Grace Reformed Baptist Ministries is a local independent Ministry that was formed because of the desire to have in eastern North Carolina, a church that was Biblically based, Baptist in practice, and reformed in doctrinal understanding.
Although many are familiar with Baptist churches in this area, the idea of a Reformed Baptist church is unfamiliar. Therefore this will be a word of explanation.
The name “Reformed” originates with the great movement of reformation that took place as a growing tide, starting before and carrying into the 16th century. The Original purpose of the reformation was to bring the Roman Catholic Church to a Biblical position. Martin Luther was one of the outstanding leaders in the reformation at that time. But he and others failed in their attempt to reform the tyrannical Catholic Church. Many of the reformers were killed and thousands died under the persecution, carried out by the Roman church, called the Inquisition.
But against what must have seemed like impossible odds, the reformation began to flourish under other second generation leaders. The churches that they founded were known as Reformed churches and were mainly in Switzerland, Holland and Germany. In England and Scotland they became known as Presbyterian churches. In France they were called Huguenots. These reformers and their churches believed that the church should strongly influence the societies in which they existed. Their doctrine can be encapsulated in four statements.
Solus Christus Salvation is accomplished by the complete mediatory work of Jesus Christ on the cross alone
Sola Fide Justification by faith alone
Sola Gratia Salvation by God’s grace alone
Sola Scriptura The Bible alone as a basis for faith and practice
Soli Deo Gloria God alone receives the glory in the salvation of sinners
The Reformed churches, though differing in name, always maintained a similar strong doctrinal and confessional emphasis. Their church governments were representative in nature rather than congregational as generally seen today. Because of ongoing attacks against them, they began to carefully formulate their doctrine and practice. Jacobus Arminius (1559-1609) brought such an attack carefully prepared in a five points. He believed
- Man was not totally depraved, but that his will remains uncorrupted making him free to determine his own destiny.
- God’s grace is resistible so that man can thwart God’s desire to save him.
- God’s election is conditioned by God’s foresight to see his faith, therefore making him one of the elect.
- The atonement of Jesus Christ is exactly the same for every individual being, making salvation available for all but not guaranteeing it for anyone
- Final salvation is possible for believers, but ultimate victory rests in their continuation in the faith, rather than in the hands of God.
On the other hand, reformed doctrine can be summed up as follows:
T – Total depravity of all mankind Man, because of his total sinfulness, has neither the ability nor the desire to come to God.
U – Unconditional Election God chooses men to salvation based on His Grace alone. Nothing man can do will merit salvation.
L – Limited Atonement The atonement (sacrifice of Jesus Christ) applies only to those that believe, who are before the foundation of the world, the elect of God.
I – Irresistible Grace The work of the Holy Spirit bring men to Jesus Christ. This assures that all of the elect will be saved.
P – Perseverance of the Saints Those who are truly born of God will continue by the power of God to live in the faith. None who are truly saved can ever be lost.
During this period of time, most of the reformed churches, ascribed to the Belgic, Heidleburg, or Dort confessions of faith.
A third generation of reformers came on the scene about 1610. They desired to take Protestantism to its Biblical conclusion. They were convinced that every local church should be free of ecclesiastical and state control. They also believed that the local church membership should be made up only of regenerated members. They strongly emphasized purity of living, and baptism only of those who professed faith in Christ. They did not practice or accept baptism of infants. These churches were first organized in England and Holland and were known as Baptist Churches. In 1644 they formulated what is known as the London Confession of Faith.
In 1639, the first Baptists organized a church in Rhode Island. Again they faced bitter opposition and persecution in America and growth was slow. The new Baptist church was outstanding in its support of the colonies’ move toward independence, before and during the Revolution. The signing of the Constitution helped to quiet the conflict faced by the church. Unity among the Baptist Churches also promoted foreign and domestic missionary outreaches.
In 1689, the Baptist churches wrote “The Philadelphia Confession of Faith” to be used as a creed for all Baptist churches. It was nearly universally accepted and is still used for the doctrinal statements in many Baptist churches, especially those that seek to follow true Baptist doctrine and practice.
It is with this background, and seeking to establish its true baptistic position and heritage, that the Grace Reformed Baptist Church has been founded.
You are invited to become a part of this return to true Baptist roots, but the question to you is not “Are you Baptist?”, but, “Are you truly born again?”
Do you know without hesitation, that if you were to die today you would have eternal life?
Jesus said, “If any man will come to me, I will in no wise cast him out.” Will you set aside your religious efforts and simply trust His finished work on the cross for your salvation?