; 15:19, 21‑22; Eph. 2:1‑22; Col. 1:21‑22; 3:9‑11
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, sanctification, and glorification.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.
B. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual perfection through the presence and power of the Holv Spirit dwelling in Him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.
C. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
Gen. 3:15; Ex. 3:14‑17; 6:2‑8; Matt. 1:21; 4:17; 16:21‑26; 27:22 to 28:6; Luke 1:68‑69; 2:2832; joint 1:11‑14, 29; 3:3‑21, 36; 5:24; 10:9, 28‑29; 15:1‑16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30‑31; 17:30‑31; 20:32; Rom. 1:16‑18; 2:4; 3:23‑25; 4:3 ff.; 5:8‑10; 6:1‑23; 8:1‑18; 29‑39; 10:9‑10, 13; 13:11‑14; 1 Cor. 1:18, 30; 6:19‑20; 15:10; 2 Col‑. 5:17‑20; Gal. 2:20; 3:13; 5:22‑25; 6:15; Eph. 1:7; 2:8‑22; 4:11‑16; Phil. 2:12‑13; Col. 1:9‑22; 3:1 ff. I Thess. 5:23‑24; 2 Tim. 1:12; Titus 2:11‑14; Heb. 2:1‑3; 5:8‑9; 9:24‑28; 11:1‑12:8, 14; James 2:14‑26; 1 Peter 1:2‑23; 1 John 1:6 to 2:11; Rev. 3:20; 21:1 to 22:5.
V. GOD'S PURPOSE OF GRACE
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is a glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the cause of Christ, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Gen. 12:1‑3; Rx. 19:5‑8; 1 Sam. 8:4‑7, 19‑22; Isa. 5:1‑7; Jer. 31:31 ff.; Matt. 16:18‑19; 21:28‑45; 24:22, 31; 25:34; Luke 1‑68‑79; 2:29‑32; 19:41‑44; 24‑.44‑48; John 1:12‑14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44‑45, 65; 10:27‑29; 15:16; 17:6, 12, 17‑18; Acts 20:32; Rom. 5:9‑10; 8:28‑39; 10:12‑15; 11:5‑7, 26‑36; 1 Cor. 1:1‑2; 15:24‑28; Fph. 1:4‑23; 2:1‑10; 3:1‑11; Col. 1:12‑14; 2 Thess. 2:13‑14; 2 Tim. 1:12; 2:10, 19; Heb. 11:39‑12:2; 1 Peter 1:2‑5, 13; 2:4‑10; 1 John 1:7‑9; 2:19; 3:2
VI. THE CHURCH
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local body of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, observing the two ordinances of Christ, committed to His teachings, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.
This church is an autonomous body, operating through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In such a congregation members are equally responsible. Its Scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages.
Matt. 16:I5‑19; 18:15‑20; Acts 2:41‑42, 4, 5:11‑14; 6:3‑6; 13:1‑3; 14:23, 27; 15:1‑30; 16:5; 20:28; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:16; 5:4‑5; 7:E 9:13‑14; 12; Eph. 1:22‑23; 2:19‑22; 3:8‑11, 21 5:22‑32; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:18; 1 Tim. 3:1‑15; 4:14 1 Peter 5:1‑4; Rev. 2‑3; 21:2‑3
VII. BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer' death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
Matt. 3:13‑17; 26:26‑30; 28:19‑20; Mark 1:9‑11 14:22‑26; Luke 3:21‑22; 22:19‑20; John 3:23; Acts: 2:41‑42; 8:35‑39; 16:30‑33; Acts 20:7; Rom. 6:3‑5; 1 Cor. 10:16, 21; 11:23‑29; Col. 2:12
VIII. THE LORD'S DAY
The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.
Ex. 20:8‑11; Matt. 12:1‑12; 28:1 ff.; Mark 2:27‑28; 16:1‑7; Luke 24:1‑3, 33‑36; John 4:21‑24; 20:1, 19‑28; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1‑2; Col. 2:16; 3:16; Rev. 1:10
IX. THE KINGDOM
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God's will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
Gen. 1:1; Isa. 9:6‑7; jet. 23:5‑6; Matt. 3:2; 4:8‑10, 23; 12:25‑28; 13:1‑52; 25:31‑46; 26:29; Mark 1:14‑15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31‑32; 17:20‑21; 23:421; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6‑7; 17:2231; Rom. 5:17; 8:19; 1 Cor. 15:24‑28; Col. 1:13; Heb. 11:10, 16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4‑10; 4:13; Rev. 1:6, 9; 5:10; 11:15; 21‑22
X. LAST THINGS
God, in His own time and in His own way will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will re turn personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Isa. 2:4; 11:9; Matt. 16:27; 18:8‑9; 19:28; 24:27 30, 36, 44; 25:31‑46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43‑48 Luke 12:40, 48; 16:19‑26; 17:22‑37; 21:27‑28; Joln 14:1‑3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 4:5 15:24‑28, 35‑58; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 3:20‑21; Col 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:14‑18; 5:1 ff.; 2 Thess. 1:7 ff. 2; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13; Heb 9:27‑28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3.7 ff.; 1 John 2:28 3:2; Jude 14; Rev. 1:18; 3:11; 20:1 to 22:13
XI. EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by personal effort and by all other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Gen. 12:1‑3; Ex. 19:5‑6; Isa. 6:1‑8; Matt. 9:3738; 10:5‑15; 13:18‑30, 37‑43; 16:19; 22:9‑10; 24:14 28:18‑20, Luke 10:1‑18; 24:46‑53; John 14:11‑12; 15:7‑8, 16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26‑40; 10: 42‑48; 13:2‑3; Rom. 10:13‑15; Eph. 3:1‑11; 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:5; Heb. 2:1‑3; 11:39 to 12:2; 1 Peter 2:4‑10; Rev. 22:17
The cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co‑ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian schools is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ's people.
