In this article, I want to call attention to the mission and ministries of New Testament churches. Baptist churches, and in particular BMA of Arkansas churches, exist to carry out Christ’s commission, in obedience to His command.
Our prime mission as the Lord’s churches is to evangelize our communities by preaching, teaching and utilizing spiritual gifts in touching the lives of those who are unsaved.
The task Jesus assigned was to make disciples. While BMA of Arkansas (and America) churches should fervently support the work of international missions, our first responsibility is to lead those in our local communities to a faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Once people are saved from the condemnation of sin, they become following leaners (disciples.) It is then that local churches follow the Lord’s commission to baptize those new disciples. This is done by immersion so that the believer’s belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is visibly depicted — as a testimony to others.
It is essential that for a church to have scriptural identity, the proper sequence is followed — salvation first, baptism second. There are those professing to be true churches that reverse that order, or they teach that salvation is received by baptism.
Why be a Baptist? Because Baptists follow the biblical sequence — salvation followed by baptism.
Local New Testament churches are essential to the spiritual health of new believers. Note the Lord’s instruction in that which is referred to as The Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19-20NIV).
The third aspect in the sequence is teaching — we call it discipleship. This the means of taking spiritual babes in Christ and maturing them in the faith and the doctrines of God’s Word. Sunday School, Bible Study, Life Groups — or whatever monikers one might use — are avenues of teaching the thing Jesus taught His followers in the infancy of His church. And, of course, discipleship from pastors in the pulpits is of utmost importance. Scripturally sound preaching and teaching are paramount marks of scriptural identity.
Why be a Baptist? Because Baptists are following the command of our Lord in carrying out the mission through the ministries of the churches.
Jesus promised to be with His churches as they obediently carry His Good News to the neighborhoods, cities, states and the far-reaching regions of the world. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20.)
There are many reasons I could share with you readers as to why one should be a Baptist. However, I think the things I have addressed in these past three articles are those that identify true New Testament churches. Baptist churches that are characterized by those scripturally identifying marks are New Testament churches.
And, by the way, I am so glad I am a Baptist! I have been for the past 66 years! I am thankful for pastors, Sunday School and VBS teachers, professors at Central Baptist College, a devoted wife and members of churches I have been privileged to pastor for helping me mature as a believer in Christ. Each of those are reasons that I remain a Baptist today! My greatest expression of gratitude though is to the Holy Spirit, who has guided my paths in this journey called life. He is the One who has most influenced me to be a Baptist.