OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP)–Why are you a Southern Baptist? No doubt there are many valid answers to that question. For some, the reason is that your parents raised you in the church and, it is the denomination of your birth. Others found Christ in a Southern Baptist church, and it became your spiritual home. For still others, your involvement in Southern Baptist life came after having studied our doctrine and practices.
I have contemplated this subject many times. And while I can identify with all three groups mentioned above, I have two very clear reasons.
I am a Southern Baptist because of the truths we believe. There is not space enough for me to deal with all of our basic tenets of the faith. But there are three significant ones that separate us from many and indeed most.
— I am a Southern Baptist because of what we believe about the Bible. While some are still confused, the majority of us believe the Bible we hold in our hand is the infallible and inerrant Word of God. It does not contain the Word of God, but it is the Word of God; it is alive and sharper than a two edged sword. When it speaks, it speaks truth. It declares the mind and heart of God. It is through the Bible that we come to know the glorious Incarnate Word of God. Southern Baptists hold to no other creed, and the Bible is our guide for faith and life.
— I am a Southern Baptist because of what we believe about salvation. We hold tenaciously to the truth that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. It is the gift of a loving God who sent His Son to die for our sins, and through faith we receive the very life of God for eternity. Moreover, Southern Baptists declare that salvation is eternal life. You do not get it today and lose it tomorrow. The God who redeemed us keeps us until the day of His appearing. Many believe in salvation by faith, but few hold as strongly to eternal security as do Southern Baptists.
— I am a Southern Baptist because of our stand on baptism. Baptism has no regenerative powers. Baptism is an outward picture of our inward commitment. We baptize by immersion because the Greek word transliterated baptize means “to plunge under.” Indeed, the picture rendered of our identity with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection in baptism would be empty except by immersion.
Yet, one can find others who hold to these doctrines. Which leads me to the most distinctive reason I am a Southern Baptist. It is because of the way we do missions. While many in our churches today are ignorant of the Cooperative Program, it is for me the bedrock for my own commitment to the Southern Baptist faith.
The Cooperative Program allows me to put my arms around the world through giving. I can preach the Gospel every day of the week at home, in America and to the ends of the Earth. I have the privilege of reaching an international student through a collegiate ministry, or a ghetto dweller through a mission center, or a Chinese peasant on the mainland or a high-powered executive in Brussels. How? Through my gifts to my local church and my church’s support of the Cooperative Program, I undergird the ministry of more than 10,000 missionaries.
That’s why I am Southern Baptist — and I thank the Lord every day that I am.
Anthony Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.