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What's in a Name?

All of us have been to a place or had a person that brings disrepute upon the name or title that they bear. For instance, I know many people in town that feel that one Hospital or another has discredited the reputation of the name of their Hospital or some specialized type of Doctor has brought ill repute upon their specific area of the profession. In either case, I have not heard of anyone seeking to remove those designations or titles because they have gotten a bad name. For instance, “Memorial Hermann” has not become just “Hospital”, or some said Oncologist taken on the simple title “Doctor”, since people still need a sense of understanding as to the kind of the place or person to whom they are going, even if they may not live up to the billing.

Much in the same way, we retain the name “Baptist” and are not nondescript like so many today, because the label has historical significance, and has become synonymous with a place and a people that hold tenaciously to the Scriptures as the very Word of God and the whole counsel of God as vital for faith in living out the Christian life (Acts 20:27-32). As one elderly lady said upon hearing that her grandson was attending the Baptist church, “oh, that is hardcore!”. We are not about to abandon the name, “Baptist”, just because there are some who do not live up to the standard or display what has become known as our particular distinctives.

So what are the biblical distinctives of a Baptist? What sets our church apart from others? What is in the name or label that makes it worth keeping and not setting aside for something more generic or nondescript? Let me begin to give answer to these questions over the next few weeks.

For starters, I have already put forth the very important tenant of the Bible being the authority for our church in faith and practice. Let me narrow that down a bit, and say that we are a New Testament local church (Acts is about the church, & tells of its beginning in chapter 2 & subsequent development following). The N.T., and even more specifically, the letters/books written to the church from 1 Corinthians through Revelation, guide us in the things that are specifically for the local church today. There are instructions and examples in the areas of what a people gathering as a church must believe and how a believer is to conduct himself in the church and outside of it.

Also, of great importance, is the fact that the Bible (the 66 books & in particular those 22 books of the N.T. mentioned above) is our only source of authority. It and it alone tells us what we are to believe and the outworking of that belief. We have no other books, persons, or reasonings that we consult for spiritual and practical instruction. God has spoken to us through His written Word and the Scriptures are the sole and sufficient source we rely upon (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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