What's in a name?
Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Salvation is by divine initiative, sustained and nourished by divine power, and brought to completion by divine action.
We are recipients of God's unmerited favour. We contribute nothing to our salvation - in no way are we made right with God by anything we do, or will do. God chooses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Jesus actually and effectually saves every single person whom the Father chooses, by taking the penalty for their sin upon himself and granting to them his perfect obedience. The Holy Spirit causes everyone for whom Christ died to be born again - every single person who is born again will express faith in Jesus Christ, without exception. They will also persevere in faith, because Jesus Christ is faithful.
Corruptions were introduced into the Roman Catholic church that were clearly in violation of scripture. The Reformation was an effort to "Reform" what was "Deformed". The motive was love for God and love for His church. The Roman Catholic practice of papal infallibility and authority denied the authority of the scriptures. The Roman Catholic doctrine of the treasury of merit and the practice of selling and granting indulgences effectively denied that salvation was by Grace alone, adding works to faith as a requirement for salvation. Worship and prayers to Mary and the saints claimed a role in salvation alongside that of Jesus, ascribing glory where it does not belong. A biblical understanding of creation, history, redemption and all things ascribes Glory to God Alone.
Those points of Reform were later gathered up and referred to as the "Five Solas" of the Reformation:
Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone
- Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
- Sola Fide - Faith Alone
- Solus Christus - Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria - Glory to God Alone
What this means is that the Reformation held that the Bible is the infallible authority because it is God's word to us. Therefore the Bible alone must be held as the ultimate authority for all matters of faith and practice. The Bible teaches that salvation is by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, to the Glory of God Alone. We don't contribute anything to our salvation: we are born again, receive salvation through faith only in Christ's perfect life and atoning death on the cross. There is no drop of merit in our salvation contributed by us or anyone other than God - all the Glory goes to God Alone.
As the Reformation spread to England, many in the Anglican church urged reform in doctrine and practice. The Anglican (English) Church had split from the Roman Catholic church under King Henry VIII. Those who wanted to reform the Anglican church became known as "Puritans" (expressed in documents such as the "39 articles"). Those who refused to follow "Romish" requirements within the Anglican church were known as "Non-Conformists". "Separatists" were those who wanted to "Separate" from the Anglican church hierarchy and form distinct churches.
The issues in dispute in England included what should guide public worship and how the church should be governed.
While the Anglican "High Church" continued with traditions and ceremonies that had accrued over the years, the puritans and others resisted such practices. Those who applied a "normative principle" continued with practices that were not specified in scripture as long as they were not forbidden in scripture. Those who applied a "regulative principle" eliminated elements of worship that were specifically commanded in scripture. The Particular Baptists held to a "Regulative Principle of Worship".
In terms of Church governance, there are three common forms of governance: Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Congregational. The Anglican model was an "Episcopal" hierarchy of men over one another (priest, bishop, arch bishop, etc.). Presbyterians believed there should be a hierarchy of councils (elders, presbytery, synod, general assembly). Congregationalists believed that elders and members govern directly under Christ as head of the Church. Generally speaking, Congregationalists believed that because the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers, Christ rules through all believers.
Among the Congregationalists, the Baptists came to understand the relationship of Old Testament promises and types to New Testament fulfilment as invalidating infant "baptism". Baptists came to see circumcision as distinct from baptism. Baptists believed that baptism was not simply a promise or offer of regeneration, but was an outward expression of actual regeneration. Baptism of believers was considered essential for maintaining the purity of the church. The Baptists rejected non-saving union within the New Covenant (known as "external" covenant members). The Baptists taught that anyone who makes a false profession of faith is not and never was in the New Covenant. Baptists taught that baptism is an ordinance of Christ that must be reserved for believers only - a credible profession of faith with evidence of genuine faith is taken as indication that inward regeneration has taken place.
When the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, they are born again and made alive with Christ, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and united together with all believers, from all places, from all time. This Union is known as the universal Church. The universal Church is expressed in time and space as assemblies of believers who join together to worship God - known as local churches.
Baptism is an outward expression of a believer's faith in the life, death, burial, resurrection, session and return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also the expression of the local church's evaluation of the credibility of the believer's profession of faith. The church administers and witnesses the baptism, or acknowledges that a proper baptism was previously administered.
In accepting the believer's profession of faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the local church welcomes and covenants with the believer to pray for each other, walk together in brotherly love, to encourage one another, to build up one another, to exhort one another, to admonish one another, to provoke one another to love and good works, and hold one another accountable to live soberly and righteously and Godly in this present world.
Grace Reformed Baptist Church
To summarize, Grace Reformed Baptist Church seeks to convey the following beliefs and practices:
- Grace: We believe that man is totally unable to save himself - without merit and contributing nothing to salvation. God saves according to His mercy, electing some according to his own good pleasure. Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty for their sins and contributes all the merit for salvation, actually and effectually saving the entire number of those chosen by God for salvation. The Holy Spirit makes those for whom Christ died to be alive together with Christ, all of whom, without exception, will exercise saving faith in Christ, and all of whom will persevere because of Christ's faithfulness.
- Reformed: The Bible Alone is our ultimate authority. The bible is our standard and guide for all matters of faith and practice. It is the very Word of God, inerrant in the original, preserved and reliable in our hands today, sufficient for godliness and training in doctrine and equipping for every good work. The Bible teaches that we are saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, to the Glory of God Alone.
- Baptist: The correct governance in local churches is for qualified men to lead the church, with the joyful submission of members who have been born again, all of whom are submitted to Christ as Head of His Church. Baptism is visible identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is to be administered only to those making a credible profession of faith and trust in Christ Alone for salvation.
- Church: Everyone who is saved, everywhere, throughout all time, are united with Christ in the universal Church. Membership in a local church is a natural consequence that follows baptism. Membership carries privileges and duties, among which is covenanting together as the visible local expression of Christ's church - mutually submitting to the word of God, seeking each other's good through brotherly love, encouragement, assistance, support, and accountability.
If you have further questions, please speak with us!