Grace Harvest Baptist Church Membership Covenant - As Adopted June 1, 2018
Grace Harvest Baptist Church Membership Covenant is birthed out of our love for the church body and its individual members whom we hope will experience the fullness of joy which is found in the presence of the Lord. The primary purpose of this covenant is to serve as a teaching document with three functions:
- To establish teaching and doctrinal parameters for the body of Grace Harvest Baptist Church. (Section A)
- To clarify the biblical obligations and expectations for both the elders of Grace Harvest Baptist Church and the individual members of Grace Harvest Baptist Church. (Section B)
- To serve as a tool for reflection and growth toward holiness.
Each of these functions is in accordance with the document’s overall vision to provide an accessible explanation of the Scriptures in hopes that Grace Harvest Baptist Church would grow in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.
What we believe as a church is commonly known as church doctrine. Our doctrine is the foundation by which we serve God. Grace Harvest Baptist Church’s doctrinal statement has been organized into categories to assist you in understanding what we believe and teach through our various ministries.
Section A – Doctrine and Distinctives
Broadly understood, theology or doctrine is simply the message of the Bible understood in all of its various elements and details. It is a man-made understanding of the whole of the Bible (all 66 Books—Old Testament and New Testament) set out topically and systematically. Christians and churches have traditionally recognized various theological movements or schools of thought that are helpful in describing important biblical ideas (e.g., salvation, redemption, sanctification, End Times, etc.).
Every word in the original writings is inspired by God and is without error. It is accurate in all matters to which it speaks including: spiritual, historical, and scientific. The Scriptures have a transformational effect on the believer's life. Through Scripture, God's Holy Spirit guides the believer in understanding and implementing truth, as well as turning away from sin and false teachings. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the foundation of the faith and practice of Grace Harvest Baptist Church (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21).
God exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three have distinct personalities and yet are of the same substance, one God. (Gen. 1:1; John 10:30; John 4:24; Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14)
The eternal Son of God became incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ, being born of the virgin Mary, and is true God and true man. He died physically on the cross and was bodily resurrected three days later. (John 1:1,14,18; 5:18; Heb. 1:1-9; 5:8; I John 5:20; I Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 15:1-5 )
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He regenerates, indwells, baptizes, and seals all believers in Christ and empowers those yielded to God. (Matt. 28:19; John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5; I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 2:12; 12:13; Eph. 4:30; Col. 3:14)
Man is created in the image and likeness of God. In Adam, all mankind fell into sin with the result that all men are sinners. Men are justly condemned to eternal judgment and can do nothing to merit salvation. (Rom. 2:2,3,5; Eph. 2:8,9; Gen. 1:27, 9:6; Rom. 5:12; 3:23; Eph. 2:1)
Salvation is given to those men chosen by God and drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit. The only means to their salvation is belief in and recognized need of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection. (Acts 4:12; 13:38,39; I Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 4:4,5; 5:1; John 3:16; Eph. 2:8,9; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:4,5; Rom. 8:29,30)
Every believer is promised positional, progressive, and ultimate sanctification. (Heb. 10:10,14; John 17:15-17; Eph. 5:26-27; I Thess. 4:3,4; I John 3:2; I Cor. 6:11)
All who are born of the Spirit through faith in Christ can have assurance of salvation and are thus eternally secure in Christ. (Rom. 5:1; I John 5:13; John 10:27-29; 17:12; II Tim. 1:12; Eph. 4:30; John 6:37)
The church is composed of all believers. It is the body and bride of Christ, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and existing in two aspects, universal and local. The universal church is an elect company of believers, baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body. Its mission is to witness to its head, Jesus Christ, preaching the gospel among all nations. At the rapture of the church, it will be caught up to meet the Lord, after which He will return to set up His Kingdom. The local church is a group of believers voluntarily joined together in love to worship God with praise and thanksgiving, and to glorify Jesus Christ through an aggressive effort to disciple others by the preaching of the gospel, and the exercise of spiritual gifts. (Eph. 1:22,23; 5:24-30; I Cor. 12:4-13,27)
Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities for service, i.e., “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:1-16; I Cor. 12:7,11; I Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:1-6)
Christians are called to a holy life of service and testimony in the power of the Holy Spirit. This service includes the sharing of the gospel message to the whole world. All believers are promised rewards in heaven for their faithfulness in service. (I Pet. 1:15,16; Acts 1:8; I Cor. 3:12-17; John 14:1-3)
The Bible sets forth two ordinances, the Lord’s Supper and water baptism. The Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated regularly in remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross, and in expectation of His return. Water baptism is an outward testimony of a person’s belief in Christ. Immersion is the ideal means set forth in Scripture. (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 8:12,36-38; 9:18; 10:47; I Cor. 11:23-26)
The blessed hope of the church is the imminent return of Christ. The events of the return of Christ take place in the following order: the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the second advent, the establishment of the reign of Christ on earth for one thousand years, and finally the eternal state of punishment for the unsaved and the eternal state of blessing for the saved. (Titus 2:13; I Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:4-10; John 14:1-3; Matt. 24:21,29,30; 25:31-46; Rev. 3:10 )
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.(Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.)
