What we believe...
1. The Scriptures
We believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God. Although the glory of the Lord is revealed in the created universe; sinful man is unable to attain a perfect and saving knowledge of God without further revelation. To meet the needs of fallen mankind God has graciously provided the Holy Scriptures as a complete and reliable unfolding of His character and will. The Scriptures are thus of divine origin. In communicating His revelation God used human authors without employing them mechanically or disregarding their personalities. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit so overshadowed and guided the writers of the Scriptures that their work was preserved from all error. We therefore accept the divine authority of the whole Bible, that is, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, excluding the Apocrypha, and confess the written Word of God to be our supreme judge and guide in all matters. We acknowledge the validity of true biblical scholarship and encourage those who seek to establish a correct interpretation of God's revealed truth. Diligent and careful study of the Word of God is to be welcomed, provided only that it be carried on in complete submission to the authority of the Scriptures and therefore in the spirit of humility and reverence that such recognition demands. We believe that because of the all sufficiency of scripture in saving knowledge, faith and obedience that all revelatory and sign gifts which accompanied the apostles and prophets ceased with the completion of the canon of scripture.
Passages for study: Psalm 19; Acts 17:22,32; Romans 1:14-32; Exodus 4: 10,16; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Hebrews 1:1-2:4; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Peter 3:1-2; Revelation 22:18-21.
2. The Being of God
We believe that the living God of whom the Scriptures speak is alone worthy of our worship, praise and service. God is glorious and infinite, yet gracious and merciful. The holiness and majesty of God should inspire reverent fear in the hearts of men, yet the goodness and love of the Lord lead His children to rejoice in Him. We declare God to be our Creator. He alone is immortal and eternal, possessing life in Himself, while all else that exists derives its being from Him. The boundless universe and the smallest creature on the earth display the glory of God's creative work, while the supreme act of creation was the forming of man, made in the image of God and intended to worship and enjoy his Creator for ever. We declare God to be our Sustainer. The world has not been abandoned to the powers of chance nor to the wills of ungodly men. We rejoice in the absolute sovereignty of God over all events great and small and believe that He is ceaselessly active in upholding and controlling the universe and in guiding history towards its predestined end. We declare God to be our Redeemer. In its inception, provision and application, the salvation of sinners is entirely the work of God. Moreover, in the unfolding of the redemptive purposes of God, the Triune nature of the Divine Character is clearly revealed. We confess therefore, with the Church of all ages, that our God, though one in Being, exists eternally in three distinct persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, inseparably united in the essence of the Divine Being.
Passages to study: Psalms 8, 96, 104; Genesis 1-2; Isaiah 40:12-13; Daniel 4:33-37; John 17:1-10; Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:3-14; Revelation 21:1-7.
3. The Fall of Man
We believe that man was created holy and truly happy. He possessed an inward knowledge of the will of God and enjoyed intimate and unbroken communion with the Lord. However, encouraged by Satan, Adam rebelled against God, thus forfeiting his original blessedness and leading the entire human race into spiritual ruin. The Genesis account of the fall of man we accept as historically accurate and as the only adequate explanation of human history. The sinful nature of Adam has been passed on to all subsequent generations of our race, resulting in the corruption of the mind and will of every man. In this fallen and spiritually dead condition men are unwilling and unable to seek God as their highest good. The Scriptures repeatedly trace evil behaviour not solely to environment or lack of education but to the wicked nature of man the seriousness of man's condition is seen, not only in the unhappiness it brings on earth but also in the fact that sinners are under the wrath of a holy God.
Passages for study: Genesis 3; Psalm 51; Isaiah 55:1-7; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Matthew 15:17,20; Romans 5:12,21; Ephesians 2:1-10, 4:17-24; James 1:13-18.
4. The Plan of Salvation
We believe that the salvation of men is entirely the result of divine grace. In eternity God determined to save a great multitude of sinners and in wonderful grace the three persons of the Trinity were all involved in planning and executing the redemption of the Church. This divine initiative was not conditioned by any anticipated merit or faith in its objects but was motivated only by God's sovereign love. In the covenant of grace, the Father is revealed in Scripture as the source of the blessings of salvation, setting His love upon the redeemed and ordaining Christ to be their Redeemer. Thus, in obedience to the Father's will, the eternal Son of God became flesh. Conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, He united His divine nature with a truly human nature and, free from all taint of original sin, lived a perfect life, yielding full obedience to the holy law of God. By His suffering and death on Calvary Jesus acted as a substitute for His people, bearing the full penalty of their sins and reconciling God and man. He was buried but rose again on the third day, breaking the power of death and bringing everlasting life to all believers. He ascended into heaven, where He lives and reigns, interceding for His Church and governing the affairs of men until the end of time.
Passages for study: Genesis 3:8-15, 12:1-3; Hosea 11:1-9; John 17:13.26; Romans 8:28-9:33; Revelation 7:9-17; Ephesians 1:3-6; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:5-10; Hebrews 4:14-16; John 1:26-37; Isaiah 53; 1 Corinthians 15:1-25; Acts 2:29-36.
5. The Application of Salvation
The salvation which has been secured by the work of Jesus Christ is applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit. By His powerful and mysterious work dead souls are quickened into spiritual life and given the desire and ability to repent of sin and believe in Christ as their Saviour and Lord. Awakened by the Spirit, sinners are justified by faith alone and are united to the Lord Jesus in all aspects of His redeeming work. Thus renewed, the believer is adopted into God's family and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. It is possible for a true believer to be so overcome by temptation as seriously to backslide, but the saving grace of God cannot ultimately be frustrated and all who are truly converted will certainly persevere and enter into the joys of heaven.
