Who are Free Will Baptists?
Free Will Baptist roots can be traced to England as early as 1611. The first FWB church in America was begun by Paul Palmer in 1727 in Perquimans County, North Carolina. Some years later, in 1780, under the leadership of Benjamin Randall, Free Will Baptists were established in the northeast at New Durham, New Hampshire. From these early beginnings, Free Will Baptists in America have had a continuing ministry. Today, the National Association of Free Will Baptists is active in 40 states and 20 foreign countries. The work of the National Association is promoted from the National Office Building and Randall House Publications, both located in Nashville, Tennessee.
What do Free Will Baptists believe?
We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each co-eternal in being, co-identical in nature, coequal in power and glory, and having the same attributes: self-existent, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, loving, just, merciful, and immutable.
We believe that God created the universe out of nothing. The Genesis account of creation is to be understood historically, while not negating its literary significance. The entirety of creation, including humanity, has God as its origin. God’s creation was perfect, and despite the effects of sin upon it after the Fall, it is to be received and treated as a gift from God.
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the human race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God. Man is totally depraved and, of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
In His grace, we believe that God has provided special revelation to fallen mankind in the form of the Bible. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible and God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine revelation of God to Man.
THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man, without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful men. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice; and, that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of intercession and advocate.
THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and, that He is the source of regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling and sealing them unto the day of redemption. We believe that the Spirit of God assists believers to understand and appropriate the Scriptures and that it is the privilege and duty of all the saved to be filled with the Spirit. We believe that God is sovereign in the bestowal of spiritual gifts to every believer. God uniquely uses evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip believers in the assembly in order that they can do the work of the ministry. We believe that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gift of healing, were temporary. Speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit and that ultimate deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our salvation in the resurrection, though God frequently chooses to answer the prayers of believers for physical healing.
We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. We believe that those who would comply with the condition of salvation (faith) constitute His elect, and that God has given to man the freedom of choice (common grace) permitting him to yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit or to resist and perish. We believe that God desires the salvation of all people everywhere. We believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh.
THE SANCTIFICATION OF BELIEVERS
We believe that every believer is sanctified in Christ at conversion; that this setting apart continues during the Christian life as the believer grows in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (not sinless perfection); and that it is completed when the believer stands in the presence of Christ, either at death or at the coming of Christ for His Church. We believe God enables the redeemed to persevere in their faith, yet permits believers to maintain the ability blaspheme the Holy Spirit, commit apostasy, and become forever lost.
We believe that the local church, which is the body and the espoused bride of Christ, is comprised of born-again persons. We believe in the autonomy of the local church free of any external authority or control, though it may enjoin itself to other like-minded church bodies for mutual accountability, fellowship, and collective ministry efforts. Elders or pastors and deacons are the two biblical offices of the church. We recognize water baptism (by immersion, for believers only), the Lord’s Supper (which is to be open to all born-again believer’s present), and Feet Washing, as the Scriptural ordinances of obedience for the church.
THE CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS
We believe in that “blessed hope,” the personal, imminent, glorious return of Jesus Christ. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment. It is at this point that God will institute a new heaven and a new earth in which the redeemed will live and reign with Christ.