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Frequently Asked Questions

Because our beliefs would have been commonly held among evangelical Christians in times past, but are not as common today, the following questions are frequently asked by those who are new to Reformed thought and terms. We do not claim to have all the answers, but we believe our answers are supported by a humble and searching study of Scripture, and represent the views of the greatest Christian authors. It is our prayer and desire that you will be edified as well as challenged by them.

Click on the Question to go to the Answer.

Q:  What do you mean when you call yourselves "Reformed" Baptists?

Q:  What is the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, and why do you use it?  Aren’t “confessions” ritualistic and liturgical, and aren’t they merely the writings of men?  

Q: Do you consider yourselves "fundamentalists"?

Q:  Are Reformed Baptists “Calvinists,” and if so, why do we need to use labels?  Why can’t we just call ourselves Bible believers?

Q:  Calvinists seem to talk a lot about things like repentance, God’s sovereignty, election, effectual calling, or perseverance of the saints, yet I didn't know about them when I was supposedly saved.  Does this mean I am not truly saved?

Q:  Isn't it true that Calvinists don't believe in evangelism?

Q:  You seem to place a lot of stress on "doctrine." Aren't you being divisive by splitting hairs over these things?  Why can't all evangelical Christians just join together and fight the real enemy, which is the devil?

Q:  Do you believe that a Christian can't sin?

Q:  Since even Christians cannot be sinless, how can we ever know whether or not we are truly saved?  Some of your articles seem to be saying that people need to seek assurance of salvation in their works.

Q:  Isn’t it an indication of weak faith to entertain doubts about one’s salvation?

Q:  Is it wrong to judge someone else's salvation?

Q: What is your view of the end times?

Q:  What do you do when your church meets?

Q:  Which Bible translation do you use?

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Q:  What do you mean when you call yourselves "Reformed" Baptists?
A:  "Reformed Baptist" is merely a term of convenience and not a denomination or even an organized group among Baptists. "Reformed" generally refers to a recognition of the sovereignty of God in all things including salvation, a view which is often associated with the great religious Reformation which began in the 16th century, and Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Knox, William Tyndale, John Calvin.  Like most Reformed Baptists, we are "confessional," which means our beliefs rely on a well-established statement of faith that goes back to the Reformation or shortly after - in our case, the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.


Q:  What is the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, and why do you use it if your beliefs come from the Bible?  Aren't church "Confessions" ritualistic and liturgical, and aren't they merely the writings of men?
A:
  During the time in church history known as the Reformation which began in the 16th century, persecuted men of God, struggled against the corrupt and powerful establishment churches to recover the biblical doctrines, especially the doctrine of salvation, from their association with man-made traditions. These men carefully formulated detailed biblical statements of faith known as "confessions," which would stand the test of time among God's people for hundreds of years. 

Although the various Reformed confessions are not divinely inspired, they were built upon the time-honored creeds of the early church, and carefully crafted by respected and scholarly men from many denominations, in a day when most of the basic doctrines of the faith were held in common. Most Baptists of the time were partial to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, which was nearly identical to the Westminster confession (1646, Presbyterian) and the Savoy Declaration (1657, Congregationalist), and very similar in content to nearly all the others. Yet it was thoroughly "Baptistic" regarding the independence of each local church, and the baptism of believers only.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession also helped lay the foundation for the establishment of most of the early Baptist churches in colonial America, mostly in the form of the Philadelphia Confession of 1742, so widely accepted that it was known in America as "the Baptist Confession". It's use remained strong even in the mid-19th century, when in 1845 all 293 members of the founding delegation of the Southern Baptist Convention came from a Baptist Church that embraced the it. C.H. Spurgeon's 1855 update of it also helped to keep it in in common use England. Thus, we find the "Reformed Baptist" position not only to be the best grounded in scriptural truth, but most representative of the greatest of the historic Baptists. In that regard we are in good company with John Bunyan, Charles H. Spurgeon, Andrew Fuller, A.W. Pink, and others whom God has greatly used. Top of Page

