GBC DOCTRINAL POSTION ADDENDUM AS OF 11/1/2021
I. The Biblical Purpose of the Church
Believing the Local New Testament Church is, as stated in Scripture, the place Christ “gave His life for” (Eph. 5:25), it should be viewed by true believers as the place to which they give their constant devotion and most loyal commitment (Heb. 10:25, Eph. 5:19-21, Col. 3:16-17). Its total purpose is summed up in its three-fold scriptural purpose – to evangelize, to educate and to edify (Eph. 4:11-16, Acts 20:32, Rom. 14:19, I Cor. 10:23). All ministries, events, activities, and actions towards others should be moving to this end. The leadership, membership, and all who visit should sense in the total church community a reverential fear of our sovereign God, a submission to Scripture, a gentleness towards others, a rejoicing in all circumstances, a commitment to Biblical life-changing Gospel, and a hunger to become more like Christ. The local New Testament church is the most important institution in the family, community, and world, for through it God exhibits His glory and extends His eternal redemptive plan. In the light of all this and much more revealed in Scripture, Grace Bible Church will seek to accomplish all that God, in his sovereign plan, has placed it her for (I Cor. 10:31).
II. Statement on Biblical Marriage:
Believing that God Himself created marriage and the institution of the family at creation, (Gen. 2:24-25; Matt. 19:4-6). We at Grace Bible Church of Oakland believe that God, not individuals, governments, or any other entity should take it upon themselves to define or redefine marriage. Because we hold to the understanding That God’s Word is inspired, inerrant, and the final authority, the definition of true marriage must come from it. Below you will find a summary statement on our position on marriage, and a qualifying statement on the marriages that will be performed on the campus of Grace Bible Church.
III. Statement on Marriage Defined from God’s Word:
God in His sovereign plan designed marriage to illustrate the conventional union of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5:25-27). With this in mind God established marriage as a lifelong exclusive covenant between one man and one woman. According to God’s Word any sexual activity outside of Marriage whether heterosexual, bi-sexual, homosexual, or otherwise is immoral and sin before God (Ex. 20:14, 17; Lev. 18: 15-16; 22-23; Rom. 1:18-31; I Cor 6:9-10, 15-20; I Tim. 1:8-11; Jude 7). It is also our belief that God created male and female so any attempt to alter one’s gender from birth is immoral and sin before God (Gen. 1:27; Deut. 22:5).
IV. Statement of Church Policy on Marriage Involving the Pastor, Staff, or Church Facilities
A. The Pastor and/or staff of Grace Bible Church of Oakland will not perform same-sex weddings for anyone but will conduct wedding ceremonies for one man and one woman as biologically designed by birth.
B. If Grace Bible Church of Oakland is ever legally forced to perform same-sex weddings, all leadership in the congregation will opt out performing civil ceremonies and will only perform biblically based “covenant ceremonies” that bless the union between one man and one woman as biologically defined by their natural birth.
C. Membership at Grace Bible Church of Oakland involves agreeing with and adhering to traditional biblical standards of morality and ethics, including the belief that only the God-ordained model of one man and one woman is “very good” (Gen. 1:27, 31; Gen. 2:23-25) and acceptable (Mark 10:5-9)
D. Grace Bible Church of Oakland disallows non-members and non-attendees and/or outsiders to rent and/or use any of their facilities for same-sex weddings and/or civil ceremonies related to marriage.
E. The staff and congregation of Grace Bible Church of Oakland intend to support and abide by all constitutionally legitimate laws, up to the point where they may come into conflict with the clear biblical teaching and/or doctrine. If the government makes any ruling overriding church by-laws, believing that our duty is to obey God rather than men, the congregation of Grace Bible Church of Oakland will have no choice but to engage in civil disobedience and refuse to comply with the law, irrespective of the penalties, consequences, or cultural stigma they will receive (Acts 5:29-39, I Peter 2:12-21).
We believe the command to spread the gospel to the world is clear and unmistakable, and this commission was given to the church. As a church, we will seek to support prayerfully and financially those taking His gospel message to the world. We also will seek to be sending those from our own membership out for this endeavor (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark16:15, John 20:21; Rom. 10:13-15).
