Church Covenant and Declaration of Faith
Valley Baptist Church
CHURCH COVENANT AND DECLARATION OF FAITH
Section I. CHURCH COVENANT
Having been led by the Spirit of God to believe that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose out from among dead men according to the Scriptures and, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as a part of the Body of Christ.
WE ENGAGE, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to order the manner of our lives together in Christian love;
To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness (being set apart to God) and encouragement; to promote its spiritual prosperity;
To sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrine and to give it a holy pre-eminence over all institutions originating out of the world system;
To contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor church members who find themselves in critical need, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.
WE FURTHER ENGAGE to care for one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress;
To cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the words of our Savior for the Church, to secure it without delay.
WE MOREOVER ENGAGE, that when we remove from this place, we will, as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and practice, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.
Section II. DECLARATION OF FAITH
A. The Scriptures
We believe the Scriptures teach that the Old and New Testaments are the divine revelation of God (I Tim. 5:18); and thus they constitute the Word of God. Men chosen by God wrote the Bible under the guidance and enabling of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:9- 13). Thus, every word of the entire original documents was inspired. This is commonly called verbal plenary inspiration (II Tim. 3:16). Therefore, the whole of Scripture is authoritative for the faith of every believer. Those sections of the New Testament dealing directly with the church are authoritative for the practice of the church (II Tim. 3:16; I Cor. 10:6-12; I Tim. 3:14, 15). (See also Article VIII on the church).
B. The Godhead
We believe the Scriptures teach that God is infinite, self-existent Spirit, unchangeable in His nature, omnipotent, omniscient, holy, righteous, good, love, and truth (Jn. 4:24; Jas. 1:17; 1:3; I Jn. 1:5-7; 4:8, 16; Psa. 139:1-16). God exists eternally in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons who are revealed in Scripture as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Psa. 2:2, 7; Isa. 63:10; Heb. 1:13). These three are one as to their nature, essence, and attributes (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Mark 12:29; Jn. 10:30). Each is equally worthy of worship, trust, and obedience (II Cor. 13:14). Each of these divine persons has a distinct function in the execution of the eternal purpose and glory of the Godhead (Jn. 15:26; 16:7; I Cor. 8:6).
C. The Father
We believe the Scriptures teach that God the Father is the ultimate source of all things (I Cor. 8:6), and that He began to assume a new expression of His Fatherhood relationship to the eternal Son in the council of the Godhead prior to creation and time (Psa. 2:7-10). This Fatherhood relationship to the Son denotes their equality of nature, while at the same time it expresses the subordination of the Son to the Father in the execution of the divine purpose (Jn. 1:1, 2; 5:18). He also has a Fatherhood relationship to spirit beings, thus expressing His authoritative headship (Job 1:6; Heb. 12:9). He now forgives the sins of grace believers, entering a Fatherhood relationship with them through their spiritual birth, by which He indwells them, thus making them partakers of the divine nature, and calling them His born ones (Tit. 3:5, Jn. 3:5-7, Eph. 4:6; II Pet. 1:4; I Jn. 3:9). The Father, as the one to whom the saints address the majority of their communications (Phil. 4:6, Eph. 5:20, Heb. 13:15, 1 Jn. 1:9, 1 Tim. 1:12), answers those requests which are in keeping with His will (Jn. 16:23-26; I Jn. 5:14, 15). The uniqueness of the Father is seen in that He is the one who sent the Son as His gift into the world (Jn. 3:16). Moreover, He in partnership with the Son sent the Holy Spirit to be resident in the world on the Day of Pentecost (Jn. 14:26; 15:26). Unlike the other Persons of the Godhead, He is the Sender and is not sent.
