We Believe in Sovereign Grace
Belief in the doctrines of grace distinguishes the Primitive Baptist churches. We believe that the work of saving sinners for heaven is God's from start to finish. This work has not been given to the individual, educational institutions, the home, or even the church.
Sovereign grace refers to God's initiative in eternal salvation, moving toward man to bestow this gift. Sovereign means that, as ruler of the universe He created, God is in absolute control of the work of salvation. Nothing can thwart God's purpose; there are no external limitations upon His power. Grace means unmerited favor; God saves because it is His sovereign pleasure to do so and not because any word or deed of man obligates God in any way. The following pillars of truth uphold our position.
We believe that all men are born with a sinful nature. This inward, twisted character motivates people to do wrong, not right. It produces a hostility to God and godliness which frequently manifests itself in rebellion against His laws, unconcern about His glory, and thanklessness for His blessings. Because of this sinful tendency in the heart, the potential to commit the most heinous sins is present in every person.
By nature, man is incapable of loving God, desiring God, or pleasing God. He does not care about the Bible, the church, or the spiritual realm. He is corrupt, vile, and ungodly. He is, furthermore, under the sentence of God's wrath, condemned to separation from God (Rom 3:10-13, 23; I Cor 2:14).
Election and Predestination
We believe that God, in His wisdom, foresaw the ruined condition of mankind in sin, and made provision for the salvation of a vast multitude before the world began. He purposed to save them by sending His Son to die for their sins upon the cross. This purpose, or agreement within the Godhead, is called the everlasting covenant. Election and predestination are two parts of that covenant.
Election means that God chose, or selected, a people out of the human family for His own glory. He did not choose every person to be saved-- that would negate the very meaning of the term election. But He did choose a vast multitude, a people out of every nation, kindred, language, and family (Rev 5:9). He did not choose them because they were better than any others, for all were sinners. He made His choice based upon His own right to do as He pleases, because He is God. He chose those whom He loved, and prearranged their final destiny. This predetermination of the final destiny of the elect is predestination.
Predestination means that God made all of the necessary plans and provisions for the final salvation of all His people. He decreed that every last one of them, without the loss of one, will one day be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, living forever with Him in heaven. Because man is totally depraved and incapable of saving himself, every human being would have been lost for eternity had God not made these provisions. The doctrines of grace affirm eternal salvation is in God's hands, not man's. Though this is not a popular doctrine, we cannot afford to compromise here. The alternative substitutes a man-centered message for a God-centered one ( 1:4; Rom 9:11-16; 2 Tim 1:9).
We believe that Jesus was God incarnate (in human flesh), and that He came to this earth for the express purpose of saving the elect from their sins. He died on the cross to accomplish that goal. It was a substitutionary death. In a very real sense Jesus Christ took the place of God's elect and accepted the punishment for their evil works. He took the sins of God's chosen family and in exchange gave them His righteousness. It is only by virtue of the work of Jesus upon the cross that anyone has eternal life.
Because man is totally depraved, he cannot save himself. By grace God did for His people what they were unable to do for themselves. The supreme demonstration of grace was the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We were made righteous (right with God) solely by virtue of what Jesus Christ did at Calvary.
We believe the extent of the atonement is particular and definite, not general and universal. Jesus died only for the elect. His death fully accomplished salvation for them; not merely making them savable, but actually securing salvation. We frequently call this doctrine particular redemption (Mt. 1:21; 1 Pet 2:24-25; 2 Cor 5:21).
The New Birth
We believe that all for whom Jesus died will be born again by the direct and immediate work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. What Jesus did for the sinner at the cross will without fail be applied to the sinner's heart. We view the cross as the legal aspect of redemption and the new birth as the personal aspect. All men are born with natures capable only of sin, but at the moment of each man's regeneration when he is born again, he is given a new nature. This new, spiritual capacity desires God, loves God, and longs to learn about God. The new birth makes a man alive to God.
The Holy Spirit is the agent in this work and He works without the assistance of preachers, soul winners, mothers, fathers, or neighbors. When He speaks to the dead sinner, the sinner, like Lazarus, awakens into new life. It is God's work; consequently, only He gets the glory for salvation (Jn 3:3; Eph 2:1, 5; Jn 6:37).
We believe that all who were loved and chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and called into new life by the Spirit, will be preserved in grace forever. Salvation cannot be forfeited or lost. The child of God will never cease to belong to the Father. This relationship cannot be severed. Nothing will separate God's beloved, the objects of His grace, from His everlasting love. The heir of grace will never be disqualified from the eternal inheritance that awaits him. The sheep are kept securely in the hand of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ (Jn 10:28; Jud 24; Rom 8:35-39).
These five principles form the rock-solid foundation of who we are. We find our identity in these truths. We are a people who emphasize God's sovereign saving initiative, God's successful saving work, and God's certain saving consummation. God, not man, is the focal point of the gospel we preach. He does not owe anyone salvation, but in His mercy, He has provided the means by which a multitude will be rescued from final destruction. For this, we owe Him our eternal praise and adoration.
Special thanks to Elder Michael Gowens for this material.