Essentials of Faith

The following points of our doctrinal statement represent those truths believers through the ages have considered essential for orthodox Christian faith as given in the Scriptures.

This agency requires affirmation of these truths for membership.

The Bible is actually God’s Word given to His people. Every concept and every word were recorded exactly as God intended because His Holy Spirit worked through the men who wrote the original books. Because these words are ultimately God’s, they are absolutely truthful, accurate, and without error.

This is why we happily depend upon the Bible as the basis for how we think about God and His Word (theology) and for how we behave (ethics). We also consider translations of the Bible that accurately reflect the intent and words of the original languages to be the Word of God.

It is our privilege to seek to understand God’s message and apply it responsibly to our lives as well as to share it in relevant ways with others.

References:

  • 2 Tim. 3:16-17
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21
  • Matt. 24:35

There is only one living and true God, without limits, separate from sin and His creation, sovereign, everywhere-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, and eternal.

We believe that God is the loving Creator and Sustainer of all that exists both seen and unseen. God exists as the Trinity in three persons yet one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While each person is fully and equally God in every way, each has unique functions to fulfill. This teaching is a mystery to man but is clearly taught in the Bible.

Though He has no needs, God passionately desires a relationship with us and towards this end continually invites us into a relationship of faith and a life of obedience, learning, and service

References:

  • Exodus 20:2-31
  • Cor. 8:6
  • Matt. 3:16-17

We believe in the absolute deity of Jesus; that is, He is and always was fully God. He has existed as an equal person with the Father and the Spirit throughout eternity.

He took on humanity and a body through miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary, who was a virgin. During His earthly life and even now, He is both fully God and fully human.

It is the unique role of Jesus to reveal the other members of the Godhead and to provide salvation for the world through His death and resurrection.

After His resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven to be our advocate in the Father’s presence and to prepare a heavenly home for His people whom He will gather together to be with Him when He returns at the end of this age.

Jesus is, therefore, the only way we can come to God and have a relationship with Him. In His life He modeled how He desires us to live.

References:

  • John 1:1-2, 18
  • 1 John 5:20
  • Matt. 1:20
  • Luke 1:26-38
  • Heb. 1:1-2
  • John 14:1-7
  • I John 2:1

We believe in the absolute deity of the Holy Spirit equal with the Father and the Son and yet enjoying a unique role.

With regard to all people, including the lost, He convicts us of sin, teaches the perfect way God desires man to live, and warns of the judgment for failing to do so.

With regard to believers, He calls out a community of people to demonstrate to the world the power of the good news of Jesus. He lives inside all who believe in Jesus. He teaches, comforts, and empowers us, giving each follower diverse gifts, fostering unity, interdependence, productivity, Christ-like character, and love among Christians.

By dependence upon the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity of demonstrating the power of God to create a new community that experiences and expresses the kingdom of heaven.

References:

  • 2 Cor. 13:14
  • John 14:16 17
  • Rom. 8:14 17

Men and women are created in and reflect God’s image: we have the ability to think, to choose, and to feel. The abilities to reason, strategize, plan, appreciate beauty, “create” in terms of literature, music, and art, and to experience joy and heartache are all traceable to God’s image stamped on each human being.

Because God is a trinity, we are inherently designed for relationships both toward man and God. Because we are created, we are finite creatures who have limits and are completely dependent upon the Creator.

Adam and Eve, who were created with the freedom to choose, were tempted by Satan and voluntarily chose to rebel against God. Adam’s sin plunged them and their descendants into condemnation and death.

Now all their offspring are sinful from the very beginning of life and become practical sinners with the first expression of personal choice and so are without excuse before God. Adam’s sin mars the image of God in man so that our reasoning, choices, and feelings are colored by sin.

Because each person is created in God’s image, each has intrinsic value. We seek to participate in God’s work of restoring each person to the full image of God.

References:

  • Gen. 1:26-27; 3:1-26
  • Psalm 51
  • Rom. 5:10 19
  • Col. 1:28, 29; 3:10

Our relationship with God was ruined by Adam’s choice, and the restoration of our relationship can only be accomplished through the reconciling work of Jesus, the sinless and perfect human being (who was also God), who took the punishment that was due us for our sin when He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross.

