We are an American Baptist Church: “What Do American Baptists Believe?”

God

We believe that God exists and is evident through creation, Scripture and his Son, Jesus Christ. There is one God and only one, who is spirit, self-existent, eternal and infinite in every way and has revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the same in essence, though distinct in personality. We believe that God was in the beginning, is now and forever will be.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is God’s only Son and the second person of the Trinity. Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ came to earth as a man among men to reveal God’s love, to teach, preach and heal; to give His life as payment for our sins. He is our power to live a God-centered life. He taught perfectly the truth about God and human destiny and was Himself the true manifestation of God in the flesh. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and man.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit was given in His fullness on the day of Pentecost to abide with the people of Jesus Christ forever. The Holy Spirit convinces man of sin, regenerates the heart, leads and guides Christians, making clear to them the truth revealed in the Bible. The Holy Spirit sanctifies and sustains believers in trial, temptation and struggle. The whole inner life of the believer is under the influence of the Holy Spirit and subject to His power.

The Bible and Its Uses

We believe that the Bible is the divine revelation of God to man and provides a certainty to truth and Jesus’ ministry to His people. The Bible speaks with divine authority. Each Christian can interpret the Bible by study and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is our final guide to faith and practice in living a Christ-centered life, leading to forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. The Bible should be read and studied daily. It is the basis of preaching and teaching the word of God.

Believers Baptism

Baptism is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, established for perpetual observance of His people. First Baptist Church of Puyallup believes in baptism by immersion. Baptism is the immersion in water of the believer in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The truths symbolized in baptism are:
a. Remission of sin. (Death to self and sin, rising to live for Christ)
b. Fellowship or union with Christ in his death and resurrection.
c. Cleansing from all unrighteousness and consecration to the service of God.
d. Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward change.

The Lord’s Supper

We believe that Communion (Lord’s Supper) is an ordinance of Christ’s church where the elements are bread and juice. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ given for the salvation of men and the juice symbolizes His blood
shed for the remission of sins. First Baptist Church of Puyallup believes the communion table belongs to God
and is open to those who have repented of their sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept him as their personal savior. First Baptist Church of Puyallup serves communion on the first Sunday of each month, and on other occasions deemed appropriate.

Soul Liberty

While our church has essential values and biblical boundaries for who we are as a Christian church, we believe that each Christian should, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, make up their own mind about what they believe. Each Christian has the freedom and responsibility to make decisions, according to their own conscience and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, about what they believe. Following this they choose to affiliate or not affiliate with FBCP.

Autonomy of the Local Congregation

We believe that the local congregation is autonomous and that the membership is the final authority in all matters. Therefore, it is our choice to have association with other American Baptist Churches, American Baptist Region and National Associations. We believe that we can accomplish more when working with other congregations in the tasks of evangelism, mission, education and serving God. We therefore support the American Baptist Convention and use their services for education, Sunday school, mission support, publications and ministerial support.

The Priesthood of All Believers

We believe that all Christians are called to be priests and use the talents they have been given to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We believe that all Christians have a special calling to be ministers for Jesus Christ; that each Christian is capable, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret Scripture and make up their own mind as to what they believe. God has given us gifts so we can use them in ways that will be a witness to mankind.

Our Church Family

Our Members are saints (Ephesians 4:12). Saints are people who are born-again followers of Jesus Christ. They no longer live for themselves but are intentional in living through the direction and purposes of Jesus Christ. We are bound by one faith, one baptism, being of one mind united in that faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is essential that members be “purposeful, Holy Spirit led followers of Jesus Christ” in contrast to those whom are still seeking Him. Why is this important? In the Baptist church, every member has a vote on constitutional issues and many business issues. Members have a voice to the direction and the concerns of the church body. Members are eligible for positions of leadership. Therefore members are decision-makers, influencers and potential leaders for the body. As we are a spiritual body, we want to have spiritual decisions, spiritual influence and spiritual leadership. Those who are not yet in Christ cannot yet make spiritual decisions.

Our Members are disciples (Matthew 28:19). Disciples are those who are not only followers of Jesus, but are those who are partnering with other disciples to teach others all that Jesus commanded. Disciples are intentionally upon a journey to grow in Godliness, to become Christ like. This might be contrasted with those who simply want to “join a church” or “become a Christian.” That terminology might suggest membership as a destination rather being an “attribute” of the Christian mission.

“Members are on a mission”. It is Christ’s intent to bring Christ to our world, those around us, and also to the World. We embrace Christ’s desire that all would believe…that all would be saved. Our hope is that our neighbors would believe. We desire that all persons, whether they are Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, Wiccans or whatever…would come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, members support and encourage First Baptist Church’s efforts to reach out to all people. Members will do what it takes to reach people.

Members are purposeful (Ephesians 4:12).

The Scripture says that the Holy Spirit has empowered people uniquely to play a role within the Body. Some might be prophets and some teachers. Some evangelists and some… it goes on and on. As with the physical body, each part of the spiritual body has a role. God may desire for someone to invest that into the church for His glory and for building up the body of Christ. How can you apply that gift for the purposes of the body? God does not want people to hide their talent. It could be said that we can know the uniqueness of our church by truly understanding the uniqueness in the totality of its members. Each member is essential.

Can children become members? In our church, children can become “family members.” They may attend our meetings, have a voice, yet not have a vote. They remain in this status until they have met two requirements. First they must be born-again and secondly they must have recognized maturity. If a child has requested to become a member, we must decide as a membership if he or she is spiritually and developmentally ready to hold this privilege and responsibility. While we have already said that one must be born-again, we also must consider if someone is mature. Do they make sound personal decisions and are they self disciplined? Are they others-centered or self-centered? If a young person is deemed personally mature and is born-again, he or she may become a member.

First Baptist Church is a loving church. We experience the life transforming love of Jesus Christ and we give that same love away, sharing life relationship with each other and with those in our community. We help each other out, encouraging others when they are down, and team up to make great gains.

First Baptist Church is a biblical church. We hold that the Scriptures are the inerrant and inspired word of God. We hold that it is essential to learn the Scriptures, as they are God’s definitive communication to mankind. Through them we learn God’s worldview, a biblical worldview and therefore can see and understand life as our Creator intended.

First Baptist Church is an outreaching church. Our church’s purpose is ultimately for everyone outside of the church. While worship is essential and fellowship is fun, we reach out, train, equip and send out for the purposes of having expansion of the Kingdom of God, that more people would worship God Almighty, and being able to do so by being born-again Christians.

In the American Baptist Churches, under God, the congregation is the final authority in church matters. The congregation then confers responsibility to the Pastor and the Council to lead in the affairs of the church. The congregation (members) meets quarterly to rally and lend support to the church leaders, along with reviewing the work of the ministry and the service of its elected officials, and to receive information from its leaders toward refining the vision and mission of the ministry.

Leadership is shared: The pastor confers with church leadership, mutually determining a plan of action to carry out God’s plan for the church. As shepherd he oversees the spiritual health and vitality of the flock. To the individual member, the Pastor is a spiritual Advisor, a discipler, and a friend. While the role of visionary and spiritual advisor is for the pastor, and operationalizing ministry characterizes the Council, both work in tandem, as a team to oversee the affairs of the church. In short, they share leadership.