Leading a Small Group

I thought I would post a few practical suggestions for small group leaders on how to lead a small group. While it is implied that one would lead the group, how can one lead more effectively?

Commitment: Here are a couple verse to emphasize this point, “In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful” (2 Chronicles 31:21) and “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23). The truth is that a leader is committed.

  1. Keep in touch with your attitude.
  2. Set the example for the group.
  3. Study the Bible before coming to the meeting.
  4. Practice patience with yourself and your people.
  5. Practice and model godliness.

Creativity: “for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16). The principle at work is that a leader is creative, which God will grant to the leader when asked.

  1. Plan your study with an aim or purpose.
  2. Plan the timing and the place for the study.
  3. Introduce new ideas in creative ways.
  4. Lead with suggestions to help others discover truths for themselves.

Confidence: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6). “And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear” (Philippians 1:14). “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:8). The spiritual principle is that a leader is confident.

  1. Confidence comes from good preparation.
  2. Confidence comes in answer to prayer.
  3. Confidence comes through practice.

Perseverance: “Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Zechariah 4:6). The principle is that leaders are developed over time.

  1. Pray for patience.
  2. Pray for persistence.
  3. Pray for power.

Here are a Few Tips for Leading a Small Group:

  1. Before the Class: be the first to arrive, arrange the room that way you need it, and bring all the materials and tools you plan to use.
  2. During the Class: begin on time, incorporate new people into the group, encourage discussion, practice how you might respond to different situations.
    1. Long and drawn out answers.
    2. Problem areas and people.
    3. Controversial topics.
    4. Aggressive or disruptive group members.
  3. After the Class: Learn from your mistakes (leaders need to be FAT… faithful, available and teachable), welcome suggestions for improvement, ask yourself and a trusted friend or mentor some tough questions, and keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ and you goal in leading the group.

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Instant Bible Studies

Sometimes we are way too dependent on curriculum, as if people can’t study the Bible unless they have a quarterly in had and the teacher’s book. Let me submit to you that Jesus would not expect us to do something that the early church could not do. Small communities of faith can get together, open the Word of God and discuss what the Bible says, means, and how it applies to life.

First Off, the SCRIPTURE Needs to be Read: out loud in the group. If time permits, read it a second time, with all members of the group reading along. Don’t go a commentary or teaching guide first.

After that, discuss what the passage is about, naming facts of the basic content of the passage. Who is mentioned in the passage? What is happening? Who? What? When? Where? are all good questions at this point. Try to summarize what this passage is about in your own words.

Second, Discuss What we Learn from this Passage of Scripture:

Years ago I was a part of a group called MasterLife where we studied the Bible very seriously over the course of one year.

Here is a Useful Tool for Meditating on Scripture: praying for wisdom and surrendering to the Holy Spirit so that you make the Word come alive in your heart.

  1. Perimeter the verse: read what comes before and after the verse on which you are meditating.
  2. Paraphrase the verse: summarize and put it into your own words.
  3. Pulverize the verse:
    1. Emphasize each word by exclamation.
    2. Pick two or three words that represent God’s message.
    3. Ask about the words – who? what? when? where? why? how?
  4. Personalize the verse: Put yourself and God directly into the verse on which you are meditating.
  5. Pray the verse back to God: sighting adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.
  6. Parallel the verse: locate any verses that are on the same theme as the one on which you are meditating.
  7. Problems in the verse: of doctrine, reproof, correction and training in righteousness which need to be addressed.
  8. Possibilities of helping others through the verse: through prayer, word or deed.

Other Questions Worth Asking Are:

  1. What warning, command or promise do we find?
  2. What is the example to follow or to avoid?
  3. What is the main truth of this Scripture?
  4. What is the universal lesson or truth we find in this passage?
  5. Why is this passage in the Bible? Why is it in this section of the Bible?
  6. What does this Scripture tell us about the character of God or how he relates to people?
  7. How does this passage point to the person and/or work of Christ?
  8. How can we pray this verse back to God?
  9. What is a new thought or teaching I have discovered in this passage?

Now Comes the Difficult Part: how to make this passage real in your life. Observation and interpretation are not enough here, we MUST move on to application.

  1. What is an example in your life where this passage applies (home, family, work, character)
  2. Ask yourself questions that demand action: like, “How will I life this passage in my life?” not “”Will I live this out in my life?”
  3. Write out a specific action plan to accomplish what you sense God telling you to do. We can make plans and have good intentions, but unless we write these down, they will be forgotten in less than a week.
  4. Write a prayer asking God to help you live this out and accomplish all he wants to do in your life.
  5. Then, just do it! Trust God to help you accomplish these goals. Remember that we are not looking for good stuff to do for God, he is the one who desires to work through you to accomplish his purposes.

