Statement of Faith

Our Beliefs 

1. Scripture, the Word of God Written 
1.1 We believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the  infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts. 1.2 We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing  all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right  is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture. 1.3 We believe God’s intentions are revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors, even when  the authors’ intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware, as, for example,  in the case of some Old Testament prophecies. Thus the meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical  reality, rooted in the historical, unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. However, while  meaning does not change, the application of that meaning may change in various situations. Nevertheless  it is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstrably carried by the words  which God inspired. 1.4 Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible (which is its fullest meaning) is  a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to  communicate. Limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, and cultural assumptions often obscure  Biblical texts. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible, and  prayer for His assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God’s Word. 

2. The Trinity, One God as Three Persons 
2.1 We believe in one living, sovereign, and all-glorious God, eternally existing in three infinitely  excellent and admirable Persons: God the Father, fountain of all being; God the Son, eternally begotten,  not made, without beginning, being of one essence with the Father; and God the Holy Spirit, proceeding  in the full, divine essence, as a Person, eternally from the Father and the Son. Thus each Person in the  Godhead is fully and completely God. 2.2 We believe that God is supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, each Person beholding and  expressing His eternal and unsurpassed delight in the all-satisfying perfections of the triune God. 

3. God’s Eternal Purpose and Election
We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal  and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will,  freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass. 3.2 We believe that God upholds and governs all things – from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the  forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of  solitary persons – all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way  that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is  compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image. 3.3 We believe that God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace which was given through His Son  Christ Jesus before the world began. By this act God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who  would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in His Son Christ  Jesus. 

4. God’s Creation of the Universe and Man 
4.1 We believe that God created the universe, and everything in it, out of nothing, by the Word of His  power. Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency,  God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe  and tongue and people and nation. 4.2 We believe that God directly created Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side. We  believe that Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race; that they were created  male and female equally in the image of God, without sin; that they were created to glorify their Maker,  Ruler, Provider, and Friend by trusting His all-sufficient goodness, admiring His infinite beauty, enjoying  His personal fellowship, and obeying His all-wise counsel; and that, in God’s love and wisdom, they were  appointed differing and complementary roles in marriage as a type of Christ and the church. 

5. Man’s Sin and Fall from Fellowship with God 5.1 We believe that, although God created man morally upright, he was led astray from God’s Word and  wisdom by the subtlety of Satan’s deceit, and chose to take what was forbidden, and thus declare his  independence from, distrust for, and disobedience toward his all-good and gracious Creator. Thus, our  first parents, by this sin, fell from their original innocence and communion with God. 5.2 We believe that, as the head of the human race, Adam’s fall became the fall of all his posterity, in  such a way that corruption, guilt, death, and condemnation belong properly to every person. All persons  are thus corrupt by nature, enslaved to sin, and morally unable to delight in God and overcome their own  proud preference for the fleeting pleasures of self-rule. 5.3 We believe God has subjected the creation to futility, and the entire human family is made justly liable  to untold miseries of sickness, decay, calamity, and loss. Thus all the adversity and suffering in the world  is an echo and a witness of the exceedingly great evil of moral depravity in the heart of mankind; and  every new day of life is a God-given, merciful reprieve from imminent judgment, pointing to repentance. 

6. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God
We believe that in the fullness of time God sent forth His eternal Son as Jesus the Messiah, conceived  by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. We believe that, when the eternal Son became flesh, He took  on a fully human nature, so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together  in one Person, without confusion or mixture. Thus the Person, Jesus Christ, was and is truly God and truly  man, yet one Christ and the only Mediator between God and man. 6.2 We believe that Jesus Christ lived without sin, though He endured the common infirmities and  temptations of human life. He preached and taught with truth and authority unparalleled in human history.  He worked miracles, demonstrating His divine right and power over all creation: dispatching demons,  healing the sick, raising the dead, stilling the storm, walking on water, multiplying loaves, and  foreknowing what would befall Him and His disciples, including the betrayal of Judas and the denial,  restoration, and eventual martyrdom of Peter. 6.3 We believe that His life was governed by His Father’s providence with a view to fulfilling all Old  Testament prophecies concerning the One who was to come, such as the Seed of the woman, the Prophet  like Moses, the Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the Son of David, and the Suffering Servant. 6.4 We believe that Jesus Christ suffered voluntarily in fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, that He was  crucified under Pontius Pilate, that He died, was buried and on the third day rose from the dead to  vindicate the saving work of His life and death and to take His place as the invincible, everlasting Lord of  glory. During forty days after His resurrection, He gave many compelling evidences of His bodily  resurrection and then ascended bodily into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father,  interceding for His people on the basis of His all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, and reigning until He puts all  His enemies under His feet. 

