What We Believe
CONSTITUTION & BY-LAWS ESTABLISHED FOR
OPEN DOOR BAPTIST CHURCH
NEW BEDFORD, MA
ARTICLE 1 - NAME AND PURPOSE
SECTION 1 - NAME
This congregation of believers shall be known as Open Door Baptist Church.
SECTION 2 - PURPOSE
A. This church shall not recognize any ecclesiastical authority of any other church, convention, fellowship, organization of churches or individuals in the conduct of its affairs, either financial or spiritual. This congregation is organized as a church exclusively for religious and church purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Revenue law), including, but not limited to, for such purposes, the establishing and maintaining and operation of churches, parsonages, schools, chapels, radio stations, television stations, rescue missions, print shops, day care centers, camps, nursing homes, and cemeteries, and any other ministries that the church may be led of God to establish.
B. The church shall also ordain and license men to the Gospel ministry; evangelize the unsaved by the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; educate believers in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Holy Scriptures, both in Sunday and weekday schools of Christian education; and maintain missionary activities in the United States and any foreign country.
ARTICLE 2 – STATEMENT OF FAITH AND COVENANTSECTION 1 - STATEMENT OF FAITH
A. The Holy Scriptures. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible and God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine revelation of God to man. The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning. The Authorized King James Version shall be the only English Bible used in the pulpit and all ministries of the church. (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21)
B. Dispensationalism. We believe that the Scriptures interpreted in their natural, literal sense reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life, which define man’s responsibilities in successive ages. These dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather are divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purpose. Three of these dispensations the law, the church, and the kingdom – are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture. (Gen. 1:28; I Cor. 9:17; II Cor. 3:9; Gal. 3:13-25; Eph.1:10;3:2-10; Col.1:24-25,27; Rev.3:20:2-6).
C. The Godhead. We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – each co-eternal in being, co-identical in nature, co-equal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfection’s (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 29:19; II Cor. 13:14; John 14:10, 26).
D. The Person and Work of Christ.
1. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a man, without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful men (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-2, 14; II Cor. 5:19-21; Gal. 4:4- 5; Phil. 2:5-8).
2. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as
a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice; and, that our justification is made sure by His
literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:18-36; Rom. 3:24-25; II Peter 2:24; Eph. 1:7; II Peter 1:3-5).
3. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor and Advocate (Acts 1:9-10; Heb. 9:24; 7:25; Rom. 8:34; I John 2:1-2).
E. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.
1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is a person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and, that He is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling and sealing them unto the day of redemption (John 16:8-11; Rom. 8:9; I Cor 12:12-14; II Cor.3:6; Eph.1:13-14).
2. We believe that He is the Divine Teacher who assists believers to understand and appropriate the Scriptures and that it is the privilege and duty of all the saved to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 1:17- 18; 5:18; I John 2:20,27).
3. We believe that God is sovereign in the bestowal of spiritual gifts to every believer. God uniquely uses evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip believers in the assembly in order that they can do the work of the ministry (Rom.12:3-8; ICor.12:4-11,28; Eph.4:7-12).
4. We believe that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gifts of healing were temporary. We believe that speaking in tongues (a known, understandable national language, such as on the Day of Pentecost) was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit and that ultimate deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the con- summation of our salvation in the Resurrection, though God frequently chooses to answer the prayers of believers for physical healing (ICor.1:22;13:8;14:21-22).
5. We believe that He was active in the creation; that in His relation to the unbelieving world He restrains the Evil one until God's purpose is fulfilled; that He convicts of sin, of judgment and of righteousness; that He bears witness to the Truth of the Gospel in preaching and testimony; that He is the agent in the New Birth; that He seals, endues, guides, teaches, witnesses, sanctifies, and helps the believer.
F. The Total Depravity of Man. We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the human race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God; and,that man is totally depraved, and, of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition (Gen. 1:26-27; Rom.3:22-23;5:12;6:23; Eph.2:1-3;4:17-19).
G. Salvation. We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ forever (John 1:12; Eph.1:7;2:8-10; I Pet.1:18-19).