Distinctives are issues that genuine believers may disagree on and not bring the gospel into question. In order to give one an accurate understanding of the conviction of the elders at GHBC, we have chosen to state these publicly.
Distinctive #1 - The Bible
We understand the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God. As such it is the sole source and standard for matters of faith and practice for the believer. It is sufficient to meet every spiritual need of the Christian (II Peter 1:3).
The Bible should be understood plainly and literally unless there is reason in a given passage to believe that it was intended to be taken otherwise (e.g., figures of speech, prophetic language, etc.). The meaning of the Scripture can be understood through careful (II Tim. 2:15) and prayerful (I John 2:27) study by anyone.
Distinctive #2 - The Church
The Church is described in the Bible as the “body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12; I Cor. 12:27). The Apostle Paul explains this metaphor in I Corinthians 12. Just as the physical body has only one head but has many individual parts that perform different functions, even so the “Body of Christ,” the Church, has one head but is made up of many individual members. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ. He is the central organizing and directing influence of the Church. The body, made up of eyes and ears and hands and feet, constitutes the wide diversity of individual Christians. We are individually gifted and enabled by Christ to perform specialized functions in the Church so that the Church functions in a healthy manner.
The Apostle Paul also describes the Church as the “pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). For this reason we see one of the great privileges and responsibilities of the Church to be the preaching and teaching of the Word (II Tim. 4:2). Therefore, we see the teaching and preaching of the Bible as one of the central focuses of the various ministries of the Church.
Distinctive #3 - The Leadership
Grace Harvest Baptist Church is an elder lead congregation. We recognize the Biblical pattern of God calling out men to serve in positions of greater responsibility. We endeavor to pray regularly for those whom God sets over us. Every elder shall be exemplary in his person: a man mature in faith, above reproach, devoted to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach. Each must manage his own family well, see that his children obey him with proper respect and have a good reputation with outsiders. [1 Timothy 3] As the elders express the leadership of God for the church, we will seek to unite with that direction. The elders are given responsibility of the care of the church, and will seek to be available to all church members for help, counsel, encouragement and intercession at all times. The elders will faithfully pray for the church members. They will seek to encourage and build up each member. They will teach and preach the Word of God faithfully, trusting its transforming power through the Holy Spirit in the lives of members.
Distinctive #1 – Reformed (Salvation only)
Grace Harvest Baptist Church holds to a reformed stance in our doctrine of salvation. We believe that the Protestant Reformation was a real recovery of the Biblical truth concerning salvation and the role of the Scriptures in the life of the believer and the Church. We firmly embrace the 5 Solas (Latin for “alone”) of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, the Bible is our sole source of truth; Sola Fide, one is saved only by faith; Sola Gratia, one cannot earn their salvation through any work rather it is by grace alone; Solus Christus, it is only through Christ that one may be saved; and Soli Deo Gloria, all that the believer does should be done to the glory of God. We also recognize that the Bible places a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God.
Distinctive #2 – Non-charismatic
The Greek word underlying this word literally means grace—”the unmerited favor or blessing of God.” The New Testament describes God as individually gifting believers with certain spiritual gifts for the benefit of the Church. Among the various spiritual gifts described in the New Testament, we see some that were more vividly supernatural manifestations of the power of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Some of these gifts were intended to be temporary and were uniquely suited to the founding of the Church during the lifetime of the Apostles. Other gifts were intended to be permanent and have been manifested in every age of the Church from the first century forward. By “non-charismatic” we mean to indicate that we acknowledge this distinction.
Distinctive #3 - Dispensational
Dispensationalism refers to the observation that God seems to have related with man throughout history in different ways throughout different ages or dispensations. These dispensations are typically characterized by certain distinct organizing principles. It does NOT suggest or infer that man was saved in different ways at different times. Man has always—in every age—been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Dispensationalism is characterized by a clear distinction between Israel and the Church and by a consistent use of a literal principle of interpretation. We hold to a belief that there are still unfulfilled promises made to national Israel by God. In addition, we also add that Dispensationalists may differ on the specific number of dispensations.
