THE CONSTITUTION AND SUBORDINATE STANDARDS
FAITH BIBLE CHURCH
We, the members of the Faith Bible Church, being grateful to the Triune God for our salvation and all blessings of life, and acknowledging the leadership of the Holy Spirit in establishing and carrying on the witness of the Gospel through this church, do hereby ordain and establish the following articles and rules to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
The NAME of this church shall be the “FAITH BIBLE CHURCH.”
The PURPOSE of this church is to make our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the ultimate concern of life; to glorify Him by the building up of Christians through the faithful teaching of God’s Word; to evangelize lost people through the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel; and to encourage other Christian activities in the community until Jesus returns.
STATEMENT OF FAITH: Section One, BASIC TRUTHS FOR FELLOWSHIP
A. SCRIPTURE: We believe the Bible as set forth in the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments to be verbally inspired of God and inerrant in its original autographs. It is the final authority in matters of belief and conduct. (cf., Mat.4:4; 5:17,18; 22:32; Lk.11:5; Jh.5:46; Acts 26:22; Gal.3:16; Eph.2:20; IThes.2:13; ITim.5:18; IITim.3:16; Heb.1:1,2; IIPet.1:19-21; Jude 3; Rev.22:18; [WCF,I].)
B. GODHEAD: We believe there is only one living and true God. Who is infinite in being and perfections, a completely pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts or passions, unchangeable, immensely vast, eternal, limitless, almighty, completely wise, completely holy, completely free, and completely absolute. He works everything according to the purpose of His own unchangeable and completely righteous will for His own glory. God has all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness in and of Himself. He is the only source of all being, by Whom, through Whom, and to Whom everything exists. Within the unity of the Godhead there eternally exists three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This triunity is co-eternal in being, co-equal in power and glory, possesses the same attributes and perfections, is the same in substance but distinct in personal expression. (cf., Deut.6:4; Isa.48:16; Mat.28:18,19; Jh.14:26; IICor.13;14; [WCF,II].)
1. God The Father: We believe that God the Father is the first person of the Trinity. Within the functional economy of the Godhead He occupies the position of Head and is deferred to as such by the other members. The Fatherhood of God expresses an inner family relationship within the Godhead and also extends outward toward the redeemed. The Father eternally exists; He is not generated and does not come from any source; He is absolutely sovereign, holy, loving, righteous, almighty, and glorious. (cf., Gen.1:1; 18:25; Psa.99:1-5; Jh.3:16; 6:27; 14:28; 17:5; Rom.9:20; ICor.11:3; IPet.1:17; IJh.1:5; 4:8.)
2. God The Son: We believe that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God, second person of the Trinity, of one substance, equal with and eternally generated from the Father. He took on Himself the nature of man, with all its essential qualities and ordinary frailties – except that He is sinless. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary out of her substance. These two complete, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhood and manhood, were inseparably joined together in the one person Jesus without being altered, disunited or mixed. The person Jesus is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and men. He is the prophet,priest, and king, the head and savior of His church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world. (cf.,Gen.12:3; IISam.7:16; Psa.2:6;110:1f; Isa.7:14;9:6f; Jer.23:5,6; Mat.1:1,21-23;3:17; Lk.1:34,35;2:52; Jh.1:1-18; 8:56-58; 10:30;17:5; Acts2:30; Gal.3:8;4:4; Tit.2:13; Heb.1:1-3; 2:14-17; [WCF,VIII].)
3. God The Holy Spirit: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the Father and the Son, to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshipped throughout all ages. He is the giver of life, the source of all good thoughts, pure desires, and holy counsels in men. By Him the prophets were moved to speak the Word of God, and all the writers of the Holy Scriptures inspired to record infallibly the mind and will of God. He is the only efficient agent in the application of redemption. He regenerates men by His grace, convicts them of sin, moves them to repentance, and persuades and enables them to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. He unites all believers to Christ, dwells in them as their Comforter and Sanctifier, gives to them the spirit of adoption and prayer by His sanctifying and sealing work until the day of redemption. He calls and anoints ministers for their holy office, qualifies all others officers in the church for their special work, and imparts various gifts and graces to its members. By Him the church will be preserved, increased, purified, and at last made perfectly holy in the presence of God. (cf., Gen.1:2;6:3; Psa.104:30; 139:7; Mat.12:28;28:19; Jh.3:3-8;6:44;14:17;16:7-13; Rom.8:2-16; 15:30; ICor.2:10-14;3:16; 6:19;12:3-13;15:45; Eph.1:13-23; 4:30; Tit.3:5; IPet.1:2; [WCF,XXXIV].)
C. FALL OF MAN: We believe that God created man in His own image, male and female, with reasoning immortal souls. Adam and Eve were endowed with intellect, emotion and will which although inclined toward God, was nevertheless free to either obey or disobey. He endowed them with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, and wrote His Law in their hearts. As long as man obeyed God’s Law and kept His commandment he had fellowship with God. But our first parents sinned in eating forbidden fruit. By this sin they fell from original righteousness, became dead in sin and completely polluted in all their faculties and parts of body and soul. Since Adam and Eve are the root of all mankind, the guilt for this sin has been imputed to all human beings, who are their natural descendants and have inherited the same death in sin and the same corrupt nature. This original corruption completely disinclines, incapacitates, and turns us away from every good, while it completely inclines us to every evil. From it comes all actualized sins. During life on earth this corrupt nature remains in those who are regenerated, and although it is pardoned and deadened in Christ, yet it and all its impulses are truly and properly sinful. Every sin, both original and actual, transgresses the righteous Law of God and brings guilt on the sinner. Every sinner is consequently subject to the wrath of God, the curse of the Law, and death, with all the resultant miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal. (cf., Gen.1-3; Psa.8:6-8;51:5; Eccl.12:7; Jer.17:9; Rom.1:18-32;:10-23;5:12-21;6:23;8:20; Col.3:20; [WCF,IV & VI].)
