The Free Will Baptist literature explains their American heritage comes from two distinct movements in the early to mid-18th century which eventually coalesced into the modern-day National Association of Free Will Baptists in 1935. Here, we present some excerpts from their statement of faith:1
Chapter 3 – Divine Governance and Providence
- God exercises a providential care and superintendence over all His creatures,2 and governs the world in wisdom and mercy, according to the testimony of His Word.3
- God has endowed man with power of free choice, and governs him by moral laws and motives; and this power of free choice is the exact measure of man’s responsibility.4
- All events are present with God from everlasting to everlasting; but His knowledge of them does not in any sense cause them, nor does He decree all events which He knows will occur.5
Chapter 8 – The Gospel Call
The call of the Gospel is co-extensive with the atonement to all men,6 both by the word and strivings of the Spirit,7 so that salvation is rendered equally possible to all;8 and if any fail of eternal life, the fault is wholly his own.9
Chapter 10 – Faith
Saving faith is an assent of the mind to the fundamental truths of revelation,10 an acceptance of the Gospel, through the influence of the Holy Spirit,11 and a firm confidence and trust in Christ.12 The fruit of faith is obedience to the Gospel.13 The power to believe is the gift of God,14 but believing is an act of the creature, which is required as a condition of pardon, and without which the sinner cannot obtain salvation.15 All men are required to believe in Christ, and those who yield obedience to this requirement become the children of God by faith.16
Chapter 13 – Perseverance of the Saints
There are strong grounds to hope that the truly regenerate will persevere unto the end, and be saved, through the power of divine grace which is pledged for their support;17 but their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptations they are in danger of falling;18 and they ought, therefore, to watch and pray lest they make shipwreck of their faith and be lost.
Appendix to Chapter 13
- We believe that salvation is a present possession by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that a person’s eternal destiny depends on whether he has this possession. This we hold in distinction from those who teach that salvation depends on human works or merit.
- We believe that a saved individual may, in freedom of will, cease to trust in Christ for salvation and once again be lost. This we hold in distinction from those who teach that a believer may not again be lost.
- We believe that any individual living in the practice of sin (whether he be called “backslider” or “sinner”) must be judged by that evidence to be lost should he so die in his sins. This we hold in distinction from those who suggest that pernicious doctrine that a man may live in sin as he pleases and still claim Heaven as his eternal home.
- We believe that any regenerate person who has sinned (again, whether he be called “backslider” or “sinner”) and in whose heart a desire arises to repent may do so and be restored to favor and fellowship with God. This we hold in distinction from those who teach that when a Christian sins he cannot repent and be restored to favor and fellowship with God.19
1 All excerpts are from A Treatise of the Faith and Practices of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, Inc. (Nashville, TN, 2016). Retrieved from http://nafwb.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2016-FWB-Treatise.pdf.
2 Acts 17:28: In him we live, and move, and have our being. Matt 10:30: The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Psa. 104:13, 14; Job 14:5; Eph. 1:11.
3 Psalm 22:28: For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations. Psa. 97:2: Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Isa. 33:22; Ex. 34:6; Job 36:5.
4 Deuteronomy 30:19: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. Isa. 1:18-20; John 5:40; Rom. 2:14, 15; Prov. 1:24-28.
5 Ezekiel 33:11: As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Acts 15:18; 1 Sam. 2:30; Ezek. 18:20-25, 31; Jer.44:4.
6 Mark 16:15: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Isa. 45:22: Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. Prov. 8:4; Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.
7 Joel 2:28: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. John 16:8; John 1:9; Isa. 55:11; Luke 2:10.
8 1 Timothy 2:4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Acts 10:34: God is no respecter of persons. Ezek. 33:11; 2 Pet. 3:9.
9 Hosea 13:9: O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself. Prov. 1:24-31; Isa. 65:12; Jer. 7:13, 14; Zech. 7:11-13; John 5:40: And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. Matt. 23:37.
10 Hebrews 11:6: He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb. 11:1: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. John 5:46, 47; Rom. 10:9.
11 Romans 10:10: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Gal. 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is…faith. 1 Cor. 12:8, 9.
12 Acts 16:31: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. John 3:16; Rom. 4:20-22; Eph. 3:12.
13 James 2:17: Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Gal. 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:5.
14 Philippians 1:29: Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ…to believe on him. 2 Pet. 1:1; Eph. 2:8.
15 John 3:36: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Mark 16:16; John 8:21, 24; Heb. 11:6
16 John 1:7: That all men through him might believe. Gal 3:26: Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Acts 10:43; Rom. 5:1; John 3:15.
17 Romans 8:38, 39: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Cor. 10:13: God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 2Cor. 12:9: My grace is sufficient for thee. Job 17:9; Matt. 6:18; John 10:27, 28; Phil. 1:6.
18 2 Chronicles 15:2: The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him…but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Pet 1:10: Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. Ezek. 33:18: When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. John 15:6; 1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 6:4-6; 12:15; 1 Chron. 28:9; Rev. 2:4;
19 2 Peter 1:4-10: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
Tyler Robbins is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Seminary, a DMin student at Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and a pastor at Sleater Kinney Road Baptist Church, in Olympia WA. He’s also an Investigations Program Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist and is the author of What’s It Mean to be a Baptist?