NAME AND PURPOSE
SECTION 1.01 – NAME
This congregation of believers shall be known as FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of Willingboro, New Jersey, hereafter called the church.
SECTION 1.02 – PURPOSE
This congregation is organized as a church exclusively for religious, educational, and charitable purposes to glorify God through the salvation of the lost and the edification of the believers within the meaning of Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Revenue Law). This includes, but is not limited to, such purposes, as the establishing and maintaining of religious worship, the building of churches, parsonages, schools, chapels, radio stations, television stations, rescue missions, print shops, daycare centers, and camps; the evangelizing of the unsaved by the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; the educating of believers in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Holy Scripture, both in Sunday and weekday schools of Christian education; and the maintaining of missionary activities in the United States and any foreign country.
SECTION 1.03 – ASSOCIATIONS
A New Testament Church is autonomous and subject only to Christ, its Head. Therefore, it cannot join anything outside itself, but only affiliate therewith on the grounds of fellowship. This church declares itself presently to seek fellowship with:
- The Garden State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches
- The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC)
- Any other Associations that may be approved by the Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s) and the Board of Deacons and approved by the church membership
- The above named associations now hold strong Biblical convictions and are vigorously opposed to all apostasy and compromise. If these associations should waver from their present Biblical stand, the church, if standing true to the Word itself, could no longer fellowship with these associations.
STATEMENT OF FAITH AND COVENANT
SECTION 2.01 – STATEMENT OF FAITH
The following comprise the Scriptural beliefs of the church and its members.
- The Holy Scriptures. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenarily inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant (in the original autograph), infallible and God-breathed and, therefore, are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books (as defined by the council of Carthage) of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine written revelation of God to Man and shall be the final authority in faith and practice. The Scriptures shall be interpreted and applied to the church according to their normal historical-grammatical meaning. Issues critical to the function of the church are documented in our statement of faith and covenant. All official issues relating to the interpretation and their meaning of the scriptures will be prayerfully considered and determined by the Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s) and the Board of Deacons in accordance with the Statement of Faith and Covenant. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
- The Godhead. We believe there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite Spirit, the maker and supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth, inexpressibly glorious in Holiness, and worthy of all possible worship, honor, confidence and love. We believe in the unity of the Godhead and that there are three co-equal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each the same in substance, but distinct in existence as they execute distinct and harmonious offices. (Ex. 20:2-3; Deut. 6:4; Matt. 3:13-16; Matt. 28:19; John 14:10-11,26; 1 Cor. 8:6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 5:7; Rev. 4:11)
- The Person and the Work of Christ.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man, without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful men. (Is. 7:14; 9:6; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:35; 5:31; John 1:1-2, 14; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Gal. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:5-8)
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary bloody sacrifice, and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead. (Acts 2:18-36; Rom. 3:24-25; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:3-51; Pet. 2:24)
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate. (Acts 1:9-10; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2)
- The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person with God the Father and God the Son of the same nature. (Mathew 28:19; John 14:20, 14:26; 1 John 5:7)
- He was active at Creation. (Gen. 1:1-3; Job 26:13, 27:3, 33:4; Psalm 33:6; Ps 104.30; Is. 40:13)
- He was active in the inspiration of the Scriptures. (2 Sam. 23:2; Micah. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21)
- He was the agent of the Virgin Birth. (Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 1:35)
- In relation to the unbelieving world, He restrains the evil one until God’s purpose is fulfilled and He convicts of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. (John 16:8-11; 2 Thess. 2:5-12)
- He bears witness to the truth of the Gospel in preaching and testimony. (John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:16)
- He is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling and sealing them unto the day of redemption. (Mark 1:8; John 1:33; 3:5-6; 14:16-17; 16:8-11; Acts 11:16; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 1:13-14)
