Grace Bible Church Statement of Faith

I. The Scripture

 

We believe and teach that the Holy Scriptures, as found in the 66 books of the Bible, are the authoritative Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:19). Every word of the original documents, both Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Inspiration is the process by which God communicated His Word through those who wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21).

 

Because the Bible is inspired, it is inerrant (without error) in all that it says (Psalm 19:7-9; Psalm 119:160; John 17:17) and infallible (fully trustworthy, reliable and faithful) (Psalm 19:7-9), perfectly achieving God’s purposes (Isaiah 55:11). As God’s Word, it is our supreme and sufficient authority for all matters pertaining to life, faith, and practice (Matthew 4:4; 2 Peter 1:3).

 

Four components control the way we interpret Scripture:

 

• Literal - We explain Scripture according to the plain meaning of the wording, taking into account the various figures of speech and literary forms intended by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

 

• Grammatical – Our understanding of Scripture takes into account the specific words used and the arrangement of those words.

 

• Historical – Since the Bible was written in a cultural context, it is helpful to take into account its history and culture. Its meaning now cannot conflict with the natural understanding at the time that it was written.

 

• Contextual – Our understanding of Scripture takes into account the relationship of a portion of the text to what comes before and after it.  The meaning of a passage cannot be inconsistent with other statements around it.

 

Each passage of Scripture has only one correct meaning, although that meaning can be applied in a variety of ways. Thus, the Christian must not only seek to understand the Bible, but also to follow what it says (Deuteronomy 32:44-47; Matthew 5:17-19; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; James 1:22-25).

 

II. The Trinity of God

 

We believe and teach that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; James 2:19), one in essence, yet eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). God is glorious because of who He is and what He has done. As the God of glory, He deserves our worship and obedience.

 

A. God the Father

 

We believe and teach that God the Father, who is the first person of the Godhead, has revealed Himself generally in creation (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20) and conscience (Romans 1:19; 2:14-16), but more specifically in the Bible (Psalm 19:7-11) and in His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:18; 14:9-10; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-2).

 

God has revealed Himself in His Word so that we might understand His character. The following list of attributes are some of the characteristics of His nature. God’s nature must not be separated into individual parts, but like the facets of a diamond, these attributes reveal various perspectives of God’s character.

 

The attributes of God can be grouped in two broad categories: those that are unique to God alone, and those that can be reflected to some degree by man. Some of God’s unique attributes are: eternal (Psalm 90:2), self-existence (Exodus 3:14), infinite (Psalm 115:3; Acts 17:24-25), Creator (Genesis 1-2; Revelation 4:11), invisible (Romans 1:20; Col 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17), all-knowing (Psalm 139:1-6; Romans 11:33), all-powerful (Job 40-42; Isaiah 40; Luke 1:37), everywhere present, yet distinct from creation (Psalm 139:7-11; Jeremiah 23:23-24),unchanging (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), and incomprehensible (Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

Some of the attributes that can be reflected to some degree are: sovereign, as seen in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; 135:5-6; Daniel 4:17, 25, 34-35; Romans 9:6-24; Ephesians 1:11), holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8), just (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 89:14; Romans 9:14), perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4; Matthew 5:48), faithful (Psalm 36:5; Lamentations 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 1:9), loving (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-10; 1 John 4:8, 16), wrathful (Ezekiel 5:13-15; John 3:36), truthful (Daniel 4:37; Romans 3:4), gracious (Deuteronomy 7:9-10; Romans 3:24; 6:23; Titus 2:11; James 4:6), merciful (Psalm 119:156; Ephesians 2:4; 1 Peter 1:3), good (Psalm 100:5; Matthew 7:11; James 1:17), and jealous (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Joshua 24:19).

 

Finally, God is transcendent, completely beyond His creation (Psalm 113:4-5; Isaiah 57:15). Yet He is also immanent, intimately involved with His creation (Psalm 113:6-9; Isaiah 57:15).

 

B. God the Son

 

We believe and teach that Jesus Christ, who is the second member of the Godhead, is the eternal Son of God, who has the same essence and attributes as the Father (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3; 8:58; 10:30; 14:9).

