Welcome!

First Baptist Church of Arlington is a church of faith where people can grow to their God given potential. If you are just now exploring the claims of Jesus Christ for the first time as an adult, or if you have been a personal Christian for years, it would be great to have you join us in our spiritual journey.

We are a group of people who are at different places in our spiritual walk discovering together what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Some of us are very traditional church folk. Some of us are postmodern. Some of us are young, some wish we were. We are shades of black, brown, and white.

We are a Baptist church because we believe in the centrality of the gospel, the importance of scripture, the necessity of personal faith, and the freedom that is found in Christ. Our faith has provided a place for us to stand in facing life, and we have found some meaningful answers. We also have many questions.

I'm so glad you're looking at our home on the web. If you'd like to know us better, come by on a Sunday morning for our worship service, or drop in at one of our group meetings or special events. Our worship service starts at 10 am.

I'll be here, and I look forward to meeting you.

Blessings,
Pastor Jon

Christian. Evangelical. Baptist.

Years and years and years ago when Nell and I first met I was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and worshipping at Canal Street Presbyterian Church. My future wife wasn’t exactly sure what she had found, and after one church service asked me “What are you doing here and what denomination are you, anyway?”

Without missing a beat and assuming she would completely understand, I rather righteously announced,  “I am a Christian, an evangelical and a Baptist, in that order.” I still say that today, although I admit it’s got a lot more confusing lately.

Let’s start with “Baptist” first. There are about a zillion different groups. I’ve tried out two of them over my lifetime, and found good people with a faith far more mature than mine in both groups. I’ve also found some scalawags. I like what Baptists believe and aim toward doing, and I like that they put up with me.

Then there is the word “Christian.” This is easy. Before any commitment to a certain understanding of faith, before any commitment to a church or denomination, there must be a commitment to God through Jesus Christ. If I am a Christian, it must mean that my heart’s desire is to follow Jesus. I am to follow him in my cultural outlook, in my vision of faith, in my ethical choices, and in my love and compassion for others. I won’t always get it right, I will certainly stumble in my steps as I follow him, but as I look to Jesus, he will be my hope, strength and life.

It’s that word “evangelical” that’s the problem. What is an evangelical anyway? A bible thumper? A fundamentalist? A fanatic? A right-winger? Somebody who doesn’t believe in having any fun? Somebody who has turned their brain off?  Well, yes. Evangelicals are diverse enough to include all of these, along with some of the other misfits Jesus himself would have welcomed. But evangelicalism has historically been a far stronger and vital movement of faith than this ragtag collection of stereotypes would suggest. We are found in every denomination and practice our faith in a staggering variety of worship styles.

When I say I am an “evangelical” I am committing myself to the absolute centrality of the good news, the gospel. Evangelicals see as core to their faith the revelation of God through Jesus Christ, and the salvation that is found in him. By his life, death and resurrection from the dead we are forgiven and reconciled to God, brought into his family, and through the Spirit are empowered to live Christianly. I realize I am using “churchy” words to describe what happens when we connect with God, and if you don’t quite understand, it just shows how far our present culture has moved from the biblical worldview. 

Today the evangelical movement has largely been hijacked by it’s fascination with far right political views. I am old enough to remember when the church made the mistake of embracing the political left, and know the destruction that caused within our our mainline denominations. The gospel of Jesus Christ is far too significant and central to all of life to ever limit it to a particular political outlook. God is not a Republican or a Democrat. In our world today many evangelicals have abandoned the core of Christian faith, their love for and commitment to Jesus, and have gone chasing the allure of political power. It seems like God has warned his people about this before. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me….”

Christian. Evangelical. Baptist. I’ve held to those labels over the years. Sometimes I’ve slacked off, or just plain failed. Other times it’s been good. The girl I met who long ago asked me where I fit in is still by my side. We have a relationship that has lasted now, but she still sometimes wonders what I’m doing and where I fit in. That’s sort of like my relationship with God. He’s faithful and knows where I’m going, even when I don’t. I suspect it’s not my labels that count so much, but rather the one God places on me: Loved.

Birth and Death at Christmas

Christmas came and with it the celebration of the birth of our Savior. For The season we focused on the fact that God loved us enough to send his only son to earth to die for our sins. We view the tiny child in the manger and marvel that God could and would come in the form of a human baby. Very few animal babies are as helpless as a human baby. Yet, the omnipotent God who created the universe identified so with his creation that he became like us. But in being born like us he also chose to die as we all do. In his case he who was sinless died with the weight of human sin upon him. In his death, he took upon himself the sins of the world. By removing our sin from us we are restored into a right relationship with God. It is only because of Jesus that this marvelous thing happened.

We have suffered the loss of a church member this season. His death came like a blow to the joy of this holy time. Yet it dovetails with Christ’s birth in the cycle of life we all face. Our first reaction was to think about how sad it is for someone to die at Christmas. But can we imagine what it must be like to leave this earth and come face to face with the risen Christ at Christmas. Surely there was a great celebration of the incarnation in heaven. And David was there with all the believers who have gone before us. Others from our congregation were there, too. What a Christmas party that must have been!

Christmas Concert 2016

CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Sunday, December 18
3 pm

featuring:
a collection of choir anthems,
solos, duets, quartets,
with piano, organ and violin.

Invite your friends!

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First Baptist Church
819 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA
781-643-3024

Sunday Schedule
Service: 10 am
Nursery provided!

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