Thursday, December 6, 2012

Primitive Baptist Articles of Faith Commentary



Introduction

For those wondering what the Primitive Baptists believe, this short commentary is intended to provide an introduction. The 13 Articles of Faith below are from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church in Donaldson, AR, and are extremely similar to the articles of faith found in other Primitive Baptist churches around the world.








Articles of Faith 


1. We believe in the one true and living God, the Father, the Word, the Holy Ghost.
Primitive Baptists affirm the doctrine of the Trinity which states that there is one God who exists in three distinct personages as revealed in scripture. (Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; I John 5:7) 

2. We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God and the only rule of faith and practice. Primitive Baptists accept the King James Bible to be the word of God in English. At the time these articles were written, bible "versions" were no matter of controversy whatsoever among our people. It is for this reason that no explicit reference to the KJV exists in these articles of faith - it was simply understood that the KJV was the bible. (I Timothy 3:16-17, I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:19-21, Romans 15:4) 


3. We believe in the doctrine of election and that God chose his people before the 
foundation of the world On this basis alone Primitive Baptist doctrine is rejected by the vast majority of Christendom. Though belief of this doctrine puts us very much in the minority, we believe that it is so repeatedly and plainly taught in the scriptures that denial of this fundamental tenet of salvation is nothing less than a denial of the clear testimony of the word of God itself. This doctrine is not hard to understand, it is just hard for man's carnal nature to accept. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

4. We believe in the doctrine of original sin. In other words, Adam sinned to become a sinner; all his posterity sins because they are sinners. Adam's transgression was imputed to all of his progeny which is also known as the fall of humanity in Adam. (Romans 5:12)

5. We believe in man’s impotency to recover himself from the fallen state he is 
in by nature, by his own free will and ability. Because man is spiritually dead, it requires the resurrection power of God alone to impart spiritual life. (John 6:44, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:1) 

6. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed
righteousness of Christ Since regeneration imparts eternal life (Eph 2:1) and precedes the exercise of faith in time (I John 5:1) it follows that faith arrives far too late to ever account for our justification before the throne of God, which occurred in covenant before the foundation of the world, commercially at Calvary, but only experimentally by faith. Faith lays hold of the preexisting truth of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people and is in no sense a causative instrument in man's justification before God. We are justified before the throne of God by the imputation of Christ's righteousness alone. When the bible speaks of our justification by faith it is referring to the evidentiary awareness of one's justification in our experience which is manifest by faith. Faith does not create justification, it receives the truth of a justification that was wrought entirely by Christ alone. (Romans 3:23-24, Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:14)

7. We believe that God’s elect shall be called, regenerated and sanctified by 
the Holy Spirit. By "called" the scriptures are referring to the direct impartation of spiritual life by God apart from the aid of preachers, bibles, tracts, or any other indirect means. All such means may be profitable to a child of God, but they all presume a living subject in order to be beneficial. (John 5:25, Titus 3:5)

8. We believe that the saints shall be preserved in grace and never fall away.
 
Preservation not perseverance. (More on this topic.) By this we intend that Christ's work was absolutely efficacious in procuring the salvation of his people and cannot be overturned by any means nor by any actions a child of God may perform in this life. (John 10:27-28, Romans 8:29-30) 

9. We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ, 
and that true believers are the only subjects of baptism, and that immersion is the apostolic mode. No infants, no sprinkling, no pouring, not by proxy - but baptism by immersion based on the credible profession of faith of a living and willing volunteer. (Matthew 28:19, John 3:22-23, John 22:17-20, Acts 8:37) 

10. We believe that as our Lord and Saviour washed His disciple’s feet, we ought 
to wash one another’s feetThe Primitive Baptists have been much maligned by other orders for their adherence to the Lord's injunction. The language of John 13 is not hard to understand, it's just hard for the carnal heart of man to accept. This verse is every bit as explicit as the Lord's words concerning the Lord's supper. (John 13:14) 

11. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and in a general judgment, and that 
the felicity of the righteous will be eternal and the punishment of the wicked everlasting. Heaven and hell are eternal. (John 5:29, Matthew 25:34,41) 

12. We believe that no minister has any right of administration of the ordinances 
only such as are regularly baptized, called, and come under the imposition of hands by a presbytery.  And thus we do not receive the baptism of those outside the Primitive Baptists because these men administering such baptisms are either not regularly baptized, not called, or have not come under the imposition of hands by the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14)

13. We believe that none but regularly baptized members have a right to commune at the Lord’s Table. In the same way that the Lord's supper was not offered to all men, the practice of closed communion is most in keeping with the Lord's example and the apostolic practice. (Luke 22:14)


Finally

It is our sincere hope that you might find this brief explanation of the Primitive Baptist Articles of Faith helpful in understanding what we believe. In the final mix, what we believe is really of little consequence unless it is founded on the sure footing of the word of God. We would invite you to examine the scriptures to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11) and welcome all who would feel compelled to join us in worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.




3 comments:

  1. From article 6..."Faith lays hold of the preexisting truth of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people and is in no sense a causative instrument in man's justification before God."

    Bible...Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
    25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

    Bible...Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    Article 7...By "called" the scriptures are referring to the direct impartation of spiritual life by God apart from the aid of preachers, bibles, tracts, or any other indirect means.

