Beliefs

Summary

The doctrinal perspective of this ministry reflects our Southern Baptist orientation within the broader tradition of theologically conservative, evangelical Christianity. As a result, we affirm the following statements.

Full Statement

About the Bible

The Bible was written by prophets, apostles, and other chosen men as the Holy Spirit of God inspired them. It is God’s perfect written revelation—complete in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. Having God for its author, it is wholly without error and is entirely true and trustworthy. God has provided it as His unchanging authoritative standard on which Christians must base every area of our faith and practice. The original manuscripts were inerrant, and the body of copies and translations available today has reliably transmitted the words and meanings of those inerrant texts. The Bible can only be properly interpreted under the influence and leadership of God’s Holy Spirit.

About God

There is one living and true God—Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—Who exists as the Trinity: one God in three eternally distinct but co-equal persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

About the Father

The Father is the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe Who cares for His creations, intervenes in human history according to His own gracious purposes, and relates as a Father toward those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

About the Son

Jesus Christ is the uncreated, eternal Son of God Who came to Earth to fulfill the Father’s promises as Israel’s Messiah and the Savior of mankind. While fully God, He took on a sinless human nature, becoming fully man without ceasing to be fully God. He was born to a virgin through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. As God in human flesh, He was the ultimate revelation of God’s nature to man and claimed to be God during His earthly ministry. He was entirely without sin, neither inheriting a sin nature nor committing any sins of His own. He was able to present Himself as a perfect sacrifice for man’s sin—a Lamb without blemish offered in our place. In fulfillment of the Father’s plans, He shed His blood and died on the cross as a substitute for sinners, paying for our sins in full. He rose from the dead—literally and physically—three days later, fulfilling the Scriptures and leaving numerous eyewitnesses to His triumph over death. His Resurrection provided us with the ultimate evidence of His deity, the ultimate validation of His message, and the ultimate assurance of the believer’s future hope in Him. He ascended to Heaven where He sits in honor at the Father’s right hand as the only Mediator between God and man. He promises to return personally and visibly to Earth one day.

About the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is an intelligent, personal Being and the manifest presence of God on Earth today Who convicts men of sin, draws us to Jesus Christ, permanently indwells believers, sets us apart to God and seals us to Him, sanctifies us, and endows us with spiritual gifts to serve and glorify Jesus Christ.

About Creation

God created the Universe and all things in it for His own pleasure and glory in six literal days, as described in the Book of Genesis. All life on Earth owes its existence to a direct creative act of God, and the diversity of that life has resulted from the genetic potential that God designed into each original kind of organism.

About Mankind

On the sixth day, mankind was created in the image of God, a morally innocent creature designed for fellowship with its Creator. But man gave in to Satan’s temptations and freely chose to sin against God, breaking that fellowship. Adam’s sin distorted the image of God within man and marred the whole of creation, introducing death and suffering to the world. All members of the human race—except Jesus Christ—have inherited from Adam and Eve a sinful nature that inclines our hearts inexorably toward evil. As sinners by nature, all men sin freely and willfully as soon as they are morally capable of choosing to do so.

About Sin

Sin is any action, word, thought, or attitude that falls short of the holiness of God. The principles of God’s Moral Law, which flow from His own holy nature, are a yardstick that reveals our deficiency in contrast to His absolute holiness. Each sin is an offense against God because it is ultimately a rejection of Him and His holiness. Sin separates us from God so that, in our natural, unconverted state, apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we are hopelessly lost and unable to save ourselves from the eternal condemnation we have earned.

About Salvation

Salvation is the gracious work of God, in which He delivers undeserving sinners from the eternal condemnation of sin. It is a gift from God, which He offers by His own grace alone rather than by any merit that belongs to the sinner. God extends His gracious offer of salvation to man based solely on Jesus’ substitutionary, sacrificial death on the cross. Because Jesus Christ died as the only all-sufficient sacrifice to pay for the sins of the whole world, atonement is made through His blood for anyone who exercises repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, rather than through any good works we might commit. It is impossible to be saved without being born again through personal faith in Jesus Christ. To be born again is to become a new creature in Jesus Christ, having our hearts transformed by the power of God. The results of salvation are that our sins are forgiven, we are declared righteous in Christ, we are spared from the condemnation of sin, we are reconciled to God as our Father, God adopts us into His family as sons and daughters, and we are assured of eternal life in God’s presence in Heaven.

About Repentance

Repentance is a change of mind toward God and our sin that compels once-rebellious sinners to throw ourselves on the mercy of God and freely receive by faith the salvation He offers in Jesus Christ. Repentance does not mean that we become immune to sin, but that we will turn to hate our sin as God does and resist it. This repentance will result in a godly sorrow over our sin and—by the power of the Holy Spirit—a changed life.

About the Availability of Salvation

Jesus Christ tasted death for every man, making atonement available for all mankind. Consequently, God’s mercy is available to all who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and respond in faith. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, and by the preaching of the Gospel, God gives the opportunity for all who hear it to trust Christ and be saved.

About Eternal Security

All born-again believers are eternally secure in Jesus Christ so that our salvation can never be lost. Even when believers may fall into sin through neglect or temptation, the blood of Jesus Christ remains sufficient to cover all sins—past, present, and future. Our eternal security in Christ is not a license to continue in a lifestyle of habitual, unrepentant sin, which is the fruit of an unconverted life. Instead, true believers, when we sin, will continue to return to our great Advocate, Jesus Christ. True believers will endure to the end, exhibiting evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, while God’s grace remains sufficient when we inevitably fall short.

