Upendo Gospel Community Church Statement of Faith
UPENDO GOSPEL COMMUNITY CHURCH
THE STATEMENT OF FAITH
Being in the historical line of the Christian Church, we highly value the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Chalcedonian Definition, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Three Forms of the Dutch Reformed Church, and other faithful and reformed creeds and confessions. We wholeheartedly agree with the historic articles of the Christian faith expressed in the five solas of the reformation – the Scriptures alone are our final standard, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone. This church thus belongs to the strain of reformed churches historically identified as Particular or Strict Baptists, today being commonly known as Reformed Baptists. Being a church plant of Lausanne Free Church, Switzerland, we acknowledge the independence of the local churches from any ulterior influence, including governments, persons and other local churches. Consequently, this church shall align with the doctrines of Scripture as set forth in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (hereafter, 1689 LBCF) and adopt this as our confession of faith. Though the 1689 LBCF is not infallible, we believe it to be a faithful summary of what is contained in the Scriptures and of our faith. We, therefore, insist particularly on the following points:
1. The Bible – the Word of God
We believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Holy Scriptures as they were originally written; their plenary and verbal inspiration by God; their authority and entire sufficiency, for they not only contain the word of God, but they themselves are the word of God (contra Barthianism); the New Testament being reliable or trustworthy in the witness it bears to the character of the Old Testament and its authors; and the necessity of the instruction of the Holy Spirit, in the Church, to understand the whole i.e., both the Old and New Testament Scriptures, according to the truth. The Holy Scriptures are our unique and final rule of faith and conduct. They comprise sixty-six (66) books of the Old and New Testaments. Since they were received by the Church, no further revelation has been given, for the instruments of divine revelation, that is, apostles and prophets, as well as the peculiar gifts that give them their genuineness, have long ago disappeared or ceased. The canon is thus complete.
2. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – One God
We believe in one God, the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler or Governor of all things, including time, space and matter. He is owed by all love, reverence, and obedience. We also believe the Trinitarian nature of this God as revealed in the Scriptures. The Scriptures clearly and expressly teach that God is one, that is, undivided in nature, being or essence. They also teach that this one God has chosen to reveal Himself in three Persons – the Father being God neither begotten nor made, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son being God, begotten but not made, the Holy Spirit being God neither begotten nor made but proceeding, all three Persons being equal in power and glory, receiving one honour, one Almighty God – sovereign in His eternal decrees of creation and providence, and of redemption and judgement.
3. Jesus Christ – Truly God and Truly Man
We believe in the Divine essence, eternal and absolute, of the Lord Jesus Christ; His conception by the Holy Spirit; His birth of the virgin Mary; His entire or true humanity yet without sin; the authority of His
teaching and the infallibility of all His statements; His life of voluntary humiliation as Man of Sorrows, which led to His atoning and substitutionary death, by which He poured out His precious blood as a sacrifice for sin, thus redeeming all those that were given Him by His Father before the creation of the world; His corporeal or bodily resurrection on the third day; His corporeal ascension to heaven as the only and eternal Mediator between God and man; His continual intercession for His people as High Priest sitting at the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory to render judgment and usher in the new heavens and new earth.
4. The Holy Spirit – Author and Source of Life
We believe in the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit who inspired holy men to write the Scriptures. It is by His action alone that the soul comes to regeneration leading to the graces of repentance and saving faith; it is by Him that the saints are sanctified by means of the truth; it is by Him that we understand the meaning of the Scriptures and are taught by God. We believe that His action is indispensable in the exercise of peculiar ministries as well as in the service and the daily life of every believer through the gifts He distributes as He pleases.
5. The Creation – Good and Stable
We believe that God created all things by His sole word, Genesis 1 and 2 being historical and not mythical. Thus, God’s creation was good and firm, man being created in original righteousness and innocence. Satan and his angels are also God’s creatures and are in no way His equals. Despite the corruption of the Fall, man is still made in the image of God, which makes his person sacred and his being without end. This is the foundation for the urgency to present the gospel to all mankind by evangelism and missions or disciple-making.
6. Fallen Man – A Sinner
We believe in the total and universal depravity of man before God as a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve, our first parents, fell by disobeying God and thus lost their original righteousness and innocence in which they were created. By their own sin they ushered in corruption, misery, ruin, and death. Mankind is therefore deserving of eternal punishment, that is, hell. Through Adam as a representative head, all mankind who are his descendants are born in the state of sin, called original sin. This means that every man is unable to will the slightest spiritual good leading to salvation and this is the necessity, in consequence, of new birth. This does not deny that through God’s common grace man can do great and virtuous deeds. However, man, no matter how great, in his natural state is separated from and in enmity to God.
7. The Law of God – Universal Rule
We believe that the law of God, which is the reflection of God’s character, contained in the whole Bible, is the eternal and absolute rule or standard of good and evil for every man, that is, for the Church and for society. Therefore, all thoughts, all deeds, and all institutions of man should be ruled by the law of God which is contained in the Word of God. However, because of man’s sin, the law of God applied without the Mediator is unable to spiritually save any man and can only condemn. We therefore believe that there were two Covenants given to man to follow God’s law. One covenant is old and obsolete and proved too difficult for man to obey. Yet, the other that is new is made effectual by the death of the
perfect covenant-Keeper, that is Christ, to enable man’s heart to willingly obey and fulfill God’s commands.
