When a person thinks about joining a church, the most important thing to know is the core beliefs within the church in question. Many times people pick a church because of location or programs which the church offers. But the most important issue in choosing a church is,
“What does the church teach to be true? What does the church teach about the person of God? What does the church teach about the Scriptures (The Bible)? What does the church teach about salvation and the Christian life? Is this church in line with orthodox Christian teaching and confession?”
These are the most important questions to contemplate when choosing a church. ln light of this, we have compiled a list of basic core beliefs which our church holds to be true. These are beliefs which come from publications of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some of these core beliefs are not unique to Baptists. Southern Baptists agree with much of the great ecumenical creeds such as The Apostle’s Creed, The Nicene Creed, and The Chalcedonian Creed. Southern Baptists historically are in line with the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Our earliest doctrinal confessions were patterned after the confessions of the English Reformation. Our earliest confessions include the 1644 and the 1689 Confessions which were published by Baptists in England. Other core beliefs listed below are uniquely Baptistic. We have not listed all the doctrinal beliefs which we have published over the years; this would be too wordy and daunting. Instead, we have chosen those beliefs which are essential to our faith and practice. We hope you will prayerfully think about joining the First Baptist Church of Fenton as you think of joining a church. If you have not trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, we would love to share with you how you can be made right with God through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning work.
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44- 46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15- 17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.
Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1- 18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14- 28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the
Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.
Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9- 11.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6- 2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44- 48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.
The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20- 21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17.
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co- ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.
In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.
Deuteronomy 4:1,5,9,14; 6:1-10; 31:12-13; Nehemiah 8:1-8; Job 28:28; Psalms 19:7ff.; 119:11; Proverbs 3:13ff.; 4:1-10; 8:1-7,11; 15:14; Ecclesiastes 7:19; Matthew 5:2; 7:24ff.; 28:19-20; Luke 2:40; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 2:3,8-9; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17; Hebrews 5:12-6:3; James 1:5; 3:17.
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.
Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1- 4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8- 9; 12:15; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.
Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
Exodus 17:12; 18:17ff.; Judges 7:21; Ezra 1:3-4; 2:68-69; 5:14-15; Nehemiah 4; 8:1-5; Matthew 10:5-15; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; 28:19-20; Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1ff.; Acts 1:13-14; 2:1ff.; 4:31-37; 13:2-3; 15:1-35; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:5-15; 12; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:15-18.
All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
Exodus 20:3-17; Leviticus 6:2-5; Deuteronomy 10:12; 27:17; Psalm 101:5; Micah 6:8; Zechariah 8:16; Matthew 5:13-16,43-48; 22:36-40; 25:35; Mark 1:29-34; 2:3ff.; 10:21; Luke 4:18-21; 10:27-37; 20:25; John 15:12; 17:15; Romans 12–14; 1Corinthians 5:9-10; 6:1-7; 7:20-24; 10:23-11:1; Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Philemon; James 1:27; 2:8.
It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.
The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 2:4; Matthew 5:9,38-48; 6:33; 26:52; Luke 22:36,38; Romans 12:18-19; 13:1-7; 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; James 4:1-2.
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Matthew 6:6-7,24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Romans 6:1-2; 13:1-7; Galatians 5:1,13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19.
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.
Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20- 22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.
How does a person become a Christian? Plenty of opinions abound in answer to this question. Some say that living a moral life makes a person a Christian. Others declare that joining a church or being baptized makes a person a Christian.
Still others call for a person to “make a decision” or “pray the prayer” or “ask Jesus into your heart.” While opinions may be important, the one vital thing when speaking of becoming a Christian is what does God say about this in His Word?
God has given His Word – the Bible – to reveal Himself, His purpose for man, and the way to know Him personally. Everything a person needs to know about becoming a Christian can be found in God s Word. As God gives a person understanding of the gospel (the good news of how God, in Christ has provided salvation for man), then that person can come to the point of genuine faith in Jesus Christ and, consequently, become a Christian.
The first place to begin in understanding salvation (or becoming a Christian) is with God.
Who is God anyway?
What is God like?
What does God demand of me?
Unless a person has a basic understanding of God, then his understanding of the gospel will be faulty and unbalanced.
The Bible tells us that God is One, yet He reveals Himself to us in Three Persons. This is called the Trinity. Hear, 0 Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4). Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18; see also John 5:17-27 where Jesus, the Son, shows His equality with the Father and John 14:16-17 where Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit being another which means “another of the same kind,” that is, totally equal with the Son and Father). God is not three Gods, but one God who has revealed Himself in three Persons who are equal in character, glory, and power: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), God the Holy Spirit.
1. God is Creator
As the Creator, everything that exists has been made by God. God Himself designed, initiated, and brought about the creation of the entire universe. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them (Genesis 1:1, 27). The Bible further clarifies that Jesus Christ as God not only made everything, but everything in creation was made for Him! For by Him all things were created, the heavens, and on earth, visible and invisible, whether or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
2. God is Spirit
When Jesus was teaching a woman about God and how to worship Him, He made this statement: God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God is spirit describes God’s essence, that is, Who He is. As spirit, God is far above man who is limited by hands, feet, and all the other aspects of humanity. As spirit, God cannot be worshipped by any form of idols (Exodus 20:4-6), nor can He be subject to decay, or loss, or corruption, or any other thing that afflicts man. God is the purest, simplest, most basic Being in the universe, that is why He said, You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3).
