At the church where I pastor, First Baptist Church of Decherd Tennessee, we have a special day called Baptist Men’s Day. On this day we have special activities for men and an emphasis on godly manhood and leadership along with a celebration of Baptist men. You may ask, “What is a Baptist man?” To answer this question, it is first important that we consider the history of Baptists. Unfortunately, many are confused about church history and have tried to lump Baptists in with what is known as Protestant churches. It is widely thought that a Protestant is any Christian that is not Catholic. However, this is simply not true. Baptist history is actually difficult to trace. There is no particular date to signify the birth of the Baptist church. As a matter of fact, Baptists can trace their roots back long before the Protestant Reformation and there is much evidence to this point. Dr. Vernon C. Lyons writes:
“Protestants date from the sixteenth century. They are the Lutherans, the Reformed, and others who were once Roman Catholics and left the Roman Catholic faith to start denominations of their own. The Baptists never left the Roman Catholic church as did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. They never left because they were never in. They did not begin their existence at the time of the Reformation, but hundreds of years prior to the Reformation. Baptists make no effort to trace a historical succession back to the age of the Apostles. Their only claim is that at every age in church history there have been groups that have held to the same doctrines that Baptists hold today. These groups may or may not have been connected and they have been known by various names. There were the Montanists (150 A.D.), the Novatians (240 A.D.), Donatists (305 A.D.), Albigenses (1022 A.D.), Waldensians (1170 A.D.), and the name Anabaptists came into prominence just before the time of the Protestant Reformation. Full historical data immediately refutes the view that there was only one religious group — the Roman Catholic church -until the time of Martin Luther. Anyone who claims this simply has not done his homework.”
Cardinal Hosius (1504-1579) who was a Roman Catholic that worked to suppress non-Catholic groups said the following: “Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past 1,200 years, they would swarm in greater number than the Reformers.” Time does not permit an exhaustive study in Baptist roots and history; however, I do encourage more personal research to understand more fully our historical roots as Baptists.
Those groups from which Baptists come from have a very consistent doctrinal view. It is the doctrine that they held that led them to be severely persecuted by states, the Catholic church, and various Protestant groups. True Baptists are unique though today many groups that call themselves Baptist have fallen prey to false doctrines and a misunderstanding of their history. With this background in mind, what are the characteristics of a Baptist man?
A Baptist man has a strong and unwavering belief in the inspiration and authority of the scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Catholic Church and the Reformers hold to various creeds written by man. However, historical Baptists do not hold to any creed. The Bible alone is our source for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. The Baptist man does not concern himself with the creeds and philosophies of man, he simply adheres to ‘thus says the Lord.’ The Bible is the inspiration of God. It is the theo-pneustos – it is God-breathed. The Bible comes from the very breath of God. Life is breathed into all who read it and take it to heart. For the Baptist man, all that he believes and the way in which he lives is based on the Word of God. For the Baptist man, the Bible is the final and only authority in all matters. He does not follow a creed; he follows the Bible.
A Baptist man believes in the autonomy and congregational structure of the church. Unlike many Protestant and Reformed groups, the Baptist man does not believe in a church hierarchy. He believes the church may associate with or cooperate with other like-minded congregations and organizations for the sake of the furtherance of the Gospel; but he does not believe such associations have any authority over the local church. A Baptist man believes in the Biblical structure of the church where there are two Biblical offices of Pastor and Deacons. A Baptist man believes in the congregation as one body who makes the decisions on how they operate and govern themselves. A Baptist man does not believe in some type of ‘Elder-rule’ where a select group of men make all the decisions and has control of the church.
A Baptist man takes his responsibility as the spiritual head of his home seriously. Read Ephesians 5:25-6:4. In this passage we find where men are to love their wife as Christ loves the church. He is to give his life for her and nurture and lead her. He is also to bring his children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Meaning, he is to teach and lead his children to follow and honor the Lord. A Baptist man will do this by example as he makes involvement in the local church a priority for his family and personally engages in spiritual growth.
A Baptist man holds to a Biblical Gospel. A Baptist man does not give in to the ideas and philosophies of man. He does not waver from the simple Gospel that Christ died for the sins of the whole world and that salvation comes by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A Baptist man believes there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. He believes that all are lost in their sins and doomed for hell apart from Christ. He believes firmly in ‘whosever will’ may come and believe and be saved. He refuses any notion that salvation comes in any other way either by the false claims and distortions of Biblical doctrines by the reformers that God has predestined certain individual lost people of His choosing to be saved or the false ideas of others that claim one must abide by certain laws in order to be saved. A Baptist man does not waver from John 3:16, Romans 10:13, and many other passages that clearly states that salvation comes by believing in the Lord Jesus and that God will refuse no one who comes to Him by faith.
A Baptist man has an unwavering commitment to holy living. Because of his great love for the Lord and overwhelming desire to please Him, the Baptist man strives for holiness in his daily life. He spends time in God’s Word everyday and in prayer. He seeks the Lord and the filling of the Holy Spirit. His heart desire is to please God and to live in obedience to His Word.
A Baptist man is involved in the enterprise of evangelism through any means possible. It is the heart’s desire of every Baptist man that people would come to know Jesus as their Savior. He involves himself in personal evangelism and various organized mission endeavors to bring the Gospel to all people in all the world. A Baptist man will cooperate with other like-minded men to work together in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. Missions and Evangelism is the heartbeat of every true Baptist man.
You cannot do what you are supposed to do without being who you are, and you cannot be who you are without knowing who you are. Men, who are you? What has God created you to be? Are you a man that pleases God in every area of your life? Forget about being necessarily Baptist. Be a man. A real man honors God by living according to His Word and nothing else. Are you a man?