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Wrong Ways to Read the Bible

We always encourage people to read the Bible but how often do people get bogged down in some of the chapters that appear to have nothing to do with real life?

Because the point of the special revelation of the Bible is to illuminate God’s plan for redemption of the world and to glorify Christ, this means there are ways we ought NOT to read the Bible. Here are a few bad ways of reading the Scriptures:

  • Treating its stories as morality tales, where we rush to apply the stories of God’s people to ourselves as if WE were the heroes in God’s story of redemption, not Jesus.
  • Taking parts of the Bible out of their narrative contexts.
  • Reducing the epic story of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a disjointed list of statements, propositions, principles or practical tips.
  • Treating the Bible like it is Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, or worse, a bag of fortune cookies.

Also, because the point of the Bible is to glorify Jesus and to capture our hearts in worship of Him, we need to be careful we don’t worship the Bible itself. We are to honor God’s Word, trust God’s Word, treasure God’s Word, and believe God’s Word, but we are called to worship God. This means the only Word we ought to worship is Jesus the Word.

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God is the Hero of the Bible

How do we know that God is the hero of the Bible? Here are examples of God acting for His own renown:

  • For the sake of his name, God did not destroy Israel in the desert (Ezekiel 20:5-9).
  • Pharaoh’s heart was hardened for the glory of God (Exodus 14:4, 18).
  • The beginning of the Israeli monarchy was about the glory of God (1 Samuel 12:19-23).
  • Solomon dedicated the temple for the glory of God (1 Kings 8).
  • Israel became great and powerful among the nations because God was “making himself a name” (2 Samuel 7:23).
  • God did not destroy Israel when it deserved to be destroyed, because he did not want his name blasphemed among the nations (Isaiah 48:9-11).
  • God decided to destroy the Israelites because they would not lay it in their heart to give glory to his name (Malachi 2:2).
  • Jesus’ life and ministry was about the glory of God (John 7:18;  17:4).
  • The cross of Jesus is about the glory of God (John 12:27-28).
  • You and I are saved to the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3-6).
  • The Christian life is about the reflection of the glory of God off of our lives into the universe (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11).
  • The second coming is about the consummation of the glory of God (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
  • The consummation of all things is that God might be praised (Revelation 21:23).

The Bible screams it from every hilltop and rooftop and into every crook and crevice! The glory of God is God’s vision and his plan for seeing it fulfilled. Habakkuk 2:14 promises that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” The supremacy of God’s glory is everywhere in the Bible because God’s plan is for his glory to be supreme everywhere in the world.

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Tips for Memorizing Scripture

Many people say they can’t memorize Bible verses, yet they can memorize phone numbers, birthdays, lyrics to songs, etc. Since the Bible is our only source for faith and practice, we need to hide its words in our heart (Psalm 119:11, 105)

  1. Write the verse and reference on an index card.
  2. Seek understanding. Read the verse in its context. For instance, for John 15:5 you might read John 15:1-17. Study the verse and try to understand what it means.
  3. Read the verse aloud several times.
  4. Learn to quote the verse one phrase at a time. Divide the verse into short and meaningful phrases. Learn to quote the first phrase word for word. Then build on it by learning the second phrase. Continue until you are able to quote the entire verse word for word.
  5. Repeat the verse to another person and ask him to check your accuracy.
  6. Review the memorized verse regularly. During the first week, carry the card in your pocket or purse. Pull it out for review several times daily during waiting periods—like riding an elevator, riding to work, taking a coffee or lunch break. Review the verse at least daily for the first six weeks. Review weekly for the next six weeks and monthly thereafter.

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Radical Commitment

Do me a favor. Take out your copy of God’s Word, and hold it in your hand. If you’ve done what I just asked, you are now holding in your hands something extraordinary. You are holding a book that’s more than 3000 years old.

You are holding a book that is illegal in several countries of the world. Just to possess this book can land you in jail in some parts of the world. It was not too long ago, the government of Malaysia confiscated 10,000 Bibles that were on their way into the country.

Possessing a copy of this book just a few centuries ago in Europe could have gotten you killed. Even today, you could be subject to arrest and beatings, at the very least, in some parts of the world. This book is feared in many places. Yet people still take risks in order to have a copy or to even read it.

