The beliefs of the Reformed Baptists are summarized in the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. In this document, the major doctrines of the Bible are stated clearly and concisely, yet with sufficient fullness so as to provide a useful reference manual in this age of confusion.
Apart from referring to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, how may we describe the Reformed Baptists? Reformed Baptists are characterized by the following emphases:
The sovereignty of God: God is all-powerful and in absolute control — in creation, history, and salvation. God has predestined certain individuals from before the creation of the world to be saved. These are known as “the elect”. Every person is born sinful and is unable to do anything good to make God accept him. God calls out the elect from the world by the proclamation of the gospel, and changes their nature by the power of the Holy Spirit so that they willingly turn to Christ to be saved. Christ died as a sacrifice in the place of the elect, and rose from death to give them eternal life.
The primacy of God’s word: Scripture is the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. Preaching must occupy the central place in the worship service. The Bible is to be preached in an expository manner — giving the correct meaning and applications, and directed to the conscience of the hearers.
The purity of worship: The worship of God must be carried out “in spirit and truth”, i.e. with sincerity and according to God’s word. Whatever is commanded must be followed, while anything not commanded must be rejected. This is sometimes called “the regulative principle”. Worship is kept God-centered, at the same time that the worshippers maintain a spirit of reverence, joy, warmth, and love.
The purity of the church: The local church is central and unique in the purposes of God. Baptized believers voluntarily covenant together as a church to worship and serve God. A high level of commitment is required of the members, but no higher than what is taught in the Bible. Abilities differ from individual to individual, but the Lord only requires that one does what he is able, and no more. Through the exercise of pastoral oversight and church discipline, the membership is kept healthy and pure. No church is perfect in this world, but that does not mean a church should be allowed to lose its spirituality.
A thorough discipleship: Reformed Baptists take seriously the truth that they have been bought by the blood of Christ. They belong to God and wish to glorify God by living in accordance to the teaching of Scripture, even at great personal cost to themselves. Conscious that they have been reconciled with God, they actively seek to lead others to faith in Christ. They do not claim to be perfect but, in dependence upon God, attempt to live holy lives.