ARTICLE I: CREEDAL STATEMENTS
Our confession of faith points to the heart of the Christian faith, but it also points to some of our distinctives as a particular body of believers. As such, this confession does not necessarily define the boundaries of our fellowship. Some Christians will certainly differ with some of what is set forth below. Such Christians are nevertheless welcome to worship the Lord together with us. Our basis for unity and communion is a biblical confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the absence of a scandalous lifestyle.
This confession of faith does represent the doctrinal understanding of the eldership of Sovereign Grace Church, and it is our intention that the teaching and preaching at Sovereign Grace Church reflect this understanding also. Procedural standards for our church government can be found in our constitution.
As a body of reformational evangelicals, we seek to display our unity in truth with other faithful churches, not only in the present, but also with the historic Christian church throughout the centuries. Although not included here, we are also in essential agreement with the historic confessions of the Reformation, including the Synod of Dordt, the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism (together known as the Three Forms of Unity), the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, and the London Baptist Confession of 1689 (Spurgeon?s slight modification). Together with the historic church, we confess the following:
The Apostles' Creed (AD 2nd century)
I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Nicene Creed Constantinople (AD 381)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin, Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church; acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Definition of Chalcedon (AD 451)
Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanity; truly God and truly man, with a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father according to His deity, and consubstantial with us according to the humanity; like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before the ages He was begotten of the Father, according to the deity, and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, He was born of Mary the virgin, who is Godbearer according to His humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures; without confusing them, without interchanging them, without dividing them, and without separating them; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but the properties of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one subsistence; not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as from the beginning the prophets have declared concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the symbol of the fathers has handed down to us.
A Westminster Creed
(A modern selection from the 17th century Shorter Catechism)
I believe man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever;
I believe God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; I believe there is but one true and living God; that there are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; I believe God has foreordained whatever comes to pass; that God made all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good; and that God preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions.
I believe our first parents, though created in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, sinned against God, by eating the forbidden fruit; and that their fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery; I believe God determined, out of His mere good pleasure, to deliver His elect out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer; I believe the only Redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever; I believe Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the office of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king. I believe Christ as our Redeemer underwent the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, the cursed death of the cross, and burial; He rose again from the dead on the third day, ascended up into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father, and is coming to judge the world at the last day.
I believe we are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit; I believe God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance unto life to escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin; I believe by His free grace we are effectually called, justified, and sanctified, and gathered into the visible church, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation; I believe that we also are given in this life such accompanying benefits as assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end; that at death, we are made perfect in holiness, and immediately pass into glory; and our bodies, being still united in Christ, rest in their graves, till the resurrection; and at the resurrection, we shall be raised up in glory, we shall openly be acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.
A Modern Statement
We believe the Bible to be the only inerrant Word of God. It is our only ultimate and infallible authority for faith and practice. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Lord God is omnipotent; He is the Almighty. He is omnipresent, entirely present throughout all creation while not limited by it. He is omniscient, with nothing at all hidden from His sight, whether past, present, or future. In all things He is limited by nothing other than His own nature and character. We believe the God we serve is holy, righteous, good, severe, loving, and full of mercy. He created the heavens and earth, and everything in them, in the space of six ordinary days, and all very good. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of everything that has been made.
We believe in the true deity and full humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe in the full deity of the Holy Spirit, acknowledging Him together with the Father and the Son in the works of creation and redemption.
We believe that because of Adam's sin all mankind is in rebellion against God. For the salvation of such lost and sinful men, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary.
We believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and that faith without works is dead.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and lost; those who are saved to the resurrection of life, and those who are lost to the resurrection of damnation. We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
ARTICLE II: GOVERNMENTS
We believe that God has ordained various governments among men. The three basic governments are civil government, church government, and family government as foundational to the first two. To fulfill their proper function, all of these governments are dependent on the grace of God, common or special, working in individuals to bring about self-government. Without such self-control, no other government can function according to the Word of God.
We deny that the authority of these governments should be set against one another. God has ordained them all, and assigned to them differing responsibilities. We further deny that any form of human government can be considered absolute.
We believe that a man is saved in truth when in an effectual call the Holy Spirit regenerates him and he consequently submits, in faith, to the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:5). As a follower of Jesus Christ, he seeks to live in submission to His Word.
We deny that Christ can be received as Savior and rejected as Lord (Matt. 7:21).
We believe that the elect were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to live holy and blameless lives (Eph. 1:4).
We deny that holiness can be defined on the authority of the word of man. Our only standard of holiness is the law of God, found in the Old and New Testaments (2 Tim. 3:16).
We believe that God will always complete any saving work He has begun. A regenerated man will not fall away from God's work of salvation (Rom. 8:29-31). The basis for this is God's faithfulness and not the faithfulness of the believer (1 Cor. 1:8-9).
We deny that faith in God's sustaining faithfulness is in any way a cushion for sin. A life characterized by sin is inconsistent with assurance of salvation (Rom. 6:1-6; 1 John).
We believe that a follower of Christ has an obligation to regularly and honestly confess his sins before God (1 Jn. 1:9; Prov. 28:13). In honest confession, the quality of a man's relationship with God is maintained and protected.