We believe Scriptural giving is one of the fundamentals of the faith. We are commanded to bring our gifts into the storehouse (common treasury of the church) upon the first day of the week. (II Cor. 8:7; I Cor. 16:2; Heb. 7:2, 4; Matt. 23:23; Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:10, Acts 4:34-35, 37).
VII. Church Membership
A. Understanding It as a Biblical Principle
The term “local church” is foreign to the New Testament. It has been adopted over time to mean a called-out body of believers occupying a particular locality. The terms “church membership” and membership lists” fall into the same category. That is not to say that a local indigenous body of believers is unbiblical. All the Epistles (i.e., Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, etc.) were written to a local assembly of believers. Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Mark were all involved in planting local churches their entire ministries. All these churches had a clear biblical standard of local leadership and proper organization (I Tim. 3:15). Things like denominations, programs, pews, Sunday school, sound systems, etc. are obviously a direct result of the evolution of the church over time. This is not to say that these things are not useful and beneficial if they keep their focus on the Truth of Scripture. That should be central to all things within the local church (II Tim. 4:1-5). Understanding all of this we believe that a truly saved individual should unite with a local body of believers that they know is true to the sovereign Word of god which is its sole authority (I John 17:1; Heb 4:12).
B. Becoming a Member
1. Each prospective member must give clear evidence of true Scriptural conversion (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 4:12; Acts 16:31) by word of testimony (Rom. 10:9-13) and by exhibiting fruits of repentance (Matt. 5:16; II Cor. 5:17; Phil. 2:27) This affords itself to a period of observing before the congregation and governing board.
2. Each prospective member must give written or verbal proof of baptism by immersion, which is stated as a core theological position in our doctrinal statement. If the individual is a new convert or has never been baptized, the board will provide opportunity to complete this most important step in our walk with God.
3. If coming from another congregation from another state or within our own state of Maine, the prospective member will have to fulfill all above points and give clear evidence that the reasons for leaving their previous church were settled with leadership in a proper biblical way. This will ensure that no residual product from past memberships will adversely affect the unity of Grace Bible Church. This will be done through the governing board.
4. Each member will complete a membership class consisting of at least three sessions.
5. After all the above points have been covered, membership will be granted after a formal request has been made. The prospective member must be given a copy of the Baptist Confession of Faith and the church’s Doctrinal Statement Addendum, then they will be presented to the body.
c. Membership Responsibilities and Provisions
1. Towards a lost world each member is to shine as lights of righteousness (Matt. 5:16). This will involve lives that are distinctively different, inside and out, from the world around them inside and out (II Cor. 6:17; II Cor. 5:17). This will bring glory to God and allow Him in His sovereign plan to use the individual member to draw the lost to Himself.
2. Towards fellow church members each member will seek to readily accept one another within each one’s unique personal struggles (Rom. 12:3-16). They are to express the Biblical love that is evidenced through action not just word (I John 3:18). Each member should seek to develop a loving spirit of personal accountability as they help each other reach their ultimate potential for God’s glory (James 5:16; Gal. 6:12). In all our conversation privately and publicly the desire should be to encourage, pray for, and edify one another (I Tim. 2:1-5; Rom. 14:19; I Thess. 5:11; Rom. 5:12). Knowing that in all our humanness offenses will come as we serve together. Each member will seek to develop a spirit of forgiveness toward one another that is immediate, ongoing, comprehensive, complete, and in accordance with the clear commands of Scripture (Eph. 4:30-32; Col 3:11-1; Matt. 18:21-35). These and many more admonitions from Scripture will ensure a compassionate, unified, and productive body for His glory.
3. Towards church leadership each member will, in accordance to God’s sovereign plan, seek to support the leadership at all levels in the following ways:
a) To faithfully pray for them (I Tim. 2:14; I Thess. 5:25; II Thess. 3:1).
b) To faithfully aid and follow them in ministry (I Thess. 5:25; II Thess. 3:1; I Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7-17).
c) To support them in personal commitment to service and in financial support to those who are paid leadership (I Cor. 9:9; I Tim. 5:18; I Cor. 3:7).
d) To hold them accountable as fellow believers and leaders of ministry (I Tim. 5:19-20; James 5:16; Gal 6:1-2).
