DECLARATION OF THE FAITH AND PRACTICE OF GRACE CHURCH AT FRANKLIN
Read and assented to, at the Admission of MEMBERS.
Having been enabled, through divine Grace to give up ourselves to the Lord, and likewise to one another by the will of God, we account it as incumbent upon us, to make a declaration of our faith and practice, to the honor of Christ, and the glory of his Name; knowing, that with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, we do joyfully declare the following:
- We believe, that the Scriptures of the old and new Testament, are the word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
- We believe, that there is but one only living and true God; that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son and the Holy Ghost are as truly and properly God as the Father. These three distinct divine persons, we profess to reverence, serve and worship as the one true God.
- We believe, that before the world began, God did elect a number which no man can number of persons unto everlasting salvation; whom, of His own free grace, and according to the good pleasure of His will, He did predestinate to be His adopted children by Jesus Christ; and that in pursuance of this gracious design, He did, by means of a Covenant of grace and peace with his Son Jesus Christ, on behalf of those persons, appoint Him as Savior. Through Christ all spiritual blessings are provided for them. In addition, their persons, with all their grace and glory, were put into the hands of Christ, and made his care and charge.
- We believe, that God created the first man Adam, after his image, and in his likeness, an upright, holy, and innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying him, but he sinned and all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God. As a result, a corrupt nature is derived by all his offspring both by ordinary and natural generation, so that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is spiritually good, and prone to sin. As such they are also by nature children of wrath and under a sentence of condemnation, subject not only to corporal death, i.e., the death of the body, but also to an eternal death, all from which there is no deliverance, but by Christ the last Adam.
- We believe, that the Lord Jesus Christ, being set up from everlasting as the mediator of the everlasting Covenant and the surety of his people, did in the fullness of time assume human nature, in which nature he suffered and died as the substitute of his people, in their room and stead. As the Substitute of His people He made all that satisfaction for their sins which the law and justice of God could require, as well as purchase all those blessings which are needful for them both for time and eternity.
- We believe, that the eternal Redemption which Christ has obtained by the shedding of his blood was intentionally designed for the people of God, called also the Elect and the Sheep of Christ, and that they by faith shall share the special and peculiar blessings of it.
- We believe, that the Justification of God's people is only by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, that is to say, charged to their account, without the consideration of any works of righteousness done by them; and that the full and free pardon of all their sins and transgressions, past, present and to come, is only through the blood of Christ according to the riches of his grace.
- We believe, that the Gospel ought to be preached to every creature, and that it is the means by which God the Holy Spirit convicts, calls and regenerates. As the Scripture says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)." Therefore, the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification and faith is not an act of man's will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious grace of God; as again the Scripture says, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13)."
- We believe, that all who are truly saved shall certainly and finally persevere, so that not one of them shall ever perish, because they have everlasting life.
- We believe, that there shall be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust; and that Christ will come a second time to judge both quick and dead; when he will take vengeance on the wicked, and introduce his own people into his kingdom and glory, where they shall be for ever with him. (It is not necessary that one subscribe to a specific school of eschatology, i.e., doctrine of last things, or prophecy, to be a member in good standing of Grace Church)
- We believe, that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Christ, to be continued until his second coming: that those only are to be admitted into the church, and to participate of all ordinances in it, who upon profession of their faith, have been baptized by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
- We also believe, that singing of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs vocally is an ordinance of the gospel to be performed by believers.
- We further believe, that just as a member of a natural family should not leave that family without the express knowledge of those given responsibility for that family, even so, any member of this church family whose intention it is to separate themselves from this body, should convey that reason to the gathered officers of this congregation met together as a body.
- This declaration is a most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule of faith, whereby we are to be fettered and bound, but as an assistance to us in controversy, a confirmation of faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Now all and each of these doctrines and ordinances we look upon ourselves under the greatest obligation to embrace, maintain and defend; believing it to be our duty to stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. And whereas we are very sensible that our conduct, both in the world and the church, ought to be such as becomes the gospel of Christ, we judge it our incumbent duty, to walk in wisdom toward them that are without the church, and to exercise a conscience void of offence toward God and men, by living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Regarding our common fellowship with each other, we esteem it our duty to walk with each other in all humility and brotherly love; to watch over each other's conduct; to stir up one another to love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as we have opportunity, to worship God according to his revealed will; and when the case requires, to warn, rebuke and admonish one another, according to the rules of the Gospel.
Moreover, we believe that we are obliged to sympathize with each other in all conditions, both inward and outward, which God, in his providence, may bring us into; as also to bear with one another's weaknesses, failings and infirmities; and particularly to pray for one another, and that the Gospel, and all it's ordinances, might be blessed to the edification and comfort of each other's souls, and for the gathering in of others to Christ, besides those who are already gathered.
In all these duties we desire to be sound in the performance of, through the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit; while we both admire and adore the grace which has given us a place and a name in God's house, better than that of sons and daughters (Isaiah 56:5.)