D. SALVATION: We believe that the doctrine of Salvation is central to the message of Scripture. Deliverance from the condemnation, control and consequence of sin was PLANNED, EXECUTED, and APPLIED by the Triune God. The ULTIMATE basis of our salvation rests in the unconditional election and eternal PLAN or counsel of God the Father in eternity past. The INSTRUMENTAL or historical basis of our salvation was OBJECTIVELY executed by Jesus Christ the Son of God through His active obedience to the Law of God and His passive satisfaction of divine justice through His penal substitution and atoning death on the cross. The efficacy of His triumph over sin and death was formally endorsed and confirmed by His bodily resurrection, ascension and present session in heaven awaiting the glorious consummation of our total deliverance at His Coming. SUBJECTIVELY this work is applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit which is comprehended in a series of biblical concepts which when stated in their logical order include: CALLING, REGENERATION, CONVERSION, JUSTIFICATION, ADOPTION, SANCTIFICATION, and GLORIFICATION. No one of these terms is adequate to fully explain the meaning of Salvation
1. Calling: At the right time, appointed by Him, God effectually calls all those and only those whom He has predestined to life. He calls them by His Word and Spirit out of their natural state of sin and death into grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s GENERAL call involves the free offer of salvation in the Gospel to all the world, it is an ethical summons to repent and believe. His EFFICACIOUS call is that initial saving act of God, whereby the sinner is enabled, because of the sovereign grasp of God, to respond to the Gospel and fulfill His eternal will. Effectual calling usually accompanies the General call in the external proclamation of the Gospel. (cf., Mat.28:19; Jh.6:44,65; Acts 1;8; Rom.1:4; 8:30; 10:17; ICor.1:21; IThes.1:5; IIThes.2:12f; [WCF,X]).
2. Regeneration: Is the creative work of the Holy Spirit which quickens or makes alive the sinner, giving him the ability to respond to the Gospel in repentance and faith. Regeneration is wholly of God with man being completely passive. It precedes all true spiritual activity pertaining to Salvation and is synonymous with the term, “born again.” (cf., Ezk.36:25f; Jh.3:3-7; 2Cor.5:17; Eph.2:1; Tit.3:5; IPet.1:3,23; Mat.1:21; 20:28; 26:28; 27:46; [WCF,IX-XVIII]).
3. Conversion: Is the exercise of a regenerate heart in response to the call of God in the Gospel. Conversion basically means “to turn” and denotes a change of outlook and direction in life and action. It involves the full-orbed transformation of the heart, mind and personality of a man through two elements called faith and repentance.
a. FAITH – Is the positive turning of a soul toward God. It is a divine gift which enables the regenerate person to know, assent to Christ, and obligates him to trust in Him alone for Salvation. (cf.,Acts 9:35; 11:21; 15:19; 16:30f; 26:20; ICor.15:3f; Eph.2:8f;2Tim.1:12; Heb.11:1,13; [WCF,XIV]).
b. REPENTANCE – Is the negative turning of a soul away from sin and self-reliance. It is a divine gift by which a sinner out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the Holy nature and righteousness of God, and upon apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments. (cf., Lk.15:17; Acts 11:18; Rom.2:4; 2Cor.7:9f; IThes.1:9; IITim.2:25; [WCF,XV]).
4. Justification: Is the judicial act of God’s free grace whereby He declares the pardoned sinner as righteous in His sight. This is not because of anything worked in them or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone. He does not consider their faith itself as an act of righteousness or any other obedient response to the Gospel on their part. Rather He imputes to them the obedience and judicial satisfaction earned by Christ. By His obedience and death Christ completely discharged the debt of all those who are so justified, and made the correct, real, and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice on their behalf. It includes the removal of guilt and condemnation by the gift of forgiveness and restoration to favor with God. (cf., Job 9:2; Rom.3:24f; 4:5,24f; 8:33; Gal.2:16f; [WCF,XI]).
5. Adoption: God guarantees the adoption of all those who are justified in and for the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ. Those adopted enjoy the liberties and privileges of God’s children, have His name put on them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry Abba Father. They are pitied, protected, provided for, and disciplined by Him as a father. They are never cast off, however and are sealed until the day of redemption and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation. ADOPTION, like Justification, is a judicial act. It is the bestowal of a status, not the implanting of something within us. It has to do with a relationship, not a disposition. (cf., Jh.1:12; Rom.5:2; 8:15-17; Gal.4:4-6; Eph.1:5;3:12;4:30; Heb.4:16;6:12;13:5; IPet.1:3,4;5:7; Rev.3:12; [WCF, XII]).
6. Sanctification: The basic meaning of SANCTIFICATION involves being “set apart from the profane and dedicated unto God.” It is the progressive outworking of the new life implanted by the Holy Spirit in regeneration whereby the dominion of sin is destroyed and the capacity to serve and please Satan is displaced and mortified and the capacity to serve and please God is more and more strengthened in all spiritual graces to the practice of true holiness in conformity to the likeness of Christ. (cf., Jh.17:17; Rom.8:28f; 12:1f; ICor.1:30; 6:11; IICor.3:18; IThes.4:3; 5:23; Heb.10:10; IPet.1:15f; IIPet.3:18; IJh.3:2; Jude24; [WCF,XIII]).
