Statement of Faith
Westgate Baptist is a reformed baptist, age-integrated church in Dothan, Alabama. In the Reformed tradition, the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice is and must be the Bible alone. However, we hold the Abstract of Principles as a very simple and helpful means of clarifying our positions about Scripture. This, along with the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, although imperfect, are an excellent summary of the things most surely believed among us. And, we find them to be an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
We will regard Scripture as sufficient for life and godliness, so it must be consulted for all things.
Every Sunday our church family recites the following creed together as a means of Grace in teaching and edifying one another of the Glory of God in providing salvation to men:
The Gospel is the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Jesus Christ, and that he calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
Through the message of the Gospel, we come to understand that everyone has sinned against God, breaking His law and rebelling against His rule, and, as guilty, deserve the penalty for sin, which is death and eternal hell.
But God, because of His love, sent His Son, Jesus, separate from and yet fully God, to live a perfect and righteous life and to die on the cross and shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice, becoming qualified to satisfy the wrath of a holy God on behalf of the sinner.
On the third day, Jesus rose bodily from the grave and now reigns in heaven, offering forgiveness, righteousness, resurrection and eternal life in God’s presence to everyone who responds to the work of God’s grace in their heart and, through faith in the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus, repents of sin and trusts solely in Jesus for salvation.
The work of the Holy Spirit, who is also separate from and yet fully God, is to bring conviction of sin and, upon salvation, both seals the believer as the possession of Christ and is the divine deposit towards eternal life, indwelling every believer until death, when their soul will be immediately ushered into the presence of God. The physical body will also be glorified, when it is resurrected from the grave and united with the soul in heaven, when the Lord physically returns to gather both the dead and the living who have put their faith in him.
Furthermore, the Gospel, through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, initiates at salvation the process of the believer being consistently conformed to the image of God, and will not cease to change a person until they are at rest in their future home.
The Triune God
We believe that the Godhead is one in essence yet eternally exists in three persons– the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections; and are worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience.Each member of the Godhead is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, able to do whatever He wills in accordance with His own divine character.Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:25; John 1:1; John 14:16-17; I Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 1:11.
We believe in the essential deity and virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; that He was begotten by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, not having human father, and is true God and true man; that He is man’s only hope of salvation from sin, being the only mediator between God and man; that He died as man’s representative and substitutionary sacrifice, was buried, and rose again the third day for our sins according to the Scriptures; that He will return for His Church, the Body of Christ, which He will take with Himself into Heaven.Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-4; John 10:30; John 14:6; I Timothy 2:5-6; I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit to be coequal with the Father and with the Son.He is a Person.He came to this earth as the fulfillment of Christ’s promise.He convicts, regenerates, indwells, seals, infills, empowers, and guides the believer.John 16:7-13; John 3:3-5; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 5:18.
We believe that God created man in His own image and that man sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is conscious and eternal separation from God. We believe that all men are born with a sinful nature, evidenced by sinful acts; that man is totally depraved; and that if he is not born again, he is eternally lost.Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 16:23; Revelation 21:8; Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:21-22; Revelation 20:11-15.
We believe that a person is saved when he repents of his sin and exercises faith by trusting Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour.The believer is kept by the power of God and is eternally secure in Christ.The basis of our salvation is the precious blood of Christ, according to I Peter 1:18-19, which states that we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
We believe that the scope of salvation includes forgiveness of all our sins, past, present, and future; a perfect standing before God as Jesus Christ; and the changing of our earthly body to be changed like unto the body of our Lord at His return for His own.
We believe that the attitude either of reconciliation or enmity toward God is eternally fixed at death.We further believe that there is an appointed day for the judgment of the wicked when they will be cast bodily into the Lake of Fire, there to remain in everlasting conscious, punishment and torment.John 1:12; John 5:24; John 10:28-29; Romans 6:23; II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; I John 5:17; Romans 8:19-23; I John 3:2; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Hebrews 9:27; II Peter 2:9; Revelation 20:12-15; Revelation 21:8.