Because these salvation doctrines and other important truths were later obscured by the man-centered teachings and practices of many 20th century evangelists and preachers, some of whom openly campaigned against the clear and careful doctrinal statements of earlier times, too many Christians no longer have clear biblical convictions about the sovereignty of God and the nature of genuine salvation.  (Please see Jay Rogers' preface to his book, Why Creeds and Confessions?)  We find that the London Confession, with its many biblical proofs, provides a challenge to study out these doctrines carefully and systematically, something desperately needed in the doctrinally careless times in which we live.    Top of Page


Q: Do you consider yourselves "fundamentalists"?
A:  We are fundamentalists only in the broad sense, which means that we believe in the complete and verbal divine inspiration of the Bible, and in the basic doctrines of historic, evangelical Christianity which the Bible teaches.  In the narrower, historical sense, however, the term fundamentalist refers to those who, around the beginning of the 20th century, singled out certain great facts and doctrines – the "fundamentals" – that had come under particular attack, and sought to emphasize and defend them.  As to their central purpose, fundamentalism's efforts in defending the integrity of Scripture against modern liberal theology were commendable.  But fundamentalism as a movement was influenced by the trends of the times, times which were more favorable to the big preacher-personalities, salesmanship methods and dispensational theology popularized by mass evangelism, than to careful articulation of the great historic Christian doctrines of the Reformation. 

Reformed author J. Gresham Machen, who in opposing liberalism fought alongside the fundamentalists, summarized in the 1920's what he saw as their weaknesses, which included (1) the absence of a historical perspective; (2) the lack of appreciation for scholarship; (3) the substitution of brief, skeletal creeds for historic confessions; (4) the lack of concern for precise formulation of Christian doctrine.  Machen's response to those, mostly opponents, who labeled him a fundamentalist (a label he considered too narrow) was as follows: "It seems strange to suggest that we are adherents to some strange new sect, whereas in point of fact we are conscious simply maintaining the historic Christian faith & of moving in the great central current of Christian life." For more on this topic, see the article on this site, "What is 'Fundamentalism,' and What's Wrong With It?" Top of Page


Q:  Are Reformed Baptists "Calvinists," and if so, why do we need to use labels?  Why can't we just call ourselves Bible believers?
A: 
We also wish we could simply say "We belive the Bible," but one of the devil's favorite tactic is using the Bible to deceive -- thus, the Bible has been used to justify everything from anarchy to socialism to white supremacy. As one writer has said, "It is pointless to claim to be merely Biblical when the whole question is, What do the Scriptures actually teach on certain issues?" 

Although we understand the divisive nature of the labels, we believe the system of theology generally referred to as "Calvinism" most accurately summarizes God's truth as presented in Scripture. J.I. Packer explains the general principle of it as follows:

Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world's Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of his will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God's own word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible - the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace." 

Charles Spurgeon boldly proclaimed the implications of God's sovereignty in man's salvation, saying that "Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. However, as Charles Spurgeon said, it is not at all about the man John Calvin:

Calvin’s fame is eternal because of the truth he proclaimed; and even in heaven, although we shall lose the name of the system of doctrine which he taught, it shall be that truth which shall make us strike our golden harps, and sing.... For the essence of Calvinism is that we are born again, ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’

To Spurgeon, "Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else," and a Calvinist is merely "one who says Salvation is of the Lord." In holding to Calvinism (or the "Doctrines of Grace") we follow in the footsteps of countless great preachers and evangelists of times past.

Yet we are not in any way "hyper-Calvinists."  The distinction between the two has nothing to do with how many of the points of "T.U.L.I.P." one holds to.  Spurgeon, who accepted all of the "Five Points" of Calvinism, opposed hyper-Calvinism for his entire ministry.  The distinction between the the two is based on how one attempts to reconcile two truths of Scripture: (1) that man is responsible to believe the Gospel, but (2) he is totally depraved and dead in trespasses and sin, and thus wholly unable in himself to do so.  There are three basic responses to this biblical dilemma.