7. Glorification: Is the final climactic act in God’s redeeming work whereby the believer is at last constituted perfect in Christ both in body and soul forever. It will bring to final fruition the purpose and grace which was given in Christ Jesus before time eternal. (cf., IITim.1:9; Eph.1:4f; Col.1:22; Rom.8:18f; 2Cor.5:1f).
STATEMENT OF FAITH: Section Two, HISTORICAL DISTINCTIONS
A. THE CHURCH: The plan of redemption, or the covenant of grace is always the same. That is to say, men have always been saved in the same way, whether under the Old economy, or the New. There is a strong continuity of the elect people of God throughout the ages. They comprise one unified company of the redeemed. Yet within this great unity there is also diversity in the way God deals with men in different eras. While the Church and the geographical nation of Israel are part of the same elect people of God, there is a revealed functional difference between them. The present BEGINNING of the New Covenant in no way abrogates the earthly blessings promised Israel in the Old Testament. These shall be gloriously fulfilled and CONSUMMATED at the second coming of Christ. The Church is something different than a one-to-one continuation of the geographical nation of Israel. The universal church exists as scattered throughout the world and consists of all the elect of this age who are united into one body under Christ the Head. The local church is the gathered expression of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and the house and family of God, outside of which people cannot USUALLY be saved. The purpose of this elect company is to glorify God, edify one another, and make disciples of all nations. The church is to preach God’s Word, administer the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s supper and practice discipline among its members which profess faith in Jesus Christ in evidence of regeneration. (cf.,Mat.16:18;28:18f; Jh.10:16; Acts 2:42; 9:4,5; 11:15; 14:27; 20:17-32; Eph.2:15,16;5:27; [WCF,XXV].)
B. SATAN: We believe that Satan is a personal spirit-being originally created as an angel who fell from his privileged position sometime before the Fall of man. His objective is to defeat God’s Kingdom. He has a host of demons who help carry out his wicked schemes. The death of Christ has freed the elect from Satan’s power, and both he and his angels will eternally be punished in the lake of fire at the last judgment. (cf.,Gen.3:1;Job 1:7;Isa.14:12-17; Ezk.28:11-19; Jh.8:44; Lk.8:12; IICor.4:4;11:13-15; Eph.6:12-18; Col.2:15; IPet.5:8; IJh.3:8; Rev.12:7-9;20:1-3,10.)
C. THE ETERNAL STATE: We believe that after death the bodies of human beings decompose and return to the dust, but their souls, which do not die or sleep, have an immortal existence and immediately return to God who created them. The souls of the righteous are then perfected in holiness and are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory and wait for the full redemption of their bodies. The souls of the wicked are thrown into hell, where they remain in torment and complete darkness, set apart for the great day of judgment. Scripture recognizes only these two places, and no other, for souls separated from their bodies. By the power of Christ all men will be raised with the very same bodies and no other than the same bodies they had before. The unjust will be raised to dishonor, but by His Spirit the bodies of the just will be raised to honor and be made according to the pattern of His own glorious body. God the Father has ordained a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom He has given all power and judgment. At this time the righteous will enter the eternal state of blessedness, joy and refreshment that comes from the beneficial presence of the Lord. But the wicked who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will be thrown into eternal torment and punishment with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power. (cf., Gen.3:19; Eccl.12:7; Mat.24:36f; Mk.13:35f; Lk.12:35f; Jh.5:22,27; Acts 3:19; 17:31; Rom.2:5f;8:23f; ICor.6:3; IICor.5:10; IIThes.1:5f; Rev.20:11f; [WCF,XXXII & XXXIII].)
D. SECOND COMING OF CHRIST: We believe in the SECOND COMING of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in the physical and victorious return of Christ. This “blessed hope” is imminent, and it will be both visible and personal to “catch away” His redeemed ones, the church. (cf.,Ezk.37:24f; Amos 9:11f; Zech.14:4f; Mat.24:21; Jh.14:1f; Acts 1:11; ICor.15:51f; IThes.1:10;4:13f;5:9; IIThes.2:1f; Tit.3:13; Rev.3:10;6:17; 19:6f; 20:1f; [WCF,XXXIII]).
E. PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS: We believe all those elected by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and effectually called by the Holy Spirit can never completely or finally fall out of their state of grace. Rather, they shall definitely continue in that state to the end and are eternally saved. Nevertheless, the temptations of Satan, the world, and their old carnal nature, along with the neglect of the means of their preservation, may lead believers to commit serious sins and to continue in them for a time. They consequently displease God and grieve His Holy Spirit, have some fruit of God’s grace and His comforts taken away from them, have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded, hurt and offend others, and bring temporal judgments on themselves. Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, may in this life be assured of salvation, established on the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit giving insight and peace, and the evident changes produced in both character and conduct. (cf., Jh.5:24; 6:37f; 10:27f; 17:23; Rom.5:1; 8:1,9f,38,39; 11:29; ICor.1:4f,30; 3:20f; Eph.1:3; 4:30; Phil.1:6; Col.2:10; IITim.1:12; Heb.6:18; 7:25; 10:14; IPet.1:5; IIPet.1:3f; IJh.4:17; 5:11f; [WCF,XVII,XVIII].)
