This is the pulpit of the Athens Baptist Church. Isn't it beautiful?
STATEMENT OF FAITH
The EvangelicalBaptistChurch accepts the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, without the Filioque clause of the WesternChurch, as a concise, but complete, statement of the main tenets of Christianity, and as derived from the Holy Scriptures. Every other Statement of Faith and Practice is only a further development and interpretation of these tenets, or a reference to particular subjects, which could not be included in a Creed as synoptic as this.
About the Scriptures
We believe the Bible (sixty-six canonical books of both the Old and the New Testaments) was written by men who were lead and inspired by the Holy Ghost. That it does not contain, but is the Word of God, therefore, the only infallible, inerrant and dependable rule of faith and practice for the believers of Christ.
About the True God
We believe there is only ONE true and living God, Creator of heaven and earth, and all that is in them, visible and invisible. This ONE God is revealed in the Holy Scriptures as Triune, that is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the plurality of persons in the Godhead is not offered as knowledge for the mind to conceive and explain, but rather as truth for the heart to believe. Under the term person as referring to the Godhead we are not to understand what we do when we use it of humans. The persons in the Trinity are equal in every respect, distinct in plurality, and unconfused in the unity of essence. Speaking of unity of essence we are not to understand it only qualitatively, as if when speaking of three different human persons, but numerically too. There are not three essences in the Godhead but only one. This is the mystery of our Triune God. While the Old Testament emphasizes the unity of Jehovah, in contradistinction to the polytheism of the heathen, the New Testament clearly and emphatically speaks of three as possessing divine attributes. The great mystery of godliness of which Paul speaks in 1 Timothy 3:16, refers to the incarnation of God the Son, and is part of the doctrine of the Trinity, which though not literally stated in the Scriptures, is clearly insinuated in the Old and expressly taught in the New Testament, constituting the very foundation of the Christian Faith.
About Jesus Christ
We believe Jesus Christ was supernaturally conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, according to Gabliel's annunciation. Before he made His incarnation He was coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit and all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. He was God blessed for ever, and for our salvation becameman. Paul calls this thegreat mystery of godliness: «God was manifest in the flesh...» We cannot bisect Christ and decide to what percentage He was God and to what He was man. The Scriptures tell us He was the Son of God Who in order to save man became the Son of man too. As the Son of God He brought God to man and as the Son of man brings man to God. At theCross He shed His sinless blood to redeem mankind. «He came unto His own,andHis own received Him not,but as many as received Him, to them gaveHe power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe onHis name»(John 1:11,12). Now He is seated at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us. He is coming back in power and glory, at the Rapture for the believers and then at the Revelation with the believers, to judge the unbelieving world and establish His millennial Kingdom, which will be the last stage of the visible Kingdom of Heaven, at whose end the devil will be definitely and irrevocablybound and cast into the lake of fire, and the Kingdom of God will be ushered in the new Heaven and the new Earth!
About the Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit is a divine person equal in all respects with the Father and the Son. He had an active part in creation as He does in the Salvation, Regeneration and the Sealing of the sinner who repents and accepts Christ as personal Savior, for the day of Redemption.
We believe He reproves the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. That He withholds the man of sin that he might be revealed in his time.
The Holy Spirit endues the believer with power so that he might be an effective witness for Christ, comforts him in all tribulation, distributes gifts in the local assembly, the New Testament Church, thus building up the body and preparing the Bride for the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
We believe «all have sinned and come short of the glory of God» (Rom. ). Christ by His death on the cross made atonement and paid with His blood for the sins of all mankind. However, this atonement takes effect only in those who by faith receive Christ as their personal Savior and leaves all others under the wrath of God. For, «he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him» (John ). And, «The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord» (Rom. ). Salvation is a personal matter. Each has to accept Christ as his personal Savior in order to be saved. Then the sinner is born «not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God» (John ).
About the grace of God
We believe salvation is exclusively the work of God's grace. Anything more or less cannot be grace and is therefore rejected as a means to salvation by the written word of God. «For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not ofyourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast, for we arehis workmanship,created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath beforeordained that we should walk in them» (Eph. 2:8,9,10.). The good works, if indeed good and pleasing to God, are proof of genuine faith. They contribute in no way to salvation. And salvation is not a matter of progressive process, it takes place in the heart of the sinner the very moment he, by faith, accepts the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior. Where faith is genuine and salvation a fact, good works, are sure to follow.
