Category: Columns

Article VII of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Following is another in a series of columns on the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Southern Baptists refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances, meaning the Lord commands believers to carry out these symbolic activities, which picture the finished work of Christ and prepare us for his imminent return.

Article VII of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“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’s 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 a 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.”


Southern Baptists refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances. That means the Lord commands believers to carry out these symbolic activities, which picture the finished work of Christ and prepare us for his imminent return.

Ordinances have no saving value, for a person receives everlasting life only by faith in Jesus. Even so, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are important acts of obedience.

Some, like Roman Catholics, refer to baptism and Holy Communion as sacraments, meaning they are necessary for salvation.

Others, like Presbyterians, also call baptism and the Lord’s Supper sacraments, but that doesn’t mean they are necessary for salvation. Rather, they are “means of God’s grace” – special ways that God speaks to our hearts, gives us a visible way of establishing the difference between believers and unbelievers, and prepares us to serve him.

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Article VI of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: The church

Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

The church is neither a physical structure nor a man-made institution. It is the living, breathing body of Christ spoken of in two ways in Scripture: as a local body of believers, and as the universal body of the redeemed under the Lordship of Jesus.

Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

“The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”


The Greek word translated “church” is ekklesia and means “called out ones.” The term  appears more than 100 times in the New Testament and refers to the community of believers over which Jesus is head (Col. 1:18). Thus, the church is neither a physical structure nor a man-made institution. It is the living, breathing body of Christ.

The Bible generally speaks of the church in two significant ways: as universal and local.

The universal church is the complete body of believers who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It cannot be divided along denominational lines, although such distinctions provide clarity in beliefs and practices. 

Membership in the universal church cannot be bought, begged, stolen, inherited, earned, or conferred by any human or angelic being. It comes only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus (John 1:12; 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9). Key passages that address the universal church include Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:29-30; Col. 1:18; and Rev. 5:9-10; 7:9. 

Most New Testament references to the church focus on local congregations. The local church may be defined as a body of baptized believers in Jesus who live in the same community and gather at a common place for worship, fellowship, instruction, and service.

Scripture instructs Christians to identify with a local church in order to grow spiritually (Heb. 10:24-25). It is through the local church that believers exercise their spiritual gifts and take part in worship, fellowship, Bible study, church discipline, missions, and other communal activities. Key passages that address the local church include Acts 9:31; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 1:2; 16:19; and Col. 4:15. 

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Article V of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: God’s purpose of grace

Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Every Christian should readily acknowledge that the Bible teaches divine election. Disagreements arise with respect to how this doctrine is biblically defined, and how it’s applied.


Article V of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, 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 the 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, and 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.”


Every Christian should readily acknowledge that the Bible teaches divine election. Disagreements arise with respect to how this doctrine is biblically defined, and how it’s applied.

The word “election” in Scripture is derived from the Greek eklegomai, which means “to choose something for oneself.” The Bible also uses words such as “choose,” “predestine,” “foreordain,” and “call” to indicate that God has entered into a special relationship with certain individuals and groups through whom he has decided to fulfill His purposes. 

As the BF&M statement above implies, election is God’s choice of certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world. The Reformed (Calvinist) position on election is that it is unconditional; that is, God selected specific persons for everlasting life based solely on his divine will and good pleasure, not on foreseen faith. In other words, God foreknows all future events – including responses to the gospel message – because he first ordained them. 

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Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Glorification (continued)

Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Physical resurrection is the apogee of personal glorification, for in it we shrug off the last vestiges of sin that have clung to our mortal bodies. In glorification, the effects of the Fall are fully and finally reversed.


Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.”


As we learned in the last column, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

The glory we experience now as Christ lives in us, and the glory we experience in death as our souls / spirits ascend into heaven, are partial works of glorification. But full glorification for followers of Jesus takes place when he calls our bodies from the grave and gives us incorruptible bodies similar to the body he bore when he rose from the dead. 

Physical resurrection is the apogee of personal glorification, for in it we shrug off the last vestiges of sin that have clung to our mortal bodies. In glorification, the effects of the Fall are fully and finally reversed. 

At the return of Christ, all who have died in the Lord are resurrected. Their souls / spirits, which are in heaven with Jesus, are reunited with their bodies, resulting in complete personal glorification; the body, soul, and spirit are fully conformed to the image of Christ and thus free of any effects of the Fall. Christians alive on the earth at the return of Christ are instantly transformed as they are given glorified bodies; at the same time, their souls / spirits are perfected as well. 

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Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Glorification

Following is another in a series of columns on the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order.


Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.”


Glorification is the final stage in God’s work of salvation. It is the crowning achievement of sanctification, in which Christians are fully conformed to the image of Christ. It is the perfection of the body, rejoined with soul and spirit in resurrection, as well as the restoration of the universe to its original state. 

Put another way, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

For the most part, when Christians talk about glorification, we are referring to our future resurrection, at which time we receive incorruptible bodies similar to the body Christ had when he rose from the dead. 

In this respect, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent summary statement: “Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.” 

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