Articles of Faith and Practice
This church recognises the 66 canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “breathed out by God” (2 Tim.3:16) in their entirety, including the very words. They are therefore infallibly true and trustworthy in everything they teach, and the one supreme standard of belief and conduct. This church also accepts the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith as an essentially faithful interpretation of the Scriptures and as the church’s subordinate standard next after the Scriptures. These Articles of Faith and Practice shall also hold the position of a subordinate standard. We make one qualification, however, concerning the 1689 Confession’s teaching:
Chapter 26, section 4. The church does not bind itself to accept that the pope is the Man of Sin or Antichrist. Such identification goes beyond what can be legitimately known from Scripture itself; it requires a knowledge and an interpretation of subsequent history too. While therefore the pope may be the Man of Sin or Antichrist, we should not bind the church to believe this.
2. The Church
(i) There is but one church of Christ, both in heaven and on the earth, and this church is composed of sinners elected in Christ from before the foundation of the
world, and called in God's appointed time to be partakers of this grace and favour. Each local church, therefore, shall be an expression of this universal church and shall be composed only and solely of believers professing their call by grace into God's salvation.
(ii) Admittance to membership in this local church shall be by profession of faith on the part of those baptised by immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Church members shall agree to abide by the teaching of the 1689 Baptist Confession and the Articles of Faith and Practice. They are not bound to subscribe to everything the Confession and Articles say, but they shall honour and respect them as the church’s subordinate standard after the Scriptures, and not seek to undermine them. As some believers in Christ may not have yet attained to a full knowledge of the foregoing truths, and yet should be under the influence and discipline of a gospel church, they shall be admitted to membership on giving a general assent to these articles, the Elders diligently observing their growth in grace until such time as they shall fully and knowledgeably ascribe to these truths.
(iii) Continuance in the church shall be in “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers”. Attendance on these means of grace shall be obligatory for all members (unless for completely justifiable reasons) and no member shall ordinarily absent himself or herself from any of the means of continuance for a period exceeding four weeks.
(iv) Elders and deacons shall subscribe to the system of doctrine contained in the ‘1689 Baptist Confession of Faith as their own confession of faith, with the qualification mentioned above, and to the Articles of Faith and Practice. If any church officer, or candidate for church office, finds that he can no longer conscientiously subscribe to any part of the Confession’s teaching, or any of the Articles, he shall immediately bring this to the notice of the other church officers, who shall make a full inquiry into the matter. If they judge that the matter does not involve any serious or substantial departure from the church’s faith and practice, and does not endanger the good order of the church, it shall not affect the standing of the candidate or officer. If, however, they judge that the matter does involve a serious or substantial departure from the church’s faith and practice, or does endanger the good order of the church, the issue shall be resolved either by the candidate’s withdrawal; or by the church officer’s resignation; or by dismissal from office; or if Scripture requires it, by a formal change to the Confession or Articles adopted by the church meeting.
(v) In order to facilitate this rule and government, and in order to exercise discipline (which shall be in accord with the Word of God) membership of the church shall be restricted to those living in an immediate (local) area which makes their attendance on the means of grace possible. If a member moves away from the area and is no longer worshipping with this church, he or she shall relinquish all voting powers in matters relating to the church’s affairs while absent.
(vi) Applicants for membership shall be interviewed by the church officers and, on their recommendation, accepted on the vote of the membership at a church meeting.
(vii) The final decision on all matters of major import shall rest with the membership at the church meeting, acting in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and under Christ as its one and only true Head.
3. Special Clauses
(i) This church shall be Protestant, witnessing to the saving truth of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and rejecting any view that would compromise or deny this cardinal doctrine of the Gospel.
(ii) This church shall remain separate from the modern “ecumenical movement”, including as it does within its ranks people who deny those truths which were recovered in their purity during the Protestant Reformation (such as justification through faith alone) and who seek union with the Roman Catholic body, whose errors today are no less dangerous than they were at the time of the Reformation.
(iii) Membership in any religious society where Christ is not held as supreme and Head (such as Freemasonry) shall be held as inconsistent with church membership.
(iv) This church rejects the Pentecostal and charismatic movements as authentic expressions of biblical teaching. Specifically:
• This church does not accept that the foundational office of prophet or apostle continues after the end of the apostolic age at the close of the 1st century, or that any revelation binding on the church today is to be found other than the revelation contained in Scripture itself. The church should accordingly be governed and guided by Scripture, not by any modern claims to prophecy or revelation.