3. God sees and knows all things
The word used to describe this is God’s omniscience, that is, there are no surprises with God. This is what is called an attribute of God. He knows everything about a person, how he will live his life, what his innermost motives and thoughts are at any given time. This means that God sees everything in a person’s life, the good as well as the evil. Nothing is hidden from Him. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13; see also Romans 11:33-36)
4. God is Holy
More than any word, the Bible uses the word holy to describe God. As One Who is holy, God is utterly pure, totally without any kind of blame or error, absolutely free from sin in every respect. Because He is holy, God is quite different from man who is described as a sinner. Holiness not only conveys what is missing from God, that is, sin, but also what is in God. Holiness is a positive characteristic describing the uniqueness of God. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3). Holiness can be described as pure light with no mixture of darkness. And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (I John 1:5; see also I Timothy 6:16 and I Peter 1:16).
5. God is righteous and just
Everything God does is absolutely right and proper. He never makes an assumption or an unjust accusation toward man. His righteousness and justice has its roots in His holiness. Because God is holy, He therefore can only do that which is right. His actions toward mankind are just and righteous. He never carries out any act toward man that is not first rooted in His holy character. His perfection is seen in His acts of righteousness and justice. The Psalmist writes, God is a righteous judge…. and the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge (Psalms 7:11; 50:6). God’s justice is described in Exodus 34:7, …yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…. God’s righteousness and justice demand that He deal with sin and disobedience. For God to overlook such unholy acts would be to negate His righteousness, which is impossible to do.
6. God is Judge
Because of Who God is and because of His character and attributes, He of necessity is the Judge of the universe. Everyone must stand before Him to give an account. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy… (James 4:12). God’s judgment is sure, accurate, just, and severe. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). Even those who have not attended church and been under the Bible’s teaching have enough natural revelation about God to know that He is to be honored with obedience. Consequently, all men are under the severity of divine wrath because of the sinfulness of mankind.
7. God is love
After seeing God’s righteousness, justice, and judgment, it might appear to be a contradiction to say that God is love. Yet the Bible is very clear that He is a God of absolute, pure love. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:7-10; see also John 3:16). God loves the individual, though not for what he can do for God (because man can do nothing for God Who Himself is wholly self-existent). Instead, God loves man because that is God’s nature. It is impossible for Him not to love. Yet, His love never contradicts His justice. His love is active and selfless, giving to man out of the abundance of His grace even though man does not deserve anything that God gives.
THINK IT OVER
1. If someone asks you, ‘Who is God?” how will you answer him?
2. Do the names the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit describe three Gods or one God? Can you think of some Scripture passages to back up your answer?
3. Name at least three attributes of God and show where these attributes are found in the Bible.
4. Explain what is meant by God being righteous and just. How does this affect mankind?
5. Give some examples of how God has shown His love to you. What is the ultimate expression of God’s love to you?
Revised September 2014
God is holy, transcendent, sovereign, and good in all that He is and does. Truth and goodness are defined and characterized by God’s nature and being. He is eternally God in all His holy attributes, and there is no other God now or forever, except the Lord God who revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.
*Common grace is God’s sustaining and maintaining grace given to the entire human race and all of His creation by which He protects, cares for, and upholds all that God created. Common grace is not saving grace.
The means by which God achieves the trustworthy and inerrant Scriptures in human language is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit superintending the transmission of the revelation of God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit enlightens and enlivens the Christian to rightly understand the Scriptures for soul edification, worship, and spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit adds nothing to the Scriptures; but instead, the Holy Spirit engages people by and through the Scriptures for salvation and growth in sanctification.
Friendly Doctrinal Documents
We confess as a church that all true knowledge comes from God’s holy Word, the Bible. And we further confess that often our understanding of what God’s Word teaches comes from historical doctrinal confessions, creeds, and catechisms that help inform us as to the teaching of the Scripture.
Although no human confession, creed, and catechism possesses the same authority as the Scriptures, to the degree that these doctrinal documents rightly perceive and present Scriptural teaching, the same documents bring a help and value to the life, teaching, and ministry of the church.
The following doctrinal documents have helped to inform us as to our understanding of the teaching and doctrines of the Scriptures. We include them here in order to give historical and theological context to our present doctrinal confession.
Disclaimer: By including these doctrinal documents in our Doctrinal Addendum, we do not infer our agreement with every idea communicated in these documents. However, we readily and wholeheartedly express our deep gratitude to God for the many biblical and gospel truths rightly taught and conveyed in these “friendly” documents. We consider these documents to be “friendly” because they have been a great help to us to formulate our understanding of the teaching of the Scripture.
Note: The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is not included in this list because we have included the BFM 2000 in our doctrinal confession to which this Doctrinal Addendum is appended.