Passages to study: Acts 10:43-47, 16:13-15; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Galatians3:4-4:7; Romans 8:6-17; John 10:25-29.
6. The Christian Life
We believe that the true Christian will rejoice in the twin blessings of the new covenant, namely, the forgiveness of sins and the creation of an inward desire to glorify God by a life which conforms to His laws. Good works and practical holiness are indispensable evidences of a real experience of divine grace. We believe that the Christian has a vital role to play in society and must not withdraw into a life of seclusion, yet Christian behaviour is not to be governed by a spirit of the world but rather by the unchanging laws of God, declared in the Ten Commandments, expounded in the Sermon on the Mount and the epistles and exemplified in the life of our Lord Jesus.
Passages for study: Psalms 1:37, 119:1-16; Jeremiah 31:31,34; Matthew 5:13-20, 7:15-29; Romans 6:1-14; James 1:21-27, 2:14-26.
7. The Church
We believe that the true Church consists of the whole number of God's elect. This glorious and, as yet, invisible Body of Christ, comprises all in every generation and from every land who have been quickened by the Spirit and brought to trust in the Saviour. The New Testament also uses the term Church in a restricted and local sense. Christians in a particular locality are encouraged to covenant together in a visible bond of fellowship and such groups are designated in Scripture as local Churches of Christ. True local Churches are characterised by the faithful preaching of the Gospel, steadfast adherence to apostolic doctrine and practice and the maintenance of true godliness among the membership.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ exercises His government of the local Church through men gifted and called to occupy the office of elder. According to Scripture an elder must be a man of unquestionable godliness, sound in faith and with an evident ability to exercise spiritual authority in the Church. The work of eldership includes the ministry of the Word, the pastoral care of all the flock, the enforcement of a scriptural discipline and the promotion of evangelistic, missionary endeavour. Scripture warrants the setting aside of at least one teaching elder, or pastor, to the whole-time ministry of the Word.
The other office of a permanent nature in the local Church is that of deacon. Deacons are men who are responsible for the administration of the temporal and material aspects of church life and the ministers of practical compassion to the needy within the congregation. Nonetheless, Scripture requires the same spiritual qualities in a deacon as in an elder and no individual should enter either office without a clear call from God, confirmed by the judgement of the whole church. We believe that Christian Churches within a geographical area should seek fellowship together, manifesting visibly the spiritual unity in Christ which is already theirs. Scripture lays an obligation upon us to confer with like-minded Churches on matters of common concern such as the definition of doctrine, the exercise of discipline and the fulfilment of our Saviour's great evangelistic commission.
Passages to study: Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 8:5-11; Ephesians 5:24-27, Acts 14:21-28; Philippians 1:1-2; Galatians 1:1-9, Acts 20:17-38; Hebrews 13:7-17; Acts 6:1-7, 15:1-6.
8. The Ordinances
We believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted by Christ for His own glory and the spiritual good of His children and that both ordinances are to be observed in the Church throughout the Gospel age. The practice of believers' baptism rests upon the direct command of the risen Lord and is endorsed by the clear example of the apostolic Church. Believers who have made a credible profession of faith in Christ are the only valid subjects of baptism. Furthermore, we believe that the symbolic nature of this ordinance is best displayed by immersion in water, which mode proclaims, according to Scripture, the believer's identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. While baptism is initiatory, the Lord's Supper is a continuing means of grace to the regenerate heart. We deny that grace is conveyed automatically through this ordinance, yet, to the true believer, Christ is present and those who meet round the Lord's Table in humility and true faith can confidently expect to find spiritual refreshment as their souls are nourished by the Bread of Life. This holy Supper must always be approached in a spirit of reverence, humble self-examination and preparation of heart and mind so that, in faith, we are ready to receive what God promises to give. Furthermore, the Lord's Supper should not only strengthen faith in Christ crucified but, by reminding them of their oneness in Him, should strengthen the love of believers one toward another and, since it is to be observed only "until He comes", the ordinance should quicken anticipation of the glorious second advent of the Lord Jesus. We believe that the very nature of these ordinances indicates that converts should not partake of the Supper until they have first identified themselves with the Lord Jesus in baptism. Both ordinances belong in the context of the local Church and the elders have authority to withhold them from any who bring the name of Christ into dishonour. In giving expression to the unity of the true Church of Christ visiting believers who are in fellowship with other evangelical Churches may be invited to join us in our communion at the Lord's Table.
Passages for study: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 14:17,25; Acts 2:38-47, 8:26,39; Romans 6:1-5; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
9. The Last Things
We believe in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This great climactic event will be visible and personal and will herald general resurrection and final judgement. The bodies of the just and unjust alike will be raised from the dead, when the ungodly will hear the dreadful sentence of the righteous Judge and will be banished for ever from the presence of God, while the Church will be presented faultless through the merits of Christ and will then begin to enjoy the everlasting blessedness of the new creation purged of sin and filled with divine glory.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)
Passages for study: John 14:1-6; Acts 1:6-12; Romans 8:18,25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 5:24-29, 11:21-27; Titus 2:11-14; Revelation 1: 4-8, 19:1-9,21.