Non-denominational churches are sometimes charged with being doctrinally indistinct and vague, and sometimes the charge is a valid one. But doctrinal clarity is critical to the Christian faith, based as it is on certain propositional statements such as the deity and humanity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of His death, and the redemptive power of His resurrection. Fellowship Bible Church has sought over the years to clearly develop a biblically-based evangelical theology to nurture the flock from the saving simplicity of the Gospel to the faith-strengthening doctrines of Christianity. This journey has brought the leadership of FBC to a firm conviction within the Reformed Baptist theological tradition of John Bunyan, John Gill, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
While we proclaim the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinful man (“Salvation is of Jehovah”) we do not believe that this doctrine in any way diminishes the responsibility of man to repent and believe. Man’s inability to repent and to seek after God is a self-inflicted and terminal wound, and therefore cannot mitigate his responsibility of holy obedience to his Creator God. Mysteriously, God’s saving grace works alongside the proclamation of the Gospel to regenerate the hearts of those whom God has chosen “from before the foundation of the world,” changing their nature and making them ‘new creations.’ This is the glorious Good News whereby God has done in Jesus Christ what man must but cannot do for himself. Therefore, with Paul, we are “not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16)
STATEMENT OF FOUNDATIONAL DOCTRINE
The elders of Fellowship Bible Church believe that a church’s doctrinal statement should unite, not divide, a congregation. Therefore, this Statement of Foundational Doctrine has been prepared with a focus on basic, non-negotiable beliefs central to the Christian faith and necessary for biblical fellowship among believers. The elders recognize that there are a multitude of doctrinal issues and ecclesiastical practices that have been the subject of learned theological debate for centuries. It is not our intention to minimize the importance of these issues, or to refuse to graciously participate in the debates. Rather we wish to acknowledge the priority of certain doctrinal positions as ‘foundational’ to “our like simple faith” while also seeking to provide reasoned and biblical contribution to the other issues as well. Whereas the elders believe that there can be disagreement upon many other doctrinal issues without the loss of fellowship, these foundational doctrines are the bedrock upon which true Christian koinonia is built.
The order in which these foundational doctrinal points is presented is also not without purpose. It is the authority and integrity of the Holy Bible from which believers derive all that they may know and profess concerning the nature and attributes of God, the sinful condition of Man, and the salvation of sinners through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ. The sequence of these doctrinal points, along with the Scripture references provided, can be used by any believer for personal study, discussing the Christian faith with unbelievers, or leading a young believer through a discipleship program.
We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are divine Truth, inspired by God and without error as they were written in the original documents. We believe God has sovereignly preserved their transmission and translation through the ages so that, while there are variations in the extant manuscripts, these are of amazingly small quantity and do not touch upon any matters of doctrine or practice that are not unambiguously taught elsewhere in Scripture. We believe that the Scriptures, while not everywhere equally clear to all, are in matters central to faith and sanctification sufficiently clear that the youngest believer can understand what is revealed to and required of them “for life and godliness.”
[Psa. 119:160; II Peter 1:21, 3:15-16; II Timothy 3:14-17; John 17:17]
[Genesis 1:1-2, 26; Deut. 6:4; Mark 1:9-11; Ephesians 3:14-17; Colossians 1:16]
We believe that the essential doctrine of the Trinity, though not taught explicitly in such terms in the Bible, is of ‘good and necessary consequence’ as Scripture attributes both the qualities of divinity and the proper object of worship to the Father as to the Son as to the Holy Spirit. Thus we believe in One God whose eternal self-existence consists in three equal Persons having the same essence and attributes without division or confusion. We believe the triune God to be the Creator of all that is, and the Redeemer of all the elect. We believe that the three Persons of the Trinity, while of the same nature as God, have been revealed to Man through the Scriptures as separate in regard to the works of creation and redemption.
[Genesis 1:1-2, 26; Deut. 6:4; Mark 1:9-11; Ephesians 3:14-17; Colossians 1:16]
The Person & Work of Jesus Christ:
We believe that at the proper and appointed time set by the Father from eternity past, God the Eternal Son, ‘very God of very God,’ became the man Jesus of Nazareth, born of the Virgin Mary and thus ‘very Man of very Man’ to be the Christ (Messiah, Promised One). We believe that Jesus dwelt on this earth for approximately thirty-three years, “going about doing good, for the Holy Spirit was with Him.” His life on earth was an act both of active and passive obedience to the Father: active in His complete and sinless fulfillment of all that was required of Man with regard to the holiness of God, and passive in His vicarious and sacrificial death as an atonement for the sins of His people. We believe that Christ’s death on the cross completely pays the price of sin, and that His resurrection stands as the historical pronouncement of His glory and majesty, and of His comprehensive victory over sin, death, and the devil. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer and Mediator between God and Man, and that “no one comes to the Father” but through Jesus Christ.
