Strict Baptist Affirmation of Faith 1966
“In the fear of God and in the bonds of Christian love, we, assembled pastors and deacons of the Strict Baptist denomination, solemnly avow our faith as set out in the Strict Baptist Affirmation of Faith, 1996, to be published in the form adopted in this assembly in London, May 21st, 1966.
These are the things most surely believed among us, which we desire to hold in christian love and to proclaim faithfully to the world, to the glory of God now and forever.”
The doctrine of God
1. The Holy Trinity
WE BELIEVE there is one true and living God; a pure spirit without any material parts whatever; whose very essence is love; who is self-sufficient, immutable, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, almighty and incomprehensible. In all his relations outside himself he is sovereign, gracious, righteous, just, longsuffering, merciful, and approachable through Christ only.
Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; 1 Cor. 8:4; John 4:24; Deut. 4:15-16; Luke 24:39; 1 John 4:8; 2 Cor. 13:11; Isa. 48:11-12; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; Deut. 33:27; Psa. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Isa. 40:13-14; 46: 9-10; Psa. 139:7-11; Jer. 23:24; Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; Gen. 17:1; Rev. 1 :8; Job 11 :7; 26:14; 1 Tim. 6:14-16; Psa. 135:6; Eph. 1:11; Psa. 103:8; 111:4; Ex. 34:6; Isa. 45:21-22; John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5.
United in the one essence of God there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These are separate persons since the Father is not the Son and not the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. Each of these persons possesses the entire divine essence undivided, and therefore the perfections which belong to God belong to each of the three persons.
The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit is eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Mat. 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1. John 5:7; John 14:26; Psa. 90:2; John 1:14 and 18; 8:42; 16:28; 15:26.
2. God’s decree
God is love, and therefore all his counsels and actions proceed from this his essential nature.
John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-16.
God has decreed in himself before the world began, by his most holy, wise and sovereign will, all things whatsoever that come to pass, but in such a way that he is not the author of sin; nor is violence done to the will of the creature, nor is God’s use of means or second causes removed but established by the decree. God is sovereign and man is a responsible creature.
Isa. 46.:9-10; Rom. 9:15; Eph. 1 :11; 1 Pet. 1 :16; James 1 :13; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; John 19:11; Prov. 16:33.
By this same decree, God has from eternity predestinated an innumerable multitude of persons to be conformed to the image of his Son with all the blessings of eternal life; the rest of mankind he has sovereignly left to act in their sin to their just condemnation.
Eph. 1 :4 and 9 and 11; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Pet. 1 :2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Mat. 11:25-26; Rom. 9:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:8; Rom. 1 :28; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Tim. 3:8.
The predestinated persons, the elect, were chosen by God before the world began, entirely of his own good pleasure, and not at all on account of any faith or good works foreseen in them. As God has appointed the elect, and only the elect, to glory, so has he by the same decree foreordained all the means thereto, so that the elect being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, effectually called unto faith by the Spirit, justified, adopted, sanctified, made to persevere to the end, and at length glorified.
Eph. 1 :4-5; 2:8-10; Rom. 8:28-30; Phil. 1:6.
This doctrine of predestination is to be taught with reverent prudence and care, that all men may be warned to be concerned for their state as sinners; and that the elect, making their calling and election sure, may be comforted and encouraged, and built up in their holy faith, to the glory of God’s sovereign majesty.
Acts 20:27; Rev. 20:15; 2 Pet. 1:5-10.
In the beginning it pleased God, for the display of His glory, power, wisdom and goodness, to create out of nothing the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them.
God also created the first human pair, male and female, with intelligent and immortal souls, and made after the image of God, being perfectly righteous and holy, and completely able to fulfil the law of God implanted in their nature. The description of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 is not myth but an accurate historical account of creation given by divine revelation.
Gen. 1:1-2; John 1:3; Heb. 11:3; Psa. 19:1; Rom. 1:20; Gen. 1:27; Mat. 19:4; Gen. 9:6; James 3:9; Ecc. 7:29; Job 38 and 39; Psa. 104:24; 33:5, 6; Col. 1:16; Rom. 11:36; Isa. 43:7; Rev. 4:11
4. Divine providence
God the Creator, in his infinite power and wisdom, sustains and governs all creatures and things by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge and unchangeable will, to the glory of his invincible and righteous purpose.
Heb. 1:3; Dan. 4:34-35; Acts 17:24-28; Mat. 10:29-30; Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11; 3:9-10; Isa. 64:4.
Although all things come to pass with certainty according to God’s foreknowledge and decree, so that nothing happens without his providence; yet by the same providence God often uses means so that things happen according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily or contingently. Though God has normally worked in accordance with the laws of nature, or through second causes, there are occasions when he has worked directly or immediately. These extra-ordinary providences, or miracles, are a display of divine power wherein God works in a supernatural way, producing a result without recourse to the normal means. The miracles of Scripture were performed with a definite purpose in view, and were especially manifest during periods of unusual revelation.
Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:35; Acts 27:31-44; Ex. 7:1; 1 Kings 18:38; John 2:11.
This same providence, by God’s almighty power and wisdom governs the actions of men and spirits, so that while they act freely according to their natures, their deeds, whether good or bad, fall within the scope of the divine purpose. This applies equally to the case of those from whom God sovereignly withholds his mercies with the result that they are hardened in their sins. Nevertheless, sinfulness comes only from creatures and not from God.
Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 14:16; Psa. 76:10; Isa. 10:5-7.
While the providence of God governs all things, it is specially concerned with the sustaining and building up of the Church and the welfare of its members.
Psa. 23; 103; 125:2; Isa. 43:3-5; Eph. 4:11-16.
The Holy Scriptures
WE BELIEVE that in creation God has given a revelation of his power and glory leaving all men without excuse before him, but none by the light of nature alone can attain to a saving knowledge of God. This revelation leaves all men without excuse before God. For this reason it pleased God to give by the Scriptures a written revelation of that knowledge of himself and his will necessary to salvation.
Rom. 1 :18-21; 2:14, 15; Psa. 19:1; Heb. 1 :1; Rom. 3:1, 2.
By the Scriptures, or Bible, we mean only the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. The books known as the Apocrypha, not being inspired, form no part of the Scriptures. In the absence of the original manuscripts, God has divinely preserved his work in many faithful copies. Careful translations are to be made that all men might personally read God’s Word in their own language.
Isa. 40:8; Mat. 5:18; John 5:39
The Scriptures have their origin in God himself; they are God-breathed, given by inspiration of God. This inspiration extends to all the books in their totality, down to the very words used, and is not limited in any way whatever either by man’s understanding or response. The Scriptures do not therefore merely contain God’s Word, they are God’s Word.
Ex. 4:10-15; 2 Sam. 23: 1-2; Jer. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1 :19-21; John 17:17.
The authority of the Bible depends wholly upon God and is unique and supreme. It alone is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of saving knowledge, faith and obedience. Therefore the Bible is the authoritative Word of God to all people, and a sure and complete guide in all matters of christian thinking, living and service.
2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Heb, 1:1; Rom. 15:4; Isa. 8:19, 20; Psa. 19; 119:105; 1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13.
The Bible attests its own divine authority and this is not contrary to human reason, but is demonstrated by convincing evidence. This authority, however, is only experienced by faith, through the inward working of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. In this way the power and teaching of the Holy Spirit in the Bible itself are made clear in the understanding, assurance, joy and eternal good of the individual believer.
1 Cor. 2: 4; 15:1-6; 1 Thess. 1:5; Luke 1:1-4; John 6:45; John 16:13, 14; 1 Cor. 2:9-14.
The Bible is its own interpreter, and so we compare Scripture with
Scripture. The Bible is a unity of truth and contains no real contradictions. When, therefore, there is a question about the true meaning or full sense of any part of the Bible, it must be determined by other parts that speak more clearly.
1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1 :20-21; Acts 15:15-16.
The Bible is to be proclaimed and taught as having power in itself, through the Holy Spirit, to regenerate, convince, convert, save and keep all of God’s children. God may use other means to these ends, but never without, or in a way inconsistent with, the truth of the Bible.
Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1 :23-25; Eph. 5:26; Acts 2:37.
In all controversial matters, whether of religion or life, the teaching of the Bible is to be taken as decisive and final. If in anything the Bible appears to be silent, we cannot allow or approve of that which is inconsistent with any clearly defined principle or teaching of the Bible.
Isa. 8:20: Mat. 22:29-31; Acts 28:23; Rom. 4:3.
The doctrine of angels
WE BELIEVE in the existence of good and evil angels. These are spirit beings possessing intelligence, will and power, though subject to the limitations which belong to creatures.
Heb. 1 :7, 13, 14; Mark 13:32; Mat. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4.
All angels were created holy and some, maintaining their integrity, continue in a state of holiness and glory. They are employed in the worship and service of God and also to minister to God’s redeemed people. The evil angels did not keep their first estate but, in opposition to God, became fallen spirits. They are commonly designated demons in Scripture.
Mat. 18:10; Rev. 5:11; Heb. 1 :14; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Mark 1:25.
Of these fallen spirits, one is clearly revealed as exalted in rank and authority over his associates. He is the Devil, or Satan, the great enemy of God and man. His power over the bodies and souls of men is very great. He is the opposer of all good and the promoter of all evil. Yet the Devil is not almighty, nor omnipresent nor omniscient. The powers of Satan and his angels are always and in all forms strictly under the sovereign control of God.
Mat. 4:1-11; John 8:44; Job 2:6; 2:7; Eph. 2:2; 6:12.
Satan and all demons can and ought to be resisted by all christians in the strength and might of Christ who was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil. Every attempt to communicate with the spirit world is forbidden in Scripture. The final appointment of the Devil at the end of the age is to everlasting torment.
James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; Gen. 3:15; Ex. 22:18; Gal. 5:19-20; Rev. 20:10.
The doctrine of man and sin
Nature, Origin and Results of Sin
WE BELIEVE that sin is disobedience to the law of God, resulting in a position of guilt and in a condition of positive evil in the nature of men. This condition is not only an absence of good or failure to do right, it is an entire distortion of human nature producing habitual rebellion against the will of God.
1 John 3:4; Rom. 3:19; 8:7; Col. 1:21.
Sin began, not in God, nor in man, but among the angels before the creation of man. The biblical history of the entry of sin into the world and of the fall of Adam is factual and is the foundation of basic doctrine in Scripture.
