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Our Statement of Faith

 

The Statement of Faith affirms the Church’s commitment to sound biblical doctrine and to the core beliefs to which it is committed. Christianity involves essential truths which are taught in Sacred Scripture, and are meant to embody our faith and guide our practice. These truths—which reveal the nature, character, work and promises of God in the gospel—form the foundation of our faith and the center of our fellowship.

 

Statement of Faith

  1. The Scriptures

  2. God Is Triune

  3. God the Father

  4. Jesus Christ

  5. The Holy Spirit

  6. Man

  7. The Gospel

  8. Man's Response to the Gospel

  9. Man's Inheritance Through the Gospel

  10. God's Purpose of Grace

  11. Empowered by the Holy Spirit

  12. The Church

  13. Water Baptism

  14. The Lord's Supper

  15. The Consumation

  16. Stewardship

Statement on Biblical Morality

  1. Church Discipline

  2. Sexuality and Marriage

  3. Divorce

  4. The Sanctity of Human Life

  5. Parental Discipline of Children

 

The Scriptures

We accept the Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, as the written Word of God. The Bible is the only essential and infallible record of God's self-disclosure. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God, the scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. The Holy Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. [1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Psa. 19:7-10; 119:11, 89, 105, 140] All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. They are totally SUFFICIENT and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession, or theology, must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture. (We affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.)  [2 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matt. 5:17, 18; John 10:34, 35; 1 Cor. 14:37; Ps. 1:2; 19:7-11; Acts 17:11; James 1:18-25; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Peter 3:14-17; Gal. 1:8, 9.]

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God is Triune

The one, true, and only God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent "I AM," the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe and mankind. He is infinite in His holiness. He alone is worthy of our highest love, reverence, and obedience. It is our great joy to bow our knee to His Majesty in every aspect of our individual and corporate lives. In the unity of the Godhead, there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-existent, co-equal, co-eternal, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being. The three persons of the Godhead are perfect in unity, yet never identical as to person, confused as to relation, divided in respect to the Godhead, nor opposed in cooperation. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly Deity[1]: the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all worshipped as God. (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15, 16; Daniel 4:34, 35; Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21; Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; John 1:1, 14; Acts 5:3, 4; Titus 1:13; Heb. 1:8-12; Gen. 1:1; Matt. 28:18,19; John 18:5-15; John 14:26; Acts 2:33)

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God the Father

God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world out of nothing[2]. God as 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-knowing, everywhere-present, all-loving, and all-wise. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted.[3] He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love Him, and in His unfathomable grace He gave His Son Jesus Christ for mankind's redemption. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He responds to His children with an attitude of true fatherliness. (Gen. 1:1; 2:7; Ex. 3:14; Lev. 22:2; 1 Chron. 29:10; Psa. 19:1-3; Isa. 43:3; Jer. 10:10; Matt. 6:9; 23:9; 28:19; Jn. 4:24; 17:1-8; I Tim. 1:17; Heb. 12:9; I Peter 1:17)

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Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who is the eternal Word made flesh, was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He was perfect in nature, teaching, and obedience. He is fully God and fully man. He was always with God and is God. Through Him all things came into being and were created. He was before all things and in Him all things hold together by the power of His word. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, and in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus of Nazareth, as identified in the Bible, 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 perfectly fulfilled the divine law by His personal and perfect obedience to the law and to the Father. In His INCARNATION, Jesus Christ performed many true miracles as recorded in Scripture. He is the only[4] Savior for the sins of the world, having shed His blood and died a VICARIOUS[5] death on Calvary's cross. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God[6]. Having redeemed us from sin, on the third day He rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness. He appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion and for a period of forty days appeared to over five hundred witnesses, performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, interceding for His people and ruling as Lord over all, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He is the Head of His body, the Church, and should be adored, loved, served, and obeyed by all.[7] He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to complete His redemptive mission. (John 1:1, 2, 14-18; Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:34, 35; Heb. 1:2, 3, 8-12; 4:15; 7:26; Col. 1:15-19; 2:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; John 3:16; Isa. 53:3-6; Matt. 20:28; 1 Peter 4:18; Rom. 3:23-26; Heb. 7:26, 27; 10:5-12; Matt. 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-29; Acts 1:3, 8-11; 2 Tim. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Heb.2:14, 15; Rev. 1:17, 18; Rom. 5:6-11; Rom. 8:34; Heb.7:23-25; Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 5:1-14; 1 Cor. 1:22; John 14:21, 23, 24.)

