Statement of Faith

The Philadelphia Baptist Church Statement of Faith reflects what we believe to be both timeless and essential truths of the Christian faith. While the Bible is always the final authority for doctrine, life, and practice this document reflects what we as a church believe to be the essentials of the Christian faith. This statement reflects the influence of many historic Baptist documents. These documents include, but are not limited to: The Baptist Faith and Message of 2000, The Abstract of Principles of 1858, The New Hampshire Confession of 1833, and The Second London Confession of 1689.

I. Scripture

We believe the Holy Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, plenary, and infallible Word to man. It is comprised of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. The Scriptures are the authoritative rule and guide for Christian living. The central theme of the Bible is God’s activity in history to present Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and religious opinions should be tried. 

II. God

There is one God.  He exists eternally as three distinct persons. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist in perfect unity and without division of their essence, nature, or being. All three persons make up the Triune God Who is infinitely wise, powerful, loving, just, and holy.

God the Father

Through His Son, is the creator of all things.  He brought all of creation into being through His powerful Word. He rules over all of creation, and no plan of His can be halted or interrupted. He enjoys a perfect and eternal relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit.  In redemption, the Scriptures identify the Father as the One Who chooses and draws individuals to salvation in the Son.

God the Son

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He has existed from all eternity past with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Conceived of the Holy Spirit and born to the virgin Mary, He is fully God and fully man. He lived a sinless, perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, was raised from the dead on the third day, and has ascended to the right hand of the Father where He awaits the time of His return to earth to gather all of the redeemed from all of the ages to Himself. He is the Head of His Body, the Church. He lives in the heart of every believer through faith. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the nature of God and of man, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He is presently our advocate before the Father. There is no hope of salvation outside of the work and message of Jesus Christ.

God the Holy Spirit

The Sprit is the fully divine spirit of God. He exists eternally with the Father and the Son. He was active with the Father and the Son in creation. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. The Spirit applies salvation to the human heart, beginning with regeneration and continuing by indwelling the believer. The Spirit is the comforter, teacher, and guide Who was promised by Jesus. Every believer is baptized with the Spirit when he is born again and is empowered by Him to live a godly life. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. The Spirit gives gifts to every believer to be used in service to God. 

III.  Human Beings

Human beings were created in the image of God.  The first humans were Adam and Eve. Human beings are the crown of God’s creation. God created them male and female. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The entire human race is descended from these first parents. Adam and Eve were created innocent and morally upright. In their original state, they were without sin. When tempted by Satan, they chose to disobey God’s Word. It is through this act that sin and death entered the world. Every human being suffers the consequence of the rebellion of Adam and Eve. Every human is considered as having sinned in Adam. Every person is born with a natural inclination to sin (sin nature). Because of the profound consequence of Adam’s sin (the Fall), no person can fulfill the righteous requirement of God; and therefore every person is born as an object of God’s wrath. Every person is born in need of God’s mercy to deliver him from the just penalty for his sin.

Human Freedom

Every human being is accountable to God for the way in which he lives his life. Every human being freely and willfully makes moral choices. A person is considered free, when he acts according to his own nature. Because these things are true, every human being freely acts according to his own sinful nature. Because of his own sinfulness, no human being will come to Christ apart from the enabling grace (drawing) of the Father.

IV.  Salvation

Salvation is a right relationship to God. It is the free gift of God to all who trust in Jesus Christ. No person is ever saved apart from hearing the Gospel of Jesus’ saving work. All three persons of the Godhead are active in salvation. The Father has in eternity past ordained salvation’s plan and elected individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1). The Son fulfilled the desires of the Father and His righteous demands, and died as a perfect  sacrifice for sin. The Holy Spirit applies salvation to the human heart and lives and ministers in the life of the believer. Salvation is given by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Where saving faith is present, there is always repentance. Those who are saved will persevere to the end and will never lose or forfeit their salvation.

