While not all of these beliefs are necessary for salvation, they are of such importance that to deny them would either:
- so fundamentally distort the gospel message (or result in a clear logical consequence that does so), that it would be a ‘false gospel’ with no power to save; or
- have such a negative spiritual effect that a genuine Christian’s faith and faithfulness would be significantly undermined.
Therefore, although they will not do so either absolutely or exclusively, these doctrines can be decisive in determining whether somebody is a genuine, healthy and faithful Christian.
I. The Scriptures
The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to man, and thus the sixty-six books of the Bible, given by the Holy Spirit and recorded by men, constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
The Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation, verbally inspired in every word, absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible and God breathed. The Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy and Hermeneutics outline the correct understanding of the inerrancy, inspiration and interpretation of Scripture.
The Bible constitutes the only clear, final, sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; 24:35 Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 10:35; 7:17; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 1 John 2:20.
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
A. God the Father
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.
Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17;1 John 5:7.
B. God the Son
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honoured the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, 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 now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.
C. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptises every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.
Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfil the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. In order to obtain salvation, sinners respond to the offer of salvation with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God.
- Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace by the Holy Spirit whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
- Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favour with God.
- Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.
- Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21;4:17;16:21-26;27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, 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 the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.
V. God's Purpose of Grace
All who repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the Church, of which Christ is the head. It is the bride and body of Christ and includes believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
The purpose of the Church is to glorify God by building itself up in the faith, instruction of the Word, fellowship, keeping the ordinances and advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world.
Members of the Church are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies. These local churches should seek to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith.
Matthew 28:19; Luke 22:19; Acts 1:8; 2:38-42, 47; 1 Corinthians 11:18-20; 12:12-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22; 3:21; 4:13-16; 5:23-32; Colossians 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16-17; Hebrews 10:25; 1 John 1:3 Revelation 19:7-8.
VI. The Church
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God, as is her husband, and thus equal to her husband, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honour and obey their parents.
Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.
VII. The Family
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavour to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17.
VIII. Evangelism and Missions
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 the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever with the Lord.
Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.
IX. Last Things
Unlike Decisive Doctrine, not all genuine, healthy and faithful Christians agree with these beliefs. However, these are the doctrines that we, being convinced of them by God’s Word, have gathered together to believe, teach and practice at Bermondsey Gospel Hall. Relating to our life together as a body, they cover the order and ordinances of the local church. In order to be an active and effective part of the fellowship at Bermondsey Gospel Hall, a Christian should desire to practice local church life in accordance with these beliefs.
I. The Nature of the Local Church
A local church is an independent and autonomous congregation of believers who, having repented and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, gather together in a locality to devote themselves to God’s Word and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.
In coming together, they are governed by God’s Word; exercising the gifts, rights, privileges and responsibilities invested in them by it, submitting to their leaders in as far as they are not acting in disobedience to it and holding each other accountable under it. The exercise of each of the above requires that there be a distinguishable, mutually understood membership in that local church.
The gracious and proper exercise of local church discipline in accordance with God’s Word is one of the responsibilities given to all within a local church, with its primary aim being the restoration and repentance of a fallen believer.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 13:1-3; 14:27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 5:4-5; 7:17; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ, who is the head of the Church and the Chief Shepherd.
The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that a plurality of men oversee each local body of believers. These men, who are interchangeably known as elders, pastors or overseers, must meet the qualifications set out in God’s Word in order to be appointed; being Godly men who are able to teach God’s Word. They are made overseers by the Holy Spirit, appointed by the leaders and recognised by the congregation.
Among other things, elders are responsible for shepherding, caring for and leading the local assembly. They are to labour diligently and joyfully among the believers; ruling, teaching and preaching, exhorting and refuting, setting an example for all and keeping watch over souls. Elders will give an account to God for the believers under their care.
A church may also have deacons, who, meeting the qualifications set out in God’s Word, are recognised servants of God with a responsibility over a certain aspect of service in local church life.
Philippians 1:1; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17 Acts 6:3-6; 14:23; 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Heb. 13:17; Titus 1:9 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14.
II. The Leadership of the Local Church
Each believer, as a priest of God, has the responsibility and privilege of participating in ministry. This will involve the exercise of their God given spiritual gifts to edify, equip and build up the body of Christ and to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.
As both men and women are gifted for service in the local church, they are each to be given the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts. However, the exercise of gifts, ministry and service must always be in accordance with God’s Word. Therefore, although women are spiritually equal with men and the ministry of women is essential to the body of Christ, women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the local church.
Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:27; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Timothy 2:9-14.
III. The Ministry of the Local Church
Men and women stand as equal with each other before God, both bearing His image. However, without making one inferior to the other, God calls upon both to fulfil the roles and responsibilities specifically designed for them.
Just as the head of Christ is God, the head of man is Christ and the head of woman is man. This truth is visibly displayed when men uncover, and women cover, their heads, which they should do when either ‘praying or prophesying’.
Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; Timothy 2:9-14.
IV. Headship within the Local Church
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolising the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ.
Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12.
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of a local church, through partaking of the bread and the cup (containing the fruit of the vine), remember and proclaim Christ’s death in anticipation of His second coming. Following the New Testament pattern, assemblies should gather to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week. Partaking should always be preceded by solemn self-examination.
While the elements only represent the body and blood of Christ, participation in the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an act of actual communion and fellowship with the risen Christ. The Lord’s Supper is also an act of participation and fellowship with each other, as all who partake are members together in one local body.
Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:17-34.
II. The Lord’s Supper