1. Scripture, the
Written Word of God
1.1 I believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts.
1.2 I believe that God's intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.
1.3 The meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical reality.
1.4 It is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstrably carried by the words which God inspired.
1.5 The work of the Holy Spirit is essential for the right understanding of the Bible.
2. The T rinity,
One God as T hree Persons
2.1 I believe in one living, sovereign, and all-glorious God, eternally existing in three infinitely excellent and admirable Persons: God the Father, fountain of all being; God the Son, eternally begotten, not made, without beginning, being of one essence with the Father; and God the Holy Spirit, proceeding in the full, divine essence, as a Person, eternally from the Father and the Son. Thus each Person in the Godhead is fully and completely God.
3. God 's Eternal
Purpose and Election
3.1 I believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass.
3.2 I believe that God upholds and governs all things - from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons - all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image.
3.3 I believe that God's election is an unconditional act of free grace which was given through His Son Christ Jesus before the world began.
4. God 's Creation of
the Universe and of Man
4.1 I believe that God created the universe, and everything in it, by the Word of His power. Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency, God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
4.2 I believe that God directly created Adam and Eve. I believe that Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race; that they were created male and female equally in the image of God, without sin; that they were created to glorify their Maker.
4.3 In God's love and wisdom, they were appointed to differing and complementary roles in marriage as a type of Christ and the church.
5. Man's Sin and Fall
from Fellowship with God
5.1 I believe that we are principally born into sin (Psa 51:5; Psa 58:3) and deserve by nature the wrath of God (Eph 2:1-3).
5.2 We are granted a free will to make moral choices, either to follow our sinful nature or to make the active choice of following the image of God through Jesus Christ, who enables us to overcome our sinful nature.
6. Jesus Christ, the
Incarnate Son of God
6.1 I believe that in the fullness of time God sent forth His eternal Son as Jesus the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. We believe that, when the eternal Son became flesh, He took on a fully human nature, so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one Person, without confusion or mixture. Thus the Person, Jesus Christ, was and is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ and the only Mediator between God and man.
6.2 I believe that Jesus Christ lived without sin, though He endured the common infirmities and temptations of human life. He preached and taught with truth and authority unparalleled in human history. He worked miracles, demonstrating His divine right and power over all creation: dispatching demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, stilling the storm, walking on water, multiplying loaves, and foreknowing what would befall Him and His disciples, including the betrayal of Judas and the denial, restoration, and eventual martyrdom of Peter.
6.3 I believe that His life was governed by His Father's providence with a view to fulfilling all Old Testament prophecies concerning the One who was to come.
6.4 I believe that Jesus Christ suffered voluntarily in fulfillment of God's redemptive plan, that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, that He died, was buried and on the third day rose from the dead to vindicate the saving work of His life and death and to take His place as the invincible, everlasting Lord of glory. During forty days after His resurrection, He gave many compelling evidences of His bodily resurrection and then ascended bodily into Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for His people on the basis of His all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, and reigning until He puts all His enemies under His feet.
7. The Saving
Work of Christ
7.1 I believe that by His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the immaculate Lamb of God, Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place, the just for the unjust, Christ absorbed our punishment, appeased the wrath of God against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and removed the condemnation of the law against us.
7.2 I believe that the atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the Gospel to all persons, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life."
8. The Saving
Work of the Holy Spirit
8.1 I believe that the Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, sharing in the work of creation, awakening faith in the remnant of God's people, performing signs and wonders, giving triumphs in battle, empowering the preaching of prophets and inspiring the writing of Scripture. Yet, when Christ had made atonement for sin, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He inaugurated a new era of the Spirit by pouring out the promise of the Father on His Church.
8.2 The mission of the Spirit is to glorify the crucified and risen Christ. This He does by giving the disciples of Jesus greater power to preach the Gospel of the glory of Christ, by opening the hearts of hearers that they might see Christ and believe and by manifesting Himself in spiritual gifts for the upbuilding of the body of Christ and the confirmation of His Word.
