Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Practically all else changes. God alone and the Word that He has spoken remain the same. Standing before the judgment seat of Christ, I believe that I will be judged based on my faithfulness to Him and to His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture. I covet the prayers of all—friends, supporters, and detractors—that I will pass the exam and, together with assured salvation, will receive the only reward I seek, hearing the voice of my Savior utter these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Only God remains unchanged, but I seek the assistance of His Spirit and the people of God in my senior years to pray that I will not waiver, whatever the pressure, in my determined proclamation of the following truths. Whoever may depart from these statutes, I fervently desire to remain moored to this rock of truth.
God’s Word, the Bible, remains the only consistent and reliable source of information concerning the person and purposes of God in this world and in eternity. As such, the Bible will not lead anyone astray and is without error in the autographs and in copies to the degree that these capture what was originally written under the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
God has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While humans cannot grasp the mystery of the Trinity of God, we must believe it and preach it because of its clear presence in the Bible.
The most profound need that humans have is salvation, forgiveness of sins, and right standing with God. Salvation is made possible by the grace of God, appropriated by faith, and effected by the Holy Spirit whenever a human experiences godly sorrow that leads to repentance and faith.
The church is the society of twice-born humans whose experiences with Christ have been reflected in believer’s baptism by immersion. The purposes of the church include worship, fellowship, evangelism, teaching, and faithful celebration of the memorial ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Every member born to Adam’s race has rebelled against God and is depraved in every aspect of his being. Should he die in that condition, he receives just condemnation in the place the Bible calls “hell,” a place of everlasting punishment from which there is no reprieve.*
In His incarnation, the eternal Word of God became flesh, lived a life of perfect obedience to the will and purposes of God, died a vicarious, substitutionary death on the cross, tasting of death for every human thus providing an atonement, satisfying the demands of divine righteousness for all who come to Him by faith, and was raised from the dead on the third day.
The multifaceted ministry of the Holy Spirit includes the inspiration of Scripture, conviction of sin, regeneration, harvesting the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the church, and the exercise of spiritual gifts for ministry.
The task of the church is to evangelize the nations of the world, to baptize those who believe, and to teach the ways and purposes of God—making a clear offer of salvation to all people. The doctrine of the electing providence of God is a biblical doctrine but does not prevent anyone from coming to Christ.**
In the plan and purpose of God, He created two genders—male and female. Marriage according to God’s design is the union of one man and one woman for life. Sexual intimacy is reserved only for that union and anything else is unacceptable and an expression of rebellion against God.
In keeping with God’s plan and purpose, women and men are both created/born in God’s image and are thus equal in essence and standing before God. Women and men are assigned complementary roles before God. The husband is the spiritual head of the family. He relates to his wife through tender, sacrificial care, and she relates to him by spiritual submission and respect. In harmony with the overall creation order, women are not to exercise authority over men in the church.
Absolute freedom of faith or even non-faith is given by virtue of the fact that all men are moral agents made in God’s image.
Love and forgiveness are mandated by Christ as the motivations for relationships among men rather than unsubstantiated accusations and vile vindictiveness.
The consummation of this age will be in the return of Christ to receive his bride, the church.
The triumphant reign of Christ on the earth will be for 1,000 glorious years exhibiting the righteousness of God’s Kingdom.***
These truths constitute the focus of my life and preaching. I have not wavered from these since I began my ministry, and I pray that even if I have to stand completely alone, God would grant my hope that I would support each of these truths.
However, I have every reason to believe that the fourteen points stated above represent the convictions of the majority of Southern Baptist peoples and churches. The future effectiveness of Southern Baptists depends heavily on the support of these Baptist principles and on an aggressive reinstatement of evangelism. May God help us in this hour.
*The exception to this rule is that babies who have not yet reached an age of accountability are born with sinful nature but are covered by the Atonement of Christ.
**Baptists have always been divided on the doctrine of election. I have no problems with those who hold to these doctrines in a different way as long as evangelism remains primary. These fourteen commitments represent my personal perspective, and I intend to allow differences on this issue.
***This issue is viewed in several ways by orthodox Southern Baptists. While this statement represents my own view, I acknowledge room for discussion. The one essential is the actual bodily return of Christ for the church and the close of the age.