We believe that the scope of salvation includes forgiveness of all our sins, past, present, and future.
We believe that the local church is composed of:
- A local group of believers who are autonomous and self-governing.The church is subject to Christ(Ephesians 5:24), with no external ecclesiastical organization in authority over them.(I Corinthians14:33; Acts 4:18-20)
- Believers who are baptized by immersion.(Acts8:36-39; Matthew 3:16; Romans 6:4; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38-42)
- Believers who are organized, having for their officers elders, deacons and such other leaders as God has given special gifts to render as a ministry to the church. Ephesians 4:11
- Believers who meet regularly for fellowship, worship, and Bible study; “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”Hebrews 10:25.
- Believers who observe the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper:Matthew 28:18-20; I Corinthians 11:26.
- Believers who carry out the Great Commission as summarized in Matthew 28:18-20; I Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 16:19;Acts 2:41, 47; I Corinthians 12; Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 11:23-24.
We believe that gifts were given to the church for the two primary purposes:(1)Edification of the church,(2)Supernatural signs for the unbelieving Jews of God’s presence and approval in the early church, and the salvation of Gentiles (I Corinthians 14:3; I Corinthians 14:22).The sign gifts (1) were exercised primarily by the apostles when Jews were present at the salvation of Gentiles; (2) were restricted by careful regulations (I Corinthians 14:27, 28); and (3) gradually died out with the completion of God’s revelation through His Word (I Corinthians 13:8).
The “best” gifts (I Corinthians 12:31) were gifted people given for the edification of the church (I Corinthians 12:29) who minister in love (I Corinthians 13) and in harmony with God’s Word (I Corinthians 14:33-40) through preaching and teaching (I Corinthians 12:28).
We believe that the gifts given predominantly as sign gifts are miracles, healing, and tongues (I Corinthians 12:28, 14:22); and as such were temporary and are not to be sought in this age.
We believe that God has given the church a great commission to proclaim the Gospel to all nations so that there might be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, ethnic group, and language group who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. As ambassadors of Christ, we must use all available means to go to the foreign nations and not wait for them to come to us.(Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:20)
In view of the apparent increase of worldliness among professing Christians, it is necessary that the Church call the attention of believers who would join this fellowship, to the plain teaching of God’s Word concerning worldly amusements, and having fellowship and entangling alliances with unbelievers, as given in the following and many other passages (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Romans 14:21). These Scriptures plainly admonish the child of God to abstain from the unwholesome pleasures of and conformity to the world in conduct and questionable practices, which mar his fellowship with Christ or might be a stumbling block to others, particularly the weak. The criterion for the child of God in all these matters should be I Corinthians 6:19-20. Furthermore, the Christian should bear in mind that no negative abstention from worldly practices can ever be a substitute for positive devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Satan and Fallen Angels
We believe that Satan is a person.He is a created being who sinned and became the archenemy of God’s children.He seeks to keep man from the Lord; when he cannot succeed in this, he seeks to weaken the testimony of Christians.He has at his command a great host of fallen angels and demons to carry out his purposes.He is not omnipotent and can be overcome by the power of God.His doom is sealed in the Lake of Fire forever and ever.Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 20:10.