Election

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is a glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

Regeneration

Regeneration is the work of the Spirit that produces the new birth. The person who is dead in trespasses and sin will not and cannot repent and believe until God exercises His power in the unbeliever’s life and brings about the new birth.  It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance  toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Through regeneration, a person becomes a new creation in Christ.

Faith, Belief

Faith (or belief) is trust in Christ’s work on our behalf for our salvation. Faith involves:

  • knowledge of the Gospel
  • belief that the Gospel is true
  • affectionate reliance upon Christ’s work alone for eternal salvation.

All three elements of faith must be present in saving faith.

Repentance

Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is the turning from sin and self to Christ in godly sorrow.  It is the renouncing of the old way of life and allegiances, and yielding to Christ’s Lordship.

Justification

Justification is an act of God by which He declares believers just in His sight. Because of the atoning work of Christ, God reckons the believer no longer guilty of his sin. In justification, the believer is not only pronounced “not guilty;” he is also credited with perfect righteousness based on the performance of Christ.  The believer is justified through faith alone.

Sanctification

Sanctification is the process by which God’s people are conformed to Christ. It is both instant and progressive. It is instant in that when a person is converted he is set apart or made holy through the blood of Christ. Sanctification is also progressive, because the believer grows in his experience and appreciation of his salvation as he matures in Christ.
 

Sanctification (in the progressive sense) involves two related aspects:

  • the believer growing in likeness or conformity to the character of Jesus Christ
  • the destruction of sin and its strongholds in the life of the believer.  

Christian living is the experience of this two-fold sanctifying work in the life of the believer.

Glorification

Glorification is the completion of God’s work of salvation in the life of the believer. Glorification is completed at the resurrection of the believer’s body upon the return of Christ.

Perseverance

Perseverance is God preserving believers in faithful obedience. All who are genuinely saved persevere in their faith until the end. Salvation cannot be lost, but a believer, through his own neglect and/or willful rebellion, can bring serious harm to himself, to his church, and to others, and can grieve the Holy Spirit. All who are genuinely converted can live with the certainty of their being resurrected to spend eternity with Jesus Christ.

The Work of Christ

The Work of Christ has secured salvation for those who believe in Him. He became a man and lived in perfect obedience to God’s Law. It is through Christ’s obedience as the perfect man that the believer is credited with righteousness. Because Christ was perfect in performance and essence, He could die as the final and perfect sacrifice for sins. Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for the sins of the world.  He suffered the punishment every human being deserves. He satisfied the demands of God’s holy Law. Through the shedding of His blood, the believer is cleansed from sin. Jesus’ life and work was vindicated by conquering sin and death through His resurrection from the dead. Because of His victory over death, the believer lives with the knowledge that death will not win the final victory. Jesus now makes intercession for the believer before the Father.

Good Works

Good Works are evidences of saving grace. The clear teaching of Scripture is that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works do not contribute in any way to the believer’s justification. However, good works are the fruit of sanctification. It is consistent with the nature of salvation for the believer to bear “fruits of righteousness.” These fruits include a lifestyle of obedience to Christ, faithful service to His church, and love for fellow believers.

V.  The Gospel

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel is the Good News of salvation to sinners. The Gospel is God’s plan to bring individuals to salvation through the life and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. To be saved, the Gospel must be understood, believed, and completely relied upon for salvation. For the Gospel to be understood and received, it must be viewed against the background of mankind’s need for salvation.

The essential saving events and message of the Gospel are that:

  • God sent His divine Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to become a man.
  • Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God.
  • Jesus Christ lived in perfect obedience to God’s will and Law.
  • Jesus Christ died as the sacrifice for our sin and was punished in our place for our disobedience to God.
  • Jesus Christ was buried and on the third day was raised from the dead.
  • Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, and now makes intercession for the believer. He now indwells the believer through the Holy Spirit empowering Him to live for God.

The only way to salvation is through hearing and believing this Biblical message of Jesus Christ.

