Basis of Faith

Our Basis of Faith sets out the core truths of the Gospel which are the foundation of our life together. All of our members are in full agreement with these ten statements.

1. God

There is one God, who exists eternally in three distinct but equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is unchangeable in his holiness, justice, wisdom and love. He is the almighty Creator; Saviour and Judge who sustains and governs all things according to his sovereign will for his own glory.

2. The Bible

God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given is in its entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. The Bible alone speaks with final authority and is always sufficient for all matters of belief and practice.

3. The Human Race

All men and women, being created male and female in the image of God, have inherent and equal dignity and worth. Their greatest purpose is to obey, worship and love God. As a result of the fall of our first parents, every aspect of human nature has been corrupted and all men and women are without spiritual life, guilty sinners and hostile to God. Every person is therefore under the just condemnation of God and needs to be born again, forgiven and reconciled to God in order to know and please him.

4. The Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life in obedience to the Father. He taught with authority and all his words are true. On the cross he died in the place of sinners, bearing God’s punishment for their sin, redeeming them by his blood. He rose from the dead and in his resurrection body ascended into heaven where he is exalted as Lord of all. He intercedes for his people in the presence of the Father.

5. Salvation

Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace and cannot be earned or deserved. It has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ and is offered to all in the gospel. God in his love forgives sinners whom he calls, granting them repentance and faith. All who believe in Christ are justified by faith alone, adopted into the family of God and receive eternal life.

6. The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven to glorify Christ and to apply his work of salvation. He convicts sinners, imparts spiritual life and gives a true understanding of the Scriptures. He indwells all believers, brings assurance of salvation and produces increasing likeness to Christ. He builds up the church and empowers its members for worship, service and mission.

7. The Church

The universal church is the body of which Christ is the head and to which all who are saved belong. It is made visible in local churches, which are congregations of believers who are committed to each other for the worship of God, the preaching of the Word, the administering of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for pastoral care and discipline, and for evangelism. The unity of the body of Christ is expressed within and between churches by mutual love, care and encouragement. True fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the gospel.

8. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been given to the churches by Christ as visible signs of the gospel. Baptism is a symbol of union with Christ and entry into his church but does not impart spiritual life. The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice offered once for all and involves no change in the bread and wine. All its blessings are received by faith.

9. Marriage

Sexual intimacy is a gift from God and is to be enjoyed exclusively within the context of marriage. Marriage is, by definition, heterosexual and between one man and one woman. Marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church.

10. The Future

The Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory. He will raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness. The wicked will be sent to eternal punishment and the righteous will be welcomed into a life of eternal joy in fellowship with God. God will make all things new and will be glorified forever.

Doctrinal Distinctives

Our Doctrinal Distinctives set out our position and teaching on some matters over which Christian believers take different views. Not everyone at Grace Church agrees with these Doctrinal Distinctives, but we ask members to respect these positions and not to be divisive over them.

3.2.1 Gospel Centred

We want the gospel to be at the heart of everything we do. We believe that the gospel is the objective news of God’s saving work through Jesus Christ in human history (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This gospel is centred in Christ, is the foundation for the life of the church, and is our only hope for eternal life. This gospel is not proclaimed if Christ’s death in our place, taking the punishment for our sin, and his bodily resurrection, are not central to our message. The gospel is effective because of our sovereign God, who chooses, calls and saves his people (Ephesians 1:4-6). Having declared us right with him, he is committed to completing the work he has begun in us: transforming us into the likeness of Christ and bringing us to glory (Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:30). We seek to partner with churches who hold to the same gospel.

Our position on working with others is more fully laid out in the FIEC Gospel Unity Statement which we hold to. It can be found here.

3.2.2 Baptism

We teach that anyone who responds to the gospel in repentance and faith should be baptised (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38). We practise baptism by immersion as a sign of the believer’s union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-10). We do not practise infant baptism, but those who recognise the validity of their infant baptism can play a full part in the life of the Church.

3.2.3 Men and Women

We believe that men and women are equal in essence, dignity and value but are distinct by divine design (Genesis 1:26-27). As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church. The way this plays out in the church is that we believe that men and women both have an essential part to play in gospel ministry, including serving in leadership roles (Romans 16:1-16). We believe that the offices of pastor and elder, and the task of preaching to the gathered church are reserved for qualified men (1 Timothy 2:11-15, 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9).

This position is more fully laid out in the FIEC Women in Ministry Statement which we abide by. It can be found here.

3.2.4 Congregationalism

The church is made up of believers who seek to submit to the authority of Christ as the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). We believe that he has given each local church what it needs to govern itself, without the need for consent or approval by anyone outside the local church. The congregation participates in making decisions, such as recognising new members and appointing leaders (Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5:1-12). The elders bring key decisions to the members for prayer and discussion (Acts 6:3-5).

3.2.5 Work of the Holy Spirit

We depend on the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, impart spiritual life, grow us to be more like Jesus and empower us to witness about him (John 16:8, 3:5-8, Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 1:8). The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we see on display in the New Testament are still active within the life of the church, and we seek to use them in accordance with the Word of God (1 Corinthians 12-14).