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The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a divine person, sent to indwell, guide, teach, comfort and empower the believer unto holiness, worship, evangelism and service. He is present with us to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He exalts Christ. Through the proclamation of the gospel, He persuades[8] a person to repent of his or her sins and confess Jesus as Lord. By the same Spirit that person is led to trust in divine mercy. The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about the new birth, and dwells within the regenerate. He bestows spiritual gifts by which believers are to serve and glorify God through His church. He will lead the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God's Word. He seals each believer unto the day of final redemption. He is to be respected, honored, and worshiped as God the third person of the Trinity. (Gen. 1:2; Rom. 1:3; 8:2, 6; John 16:7-11; 1 Cor. 2:8-13; 12:3; Eph. 3:16-19; John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2; John 16:13-15; 14:17, 25, 26; Acts 5:3, 4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Matt. 28:19; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 1:13, 14.)

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Man

Man was created by God in His own IMAGE, as the crown of creation, that man might have fellowship with Him. (The word "man" is here used to denote humanity and includes men, women and children.) In the beginning, man was innocent of sin. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God, which brought sin into the human race. Man fell from his original innocence and incurred not only physical death, but also spiritual death; whereby his posterity inherits that sinful nature from Adam. Being estranged from his Maker, yet responsible to Him, He became subject to divine wrath, inwardly DEPRAVED and, apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. This DEPRAVITY is radical and pervasive. It extends to his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. He is at enmity with God, hostile toward God, and hateful of God. Fallen, sinful people, whatever their character or attainments, are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ. Only the grace of God can regenerate man, bring him into God's holy fellowship, and enable him, through the ATONING work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to fulfill His purpose in God. The prospect of the unrepentant and unbelieving person is existence forever in conscious torment eternally separated from God, and that of the believer in Christ is everlasting joy in God's presence. (Gen. 1:26, 27; 9:6; James 3:9; Ps. 8:3-8; Gen. 2:8; 3:1-13; Rom. 5:12-14; Gen. 3:23, 24; Rom. 5:6-14; 1 Cor. 15:22; Gen. 6:5; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Isa. 53:6; John 3:3, 19, 20; 8:34; 2 Peter 2:12, 18, 19; 1 Cor. 2:14; Phil. 3:18, 19; Rom. 3:9-18; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3, 12; 4:17-19; Isa. 64:6.)

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The Gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is revealed in His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Christ's crucifixion is the heart of the Gospel; His resurrection is the power of the Gospel; and His ascension is the glory of the Gospel. Christ's death is a substitutionary and PROPITIATORY sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God's holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His mysterious love and reveals His amazing grace. (Luke 2:10, 11; 2 Cor. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:1-4; Acts 8:32-35; John 20:30 cf. 17:2, 3; 1 Tim. 1:15; 2:16; Luke 24:45-47; Rom. 1:1-4; 3:21-26; 5:15-21; 6:1-4; Acts 1:6-11; 1 John 2:2; 3:9, 10; Phil. 2:5-11; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6, 10; Eph. 1:3-14.) Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man. In its broadest sense, salvation includes all that is encompassed in Romans 8:29 and 30, where God's Word declares: "that those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers, and that those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Thus, salvation is both instantaneous as well as on-going through man's sanctification as he is progressively conformed to the likeness of Christ unto glorification.

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Man’s Response to the Gospel

Man's response to the gospel is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional ELECTION of God for His own pleasure and glory. It is also true that the message of the gospel is only effectual to those who genuinely repent of their sins, and by God's grace, put saving faith in Christ. This gospel of grace is to be sincerely preached to all men in all nations.

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Man's Inheritance Through the Gospel

Salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone turning from sin in repentance and looking to Christ and His substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God as a free gift. The righteousness of Christ is IMPUTED to him. He is justified and fully accepted by God. Through Christ's ATONEMENT for sin an individual is reconciled to God as Father and becomes His child. The believer is forgiven the debt of his sin and, via the miracle of REGENERATION, liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God's Spirit.