Distinctive #4 - Premillennial
A large portion of the Bible speaks of events that were future at the time they were written. Of these passages, a significant portion refers to future events yet to be fulfilled. These passages are generally understood as referring to the “End Times. Two of the most significant end-time events yet remaining to be fulfilled are the return of Jesus Christ to the earth (the Second Coming) and the establishing of a physical kingdom by Jesus Christ here on earth (the “Millennium). By premillennial we understand the ordering of these events to be such that the Second Coming precedes the Millennium.
Section B – Covenant Commitments
As those who have experienced the grace of a life changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to reflect the character of Christ through the pursuit of certain attitudes and actions and the rejection of others. The Scriptures refer to this reality as “living by the Spirit” (Rom. 8). The requirements of this membership covenant are in no way intended as an addition to the biblical obligations of a believer. Rather, this document functions primarily as an accessible yet non-exhaustive explanation of what the Scriptures teach about the obedience that faith produces.
- to submit to the authority of the Scriptures as the final judge on all issues (Ps. 119; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).
- to pursue the Lord Jesus Christ through regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and practice of spiritual disciplines (Luke 18:1; Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 9:24- 27; Eph. 5:1-21; 1 Thess. 5:12-22).
- to follow the command and example of Jesus by participating in the ordinances prescribed to His Church:
- by being baptized after my conversion (immersion is the ideal means).
- by regularly remembering and celebrating the person and work of Christ through communion.
- to regularly participate in the life of Grace Harvest Baptist Church by attending weekly services, engaging in a family group and serving those within and outside of this church (Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25; Titus 3:14).
- Understanding that the leadership, to some degree, must give an account for my soul and if I am inactive for a six-month period, then I am forfeiting my membership, except in the case of extenuating circumstances.
- to steward the resources God has given me, including time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances. This includes regular financial giving, service, and participation within the church that is sacrificial, cheerful and voluntary (Matt. 25:14-30; Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
- by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in holiness in all areas of life as an act of worship to Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:13-16, 4:1-3).
- to refrain from such activities that the Scriptures would deem foolish (Rom. 14:14-23).
- to submit to the discipline of God through His Holy Spirit by:
- following the biblical procedures for church discipline where sin is evident in another—the hope of such discipline being repentance and restoration (Luke 17:3; Mathew 18:15-20).
- When an offense is present, we will first go privately and seek to be reconciled with that person.
- If the offense is not resolved, we will seek the counsel of an elder of our fellowship.
- When the offense is not resolved, the elders will relieve that erring member of any responsibility, fervently pray for God’s power to intervene, and bring the member’s sin before the church publically.
- In the extremely unlikely event that the erring member continues to refuse the counsel of the elders, then church membership will be withdrawn from that person by the elders.
- If the church must withdraw membership from someone, we will continue to pray that the individual will seek to be reconciled with God and His church.
- We will continue to prayerfully seek to be reunited with them when they choose to accept the counsel of the elders.
- receiving righteous and loving discipline when approached biblically by fellow believers (Ps. 141:5; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; Heb. 12:5-11).
- following the biblical procedures for church discipline where sin is evident in another—the hope of such discipline being repentance and restoration (Luke 17:3; Mathew 18:15-20).
- to do the following when I sin:
- confess my sin to God and to fellow believers, as necessary and appropriate (Mark 1:15, James 5:16).
- repent and seek help to put my sin to death (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; James 5:16; 1 John 1:6-10).
- to submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the church and diligently strive for unity and peace within the church (Eph. 4:1-3; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5).
- to do the following should I leave the church for righteous reasons:
- to notify the appropriate church leadership.
- to seek another church with which I can carry out my biblical responsibilities as a believer.
I trust that the God who saved us by grace, and has already prepared good works for us to do in Christ Jesus, will give us the desire and the ability to do all that He desires. Trusting in His power alone, I agree with and submit to the GHBC membership covenant as adopted on June 1, 2018. In addition, I further state that I…
- have read and understand the doctrine and distinctives to the best of my ability (As presented in section A of the GHBC membership covenant).
- agree to carry out the Covenant Commitments to the best of my ability (As presented in section B of the GHBC membership covenant).
- agree to joyfully enter into a covenant relationship as a member of Grace Harvest Baptist Church.
Pastor Mark Wells
New Member Signature Print Name Date