When a person first visits a Primitive Baptist Church, he will notice a simple worship service which consists of congregational singing, prayer and preaching. Families of all ages worship together, and singing is A cappella (without musical instruments). The focus of the service is on honoring Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Church is under the authority of her husband and head, Jesus Christ, and should be submissive to him in all things (Ephesians 5:23-25). Therefore, the church should not desire to be like the world (1st Samuel 8:19-20, Romans 12:2), but rather be satisfied with the fullness of the Lord’s house (Psalms 36:8).
The following is a brief description of what Primitive Baptists believe concerning the doctrine of the Bible which includes the fundamental principles of salvation by grace and the practice and order of the church.
The Name Primitive Baptist
The word “Primitive” means original or first of the kind. It is one of many names the church has been called since it was established by Jesus during his earthly ministry (Matthew 16:18). Other names through history have been Christians (Acts 11:26), Donatists, Waldenses, Albigenses, Anabaptists, Novations, Lollards and Baptists.
The name “Primitive” was first used in the early 1830’s when a major division came in the Baptist family. One group advocated a general atonement with salvation by the work of Christ, plus belief of the gospel by the sinner. They came to be known as “New School” or “Missionary Baptists”. The other group continued holding steadfastly to the doctrine of “Particular Redemption” with salvation entirely by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They came to be known as “Old School” or “Primitive Baptists”. Therefore, the word “Primitive” denotes the desire to maintain the identity of the Lord’s church as he established it and gave it to his disciples.
The Purpose of the Church
The Church was established by Christ (Matthew 16:18) to be a home (on earth) away from home (Heaven) for God’s children. It is a refuge or sanctuary where one may receive spiritual comfort, rest and peace, and instruction in righteousness. The church was also established to give glory to God by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end (Ephesians 3:21).
We believe the scriptures are inspired and preserved by God (2nd Timothy 3:16, 2nd Peter 1:20-21), without error or contradiction (Psalms 12:6-7, Proverbs 30:5-6). We also believe the King James 1611 translation of the scriptures to be a work of God’s Providence in preserving the scriptures for English speaking people. Everything people need to know about God, the after-life, the nature of man, relationships, attitudes, decisions, ethical values, problem solving, life, and death is addressed comprehensively in Scripture. (2nd Timothy 3:14-17).
The Purpose of the Gospel
The gospel is simply good news and glad tidings to the born-again child of God who feels to be poor and needy and unworthy of God’s mercy and grace. It declares that Jesus paid the sin debt, saved His children from their sins and preserves them in Christ for all eternity. To those who know themselves to be sinners, the grace of God in Jesus Christ is their only hope. This gospel of grace, then, is of utmost importance. It is the only message for sinners. To those whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit to see the exceeding sinfulness of their sins, the message of sovereign grace is truly “a joyful sound.” (Isaiah 40:1 & 9, Isaiah 52:7, Ephesians 4:11-12, 2nd Timothy 1:9-10, John 21:15-17, Acts 20:28, 1st Peter 5:1-3)
Basic Difference Between Primitive Baptists and Other Religious Groups
The main doctrinal difference may be summarized by a look at the subject of cause and effect. What others may believe are the causes of eternal salvation (such as belief, faith, repentance, baptism or other acts by an individual), Primitive Baptists believe are the effects of spiritual life and can only be performed sincerely by those already in possession of eternal life. In other words, eternal salvation is totally by God’s grace.
DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY GOD’S GRACE
1. The Fall of Man Resulting in Depravity: When Adam transgressed God’s law, he and all the human race died as they fell under the law of sin and death. This act did not result in sickness or injury but in death and separation from God. Therefore, all mankind became incapable of recovering itself from this fallen condition by its own will or ability. (Genesis 2:17, Romans 5:12, Romans 3:9-18, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 58:3-5)
2. Unconditional Election and Predestination: This wonderful doctrine teaches that God, according to his own purpose and will, chose an innumerable people in Christ out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, before the world began, and predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ and to obtain an eternal inheritance in heaven. (Ephesians 1:4-11, 1st Peter 1:1-5, Romans 8:29-30, Revelation 5:9)
3. Regeneration, New Birth, Being Born Again: These different terms define what happens when God imparts eternal life to one of his children. We believe this is done by the life giving voice of Jesus Christ and is always effectual and irresistible on the part of the individual. This is done separate and apart from the preaching of the gospel and without any aid of man. Once born again, a child of God is then able to receive and understand the message of the gospel. (John 3:6-8, John 5:25, John 6:37, Romans 8:30, Ephesians 2:1, 2nd Timothy 1:9)
4. Work of Redemption: The word “redeem” declares a price to be paid and prior ownership of that which is to be redeemed. The price of eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12) was the blood of Christ, and those he redeemed were his by covenant out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). All that Christ died for will live in heaven because the debt of sin was paid and the righteousness of Christ was imputed unto his family.(Hebrews 10:17-18, 2nd Corinthians 5:21, 1st Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:7)
5. Preservation or Eternal Security: This comforting aspect of salvation by grace teaches all that Jesus Christ died for will be eternally saved without the loss of one. They shall never perish, be cast out, separated from the love of Christ, nor plucked from the hand of God. They are preserved in the blood of Christ and kept by His power. (John 6:37-39, John 10:27-30, Romans 8:28-39, 1st Peter 1:1-5, Hebrews 10:14, Jude 1)
The Practice of the Church
The worship service is patterned after the New Testament example. It consists of congregational singing, prayer and preaching. Our singing is acapella because we believe in singing and making melody in the heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).
The bible teaches that parents are to teach their children the scriptures at home (Ephesians 6:4). In the public assembly, the teaching and preaching is to be done by the gospel minister. Primitive Baptists believe in giving as God has prospered and as one purposes in his heart. This should be done cheerfully, not grudgingly. (1st Corinthians 16:2, 2nd Corinthians 9:7, Acts 20:35)
Primitive Baptists believe that God’s children should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. They should live unto him that died for them and show forth praises of him that called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. (Titus 2:11-12, Romans 6:1-2, 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15, 1st Peter 2:9)
We believe that the Church has an identity that can be found in the New Testament and that God’s children should worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), believing and observing the doctrine and commandments of Jesus Christ. This will bring a peace that passeth all understanding (Philippines 4:7) and joy unspeakable and full of glory (1st Peter 1:8)to the child of God who walks in the ways of God.
We desire to emulate the first-century church in their commitment to one another. We believe the Scriptures teach that service to others is the means of service to God (Mat. 25:40) and that love to God is displayed in love to one another (I John 4:20-21).
We desire to practice a mutual brotherly love and concern for one another in the Spirit of Christ. In a world of detachment and loneliness, the support, understanding, prayers, encouragement, accountability, and actual person-to-person fellowship of this church community is a rich blessing.