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I. SOVEREIGNTY


All Primitive Baptist beliefs are determined by a basic thought about God: He is sovereign in all things. The doctrine of the Sovereignty of God teaches that God governs His creation, His creatures and all their actions. If loyalty to the Bible is the great strength of Primitive Baptists, its belief in the Sovereignty of God is its very life. (Ephesians 1:11) By this doctrine the Bible says that who God is provides the key to reality, not who man is. What God does provides the key to human experience, not what man does. What God works provides the key to Salvation, not what man works. When we think of faith, we think first of God. When we think of the effects of faith, we think first of God. Even when we think of the ordinary events in the lives of every man, we think first of God.

Primitive Baptists believe that everything which happens takes place according to the will of God, and can be fully understood only in the will of God. Nothing can come to any man that He does not allow for His own purposes and glory. He overrules the actions of evil men, and brings their evil to naught. He works all things after the counsel of His own will, and turns all things (even apparent evil) to ultimate good in the lives of those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose. (Ephesians 1:5-6, Romans 8:28)

Man's reason for living is to glorify God (by doing his will) and to enjoy Him forever in the practice of life's highest privilege which is to serve the sovereign God, who created him and gives him breath.

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II. TOTAL DEPRAVITY


Primitive Baptists believe that because of the result of Adam's sin all men are sinners; that sin is a stain upon us from our birth so that if left to the natural inclinations of our wills, our lives would inevitably turn to evil. (Romans 3:23) Human nature is not neutral. It is not free to move upward or downward, depending on circumstances, environment or education. Neither is human nature good: capable of infinite development in goodness, needing only to be left alone or "brought out" to achieve perfection. Human nature is rather sinful, and "born to trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7).

We see undesirable behavior and sinful tendencies in the smallest infant and we observe that without discipline and restraint human beings inevitably live selfishly. This view of human nature is called "original sin" because human imperfection seems to be both innate and instinctive. This imperfection (sin) taints every facet of our personalities. The description of original sin is summarized in the doctrine of "Total Depravity". Mankind, we say, is inevitably (originally) and altogether (totally) marked by sin on account of the fall (Romans 5:12).

The doctrine of "Total Depravity" also suggests man's helplessness. Human beings are not only sinful, they are also helplessly sinful. We are spiritually dead in our sins, bound under the guilt and penalty of sin, and unable to do anything to please God. None of our works are pure and therefore pleasing to God. All our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We do not even have it in us to turn to Him that we may be cleansed and healed.


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III. SALVATION


Primitive Baptists believe that God so loved us, while we were dead in trespasses and sins, that He sent his only begotten Son to redeem us. (Eph. 2:8) The Lord Jesus Christ, pre-existent with the Father, by whom He created the worlds, came to earth by being born of the Virgin Mary. He, the Eternal Son, took upon Himself our nature, lived a sinless life as a man, and died on the Cross in a sacrifice which somehow paid the price of our redemption from sin. We know not how but we believe it.

Victorious over death and the grave, our Lord rose from the dead and returned to the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit to apply His work of redemption to those for whom He died.

In the gift of the Holy Spirit, by grace through faith, the originally sinful nature of man is transformed to become godly, and then possesses His nature. This "new life" begins now in the hearts of those who have been justified by grace, through faith, and received the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. It continues into and through eternity. (I Peter 1:2-4)


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IV. ELECTION


In keeping with the doctrine of Sovereignty, under which God is seen to determine all things, Primitive Baptists believe that the knowledge of Christ, and the acceptance of Christ as Saviour, which belong to salvation, also come from God. We are saved through faith alone and this faith itself is a gift of God. (Eph. 2:8) "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Our personal redemption is not due to any goodness of our own for we have none. Neither is it earned by our good works for sinners cannot accumulate "credit" leading to redemption. We find Christ because He finds us. We love Him because He first loved us. We become His because He chooses us, calling us, and sanctifying us after He justifies us.

We do not pretend to understand the great truth underlying the Election of God. We simply know that we did not seek God until first we were sought; we did not know Him until He enlightened our hearts; we did not believe until He gave us faith; we did not come until we felt ourselves moved. Jesus said, "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him." (John 6:44) The mysteries of His will we cannot fathom, but we know that had it not been for Him we would not be where we are.

