WE BELIEVE WHAT THE CHURCH HAS HISTORICALLY CONFESSED
The gospel can rightly be said in one Word – JESUS. It can be expressed in 10 words – “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead” (1 Cor 15:3). It can be expressed in 25 words – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It can be expressed in 132 words – see Philippians 2:5-11 for a beautiful presentation of the gospel!
We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. How we come to Christ and what depth and breadth of knowledge we may have had of Christ and Scriptural things is unique to every individual. However, believing in Christ by faith, there are doctrines that are so irreducibly a part of the Biblical revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ that they will not be denied by a regenerate believer. Some of the Biblical doctrines that regenerate believers, although they may not fully grasp or be able to explain them, confess to be true by faith include:
- The existence of God (Hebrews 11:6)
- The Trinitarian nature of God (Matthew 3:16-17; Titus 3:4-6)
- The Holiness of God (Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2)
- The total depravity, or spiritual deadness of all men apart from Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3; C.f. Romans 3:10-19; 1 John 1, 6, 8, 10)
- That Christ is truly God and truly man (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-4, 9-10a, 14, 18; 1 John 4:2-3; C.f. Philippians 2:5-11; John 17:1-5)
- That Christ was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:21-23)
- That Christ lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15; C.f. 1 John 3:5)
- The substitutionary atonement of Christ (Romans 5:6-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
- That Christ physically died and was bodily resurrected from the dead (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 14)
- That Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8; C.f. Romans 3:28; 4:4-5; Titus 3:5)
- The authority and inerrancy of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 19:7-11)
These truths are foundational to the Christian faith, but they are not all that we teach at Decatur Bible Church. They are included in our Doctrinal Statement which sets forth the beliefs that guide us as a church. What follows is Decatur Bible Church’s Doctrinal statement as it has been established by the church’s elders.
DECATUR BIBLE CHURCH’S DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
God exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three have distinct personalities and yet are of the same substance, one God. (Gen. 1:1; John 10:30; John 4:24; Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14)
The eternal Son of God became incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ, being born of the virgin Mary, and is true God and true man. He died physically on the cross and was bodily resurrected three days later. (John 1:1,14,18; 5:18; Heb. 1:1-9; 5:8; I John 5:20; I Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 15:1-5 )
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He regenerates, indwells, baptizes, and seals all believers in Christ and empowers those yielded to God. (Matt. 28:19; John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5; I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 2:12; 12:13; Eph. 4:30; Col. 3:14)
Every word in the original writings is inspired by God and is without error. It is accurate in all matters to which it speaks, spiritual, historical, and scientific. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the foundation of the faith and practice for every believer (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21).
Man is created in the image and likeness of God. In Adam, all mankind fell into sin with the result that all men are sinners. Men are justly condemned to eternal judgment and can do nothing to merit salvation. (Rom. 2:2,3,5; Eph. 2:8,9; Gen. 1:27, 9:6; Rom. 5:12; 3:23; Eph. 2:1)
Salvation is given to those chosen by God and drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit. The only means to their salvation is belief in Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection. (Acts 4:12; 13:38,39; I Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 4:4,5; 5:1; John 3:16; Eph. 2:8,9; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:4,5; Rom. 8:29,30)
Every believer is promised positional, progressive, and ultimate sanctification. (Heb. 10:10,14; John 17:15-17; Eph. 5:26-27; I Thess. 4:3,4; I John 3:2; I Cor. 6:11)
All who are born of the Spirit through faith in Christ can have assurance of salvation and are eternally secure in Christ. (Rom. 5:1; I John 5:13; John 10:27-29; 17:12; II Tim. 1:12; Eph. 4:30; John 6:37)
The church is composed of all believers. It is the body and bride of Christ, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and existing in two aspects, universal and local. The universal church is the elect company of believers, baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body. Its mission is to witness to its head, Jesus Christ, by preaching the gospel among all nations. At the Rapture of the church, it will be caught up to meet the Lord, after which He will return to set up His Kingdom. The local church is a group of believers voluntarily joined together in love to worship God with praise and thanksgiving, and to glorify Jesus Christ through an aggressive effort to disciple others by the preaching of the gospel, and the exercise of spiritual gifts. (Eph. 1:22,23; 5:24-30; I Cor. 12:4-13,27)
Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities for service, i.e., “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:1-16; I Cor. 12:7,11; I Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:1-6)
Christians are called to a holy life of service and testimony in the power of the Holy Spirit. This service includes the propagation of the gospel message to the whole world. All believers are promised rewards in heaven for their faithfulness in service. (I Pet. 1:15,16; Acts 1:8; I Cor. 3:12-17; John 14:1-3)
The Bible sets forth two ordinances, the Lord’s Supper and water baptism. The Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated regularly in remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross, and in expectation of His return. Water baptism is an outward testimony of a person’s belief in Christ. Immersion is the ideal means set forth in Scripture. (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 8:12,36-38; 9:18; 10:47; I Cor. 11:23-26)
Angels were originally created holy, but now because of Satan’s rebellion, there is also an unholy angelic kingdom. (Col. 1:16; Job 38:6,7; Ps. 148:2-5; Jude 6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 6:11,12; I Tim. 5:21; Rev. 12:9)
DECATUR BIBLE CHURCH’S DOCTRINAL DISTINCTIVES
Each generation must answer questions that arise concerning the application of the Scriptures to life and of how Christ relates to Culture. How each church answers those questions is a part of what gives a local church its own distinctive identity. Below are some of the doctrinal positions held by Decatur Bible Church and which may distinguish Decatur Bible from other churches you may have previously attended or visited. This being said,
Decatur Bible Church is:
We are “Reformed” with a small-“r”. In other words, the label “Reformed” does not define all that we believe, nor does it come up in every conversation, teaching or sermon. However, it is a significant influence in our thinking. Saying one is Reformed is to first identify oneself with Historical Orthodoxy: Monotheism; Trinitarianism; Christ, the God-Man, incarnate, crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended and coming again; Humanity created in the Image of God but fallen into Total Depravity through sin; the church as a community of the redeemed growing together by the Spirit in the holiness of God through Christ; the sacraments as visible signs and seals of the grace of God; and Christian living characterized by faith, hope and love.