 

1. The Person of Jesus Christ

 

Aside from His appearances in the Old Testament (Genesis 16:7; 18:1-2, 22; etc.), Jesus’ first coming was through the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26-35). He came as the unique God/Man with His divine and human natures united into one person. Jesus is fully God (Matthew 1:23; 16:16; John 1:1, 14, 18; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30-33; 19:7; 20:28-31; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Colossians 1:19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:8). Many of the attributes applied to God the Father in the Old Testament are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament (Acts 3:14 {Isaiah 48:17}; Revelation 1:17-18 {Isaiah 44:6}; Revelation 22:13 {Revelation 1:8}). His miracles also proclaim that He is God (Mark 2:5-12; Matthew 8:23-27). Without surrendering His divine essence or attributes, Jesus gave up only the independent control of His divine privileges at His incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8).

 

Jesus is also fully Man (John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7-8; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:17-18). He was sinless despite being tempted in all things as we are (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). When He fulfilled the purposes of His first coming, God glorified Him (Ephesians 1:19-22; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3).

 

2. The Work of Jesus Christ

 

Scripture reveals that God created the universe and all within it through His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2). The pinnacle of His ministry during the first coming was His death and resurrection. In His death, Jesus was the atoning sacrifice (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:12-14) on behalf of sinners (Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). Three days later, as He had prophesied (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:19; Mark 14:28), He rose from the dead (Matthew 27:62-28:10; Luke 24:1-8, 26-27, 44-48; John 20:1-10) making several appearances to His followers (John 20:1-21:23; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8). Forty days after He rose, He ascended to the right hand of God (Acts 1:9-11; 7:55; Ephesians 1:19-20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3). He is now building His Church (Matthew 16:18) and interceding as the Mediator and Advocate for His people (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:18; 7:25; 1 John 2:2). Scripture reveals that Jesus will come again (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). At the end of time, He will reward believers and punish unbelievers (John 5:27; Acts 17:30-31; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).

 

C. God the Spirit

 

We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Godhead, is equal in essence with the other members of the Trinity (Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 13:14). He possesses all the divine attributes belonging to God the Father and God the Son (Psalm 139:7-10; Isaiah 40:13-14; John 16:13; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 12:11; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 9:14). The work of the Holy Spirit is revealed in creation (Genesis 1:2), the inspiration of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the incarnation of Christ (Matthew 1:18). In salvation, He is the sovereign agent of regeneration (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5), conviction (John 16:8-11), adoption (Romans 8:12-17), sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Eph 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19), assurance (Romans 8:16), and the sealing of believers (2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30). The unique work of the Holy Spirit for this age began at Pentecost when the church was born (Acts 2:1-36) just as Jesus had prophesied (John 14:16-17; 15:26). Jesus baptizes believers in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit indwells believers (Ezekiel 36:26; John 14:16-17; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19), teaches them the Truth (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 John 2:27), fills them (Ephesians 5:18), and gives gifts to the Body of Christ (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:7-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

 

The “sign gifts” (speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, performing miracles) were given to the prophets, apostles, and those in the apostolic circle, to authenticate their message before Scripture was canonized (1 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 5:8; John 3:2; Acts 2:22; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:2-4). Having accomplished their purposes, these “sign gifts” ceased historically, apparently, not being intended for the church to practice after the Scriptures were completed.

 

III. Creation, Preservation, and Providence

 

We believe and teach that God created all things, out of nothing, in six twenty-four hour days, without the use of evolution (Genesis 1:1-31; Exodus 20:11; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). The culmination was the creation of mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). After this, He declared all of His creation to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God not only created the universe and everything within it, but He also sustains His creation for His own glory (Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). God intervenes in history through supernatural events (Genesis 6-9; Exodus 7:1-14:31; John 9:1-7; Romans 9:17), but ordinarily governs and directs every element of His creation through His sovereign providence (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:34-35; Romans 8:28). The providence of God, however, does not negate the responsibility of mankind or angels to serve Him (Philippians 2:12-13; James 1:13).

 

IV. Angels

 

We believe and teach that angels were created perfect with untested innocence and were included in God’s description of “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God created angels with greater power than man (2 Peter 2:11) and in a temporary position over man (Hebrews 2:7). Yet men who have been saved by God will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). Scripture seems to indicate differing ranks within the angelic realm such as archangels (Jude 9), seraphim and cherubim (Isaiah 6:2-7; Ezekiel 10:1-19), and other rankings (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 3:22).