7. The Saving Work of Christ 
7.1 We believe that by His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the immaculate  Lamb of God, Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who  trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place, the just for the unjust, Christ absorbed our punishment, appeased the wrath of God  against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and removed the condemnation of the  law against us. 7.2 We believe that the atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the gospel  to all persons, so that to every person it may be truly said, “God gave His only begotten Son so that  whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.” Whosoever will may come for cleansing  at this fountain, and whoever does come, Jesus will not cast out. 7.3 We believe, moreover, that the death of Christ did obtain more than the bona fide offer of the gospel  for all; it also obtained the omnipotent New Covenant mercy of repentance and faith for God’s elect.  Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way. In His death, Christ expressed a special covenant love  to His friends, His sheep, His bride. For them He obtained the infallible and effectual working of the  Spirit to triumph over their resistance and bring them to saving faith. 

8. The Saving Work of the Holy Spirit
8.1 We believe that the Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world, sharing in the work of creation,  awakening faith in the remnant of God’s people, performing signs and wonders, giving triumphs in battle,  empowering the preaching of prophets and inspiring the writing of Scripture. Yet, when Christ had made  atonement for sin, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He inaugurated a new era of the Spirit by  pouring out the promise of the Father on His Church. 8.2 We believe that the newness of this era is marked by the unprecedented mission of the Spirit to glorify  the crucified and risen Christ. This He does by giving the disciples of Jesus greater power to preach the  gospel of the glory of Christ, by opening the hearts of hearers that they might see Christ and believe, by  revealing the beauty of Christ in His Word and transforming His people from glory to glory, by  manifesting Himself in spiritual gifts (being sovereignly free to dispense, as he wills, all the gifts of 1  Corinthians 12:8-10) for the upbuilding of the body of Christ and the confirmation of His Word, by  calling all the nations into the sway of the gospel of Christ, and, in all this, thus fulfilling the New  Covenant promise to create and preserve a purified people for the everlasting habitation of God. 8.3 We believe that, apart from the effectual work of the Spirit, no one would come to faith, because all  are dead in trespasses and sins; that they are hostile to God, and morally unable to submit to God or please  Him, because the pleasures of sin appear greater than the pleasures of God. Thus, for God’s elect, the  Spirit triumphs over all resistance, wakens the dead, removes blindness, and manifests Christ in such a  compellingly beautiful way through the Gospel that He becomes irresistibly attractive to the regenerate  heart. 8.4 We believe the Holy Spirit does this saving work in connection with the presentation of the Gospel of  the glory of Christ. Thus neither the work of the Father in election, nor the work of the Son in atonement,  nor the work of the Spirit in regeneration is a hindrance or discouragement to the proclamation of the  gospel to all peoples and persons everywhere. On the contrary, this divine saving work of the Trinity is  the warrant and the ground of our hope that our evangelization is not in vain in the Lord. The Spirit binds  His saving work to the gospel of Christ, because His aim is to glorify the Christ of the Gospel. Therefore  we do not believe that there is salvation through any other means than through receiving the gospel by the  power of the Holy Spirit, except that infants and severely retarded persons with minds physically  incapable of comprehending the gospel may be saved. 