Gen. 2:15-17; 3; Rom. 5:12-21; 2 Cor. 11:3; John 9:3; 11: 4-15; Rev. 12:7-9; Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18; Rom. 16:20.
Adam was the representative of the human race and the sentence passed on him was passed on all mankind. All Adam’s posterity is without exception dead in sin, entirely defiled, guilty before God, subject to the death of the body, and deserving of eternal judgment. This explanation of man’s plight is not an excuse for continuing in sin, for all are accountable to God. The body is not in itself sinful but is made the instrument of sin and the excuse for it by fallen man.
Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:20-25; Eph. 2:1-5; Ezek. 18:19-20.
Natural man is totally unable to receive God’s truth or to desire true godliness because his mind is blinded and his heart is wholly inclined to evil.
Mat. 16:17; Eph. 4:18.
God has given man power to choose his own course of action. His will is not forced from outside himself against his inward disposition, but always operates in harmony with his own personality, emotional and intellectual state. He is thus responsible and accountable to God for his choices.
Until the fall man was able to choose either to please God or to disobey him. Since the fall man still chooses freely according to his own nature, but that nature is now sinful and dead towards God. Consequently, all his decisions, both in material and spiritual affairs, lack the enlightenment of the divine will and he is completely unable to please God, to choose Christ, or in any way to contribute to his own salvation from sin.
Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; James 1 :14; Mat. 7:15-20; 15:19; Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6; John 6:65; 15:5; Rom. 8:7-8; Eph. 2:1; John 6:44; Heb. 11 :6; 9:14; Isa. 64:6.
In salvation God frees the sinner from this bondage enabling him to will and to enjoy all spiritual good. Indwelling sin, however, remains to ensnare the believer; he is still liable to choose evil, or to choose good and yet fail to achieve it, until he is perfected in glory.
John 8:36; Rom. 7:14-23; Eph. 2:5; 4:13; Gal. 5:16-17; Phil. 2:12-13; Jude 24; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 John 3:1-3; Psa. 17:15; Phil. 1:6.
The doctrine of the grace of God
1. General and Special Grace
WE BELIEVE that God is gracious in his very nature. Grace is that perfection of God in which he shows unmerited and even forfeited favour in a general way to all mankind and in a special way to the elect.
Ex. 22:27; 34:6; Neh. 9:17 and 31; Psa. 86:15; 111:4; Isa. 30:18; Jonah 4:2.
There is that grace which is general, in that God is good to all. It appears in the natural blessings which God showers upon all in this present life, in spite of the fact that man has forfeited them and is in a state of condemnation. It is seen in all that God does to restrain the devastating influence and development of sin in the world, and to maintain and enrich the natural life of mankind in general. It is entirely due to this general grace of God that human existence is possible and life bearable, useful and of value.
Psa. 145:9; Mat. 5:45; Acts 14:17; Rom. 1 :24, 26, 28; 1 Tim. 4:10.
Special grace is that which secures and brings salvation to the elect of God. This is the crowning work of God’s grace and is manifest in the whole scheme of salvation and its application to the individual believer in his life here on earth and in eternal glory. Thus it is that all true christians owe everything to the grace of God.
Rom. 3:24; 5:2 and 17-21; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 1 :6, 7; 2:5-8; Col. 1 :6; Titus 2:11; 1 Pet. 5:10-12.
2. The Covenant of Grace
Having regard to man’s helplessness as a sinner, God, being both righteous and gracious, has taken the initiative to save his people by his own act of mercy. He has done this by means of a covenant, known as the Covenant of Grace.
By this covenant God himself provides the surety in the person of the eternal Son who, by his passive and active obedience in his holy life and in his sufferings and death, merited a righteousness which is imputed to the elect. By this same covenant God himself imparts new life through the Holy Spirit to those who are by nature dead in sin, and brings them to the knowledge and experience of salvation.
On the grounds of this covenant sinners are made partakers of all the blessings of the gospel being, as to their standing before God, completely freed from the guilt of sin; and as to their experience, delivered from the dominion of sin though its presence and influence are still with them.
This covenant is entirely of grace, because it is produced by a unilateral and voluntary act of God and depends only upon the divine activity of the Trinity for its fulfilment. It is also eternal, being once and for all secured to the believer by the sacrificial death of Christ, and particular because its benefits are bestowed personally and individually upon the elect.
Isa. 42:6; 49:7-8; Jer. 31 :31-34; Rom. 4; Titus 1 :2; Rom. 1: 1-2; Heb. 8:6-10; John 17:2, 9, 10, 24; Heb. 7:22.
3. The Person and Work of Christ the Mediator
The nature of God’s covenant of grace necessitates the office of a mediator to bring about the reconciliation of sinful man with a holy God. This need, God in his wisdom and grace, has met in the person of Jesus Christ, who, truly God, became also truly man, yet without sin. He was born of the virgin Mary by the agency of the Holy Spirit whereby the two natures, divine and human, are mystically joined in one glorious person, called in the Scriptures the mediator of the new covenant.
This office the Lord Jesus willingly assumed and perfectly fulfilled. He was crucified and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered. Afterwards he ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, and from whence he shall return to be the Judge of all at the end
of the world.
Psa. 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:5-10; John 10:18; Mat. 1:23; Luke 1:35; John 1 :14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; Acts 2:23, 24, 32, 33; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; John 20:25-27; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; Acts 10:42; Rom. 14:9, 10.
