I grew up in Sidney, Ohio being raised as a Catholic. I thought that I was going to heaven based upon my good works and belief in God. That all changed when a young man in my high school invited me to attend an Independent Baptist church. I cannot tell you how I felt the first time I walked inside that church building, sat down, sang uplifting music and heard a powerful message from the Bible. The only thing I knew was that I had experienced something far different from the man-made religion I grew up in. Three times a week my friend picked me up in his car and took me to church. Finally, after an evangelistic preaching service at Cedar Point (yes I was saved at an amusement park), my pastor shared the gospel with me and I became a child of God.
At the age of fifteen, my life was transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, there have been a lot of growing pains, but from that time until now, my only desire is to please my Savior. My doctrine is Baptist because I started with the Bible and have made it the final authority of my life. I serve as the pastor of an Independent Baptist church not because someone made me, but because God has called me into the ministry. Yes, I’ve been hurt by so-called Independent Baptists, but I understand that everyone is human. No, I don’t agree with 100% of everything that is taking place in every Independent Baptist church. Does it really matter? No, because I’m independent from your church.
I love being an Independent Baptist because it’s the closest thing to New Testament Christianity. I’m not saying that because I have accepted a list of rules, traditions or ideas. I’m talking about the term Independent Baptist. Let me explain. Every church in the first century were local, independent congregations that were accountable to Jesus Christ. Okay, they weren’t called Baptists. So what, it doesn’t matter. You have to call yourself something.
Listen to this:
“Of the Baptists it may be said that they are not Reformers. These people, comprising bodies of Christian believers, known under various names in different countries, are entirely independent of and distinct from the Greek and Roman churches, and have an unbroken continuity from apostolic days down through the centuries. Throughout this long period they were bitterly persecuted for heresy, driven from country to country, disfranchised, deprived of their property, imprisoned, tortured and slain by the thousands; yet they swerved not from the New Testament faith, doctrine and practice.”—King, William C. Crossing the Centuries. Springfield, MA: Editorial Associates, 1912
Here is what matters most to God. How much does your doctrine and practice match up with the Bible? Wow, convicting isn’t it? Because I love Jesus Christ, I choose to be Independent Baptist. I enjoy the sweet fellowship of so many who desperately want revival. I’m thrilled to see so many who are tired of legalism and license, and want the liberty that can only be found in Jesus Christ. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ by choice, by conscience and by conviction. Because of this, I’m an Independent Baptist not because I’m married to the term, but because it best identifies who I am and what I want others to think of me.