It is by far the best-selling book worldwide. In all its versions it is estimated between 2.5 and 6 billion copies have been sold. At least parts of this book are available in 2,400 languages.

You are also holding a miracle. Perhaps the second most extraordinary miracle since creation, second only to the incarnation of God’s Son. You are holding words from the Creator of the Universe. You can open it anytime, anywhere, and hear God’s voice.

You are holding something extraordinary.

Why the Bible is special and unique:
Have you ever thought about WHY the Bible is unique? The Bible is actually sixty-six different books. They include books of law, history, poetry, prophecy, biographies and epistles (formal letters) written to churches and people.

The Authors: About 40 different human authors contributed to the Bible, which was written over a period of about 1500 years. The authors were kings, fishermen, priests, government officials, farmers, shepherds, and a doctor. From all this diversity comes an incredible unity, with common themes that are woven throughout the Bible.

The Bible’s unity is due to the fact that, ultimately, it has one Author—God Himself. The Bible is “God-breathed” (according to 2 Timothy 3:16). The human authors wrote what God wanted them to write, and the result was this book we call the Word of God (Psalm 12:6; 2 Peter 1:21).

The Divisions: The Bible is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. In short, the Old Testament is the story of a Nation, and the New Testament is the story of a Man. The Nation was God’s way of bringing the Man—Jesus Christ—into the world.

The Old Testament describes the founding and preserving of the nation of Israel. God promised to use Israel to bless the whole world (Genesis 12:2-3), and once Israel was established as a nation, God raised up a family within that nation through whom that blessing would come: it was the family of David (Psalm 89:3-4). From the line of David was promised the one Man who would bring the promised blessing (Isaiah 11:1-10) and salvation to the world.

The New Testament tells us the coming of that promised Man, Jesus the Messiah, and He fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament as He lived a perfect life, he died to be the perfect sacrifice for sin, and rose from the dead to set us free.

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The Central Character: Obviously, Jesus is the central character in the Bible—the whole book is really about Him. The Old Testament predicts His coming and sets the stage for His entrance into the world. The New Testament describes His coming and His work to bring salvation to our sinful world.

Jesus is more than a historical figure; in fact, He is more than a man. He is God in the flesh, and His coming was the most important event in the history of the world. God Himself became a man in order to give us a clear, understandable picture of who God is.

As Baptists, it may be good to understand what we believe about the Bible. According to the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message:

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of Gods revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.

Baptists are “people of the Book.” The Bible is our only source for faith and practice. It is a remarkable book that gives us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and will stand forever (1 Peter 1:24).

The Bible Rediscovered:
Perhaps you have heard about the massive religious reformation that t took place across Europe in the 16th century. Perhaps you’ve heard names of Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale and John Wycliffe. The key great driving force behind the reformation can be seen as the rediscovery of the Bible:

  1. The translation of the Bible into everyday language: no longer would people gather at church with no clue as to what was being read from the book, they could have it in their own language.
  2. The wider availability of the Bible due to the newly invented printing press.
  3. A commitment to expository preaching, (explaining what the text means); and
  4. The taking of the Bible out of the hands of a corrupt ecclesiastical elite and putting it into the hands of ordinary people.

This huge upheaval fundamentally changed the social, political, religious, intellectual, and even scientific landscape of Europe, and profoundly influenced the development of America. Rediscovering the Bible literally changed the world.

For the text of this message, I actually want to go back much further, to a much earlier rediscovery of the Bible and a time of reformation. I want to have a look at the passage that was read earlier, from 2 Kings 23:1-3.

These events took place during the reign of King Josiah in Jerusalem in 622 BC. He was 26 years old and had been king since he was eight. Now, Josiah was one of the most godly kings Israel ever had because, He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Chronicles 34:2)

Josiah’s Background:
Unfortunately, Josiah’s reign followed close behind that of his grandfather Manasseh who was the most evil king that Judah ever had. Manasseh ruled for 55 years, and under him the whole nation turned away from God. He defiled the temple in Jerusalem, and built shrines and altars to idols all over the place. Somewhere during his reign, the Book of the Law, which was the extent of the Bible at that time, was lost. Toward the end of Manasseh’s life, he repented and humbled himself before the Lord (2 Chronicles 33:13, 23).

Josiah’s father, Amon, was also an evil king. I suppose that a lifetime of rebellion against God gets passed down from father to son. Amon was so bad that he lasted as king for only two years, and his own officials assassinated him (2 Chronicles 33:24). The Bible is clear that as bad as Manasseh was, Amon sinned even more (2 Chronicles 33:23).

