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First Baptist Church


Memphis, Texas

Our Beliefs

Baptists are a confessional people, in that statement, we believe that one believes and confesses her or his faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST.  We do not believe in a creed, but rather we believe that God talks to every individual through His Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures which is termed the Priesthood of the Believer.  Therefore every individual can interpret the Holy Scriptures for themselves.  So what you read on this page is not what one has to believe to be a Follower of Christ and/or a member of our church, but rather it is a collection of how most of the believers in our church interpret the Holy Scriptures.


THE SCRIPTURES - The Holy Bible was written by individuals divinely inspired and is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to women and men.  It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
BIBLICAL BASIS: Ex. 24:4; Deut. 4:1-2; 17:19; Josh. 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11, 89, 105, 140; Isa.34:16; 40:8; Jer. 15:16; 36;Matt. 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15;17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Rom. 15:4; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb.1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

GOD - There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.


  • GOD THE FATHER reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace.  He is all powerful, all loving, and all wise.  God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  He is fatherly in His attitude toward all peopleBIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 1:1; 2:7; Ex. 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Levit. 22:2; Deut. 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chron. 29:10; Psalms 19:1-3; Isa. 43:3; 15; 64:8; Jer. 10:10; 17:13; Matt. 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts1:7; Rom. 8:14-15;  1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 4:6; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7. 


  • GOD THE SON - Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.  In His incarnation as Jesus Christ he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself the demands and necessities of human nature and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.  He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men and women from sin.  He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion.  He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the nature of God and of humanity, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and human beings.  He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission.  He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord. BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isa. 7:14; 53; Matt. 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16, 27; 17:5; Matt. 27; 28:1-6, 19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18, 29; 10:30, 38; 11:25-27; Mark 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16, 28; 17:1-5;21-22; 20:1-20, 28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5, 20; Rom. 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3, 34; 10:4; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8, 24-28; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Gal. 4:4-5; Eph. 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 1 Tim 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Heb. 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15, 24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Rev. 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.


  • GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT - The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God.  He inspired holy writers of old to write the Scriptures.  Through illumination He enables people to understand truth.  He exalts Christ. He convicts of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.  He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God though His church.  He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption.  His presence in the Christian is the assurance of God to bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ.  He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service. BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 1:2; Judg. 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isa. 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matt. 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; Matt. 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10, 12; Luke 1:35; 4:1, 18-19; 11:13; 12;12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17, 26;  John 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17, 39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Rom. 8:9-11, 14-16, 26-27; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:19; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:1; 2 Tim. 1:14; 3:16; Heb. 9:8, 14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Rev. 1:10; 22:17.


HUMANITY - People were created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation.  In the beginning human beings were innocent of sin and were endowed by their Creator with freedom of choice.  By their free choice humans sinned against God and brought sin into the human race.  Through the temptation of Satan humanity transgressed the command of God, and fell from its' original innocence; whereby their posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation.  Only the grace of God can bring people into His holy fellowship and enable individuals to fulfill the creative purpose of God.  The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created people in His own image, and in that Christ died for women and men; therefore every person possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 1:26-30; 2:5, 7, 18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isa. 6:5; Jer. 17:5; Matt. 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Rom. 1:19-32; 3:10-18, 23; 5:6, 12, 19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18, 29; 1 Cor. 1:21-31; 15:19, 21-22; Eph. 2:1-22; Col. 1:21-22; 3:9-11.


