Our formal statement of belief is the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. While we recognize only the Bible as holding absolute authority over us for all of life, we find it helpful to summarize what the Scriptures teach in certain matters. The BFM 2000 helps us in this regard, and the pastors (also called elders) of CBC would also like to offer the following summary of the truths of God we hold to firmly:
The Bible (66 Books in our English Translations) is the inspired (God-breathed), infallible Word of God, inerrant in the original autographs. God’s Holy Spirit carried along the human authors as they wrote, in such a way that what they wrote were, in fact, His very own words (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16). The canon of Scripture is closed and contains everything God intends for us to have in order to be saved and pursue a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3). That is to say, the Bible is a totally sufficient guide for all of life. Jesus Christ had the very highest view of the Scriptures (Matthew 4:4; 5:17-19; John 10:35). Indeed, He said the Scriptures were in essence written about Him (Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39-40). Therefore, it is critical for Christian teachers and elders not to “sugarcoat” or “dumb-down” the Word, but rather to simply know that what the Bible says, God says. We believe the Lord in His providence has wondrously preserved the accuracy of His Word throughout history, resulting in modern English translations that can be relied upon with confidence (e.g., ESV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, HCSB).
The gospel is the “good news” of salvation offered by a holy God to sinful people through the provision of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Jesus’ perfect, sinless life substitutes for our human defection and rebellion against God. Jesus’ death on the cross was a substitutionary sacrifice whereby God punished our sins in the body of Christ. Jesus’ resurrection vindicates that His sacrifice was wholly acceptable to God and proves Jesus is not just another man, but is the righteous God-Man and promised Messiah (Isaiah 53; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Peter 2:24). The gospel in its fullest expression is a message about God, man, and Jesus Christ. That is, the gospel tells us who God is, who we are, and who Jesus is. In the gospel, the holiness of God is held high, the sinfulness of man is made plain, and the righteous life, death and resurrection of Christ is exalted as the only way of salvation. This message demands a verdict from all who hear it – “repent” and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31).
God is the eternal Creator of everything that has ever been or ever will be. He created everything out of nothing, by the power of His Word (Genesis 1; Psalms 33:6; Jeremiah 27:5; 32:17). God eternally exists as a Tri-Unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three Persons, one in essence and deity. God is in control of everything. He is holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, and all-present. His being is essential. That is, He is self-existent. All life and power and authority are derived from Him. Among His glorious attributes are righteousness, justice, mercy, and love. God is also a self-revealing God and has made Himself known via the creation to all people (Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23). God has further made Himself known savingly through the Word-made-flesh (Jesus) and the Word written down (the Scriptures). God’s glory is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalms 41:13; 90:2), and His people shall be in awe of Him forever!
Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity (Genesis 1:26; John 1:1-4; 17:5; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 1:8). He is coequal with the Father, fully God (John 10:30; 14:7-9). In the fullness of time, however, Jesus laid aside His glory in heaven and became a man (John 1:14; Galatians 4:4-5). Conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin named Mary, Jesus as God-Man (fully God and fully man) came to do everything necessary to secure the salvation of His sinful, helpless people (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 19:10; Acts 2:23-24). This included living a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:18-19), perfectly fulfilling God’s Law (Matt 5:17), dying as a sin-bearing substitute (Mark 10:45; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Gal 3:13), rising from the grave three days later (Mark 10:34; John 10;17-18), ascending back to the Father’s right hand to make intercession for His people (Acts 1:9-11; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2), and alongside the Father to send the Holy Spirit to regenerate and indwell His people (John 3:1-8; 14:16-17; 16:7-11). Jesus is the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5) and the only way of salvation is repentance of sin and total trust (faith) in His bloody cross-work (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). All judgment has been given to Jesus and every person will be held accountable to Him (Matt 25:31; John 5:22-23;Acts 17:30-31; Romans 14:10). May His name and fame shine forever (Revelation 5).
