The Universal Church
The Local Church
WE AFFIRM that there is one universal church under the gospel (not confined to one nation): the house and family of God, out of which there is no possibility of salvation. The elect are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which he is the head. There are two ordinances that were given by the Lord Jesus Christ to his Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. When celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer as a public means of grace.
WE DENY that differences on views concerning the ordinances warrant disunity in causes for justice. We deny baptismal regeneration and we deny that the ordinances are a means of justification. We deny that any human institution or group of human institutions encompasses the fullness of the Body of Christ. Likewise, we deny that any human leader is or can be the Head of the Church of the Living God.
Matthew 26:26-29, 28:18–20; Ephesians 1:10, 22-23, 4:4-7, 5:23; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26, 12:12
The Duty of the Church
WE AFFIRM that particular Christian churches, which are members of the universal church, are more or less pure, in so far as the true faith is taught, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. The purest churches are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. We affirm that local churches, the fellowshipping of the saints, the teaching of God’s Word, corporate worship, prayers, songs of the saints, and the discipline of the church are all blessed gifts from God and are normative means of grace given to the universal church for the sanctification and edification of the saints. We further affirm that all believers are called to be accountable to one another, preferably, in the context of a local church.
WE DENY that either formal or informal inclusion in a particular local church justifies a sinner before God. We likewise deny that exclusion from a particular local church condemns a faithful believer in Christ. However, we also deny that voluntary and willful exclusion from a particular local church should be normative for a faithful believer in Christ. We deny that it is normative for the Christian life to be one of isolation apart from the regular fellowship of the saints. We further deny that Christians ought to live a life divorced from accountability and fellowship.
Matthew 18:15-19; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:26-40; Galatians 6:1-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25
WE AFFIRM that the Church has an obligation before God to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded. We affirm that Christ has taught the Church to seek out justice, mercy, and faithfulness. We affirm that this duty includes fighting for the abolition of abortion, the abolition of civilly honored and protected homosexual marriage, and other societal evils. We affirm that Christ has taught his church to specially care for those who are unable to care for themselves. Specifically, we affirm that the universal Church has an obligation to diligently strive for the abolition of human abortion and the establishment of justice for those who commit murder. Likewise, we also affirm that local churches are called to, according to their abilities, actively pursue the abolition of abortion and justice for those who commit murder.
WE DENY that all local churches or all individual Christians must endeavor to establish justice by use of the same means and methods. We deny that the good and necessary works of the Bride of Christ merit, before God, the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.
Exodus 22:22; Psalm 68:5, 146:9; Matthew 23:23, 28:16-20; John 14:15-21; Acts 20:35; Galatians 2:16; James 1:27