H. The Eternal Security and Assurance of Believers.
1. We believe that all the redeemed are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1, 38-39; I Cor.1:4-8; I Pet.4-5).
2. We believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Rom. 13:13-14; Gal. 5:13; Titus 2:11-15).
I. Of the fall of man. We believe that man was created in innocence under the law of his maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from his sinless and happy state. Consequently, all of mankind is now in a state of sin, not by constraint, but by choice; and therefore under just condemnation, being separated from God and without defense or excuse. (Gen.3:1-6,24; Rom.5:12; Rom.5:19; Rom.3:10-19; Rom.1:28; Gal.3:22)
J. Of the Virgin Birth. We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost, in a miraculous manner; born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can ever be born of woman, and that He is both the Son of God, and God the Son. (Gen.3:15; Isa.7:14; Matt.1:18-25; Luke 1:35; Mark 1:1; John 1:14; Psa.2:7; Gal.4:4; I John 5:20; I Cor.15:47)
K. Of the Atonement for sin. We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, who by appointment of the Father, freely took upon Him our nature, yet without sin, honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and by His death made a full and vicarious atonement for our sins; that His atonement consisted not in setting us an example by His death as a martyr, but was the voluntary substitution of Himself in the sinner's place, the just dying for the unjust, Christ the Lord, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree; that having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in heaven and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfection, He is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate and an all-sufficient Saviour. (Eph.2:8; Acts 15:11; Rom.3:24; John 3:16; Matt.18:11; Phil.2:7; Heb.2:14; Isa.53:4-7; Rom.3:25; I John 4:10; I Cor.15:3; II Cor.5:21; John 10:18; Phil.2:8; Gal.1:4; I Pet.2:24; I Pet.3:18; Isa.53:11; Heb.12:2; I Cor.15:20; Isa.53:12; Heb.9:12-15; Heb.7:25; I John 2:2)
L. Of Grace in the New Creation. We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be born again; that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; that it is instantaneous and not a process; that in the new birth the one dead in trespasses and in sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God; that the new creation is brought about in a manner above our comprehension, not by culture, nor character, not by the will of man, but wholly and solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life. (John 3:3; II Cor.5:17; Luke 5:27; I John 5:1; John 3:6-7; Acts 2:41; II Pet.1:4; Rom.6:23; Eph.2:1; II Cor.5:19; Col.2:13; John 1:12-13; Gal.5:22; Eph.5:9)
M. Of the freeness of salvation. We believe in God's electing grace; that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent and obedient faith; and nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel; which rejection places him in a condition of separation from God and under condemnation. (I Thess.1:4; Col.3:12; I Pet.1:2; Titus 1:1; Rom.8:29-30; Matt.11:28; Isa.55:1; Rev.22:17; Rom.10:13; John 6:37; Isa.55:6; Acts 2:38; Isa.55:7; John 3:15-16; I Tim.1:15; I Cor.15:10; Eph.2:4-5; John 5:40; John 3:18; John 3:36)
N. Of justification. We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in Him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done; but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood, His righteousness is imputed unto us. (Acts 13:39; Isa. 53:11; Zech.13:1; Rom.8:1; Rom.5:9; Tit.3:5-7; Rom.1:17; Hab.2:4; Gal.3:11; Rom.4:1-8; Heb.10:38)
O. Of repentance and faith. We believe that Repentance and Faith are solemn obligations, and also inseparable grace, wrought in our souls by the quickening Spirit of God; thereby, being deeply convicted of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation of Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and openly confessing Him as our only and all-sufficient Saviour. Acts 20:21; Mark 1:15; Acts 2:37-38; Luke 18:13; Rom.10:13; Psa.51:1-4; Psa.51:7; Isa.55:6-7; Luke 12:8; Rom.10
P. Of baptism and the Lord’s supper. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer; in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the authority of the local church, to show forth in solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord’s support; in which the members of the church, by the use of unleavened bread and the unfermented fruit of the vine are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination. (Acts 8:36-39; Matt.3:6; John 3:23; Rom.6:4-5; Matt.3:16; Matt.28:19; Rom.6:3-5; Col.2:12; Acts 2:41-42; Matt.28:19, 20; I Cor.11:23-28)
Q. The Church
1. We believe that the local church, which is the body and the espoused bride of Christ, is solely made up of born-again persons (I Cor. 12:12-14; II Cor. 11:2; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:25-27).