 

A. Holy Angels

 

Holy angels were created and chosen by God (Mark 8:38; Colossians 1:16; 1 Timothy 5:21) to worship and glorify God (Hebrews 1:6), as well as to minister to God’s children (Hebrews 1:14). They serve as His representatives to proclaim messages to select individuals (Genesis 18-19; Luke 1:11-20, 26-38; 2:8-15). Both Old and New Testaments reveal that God uses angels to deliver judgment (2 Samuel 24:15-17; Revelation 6-18) and to oppose the forces of Satan and his demons (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7-9).

 

B. Fallen Angels

 

Although fallen angels were created “very good”, they rebelled against God in pride (1 Timothy 3:6; 2 Peter 2:4). The leader of these fallen angels is Satan (Revelation 12:7-9). Some of the fallen angels are bound (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4) while others serve Satan as demons (Matthew 25:41). Satan, as the serpent (Revelation 12:9), tempted mankind to rebel against God (Genesis 3). God crushed Satan through the completed work of Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20). Satan has been sentenced and will be cast into Hell for eternity (Revelation 20:10). Since Satan’s fall, God allows Satan to rule the spiritual kingdom of darkness (John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19). He is also permitted to afflict God’s people (Job 1-2; 1 Peter 5:8). He continues to deceive unbelievers, even appearing as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The believer is called by God to stand firm and resist Satan and his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18; James 4:7; 1 John 4:4).

 

V. Man and Sin

 

We believe and teach that man was created for the purpose of glorifying God (Isaiah 43:7; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16). Like the angels, man was created perfect with untested innocence and was included in God’s description of “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Man was also created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). After man fell into sin, he still retained the image of God (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9) although this image and likeness has become marred by the effects of sin. Adam, as mankind’s representative, sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). Because he was man’s representative (Romans 5:12-21), everyone, aside from Jesus, is born a sinner (Psalm 51:5), dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) and alienated from God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). Because of the fall, man is totally depraved (Genesis 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:14-23; Romans 3:9-23; Ephesians 4:17-19). This does not mean that man is as sinful as he can be, but that every aspect of his being is distorted by sin. Sin reveals itself in man’s actions, words, thoughts, attitudes, emotions and will. Sin is disobeying God either by what you do or fail to do (1 John 3:4; James 4:17). It makes man spiritually helpless and incapable of choosing God (Jeremiah 13:23; John 6:44, 65; Romans 3:11; 5:6-10; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-3).

 

VI. Salvation

 

We believe and teach that salvation is completely a work of God based upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7). God’s grace in saving people has nothing to do with any works in those He saves (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10). Man is responsible, however, to respond to God’s gift as He commands.

 

A. Election

 

Election is the sovereign work of God in which He chose to save certain people from sin (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:5, 11) according to His great mercy (1 Peter 1:3), before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Election is closely related to foreknowledge. When salvation is in view, foreknowledge does not mean that God looked to see who would choose Him so that He would know whom to elect for salvation (foresight). Foreknowledge means that God intimately knew those individual people whom He chose in a personal way before the beginning of time (Jeremiah 1:5; Acts 2:23; Romans 8:29; 11:2; 1 Peter 1:1-2).

 

B. Effectual Call

 

God calls everyone to salvation through the proclamation of the Word (Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 22:14; Acts 17:30). Those whom God has elected, however, He effectually calls so that they will respond to His work of grace (Romans 8:29-30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9).

 

C. Regeneration

 

Regeneration is solely the act of God by which the Holy Spirit takes one who is dead in sin and makes him alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5), causing him to be born again (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5).

 

D. Faith and Repentance

 

Man is to respond to the free offer of the gospel with faith and repentance (Genesis 15:6; Acts 3:19; 16:31). Although we are responsible to repent and believe the gospel, both faith and repentance are gifts from God (Acts 11:18; 16:14; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:24-26). Faith is not mere intellectual agreement to the facts of the gospel (John 2:23-25; James 2:19). Saving faith is the belief that trusts Christ alone. This kind of faith will produce faithfulness in the life of the person who possesses it (Habakkuk 2:4; John 3:36; James 2:14-26). Initially, repentance is the act of changing one’s mindset about sin and one’s view of God (Acts 3:19; 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9). Once a person is saved from sin, then repentance bears the fruit of changing his former manner of sinful living to serving God (Luke 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).