About Sanctification

Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to bring about holiness within the believer. It is an instantaneous distinction that takes place at the moment of conversion when we are declared holy and set apart unto the Lord. It is also an ongoing process from the time of conversion to the time of death, in which the believer is conformed more and more to the example of Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the will of God for every believer, and God’s plan from eternity past has been not only to redeem a people for Himself but to make us more like Jesus Christ.

About the Nature of the Church

A New Testament church is an autonomous, local assembly of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who are called out from the world to work and worship together in obedience to God’s Word. Each church is subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ alone and must remain free from outside control, including that of other religious bodies and governmental authorities.

About the Mission of the Church

The mission of the church is to propagate the Gospel, to teach and make disciples, to observe the ordinances given by Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him in all things. While not a requirement for salvation, active participation in the life of the church is part of our Lord’s plan for believers to grow in Him, and thus it is a necessary part of our obedient service to Him. A healthy church equips and empowers its members to discern and fulfill their individual callings to ministry both within the church and in the community.

About the Leadership of the Church

While pastors bear a distinct leadership and teaching role in the church, all believers have the same rights and responsibilities to study and rightly divide the Scriptures, to fellowship with God, and to serve God in advancing His Kingdom. Pastors are called to shepherd and teach the churches under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and deacons are called to serve the needs of the church, particularly in benevolent ministries. Though all believers are called to ministry and are equally valuable in the sight of God, the Scriptures restrict service in the office of pastor to men—specifically those men called by God to serve and recognized by the church as Scripturally qualified on the basis of their godly reputation, faithful conduct, self-control, and doctrinal soundness.

About the Ordinances of the Church

The ordinances of the church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper: two acts of obedience that commemorate the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ but do not contribute to one’s salvation. Baptism is the total immersion of a believer in water—in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—as a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is appropriately administered only to one who has freely and consciously received Jesus Christ as Savior. The Lord’s Supper is the sharing of the bread and the cup by the assembled church in remembrance of the crucified body and shed blood of Jesus Christ.

About the Last Things

Our risen Lord will personally return, in bodily form, to receive His redeemed unto Himself. His return could come at any time. After Jesus returns, all of the dead will be raised in bodily form: the righteous dead in the resurrection of Life, and the wicked dead in the resurrection of damnation. At the end of time, God will judge everyone to confer rewards or to consign to punishment. Heaven is the eternal home of those who accept God’s forgiveness; they will live forever in the presence of God, in their glorified bodies, experiencing ultimate blessing. Hell is the place of eternal punishment and suffering for Satan, his angels, and those who reject God’s offer of forgiveness through Christ.

About Evangelism and Christian Missions

The calling to propagate the Gospel and make disciples is not only the corporate mission of the local church but the individual responsibility of every born-again believer. The belief that one’s faith is a private matter best kept to oneself is incompatible with Christianity. The local church must be deliberate about training its members to share the Gospel, to disciple others, and to defend the Christian faith.

About the Sign Gifts

In the absence of a completed New Testament, the Holy Spirit endowed some believers in the time of the apostles with sign gifts—such as tongues, visions, and miraculous healings—to validate their message. The Scriptures, as the sole authoritative standard of truth, have since superseded them as a means for demonstrating a messenger’s truthfulness.

About Cultural Engagement

Christians must represent Jesus Christ to the culture, both in the principles we embrace and the spirit with which we engage others. Violence, racism, greed, sexual immorality, and all other social ills are ultimately rooted in man’s sinful nature, and the only effective remedy for the ailments common to man is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christians are called to be agents of reconciliation in society, proclaiming a message of reconciliation between God and man, and among men, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On this basis, we must reject any system of thought that stokes anger or resentment and segregates people along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, politics, or any other human concern as antithetical to the Gospel, which calls us to unity in Jesus Christ.

About Religious Liberty

God created man in His own image, granting us freedom and moral responsibility, and endowing us with a conscience accountable to Him. True Christianity cannot be coerced, and it eschews any attempt either to pressure or to prevent religious belief or expression contrary to one’s conscience. Remembering the brutal persecution of true believers by secular governments and established religions throughout history, Christians should be tireless defenders of religious liberty for all. While Christians have a responsibility to be law-abiding citizens, we have a responsibility to disobey any earthly law that conflicts with God’s commands.

About Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality

God designed humans as male or female—two biological sexes corresponding to two distinct genders—as part of the goodness of His creation. Men and women have equal value before the Lord but hold distinct and complementary roles within the church and the family. God designed marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and any effort to redefine marriage is a counterfeit of His design. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and Scripture sanctions—but does not mandate—divorce as an option only in cases of sexual immorality or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. God’s will for mankind is purity outside of marriage and faithfulness within marriage. Heterosexual activity outside of marriage and homosexual activity of any kind are both sinful distortions of God’s design for us.

About the Sanctity of Life

Man was created in the image of God, and human life is sacred and worthy of protection from conception to natural death. Tolerance for the destruction of any innocent human life through practices like abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell research diminishes the value that society places on all human life. As believers have done since the earliest days of Christianity, Christians have a continued responsibility to oppose vigorously—yet peacefully—the culture of death and defend the most vulnerable in our society.