The blessings of a restored relationship with God are freely given on the grounds of grace alone to all who put their trust in Him. Belief in Jesus means that having acknowledged our own sinfulness and rebellion against God, we now call upon the Lord Jesus to forgive us, and we entrust our lives to His direction and care.

We trust that Jesus’ death is alone sufficient to pay the penalty for our sin and to restore our relationship with God and that Jesus also provides the example and teaching for us to follow to enjoy our renewed relationship with God.

The Bible teaches that the person who believes in Jesus is justified; that is, he is declared to be right with God as Christ’s right living is credited to him while his sin and condemnation has been placed upon Christ at the cross. The most important dividing line within humanity is between those who still live under God’s judgment, and those who have been set free from condemnation through Jesus’ death on the cross in their place.

There are only two possible states of existence, with two radically different outcomes. This means the message of salvation through Jesus is the focal point of Christian teaching and mission.

References:

  • Rom. 3:21-31; 10:9-13
  • John 3:1-7
  • I Cor. 15:17
  • Titus 3:5-7

We believe that the true church is composed of all those who, through saving faith in Jesus Christ, are united together in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. Each local church is a visible extension of the body of Christ in a given place.

A local church is composed of believers who are bound together in common faith and obedience to Jesus, who teach the Word of God, and who observe the ordinances of Christ. These believers are governed by the New Testament and are answerable to Christ.

The offices of the church are pastors (also called overseers and elders) and deacons.

As Christ’s body, the church in both universal and local forms is to do on earth what Jesus would do if He were here. The community of believers who make up a local church are also to model their shared life through manifesting Christ’s love toward each other and serving each other with the enabling gifts given by the Holy Spirit.

References:

  • Acts 2:41 42
  • Eph. 1:22 23; 3; 4:1-16
  • 1 Tim. 3
  • Col. 1:18

Historic Distinctives

Within Christian history, divergent views on doctrinal issues have emerged even among true Christian believers. This agency, recognizing its responsibility to teach the whole counsel of God, affirms the following doctrines as accurate expressions of biblical truth.

Appointees under GGM are expected to be in substantive agreement with these positions. Where there are differences, these will be examined by GGM.

We believe that all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are set apart by God as His own unique people. This act, called sanctification, is also a process that continues throughout the earthly life of the believer.

We are given a new set of desires, motivations, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit, and as inheritors of eternal life, we are eternally secure in Christ. This means that we experience a new beginning and new life that we can never lose.

It also means that the life and character of each believer will inevitably change as we are conformed to the character of Jesus throughout our lives. The lack of such change of character is cause to question the validity of one’s salvation.

Sanctification means not only that we separate ourselves from false doctrine and conduct as Jesus did, but also that we engage the culture with the heart and mind of Christ while we pursue holiness.

Further, we evidence sanctification by extending grace towards genuine believers with whom we disagree on non-essential matters of the faith. We should make every effort to mature in Christian character.

References:

  • John 10:27 30
  • Rom. 8:28-39
  • 1 John 3:1-10
  • 2 Cor. 6:14-18

We believe that there are two church ordinances, or observances, that were given by the Lord Jesus to the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water and serves as a powerful testimony of identification with Christ’s death and resurrection and of cleansing from sin for a believer after conversion.

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic meal instituted by the Lord Himself as a frequent reminder of His death.

Baptism and communion provide two powerful testimonies of the saving work of Christ. Baptism serves as a public declaration of the beginning of a new life while in communion the believer continually reaffirms his faith in God’s salvation.

References:

  • 1 Cor. 11:23 30
  • Luke 22:14 20
  • Acts 2:41; 8:35 39

God created the heavens and the earth, including all life by direct act and not by the process of evolution. He completed His work in six literal consecutive days and rested on the seventh. God’s creatorship means that He owns the earth and all its inhabitants.

As stewards of both our lives and the earth, we value life and are accountable to Him for the way we invest our lives and treat His creation.