D. The Son
We believe the Scriptures teach that the second Person of the triune God is the eternal Son, the Logos, the I AM, who as the incarnate one became the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:1, 2; Rom. 9:5; II Pet. 1:1). As the preincarnate Son, He planned and made the ages (Isa. 9:6; Heb. 1:2; 11:3). As the Logos Son, He was the agent of creation and thus all things came into being by, through, and for Him (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-19). In the incarnation, He became a man through the miracle of His divine conception and virgin birth (Jn. 1:14; Luke 1:31-35; I Tim 3:16; Heb. 2:14), without change in His deity (Phil. 2:6-8; Jn. 1:14). While on earth He lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death for all men, was buried and arose bodily from the grave the third day (I Cor. 15:1-4; II Cor. 5:14, 15; Heb. 4:15). He then ascended bodily into heaven and is presently fulfilling His intercessory and mediatorial ministry (Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 4:14; 7:25; Rom. 8:34, 1 Tim. 2:5). He indwells all believers of this dispensation imparting a quality of His life, which constitutes their possession of eternal life (Col. 1:27; I Jn. 5:11, 12). He has promised to rapture the church prior to the seventieth week of Daniel (Rev. 3:10). After the Tribulation, He will return to earth and institute His millennial Davidic reign (Matt. 24:29-31; Luke 1:32; Rev. 20:4). After the millennial reign, He will turn the kingdom over to the Father. In the Father's kingdom the authority of the Godhead will again be equalized so that the Son will co-reign into the ages of the ages (I Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 11:15).
E. The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, co-eternal and co-equal with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3, 4; Heb. 9:14). The Holy Spirit was a co-agent in creation, the divine agent in the supernatural conception of the humanity of the Son (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35; II Pet. 1:21; Job 26:13). He became resident in the world on the Day of Pentecost as a result of being sent by the Father and the Son (Jn. 14:26; 15:26). The Holy Spirit will continue to be resident on earth until the Rapture (Jn. 14:16, 2 Thess. 2:7). Since that time He is the co- witness through the believer concerning Christ; He takes the things of Christ and glorifies Him (Jn. 15:26; 16:13, 14). He convicts the unsaved of their need of Christ, then regenerates, baptizes, indwells, and seals those who respond by believing (Jn. 3:5; 16:8- 11; Tit. 3:5, Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 6:19; 12:13; Eph. 4:30). He is the anointer, or divine teacher, of the believer whom He seeks to lead into spiritual maturity through the knowledge of Christ, and to empower through His filling ministry (I Cor. 2:10-12; Eph. 5:18; I Jn. 2:20, 27).
We believe the Scriptures teach that salvation in all three tenses is by the grace of God through His free gift which is neither merited nor secured in part or in whole by any virtue or work of man (Eph. 2:8, 9). The gospel which the Holy Spirit uses as a basis for His conviction of a sinner to bring him to faith in Christ is a specific limited area of truth (Rom. 1:16). The facts that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again physically after three days are the essential parts of the gospel (I Cor. 15:1-4; II Tim. 2:8- 10). Any part that is changed or missing hinders the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The sole ground or basis of salvation is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ in His human nature on the cross. He became personally separated in His human nature from the Father when the Father made the Son's Person (Human body and sinless human nature) an offering for sin. Thereby, the Father's outraged holiness against man's sin nature was propitiated (Isa. 53:10; Matt 27:46, Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2, 4:10). Because of His infinite character, His blood was a sufficient redemption for all mankind (Rom. 3:24; II Pet. 2:1). Since the death of Christ was sufficient for all the world, the world is now positionally reconciled to God (II Cor. 5:18, 19, Rom. 5:10).
God, therefore, encourages all men to be reconciled unto Him (II Cor. 5:20). The single condition whereby the value of these propitiatory, redemptive, and reconciliatory works of the cross may be applied by the Holy Spirit to the individual is by a personal faith in the crucified and risen Son of God (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8, 9). At salvation, the believer is called, regenerated, forgiven all sin, justified, sanctified, made eternally secure, and endowed with every spiritual blessing (Rom. 3:24; 5:1; Eph. 1:3, 13, 14; 4:32, Tit. 3:5; I Cor. 1:30). Positionally, the believer is glorified and seated in the heavenlies in Christ (Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 2:6, 7).
