Who Are Free Will Baptists?
Who are Free Will Baptists? Free Will Baptist roots can be traced to England as early as 1611. The first FWB church in America was begun by Paul Palmer in 1727 in Perquimans County, North Carolina. Some years later, in 1780, under the leadership of Benjamin Randall, Free Will Baptists were established in the northeast at New Durham, New Hampshire. Both lines of Free Will Baptists taught the doctrines of free will, free grace, and free salvation. From these early beginnings, Free Will Baptists in America have had a continuing ministry. In 1935, the two groups came together to form the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Churches can now be found in 42 states and over 20 foreign countries. Four institutions of higher learning are spread out from east coast to west coast. A vibrant international and national mission program carries the Gospel to those who have not yet heard the good news. National, state, and local church men’s, women’s, and youth ministries give a place for everyone to be involved and serve. The National Association is headquartered in Antioch, Tennessee.
What Do Free Will Baptists Believe?
We believe that God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Righteous Ruler of the universe. He has revealed Himself in nature, and in the Scriptures of the Holy Bible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: yet as one God.
He is God’s unique Son; the only one of a kind. The Scripture teaches that He is God revealed in flesh. In His Divine nature He is truly God and in His human nature truly man. He is the One once crucified for man’s sin, the now risen and glorified Savior and Lord who mediates between God and man and who gives us access to the Father through His intercession. None can come to the Father unless they come through Him.
All of the attributes of God are ascribed to the Holy Spirit by the Scriptures. It is He who convicts and convinces men of their sin. He also convinces man of that which is right, and that a final day of judgment will come. He, it is, who comes to live in us at conversion, to open our understanding to the Scripture, and to lead us into the truth.
God used holy men to write the Scriptures. They are, in both the Old and New Testaments, the very words God intended us to have. They are, as given by God, without error and are our only rule of faith and practice. We profit from them by learning the truth about many things: they also speak to us about wrong doing; they even correct us and get us back on course as well as instructing us in right living.
God created man in a state of innocence. Man, being tempted by Satan, yielded and willfully disobeyed God, becoming a sinner and incurring God’s judgment upon sin. All of Adam’s descendants inherit his fallen nature and thus have a natural inclination to sin. When one comes to an age of accountability, he is guilty of sinning before God and in need of salvation.
God exercises a wise and benevolent providence over all beings and things. He maintains the laws of nature and performs special acts as the highest welfare of mankind and His created order of things require.
Man receives pardon and forgiveness for his sins when he admits to God that he is a sinner, when in godly sorrow he turns from them and trusts in the work of Christ as redemption for his sin. This acceptance of God’s great salvation involves belief in Christ’s death on the cross as man’s substitute and the fact of God’s raising Him from the dead as predicted. It is a salvation by grace alone and not of works.
It is God’s will that all be saved, but since man has the power of choice, God saves only those who repent of their sin and believe in the work of Christ on the cross. Those who refuse in this life to repent and believe have no later chance to be saved and thus condemn themselves to eternal damnation by their unbelief.
We believe that there are strong grounds to hope that the saved will persevere unto the end and be saved because of the power of divine grace pledged for their support. We believe that any saved person who has sinned (whether we call him a backslider or sinner), but has a desire to repent, may do so and be restored to God’s favor and fellowship. Since man, however, continues to have free choice, it is possible because of temptations and the weakness of human flesh for him to fall into the practice of sin and to make shipwreck of his faith and be lost.
Free Will Baptists believe the Bible teaches three ordinances for the church to practice: Baptism in water by immersion, the Lord’s Supper, to be perpetuated until His return, and the Washing of the Saints’ feet, an ordinance teaching humility.
Free Will Baptists believe the Scriptures teach the resurrection of the bodies of all men, each in its own order; they that have done good will come forth to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.
Free Will Baptist churches enjoy local church autonomy (self-governing). The local church is the highest authority in the denomination. Local churches voluntarily organize themselves into quarterly meetings, district, state, and national associations for the purpose of promoting the cause of Christ on the local, state, district, national, and world-wide level.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, who ascended on high and sits at the right hand of God, will come again to close the Gospel dispensation, glorify His saints, and judge the world.
Free Will Baptists believe that Jesus commanded the church to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature..
The Free Will Baptist Church Covenant
Having given ourselves to God, by faith in Christ, and adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, we now give ourselves to one another by the will of God in this solemn covenant.
We promise, by His grace, to love and obey Him in all things, to avoid all appearance of evil, to abstain from all sinful amusements and unholy conformity to the world, from all sanction of the use and sale of intoxicating beverages, and to “provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
We agree faithfully to discharge our obligations in reference to the study of the Scriptures, secret prayer, family devotions, and social worship; and by self-denial, faith, and good works endeavor to “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together for church conferences, public worship, and the observance of the ordinances of the Gospel; nor fail to pay according to our ability for the support of the church, of its poor, and all its benevolent work.
We agree to accept Christian admonition and reproof with meekness, and to watch over one another in love, endeavoring to “keep the unity of the Spirit” in the bonds of peace, to be careful of one another’s happiness and reputation, and seek to strengthen the weak, encourage the afflicted, admonish the erring, and as far as we are able, promote the success of the church and of the Gospel.
We will everywhere hold Christian principle sacred and Christian obligations and enterprises supreme; counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society, constantly praying and toiling that the kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
To this end we agree to labor for the promotion of educational and denominational enterprises, the support of missions, the success of Sunday schools, and evangelistic efforts for the salvation of the world. And may the God of peace sanctify us wholly, and preserve us blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Mississippi State Association Officers
Dr. Larry Reynolds – Moderator
Rev. Paul Bryant – Assistant Moderator
Rev. Chris Mitchell – Clerk
Bro. Bob Birmingham – Assistant Clerk
Rev. Steve Nichols – Director of Finance
Rev. Dennis Kizzire – Director of Communications
Dr. Larry Reynolds – Chairman
Rev. Paul Bryant
Rev. Chris Mitchell
Bro. Bob Birmingham
Rev. Aaron Baldridge (2022)
Rev. Thomas Holloway (2023)
Rev. Russell Clouse (2024)
Dr. Gerald Gann – Chairman (2026)
Rev. Terry Booker (2022)
Bro. George Kimbrow – Treasurer (2023)
Rev. Jerry Hooper (2024)
Bro. Lavelle Braddock (2025)
Bro. Bob Birmingham – Chairman (2024)
Bro. Lavell Braddock (2022)
Bro. Lynn Turner (2023)
Bro. David West (2025)
Bro. Freddie White (2026)
Rev. Thomas Holloway – Chairman (2026)
Bro. Colton Wages (2022)
Bro. Kris Greer (2023)
Rev. David Harper (2024)
Rev. Ryan Smith (2025)
FINANCIAL OVERIGHT COMMITTEE
Rev. Thomas Holloway
Bro. Glenn Jones
Rev. John Johnson
Rev. Andrew Pierce
Rev. Ryan Smith
Bro. Mark Walden (2022)
Bro. Rusty Brewer (2022)