[John 1:14,18; Luke 1:35; Romans 3:22-26; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Galatians 4:4-5; Colossians 2:14-22; Psa. 22:1-18; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9]
We believe the Lord Jesus Christ is currently seated in majesty at the right hand of the Father in heaven, having attained a glory as the God-Man that is above all created beings, awaiting the consummation of the ages when all of His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet. We believe that His Kingdom is present invisibly in the world today and will become manifest visibly and powerfully when He returns in glory. During this time of Christ’s Session He abides in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest, and intercedes at all times for His saints.
[Philippians 2:8-9; Hebrews 1:3, 2:17-18, 3:1, 4:14-16, 7:17-28; I John 2:1-2; II Thes. 4:16-18; Revelation 20:1-21]
The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal Spirit of God proceeding from the Father and from the Son who gives eternal life to man through regeneration. It is the Holy Spirit who dwells in the heart of every believer, sealing him or her for eternal life as a guarantee of the promise of the resurrection from the dead.
[Genesis 2:7; Ezekiel 37:5; John 3:3-8, 14:16-17]
We believe the Holy Spirit also brings gifts, called ‘charismata,’ to each believer, enlightens the Scriptures to their understanding, convicts of sin, bears witness to the believer of their adoption by the Father, and intercedes for the believer in prayer. We believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, accompanying as they did in history the giving of divine revelation, have ceased to operate as normal expressions of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church.
[I Corinthians 12:4; Romans 8:15-16, 27; John 16:8-11]
The Condition of Man: Life in the World
We believe that man was created immediately by God as the supreme expression of His glory – the Imago Dei, the ‘Image of God.’ As such created Man possessed a power and glory that fallen Man cannot comprehend, except as it has been restored and revealed in Jesus Christ. Through his original disobedience, Man has contracted sin, corruption, and death and is both unwilling and unable to deliver himself from this condition or from the just wrath of God that stands against humanity in its rebellion. This condition has been rightly termed ‘Total Depravity,’ which does not mean that man is at all times as bad as he is capable of being, or that individual men are incapable of comparative ‘good,’ but rather that every characteristic and faculty of man has been tainted and deformed by sin, marring the Image almost beyond recognition. We believe that all man-made religions are nothing more than the expression of man’s innate relationship to his Creator, but offer no hope for justification from sin, nor any reasonable promise of acceptance by God and eternal life.
[Genesis 1:27, 2:17, 3:1-19; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 20:11-15]
The Salvation of Man: Life in the Son
We believe that salvation is a miraculous event whereby the Holy Spirit of God regenerates the heart of a sinner, creating a new creation and establishing a new and righteous nature. This regeneration is the same as being ‘born again’ and is the only way that a sinner can be saved. This regeneration is entirely according to the will and power of God, yet is mediated through the acts of men preaching the Gospel, and is manifested through the act of the sinner believing. Thus regeneration viewed from the perspective of God is a divine and powerful act of re-creation, while viewed from the perspective of man is an act of believing, of the sinner placing his or her entire trust for salvation upon the Person and finished Work of Jesus Christ. As a result of this awesome salvation, a ‘Great Exchange’ is made wherein the sins of the sinner, having been laid upon Jesus Christ on the Cross, are exchanged for all eternity for the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
[John 15:1-17; Romans 3:26; II Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 103:10-13; Isaiah 53:3-5, 11]
Sanctification & Glorification: Life in the Church and Beyond
The Christian, though born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, still abides through his or her life in what Paul calls “the body of this death.” Thus temptation is ever present, and sin is never fully escaped. The process whereby the believer is made stronger in faith, more resistant to temptation, and more victorious over sin, is called sanctification. This process, already perfected on behalf of the believer by and in Jesus Christ, occurs through the passing of years as the believer’s mind and conscience are renewed by the “washing of the water with the Word.” In addition to the illumination of the Scriptures to the believer’s mind, the congregation of believers provides an atmosphere of encouragement and reproof, guiding the believer in the right path and admonishing error in belief and practice. Thus we believe that consistent and active participation with a congregation of believers is essential to the nature and growth of the new birth, as the new believer is “baptized into” the body of Christ, the Church.
[Romans 7:15-25; Galatians 5:17; I John 1:9-2:3; I Corinthians 10-14]
We believe in the resurrection from the dead of all mankind, some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation. We believe that at the time of Christ’s Second Advent the grave will give up its dead and all those who were regenerated during life will be changed “in an instant” from corruption to incorruption, and from death to life. Thus we believe the physical body is an essential part of human nature, and as such ought to be held as holy before the Lord.
[John 5:25-29; I Corinthians 6:12-20, 15:12-58; Revelation 20:11-15]