F. SPIRITUAL GIFTS: We believe that God is sovereign in the imparting of all His gifts, and that the gifts of evangelist and pastor/teacher are sufficient for the equipping of the saints today. We further believe permanent functional spiritual abilities are given to all believers, for which we stand accountable to God for their proper use, and that speaking in tongues and the working of spectacular sign gifts gradually ceased as the New Testament Scriptures were completed and their authority became established. We believe that God can and does miraculously answer prayer today in accord with His own will. (cf., Josh.5:12; Rom.12:3f; ICor.12:4f;13:8; IICor.12:12; Heb.2:4; IPet.4:10; Jh.15:7; Jas.5:13f; IJh.5:14f.)
STATEMENT OF FAITH: Section Three – SACRAMENTS/ORDINANCES
We believe the sacraments or ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are part of those divinely instituted means of grace, (cf., the Word, sacraments, prayer, assembly for worship, etc.), which are ordained to be the ordinary channels of the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit. Ordinances are external rituals which set forth visibly the eternal truths of the Christian Faith both universally and perpetually. They never confer spiritual blessings magically or automatically but rather through faith and always accompanied by the preached Word, which is the primary means of grace.
A. BAPTISM: We believe that the New Testament ordinance of Baptism, instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, is the public immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Triune God; it is the inaugural testimony of that believer’s identification by faith with Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as our substitute and best fulfills the primary purpose of the ordinance. (cf., Mat.28:19f; Acts 2:41f; 8:26f; Rom.6:4; Gal.3:3; Col.2:12f.)
B. LORD’S SUPPER: We believe that the New Testament ordinance of Communion, instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, is the regular partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine by believers in remembrance of the death of Christ on our behalf. These elements, symbolic of His body and blood, are to be offered to all believers every Lord’s Day, preceded on each occasion by thoughtful self-examination of their present walk of obedience in the Faith. (cf., Mat.26:26f; Mk.14:22f; Lk.22:14f; Acts 20:6f; ICor.11:20f.)
MEMBERSHIP: Section One – CHURCH COVENANT
“Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and on the 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 assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into this covenant with one another, as one body in Christ. We, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, and in dependence upon the grace of God, PROMISE:
…to attend diligently as possible upon the public and social worship of God in this church, to sanctify the Lord’s Day, to be faithful in private devotions, and strive in all things to honor our Lord and Savior by a life and conduct becoming the Gospel of Christ.
…and, do hereby pledge sincerely and unreservedly to devote ourselves to the Lord to be His forever.
…and furthermore, we do promise to support and sustain the honor and worship of God in this church, in contributing to its support and of the work it may at any time undertake, as the Lord has given us.
…and to preserve the good name of this church by consistent walk as the Lord shall give us grace, that no reproach shall be brought upon the Master’s Name.”
MEMBERSHIP: Section Two – PROCEDURES FOR JOINING
A. QUALIFICATIONS: Any person who professes faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, promises obedience to Him, has been baptized, supports SECTION ONE of the STATEMENT OF FAITH of this church without reservation, and voluntarily agrees to all the provisions of the Church Covenant, shall be accepted as a member.
B. PROCEDURE: All candidates for membership will attend a New Member Orientation Class and be interviewed by the Ruling Elders. Candidates must be able to give a clear testimony to the fact that they have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Those who meet with the approval of the Elders shall be welcomed into the fellowship of the church during a Sunday Morning worship service.
C. STATUS: All persons in good and regular standing shall be considered as COMMUNICANT/ACTIVE members until they indicate, through verbal request or through inactivity, that they no longer are willing to accept the responsibilities of church membership. Any member who for a period of at least THREE MONTHS, fails to attend any stated meeting of the church and fails to support it financially shall be considered a SUSPENDED/INACTIVE member. Still a member subject to the discipline of the Elders, he shall not be entitled to hold an office or vote in any meeting of the church; his name shall be placed on the inactive members list until restored. He shall be returned to active status following a consistent attendance of three months. The following shall be considered as EXCEPTIONS to the previous rule: (1) Persons who because of work or sickness, or physical disability are unable to attend regularly, but indicate a desire to continue to support the church in prayer and giving. (2) Persons who leave the community temporarily, indicating the intent to return, such as college students, those in the military, people vacationing, etc., shall be considered active members.
D. TRANSFER: Any COMMUNICANT/ACTIVE member desiring to transfer his membership to another church of like Faith and practice, not considered heretical or schismatic, shall be granted a letter of recommendation to the stated church upon request. An INACTIVE member requesting such letter shall be granted one, but it shall plainly state that their status is an “inactive” member.
E. REMOVAL: Any member who enters into full membership of another church shall be removed from the membership of this church. Any person who has been INACTIVE FOR ONE YEAR, who does not restore himself to active status after TWO VISITS by the Elders or Deacons, shall be removed from the membership rolls of this church. On that second visit, the person must be notified that he has THREE MONTHS to restore his active status before removal. Any person being removed from membership shall be advised of such by certified mail. Mere resignation does not release this church from its obligation to continue to try to reinstate a disaffected member. The church is not a club from which one may freely resign. This would be the equivalent to renouncing God and repudiating the Lord Jesus Christ. The board of Elders is obligated to do all within its power to keep every member on the roll as a Communicant worshipping Christian.
