WHAT IS A CALVINISTIC BAPTIST
James A. Gunn
We are members of the whole church of Jesus Christ made up of all believers throughout all history. We count all who love the Lord Jesus as brothers and sisters no matter what their denomination. It is because of our love for them and God that we stand as a separate church-body. God has revealed many truths in the Scriptures in order that His name be glorified in the salvation of the lost, in the building up of Christians, in the knowledge of Himself, so their lives will be lived wholly for Him. Every deviation from these truths will have an opposite tendency. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be in this life.

Nevertheless we continually strive for that goal and feel responsible to God to hold on to the precious truths as far as we have attained. It is obvious that all who profess the name of Christian cannot be right. We believe much is missing when a church-body diverts from the revealed will of God, they will be lacking real peace with God and are in danger of losing the Word of God entirely. We desire to be faithful to God in what He has taught us for the benefit of the whole church of Jesus Christ, both now and in future generations.

A Christian finding himself in a local body, which corporately confesses error, should first try to correct it with much patience and forbearance. This has happened many times in the past. When after prayerful consideration, the body learns that it has been in error, it will change its practice. However, if after loving reason from the truth, a body purposely continues in its errors, a Christian has the duty of separating himself from that body. The Bible says the purpose of this separation is for the good of those brethren. Discipline is always done in love. It is then the duty of the Christian to seek out that local church-body which faithfully proclaims the truth.

Historically, every particular group has been given a nickname, whether they like it or not.  It might be said that we are a church of Jesus Christ with the nickname "Calvinistic Baptist".  The term "Christian" is so broad today that it even includes those who do not believe in God. So we have chosen to take our nickname in order to be identified from other groups.  We are called "Calvinistic" because we believe the same teachings concerning salvation that the 16th century reformer did. We are not "followers" of John Calvin though. In a time of spiritual darkness God greatly used Calvin to set forth the doctrines of salvation as taught in the Scriptures. "Calvinism" is really nothing more than the Bible’s teaching about salvation.  The name "Baptist" means that we immerse believers and them only as a confession of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Believing the Bible to be the only sufficient, certain, and infallible revelation of God to men, we are a “people of the Book".  It alone is our authority.

The Word of God regulates everything we believe and do. We love the Bible and seek to commit it to memory, teach it to our children, and to learn more of its teachings. This means we accept what God has revealed whether we can rationally grasp it or not. The idea that men can improve upon God's system of revealed truth is revolting to us. Many have omitted whatever offends their understanding. Men have said in effect, "We are more loving than God." They have set their reason above God’s revelation. We would have no other God before the Almighty. Our teachings have not developed from speculation, but are founded on the unchanging Word of God.

The Triune God created all things and He governs everything by His providence. God has a secret counsel (meaning a purpose, will, or plan), which is the basis of all things, even the fall of man and the death of a sparrow. Nothing takes God by surprise. This is not Stoic fatalism though. Men are responsible for their acts. God's free grace is the only cause of salvation and we hold to the Scriptural teaching of predestination. This is the eternal decree by which God determined in Himself who would be saved (election) and who He would pass by and let perish in their sins (reprobation). Those chosen of God for salvation were not chosen in themselves or because God foresaw any good in them, but they were elect in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. No one can be certain of his election in himself, but only as they trust in Christ. God's purpose is hidden from men and is not their standard of responsibility. Men are to obey that which is revealed. On this ground we preach the gospel freely to all men.

All men in themselves are self-centered and self-willed, unable and unwilling to break with sin. Everyone in his natural state is a hater of God and always goes contrary to His law.  Therefore every individual is under the just condemnation of the Holy God.

Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was truly and completely man and at the same time truly and completely God.  Upon the tree of the cross He poured out His lifeblood as an atoning satisfaction for sin, bearing the terrible wrath and punishment due to man's sin; after which He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, and continually prays for His people. Jesus will return in the body in which He ascended in God’s own time.

No man can know when Jesus will return to judge the world. The word of the cross is the central message of the Bible. In the secret purpose of God, Christ died only for those who were elect from eternity. No one for whom He died will be lost. This is called the limited or definite atonement.

It is by faith in Christ and His work on the cross that a person is united to Christ, being counted righteous, forgiven of sin, and adopted as a child of God for Jesus' sake. Of themselves, men are not able to have saving faith. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of those who were chosen to salvation from eternity. Again, this is the secret work of God. No one is responsible to inquire into the Spirit's secret inner working, but he is only required to believe that which is revealed in the Word of God.

So you see, the Bible teaches that the Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, always accomplish their purpose. They all work together in bringing about their eternal plan. God is God. He never fails. There is one eternal purpose, which the three Persons work together to complete, because they are One. Men cannot frustrate or hinder the Almighty. Salvation is wholly of the Lord--from start to finish.

At the same time we have never denied that man is wholly responsible for his acts. If he rejects the gospel it is his own fault. There is nothing in the revealed gospel that will make him turn from it.

The gospel is "good news" to all who have been quickened by the Holy Spirit. Adam represented the entire human race and because of the one sin of Adam all men are condemned. Jesus Christ also represented those given to Him before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ has never ceased being God, but it was as a man that He perfectly kept God's Law and bore the penalty because of broken Law. He was personally sinless, but He took upon Himself the sins of the world. It was not eternal election, which fulfilled the law and justice of God, but Christ. So, as sinners we appeal to the work of Christ and never to election for salvation. Those who were elected from eternity are sinners just as much as those who are reprobate. Every sinner has the same need to plea for an interest in the work of Christ. The "good news" comes saying, "Here is a Savior for you, sinners. All those who turn from their own way and fully trust in Christ’s righteousness and that alone will not have to bear the wrath of God against sin. There is life in the Son. Nothing is lacking in His person and He fulfilled the whole law. His work is sufficient for any and all. Come, you sinners, and find rest to your souls and peace with God.

True faith is founded upon the promises of God and not on the eternal decree, which is hidden from all men. God has promised eternal life to all who believe. Those who reject it are calling God a liar. There is life in the Son. Unbelievers say they are good enough in themselves and do not need Christ's work. They are condemned already. We feel an urgency to warn men to flee from the horrible wrath that awaits unbelievers, entreating them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saving faith unites the soul with Christ and, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, is a living force within, which always produces works that are pleasing to God. The believer is committed to the Lordship of Jesus so that everything in life has become important to him only in its relationship to Christ and His kingdom. His personal life has a warm contagious quality, reflecting the presence of God through such characteristics as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and self-control. A genuine Christian will endure to the end, being kept by the power of God through faith unto eternal salvation.

With grateful hearts we assemble together to worship and praise our Redeemer. We seek to be regulated by His Word in the way we worship Him. This means we do not have a lot of showmanship or programs for entertainment. We do not employ the modern and now common "altar Call" inviting people to "make a decision" for Christ. Our Gospel message is the invitation. We do offer opportunities for anyone to publicly profess faith. At home we have daily times of family worship. We love God's Law. It is no burden to us. We obey Him out of gratitude, not in order to be saved or kept. We pass our time here on earth looking with joyful expectation for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will come, visibly and personally, to raise the dead and judge all men. Unbelievers will be cast into Hell for everlasting and just punishment, and those who are saved will forever be in His blessed presence. 

HALLELUIAH!  PRAISE THE LORD FOREVER! 

AMEN.

Copyright © 1973 James A. Gunn
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