“We love New England, love New Bedford, and long to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ make all things New to both.”
From the time of the Apostles to today, Christians have laid out doctrine (beliefs) in brief, definitive statements.
As those who know God, we believe it necessary to set forth in a concise fashion the cornerstone truths of our church as guided by Scripture. Our Statement of Faith summarizes essential Christian beliefs, shows unity in Christ, and guards the church from error.
All who join Grace Harbor Church are required to affirm our Statement of Faith. This statement registers our belief in historic Christianity, evangelical Christianity, believer’s baptism, and congregational polity. Once we as members agree to the statement, we are responsible for believing and living in accordance with it.
statement of faith
Grace Harbor Church is a church under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are committed to contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In unity with the historic Christian church, we believe and confess the Apostles’, Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds as accurate representations of Scripture’s teaching. In addition to these historic formulations, we are situated within the evangelical, Reformed and Baptist traditions.
The basic doctrines within the Grace Harbor Church Statement of Faith represent what we believe to be core elements of biblical teaching. We expect all members of Grace Harbor Church to affirm these doctrines.
The theological distinctives within the Grace Harbor Church Statement of Faith reflect what distinguishes Grace Harbor Church from other churches who would affirm the basic doctrines. These distinctives indelibly shape the way that Grace Harbor Church is led and the direction the church is headed.
Doctrine of God
We believe in one God eternally existing as one essence and three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God, yet there is one God.
We believe in one God eternally existing as one essence and three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each person is fully, equally and eternally God, yet there is one God. Each person has precisely the same nature and attributes and is worthy of precisely the same worship, honor and praise. The entire Christian faith is bound together with the confession of God’s Trinitarian nature (Matt. 28:18-20).
We believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth. We believe in the Son, God from God, eternally begotten but not made, who in history assumed to Himself a human nature for the sake of our salvation (John 1:14; Heb. 1:3). He is fully God and fully man. Through Him, all things came into being and were created. He was before all things, and in Him, all things hold together by the word of His power (Col.1:15-20). He suffered, died, was buried, resurrected, ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father until He returns for the final judgment and consummation of the Kingdom. We believe in the Holy Spirit who eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son and is sent by the Father and Son to give new life (John 15:26-27). The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about the new birth and dwells within the regenerate (Eph. 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son who, in turn, came to glorify the Father. He will lead the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word. He is to be respected, honored and worshiped as God, the third person of the Trinity.
The triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible. As the immortal and eternal Creator, He sovereignly rules over all of His creation (Ps. 24:1).
2. Doctrine of Revelation
God has made Himself known to the world in Jesus Christ, the Scriptures and creation.
We believe that God has made Himself known to His creation. He has revealed Himself to us in His Son, the incarnate Word (Heb.1:1-2), in Scripture, the inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16), and in creation (Ps. 8; Rom. 1:20)
We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the perfect revelation of who God is. Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), “the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3) and a perfect reflection of God the Father (John 5:19).
We believe the Scriptures, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God and are therefore without error in their original writings. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and free from error. The Scripture is sufficient for all that God requires for us to believe and do and is therefore to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises (Is. 40:6-8). As God’s people hear, believe and obey the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel (Rom. 10:14-17).
3. Doctrine of Creation and Providence
We believe that God created the world from nothing and governs all things at all times in all places.
God created the whole world from nothing (Gen. 1:1-2; Ps. 24:1). God’s creative work is the overflow of the love present within the Trinitarian fellowship. Creation, according to the design of God, was good (Gen. 1:3-31).
God doesn’t let the world exist, He makes the world exist. He upholds the universe by the word of His power, and He holds the world together in himself (Col. 1:17).
4. Doctrine of Humanity
We believe that all humanity is created in the image of God and possesses intrinsic dignity and worth.
God made humanity—male and female—in His own image (Gen. 1:27-30). Set apart as His image bearers, every human being is sacred. All men and all women, bearing the image of God, are meant to represent God in His creation (1 Cor. 10:31). God declares the created order to be very good, distinguishing men and women as His agents to care for, manage and govern over it. They enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union in the covenant of marriage that establishes the only God-ordained pattern of sexual relations for men and women. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways.
5. Doctrine of Sin
We believe that sin has fractured all things, leaving the world in desperate need of salvation.