Calvinism says that man is dead in trespasses and sin, totally depraved, and wholly unable in himself to respond to the gospel, yet he must be commanded to do so, and so only God's sovereign power can bring him to salvation. Hyper-Calvinism says man is not able to respond to the gospel unless he is "of the elect," and therefore need not be commanded to do so. Arminianism says that since man is commanded to respond, he must, by his own will, be able. Only the first of these can be truly supported biblically, and there can be no compromise between them. Once we accept the Biblical truths of God's sovereignty which will always remain a mystery to us, we take God at His Word, preaching that sinners cannot come to Christ without being drawn by God to Him, yet they are responsible to do so and we are responsible to tell them so. Thus understood, the "two unreconcilable truths" referred to above do not need to be reconciled. As Spurgeon would say, "There is no need to reconcile friends."

For a brief explanation of the Doctrines of Grace as they have been understood for centuries, and a list of some challenging Scriptures which must be taken into consideration if we are to understand God's dealings with man in salvation, read "What Are the Doctrines of Grace" on this site. For more on how Charles Spurgeon understanding of these doctrines influenced his ministry, read Iain Murray's excellent book, The Forgotten Spurgeon. By permission from Banner of Truth Books, an entire chapter of this book, "Arminianism and Evangelism," can be read on this site. Top of Page


Q: Calvinists seem to talk a lot about things like repentance, God's sovereignty, election, effectual calling, perseverance of the saints, yet I didn't know about them when I was supposedly saved.  Does this mean I am not truly saved?
A: 
No, it does not mean that. Many of us, this writer included, had little knowledge when we received the gospel, beyond the fact that we knew we were a sinner, that Jesus died for the ungodly, and that we were asking Him to save us.  While salvation requires repenting and believing the gospel (Mk. 1:15), God is completely "the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). He is sovereign, and can provide salvation in an individual regardless of the failings of the one presenting the gospel or of his messsage, as well as the incomplete understanding of the one receiving it.  (As the London Baptist Confession says regarding "Divine providence", "God, in His ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at His pleasure.") 

What we are saying is that no professing Christian, especially in an age of shallow claims, should ever rest on the memory of a profession, whether it was praying a prayer, walking an aisle, or whatever the circumstances of their supposed "conversion." In our day, when so much is made of those external circumstances and so little is made of the internal evidences of true faith, it behooves all of us to stop and consider whether our salvation testimony measures up to the Scriptural standard.     Top of Page


Q:  Isn't it true that Calvinists don't believe in evangelism?
A:
That is generally true of hyper-Calvinism (see above) but not of true Calvinism. In our age when every human device is considered acceptable to bring sinners to God, we often define evangelism incorrectly, but true Calvinists have a long history of evangelistic and missionary endeavor.  It should not be forgotten that the Reformers themselves, including John Calvin and John Knox, were evangelists.  The English Puritans who colonized America were Calvinists, yet they came with a desire (however imperfectly it was carried out, especially by later generations) to evangelize the native American peoples, as expressed in many of the early colonial charters such as the Massachusetts Bay Charter of 1629: 

Whereby our said people, inhabitants there, may be so religiously, peaceable and civilly governed as their good life and orderly conversation may win and incite the natives of the country to their knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in our royal intention and the adventurers free profession, is the principal end of this plantation. 

In fact, nearly all of the pioneers of modern Christian missions, men such as David Brainerd, Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and John G. Paton, were Calvinists who believed people must be told of their need for Christ to forgive their sins.  And we stand with the many evangelistic Calvinists of times past - John Bunyan, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Asahel Nettleton, C.H. Spurgeon and many others - who wept for sinners but told them the truth of their inability to respond without God's mercy and prompting. 

