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Ecclesiology

I believe that the new covenant was established with the death of Christ, that the church began in its infancy at Pentecost, and that it was established in its doctrine and practice in the lifetime of the apostles. Hebrews 9; Acts 2

 I believe that the local New Testament church should only be a body of scripturally baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42

  • I believe that God’s work, in this dispensation, is accomplished by means of autonomous local churches. Revelation 2:1-3:22
  • I believe that this autonomy means that these local churches are to be self-governing, and independent of the authority of all denominations, schools, boards, fellowships, or camps. Matthew 18:15-17; I Timothy, Titus
  • I believe that the local church’s decision making should be by congregational rule, and in reasonable harmony with the desires and directives of the pastor who oversees yet is not the lord over the congregation.  Acts 6:1-7; I Timothy 5:17-20; I Peter 5:1-5

 I believe that the pastor/elder/overseer and the deacon are the two offices of the local church:

  • I believe that pastoral leaders must be Biblicaly qualified men in the church who have the responsibility before God to shepherd the flock as pastors, to oversee the flock, and to lead the flock as elders.  I believe that there may Biblically be one or more than one qualified men fulfilling this office in a local church.  I believe that the pastor’s qualifications are listed in I Timothy 3:1-7; Acts 20:28; I Timothy 5:17-20; Titus 1:5-2:9; I Peter 5:1-5
  • I believe that deacons are men in the church who act as servants in the church.  Their purpose is to serve to free up the pastoral leadership to allow them to spend appropriate time in the ministry of the Word and in prayer.  I believe that his qualifications are listed in I Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:2-3

 I believe that the two New Testament local church ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper:

  • I believe that baptism by immersion is the first of the two ordinances of the church.  Baptism is a symbol of the believer’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ whereby he is buried with Him and raised again to walk in newness of life in Christ.  Baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation, but it is a step of obedience after salvation. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 2, 8, 16; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12;
  • I believe that the second ordinance of the church is the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.  I believe that any obedient believer who has carefully examined the way in which he is to partake of the Lord’s Supper may partake of the elements in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Lord.  The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to have a time of sober and grateful remembrance.  I believe that the elements of unleavened bread and grape juice are simply symbolic of the body and the blood of Christ, and do not mystically become His body and blood.  The Lord’s Table neither strengthens nor weakens a believer’s position in Christ. I Corinthians 11:23-36

 I believe that Christ’s commission to the apostles was to win the lost, baptize converts, and make disciples, in order to establish reproducing local churches that would win the lost, baptize converts, make disciples, edify these disciples, practice the ordinances, meet for corporate worship, and maintain purity through discipline for the ultimate glory of God. Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 4:11-12; Ephesians 3:20 

 Fellowship between churches:

    • I believe that churches of like faith and practice should spend time in fellowship but not at the expense of autonomy, for we are all in the body of Christ.  I believe that we should approach fellowship with other churches practically.  We will associate with those with whom we most closely agree doctrinally and practically.  I also believe that when it comes to sending missionaries, planting churches, or acts of relief, we should willingly unite with churches of like faith and practice. II Corinthians 8:10-11,18-19; Romans 15:25,26
    • I believe in the autonomy of the local church.  Each local church is under the spiritual authority of the pastor.  This man has been placed in this position of leadership by God.  He will answer alone to God for the way that he leads his flock.  The head of every local church is the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:23

I believe that the church should be separated from the state and the state should be separated from the church; however, as a Christian, I am also a citizen of a country, and I should be involved in my country as well as submit myself to the authority of my God-given leadership. I do believe that civil disobedience is Biblical when called by human government to disobey clear Biblical command. Daniel 3; 6; Acts 4; Romans 13

I believe that God has ordained three institutions: the family, human government, and the church.  Each has a God-given jurisdiction, and their authority is abused when it extends beyond its God-given, Biblical sphere.

I believe that church discipline is Scriptural and should be carried out as Matthew 18:15-17 instructs concerning separation from those who are involved in unrepentant sin as laid out in I Corinthians 5 and II Thessalonians 3:6-15, causing factions, or teaching doctrinal heresies.

 I am an independent Baptist, because I hold the biblical doctrinal positions that have historically been associated with Baptists.

 I believe the following about missions.

  • I believe that world-wide missions is Biblical and begins at home and goes to the uttermost parts of the earth. Matthew 28:18-21; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8
  • I believe that missions ought to be done out of the local church so that the missionary has financial support, prayer support, and accountability. Acts 13:1-4; Acts 14:21-28; Romans 15:22-32
  • I believe that mission boards can function as a tremendous help for missionaries and local churches as they assist in both the financial and the logistical aspects of missions; however, the mission board should never usurp the authority of the local church, nor should it act as an authority to those on the field.  It exists as a help.
  • I believe that the goal of a missionary should be to reproduce himself by winning and disciplining nationals in order to plant indigenous autonomous local churches.  The purpose of the missionary is not to pastor as many churches as possible, but it is to train nationals to go out and plant local churches as he has done. (This was the work of Paul, Timothy, and Titus)
  • I believe that missions is church planting through national training on a foreign field. (This was the work of Paul, Timothy, and Titus)
  • I believe that a missionary is an extension of his local church and other supporting churches.  He will partner with many local churches in order to get to the field. Acts 13:1-4; Acts 14:21-28; Romans 15:22-32
  • These churches act very much like a team in order to support financially, prayerfully, and practically.  They also provide an accountability to the missionary. Romans 15:22-32
  • My desire is that the local church would have the opportunity to be a part of the Lord’s work on the foreign field through a very active role in this ministry.  It is their opportunity to not only reach their local community, but into the rest of the world after the pattern of Acts: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.

I believe the following about the ministry of the local church:

  • I see the ministry of the local church as three-fold: evangelize the lost, baptize those who are born again, and disciple the obedient believer.
  • I believe that the ministry of every believer though not confined to this one aspect is ultimately the same.  In II Corinthians 4-5, we see that every believer is a new creature in Christ and that he is an ambassador for Christ.
  • I believe that the responsibility of the child of God is to be the news boy.  It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to draw, the responsibility of the unbeliever to respond in repentant faith, and the responsibility of the believer to faithfully sow the Word of God.
  • I believe that God has given the pastor the responsibility to feed the flock through the preaching of the whole counsel of God, and to function as the authority of the local church.  It is the responsibility of the pastor to love, to lead, and to feed the flock of God.
  • I believe that the local church does not exist as a place of recreation or entertainment, but as a place of worship to God through the preaching of the word, singing of the praises of God, prayer of the saints, unified fellowship of the brethren, and the observation of the ordinances.
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