About the Church
We believe the Church is made up of all believers on Christ since the time of His forming the first nucleus of disciples at the beginning of His earthly ministry till the Rapture. These believers, upon receiving Christ as their personal Savior are regenerated and sealed by the Holy Spirit for the Day of Redemption. That inward work of regeneration is typically and symbolically expressed, as a confession to the outside world, by Baptism. This is an act of obedience to Christ's command and done by immersion in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, according to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19). The authorized agent to perform Baptism is the local New Testament Church. The Church as the body or the Bride of Christ is still in the process of being completed. The fact that the Rapture has not taken place yet, indicates that there are still sinners to be saved and added to the Church during this dispensation of Grace.The division of the Church into «Militant» and «Triumphant» is not based either on the letter or in the spirit of the Scriptures. Neither are the terms «Universal» and «Invisible» as applied to the Church on the whole. When the Rapture takes place and «the deadin Christ shall rise first:Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught uptogether with them in the clouds,to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we everbe with the Lord»(1 Thess. 4:16,17), then we will have the Universal but Visible Church, the whole body of Christ completely formed. Until then the Bible gives the emphasis on the local assembly as the main divine Institution on earth. The local church is made up of true believers as well as mere professors. Both are to grow together until the time of harvest, that is, the Rapture. The Athens Baptist Church is strong on its position on the local church. We believe there is nothing else, no matter how good and effective, as far as the work of God in general appears to be, that is fully approved of God. Organizations, Mission Boards and numerous other forms of ministry that are not part of a local church, may be used of God, as it is His word that He honors, and which «shall not return void». The local church is autonomous and self-governed. Is not subject to any outside hierarchy or board of directors, and accountable only to Christ, Whose Lordship is held higher than any other authority, religious, political or otherwise. While the members of the local church, as physical persons, are constantly taught and urged to be subject unto the higher powers as ordained by God according to Romans 13, and a number of other Bible references, the church, as a divine institution, owes obedience and faithful allegiance to none but Christ her head.The church's life and administration guidelines are clearly delineated in the New Testament. The members are not divided into clergy and laity, because in this dispensation of Grace all believers in Christ are: «A chosen generation, a royalpriesthood, an holy nation...» (1 Pet.2:9), and kings and priests unto Godand His Father...» (Rev.1: 6). Administrations, operations and gifts are divided by that one and the selfsame Spirit to every man severally as he (the Spirit) will (1 Cor.12...). The offices in the local church are two, that of Pastor (called also Bishop and Elder) and that of deacon. Usually the Pastor is one, with associates and assistants in most cases, but the deacons are invariably more than one.
About baptism and the Lord's Supper
Both of these are ordinances and not sacraments. They were ordained by the Lord and are, therefore, obligatory, for every believer. Neither is conducive or in anyway contributive to salvation. Baptism is an outside demonstration of the believer's identification with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. It is a prerequisite to church membership and participation in the Lord's Supper. The believer is not baptized in order to be saved, but rather because he is saved. The second ordinance is symbolic and commemorative of Christ's death. He said, «this do in remembrance of me.»(1 Cor. 11:24). Participation in the Lord's Supper presupposes acceptance of Christ as Savior and baptism on the communicant's part, as well as a life of holiness and separation from the world. Paul's admonition and warning is: «Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world» (vv.28-32). The ordinance of the Lord's Supper is for saints, not for sinners!
About the bodily Resurrection of Christ and His Second Coming
We believe Jesus was physically risen from the dead as a proof that His atoning sacrifice on the cross satisfied God's righteousness fully, so that all sinners, on condition of repentance and faith, may be justified and made children of God. Paul says that Jesus was: «delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.» Rom.4:25). The preposition 'for' here indicates the cause of the action. In other words, Paul says, Christ was crucified, delivered to die, because of our offenses. Which means our offenses could not be forgiven without the shedding of Christ's sinless blood. And, when the sacrifice was offered, because God was absolutely satisfied, came the resurrection as a proof of our justification. Thank God for the unsearchable riches of Christ!The Second Coming of Christ is one of the most important tenets of the Christian Faith as taught in the Bible. Here we are only to touch upon some special points grossly, as the whole matter constitutes a separate chapter of Systematic Theology or Christian Doctrine namely Eschatology. Briefly we here declare that, as a local New Testament Baptist church, we are Premillennialists and Pretribulationists. We expect the Rapture to take place anytime, and from our hearts repeat the words of Revelation 22:20: «Even so, come, Lord Jesus». Amen.
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