We believe that the Genesis account of creation is neither allegory nor myth, but a literal, historical account of God’s creation of the universe in six literal, 24-hour periods. We reject evolution, the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Theistic Evolution as unscriptural theories of origin.(Gen. 1-2; Ex. 20:11)
We believe that God has ordained and created all authority consisting of three basic institutions:1) the home, 2) the church, and 3) the state.Every person is subject to these authorities, but all (including the authorities themselves) are answerable to God and governed by His Word.God has given each institution specific Biblical responsibilities and balanced those responsibilities with the understanding that no institution has the right to infringe upon the other.The home, the church, and the state are equal and sovereign in their respective Biblically assigned spheres of responsibility under God.We believe that we must obey the state unless it requires us to act contrary to our faith at which time we must obey God rather than the state.(Matt. 22:15-22; Acts 5:29; Rom. 13:1-7; Eph. 5:22-24; Titus 3:1-2; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13-14)
We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between one naturally-born man and one naturally-born woman.We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance.(Gen. 2:24; Gen. 19:5, 13; Gen. 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1: 26-29; 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thess. 4:1-8; Heb. 13:4)
We believe that the only Scriptural marriage is the joining of one naturally-born man and one naturally-born woman for life.(Gen. 2:24; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:10; Eph. 5:22-23) The Scriptures also teach that believers should never marry an unbeliever. (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1) Furthermore, we believe that God disapproves of divorce and intends marriage to last until one of the spouses dies. Although divorced and remarried persons or divorced persons may hold positions of service in the church and be greatly used of God for Christian service, they may not be considered for the offices of deacon and pastor/elder.(Mal. 2:14-17; Matt. 19:3-12; Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)
Family Relationships and Roles
We believe that men and women are spiritually equal in position before God but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions for men and women in the home and the church.The husband is to be the leader of the home, and men are to be the leaders (pastors and deacons) of the church.Accordingly, only men are eligible for licensure and ordination by the church as elders. However, women may serve in any other capacity that does not put her in spiritual authority over another man. (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:4-5, 12)
We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society.The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church.The wife is to submit herself to the Scriptural leadership of her husband as the church submits to the headship of Christ.Children are an heritage from the Lord.Parents are responsible for teaching their children spiritual and moral values through consistent lifestyle example and appropriate discipline, including Scriptural corporal correction.(Gen. 1:26-28; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 127:35; Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; Mk. 10:6-12; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4, Col. 3:18-21; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 3:1-7)
We believe that human life begins at conception and that the unborn child is a living human being.Abortion constitutes the unjustified, unexcused taking of unborn human life.Abortion is murder.We reject any teaching that abortions due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the physical or mental well-being of the mother are acceptable. (Job 3:16; Ps. 51:5; 139:14-16; Isa. 44:24; 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44)
We believe that the direct taking of an innocent human life is a moral evil, regardless of the intention.Life is a gift of God and must be respected from conception until natural death.Thus we believe that an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder contrary to the will of God.Discontinuing medical procedures that are extraordinary or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be a legitimate refusal of over-zealous treatment.(Ex. 20:13, 23:7; Matt. 5:21; Acts 17:28)
We believe that we should demonstrate love for others, not only toward fellow believers, but also toward those who are not believers, those who oppose us, and those who engage in sinful actions. We are to deal with those who oppose us graciously, gently, patiently, and humbly.God forbids the stirring up of strife, the taking of revenge, or the threat or use of violence as a means of resolving personal conflict or obtaining personal justice. Although God commands us to abhor sinful actions, we are to love and pray for any person who engages in such sinful actions. (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:44-48; Luke 6:31; John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:9-10; 17-21; 13:8-10; Phil. 2:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Titus 3:2; 1 John 3:17-18)
Lawsuits Between Believers
We believe that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or the church to resolve personal disputes.We believe the church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members.We do believe, however, that a Christian may seek compensation for injuries from another Christian’s insurance company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander.(1 Cor. 6:1-8; Eph. 4:31-32; Matt. 18:15-17)
The Eternal State
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment.(Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; 11:25-26; Rev. 20:5-6, 12-13)
We believe that the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the resurrection, when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord.(Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Rev. 20:4-6)
We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious punishment and torment until the resurrection, when with soul and body, reunited, appear before the Throne of Judgment, to be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting conscious punishment and torment.(Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:11-15)
We believe that there will be a resurrection of all mankind. The Saints are raised to be forever with the Lord, and the unsaved will be confined for eternity in the Lake of Fire.We believe in the “Blessed Hope”, which is the personal, bodily return of our Lord and Savior for His Church.(John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11; Acts 24:15; I Corinthians 15:3-20; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 4:13-18)