Declaration of Faith
In confessing these beliefs we have stated the principal items of our faith upon which the life of the Church is built and ordered. These affirmations we believe to be true to Scripture and this is of first importance. Also we believe them to be relevant to our contemporary society and testify that they have become real in our experience.
We recognise further that it may be desirable or necessary in the future to affirm further points of Biblical teaching or to clarify points already given here, and we would envisage such considerations being complete by 31st December, 1988, and thereafter as deemed necessary by the Church. In this Declaration of Faith use has been made of The Westminster Confession, The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, and The Strict Baptist Affirmation of Faith of 1966. *
WE BELIEVE IN
1. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
The Bible in its origin and nature is God's Word to us and to all mankind. We accept the whole Bible in the very words of the original Scriptures as given by inspiration of God, to be our rule of faith and life. The authority of the Bible is unique and supreme. It alone is the only, sufficient, certain and infallible rule of saving knowledge, faith and obedience. 2 Tim 3:15-17; 2 Pet 1:19-21; Heb 1:1; Rom 15:4; 1 Pet 1:10-12; 2 Pet 3:15-16.
The Moral Law in Scripture, as distinct from the Ceremonial and Judicial Laws, requires us in its totality to be obedient to it as a rule of life and conduct, out of respect and love for the authority of God who created it, and gave it. Matt 5:17-19; Rom 3:31; Jas 2:8-12.
2. THE GODHEAD
There is one true and living God, a pure spirit, whose very essence is love. This God is self-sufficient, unchangeable, eternal, omniscient (knowing all things), omnipresent (present everywhere at once), holy, almighty, incomprehensible, sovereign, righteous, just, gracious, long-suffering and merciful. Deut 6:4; Jn 4:24; 1 Jn 4:8; Jas 1:17; Ps 139; Deut 33:27; Is 6:3; Is 41:12-26; Eph 1:11; Ps 103:8; Ex 34:6; Ps 97:2.
United in the one essence of God there are three separate persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each of these three persons possesses, undivided, the entire divine essence and, therefore, the perfections which belong to God belong to each of the three Persons. Matt 3:16-17; 2 Cor 13:14; Jn 1:1.
3. THE CREATION
In the beginning, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the display of His glory, power, wisdom and goodness created out of nothing the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them. Gen 1:1ff; Neh 9:6; Jn 1:3; Heb 1:2; Ps 104:30; Ps 19:1; Rom 1:20.
God also created man, male and female, with immortal souls, according to His image, giving them dominion over all creation. Gen 1:26-28; Ps 8:6-8.
God saw everything that He had made and it was very good. Gen 1:31.
4. SIN AND THE FALL
a. The Nature of Sin. Sin is disobedience to the law of God and rebellion against His will. 1 Jn 3:4; Rom 8:7; Col 1:21.
b. The Origin of Sin. The Biblical history of the entry of sin into the world and of the Fall of Adam is factual and is the foundation of this basic doctrine in Scripture. Gen 2:15-17,3; Rom 5:12-21.
c. The Consequences of Sin. Through their original disobedience Adam and Eve fell from their first state of righteousness and communion with God, and we in them - therefore death came on all. Gen 3:17-24; Rom 5:12,18.
All parts of the body, mind and soul are corrupted. Tit 1: 15; Jer 17:9; Is 1:4-6; Rom 3:9-19.
All men were represented in Adam and the sentence passed on him was passed on all mankind. All mankind is, without exception, dead in sin, guilty before God and deserving of eternal judgement unless the Lord Jesus Christ sets them free.Rom 5:12,17-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22; Eph 2:1; Rom 3:19; Rom 6:23.
5. CHRIST THE MEDIATOR
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. He reflects the Father's glory and is of identical nature and equal with Him. All things were made through Christ who upholds and governs all things. Jn 1:1; Col 1:15-19; Heb 1:2-3; Col 2:9.
It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to appoint Christ, in accordance with the covenant made between them, to be the Mediator between God and man, and heir of all things. Is 42:1ff; 1 Pet 1:19-20; Heb 1:2.
To Him God gave, from all eternity, a people to be called, redeemed, justified, sanctified and glorified by Christ. Jn 17:6; Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4ff.