MEMBERSHIP: Section Three – CHURCH DISCIPLINE
Ecclesiastical discipline, one of the marks of a true church, involves the responsible oversight of the membership of a particular church to the end that no member by his acts or words may be able with impunity to bring shame upon the Lord Jesus Christ or to wander from His way without loving admonitions and all effort to keep him active in the worship and fellowship. The proper exercise of discipline seeks to maintain the glory of God, the purity of His Church, and the keeping and reclaiming of disobedient sinners. Proper DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES are set forth in the Scripture and must be followed. They are: (1) instruction in the Word, (2) individual’s responsibility to admonish one another (Mat.18:15; Gal.6:1), (3) if the admonition is rejected, then the calling of one or more witnesses, (Mat.18:16), (4) if rejection persists, then the Church must act through admonition, suspension, deposition, and excommunication.
A. INDIVIDUAL: In the case of conflicts between brethren, private reconciliation should be sought following the procedures given in Scripture. (cf., Mat.5:23-26; 18:15-17; IICor.5:1f).
B. CORPORATE: Any member who is bringing a public reproach on the name of Christ by some flagrant sin of action, word or attitude, shall be confronted by the Ruling Elders for the purpose of publicly correcting the situation. The Elders are obligated to act through admonition, suspension, ban, deposition, and excommunication with the hope of restoration. (cf., Mat.18:15f; Gal.6:1,2; IITim.2:24f; Tit.3:10f).
GOVERNMENT, Section One: AUTHORITY
A. HEAD: It shall be understood that the Head of this church is Jesus Christ, and that all decisions of men, whether Elders, Boards, Committees, or Congregation, are to be made in accordance with the will of our Sovereign Lord and King.
B. REPRESENTATIVES: The church recognizes the proper biblical norm for church leadership to be invested in a plurality of God-ordained Elders, as opposed to a one-man dictatorship or the opinion of the majority. The Ruling Elders are the ordinary and perpetual officers of the church and the immediate representatives of Christ to the congregation. They shall be the final human authority to the church in spiritual matters, exercising oversight of the flock as undershepherds of Christ and being accountable to Him for its welfare. They shall establish policy, determine programs and give general direction to the ministries of the church. They may delegate to Deacons or Committees the power to transact any of its business. (cf., Acts 20:28f; ITim.3:1f; 5:17f; Titus 1:5f; Heb.13:17.)
C. CONGREGATION: The church is a representative and constitutional democracy and not a pure democracy or ruled by an unlimited majority. The active membership shall have the privilege and responsibility of giving its assent or disapproval, (ie., “ownership”) in regard to matters of special importance effecting the property of the church, calling or dismissing pastoral staff, electing officers, approving an annual budget, etc. This shall be done through regular and special called meetings. (cf., Acts 6:1f; 14:23; 15:22; Eph.4:3; ITim.5:19f; Heb.13:17; IPet.2:5.)
GOVERNMENT: Section Two, OFFICERS
A. RULING ELDERS: This office has been understood to be designated in the Scriptures by the title of “Governments” and of those who “rule well” but do not labor in the Word and doctrine as a vocation.
1. Qualifications: This office is one of dignity and usefulness. They that fill it should possess a competency of human learning and be blameless in life, sound in doctrine and apt to teach. They should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the Gospel. Elders are to be the husband of one wife, in this case a biblically divorced man, who biblically remarries, may serve as an Elder since he is “the husband of one wife,” (ie., the only biblical grounds for divorce are sexual immorality and desertion of a believer by an unbeliever, cf., Lev.21:7,14;22:13; Num.30:9; Deut.22:19,29;24:1-4; Isa.50:1; Jer.3:1; Ezk.44:22; Mal.2:13-16; Mat.5:31,32;19:3-9; ICor.7:12-15,27,39; [WCF,XXIV]). They are to rule their own house well and should have a good report of them that are outside the Church. Ruling Elders possess the same authority and eligibility to office as Teaching Elders. They should cultivate zealously their own aptness to teach the Bible. (cf., Acts 14:23;ITim.3:1f;4:14; Tit.1:5f;Jas.5:14;IPet.5:1f).
2. Duties: An Elder is to watch over the spiritual affairs of the church, to guide, guard and feed the flock of God according to the principles of the Word of God, to prevent corruption of doctrine or morals from entering. They are to preside over the Sacraments of the church and to lead its people in the Worship of God. An Elder is to visit the people, instruct the unlearned, comfort the mourner, nourish and guard the children of the church, evangelize the unconverted and make disciples. They are to pray with and for the people, being careful and diligent in seeking the fruit of the preached Word among the flock. An Elder is to rule in moral and spiritual matters with wisdom, meekness, loving kindness and firmness.
3. Election: The Board of Elders, after interviewing candidates who meet the qualifications and understand the duties of the office, shall present up to three men to the congregation for AFFIRMATION at the annual business meeting. If approved, they shall be ordained and duly installed to serve a FIVE YEAR TERM on a rotational system. After serving one term of five years, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed. During his five year term an Elder may choose to take a one year sabbatical only with the prior approval of the Elder Board. Ordination will be for life but distinguished by ACTIVE or INACTIVE status.
B. TEACHING ELDERS:
1. Qualifications: The Pastoral office of a Teaching Elder is first in the Church both in dignity and usefulness. A Pastor/Teacher must meet all the qualification of a Ruling Elder. He must be called to labor in the Word and doctrine, specially gifted to preach, and trained by God in order to serve as a Teaching Elder. He must have formal Seminary training or its equivalent Bible education and experience.
