committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

CHURCH MANUAL

CHAPTER III

 

DOCTRINES OF A CHURCH

The phrase, doctrines of a church, is somewhat equivocal in its import. It may mean what a church teaches, or what a church believes the Bible to teach. It is here used in the latter sense. All who believe the Scriptures to be divinely inspired consider them the fountain of religious truth. The Bible contains the revelation of God to man. It is the supreme standard of faith and practice. Whatever conforms to this standard is right-whatever deviates from it is wrong. It is a duty incumbent upon all to "search the Scriptures" and learn what they teach. This duty cannot be faithfully performed unless prejudices and preconceived opinions are laid aside. Alas, how few study the Bible in this way. But for human imperfection there would doubtless be uniformity of belief as to what the Scriptures teach. There is not uniformity, but a deplorable variety of religious opinion throughout Christendom. Different sects, professing to take the word of God as their guide, contend as earnestly for their distinctive views as if they had different Bibles. Various constructions are placed on the teachings of the sacred volume, and multitudes of passages are diversely interpreted. Owing to the unfortunate fact, though belief of the Bible is significant as between the religionist and the infidel, it signifies nothing as between those who receive the Scriptures as the word of God. For they differ as to the import of the inspired Oracles; and the meaning of the Bible is the Bible. As there is such diversity of opinion the religious world, it is eminently proper for those who appeal to the Scriptures as the fountain of truth to declare what they believe the Scriptures to teach. To say that they believe the Scriptures is to say nothing to the purpose. All will say this, and yet all differ as to the teachings of the Bible. There must be some distinctive declaration. What a man believes the Bible to teach is his Creed, either written or unwritten. And though it has sometimes been said that creeds have produced differences of religious opinion, it would be nearer to the truth, logically and historically, to say that differences of religious opinion have produced creeds.

As to declarations of faith, it must ever be understood that they are not substitutes for the Scriptures. They are only exponents of what are conceived to be the fundamental doctrines of the word of God. Among Baptist, as their churches are independent, it is optional with each church to have a declaration or not, as it may think best. Each church too may adopt a declaration of its own. Its independence gives it this right, nor can it be alienated. While Baptists glory in their form of church government-which recognizes every church as a little republic in itself- they are perhaps as nearly united in their views of the truths of the Bible as most other denominations. The following Declaration of Faith expresses, substantially, what Baptists believe concerning the topics mentioned.

(This Declaration of Faith was framed many years ago by J. Newton Brown, D.D.)

 

DECLARATION OF FAITH

I. OF THE SCRIPTURES

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction;1 that it has God for its author, salvation for its end,2 and truth without any mixture of error for its matter;3 that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us;4 and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union,5 and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.6

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29-31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1-2
  2. 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38-39.
  3. Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:4 .
  4. Rom. 2:12; John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 4:3-4; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48 .
  5. Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3-6; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11 .
  6. 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59-60; Phil. 1:9-11 .

     

II. OF THE TRUE GOD

We believe that there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and earth;7 inexpressibly glorious in holiness,8 and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love;9 that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;10 equal in every divine perfection,11 and executing distinct and harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.12

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. John 4:24; Psa. 147:5; 83:18; Heb. 3:4; Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:10
  2. Exod. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; Rev. 4:6-8
  3. Mark 12:30; Rev. 4:11; Matt. 10:37; Jer. 2:12-13
  4. Matt. 28:19; John 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 1 John 5:7
  5. John 10:30; 5:17; 14:23; 17:5, 10; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Phil. 2:5-6
  6. Eph. 2:18; 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 1:4-5; comp. 2, 7

     

III. OF THE FALL OF MAN

We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker;13 but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state;14 in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners,15 not by constraint, but choice;16 being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin,17 without defense or excuse.18

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Gen. 1:27, 31; Eccl. 7:29; Acts 16:26; Gen. 2:16
  2. Gen. 3:6-24; Rom. 5:12
  3. Rom. 5:19; John 3:6; Psa. 51:5; Rom. 5:15-19; 8:7
  4. Isa. 53:6; Gen. 6:12; Rom. 3:9-18
  5. Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 1:18, 32; 2:1-16; Gal. 3:10; Matt. 20:15
  6. Ezek. 18:19-20; Rom. 1:20; 3:19; Gal. 3:22

 

IV. OF THE WAY OF SALVATION

We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace,19 through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God;20 who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin;21 honored the divine law by his personal obedience,22 and by his death made a full atonement for our sins;23 that having risen from the death, he is now enthroned in heaven;24 and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, he is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all- sufficient Saviour.25

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Eph. 2:5; Matt. 18:11; 1 John 4:10; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; Acts 15:11
  2. John 3:16; 1:1-14; Heb. 4:14; 12:24
  3. Phil. 2:6-7; Heb. 2:9, 14; 2 Cor. 5:21
  4. Isa. 42:21; Phil. 2:8; Gal. 4:4-5; Rom. 3:21
  5. Isa. 53:4-5; Matt. 20:28; Rom. 4:25; 3:21-26; 1 John 4:10;
  6. 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Heb. 9:13-15
  7. Heb. 1:8, 3; 8:1; Col. 3:1-4
  8. Heb. 7:25; Col. 2:9; Heb. 2:18; 7:26; Psa. 89:19; Psa. 14

 

V. OF JUSTIFICATION

We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ26 secures to such as believe in him is Justification;27 that Justification includes the pardon of sin,28 and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness;29 that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood;30 by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God;31 that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.32

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. John 1:16; Eph. 3:8
  2. Acts 13:39; Isa. 3:11-12; Rom. 8:1
  3. Rom. 5:9; Zech. 13:1; Matt. 9:6; Acts 10:43
  4. Rom. 5:17; Titus 3:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 2:25; Rom. 5:21
  5. Rom. 4:4-5; 5:21; 6:28; Phil. 3:7-9
  6. Rom. 5:19; 3:24-26; 4:23-25; 1 John 2:12

 

VI. OF THE FREENESS OF SALVATION

We believe that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel;33 that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent, and obedient faith;34 and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel;35 which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation.36

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17; Luke 14:17
  2. Rom. 16:26; Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:15-17
  3. John 5:40; Matt. 23:37; Rom. 9:32; Prov. 1:24; Acts 13:46
  4. John 3:19; Matt. 11:20; Luke 19:27; 2 Thess. 1:8

 

VII. OF GRACE IN REGENERATION

We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again;37 that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind;38 that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth,39 so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel;40 and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.41

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. John 3:3, 6-7; 1 Cor. 1:14; Rev. 8:7-9; 21:27
  2. 2 Cor. 5:17; Ezek. 36:26; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:28-29; 5:5; 1 John 4:7
  3. John 3:8; 1:13; James 1:16-18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 2:13
  4. 1 Pet. 1:22-25; 1 John 5:1; Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-11
  5. Eph. 5:9; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:16-23; Eph. 3:14-21; Matt. 3:8-10; 7:20; 1 John 5:4, 18

 

VIII. OF REPENTANCE AND FAITH

We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God;42 whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ,43 we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy;44 at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.45

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Mark 1:15; Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1
  2. John 16:8; Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31
  3. Luke 18:13; 15:18-21; James 4:7-10; 2 Cor. 7:11; Rom.10:12-13; Psa. 51
  4. Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 3:22-23: Heb. 4:14; Psa. 2:6; Heb. 1:8; 8:25; 2 Tim. 1:12

 

IX. OF GOD'S PURPOSE OF GRACE

We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners;46 that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end;47 that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable;48 that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy;49 that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree;50 that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel;51 that it is the foundation of Christian assurance;52 and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence.53

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rom. 11:5-6; John 15:15; 1 John 4:19; Hos. 12:9
  2. 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Acts 13:48; John 10:16; Matt. 20:16; Acts 15:14
  3. Exod. 33:18-19; Matt. 20:15; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 9:23-24: Jer. 31:3; Rom. 11:28-29; James 1:17-18; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 11:32-36
  4. 1 Cor. 4:7; 1:26-31; Rom. 3:27; 4:16; Col. 3:12; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; 15:10; 1 Pet. 5:10; Acts 1:24; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9; Luke 18:7; John 15:16; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:12
  5. 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Cor. 9:22; Rom. 8:28-30; John 6:37-40; 2 Pet. 1:10
  6. 1 Thess. 1:4-10
  7. Rom. 8:28-30; Isa. 42:16; Rom. 11:29
  8. 2 Pet. 1:10-11; Phil. 3:12; Heb. 6:11

 

X. OF SANCTIFICATION

We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness;54 that it is a progressive work;55 that it is begun in regeneration;56 and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means-especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.57

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Cor. 7:1; 13:9; Eph. 1:4
  2. Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 1:5-8; Phil. 3:12-16
  3. John 2:29; Rom. 8:5; John 3:6; Phil. 1:9-11; Eph. 1:13-14
  4. Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 13:5; Luke 11:35; 9:23; Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:18; 4:30

 

XI. OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS

We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end;58 that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors;59 that a special Providence watches over their welfare;60 and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.61

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. John 8:31; 1 John 2:27-28; 3:9; 5:18
  2. 1 John 2:19; John 13:18; Matt. 13:20-21; John 6:66-69; Job 17:9
  3. Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:30-33; Jer. 32:40; Psa. 121:3; 91:11-12
  4. Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13; Jude 24-25; Heb. 1:14; 2 Kings 6:16; Heb. 13:5; 1 John 4:4

 

XII. OF THE HARMONY OF THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL

We believe that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government;62 that it is holy, just, and good;63 and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts arises entirely from their love of sin;64 to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy Law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible Church.65

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Rom. 3:31; Matt. 5:17; Luke 16:17; Rom. 3:20; 4:15
  2. Rom. 7:12, 7, 14, 22; Gal. 3:21; Psa. 119
  3. Rom. 8:7-8; Josh. 24:19; Jer. 13:23; John 6:44; 5:44
  4. Rom. 8:2, 4; 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 8:10; Jude 20-21; Heb. 12:14; Matt. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 12:28

 

XIII. OF A GOSPEL CHURCH

We believe that a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers,66 associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel;67 observing the ordinances of Christ;68 governed by his laws,69 and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his Word;70 that its only scriptural officers are Bishops, or Pastors, and Deacons,71 whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. 1 Cor. 1:1-13; Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:1; 11:31; 1 Cor. 4:17; 14:23; 3 John 9; 1 Tim. 3:5
  2. Acts 2:41-42; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 5:12-13
  3. 1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 11:23; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:6; 2 Cor. 2:7; 1 Cor. 4:17
  4. Matt. 28:20; John 14:15; 15:12; 1 John 4:21; John 14:21; 1 Thess. 4.2; 2 John 6; Gal. 6:2; all the Epistles
  5. Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:27; 1 Cor. 12:14
  6. Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; 15:22; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1

 

XIV. OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER

We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer,72 into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost;73 to show forth, in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life;74 that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a Church relation; and to the Lord's Supper,75 in which the members of the Church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ;76 preceded always by solemn self-examination.77

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Acts 8:36-39; Matt. 3:5-6; John 3:22-23; 4:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 16:32-34; 18:8
  2. Matt. 28:19; Acts 10:47-48; Gal. 3:27-28
  3. Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:20-21; Acts 22:16
  4. Acts 2:41-42; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts and Epistles
  5. 1 Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  6. 1 Cor. 11:28; 5:1, 8; 10:3-32; 11:17-32; John 6:26-71

 

XV. OF THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath;78 and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes,79 by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations;80 by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private81 and public;82 and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God.83

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1- 2
  2. Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24
  3. Isa. 58:13-14; 56:2-8
  4. Psa. 119:15
  5. Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Exod. 46:3; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3
  6. Heb. 4:3-11

 

XVI. OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT

We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society;84 and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed;85 except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ86 who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.87

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Rom. 13:1-7; Deut. 16:18; 1 Sam. 23:3; Exod. 18:23; Jer.30:21
  2. Matt. 22:21; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13; 1 Tim. 2:1-8
  3. Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:28; Dan. 3:15-18; 6:7-10; Acts 4:18-20
  4. Matt. 23:10; Rom. 14:4; Rev. 19:16; Psa. 72:11; Psa. 2; Rom. 14:9-13

 

XVII. OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED

We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked;88 that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem;89 while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse;90 and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.91

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. Mal. 3:18; Prov. 12:26; Isa. 5:20; Gen. 18:23; Jer. 15:19;Acts 10:34- 35; Rom. 6:16
  2. Rom. 1:17; 7:6; 1 John 2:29; 3:7; Rom. 6:18, 22; 1 Cor. 11:32; Prov. 11:31; 1 Pet. 4:17-18
  3. 1 John 5:19; Gal. 3:10; John 3:36; Isa. 57:21; Psa. 10:4; Isa 55:6-7
  4. Prov. 14:32; Luke 16:25; John 8:21-24; Prov. 10:24; Luke 12:4-5; 9:23- 26; John 12:25-26; Eccl. 3:17; Matt. 7:13-14

 

XVIII. OF THE WORLD TO COME

We believe that the end of the world is approaching;92 that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven,93 and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution;94 that a solemn separation will then take place;95 that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy;96 and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.97

Places in the Bible where taught

  1. 1 Pet. 4:7; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 1:10-12; Matt. 24:35; 1 John 2:17; Matt. 28:20; 13:39-40; 2 Pet. 3:3-13
  2. Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; Acts 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18;5:1-11
  3. Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:12-59; Luke 14:14; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; 6:40; 11:25-26; 2 Tim. 1:10; Acts 10:42
  4. Matt. 13:49, 37-43; 24:30-31; 25:31-33
  5. Matt. 25:35-41; Rev. 22:11; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mark 9:43-48; 2 Pet. 2:9; Jude 7; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 6:32; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; John 4:36; 2 Cor. 4:18
  6. Rom. 3:5-6; 2 Thess. 1:6-12; Heb. 6:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:2-16; Rev. 20:11-12; 1 John 2:28; 4:17

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