Thursday, September 28, 2006


This is Part 6 of a continuing series of articles examining the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This statement of faith was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting on June 14, 2000 “to set forth certain teachings which we believe.”


Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.
(Baptist Faith and Message, 2000)

It is easier for a man to make a monkey out of himself than for a monkey to make a man out of himself. Yet, the evolutionist would have us believe otherwise. “Once I was a tadpole swimming in the sea; then I was a monkey sitting in a tree; now, I’m a professor with a PHD!” Ludicrous? Of course—unreasonable and unbiblical!

We are God’s special creation—the pinnacle of all His perfect work. His handiwork is evident in all He spoke into existence, but nothing compares to the one and only creation marked indelibly with His very imprint—humankind. If we are mere products of random processes and eons of mutations, a cosmic accident, albeit a highly developed one, another species of animal, yet a beast nonetheless then where can meaning and purpose to life be found? Yet we are so much more than that.

Male and female we were fashioned—different, yet equal—both the special creation of God. As the man and woman were designed to relate to God, they were also designed to relate to one another. In these days when our politically correct culture seeks to obliterate the distinctiveness of gender, it is good to be reminded that this is a formula for disaster, antithetical to the very design of God and the deep desires of the human heart.

When Adam and Eve were placed in paradise—in a pristine environment untainted by sin—they were in a state of innocence. Being in the image of God meant that they had a will and could make moral decisions. The choice before them was to obey God or to disobey and thereby unleash sin and death on the world. Tragically, they chose sin, and the curse took root among Eden’s fair flowers. Now, the bitter fruit of that curse pervades creation and contaminates all it touches.

Because of this we are born—not in a state of innocence—but in state of sinfulness. Woven into the fabric of our being are the dark threads of iniquity manifest in a deluded mind, a defiled heart, and a defiant will. We are sinners by nature and sinful by choice. No one has to instruct us how to sin—we take to it as a fowl to the sky and a fish to the sea. This sin separates us from God. As Adam and Eve hid from Him—the One with whom they once had intimate fellowship—so we run from the Holy One, down a pathway of rebellion, farther and farther from our Creator.

We are in a hopeless state—helpless to save ourselves. All of us are under the sentence of death—sinners, condemned, unclean. That is what makes grace so amazing. It saves a wretch like me—and like you. That grace reaches into the cesspool of sin and plucks us out and cleans us up and plants our feet on the solid rock of salvation. What Adam forfeited because of sin is restored because of salvation. Jesus reconciles us to God. His cross becomes the bridge over a chasm too wide for us to traverse—the one and only means to get back to God, back to Eden, back to fellowship with our Maker.

Life is precious. Its value is best measured in the incalculable worth of Christ’s blood, shed to redeem that life for God. Male and female, young and old, rich and poor, educated and illiterate—red, and yellow, black and white—they are precious in His sight.

Even the unborn and the aged, the physically handicapped and the mentally retarded—all human beings bear the dignity of those made in the image of God and purchased by the Son of God. Ours is a disposable society—we throw away paper plates and plastic forks, foam cups and paper towels—and this carries over to disposing of the unwanted pregnancy or the unneeded elderly. This is an assault on the handiwork of heaven—those formed in the image of God. Professing ourselves to be wise we have become fools, calling a baby a fetus—an inconvenient glob of cells to be vacuumed from a mother’s womb as mere human waste. In this culture of death where human life is counted cheap we must remember what the Bible says.

How different is the reality—the superlative dignity of man! The Psalmist was in awe when he said,
3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you have set in place— 4 what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us? 5 For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor. 6 You put us in charge of everything you made, giving us authority over all things— 7 the sheep and the cattle and all the wild animals, 8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. 9 O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth!
(Psalm 8:3-9 NLT)

We are imago Dei—Latin, for made in the image of God! That image, marred by sin, is restored the moment we are born again—when we receive Christ by faith.

This is Part 5 of a continuing series of articles examining the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This statement of faith was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting on June 14, 2000 “to set forth certain teachings which we believe.”

God the Holy Spirit

“The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.”
Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.
(Baptist Faith and Message, 2000)

In our treasured hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” we correctly sing “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” The Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son; indeed He is the very Spirit of God and Christ. We should never refer to Him as an “it” or think of Him as the Force. He is a person with all the characteristics of personality. Scripture pictures the Holy Spirit as able to reason, feel, and act. He communicates and supports us in a personal way. The Holy Spirit is a Person! He is God!

As the Revealer of truth, He has inspired the writing of Scripture—both Old and New Testaments. He moved upon prophets and apostles to write down the Word of God and gave oversight to the process so as to produce the flawless revelation of God. Having inspired the writers, He now works to illumine the readers. Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide us into all truth.

As Christ reveals the Father and glorifies Him, so the Spirit reveals the Son and glorifies Him. It is His special ministry to bear witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. He does this primarily through the people He indwells—the church, Christ’s Body.

It is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Christ and births us into the family of God. He does so by convicting us of sin, the need for righteousness, and the inevitability of judgment. His effectual call produces faith in us to receive God’s forgiveness through Christ. We are then born again—a spiritual birth that makes us a new creation.

When we receive Christ we are baptized in the Holy Spirit—immersed into Christ—and He likewise comes to indwell us. Water baptism is a visible picture of this spiritual reality. As the believer is “buried” in water, he or she is testifying that they have been spiritually connected to the work of Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection—buried with Him in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life. That is the work of the Spirit of God.

As the life of Christ indwelling the believer, the Spirit begins to produce His fruit in us—the fruit of Christlikeness—love, joy, peace, and all the rest. Not only is the fruit of the Spirit produced in us, but also the gifts of the Spirit are bestowed on us, equipping us for spiritual service. All God’s children are gifted children, having at least one gift, and often several, given by the sovereign will and grace of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Comforter,” literally, one who stands beside us. He is always with us—will never leave, nor forsake us. In times of great stress and heartache, we find Him manifesting His presence as our peace and comfort.

From the moment we receive Christ, the Spirit comes to indwell us as our seal of a secure salvation. He is the guarantee that our redemption will be consummated in heaven—not one child of God being lost along the way.

Although we must not think of the Holy Spirit of God as being some impersonal force—some thing or it—we surely recognize that He is the source of our strength—that apart from Him we can do nothing, but with Him we can do all things. One thing God demands is worship in spirit and truth. The Spirit of Truth moving on the congregation enables us to exalt Christ in worship that is spiritual and true—the only acceptable way. His presence and power in our lives empowers us to share the Gospel and serve the Lord—the only effective way.

We dare not lean on our own ingenuity or ability. The task is too large for us—it is beyond us. It demands the power of God. We would be stupid not to call upon and rely upon the Spirit of the Living God!

Thankfully, we do not have to live in our own strength. The Holy Spirit will fill us—that is control us, energize us, and anoint us, so we may impact our world for Christ.