South Florida Baptist Associations Distinctives
“Every Baptist ought to know why he is a Baptist, and to know it from the specific commands of God‘s Word. Not to have such knowledge is for our churches to be harmed in every way.” George W. Truett, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, 1897-1944
Denomination describes a set of beliefs and practices that are held in common by a group. Denominations develop various organizations to help fulfill the values and beliefs of the denomination, but the organizations are not the denomination, they are just an expression of it. For example, the South Florida Progressive Missionary Baptist Association, the Progressive Missionary & Educational Baptist State Convention of Florida, Inc., the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. International and the Baptist World Alliance are not separate denominations, but are organizations within the Baptist denomination.
Baptists come in a variety of “flavors. ” They hold different interpretations and views on certain issues, such as the Second Coming of Christ, worship styles and denominational organization. But all Baptists have the same basic ingredients. There are certain ingredients that must be included, or the recipe does not produce a Baptist. Leave the cornmeal out of cornbread and substitute white flour, and you don’t get cornbread. Likewise, leave out a key ingredient of the Baptist recipe, and you do not get a Baptist.
The Baptist Recipe (Distinctives) – Baptists are distinguished from other Christian groups by specific Biblical distinctives. The name “Baptist” identifies people who hold those distinctives.
Biblical Authority – The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority. (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21)
Autonomy of the Local Church – The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body. (Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19,23)
Priesthood of the Believer – “Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God-whether we are a preacher or not. (1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 5:9, 10)
Two Ordinances – The local church should practice two ordinances: (1) baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins. (Matthew 28:19,20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32)
Individual Soul Liberty – Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. (Romans 14:5,12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9)
Saved, Baptized Church Membership – Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 4:3)
Two Offices – The Bible mandates only two offices in the church-pastor and deacon. The three terms- “pastor, ” “elder, ” and “bishop,” or “overseer”-all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17-38; Philippians 1: 1)
Separation of Church and State – God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13: 1-7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government. (Matthew 22: 15-22; Acts 15: 17 -29)
In order to carry these out, Baptists have organized in various ways beyond local congregations, such as associations,
conventions, fellowships, unions and alliances. The common ingredient in all of these is voluntary cooperation. In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity
South Florida Progressive Missionary Baptist Association endeavor to base our belief, practice, emphasis and organization on the teachings of the Bible. It’s our desire to be as close to the New Testament model of a Christian and the church as humanly possible with God’s help through the instruction and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
South Florida Progressive Missionary Baptist Association is concerned about every church that is a part of our association, regardless of its size or financial contributions. We are striving to make Romans 15: 1 – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. ” – More than a passage of scripture, but a pledge of service!
To that end to become a member of this association requires only $50.00 and a letter from your church. After the first year, the annual enrollment is as low as $180.00 (This base on your church’s membership size). But don’t let money, or the lack there of, keep you from checking us out.
We are also concerned about strengthening the local church spiritually. We provide teaching and training resources to all our member churches. If requested, we can provide instructors to conduct workshops at your church or to train you in the use the material.