2. Duties: A Pastor/teacher is to feed the flock by reading, expounding and preaching the Word of God faithfully, assuming a prominent role of leading the church in its worship and ministries of edification and evangelism. He is to serve as an EQUAL MEMBER on the Board of Elders, in overseeing the ministry, visiting the flock and being available for spiritual counsel when needed. He is to maintain a close contact with all boards and organizations of the church. A Teaching Elder may select his own Secretary and office staff with the approval of the Board of Elders, and also provide the Stewardship Committee with input and suggestions for the annual budget.
3. Election: A candidate for Pastor/Teacher shall be carefully examined by the Board of Elders, which serves as the NOMINATING COMMITTEE, as to his Salvation, doctrine, Christian conduct and call to the ministry. He shall be required to state his hearty agreement to the Articles of Faith of this church and its Covenant. The Elders shall present only one candidate at a time for congregational affirmation. Once approved, he will assume this charge for an indefinite period of time.
4. Termination: A Pastor/Teacher when resigning is to give thirty days notice. If removed through discipline from the Board of Elders because of moral reasons, he shall be terminated immediately, but given thirty days severance pay. All rights, responsibilities, and privileges of the office shall cease with termination.
C. DEACONS: In addition to the Ruling Elders, Deacons are ordinary and perpetual officers of the Church.
1. Qualifications: Deacons must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, in this case a biblically divorced man, who biblically remarries, may serve as a Deacon since he is “the husband of one wife,” (ie., the only biblical grounds for divorce are sexual immorality and desertion of a believer by an unbeliever, cf., Lev.21:7,14;22:13; Num.30:9; Deut.22:19,29;24:1-4; Isa.50:1; Jer.3:1; Ezk.44:22; Mal.2:13-16; Mat.5:31,32;19:3-9; ICor.7:12-15,27,39; [WCF,XXIV]). They should be noted for sobriety and discretion, well behaved, hospitable, not prone to violence or contentious, but gentle, and free from the love of money. They should be good leaders in their own home, with dependent children showing them respect and obedience. Deacons must not be new Christians, but men of proven spiritual maturity, sound in doctrine and an active participant in the affairs of the church. (cf.,Acts 6:1f; ITim.8:8f.)
2. Duties: Deacons are spiritual men who perform practical service in meeting temporal needs and provide relief and complimentary support to the ministry of a local church. They serve under and are responsible to the Ruling Elders for serving communion, providing assistance for Baptisms, receiving the offering, greeting and ushering at the stated meetings of the church. They are to visit the sick, keep records of the membership, and care for those in the flock who have temporal needs. Deacons are to provide for the physical needs of the church and to maintain its properties and equipment. They shall supervise the Custodian and periodically review his work. The Deacons are to organize and administer the finances of the church, and work with the Stewardship Committee to provide for the annual budget.
3. Election: Upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, up to three Deacons shall be presented for approval to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If affirmed, they shall be duly installed to serve a THREE YEAR TERM on a rotational system. After serving one term of three years, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
1. Qualifications: A Deaconess must be above reproach, noted for sobriety and discretion, well behaved, a reputation for hospitality, not a malicious gossip, well disciplined, and dependable in all things. She must not be a new Christian, but a woman of proven spiritual maturity, sound in doctrine and an actively involved in the affairs of the church. (cf., Acts 9:36; 18:26; Rom.16:1; ITim.3:11; 5:10; Titus 2:3f.)
2. Duties: Deaconesses are spiritual women who perform practical service in meeting temporal needs and thus provide relief and complimentary support to the ministry of a local church, particularly in situations which would be better handled by a woman. They are to prepare the elements for Communion and provide assistance for Baptisms. They are to promote hospitality and thoughtful expressions of care and kindness in times of joy, bereavement, suffering or need in every area of church life; and provide the Stewardship Committee with input and suggestions for the annual budget.
3. Election: Upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, an indefinite number of Deaconesses shall be presented for approval to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If approved, they shall be duly installed to serve a TWO YEAR TERM on a rotational system. After serving one term of two years, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
1. Qualifications: The Treasurer of the church must be above reproach and have a sufficient knowledge in bookkeeping and skill in preparing financial statements to administer the duties of this office.
2. Duties: The Treasurer shall receive, count, classify, deposit and disburse all funds of the church. They shall keep a record of all such transactions, and regularly present a financial statement to the Deacon Board. A report shall also be presented at the annual congregational meeting. The Treasurer shall receive from the Financial Secretary all funds properly credited, and shall be responsible for the payment of such funds each week to the account of the church, in a bank designated by the Deacon Board. They shall draw countersigned checks against these funds. There shall be kept under their direction, a ledger showing the cash amount of all funds and a balance taken at the close of each month. They shall also have custody of all legal papers pertaining to the property and finances of the church, such as deeds, abstracts, insurance policies, bonds, notes, etc. These items shall be kept in a depository designated by the Deacon Board and be submitted for audit periodically as directed by that board.
3. Election: The Treasurer, upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, shall be presented for approval to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If approved, they shall be duly installed for a one year term of office. After serving three one year terms, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
F. FINANCIAL SECRETARY:
1. Qualifications: The Financial Secretary must be above reproach, and have sufficient knowledge in bookkeeping and skill in preparing financial statements to administer the duties of this office.
2. Duties: The Financial Secretary shall receive, record and surrender to the Treasurer all records of tithes, regular offerings, special offerings, and issue receipts thereof. They shall supervise and keep records of the offering envelope system of giving, shall purchase needed supplies, and shall be the agent of the Treasurer when depositing funds in the bank.
