Statement of Faith
Note: This statement represents what one must believe and affirm in order to become a member at GBC.
Of the Holy Scripture
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do reveal the nature and power of God, these means of revelation are only sufficient to leave humanity inexcusable in sin before God (Rom 1:20). Therefore, it has pleased the Lord to commit his purpose, will, and nature to humanity in writing. The product of which is the Holy Scripture. The Holy Scripture exists in sixty-six books (i.e. the Protestant Old and New Testaments) and alone constitutes the verbally inspired Word of God. As such Scripture is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings. It is complete in its revelation of God’s will for salvation and sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do. Also, it is final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks (Mat 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13;17:17; 1 Cor 2:13; 2 Tim 3:15-17; Heb 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Therefore, Scripture is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
Though all Scripture is not equally clear, a person may attain sufficient understanding for life and godliness through the use of ordinary means to interpret Scripture. Further, we confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively; however, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly.
The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors of Scripture that through the human authors’ respective personalities and styles (2 Pet 1:20-21), the product was precisely the Word of God and therefore without error in the whole or in the part (Mat 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16). Further, the Holy Spirit so communicated God’s revelation by means of human authors that though culturally and historically contextualized, the Holy Scripture is applicable to all people in all generations when rightly interpreted and applied.
Of the Triune God
There is but one God (Deut 6:4; Is 41:4; 43:10-13; 44:6-8), eternally existing in three equally and fully divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another (Mat 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2). This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace (Is 44:6-8; 45:5-7; Eph 1:3-14).
God the Father: God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to his own purpose and grace (Ps 145:8-9; 1 Cor 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Gen 1:1-31; Eph 3:9) and is sufficient in himself, not standing in need of any creature that he has made. (Acts 17:24-25). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, he is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps 103:19; Rom 11:36).
His fatherhood involves both his designation within the Trinity and his relationship with humanity. As Creator he is Father to all men (Acts17:28), but he is spiritual Father only to believers (Rom 8:14; 2 Cor 6:18; Eph 4:6). He has decreed for his own glory all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chron 29:11). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom he would have as his own (Eph 1:4-6). He saves from sin all who come to him through Jesus Christ, adopting them into his family (John 1:12; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Heb 12:5-9). As Father to his children, he hears and answers prayer according to His wisdom, love, and providence. He will carry out all things in their proper time and order that they would consummate in Jesus Christ to reveal the supremacy of his name and purposes especially including the power of His love (Rom 11:33-36; Eph 1:11).
God the Son: Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, is the Father’s only begotten eternal Son, very God of very God, who possesses all the divine excellencies, and thus he is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and is himself the image of the invisible God (John 10:30; 14:9; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3). Jesus Christ is the agent through whom God the Father created all things and by whom all things continue in existence and in operation. (John 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2).
The Son of God became incarnate approximately 2000 years ago, grew “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke2:52) all the while living and dying wholly obedient to the will of his Father and therefore, without sin (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22). This incarnation consisted in God the Son adding humanity to his deity. As a result of the incarnation, the Son of God became and remains, one person who exists in two natures, full deity and full humanity. None of the attributes of deity or humanity were erased, given over, inoperative, or forfeited in this union.
The Son of God was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified. As a result of his crucifixion and the predetermined plan of God, the God-Man died a substitutionary and propitiatorydeath in the most absolute sense, the just for the unjust (Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:15; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2). He was then buried and on the third day, rose bodily from the dead and appeared to many of his disciples (1 Cor 15:1-8). He ascended into heaven, where he sits now at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 1:9).
As a result of his accomplished work, he became the head over all things as uniquely demonstrated in the church, which is his body (Col1:18). Further, he does not cease to intercede and advocate for his people while seated at the right hand of the Father on high (Eph 1:22-23; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25).
God the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is eternally one with the Father and Son. He is underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor 2:10-13), emotions (Eph 4:30), will (1 Cor 12:11), eternality (Heb 9:14), omnipresence (Ps 139:7-10), omniscience (Is 40:13-14), omnipotence (Rom 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes he is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and the Son (Mat 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor13:14; Jer 31:31-34 with Heb 10:15-17).
The salvation that Jesus Christ accomplished is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the Helper, is present with and in believers (John 14:26; 15:26). His work includes convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He also regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith. It is in and through him that Christians are baptized into union with the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:5-8; 16:7-11; Ez 37:14). By the Spirit’s work believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family. Through the Holy Spirit Christians participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts (Rom 5:5; 8:13-17; 15:16; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2). The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Rom 8:9-11; 15:13; 1 Cor 6:19; Eph 1:13-14).
