Sovereign Grace Fellowship (Nampa, ID) Confession of Faith
This confession of faith is not an exhaustive reflection of the whole counsel of God, or it would be limitless in its content. Rather, this confession best reflects those truths which we find to be of the utmost importance in guiding and directing our beliefs and practice.
We don’t presume to formulate our confession with disregard to the rich history of the Christian church. We are indebted to those who have gone before us, to those who were captive to the word of God and sought to faithfully teach the people of God His revealed truth. Though we may not necessarily agree in totality with their entire content, we are shaped in many ways by the following creeds, confessions, catechisms, and doctrinal works:
The Apostles’ Creed , The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, The Definition of Chalcedon, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, The Canons of Dordt, The Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechism, The London Baptist Confession of Faith, The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, Desiring God Affirmation of Faith, The Confessional Statement of the Gospel Coalition
There is one common creed however that unites all Christians…one which was spoken by the Apostle Peter when asked by Jesus whom he believed the Rabbi to be:
Mat 16:15-17 (ESV) (15) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”(16) Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (17) And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The only creed or confession of faith that really matters is that which God Himself reveals to us from heaven. Such “special” revelation is necessary for us to rightly see Jesus as Lord and Savior. Peter was only able to declare Jesus as the Christ and Son of the living God because it was revealed to him. So also, God needs to open our eyes, our minds, our ears, and our hearts if we are to truly see Him for all that He is.
So also, Paul speaks of a common creed that reconciles sinners to God:
Rom 10:8-10 (ESV) (8) But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (9) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
It is this common saving creed, “Jesus is Lord”, that supplies the foundation for all other beliefs and practices in our church. Though confessing with our mouth and believing in our heart that “Jesus is Lord” is glorious and miraculous, it is only the beginning in our relationship with our Sovereign Lord. Jesus instructed that discipleship would require not only believing and being baptized, but also being instructed in the faith:
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Church, in her vast history, has been accompanied by many creeds and confessions designed to aid Christians in what they ought to believe. Though such creeds in and of themselves don’t save, they are intended to point to the truth of Scripture and guide believers in what they ought to believe. It is in that same spirit that we commend this confession of faith to the believers of Sovereign Grace Fellowship, who are holy and precious in the sight of God. It is our prayer that this confession will rightly reflect the teaching of Scripture and strengthen you in the most holy faith that was delivered unto all the saints. Our prayer is that this confession will aid you in life’s greatest pursuit: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To God be the Glory!!!
The Elders of Sovereign Grace Fellowship
The Word of God
God, who is Himself Truth and only speaks truth, has graciously made Himself known to sinful humanity through special revelation.
The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments were written by men prepared, inspired, and superintended by His Spirit, and is of infallible divine authority and without error in all matters of faith and Godliness. It is not to be added to, nor subtracted from…it is the full revelation of God for humanity.
The glorious aim of all Scripture is the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who Himself taught that the fullness of Scripture testify of Him. The Bible is given to us, therefore, that we might believe upon Jesus as the Son of God and find eternal life in Him.
We believe that the Holy Spirit, who is the author of Scripture, illuminates our minds and hearts to wholeheartedly believe and delight in the Word of God as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. Such belief is not dependent upon mere intellectual ability, but wholly a work of the Spirit. Therefore, young and old alike may read and sufficiently believe upon the Words of Scripture unto eternal life.
Lastly, God has ordained Scripture as the primary means for our growth in grace and sanctification. It not only bears witness of salvation in Jesus, but is gloriously sufficient to guide and purify us. It is a lamp to our feet and resides in our heart to protect us from evil and the deceit of Satan.
The Triune God
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. 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.
God’s Gloriously Perfect Creation
We believe that the all-glorious and infinitely happy triune God created all that exists: the heavenly places, the angelic hosts, the universe, the earth, every living thing, and crowned His creation with Adam and Eve, who were given authority to steward God’s creation. God spoke everything into creation by the word of His power and declared all that He had made as good.
God created both male and female equally in His own image, without sin, so that they might glorify their Creator Lord by living in perpetual joy and holiness by wholeheartedly trusting in God’s counsel, love, and wisdom.
The Fall into Sin and God’s Plan to Save
We believe that Adam and Eve failed to find eternal joy in their Lord and instead followed the deceptive counsel of Satan, who also shunned the glory of God. Their sinful distrust of God brought about shame and ruined the once holy communion they joyfully experienced.
Adam’s sin not only ruined his own fellowship with God, but incurred guilt and God’s wrath upon all of humankind. The corruption of sin has passed onto all of humanity like a disease, even in their mother’s womb, and all are born as children of wrath. All persons are thus corrupt by nature, enslaved to sin, and morally unable to delight in God apart from God’s intervening grace.
