Our Statement of Faith
We believe that a clear statement of faith is a wonderful gift to the church of Jesus Christ. Similarly, our statement of faith seeks to establish historical continuity and unity with other Christians. We aim to show that we are not given to theological novelties, but stand with two feet firmly planted in the historic Christian tradition.
Salem Reformed Baptist Confession of Faith
SALEM REFORMED BAPTIST
CONFESSION OF FAITH
We believe that God, by His Word and Spirit, creates the Church, calling sinful men out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ’s body. By the same Word and Spirit, He guides and preserves that newly redeemed humanity. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination. Rather, the Church is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve Him by faithfully doing His will on earth. This service involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in the entire world. The ultimate mission of the Church is to bring glory to God by making disciples. Upon conversion, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and service (Acts 2:38-42 and 47; Ephesians 3:21; 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16-17; 1 John 1:3).
We believe in the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of organizations (Titus 1:5). We teach that it is scriptural for local churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith.
We believe that the Lord Jesus has given to His church two major ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, that are normatively practiced as an entire local church. They are to be practiced publicly and corporately by the local church.
We believe that according to the New Testament the two leadership offices in the church are the offices of elders (overseers) and deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13). The elders have the duty of overseeing the church; they pastor the congregation with sound doctrine, protecting it from false teachings; guiding and teaching the church members to exercise their Christ-given gifts and authority. Deacons come alongside the elders to help them and the church primarily with the physical (material) needs of the church (see more below).
We believe that the elders of the local church have a major biblical role in leading the flock of Christ. We believe in elder-led congregationalism. The local church is ruled by Jesus, led by biblically qualified elders, and the authority to for major decisions based on the Scriptures is given to the whole church. All the members of the local church when assembled together have authority as a church, but the congregation is led and taught by the elders in how to use that authority (Matthew 18:15–17; Acts 6:1–5; 1 Corinthians 5:1–13; 2 Corinthians 2: 6– 8; Galatians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:3). The keys of the Kingdom were given by Jesus to the whole church and not just to the elders, the elders lead the congregation in how to use this authority.
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, and to hold each other accountable in the obedience of faith through Biblical discipline.
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP & CHURCH DISCIPLINE
We believe that all members of the church are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context, they are called to live out the implications of the gospel as the people of God and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. We believe in the importance of discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2) and mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matthew 18:5-14), as well as the need for discipline of unrepentant professing members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Matthew 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16).
We believe that the ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the Church for the equipping of Christ’s body so that it might mature and grow (Ephesians 4:7-13). In the context of the local church, God’s people receive pastoral care and oversight and the opportunity to steward their gifts for His glory and the good of the others (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11). The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5), which includes being only men. We believe that these leaders lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
We believe that there were two kinds of gifts given the early church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given temporarily in the apostolic era for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles’ message (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12); and ministering gifts, given to equip believers for edifying one another (Romans 12:6-8). With the New Testament revelation now complete, Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man’s message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary to validate a man or his message (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). Miraculous gifts can be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (1 Corinthians 13:13-14:12; Revelation 13:13-14). The main purpose of speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church was pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and these gifts were not intended to be typical of the lives of believers after those days (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 13:8-10; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:7-12). We also affirm the power and sovereign freedom that God the Holy Spirit has to operate such signs again and we believe that the Holy Spirit can operate miracles as He so chooses.
We believe that the Lord Jesus has given to His church two major ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, that are normatively practiced as an entire local church. They are to be practiced publicly and corporately by the local church (Acts 2:38-42).
We believe that Christian baptism is by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) and is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42).
We believe that as with water baptism, the Lord's Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32). We also believe that, whereas the elements of Communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, participation in the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ, who indwells every believer, and so is present, fellowshipping with His people (1 Corinthians 10:16).