We deny that confession of sin is the foundation of the believer's relationship to God. Salvation does not depend on ongoing confession of sin; the joy of salvation does (Ps. 51:10-13).
We believe that God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. All unregenerate men therefore have a true obligation to do so (Acts 17:30; 2 Thess. 1:8).
We deny that unregenerate men are unjustly excluded from grace. Because they are dead in their sins, they have no desire for God's grace apart from the quickening influence of that grace (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 2:14). They are therefore responsible for remaining in sin.
We believe that at regeneration God creates each true believer a new man, created to grow in love and good works (Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:17).
We deny that this new man exists alongside the old man inherited from Adam. The old man was crucified in Christ (Rom. 6:1-11; Gal. 2:20). We deny that the crucifixion of the old man eliminates an ongoing struggle against the flesh (Gal. 5:17)
We believe that God has given to each individual various gifts of varying worth (1 Cor. 12:7-24). Each believer has an obligation to understand accurately what his gifts are, and to put them to work in the worship of God ( Eph. 4:11-16).
We deny that equality in Christ (Col. 3:10,11) nullifies God-assigned roles and stations (Col. 3:12-22; Phil. 2:3).
We believe that God has ordained the husband as the head of his wife, and that he is answerable to God for the spiritual state of everyone in his household (Eph. 5:23).
We deny that the hierarchy established by God in the household diminishes in any way the worth of women in the sight of God or their husbands (Gal. 3:28). Righteous men rise up and call their righteous wives blessed (Prov. 31:28).
We believe that men are responsible to protect their families and to provide for them (1 Tim. 5:8), loving their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Wives are responsible to minister to their husbands and children (Tit. 2:4).
We deny that reversal or rejection of God's assigned roles to husbands and wives can occur without serious damage to the family and, consequently, to the society and church (Tit. 2:5).
We believe that marriage is ordained by God, and that man has no authority to sever what God has joined together. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). In certain circumstances, divorce and remarriage are permissible, but must be governed in all respects according to the Word of God (Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-13).
We deny that compassion for the divorced requires any softening of the biblical teaching on the subject.
We believe that each local gathering of the visible church is to be governed by a plurality of men called elders, each of whom must meet the requirements for church leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
We deny that someone can be called by God to such leadership when his life or family is not in order. Seminary training, long experience, and gifts of leadership or communication are no substitute for obedience (1 Sam. 15:22).
We believe that each local gathering of the visible church is to be served by a plurality of deacons, each of whom must meet the requirements for church service (1 Tim. 3:8-13).
We deny that such service can be rendered properly when a deacon's life does not meet the criteria set by Scripture.
We believe the Lord commissioned His church to undertake the discipleship of the world (Matt. 28:18-20). The Lord has commanded baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism with water is therefore an ordinance of the Christian church, and the elders of the church are responsible to ensure that baptisms are administered in a scriptural fashion, and the proper signification of water baptism preserved and maintained. We affirm that water baptism signifies union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-7), the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), the washing away of sin (Acts 22:16), the washing of regeneration (Tit. 3:5), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:6; Acts 10:44,47), and the circumcision of the heart (Col. 2:11-12).
We deny that water baptism imparts grace by means of water. God imparts grace to His saints to enable them to obey Him (2 Cor. 9:8), and strengthens them further by grace in that obedience (Heb. 12:14-15). The faithful observance of water baptism constitutes one part of that obedience, and is therefore a means of grace.
We believe the Lord's Supper to be a participation by faith in the body and blood of Christ. Christians should regularly eat at this table, as long as they are not under the discipline of God, or God's people (1 Cor. 11:23-26). It is a participation in Christ (1 Cor. 10:14-17), and God blesses faithful participation in the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 10:16-17), and disciplines faithlessness in it (1 Cor. 11:30).
We deny that the Lord's Supper imparts grace by means of the bread and cup. It is, however, a participation in Christ (1 Cor. 10:14-17). God imparts grace to His saints to enable them to obey Him (2 Cor. 9:8), and strengthens them further by grace in that obedience (Heb. 12:14-15). The faithful observance of the Lord's Supper constitutes one part of that obedience, and is therefore a means of grace.
We believe the legitimate mode of water baptism is immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:4: Acts 8:26-39; 10:44-48). However, we understand that historically other modes of baptism have been practiced (having been based upon Scriptural principles as interpreted by imminent and godly men). Each case will be separately examined and if insisted upon, these modes may be used.
We believe the sign gifts which were apparent in the first-century church were not given as a normative pattern for subsequent generations (1 Cor. 13:8-13).
We deny that a church must manifest such gifts in order to please God in worship (1 Cor. 14:20-22).
We believe that Christians are to live quiet and peaceful lives, in true submission to the constitutions, laws, and civil magistrates as ordained by God to be His servants (Rom. 13:1-7).
We deny that this submission is absolute. When civil authorities require something forbidden by God, or forbid something required by God, the duty of Christians is to humbly, respectfully, and submissively disobey (Acts 4:19-20).
We believe that Christians are to pray for those authorities that God has placed above them (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
This Confession of Faith was approved and adopted by the elders of Sovereign Grace Church on July 14th, 2001. It is not intended to be a final statement, and will be amended or revised from time to time, as needed.