Scripture teaches that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God immediately and apart from any process of evolution (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7). Adam, by a personal disobedience to the will of God, became a sinner (Gen. 3:5-7); he became depraved in nature and subject to Satan's power (II Cor. 4:3, 4; Eph. 2:2, 3). This sin nature and depravity has been transmitted to the entire human race so that man is a sinner by nature, choice, and practice, and guilty before God, possessing within himself no means of recovery or salvation (Psa. 51:5; Rom. 3:10-12; 5:12,19). Scripture teaches that man is a tripartite being, consisting of body, soul and spirit (I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12).
H. The Church
We believe the Scriptures teach that the Church is the Body of Christ begun on the Day of Pentecost, into which all true believers of this dispensation are baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5; 11:15-17; I Cor. 12:13). Accompanying this baptism is the giving of spiritual gifts which are used for the edification of the church (I Cor. 12:1-14; Eph. 4:7-13). The exalted Christ is the only Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23, 24). The local expression of this Church is a company of regenerated, baptized believers in a local church, independent in character and autonomous in function, which has fellowship with other churches of like faith and order (Acts 15; I Cor. 5:4).
To these churches are committed the ordinances of baptism (Matt. 28:19, 20) and the Lord's Supper (I Cor. 11:23-34). Baptism, obligatory upon every believer, is by immersion in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and is a prerequisite for local church membership (Matt. 28:19; Acts 8:35-39). The Lord's Supper is a commemoration of the Person of Christ, His Body which is the Church, and the new covenant by His blood (I Cor. 10:16-22; 11:23-29).
The officers of the local church are pastors (the term is interchangeable with elder and bishop) and deacons (Acts 20:17, 28; I Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:6-9). The local churches have the responsibility of worship, self-edification by teaching and equipping each saint unto a work of a ministry, to exhort and provoke each to love and good works and to use his spiritual gift (Matt. 28:20; Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 10:24, 25).
I. Spiritual Gifts
We believe the Scriptures teach that every believer since the beginning of the Church at Pentecost receives one spiritual gift (1 Pet. 4:10-11, I Cor. 12:7, 11, 18, 19). This gift is the result of the Spirit baptizing the believer into the Body of Christ, and corresponds to the functions of the members of the Body (I Cor. 12:12, 13). This gift was given for the edification and good of the local church, and not the individual recipient (I Cor. 12:15-25; Eph. 4:11-13). In the beginning of the Church some gifts were given which were of a temporary nature, and are thus no longer given (I Cor. 13:8-12; Heb. 2:2, 3). Some of these temporary gifts were revelatory, providing oral revelation while the New Testament was being completed (I Cor. 14:25, 26). These are the gifts of apostle, the discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, and prophecy. Others were confirmatory sign gifts, vindicating the spokesman of God while the New Testament was incomplete (I Cor. 14:22; Heb. 2:2-4). These were tongues, healing, and miracles (I Cor. 14:22). However, all other gifts mentioned in the New Testament should be operative in the local church today (Rom. 12:7, 8; I Cor. 12:9, 28; Eph. 4:11). These are: pastor-teacher, teacher, evangelist, helps, ministry, exhortation, mercy, giving, faith, administration, and organization.
J. Spirit Beings
We believe the Scriptures teach that prior to the creation of the material universe, the triune God created a great host of varied spirit beings (Job 38:4-7; Col. 1:16, 17). The holy angels serve God as His messengers and minister to those who are the elect among the human race (Heb. 1:14). Lucifer (Satan), the highest of the Cherubim, fell by sinning against the most high God and took with him one third of the angels (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:14; Rev. 12:7). Satan is the person who is the author of sin and the one who brought about the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5), Satan is the enemy of God, the accuser of God's people and is constantly active in opposing the works and people of God (I Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:10). Satan was judged at the cross, and his ultimate destiny is the Lake of Fire (Jn. 12:31; 16:11; Rev. 20:7, 10).
K. Future Events
We believe the Scriptures teach that at death the spirit and soul of the believer pass instantly into the presence of Christ and remain in conscious joy until the resurrection of the body when Christ comes for his own (I Cor. 15:51-57; II Cor. 5:8).