- He is the Divine Teacher who assists believers to understand and appropriate the Scriptures, and it is the privilege and duty of all the saved to be controlled, guided and empowered by the Spirit. (Luke 24:49; John 14:26; 1 John 2:20, 27)
- He sovereignly bestows spiritual gifts to every believer. (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:7-12; 1 Pet. 4:10)
- Certain gifts of the Holy Spirit commonly called the cessation gifts have not been manifested for most of the church history as strongly as they were during the New Testament era. However, God is sovereign in this matter as He is in all things. We require that if these or any other gifts of the Holy spirit are manifested in the church, they must be practiced in comformity with Scripture. (1 Cor. 13:8-10; 14:1-40)
- The Total Depravity of Man. We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but in Adam’s sin the human race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God. Man is totally depraved and of himself utterly unable to remedy his lost condition. (Gen. 1:26-27; Rom. 3:22-23; 5:12; 6:23; Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19)
- We believe that salvation is the instantaneous, free gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the deity, vicarious death, burial and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, whose precious blood was shed on the cross for the forgiveness and atonement (propitiation) for our sins. We believe that all sins except unbelief are forgivable. (Matt. 12:31-32; John 1:12; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:9)
- We believe that in order to be saved from the penalty of sin (eternal judgment); sinners must be born again (regeneration). This new birth is a new, instantaneous creation in Christ Jesus in which the one dead in trespasses and sins is made partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life. It is the free gift of God solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth. Salvation is evidenced by the internal work of the Holy Spirit resulting in faith, obedience to the Word of God and the fruit of the Spirit. (John 3:3; John 3:6-8; John 3:16; Acts 16:30-33; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23; Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 5:15-19; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 5:1)
- We believe that the great gospel blessing that Christ secures to such as believe in Him is Justification (the judicial declaration of righteousness by God).
- Justification includes the pardon of sin and the gift of eternal life, on the principles of righteousness.
- It is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ whose righteousness is imputed to us. (Acts 13:39; Isaiah 53:11; Zechariah 13:1; Rom. 8:1; 5:9; 5:1; Titus 3:5)
- We believe that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only condition of salvation. (Acts 16:31)
- The Eternal Security and Assurance of Believers.
- We believe that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are secure in Christ forever. (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1; 38-39; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; 1 Pet. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30)
- We believe that it is the privilege of the believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh, to fulfill its lust. (Rom. 8:16; Rom. 13:13-14; Gal. 5:13; Titus 2:11-15)
- The Church.
- We believe that the church, which is the body and espoused bride of Christ, is made up solely of baptized born-again persons. (1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:25-27)
- We believe that the establishment and continuance of the churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures. (Acts 7:38; 14:27; 20:17, 28-32; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-11)
- We believe in the autonomy of the church, free of any external authority or control. (Acts 13:1-4; 15:19-31; 20:28; Rom. 16:1, 4; 1 Cor. 3:9, 16; 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet. 5:1-4)
- We recognize water baptism (single immersion) as one of the two Scriptural ordinances of obedience for the church in this age. It is an outward evidence and identification with Christ resulting from the inward work of the Holy Spirit. It is a prerequisite and requirement for the church membership. (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; Acts 8:26-40)
- We recognize the Lord’s Supper as the Scriptural ordinance of obedience for the church in this age commemorating His death until He comes. (Matt. 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-23; John 13:21-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
- Separation. We believe that all believers should live in such a manner as to not bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord. God commands His people to separate from all religious apostasy: all sinful pleasures, practices, and associations, and to refrain from all immodest appearances. (Rom. 12:1-2; 14:13; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11)
- The Rapture and Second Coming of Christ. We believe in that blessed hope, the personal, bodily, imminent return of Jesus Christ, Who will rapture His church prior to the seven-year tribulation period. At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will personally and visibly return with His saints to establish His earthly Millennial Kingdom which was promised to the nation of Israel. (Ps. 72:8; 89:3-4; Is. 11:4, 5; 32:1; Dan. 2:31-45; Zech. 14:4-11; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:25; 1 Thess. 1:10, 4:13-18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; James 5:8; Rev. 3:10; 19:11-16; 20:1-6)
- The Eternal State.