At the right time Jesus Christ, although truly God, also became truly man, being born to the virgin Mary by the agency of the Holy Spirit, by which means two whole and perfect natures, Divine and Human, are mystically joined in one glorious Person. Gal 4:4; Jn 1: 14; Lk 1 :35.
The Lord Jesus Christ willingly undertook the office of being Mediator (Ps 41:7-8); He underwent the punishment due to us(Is 53:5,6,19; 1 Pet 1:18-19); He became a curse for us (Gal 3:13) and was made sin for us (2 Cor 5:21); He suffered grievous sorrows in His soul and body (Matt 26:37-38,27-46); He was crucified and died (Matt 27:50).
On the third day, He rose from the grave (1 Cor 15:3-4, Matt 28); He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, and intercedes for the redeemed (Acts 1:9-11; Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24);
He shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the age (Acts 10:42).
Through His death and resurrection, Christ has fully satisfied the justice of God (Rom 3:25-26), accomplished reconciliation and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven for all whom the Father has given to Him. Jn 17:2; 2 Cor 5:18-19.
6. THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity, is equal in nature, majesty and glory to the Father and the Son. 2 Cor 13:14; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor 3:17.
Divine names are given to Him, l Cor 3:16.
Divine perfections are ascribed to Him, for example 'omnipresence', Ps 139:7.
Divine works are performed by Him, Gen 1:2; Rom 8:11.
In addition to His power and force, the Holy Spirit is a person. Descriptions of personality are given to Him (Jn 14:26; 15:26); He speaks (Acts 13:2), He teaches (Jn 14:26), He prays (Rom 8:26), He reveals (1 Cor 2:10), and He guides (Acts 16:7).
The Holy Spirit is seen at work in the creation and control of the material universe (Gen 1:2; Ps 104:29-30); in the inspiration, preservation and interpretation of Scripture (1 Pet 1:11; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21; 1 Cor 2:10-12); and as the divine agent in all aspects of the new birth and a Christian's life through saving faith, repentance, communion with God and power in prayer and sanctification. Jn 3:5-8;16:8; 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 8: 15; Tit 3:5; Rom 8:13,26; Rom 5:5; Jn 14:26.
God, in His own way, and in His own time, calls, by His Word and through His Spirit, those whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world to save them out of their natural state of sin and death into the grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. Rom 8:30; Eph 1:3-4,10-11; 2 Thess 2:13; Eph 2:1-6; Jn 3:8.
He enlightens their minds so that they understand the things of God. Acts 26:18; Eph 1:17-18; 2 Tim 2:25-26; 1 Cor 2:10; Jn.3:3.
He takes away their rebellious hearts, giving them responsive hearts. Ezk 36:26.
By His almighty power, He renews their wills so that they seek to do good. By this same power, He draws them to Jesus Christ and they come freely, made willing by His grace. Jn 6:37-44; 2 Tim 2:25-26; Rom 9:16; Ezk 36:27; Ps 110:3.
Conversion is that act by which the regenerate person consciously turns to God in repentance and saving faith (Matt 18:3; Acts 3:19). Conversion must always include the essential elements of repentance and saving faith.
a. Repentance is essential to salvation (Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30). God works in a person's soul through the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25) to convict them of their sin (Jn 16:8; Rom 3:20) so that they, being truly sorry for their sins, (Ps 51; 2 Cor 7:9-10) turn from them (1 Thess 1:9-10) and desire pardon and cleansing in Christ.
b. Saving faith Salvation is obtained through faith in Christ Jesus alone and not in anything we can do. Rom 3:20-26; Gal 2: 16.
This saving faith means complete dependence on Christ, who died and rose again to save His people from their sins. It is a gift of God, through the Holy Spirit, and is commonly brought about by the ministry of the Word of God. 2 Cor 4:13; Eph 2:8-9; Rom 10:17.
By His unmerited favour, God justifies those whom He has chosen, pardoning their sins, accounting and accepting them as righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ. Rom 8:30; 3:24; Phil 3:9.
Justification is a legal act of God, in which he declares that on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ all the requirements of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner. Acts 13:39; Rom 5:1; 3:24-26.
Justification removes the guilt of sin, admits the justified sinner into the special grace of God and gives eternal life. Rom 1:5ff; 8:1; Jn 5:24; Eph 1:17; Rom 4:7-8.