The blessed hope of the believer is the imminent, personal, pretribulational, premillennial appearance of Christ to rapture (Gr: Harpodzo: to snatch away by force ) the Church (I Thess. 4:14-17; Tit. 2:13). His righteous judgments will then be poured out on an unbelieving world during the Tribulation (the seventieth week of Daniel), the last half of which is the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). The climax of this fearful era will be the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth in great glory to introduce the Davidic kingdom (Rev. 19:11-16). A remnant of Israel will be saved and restored as a nation (Rom. 11:26, 27). Satan will be bound, and the curse will be lifted from the physical creation. He will be released for a short time at the end of the millennium and lead a final rebellion against God (Rom. 8:19-23; Rev. 20:2, 3,7,8). Following the millennium, Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire; the Great White Throne Judgment will occur, at which time the spirits and souls of the wicked in Hades shall be reunited to a resurrected body and cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15, 20).
L. Dispensations and Ages
A consistent literal interpretation of Scripture results in Dispensationalism. Therefore, Dispensationalism is not an approach to the Bible, nor a view of the Bible, but the result of a consistent literal interpretation.
This same literal method of interpretation distinguishes between ages and dispensations. Ages may exist in eternity past (Eph. 3:9 Gr.), in time (Gal. 1:4 Gr.; I Cor. 2:8 Gr.) or in eternity future (Eph. 2:7). Dispensations can only exist in time (Eph. 3:2; 1:10; 3:9 Gr.).
An age is a phase in the present decree whereby certain events are designed to show God's rational creatures something about Himself by comparison or contrast (Eph. 2:7; 3:21 Gr.; Heb. 1:2 Gr.; 11:3 Gr.).
A dispensation is a phase in God's program for mankind in which He through a steward or stewards imposes on some or all of mankind specific rules to regulate their daily lives and reveal something to man about himself (Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25; Eph. 3:9 Gr.; Gal. 3:10-12; I Tim. 1:4 Gr.; Eph. 1:10).
M. Christian Life and Sin
At the time of past tense, or initial, salvation the believer is given all things that pertain to spiritual life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). By regeneration he shares in a quality of the Divine nature and eternal life (Jn. 3:6, 15; 1 Jn. 3:9-10; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Jn. 5:11-12). Because the believer shares in a quality of the the Divine nature, he has new desires and abilities. These new desires and abilities constitute the believer's new nature (Rom. 7:19- 23).
Since the believer still possesses the old dominant fallen Adamic sin nature, he needs the filling of the indwelling Holy Spirit to manifest the new nature (Rom. 7:23-8:1- 4; Eph. 5:18-25; Gal. 5:16-18, 22-23, 25; 2 Cor. 3:18). The Spirit-filled believer, or spiritual believer, can manifest the fruit of the Spirit and thus Christlikeness.
The requirements to be Spirit filled, and thus spiritual, are that the believer must reckon himself to be dead to the sin nature and alive unto God in the sphere of his position in Christ (Rom. 6:10, 11; Col. 3:1-5) and yield his members as instruments of righteousness to God (Rom 6:13).
Besides the flesh or sin nature the believer has two other spiritual enemies: The World and Satan.
The spiritual saint is able to discern the difference between the lusts from the flesh, the world and Satan (Rom. 6:12; Eph. 2:3; Gal. 5:24; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; Jn. 8:44). He that is spiritual can say no to these lusts before they become a temptation (Tit. 2:12-13). When a lust is allowed to become a temptation, the believer must bear it while taking the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13; Jas. 1:13-15). If the mentally considered temptation is acted upon by a commensurate action, it will result in an act of sin against God (Jas. 1:13-15; 4:11; 1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Jn. 3:4; Matt. 15:17-20; Psa. 41:4; 51:4).
The spiritual saint overcomes the world by using it as a means to the end without loving or befriending it (1 Jn. 2:15-17; Jas. 4:4; 1 Cor. 7:29-31).
The spiritual Christian has an armor which he is to put on mentally each time he discerns an attack by Satan or his demons (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Jas. 4:7-8; Eph. 6:12-18).
The spiritual believer who is overcoming the three enemies grows to maturity by grace and is more and more conformed to the image of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6-7; 2 Tim. 2:1).