3. Election: The Financial Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, shall be presented for affirmation to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If approved, they shall be duly installed for a one year term of office. After serving three one year terms, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
G. SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT:
1. Qualifications: The Sunday School Superintendent should meet the spiritual qualifications of church leaders set forth in ITimothy 3:1-13. They must not be a new Christian, but a person of proven spiritual maturity, sound in doctrine and actively involved in the affairs of the church. They should be especially skilled in teaching, and have a passion to see God’s Word communicated within the ministries of the church.
2. Duties: The Superintendent shall be the executive head of the Christian Education Committee and in charge of the Sunday School. They shall be responsible to the Board of Elders to administer, organize, plan, delegate, and evaluate all the educational ministries of the church. They will meet periodically with the Board of Elders for their input and to inform them of the current status of their ministry.
3. Election: The Sunday School Superintendent, upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, shall be presented for approval to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If approved, he shall be duly installed for a one year term of office. After serving three one year terms, he shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
H. SUNDAY SCHOOL SECRETARY:
1. Qualifications: The Sunday School Secretary must be skilled at giving special attention to details, and faithful in attendance.
2. Duties: They shall keep records of attendance and finances for the entire Sunday School, and be responsible for ordering and distributing all instructional materials to the teachers.
3. Election: The Sunday School Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, shall be presented for approval to the congregation at the annual business meeting. If approved, they shall be duly installed for a one year term of office. After serving three one year terms, they shall not be eligible for re-election until one year has elapsed.
The following offices shall have an Assistant with same qualifications and duties, and approved by the congregation on the same terms to aid them in carrying out their responsibilities: TREASURER, SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT, AND SUNDAY SCHOOL SECRETARY.
GOVERNMENT: Section Three – BOARDS
A. ELDER BOARD:
1. Membership: Consists of the pastor, associate pastor(s), if there be any, and Ruling Elders of a church. The pastor and one third of the Ruling Elders shall constitute a quorum. The pastor is, by virtue of his office, the Moderator of the Session/Elder Board.
2. Duties: It is charged with the maintaining of the spiritual government of the church, for which purpose it has power to inquire into the knowledge; principles and Christian conduct of the church members under its care; to censure those found delinquent; to receive members into the communion of the church; to remove them for just cause; to grant letters of dismissal to other churches; to examine and nominate candidates to office and upon their election by the church, to require them to devote themselves to their work; to approve and adopt the budget; to approve actions of special importance affecting church property, and to call congregational meetings when necessary; to establish and control Sunday schools and Bible classes with special reference to the children of the church; to establish and control all special groups in the Church; to promote World missions; to promote obedience to the Great Commission in its totality at home and abroad; to order collections for pious uses; to exercise authority over the time and place of the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments; over all other religious services, over the music in the services, and over the uses to which the church building and properties may be put to; and to determine the best measures for promoting the spiritual interests of the church and congregation.
3. Meetings: The Elder Board shall hold stated meetings at least quarterly. The pastor has power to convene a meeting when he judges it necessary; and he shall always call a session when requested to do so by any two Ruling Elders. When there is no pastor, it may be convened by two Ruling Elders, with one of their members elected as Moderator. Accurate records of its proceedings should be kept.
B. DEACON BOARD:
1. Membership: The Deacons and Deaconesses of the church shall be organized as a board, of which the pastor shall be an advisory member, associate members shall also include the Treasurer, Financial Secretary and Sunday school Superintendent. They shall elect a chairman and secretary from their number.
2. Duties: It is the duty of the Deacon Board as a ministry of mercy, to express care toward those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty to also develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. They shall have the care of the property of the congregation, both real and personal, and shall keep in proper repair the church edifice and other buildings belonging to the congregation. In matters of special importance affecting the property of the church, they cannot take final action without the approval of the Board of Elders and consent of the Congregation. In the discharge of their duties the Deacons are under the supervision and authority of the Board of Elders.
3. Meetings: It shall meet separately at least once a quarter, and whenever requested by the Board of Elders. It is also desirable that they meet with the Board of Elders in joint session once a quarter to confer on matters of common interests.
GOVERNMENT: Section Four – COMMITTEES
A. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
1. Membership: This committee shall consist of at least seven members, two shall be appointed by the Sunday School Superintendent, two shall be appointed by the Board of Elders, and two by the Pastor. All members, including the Sunday School Superintendent and his Assistant shall be appointed to this committee in January for one year.
2. Duties: This committee shall serve under and be responsible to the Board of Elders to disciple people to spiritual maturity and for developing the educational program of the church through its Sunday School, Children’s, Youth, and other ministries. It shall also provide the Stewardship Committee with input and suggestions for the annual budget. All current teachers, sponsors, workers, curriculum, and programs, are to be initiated and evaluated by this committee at periodic meetings.
B. MISSIONS COMMITTEE:
1. Membership: Upon the recommendation of the Board of Elders, at least three members are to be affirmed to a one year term by the congregation at the annual business meeting, and at least three more members are to be appointed by the pastor, to a one year term in January.
