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On Christ’s Sole Lordship Over Every Human Conscience

WHEREAS, The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who came in human flesh, died on the cross and rose from the dead, was given all authority in heaven and on earth, is the only mediator between God and man, reigns as the only head over the church and the world, and will return personally to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22; Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 19:11–13); and

WHEREAS, Human beings remain personally responsible (Ezekiel 18:1–4), and conversion occurs in the heart and conscience through personal conviction of sin (Acts 2:37; Romans 2:14–16; Titus 3:11), personal repentance (Acts 2:38; 8:22; 17:30), and personal faith (Romans 10:9–10), and all people shall give an account for their own actions to God before his throne of final judgment (Romans 14:10; Revelation 20:11–15); and

WHEREAS, The act of believer’s baptism requires personal commitment to Christ, inwardly through the “conscience” (1 Peter 3:21) exercising personal repentance and personal faith (Acts 2:38, 8:34–36, 16:30–31; Romans 10:9–10), while outwardly making personal confession (Romans 10:9–10; 1 John 1:9) and joining the church’s covenant with God (Matthew 18:18–20); and

WHEREAS, The first English Baptists rejected any extra-biblical magisterium, instead holding that the personal conscience is held captive to the Word of God alone, demanding for the first time in the English language that religion be left “free to every man’s conscience,” “for Christ only is the king, and lawgiver of the church and conscience” (Propositions and Conclusions, 1612); and

WHEREAS, Early American Baptists advocated liberty of conscience against state authority over the church, John Leland declaring, “Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile it to his conscience” (Right of Conscience Inalienable, 1791); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states that God the Son “now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord” (Article II), that “each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes” wherein “each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord” (Article VI), and that “God alone is Lord of the conscience” (Article XVII); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 13-14, 2023, affirm the unqualified, undiminished, and unshared lordship of Jesus Christ over every human conscience; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That we declare that all believers, both as individuals and as churches, are obligated to obey Christ alone as Lord, recalling our Southern Baptist belief that “Christian morality is grounded upon the moral nature of God, the moral responsibility of persons, the moral quality of spiritual salvation, and the moral demands of Christ’s lordship” (“Resolution on Christian Social Concerns,” 1955); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm again the biblical, evangelical, and Baptist doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, convicted by Scripture that every believer has been called to obey both the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we as Southern Baptists state unequivocally our commitment to 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 men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power” (Baptist Faith and Message, Article XVII); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we decry any effort which seeks to supplant the sole lordship of Christ over consciences through confusing the separate covenants and responsibilities of the church and the state; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm that Christian authority may “never be exercised apart from Christ’s lordship and must be exercised only for God’s glory as revealed in the Word interpreted by the congregation led by the Holy Spirit” (“On Local Church Autonomy And Accountability,” 2019); and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our commitment to the total and absolute lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life and seek to boldly proclaim to every person the good news that Jesus Christ is the only Savior whose Spirit invites the consciences of men and women to be renewed through faith in Him as Lord.