On January 14th, Thomas Barber and I began a sermon series on our church’s statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. What do we believe? Why do we believe it? More importantly, do our actions and the way that we minister as a church match what we say we believe? The Bible is clear: what we truly believe and how we live always match. So, if there is a contradiction between what I say I believe and how I live, I am a liar. I do not really believe what I say I do.
Thus far, we have laid a solid foundation for our beliefs by rooting them in the nature and purpose of the Scriptures and in the person of God.
Our church believes that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, who He is and what He has done in salvation history. It is the only inspired book which is to say that while men wrote it, God the Spirit so superintended their authorship that every word is exactly what God wanted. The Bible is His Word, and the words are His words. Therefore, the Scriptures are without error and fully trustworthy in all respects, eternal and unchanging.
We also believe that Christ is the focus of the Bible, that everything written from Genesis to Revelation centers on Him.
Those who believe that God wrote the Christ-centered Bible read it. We believe it, we obey it, albeit imperfectly, and we do so rightly, with Christ in view.
The church that believes that God wrote the Christ-centered Bible will be a church that places great emphasis on the public reading of Scripture, on faithful teaching/preaching drawn from and guided by the text and focused on Christ and the gospel and a church committed to faithful obedience regarding worship, missions, evangelism and service.
God-Father, Son & Holy Spirit
Our church believes in one God, one in essence and one in divine attributes. This God is a personal being, not a force of energy. He is eternal, creator, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present at all times, all-loving (all-good), all-wise. Within this undivided oneness there is a distinction between three persons-God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each person is fully God, possessing all of the divine attributes mentioned above, and yet distinct in their relationships to each other and to mankind.
God the Father, while father-ly toward all who are created in His image, is only Father to those who believe in Jesus by grace through faith.
God the Son, eternally begotten, became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ, the God-man, fully God and fully man, has obeyed the Law perfectly in our place and has suffered the punishment required by the Law for sin in our place. He offers salvation to those who repent and believe so that He might reconcile them to God and that they might be free from wrath when He returns to judge the world.
God the Spirit, fully God and thus a person as well, not a force or energy, the Spirit who eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son and who inspired the apostles to write the Scriptures, convicts men of sin, righteousness and judgment. He convinces us that we are sinners without Christ, that Christ is the righteousness we need, that Satan has been judged and Christ is King, and that without Him we face eternal judgment.
In so convincing us, it is the Spirit who calls God’s people to salvation in Jesus, regenerates our hearts for repentance and faith, baptizes us with Himself and so indwells us and seals us, guaranteeing our salvation until Jesus returns. He also empowers us for growth in holiness, missions, evangelism, worship and service in His kingdom.
Those who believe that God is eternal Creator and the sovereign ruler of all things will honor Him. We will worship Him, and we will submit to Him as Lord. We will respect Him as He has revealed Himself in the Word of God, the Bible, not as ‘the man upstairs’ or our ‘daddy’ or some sort of cosmic boyfriend but as Father, worthy of our respect and obedience, as Son and Savior without whom no one can know the Father and as Holy Spirit who works salvation in us and produces holiness in us.
One God in three persons working all things for the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ through the salvation of His people.
The church who believes these things about God will do likewise, lest God come and remove them from existence. Many churches have forsaken their first love, Christ, like the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation. Many churches have become lukewarm like the church of Laodicea, so disgusting to the Lord that He longed to vomit them from His mouth. God forbid that such a judgment should ever be leveled against Reddicks Grove.
If we find at the end of the day that much of what we say we believe is inconsistent with our actions as a body, what do we do? We do what God has been calling Christians to do for ages. We repent. We do the things we did before. We labor and persevere in the truth of the Scriptures, we fend off error and false teachers and those who do evil and yet claim to be believers. We endure and do not grow weary. We pursue holiness without which we will not see God. And we commit ourselves to mission, to going into all the world making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey, trusting that Christ will always be with us.