Essentials of Faith
The following points of our doctrinal statement represent those truths believers through the ages have considered essential for orthodox Christian faith as given in the Scriptures. This church requires affirmation of these truths for membership.
The Bible is actually God’s Word given to His people. Every concept & every word were recorded exactly as God intended because His Holy Spirit worked through the men who wrote the original books. Because these words are ultimately God’s, they are absolutely truthful, accurate, & without error.
This is why we happily depend upon the Bible as the basis for how we think about God & His Word (theology) & for how we behave (ethics). We also consider translations of the Bible that accurately reflect the intent & words of the original languages to be the Word of God.
There is only one living & true God, without limits, separate from sin & His creation, sovereign, everywhere-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, & eternal. We believe that God is the loving Creator & Sustainer of all that exists both seen & unseen. God exists as the Trinity in three persons yet one God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. While each person is fully & equally God in every way, each has unique functions to fulfill. This teaching is a mystery to man but is clearly taught in the Bible.
Though He has no needs, God passionately desires a relationship with us & towards this end continually invites us into a relationship of faith & a life of obedience, learning, & service. (Exodus 20:2-3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Matt. 3:16-17)
We believe in the absolute deity of Jesus; that is, He is & always was fully God. He has existed as an equal person with the Father & the Spirit throughout eternity. He took on humanity & a body through miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary, who was a virgin. During His earthly life & even now, He is both fully God & fully human.
It is the unique role of Jesus to reveal the other members of the Godhead & to provide salvation for the world through His death & resurrection. After His resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven to be our advocate in the Father’s presence & to prepare a heavenly home for His people whom He will gather together to be with Him when He returns at the end of this age.
Jesus is, therefore, the only way we can come to God & have a relationship with Him. In His life He modeled how He desires us to live. (John 1:1-2,18; 1 John 5:20; Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:26-38; Heb. 1:1-2; John 14:1-7; I John 2:1)
We believe in the absolute deity of the Holy Spirit equal with the Father & the Son & yet enjoying a unique role. With regard to all people, including the lost, He convicts us of sin, teaches the perfect way God desires man to live, & warns of the judgment for failing to do so. With regard to believers, He calls out a community of people to demonstrate to the world the power of the good news of Jesus.
He lives inside all who believe in Jesus. He teaches, comforts, & empowers us, giving each follower diverse gifts, fostering unity, interdependence, productivity, Christ-like character, & love among Christians.
By dependence upon the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity of demonstrating the power of God to create a new community that experiences & expresses the kingdom of heaven. (2 Cor. 13:14; John 14:16 17; Rom. 8:14 17)
Men & women are created in & reflect God’s image: we have the ability to think, to choose, & to feel. The abilities to reason, strategize, plan, appreciate beauty, “create” in terms of literature, music, & art, & to experience joy & heartache are all traceable to God’s image stamped on each human being.
Because God is a trinity, we are inherently designed for relationships both toward man & God. Because we are created, we are finite creatures who have limits & are completely dependent upon the Creator.
Adam & Eve, who were created with the freedom to choose, were tempted by Satan & voluntarily chose to rebel against God. Adam’s sin plunged them & their descendants into condemnation & death. Now all their offspring are sinful from the very beginning of life & become practical sinners with the first expression of personal choice & so are without excuse before God. Adam’s sin mars the image of God in man so that our reasoning, choices, & feelings are colored by sin.
Because each person is created in God’s image, each has intrinsic value. We seek to participate in God’s work of restoring each person to the full image of God. (Gen. 1:26-27; 3:1-26; Psalm 51; Rom. 5:10 19; Col. 1:28, 29; 3:10)
Our relationship with God was ruined by Adam’s choice, & the restoration of our relationship can only be accomplished through the reconciling work of Jesus, the sinless & perfect human being (who was also God), who took the punishment that was due us for our sin when He suffered & died voluntarily on the cross.
The blessings of a restored relationship with God are freely given on the grounds of grace alone to all who put their trust in Him. Belief in Jesus means that having acknowledged our own sinfulness & rebellion against God, we now call upon the Lord Jesus to forgive us, & we entrust our lives to His direction & care.
We trust that Jesus’ death is alone sufficient to pay the penalty for our sin & to restore our relationship with God & that Jesus also provides the example & teaching for us to follow to enjoy our renewed relationship with God. The Bible teaches that the person who believes in Jesus is justified; that is, he is declared to be right with God as Christ’s right living is credited to him while his sin & condemnation has been placed upon Christ at the cross.
The most important dividing line within humanity is between those who still live under God’s judgment, & those who have been set free from condemnation through Jesus’ death on the cross in their place.
There are only two possible states of existence, with two radically different outcomes. This means the message of salvation through Jesus is the focal point of Christian teaching & mission. (Rom. 3:21-31; 10:9-13; John 3:1-7; I Cor. 15:17; Titus 3:5-7)
We believe that the true church is composed of all those who, through saving faith in Jesus Christ, are united together in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. Each local church is a visible extension of the body of Christ in a given place.
A local church is composed of believers who are bound together in common faith & obedience to Jesus, who teach the Word of God, & who observe the ordinances of Christ. These believers are governed by the New Testament & are answerable to Christ. The offices of the church are pastors (also called overseers & elders) & deacons.
As Christ’s body, the church in both universal & local forms is to do on earth what Jesus would do if He were here. The community of believers who make up a local church are also to model their shared life through manifesting Christ’s love toward each other & serving each other with the enabling gifts given by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:41 42; Eph. 1:22 23; 3; 4:1-16; 1 Tim. 3; Col. 1:18)
Within Christian history, divergent views on doctrinal issues have emerged even among true Christian believers. This church, recognizing its responsibility to teach the whole counsel of God, affirms the following doctrines as accurate expressions of biblical truth, & will teach only these views of the subjects in question.
