We understand Scripture to teach that the Church is comprised of all those individuals for whom Christ died (Ephesians 5:25). Throughout history, God has actively worked to gather a people for Himself, and the revelation of God’s purposes and actions have been given to us in the Holy Scriptures. A local, visible church is marked by faithful preaching of the gospel, proper administration of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and the humble application of church discipline. As such, we labor to preach the Biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
We name this among the central features of our church, because having just attempted to elucidate the beauty of the gospel, we are reminded that one purpose of the gospel is to create a new culture in which Christ is the center (Colossians 2:11), and this culture must transcend all other cultures. We desire to visibly demonstrate the unifying power of the gospel as it overcomes racism and ethnocentricity.
We are committed to historic Baptist principles. By this we mean that we believe in the baptism of believers only. Furthermore, we believe that only baptized believers should comprise the membership of this local church. As Baptists we stand in the great tradition of men such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon. We are committed to the Southern Baptist Convention in as much as it aligns with historic Southern Baptist doctrines. We see value in partnering with other Southern Baptist churches for the sake of missions. We strive with them to see the true gospel reach every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). The historic Southern Baptist doctrines which we treasure are best summarized in the first recognized confession of faith that Southern Baptists produced, The Abstract of Principles. We long for a sweeping revival of these great truths among our SBC brethren.
In addition to being committed to historical Christianity and Baptist principles, we believe in the distinctive doctrines of the Reformers such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, and John Knox. The distinctive doctrines that flow from the Reformation include:
God is not only sovereign over all of creation, but He is sovereign in salvation as well (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Ephesians 1:3-11 & Romans 8:28-32). An individual can only be saved when God grants him the desire and ability to repent and believe in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
No Christian is called to live in isolation from other believers. God is gathering a people for Himself; He is not simply gathering individuals. The local church provides essential means of grace that cause believers to endure until the end (Hebrews 10:19-25). Therefore, membership at GRBC is taken very seriously.
The reformed view of Scripture emphasizes the Bible’s inspiration, authority, and sufficiency. Scripture alone must take authority over the church and all of its practices. The Word and the Spirit work in perfect harmony to provide all the guidance required to govern the life of the church. Therefore, we strongly guard against saying more than the Bible says or less than the Bible says on any issue. All churches must fight against being ruled by tradition, legalism, or pragmatism; we find the reformed understanding of Scripture helpful in winning this fight.
The heart of reformed theology has been summarized in the acrostic TULIP:
T - Total Depravity teaches us that all persons are corrupted by the Fall to the degree that Scripture declares that we are born as spiritual corpses and are at war with God. This condition causes us to find the pleasures of sin greater than the pleasures of God, and without God’s regenerating work within us, we would have no desire or ability to repent or believe.
U – Unconditional Election refers to God’s freedom to choose, before time began, those individuals whom He would graciously save. God’s election is based completely on His own purposes and pleasure. He did not choose anyone based upon foreseen merit or faith. The elect receive special grace from God that grants them repentance and faith; the non-elect receive common grace, but spurn the kindness of God and, therefore, incur just wrath.
L – Limited Atonement does not deny that Jesus’ death is sufficient to save a million sinful worlds like ours. Limited atonement (better called particular redemption) teaches us that what God desired the death of Jesus to accomplish, it did accomplish. Jesus’ death atoned for those whom God had chosen to save. Jesus did not simply die to make salvation possible, but to actually save! He died for particular people in such a way that the wrath of God was removed from them and the righteousness of Christ credited to them.
I – Irresistible Grace reminds us that every person resists God until God chooses to overcome that resistance. Because we are spiritually dead, and therefore, unresponsive enemies of God, God must change us from within in order that we may repent and believe. God’s grace overcomes our sinful resistance and reveals Christ to us in such a compelling manner that we choose to repent and believe; this is what we call conversion.
P – Perseverance of the Saints means that all who are regenerate and converted will be kept by the power of God and will not lose their salvation. Though they may stumble in sin, they will never fall from the grace which has justified them. Perseverance until the end is the ultimate proof of one’s election.