9. The Justifying Act of God 
9.1 We believe that in a free act of righteous grace God justifies the ungodly by faith alone apart from  works, pardoning their sins, and reckoning them as righteous and acceptable in His presence. Faith is thus  the sole instrument by which we, as sinners, are united to Christ, whose perfect righteousness and  satisfaction for sins is alone the ground of our acceptance with God. This acceptance happens fully and  permanently at the first instant of justification. Thus the righteousness by which we come into right  standing with God is not anything worked in us by God, neither imparted to us at baptism nor over time,  but rather is accomplished for us, outside ourselves, and is imputed to us. 9.2 We believe, nevertheless, that the faith, which alone receives the gift of justification, does not remain  alone in the person so justified, but produces, by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of love and leads necessarily to  sanctification. This necessary relation between justifying faith and the fruit of good works gives rise to  some Biblical expressions which seem to make works the ground or means of justification, but in fact BYLAWS OF Good Churches International 5 simply express the crucial truth that faith that does not yield the fruit of good works is dead, being no true  faith. 

10. God’s Work in Faith and Sanctification 10.1 We believe that justification and sanctification are both brought about by God through faith, but not  in the same way. Justification is an act of God’s imputing and reckoning; sanctification is an act of God’s  imparting and transforming. Thus the function of faith in regard to each is different. In regard to  justification, faith is not the channel through which power or transformation flows to the soul of the  believer, but rather faith is the occasion of God’s forgiving, acquitting, and reckoning as righteous. But in  regard to sanctification, faith is indeed the channel through which divine power and transformation flow  to the soul; and the sanctifying work of God through faith does indeed touch the soul and change it into  the likeness of Christ. 10.2 We believe that the reason justifying faith necessarily sanctifies in this way is fourfold: First, justifying faith is a persevering, that is, continuing, kind of faith. Even though we are justified at the  first instant of saving faith, yet this faith justifies only because it is the kind of faith that will surely  persevere. The extension of this faith into the future is, as it were, contained in the first seed of faith, as  the oak in the acorn. Thus the moral effects of persevering faith may be rightly described as the effects of  justifying faith. Second, we believe that justifying faith trusts in Christ not only for the gift of imputed righteousness and  the forgiveness of sins, but also for the fulfillment of all His promises to us based on that reconciliation.  Justifying faith magnifies the finished work of Christ’s atonement, by resting securely in all the promises  of God obtained and guaranteed by that all-sufficient work. Third, we believe that justifying faith embraces Christ in all His roles: Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Teacher,  Guide, Comforter, Helper, Friend, Advocate, Protector, and Lord. Justifying faith does not divide Christ,  accepting part of Him and rejecting the rest. All of Christ is embraced by justifying faith, even before we  are fully aware of, or fully understand, all that He will be for us. As more of Christ is truly revealed to us  in His Word, genuine faith recognizes Christ and embraces Him more fully. Fourth, we believe that this embracing of all of Christ is not a mere intellectual assent, or a mere decision  of the will, but is also a heartfelt, Spirit-given (yet imperfect) satisfaction in all that God is for us in Jesus.  Therefore, the change of mind and heart that turns from the moral ugliness and danger of sin, and is  sometimes called “repentance,” is included in the very nature of saving faith. 10.3 We believe that this persevering, future-oriented, Christ-embracing, heart-satisfying faith is life transforming, and therefore renders intelligible the teaching of the Scripture that final salvation in the age  to come depends on the transformation of life, and yet does not contradict justification by faith alone. The  faith which alone justifies, cannot remain alone, but works through love. 10.4 We believe that this simple, powerful reality of justifying faith is God’s gift which He gives  unconditionally in accord with God’s electing love, so that no one can boast in himself, but only give all  glory to God for every part of salvation. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the decisive agent in this life-BYLAWS OF Good Churches International 6 transformation, but that He is supplied to us and works holiness in us though our daily faith in the Son of  God whose trustworthiness He loves to glorify. 10.5 We believe that the sanctification, which comes by the Spirit through faith, is imperfect and  incomplete in this life. Although slavery to sin is broken, and sinful desires are progressively weakened  by the power of a superior satisfaction in the glory of Christ, yet there remain remnants of corruption in  every heart that give rise to irreconcilable war, and call for vigilance in the lifelong fight of faith. 10.6 We believe that all who are justified will win this fight. They will persevere in faith and never  surrender to the enemy of their souls. This perseverance is the promise of the New Covenant, obtained by  the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God Himself, yet not so as to diminish, but only to empower and  encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but  the grace of God which was with me. 

