We recognize that any statement of faith is a fallible attempt to summarize and systematize an infallible divine revelation. We recognize that the Bible is the Christian's only authoritative document. However, the Bible is often distorted and misinterpreted so we believe that it is necessary not to add to what the Bible teaches but instead to delineate what we believe the Bible means by what it teaches in several important areas. Thus, this statement of faith is essential because it provides an explanation of our understanding of what scripture teaches, and thereby provides the framework in which our curriculum, teaching, and preaching occurs. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that there are contained within this statement doctrines which are essential (e.g. the Deity of Christ, Bodily Resurrection, etc.) and doctrines which are distinctives (e.g. Last Things, etc.). Essentials are those doctrines which are universally held by the redeemed. Distinctives are those doctrines in which there has been latitude within historical Christianity.
We do hereby adopt as the fullest expression of our faith the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. This ancient document is a most excellent summary of things most surely believed among us. We accept the same, not as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby we are to be bound, but as an assistance to us in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. We hereby adopt the 1689 LBCF as a detailed expression of our doctrinal commitments as a church and for the purpose of guiding us in the selection of officers, teachers, and other leaders in the church.
We likewise adopt a statement of belief, The Shorter Confession of Faith of Grace Covenant Baptist Church, which affirms our core doctrines in an abbreviated form to facilitate membership and unity around doctrines essential to orthodox Christianity, descriptive of our unique doctrinal identity, and responsive to the theological issues of the modern era.
Acknowledgment of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 as our church's most comprehensive summary of what we believe and teach and the Shorter Confession as a more concise statement of the same is required for church membership. While it is acknowledged that members may not fully agree at every point, it is understood that no member will seek to teach against what each statement affirms. Our church submits to the rule of Christ through His appointed elders regarding the examination of those applying for membership as to both the veracity of the applicant's claim to faith and the extent to which new members may serve in our church. To this end, the elders will employ both the lengthier 2LC and the more concise SCF as a guide to help in the determination of orthodoxy (right thinking) and orthopraxy (right living) for each individual applying for membership to Grace Covenant Baptist Church.
The Shorter Confession of Faith
I. The Word of God
We believe the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. It is completely sufficient in the life of the Christian and the body of Christ, the Church. Psalm 12:6; Jeremiah 23:28-29; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Mark 13:31; John 8:31-32; 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 20:31; Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1: 20-21
We believe that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. John 7:14-18; 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-15; 1 John 2:20-21
We believe the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days. Genesis 1:1-31; Exodus 31:17
II. The Trinity
We believe that there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that these are co-eternal and co-equal in every divine perfection, and that they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence, and redemption. Genesis 1:1, 26; Psalm 139:7-8; Matthew 28:18-20; John 1:1- 3; Romans 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21
III. God the Father
We believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all that come to Him through Jesus Christ. We believe that He orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace. Isaiah 46:9-10;Matthew 23:9; Luke 10:21-22; John 3:16, 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:1-2; 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 1:6
As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption. In His sovereignty, He is neither author nor approver of sin, nor does He waive the accountability of His creatures. He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own, not based on anything we have done, but according to His own good pleasure. Genesis 1:1-31; Habakkuk 1:13; Psalm 103:19; John 8:38-47; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Timothy 6:13-16; James 1:13; 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 4:11
IV. Jesus Christ
We believe in Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son. We believe in His virgin conception by the Holy Spirit, sinless life, miracles, and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary, propitiatory (satisfaction of his Father's holiness, thereby averting His wrath) death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal, visible return to earth. We believe Jesus Christ is coequal, consubstantial (i.e., having the same substance, nature, or essence), and coeternal with the Father. Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:18-25; 20:28; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 14:9-11; 20:28-31; Acts 1:11; Romans 5:6-11; 6:9-10; 8:31-39; 9:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8; 7:25; 9:28; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 2 Peter 1:1-2
We believe that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness. We believe that in the Incarnation (God becoming man), Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. Micah 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9-11; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9
We believe that on the basis of the efficacy (effectiveness) of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, every genuine believer is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he/she is declared righteous (justified), given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God. Romans 3:23-26; 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18
We believe that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, God the Father displayed to His creation the deity of His Son and gave proof that He accepted the propitiatory work of Christ on the cross. Isaiah 53:10-12
V. The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit who came forth from the Father and the Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration. It is His work to indwell, sanctify, instruct, empower for service, and seal until the day of redemption all who believe on Jesus Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ, and that He is an abiding helper, teacher, and guide. He is a divine person, eternal, underived (having no beginning or source), possessing all the attributes of personality and deity. In all the divine attributes, He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and the Son. Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; John 16:9-15; Acts 2:15-20; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 5:22-26; Ephesians 1:13-14
We believe that humanity was directly and immediately created by God in His own image and likeness, free from sin, with a rational nature, intelligence, and volition; yet with a moral responsibility to the God who created him. Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7, 15-25; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9
We believe that God's intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for man in the world. Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11
We believe that in Adam's sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, humanity lost its innocence, incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death, became subject to the wrath of God, and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. Thus, every human being is utterly depraved and, having no recuperative powers to enable him to rescue himself, is hopelessly lost. Man's salvation is, therefore, wholly of God's grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; John 3:36; Romans 3:10-17, 23; 5:12; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 John 1:8
We believe that because all humanity descended from Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam's sin has been transmitted to all of humanity (Jesus Christ being the only exception). All of humanity is thus sinful by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration, spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins, and by nature, children of God's wrath. Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12; Ephesians 2:1-3
We believe that election is the sole act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ all whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies. Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-5