A.) REGENERATION, or the new birth, is an instantaneous 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, only by God's enabling grace, in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

B.) Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. It is characterized by a godly sorrow leading to a changed life, and saving faith is evidenced by kingdom service or works. While neither repentance nor works save, unless a person is willing to deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Christ, he cannot become his disciple. Faith itself is a gift of God that enables man to repent and respond positively to the grace lavished upon him with a heart of worship and adoration. Faith evokes a commitment of one's entire personality and life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. (Eph. 1:3-6; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:10-24; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; Luke 24:46, 47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 16:31; 20:20, 21; 26:17, 18; Rom. 3:26-28; 4:4-8; 5:1; Eph. 2:8-10; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Gal. 5:6; James 2:14-26; Luke 9:23-29.)

C.) JUSTIFICATION is God's gracious and full acquittal of all who repent and trust in Jesus Christ, whereby He declares them righteous in His sight. In JUSTIFICATION, a series of IMPUTATIONS take place.  To IMPUTE is to think of something as belonging to someone else in such a way that it actually does.  In the same way that Adam’s sin was IMPUTED to man, the believer’s sin is IMPUTED to Christ on the cross (2 Co. 5:21) and thus the guilt of his sin removed. Furthermore, the righteousness of Christ is IMPUTED to the believer in this exchange, thus providing the holy perfection required by God for acceptance. JUSTIFICATION is a legal exchange which brings the believer into a right relationship with God.  JUSTIFICATION is always the gracious act of God toward the believer, received by faith alone, and not as a result of good works. JUSTIFICATION, which is not progressive, is the starting point and foundation of a life of progressively becoming more and more holy (sanctification). (Eph. 2:8, 9; Rom. 3:27, 28; Titus 3:4, 5; Gal. 3:10-14; John 3:13-18; Rom. 4:4; 5:10, 11, 18-21; 6:23; 8:3, 4; 2 Cor. 5:20, 21; Phil. 3:8, 9; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:5-7; Gal. 4:4-7; Rom. 8:1-8, 14-17; 1 John 1:9; Heb.9:14; 10:12-18; Col. 2:13, 14; John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5.)

D.) Sanctification is the experience, beginning in REGENERATION, by which the believer is set apart from evil and unto God's purposes, his spirit witnessing with the Holy Spirit that he is a son of God. The outward evidence to all men of sanctification is a life of righteousness, true holiness, good works, and fruit of the Holy Spirit. A man born of the Spirit will no longer live a life of habitual sin, will love the brethren, and will have power to overcome the world. All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word and deed. The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard. Nevertheless, the believer's ultimate confidence to persevere is based in the sure promise of God to preserve His people until the end which is most certain. (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:1-16; Gal. 5:16-25; 1 Peter 1:2; Rom. 12:1, 2; Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:1, 2; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 5:1, 2, 18; 2 Peter 1:3-11; 3:18; 1 John 5:3; Phil. 2:14, 15; Matt. 5:16; 1 Peter 2:11, 12; Titus 2:1-14; Matt. 24:13; Heb.2:1; 4:11; Rom. 5:3; James 1:12; 5:10, 11; Luke 8:15; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:10-15; Phil. 3:12-16; Matt. 12:33-37; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb.4:12, 13; Acts 17:11; Ps. 1; 19; Col. 3:16; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18; Matt. 6:9-13; Acts 2:46, 47; Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16, 17; James 5:15, 16; Jude 1:1, 20-24; John 10:27-29; Jer. 32:38-41; 1 Peter 5:10, 11; Heb.13:20, 21; Phil. 2:12, 13; 1 Thess. 5:23, 24.)

E.) Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2) (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 1:21, 4:17, 16:21-26, 27:22 - 28:6; John 1:11-14, 3:3-21, 5:24, 10:9-29, 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 15:11, 16:30, 31; Rom. 1:16-18; 2:4, 3:23-25; 5:8-1O, 6:1-23; 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 1:18·; 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Gal. 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-22; Phil. 2:12-13; Col 1:9-22.)

