THE MARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
The following Biblical principles
were observed by the local churches found in the New Testament. We might call them the "marks" of a New Testament church.
While many denominations have held to one or even several of these truths down through the ages, only those groups through
which we trace our Baptist heritage have held to most or all of these truths regarding the local church.
These churches, by their
conformity to the principles set down for local churches in the Word of God, have the right to call themselves a New Testament
For more than 300 years, the majority
of New Testament churches having all these characteristics, have called themselves BAPTIST churches, so that in many places,
the name "Baptist" has become synonymous with "the New Testament church," even to the extent that New Testament churches,
which do not wish to go by the name "Baptist," still describe themselves as "baptistic."
The Word of God is our only authority for faith and practice (II
Tim. 3:16, 17; II Peter 1:20,21; See also Col. 2:8)
AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
The local church is established by the Lord Jesus Christ, and governed
by its members, with Himself as the Head (Mt. 16:18; Acts 15:22; Col. 1:18).
PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER
Every believer is a priest with direct access to God, through the
Lord Jesus Christ, and has the right and responsibility to personally study and understand God's Word, guided by the Holy
Spirit (I Pet. 2:5; Heb. 4:14,15; 7:24,25; John 16:13).
Believer's baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper are the only
ordinances which the Lord commanded His followers to observe. They are not sacraments (Mt. 28:20; Acts 2:41,42: I Cor. 11:24).
Every believer must be fully persuaded in his own mind as to Scriptural
truth, since he must give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:5,10,12)
Only those who are born again and who are Scripturally baptized
can become members of a local church (John 3:3; Acts 2:41 47; Col. 1:2).
Pastors (also called elders and bishops) and deacons are the only
Scriptural officers of a church, and are chosen by the members (Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:1,8; Acts 20:17,28).
OF CHURCH AND STATE
The church and the state must never exercise authority over
one another. Each has a distinct responsibility in the world (Mt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1; Acts 5:29).