Through the temptation of Satan, humanity transgressed the command of God and fell from their original holiness and righteousness (Gen. 3). Now the entire human race inherits a corrupt nature that is opposed to God and His law (Rom. 3:9-20). Therefore, all humans are under condemnation. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to the mind, will, body and affections. Unregenerate humanity lives under the dominion of sin and Satan (Eph. 2:1-3). He is at enmity with God, hostile toward and hateful of God.
6. Doctrine of Salvation
We believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
We believe that, due to universal death through sin, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born again (John 3:5-8); that salvation is only by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ; and that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ through faith are declared righteous by God and become children of God (Heb. 10:19-25).
We believe the Scriptures teach that regeneration, or the new birth, is that act of God by which the Holy Spirit imparts a new nature and a new spiritual life, not before possessed, and the person becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:20). The mind is given a holy disposition and a new desire to serve God, the dominion of sin is broken, and the heart is transformed from a love of sin and self to a love of holiness and God.
7. Doctrine of the Church
We believe that the Church is the body of Christ sent into the world to shine forth the glory of God.
God, by His Word and Spirit, creates the Church, calling sinful humanity into the fellowship of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:12-31). By the same Word and Spirit, He guides and preserves that newly redeemed humanity. The Church is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Church is an extension of the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit.
The ultimate mission of the Church is to bring glory to God by making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). The Church is called to make disciples through worship, prayer, teaching of the Word, observance of the ordinances, fellowship, the exercise of our gifts and talents, and the proclamation of the gospel both in our community and throughout the world.
We believe there are two ordinances of the Church. One is that of believer’s baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the other is the Lord’s Supper.
Water baptism is only intended for those who have received the saving benefits of Christ through the new birth of the Holy Spirit. In obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the Church, oneself and the world, believers are baptized by water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that a former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts the release from the mastery of Satan, sin and death.
As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we come to the table with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
Distinctive || Baptism by Immersion
The precedent we find in the New Testament is baptism following conversion by immersion into water. Baptism by immersion is meant to symbolically depict the believer’s real union to Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:1-14). (For more on this distinctive, consider attending one of our Baptism classes, held several times throughout the year.)
8. Doctrine of Resurrection and Consummation of the Kingdom of God
We believe that Jesus Christ is returning to the world in the future to judge the living and the dead.
The consummation of all things includes the future, physical, visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. In the consummation, Satan, with his hosts and all those outside Christ, is finally separated from the benevolent presence of God, enduring eternal punishment (Rev. 20:7-15), but the righteous, in glorious bodies, will live and reign with Him forever, serving Him and giving Him unending praise and glory. Then the eager expectation of creation will be fulfilled, and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God, who makes all things new (Rev. 21:1-5).
The people who make up Grace Harbor Church are baptized believers who can in good conscience sign our church statement of faith and covenant. Membership within a local church body, however, is not simply about signing a piece of paper or being on a roll. It’s much more than that.
We join with one another as a community of believers because we believe that there are certain commands in scripture that we cannot fully obey without a body of believers that regularly gathers together to hear God’s word preached and that correctly practices baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We also believe that the Bible doesn’t speak of an individualism in which a member of Christ’s body lives alone. As sheep we are a part of a flock (1 Peter 5:2). As adopted sons and daughters we are a part of a household of believers (1 Tim. 3:15). As members of Christ’s body we simply want to be attached to a local expression of His body. Living together in a biblical church community is the best way we know of to live out the Christian life personally, as well as to care for one another’s physical and spiritual needs.
Our desire as members of Grace Harbor Church is to follow Christ together in a way that is expressed in our church covenant. In doing so, we hope to be a display of God’s glory and plan to unite all things to Himself in Christ (Eph. 3:10), and to be an instrument in the Gospel being made clear and known (1 Cor. 5; John 13:34-35).
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 Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this congregation, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.
We seek, 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 flourishing and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
We also seek to maintain family and personal devotions; to bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord; to seek the salvation of our families and neighbors; to walk uprightly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our conduct; to avoid all gossip, slander, and sinful anger; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
We further seek to watch over one another in Christian love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress, to cultivate Christian empathy and Christian courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.
We will continually express love, value, and need for each other as our Lord and Savior so clearly commanded us (John 13:34-35; John 15:11-13). This Christ-like love for one another will be expressed throughout our diversity, which includes social, cultural and racial differences. We live now with expectancy and eagerness to the day that we will worship our Savior together from “all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).
We moreover seek that when we move 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.