• The church also holds that the apostolic gift of speaking in tongues was a real human language, directed towards God in prayer, rather than the modern phenomenon of a so-called “heavenly” language which is often interpreted (translated) as God’s own speech to us.
• The church rejects the view that baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience separate from and subsequent to conversion, or that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of baptism in the Spirit.
• The church rejects the view that miraculous signs and wonders ought to follow and authenticate the preaching of the Gospel, or should be sought and prayed for; the only “miracle” we seek in this regard is the conversion of sinners.
• The church rejects the view that physical and material health, wealth, and prosperity are promised to believers in the present life, or that any failure to enjoy these blessings is necessarily due to lack of faith. While God in His sovereignty may heal miraculously in answer to prayer, the church rejects the view that any individual has a special permanent gift of miraculous healing.
(v) This church rejects the view that women may exercise spiritual or teaching authority over men in the life of the church. Any church office involving such exercise of authority is, in accordance with Scripture, open only to men, albeit men with suitable qualifications.
4. Agreed Current Practices of the Church
The church currently adopts the following as practices that minister to the peace and good order of the church. Church members and officers are to accept these practices as part of their submission to local church order.
(i) Female members are to wear head-covering during worship.
(ii) Ladies are encouraged to pray publicly. The church believes in the priesthood of all believers and therefore the woman's right to pray publicly.
(iii) We use only the AV for public reading.
(iv) Visiting speakers: we do not take visiting speakers from compromised denominations; however we are flexible with regard to visiting missionaries. (v) We hold a weekly Lord's Table. By this we mean that, “We invite to join with us at the Lord's Table all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour, and are members or adherents in good standing of a Bible-believing evangelical church”.
(vi) We don't follow the Christian Calendar. No special services are held at Easter etc.
(vii) In our worship we accept the singing both the Old Testament Psalms and other biblical materials, and also hymns of human composition. We are neither “exclusive psalmodists” nor “exclusive hymnodists”.
(viii) Midweek Meeting. This is primarily a prayer meeting with some preaching rather than a Bible Study.
(ix) Non-members are not permitted involvement in church work. The only exception would be somebody who was considering membership and then it would be permitted as a “sampler” of the work and only be permitted 2 or 3 times.
Recommended Normal Procedure Relating to Missionary/Ministerial Candidates or Students
Believing that the call to specific “full time” service should not be in isolation from the workings of the local church, the following normal procedure is recommended.
(i) The Candidate/student should in the first instance advise the Minister and Elders of the proposed course that he/she hopes to follow. A meeting between
the Eldership and candidate/student should then be arranged.
(ii) If such a meeting produces mutually favourable results and opportunity should then be given to the candidate/student to relate his/her “call” before the church.
(iii) The matter should then become an object of the prayers of the church and, on the obtaining of information and material relative to the work and doctrinal position of the Mission/College in question, should then be further discussed by the Eldership.
(iv) A further meeting should then be arranged between the candidate/student and the Eldership to ascertain the continued conviction and assurance of the candidate/student concerning the course proposed.
(v) If satisfaction is reached on points relating to the Mission/College in question and the candidate/student's attachments thereto, the Eldership should then call the church together to hear further evidence of the “call”, during which meeting questions may be addressed to the candidate/student by members.
(vi) The church should then decide, in the absence of the candidate/student, whether or not to recommend the candidate/student to the proposed sphere of work or study, and undertake to assist in the “support” of same according as the Lord is prospering the church and the “call” requires.
(vii) Where membership of another church may prove impossible or undesirable, the candidate/student or missionary may ordinarily retain his/her membership of the church under the “justifiable reasons” clause in the Articles of Faith. In such a case, however, the candidate/student or missionary shall relinquish all voting powers in matters relating to the church's affairs while absent.
(viii) Where a candidate/student or missionary may wholeheartedly join another church of “like-mind” in his/her area it is advisable to do so. In such a case the candidate/student or missionary shall be assured of the interest and prayers of the church according to his calling.
(ix) It would be desirable, therefore, that the candidate/student or missionary keep the church informed and advised at regular intervals of work undertaken in his/her calling and of spiritual progress etc.