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God’s Purpose of Grace

ELECTION is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is a display of God's sovereign goodness in His infinite wisdom, holiness, and unchanging character. Those who are truly regenerate and have gazed upon God's magnificent glory, though they may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, shall persevere in righteousness to the end because their hearts have been so inclined by the Holy Spirit through grace. (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 19:5-8; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 31:31; Matt. 16:18-19; 21:28-45; Luke 1:68-79; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45; 17:6-18; Acts 20:32; Rom. 5:9-10; 10:12-15; 11:5-36; 1 Cor. 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Eph. 1:4-23; 3:1-11; Col. 1:12-14; 2 Tim. 1:12; 2:10; Heb. 11:39-12:2)

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Empowered by the Holy Spirit

In addition to effecting REGENERATION and sanctification, the Holy Spirit also empowers believers for Christian witness and service. While all genuine believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at CONVERSION, the New Testament indicates the importance of an ongoing, empowering work of the Spirit subsequent to CONVERSION as well. Being indwelt by the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit are theologically distinct experiences. The Holy Spirit desires to fill each believer continually with increased power for Christian life and witness, and believers should seek this filling as a regular and recognizable blessing for the Christian life. "As each one (i.e., every born again Christian) has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (John 16:5-15; Acts 1:4, 8; I Cor. 12:1-31; 2 Peter 1:3).            Also, I Cor. 12:7 states that "to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." As such, the Scriptures appear to indicate that the bestowment of spiritual gifts is ultimately the result or fruit of REGENERATION. The Spirit gives the gifts as He wills, sovereignly distributing them to each believer for the edification and common good of the Body, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Practically speaking, there will be a chronological "first" experience of the Spirit's power in a believer's life, referred to in Scripture as the Spirit "coming upon" a believer. Often this first experience is when the believer becomes more aware of the presence and function of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What we call a chronological "first" experience of the Spirit's power, others may refer to as a secondary work of grace following salvation called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in which the believer actually receives the gifts for the very first time. We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, biblically speaking, refers to salvation. While agreement with this view is not necessary for membership, we do ask that it be respected and other views not be taught or promoted. We simply want our unity to be found in our need for the constant filling of the Holy Spirit and a desire for His active presence to be expressed through each member of the Body throughout his/her lifetime. As such, the believer is to continually seek to be filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:28.) Scripture instructs us to not be uninformed concerning spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:1) by teaching each believer of their reality for today, their purpose, and how the gifts are to be used in love for the edification of His people (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1). In addition, the scriptures encourage us to live a surrendered life to the Lord's will and the Spirit's power. Because the Holy Spirit is He who manifests gifts for His purposes, He may sovereignly manifest any one or more gifts of the Spirit at any particular time in and through the life of any believer. We do believe that the canon of Scripture is complete and closed. Therefore, the gift of prophecy in the New Testament church is not equal to the Old Testament prophecy or to New Testament Apostleship (both of which involve speaking God’s actual, authoritative words.) New Testament prophecy is using human words to speak things that God spontaneously brings to mind in the context of the gathered church. It is therefore imperfect, should be “weighed” by those present, and rejected if unbiblical. All words of prophecy are to be tested against Scripture, which is the only final and absolute authority in a believer’s life. We also affirm that prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in Scripture and are privileges for the Church in this present age. Further, we believe that the gifts of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, effecting of miracles, distinguishing of spirits, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, helps, administration, service, exhortation, giving, and mercy still function in the church today. The normal Christian life for every believer is to walk in the Spirit, understand what his/her gift(s) are, and in obedience to God and under the authority of elders use them for His glory and the common good of the brethren.