References:

  • Genesis 1:1-2:4
  • Col. 1:16 17
  • John 1:3

Satan, also called “the Devil,” is a distinct person who was created without sin, but subsequently rebelled against the Creator.

He currently engages in conflict against God and His work and is the ruling power of this age. However, Satan, as a created being, is limited to actions permitted by God.

Satan will be defeated by God and is destined for eternal judgment in the lake of fire.

We should expect that conflict with the evil one should be a normal part of our lives, and that we need continual protection and provision from God in daily living.

References:

  • Job 1:10-12; 2:5-7
  • Matt. 4:1-3
  • 2 Cor. 4:4
  • Eph. 6:10-18
  • Rev. 20:10

Spiritual gifts are empowerments for service to the body of Christ given when the Holy Spirit comes into the life of the believer at conversion.

Miraculous signs and gifts were given during the early days of the Church to authenticate the apostles as Jesus’ representatives but were not intended to be a pattern for the present day. God gives spiritual gifts for the benefit of the local body of Christ.

References:

  • Rom. 12:3-8
  • 1 Cor. 12-14
  • Eph. 4:11-12
  • 1 Pet. 4:10-11

The Bible clearly teaches that the future victory of God’s kingdom is assured. Jesus has promised to return for His people in triumph at the end of history.

Following the resurrections of the saved and unsaved, God will judge all those who are not His children, and because their sin condemns them, He will sentence them to a never-ending, conscious punishment in the lake of fire. Those who are God’s children have the promise of a never-ending life in His presence in what is called “heaven” and “the new heavens and the new earth.”

We believe in the bodily and personal return of Jesus Christ for the Church in an event called the rapture before a seven-year tribulation period. At the close of this period He will establish a literal reign upon the earth for 1,000 years in fulfillment of prophecy.

Our confidence in God’s final triumph allows us to face the uncertainties of today with the assurance that they cannot undo the promises of God ultimately to reward faithfulness, to welcome us into His presence, and to overcome all evil and pain with good and joy.

References:

  • 1 Thes. 4:13-18
  • Matt. 25:31 36
  • Rev. 19-20

Moral and Societal Concerns

The agency recognizes its responsibility to speak to its generation concerning the great moral and social questions of the day, applying biblical truth to the question at hand. GGM may adopt positions on such questions through a process parallel to the process of board action.

We recognize that, as time passes, these statements may or may not address then-current concern. They will, however, reflect the official position of this agency and will be considered binding on the agency’s leadership and actions.

God created mankind male and female and in so doing established the normal pattern of a man and a woman together in the relationship we call marriage.

Sexual union is one of God’s specific blessings to be enjoyed within marriage: for manifesting the oneness of the husband and wife, for the mutual joy of both partners, and for the procreation of children.

A married couple forms the foundation of the biblical family to which the blessing of children may be added, but which is in no way less a family if God does not grant that gift. Attempts to include any other sexual relationship whether heterosexual or homosexual within the scope of biblically acceptable behavior is a violation of Scripture.

We hold that all sexual activity outside the union of husband and wife within marriage violates God’s Word and is outside of God’s purposes for sex.

Based on the clear teaching of Scripture, we must specifically reject homosexuality in any form as acceptable behavior. Yet we also recognize that the Bible offers both forgiveness for sexual sin, and the hope of both relational restoration and sexual wholeness through God’s sanctifying power.

References:

  • Gen. 1, 2
  • Eph. 5:22-23
  • Rom. 1:18-32

God is the creator of all life, and from the moment of conception He recognizes each unique individual in His sight.

Thus the purposeful taking of the life of that unborn individual is a sin both against the God Who grants life and Who has created mankind in His image and against that unborn person.

Once born, a person’s life is still a sacred gift, and any attempt by oneself or others to end prematurely that life for any reasons other than capital punishment is also a violation of both the Giver and possessor of that life.

References:

  • Jer. 1:5
  • Ps. 51:5
  • Luke 1:39-44
  • Ps. 139
  • Gen. 1:26
  • Gen. 9:6

Statement of Faith adapted from Grace Baptist Church of Cedarville, Ohio.

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