8. Election and Regeneration – God’s Free Choice and our Conversion
We believe that God eternally chose of His own free will some persons to eternal life – not because He could foresee any merit or faith or good works in them, but because of His great mercy in Jesus Christ. Those God elected He predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. These are called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. God calls these within time, by the holy word and the Holy Spirit, effectually, into fellowship and union with Christ. As a result, God, by the free and invisible work of the Holy Spirit, enlightens their minds and renews their wills and affections to be like those of Christ.
9. Justification and Adoption – By Grace, Through Faith, Children of God
We believe in the eternal justification of the sinner; by grace alone; through faith alone; through the sole and unaided propitiatory merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ whose imputed righteousness is the unique foundation for the sinner’s acceptance before God. For the sake of Christ, all who are justified are numbered with and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, being made sharers and inheritors with Christ in sonship as adopted sons.
10. Sanctification, Good Works, and Witness – Proofs of Conversion
We believe in the sanctified life of those who profess to be Christians being the visible proof of their conversion to God. The duty of every believer and every church of Christ is to propagate the gospel to the ends of the earth. This must be achieved by means of believers’ individual and corporate witness, using to this end all methods compatible with the Word of God. In addition, while justification is by faith alone, this faith does not come alone. Once justified, a believer must necessarily do good works prepared by God for him beforehand. The believer’s obedience to the law of God must appear in all areas of his life.
11. Sacraments or Ordinances – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe there are only two sacraments, that is, baptism in the name of the Trinity and the Lord’s Supper or the Lord’s Table. A sacrament is a holy ordinance or order instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, by which, through outward signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented and communicated to believers, who, at the same time, commit themselves to follow the Lord. The Lord’s supper is in no way a sacrifice for sin and involves no transformation of the substance of the bread and of the wine. The Lord’s supper is the communion of believers, by the Spirit and by faith, in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Golgotha. Additionally, baptism is to be administered after conversion (that is, not to infants) and only by immersion. Baptism water does not save any man.
12. The Future – Heaven and Hell
We believe that to every man is appointed death, wherein the body returns to the dust and the soul or spirit immediately appears before God – the righteous are ushered to rest in God’s presence whereas the wicked are reserved in torment, all awaiting the Great Judgment. Jesus Christ on the last day, shall return visibly, personally and bodily with the glory of the Father. The bodies of all who died will be resurrected, both the just and the unjust. God will then judge the world by the Man He has appointed,
even our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in perfect judgment, every one shall receive their due – eternal blessing for the redeemed and eternal punishment for the wicked. The wicked men shall be cast into the Lake of Fire together with Satan and his angels. The righteous, with glorified bodies, shall inherit and inhabit the new heavens and new earth with the restoration of the whole creation in Jesus Christ unto the perfect fullness of God’s kingdom.
13. The Unique Church – Called to be Pure
We believe in the community of believers which is composed of God’s elect in every age. Christians are to gather together frequently in local churches and are called out of the world, living in the world but not of it. The local church must maintain the spiritual unity of all those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is their duty to further maintain in themselves and in the Church a standard of doctrine and life consistent with the teaching of the holy word of God. To each local church, Christ has given authority and responsibility for administering order, discipline, and worship. The officers of the local church are elders and deacons, with one elder being the Pastor.
14. The Lord’s Day – A Holy Day Unto the Lord
We believe that the Lord’s Day is a holy Sabbath and is given for the benefit of the local church. This day is to be ordinarily observed on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday. God’s Word grounds the Sabbath principle not in the Mosaic legislation but in the original creation. On this day, we rest from our normal occupations and worldly pursuits and give ourselves wholly and communally to the worship and service of God. However, we acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons that may necessitate a lack of observance of the Sabbath, such as, works of necessity, works of mercy, extreme persecution, or illness. To neglect public worship on this day, except for legitimate reasons, or for worldly pleasure or gain is sin.
15. Independence – Unrestricted Freedom to Congregate, Worship, and Associate
We believe that the local church is free from outward manipulation or inward pressure to act in a way contrary to its purpose, calling, or against its own local congregation. Therefore, we do not subscribe to any denominational or episcopal system where there is an outward influence directing and ordering the affairs of the local church. Christ, by His Spirit, rules the local church directly through the local church officers, who ought to rule with a sober mind and faithfully guide God’s people by the truth. In addition, we are freed from the religious rules and worship guidelines set up by secular governments, though we seek to be law-abiding citizens insofar as we do not disobey God. This however does not mean that the church officers or members cannot benefit from the wisdom of other people, particularly believers in other local churches. We are thus free to associate with other individuals, governments, para-church organizations, and local churches that are doctrinally and practically aligned with our mandate as a local church, that is, primarily proclaiming and living out the biblical gospel in this present world