We believe when God grants grace to utterly depraved sinners, it is not related to any initiative of their own, nor to God's anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely on the basis of His sovereign purpose and will. Ephesians 1:4-10; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:1-5; 2 Peter 1:1
We believe that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of human beings to their Creator. Spiritually dead humanity, however, can never be considered righteous, and none will ever understand spiritual truths, much less ever seek after God on their own accord. Therefore, God's sovereign grace includes the only means of receiving the gift of salvation. God's sovereign election always results in what God determines. Therefore, all whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive. Isaiah 55:6-7; Luke 13:3; John 6:35-65; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 13:48; Romans 2:4; 3:10-18; 8:28-30; 9:11-16; 10:9-11; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-9; 2 Peter 1:1
We believe that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love. This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 11:25-28; Romans 9:11-16; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Timothy 1:9
We believe that man was created by God in His own image; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical, spiritual, and eternal death, which is separation from God; that as a consequence, all human beings are born with a sinful nature and are sinners and therefore under condemnation. We believe that those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit repent and forsake sin and trust Jesus Christ as Savior and become new creatures, delivered from condemnation, inheriting eternal life. Genesis 1:26; 2:17; 3; 5:2; Psalm 51; Proverbs 28:13; Ecclesiastes 2:11; Jeremiah 17:9; John 1:13; 3:14-16; 5:24-25;8:12; 10:25-30; Romans 3:19; 5:19; 8:1; 9:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; James 1:14-15; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 19:3; 20:10-15
We believe that regeneration is manifested by fruits consistent with repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. Good works done in faith and love will be the proper evidence and fruit of genuine repentance and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God. This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming. Therefore, we believe that one's claim to spiritual life in Christ is verified by living for the glory of God and the well being of his fellow men; by striving to conduct himself in a blameless manner before the world; by faithfully managing his possessions according to the will of God; and by seeking to realize for himself and others the full stature of maturity in Christ. Matthew 7:18-21; Romans 8:17; 12; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 2:10; 5:17-21;Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:1-2; James 2:14-26; 2 Peter 1:4-10; 1 John 1:5-10; 3:2-3
We believe that justification is the act of God by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins and confess Him as sovereign Lord. This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ and the imputation (a transfer or crediting of benefit to one's account) of Christ's righteousness to us. By this means, God is able to be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Isaiah 55:6-7; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38-40; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 3:20, 26; 4:6; 8:33; 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21; 7:10;Â Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 2:24-25
We believe that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint. This sanctification is positional and instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. This sanctification has to do with the believer's standing, not his present walk or condition. Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2
We believe that there is also, by the work of the Holy Spirit, a progressive sanctification by which the state of the believer is brought closer to the standing the believer positionally enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ. In this respect, we believe that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict - the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh, but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Though eradication of sin is not possible during earthly existence, the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin. John 17:17, 19; Romans 6; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 5:23; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 1:5-10; 3:5-9
E. Perseverance of the Saints/Preservation by the Savior
We believe that all those regenerated by the Spirit of God will be likewise kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ. John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39;1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24
Paralleling the clear teachings concerning the security of the true believer, we believe that the true children of God, chosen from the foundation of the world, will stand firm for Christ to the end, because they are kept in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We believe that it is the privilege of all genuine believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word, but we also teach that God's Word clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality. Romans 6; 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13, 16-26; Ephesians 4:30; Titus 2:11-14; James 2:14-26
We believe that references to those who do "fall away", whose "love will grow cold" are references to men and women who claim that they are in Christ but, in reality, are not. Christ taught that the kingdom of God - the genuine elect of God - will be infiltrated with tares, those who claim - and may even think - that they are in Christ but, in reality, are not. These tares may be members of the church in general, but have never been true citizens of the kingdom of God. Therefore, we teach and encourage all who claim the name of Christ to "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves", believing the biblical admonition that "faith, if it has no works, is dead." Matthew 7:21-23; 13:1-30, 37-42; 24:9-13; John 14:15; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 10:23-39; James 2:14-26; 2 Peter 1:4-10; 1 John 2:19; Rev. 2-3
VIII. The Church
We believe a New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth, giving freely and cheerfully to support the local and global work of Christ on earth. We believe that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers). The local congregation is to submit to their leadership. The biblically designated officers serving the assembly under the direction of the elders are deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of elder is limited to men meeting the biblical qualifications. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42, 47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23, 27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11, 21; 4:1l; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 11:39-40; 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3
IX. The Ordinances
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
We believe that Christian baptism, in the name of the triune God, is the visual representation by immersion in water of the believer's identification with Christ spiritually. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. We believe that the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ for commemoration of His death, and should always be preceded by solemn self-examination. We believe that these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not believe these ordinances hold any salvific value; that is, they do not convey saving grace upon the recipient; yet they are means by which God reveals His gospel to His people and brings loving encouragement into their lives. Matthew 3:13-17, 26:26-30, 28:18-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:38-42, 8:36-39, 16:30-33; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Colossians 2:12
X. The Family
We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His Church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. 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 the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them through consistent lifestyle, example, and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents. Genesis 2:21-25; 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Colossians 3:19
XI. Religious Liberty
We believe that every human being is created in the image of God and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith; that each church is independent and must be free from interference by political authorities. 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 14:7-9, 12
XII. The Last Things
We believe in the personal and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and in His eternal kingdom in heaven. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal felicity of the righteous, and the eternal damnation of the wicked. Matthew 16:27; Mark 14:62; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 20:4-6; 11-15