THE NEED OF ARTICLES OF FAITH
2Tim. 2:l5; Jude3
How wonderful it is that God has given to His people the Bible. He has also given us His church, of which it is a privilege to be a member of, and learn how to worship and serve Him. The church, "…which is the pillar and ground of the truth," 1Tim. 3:15, is the body of the Lord. The church is to teach the "all things" of the Lord. It has often been said that the Bible is the all sufficient rule of faith and practice. Doctrine referred to in 2Tim 3:16, means teaching primarily what the church believes the Bible to teach. All who believe the scriptures to be divinely inspired, consider them the fountain of religious truth. The Bible contains the revelation of God to man. It is a duty incumbent upon all to "search the scriptures" (John 5:39) and learn what they teach. This duty cannot be faithfully performed unless prejudices and preconceived opinions are laid aside. Because of human imperfection, there is not a uniformity of belief as to what the scriptures teach. There is a deplorable variety of religious opinions throughout Christendom. Different sects, professing to take the word of God as their guide, contend as earnestly for their distinctive views as if they had different Bibles.
Jude 3 says that we are to "contend for the faith." Well, if we do, we will have to know what the faith is. It was delivered to the saints in the Lord's churches (Baptist). There is but "one faith." The lord had reference to this faith when He said, "When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). The Spirit of God in the Bible has never given the church or the body of saints, any authority to add to the body of truth "once delivered to the saints," or to delete any portion from it (Rev. 22:18-l9). Many are deceived by those who do add or delete from the word of God, such as Mormonism, Christian Science, or various forms of progressive Christianity. True, we grow in grace and in better knowledge of the great truths of Christianity, but there has been no change or alteration of these great truths. The faith came from God and was delivered to the saints.
As there is such a diversity of opinion in the religious world, it is eminently proper for those who appeal to the scriptures as the fountain of truth to declare what they believe the scripture to teach. To say that they believe the Scriptures is to say nothing to the purpose. All will say this, and yet all differ as to the teachings of the Bible. There must be some distinctive declaration. What a man believes the Bible to teach is his creed, either written or unwritten. Some don't want to use a creed, but a difference of religious opinion have produced creeds.
As to declarations of faith, it must ever be understood that they are not substitutes for the Scriptures. They are only explanations of what are believed to be the fundamental doctrines of the word of God. Among Baptists, as their churches are independent, it is optional with each church to have a declaration or not, and how that declaration should be worded. Some of the most common confessions of faith are:
· The New Hampshire Confession
· The Philadelphia Confession
· The London Confession
· The Orthodox Confession.
There must be a "thus saith the Lord" for all we do. We dare not organize a church, a Sunday School, a prayer meeting, a school or anything else without a "thus saith the Lord," because the Scriptures throughly furnish us unto all good works (II Tim. 3:17). Reason and common sense (even sanctified common sense) shall not be the rule of any part of faith and practice. Therefore the Baptists and Roman Catholic (even most Protestants) are poles apart in our faith and practice. If we were to forsake the word of God we would soon be at sea without chart or compass.
There are many religious groups, even some who call themselves Baptists, who talk about the fundamentals of the faith, who actually oppose the revealed truth from God's word. The Lord's churches today will be found teaching the same doctrines that His churches taught in the first century. There are many truths which we as Baptists teach that others believe also, but there are also some distinctive principles held by Baptists. The two most important truths concern:
· the way of salvation
· the way of baptism
Other great truths that we will contend for are:
· The Lord's Supper
· The King James Authorized Version of the Bible
· The sovereignty of God
· Unconditional election to eternal salvation
· Church government
· Future events
· Baptist Bride of Christ
· Mission work.
In the last century Ingersoll, Payne, Huxley and others belittled the Bible, and fought God's truth outside of the professing church. Thousands listened to their ungodly speeches and read their unbelieving writings and turned their backs on Christ. But, alas, these "certain men" (Jude 4), have crept inside the professing church and often found prominent pulpits and have deceived many with their eloquent language and pagan ethics instead of the gospel of God's grace. We find their kind of spurious believers in our visitation efforts. We can not lead them to the Saviour until first they realize that they are lost. So it is especially important that we as members of this church learn what we believe, and why we believe what we believe. It does make a difference what we believe.
The proof is abundant that if it is Baptist doctrine, you can find it in the Bible. Therefore, we need to study and learn the truths and doctrines of the Bible. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "If ye love Me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). You cannot keep His commandments without being an instructed Baptist. So, love for the Lord Jesus, and love for the truth, will make every born-again soul in the world a Baptist; if they would obey the Book.