2. We believe that the establishment of continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:27;20:17,28-32; I Tim.3:1-13; Titus 1:5-11).
3. We believe in the autonomy of the local church free of any external authority or control (Acts 13:1-4; 15:19-31; 20:28; Rom. 16:1,4; I Cor.3:9,16; 5:4-7,13; I Peter 5:1-4).
4. We recognize water baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the Scriptural ordinances of obedience for the church in this age (Matt.28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42;18:18; I Cor.11:23-26).
R. Separation. We believe that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord; and, that separation from all religious apostasy, all worldly and sinful pleasures, practices and associations is commanded of God (Rom. 12:1-2; 14:13; II Cor. 6:14-7:1; II Tim. 3:1-5; I John 2:15; II John 9-11).
S. The Second Advent of Christ. We believe in that “blessed hope,” the personal, imminent return of Christ who will rapture His Church prior to the seven-year tribulation period. At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will personally and visibly return with His saints, to establish His earthly Messianic Kingdom which was promised to the nation of Israel (Ps. 89:3-4; Dan. 2:31-45; Zech. 14:4-11; I Thess. 1:10; I Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:13; Rev.3:10;19:11-16;20:1-6).
T. The Eternal State.
1. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Matt.25:46; John 5:28,29;11:25-26; Rev.20:5-6;12-13).
2. We believe that the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection, when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (Luke 23:43; II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3:21; I Thess. 4:16-17; Rev.20:4-6).
3. We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious punishment and torment until the second resurrection, when with soul and body reunited they shall appear at the Great White Throne Judgment, and shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting conscious punishment and torment (Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; II Thess. 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:11-15).
U. The Personality of Satan. We believe that Satan is a person, the author of sin and the cause of the Fall of Man; that he is the open and declared enemy of God and man; and that he shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire (Job 1:6-7; Isa. 14:12-17; Matt. 4:2-11; 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
V. Creation. We believe that God created the universe in six literal, 24-hour periods. We reject evolution, the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Theistic Evolution as unscriptural theories of origin (Gen. 1-2; Ex. 20:11).
W. Civil Government. We believe that God has ordained and created all authority consisting of three basic institutions: (1) the home; (2) the church; and (3) the state. Every person is subject to these authorities, but all (including the authorities themselves) are answerable to God and governed by His Word. God has given each institution specific Biblical responsibilities and balanced those responsibilities with the understanding that no institution has the right to infringe upon the other. The home, the church, and the state are equal and sovereign in their respective Biblically assigned spheres of responsibility under God (Rom. 13:1-7; Eph. 5:22-24; Heb. 13:17; I Peter 2:13-14).
X. Human Sexuality.
1. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a
marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. Any employee of the church becoming pregnant or causing pregnancy as a result of consensual intercourse, outside of the marriage relationship, shall be terminated from employment. (Gen. 2:24; Gen. 19:5,13; Gen. 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1:26-29; I Cor. 5:1; 6:9; I Thess. 4:1-8; Heb. 13:4).
2. We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. (Gen. 2:24; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:10; Eph. 5:22-23).
3. We believe that man and woman are spiritually equal in position before God, but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions for men and women in the home and the church. The husband is to be the leader of the home and men are to be leaders (pastors and deacons) of the church. (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:18; I Tim. 2:8-15; 3:4-5,12).
Y. Divorce and Remarriage. We believe that God hates divorce and intends marriage to last until one spouse dies. Divorce and remarriage is regarded as adultery except on the grounds of fornication. Although divorced and remarried persons or divorced persons may hold positions of service in the church and be greatly used of God for Christian service, they may not be considered for the offices of pastor or deacon (Mal. 2:14-17; Matt. 19:3-12; Rom. 7:1-3; I Tim. 3:2,12; Titus 1:6).
Z. Abortion. We believe that human life begins at conception and that the unborn child is a living human life. Abortion is murder. We reject any teaching that abortions of pregnancies due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the mental well-being of the mother are acceptable (Job 3:16; Psalms 51:5; 139:14-16; Isa. 44:24; 49:1,5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44).