The work of the Lord Jesus Christ as mediator is exercised in all phases of redemption. In him the elect were chosen before the foundation of the world, and were predestinated to be conformed to his image. By his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself which he by the eternal Spirit offered up unto God in their stead, he has fully satisfied the justice of God, propitiated his wrath, and obtained for the elect redemption, reconciliation to God and an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. By him they have access into the grace of God, and to God himself, and by him are assuredly called and kept.
Heb. 9:15; 1 Tim. 2:5; Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29; Heb. 9:14; Rom. 3:24-26; Eph. 1:7; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; 2 Pet. 1:3-11; Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; John 14:6; 10:3-5 and 27-29.
As mediator the Lord Jesus Christ combines the offices of prophet, priest and king: As prophet, both before and after his incarnation, he declares to men the nature and will of God.
As the great high priest, who in his perfect humanity is touched with the feeling of the infirmities of his people, he has passed into the heavens, offering his own blood, and ever lives to make intercession for them. The thanksgiving and prayers of the elect are presented to God through him.
As king, all power is given unto him in heaven and earth; the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised at his summons, and he shall reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.
Deut. 18:15-19; 1 Pet. 1:11; John 17:8; 1:18; Heb. 4:14-16; 9:11-15; 7:25; Rom. 1:8; John 14:13-14; Mat. 28:18; John 5:26-29; 1 Cor. 15:25.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator whom God has appointed between himself and man, and only he, by his dual nature of God and man in one holy person, can possibly fulfil this office. Every soul that thirsts for the benefits of his mediatorial work has direct access to him without the exercise of any other intermediary, and all who thus come are assured of a gracious reception.
1 Tim. 2:5; John 7:37; 6:37.
4. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is revealed in Scripture as the executor of the counsels and purposes of the Godhead. He is seen at work in the control of the material universe; in the inspiration, preservation and interpretation of the Scriptures; in relation to the Church and its witness in the world; and especially in his gracious dealings with the children of God.
The Holy Spirit is the divine agent in convicting men of sin, in the new birth and in all that follows in the christian life through saving faith, communion with God and power in prayer, and sanctification and transformation of character. It pleases God to give to believers or to churches, from time to time, unusual seasons of awakening and refreshing by the Holy Spirit.
Isa. 32:13-17; Zec, 12:10; Acts 3:19; 4:31.
It is the supreme work of the Holy Spirit to reveal the things of Christ, to guide into all truth and to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psa. 104:29, 30; 1 Pet. 1 :11; Acts 1 :16; 2 Tim. 3:16; Johc 3:5-8; 1 Cor. 2-12; Eph. 2:18; 3:5; Rom. 8:26, 27; Rom. 8:2-4, 11; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14.
Regeneration is the implanting of spiritual life of which the Holy Spirit is the source and agent. By this new birth all the elect are made, in God’s appointed way and time, a new creation in Christ Jesus. There is conveyed in the new birth, in which man is entirely passive, that grace by which the sinner is enabled to receive a respond to the saving revelation of God in Christ, and without which no man can receive the things of God.
At the new birth the various graces of the Spirit such as repentance and faith are conferred, and by means of these the recipients are brought to an experience of salvation in Christ Jesus.
The new birth, effectually uniting the sinner to Christ gives possession of eternal life.
Titus 3:5; John 3:5; 1:11-13; 3:8; Rom. 8:30; Psa. 110:3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-6; John 1:12-13; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom 6:17-18; John 10:27-28; 17:24; Rom. 8:14-17.
6. Effectual Calling
Those whom God has predestinated unto life he effectually calls by his Word and by the Holy Spirit, their minds being spiritually enlightened and their wills being renewed, so that, being effectually drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ and enabled by His grace, they come most willingly.
This effectual call is of God’s free grace alone, not from anything foreseen in man nor from any power or agency in the creature, being dead in trespasses and sins until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. All men being dead in trespasses and sins neither can nor will truly come to Christ for salvation unless effectually drawn by the Father.
Rom. 8:30; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 1 :5; Eph. 1:17-18; Ezek. 36:26; John 6:37; Psa. 110:3; Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1-6; John 6:44.
Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting them as righteous. This he does, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself but by imputing Christ’s active obedience in his life unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their complete and only
Faith, receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the sole instrument of justification.
Rom. 3:24; 8:30; 4:5-8; Eph. 1 :7; 1 Cor. 1 :30-31; Rom. 5: 17-19; Phil. 3:8-9; Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 3:28.
Christ by his obedience and death has fully discharged the debt of all who are justified; and did by the sacrifice of himself – undergoing in their stead the penalty due to them – make a proper, real and full satisfaction to God’s justice on their behalf.
Believers, being justified, have a standing in Christ which cannot alter, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure and so mar their state, losing the light of his countenance until sin is confessed and pardon assured through the continuing forgiveness of God.
Heb. 10:14; 1 Pet. 1 :18-19; Isa. 53:5-6; Rom. 3:24-26; 1 John 4:10; John 10:28; Psa. 89:31-33; 32:5; 51; Mat. 26:75; 6:12; 1 John 1:7-9.
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. They have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are entitled and enabled to call God, Father. They are pitied, protected, provided for, and disciplined by him as by a father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.