11. Living God’s Word by Meditation and Prayer 
11.1 We believe that faith is awakened and sustained by God’s Spirit through His Word and prayer. The  good fight of faith is fought mainly by meditating on the Scriptures and praying that God would apply  them to our souls. 11.2 We believe that the promises of God recorded in the Scriptures are suited to save us from the  deception of sin by displaying for us, and holding out to us, superior pleasures in the protection,  provision, and presence of God. Therefore, reading, understanding, pondering, memorizing, and savoring  the promises of all that God will be for us in Jesus are primary means of the Holy Spirit to break the  power of sin’s deceitful promises in our lives. Therefore it is needful that we give ourselves to such  meditation day and night. 11.3 We believe that God has ordained to bless and use His people for His glory through the means of  prayer, offered in Jesus’ name by faith. All prayer should seek ultimately that God’s name be hallowed,  and that His kingdom come, and that His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. God’s sovereignty  over all things is not a hindrance to prayer, but a reason for hope that our prayers will succeed. 11.4 We believe that prayer is the indispensable handmaid of meditation, as we cry out to God for the  inclination to turn from the world to the Word, and for the spiritual ability to see the glory of God in His  testimonies, and for a soul-satisfying sight of the love of God, and for strength in the inner man to do the  will of God. By prayer God sanctifies His people, sends gospel laborers into the world, and causes the  Word of God to spread and triumph over Satan and unbelief. 

12. Christ’s Church and Her Ordinances 
12.1 We believe in the one universal Church, composed of all those, in every time and place, who are  chosen in Christ and united to Him through faith by the Spirit in one Body, with Christ Himself as the all supplying, all-sustaining, all-supreme, and all-authoritative Head. We believe that the ultimate purpose of  the Church is to glorify God in the everlasting and ever-increasing gladness of worship. 12.2 We believe it is God’s will that the universal Church find expression in local churches in which  believers agree together to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to engage in corporate worship, to practice the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to build each other’s faith through the manifold  ministries of love, to hold each other accountable in the obedience of faith through Biblical discipline, and  to engage in local and world evangelization. The Church is a body in which each member should find a  suitable ministry for His gifts; it is the household of God in which the Spirit dwells; it is the pillar and  bulwark of God’s truth in a truth-denying world; and it is a city set on a hill so that men may see the light  of its good deeds – especially to the poor – and give glory to the Father in heaven. 12.3 We believe that each local church should recognize and affirm the divine calling of spiritually  qualified men to give leadership to the church through the role of pastor-elder in the ministry of the Word  and prayer. Women are not to fill the role of pastor-elder in the local church, but are encouraged to use  their gifts in appropriate roles that edify the body of Christ and spread the gospel. 

13. Christ’s Commission to Make Disciples of All Nations 
We believe that the commission given by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations is binding on His  Church to the end of the age. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and  nation, baptizing them, teaching them the words and ways of the Lord, and gathering them into churches  able to fulfill their Christian calling among their own people. The ultimate aim of world missions is that  God would create, by His Word, worshippers who glorify His name through glad-hearted faith and  obedience. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. When the time of ingathering is over, and the  countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of  missions. 

14. Death, Resurrection, and the Coming of the Lord 
14.1 We believe that when Christians die they are made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, and  are taken consciously into the presence of Christ, which is more glorious and more satisfying than any  experience on earth. 14.2 We believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth  personally, visibly, physically, and suddenly in power and great glory; and that He will gather His elect,  raise the dead, judge the nations, and establish His kingdom. We believe that the righteous will enter into  the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be  consigned to everlasting conscious misery. 14.3 We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and  inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people. 