- We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment. (Matt. 25:46; 28:6-7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:2-6; 39; John 5:28, 29; 11:25-26; 14:3; John 20:27; 1 Cor. 15:4; Rev. 20:5-6, 12-13)
- We believe that the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection, when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord. (Luke 23:43; 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 51-55; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4-6)
- We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious punishment and torment until the second resurrection. At which point souls and bodies will be reunited. Then they shall appear at the Great White Throne Judgment and shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting conscious punishment and torment. (Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; John 5:21-30; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:11-15)
- The Personality of Satan. We believe that Satan is a person, and was the anointed cherub, Lucifer, until iniquity (sin) was found in him. He was cast from heaven, and he was the original deceiver that led to the Fall of Man. He is the ultimate, open, and declared enemy of God and man, and he shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire. (Gen. 3:1-7; Job 1:6-7; Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:11-19; Matt. 4:2-11; 25:41; Rev. 20:10)
- Creation. We believe that God created the universe in six 24-hour days. We reject Theory of Evolution, the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, Theistic Evolution and all other unscriptural theories of origin. (Gen. 1-2; Ex. 20:11; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17)
- Civil Government. We believe that God has ordained and created all authority consisting of three basic institutions: 1) the home, 2) the church and 3) the state. Every person is subject to these institutions, but all (including the institutions themselves) are answerable to God and governed by His Word. God has given each institution specific Biblical responsibilities. (Rom. 13:1-7; Acts 5:29; Eph. 5:22-24; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13-14)
- Human Sexuality.
- We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of marriage. (Ex. 20:14; Lev. 18:1-30; Prov. 5:1-23; Prov. 6:20-29; Prov. 7:6-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Thes. 4:1-8)
- We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality or incest is a sinful perversion of God’s gift of sex. (Gen. 19:5, 13; Lev. 18:1-30; Judges 19:22-30; Romans 1:26-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-11)
- We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery, medication or appearance. (Romans 1:26-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:1-8)
- We believe that fornication, adultery, masturbation, polygamy and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. (Gen. 2:24; Gen. 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1:26-29; 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thess. 4:1-8; Heb. 13:4)
- We believe that the only marriage that God has ordained is the joining of one man and one woman who have not altered their original genders in any way. (Gen. 2:24; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:10; Eph. 5:22-23)
- Family Relationships.
- We believe that men and women are spiritually equal in position before God, but that God has ordained distinct and separate functions for men and women in the home and the church. The husband is to be the leader of the home, and men are to be the prescribed leaders (Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s) and the Board of Deacons) of the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible for licensure and ordination by the church. (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 3:4-5, 12; Titus 1:5-11)
- We believe that God has ordained the family (one man and one woman who have not altered their original genders in any way and their children) as the foundational institution of human society. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. In accordance with Scripture, the wife is to submit herself to the leadership of her husband as the church submits to the leadership of Christ. Children are a heritage from the Lord. Parents are responsible for teaching their children spiritual and moral values and for leading them, through consistent lifestyle examples and appropriate discipline, including Scriptural corporal correction. (Gen. 1:26-28; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 127:3-5; Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; Mk. 10:6-12; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-21; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 3:1-7)
- We believe that marriages of believers and unbelievers are forbidden in Scripture and should not be practiced. In the case of marriages of believers and unbelievers that already exist, the believer should not leave the unbeliever. (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Galatians 6:7)
- Divorce and Remarriage. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids unbiblical divorce and intends marriage to last until one of the spouses dies.
- Divorce is permitted on the grounds of fornication but not required by the Lord. Every effort should be made by each party to seek reconciliation in the event of conflict or sin. (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:3-12)
- It is not God’s will or intention for one to divorce and to break the covenant of marriage. The breaking of marriage (or divorce) is always caused by sin and can be in itself sin.
