Baptists are Christians who believe in a set of distinctive Bible doctrines. These doctrines can be summarized by making an acrostic of the word BAPTISTS.
Bible is the soul authority for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
This means that we believe that the Bible is the only authority for what we should believe about God and how we should serve Him. We believe that the Bible is the perfect, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. We also believe that God has preserved His perfect Word for the English speaking people in the King James Version.
This means that we believe in the political independence of the local church. In other words, we do not believe that a church should be part of a hierarchy in which other bodies can rule over it. Every church should be independent and governed locally, by its congregation, in accordance with the word of God.
This means that Christ-believers are priests and can go directly to God in prayer and confession of sin. We also believe that Christians can read and interpret the Bible for themselves. We do not believe that another spiritual leader is necessary to give us special access to God.
Rather than observing sacraments we practice ordinances. The word sacrament implies that baptism and the Lord's Supper have some type of saving power. We do not believe that either of these ceremonies has saving power. We believe that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ as our crucified, buried and risen Savior. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are observed at Gospel Way Baptist Church as ordinances. An ordinance is a religious ceremony that Christ ordered His churches to observe.
Baptists are distinguished by their strong belief in believer's baptism. That is, we do not believe that baptism is for infants or for the unsaved. It is an ordinance that should only be observed by professing believers in Jesus Christ and under the authority of the local church. We believe that baptism is by immersion of the whole body in water, and not by sprinkling or pouring. Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and our new life in Him.
The Lord's Supper, we believe, is to be observed regularly. It is done in remembrance of Jesus' sacrificial death for us. The bread symbolizes His broken body and the juice symbolizes His shed blood. We do not use fermented grape juice (wine) as we believe that it is an improper symbol of the purity of the blood of Christ.
This means that we believe that each individual must answer to God for his or her own conscience. Therefore, we allow personal liberty in areas not clearly dictated by Scripture. However, we deny that individual liberty in the Christian life should be used in such a way as to harm the consciences of other believers who do not see things our way.
Saved church membership (Acts 2:47)
This means that every member of a church should have a personal testimony of salvation. We do not receive unsaved children or adults into membership.
Membership simply means that a believer chooses to affiliate with Gospel Way Baptist Church, attend its services with faithfulness and to attempt to abide by its membership covenant.
We also believe in the eternal security of the believer. Once saved we cannot "lose" it. By definition, if it is eternal, it cannot be lost and we know that there is no such thing at "temporary" eternal life.
We believe that the Bible teaches that a church should have only two offices. We believe that "elder" is another name for pastor. We believe that deacons are servants who are elected by the congregation. The pastor listens to advice from the deacons and respects their wisdom, but we believe that the pastor is in charge of the church, accountable to the congregation and under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Separation of church and state (Luke 20:25)
We believe that there are civil and criminal matters that belong to the government, and spiritual matters that belong to God. Therefore, we believe in a reasonable and biblical separation of church and state. This does not mean that Christians should not serve in, or have influence over government. It simply means that the state should not interfere with spiritual matters and that the church should not oversee criminal and civil laws.