GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH – each of these words is important. CHURCH links the website and the church building with the people who meet together regularly to worship and serve God. GRACE means that all the members of the church are what they are because of the grace of God – that is the love and mercy of God. They have not made themselves good enough for God by their own efforts; rather he has been wonderfully good to them. BAPTIST means that they have confessed their faith and been joined to the church by being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
All that the church believes and seeks to do is based on the Bible, which is the revealed Word of God. It was written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that it is just what God intended for our belief and behaviour, it is our final rule and guide for all faith and practice. The church also accepts the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith as a summary of the main truths taught by the Bible. The advantage of this Confession is that it is based upon and very similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the historic Confession of Presbyterianism and the Savoy Declaration of Congregationalism. These three confessions all express the same doctrinal Reformed faith, but differ on aspects of churchmanship, notably baptism.
The baptism carried out by John the Baptist took place in the river Jordan, which indicates that it was much more than just sprinkling water on a person. There is compelling evidence from early Christianity that baptism was by immersion, at least in all normal cases. Converts to the Christian faith were baptised and by this means they both confessed their faith and joined the church in the place where they lived. At the time of the Reformation those who were called Anabaptists appeared in Europe, and before long many emigrated to Britain to escape persecution. However, it was not until the next century that Baptist churches as such began to appear in this country. The first churches were called General Baptist, but in 1633 the first Particular Baptist Church – as it came to be known – was formed.
This church and those that followed it accepted the teaching associated with the Reformer, John Calvin, as was the case with many other churches in Britain at the time. They believed that salvation must be found ultimately in the gracious purposes of God. As sinners we are lost and helpless unless God works in our hearts by his Holy Spirit and through his Word. Unless we are born again by the Spirit we will never believe in Jesus Christ and follow him. It is by grace, that is, the free unmerited good pleasure and mercy of God, that anyone is saved. Of course this raises questions that we can’t answer, but we do not need to. We trust in the Word of God and know in our hearts that we would never have submitted ourselves to Jesus Christ unless he had first worked within us.
We are glad and thankful that we belong to churches which have this heritage, which often call themselves Grace Baptist as we do. We believe of course in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all. We rejoice in the knowledge that our whole salvation was accomplished by Jesus Christ. By his life of perfect obedience we are made righteous, by his atoning death on the cross we are forgiven all our sins, by his resurrection we have a sure and certain hope of resurrection and glory. We owe everything to him, and to him belongs all the praise and glory.