With these men in mind, there is no justification for the charge that "Calvinists are not evangelistic," unless we mean that they have never carried out evangelism using the questionable methods of modern evangelists.  J.I. Packer's excellent article, "Puritan Evangelism," explains the distinctions between the Puritan and the modern views.  Packer rightly points out that the charge against Calvinists with regard to evangelism is simply uninformed:  

It is a very ill-informed supposition that evangelistic preaching which proceeds on [Calvinist] principles must be anemic and halfhearted by comparison with what Arminians can do. Those who study the printed sermons of worthy expositors of the old gospel, such as Bunyan ..., or Whitefieid, or Spurgeon, will find that in fact they hold forth the Savior and summon sinners to him with a fullness, warmth, intensity and moving force unmatched in Protestant pulpit literature. And it will be found on analysis that the very thing which gave their preaching its unique power to overwhelm their audiences with brokenhearted joy at the riches of God's grace - and still gives it that power, let it be said, even with hard-boiled modern readers - was their insistence on the fact that grace is free. They knew that the dimensions of divine love are not half understood till one realizes that God need not have chosen to save nor given his Son to die; nor need Christ have taken upon him vicarious damnation to redeem men, nor need he invite sinners indiscriminately to himself as he does; but that all God's gracious dealings spring entirely from his own free purpose. Knowing this, they stressed it, and it is this stress that sets their evangelistic preaching in a class by itself.

As to how evengelism is to be carried out, evangelism should not be viewed merely as a corporate responsibility, but as an individual one, which may differ from person to person:  "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-12). Though we believe it is the natural yearning of the individual Christian heart to see others come to know our Savior, and thus "do the work of an evangelist," the gift or calling for large-scale "evangelism" is not the same for all (thus, Jesus spoke the Great Commission to the Apostles, who were "sent ones" for that particular task, but very little is said of such mass evangelism in the epistles). Evangelism shoud also be seen NOT for the building up not of any particular local church as an institution, but of the body of Christ in general.    Top of Page


Q:  You seem to place a lot of stress on "doctrine." Isn't it divisive to split hairs over these things?  Why can't all evangelical Christians just join together and fight the real enemy, which is the devil?
A: 
We agree that doctrinal discussions can often become petty and ego-centered, and in that sense we agree with the words of John L. Dagg, Baptist pastor and author of the 19th century Manual of (Biblical) Theology

The study of religious truth ought to be undertaken and prosecuted from a sense of duty, and with a view to the improvement of the heart. When learned, it ought not to be laid on the shelf, as an object of speculation; but it should be deposited deep in the heart, where its sanctifying power ought to be felt. To study theology, for the purpose of gratifying curiosity, or preparing for a profession, is an abuse and profanation of what ought to be regarded as most holy. To learn things pertaining to God, merely for the sake of amusement, or secular advantage, or to gratify the mere love of knowledge, is to treat the Most High with contempt.

Theology should not be a dry or merely intellectual eneavor. To those who not only love God but love God's truths (Ps. 119:165), the words of Puritan author William Ames, who wrote the first theology book used at Harvard College in 1636, are fitting: "theology is the science of living in the presence of God."

With that said, we also recognize that the devil does not confine his activities to people and places outside the church -- in fact, we would point out that perhaps his greatest deceptions take place within the so-called Christian institutions, especially churches and seminaries, and so we must be continually wary of the tendency of institutions to drift into error (See "What is the Gospel?" for more on this point).  The churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were commended, not condemned, for hating the doctrines and deeds of false teachers, and this required that they know the truth.

As to the charge that those who believe and preach as we do are "divisive" or "splitting hairs" over doctrine, consider that fact that in Scripture, God divides more than He unites:  In Creation, He created light and divided it from the darkness; He made the firmament and divided the waters which were under it from those which were above it; He created lights in the heavens to divide the day from the night.  At Babel, He divided the tongues and, ultimately, the nations of the world, then founded a nation that would be separate from the nations around it.  Afterwards, when northern Israel declined into apostasy, He divided Israel itself, the Northern Kingdom from the Southern Kingdom, so that righteousness might be divided from unrighteoousness and thus survive.  We would point out that rarely has the majority ever been right, and this fact is also true in the Christian era, for it is evident that the truth has rarely been preserved in the large institutions of Christendom. God has indeed allowed error to rule the masses for nearly all of church history. His true church has most often continued as a small remnant, either outside of or within the large institutions, and it seems He has always allowed the insincere to be deceived (see Matthew 13:13-15).