AA. Missions. We believe that God has given to the church a great commission to proclaim the Gospel to all
nations so that there might be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, ethnic group, and language group who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. As ambassadors of Christ we must use all available means
to go to the foreign nations and not wait for them to come to us (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; II Cor. 5:20).
BB. Lawsuits between Believers. We believe that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or the church to resolve personal disputes. We believe the church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members. We do believe, however, that a Christian may seek for injuries from another Christian’s insurance company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander (I Cor. 6:1-8; Eph. 4:31-32).
CC. Giving. We believe that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him, is obligated to support his local church financially. We believe that God has established the tithe as a basis for giving, but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the support the spread of the Gospel, support of the church, and the relief of those in need. We believe that a Christian relinquishes all rights to direct the use of the tithe or offering once the gift has been made, with the exception of those offerings given to a designated, approved and established fund (Gen. 14:20; Prov. 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; I Cor. 16:2; II Cor. 9:6-7; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:28; I Tim. 5:17-18; I John 3:17).
SECTION 2 – AUTHORITY OF STATEMENT OF FAITH
The statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our faith. The Bible (King JamesAuthorized Version) itself is the sole and final source of all that we believe. It shall be the basis and foundation for all decision making, planning and teaching. We do believe, however, that the foregoing statement of faith accurately represents the teaching of the Bible, and therefore, is binding upon all members. All literature used in the church shall be in complete agreement with the statement of faith. The Authorized King James Version shall be the only English Bible used in the pulpit and all ministries of the church.
SECTION 3 – COVENANT
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and private devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred, acquaintances, and all others; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful to our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to be free from all oath bound secret societies and partnerships with unbelievers; to abstain from the sale or use of any narcotic drugs, unless prescribed by a physician, or intoxicating drink as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure reconciliation without delay. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
ARTICLE 3 - MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1 – QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP
Church membership shall be extended to all who have had and whose lives evidence a genuine experience of regeneration through faith in and acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior; who renounce sin; who endeavor to live a consecrated life wholly unto the Lord; who fully subscribe to the Statement of Faith contained herein; who enter into the church covenant contained herein; and who regularly attend and financially support the church with tithes and offerings; and upon compliance with any of the following conditions:
A. By baptism: Any person professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, giving evidence of regeneration, and accepting the Statement of Faith and the Covenant held by this church may, upon baptism, be received into its membership.
B. By letter of transfer from another Bible-believing church of like faith and practice, or other written statement of good standing from the prior church if the applicant has been baptized by immersion subsequent to a profession of faith.
C. By statement: Those who have been scripturally baptized and who accept the view of faith and practiceas adopted by this church, may be received by their Statement of Faith.
D. Excluded members may, by approval of the Pastor and Deacons, be restored to membership on confession of their error and by giving evidence of their repentance.
SECTION 2 - DUTIES OF A MEMBER
On becoming a member of this church, in addition to the covenant contained in Article 2, Section 3, each one further covenants to love, honor, and esteem the pastor; to pray for him; and to recognize his authority in spiritual affairs of the church; to cherish a brotherly love for all members of the church; to support the church in prayer, tithes, offerings and with other financial support as the Lord enables; and in accordance with Biblical commands to support through a life-style walk affirmation of the beliefs and practices of the Church.
SECTION 3 - PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP
A. This congregation functions, not as a pure democracy, but as a body under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ and the direction of the pastor as the under shepherd. Membership in this church does not afford those individuals with any property, contract, or civil rights based on principles of democratic government. Determinations of the internal affairs of this church are ecclesiastical matters and shall be determined exclusively by the church’s own rules and procedures. The pastor shall oversee and/or conduct all aspects of this church. The deacons shall give counsel and assistance to the Pastor as requested by him. The membership of the church has certain limited areas of exercising a vote. Members may not vote to initiate any church action, but rather the vote of the member is to confirm and ratify the direction of the church as determined by the pastor.
B. Only members at least eighteen years of age shall be entitled to vote. Only those members who are physically present are entitled to vote. There shall be no proxy or absentee votes.