Baptist Distinctives 4
Bible is the only rule of faith and practice
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Separation of Church and State
What do we mean by soul liberty?
Every believer has the liberty to choose what his conscience or soul dictates is right according to Scripture. II Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
You have freedom to study and learn
You realize that the Bible is not just a book you play with but that God has a purpose in all He wrote
If you study correctly you will not come up with something that no one else has ever come up with
Each individual is responsible for himself before God Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Each of us serve the Lord Jesus Christ
None of us is a master to the other
You are to be fully persuaded in your own mind Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Every believer is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit who teaches and guides us Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
You are responsible
You are to do your own study and do right I Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
You are responsible for your own spiritual growth II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
You are responsible to make sure it is truth Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
You are responsible to be sure of your own salvation II Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
That is why we do not allow babies to be baptized
We do not allow the state to dictate to us what to believe
We do not allow the church or pastor to dictate to us II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Concerns about soul liberty
A person should never use their liberty to harm or hinder their brother Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
You should never use your liberty to sin Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Historically many pastors, even Baptist, feared that the pastor would lose authority and the ability to lead if the people had this much freedom
We persuade instead of force believers
Limitations on soul liberty
We are never free to disobey the Scripture Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
We are never to harm other believers
We are not a law unto ourselves
We are not free to disregard the freedom of our brother Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
We are not free to pull away from everyone just because we want to believe what we want to believe
Perversions of soul liberty
The idea of just me and my Bible or me, my family, and my Bible would be twisting this doctrine Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
It would be wrong if we quit working at sharpening each other Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
It would be wrong to not care about your testimony because you are free I Corinthians 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
It would be wrong for a church not to care what the people believed I Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.