Justification must not be confused with sanctification. Justification deals with a person's legal standing before God that is established once and for all. It does not, however, change our natures. Sanctification is the continuing process whereby the nature is progressively changed into the image of Christ. Rom 8:33; 2 Cor 3:18.
God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified and although they can never fall back from the state of justification yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure until they humble themselves and in repentance and faith confess their sins. Ps 32:5; Ps 89:31-33; 1 Jn 1:7-9; Jn 10:28; Heb 12:5-11.
God undertakes, in and for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, to confer the grace of adoption on all those who are justified. In this way, they are taken into the number and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5-6.
Sanctification is separation from sin and obedience to the will of God. 1 Pet 4:2; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1. Without sanctification, no man shall see the Lord. Heb 12:14.
Sanctification involves each member of the Trinity, and the Word of God, co-operating with the believer in his life. 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 5:26ff; Jn 17:17; Rom 8:13; Eph 3: 16-19; Phil 2:12-13.
It is the responsibility of the believer, through the Holy Spirit's power, to put to death the corruptions of the sinful human nature. Rom 8: 13.
Sanctification operates through the whole of our natures, yet is imperfect in this life. There still remains corruption in every part, from which arises a continual warfare between the flesh and the Spirit. 1 Thess 5:23; Rom 7:18-23; Gal 5:17.
Nevertheless, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of God, the new nature does overcome, and so believers grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing towards a heavenly life, in obedience to all the commands of God. 2 Cor 3:18; 7: 1.
11. THE STATE OF THE NEW MAN AFTER DEATH
After death, the bodies of men return to their natural elements but their souls, being immortal, immediately return to God who gave them. Gen.3:19, Eccl 12:17.
The souls of believers go immediately upon the death of the body to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, where they wait for the redemption of their bodies. The souls of the unsaved are reserved in hell until the day of the last judgement. 2 Pet 2:9; Lk 23:43; Rom 8:23; Lk 16:23; 2 Cor 5:1-9.
12. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
At a time known only to God, the Lord Jesus Christ shall return to this earth in glory, bringing with Him the souls of the believers who have died.
The bodies of these believers shall be raised to a condition of glorious incorruptibility, like Christ's own glorious body, and be reunited with their souls.
At this time the bodies of those believers who are still alive on earth shall be transformed instantaneously and without death into the same glorified condition and both shall then be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so be with Him forever.
The bodies of the unsaved shall also be raised by the power of Christ to appear before God for the final judgement. 1 Thess 5:1; 4:14-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53; 1 Jn 3:2-3; Acts 24:14-15; Phil 3:20-21; Jn 5:28-29.
13. THE LAST JUDGEMENT
God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ. All mankind shall stand before Him and he shall separate His redeemed people from the unsaved. Acts 17:31; Matt 25:31-32; Jn 5:22-23.
The creation in its present state of corruption shall no longer exist and the redeemed shall take their place in the new heavens and the new earth, and God Himself shall be with them as their God for all eternity. 2 Pet 3:10-13; Rom 8:18-23; Rev 21:1-4.
The unsaved, who do not know God, and do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will be punished with everlasting destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord. In this way the glory of God's mercy will be seen in the eternal salvation of all believers, and the glory of God's righteous judgement in the condemnation of the unbelievers. 2 Thess 1:6-10; Matt 25:46; Eph 2:7; Rom 9:22-23.
14. THE CHURCH
a. The Nature of the Church. The Universal Church is the innumerable company of God's elect in every age, who have been, are, or will be called out of the power of Satan to God, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ. This Church will endure to the end and will be complete and perfect in the day of Christ's second coming.Col 1:13; 1 Cor 1:2; Rev 7:9-17; Eph 5:25-27; Phil1:6; Matt 16:18.
A local Church consists of a number of believers meeting in one place for worship, and it is the duty of every believer to become part of such a fellowship. Heb 10:25; Acts 2:42, 27.
God has appointed Christ to be the Head of the Church. His authority is never delegated to men but is exercised in the Church by the Holy Spirit. Local Churches, having the presence of Christ as Head, are responsible to Him for their own administration, and in this respect are independent of every other form of external control. The Church seeks together, through prayer and fellowship, to know the mind of the Lord, so that it may do His will. Eph 1:22-23; Matt 28:18-20; 1 Cor 5:4-5;6:5;2:16.