Paul the Apostle saw doctrine as very important and commanded Timothy to "speak the things that are fitting to sound doctrine."  While it is true that the New Testament exhorts us to "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3), nowhere is unity to be sought at the expense of truth, for "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."  It is truth, not unity, that dwells within the true believer (John 14:17); that makes him free (Joh 8:32); that sanctifies him (John 17:17-19); that enables him to hear the voice of God (18:37); that is a fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 5:9); and that he is to speak in love (Eph. 4:15); and truth cannot be or do any of these things unless it is studied, meditated upon, and applied to the heart by the Spirit of God.

Yet i t seems we now live at a time "when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  In such an age, the words of Spurgeon once again may serve us well: 

I am quite sure that the best way to promote union is to promote truth.  It will not do for us to be all united together by yielding to one another's mistakes.  We are to love each other in Christ; but we are not to be so united that we are not able to see each other's faults, and especially not able to see our own. No, purge the house of God, and then shall grand and blessed times dawn on us.   

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Q:  Do you believe that a Christian can't sin?
A: 
Absolutely not!  Sin in the life of the Christian is an undeniable biblical truth.  To deny it would be both unreasonable and unbiblical:  "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 Jn. 1:8)  We are painfully aware of it as Christians, as Paul was when he admitted that "the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do," and then cried out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:19, 24).  (See also the London Baptist Confession under "Perseverance of the Saints." 

However, the view that is commonly held today, that the Christian life can be characterized by long-term backsliding and carnality, is dangerous, for the Bible makes a clear distinction between those who truly know Him and those who merely profess:  "Whoever abides in Him does not sin" [i.e., does not practice or continue in sin]. "Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.  Little children, let no one deceive you.  He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.  He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:6-8). (For further explanation of sin and the Christian, please see that section in our book, "What is the Gospel.")    Top of Page


Q:  Since even Christians cannot be sinless, how can we ever know whether or not we are truly saved?  Some of your articles seem to be saying that people need to seek assurance of salvation in their works.
A: 
This is a common question in an age when preachers and evangelists have repeatedly told their audiences, "You can leave this place tonight knowing you're on your way to heaven."  Nowhere is this idea taught in Scripture, least of all in 1 John 5:13 which is often used as a proof-text for pronouncing instant assurance: "These things I have written to you...that you may know that you have eternal life..." The first phrase in this verse begs the question, "What things, and the obvious answer is, "the other things I have written in this book." We cannot build a doctrine on one verse in 1 John while ignoring other verses in the same book, many of which are "hard sayings" , including 1 John 2:15 which says, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him"; or 1 John 3:9, which says, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."  The book of 1 John does indeed present evidences by which we may examine our standing before God, evidences such as Christian love and obedience to His Word:

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him" (1 John 3:18-19)

"But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John 2:5).

The evidence of His Spirit within us also aids in coming to genuine assurance:

"Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" (1 John 3:24).

Thus, assurance is a personal issue that comes as we spend time with Him appeal to His mercy and forgiveness.  Salvation is not a "name it and claim it" phenomenon, despite those who proclaim it to be such, and the Christian church has never, until recent times, encouraged such bold and reckless self confidence.  NO PREACHER or any other human being has the authority to pronounce assurance upon another person, for no one can see into the heart of another; furthermore, because the heart itself is "deceitful above all things" (Jer. 17:9), we must humbly ask God for the ability to judge even our own heart before Him.

Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon "Pressing Into the Kingdom of God," points out that it is often those who come to assurance too quickly, without the self-examination necessary to discern spiritually whether they are truly saved or not, who settle into a trust in their own works: 

There is ordinarily no kind of seekers that trust so much to what they do, as slack and dull seekers…. A dull seeker’s conscience will be in a great measure satisfied and quieted with his own works and performances; but one that is thoroughly awakened cannot be stilled or pacified with such things as these…. It is therefore quite a wrong notion that some entertain, that the more they do, the more they shall depend on it. Whereas the reverse is true; the more they do, or the more thorough they are in seeking, the less will they be likely to rest in their doings, and the sooner will they see the vanity of all that they do.