4. Towards church ministry each member will study how to be used as part of God’s sovereign plan in the mission of Grace Bible Church. This will be done by discovering your God-given spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12; Rom. 12:3-9) and using them in faithful service for the edification, unity, and spiritual growth of the local body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). It will also be the responsibility of each member to regularly support the church financially, personally, and prayerfully. These responsibilities are clearly laid out throughout Scripture and provide for a balanced, God-honoring ministry.
D. The Blessings of Membership Provides:
1. The blessing of active service (I Cor. 12; Rom. 12).
2. The blessing of family worship (Heb. 10:25).
3.The blessing of an accountable walk (Gal. 6:1-4).
4. The blessing of a Biblically sound environment (Eph. 4:11-15)
5. The blessing of a consecrated contribution (Phil. 4:10-20).
6. The blessing of a unified, caring fellowship (Phil. 12:1-4).
7. The blessing of a shepherding atmosphere (Acts 20:25-32).
Note: This is not a comprehensive description of the Biblical purpose, place and privilege of local church membership, but it lays a foundation which will be built upon as we study the Word of God together faithfully (II Tim. 2:15).
VIII. Biblical Discipline
A. Statement of Position: It is the position of leadership that Biblically motivated church discipline is necessary to guarantee Biblical unity and a God-honoring witness. We believe that a church that fails in this area will open itself up to disharmony, dysfunction, decay, and death (Isa. 4:21). It should be understood that Matthew 18 deals with an unrepentant sinful attitude or action. Church discipline is not to be used for disagreements, offenses, personality conflicts, unintentional or even intentional fleshly acts, and the like. These are handled in the realm of continued practical forgiveness (Eph. 4:30-32; Matt. 18:21-35). This is to be a continuous and growing attitude since God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you and you exemplify this to those watching by your forgiveness of others. Church discipline is clearly dealing with sin which must be confronted and repented of for the sake of the offender, the offended, and the church.
B. A Statement of Practice: Each step in this clear and scriptural process must be completely followed to its textual conclusion.
1. (Matt. 18:15) – This is clearly a private issue between individual believers. If the matter is met with contrition and repentance, then according to the text, “you have gained a brother,” but if not, then the text demands that you move on to the next step.
2. (Matt. 18:16) – This is not becoming more public, in that the offended takes one or two witnesses with them to confront the sin. This is in accordance with the same principle in Deut. 19:15. As the text clearly states, the purpose is to “establish every word.” If humble repentance occurs, praise the Lord for glorious reconciliation. If there still is no repentance, the text demands moving on to Step 3. The process cannot be halted mid-stream, or its divine purpose cannot be accomplished.
3. (Matt. 18:17a) – It must now be brought before the church. This is clearly the extreme, but it must be done for “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9; I Cor. 5:6). The prayer is that when the individual reaches this point, they would enter a truly penitent state and the whole congregation can lovingly lead them into reconciliation. If non-repentance becomes evident by statement or absence, then it is a biblical mandate to proceed to Step
4. (Matt. 18:17b) – It is at this point that the member is dismissed or excommunicated from the fellowship. He is to be seen as “a heathen and tax collector.” This is not just punishment, but also protection for the body from sin that could be detrimental to the unity, productivity, and purpose of the local church. I Corinthians is a prime example. It also provides opportunity to put the unrepentant individual in a position of such great loss of fellowship that it shames them into repentance (II Thess. 3:14-15), or the individual is to be regarded as a prospect for evangelism.
C. A Statement of Purpose: This biblically mandated practice, once initiated, must be continued until it has reached one of two purposes stated in the text. The first is repentance and reconciliation which is, and always will be, the prayerful desire of the congregation. The second is dismissal for the purpose of destruction of the flesh (I Cor. 5:15) with the desire of wonderful reconciliation. It also provides a way of cleansing the body of unrepentant sinful attitude and action. When this important biblical principle is properly practiced, the assembly is clearly made aware of sin’s seriousness, and how it oppresses them in their fellowship within the body, and the walk with God.
IX. Termination of Membership
Termination of membership will be accomplished in one of three ways:
A. Upon the request of an individual member.
B. As the result of church disciplinary action as stated above.
C. Since a member has failed to attend and every effort to reconcile was attempted, the board will remove from membership.