Eph. 1 :5; Gal. 4:4-5; John 1 :12; Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 6:17-1 Rev. 3:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal; 4:6; Eph. 2:18; Psa. 103:13; Prov. 14:26; 1 Pet. 5:7; Heb. 12:6; Isa. 54:8-9; Lam. 3:31; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 1 :14; 6:12.
Those who are united to Christ are sanctified in him. The work of sanctification in believers is, however, carried on through Christ’s Word and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The effective ground of this sanctification is the blood of the covenant shed by Christ for his Church.
1 Cor. 1:2 and 30; Heb. 2:11; John 17:17; Eph. 3:16-19; 5:25-27; Heb. 9:13-14; 10:10 and 14 and 29.
Believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. As responsible beings they ought, through the Holy Spirit, to put to death the deeds of the body and, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; yet in this life they are never completely freed from the corruption of sin and from this corruption there arise a continual warfare between the flesh and the spirit. Nevertheless through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the new nature does overcome and so believers grow in grace, perfect holiness in the fear of God, pressing after a heavenly life, in obedience to all the commands of Christ.
Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; Titus 2:12; Rom. 7:18 and 23; Gal. 17; 1 Pet. 2:11; Rom. 6:14; 7:22-25; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 P et. 3:18; 2 Cor. 7:1.
The doctrine of salvation
WE BELIEVE that conversion results from effectual calling, and is the state in which the new nature implanted in regeneration becomes active, so that the called persons are consciously involved in salvation, and turn to God.
Conversion always includes the vital elements of repentance and saving faith.
God commands all men everywhere to repent. True repentance is a Spirit-wrought change both of mind and will, which brings a personal conviction of sin, a true sorrow for it and a turning from it. This repentance is experienced in different ways and at different times in the lives of the children of God, and increases in depth as the Holy Spirit reveals some fresh aspect of the corruptions of human nature.
Repentance is not necessarily and exclusively sorrow for particular sins committed by the individual, nor is it only remorse. It is the continuing work of the Holy Spirit leading to Christ, creating a consciousness of the sinfulness of the heart and life, and of failure to reach God’s perfect standard.
Acts 17:30; 1 Thess. 1 :9-10; Acts 20:21; 26:16-18; Isa. 6:5; Luke 18:13; 2 Cor. 7:10.
Faith, whereby the children of God come to trust in Christ to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Holy Spirit, and is commonly brought about by the ministry of the Word of God. Saving faith is the gracious gift of God bestowed upon the elect only, and this faith once given is never withdrawn, but the conscious enjoyment of it can be clouded by sin, by doubt, or by neglect of Bible reading, christian fellowship, and the ordinances of God’s house.
John 1:12; Acts 15:6-11; 16:31; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim 1:12.
Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, and who endeavour to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are, by grace, the children of God and are in a state of eternal blessing.
1 John 2:1-3; 3:14-24; 5:13; Rom. 5:2 and 5; 8:14-16; Heb. 10:22.
This certainty is clearly taught in the Scriptures and is based upon an understanding of the saving work of Christ, wherein the believer trusts; and it is further confirmed by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. It results in humility and a desire for holiness and fills the heart of the believer with deep joy and peace, and gives sacred purpose to his life and expectation of the life come.
Rom. 8:1 and 31-32; 1 John 3:1-3.
Normally faith in Christ, as including trust, carries with it a sense of security, but this is not experienced to the same degree by every believer. The believer may also displease God and grieve the Holy Spirit, and so the comfort of assurance may be impaired.
The development of assurance is brought about the Holy Spirit as the fruit of reflection and growth in grace. It is, therefore, the duty of the believer to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, so that he may live humbly and happily as one of God’s children.
Mat. 6:30; Psa. 42:1-5; 73:1-17; Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 :10; 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
Those whom God has regenerated and effectually called into the blessings of his grace can neither totally nor finally fall away, but they shall be graciously preserved throughout life here on earth and be eternally saved.
John 10:28-29; 2 Tim. 2:19.
This blessing of the eternal security of every true believer is based upon God’s purpose and power, and not upon the free will and good works of the believer. It might equally be termed “the preservation of the saints”, and may be defined as that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart, is continued and brought to
completion. It is because God never forsakes his work that believers endure to the end, yet the believer is to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, remembering that the Lord has said: “he that endureth to the end shall be saved”.
Rom. 8:28-30 and 38-39; 5:8-10; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 6:17-18; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Phil. 2:11-13; Mat. 10:22.
The doctrine of the church
1. The Nature of the Church
WE BELIEVE that 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 through the blood of Christ. This Church will endure to the end, and will be complete and perfect in the day of Christ.
Mat. 16:18; John 17:24; Eph. 3:14-15; Acts 2:47; 26:18 Eph. 5:25-27; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:12-14; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 7:9-17.
It is the duty of all believers, walking in the fear of the Lord, to unite with local churches, for their own sanctification, and the maintenance of gospel witness.
Such 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 control, whether of Church or State. They have the fulness of God, and to them 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.
Mat. 18:15-20; Eph. 1 :22-23; Acts 13:1-4; 1 Cor. 5; 2 Thes 3:6; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2 and 3.
Christ is the appointed head of the church, his authority never being delegated to men, but communicated to the church by his Holy Spirit. The church seeks, not merely to discover the opinion of the majority of the members, but rather through prayer and fellowship to know the mind of the Lord.