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The Church

God by His Word and Spirit creates the Church, calling sinful men out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ's Body. By the same Word and Spirit, He guides and preserves that new, redeemed humanity. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination. Rather, the Church universal is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve Him by faithfully doing His will in the earth. This involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in all the world for a testimony. The ultimate mission of the Church is the making of disciples through the preaching of the gospel. When God transforms human nature, this then becomes the chief means of society's transformation. Upon CONVERSION, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, and the Lord's Supper and prayer. All members of the Church universal are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context they are called to walk out the New Covenant as the people of God and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ's body that it might mature and grow. Through the gift ministries, all members of the Church are to be nurtured and equipped for the work of ministry. Women play a vital role in the life of the church. In keeping with God's created design, as far as the pastoral OFFICE is concerned, women are not permitted "to teach or to have authority over a man" (1 Tim. 2:11). Eldership in the church is male. In the context of the local church, God's people receive pastoral care and leadership and the opportunity to employ their God-given gifts in His service in relation to one another and to the world. (Matt. 16:18; 28:19, 20; Acts 2:40-47; 13:1-3; 14:27; 15:41; 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 1:1; 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:8-13; 2 Tim. 2:2; 4:5; Heb.3:12, 13; 10:23-25; 1 Cor. 14:31-35; 1 Tim. 2:8; Acts 20:28-31; 1 Peter 5:1-5; Heb.13:7, 17; 1 Thess. 5:12-14; 1 Peter 4:10, 11; Rom. 12:3-13.)

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Water Baptism

Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ's ATONING work and become His disciple. Therefore, in obedience to Christ's command and as a testimony to God, the Church, oneself and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual demonstration of a person's union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts a person's release from the mastery of sin. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 2:38, 41; 8:35-38; 9:16-18; 10:44-48; 22:16; Rom. 6:1-4.)

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The Lord's Supper

As with water baptism, the Lord's Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ's body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the ATONING benefits of Christ's death. As we partake of the Lord's Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Christ's body. (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:17-34.) It is our joy to celebrate communion "till He comes!"

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The Consumation

The bodily resurrection of those who have died in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the Church. While we acknowledge many different end-time interpretations of Scripture, we confess that 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 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 and conscious punishment. The righteous, in their resurrected and glorified bodies, will receive their reward and will dwell in inexpressible joy forever with the Lord. We are (1) to love His appearing and look with anticipation for His return. (Titus 2:13) Also, (2) "We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21,22) We acknowledge that if Christ himself said that no man knows the day or the hour of His appearing, we are not wiser than Christ himself  (Matt. 24:36), and (3) we humbly agree that we are to keep our lamps trimmed (be spiritually prepared in our own consecration to Jesus Christ) in readiness for His imminent return (Matt. 25:1-13). (Matt. 16:27; 18:8-9; 24:27-44; 26:64; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 3; 17:22-17; 21:27-28; John 15:24-28; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil 3:20-21; Col. 1:5; 3:4; I Thess. 4:14-18; 5:1; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7; 1 John 2:28; Jude 14; Rev. 3:11; 20:1 to 22:13)

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Stewardship

We affirm that God is the source of all blessings, physical and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. As Christians, our most precious treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ of which we have been made stewards. We hold it as a holy stewardship and commit to serve Him with our time, talents, and material possessions, recognizing all these as entrusted to us to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to Scripture, we are to be cheerful, regular, systematic, and liberal givers into the work that Christ would accomplish through this local body called Sovereign Grace Church. (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; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47;17:24-25; 20:35; Rom. 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9; 12:15; Phil 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

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Statement of Biblical Morality

The means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can truly and permanently effect change only when they are rooted in the office of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. As Christians, we should oppose in the Spirit of Christ every form of greed, selfishness and vice. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the aged, the helpless, the widowed, and the sick. We confess that we are called as believers to speak and demonstrate the life of Christ in every arena of our lives in such a way that the culture and society in which we live are impacted by our Biblical worldview. Therefore, all cooperative efforts to serve humanity must be done without compromise to Jesus Christ and His truth. (Ex. 20; Deut. 10:12; Psa. 101:5; Matt. 5:13-l8, 43-48; 22:36-40; Mark 1:29-34; 2:3; Luke 4:18-21; 10:27-37; 20:25; Rom. 12-14; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:1-7; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:12; Philemon; James 1:27; 2:8)

The Statement of Biblical Morality is an affirmative expression of this Church’s core biblical beliefs and values as well as its response to the changing legal and moral context in which it exists. It is a conscious application of the divine imperative that the Church “not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:1, 2). In an age in which specific biblical practices are being increasingly threatened by a rapidly deteriorating moral climate and assailed by an aggressively secular agenda, it is essential that the Church respond with clear conviction and steady voice. The Bible stands as our guide for faith and practice, not the changing values of the culture. To that end we affirm the following:

