Frequently Asked Questions

Christians are good at talking in a language that other people can find difficult to understand, especially a lot of theological terms.  So, on this page you will find the answer to many of the common questions that people have about the Christian Faith as well as an explanation of many of the terms used in church.

What is "Grace"?

When we talk about Grace, we mean the gift of God - this is the literal translation of a Greek word (charis) used in the Bible. While there are different kinds of grace - different kinds of gifts from God to creation - the "grace" that most excites us is God's sovereign, saving grace - a gift of love in the death of Jesus that makes us whole, clean, fit for Heaven, and friends of God - this gift was given in spite of our sin and rebellion, which is what makes this Grace, as the old song goes, Amazing Grace.

What makes a Baptist different to other Christians?

There are historical differences of how Baptist churches have tended to be organised and so on, but the main difference is that Baptists affirm that only believing Christians (of any age, so long as they are old enough to decide for themselves) should be baptised in obedience to Jesus' command that we make Disciples and baptise them (Matthew 28:19).
Other Christians believe either that baptising makes a person a Christian, or else that baptism is the sign of a promise that God will make a person a Christian later in life as long as they don't choose not to be. We disagree with our Christians brothers and sisters that this is what the Bible teaches.

What's the difference between Catholics and Protestants?

Though there are many differences between Catholic and Protestant Christians, both groups believe that Jesus is God, the Son of God, and Lord over all. We disagree on points of teaching and how to organise God's Church. Protestants don't believe that the Pope is the head of Christ's Church on Earth. We also don't believe that we need to go to God through any other mediator than the Holy Spirit and His Son, Jesus Christ.

What do you mean by saying God is "Sovereign"?

God's "Sovereignty" is His authority over everything. God created the universe, and so He has the right to rule over it as its King. As God, He is all-powerful and therefore in charge of everything that happens.

What do you mean by, "Sin"?

For Christians, "Sin" doesn't refer to only the very bad things that people might do - murder or rape or theft. "Sin" is any and every rebellion against God's rightful rule as our King. It is every failure to keep His law as commanded in Scripture and by our own consciences. It literally means "to fall short". Therefore, every thought, word and action is sin if it fails to conform to God's perfect standard.
Sin is serious because in offending God even the slightest amount (God being a person of infinite value and glory), we have committed an offence of infinite evil.
The Bible is clear that every human being is a sinner - not only the very worst of people (e.g. Romans 3:23).
Sin is such a serious problem that in order to deal with it, God sent His Son into the world to die. The Cross was such an awful thing that surely, Jesus wouldn't have submitted to it unless it was absolutely necessary to redeem (buy back) a people for Himself?

What do you mean by, "Guilt"?

These days, most people understand "Guilt" to mean the unpleasant feeling when you have done something wrong (subjective guilt). Most often, when Christians talk about, "Guilt," we mean it as a description of our standing before God (objective guilt): Like a criminal in a courtroom being declared "guilty" by a judge whether they feel sorry for what they've done or not, because of our sins we stand guilty before God - whether we feel it or not.
Subjective guilt is unpleasant to experience, and it can also be misplaced - we can feel guilty over something that we haven't actually done; we can feel guilty over something that a particular culture has told us is wrong, but isn't; we can feel guilty because of something done to us by someone else. Objective guilt does not rely on a feeling, and it is determined by fact - how we actually have rebelled against God and not kept His law. Although Christians can be relieved of subjective guilt, it is principally to remove objective guilt that Jesus Christ died.

Are you a Calvinist church?

Yes and No: We are a Calvinist church in that we believe in the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace - the beliefs understood historically as Calvinism. We make no apologies for this, because these truths are wonderful - they teach us that God chose us to be His people before He created the world, even though He knew how we would live as sinners and despise Him.
We are not a Calvinist church in that we (as Calvin would have wanted!) take the Word of God (the Bible), and not a 16th-Century French theologian, to be our authority on life, truth, and Christian practice. Calvin is very helpful as a teacher of the Bible, but he didn't get everything right, and we should look first to the Scriptures to teach us.

Does Religion save?

No. Jesus saves. Christians are not people who get to Heaven because they are religious. Christians are people who are In Christ. We are not saved because of how much we do or how pious we are (how strongly we feel about religious things) - we can only be saved by trusting in the saving name of Jesus Christ and having our sins paid for by His death on the Cross.

When should I stand up and sit down?

During our services, we tend to stand up to sing and sit down for everything else! The person leading will give clear instruction if any parts of the service are different to this. After the final hymn, we usually remain standing while the preacher prays or reads a quick passage of the Bible.
If in doubt, sit towards the back and copy what you can see everyone else doing!

