Bethlehem Baptist Church
What Do We Believe?
The purpose of Bethlehem Baptist Church is to be a star of light reflecting the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world hungry for the good news of salvation and to embrace believers in a meaningful church relationship that is inclusive of our community and others around the world.
A summary of our most essential teachings is below. Our Pastor is always available to answer any questions you might have about these statements. Each statement includes scripture references you can use to help you understand each of these foundational beliefs.
(For a more detailed description of what we believe, please see the Baptist Faith & Message.)
We teach that the Bible is an objective, propositional revelation from God Himself (1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 2:13) and is verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed.
We teach that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18, 24:35, John 10:35, John 16:12-13, John 17:17, 1 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Peter 1:20-21).
We teach that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit verbally inspired the human authors and used their individual personalities and different styles of writing to compose and record God’s Word to man (2 Peter 1:20-21) without error (Matthew 5:18, 2 Timothy 3:16).
We teach that there is but one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 45:5-7, 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14)—each equally deserving worship and obedience.
We teach that God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and arranges all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8-9, 1 Corinthians 8:6).
He is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1-31, Ephesians 3:9).
As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19, Romans 11:36).
As Creator He is Father to all men (Ephesians 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14, 2 Corinthians 6:18).
He has determined for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11).
In His sovereignty He is neither the author nor approver of sin (Habakkuk 1:13, John 8:38-47), nor does He diminish or eliminate the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17).
He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as His own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, Hebrews 12:5-9).
We teach that God is the definition of perfect love (1 John 4:7-8, 16) and all that He does is rooted in and results from His perfect love for us. (Psalm 86:15, Psalm 136:26, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:19)
We teach that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine attributes, and in these He is coequal and coeternal with the Father (John 10:30, John 14:9).
We teach that God the Father created all that is through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:2).
We teach that in the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence. In His incarnation, Jesus accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-Man (Philippians 2:5-8, Colossians 2:9).
We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, 25, Luke 1:26-35); that He was God incarnate (John 1:1, 14); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God’s kingdom (Psalm 2:7-9, Isaiah 9:6, John 1:29, Philippians 2:9-11, Hebrews 7:25-26, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
We teach that Jesus faced every temptation common to man, yet remained perfectly sinless and blameless (John 8:29, Hebrews 4:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5) and as such is able both to understand our weakness and help us face temptation (Hebrews 2:18), and to be an acceptable, spotless sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:14-24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15, Romans 3:24-25, Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 2:24).
We teach that on the basis of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Romans 3:25, Romans 5:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 1 Peter 2:24, 2 Peter 3:18).
We teach that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:38-39, Acts 2:30-31, Romans 4:25, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 9:24, 1 John 2:1).
We teach that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that He has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection for all believers (John 5:26-29, John 14:19, Romans 1:4, Romans 4:25, Romans 6:5-10, 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).
We teach that Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His Body, and returning with His church in glory, will establish His kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 20).
As the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the Head of His Body the church (Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18), and the coming universal King, who will reign on the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6, Luke 1:31-33), Jesus is the final Judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:14-46, Acts 17:30-31).
The Holy Spirit
We teach that the Holy Spirit is a co-equal member of the Trinity with the Father and the Son as God (Matthew 28:19, Acts 5:3-4, Acts 28:25-26, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 13:14). We teach that the Holy Spirit is a divine, eternal Person, possessing all the attributes of deity, including intellect (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), will (1 Corinthians 12:11), eternality (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscience (Isaiah 40:13-14), omnipotence (Romans 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13).
His activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9, Acts 1:5, Acts 2:4, Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 2:22).
We teach that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers believers for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Ephesians 1:13).
Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (John 16:13, Romans 8:9, Ephesians 5:18, 1 John 2:20, 27).
We teach that the Holy Spirit grants and administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the faith (John 16:13-14, Acts 1:8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
We teach that people were directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Genesis 2:7, Genesis 15-25, James 3:9).
We teach that God’s intention in the creation of people was that we should glorify God, enjoy God’s fellowship, live our lives in the will of God, and by this accomplish God’s purpose for us in the world (Isaiah 43:7, Philippians 1:19-23, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11).
We teach that in Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, people lost their innocence, incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death, became subject to the wrath of God, and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no power to recover himself, humankind is hopelessly lost. Humanity’s salvation is thereby wholly of God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:1-19, John 3:36, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 2:1-3, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, 1 John 1:8).
We teach that, because all people were in Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam’s sin has been transmitted to all people of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All people are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Psalm 14:1-3, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:9-18, Romans 23, Romans 5:10-12).
Marriage, Gender, & Sexuality
We teach that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complimentary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Rejection of one's biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person. We teach that the term "marriage" has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Genesis 2:18-25). We teach that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Hebrews 13:4). We teach that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We teach that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, beastiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God (Matthew 15:18-20, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of Bethlehem Baptist Church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the Bethlehem Baptist Church members and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by Bethlehem Baptist Church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, agree to abide by this statement on marriage, gender, and sexuality (Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
We teach that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21, Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We teach that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitude directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
We teach that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works.
We teach that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-7, Titus 3:5).
We teach that election is the sovereign work of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies and glorifies sinners according to His will. (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4-11, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 Peter 1:1-2).
We teach that justification before God is an act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 11:18, Romans 2:4, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Isaiah 55:6-7) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 12:3, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Philippians 2:11).
We teach that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint. (Acts 20:32, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 2:11, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 10:10, 14, Hebrews 13:12, 1 Peter 1:2). We teach that there is also, by the work of the Holy Spirit, a progressive sanctification by which a believer, through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19, Romans 6:1-22, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
We teach that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24, John 6:37-40, John 10:27-30, Romans 5:9-10, Romans 8:1, 31-39, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, Ephesians 4:30, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Peter 1:5, Jude 24).
We teach that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual Body, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32, Revelation 19:7-8), of which Christ is the Head (Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:18).
We teach that the establishment and continuity of local churches is taught and defined in the Bible (Acts 14:23, 27, Acts 20:17, 28, Galatians 1:2, Philippians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Corinthians 11:18-20, Hebrews 10:25).
We teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18) and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty.
The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor/teachers) (Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11) and deacons (Acts 6:1-6), both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-5). We teach that these leaders lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
We teach that the purpose of the church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Ephesians 4:13-16), by instruction of the Word (2 Timothy 2:2, 15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:47, 1 John 1:3), by keeping the ordinances (Luke 22:19, Acts 2:38-42) and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:42).
Faith and Practice
We teach that all believers are to live their lives for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Our beliefs and behaviors should honor our Lord Jesus Christ and testify to the world the reality of our salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Hebrews 12:1-2).
We affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness and a continual pursuit of holiness (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 7:1, Hebrews 12:14, Titus 2:11-14, 1 John 3:1-10).
Baptism and the Lord's Supper
We teach that two ordinances have been commanded to the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer demonstrating his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42).
We teach that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32). We also teach that, whereas the elements of Communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, participation in the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ, who indwells every believer, and so is present, fellowshipping with His people (1 Corinthians 10:16).
We believe that God, in His own time and way, will bring the world to an appropriate end. Jesus Christ will return personally, physically, and visibly. The dead will be raised and Christ will judge all men in perfect righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to eternity in Hell. The righteous in Christ will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with God (John 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:24-58, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, Revelation 20:15).