Confessional statements prove helpful in understanding one’s belief on doctrinal matters. They can help us find common ground, or serve as a starting place, or they might be the “line in the sand.” But they can also oversimplify doctrine or elevate specific beliefs to a position where they are viewed as essential to salvation when in fact they might not be. In an effort to reduce this confession to a list of key points, Bryan remains mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of any doctrinal statement. Most of these points are indeed essential to salvation, but not all; so I hold to the common motto: “In essentials—unity; in non essentials—liberty; in all things—love.” In addition, the guests on the blog and Salty Believer Unscripted, the creators of the resources and websites listed here, and the authors of the books reviewed may not subscribe to this confession.
The Bible is God's divinely inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word to us.
God has graciously revealed himself to his creation in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, God is a speaking God and has divinely inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both a record and a means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. As sinful, finite beings, we cannot know God’s truth exhaustively, but I affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can rightly know God’s revealed truth. The Bible is to be believed as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the Gospel. (References: Ps 119:89; Ps 119:105; Ps 119:160; Prov 30:5; Matt 24:35; Luke 8:21; Luke 24:44-48;John 1:1-14; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; I Cor 2:6-16; II Tim 2:15; II Tim 3:16-17; Heb 4:12; II Pet 1:16-21; II Pet 3:15-18)
There is one God existing in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There is only one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. These three are one in essence but distinct in person and function. 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. (References: Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10-11; Isa 44:8;Matt 1:23; Matt 3:16-17; Matt 28:18-19; John 1:1-3; John 1:14; John 1:18; John 10:22-31; John 15:26; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:1-4; I Pet 5:10; I John 5:7; 1 John 5:20)
Men and women are born sinful and separated from God.
Man and woman were created in the image of God, uniquely complementing each other, enjoying equal access to God by faith. However, Adam, the first man, distorted that image by willfully disobeying God, bringing sin into the world, incurring eternal separation from God through just condemnation and death, both physical and spiritual. Accordingly, all human beings are born with a sinful nature and become sinners in thought, word, and deed. With such a nature, they are incapable of producing anything acceptable to God—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. Therefore, the supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand. Our only hope is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself. (References: Gen 1:27; Gen 3:1-24; Gen 5:3; Gen 6:12; Ps 51:5; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:1-16; Rom 3:10-25; Rom 5:10; Rom 8:1-11; Eph 2:1-10; Eph 5:22-33)
The salvation of humanity from sin and its effects is God’s sovereign outworking.
From all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love, God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer. (References: Deut 30:6; John 1:29; John 17:17-19; Acts 13:38-41; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:1-10:4; Eph 1:3-10)
The good news is that salvation comes through the finished work of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected.
Moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully man. He was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of a virgin--Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died on the cross as a full, penal, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all, arose physically and bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven where he now intercedes for all believers. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we may be saved. We are justified by grace through faith alone, on the grounds of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and that all who trust in and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are born again of the Holy Spirit, and thereby become the children of God. (Reference: Isa 53:12; Matt 11:2-6;John 3:1-21; John 6:28-29; John 10:1-18; John 11:25-26; John 20:30-31; Acts 2:21; Acts 4:10-12; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:21-26; Rom 5:6-11; Rom 10:5-13; II Cor 5:17-21; Eph 2:8-10; Phil 2:9-10; Col 1:13-14; II Tim 1:8-14; Heb 12:1-2; I Pet 1:18-21)
Christians are considered righteous and forgiven by the Father when we trust in the work done on the cross by his Son Jesus.
Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. This justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. A zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification; therefore; we are called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. (References: Rom 5:12-21; Titus 2:11-14;Heb 10:4-18; I Pet 3:18)
God is sovereign in the bestowing of spiritual gifts.
It is, however, the believer's responsibility to attempt to develop our sovereignly given spiritual gifts. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion and is the placing of the believer into the Body of Christ. Particular spiritual gifts are neither essential in proving the presence of the Holy Spirit, nor an indication of a deeper spiritual experience. God does hear and answer the prayer of faith, in accordance with his own will, for the sick and afflicted. It is the privilege and responsibility of every believer to minister according to the gifts and grace of God given to them. (References: John 15:7; Rom 12:1-8; I Cor 12:7-11; Eph. 4:7-8; I Pet 4:10-11; 1 John 5:14-15)
The Church is the body of Christ and we are one within it.
Those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. This community may be seen in the universal church and is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each 'local church' is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The fulfillment of the local church organization is found at Pentecost as the Church functions through the ministry of gifts given by the Holy Spirit to each believer. The Church is composed solely of believers, is the body and espoused bride of Christ, and is a spiritual organism organized to carry out the Great Commission, to teach, and to administer the ordinances of believer’s baptism and the communion. (References: Matt 28:19-20;Acts 2:1-41; Acts 7:38, I Cor 12:12-14; II Cor 11:2; Eph 1:22-23; Eph 5:25-27)
Through water baptism, we publicly profess our faith in Christ and membership in his body; and we remember his covenant with us through communion.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community through confession, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipation of his return and of the consummation of all things. In and of themselves, these ordinances do not hold any power of salvation. (References: Matt 3:11-17; Matt 26:26-29; Acts 2:38-39; I Cor 11:23-32; I Cor 12:12-14)
A believer should live a life of moderation, holding all things in tension until compelled to do otherwise.
Our experience and daily walk should never lead us into extremes or fanaticism; but instead our thoughtful, balanced, forgiving Christian experience should be one of steadfast uprightness, perseverance, equilibrium, humility, self-sacrifice, and Christ-likeness. (References: I Cor 13:4-7; Eph 4:11-16; Phil 4:4-7; Col 3:12-17; Tit 2:12-15)
The personal and imminent return of Jesus Christ must be our longing.
Christ will return physically when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his Kingdom will be consummated. The just and the unjust will experience a bodily resurrection—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the Church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. (References: Isa 65:17-25;Matt 24:36-51; Luke 12:35-40; Col 1:21-22; I Thes 4:13-18; I Thes 5:23-24; Titus 2:11-14; Rev 16:15)
*I am grateful for the many believers that have developed creeds and doctrinal statements before us. We all stand in their debt. Most of the words appearing on this page are not my own, but a consolidation and editing of already existing statements of other believers in Christ's Church.