 

E. Justification

 

Justification is the work of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares sinners to be righteous on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 3:24-4:25). Even though Jesus Christ was without sin, He bore the sin of believers so that His righteousness could be imputed to them (2 Corinthians 5:21). This righteousness is not earned in any way by man but is an act of God’s grace (Romans 3:20; 4:6). Justification comes by means of faith alone (Romans 4:16, 22-25).

 

F. Sanctification

 

When God justifies a sinner, the sinner is given the holiness of Christ and stands perfect before God based on the work of Christ. Sanctification is the process by which God makes the justified sinner, in the actual practice of his life, more like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Biblical sanctification involves dependence upon God and a disciplined effort towards godliness (Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Timothy 4:7-8). Some of the means which the Holy Spirit uses to mature believers are: the Word of God (John 17:17), the people of God (Hebrews 10:24-25), prayer (Colossians 1:9-12), and trials (James 1:2-4). God makes a believer a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), yet the remaining tendency to sin still wages war in the ‘flesh’ (Romans 7:7-25; 1 Peter 2:11). God makes all the resources available for the believer not to sin (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 2:1). Yet a believer can and will still sin when he does not rely upon the sufficient resources God has provided (1 John 1:8-10). A true believer, however, will not practice sin as the pattern of life (1 John 3:6-10).

 

G. Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints

 

Eternal security and perseverance of the saints are two aspects of the same truth. They both emphasize the fact that no true believer will lose his or her salvation. All genuine believers do and will have eternal life. Eternal security means that those whom God has saved will be keep in Christ forever (John 6:37, 39, 44; 10:27-30; Romans 8:35-39; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 5:10). Perseverance of the saints is the process by which believers endure to the very end of their lives so as to remain in Christ (2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 2:19; Revelation 13:10; 14:12).

 

H. Glorification

 

Those whom God saves from sin will ultimately be glorified (Romans 8:28-30). Glorification is the completion of the work of salvation when a believer will be holy both in standing and in practice before God. Glorification occurs at death or when Christ returns. Each glorified believer will be given a new body that is imperishable, powerful, free from the effects of sin, and like the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). The confident hope that believers will be like Jesus brings about holiness (1 John 3:1-3).

 

VII. The Church

 

We believe and teach that all who believe in Jesus Christ are immediately placed into the body of Christ, the church. The church is manifested in two ways. First, the universal church is made up of all true believers since its birth at Pentecost (Acts 2). Second, the local church is a local assembly of believers. Every believer is automatically part of the universal church and is responsible to unite with a local church (Hebrews 10:24-25). Each local church is autonomous (self-governing). Our desire and practice, however, is to cooperate with true churches in the work of God whenever possible and beneficial.

 

A. The Government of the Church

 

Christ is the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). Under His leadership, there are two offices in the church, elders and deacons. The elders of a local assembly are men who are accountable for overseeing, shepherding, and equipping the believers (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5). The Scriptural qualifications for elders are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We believe in the equality and plurality of elders. The congregation is called to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17) as they submit to Christ (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:4).  The second office of the church is the deacons. The purpose of the deacons is to assist the elders in performing the ministries of the local church (as illustrated in Acts 6:1-7). 1 Timothy 3:8-13 provides the qualifications for the office of deacon.

 

B. The Ordinances of the Church

 

There are two ordinances that Jesus Christ provided for the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

 

Baptism is a command for believers to obey (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38). The New Testament pattern was for believers to be baptized immediately after their conversion (Acts 2:41; 10:44-48). Therefore, we believe that water baptism is not necessary for salvation. The biblical mode of baptism is immersion. Baptism testifies of faith in Christ and symbolizes union with Him in death to sin and in resurrection to new life (Romans 6:1-14).

 

The Lord’s Supper commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. The two elements, the bread and the cup, symbolize the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Celebrating the work of Christ is a time of self-examination and confession (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). The Lord’s Supper is also called communion, which pictures the fellowship believers have with the Lord and with each other. This ordinance proclaims His death until Christ comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26).

 

C. The Purpose of the Church

 

The purpose of every ministry of the church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31). The church glorifies God by: exalting God (John 4:23-24), edifying the saints (Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 2:2), and evangelizing the lost (Matthew 28:19-20; Colossians 4:2-6). When sin in the life of a professing believer becomes known, prayer, gentleness and humility must accompany a confrontation of that sin (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16; 3:10; 1 John 5:16). The goals of this discipline are the glory of God and the purity of God’s church, as well as the restoration of the one who is sinning. Church discipline is not a vindictive act but a ministry of love.

 

VIII. Last Things (Eschatology)

 

We believe and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ will return, visibly and bodily, to the earth in power and glory (Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:10-11). God has revealed truths concerning the end of time to encourage believers in godly living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Peter 3:8-18; 1 John 2:28-3:3). Holiness is developed as believers eagerly await the return of the Lord with high expectation and enthusiasm. Any study of the end times that fails to promote holiness undermines God’s present focus for these prophetic promises. For an unbeliever, death brings about temporal punishment (Luke 16:19-31) until he is resurrected to eternal condemnation. Those who have rejected Christ will spend eternity in hell suffering beyond imagination for their sin (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 20:13-15). When a believer dies, his spirit instantly enters into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23). In this temporary state, a believer awaits his physical resurrection, judgment and reward in heaven for eternity (John 6:39; Romans 8:10-11, 19-23; 1 Corinthians 15:35-44, 50-54; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Revelation 20:4-6). As a believer enters the eternal state, he will experience incomprehensible bliss from being in the presence of God (Revelation 21:3-5). The glorification of the believer will bring about pure worship that God deserves. The eternal state will also include the re-creation of the fallen created order (Romans 8:19-22).

 

Addenda

 

I. The Family

 

We believe and teach that God began the institution of family in Genesis 2:24. A family can be as simple as a husband and wife but usually includes children as well. The wife is a blessing from God for her husband (Proverbs 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; Ecclesiastes 9:9) and each child is a blessing from God for their parents (Psalm 127:3-4). While marriage is the normal human pattern, some people are gifted by God to serve Him as single Christians without being distracted by the cares of the world (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Scripture teaches that the husband is the head of the family as Christ is the Head of the church (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23; Psalm 128:1-4). The wife is to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1) and the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church by giving Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). While these God-given roles include functional submission, both male and female are equal before God (Galatians 3:28). Both the husband and the wife are to raise their children in the ways of God (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20). This involves the responsibility to exemplify godly attitudes and behavior (Proverbs 23:26), discipline without exasperating the child (Proverbs 13:24; 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21), teach (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; Ephesians 6:4), and love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Titus 2:4). God requires children to honor and obey their parents. This is right, pleasing to God, and brings blessings (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20). The only time God allows children to disobey their parents is if a parent asks the child to disobey God (Acts 5:29).

 

II. How to Become a Christian

 

We believe and teach that to become a Christian, one must repent and believe the gospel.  When God works this change in a person’s life, he or she responds appropriately to what the Bible says about the character of God, the sin of man, and the gift of Christ.

 

The Character of God

 

Since God is the Creator of all that is (Genesis 1:1-2:9; Acts 17:24-28), He has absolute authority over all of His creation, including each individual human being. As Creator, He has the right and power to do all things according to His desire (Romans 9:18-24; Ephesians 1:3-14). God is holy, which means that He is morally perfect and separate from all evil (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). In His holiness, He requires of man absolute perfection in all of life. God says, “Be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16). Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

 

The Sinfulness of Man

 

The Bible teaches that everyone is born dead in sins (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:1). This means that people are born unable and unwilling to respond rightly to the truths of the Bible (Romans 3:11). Man is helpless, sinful and an enemy of God due to his rebellion against God (Romans 5:6-10).

 

The Gift of Christ

 

While Scripture describes the bad news about man, it also describes the good news of the amazing love of God. He provides Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for the sin of man. It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus that God forgives the sin of His children. This gift of salvation from sin is completely a work of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:4-9).

 

The Responsibility of Man

 

Salvation is the work of God, but man is responsible to receive this gift through saving faith. Merely believing the facts about Jesus Christ does not save (James 2:19). True faith is the belief that depends upon Christ alone, recognizing the goodness of what he has done for sinners. It will show itself in the life of a Christian by good works (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26). Repentance always accompanies saving faith and involves the recognition of one’s sin with the desire to turn from all sin to God. The only hope for the sin of mankind is Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). He alone is able to deliver a person from a life of sin to a right relationship with God. God does this for the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:3-14).

 

 

Adapted from the Doctrinal Statement of Faith Bible Church, Sharpsburg, Georgia. Used by permission.