Purpose: In this Philosophy of Ministry, First Baptist Church of Fenton seeks to bridge our convictions concerning what is true to how we do ministry in and through the church. A church’s philosophy of ministry provides practical guidance as to how a church can and should conduct their ministry in the context of what they believe to be true. A philosophy of ministry works like a compass to guide and direct a church’s ministry focus and activity. Without a unified philosophy, the church becomes directionless, and sometimes it becomes fragmented for lack of vision and direction. A philosophy of ministry keeps this from happening.
Format: This philosophy of ministry is divided categorically into several sections, each offering a major aspect to our philosophy of ministry. Each category significantly contributes to the overall philosophy.
Goal: Our overarching goal in our church’s belief, life, and ministry is to be faithful to the biblical vision God has given to the church. As a church, we are absolutely committed to faithful living, proclaiming, and serving within the context of this biblical vision. In essence, we seek to be faithful to God by bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all aspects of church life, proclamation, worship, and service. Each section of this document explains what will help us to be faithful to the gospel.
Explanation and Rationale:
What are “core social values?” Why should a church speak on such issues? The Church of Jesus Christ is a light in a world of darkness and sin. Jesus Christ authorized and commissioned His Church to proclaim the truth through history until He returned. This is our task given to us by Jesus Christ Himself. This involves theological preaching and teaching, and this also involves the living of life and speaking out about social issues and problems of every generation. To be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the church must proclaim the doctrine of the gospel, and it must proclaim the social values of the gospel.
In this document, we, the members of First Baptist Church of Fenton, seek to identify and address the core social values that we believe and hold. In confessing these things, we believe we are faithfully reflecting the great social values of the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we believe we are faithfully confronting the great social problems of our generation. These are “core” social values because they are fundamental to all human life and experience; these social values are given to us by God in the Scriptures, and they are fundamental to understanding and engaging life itself.
There are significant social issues about which Christians may be concerned that are not addressed in this document. The reason for this is threefold: (1) The comprehensive list of social concerns, and dealing with such issues in a sufficient way, would be too large to engage in a document of this size; (2) There ought to be friendly and cooperative dialogue between Christians about many of these social issues and concerns; and (3) We, the members of First Baptist Church of Fenton, consider three social issues addressed in this document to be core and fundamental to all other social issues. We believe that if we are biblically accurate and obedient on these three foundational topics, then we have a strong base for considering other social issues. All concerns regarding individual human behavior of Christians should be collated with the doctrine of sanctification.
Core Social Values
Human life is envisioned and created by God. Human life is not random or self-generated. God creates human life; He created human life with intrinsic value and meaning that pervades every aspect of every human being’s existence.
Thus, every human being, regardless of race, nationality, language, physical or mental disability, or socio-economic distinction is infused with a sacred meaning and purpose. Each human being, born or unborn, is created by God and for God’s glory.
This requires and demands that every human being be treated and considered with the utmost respect, dignity, and kindness. God teaches this throughout the Bible.
We, the members of First Baptist Church of Fenton, seek to respect and lovingly respond to those who are hurt and damaged by any violation of the sacred value of human life. We believe in the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the restoration of broken lives through salvation, renewal, and re-creation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The most basic human institution is marriage. Every social unit begins with marriage. Marriage is envisioned and created by God and is His gift to the human race.
Marriage is also a Christian institution, mirroring the gospel of Jesus Christ in its meaning and purpose.
We believe and confess that marriage is originally intended, as given to us by God and taught to us in the Bible, to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime. This union of life is given for our blessing, for the propagation of the human race, and for a demonstration of love and commitment for life.
If God grants children to the union of one man and one woman in marriage, then the will of God governing life and family, as taught in the Bible, should guide the father and mother in the living of life in the home.
Many are hurt and broken by violations of goodness and infidelity of the basic meaning of marriage. Furthermore, many are damaged by failure to rightly implement the teachings of God on this subject in the family. We, the members of First Baptist Church of Fenton, seek to prayerfully sympathize with and care for those broken by such pain. We believe that Jesus Christ can and does heal those broken by these terrible marriage and family tragedies.
We, the members of First Baptist Church of Fenton, believe and confess that God blesses every human being with the freedom to believe and confess religiously in keeping with the dictates of conscience. We further believe and confess that any attempt on the part of any human organization or agency (including government) to coerce, restrict, define, or determine religious belief and expression is a form of tyranny. Religious liberty is rooted in the nature of God and the nature of humanity as created by God. First Baptist Church of Fenton will speak out clearly and forthrightly against such tyranny, seeking to declare the truth of God’s Word in the Bible on this topic.
First Baptist Church of Fenton prays for all who suffer religious persecution worldwide, especially Christians. We pray that God will grant good leadership in the governments of the world, so that people can worship God in total freedom.
Application and Integration
First Baptist Church of Fenton will seek to be unified in these core social values. We will encourage each other to be thoughtful, meditative, and obedient to God in these areas. First Baptist Church of Fenton will speak out boldly, faithfully, and lovingly on these issues in and through the ministries of the church. We will seek to oppose all forms of violation of these sacred values in our society. We will encourage and seek to facilitate obedience to these biblical values in our church life and ministry, and we will seek to teach these values to our children in our church educational program.