The preaching ministry of First Baptist Church of Gonzales comes from a reformed theological perspective. What exactly does that mean?
Primarily, it means we believe that salvation is the work of God alone. His wisdom, grace, and mercy make salvation possible. His sovereign will determines who will ultimately be saved. The sacrificial death of His Son on the cross accomplishes all that is necessary for salvation to be made available to us. And His effectual calling means that His people will hear and respond to what He has done.
God does indeed call those who would follow Him to respond. People are called to believe, that is, to trust that Jesus Christ alone is able to save them; and to repent, which means to turn away from their sins. However, neither of these things would be possible apart from God doing a work in the heart.
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:25-26
Historically, there has been much debate about this issue, sometimes broadly referred to as Election, Predestination, or even Calvinism. On this topic, there is disagreement among even the wisest and most respected of theologians, pastors, and teachers. At FBCG, members are not required to agree on these points. However, our preaching and teaching ministries are influenced strongly by this reformed perspective.
Since many people have never considered this particular view of salvation, we urge prospective members to consider the following ways to help process their understanding of this issue and any other doctrine which may be challenging:
- PERSONAL STUDY
At the heart of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is the development of a systematic understanding of what the Bible says about everything. Certainly, examining the tensions between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility falls into that category.
How do you reconcile Romans 9 with John 3:16 and I Timothy 2:4? 2 Peter 3:9 with Matthew 11:25-27 and John 6:44? The task of every believer, like the Bereans before us, is to search the Scriptures that we might understand them and obey them.
- PASSION FOR THE GOSPEL AND THE GREAT COMMISSION
Any belief that seeks to quench evangelism, missions, and prayer is unbiblical and must be rejected out of hand as sinful. The God of the Bible saves by grace through faith, not by election. Since “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), we must go high and low, far and wide, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The well-meant-offer of the Gospel to every person must be our common conviction as it is based on the commands of our Savior. Our theology must fuel such obedience.
- PATIENCE, FORBEARANCE, AND RESPECT
We urge an honest reading of material from those who embrace the reformed position instead of exclusively from those who write against it. For example, Timothy George provides great help in his work Amazing Grace: God’s Initiative-Our Response. He is a Southern Baptist. The book is published by Lifeway, and he writes from the reformed position. If you are interested, we’d be happy to get you a copy.
It is our prayer for each new member that their time in the FBCG family would be a season of great joy in their walk with Christ. Regardless of the topic, the Elders of the church ultimately want all of us searching the Scriptures to see if these things are true.