Some questions are easy to answer. Ask me why I am an American and I can answer, I was born in the USA. Ask me why I am a Buckeye and I can honestly say, I was born in Ohio. Likewise, if you ask me why I am a Christian I can truthfully say, I am a Christian by birth-the second birth! I was born into the family of God when I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Saviour. At that moment, I became a Christian-not when I joined a church or by virtue of being born in a "Christian" country or a "Christian" home. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ (i.e. the Saviour, the Messiah/Deliverer) is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (1 John 5:1)."
However, when we come to the question of, "Why are I an Independent, Fundamental Baptist?", the answer is a little more complex. The simplest answer is, because I believe the Bible! But, simplest is not always best and best is not always simplest. After all, the Mormon says he is a Mormon because he believes the Bible, and the Catholic says he is a Catholic because he believes the Bible. Likewise with the Charismatic, the Methodist, the Jehovah's Witness, the Orthodox, and every other Christian or pseudo-Christian sect, denomination, -ism, schism, or cult. Obviously I need a more in-depth answer than simply, I believe the Bible!
Let me first try to answer the question, "Why am I a Baptist?" by pointing out 8 Bible-based reasons. Someone once put these reasons into the form of an acronym using the word "BAPTISTS" in an effort to describe what a Baptist is:
B = Bible Is Sole Authority for Faith and Practice.
The Bible is not a shared authority with tradition, visions, new revelations, opinions, science, or anything else. It is my SOLE authority, as it was for the original New Testament churches.
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)"
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)"
A = Autonomy (Independence) of the Local Church.
The word "church" is translated from the Greek word, "ekklesia" which was originally an assembly called out by someone in authority for a specific purpose. Such "ekklesias" were empowered to fulfill the purpose for which they were called out. The early New Testament churches functioned as "called out assemblies" acting independently of each other, yet often cooperating with and helping each other. There were no church councils or denominations. Just autonomous churches functioning under the headship of Jesus Christ.
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)"
P = Priesthood of All Born-Again Believers.
According to the Bible, all born-again Believers function as priests before God, offering up spiritual sacrifices ("Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ….ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:5,9)") having "...boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19)"
T = Two Ordinances: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Baptism in the Bible and as practiced by the early New Testament churches ALWAYS meant the immersion of a Believer upon profession of faith, in obedience to God's command, as a symbolic, public testimony of their identification with Christ's death (going down into the water), burial (being covered by the water), and resurrection (raising up out of the water). Sprinkling, baby baptisms, and baptismal regeneration all were introduced at later dates by men, not God.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)"
Likewise, the Lord's Supper, was always conducted as a remembrance of Christ's death on the cross. The early churches used unfermented grape juice to picture the pure, holy blood of Jesus. The unleavened bread pictured the pure, sinless body of Christ. (Fermen-tation and leavening, being the processes of decay, represent sin and corruption.)
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)"
I = Individual Soul Liberty.
Contrary to Islam's belief in using the sword to sway people to the faith and enforce their beliefs, the Bible urges us to promote our beliefs through reason and persuasion rather than coercion and force. It wasn't until the rise of the state-supported churches, such as the Catholics, Lutherns, and Anglicans, that "Christians" began to enforce their beliefs through coercion and penalty of law.
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)"
"And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. (Acts 18:4)"
S = Saved, baptized church membership.
Church membership in the Bible is only for those who have been saved and Scripturally baptized. However, the introduction of baby baptism, baptismal regeneration, and mandatory church membership following the rise of the state churches soon eroded the earlier New Testament practice.
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)"
T = Two Scriptural Offices: Pastors and Deacons.
The office of pastor was established first. Pastors primary responsibilities are to look after the spiritual needs and condition of the church. The three main terms used to describe pastors indicate their role in the church. "Pastor" indicates the need to be a shepherd, feeding and protecting the flock. "Elder" indicates the need for spiritual maturity and the ability to provide sound counsel. "Bishop" literally means to be an overseer leading and guiding the church.
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Timothy 3:13)"
Deacons were added to the church in Acts 6:1-7 for the purpose of ministering to the physical needs of the church in order to allow the pastors to focus more on the spiritual.
"For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:13)"
S = Separation of Church and State.
God established separate functions for the church and the state. The church should not depend on the state to do its job and the state should not interfere with the church.
"Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:19-21)"
"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)"
Knowing why I am a Baptist should make it easier to understand why I am an Independent, Fundamental Baptist.
I am a Fundamental Baptist because I believe "...the prophecy [Bible] came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)." Unlike those who pick and choose what to accept, I believe it from Genesis to Revelation. I believe the fundamental truths taught in the Scriptures regarding Jesus Christ's deity, virgin birth, sinless life, blood atonement, resurrection, ascension, and second coming. I believe what the Bible says about heaven and hell, the devil, angels (both righteous and fallen), the Genesis account of creation, the fall of man, Noah's flood, and both the history and the prophecies it records. I believe it when it warns that "...the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)" and says "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)."
Consequently, I am also an Independent Baptist rather than an American Baptist, Southern Baptist, or some other form of denominational Baptist. While there may be many good people in those denominations, they are infected with liberal Bible-denying, Christ-denying pastors, missionaries, and seminary professors. Some are even accepting and indorsing homosexuality, the charismatic and ecumenical movements, neopaganism and occultic new age practices, and many more forms of worldly compromise and spiritual apostasy. My Bible says to "...come out from among them, and be ye separate…(2 Corinthian 6:17)." The last thing I want to do is explain to God why I supported them through my money and association.
That, briefly is why I am an Independent, Fundamental Baptist.