The following is a slightly modified version of the statement of faith found under “What We Believe” on the Sylvania Church website. Â For more details on exactly what I believe, see the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.
I. Four God-Centered Observations
A. The Nature of God
The term â€œgloryâ€ points to Godâ€™s surpassing worth or value (Psalm 145:5). His glory consists in the overwhelming and overflowing beauty which stems from the sum total of all His attributes working together in perfect harmony.
B. The Motive of God
God is committed to the maintenance and manifestation of His own glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). He loves His glory with infinite intensity. In fact, this love is the ground of His righteousness. He loves what is infinitely valuable. Therefore, His ultimate loyalty is to the maintenance and manifestation of His own glory (Ephesians 1:3-14,Â Habakkuk 2:14). He manifests His glory by extending mercy and grace to undeserving sinners.
C. The Sovereignty of God
He is both Creator and Ruler (Daniel 4:34-35). All things are according to the counsel of His will. He rules the nations and governs the flight of the sparrow (Matthew 10:29). He is sovereign in salvation in that He saves by grace alone and leaves no room for human boasting (Ephesians 2:8-10). He is sovereign in exercising unconditional election (Romans 8:29), in enacting irresistible grace, and in enabling the perseverance of His people.
D. The Worship of God
His people are to be captivated by His glory. This involves both head and heart. The motive of worship is to magnify God and align ourselves with His purposes. Both intellect and emotion are crucial here. There must be light in the mind and heat in the heart.
II. Twelve Affirmations
A. Godâ€™s Word (II Timothy 3:16)
The Bible is Godâ€™s inspired, infallible and inerrant Word. It is the objective authority by which all experience is measured and evaluated.
B. The Trinity (John 1:1-3)
We believe in one living, true God who exists eternally in three personsâ€“Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons has distinct personal attributes, yet without division of nature, essence or being.
C. God the Father (John 3:16,Â 6:27)
He is the infinite personal Spirit. He knows all things. We categorically reject the perspective of â€œopen theismâ€ which places limits on Godâ€™s knowledge. He knows the end from the beginning and providentially rules according to His pleasure.
D. Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21-23)
He is Godâ€™s eternally existent and only Son and the sole focus of saving faith. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life. He died a substitutionary death on the cross. He was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father. Presently, He makes intercession for His people at the Fatherâ€™s right hand. He will return to judge the living and the dead.
E. The Holy Spirit (John 14:16)
The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. He dwells personally in every believerâ€“abiding as Helper, Teacher, Comforter and Guide.
F. Regeneration (John 3:14,Â 5:24)
Human beings were created in the image of God. This image was marred by sin in the garden of Eden. Human beings outside of Christ are spiritually dead, enslaved and condemned (Ephesians 2:1-3). Regeneration is that gracious and sovereign work of God by which He awakens a person and calls him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord regenerates not on the basis of what is in a fallen sinner, but on the basis of what is in Him. He delights to show mercy to undeserving sinners.
G. The Church (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The universal church is a living, spiritual body comprised of those who are true believers. It is the body and bride of Christ, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The local church consists of a community of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith and associated for worship, nurture and outreach.
H. Christian Conduct (Romans 12:1-3)
Christians are both empowered and called to live holy lives of service and testimony for the glory of God and well-being of others.
I. Ordinances (Matthew 28:19-20,Â I Corinthians 11:23-26)
The ordinances of the church, as given by our Lord, are Baptism and the Lordâ€™s Supper. I follow the biblical pattern of baptism following oneâ€™s conversion and practice baptism by immersion.
J. Religious Liberty (I Timothy 2:1-5)
A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and promote opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
K. Church Cooperation (I Corinthians 16:1)
Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, agencies and local churches, when the end to be attained is itself justified and when such cooperation involves no compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word. The particular church in which I serve, Sylvania Church, is an autonomous local body which enjoys voluntary affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.
L. Last Things (Revelation 20:4-6)
I affirm the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ to earth, in the establishment of His eternal kingdom, in the resurrection of the body and of the final judgment. I affirm the endless suffering of the wicked and the eternal joy of the righteous.