The progression from "seeking" to "salvation" to "assurance" is well summarized by J.I. Packer, who in the following passage represents the historic Christian position: 

To the question; 'What must I do to be saved?', the old gospel replies: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To the further question; 'what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?', its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners; abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon him for pardon and peace; and exchanging one's natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one's heart by the Holy Ghost. And to the further question still, 'How am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things?', it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on his mercy; ask him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write his law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from him. Turn to him and trust him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly; use the means of grace expectantly, looking to Christ to draw near to you as you seek to draw near to him; watch, pray, and read and hear God's word, worship and commune with God's people, and so continue till you know in yourself beyond doubt that you are indeed a changed being, a penitent believer, and the new heart which you desired has been put within you.   

The great Christian confessions agree in pointing out that assurance is possible and desirable but not essential to true faith. I.e., faith may exist without assurance, and true assurance is something that must be sought and guarded carefully through obedience and dililgence, as in this section on assurance from the Westminster and London Confessions:

This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; (Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; Psalms 77:1-12); yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto (1 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11,12): and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance (Romans 5:1, 2, 5; Romans 14:17; Psalms 119:32); -so far is it from inclining men to looseness (Romans 6:1,2; Titus 2:11-12,14 ).

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Q:  Isn't it an indication of weak faith to entertain doubts about one's salvation?
A: 
No! That view is relatively new on the theological landscape, and was not held by any of the great Christian preachers or writers prior to the late 1800's.  The Bible admonition is to "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5), and to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10), by measuring oneself against the Biblical characteristics of a true Christian.  Nearly all the pastors, evangelists and missionaries of earlier times, including John Bunyan, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon, greatly feared counterfeit conversions and made calls to self-examination a regular part of their preaching, believing that it was better for their hearers to be duly warned and lack assurance than to be falsely assured and lack saving grace.  Thomas Watson, one of the great Christian authors and theologians of the 18th century, said, "He that can believe without doubting, suspect his faith." Matthew Henry, one of the most beloved commentators of all time and the one whom Spurgeon advised that all Christians should read on their knees, wrote that

It is "the great duty of all who call themselves Christians to examine themselves concerning their spiritual state. We should examine whether we be in the faith, because it is a matter in which we may be easily deceived, and wherein a deceit is highly dangerous: we are therefore concerned to prove our own selves, to put the question to our own souls, whether Christ be in us, or not.

(For more on this topic, please see "What is the Gospel?" as well as "Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation" in the London Baptist Confession)    Top of Page


Q: Is it wrong to judge someone else's salvation?
A:
Many will make such a claim by using, for example, Jesus' words in Luke 6:37: "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  (Other passages are also cited, such as Romans 14:4 or James 4:12.)  However, the sin being most condemned here is hypocrisy, as seen in Paul's warning to the Jews in Romans 2:1:  "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." But the fact is, the Scriptures often call on us to make judgments, even of people.  Jesus said, "by their fruits you shall know them" (Matt. 7:20). We are to judge matters between the brethren (1 Corinthians 6:5); sin in the church (1 Corinthians 5:3, 12); false prophets and false apostles (1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:2); and the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). In fact, as Christians we are called upon to judge ALL things (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) and by the divine standard
(1 Thessalonians 5:21) -- this is obviously what Jesus meant when He said in John 7:24, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

With all of that said, we as human beings are not capable of determining for certain the spiritual condition of another person.  But it is a Scriptural principle that God's people are expected to make judgments concerning the people with whom they keep company.  Malachi 3:16-18 describes the behavior of God's faithful remnant, people for whom "a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name," and who are described as begin those who will "discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not" (Malachi 3:16-18).  Christians in the New Testament are commanded to separate even from those claiming to be brethren: "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner..." (1 Cor. 5:11). 