So, on this Father’s Day, and since no father is perfect, perhaps you are here in spite of the poor legacy that your father passed on to you. Maybe you had a lousy father, maybe he was abusive, or never instilled any spiritual direction in your life. How in the world did Josiah become the godliest king ever in Judah, with a father and grandfather that he had? I believe the answer lies in the fact that when he was 16, during the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David (2 Chronicles 34:3). His heart was tender toward God and knew that he had a much longer heritage than his immediate family. He was determined to end the cycle of dysfunction in his family’s life.

By age 20 Josiah is cleansing Judah and Jerusalem of all the pagan influences in the land (2 Chronicles 34:3-7). Then at age 26, he decides to restore the temple, and in the course of this renovation project, the Book of the Law is rediscovered.

Then in 2 Kings 22:10-11 we read, Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.

Cut to the heart by what he hears, Josiah decides he must rededicate himself and the people to God. And that’s what happens in 2 Kings 23:1-3.

Take a look at these verses. One thing you can see is that the word “all” occurs a few times.

All the people:
First, a radical commitment to the Bible involves all the people.

In 2 Kings 23:1-2, Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets — all the people from the least to the greatest.

All the elders and all the people. The writer wants to make sure we know that all the people, from the least to the greatest were present at the reading of the Book.

This has always been a foundational Baptist teaching: the Bible is for all people. Biblical understanding and interpretation is never limited to an elite or privileged class of Christian. Every single believer has both the privilege and the responsibility of seeking out God’s Word for him or herself.

Of course, some are better equipped than others to do this. Some are theologically trained; some are gifted and called to be teachers. But no one has a monopoly on Bible truth and interpretation, and every single believer has access to the truth for themselves, from the least to the greatest.

A half-hearted commitment to the Bible hands over all the work of Bible study and explanation to others; a radical commitment to the Bible recognizes that every one of us has a stake in understanding the Bible, and hearing God through it.

And people have died to make this possible again for us. Perhaps you know the story of William Tyndale. He was burned at the stake in 1536, although they did him the kindness of strangling him first.

Tyndale’s life’s work was to translate the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into common English that everyone could understand. He had a passion for placing the Word of God into the hands of ordinary people so that, ‘The Church could no longer effectively dictate its interpretation.’

This was a real issue at the time. Soon after Tyndale’s death, Henry the Eighth restricted, by law, Bible reading to only men and women of noble birth. He complained to Parliament that “the Word of God, is disputed, rhymed, sung and jangled in every ale-house and tavern.” Well, I say, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this were true today!

In the end, Tyndale’s work was not in vain, because his translation makes up about 80% of the 1611 King James Version, published more than 70 years after his death, and which became widely distributed. His vision was fulfilled.

A radical commitment to the Bible involves all the people.

There are many Christian believers around the world today who have very limited or no access to the Bible at all — up to 50 million in China alone. If we are radically committed to the Bible this should bother us.

Perhaps you support the Bible Society or Gideons, both charities who work to get God’s Word into the hands of people worldwide. But I wonder: is it sometimes easier to support getting the word to people “out there” than it is to be completely committed to the Bible “back here?”

A radical commitment to the Bible involves all the people. That means you, doesn’t it?

Over the centuries, God led dozens of his greatest saints through terrible persecution and agonizing deaths so that you and I might have the privilege of hearing and understanding His voice. How dare we neglect his word!

What are you doing to get more of God’s Word into your life and out to the world?

All the words:
Second, a radical commitment to the Bible is to all its words.

Look halfway through 2 Kings 23:2, He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord.

The Bible that Josiah had found was quite a bit shorter than the Bibles we have today. It may have been the first five books of the Old Testament, or it may have been only the book of Deuteronomy. But the writer is intentional for us to know that Josiah read to the people all the words in it.

Now, not only is the book of Deuteronomy a bit heavy going at times, but there’s also a whole bunch of curses and other unpleasant verses in there. Frankly, wouldn’t it have been better for Josiah just to give them some edited highlights, a quick executive summary, or some bullet points on a PowerPoint slide?

But Josiah knows that a radical commitment to the Bible is a commitment to all its words, because they are all God’s words. Our Bible reading is deficient if we are content with memorizing a few well-known Bible verses and stories and never strive to explore the whole book.

A radical commitment to the Bible is to all its words.