Church Discipline

The Scriptures call every Christian to a life of holiness, forbidding believers from habitual conformity to the sinful desires of the flesh or the ungodly patterns and behaviors of the world. Since sin clings so easily to the believer, Jesus, as Lord of the Church, has established means of accountability (commonly known as church discipline) within the local church, to guard the Christian from falling into impenitent habitual sins. Such church discipline, which ranges from private admonition to public rebuke and/or removal from membership in the Church, is to be motivated by a shared desire for holy lives, a loving desire to lead others to repentance and restoration, and a zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1 Peter 2:11, 12; 4:1-3; Rom. 12:1, 2; Heb.12:1; Matt. 18:15-19; Rom. 16:17, 18; Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Cor.12:20-13:10; 2 Thess. 3:6-12; 1 Tim. 5:19-22; Titus 3:10, 11; James 5:19, 20; 2 John 1:8-11; Rev. 2:20.) For the Church to remain under God’s blessing and fulfill God’s intentions, at times it may become necessary, formally and corporately, to confront sin or false doctrine in a Church member, including one who is serving as a Church elder.[9] The Church shall follow the rules prescribed in The Book of Church Order for the adjudication of matters giving rise to possible church discipline and the administration of church discipline involving Church members, and the adjudication of charges against and the possible discipline of Church elders. The Church shall submit to the decisions of each ecclesiastical body that The Book of Church Order prescribes as having jurisdiction over the disciplinary matter at each stage of its adjudication. Unless the Board determines that it otherwise serves the best interest of the Church, any individual serving as a director and/or officer of the Corporation who is the subject of any church disciplinary proceeding shall be required to take a leave of absence from active service. After the disciplinary process has concluded, the Board shall exercise discretion over whether it is appropriate for the individual to return to active service, to continue his leave of absence for a prescribed period of time, or to resign or be removed from his position.

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Sexuality and Marriage

A Biblical view of manhood and womanhood and an appreciation for and commitment to marriage and the family are values rooted in the Sacred Scriptures. The holy institution of marriage is to be between one man and one woman[10] for life, as established in God’s creation of man and woman in HIS IMAGE and in the relationship between Christ and His Church. While men and women are equal before God as sharers of HIS IMAGE in creation and partakers of His grace in Christ, we believe that specific gender roles in marriage are God’s normative law for the family. We believe these roles are COMPLEMENTARIAN, which is to say they have been designed by God to complete one another and are unique. We believe in the servant-leadership role of men in both the home and the church, and in the corresponding function of women in contributing their abilities to supply the inadequacies and support the leadership of those men. We reject men’s attitudes of abuse, neglect, and passivity, while simultaneously grieving women’s attitudes of disrespect, liberation and superiority as being counter to Scripture, nature, and the well-being of all.[11] Furthermore, sexual chastity before, and lifelong fidelity in a heterosexual marriage embody an abiding divine law which is to guide the faith and life of every Christian and the teachings of this church. Sexual chastity includes abstinence from pre-marital sex, pornography, adultery, and homosexuality; indeed any sexual activity outside of a one-man-and-one-woman covenanted marriage relationship. In light of current cultural erosion of sexual morality, it is essential that the church stand firm on the Bible’s teachings about sexual identity and purity. Sovereign Grace Church and its elders may not endorse gender changes, nor approve or officiate same sex marriages or unions. While sexual sin is uniquely serious before God, no sexual sin is beyond God's power to redeem and restore. We affirm the love of God for all who are guilty of sexual sin in any of its forms, and offer the gospel and grace of God to all who will repent of such sins and turn in faith to Christ for their forgiveness and deliverance. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:18-25; 1 Cor. 11:2, 3; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Peter 3:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:9-15; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:1-9; 1 Cor. 7:10-16; 14:34, 35; Mal. 2:14-16; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 5:1-13.)