Furthermore, we are told as Christians within the body of Christ to exhort and reprove one another, and sometimes we must make the difficult judgment that one who companies with us as a brother may not be so in truth:  "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:12-13).  We do not claim to know with certainty the spiritual condition of another; but we certainly should not be judged as self-righteous when we occasionally need to ask a professing Christian to examine himself, for the Scripture says to all of us, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged" (1 Cor. 11:31).    Top of Page


Q: What is your view of the end times?
A: 
We live in an age when the presentation of prophecy has been much abused, even to the point of being used to determine one's orthodoxy in the essential doctrines of the Faith. This was never the case until little more than a hundred years ago. Like great men who have preceded us, we seek to approach this subject with humility and reverent fear, knowing the certainty of God's power and judgment, and the necessity for us, in light of that reallity, "to live soberly and godly in this present age." This does not mean we have no opinions on a subject that is given so much attention in Scripture. But the almost reckless certainty that characterizes modern dispensational views of prophecy (such as that found in the Left Behind series), we defer to a comment made by A.W. Pink in his Studies in the Scriptures magazine later in his life, after having accepted and preached the entire dispensational position in his early years:

"We are now satisfied that there has been a great deal of carnal speculation upon future events.  Pride, curiosity, love of the sensational, and fondness of the limelight are native products of the flesh; but it requires Divine grace to make us sober, humble, and frank to say, 'I don't know.'  The very fact that there was so much unfulilled prophecy that was not rightly understood until after it was accomplished, should check us from wild theorizings and dogmatic assertions in connection with unfulfilled prophecy.  Scripture affirms, 'The coming of the Lord draweth nigh' (James 5:8), i.e., is getting ever nearer; and with that we should be content - no one is justified in saying, 'The coming of the Lord is nigh.' Will friends kindly note that we are not prepared to enter into any correspondence on the subject.  If you think we err on this point, pray for us; as it is possible you may be wrong, pray for yourself." (as quoted in Iain Murray's The Life of A.W. Pink.)   

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Q: What do you do when your church meets?
A: 
We practice a simple worship service designed primarily for believers (though nearly always with an evangelistic emphasis), consisting of singing, praying, a Bible message, and a time of spiritual fellowship.  As a rule, we generally prefer traditional hymns because of their depth and timeless character, and we, like Spurgeon,  are sparing in the use of most "special music" because it can so readily draw attention to human talent rather than to God.  We believe that worship which appeals to the senses, emphasizing singers, choirs, elaborate ceremonies and visual effects, though part of Old Testament Temple worship, are not found in the New Testament because under the New Covenant, God now commands us to worship Him "in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:23). Though we acknowledge different offices, roles and responsibilities in the local church, we do not use terms like "reverend" or "pastor" as titles, but like the Apostles, address each other as brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 23:8-11 with 1 Cor. 16:12, 2 Cor. 1:1, 2 Peter 3:15, etc.). In all matters of church practice, our desire is to follow, as best as we are able, Scriptural example and principles, but not to be confrontational or divisive with other believers over differences in these matters. Top of Page


Q:  Which Bible translation do you use?
A: 
Most of our preaching is from the New King James Version, but we respect and use the King James Version and any conservative, literal translation such as the New American Standard (NASB) or English Standard Version (ESV).  We do not ascribe to KJV-only-ism, which has been used to unnecessarily divide of the body of Christ and was not held by any prominent saints prior to the 20th century.  We find Spurgeon's words on the subject, written at a time when the inspiration of Scripture was especially under attack, to be helpful:  "The divine preservation of the Scriptures through God's singular care and providence does not consist in His miraculous protection of the inspired originals from decay or harm, but rather in their faithful and abundant reproduction by His people.... Nevertheless, the divine preservation of the Scriptures does not insure either every single word of the originals can be ascertained with certainty or that any one manuscript or set of manuscripts is the infallible standard for all other manuscripts. The Scriptures themselves are the only infallible rule for determining the inclusion of any word or phrase in Scripture." (From Spurgeon's revised London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1855.)    Top of Page

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