John Piper once said. “If all you want is a pile of leaves, then you just need to scrape the surface. But if you want to find gold, you need to dig down deep.”

We don’t skip parts of the Bible because they seem dull, or difficult, or irrelevant to our lives today, or they teach doctrines that we don’t like. We need to wrestle with all the words to hear what God has to say to us.

It’s all God’s word to us: not just John 3:16, Romans 8:28 and Psalm 23. He has so much more to say to us! Let’s be more radical in our Bible reading. If it doesn’t make sense, why not get into a small group to discuss the meaning of the Bible, and help you grow in your faith?

All the heart and all the soul:
Third, a radical commitment to the Bible is with all the heart and all the soul.

Look at 2 Kings 23:3, The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord — to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul.

This is about application; it’s about how far we let God’s Word into our lives. A radical commitment to the Bible means that we seek ways to apply what it says in all our lives. Not just letting God’s living Word into our head, but into all our heart and all our soul. A radical commitment to the Bible is life-changing.

Perhaps Josiah only had the book of Deuteronomy, which is widely regarded, along with Leviticus, as being one of the least exciting parts of the Bible. Yet as he read it, it caused him to tear his clothes and weep in anguish. It turned his life upside down.

How much more should the complete Bible that we have today speaks to our hearts and souls? We have in our hands the whole story of God’s plan to save us: not just a glimpse, but the whole thing, culminating in Jesus, his own son who died for us.

If our Bible reading is not causing us to weep and rejoice, to break out in gratitude and anguish, in joy and sorrow, then, frankly, we’re not doing it right. If our Bible reading is not life-changing, then we’re not doing it right. We’re not engaging our hearts and souls.

A radical commitment to the Bible engages all our heart, all our soul. No part of our life is out of scope for God’s word.

The same goes for our life together as a church. The Bible informs and guides every aspect of our lives together. Therefore, if we are radically committed to the Bible as a church, those who are connected here should be people who commit themselves to hearing, understanding and obeying the Bible with all their hearts and all their souls.

This should be one of the key factors that guide us in ministry and relationships: is this person someone who paddles in the shallow end of God’s word, or someone who has jumped into the deep end? Has this person been gripped by God’s Word?

A radical commitment to the Bible is with all our heart and all our soul.

Conclusion:
On this Father’s Day, has this message penetrated your soul? Are we attempting to raise the next generation with a strong foundation; a foundation that is built upon the Word of God? Are we attempting to make a difference in the world, and in particular, in our families? How can we do anything without a radical commitment to the Word of God?

Do we want to be a church that truly hears God’s words and does his work in this world — a radical church — then let’s be like Josiah and like the reformers.

  1. Let’s commit ourselves, every one of us, to hearing God’s word: all of the people.
  2. Let’s commit ourselves to exploring the whole of what he has to say to us: all of the words.
  3. And let’s commit ourselves to applying and obeying what he tells us in our lives: all our heart and all our soul.

This is a radical commitment to the Bible.

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Baptist Faith & Message 1963

REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE
Adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention: May 9, 1963

I. THE SCRIPTURES

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of Gods revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34
Psalm 19:7-10; 119:11, 89, 105, 140
Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32
Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46
John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16; 17:11
Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21

II. GOD

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience.

The eternal God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11; 20:1
Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3
Isaiah 43:3, 15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13
Matthew 6:9; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11
John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7
Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6
Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7

B. God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself the demands and necessities of human nature and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the nature of God and of man, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1; Psalm 2:7; 110:1; Isaiah 7:14; 53:1-12
Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16, 27
Matthew 17:5; 27; 28:1-6, 19; Mark 1:1; 3:11
Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46
John 1:1-18, 29; 10:30, 38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50
John 14:7-11, 16:15-16, 28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20, 28
Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5, 20
Romans 1, 3, 4; Romans 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3, 34; 10:4
1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8, 24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21
Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11
Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16
Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28
Hebrews 9:12-15, 24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22
1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14- 15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9
Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts” by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the assurance of God to bring the believer into the fulness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalm 51:11; 139:7
Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32
Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10, 12
Luke 1:35; 4:1, 18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49
John 4:24; 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-14
Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17, 39
Acts 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6
Romans 8:9-11, 14-16, 26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11
Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19
1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8, 14
2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17

III. MAN

Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5, 7, 18-22; 3; 9:6
Psalm 1:1-6; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5
Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31
Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18, 23; 5:6, 12, 19; 6:6
Romans 7:14-25; 8:14-18, 29; 1Co 1:21-31; 15:19, 21-22
Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11

IV. SALVATION

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, sanctification, and glorification.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of Gods grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.