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Divorce

It is God’s intention that the covenant of marriage be a joyful union that endures for life. Ephesians 5:31-32 tells us that the reason for marriage is to put the gospel on display through the husband/wife relationship.  As such, those whom God has joined together must cleave as one flesh in faithful love, and are not to be torn apart. Divorce is prohibited by God except when sexual infidelity and/or abandonment occur. While permissible in such cases, divorce is not required, and should be avoided whenever possible. In all cases of marital crisis repentance and reconciliation should be the first recourse, although all reasonable steps should be taken to protect spouses from physical and/or severe mental abuse. Due to ignorance of the scriptures, poor teaching, or disobedience, it is possible that Christians who have been unbiblically divorced have been remarried to another spouse.  While Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce, we also know that He loves the divorced.  Should a couple come to discover that their prior marriages ended in unbiblical divorce, we exhort them to acknowledge this before the Lord, experience His mercy and forgiveness, and dedicate their present marriage to the glory of God and the display of the gospel. If divorced Christians seek to be remarried at SGC, they would be counseled and cared for by an elder(s).  The elders reserve the right not to conduct, participate in or support any remarriages that cannot be justified or supported biblically. If it can be determined that the divorce was due to adultery, abandonment or abuse and that reconciliation of the previous marriage had been pursued in a meaningful way without success, a couple can remarry at SGC after taking the pre-marital counseling sessions offered by the Church.

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The Sanctity of Human Life

The Scriptures teach that human[12] life, which is made in the IMAGE OF GOD, begins at conception. This infuses sanctity into all human life from conception to natural death, or death brought about justly at the hands of a civil magistrate for capital crimes. This sacredness must afford to the unborn and to the infirmed of any age all the rights and protections granted to all other human beings. It is the duty of every Christian to speak for and defend such rights in every way he or she is able.

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Parental Discipline of Children

Children are a gift from God to be cherished and enjoyed with all affection and love. It is every parent’s duty to delight in his or her children and to create a home of tender affection and love. The Holy Scriptures further mandate that parents train up their children to become responsible, mature, relationally-skilled, and faith-embracing men and women. To this end the Bible commands parents to love, nourish, teach, train, and discipline their children. While the Scriptures teach the corporeal discipline of children, such discipline must be applied with great caution and tender care. Remembering that every child is made in the IMAGE OF GOD, he or she must always be treated with respect and dignity. This precludes every form of wrathful, harmful, or injurious physical discipline, and requires that parents be loving, humble, cautious, and measured in the exercise of any corporeal training. The Church deplores child abuse in any and all its forms, and shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that its parents understand and practice parental discipline with all due regard for the safety, well-being and joy of every child. To do harm to a child is to incur the special displeasure of God. (Ps. 127:3-5; 1 Thess. 2:7, 8; Matt. 19:13, 14; Eph. 6:1-4; Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:2-10; Prov. 22:15; 23:13, 14; 29:15; Heb.12:11; Matt. 18:2-5.) When it comes to the care of children on church property, SGC utilizes a full Abuse Prevention System, which consists of Children’s Ministry Policies and Procedures (broadly), Nursery Ministry Policies and Procedures (specifically), and screening and training of anyone who will work with children. In short, we seek to provide for the safety and security of the children under our care in three ways: screening (application, background checks, etc.), training (provided by Ministry Safe, Inc.), and safe practice (policies and procedures).

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Notes:

[1] Addresses the heresies of MODALISM and DOCETISM.

[2] Historically, this has been referred to by the church as “creation ex nihilo.”

[3] Addresses the heresies of open theism and process theology.

[4] The exclusivity of Christ

[5] Meaning “substitutionary”

[6] This historically has been referred to as “PENAL SUBSTITUTION,” defined by Wayne Grudem as “the view that Christ in His death bore the just penalty of God for our sins as a substitute for us.” See Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, pp. 579, 1251.

[7] This is an important statement as it corrects the idea that Christ can be Savior and not Lord.

[8] Against hard determinism (God saves someone against his will) and middle knowledge (Humans choose freely, but God determines the world in which humans choose.)

[9] Scriptural instruction and precedent for this practice appear in Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1-2; Acts 20:28ff; Gal. 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 3:10-11; Rom. 16:17; 2 Cor. 2:5-11.

[10] That is, one who has been born male and one who has been born female, as genetically and biologically determined by God at conception.

[11] The position of this church is consistent with that articulated in The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, www.cbmw.org

[12] The word “human” here is to distinguish between human life and animal life, which is a very important distinction. In our culture, a naturalist or evolutionary worldview sees human life as an advanced form of animal life. Humans, not animals, are made in the IMAGE OF GOD. They are the crown of God’s creation, not merely a slightly more advanced form of animal life.