God has also subjected all of creation to futility, and the entire human family is made justly liable to untold miseries of sickness, decay, calamity, and loss. It is only due to the mercy of God that mankind has not been justly annihilated. God relented from destroying Adam and Eve, instead promising them a future seed that would destroy the evil one.
God has relented from executing final judgment upon creation because His promised seed, Jesus, is seeking and saving an innumerable host of sinners. Before time began, Jesus purposed to lay his life down for those whom the Father graciously gave to Him to redeem. God’s plan to save sinners is from everlasting and gloriously triumphs over Adam and humanity’s fall into sin, for the praise of His mercy and grace.
Jesus Christ…His Eternal Lineage, Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
We believe that in the fullness of time God sent forth His eternal Son as the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. He was given the name Jesus, signifying that He would save many from their sins. There is no other name or person by which one can be saved than in Jesus, the Almighty Savior. He is Second Adam, seed of Abraham, the promised Davidic King, and the Temple of God. 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. Jesus Christ was and is truly God and truly man, and the only Mediator between God and man.
We believe that Jesus Christ lived without sin, though He was tempted in all ways like we are. He preached and taught with truth and authority. 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.
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. 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.
Jesus’ Mission to Save Sinners
We believe that by His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the immaculate Lamb of God, 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. It was the Father’s pleasure to bruise His Son and it was the Son’s joy to endure the pain and shame…all for His infinite glory.
The Church is commissioned to proclaim the Gospel to all people, but it only becomes efficacious when received in wholehearted belief by the hearer, which confers the right to become children of God. Any and all who respond to Christ and come to Him will not be rejected, but will be received and assured that they were chosen by the Father and given to the Son for the full redemption of body and soul . Jesus didn’t merely die on the cross to make salvation possible, but effectually and actually laid His life down for His sheep, truly purchasing the redemption of all the elect who received Him. The number of the elect, though definite, is gloriously as vast as the stars in the heavens and sand upon the seashore…for the eternal praise of God’s glory.
The Salvation of the Sinner…Justification by Faith Alone
We believe that in a free act of grace, God justifies the ungodly by faith alone, apart from works, pardoning their sins, and counting them as righteous and acceptable in His presence. Faith is the sole instrument by which we, as sinners, are united to Christ, whose perfect righteousness and satisfaction for all of our sin are the only grounds of our acceptance with God. This acceptance happens fully and permanently at the first instant of justifying faith, whereby we are irrevocably adopted as sons and daughters and cry out, “Abba Father”.
The only thing that we contribute to our justification is the sin which makes it necessary. Jesus takes away our dirty sinful garments and clothes us white as snow with His righteousness. There is nothing we can boast of in ourselves, for Christ alone is our boast and the author of our salvation. All praise belongs to Him forever and ever.
Perseverance of the Believer….Sanctification by Faith
We believe that faith not only justifies the believer but will also inevitably continue in one’s life, thus shaping and molding the believer into the image of Christ. While works do not merit our justification, they make it apparent…they do not purchase it, they are a product of it. Works do not earn justification but serve as evidence of it. So, God does not save us because of good works, but rather for the exercise of them.
We believe that 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 and habits of sin in every heart that will only cease when we are transformed from our corrupted bodies.
We believe that all who are justified will win this fight. They will persevere in faith for they are not alone in this battle. God, the author of salvation, will not forsake His own, but grants us the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit till the end of time. The Holy Spirit will produce fruit in our lives and also aid us in the ongoing war against sin in our flesh.
God, who began the work of salvation, is faithful to complete it by shaping our hearts to desire and do those things which please Him for His glory. Though wicked principalities, trials, tribulations, sickness, disease, and Satan himself should seek to destroy our faith, we will persevere, for we are held in the hands of Jesus, from whom no power can pluck us. We can therefore rejoice in knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the glorious, sovereign, saving love of God in Christ Jesus.
We believe in one universal Church, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and united to Him through faith. The Church includes people from every tribe, nation, and tongue throughout history who have trusted in God’s promise in Christ to provide forgives of sin. The Holy Spirit unites us into one Body, with Christ Himself as the all-supplying, all-sustaining, all-supreme, and all-authoritative Head.
We believe that God has ordained the Church as a sanctifying means for our growth in grace and that He intends for every believer to join themselves to a local family of believers to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to engage in corporate worship, to practice the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to encourage one another in the faith, to exercise the various gifts God has given to the Church, to hold each other accountable through Biblical discipline, to aid the needs of the poor, to receive monetary offerings for the cause of the Gospel, to pray for one another, to gladly submit to ordained leadership, and to engage in local and world evangelization.
