The written Word of God is our final authority for belief and practice. Nevertheless, it is vital for a church to summarize its teaching so that the church can confess it together.
The best expression of our beliefs is the London (Baptist) Confession of Faith of 1689.
A condensed version can be found in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Abstract of Principles” written by Basil Manly, Jr. in 1858. It has been edited and modernized by the group our church associates with, the Reformed Baptist Network, and by our leadership.
Several creeds and confessions have served God’s people for centuries. Creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed (ca. 3rd or 4th century), the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325 and 381), and the Athanasian Creed (ca. early 5th century) all succinctly summarize our beliefs alongside the church in earlier generations. These creeds are in agreement with our confession of faith.
We often read or recite one of these creeds in our corporate worship on Sundays.
Going back to the earliest Baptists, churches and families have used catechisms. A catechism is simply a set of questions and answers that succinctly teach Bible doctrines to children and adults alike. Excellent Baptist catechisms include A Puritan’s Catechism (C. H. Spurgeon) and An Orthodox Catechism (Hercules Collins).
We utilize some of these with our children or even recite some of them in our corporate worship.
A SUMMARY OF OUR MUSIC PHILOSOPHY:
- The content of our music reflects the character, work, and purposes of God by exploring Scripture’s vast doctrines.
- We strive to use each of the divinely given genres of music in our church—psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
- The instrumentation of our music encourages vocal participation of the congregation’s hearts and voices to the Lord, rather than instrumentation that drowns out the congregation.
- Leadership selects songs from past and present (historic and modern) that are accessible to the average worshipper, appropriate for the occasion, and excellent in their quality.
- We desire that our affections be stirred as the spiritual result of hearts that are worshipping God as the Word dwells in them richly.
- Our music seeks to reflect the aesthetics and beauty of God himself and should be characterized by “undistracting excellence.”
Abstract of Principles (1858)
A summary of the London Confession of Faith
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God. They the only sufficient, certain, authoritative, infallible, and inerrant rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
There is but one God—the creator, preserver, and ruler of all things. In and of himself, God is all perfection and is infinite in them all. All creatures owe to him the highest love, reverence, and obedience.
In the unity of the Godhead, there are three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; each fully God, and yet the Godhead is one and indivisible; each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
From eternity, God decrees or permits all things that come to pass. He perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events. Yet he is not in any way the author or approver of sin, nor does he violate the free agency or responsibility of created beings.
Election is God’s eternal choice of some individuals to everlasting life—not because of anything foreseen in them, but by his mercy alone in Christ. As a result of God’s choice, the elect are called, justified, and glorified.
The Fall of Man
God originally created man in his own image. Though man was free from sin, Adam transgressed the command of God through the temptation of Satan, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness. Thus, his descendants inherit a corrupt nature, wholly opposed to God and his law. All mankind is under condemnation and is in bondage to sin and Satan. People lost all moral ability to convert themselves, prepare themselves, or do any spiritual good acceptable to God.
Christ, the Mediator
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and mankind. Jesus, eternal God and the second person of the Trinity, took upon himself human nature—yet without sin. He perfectly fulfilled the Law, suffered, and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, rose again on the third day, and ascended to his Father to sit at his right hand and make intercession for his people. He is the only mediator, prophet, priest, and king of the Church. He is the sovereign of the universe.
Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit by which the hearts of those dead in trespasses and sins are brought to life. In regeneration their minds are also enlightened to spiritually understand, savor, and savingly embrace by faith the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to love and practice holiness. Regeneration is a work of God’s free and special grace alone. It is the duty of all who hear the gospel to instantly believe on Christ without looking for any qualification from within. However, none will do so apart from regenerating grace.
Repentance is a gracious gift of God when a person, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is made aware of both the evil of his sin against God, as well as the mercy of God freely offered to him in Christ. Repentance is accompanied in a person by godly sorrow and hatred of their sin, resulting in turning from sin to God, and seeking to walk before him in unqualified obedience.
Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority, of whatever is revealed in his Word concerning Christ. Saving faith is accepting and resting on him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life. It is brought about in a person’s heart by the Holy Spirit, is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners from all sin through the satisfaction that Christ has made. Justification is granted not because of anything in them or done by them, but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, in whom they receive by faith and rest on him and his righteousness by faith.
Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified by God’s Word and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification, which began at conversion, is progressive through the continuing supply of divine strength, by which the children of God are enabled to grow in grace and pursue holiness in the fear of God.
Perseverance of the Saints
Those whom God has elected in Christ and sanctified by his Spirit will never totally nor finally fall away from the saving grace of God, but will persevere to the end. They may fall through neglect and temptation into sin, thus grieving the Holy Spirit, bringing reproach on the Church, and incurring temporal judgments on themselves—but they will be renewed yet again through repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
The Lord Jesus is the head of the Church and in him is invested all supreme power for its government. According to his commandment, Christians are to join themselves with local churches in which the following duties are carried out: preaching the Word, the administration of the ordinances, and discipline.
Every believer is obligated by the Lord Jesus to be baptized by immersion into water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as a sign of the following: the believer’s fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ through faith, forgiveness of sins through Christ, and giving up of oneself to God in order to live and walk in newness of life. Baptism is a prerequisite to participating in the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is an ordinance that must be continued in the church to the end of the world.
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ to be administered with the elements of the bread and the cup, that must be observed by his churches until the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate his death and to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians. It is to be a bond, pledge, and renewal of their communion with him, and of their fellowship with the church.
The Lord’s Day*
The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for weekly observance on the first day of the week. It should be used for worship and spiritual devotion (both public and private). Believers should rest from worldly employments and amusements, except to do works of necessity and mercy.
Liberty of Conscience
God alone is Lord of the conscience. He has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his Word or not contained in it. However, liberty of conscience must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God, a loving regard for the consciences of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, a sensitivity for the unregenerate, and regard for the health of one’s own soul.
After death, the bodies of mankind will return to the earth, but their spirits will return immediately to God: the righteous return to rest with him; the wicked return to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead—both just and unjust—will be raised.
God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world by Jesus Christ. At this day everyone will be judged according to their deeds: the wicked will go into everlasting punishment; the righteous will go into everlasting life.
* Mercy Baptist Church allows members to hold certain views on the Lord’s Day and baptism that differ from the ones described here (and in the 1689 London Baptist Confession), yet still be considered members in good standing and thus participate in the Lord’s Supper.
The Nicene Creed
Third or fourth century
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic* and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Apostles’ Creed
A. D. 325; revised at Constantinople in A. D. 381
Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into Hell [lit., Hades];
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic* Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Early 5th century
2. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.
5. For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated: the Son uncreated: and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible: the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal: the Son eternal: and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated: and one incomprehensible.
13. So, likewise, the Father is Almighty: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Spirit Almighty.
14. And yet they are not three Almighties but one Almighty.
15. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Spirit is God.
16. And yet they are not three Gods but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Spirit Lord.
18. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord:
20. So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say: There be three Gods, or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is before or after another: none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
29. Furthermore it is necessary to eternal salvation: that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
31. God, of the substance of the Father: begotten before the worlds: and man, of the substance of His Mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God: and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father, as touching His Godhead: and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood.
34. Who although He be God and Man; yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One; not by conversion of the GodHead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God.
36. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell: rose again the third day from the dead.
39. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father God Almighty.
40. From whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. And shall give account for their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
44. This is the Catholic* Faith: which except a man believed faithfully, he cannot be saved.
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