VI.  The Church

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is both universal and local in nature. It is universal in the sense that it is made up of all of the redeemed now and throughout history who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. The local church is made up of baptized believers who live in covenant together. They regularly gather on the Lord’s Day for worship through proclamation, through praise, through public reading of the Scripture, through prayer, and through the observation of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This church is an autonomous body, operating congregationally under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The two scriptural offices of the church are pastor (elder, bishop) and deacon. The Bible prescribes that only men may serve as pastors. The pastors (elders, bishops) of the church are to teach and exercise spiritual oversight. The deacons function as servants in the church.  The church is to submit to her Head, Jesus Christ. The local church is not to be governed by any outside individual or agency.

Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom.

VII.  The Ordinances

Baptism

Scriptural baptism is by immersion in water in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and is administered to believers. Baptism is a dramatic outward sign of an inward renewal that has occurred in the life of the    believer. No one is saved because of, or through water baptism, but all who are genuinely converted should follow the Lord’s example through baptism. Church membership is reserved for those who have been baptized according to Scripture.

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a memorial to be observed in each local church. It is to be observed by all baptized believers. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance and dramatic portrayal of our Lord’s sacrifice and shed blood. It is also a celebration in anticipation of the return of Christ, and of the believer living in the presence of our Lord throughout eternity. The meal is to be observed using bread and the fruit of the vine. No Christian should participate in the Lord’s Supper without a period of sober self-examination. All who are converted should participate in the Lord’s Supper.

VIII.  The Lord’s Day

The practice of the early church was to gather for worship on the first day of the week. The Christian has been freed by grace from the legalistic observance of the Sabbath Day. However, it is the duty of every believer to participate regularly and faithfully in corporate worship in the local church. Any believer who neglects this duty does so at the peril of his own soul.

IX.  Evangelism and Missions

The last words our Lord spoke to His disciples were His command to preach the Gospel to all people in all nations. The church and every believer are under the same mandate. Every believer should seriously consider the reality that no one is saved apart from the preaching and hearing of the Gospel. While it is God who saves, He saves through the instrumentality of evangelism. Evangelism is the responsibility of every believer and is to begin at home and extend throughout the world. It is a consistent and necessary aspect of fulfilling the Great Commission to reveal the love of Christ through the ministry of benevolence. To provide  financial and material resources for the purpose of improving the living conditions and alleviating the suffering of the poor, the sick, the afflicted, and the dispossessed is a part of the mission endeavors of this church.

Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.

X.  Stewardship

The duty and privilege of every Christian is to support God’s work with his financial resources. Christian giving is to be proportionate with income and resources, it is to be cheerful, and it is to be done regularly as a part of Christian worship. The faithful steward lives in recognition that all blessings, whether material or spiritual, are gifts from God. These blessings include, but are not limited to, our time,  talents, and gifts, which should all be devoted to God.

XI. Church and State

The growth and advancement of God’s Kingdom is carried out only by spiritual means.  No one can or should be forced by civil government to align themselves with, or participate in, public or private religious practices. We believe that it is the duty of all Christians to support, obey, and pray for those in civil authority over them. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. We do not believe that it is the duty of civil government to deny the right of any citizen to engage in or to express his religious convictions. This does not include religious expressions that are a threat to individual or public safety or those who needlessly disobey civil authority. We believe that Christian virtue cannot be legislated, however civil law can and should reflect the eternal moral standards revealed in Scripture.

XII.  Last Things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

XIII.  The Family

The family is a gift from God to humanity. Marriage is a life-long commitment of a man and woman to each other as long as both are alive. Children are a gift and a blessing from God to a husband and his wife. The husband is the spiritual head of his family. He is charged by God to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Any husband who willfully refuses to provide for the spiritual and material well being of his family sins against God and his family. The wife is to submit lovingly to the leadership of her husband. Children are to live in obedience to their parents. Parents are to teach and model Christ-like character to their children. Parents are the most important means of grace that God uses to bring children to salvation.

Statement of Faith
Article 4, Constitution and By-Laws