In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre‑eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.
Deut. 4:1,5,9,14; 6:1‑10; 31:12‑13; Neh. 8:1‑8; Job 28:28; Psalm 19:7 ff.; 119:11; Prov. 3:13 ff.; 4:1‑10; 8:1‑7, ll.; 15:14; Eccl. 7:19; Matt. 5:2; 7:24 ff.; 28:19‑20; Luke 2:40; 1 Cor. 1:18‑31; Eph. 4:11‑16; Phil. 4:8; Col. 2:3, 8‑9; 1 Tim. 1:3‑7; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:14‑17; Heb. 5:12 to 6:3; James 1:5; 3:17
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.
Gen. 14:20; Lev. 27:30‑32; Dent. 8:18; Mal. 3:8‑12; Matt. 6:1‑4, 19‑21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14‑29; Luke 12:16‑21, 42; 16:1‑13; Acts 2:44‑47; 5:1‑11; 17:24‑25; 20:35; Rom. 6:6‑22; 12:1‑2; 1 Cor. 4:1‑2; 6:19‑20; 12; 16:1‑4; 2 Cor. 8‑9; 12:15; Phil. 4:10‑19; 1 Peter 1:18‑19
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
Ex. 17:12; 18:17 ff.; Judg. 7:21; Ezra 1:3‑4; 2:68‑69; 5:14‑15; NCh. 4; 8:1‑5; Matt. 10:5‑15; 20:1‑16; 22:1‑10; 28:19‑20; Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1ff.; Acts 1:13‑14; 2:1 ff.; 4:31‑37; 13:2‑3; 15:135; 1 Cor. 1:10‑17; 3:5‑15; 12; 2 Cor. 8‑9; Gal. 1:6‑10; Eph. 4:1‑16; Phil, 1:15‑18
XV. THE CHRISTIAN AND THE SOCIAL ORDER
Every Christian is under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in his own life and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. The Christian should oppose in the spirit of Christ every form of greed, selfishness, and vice. He should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
Ex. 20:3‑17; Lev. 6:2‑5; Dent. 10:12; 27:17; Psalm 101:5; Mic. 6:8; Zech. 8:16; Matt. 5:13‑16, 43‑48; 22:36‑40; 25:35; Mark 1:29~34; 2:j ff.; 10:21; Luke 4:18‑21; 10:27‑37; 20:25; John 15:12; 17:15; Rom. 12‑14; 1 Cor. 5:9‑10; 6:1‑7; 7:20‑24; 10:23 to 11:1; Gal. 3:26‑28; Eph. 6:5‑9; Col. 3:1217; 1 Thess. 3:12,‑ Philemon; James 1:27; 2:8
XVI. PEACE AND WAR
It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war. The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love.
Isa. 2:4; Matt. 5:9, 38‑48; 6:33; 26:52; Luke 22:36, 38; Rom. 12:18‑19; 13:1‑7; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; James 4:1‑2
XVII. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free State is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
Gen. 1:27; 2:7; Matt. 6:6‑7, 24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19‑20; Rom. 6:1‑2; 13:1‑7; Gal. 5:1, 13; Phil. 3:20; 1 Tim. 2:1‑2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12‑17; 3:11‑17; 4:12‑19
SPECIAL NOTE: The following Statement of Faith on THE FAMILY was adopted as a new article to The Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement during the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 9, 1998:
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.
Gen. 1:26-28; 2:18-25; 3:1-20; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:4-9; Josh, 24:15; 1 Sam. 1:26-28; Ps. 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Prov. 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Eccl. 4:9-12; 9:9; Mal. 2:14-16; Matt. 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Tim. 5:14; 2 Tim. 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 3:1-7.
ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE: The Baptist Faith and Message Statement was revised again at the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 amid much controversy. It is felt by many, especially here in Virginia (which has a zeal for religious freedom because of our key role in the early history of this nation in securing religious freedom for all Americans) that these changes reflect a very narrow theological stance which is not representative of Southern Baptists as a whole, particularly as they relate to the interpretation of the Scriptures.
Baptists have never been a creedal people and the decisions of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 to alter the language of the Faith and Message Statement is not binding in terms of faith and practice on the autonomous churches which voluntarily associate within the Southern Baptist Convention.