SALVATION - involves the redemption of the whole person, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.   In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, sanctification, and glorification.   Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.  It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God.  Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Savior and Lord.  Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.  Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.  Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual perfection through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him or her. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.   Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 3:15; Ex. 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matt. 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14, 29; 3:3-21, 36; 5:24; 10:9, 28-29; 15:1-6; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; Acts 20:32; Rom 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18, 29-39; 10:9-10, 13; 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 1:18, 30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Gal. 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12, 8, 14; James 2:14-26; I Peter 1:2-23;

1 John 1:6-2:11; Rev. 3:20; 21:1-22:5


GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE - Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.  It is consistent with the free agency of humanity, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end.  It is a glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable.  It excludes boasting and promotes humility.  All true believers endure to the end.  Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.  Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the cause of Christ, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 19:5-8; 1 Sam. 8:4-7, 19-22; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 31:31ff.; Matt. 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22, Matt. 31; 25:34:Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45, 65; 10:27-29; John15:16; 17:6, 12, 17-18; Acts 20:32; Rom. 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7, 26-36; 1 Cor. 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Eph. 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Col. 1:12-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:12; 2:10, 19; Heb. 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 1:2-5, 13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.


THE CHURCH - A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local body of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, observing the two ordinances of Christ, committed to His teachings, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.  This church is an autonomous body, operating through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  In such a congregation members are equally responsible.  Its Scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.  The New Testament speaks also of the church as the body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages.BIBLICAL BASIS   Matt. 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42, 47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23, 27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11, 21; 5:22-32; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:18; 1 Tim. 3:1-15; 4:14; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Rev. 2-3; 21:2-3.


BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER -Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.  It is a testimony to his or her faith in the final resurrection of the dead.  Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’ Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming. BIBLICAL BASIS Matt. 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39;16:30-33;20:7; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 10:16, 21; 11:23-29; Col. 2:12.


THE LORD’S DAY - The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day.  It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.BIBLICAL BASIS Ex. 20:8-11; Matt. 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3, 33-36; John 4:21-24; John 20:1, 19-28;Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Col. 2:16; 3:16; Rev. 1:10.  


THE KINGDOM -  The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King.  Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ.  Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 1:1; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Matt. 3:2; 4:8-10, 23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Rom. 5:17; 8:19; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Col. 1:13; Heb. 11:10, 16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Rev. 1:6, 9; 5:10; 11:15; 21:22.


THE END OF THIS AGE - God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end.  According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness.  The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment.  The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will be dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.   BIBLICAL BASIS Isa. 2:4; 11:9; Matt. 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27, 30, 36, 44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40, 48;16:19-26;17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 4:5; 15:24-28, 35-58; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thess. 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13; Heb 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Rev. 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.


EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS -  It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations.  The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others.  Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ.  It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by personal effort and by all other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.   BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 19:5-6; Isa. 6:1-8; Matt. 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8, 16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Rom. 10:13-15; Eph. 3:1-11; 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:5; Heb. 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Rev. 22:17.


EDUCATION - The cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches.  An adequate system of Christian schools is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.  In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility.  Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute.  The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.   BIBLICAL BASIS Deut. 4:1, 5, 9,14; 6:1-10; 31:12-13; Neh. 8:1-8; Job 28:28; Psalms 19:7ff.; 119:11; Prov. 3:13ff.; 4:1-10; 8:1-7, 11; 15:14; Eccl. 7:19; Matt. 5:2; 7:24ff.; 28:19-20; Luke 2:40; 1 Cor. 1:18-31; Eph. 4:11-16; Phil. 4:8; Col. 2:3, 8-9; 1 Tim. 1:3-7;2 Tim. 2:15; 3:14-17; Heb. 5:12-6:3; James 1:5; 3:17.


STEWARDSHIP -  God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him.  Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions.  They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others.  According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 14:20; Lev. 27:30-32; Deut. 8:18; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 6:1-4, 19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21, 42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Rom. 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9; 12:15; Phil. 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.


CO-OPERATION -  Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God.  Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches.  They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should co-operate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary co-operation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.  Co-operation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such co-operation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.  BIBLICAL BASIS   Ex. 17:12; 18:17ff.; Judg. 7:21; Ezra 1:3-4; 2:68-69; 5:14-15; Neh. 4; 8:1-5; Matt. 10:5-15; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1-ff.; Acts 1:13-14; 2:1ff.; 4:31-37; 13:2-3; 15:1-35; 1 Cor. 1:10-17; 3:5-15; 12; 2 Cor. 8-9; Gal. 1:6-10; Eph. 4:1-16; Phil. 1:15-18.


