Last year I wrote a couple of posts about the Christian Baptist Association (What is Christian Baptist? here & here). This is the association of churches that I have my ordination through and pastor. There was a time when I was a member of another group of Churches in the local area, but, the Lord led me to move into the same association that I had grown up loving.
The full name of the group is The Ohio Valley Association of Christian Baptist Churches of God. You can only imagine the questions people have about this long and unique name. However, that is not where this post will have its focus. Instead, the focus is on why I find such a deep love for the Christian Baptist. There are four reasons given here, among much more that I think will help readers to learn more about the Christian Baptist and to encourage my fellow members.
The Bible is our final authority.
It is our conviction that all things must be brought to Scripture. Scripture is the revelation of the Triune God and any work outside of it is opinion. It seems that many denominations are moving away from this standard and have elevated personal experience and emotional biases above the Bible. I have witnessed outside of our association and a few within it, who receive any teaching that labels itself as Christian and balk at any attempt to reconcile it with Biblical teaching. However, everything we need to know about worshipping God and living Christlike is found solely in Scripture.
We love God’s Word and are fully persuaded of its integrity. We do not need to add personal experiences or opinions to Scripture to validate it. Sure, those things are helpful in interpreting, but the Word of God is sufficient in and of itself.
The Holiness Accent
I am not speaking of stereotypical “holiness” groups. Instead, we preach and teach that Salvation of the person is complete and perfect for making a person whole. One reason that I hear many of my fellow members give for being Christian Baptist is that “We have the great doctrine.” What does this mean? Are we the only group with the right belief? No, and I don’t believe anyone in the association implies that as well. We share doctrines with other denominations that are essential for one to be called Christian. There is truly only One Church, and it reaches across the globe and throughout time.
This section is labeled The Holiness Accent. An accent is the”accentuated” or distinctive pronunciation in a language. So, when I speak of my holiness accent, I am referring to my underlying assumptions and inclinations. The holiness accent does not relate to our focus on external prohibitions of dress and behaviors (though we ought to have a godly lifestyle). Rather, we accentuate the fact that believers are saved to the “uttermost.”
God does not justify a person and leaves them with their old nature. Instead, when we are saved we are made new in Christ, and He imparts His nature to us. Believers do not sin every day when they are entirely given over to be led by the Holy Spirit. I heard it recently said, “It is our responsibility to keep from sinning, but it is God who gives us the power to keep from sinning.”
In summary, our holiness accent is that we preach and teach that believers can be fully transformed by God’s grace in this lifetime.
Freedom of Worship
There are many expressions of worship. Shared in Scripture is that God seeks worship from those that are in spirit and truth. These Biblical requirements for worship can be seen in both spontaneous and planned worship. However, with planned worship, it is very easy to write God out of the plan and focus on man’s emotional and intellectual experience. One thing I love about the Christian Baptist Association is that we are not afraid to worship God audibly and visually. We are not Pentecostal in several regards of expressive worship, but we are certainly not afraid to express our love and thankfulness to God.
I was raised Christian Baptist (my wife is from the Churches of Christ in Christian Union). However, I did not join one of the local churches at first. I joined the Kentucky Christian Conference that was based near Morehead, Kentucky. After a few years, God directed my path back to the Christian Baptist, and I have been here for last eleven years, pastoring one of the congregations for almost nine years and still there. Now, I am raising my children in the Christian Baptist.
My heritage is in the Christian Baptist, and a significant portion of my family call this association home as well. Yet, I also share a great love for our more extensive history. I have studied the history of its coming together in 1931 and the leaders and laity of previous generations. Listening to stories of past victories, miracles, and blessings that God has brought to pass in our camp meeting and the local congregation have been and continue to be formative in my spiritual walk.