Mat. 28:18-20; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1 :22-23; Acts 2:1-4 and 41-47; 13:1-4; 15:28-31; 1 Cor. 5:4-5; Eph. 4:8-13.
The Church of Christ has been put in trust with the Gospel of the grace of God, and it is its solemn responsibility to go into all the world and proclaim that Gospel to every creature.
Mat. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15; 1 Thess. 2:4.
2. The Local Church and its Worship
The church is maintained and increased as the Lord adds to its number those who are being saved. The local church should be composed of those who are subjects of divine grace, exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, and hold the apostles’ doctrine.
Acts 2:47; Rom. 14:1; 1 Thess. 1 :5-6.
We believe that all men should serve and fear God, but that true worship, springing from the hearts of the redeemed, must be with understanding, reverence, humility, faith, love and submission, through Christ the only mediator, and by the Spirit, to the Father. It is the duty of the church to provide for the united worship of the Lord’s people in praise, prayer, edification and the proclamation of the Gospel in the locality of the church, in the country and throughout the world. Failure to fulfil these duties brings the Lord’s displeasure, but obedience is encouraged by the promise of the Lord’s presence and blessing.
Ex. 20:4-6; Psa. 95:1-7; Jer. 10:7; Mark 12:33; Mat. 4:9-10; John 4:23-24; 14:6; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:15-17; Eph. 2:18; 4:15-16; 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1-5; 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2; Mat. 28:19-20; Rev. 2:5.
3. The Ordinances
We recognize two ordinances, so called because ordained or established by Christ’s authority, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
These ordinances are to be administered by those appointed by the church, and are to continue until the end of the world.
Mat. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
The ordinance of Baptism is to be administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The candidates in this ordinance express their separation from the world, and their identity with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, and their devotion henceforth to him.
The ordinance is to be administered only to those who have exhibited repentance for sin and made a profession of their faith in Christ.
The ordinance is rightly administered by the total immersion of the candidate in water, this mode alone being scriptural and having reference to the burial and resurrection of Christ.
This ordinance is essential, not to salvation, but for obedience to the commandments of Christ, and for a full and complete profession of faith.
Rom. 6:4-6; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:5; Col. 2:12; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27; Acts 2:41; Mat. 3:15, 16; Acts 8:38-39; Rom. 6:4; Mat. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 10:44-48.
The Lord’s Supper
The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is regularly to be observed as a memorial of the sufferings and death of Christ, and an expression of the inherent unity of the Church as one body in Christ, and as a means strengthening the faith of the believer. It is in no sense a sacrifice, nor the continuation of the sacrifice of Calvary.
The administration of the ordinance involves the sharing of bread and wine, both of which are to be received by the communicants, and are symbols of the body and blood of Christ. At no time during the course of the administration, or because of the administration, does any change of nature take place in the bread or the wine, which the communicants are themselves to take and to eat or drink.
This ordinance is a means of grace through the spiritual presence of Christ, apprehended by faith in the heart of the believer. Those worthily taking part feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being spiritually present to the faith of the believer, as the elements themselves are to the outward senses.
Those who partake unworthily sin against Christ and are guilty of offense against the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
We believe the administration of this ordinance is to be restricted to baptized believers in the New Testament sense of those words, and such restriction is signified by the term “Strict Communion”. Each local church applies this principle as it deems right and consistent in its administration of the Lord’s Supper.
1 Cor. 11 :26; Heb. 10:12; 1 Cor. 11 :27-30 and 23-25; Luke 22:19-20;
Mat. 26:26-27; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:29; Acts 2:41-46; Compare Acts 18:8 with 1 Cor. 10:16-17.
4. The Responsibilities of Church Members
Members of churches are required first to give themselves to the Lord and then to one another by the will of God. They are not to forsake the assembling of the church for public worship, fellowship in prayer and the Lord’s Table, but are to seek the spiritual prosperity of other members, and to provide for the material relief of needy members. Members are also required to support and to contribute regularly and sacrificially to the Lord’s work at home and overseas through the funds of the church.
Acts 11 :29-30; 1 Cor. 12; 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; Eph. 4:28; 1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:10; Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24-25; 1 John 3:17-18.
5. Church Officers and their Appointment
We believe that the ascended Lord bestows gifts upon men for the maintenance of his work on earth, and that the administration of local churches is to be by elders and deacons. Among the elders are those whom we call pastors, and these are set apart for prayer and the study of the Word, and should, so far as is possible, be adequately maintained in material necessities, so as to be disentangled from the cares of a secular calling.
Elders are responsible for the spiritual ministrations of the church, watching over the souls of the members as those who must give account. It is the duty of the members to support their elders by prayer, and to submit to their admonitions in the Lord.
Deacons are responsible for the business and secular affairs of the church, which are to be administered with spiritual grace.
Acts 20:17; Phil. 1:1; Eph. 4:7-12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Heb. 13:17; 1 Cor. 9:6-14; Gal. 6:6-7; 1 Tim. 5:17-18.
The appointment of elders (including pastors) and deacons, for office within the local church, and of preachers and missionaries for the work of evangelism is the responsibility of the local church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s ordination is recognized both by the experience of the inward conviction, and by the approval of the church observing the possession of those gifts and graces required by Scripture for the office concerned. The one so called should be set apart by the prayer of the whole church.
