MATTHEW 24:35; 1 PETER 1:23; 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
The Bible is our only authority for faith and practice. No insight, testimony, or decree of man, regardless of his piety or position, can ever supersede the Bible. This distinctive is the primary Baptist distinctive. All others spring from this absolute trust in the Scriptures.
AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
MATTHEW 18:15–17; 1 CORINTHIANS 6:1-3
Each local assembly is self-governing without any outside hierarchy of conventions. The local church is an independent body accountable to no one but our Lord. There is no person or organization on earth that can dictate what a local church can or should do. This does not prevent voluntary cooperation with other churches as long as such activity does not violate the church's independence or affiliate the church with false teaching.
PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
1 PETER 2:5-9; 1 TIMOTHY 5
Each believer is privileged to come to God individually without human or saintly intervention. Every believer today is a priest and may enter the presence of God directly through only one Mediator, our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. There is no other human mediator. Along with the privilege of priesthood, there is the responsibility as priests to live a life separated from sin and devoted to God.
TWO ORDINANCES (BELIEVER'S BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER)
ACTS 2:41–47; 1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-32
Two commands issued and instituted by Christ to His Church to be obeyed are Believers' Baptism and the Lord's Table. An "ordinance" is a picture of saving truth, as opposed to a "sacrament". Immersion is the only acceptable mode for baptism because it alone preserves the picture of saving truth. No other form pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Lord's Table (also called The Lord's Supper or communion) is a symbolic ordinance, picturing Christ's body broken for our sins and His blood shed for our redemption. It helps us remember His death, and inspires us while looking forward to His coming.
INDIVIDUAL SOUL LIBERTY
Every person has the right to worship God according to his conscience without coercion.
SAVED, BAPTIZED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
MATTHEW 16:18; EPHESIANS 5:23–32; COLOSSIANS 1:18
Church membership is restricted to people who have exhibited repentance toward God and exercised faith in Christ, and have publicly identified themselves with Christ in Biblical baptism (immersion). Membership is strictly a matter of obedience; it bestows no grace.
TWO OFFICES OF THE CHURCH (PASTOR AND DEACON)
1 TIMOTHY 3:1-13; TITUS 1–2
The Lord has established two offices, Pastor and Deacon, to minister to His flock. There is no additional hierarchy of offices. Pastors are also called bishops, overseers, or elders in the New Testament. Deacons are given to help the pastor in the daily administration and decision making of the church.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
The Lord has established the State to administer civil, secular government and the Church to minister the man's spiritual needs. The two are separate entities never to be intertwined.