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the God-head (Trinity). He has always existed as God, just as Father and Son have. Though the doctrine of the Trinity is mind-blowing to finite humanity, the Bible clearly teaches that there is one and only one God, eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). Distinct in personhood, one in essence (we see all Three on display, for example, in Jesus’ baptism as well as the Great Commission). The Spirit of God was present at creation, just as Father and Son were (Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:1-6; Colossians 1:15-20). The Spirit was also active under the Old Covenant (Judges 13:15; 1 Samuel 16:13; Psalms 51:11). It was in the Old Covenant that the “age of the Spirit” was promised (Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:11-14). That age came to fulfillment with the birth of the Church at Pentecost (Luke 24:49; Acts 2). The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church and world today is to convict of sin (John 16:8), to exalt Jesus (John 16:14), to guide us in the truth of the Word (John 14:26; 16:13), to grant new birth to sinners resulting in salvation (John 3:1-8; 1 John 5:1), to sanctify believers in the Word (John 17:17), to produce fruits of a changed life in Christ (Galatians 5:22-25), to seal Christians in Christ until the day of completion (Ephesians 1:13-14), to intercede for us as we pray (Romans 8:26-27), to unite believers in the Church (Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-6), and to gift believers for God-glorifying service (1 Corinthians 12). Chief among all His glorious works, however, is the magnifying of Jesus Christ as Savior by bringing life to spiritually dead souls through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16; 8:1-17; Ephesians 2:1-10; James 1:18).
Man was created by God on the sixth day of creation as the crown of that creation. Mankind is unique because men and women are made in God’s image and are given the mandate by God to exercise dominion and stewardship over the creation (Genesis 1:26-31). As God’s image bearers, the first man and woman were commissioned as God’s vice-regents, if you will, to care for His creation, to care for one another in the relationship of marriage, to reproduce God’s image through child-bearing, and to nurture those children to advance the image and reign of God on the earth (Genesis 2). Thus, any nobility in mankind is simply due to God’s image in us, which remains true even after the fall (Genesis 9:6). Rather than blissfully love and serve God together, however, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, rejected His authority, and thereby introduced sin into the human race (Genesis 3). The effects of sin were immediate, and the most tragic of them all was the spiritual death that now infected men’s souls. When Adam sinned, we all sinned. That is, we inherited a natural inclination and disposition to rebel against God’s goodness, to go our own way, and to worship ourselves or other idols (Psalms 51:5; Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 1:18-32; 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). So, in short, man is both noble and ignoble. We are Divine image-bearers, but our sin has horribly marred that image. The tragedy of it all is that man was created for eternity (Genesis 2:7; 1 Samuel 1:22), but now if sin is not atoned for, man will rightly spend eternity in hell forever cast from the presence of the Lord (Isaiah 66:22-24; Mark 9:42-48; Revelation 20:11-15).
Sin in the scripture is presented as a transgression of a boundary or law of God and also as a falling short of God’s standard (Numbers 14:41; Romans 3:23). In its most basic sense, sin is disobeying God. As theologian R. C. Sproul describes it, sin is “cosmic treason.” The first man, Adam, sinned and passed down a sin nature to all his posterity. Sin is not just outward acts of rebellion, but a disposition of the heart (inner life) of mankind. Indeed, we sin because we are sinners at our core (Mark 7:14-23). We are sinners by birth and nature (Psalms 51:5) and by choice (Romans 3:10-18). The tragic consequences of sin entering the human race can hardly be over-stated. Sin cuts us off from God (Genesis 3:23-24; Leviticus 18:19; Psalms 130:3; Isaiah 1:15). Sin enslaves us (John 8:34; Romans 6:12-14; 2 Peter 2:19), robbing us of true freedom to do good in God’s eyes. Sin renders us helpless to please God (Jeremiah 13:23; Romans 8:8). Sin renders us spiritually dead, unable to lift a finger to save ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 2:13). Sin, when it comes to full fruition, brings about both physical and spiritual death in us (Ezekiel 18:4; James 1:13-15). Sin incurs the righteous wrath, anger and judgment of Holy God (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). There is no part of us not affected by sin. Sin is evil and the source of all that is ugly and horrible in this world. The Bible makes much of sin, because only then can sinners see their dire need of a Savior. Sin put Jesus on the cross (Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). All thanks and glory to Jesus, for those who by grace abhor their sin and turn by faith to Jesus Christ. Sin with all its shame and guilt is defeated (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1; Colossians 2:13-15). It is also defeated progressively in sanctification (Romans 8; Galatians 5), and one day, in the New Jerusalem, sin will be banished forever (Revelations 21-22).