To be Reformed is secondly to state agreement with the primary principles of the protestant reformation as found in the Five Solas: that salvation is solely by grace (Sola Gratia), solely through faith (Sola Fide), solely on the basis of Christ’s accomplished work (Sola Christus), solely in accordance with the teaching of Scripture (Sola Scriptura), and in everything for the Glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). In light of the continual changes in philosophy and culture that press false notions and ideologies upon the church we believe that it is still necessary for the church to cry out these truths in our day.
Much like in being “Reformed” we are “Calvinistic” with a small-”c”. The “Doctrines of Grace” are foundational to how we think and teach, and to the worldview by which we live, but we do not feel that every passage of Scripture is explicitly bringing them to the forefront.
Decatur Bible Church holds to man’s inability and unwillingness to save himself; to God’s unconditional election of sinners to salvation by grace through faith, God’s choice of election having nothing to do with man’s doing or deserving but solely being caused by God’s will; that the atoning death of Christ was sufficient for all men but is only efficaciously applied to the elect; that the call of the Holy Spirit on an individual is effectual, resulting in a free will choice of salvation in Christ; and that believers chosen, predestined, and called by God into saving faith in Christ, God keeps by grace through faith to be presented blameless before the presence of His glory.
The Greek word underlying this word literally means grace – “the unmerited favor or blessing of God.” The New Testament describes God as having gifted believers with a gift of God’s grace, each gift comprised of differing kinds of gifts given in different measures to an individual to do the work of ministry in order to glorify God and strengthen the church. Some of the types of gifts given are uniquely suited to the founding of the church while other types of gifts are manifested in every age and place the church has existed throughout history. By “non-charismatic” we mean to indicate that we acknowledge this distinction.
Complementarianism is the understanding that man and woman are created co-equal in the Image of God, and have also been given unique roles in marriage and the life of the church that are meant to provide insight into the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:22-33; 2 Timothy 2:12)
This means that in marriage the husband’s role is informed by Christ, taking responsibility for spiritually nourishing, tenderly protecting and diligently providing for his wife and family; the wife’s role being informed by God’s will for the church, seeking to honor and affirm her husband’s servant-leadership and to help him nourish, protect and provide for the home and family according to her gifts.
Applied to the church, this means that the primary responsibility for governance and teaching in the church should be fulfilled by spiritually gifted men called elders. The opportunities for the men and women of the local church to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ – to seek the salvation of souls and the healing of broken lives – are varied and many! Every individual member of the church should be exercising the gift of God’s grace given to them for the work of the ministry. However, the spiritual oversight and leadership of the church has been restricted to spiritually gifted men.
The offices described in Scripture that have been given for the church are two: Elder and Deacon. Elders may be spiritually gifted, trained, and proven lay members of the church or spiritually gifted, trained, and proven hired staff members of the church. Deacons likewise may be lay members of the church or hired staff members of the church. The distinction between an Elder or a Deacon is in the kind of ministry they are appointed or hired to do. Elders are responsible for spiritually shepherding the church and its people which includes teaching, exemplifying, leading, protecting and providing for the church in a Christ-like manner. Deacons are responsible for managing, organizing, and providing for physical needs and concerns of the church and its membership so that the Elders may focus on the spiritual ministry given to them. That does not mean that Elders do not serve, nor that Deacons may not teach, counsel, or shepherd. It means that the focus of the Elder’s ministry is spiritual, and the focus of the Deacon’s ministry is in the physical.
God has revealed different dispensations or stewardships, each with corresponding rules of life which characterize the believer’s relationship with God. However, salvation has always been on the basis of God’s grace and received through the believer’s faith alone. The present dispensation is the stewardship of grace. (Eph. 3:2-6,9-11; Col. 1:25-27; Rom. 6:14; Heb. 7:18,19)
Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture
The blessed hope of the church is the imminent return of Christ. The events of the return of Christ take place in the following order: the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the second advent, the establishment of the reign of Christ on earth for one thousand years, and finally the eternal state of punishment for the unsaved and the eternal state of blessing for the saved. (Titus 2:13; I Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:4-10; John 14:1-3; Matt. 24:21,29,30; 25:31-46; Rev. 3:10 )