Because salvation is clearly not given to every man (although we know not why) Primitive Baptists believe therefore in reprobation, or the eternally lost condition of those not elect.

The doctrine of Election is dear to us, because, on the one hand, it pays homage to the Sovereignty of God in all human affairs, and on the other, because it gives a certainty and an assurance to those whose trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ that no dependence on themselves can give. The effect of such a faith is the assurance that all things work together for good to them who "...are the called according to His purpose"; that nothing in this life or in the life to come can separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

This assurance means to the believer, that he can go forward boldly into whatever path he feels led, because he knows that it is God who goes before. It further means that he is eternally secure in the love of God, because he has been sealed (not of himself) by the Holy Spirit until the final day of fulfillment.


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V. SANCTIFICATION


Primitive Baptists believe that as the Election of God calls men to redemption in Jesus Christ, so it calls them to newness of life in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit not only makes a child of sin to become a child of God; He also leads the new believer into a new way of life which is in conformity to the will of God; into holiness of life in Sanctification.

We believe that every Christian will show forth in his life the fruits of a living faith; that he will grow in spiritual maturity, and in patterns of living which will increasingly conform to the will of God for him. We believe that love, joy, peace, and all the other characteristics of godliness will necessarily become evident in this life as the Holy Spirit increasingly takes charge; that he will more and more "live unto righteousness" as he moves towards the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." As love of God increases within him, love for his Christian brothers, and for his human neighbors everywhere will correspondingly increase.

To this end, we believe in the necessity for utilizing the means of grace: prayer, worship, and most especially, the study of God's Word.


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VI. THE CHURCH


Primitive Baptists believe in the holy Church; that is, in the universal unity of Christ's Body in time and eternity. As a vine and its branches comprise a single whole, so Christ and all those in whatever place or age who derive their life from Him comprise a single body, the Church universal. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

This is not to be identified with any denomination or body on earth for it exists wherever a true child of God may be found. We believe that there are Primitive Baptists who belong to this Church, and there Primitive Baptists who do not; there are Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics and others, who belong to this Church and there are Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics and others who do not.

Because we believe in the holy Church, we also believe in the Communion of Saints. Christian living is not a solitary thing. We believe it to be the Lord's will that Christians congregate in churches for worship, for service, for growth in grace and mutual edification. (Hebrews 10:24,25)

The Church universal is reflected in those corporate manifestations of Christ's Body in which the ministry of the Word, the administration of the ordinances, the exercise of the government and discipline according to the New Testament pattern establish and enlarge the household of faith. (I Corinthians 12)


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VII. THE ORDINANCES


Primitive Baptists believe in two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that they are genuine ordinances instituted by Christ Himself; visible signs which actually confer the blessing or grace of God when appropriated in faith. We do not believe that the blessing is inherently present in the ordinances, but that they are rather the signs and seals of the blessing they represent. As the Holy Spirit does not dwell in the pages of a book, and yet He warms our hearts by means of the message of that book, so grace does not reside intrinsically in the ordinances, but comes to the believer who receives them in faith.

Baptism is an ordinance which signifies and seals God's covenant promise to be a Father to His own. We believe that Baptism is for believers in Christ Jesus, and believers only. We believe that immersion is the mode of baptism.

The Lord's Supper not only shows forth the Lord's death until He will return, but is an ordinance in which He is truly though spiritually present, and truly though spiritually received. Again, as the Word conveys grace by providing the occasion for the Holy Spirit to speak to the human heart, so the Lord's Supper conveys the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ to believers who approach the Table in faith.


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VIII. THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING


Primitive Baptists believe in the return of Jesus Christ "to judge men and angels at the end of the world." Until He comes, we believe that the souls of those who die in Him depart to be with Him "where they behold the face of God in light and glory, awaiting for the full redemption of their bodies."

At the last day, we believe that the dead shall be resurrected, and the living shall be changed. Christ's elect "unto honor...and everlasting life," but the reprobates "unto dishonor...and punishment with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (I Thessalonians 1:7-9; Acts 24:15; John 5:25-29)


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