Statements of Faith

GOD

We believe the LORD God, as revealed in the Bible, is the one and only living and true God. He is the holy, sovereign, self-existent and self-sufficient One (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 5:39, Isaiah 43:10,11; Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 135:6; Exodus 3:14).

This God reveals Himself to us in the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each equal in His nature, essence, and being, yet each possessing distinct personal characteristics suitable to His person and work (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2).

He is Creator of all things, visible and invisible, physical and spiritual. Out of nothing, by the power of His Word, He called all that exists into being and sustains it according to His desire and power (Genesis 1; Hebrews 11:3; Psalm 104; Colossians 1:16,17).

God has a purpose and plan for all things in heaven and on earth which will be accomplished according to His eternal decrees for His glory. In this, His manifold attributes, including His wisdom, power, love, and faithfulness are revealed to us (Isaiah 46:10-13; Ephesians 1:3-5,11; Matthew 24:35; 1 Corinthians 10.31; Romans 1:20).

 

THE BIBLE

We believe the Bible, as it was composed in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to be the only inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Word of God. This Bible, which in English translations, is made up of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is completely sufficient concerning all matters of belief and living (Proverbs 30.5a; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Deuteronomy 8:18; Hebrews 4:12,13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Man’s belief in the authority of Scripture comes from the inward work of the Holy Spirit who works in the mind, heart, and will of man. The Spirit and the Scriptures work in us to draw us into a personal saving knowledge of God in Christ, to establish the content of our belief or faith, and to direct us in the conduct of our daily lives (John 6:44; 1 Corinthians 2: 12-14; Romans 6:17; John 16: 13-15; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Nothing is to be added to or taken away from the Scriptures in any way, such as new revelation or traditions of men. It is the standard by which all knowledge is tested (Deuteronomy 4:7, 12:32; Revelation 22:18,19; Galatians 1:8; Colossians 2:8).

Each of us is called to correctly handle the Word of God. Thus, we are to discern its true, intended, and plain meaning. We establish meaning by using the historical/grammatical interpretive process. This process includes, but is not limited to, the historical context, semantic domains, grammar and recognizes the basic unity of all Scripture.(i.e., Genesis 12:7 with Galatians 3:16; Joel 2:28-32 with Acts 2:16-24; Genesis 15:6 with Romans 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter3:15,16; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Romans 4:1-3,13).

SALVATION

Man’s Need

We believe that in the beginning all God’s creation, including man, was good. Mankind, male and female, was righteous, walking closely with God. Man fell from that position of fellowship with God into disgrace, deserving condemnation to Hell, through unbelief and rebellion. Everyone has inherited Adam’s unfit nature and is totally unable to do anything that is pleasing to God. All are dead in their sin and cannot in themselves respond to the gospel for salvation (Genesis 1,2,3; Romans3:l0-12, 5:12-21,8:6-8; Ephesians2:1-9).

God’s Provision

And this is the gospel, that Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, was sent by the Father and came willingly to be the only mediator between God and man. He was born of a virgin and lived a perfect life of obedience to His Father, observing all His commands and fulfilling all His purposes. In doing so, He revealed to man the glory, mercy, grace, and truth of God, teaching man the new way of life (Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:14; Acts 2:23,36; 1 Timothy 2:5; Luke 1:26-28; 1 Peter 2:21,22; John 14:6, 17:4).

Jesus Christ gave up His life by death on the cross at the hands of sinful men according to God’s sovereign purpose. Christ, being without sin, did this in order to pay God’s just penalty for sin on behalf of those whom the Father had chosen to redeem from the effects of sin. He then rose bodily from the dead, removing the power of the curse of death from His people forever (Acts 2:23; Romans 3:23-26; 1 Peter 1:18-21; John 20.25,27; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

After Christ ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to make the Savior known to those whom God the Father had chosen. The Holy Spirit works in God’s people by making them spiritually alive and enabling them to freely receive the free gift of eternal life as offered in the gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Lord of His people, now dwells in the Father’s presence. He is interceding on His people's behalf and is enabling them to grow more and more in living obedience to Himself. (Acts 1:8,9; John 16:7-13; Ephesians 2:4-8; Romans 3:21-26; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:18-21; Hebrews 7:24,25; 2 Corinthians 10.5)

Man’s Response to God’s Grace

All who respond by faith to the gospel promises are declared righteous before God by means of the righteousness of Christ credited to them. They are reconciled to God through the forgiveness of sin by Christ’s substitutionary death on their behalf. Thus reconciled, believers have passed from judgment, wrath, and death to life and have received a spirit of adoption as beloved children who know God as Father (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:9-11).

Growth in conformity to the image and likeness of God by obedience is a vital and necessary part of the life of the believer. Thus believers, having been re-created to do good works, will grow increasingly in the grace of God, turning from their sin and following Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17,18; Ephesians 4:11-13; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 6:1,2,11-14; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 3:15a).