- If after exhausting all means of reconciliation and church discipline, a liberated person may seek remarriage or may remain single. A liberated person is defined as a Biblically divorced believer (divorced due to fornication or divorced by an unbelieving partner) who has sought reconciliation using every Biblical means possible including: the church discipline process as contained in Section 3.04, sincere confession and repentance, and has sought forgiveness and offered restitution for any wrongs rendered in the previous marriage relationship. That person is said to be “liberated” if the other party in the previous marriage is either unable (due to a new marriage) or unwilling to reconcile the previous marriage. (Matt. 19:3-12; Mark 10:1-12; 1 Cor. 7)
- Although divorced and remarried persons or divorced persons may hold certain positions of service in the church and be greatly used of God for Christian service, they may not be considered for the offices of Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor(s) and the Board of Deacons. (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)
- Abortion. We believe that human life begins at conception (fertilization) and that the unborn child is a living human being. Abortion constitutes the unjustified, unexcused taking of unborn human life. Abortion is murder. (Gen. 25:22-23; Ex. 21:22-25; Job 3:16; Ps. 51:5; 139:14-16; Isa. 44:24; 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44)
- Euthanasia. Life is a gift of God and must be respected from conception (fertilization) until natural death. Thus we believe that an act or omission that causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder contrary to the will of God. Discontinuing medical procedures that are extraordinary or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be a legitimate refusal of over-zealous treatment when natural death is imminent. (Ex. 20:13, 23:7; Matt. 5:21; Acts 17:28)
- Love. We believe that God commands us to demonstrate love for others, not only toward fellow believers, but also toward those who are not believers, those who oppose us and those who engage in sinful actions. We are to deal with those who oppose us graciously, gently, patiently and humbly. God forbids the stirring up of strife, the taking of revenge, or the threat or the use of violence as a means of resolving personal conflict or obtaining personal justice. Although God commands us to abhor sinful actions, we are to love and pray for any person who engages in such sinful actions. (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:44-48; Luke 6:27-36; John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:9-10; 17-21; 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13; Phil. 2:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Titus 3:2; 1 John 3:17-18)
- Lawsuits between Believers. We believe that Christians should not bring civil lawsuits against other Christians or the church to resolve personal disputes. We believe the church possesses the authority and responsibility to resolve personal disputes between members. We do believe that a Christian may seek compensation for injuries and/or property damages from other Christian members as long as it is pursued without malice. If either member in a dispute refuses to abide by the decision(s) of the church in this matter, he/she will be subject to the discipline process. (1 Cor. 6:1-8; Eph. 4:31-32)
- Missions. We believe that God has given the church the Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel to all nations so that there might be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, ethnic group and language group who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. As ambassadors of Christ we must use all available means to go to the foreign nations to share the gospel. The church shall support those who are in acceptance of our Statement of Faith as contained in Section 2.01, 2.02 and the Covenant as contained in Section 2.03, and bylaws as contained in Articles III, through VI. They shall also accept and adhere to the fundamental orthodox beliefs of Biblical Christianity in doctrine and practice, as listed below. (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:20)
- In the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures
- In one God, eternally existent in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- In the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and His virgin birth, sinless life, death for our sin, bodily resurrection, and His personal, imminent return
- In our salvation by the forgiveness of sin through personal faith in Jesus Christ, His atoning death and resurrection
- In the believer’s guidance and enablement by the Holy Spirit to live full and satisfying lives as Christians
- That new life in us is evidenced by living in obedience to the known will of God as revealed in the Bible
- Giving. We believe that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth that the Lord has prospered and entrusted to them, is obligated to financially support the church. We believe every Christian should give lovingly, sacrificially and cheerfully to the support of the church, the relief of those in needs, and the spread of the Gospel. We believe that a Christian relinquishes all rights to direct the use of their tithe or offering once the gift has been made. (Gen. 14:20; Prov. 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:6-7; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; 1 John 3:17)