D. Reinstatement of membership will follow the same principles as laid out in Section B under Becoming a Member.
X. Church Polity
Definition of polity – a society or institution with an organized specific form of church government.
A. Pastor/Elder Position
1. Distinct from other elders in that:
a)It is clearly an elevated position of guidance, instruction, and leadership for the whole body of the local church (Eph 4:11-13)
b) It is a God-given position. It is clearly given a higher level of accountability before the God who places him in it (Heb. 13:7 & 17).
c) It is clearly a position that is to be monetarily supported by the local body of believers (Matt. 10:10; II Cor. 9:8-14; I Tim. 5:11-18)
d) The implication of all texts of Scripture puts the Senior Pastor in a position of leadership within the elder leadership (i.e., Chairman of the Board).
e) It is a position of divine call and placement and must exhibit all qualifications as described in I Timothy 3, also it must give evidence of god’s hand and call to be the “leader of leaders” (Prov. 18:16 “a man’s gift will make room for him.”).
2. Position entitlements:
a) Income and benefits which will be evaluated yearly by the Elders during the budgetary process which includes salary, housing, retirement, and insurance.
b) Annual vacation time as determined by Board of Elders, not to exceed three weeks per year.
c) Continued encouragement and education at the Board’s discretion. This will be accomplished by attendance at pastoral conferences designed for such purposes.
B. Elder rule is clearly the New Testament form of church government.
1. A Brief Biblical Description:
a) The early church was overseen by a plurality of elders; not one man responsible for everything. This is clearly a biblical pattern and mandate. (Acts 15; Acts 11:30; Titus 1:5-9)
b) The Board of Elders is responsible to:
(1) Oversee, advise, and direct all ministries, committees and positions of leadership, i.e., deacons, trustees, etc. (I Tim. 5:7)
(2) Exemplify the biblical standard of godly living as outlined in I Tim. 3 & Titus 2 for all the flock to follow (I Tim. 4:12-16).
(3) Seek every avenue of biblical equipping of the flock for powerful ministry in the lives of those who God draws to our church (Eph. 4:11-15).
(4) They are to care for, protect, confront, encourage, and faithfully shepherd the flock which God has purchased with His own blood and placed in their care. This daunting task is to be taken seriously and never entered into lightly (Acts 20:26-32; Titus 1:9-11).
(c) The Board of Elders are first accountable to God as is every believer. They also with all other church members are susceptible to church discipline as outlined in Matt. 18 and alluded to in our church Doctrinal Position Addendum and Baptist Confession. I Timothy 5:17-22 clearly implies that an elder is not above anyone else in relation to church discipline, but it also implies that great care, caution and proper biblical procedure be taken in such a case.
2. The Biblical Qualifications of Elders (I Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9) Note: The word bishop or elder carries with it the meaning of overseer.
a. Blameless (vs. 2) – above reproach; legally, morally, ethically. This is not a demand to unflawed perfection to which forgiveness must be applied but it is a demand to a life that pursues holiness and sets a biblical example in all facets of Christian living.
b. Husband of One Wife (vs. 2) – a one woman kind of man. The implication here is that one who holds the office of elder should be a faithful, devoted and dedicated husband. The text does not even allude to the subject of divorce. In the culture in which this letter was written there was plurality of wives, a common attitude of disrespect for women and when transitioned to our era it clearly admonishes that an elder should be a man characterized by his devotion to monogamy in marriage, by his sacrificial love for his wife and family and by his dedication to the special woman God has given him to be his wife.
c. Temperate, sober-minded and of good behavior (vs. 2) – He must be a man who can order his priorities, keep his general life in order and be continually watchful and clear headed.
d. Hospital (vs. 2) – They set the example for the church in welcoming new and old alike and also are willing to open their lives up to the needs of others.
e. Able to Teach (vs 2) – This is the ability to spiritually discern and extract truth from Scripture and articulate it to others. The surrounding text also implies a clear teaching by exhibiting a solid biblical lifestyle. Some will be gifted pulpiteers, others Sunday school teachers, counselors, and personal guides to church members.
f. Not given to wine, violent, greedy (vs. 3a) - Based on the Law of love (Rom. 13 and I Cor. 8), a clear warning from God (Prov. 20:1; 21:17; 23:30-35) and the need to be a caring compassion shepherd, an elder must avoid the thing that creates many social ills such as alcohol, violent tendencies, and greed.
g. Gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous (vs. 3b) – These are a direct antithesis to the previous three and are a clear biblical mandate to avoid the dangerous three. For an elder must be considerate, peaceful and absolutely content as he seeks to lead the flock of God.
h. Rules his own house well (vs. 4-5) – Here the implication of divorce can come into play. For unless the divorce was legitimate, based on biblical criteria. Adultery (Matt. 19:1-8); that which is prior to conversion, (I Tim. 1:12-15); in the cases of an unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, (I Cor. 7:12-15). In each of these cases the track record must be observed for a long period of time (referring to the new marriage) and he must be proven to be “the husband of one wife.” His children and wife must, if they live under his roof, give evidence of submission to his spiritual leadership. There must be evidence of support for his ministry of leadership through attendance, involvement and sacrifice of his time at home.
i. Not a novice – This is clearly explained in the text. There must be a process of maturing in the faith and in the general understanding of the complexity of life. This Scripture clearly implies caution in selection of elders and a plan for developing elders. j. A good testimony (vs. 7) – This clearly is pointing to all business dealings, social contacts, neighbors, coworkers, and any other community contact. The elder is to have a good testimony that brings honor and glory to Christ
Summary Note: In all these biblical qualifications an elder is never expected to be perfect, but is expected to “pursue righteousness, faith and love” (II Tim. 2:22). The catalyst to humble yourself before God and seek His strength to ever be improving in your faithful walk and God-given responsibilities.
3. The Purpose and Practice of Elder ministry
a. Acts 20:17-30 clearly lays out the depth, importance, and practice of the ministry of elders.
(1). Vs 17-23 – It is a ministry that humbly serves the Lord by serving others.
(2). Vs. 23-25 – It is a ministry that will stand firm with honor seeking to face all trials with a desire to finish the course for His glory.
(3). Vs. 26-27 – It is a ministry that recognizes the authority of the “whole counsel of God” and submits to it, proclaims it and completely trusts in it.
(4). Vs 28-30 – It is a shepherding ministry that seeks to care, oversee, protect, and recognize that the flock clearly belongs to the one who “purchased with His own blood.”
4. Board of Elder Meetings
a. The chairman has been the Pastor/Elder
b. Unanimity – all decisions, new ministries, discipline matters, financial issues and all other church matters must be decided
through the elder board with a unified mind (Jn 17:11 & 21-23; I cor. 1:10; Eph 4:30).
c. The meetings will be held at least bi-monthly and more when necessary and will be called by the chairman.
d. Bi-monthly meeting will seek to follow a set agenda overseen by the chairman and minutes will be kept and those pertaining to the church congregation will be made available to them.
e. Any concern, ministry, idea, etc., that an acting member of the church wishes to be considered by the elders should be given to
the chairman in writing in order to begin the process of consideration. There will be an open-door policy and any member is
welcome to attend any regularly scheduled bi-monthly elders meeting except in matters of church discipline or private concern.
5. Deacons - A position of continual service
a. he ministry of a deacon was introduced in Acts 6. Their purpose was to serve and care for the people; practically, physically, and personally in order to allow the elders to care for the complete oversight and stewardship of the ministry.
b. The duties of the deacons will vary depending on the continued growth of the church and its changing needs, ministries, and size.
c. The same as the qualifications for the position of the elders with the exception of being able to teach. This clearly implies that deacons and elders together are to hold a high standard of personal example to the congregation.
d. Deacons will be selected from membership after a time of observation and examinations by the Board of Elders and then placed in a leadership ministry that best suits their temperament and evident spiritual gifts.
e. In Acts 6-8 Stephen was a chosen deacon who stood out in giftedness to proclaim truth and teach. If he had not been martyred, probably he could have become an elder within a local church. The implication here is that who the future elders will be is covered within the position of deacon or as God brings in men already qualified. They will enter a process of preparation for the ministry of elder. This process will be developed and adjusted as needed by the existing Board of Elders, because at the heart of eldership is a servant’s heart.
6. Trustees – will consist of those on the Board of Elders responsible for all financial matters of the church.