Justification is Gods gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.

B. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to Gods purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual perfection through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate persons life.

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

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8
Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6
Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32
John 1:11-14, 29; 3:3-21, 36; 5:24; 10:9, 28-29
John 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31
Acts 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3
Romans 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18; 29-39; 10:9-10, 13
Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 30; 6:19-20; 15:10
2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15
Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14
Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8, 14
James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11
Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5

V. GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, 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 a glorious display of Gods 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, 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.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7, 19-22
Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31
Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22, 31; 25:34
Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48
John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45, 65; 10:27-29
John 15:16; 17:6, 12, 17-18; Acts 20:32
Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7, 26-36
1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11
Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10, 19
Hebrews 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 1:2-5, 13; 2:4-10
1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2

VI. THE CHURCH

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local body of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, observing the two ordinances of Christ, committed to His teachings, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.

This church is an autonomous body, operating through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In such a congregation members are equally responsible. Its Scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20
Acts 2:41-42, 47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23, 27
Acts 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7
1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12
Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11, 21; 5:22-32
Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:1-15; 4:14

VII. BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER

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 believers faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believers 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 prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lords 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.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26
Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23
Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7
Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12

VIII. THE LORD’S DAY

The first day of the week is the Lords Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.

Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7
Luke 24:1-3, 33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1, 19-28
Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10

IX. THE KINGDOM

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and Gods will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.

Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6
Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10, 23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29
Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32
Luke 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36
Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19
1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:28
1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6, 9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22

X. LAST THINGS

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9
Matthew 19:28; 24:27, 30, 36, 44; 25:31-46; 26:64
Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40, 48; 16:19-26
Luke 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3
Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5
1 Corinthians 15:24-28, 35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21
Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:1-17
1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28
James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7; 1 John 2:28; 3:2
Jude 14; Rev 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13

XI. EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of mans spirit by Gods Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by personal effort and by all other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8
Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19
Matthew 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53
John 14:11-12; 15:7-8, 16; 17:15; 20:21
Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3
Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5
Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17

XII. EDUCATION

The cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian schools is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christs people.

In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.

Deuteronomy 4:1,5,9,14; 6:1-10; 31:12-13; Nehemiah 8:1-8; Job 28:28
Psalm 19:7; 119:11; Proverbs 3:13; 4:1-10; 8:1-7, 11; 15:14
Ecclesiastes 7:19; Matthew 5:2; 7:24; 28:19-20; Luke 2:40
1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 2:3, 8-9
1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17; Hebrews 5:12-6:3
James 1:5; 3:17

XIII. STEWARDSHIP

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemers cause on earth.

Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12
Matthew 6:1-4, 19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29
Luke 12:16-21, 42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47
Acts 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2
1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15
Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19

XIV. COOPERATION

Christs people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine; and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christs Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christs people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

Exodus 17:12; 18:17; Judges 7:21; Ezra 1:3-4; 2:68-69; 5:14-15
Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 8:1-5; Mat 10:5-15; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; 28:19-20
Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1; Acts 1:13-14; 2:1; 4:31-37; 13:2-3
Acts 15:1-35; 1Co 1:10-17; 3:5-15; 12; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15
Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:15-18

XV. THE CHRISTIAN AND THE SOCIAL ORDER

Every Christian is under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in his own life and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. The Christian should oppose in the spirit of Christ every form of greed, selfishness, and vice. He should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

Exodus 20:3-17; Leviticus 6:2-5; Deuteronomy 10:12; 27:17
Psalm 101:5; Mic 6:8; Zechariah 8:16
Matthew 5:13-16, 43-48; 22:36-40; 25:35
Mark 1:29-34, 2:3; 10:21; Luke 4:18-21; 10:27-37; 20:25
John 15:12; 17:15; Romans 12-14; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; 6:1-7
1 Corinthians 7:20-24; 10:23-11:1; Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 6:5-9
Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Philemon 1:1-25; James 1:27; 2:8

XVI. PEACE AND WAR

It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love.

Isaiah 2:4; Matthew 5:9, 38-48; 6:33; 26:52; Luke 22:36,38
Romans 12:18-19; 13:1-7; 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; James 4:1-2

XVII. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has Left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Matthew 6:6-7, 24; 16:26; 22:21
John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Romans 6:1-2; 13:1-7
Galatians 5:1, 13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 4:12
1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19

XVIII. THE FAMILY (Added in 1998)

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is Gods unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in Gods image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children Gods pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15
1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalm 78:1-8; 127:1-4; 128:1-6; 139:13-16
Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24
Proverbs 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15
Proverbs 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16
Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9
Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5
Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7


The 1962 session of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in San Francisco, California, adopted the following motion.