Members must abide under these teaching positions. In cases where different groups of Christians may hold other views, we will hold our views with charity as well as clarity.
We believe that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are set apart by God as His own unique people. This act, called sanctification, is also a process that continues throughout the earthly life of the believer.
We are given a new set of desires, motivations, & empowerment by the Holy Spirit, & as inheritors of eternal life, we are eternally secure in Christ. This means that we experience a new beginning & new life that we can never lose. It also means that the life & character of each believer will inevitably change as we are conformed to the character of Jesus throughout our lives. The lack of such change of character is cause to question the validity of one’s salvation.
Sanctification means not only that we separate ourselves from false doctrine & conduct as Jesus did, but also that we engage the culture with the heart & mind of Christ while we pursue holiness. Further, we evidence sanctification by extending grace towards genuine believers with whom we disagree on non-essential matters of the faith. We should make every effort to mature in Christian character. (John 10:27 30; Rom. 8:28-39; 1 John 3:1-10; 2 Cor. 6:14-18)
We believe that there are two church ordinances, or observances, that were given by the Lord Jesus to the church: baptism & the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water & serves as a powerful testimony of identification with Christ’s death & resurrection & of cleansing from sin for a believer after conversion. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic meal instituted by the Lord Himself as a frequent reminder of His death.
Baptism & communion provide two powerful testimonies of the saving work of Christ. Baptism serves as a public declaration of the beginning of a new life while in communion the believer continually reaffirms his faith in God’s salvation. (1 Cor. 11:23 30; Luke 22:14 20; Acts 2:41; 8:35 39)
God created the heavens & the earth, including all life by direct act & not by the process of evolution. He completed His work in six literal consecutive days & rested on the seventh. God’s creatorship means that He owns the earth & all its inhabitants. As stewards of both our lives & the earth, we value life & are accountable to Him for the way we invest our lives & treat His creation. (Genesis 1:1-2:4; Col. 1:16 17; John 1:3)
Satan, also called “the Devil,” is a distinct person who was created without sin, but subsequently rebelled against the Creator. He currently engages in conflict against God & His work & is the ruling power of this age. However, Satan, as a created being, is limited to actions permitted by God. Satan will be defeated by God & is destined for eternal judgment in the lake of fire.
We should expect that conflict with the evil one should be a normal part of our lives, & that we need continual protection & provision from God in daily living. (Job 1:10-12; 2:5-7; Matt. 4:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:10-18; Rev. 20:10)
Spiritual gifts are empowerments for service to the body of Christ given when the Holy Spirit comes into the life of the believer at conversion. Miraculous signs & gifts were given during the early days of the Church to authenticate the apostles as Jesus’ representatives but were not intended to be a pattern for the present day.
The Bible clearly teaches that the future victory of God’s kingdom is assured. Jesus has promised to return for His people in triumph at the end of history. Following the resurrections of the saved & unsaved, God will judge all those who are not His children, & because their sin condemns them, He will sentence them to a never-ending, conscious punishment in the lake of fire. Those who are God’s children have the promise of a never-ending life in His presence in what is called “heaven” & “the new heavens & the new earth.”
We believe in the bodily & personal return of Jesus Christ for the Church in an event called the rapture before a seven-year tribulation period. At the close of this period He will establish a literal reign upon the earth for 1,000 years in fulfillment of prophecy.
Our confidence in God’s final triumph allows us to face the uncertainties of today with the assurance that they cannot undo the promises of God ultimately to reward faithfulness, to welcome us into His presence, & to overcome all evil & pain with good & joy. (1 Thes. 4:13 18; Matt. 25:31 36; Rev. 19-20)
The fabric of Grace is woven with 6 common threads throughout all our ministries, programs, activities, & pursuits. Like any finished tapestry, you'll find more of one thread in one portion, others in complement, or still others more prominent in other portions. But they all come together to form the colorful fabric we call Grace Baptist Church.
Sin matters. As we confront truth, we in turn confront sin & pursue a change of mind & heart. We consider repentance as the change of mind in the face of sin; we seek heartfelt sorrow, a willingness to confront, & allow the Holy Spirit to take charge in conquering the death grip of sin.
“Repent & believe in the gospel.” ( Mark 1:15)
God is at the center. He commands praise from all of his creation. As believers learn of his magnificence we can only respond in grateful worship & join others in offering it corporately in a variety of ways.
“But the hour is coming, & is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit & truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, & those who worship him must worship in spirit & truth.” (John 4:23, 24)
Change is the point. God calls us to become new creatures. As we are made new, we allow him to take us from our old life to new life. This complete change—the truest metamorphosis—comes as we submit to God’s Word & to the working of his Holy Spirit.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)
Growing with others is God’s plan. As we live, work, & serve together, we allow God to use others to sharpen & hone us into his disciples. We practice the dozens of commands which end with the phrase “one another,” & find that we become living gospels to those unbelievers who watch us, for they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.
“…And all who believed were together & had all things in common. & they were selling their possessions & belongings & distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44, 45)
We must look beyond ourselves. As we are transformed & consider our fellow brothers & sisters, we lose our selfish ways, & look for ways to serve those in our church family & those outside our walls, whether believers or unbelievers. To serve is to solidify God’s truth in our lives.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Gal. 5:13, 14)
God seeks global redemption. He desires that all men would become saved, & live life as he originally created man to enjoy. All believers play a role in God’s plan, & must be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us whether to our neighbor next door, or to assist in sharing that hope with those in the remotest parts of the earth.
“Go therefore & make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19)