Acts 6:3-6; 14:23; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Acts 13:1-4.
6. The Discipline of the Local Church
Believers are admitted through baptism into all the privileges of the local church and also into its discipline, being bound by prayer and endeavour to maintain unity and peace. Members who persist in denial of fundamental doctrine or who, by their ungodly conduct, bring dishonour on the church ought to be disciplined. In matters of personal offence members should first seek reconciliation with one another privately, if this fails the elders of the church should be consulted, and if need be the matter should be submitted to the judgment of the church itself. Believers should not take brothers in Christ to the civil law, nor should they disturb the peace of the church over personal disputes.
All discipline in the church should be exercised with love and patience, as well as in accordance with the teaching and examples of the Word, and the end in view must always be the repentance and reconciliation of the offender, and the purity and blessing of the church.
Mat. 18:15-20; 2 Cor. 2:1-11; Eph. 4:2-3; 1 Cor. 6:1-7; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; Acts 2:41; 9:18-25; Gal 6:1, 2.
7. Inter-Church Relationships
Churches, likeminded in biblical faith and practice, have a responsibility to manifest their oneness in Christ in mutual fellowship and conference.
Acts 15:1-31; Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 6:14-16; 8 and 9; 1 Cor 16:1-3.
We believe that the division of the professing Church on earth into sections results largely from the departure of many from the truth of the Gospel, and in part from differences of biblical interpretation, temperament and culture. Those who are born again are bound together in an unbreakable spiritual unity in Christ.
Schisms arising from tradition and prejudice grieve the Holy Spirit and are not to be tolerated. Visible unity is desirable, but cannot be achieved by amalgamation of denominations, by joining true believers with those who are unregenerate, or by any means that compromises the evangelical faith.
Mat. 15:1-9; John 10:16; 17:20-23; Acts 15:36-41; 20:29-30; 1 Cor. 3:1-4; 2 Cor. 2:17; 11:1-5; Eph. 4:1-16 and 19-22; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
The doctrine of the Christian life
1. The Law of God
WE BELIEVE that God has placed Adam and all his descendants under his holy law. By this law man is required both to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to love his neighbor as himself.
Following the fall, God elaborated these two principles in ten commandments setting out man’s duty towards God and towards his fellows.
Rom. 2:13-15; Mark 12:28-31; Ex. 20:1-17
This law is binding upon the saved and the unsaved alike, but the motive of its observance by the christian will be love to Christ who has redeemed him from its curse.
Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 2:20.
The christian is not justified by keeping the law, but he strives to do so because it comes to him with the authority of God, whom he loves; the man who dies unsaved is condemned by it. Its requirements are essentially spiritual, and no fallen man can fully comply with the law’s demands. No such man can therefore by endeavouring to keep the law save his own soul.
One man alone, the Lord Jesus Christ, has fulfilled every requirement of the law. This he has done in his own person in the place of his people.
James 2:8-12; Mat. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 7:14; Gal. 2:16; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:13.
Among the purposes of the law are these:
- (a) To restrain the unregenerate from sin and to show what the consequences of their sin must be.
- (b) To convince the sinner of the true nature of sin and of his inability to resist it by keeping the law; to strip him of all self-confidence and condemn him, so compelling him to look to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way of escape from his predicament.
- (c) To show the believer the will of God and his duty to his fellows; also to remind him that, although he has been saved by grace, he still has to contend with a most sinful nature, and therefore daily needs both the aid of the Lord Jesus Christ and the perfection of his obedience.
Rom. 3:20; 7:7; Gal. 3:10-12 and 23-24; Rom. 7:14-25; 8:1-4; Heb. 4:14; James 2:10, 11; 1 John 1:7-10.
It is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit to make the believer able and willing to do that which the law of God requires of him.
In Old Testament times God placed the people of Israel under a ceremonial law which pointed forward to Christ; this ceremonial law, however, ceased to have effect at his coming.
Ezek. 36:25-27; Phil. 2:13; Heb. 10:1-10.
2. The Lord’s Day
We believe that God has set apart one day in seven and its observance is binding upon all men. It is to be kept holy and is designed also for man’s benefit. The Church has a warrant to observe the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day, because it is the day of our Lord’s resurrection. 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 day is to be used for rest from secular labour and worldly recreation, and for the occupation of the whole person in the worship and service of the Lord.
Ex. 20:8-11; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Rev 1:10.
3. Christian Behaviour
We believe the Scriptures teach that the christian faith is to be seen in its practical outworking between the believer and his fellow men. His words and deeds are to demonstrate the reality of his new life. He is justified by faith, and that faith will be seen in his works.
Christian behaviour is the maturing of the fruit of the Spirit as the believer learns more of the ways of God and man. The New Testament requires that due regard be given in public ministry to the exposition of the Gospel. In all his behaviour the christian will be motivated by the glory and fear of God and by loving obedience to the rule of Christ.
The believer’s relationships to governments and men in general and to his fellow christians in particular are to manifest the Spirit of Christ. In his relationship with unbelievers the christian is to set an example of life and character in every respect even at the cost of personal suffering, thus glorifying God and both rebuking and instructing the ungodly.
James 2:14-26; John 15:1-8; 1 Tim. 2; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-25; Phil. 2:1-16.