2. Duties: This committee shall serve under and be responsible to the Board of Elders for developing a ministry of Global Outreach in keeping with the Great Commission. It has the right of selecting missionaries, judging their fitness, of ordaining and sending them forth into the field, and of recalling and deposing them when unfaithful, with the approval of the Board of Elders. It shall encourage regular prayer for missionaries, through information, education and involvement of the congregation on a consistent basis. It shall seek to evaluate financial needs, review support levels, screen new missionary candidates, and make budget recommendations to the Board of Deacons.
a. One member shall act as TREASURER, and shall make deposits and write checks from the Mission Account. They shall present a report quarterly to the Board of Elders and annually in writing to the congregation.
b. Another member shall be SECRETARY, who will assist the Treasurer in keeping records of all income, payments and commitments, while maintaining an up to date correspondence with those missionaries supported regularly by the church.
C. STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE:
1. Membership: This committee shall consist of the Treasurer and Assistant, Financial Secretary, and the Board of Deacons.
2. Duties: The Stewardship Committee serves under and is responsible to the Board of Elders, and is to recommend an overall stewardship plan and unified church budget annually. Working with the Treasurer and Financial Secretary, it is to advise the church in administration of both normal funds and special gifts received during the year for the work of this ministry. Using sound principles of financial management, it is to make regular and annual reports of all funds received and audit its records periodically.
D. MUSIC COMMITTEE:
1. Membership: This committee shall consist of the Director of Music and all instrumental accompanists of the church who actively participate in the music program. Two or more other members shall be appointed by the Board of Elders in January for a one year term.
2. Duties: This committee shall serve under and be responsible to the Board of Elders to establish and promote Christ-honoring
ministry of music for the whole church. This will include correlating of specials, choirs, instrumental numbers, cantatas, etc., within the worship schedule through out the year. It should also keep the Deacon Board informed as to the quality of sound equipment, robes, and instruments used through out the church, and provide the Stewardship Committee with input and suggestions for the annual budget.
GOVERNMENT: Section Five – AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS
There may be several auxiliary organizations, like Women’s Groups and Children’s Clubs, which are designed to assist the church in carrying out its stated purposes, but none shall be initiated without the consent of the Board of Elders. Such organizations may be self-governing, but always be subject to the control of the church through its Constitution and Policies. They shall make reports to the congregation at its annual business meeting.
MEETINGS: Section One – PUBLIC WORSHIP
The church shall meet each Sunday, and other days such as deemed necessary by the Board of Elders for worship of God. These meetings shall consist of prayer, musical expression of praise to God, preaching, instruction, fellowship and evangelism. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is to be offered to all believers every Lord’s Day.
MEETINGS: Section Two – CONGREGATIONAL BUSINESS
A. ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING: The congregation shall meet annually the fourth week in January, or an alternate date stated by the Board of Elders. An annual budget shall be approved and reports from all organizations of the church shall be summarized to the congregation. Nominations for offices in the church shall be presented to the congregation for their assent or disapproval, and those approved installed the next Sunday. Parliamentary rules given in Robert’s Rules of Order, is the standard procedure used for such meetings.
1. Voting: Any COMMUNICANT/ACTIVE member of the church at least fifteen years old in attendance will be eligible to vote. A large negative vote from the congregation will be considered by the Board of Elders as valid grounds for re-evaluation but not automatically change the decision.
2. Quorum: One third of the active membership, present at a stated or properly called meeting, shall constitute a quorum. Voting by proxy is not allowed.
B. SPECIAL CALLED BUSINESS MEETING: A meeting may be called at any time by the Board of Elders, pastoral staff, or Board of Deacons. It must be preceded by public notice of the time, place and purpose on at least two Sundays next preceding the day of the meeting.
ORDINATION: Section One – APPLICATION
Any a male member of this church, meeting the qualifications set forth in ITimothy 3:1-7 and Ephesians 4:11,12, and believing the God has called him to the Christian Ministry as a vocation, may make application for licensing or ordination to the Board of Elders.
ORDINATION: Section Two – APPROVAL
After a period of licensing, if the Board of Elders believe that the applicant should be ordained to the Gospel Ministry, they may instruct the pastor to call an ordination Council which shall include representatives from other churches of like precious faith and practice to thoroughly examine the candidate as to his salvation, calling, education, experience, and doctrinal beliefs. The candidate shall be publicly ordained to the Gospel Ministry upon the approval and recommendation of this Council.
ORDINATION: Section Three – OVERSIGHT
It shall be within the authority of the Board of Elders, in consultation with those members of his ordination Council, to discipline even to the revoking of license or ordination credential of any minister licensed or ordained under this constitution, if said minister is found guilty of any flagrant violation of Scriptural doctrine or immoral behavior, after an impartial investigation has been conducted in the spirit of ICorinthians 13, and Galatians 6.
FINANCES: This church shall be financed according to the biblical method of tithes and offerings of God’s people. There is to be no selling of goods or services to provide for normal financial needs of the church. (cf., Gen.14:20; Lev.27:30f; Mal.3:17f; Mat.23:23; Lk.14:28f; ICor.16;1f; IICor.8:1-9:15; Phil.4:14f; ITim.5:3f; Heb.13:13f.)
AMENDMENTS: This constitution or any part thereof may be amended, changed or added to at any regular or called congregational meeting, by the concurrence of two-thirds of the active members present and voting.
DISSOLUTION: In the event of the dissolution of this organization, the property and other physical assets belonging to the Faith Bible Church will be turned over to a similar group with like purpose and objectives, selected by the Board of Elders with the assent of the congregation in a special called business meeting.
All other rules adopted previous to THIS constitution are hereby declared null and void.
Originally adopted: December 18, 1974
Revision adopted: October 25, 1987
This Revision: September 30, 1992
Further Amendments: July 9, 1995