“Since the report of the Committee on Statement of Baptist Faith and Message was adopted in 1925, there have been various statements from time to time which have been made, but no overall statement which might be helpful at this time as suggested in Section 2 of that report, or introductory statement which might be used as an interpretation of the 1925 Statement.

“We recommend, therefore, that the president of this Convention be requested to call a meeting of the men now serving as presidents of the various state Conventions that would qualify as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention committee under Bylaw 18 to present to the Convention in Kansas City some similar statement which shall serve as information to the churches, and which may serve as guidelines to the various agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is understood that any group or individuals may approach this committee to be of service. The expenses of this committee shall be borne by the Convention Operating Budget.”

Your committee thus constituted begs leave to present its report as follows:

Throughout its work your committee has been conscious of the contribution made by the statement of “The Baptist Faith And Message” adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925. It quotes with approval its affirmation that “Christianity is supernatural in its origin and history. We repudiate every theory of religion which denies the supernatural elements in our faith.”

Furthermore, it concurs in the introductory “statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life.” It is, therefore, quoted in full as part of this report to the Convention.

(1) That they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us. They are not intended to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed in the New Testament, viz., repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.

(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.

(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures, and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.”

The 1925 Statement recommended “the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs …” Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the “certain needs” of our generation. At times it has reproduced sections of the Statement without change. In other instances it has substituted words for clarity or added sentences for emphasis. At certain points it has combined articles, with minor changes in wording, to endeavor to relate certain doctrines to each other. In still others, e.g., “God” and “Salvation” it has sought to bring together certain truths contained throughout the 1925 Statement in order to relate them more clearly and concisely. In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.

Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

A living faith must experience a growing understanding of truth and must be continually interpreted and related to the needs of each new generation. Throughout their history Baptist bodies, both large and small, have issued statements of faith which comprise a consensus of their beliefs. Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority. Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.

Baptists emphasize the souls competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.

It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set forth certain teachings which we believe.

Herschel H. Hobbs, Chairman Howard M. Reaves Ed. J. Packwood C.Z. Holland W.B. Timberlake C.V. Koons Malcolm B. Knight Dick H. Hail, Jr. Charles R. Walker Walter R. Davis Garth Pybas V.C. Kruschwitz Luther B. Hall Robert Woodward Douglas Hudgins Paul Weber, Jr. R.A. Long Nane Starnes C. Hoge Hockensmith Hugh R. Bumpas David G. Anderson E. Warren Rust James H. Landes R.P. Downey

 

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Reasons to Study the Bible

Previously I wrote about why we should study the Bible. Here I believe there are several reasons for studying the the Bible.

The Bible is a Personal Word from God: Without some biblical teaching, no one could become a child of God. James writes, “In his goodness [God] chose to make us His own children by giving us his true word” (James 1:18). Think back to the day that you first received the simple message of God’s love and forgiveness. Which passages did God use to reveal himself to you?

Now consider how God has used his Word to influence your life since then. Psalm 19:7-8 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight to life.” I believe the Bible is the most important book ever written and it is so important for us to read, study, memorize, and meditate on its truths.

The Bible Gives us a Moral Foundation for Life: When we cease to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, we can find ourselves adrift on a stormy sea, tossed back and forth by every wind of teaching. In a letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A life of victory, power, joy, and fruitfulness will be experienced by any believer who studies the Bible and accepts it as God’s true and holy Word to man. It tells us how to enjoy an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father and how to receive wisdom, love, and grace from him.

The Bible is God’s Personal Love Letter to His Children: In my early years, I had difficulty reading the Bible. In fact, I found it boring (probably like most people). Then I experienced the love and forgiveness of its Author, the Lord Jesus Christ. My attitude changed. I began to realize that the Bible is God’s personal love letter to me. I eventually became excited about what God had to say to me.

How about you? Do you find the Bible the most interesting book in your library? The best way to catch the excitement about reading God’s Word is to experience the love of its Author.

The Bible Reveals God’s Character: In my early years as a believer, I began to study the Bible and found it was a true record of who God is and what he is like. His attributes (or characteristics) filled me with wonder, reverence, and awe. Through the stories of how he led Old and New Testament believers, I saw proof of his love, wisdom, power, sovereignty, and holiness. We continue to grow in our love for him as I am still discovering more about who God is.