4. The Christian Attitude to Material Things
Wealth and all material things justly obtained are to be received as God’s gracious gifts, and to be used for worthy ends with a due sense of responsibility and stewardship.
For this reason and because of a deep desire to be just in all his dealings, the true christian should renounce all forms of gambling, the root of which is covetousness.
Gen. 1 :29, 30; 1 Chron. 29:13, 14; James 1 :17; Luke 12:15, 31; Matt. 25:14, 15; Matt. 7:12.
5. The Christian and the State
We believe that rulers are ordained by God for the orderly conduct of affairs in the world and the good of his Church, and that to this end he sets up rulers and removes them as it pleases him.
It is the duty of christians to obey those who have the rule over them in all matters consistent with the teaching of the Bible and to seek to live quiet, peaceable and honest lives. Christians are under an obligation to pray for their rulers.
A Christian may properly accept public office both in central and local government and play his part in the affairs of the nation in so far as such service may be consistent with his christian profession.
Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-17.
6. The Christian and his Work
We believe that all men physically able to do so are under an obligation to work to support themselves and their families and to give to those in need. That everyone whatever his sphere of responsibility is to perform his daily tasks in accordance with the Scripture “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”.
We further believe that relationships between staff and management are to be governed by the principles set out in the New Testament. Employees are to work conscientiously and honestly and employers are to be just and fair with their staff, both in the sight of God.
Gen. 3:19; 2 Thess. 3:10-12; Eph. 4:28; 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-25; 4:1; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:18; 2 Cor. 6:14-17.
7. Marriage and Family Life
We believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, sealed by vows which make it life-long.
Marriage within the prohibited degrees as laid down in the Bible is forbidden.
God instituted the marriage relationship for the mutual help and comfort of husband and wife, the procreation of children and the prevention of immorality.
The sexual relationship is sacred and is not to be indulged promiscuously but only within the bonds of marriage. Sexual intercourse outside marriage, whether in contemplation of marriage or otherwise, is forbidden by the Bible, and is sin.
Christians should only marry believers and should seek to teach their children similar standards.
In all relationships the christian should exercise forgiveness and strive for reconciliation. Divorce otherwise than upon the ground of adultery is contrary to the teaching of the Bible.
We further believe that it is the duty and privilege of christian parents to rear their children in a disciplined and loving way; to see that their children acquire a thorough knowledge of the Bible from an early age and so to live that by their faith and example the true nature of the christian religion may become apparent to their children; and that children are to obey their parents in the same spirit.
Gen. 2:24; Mat. 19:5-6; Gen. 2:18; 19:1-28; Lev. 18:6-22; 20:14; Deut. 23:17; Acts 15:29; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; Gal. 5:19; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Cor. 7:2 and 9 and 39; Heb. 13:4; 2 Cor. 6:14; Mat. 19:9; Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 22:6; 23:13-14; 29:15-17; Col. 3:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:15.
All forms of sexual perversion are forbidden by the Scriptures, and there is for the believer complete deliverance from these things through the power of Christ.
Lev. 18:3, 20-23; Rom. 1:26, 27; 1 Cor. 5:1-9.
The doctrine of things to come
1. The State of Man after Death
WE BELIEVE that the bodies of men after death return to their natural elements but their souls, being immortal, immediately return to God who gave them.
The souls of believers go immediately upon the death of the body to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in glory, where they wait for the redemption of their bodies. The souls of the unsaved are reserved in hell to the day of the last Judgment. Holy Scripture knows of no such place as Purgatory or of any intermediate state.
Gen. 3:19; Eccles. 12:7; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; 2 Pet. 2:9; Luke 23:43; Rom. 8:23; Luke 16:23.
2. The Resurrection
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. At this time the bodies of those believers who are still alive on earth shall be transformed instantaneously and without death into a condition of glorious incorruptibility, conformable to Christ’s own glorious body.
The bodies of those believers who have died shall rise in like glorified condition and be reunited with their souls. All believers shall then, in their glorified bodies be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so be with Him for ever. The bodies of the unsaved shall also be raised by the power of Christ.
1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; Acts 24:14-15; John 5:28-29; Phil. 3:20-21.
3. The Last Judgment
God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ. All mankind, being resurrected from the dead, shall stand before him and he shall separate his redeemed people from the ungodly. The earth as it is at present shall be no more, and the redeemed shall take their place, glorified in Christ’s likeness, in the new heaven and the new earth, where God himself shall be with them and be their God for all eternity. The unsaved, who know not God and do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Thus will be seen the glory of God’s mercy in the eternal salvation of all believers, and the glory of God’s righteous judgment in the condemnation of the ungodly.
Acts 17:31; Mat. 25:31-32; 2 Pet. 3:10-11; Rev. 21:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:47-49; 1 John 3:2; 2 Thess. 1 :6-10; 1 Pet. 1 :3-5; 1 Thess. 4:16-18.
4. The Lord’s Return
We believe in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth. The precise time of his coming again and of the day of judgment is not revealed, in order that, in the long suffering of God, men may come to repentance and ever seek to be prepared.
All true believers in times of adversity find consolation in the prospect of their Lord’s return, be it sooner or later, and the whole Church of Christ may ever pray: “Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
Mark 13:32; 2 Pet. 3:9-10; 1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 22:20.