To the Church of Christ has been committed the Gospel of the grace of God, and it is its solemn responsibility to go into all the world to proclaim that gospel to every creature. To the local Church also is committed the stewardship of the Gospel, the defence of the truth, the discipline of disorderly members, the appointment of officers, and the administration of the ordinances. Matt 28:19-20; Eph 4:11-14; 1 Thess 2:4; 1 Jn 4:1; Jude 3; Acts 13:1-4; 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Cor 11:23-34; 2 Cor 5:20.
b. Worship in the Local Church. True worship is promoted in the hearts and minds of the redeemed by the Holy Spirit and is expressed with understanding, reverence, humility, faith, love, and submission to God. It is directed by Christ, the only mediator, to the Father. Jn 4:23-24; Ps 95:1-7; Heb 10:19-25; 1 Cor 14:15-17; Rom 8:26-27.
God is to be worshipped everywhere, by individuals privately, by families daily, and by God's people collectively, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Matt 6:6; Acts 10:2; Ps 55:17ff; Heb 10:25.
It is the duty of the local Church to provide for the united worship of the Lord's people in praise, prayer and edification, and the proclamation of the Gospel, within the fellowship, in the locality of the Church, in the country and throughout the world.2 Tim 4:2; Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16; 1 Tim 2:1-5; 4:13; Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8; 3 Jn 5-8.
c. The Lord's Day. God has set apart one day in seven which is to be kept holy and is designed also for man's spiritual benefit. The day is to be used for rest from secular labour, and for the occupation of the whole person in the worship and service of the Lord. No detailed instructions are given in Scripture as to the way in which this day is to be kept, but ample allowance is made for works of mercy and necessity.
The Church has authority for observing the first day of the week as the Lord's day, because it is the day of our Lord's resurrection. Ex 20:8-11; Is 58:13-14; Lk 4:16; Matt 12:1-13; 1 Cor 16:1-2; Acts 20:5; Rev 1:10.
d. The Ordinances. We recognise two ordinances, so called because ordained or established by Christ's authority, which are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These ordinances are to be administered by those appointed by the local Church, and are to continue to the end of the world. Matt.28:19, 1 Cor 11:23-26.
i) The ordinance of BAPTISM is to be administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The candidates in this ordinance express their separation from the world, their identity with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and their devotion from that time forward to Him. Rom 6:3-6; Matt 28:19-20.
The ordinance is to be administered only to those who have exhibited repentance for sin, and made a profession of their faith in Christ. Acts 2:38; 8:12,37.
The ordinance is rightly administered by the total immersion of the believer in water, since this symbolically bears reference to the burial and resurrection of Christ. Jn 3:23; Acts 8:38-39.
This ordinance is essential, not to salvation, but for obedience to the commandments of Christ, and for a full and complete profession of faith.
ii) The ordinance of the LORD'S SUPPER is to be observed as a memorial of the sufferings and death of Christ. The bread symbolises His broken body and the cup symbolises His shed blood. It is also an expression of the inherent unity of the Church as one body in Christ, and a means of strengthening the faith of the believer. It is in no sense a sacrifice, or the continuation of the sacrifice of Calvary. 1 Cor 11:23-26; Matt 26:26-29; 1 Cor 19:17.
Those who partake, and do not have a right relationship with God and their fellow men, sin against Christ, and are guilty of offence against the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgement to themselves. 1 Cor 11:27-32.
e. The Responsibilities Church Members. Believers of a local fellowship are required first to devote themselves to the Lord's service, and then to the service of one another, according to the will of God. Rom 12:1,4-13; 1 Cor 12:26; 1 Pet 4:10-11.
They are not to forsake assembling together for public worship, fellowship in prayer, and the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:42.
They are required to earnestly desire and work for the spiritual prosperity of each other, and to provide for the material relief of those in need. Gal 6:1,10; 1 Thess 5:14; 1 Jn 3:17-18; Jas 1:27; Heb 3:12-13.
Members are also required, both individually and collectively, to support regularly and sacrificially the Lord's work throughout the whole world by prayer and by giving. 1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 8:1-5;8-15; 1 Thess 5:25; Gal 6:6; 3 Jn 5-8.