"Despite what is said, the Christian world is not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who have only the Bible. It is really divided between those who have creeds and confessions, write them down and make them public, open to public scrutiny and correction, and those who have them but do not write them down."
- Dr. Carl Trueman
CONFESSION OF FAITH
I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by divinely inspired men and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasury of divine instruction. It has God as its author, its purpose is salvation, and its theme is truth, without any admixture of error. All Scripture, therefore, is wholly true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore it is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions are to be judged. All Scripture is a testimony to Jesus, who is Himself the centre of divine revelation.
There is one God, and one only, living and true. He is an intelligent, spiritual and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and in all other perfections. God is all-powerful and all-knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence and obedience. The eternal, triune God reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.
A. God the Father: God as Father reigns with providential care over His entire 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, all-loving, and all-wise. God is Father in truth to all those who become His children through faith in Christ Jesus. He is fatherly in His attitude towards all men.
B. God the Son: 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 revealed and perfectly fulfilled the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and needs and identifying Himself completely with humanity, yet without sin. He honoured the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross, He made provision for the redemption of men 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 to the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person the reconciliation between God and man has been effected. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and all-knowing Lord.
C. God, the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. By illumination He enables men to understand the truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptises every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and gives them the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer for the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer to the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
III. The Man
Man is God's special creation, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crown of his creation. The gift of gender is therefore part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent and was endowed by God with the freedom to choose. By his own choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through Satan's temptation man transgressed God's commandment, and fell from his original state of innocence, whereby his posterity inherited a nature and environment inclined to sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfil God's creative purpose. The holiness of the human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses absolute dignity and is worthy of Christian respect and love.
Salvation involves the total redemption of man, and is freely offered to all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace by which 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 to God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and the dedication of the total personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.
B. Justification is God's gracious work and complete acquittal based on the principles of His grace toward all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification places the believer in a relationship of peace and favour with God.
C. Sanctification is the experience beginning in regeneration, whereby the believer is set apart for God's purposes and enabled to progress to moral and spiritual maturity through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Growth in grace should continue throughout the life of the regenerate person.
D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the blessed and permanent state of the redeemed.
V. The Purpose of God's Grace
Election is the purpose of God's grace, whereby He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with man's free will, and includes all the means related to the end. It is the glorious expression of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers persevere to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall from the state of grace, but will persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, thereby grieving the Spirit, impairing their virtues and well-being, and bringing reproach upon the cause of Christ and temporal judgments upon themselves; yet they will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local, self-governing congregation of baptised believers, associated in covenant faith and gospel fellowship; fulfilling the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges with which they have been endowed by His Word, and seeking to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Every congregation acts under the Lordship of Jesus Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is accountable to Jesus Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. Although both men and women are gifted to serve in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men, as limited by Scripture.
The New Testament also speaks of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all the redeemed of every age, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
VII. 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 symbolising the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to their faith in the final resurrection from the dead. Because it is a church ordinance, it is a prerequisite for the privilege of church membership and participation in the Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience by which the members of the church, by partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, commemorate the death of the Redeemer and announce His second coming.
VIII. The Lord's Day
The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution to be observed regularly. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be in keeping with the Christian conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
IX. The Kingdom
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular lordship over men who voluntarily acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the kingdom of salvation into which men enter by their surrender to Jesus Christ through childlike faith and trust. Christians are to pray and work for the Kingdom to come and for God's will to be done on earth. The final consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
X. The Last Things
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its proper end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return to earth in personal and visible glory; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of eternal punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
XI. Evangelism and Missions
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to strive to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by the Holy Spirit of God means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all, therefore, depends upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerated life, and is repeatedly expressed and commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded that the gospel be preached to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by personal witness supported by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods which are in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ dwell all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All basic knowledge is therefore a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. On the other hand, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinated with the causes of missions and charity, and should receive with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to complete the spiritual programme of the body of Christ.
In Christian education there must be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly human relationship is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian educational institution, school, college, university, or seminary, is always limited by the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the authoritative nature of Scripture, and by the distinctive purpose for which the school exists.
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians are indebted spiritually to the whole world, a holy trust in the gospel, and a binding stewardship of their possessions. Therefore, they are under obligation to serve God with their time, talents, and material possessions; and they must recognise that all of this has been entrusted to them to use for God's glory and to help others. According to the Scriptures, Christians are to contribute what they have, cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally to the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.
The people of Christ should, as occasion requires, organise such associations and conventions as can best secure the co-operation necessary to achieve the great objectives of the Kingdom of God. Such organisations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary organisations to counsel, to discover, combine and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. The members of the New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying on missionary, educational and benevolent ministries for the extension of the Kingdom of Christ. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation among Christian denominations is desirable when the purpose to be achieved is justified in itself, and when such cooperation does not involve any violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
XV. The Christian and the Social Order
All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ sovereign in our own lives and in human society. The means and methods used for the betterment of society and for the establishment of justice among men can be truly and permanently useful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual through the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians must oppose racism, all forms of greed, selfishness, vice, all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality and pornography. We must work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the elderly, the helpless and the sick. We must speak out for the unborn and fight for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to make industry, government and society as a whole governed by the principles of justice, truth and brotherly love. To promote these ends Christians should be willing to work with all men of goodwill in any cause, being ever careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
XVI. Peace and War
It is the duty of every Christian to seek peace with all men on the principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ, they should do everything in their power to put an end to war.
The true remedy for the warlike spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the relations of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.
XVII. Religious Freedom
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has set it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained therein. Church and state must be separate. The state owes protection and complete freedom to every church in the exercise of its spiritual purposes. In providing such freedom no church group or denomination should be favoured by the state over other groups. Since civil government is ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience to it in all things that are not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to civil power to accomplish its work. The gospel of Christ considers only spiritual means to achieve 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. The Christian ideal is that of a free church in a free state, and this implies the right of all men to free and unhindered access to God, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion, without interference by the civil power.
XVIII. The Family
God has ordained the family as the fundamental institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood or adoption.
Marriage is the union of one man and one woman in a covenant of lifelong commitment. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and woman in marriage a means of intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for the procreation of the human race.
Husband and wife are of equal value before God, since both are created in the image of God. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has a God-given responsibility to provide for, protect, and lead his family. A wife should graciously submit to the servant leadership of her husband, just as the church willingly submits to the leadership of Christ. She, being created in the image of God as her husband is, and therefore equal to him, has a God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to be of assistance to him in the management of the home and the raising of the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and inheritance from the Lord. Parents should demonstrate to their children God's model for marriage. Parents should teach their children spiritual and moral values and lead them, by example of consistent lifestyle and loving discipline, to make decisions based on biblical truth. Children are to honour and obey their parents.
BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE 2000
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