All those whom God has chosen and redeemed will most certainly be preserved by God and will persevere in their saving faith until that time when God chooses to take them to be with Him forever (John 10.28,29; Philippians 1:6; John 14:1-3).

THE CHURCH

We believe that all those who have believed in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are united by the indwelling Holy Spirit into one spiritual and physical body called the church, of which Jesus Christ is the head. This church is made manifest in each local church that recognizes Jesus as Lord and Savior and serves Him according to the Scriptures (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:1,2; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:13b-14; Colossians 1:18).

God’s purpose in establishing His church is to glorify Himself by making known His attributes, which He demonstrated in Jesus Christ. This is accomplished when believers:

a.    Gather together in the power and unity of the Holy Spirit for worship by the proclamation of the Word, praise, prayer, and participation in the ordinances of the church (Hebrews 10.25; Acts 2:4247);

b.    Mutually exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the edification, equipping, and growth of the members for works of service (Ephesians 3:10,11; 4:11-13; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10);

c.    Proclaim the good news of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world (Matthew 28:19,20);

d.    Are salt and light in all of our various callings (Matthew 5:13-16).

God has established two ordinances for the church to observe: baptism, which is undergone once as a sign of the new life in Christ after a person has confessed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and the Lord’s Supper, which is to be observed regularly to call into remembrance the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, until He returns (Acts 2:38,42; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

All believers are priests within the household of God. All possess a common dignity, calling, and privilege of communion before and with God. All are called to offer sacrifices of themselves, praise and thanksgiving to God. With our various gifts and callings, we serve God and one another. Within this household, Jesus Christ appoints Elders as under-shepherds to serve His people by administering the activities of His church and providing watchful care over the spiritual needs of its members.

The final authority by which all disputes within the church are to be settled is Scripture, being interpreted by the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16,17; John14:26, 16:13a).

LAST THINGS

We believe that God has appointed a day when Jesus Christ will visibly return in glory to judge the world in righteousness. His justice will be displayed in the resurrection to eternal punishment of all unbelievers, who will be cast into Hell to experience separation from God forever. His mercy will be displayed by the gathering of all believers in resurrected and glorified bodies to everlasting life and fullness of joy in the presence of the LORD (Matthew 24:36; John 5:28,29; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 21:3; Mark 13:26,27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-
10; Revelation 21:8).

Article III: CHURCH ORDINANCES

Stone-Gate Bible Fellowship recognizes that the Lord has established two ordinances to be faithfully observed in the church. These are: baptism, which is to be undergone once at conversion; and the Lord’s Supper, which is celebrated regularly.

Section 1: Baptism

Water baptism is symbolic of the Christian’s spiritual union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4). Upon conversion a new Christian is to be baptized at the earliest convenient time.

a.    Valid baptism. Any baptism prior to conversion, including infant baptism, is not recognized as valid, since it was not a true personal expression of faith and union with Christ. However, a believer who regards his infant baptism as valid will not be required to undergo believer’s baptism as a condition of membership. Ordinarily, one who has already been baptized as a believer should not be re-baptized. If a believer was baptized in a manner other than immersion, it is left up to his conscience as to whether that baptism was valid.

b.    Testing candidates for baptism. Baptisms in Stone-Gate Bible Fellowship are to take place under the authority and supervision of the Elders. An individual desiring to be baptized should contact one of the Elders, who will arrange a meeting with him at the earliest convenient time. At this meeting an Elder is to interview the candidate to hear his profession of faith. The candidate for baptism should demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of sin, repentance, substitutionary atonement, and faith in the Lord Christ. Particular care should be taken to ensure that the candidate understands the meaning of baptism as an important act of obedience and outward profession, but not a condition of salvation. In addition, the one conducting the interview should look for the fruit of faith and repentance as expected in the life of a young believer. If the person conducting the interview determines that some of these issues remain unclear after the first meeting, further instruction and additional meetings may be required. Children who seek baptism must meet the same requirements as adults.

c.    Performing baptisms. If the one desiring baptism gives a credible profession of faith, arrangements shall be made for a public baptism service at the earliest convenient time. Baptisms will ordinarily be by immersion. Baptisms shall be conducted under the supervision of the Elders and may be performed by an Elder, or any man approved by the Elders, such as a father, or another individual who has played a significant role in the spiritual life of the one being baptized. Before the candidate is baptized, he or she is to be given opportunity to give a public profession of Christ either through a testimony, or by answering questions asked by the one performing the baptism.

Section 2: The Lord’s Supper

Because the Lord exhorted us to do this in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:23), and in light of the practice of the early church (Acts 2:42, 20.7), Stone-Gate Bible Fellowship observes the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. The frequency is to be determined by the Elder Board. While the service does not need to be conducted by an Elder, the ordinance shall be carried out under the supervision of the Elders. Participation in the Lord’s Supper is open to all believers in attendance, regardless of their local church affiliation, unless they are under church discipline (see Article IV of By-Laws) or have unresolved sin against God or another person (Matthew 5:23,24; 1 Corinthians 11:28:29).

 

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