What kind of Christians are we?
Followers of Jesus Christ are often called Christians, and there are lots of different groups of Christians. Where do we fit in? How is our belief different from other Christians’ belief? For a long time there was just one church. In 1054 that split apart, forming the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. About 500 years a group split from the Catholic Church: Protestants.
As you may guess from the name, they were protesting. One of the Protestants’ main ideas was that everyone has the right to decide for themselves what they believe about God, based on how they understood the Bible, rather than the church deciding what right belief is.
It wasn’t much later that Baptists came into being – around 1609. So Baptists have been around for more than 400 years and, as you may guess, there are varieties of Baptists! Rosebery Park is a member of the largest group of Baptist Churches in Britain – the Baptist Union of Great Britain. One thing Baptists believe very strongly is that people should be baptised to show that they have made a commitment to follow Jesus. We’re not very keen on a little sprinkling of water on the forehead. When we use the word ‘baptised’ we mean, going underwater! It’s a very special ceremony.
But we can’t quite finish identifying ourselves here. Over about the last 200 years there have been many attacks on the Bible. Partly because of these attacks many Christians don’t believe the Bible is entirely true. As a result some Christian leaders divide Christians up a different way, not into Orthodox and Catholics and Protestants, for example, but into those who believe the Bible is true and those who don’t.
The position of the leaders of Rosebery Park Baptist Church is that the Bible is true. We’re aware that this can be a difficult position. What do we make of stories like Noah and the flood, for example? But we don’t see any compelling reason not to believe the Bible is true and many reasons to believe that it is.
The Basis of the Baptist Union, which Rosebery Park agrees with, is stated in a Declaration of Principle as follows:
- That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.
- That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of those who have professed repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who ‘died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and rose again the third day’.
- That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.
What is a Christian anyway?
Perhaps the simplest answer is, ‘someone who knows God’. The Bible teaches that we can actually know God through Jesus! Jesus addressed God as ‘Abba, father’. ‘Abba’ is a very intimate term. Later in the Bible one of the early leaders of the church, Paul, said that we also address God this way: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba Father!’” Just as a good human father knows us and we know him, we can know God as ‘father’. We can have a relationship of love, understanding, respect and trust with God! To enter into this relationship we have to repent of sin in our lives and commit to Jesus being Lord. Or we could say, the gaffer! We commit to listening to him, and what he says goes.
Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF