PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP
In God's order, commitment normally constitutes the pathway to the possession of privileges. Therefore, membership in this Church includes the following privileges:
1. Participation in the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:41-42 & 1 Corinthians 11:18-26, 33);
2. Attendance at, appropriate participation in, and voting during Church business meetings (Acts 6:1-6 (cp. Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:13-14); 1 Corinthians 5:4-7; 13 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2)
3. Labouring to extend God's Kingdom in ministries of the Church (as one's gifts, graces and calling make appropriate) (1 Corinthians 12:4-27 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2); Eph. 4:7; 11-12; 16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11)
4. Reception of the committed oversight and care of the Pastor of the Church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-3)
5. Reception of the committed care and discipline (as needed) of the membership of the Church (Acts 6:1-2 (cp. Acts 2:41; 5:13-14; 9:26); 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2); Gal. 6:10).
REQUIREMENTS OF CHURCH MEMBERS
1. Members of this Church are required to attend the stated meetings of the Church unless providentially hindered by illness, or a providence that does not violate the Lord's Day.
The stated meetings of this Church are as follows:
a. All services on the Lord's Day
b. Midweek prayer and study services, the Lord's Supper, and baptisms
c. Church business meetings; and
d. Any special meetings that the Pastor should occasionally deem necessary. If any member is absent from the above stated meetings, they should inform the Pastor or in his absence a Church Officer of the reason.
2. Whilst on holiday periods Christians must make every effort to keep the Lord’s Day Sabbath by attending a likeminded Church for worship and fellowship in the area where they are visiting. This is not to be done out of compulsion but out of sincere love and desire to Worship God and to have fellowship with His people and for the spiritual well being and good of their own souls. All the members of the Church are required to use the various means of grace that are available to them, such as daily private prayer and systematic reading of the Bible, daily family worship, and a proper reverence for and observance of the Lord's Day.
3. Because it is clearly taught in the Scriptures that Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local Church (Mal. 3:8-10; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 8, 9), all the members of this Church are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture. The tithe (ten percent of one's gross personal income) is not imposed on the people of God as a tax but is strongly urged upon each member as an expression of worship and the Biblical norm for basic giving. Added to this should be gifts and offerings according to one's ability and the willingness of his heart (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Exodus. 36:2-7).
4. All the members of this Church are required to obey the teachings of Scripture in respect to the life and government of the family. The husband is the God-appointed head of the family and must rule his household with gentleness, love, wisdom, and firmness (Eph. 5:25ff; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5; 1 Pet. 3:7). The wife must be in Scriptural subjection to her husband in all things (Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). The wife must seek to be gentle, quiet and peaceable, in the home as well as in the Church.
The husband and wife must bring up their children in the fear, nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4). This includes setting a godly example before them, consistently instructing them from the Scriptures (Deut. 6:4-9), and administering loving chastening to them when needed (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 29:15; Heb. 12:7).
5. It is the duty of every Christian, as an individual and as a member of a local Church, to labour by prayer, word, and deed for the extension of the kingdom of God in ever widening circles, beginning at home and stretching forth to the ends of the earth (Isa. 54:1-3; Acts 1:8). Therefore, every member of this Church is expected prayerfully to recognise and to seize every opportunity to bear witness to their faith in Christ, both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of their lips.
6. Each member of the Church is required to render loyal obedience to all the moral precepts of God's Word in their daily life (Rom. 8:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21; James 2:12). The exercise of Christian liberty, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (1 Pet. 1:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren (1 Corinthians 8:9; Rom. 15:1-3), a compassion for the lost (1 Corinthians 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health of one's own soul (Rom. 13:14; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 9:24- 27; Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Pet. 2:16).
7. All who come into the membership of this Church are expected to recognise and to submit to the authority of the Pastor and Church oversight 1 Corinthians 16:15,16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17). This responsibility will include willingly scheduling an oversight meeting with the Pastor when requested.
8. We who have been joined to Christ by faith and are members of this Church are also members one of another (Rom. 12:5). With this privileged relationship come particular responsibilities. We must maintain mutual transparency and honesty (Eph. 4:25). We must rejoice in each other's honour and bear one another's sorrows (1 Corinthians 12:26). We must mutually oversee each other, faithfully admonish and encourage one another, avoid all backbiting and gossip, and keep in strict confidence all matters which the Pastor and Church oversight determine are of private concern to the Church (Prov. 11:13; Matt. 18:15ff; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15; Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:24, 25). We must also when necessary, help meet the material needs of our brethren (Gal. 6:10; James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:16-18).
A. General Statement
There are two ordinances of special significance that our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Neither of them has saving merit. These ordinances are not means of "special grace," but they are a special "means of grace" and powerful aids to the faith of the believers who participate in them.
1. Only confessed regenerate disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ can be candidates for Baptism, and all such persons should be baptised and joined to a local Church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 5:13, 14). Believing that Baptism in water is the God-ordained sign of one's personal union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and the door of entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of the Church only those who have been baptised as believers "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Immersion in water is the only biblical mode of baptism, and is the only mode of baptism to be administered by this Church.
C. The Lord's Supper – The Communion Table
Whereas Baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible Church, and should be observed only once by each believer. The Lord's Supper should be remembered and observed frequently by the assembled Church (1 Corinthians 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Visitors from other Churches at the Lord’s Communion Table
Members of other Churches of the same Faith and Order, may commune with this Church by the consent of the Pastor and Church oversight, but if such member has communed with us for twelve months, it shall be considered expedient to recommend them to join this Church. In order to maintain the purity of this ordinance, the Pastor (if any) or Church oversight (if any) will faithfully seek to insure that only true believers who are members in good standing of true Churches of the same faith and order are admitted to the Communion Table. The Lord's Supper shall be observed by the Church no less than once every month.
Administration of the Lord's Supper
In the absence of the Pastor, the Pastor if in office may appoint a Church Officer to officiate should there be no Minister to take the ordinance. If there be no Pastor or Minister the Church may appoint a Church Officer to officiate.
Neglecting the Ordinances
If any member neglect to attend the Lord's Supper, prayer meetings, and preaching of the Word, a reason will be required for his or her absence to the Pastor, and if no satisfactory reason can be given, and such conduct persisted in, he or she will be liable to be excluded from this Church.
All Church Meetings shall be presided over by the Pastor, or in his absence the Church shall appoint the most senior Church officer to preside. Any debate or difference that may arise in the meeting shall be settled by the majority, and should any member seek to set aside such decision within six months, such member shall be accounted as acting disorderly. No member who may be under Church censure shall be present at any Church meeting.
Church meetings shall be audibly announced from the pulpit or desk when the people are regularly assembled for worship at least on the two Lord’s Days immediately preceding the date of any such meeting.
The Pastor, or in his absence the Church oversight shall have it in his or their power to call a Church meeting whenever considered necessary; but in every case proper and reasonable notice shall be given.
No motion of any serious importance (e.g., cases of discipline, application for membership, call to the ministry, appointment of Pastor, etc.) shall be brought forward at any Church meeting, unless notice thereof shall have been given at a Church meeting held at least one month previous thereto; except in such a case as (in the judgment of the Pastor and Church oversight) the cause of truth would suffer prejudice by delay.
All propositions, whether for Church membership or otherwise, and all motions, shall be seconded before being put from the chair; and in the event of the voting being equally divided on any subject to be decided, the chairman (president) shall be allowed a second (casting) vote. Any debate or difference that may arise shall be settled by the majority of the members present and voting.
A statement of the finances of the cause shall be laid before the Church twice a year, when the vote of satisfaction or otherwise shall be recorded.
When any question has been decided by the majority of the Church, if any member shall attempt to set aside or oppose the same decision within six months afterwards, such member shall be accounted as acting disorderly.
Female members should remember the teaching of Corinthians 14:34–35 what God’s Word commands and must ask questions through their own husbands or a male member of the Church. Female head covering is the teaching of Holy Scripture as seen in 1 Corinthians 11 and is to be observed by all female Church Members in all Church Services, business and prayer meetings.
If any member of this Church unites in marriage to a person that evidently is unsaved, unregenerate and fears not God, but is a person of the world, they shall expose themselves to the severest censure of the Church, it being positively forbidden in the Word of God.
1. Church Discipline - Scriptural Mandate
Any member knowing another to act disorderly, shall tell the offending brother or sister of his or her fault alone, in the spirit of meekness (Gal. 6. 1); and if not satisfied with the explanation, shall then acquaint the Pastor or in his absence the Church oversight of the Church with the matter; and if any member neglect to do so, and be found reporting it to others, such member shall be visited and reproved as acting contrary to Scripture rule.
Any member bringing, in any manner, an open reproach on the cause, shall be suspended; and no member suspended for any reason shall again be admitted to the Lord’s Supper and to the privileges of membership, until godly sorrow and repentance are manifest, and satisfactory acknowledgement is made to the Church.
Any member communicating to any other person, not a member, what has been said or done at any Church meeting, shall be liable, according to the judgment of the Pastor and Church oversight, to be brought before the Church.
If any member repeatedly neglect to attend the preaching of the Word, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer meetings, unless from unavoidable causes known to the Pastor and or Church a reason will be required for his or her absence; and if he or she shall be absent from the Lord’s Supper upon more than three successive occasions, without being able to give the Pastor or Church oversight who shall visit such member a satisfactory reason for such absence, they shall bring the matter before the Church to determine, whether for reproof, suspension, or withdrawal from the offending party.
Members having private differences between themselves shall not bring the same before the Church before the rule laid down in Matt. 18. 15, 16, has been first attended to by the offended party; and in the event of satisfaction not being given, that the peace of the Church may if possible be preserved, the offended party shall first inform the Pastor and in his absence the Church oversight (assembled); but if not satisfied with his, or their mediation or decision, the member shall bring the case before the Church, by giving one month’s notice in writing to the Pastor and Church oversight.
A. Formative Discipline
Every Christian must be under Christ’s discipline (His instruction and correction), which is administered to each one through the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15; Heb. 3:12,13; 10:24, 25). Mutual submission to one another (Eph. 5:21) and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over His Church (1 Pet. 5:5) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the Church collectively. There are occasions, however, when one's failure to respond to this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary.
B. Corrective Discipline
a. Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the Church. As a general rule and whenever feasible, an effort must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offence through counsel and admonition before more drastic steps are taken (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19, 20). The principles given to us in Matthew 18:15-16, Rom. 16:17-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Tim. 5:19-20, and Titus 3:10 must be carefully followed and applied to each and every case of corrective discipline as appropriate. In some cases public admonition and/or public repentance may be warranted (Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20). In the most extreme cases excommunication from the membership of the Church may be necessary (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10). All the members of the Church are obliged to submit to and enforce as appropriate the decision of the Church in acts of corrective discipline.
b. Since the Church is spiritual so is corrective discipline (2 Corinthians 6:7). Thus it includes public verbal reproof (Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20), social avoidance (Rom. 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14), suspension from the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 5:11), and removal from the membership of the Church (Matt. 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:13). Discipline is intended to effect repentance through a sense of sorrow and shame (2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). The Church has no right, however, to confiscate goods, revoke conjugal rights, or inflict corporal punishment of any kind. Nevertheless, a member guilty of criminal actions may be delivered to the civil authorities according to the rule of Scripture (1 Pet. 4:15).
c. The goals of corrective discipline are always the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the Church (1 Corinthians 5:6) and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 5:20).
2. Public Reproof or Censure
Public reproof consists of a Pastoral effort, before the gathered Church, to call an impenitent Church member to repentance for sin too blatant to be dealt with in an exclusively private manner; or to deal with serious sin even where there may have been repentance. The Pastor and Church oversight may administer public censure whenever in their judgment either public misconduct (Gal. 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 5:20), patterns of sin (Titus 1:12, 13), or serious doctrinal error (Titus 1:10-13) pose a significant threat to the godliness, unity or testimony of the congregation. Those who humbly receive the word of public reproof, own and confess their sin, and manifest a transformed life (Prov. 28:13) shall afterward be publicly commended for their godly repentance (2 Corinthians 7:7-11). If the reproof is not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Some misconduct on the part of a member is so detrimental to the unity, holiness and testimony of the Church that the Lord requires the suspension of some of the privileges of membership (Rom. 16:17-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). In all cases of suspension the offending person is still to be regarded as a brother in Christ and as a member of the Church. Therefore, in accordance with the procedures outlined below for each of the five major categories of offences, the Pastor or Church oversight shall at a business meeting of the Church recommend that the offending member be suspended, specifying the grounds. To be valid, an act of suspension must have the approval of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting. In the interest of maintaining a climate of holiness and peace, the Pastor and Church oversight shall have the right, at their sole discretion, to impose a temporary suspension upon a member which will bar him from not more than one Lord's Table while they deliberate the most prudent course of action. The major categories of sin which require suspension are as follows:
a. A Stubborn Private Offender (Matthew 18:15-17)
When a private offence remains unresolved even after the method prescribed by our Lord in Matthew 18:15, 16 have been graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated offence. The brethren involved shall bring the matter to the Pastor (in his absence the Church oversight) who, if they judge the matter to be serious and can not persuade the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the Church, and recommend that the stubborn brother be suspended (Matt. 18:17a). If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains adamant in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this Article (Matt18:17b).
b. Divisive Teachings or Behaviour (Rom. 16:17-20; Titus 3:10)
When after admonition a member persists in the propagation of serious doctrinal error contrary to the Scripture and our Articles and Confession of Faith, or attempts to sow discord among the brethren contrary to the Scripture and this Constitution, he may be suspended as a factious man.
Since every member is responsible to help preserve the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1f.), no member is to conceal such flagrantly divisive behaviour, but rather to reprove it, and disclose it to the Pastor and Church oversight (Deut. 13:6f.; 1 Corinthians 1:10, 11). Whenever the Pastor and Church oversight have become aware of such divisive behaviour, they are to confront it meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21; Titus 3:10). If, even after receiving repeated admonition from the Pastor, and Church oversight a member persists in such behaviour, these shall report the situation to the Church and recommend that the divisive brother be suspended. If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this document.
c. Disorderly Behaviour (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)
When a member deliberately persists in conduct which displays a flagrant or public disregard for either the order appointed by God for all mankind in the creation ordinances, namely, work, Lord's Day attendance, neglect of marriage (Gen. 2:1-3, 15, 18-24; Exodus. 20:8-11; 1 Corinthians 7:1-17, 39; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 2:5); or for the order established by Christ for His Church in Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:17-34; 14:37-40; 1 Tim. 3:14, 15) and adapted to our Church in this Constitution, he may be suspended as a disorderly man (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Whenever the Pastor and Church oversight become aware that, in spite of the admonitions of formative discipline (1 Thessalonians 5:14), a member is behaving disorderly, they are to confront him meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15). If, even after receiving such admonition from the leadership, a member persists in this behaviour, the leadership shall report the situation to the Church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended (2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15). If, even after the period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this document.
d. A Scandalous Sin
If a member has sinned scandalously but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the Pastor and Church oversight, it may still be prudent to suspend him for a time so that he may clearly manifest repentance (Matt. 3:8), so that reproach not be brought upon the Name of Christ and the Church (2 Sam. 12:14; Rom. 2:24), and so that others may not be emboldened to sin (1 Tim. 5:20). If fruits worthy of repentance are not forthcoming, the leadership may recommend to the Church at a later date that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in this Article.
If a person is accused or suspected of a sin requiring corrective discipline, absents himself or herself from the meetings of the Church despite the pleadings and appeals of the Pastor and Church oversight (if any) to meet so that the matter may be investigated. (Matt. 18:17; Num. 16:12, 20, 23-27). The leadership must first present the facts before the Church at an appropriate meeting and the Church will need at least two thirds of the members present and voting and in favour of the leaderships decision for excommunication to take place.
a. In addition to the excommunication of those who have been previously suspended, some expressions of sin (ethical or doctrinal) are so gross and heinous in nature that preliminary actions like public reproof and suspension are inappropriate. In such cases, the guilty member may be immediately excommunicated by the Church (1 Corinthians 5:1-4). This severe measure is to be employed when both aggravated lawlessness is discovered, and there are no hopeful signs of repentance. This severe measure is designed to purge the lawbreaker of his lethal attachment to his sin, unto a sincere and enduring repentance (1 Corinthians 5:5; 6:9-11). The Pastor and Church oversight, therefore, having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, shall report the same to the Church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated. b. All acts of excommunication must be carried out by the gathered Church (Matt. 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4). To be valid, an act of excommunication must have the approval of at least two thirds of the members present and voting.
Since one purpose of Church discipline is to restore a fallen brother or sister, it is the duty of the Church to forgive and to restore to full membership a suspended or excommunicated member who gives satisfactory evidence of his repentance (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). This shall be done in a duly convened business meeting of the Church by no less than two thirds of the members present and voting.
Cessation of Membership - Types of Termination
a. By Physical Death
When a member of the Church is removed from our midst by death, his/her name shall be transferred to the list of former members.
b. By Transfer
(1) Because the New Testament norm for Christians is that they be members of true local Churches of Christ, and because the spiritual health of believers is endangered when they are not thus committed to a Church, any Christian who leaves the membership of this Church should seek to do so by means of transfer to another true Church of Christ. Therefore, if a Church member in good standing whose conduct does not warrant corrective discipline desires to leave the membership of this Church, he is strongly urged to leave in an orderly way by privately indicating that desire to the Pastor and Church oversight (if any) along with his reasons for leaving, and by submitting a request to the Pastor for a transfer of membership to another true Church of Christ. The Church must be advised of this.
(2) When it is so requested, the Pastor and Church oversight with the knowledge of the Church, may transfer a departing member of good standing to the fellowship of another Church. A letter of transfer will be sent to the Pastor and the Church to which the member wishes to transfer. No such letter may be given to a member who is at the time under the corrective discipline of this Church. The Pastor and oversight may refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any Church which is in their judgment is disloyal to "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) or which does not exercise godly care over it’s members.
c. By Excommunication
Before any membership is terminated the Church shall be informed of the intention of the Pastor and Church oversight (if any) to dismiss the individual. This information must include the grounds for the proposed dismissal. After consideration of such concerns before the membership and dealing with these concerns the Church may proceed with dismissal. When possible, they shall send a letter to the dismissed individual informing him of his or her dismissal. The Pastor shall subsequently communicate to the Church that the person has been dismissed. If one who has been dismissed applies again for membership, the normal procedures shall be followed. Excommunication shall be warranted for any of the following reasons:
(a) After careful examination and seeking a member in good standing concludes along with the leadership that he or she is not truly saved.
(b) According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, a Church must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding to false and heretical doctrine, or who blatantly or persistently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity or peace of the Church (Matt. 18:15ff; 1 Corinthians 5:1f; Rom 16:17; Titus 3:10, 11). This includes those who continually withdraw themselves from the Church despite the Pastor, and Church oversight (if any) to appeal to return and discuss and resolve whatever the particular issue or sin may be. Personal resignation from a Church is a mistaken concept. The Church is Christ's own institution-indeed, Christ’s Body on earth and it’s proper dignity requires each local Church to proceed on the principle that the individual can not withdraw from the Body, but the Body must; if necessary, withdraw from the individual. This is obviously a last resort. While Church office may be resigned, Church membership can not.
2. Implications of Termination
a) Bethel Reformed Baptist Church does not exist in isolation from, but is part of the universal Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is composed of all true Churches. Accordingly, open and forthright communication among the Churches is vital for the purity, peace, edification and unity of the Church universal. Therefore the Pastor and Church overseers may at their discretion, disclose to the members of this Church and to other Churches the circumstances under which a person's membership was terminated (Acts 15:24; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17; 4:10; 1 John 2:18, 19).
b. In addition, Bethel Reformed Baptist Church does not exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, this Church has a moral obligation to society both to act with integrity and to maintain its testimony (2 Corinthians 8:20,21). Therefore, the Pastor and Church overseers (if any) may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the ecclesiastical circles mentioned above the circumstances under which a person's membership was terminated (Lev. 5:1; Proverbs. 29:24; 1 Pet. 4:15).
c. Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or reports, or engage in any other behaviour which threatens the peace and unity of this Church or the Church universal. Accordingly, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the Pastor and Church overseers may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this Church and the Church universal (Acts 15:24; Rom. 16:17- 20; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17; 4:10; 1 John 2:18, 19).
The severance of any member from this Church may be only effected by the Church itself acting under its duly appointed officers, at a properly convened Church meeting in the following instances :- (a) In respect of an orderly member for transfer to another Church of the same faith and order, in which event an honourable dismissal should be granted; or, (b) By disciplinary action of withdrawal as a last resort in the case of any disorderly member neglecting to hear either
(1) An offended member’s private remonstrance; or, after that,
(2) The additional exhortations of two or three other brethren; or still further,
(3) The admonition of the whole Church, according to Matt. 18. 15-17.
E. The appointment of Officers
Overseers and Deacons are ordained to office by the laying on of hands by the Pastor (1 Tim. 4:14). Therefore, each officer must have the approval, not only of the Church as a whole, but of the oversight and Pastor in particular.
The Lord's appointment of an individual to either of these offices is recognised by means of that individual's possession of those graces and gifts required by Scripture for the particular office and his own conviction that the Lord is calling him to minister in that office. The recognition of officers is a matter of such importance that it should never be dealt with without much prayerful waiting upon God, an honest perusal of the relevant passages of Scripture, and a frank evaluation of those who are being considered. Each member of the Church has a spiritual responsibility to be intelligently informed regarding these matters.
No Deacon shall at any time be appointed unless at least two-thirds (three-fifths) of the members present and voting at a Church meeting held for the appointment of such Deacon, be in favour of such appointment. Deacons are responsible primarily to administer the benevolent concerns of the Church as well as it’s business affairs (Acts 6:1-4). They must fulfil the duties of their office in cooperation with, and in subjection to, the Pastor and the Church. The number of Deacons shall not be fixed. The Church shall set apart according to it’s need men who evidence the scriptural qualifications for that office (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:8-13).
The appointment of a Pastor is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. However, He has ordained that each local Church exercise the responsibility of recognising those whom He is appointing as the Pastor in that particular Church. This Church shall have only one Pastor at a time.
2. Procedure of Appointment
The recognition of those whom the Lord has appointed to bear office in this Church is executed in three steps: nomination, election, and ordination.
If Church members wish to nominate any male members for Church Office, they may request the matter be raised at an appropriate Church members meeting.
Any Church meeting for the election of officers shall be announced on four consecutive Lord's Days previous to its being held. The names of all nominees shall be separately discussed and voted upon. During the discussion the nominee under consideration and members of his immediate family shall leave the presence of the Church until the written ballot is taken. The scriptural qualifications shall be read and expounded, and the nominee's qualifications openly discussed in the fear of God and with due respect for the reputation of the nominee. The Church should seek unity of mind concerning each nominee, but should such unity not be fully realised, no fewer than three-fourths of those ballots cast shall be required for election. This vote shall take place by written ballot subsequent to a full and free discussion oriented to the relevant Scriptural passages. The vote shall stand as it is first given in the written ballot.
Review of Officers
Officers shall hold office only as long as they meet the biblical qualifications for their office in the esteem of the Church. The office of each Deacon shall be reviewed and voted upon every two years.
No minister shall be the settled Pastor of this Church who does not receive, believe, and preach the Faith according to the Articles of this Church, and no Pastor shall at any time be appointed unless three-fourths, or two-thirds, of the members present at any Church Meeting, properly held for the appointment of such Pastor be in favour of such appointment.
We esteem and acknowledge our Pastor as having the Pastoral rule over us, in the name and authority of our Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ: and will, to the utmost of our ability and opportunity, constantly attend on his ministry; pray for him, as the Lord the Spirit shall enable us, and endeavour, by all means in our power, to strengthen his hands in the due discharge of his highly important office amongst us, by the continuance of our prayers, the regularity of our attendance to his ministry, and a free contribution of our temporal substance to the support of the cause of our God and Saviour according as the Lord shall be pleased in His good providence to bless us.
A Member called to the Ministry
In the event of the Lord raising up any from our midst to preach the gospel, the matter shall receive the early attention of the Church. The person concerned shall relate his leadings respecting his call to the solemn office, and a fair hearing shall be given him of his abilities. The Church under the Pastor’s guidance shall then decide whether he is to be heard and tested in preaching first and then sent with their consent or not. However should such member continue to preach without the consent of the Church, and if his conduct be otherwise consistent, his position as a member shall not be interfered with, but he shall not be recognised as approved and sent by this Church.
The Church Rules and Constitution, as with any other non-inspired document, is not infallible. It does, however, reflect an earnest and sincere attempt to apply the Scriptures in ordering the life of this local Church. Furthermore, we as members of this Church, including the Pastor and Church Officers, have solemnly committed to follow this Constitution in ordering the life of this Church Therefore the demands of the ninth commandment and the sanctity of truth in general, require that the Pastor and Church Officers and all of the members of this Church abide by our mutual commitment.
Only when we must obey God rather than the provisions of the Constitution and Rule Book may its requirements be disregarded (Acts 5:29). If at any time a member of this Church becomes aware that adherence to the Constitution and Rule Book would violate Biblical principle, he should make this known to the Pastor and the Church overseers. If the Pastor and the Church overseers conclude that biblical principle requires disregarding a provision of this Constitution, they are obligated to communicate this together with the reason(s) for their conclusion to the Church within one month at a duly called meeting of the Church. Furthermore, relevant amendments to this Constitution must be submitted to the Church and acted upon in accordance with the provisions of Section C within one year following this informational meeting. The failure of the Pastor and Church Officers to observe these requirements will constitute a legitimate reason for the calling of a special meeting by the members of the Church.
Amendments to this Constitution may be adopted by three-fourths of those voting at any regular Church meeting or at a special meeting called for this purpose provided.
CHAPTER 1; OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephesians 2:20; Romans 1:19-21; Romans 2:14,15; Psalms 19:1-3; Hebrews 1:1; Proverbs 22:19-21; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19,20 )
2._____Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul's Epistle to the Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, To Titus, To Philemon, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Epistle of James, The first and second Epistles of Peter, The first, second, and third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude, The Revelation
All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.
( 2 Timothy 3:16)
3._____ The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.
( Luke 24:27, 44; Romans 3:2 )
4._____ The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
( 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 )
5._____We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
( John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27)
6._____The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Galatians 1:8,9; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26,40)
7._____All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
( 2 Peter 3:16; Psalms 19:7; Psalms 119:130)
8._____The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
( Romans 3:2; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Colossians 3:16 )
9._____The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
( 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16)
10.____The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.
( Matthew 22:29, 31, 32; Ephesians 2:20; Acts 28:23)
CHAPTER 2; OF GOD AND OF THE HOLY TRINITY
1._____The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
( 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Deuteronomy 6:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Isaiah 48:12; Exodus 3:14; John 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17; Deuteronomy 4:15, 16; Malachi 3:6; 1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:23; Psalms 90:2; Genesis 17:1; Isaiah 6:3; Psalms 115:3; Isaiah 46:10; Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36; Exodus 34:6, 7; Hebrews 11:6; Nehemiah 9:32, 33; Psalms 5:5, 6; Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:2, 3 )
2._____God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and he hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth; in his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain; he is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands; to him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever he is further pleased to require of them.
( John 5:26; Psalms 148:13; Psalms 119:68; Job 22:2, 3; Romans 11:34-36; Daniel 4:25, 34, 35; Hebrews 4:13; Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 15:18; Psalms 145:17; Revelation 5:12-14 )
3._____ In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.
( 1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Exodus 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:14,18; John 15:26; Galatians 4:6 )
CHAPTER 3; OF GOD’S DECREE
1._____ God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )
2._____ Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
( Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18 )
3._____ By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )
4.______These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )
5._____ Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
( Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12 )
6._____ As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
( 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64 )
7._____ The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
( 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33; Romans 11:5, 6, 20; Luke 10:20 )
CHAPTER 4; OF CREATION
1._____ In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
( John 1:2, 3; Hebrews 1:2; Job 26:13; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:16; Genesis 1:31 )
2._____ After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.
( Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 1:26; Romans 2:14, 15; Genesis 3:6 )
3._____ Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.
( Genesis 2:17; Genesis 1:26, 28 )
CHAPTER 5; OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
1._____ God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.
( Hebrews 1:3; Job 38:11; Isaiah 46:10, 11; Psalms 135:6; Matthew 10:29-31; Ephesians 1:11 )
2._____ Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
( Acts 2:23; Proverbs 16:33; Genesis 8:22 )
3._____ God, in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure.
( Acts 27:31, 44; Isaiah 55:10, 11; Hosea 1:7; Romans 4:19-21; Daniel 3:27 )
4._____ The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
( Romans 11:32-34; 2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Chronicles 21:1; 2 Kings 19:28; Psalms 76;10; Genesis 1:20; Isaiah 10:6, 7, 12; Psalms 1:21; 1 John 2:16 )
5._____ The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good.
( 2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Romans 8:28 )
6._____ As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as the righteous judge, for former sin doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understanding, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, under those means which God useth for the softening of others.
( Romans 1:24-26, 28; Romans 11:7, 8; Deuteronomy 29:4; Matthew 13:12; Deuteronomy 2:30; 2 Kings 8:12, 13; Psalms 81:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Exodus 8:15, 32; Isaiah 6:9, 10; 1 Peter 2:7, 8 )
7._____ As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it taketh care of his church, and disposeth of all things to the good thereof.
( 1 Timothy 4:10; Amos 9:8, 9; Isaiah 43:3-5 )
CHAPTER 6; OF THE FALL OF MAN, OF SIN, AND OF THE PUNISHMENT THERE OF
1._____ Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )
2._____ Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
( Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12, etc; Titus 1:15; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19 )
3._____ They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
( Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Psalms 51:5; Job 14:4; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 6:20 Romans 5:12; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 )
4._____ From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
( Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19 )
5._____ The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )
CHAPTER 7; OF GOD’S COVENANT
1._____ The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.
( Luke 17:10; Job 35:7,8 )
2._____ Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
( Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, 21; Romans 8:3; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45; Psalms 110:3 )
3._____ This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.
( Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 11;6, 13; Romans 4:1, 2, &c.; Acts 4:12; John 8:56 )
CHAPTER 8; OF CHRIST THE MEDIATOR
1._____ It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
( Isaiah 42:1; 1 Peter 1:19, 20; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 5:5, 6; Psalms 2:6; Luke 1:33; Ephesians 1:22, 23; Hebrews 1:2; Acts 17:31; Isaiah 53:10; John 17:6; Romans 8:30 )
2._____ The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father's glory, of one substance and equal with him who made the world, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her: and the power of the Most High overshadowing her; and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures; so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.
( John 1:14; Galatians 4;4; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17; Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 1:22, 23; Luke 1:27, 31, 35; Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 2:5 )
3._____ The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be throughly furnished to execute the office of mediator and surety; which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who also put all power and judgement in his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.
( Psalms 45:7; Acts 10:38; John 3:34; Colossians 2:3; Colossians 1:19; Hebrews 7:26; John 1:14; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 5:5; John 5:22, 27; Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36 )
4._____ This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made sin and a curse for us; enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; 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, with which he also ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
( Psalms 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:18; Gal 4:4; Matthew 3:15; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46; Acts 13:37; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; John 20:25, 27; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 2:4 )
5._____ The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.
( Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:14; Romans 3:25, 26; John 17:2; Hebrews 9:15 )
6._____ Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and to-day and for ever.
( 1 Corinthians 4:10; Hebrews 4:2; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; Revelation 13:8; Hebrews 13:8 )
7._____ Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
( John 3:13; Acts 20:28 )
8._____ To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
( John 6:37; John 10:15, 16; John 17:9; Romans 5:10; John 17:6; Ephesians 1:9; 1 John 5:20; Romans 8:9, 14; Psalms 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26; John 3:8; Ephesians 1:8 )
9._____ This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other.
( 1 Timothy 2:5 )
10.____ This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.
( John 1:18; Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17; John 16:8; Psalms 110:3; Luke 1:74, 75 )
CHAPTER 9; OF FREE WILL
1._____ God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
( Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19 )
2._____ Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
( Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:6 )
3._____ Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
( Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44 )
4._____ When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
( Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23 )
5._____ This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.
( Ephesians 4:13 )
CHAPTER 10; OF EFFECTUAL CALLING
1._____ Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
( Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; Ephesians 2:1-6; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Ezekiel 36:26; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19; Psalm 110:3; Canticles 1:4 )
2._____ This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
( 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5; John 5:25; Ephesians 1:19, 20 )
3._____ Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
( John 3:3, 5, 6; John 3:8 )
4._____ Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.
( Matthew 22:14; Matthew 13:20, 21; Hebrews 6:4, 5; John 6:44, 45, 65; 1 John 2:24, 25; Acts 4:12; John 4:22; John 17:3 )
CHAPTER 11; OF JUSTIFICATION
1._____ Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
( Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 )
2._____ Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
( Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26 )
3._____ Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
( Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; Ephesians 2:7 )
4._____ God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.
( Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 4:25; Colossians 1:21,22; Titus 3:4-7 )
5._____ God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
( Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9; John 10:28; Psalms 89:31-33; Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51; Matthew 26:75 )
6._____ The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
( Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:22-24 )
CHAPTER 12; OF ADOPTION
_______ All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened 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.
( Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4, 5; John 1:12; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 3:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; Psalms 103:13; Proverbs 14:26; 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 12:6; Isaiah 54:8, 9; Lamentations 3:31; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 6:12 )
CHAPTER 13; OF SANCTIFICATION
1._____ They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
( Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14 )
2._____This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
( 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18, 23; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11 )
3._____ In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.
( Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1 )
CHAPTER 14; OF SAVING FAITH
1._____ The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. ( 2 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32 )
2._____ By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
( Acts 24:14; Psalms 27:7-10; Psalms 119:72; 2 Timothy 1:12; John 14:14; Isaiah 66:2; Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11 )
3._____ This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
( Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20; 2 Peter 1:1; Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 12:2 )
CHAPTER 15; OF REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE AND SALVATION
1._____ Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. ( Titus 3:2-5 )
2._____ Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
( Ecclesiastes 7:20; Luke 22:31, 32 )
3._____ This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.
( Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128 )
4._____ As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man's duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
( Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15 )
5._____ Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation; that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent; which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
( Romans 6:23; Isaiah 1:16-18 Isaiah 55:7 )
CHAPTER 16; OF GOOD WORKS
1._____ Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions.
( Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21; Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13 )
2._____ These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end eternal life.
( James 2:18, 22; Psalms 116:12, 13; 1 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Matthew 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 6:22 )
3._____ Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
( John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7 )
4._____ They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
( Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10 )
5._____ We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's punishment.
( Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6; Galatians 5:22, 23; Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2 )
6._____ Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God's sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
( Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5; Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10 )
7._____ Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.
( 2 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29; Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Matthew 6:2, 5; Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5; Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41-43 )
CHAPTER 17; OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
1._____ Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
( John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Psalms 89:31, 32; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Malachi 3:6 )
2._____ This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
( Romans 8:30 Romans 9:11, 16; Romans 5:9, 10; John 14:19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 1 John 3:9; Jeremiah 32:40 )
3._____ And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
( Matthew 26:70, 72, 74; Isaiah 64:5, 9; Ephesians 4:30; Psalms 51:10, 12; Psalms 32:3, 4; 2 Samuel 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61, 62 )
CHAPTER 18; OF THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION
1._____ Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
( Job 8:13, 14; Matthew 7:22, 23; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 1 John 5:13; Romans 5:2, 5 )
2._____ This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
( Hebrews 6:11, 19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 2 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11; Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1-3 )
3._____ This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
( Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; Psalms 77:1-12; 1 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Romans 5:1, 2, 5; Romans 14:17; Psalms 119:32; Romans 6:1,2; Titus 2:11, 12, 14 )
4._____ True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
( Canticles 5:2, 3, 6; Psalms 51:8, 12, 14; Psalms 116:11; Psalms 77:7, 8; Psalms 31:22; Psalms 30:7; 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Psalms 42:5, 11; Lamentations 3:26-31 )
CHAPTER 19; OF THE LAW OF GOD
1._____ God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
( Genesis 1:27; Romans 2:14,15; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10, 12 )
2._____ The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
( Romans 2:14, 15; Deuteronomy 10:4 )
3._____ Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.
( Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:14, 16, 17; Ephesians 2:14, 16 )
4._____ To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.
( 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 )
5._____ The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
( Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31 )
6._____ Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
( Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13 )
7._____ Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.
( Galatians 3:21; Ezekiel 36:27 )
CHAPTER 20; OF THE GOSPEL AND OF THE EXTENT OF THE GRACE THERE OF
1._____ The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
( Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8 )
2._____ This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.
( Romans 1:17; Romans 10:14,15,17; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 25:7; Isaiah 60:2, 3 )
3._____ The revelation of the gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God; not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men's natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.
( Psalms 147:20; Acts 16:7; Romans 1:18-32 )
4._____ Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.
( Psalms 110:3; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:19, 20; John 6:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 )
CHAPTER 21; OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AND LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
1._____ The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the rigour and curse of the law, and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and ever- lasting damnation: as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.
All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.
( Galatians 3:13; Galatians 1:4; Acts 26:18; Romans 8:3; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 8:15; Luke 1:73-75; 1 John 4:18; Galatians 3:9, 14; John 7:38, 39; Hebrews 10:19-21 )
2._____ God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
( James 4:12; Romans 14:4; Acts 4:19, 29; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Matthew 15:9; Colossians 2:20, 22, 23; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 1:24 )
3._____ They who upon pretence of Christian liberty do practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, as they do thereby pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, so they wholly destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.
( Romans 6:1, 2; Galatians 5:13; 2 Peter 2:18, 21 )
CHAPTER 22; OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY
1._____ The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
( Jeremiah 10:7; Mark 12:33; Deuteronomy 12:32; Exodus 20:4-6 )
2._____ Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures; and since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.
( Matthew 4:9, 10; John 6:23; Matthew 28:19; Romans 1:25; Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5 )
3._____ Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one part of natural worship, is by God required of all men. But that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, according to his will; with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and when with others, in a known tongue.
( Psalms 95:1-7; Psalms 65:2; John 14:13, 14; Romans 8:26; 1 John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 14:16, 17 )
4._____ Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
( 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; 2 Samuel 7:29; 2 Samuel 12:21-23; 1 John 5:16 )
5._____ The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord's supper, are all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fastings, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner.
( 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2; Luke 8:18; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12; Exodus 15:1-19, Psalms 107 )
6._____ Neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship, is now under the gospel, tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed; but God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly nor wilfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God by his word or providence calleth thereunto.
( John 4:21; Malachi 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:8; Acts 10:2; Matthew 6:11; Psalms 55:17; Matthew 6:6; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:42 )
7._____ As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )
8._____ The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )
CHAPTER 23; OF LAWFUL OATHS AND VOWS
1._____ A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof.
( Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 10:20; Jeremiah 4:2; 2 Chronicles 6:22, 23 )
2._____ The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred; yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.
( Matthew 5:34, 37; James 5:12; Hebrews 6:16; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Nehemiah 13:25 )
3._____ Whosoever taketh an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knoweth to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns.
( Leviticus 19:12; Jeremiah 23:10 )
4._____ An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.
( Psalms 24:4 ) (Ps. 24:4)
5._____ A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness; but popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
( Psalms 76:11; Genesis 28:20-22; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9; Ephesians 4:28; Matthew 19:11 )
CHAPTER 24; OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
1._____ God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
( Romans 13:1-4 )
2._____ It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
( 2 Samuel 23:3; Psalms 82:3, 4; Luke 3:14 )
3._____ Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake; and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
( Romans 13:5-7; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 )
1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
Bethel Reformed Baptist Church
A Strict and Particular Baptist Church
(Meaning we hold to 'Strict Communion' and 'Particular Redemption')
Section 1 - Church Articles of Faith
Section 2 - Church Constitution
Section 3 - Church Covenant
Section 4 - Church Membership Rules
Section 5 - 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
As a Church our Doctrinal Standard is the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. It is an excellent though not inspired expression of the teaching of the Infallible Holy Word of God. We find it to be assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. We acknowledge the Word of God is the only authority of all matters of faith, morals, practice and order.
This Church uses the Authorised Version of the Bible only, as it is the most faithful translation of the Bible translated into the English Language from the pure and unadulterated Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Word of God.
In addition to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, our Church Statement of Faith below forms a convenient summary of the plain teaching of Holy Scripture.
Church Articles of Faith
1. We believe in the Divine inspiration, infallibility, sufficiency and authority of the Holy Scriptures as originally given (excluding the books known as the apocrypha). The Word of God is without error, thus it is without fault in any matter on which it speaks. The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is authoritative not only in matters of doctrine and Christian behaviour but with regards to Church worship, Church government, and the work and the witness of this Church.
2. We believe there is but one true and living God, Who is pure Spirit and self-sufficient. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, knowledge, and power. His very essence is love and holiness. He is almighty and incomprehensible in Himself. In all His relations outside Himself, He is sovereign, gracious, righteous, patient and merciful. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can He be known. The unity of the Godhead exists in three Persons of the same Divine essence; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, who are One God, co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal.
3. We believe that God has decreed in Himself before the world began, by His perfect and sovereign will, the coming to pass of all things, but in such a way that He is not the author of sin, nor is man's responsibility for his own actions removed. God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created all things out of nothing for His own glory. He actively sustains the world and to Him all people are accountable.
We believe in the essential, absolute and eternal Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, His conception by the Holy Spirit, His virgin birth, His two Natures in one, as both God and man, His real but sinless manhood, the authority of His teaching and the infallibility of all His utterances; His voluntary humiliation in life as a man of sorrows culminating in His death on the cross in the place of the elect who are predestined to eternal life; His bodily resurrection on the third day; His ascension into heaven as the one mediator between God and man; His present high-priestly intercession for His people at the right hand of the Father and His personal return in power and glory.
5. We believe that God created the first man Adam in His own image to glorify Him and to enjoy fellowship with Him. The historic fall of man from his original righteousness was the result of the one sin of Adam as the representative head of the human race. Sin is any lack of conformity to, or any transgression of, the Law of God. Consequently, all men are born into the world under the guilt and condemnation of Adam’s sin imputed to them. Moreover man by nature is corrupt in every part of his being, and under the wrath of God and subject to eternal wrath, which is the second death. He must be born again through the Holy Spirit in order to repent, believe and enjoy God and enter heaven.
6. We believe that God loves His people with an everlasting love; that the Father planned from all eternity to save out of the fallen human race an innumerable company of people; that He has freely chosen them eternally in the Lord Jesus Christ and predestined them to salvation entirely because of God’s own good pleasure and Sovereign grace and not because of any foreseen merit or choice they had made or would make in time. We wholly reject Arminian theology and all liberal theology.
In the fullness of time God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, in order to save His people, took all their sins upon Himself. In His substitutionary life and death as their representative head He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law of God for them and became obedient even to the point of His death on the cross. He put away their sin by the sacrifice of Himself so that a full atonement and propitiation was made for their sins. Therefore by Christ’s life of perfect obedience to the Law of God, all that believe upon Him are justified by faith in His efficacious work of redemption, and His righteousness imputed to them for their complete and everlasting acceptance with God. Salvation is entirely by God’s Sovereign grace that is received through faith the gift of God.
While all men are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30), they are yet completely incapable of doing so by their own ability due to their depraved nature. However, as the Church obeys Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to every creature (Matthew 28:19, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 14:6), the Holy Spirit working according to God’s grace in election effectually calls His elect, to repentance and faith irresistibly. These, the elect, are regenerated, justified, adopted, sanctified, and are kept to the very end and are finally glorified. 1 Peter 1:5.
7. We believe that the true grace of God, which brings salvation produces within the believer holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Through the conflicts between flesh and Spirit, the believer will be sanctified in holiness. The Christians enduring standard of righteousness and rule of life is the Moral Law of God, also known as the Ten Commandments. They are the abiding expression of God's Holy character and the standard of righteousness and practice for the people of God. Romans 3:31. The Grace of God that saves in the Gospel, now reigns in the believer (see Romans 5:21) and commands us to obey the same Lord who gave us His Law. Remembering that God had long before promised to write His Laws upon hearts of flesh. See Jeremiah 31:33 and later confirmed in Hebrews 10:16. In other words "Grace" does not lead the believer to transgress God's Law but rather the Grace of God through the Gospel leads us to frame our lives by the Law of God. Thus the Gospel establishes the Law, in the believer's heart and life. Romans 3:31
8. We believe that, beyond all human endeavour, salvation from first to last is the work of God, beginning with the absolute and unconditional election of an innumerable company of people from every kindred and nation, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to eternal life. All those whom God the Father has chosen, God the Son has redeemed by His substitutionary life and death and the Holy Spirit shall quicken these in time and shall sanctify them in this life. They shall all obtain everlasting life and none shall ever perish, nor shall anyone pluck them from neither the Fathers’ nor the Sons’ hand.
9. We believe that the Church consists of the whole number of God's people in heaven and earth and consists only of those who are regenerate and united to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ consists of Biblically established local visible Churches, (Acts 2:42-47) who are the peculiar company of God's people meeting for worship, where the Word of God is faithfully preached, by men whom the Church has recognised and called as the Lord Jesus Christ having gifted them for this responsibility (Ephesians 4:11). The ordinances are properly administered only by the Pastor, however in his absence the next senior appointed Officer of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the head of this and every local Church. Love and spiritual discipline must be exercised in the Church at all times.
The Communion Table or Lord’s Supper is in no sense a sacrifice and no change occurs in the substance of the elements of the bread and fruit of the vine. The Communion Table should be lovingly and regularly observed by all members as a remembrance of Christ’s death as it is both a command to be obeyed and a means of grace to be attended to.
The Church only invite to partake of the Lord’s Communion Table or Supper all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have submitted to the Scriptural ordinance of “believer's baptism” (Mark 16:16) and are members in good standing of a local Church of the same faith and order. With the same token, the Church admits into membership applicants who have made a profession of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who have been baptised and who are manifesting fruits of righteousness which are consistent with the new birth. The Lord Jesus Christ instituted baptism and the Lord's Supper and requires both of their observances by all believers until the end of the age.
10. We believe that at their death the souls of all believers are received into the presence of Christ to await the redemption of their bodies. The souls of the unrighteous are reserved in darkness until the last judgement. There is no other place for the soul departed from the body apart from these two places. At the end of the present age, the Lord Jesus Christ will personally and visibly return to this earth in power and great glory, to raise all the dead, and to judge all men. The judgement being over, the unrighteous will go into everlasting punishment for their sin and the righteous who are Christ’s shall enter everlasting life with Him in the new heavens and the new earth.
We believe that the Bible does not teach a future literal premillennial 1000 year earthly reign of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ living with His perfected saints, and at the same time being present with unsaved sinful men. Such eschatology is incompatible with the Scriptures.
Rather the Bible clearly teaches that when the Lord Christ comes again, He will bring in the final judgement of all men and create a New Heavens and New Earth. Thus we teach Biblical amillennial eschatological theology.
1. We are an Independent Strict Baptist Church and are not governed by a denomination or a body of Churches. We do however have fellowship with like minded Independent Reformed Churches.
2. We embrace the great Biblical Doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, sometimes referred to as the "Doctrines of Grace" and most fully expressed in the London Confession of Faith of 1689.
3. We believe that God's purpose for us as His Church is to glorify Him, the God of the Scriptures. Firstly by promoting His acceptable reverent worship and preaching the Gospel of God's Sovereign Grace and to keep the pure and faithful practices of the ordinances of the New Covenant. We are committed to the proclamation of God's perfect Law and the glorious Gospel of His grace to all the world and to the defence of the "Faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" Jude 3.
4. We believe the supreme Authority of the Bible, which is the Word of God, also called the Holy Scriptures. They are the only rule of faith and practice for our lives. The Bible is necessary to guide in all aspects of our lives, and what we are to know about God, man and salvation.
Our very existence and purpose as a Church is founded upon five distinct principles found in the Bible, these are sometimes called the Five “Solas” of the reformation.
1. To proclaim the fundamental doctrines of the faith and proclaim salvation solely by the "grace of God alone" (Sola Gratia).
2. To proclaim a salvation that is brought about through "Faith Alone" (Sola Fide).
3. To proclaim that salvation is found in "The Lord Jesus Christ alone", (Solo Christo).
4. To proclaim that Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ comes from hearing and reading the "Scriptures alone" (Sola Scriptura) which is again given by God’s grace Who is the author and revealer.
5. To live our lives and exist before the world in such a way that is for the "Glory of God alone". (Sola Deo Gloria)
God has graciously entered into a covenant relationship with His believing people (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40; Heb. 8:7-13; 10:16, 17; 13:20,21). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6). His blood is the blood of the New Covenant, which infallibly secures all the benefits of the covenant for all of God's elect (Matt. 26:26-28; Heb. 13:20,21). God has in this New Covenant made us members one of another (Rom. 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Eph.4:25). Therefore, we have covenant responsibilities to each other, as well as to God.
God has promised in His covenant to write His Laws in our hearts and to cause us to walk in His ways (that is, to enable us to keep our covenant responsibilities). The motivation and ability to obey God's Law’s spring from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who, by His death, satisfied the holy wrath of God that was against us due to our sin. It is by the enablement of the Holy Spirit that we obey, in loving gratitude for Christ's righteousness, which has been imputed to us, and we seek not to establish our own righteousness to merit forgiveness and eternal life before God.
We obey with the confidence that the end of Christ's death will be realised in us (that is, "that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:1-4) and that we should be a people "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).
CHURCH MEMBERS’ COVENANT
We the Church Members of Bethel Reformed Baptist Church, having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God to receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Having obeyed Him in being baptised, we gladly acknowledge that He has gathered us together out of the world and around His Word. We therefore solemnly join ourselves together as one body in Christ by covenant. As members of this local Church, we give ourselves to the Lord and to one another. Aware of our own frailty, forgetfulness and sin, and depending on the grace and strength of God, we agree to express our commitment to one another in the following ways: -
1.We accept the Church Articles of Faith, Confession and Constitution which form the distinctive and Biblical basis of this Church's life and teaching. We undertake not to oppose them but to submit to them in a teachable spirit.
2. We seek to devote ourselves to the work of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, through this local Church by: -
a) Earnest and regular prayer both individually and corporately.
b) The giving of our time and gifts as we are able to help in the life and endeavours of the Church.
c) Regularly and cheerfully giving our tithes as the Lord prospers us for the support of the witness of the Church, for the support of the ministry of the Word and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
3. We promise to commit ourselves to one another in holy love; we undertake not to neglect the regular meetings of the Church. The Lord’s Day Sabbath is a command that must be obeyed. The regular meetings of the Church are deemed as follows: Lord’s Day Morning and Evening Services the Midweek Services & prayer meetings, The Lord’s Supper and Church Members Meetings.
We will seek to pray often for each other, to show practical concern for the needy and to "speak the truth in love" to one another. In all our dealings with one another, we will endeavour to show true humility, sympathy and graciousness. The unity and peace of the Church will be our over-riding aim.
Although independent and not subordinate to other Churches or Christian organisations, we recognise the benefit of fellowship between like-minded Reformed Churches where appropriate.
4. In our lives at home and work, as well as in the Church, we will seek to honour the Lord by being hospitable, reliable, honest and cheerful. We will be conscious of our duty to be loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ in every situation, and to be loyal to fellow members of the Church before the watching world.
The following paragraphs are a summary of above and what we believe are our covenant responsibilities toward God and toward one another. This summary forms the basis for our giving and receiving instruction for ourselves and for our families.
Summary of each Church Member’s Covenant Responsibilities
(The Laws Written on our hearts – which are framed by the Ten Commandments and the Gospel) see Exodus 20 and Revelation 14:12
We agree to worship only the One true and living God Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We will have no other rivals or gods before Him.
We agree to worship God in His appointed way and to exclude from our worship anything that He has not appointed. We believe in the “regulative principle” of worship.
We agree not to use the name of our God emptily or to take it upon ourselves carelessly, but to walk in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.
We agree to cease from our own works on the Lord's Day, if they are not works of mercy, piety, or necessity, and to positively sanctify the day by a conscientious yet joyful observance of public and private worship.
We agree to honour and obey, within the bounds of Scripture, all our superiors, whether in family, Church, state, or business; and, if we be superiors, to deal reasonably and lovingly with our subordinates and thus to teach them by word and example to fear God and keep His Commandments.
We agree to avoid whatever tends to destroy us or our neighbours and to engage vigorously in all lawful endeavours to preserve our own lives and the lives of others, especially by ready reconciliation and faithful exhortation in the Church.
We agree to possess our bodies in holiness, as vessels joined to Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and to avoid all uncleanness of thought, speech, or action.
We agree to be diligent in our vocations that we may provide for our own households, avoid theft of time, money, or goods, and have to give to those who have need.
We agree to earnestly promote truth among men and to avoid anything that would prejudice the truth or injure our neighbour’s good name.
We agree to be fully content with our own condition in life, to rejoice in the advancement of our neighbour, and to avoid envying him or coveting anything that is his.
SECTION 4 -
Church Membership Rules
The Warrant for Church Membership
The New Testament demands of all Christians, formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, to His truth and to His people. A true Christian's commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ must include, and is inseparable from his commitment to Christ's truth and to Christ's people. Such a commitment to Christ, His truth and His people ordinarily requires a formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment of Church membership in a local Church for the following Biblical reasons:
Fulfilment of Christ's Great Commission requires Church Membership and according to the Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) there is an inseparable connection between making disciples, and baptising them and teaching them. The Apostles implemented this commission by gathering baptised disciples into local Churches. It was therefore in local Churches that baptised believers were taught all that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded (Acts 2:38-42, 1 Corinthians 4:17). With the uncertain exception of the Ethiopian eunuch, the New Testament knows nothing of believing men and women who were not members of a local Church.
Obedience to Christ's directive to observe the Lord's Communion Table or Supper requires Church membership. Since all believing men and women are required by Christ to observe the Lord's Table (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25), and since the Lord's Table is clearly a local Church ordinance (1 Corinthians 11:17,18,33,34 cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1,2), it follows that all Christians must belong to a local New Testament Church in order to partake Biblically.
The New Testament presents the local Church as a distinct group of individuals which could:
i) Be counted (Acts 2:41-42; 4:4)
ii) Be added to (Acts 2:47; 5:14)
iii) Be called upon to select a Pastor and Church Officers from among itself (Acts 6:1-6; 2 Corinthians 8:19, 23; Acts 15:22)
iv) Be officially gathered together (Acts 14:27; 15:22)
v) Carry out Church discipline by vote (Matt. 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 13; 2 Corinthians 2:6)
vi) Observe the Lord's Communion Table as a wholly present corporate assembly (1 Corinthians 11:17-20, 33-34)
There is therefore clear Biblical warrant for the existence and careful maintenance of local Church membership involving formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment. This Biblical warrant compels us to use great care in maintaining a Biblically ordered Church Membership.
QUALIFICATION FOR CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Requisites for Church Membership
1. To be eligible for Church membership, a man or woman (Acts 5:14; 8:3,12) must demonstrate repentance toward God and the fruits thereof (Acts 26:20), as well as that faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21) such faith produces godly works (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:18, 22). They must first be baptised as a believer and profess substantial agreement with the Church Articles of Faith and the government of this Church.
Furthermore, they must not be under the Biblically warranted corrective discipline of a genuine Church of the same faith and order. (Matt. 18:17,18; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14,15; 3 John 9,10; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8)
A candidate should attend this Church’s Services and Bible studies for at least six months before applying for membership, demonstrating a personal commitment to the Lord and His Church with a humble and teachable spirit. In certain circumstances this period may be shortened where exception may be made, but only if the following requirements are clearly and satisfactorily met: 1) they are in good standing with their present Church, which is of the same order and practice. 2) A letter of commendation be sent by the sending Church. 3) After hearing a satisfactory and convincing testimony of the Lord’s gracious dealings with them in salvation before this Church’s gathered Members. And 4) following which a Church members Meeting will take place where the matter is to be discussed and voting to take place 5) lastly they must heartily agree with, and sign, the Church Articles of Faith along with the Membership rules. Each application is to be received in its own merit.
2. Church Members must be in submission to the ordained rule of the Church to which they belong (Heb. 13:17). He who can not intelligently and freely submit to a Church's government should not belong to that Church.
3. Moreover anyone who is in substantial disagreement with the Articles of Faith, Constitution or Confession of the Church and could not be consistently submissive to the Church's teaching ministry must not be considered. To admit such a person to membership in this Church would be most unwise (Eph. 4:3) and unscriptural.
4. Mastery of Church Confessions is not required of any new Christian before he or she is admitted into Church membership. Such a requirement would violate the order of Matthew 28:19-20 which instructs us to baptise, and then to teach the baptised disciple to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. It is necessary, however, that any Christian applying for Church membership manifest a willingness to be taught and substantial agreement with what he already knows concerning the Church's doctrine and government.
5. If one who is already a member of the Church at any time concludes that he no longer satisfies the requirements for membership, he is under obligation to inform the Pastor and Church oversight of that fact.
Any person desiring to become a member of the Church must share a verbal and if possible a written testimony to the Pastor first, testifying of his or her experience of Gods Grace in their lives. Exceptions to this requirement shall be determined by the Pastor and Church oversight in cases involving extraordinary circumstances. The written testimony is intended to promote a proper evaluation of the potential member and to encourage knowledgeable fellowship with him or her. The Pastor and Church oversight (if any) may request further clarification and/or expansion of the written testimony before proceeding with the application process.
2. If the applicant has been a member of another Church, the Pastor will investigate his or her standing in that Church before he or she is considered for application as a member of this Church. Where it is possible and appropriate, a letter of commendation then a letter of transfer will be requested. Reception by transfer does not negate any of the requirements for becoming a member in this assembly.
3. Upon the reception of an acceptable written testimony, the Pastor may at his discretion ask for a preliminary meeting with the applicant; otherwise, the name of the applicant shall be announced for at least three consecutive Lord's Days and at any stated meetings of the Church during that time.
This time period is for the purpose of enabling the members to raise any questions or objections concerning the applicant's membership qualifications. Members are expected to consider this a personal duty of the most serious nature. They are expected to voice privately to the Pastor all questions or objections that have not yet been resolved, after personal contact has been made with the applicant (Matt. 18:15ff; Lev. 19:16, 17). During the application process, the applicant will be interviewed. During the interview the Pastor will seek to clarify any questions which the applicant may have concerning the Church or Church membership. They shall also determine whether or not that person meets the qualifications as stated in the Constitution, and if necessary, resolve any questions or objections raised by the Church. The Pastor and Church oversight (if any) may postpone the reception of the person into membership until any objections are resolved. If the Pastor and oversight (if any) are satisfied that the applicant meets the qualifications and upon three quarters of the membership in agreement, the person may be received into membership by the Pastor at a stated meeting of the Church. (Matt. 3:6-12; Acts 9:26, 27; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2).
If the husband or wife or near relation of any member come before the Church to give his or her experience, the husband or wife or near relation shall not be present when the decision of the Church is given.
At a regularly constituted Church meeting the candidate (whether already a member of another Church or not) shall make a verbal confession of faith, and declare what he or she believes God has done for his or her soul. If accepted by a vote of the majority of members present and voting, signature in the Church book to the Articles of Faith and Rules will be required. Thereafter, at the earliest convenient opportunity, the person shall, unless previously baptised by immersion, be so baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and be formally received into Church fellowship at the next observance of the Lord’s Supper.
In the stated meeting of the Church at which a person is to be received into membership, he or she shall be asked to affirm their commitment to Christ, the Articles, and the Constitution of this Church as evidenced by taking the vow of the Church Covenant (1 Tim. 6:12). The Church shall be asked to express their consent to his reception (Acts 9:26-28; Rom. 15:7) and finally be welcomed with the right hand of fellowship at the meeting by the Pastor of the Church.
Any person who, having been baptised while only in a carnal profession of religion, has since been called by the Spirit of God to a knowledge of his or her lost condition by nature and practice, and to living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, being desirous of uniting with this Church, shall attend to the ordinance of believers’ baptism, for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14. 23).
CHAPTER 25; OF MARRIAGE
1._____ Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
( Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5,6 )
2._____ Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.
( Genesis 2:18; Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9 )
3._____ It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.
( Hebrews 13:4; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Nehemiah 13:25-27 )
4._____ Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.
( Leviticus 18; Mark 6:18; 1 Corinthians 5:1 )
CHAPTER 26; OF THE CHURCH
1._____ The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
( Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23; Ephesians 5:23, 27, 32 )
2._____ All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )
3._____ The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
( 1 Corinthians 5; Revelation 2; Revelation 3; Revelation 18:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 72:17; Psalm 102:28; Revelation 12:17 )
4._____ The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
( Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-9 )
5._____ In the execution of this power wherewith he is so intrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto himself, through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit, those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his word. Those thus called, he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world.
( John 10:16; John 12:32; Matthew 28:20; Matthew 18:15-20 )
6._____ The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ; and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.
( Romans. 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 2:41, 42; Acts 5:13, 14; 2 Corinthians 9:13 )
7._____ To each of these churches thus gathered, according to his mind declared in his word, he hath given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he hath instituted for them to observe; with commands and rules for the due and right exerting, and executing of that power.
( Matthew 18:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 )
8._____ A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders, and deacons.
( Acts 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:1 )
9._____ The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.
( Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Acts 6:3, 5, 6 )
10.____ The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
( Acts 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18; Galatians 6:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:6-14 )
11.____ Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.
( Acts 11:19-21; 1 Peter 4:10, 11 )
12.____ As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
( 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15 )
13.____ No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.
( Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:2, 3 )
14.____ As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces, so the churches, when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.
( Ephesians 6:18; Psalms 122:6; Romans 16:1, 2; 3 John 8-10 )
15.____ In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled, are not intrusted with any church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any churches or persons; or to impose their determination on the churches or officers.
( Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23, 25; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 John 4:1 )
CHAPTER 27; OF THE COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS
1._____ All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
( 1 John 1:3; John 1:16; Philippians 3:10; Romans 6:5, 6; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14; Romans 1:12; 1 John 3:17, 18; Galatians 6:10 )
2._____ Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; which communion, according to the rule of the gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relation wherein they stand, whether in families, or churches, yet, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended to all the household of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as saints, doth not take away or infringe the title or propriety which each man hath in his goods and possessions.
( Hebrews 10:24, 25; Hebrews 3:12, 13; Acts 11:29, 30; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 12:14-27; Acts 5:4; Ephesians 4:28 )
CHAPTER 28; OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
1._____ Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.
( Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:26 )
2._____ These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
( Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 4:1 )
CHAPTER 29; OF BAPTISM
1._____ Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
( Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2;12; Galatians 3:27; Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4 )
2._____ Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
( Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36, 37; Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12; Acts 18:8 )
3._____The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
( Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 8:38 )
4._____Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance. ( Matthew 3:16; John 3:23 )
CHAPTER 30; OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
1._____ The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.
( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17,21 )
2._____ In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself by himself upon the cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same. So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ's own sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
( Hebrews 9:25, 26, 28; 1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 26:26, 27 )
3._____ The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use, and to take and break the bread; to take the cup, and, they communicating also themselves, to give both to the communicants.
( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, etc. )
4._____ The denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.
( Matthew 26:26-28; Matthew 15:9; Exodus 20:4, 5 )
5._____ The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ, albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.
( 1 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Corinthians 11:26-28 )
6._____ That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood, commonly called transubstantiation, by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason, overthroweth the nature of the ordinance, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.
( Acts 3:21; Luke 14:6, 39; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25 )
7._____ Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
( 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 )
8._____ All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
( 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 11:29; Matthew 7:6 )
CHAPTER 31; OF THE STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH, AND OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
1._____ The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
( Genesis 3:19; Acts 13:36; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6,8; Philippians 1:23; Hebrews 12:23; Jude 6, 7; 1 Peter 3:19; Luke 16:23, 24 )
2._____ At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
( 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Job 19:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43 )
3._____ The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.
( Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29; Philippians 3:21 )
CHAPTER 32; OF THE LAST JUDGMENT
1._____ God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
( Acts 17:31; John 5:22, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Jude 6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:10, 12; Matthew 25:32-46 )
2._____ The end of God's appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
( Romans 9:22, 23; Matthew 25:21, 34; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:48; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 )
3._____ As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come, and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen.
( 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40; Revelation 22:20)
Closing Statement & Signatories
We the MINISTERS, and MESSENGERS of, and concerned for upwards of, one hundred BAPTIZED CHURCHES, in England and Wales (denying Arminianisim), being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these congregations, have thought meet (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of Baptism) to recommend to their perusal the confession of our faith, which confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice, and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith.
Hansard Knollys, Pastor, Broken Wharf, London
William Kiffin, Pastor, Devonshire-square, London
John Harris, Pastor, Joiner's Hall, London
William Collins, Pastor, Petty France, London
Hurcules Collins, Pastor, Wapping, London
Robert Steed, Pastor, Broken Wharf, London
Leonard Harrison, Pastor, Limehouse, London
George Barret, Pastor, Mile End Green, London
Isaac Lamb, Pastor, Pennington-street, London
Richard Adams, Minister, Shad Thames, Southwark
Benjamin Keach, Pastor, Horse-lie-down, Southwark
Andrew Gifford, Pastor, Bristol, Frvars, Som. & Glouc.
Thomas Vaux, Pastor, Broadmead, Som. & Glouc.
Thomas Winnel, Pastor, Taunton, Som. & Glouc.
James Hitt, Preacher, Dalwood, Dorset
Richard Tidmarsh, Minister, Oxford City, Oxon
William Facey, Pastor, Reading, Berks
Samuel Buttall, Minister, Plymouth, Devon
Christopher Price, Minister, Abergayenny, Monmouth
Daniel Finch, Minister, Kingsworth, Herts
John Ball, Tiverton, Devon
Edmond White, Pastor, Evershall, Bedford
William Prichard, Pastor, Blaenau, Monmouth
Paul Fruin, Minister, Warwick, Warwick
Richard Ring, Pastor, Southhampton, Hants
John Tomkins, Minister, Abingdon, Berks
Toby Willes, Pastor, Bridgewater, Somerset
John Carter, Steventon, Bedford
James Webb, Devizes, Wilts
Richard Sutton, Pastor, Tring, Herts
Robert Knight, Pastor, Stukeley, Bucks
Edward Price, Pastor, Hereford City, Hereford
William Phipps, Pastor, Exon, Devon
William Hawkins, Pastor, Dimmock, Gloucester
Samuel Ewer, Pastor, Hemstead, Herts
Edward Man, Pastor, Houndsditch, London
Charles Archer, Pastor, Hock-Norton, Oxon
In the name of and on the behalf of the whole assembly