THE CHRISTIAN AND THE SOCIAL ORDER - Every Christian is under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in his or her own life and in human society.  Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.  The Christian should oppose in the spirit of Christ every form of greed, selfishness, and vice.  He or she should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the aged, the helpless, and the sick.  Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.  In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all persons of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth BIBLICAL BASIS   Ex. 20:3-17; Lev. 6:2-5; Deut. 10:12; 27:17; Psalms 101:5; Mic. 6:8; Zech. 8:16; Matt. 5:13-16, 43-48; Matt. 22:36-40; 25:35; Mark 1:29-34; 2:3ff.; 10:21; Luke 4:18-21; 10:27-37; 20:25; John 15:12; 17:15; Rom. 12-14; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:1-7; 7:20-24; 10:23-11:1; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:12; Philemon; James 1:27; 2:8.


PEACE AND WAR - It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all people on principles of righteousness.  In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.  The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord.  The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of people and nations, and the practical application of His law of love.BIBLICAL BASIS Isa. 2:4; Matt. 5:9, 38-48; 6:33; 26:52; Luke 22:36, 38; Rom. 12:18-19; 13:1-7; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; James 4:1-2.


RELIGIOUS LIBERTY - God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.  Church and state should be separate.  The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends.  In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others.  Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God.  The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.  The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends.  The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind.  The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion.  A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all people, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power. BIBLICAL BASIS Gen. 1:27; 2:7; Matt. 6:6-7, 24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Rom. 6:1-2; 13:1-7; Gal. 5:1, 13; Phil. 3:20; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19


MARRIAGE -The First Baptist Church of Memphis, Texas Inc. believes the Holy Scriptures teach marriage is an institution of the church and NOT THE STATE, and marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.  It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church.  What we call marriage today began as an act of creation.  The Bible tells of God creating male and female persons.  But God did not simply create them and put them in the garden; God told them to do something.God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NRSV).  This first marriage had as its God-given purpose the desired end of fruitfulness – children. This marriage and those to follow are to reproduce and to take on a responsibility for the whole of God’s creation. Many couples give birth biologically, others take on the responsibility of fruitfulness by means that value the lives of children who need parents, such as through adoption and foster care.  A man and woman’s togetherness and does not come without cost.  Each must leave something behind in order to pursue their purposes together. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, NRSV).  Jesus referenced these words about one flesh and added,“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6, NRSV).Sex, of course, is part of marriage because it is required to fulfill God’s purposes, to help a couple bond, and for basic pleasure in one another.  The Bible is not shy about sex, and it also deals with the importance of fidelity within marriage. The following verses speak from a man’s perspective, but similar words could be written from a woman’s view.  Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. May her breasts satisfy you at all times; may you be intoxicated always by her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? (Proverbs 5:18-20, NRSV)Marriage in the Old Testament, however, did not always measure up to the standards God established.  Wealthy and powerful men in the Old Testament often reflected the reality of the broader world culture in that they had multiple wives and even concubines.  Despite what was, there always has been what ought to be.  The Apostle Paul talked about the value of being single in order to do God’s work, but he was also practical.  If a person could not resist temptations to sexual immorality, then “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” ( 1 Corinthians 7:2, NRSV).  Note the singular husband and wife.  Paul also spoke of how a man and a woman should relate to one another.  In Ephesians, Paul compared the relationship of a husband and a wife to the relationship of Christ and the church.  He spoke of love and submission. Specifically, he said men are to love their wives and women are to submit to their husbands, and he then adds the following:  This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.  Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband (Ephesians 5:32-33, NRSV).  The writer of Hebrews expressed the value of marriage and the dangers it faces in regard to sexual matters.  Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Hebrews 13:4, NRSV).  It is good for all of us to think again about God’s ideal for marriage. Gender difference is a definite part of godly marriage, but faithfulness and fidelity between a husband and a wife also are critical.