The Nature of the Church – A New Testament Church is a local congregation (Act 16:5; 1Co 14:7) of baptized believers in Jesus Christ (Act 2:41) who are united by covenant in belief of what God has revealed and in obedience to what He has commanded (Act 2:41-42).
The Autonomy of the Church – She acknowledges Jesus as her only Head (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18) and the Holy Bible as her only rule of faith and practice (Isa 8:20; 2Ti 3:16-17), governing herself by democratic principles (Act 6:1-6; 1Co 5:1-5) under the oversight of her pastors (Act 20:28; Heb 13:7, 17, 24).
The Perpetuity of the Church – Instituted by Jesus during His personal ministry on earth (Mat 16:18; Mar 13:13-19; Joh 1:35-51). true churches have continued to the present and will continue until Jesus returns (Mat 16:18; Mat 28:20).
The ordinances of the Church – Her two ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer as a confession of his faith in Jesus Christ (Mat 28:19; Rom 6:4) and is a prerequisite to church membership and participation in the Lord’s Supper (Act 2:41-42). The Lord’s Supper is the sacred sharing of the bread of communion and the cup of blessing by the assembled church (Acts 20:7) as a memorial to the crucified body and shed blood of Jesus Christ (Luk 2:19-20; 1Co 11:23-26). Both ordinances must be administered by the authority of the New Testament church (Mat 28:18-20; 1Co 11:23-26).
The Officers of the Church – Pastors and deacons are the permanent officers divinely ordained in a New Testament church (Php 1:1). Each church may select men of her choice to fill those offices under the leading of the Holy Spirit (Act 6:1-6; Act 20:17-18) according to the divinely given qualifications (1Ti 3:1-13).
- Pastors (elders, bishops) are authorized to oversee and teach the churches under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Act 20:28; Heb 13:7, 17, 24; 1Pe 5:1-4). Each church is responsible to follow them as they follow Christ (1Co 11:1; 1Th 1:6; Heb 13:17) and to provide a livelihood for them that they might fulfill their ministries (1Ti 5:17-18; Php 4:15-18). Pastors are equal in the service of God (Mat 23:8-12).
- Deacons (ministers, servants) are servants of the churches and assistants to the pastors, particularly in benevolent ministries. Each church may select her own deacons according to her needs, and no church is bound by the act o another church in that selection (Act 6:1-6).
The Ministry of the Church – Her mission is evangelizing sinners by preaching the gospel (Mat 28:19; Luk 24:45-47), baptizing those who believe (Act 2:41; Act 8:12, 35-38), and maturing them by instruction and discipline (Mat 18:17-18; 1Co 5:1-5).
The Fellowship of the Church – She is free to associate with true churches in furthering the faith (2Co 11:8; Php 4:10, 15-16) but is responsible to keep herself from those who hold doctrines or practices contrary to Holy Scripture (Gal 1:8-9; 1Jo 2:19). In association with other churches, each church is equal and is the sole judge of the measure and method of her cooperation (Mat 20:25-28). In all matters of polity and practice, the will of each church is final (Mat 18:18).