Satan and his wicked hosts have been dealt a lethal blow at the cross and the Church has been given authority to advance the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Though Satan and his hosts seek to thwart the plan of God, he will be unable to prevent the Church’s advancement of the Gospel and God’s gathering of all His lost sheep from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. Baptism fulfills and replaces circumcision as the physical sign of God’s covenant with His children. John the Baptist administered a baptism of repentance, which signaled that God was no longer counting the descendants of Abraham in the flesh as the alone covenant people, but rather those who possessed the faith of Abraham, called according to promise, constituting a Spiritual seed according to God’s internal work of grace. As such, the unconditional promises that were given to the physical seed of Abraham have been fulfilled in Christ, the true seed of Abraham, who now engrafts people into a new and glorious covenant by faith alone. This newer sign of baptism displaces physical circumcision, but is only administered to those who bear heart circumcision and not given indiscriminately to a physical seed as circumcision was given in the past because Christ was the culmination and end of what Abraham’s seed was pointing forward to. Children of believers, though recipients of God’s grace by their inclusion in a believing home and the church community, are not guaranteed full inclusion into Christ’s covenant blessings until they evidence a circumcision of the heart (faith in Christ), whereby they would be commended to the waters of baptism, thus attesting to their full salvation in Christ and full inclusion into His covenant body, the Church. Baptism by immersion also corresponds with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and signifies the new life we have in Him. Baptism also signifies a washing and cleansing of our sins, thus assuring our consciences that we are indeed forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness.
The Supper of our Lord Jesus was instituted to be observed in His Churches until the end of time as a perpetual remembrance of his broken body and spilt blood for the forgiveness of sins. It was also instituted to strengthen the faith of believers in all the benefits of Christ’s death, for their spiritual nourishment and growth in him. Communion with the Lord in His body and blood are only beneficial when received in faith, and if received in an outright sinful disposition towards Christ’s Body, it may bring a curse rather than a blessing. The Lord’s Supper also signifies the unity of his Body, the Church, and should be received with mutual regard and genuine love for one another. In the Lord’s Supper, believers are also reminded of Jesus’ future return, anticipating a more glorious supper, to be celebrated with Jesus Himself and all of the redeemed in the marriage Supper with the glorious Lamb of God.
The Civil Government
God, the supreme Lord and King of the entire world, has ordained civil authorities for his own glory and the public good. For this purpose he has armed them with the authority to use force, to defend and encourage those who do well, and to punish evil doers, as well as to defend the cause of the weak and afflicted. It is God’s will that those in authority deal justly and honestly, not perverting justice. We must submit to and pay taxes to those in authority, so long as such actions don’t require disobedience to our Sovereign King, who is above all. We ought also to make supplications and prayers for rulers and all who are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.
Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Adam and Eve were made distinctly male and female to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising leadership in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. Husband and Wife are therefore created to serve each other in mutually enriching ways, delighting in one another physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This bond may not be dissolved except on the grounds of infidelity, desertion, or death, whereby divorce and remarriage are permitted. Christians are instructed only to marry a fellow believer in the Lord, for its God’s will that the family be holy and unified in mutual thankfulness and praise for their Sovereign Creator.
Singleness is also commended for those who are called to a singular devotion to their Lord and show no desire to unite in a marital relationship. Such a person should refrain from sexual sin and conduct themselves in a manner which glorifies Christ as their all-satisfying joy in life. Singleness, though affording freedom to more practically serve the Lord, is not necessarily more favorable in the eyes of the Lord, Who is equally glorified in chastity and marriage.
We believe that parents are responsible for protecting, nurturing, and caring for their children. Also, parents are commanded by God to care for their children’s Spiritual good through both word and deed. We believe that the ordinary way in which God brings children fully to salvation in Christ Jesus is through the Spiritual nurturing of father and mother. God has spoken to children that they should honor their father and mother in the Lord, promising blessing upon such Godward obedience in Christ. We believe that God therefore speaks to the entire family and desires to be glorified in all aspects of family life, resulting in our joy and His praise.
Jesus’ Glorious Return
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 physical and conscious misery, along with Satan and all of the fallen angels.
Creation itself groans for the return of Jesus, when it will be delivered from the stinging curse of sin and restored unto perpetual beauty and glory. We also groan for the redemption of our bodies, where sin and sickness will be eradicated. We eagerly wait for that day when Jesus will raise us up, not losing a single sheep that belongs to Him. His return is imminent and none know the day or hour. He continues to prepare a place for all of the redeemed and will gather us when the full number of the elect have heard His voice and trusted Him unto eternal life. We are called upon to prepare ourselves for His return by living a life in Godliness and anticipating His return as a bride awaits her wedding day. We will be gathered together eternally with the full number of God’s redeemed throughout the ages from every tribe, language, people, and nation. Until that glorious day comes, our prayer remains “Come Lord Jesus!”