15. The Spirit of This Affirmation and the Unity of the Church 
15.1 We do not believe that all things in this affirmation of faith are of equal weight, some being more  essential, some less. We do not believe that every part of this affirmation must be believed in order for  one to be saved. 15.2 Our aim is not to discover how little can be believed, but rather to embrace and teach “the whole  counsel of God.” Our aim is to encourage a hearty adherence to the Bible, the fullness of its truth, and the  glory of its Author. We believe Biblical doctrine stabilizes saints in the winds of confusion and  strengthens the church in her mission to meet the great systems of false religion and secularism. We  believe that the supreme virtue of love is nourished by the strong meat of God-centered doctrine. And we  believe that a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ  is sustained in an atmosphere of deep and joyful knowledge of God and His wonderful works. 15.3 We believe that the cause of unity in the church is best served, not by finding the lowest common  denominator of doctrine, around which all can gather, but by elevating the value of truth, stating the  doctrinal parameters of church or school or mission or ministry, seeking the unity that comes from the  truth, and then demonstrating to the world how Christians can love each other across boundaries rather  than by removing boundaries. In this way, the importance of truth is served by the existence of doctrinal  borders, and unity is served by the way we love others across those borders. 15.4 We do not claim infallibility for this affirmation and are open to refinement and correction from  Scripture. Yet we do hold firmly to these truths as we see them and call on others to search the Scriptures  to see if these things are so. As conversation and debate take place, it may be that we will learn from each  other, and the boundaries will be adjusted, even possibly folding formerly disagreeing groups into closer  fellowship. In addition, as part of its Doctrinal Statement, the Association affirms and subscribes to the  following Statement of Faith Concerning Marriage, Gender, Sexuality, and Sanctity of Life: We believe the Bible teaches that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as  male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and  nature of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image  of God within that person. We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one biological  man and one biological woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture.  (Genesis 2:18-25) We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a  biological man and a biological woman who are married to each other. (1 Corinthians 6:18;  7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity  be engaged in outside of a marriage between one biological man and one biological woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including without limitation adultery,  fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, sex with minors, and  use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matthew15:18-20;1 Corinthians 6:9- 10) We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their  sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 10:9- 10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)BYLAWS OF Good Churches International 9 We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and  dignity. (Mark 12:28- 31; Luke 6:31) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed  toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture. We believe that God has created mankind in His image and that human life begins at conception. It is God who uniquely forms every human being and gives special dignity, personal freedom, and individual accountability among all the works of His creation. God created each person’s inmost being, knitting each person together in the womb of that person’s mother. (Psalm 139:13). As God’s individualized and personal creation, each person is fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14). God has ordained all the days of each person’s life before they came to be. (Psalm 139:16). Based on Scripture, we therefore believe that from the moment of conception until natural death, every human life is sacred because every human life has been created by God, in His image and likeness. We believe that from the moment of conception every human life must be recognized, respected, and protected as having the rights of a person and the inviolable right to life. Because human life begins at the moment of conception, it is against our religious convictions to formally or materially cooperate in the abortion or other termination of unborn human life, including without limitation by surgical abortion or use of drugs, or services that have the intent, design, effect, or risk of terminating unborn human life or preventing its implantation and growth post-fertilization. Section 5. Commissioning Individuals for Particular Roles of Ministry Service in the  Association. A candidate for being commissioned by the Association to a particular role of Christian  ministry service with the Association recognizes that only the Sovereign Holy God can truly call and  commission His children for service in the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The calling of a person  to Christian ministry is not the result of a title; rather the title is a result of the individual’s calling from  the true and living God. The commissioning of individuals to serve roles in the Association’s Christian  ministry is for individuals who perform or are engaged in one or more of a combination of the following:  teaching, educating, counseling, preaching and communicating the Bible, the Gospel, and the mission of  the Association; making Christian disciples; presiding over church or worship meetings and fellowship,  prayer, praise and worship, evangelism, training, communion, or baptisms; administration of the  Association or specific aspects of the Association, finance and stewardship; planning and coordinating  events, activities, programs, projects, and ministries of the Association, and any other sacerdotal functions  as approved by the Board of Directors.  An individual shall no longer be eligible to serve in a commissioned role of ministry service in the  Association if that individual repudiates or ceases to affirm the Doctrinal Statement of the Association or  engages in actions, statements, or beliefs that, as determined by the Association through its Board of  Directors or President, undermine or are inconsistent with the Gospel witness and ministry of the  Association or are inconsistent with the teachings of the Doctrinal Statement and the Holy Bible.