9. The Justifying Act of God
9.1 I believe that in a free act of righteous grace God justifies the ungodly by faith alone that is merging in works, pardoning their sins, and reckoning them as righteous and acceptable in His presence. Faith is thus the principle instrument by which we, as sinners, are united to Christ, whose perfect righteousness and satisfaction for sins is alone the ground of our acceptance with God.
9.2 Faith without the fruit of good works is dead. I believe that faith and good works accompany the process of sanctification and that a person without the subsequent fruit of works has actually never been born again.
10. L iving God 's Word
by Meditation and Prayer
10.1 I believe that faith is awakened and sustained by God's Spirit through His Word and prayer. The good fight of faith is fought mainly by meditating on the Scriptures and praying that God would apply them to our souls.
10.2 I believe that the promises of God recorded in the Scriptures are suited to save us from the deception of sin by displaying for us, and holding out to us, superior pleasures in the protection, provision, and presence of God. Therefore, reading, understanding, pondering, memorizing, and savoring the promises of all that God will be for us in Jesus are primary means of the Holy Spirit to break the power of sin's deceitful promises in our lives. Therefore it is necessary that we give ourselves to such meditation day and night.
10.3 I believe that God has ordained to bless and use His people for His glory through the means of prayer, offered in Jesus' name by faith. All prayer should seek ultimately that God's name be hallowed, and that His kingdom come, and that His will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven. God's sovereignty over all things is not a hindrance to prayer, but a reason for hope that our prayers will succeed.
10.4 By prayer God sanctifies His people, sends Gospel laborers into the world, and causes the Word of God to spread and triumph over satan and unbelief.
11. Christ's Church
and Her Ordinances
11.1 I believe in the one universal Church, composed of all those local churches and individual believers, in every time and place, who are chosen in Christ and united to Him through faith by the Spirit in one Body, with Christ Himself as the all-authoritative Head. I believe that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the everlasting and ever-increasing gladness of worship.
11.2 I believe it is God's will that the universal Church find expression in local churches in which believers agree together to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to engage in corporate worship, to practice the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, to build each other's faith through the manifold ministries, to hold each other accountable in the obedience of faith through Biblical discipline, and to engage in local and world evangelization. The Church is a body in which each member should find a suitable ministry for His gifts; it is the household of God in which the Spirit dwells; it is the pillar and bulwark of God's truth in a truth-denying world; and it is a city set on a hill so that men may see the light of its good deeds - especially to the poor - and give glory to the Father in Heaven.
11.3 I believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a sign of belonging to the new people of God, the true Israel, and an emblem of burial and cleansing, signifying death to the old life of unbelief, and purification from the pollution of sin.
11.4 I believe that the Lord's Supper is an ordinance of the Lord in which gathered believers eat bread, signifying Christ's body given for His people, and drink a cup of (usually alcoholic) wine, signifying the New Covenant in Christ's blood. We do this in remembrance of the Lord, and thus proclaim His death until He comes. Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ's body and blood, not physically, but spiritually, in that, by faith, they are nourished with the benefits He obtained through His death, and thus grow in grace.
11.5 I believe that each local church should recognize and affirm the divine calling of spiritually qualified men to give leadership to the church through the role of pastor-elder in the ministry of the Word and prayer. Women are not to fill the role of a lead pastor-elder in the local church, but are encouraged to use their gifts in appropriate roles that edify the body of Christ and spread the Gospel.
12. Make Disciples
of All Nations
12.1 I believe that the commission given by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations is binding on His Church to the end of the age. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation, baptizing them, teaching them the words and ways of the Lord, and gathering them into churches able to fulfill their Christian calling among their own people.
13. Death, R esurrection,
2nd Coming of the Lord
13.1 I believe that when Christians die they are made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, and are taken consciously into the presence of Christ, which is more glorious and more satisfying than any experience on earth.
13.2 I believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, and suddenly in power and great glory; and that He will gather His elect, raise the dead, judge the nations, and establish His kingdom. I believe that the righteous will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be consigned to everlasting conscious misery.
13.3 I believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.
14. The Spirit of This Affirmation
14.1 I do not claim infallibility for this affirmation and am open to refinement and correction from Scripture. Yet I do hold firmly to these truths as I see them and call on others to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so.
Based on the "Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith" and "An Affirmation of Faith" by Desiring God