I encourage you to make it your priority to get to know God, and to love him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). Discover what he thinks and how he acts. Knowing God will change your life. When we read his Word and learn how much God loves and cares for us, we can trust him with everything (our families, our possessions, and even with our own lives).

The Bible Gives the Clearest Explanation of Creation: The Bible has the perfect explanation for the beginnings of all creation (an intelligent, powerful God who created everything with order and purpose – Genesis 1:1). Only a Being with supernatural power and unlimited ability could have fashioned something as intricate as a DNA molecule and as huge as the Milky Way Galaxy. In fact, astronomers now believe that there are 100 billion galaxies. The Bible assures us that our great God and Savior created it all.

The Bible Gives an explanation for Human Suffering and Evil Behavior: Why is there so much human suffering? Why is there war and poverty? Many people blame God for these evils, but man (because he is self-centered and seeks his own way) creates wars and inhumanities. Sickness, death, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are part of God’s judgment for mankind’s sin.

Romans 5:12 explains, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned.” What better explanation have you heard for the mess our world is in? Biblical truth about man’s evil nature is the only logical answer for cruelty, selfishness, pride, violence, disease, war, and death. Only God (who understands the depravity of the human heart) has the answers to our sinfulness.

The Bible Tells the Story of Our Savior and Salvation: As humans we cannot live good enough lives on our own to achieve God’s holy standards in the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. That comes through our faith in Jesus Christ and his Spirit living in us. The Bible is our source for understanding this truth.

One of the most convincing arguments for the authority and accuracy of Scripture is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Jesus. From Genesis to Malachi, we find more than three hundred references to the Messiah. They are all fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Studying the Bible Causes Christian Growth: The Word of God is our fuel for growth in the Christian faith. When we feed on its richness, we grow strong and healthy in our spiritual lives. I love what Psalm 1:1-6 tells us!

Unless the Bible becomes the basis of our faith, we will be swayed by our experiences, which can be dangerous. There is nothing wrong with experiences, emotions, and dreams, if they are validated by Scripture. But beware of depending only on experiences to build your faith. The Word of God is our one sure foundation. Obeying God’s Word gives us assurance that what we are doing is right in God’s eyes.

Obedience to God’s Word Bring Joy and Victory: A believer cannot walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit and display the love of Christ unless he is spending time in God’s Word. If he faithfully studies the Bible daily, he will avoid the emotional and spiritual problems that many believers experience and consider inevitable.

The Christian who saturates his mind with God’s Word will want to please the Lord in every way. God’s Word will show him how to deal with temptation so he does not reap the consequences of doing evil. When we read and obey God’s Word, we learn how to live above our circumstances. We find the answers to the deep questions of life. As a result, we will live a life of incredible joy and victory!

The Bible Helps Us to Become a More Effective Witness for Christ: People today are hearing the gospel, receiving Christ as their Savior, and committing themselves to helping fulfill the Great Commission. Spending time daily with God in his Word gives us the power and excitement to spread his message of love and forgiveness. Studying the Bible helps us see how God loves the unlovable and seeks the lonely and hurting. Applying God’s commands helps us maintain a godly life that demonstrates the Lord’s presence in our lives to others.

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Why Study the Bible?

Life can be hard and confusing. Our culture seeks to draw us farther and father away from traditional values in favor of more modern, up-to-date lifestyles and behaviors. We have bowed to the altar of tolerance and have many times compromised out Christian beliefs. Those traditional values many times can be traced back to biblical truth!

Christians have a reference point for their journey through life, the Bible. When we stake our lives on its teachings and principles, God gives us guidance on how to live. When we love, trust, and obey God and his Word, we will enjoy the abundant life He has promised every believer (John 10:10).

What is there about the Bible that has given it such power to influence and enrich the lives of many millions of believers throughout the centuries around the world?

  • Psalm 119:91 tells us, “Your laws remain true today, for everything serves your plans.”
  • Psalm 119:138 says, “Your decrees are perfect; they are entirely worthy of our trust.”
  • Hebrews 4:12 emphasizes how the Bible works in our lives, “The word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.”

By studying and applying God’s Word, we will see our world and ourselves through God’s eyes.

  • We will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
  • We will get to know the author, the living God.

I’m going to write much more about why it is so vital for us to read and study God’s Word on a consistent basis. There are principles that work in the lives of believers and faithful readers and studiers of the Bible can discover practical ways to live and apply the teachings we read in the Bible.

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