    Jesus Christ...John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
    40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

    Jesus Christ...John 5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

    These articles dont allow for a distinction between the grounds of justification and the means of imputating the grounds when the bible does. The articles also do not make and/or blur the necessary distinction between the Spirit of God causing one to believe on Christ in order to posess spiritual life with eternal salvation and the result of believing which is to posess spiritual life and eternal salvation. Assurance and/or an evidence of an already existing justification and salvation simply will not fit in these passages and multitudes of others. It is now obvious to me that articles like these are being used like a lense (which does not first derive its precedent from the bible) through which the bible is made to mean things that it does not.

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    Replies
    1. TETH ANSWER 101

      TETH: Brother Henry. Thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment. My thoughts follow…

      HENRY BARRICK: From article 6..."Faith lays hold of the preexisting truth of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people and is in no sense a causative instrument in man's justification before God."

      TETH: That is correct. Our exercise of faith does not justify us before the throne of divine justice – only the imputed righteousness of Christ is capable of doing that. Faith is the vital capacity whereby a regenerate child of God can hear and be comforted by the proclamation of their justification by the blood of Christ heralded in the gospel.

      HENRY BARRICK: Bible...Romans 4:24 “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

      TETH: This is speaking of a regenerate man’s cognition of the preexisting reality of his justification by Christ.

      HENRY: BARRICK: Bible...Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

      TETH: That’s correct – “the faith OF Jesus Christ.” That’s a genitive case – literally “Christ’s faith.” We would most likely say this as “Christ’s faithfulness” in modern English parlance, by which is meant that we’re justified by what CHRIST did, not by what we do. Our faith IN Christ is merely the vital capacity whereby we are able to have cognitive reception and belief of the preexisting truth of our justification by Christ himself.

      HENRY BARRICK: Article 7...By "called" the scriptures are referring to the direct impartation of spiritual life by God apart from the aid of preachers, bibles, tracts, or any other indirect means.

      TETH: That is correct. It cannot possibly have reference to “the gospel call” because the bible is an irrefutable monument to innumerable saints of God who were “called” in the Romans 8:30 sense, but who NEVER had the mystery of the explicit NT gospel of Jesus Christ revealed to them (Col 1:26, Eph 3:5, I Peter 1:10-12).

      HENRY BARRICK: Jesus Christ...John 5:39-40 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”

      TETH: This verse refutes that the scriptures are a source of eternal salvation, but that they are a testimony regarding the coming Christ. That is precisely what Primitive Baptists believe. Jesus is saying, “I am the very source of life. If there was ever a place that one might go to receive life, I am that place. And yet you are all unwilling to come to me.” He’s pointing out their folly, not holding forth an offer to save those the father did not elect, for whom he did not die, and whom the spirit did not covenant to regenerate.

      HENRY BARRICK: Jesus Christ...John 5:34 “But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.”

      TETH: Who is speaking? Jesus Christ. There’s a HUGE difference between Jesus speaking and a gospel preacher speaking. Consider the difference in effect between God saying, “Let there be light,” Moses writing “Let there be light” and us reading “Let there be light.” The first brings forth natural light from nothing, the latter bring forth the illumination of revelation.

      HENRY BARRICK: These articles don’t allow for a distinction between the grounds of justification and the means of imputating the grounds when the bible does.

      TETH: Rather, it recognizes the unalterable efficacy of an everlasting covenant which established that there are men unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity (Psalm 32:2).

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    2. TETH ANSWER 102

      HENRY BARRICK: The articles also do not make and/or blur the necessary distinction between the Spirit of God causing one to believe on Christ in order to possess spiritual life with eternal salvation and the result of believing which is to possess spiritual life and eternal salvation.

      TETH: All of the OT saints “believed on Christ” in that they have God-given faith in the true and living God, who is Jesus Christ. But they did not know explicit mechanics of the NT gospel, nor did they know the name of Jesus Christ. This is an indisputable fact of the bible and it must shape our understanding and application of phrases such as “believe on Christ” lest we find ourselves opposing the bible itself. It has been my experience that many evangelicals run right past this very evident point in their zeal to insist that all of the eternally saved have explicit NT gospel understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ. That is not true and it is unscriptural by any sober reading of the Old Testament and by Peter’s declaration at the house of Cornelius: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
      But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34-35) This speaks of a work of salvation wrought in the heart prior to any encounter with gospel truth, similar to Romans 2:14-15.

      HENRY BARRICK: Assurance and/or an evidence of an already existing justification and salvation simply will not fit in these passages and multitudes of others.

      TETH: It fits perfectly well and is absolutely necessary if you believe in the covenant of salvation that long predated our existence (i.e., justification in the mind and purpose of God – Eph 1:4-6) and if you believe in the absolute efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ (i.e., justification by the blood – Rom 5:9). In all candor, the doctrine you are suggesting is “justification by man’s ratification of the blood of Christ” because until man believe it is so, Christ’s blood accomplishes nothing. I pray that you might take a sincere, dispassionate look at that notion. It is blasphemous once one realizes that God was “satisfied” by Christ’s atonement (Isaiah 53:11).

      HENRY BARRICK: It is now obvious to me that articles like these are being used like a lens (which does not first derive its precedent from the bible) through which the bible is made to mean things that it does not.

      TETH: My prayer is that you might give proper consideration to the ramifications of a covenant that preceded our existence and the absolute efficacy of the blood of Christ in procuring the justification of his covenant people.

      God bless,
      TETH

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