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone (Ephesians 2:4-10). Because we are spiritually dead in our sins, salvation must be wholly an act of God’s grace (unmerited favor). Jonah got it right: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Salvation in an overarching sense refers to the whole process of God delivering people from their sins. This He purposed to do before the world ever was (Rev 13:8; 17:8), electing to save some sinners out of the world to the praise of His grace and glory (Ephesians 1:3-10). God out of love sent Jesus, His Son, into the world to make full atonement (covering or appeasement) for the sins of those He purposed to save, who would by regenerating grace believe on His name (John 1:12-13; 3:16; Acts 13:48; 16:14-15). God is pleased perfectly with Jesus (Matthew 3:17) and thus salvation is only through faith in the Person and atoning work of Jesus, the Messiah (Romans 3:21-28). Faith unites us to Christ (Galatians 2:19-20; Ephesians 1:11-14; Philippians 1:21). Though a human response of repentance and faith is clearly required for salvation, there is no boasting in these since even they are gifts of grace (Acts 11:18; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Hebrews 12:2). So, salvation is God’s deliverance of sinners by grace through faith in Christ. This has always been the way of salvation, with Old Testament saints simply believing God’s promise of deliverance through a Messiah who would come to make atonement (Isaiah 7; 11; 53; Romans 4). They looked forward with faith to Messiah, while we today look back to Him in faith (the book of Hebrews summarizes this beautifully). The process of salvation includes other pivotal doctrines such as election, effectual calling, justification, sanctification, and glorification (Romans 8:29-30; Titus 3:1-7). Since God saves, and not man, all those who are truly given new birth in Christ will persevere in the faith until the end (Philippians 1:6; 1 John 2:18-25).
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances given by Christ to His church. They are both to be visible proclamations of the gospel, as well as demonstrations of the present reign of Jesus in His church. Both ordinances are focused on the present and future kingdom of God and His Christ.
In baptism, we see the beautiful symbolism of death to sin and new life in Jesus Christ. In baptism, one is declaring and demonstrating repentance of sin and faith in Christ, and is publicly identifying with Jesus who died for sins, was buried, and rose again (Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:9-12). Because of the obvious symbolism of regeneration, and the lack of clear, biblical evidence to the contrary, we strongly maintain that baptism is only for those who have placed conscious faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and have renounced their sins (Acts 2:38; 8:36-37; 16:14-15, 31-34). Baptism is done only to Christ’s disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We believe baptism is to be done by immersion in water. The word “baptize” literally means “to dip under” or “to immerse.” There are other Greek words for “sprinkle” or “effuse” and they are not used in reference to New Testament baptism. The Bible also supports immersion as the mode by way of example (Mark 1:10; John 3:23). The water is also significant because water in the Bible often symbolizes judgment (think Noah, Moses and the Red Sea). So, when we immerse in water and bring the person back up, we are representing the true transaction that has been made, as Christ has borne the judgment of God in that person’s place, and His resurrection has ensured the believer’s safe passage through the judgment waters (Matt 7:24-27; 1 Peter 3:18-22). We do not believe baptism is necessary for salvation, but rather is a sign of the salvation of God wrought in a person’s heart by the Spirit’s regeneration. If baptism were essential to salvation, it would be extremely difficult to explain texts like Luke 23:43, John 4:2 and 1 Corinthians 1:14-17.
The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, is a commemoration of the Lord Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross, and the eager expectation of His future kingdom consummation (Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The elements (bread and wine or juice) are not literally Christ’s body and blood, nor do they become so by human pronouncement. The body of Christ literally ascended back to heaven (Acts 1:9), and Jesus made it plain that His teaching on this matter was to be interpreted as a spiritual reality (John 6:26-64, and especially vv. 60-64). Thus, the elements represent the reality of the spiritual life we have in Christ, and His very real presence with His church through the indwelling Spirit (John 14:16-24; Romans 8:9-11; Colossians 1:27; 1 John 3:24; 4:13). We believe the taking of the Lord’s Supper should be both a sober occasion (as we contemplate the awful price Jesus paid to rescue us from our filth) and a celebration feast (as we look forward to taking it one day with the risen Master Himself). It is a kingdom act of reverent worship, and given Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, we do well to enter a season of repentance and self-examination prior to Communion.