Of the Nature and Fall of Humanity
Humanity, both male and female, was created in the image of God according to His likeness and therefore every person of every race possesses full dignity and is equally worthy of respect and Christian love (Gen 1:26-27). In this original condition, humanity existed without sin and therefore in unhindered relationship with God his Maker. However, tragically Adam distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation (Gen 3:1-13). As a result of this original sin, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-20; 5:12-21). The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand and the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
Of Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality
The term “marriage” has only one meaning: a covenant between one man and one woman, in a single exclusive union, by which their status changes from two individuals to one flesh as God joins them together. This covenant creates a new family such that their lifelong primary human loyalty is now to one another before anyone else. It is an earthly covenant between one man and one woman that God created and sanctioned to image the unbreakable heavenly covenant between Christ and His Church, therefore intended not to be broken by anything but death. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. The Lord Jesus Himself said that marriage was created by God from the beginning, so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Gen 2:18-25; Mat 19:3-9; Eph 5:22-33).
Regarding gender, God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Rejection of one’s biological gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person (Gen 1:26-27; Ps 139).
God created sex as a gift to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage. God intends sexual expression to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of this marriage covenant. The exercise of sexual expression outside the biblical definition of marriage in any manner, including but not limited to adultery, homosexuality, premarital sex, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography, is contradictory to God’s design for sexuality and marriage. (Gen 2:15-25; Mat 5:27-32; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-20; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4; 1 Tim 1:10).
Because all of humanity is utterly indisposed to and incapable of any good, the salvation of humanity is wholly by the grace of God alone through the redemptive work of Christ alone. Salvation cannot be obtained through any effort of humanity but may be appropriated solely by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom 10:13-14; Eph 2:8-9).
A person is justified, that is declared righteous by God, on the basis of God’s grace through faith in Christ. This justification takes place as a result of Christ’s righteousness being transferred to the account of the individual and the individual’s sins being transferred to the account of Christ when he bore sin on the cross (Rom 4:1-8). Because of this divine exchange, God can be both just, in that he condemned sin in his Son and the justifier, in that he justifies those who believe in his Son (Rom 3:26).
God does not leave those he justifies in the state in which he finds them but begins to sanctify them, that is make them holy (Phil 1:9-10; 2 Pet 3:18). As a result, though justification and sanctification are distinct doctrines, they are inseparable. God’s saving grace is always a transformative grace. Although sanctification is effectual, it is progressive growth in holiness; yet not complete in this life and therefore, the experience of the believer is always one of real struggle against sin (Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:16-24; 1 John 1:8).
Salvation is not complete until Christ returns and the believer, body and soul is fully and finally reunited with the Savior in perfect intimacy and purity (1 John 3:2).
Of the Church
The church exists both visibly and invisibly. The invisible church consists of all who have truly trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation and is the spiritual body of Christ. This includes all the redeemed of the ages, God’s elect from among all peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God alone knows those who makeup the invisible church (2 Tim 2:19; Rev 4:9-10).
The visible church includes all those who profess and practice true Christianity. All Christians are instructed by God in his word to be committed to the visible church and therefore, the local assembly (Heb 10:25).
The primary purpose of the Church is to worship God and glorify Him by building up believers (gospel maturity) and effectively reaching the world with the gospel of Christ (gospel outreach). The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacraments, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world (Mat 16:15-19; 28:18-20; John 13:34-35; Acts 2:41-42; 1 Cor 3:16; 12:1-31; Col 1:27-29; 1 Tim 3:15).
The church has received two sacraments from the Lord—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—which are to be observed throughout the duration of this age by those who profess the name of Christ (Mat 26:26-29; 28:19; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-34;12:13).
Of the Restoration of All Things
At the end of this age, Christ will return bodily to judge the living and the dead and consummate his kingdom (Mat 25:31-33; Acts 1:11; 2 Tim 4:1). Upon his return there will be the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust. The unjust will be resurrected to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell. The just will be resurrected to eternal blessedness in the immediate presence of our triune God to live forever with him in the new heaven and the new earth (Matt 25:21, 41, 46; 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; 2 Thess 1:9; Rev 20:11-15). On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering, and triumph of Christ, and all sin will be purged and its wretched effects forever banished (Rev 21:1-8). God will make his dwelling among his people and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
Statement of Final Authority in Matters of Faith and Conduct
This Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of humanity, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of GBC’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, GBC’s board of elders is the final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
GBC’s Statement of Faith has adapted and used content from The Gospel Coalition’s Confessional Statement, Grace Community Church’sWhat We Teach document, and Austin Stone Community Church’s Affirmation of Faith.