As a church, we are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News that Jesus died and rose again is our reason for existing. So, we want Jesus to be at the heart of everything we do. However, there are some things that make us distinct from other faithful local churches. On this page, we would like to outline some of the key theological distinctives of Grace Bible Churches.
Whether they state it expressly or not – all biblical churches hold to a number of essential doctrines that define Christian from non-Christian such as the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone and the Trinity. However, there are a number of secondary doctrines which while not essential for salvation, do define each local church. These secondary doctrines are not all of equal importance and we find it helpful to divide them into distinctives, differences and speculations.
Here at Grace Bible Church Holland Park, we describe the secondary doctrines we hold to be of greatest significance as theological distinctives. We hold these to be Scriptural and important for the life and unity of the local church. Complete agreement is not required for the sake of membership, but it should be known that we will preach, teach and counsel in accordance with these theological distinctives.
While not exhaustive, we deem that the key theological distinctives of Grace Bible Church are:
- Divine Sovereignty
- The Relationship of God’s Glory to Joy
- Expository Preaching
- The Complementary Roles of Men and Women
- Elder Led
- Believer’s Baptism by Immersion
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
As well there are areas of discussion we have deemed as theological differences. These are areas that do not shape the local church in the same ways as distinctives. Differences in these areas should not disrupt the unity amongst members. While these issues will be addressed by the leadership of the church, we acknowledge differing personal conviction in these areas. These include teachings such as eschatology, Bible translations, views of the Sabbath, methods of schooling and the emblems and frequency of the Lord’s Supper.
Finally, there are speculations. We believe these are areas in which the Lord has chosen not to give definitive clarity and it should be noted that no important doctrine or practice rests here. Examples of speculations include such teachings as the timing of the return of the Lord or the author of the book of Hebrews.
We encourage all members to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), examining the Scriptures and forming their own opinions in these areas. However, if any hold to a theological distinctive that is different from that held by Grace Bible Church, we ask that members not make this a point of contention. If their disagreement precludes united fellowship – we ask them to consider joining a church more in line with their personal theological distinctives.
The key theological distinctives of Grace Bible Churches are:
God is sovereign over all things such that there is no aspect of heaven or earth in all eternity outside of His ultimate control. Though God’s rule extends to all things, it is particularly His sovereign work in salvation that we note as a theological distinctive. We believe that it is exceedingly good and glorious news that salvation is not dependent on the desires and deeds of men and women, but is ultimately grounded in God’s love, His purposes and eternal decree of election. Though everyone is responsible for their own sin, God is responsible for drawing those He would save unto Himself and overcoming their natural resistance to the gospel (Psalm 115:3, 135:6; John 1:13; Ephesians 1:3-14, 2:1-5; Romans 8:26-9:23; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The Relationship of God’s Glory to Joy
We believe that our greatest joy is found only in knowing the one true God. Our joy in Him is one of the chief means by which He is glorified. Fullness of joy is experienced in walking in faithful obedience by the power of His Spirit (Psalm 16:11; 37:4; Psalm 73:25-26; Matthew 13:44; John 15:11; John 17:3; Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 11:6).
The entire counsel of God (Old and New Testaments) is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the people of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. We believe expository preaching – which involves presenting the meaning, intent and application of the biblical text – is to be a regular and substantial element of the times the church meets together for worship. Our regular practice is to preach through entire books of the Old and New Testaments (Acts 20:27; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-2).
The Complementary Roles of Men and Women
Men and women are absolutely equal in dignity and value but were created to be different by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church, especially as it comes to teaching and authority. These role distinctions are God’s grace to men and women, and are therefore to be protected, preserved and practised for His glory and our joy. Our understanding of complementarianism is such that there are important roles for women in the local church, that being married is not necessary for the expression of these complementary roles, and those who remain single can be greatly used for the kingdom. Our understanding of Scripture is that any practice which blurs the binary gender roles such as homosexuality, transgenderism or genderlessness is sin (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33-35; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
The New Testament outlines the biblical leadership structure of a local church. We hold that Scripture gives the governing authority of each local church to men occupying an office known as either Overseers or Elders. This authority is to be exercised by a plurality of men who meet strict biblical criteria for the office. The members of the church are commanded to submit to the godly, loving leadership of these men who are in turn accountable to the Lord and also the members (Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-8; Hebrews 13:17).
Believer’s Baptism by Immersion
Baptism is intended only for those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and can give sufficient testimony to the basics of Christian beliefs. We also baptise by immersion because it best symbolises the reality to which baptism points: our death, burial and resurrection in Christ. While believer’s baptism by immersion is the conviction of our church, we do not allow disputes over the subjects or mode of baptism to ultimately preclude fellowship or in exceptional cases membership (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-11).
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows spiritual gifts which are to be eagerly desired and practised for the edification of His church. However, we hold that Scripture teaches Apostles and Prophets were given to be foundational to the establishment of the church. Since miraculous gifts such as speaking in tongues and healing were typically associated with the Apostles and Prophets, it is difficult to hold from Scripture, history or experience that those gifts are still bestowed today. Therefore in regard to the miraculous gifts, while we cannot definitively point to a Scripture that says every gift has ceased, we are very cautious of them because of the common abuse of claimed miraculous gifts in the church today. Unless we are convinced that a gift corresponds to the use and parameters of those recorded in Scripture in all respects, we will not condone its use in the public ministries of our church. It is also clear that there is no particular spiritual gift required to evidence true salvation (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 2:20, 4:1-16).