Do you have parking?

Parking options are a little limited. One or two cars can park on the lay-by of the A590 below the Church, but spaces can usually be found either across the road by the Swan Inn, or along Quebec Street. These spaces have no restrictions on a Sunday, although we do ask that you take note of any driveways and entrances and be careful not to block them in.

What do I do if I get lost in the Bible?

Usually, the person leading the service will give the page numbers in our church Bibles as well as book, chapter and verse. We try to give you a moment or two to find the page before we start reading. If you're struggling (after all, the Bible is a kind of library, and with 66 different books, it can sometimes be hard to find your way around if you're new to reading it), feel free to ask someone sitting nearby. They should be more than happy to help!

Why do you use the 2011 NIV translation of the Bible? Is there something wrong with my Bible?

As a Church, we chose the 2011 translation of the NIV as a good, accurate Bible which is easy to read and in modern English. Because of the tension between a direct word-for-word translation (which might make little sense in modern English) and a more "dynamic" translation (that can lose some of the accuracy), there is no "perfect" translation.
We admit that the NIV has some occasional problems, although in many ways it is the translation which most accurately represents the way English is spoken in the 21st Century! Though this is the Bible we make available to visitors at our own Church, we would highly recommend other translations as well, and would recommend that people use a variety of translations - old and new! - if they mean to study the Bible seriously.
Especially where you have been using a particular translation for a long time, and have best memorised that version, we suggest that you keep on using it, even if it is in slightly more old-fashioned language. It certainly makes it easier to find your way around God's Word to stick with one translation for life.

I'm a [insert lifestyle choice here.] Surely you don't want me there on a Sunday morning?

You don't have to be a Christian to come to church! You don't even have to be a good person to come to church (we're all very grateful for this last fact!). Whoever you are, whatever you've done, whatever questions you might have, you're very welcome to join us and find out what we believe.

Why does God allow so much suffering in the world?

We admit that this is a tough question, and we can't give a satisfactory answer here. We have books available (for free) which can explain this better. Here are a few things to think about:
The Bible teaches that the world was cursed because of Mankind's Sin (see Genesis 3:17). The world is broken. In a sense, it is not as it ought to be. God gave us a certain degree of freedom, and we used it to do evil. We ought not to shake our fist at God for the mess we ourselves have made.
The Bible teaches that God uses suffering as an alarm call to everyone who hasn't yet turned to Him. For everyone who isn't yet a Christian, troubles in this life can be a sign of God's anger against us (see Romans 1:18). This should not be misused to bully hurting people, but is a sign of God's kindness: Like a loving Father, He doesn't leave the children He loves to misbehave without punishment. He disciplines and corrects.
The Bible teaches that suffering does have a worth in our lives (see Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:17). Whether through cancer or bereavement, God can work to bring about something amazing - something which may not even be partially realised in this life, but will be fully realised in the next. This applies to Christians as well - people don't only suffer for their own evil - the Bible makes clear (e.g. the book of Job) that sometimes, God allows good people to suffer, for reasons which may remain a mystery. However, the Bible is also clear that for Christians, all suffering has a purpose (see Romans 8:28).

Do you really believe that only Christians go to Heaven?

Here we find the historic teachings of Christianity butting up against the spirit of the age in which we live. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).
Jesus is saying that only by knowing Him can a person come into a right, saving relationship with God, who is the only God.
We don't deny that there are many people who are not Christians who are good, moral people (many, sadly, more so than some Christians) - but this is not good enough. Christians don't go to heaven because they are good people by themselves - they have been made fit for Heaven by coming to the Father through Jesus, who is the only way.

Do you really believe in Hell?

Christians have often been guilty of misusing the Bible's teachings about Hell - either to try to frighten people (often into giving money), to bully people who are suffering, or to smugly put down people we don't like. We don't want to be guilty of any of these things, but we believe what God's Word has made clear:
Hell is real. The Bible clearly teaches that all of us deserve to go there and choose it for ourselves when we live in rebellion against God by not obeying either our own consciences or His Law. The Bible's teachings about Hell should be a motivation for Christians to share the Good News about Jesus Christ with everyone we possibly can. We shouldn't feel that we are any better than non-Christians, but should have a profound gratitude that Jesus' death on the Cross has removed from us the punishment that we deserve.
To anyone who would protest the need for a belief in Hell in this day and age, we might ask them, "Do you really want to go to Heaven?" If Heaven is knowing God and being with Him forever, and you live all your life rejecting Him, haven't you demonstrated that you don't want to go to Heaven. You are choosing in this life to cut God out, and after you die, you will get what you want.