Brackenhurst Baptist Church is a member of the Sola 5 association, an association of God-centred churches in Southern Africa. We fully affirm the Sola 5 confession of faith. Please consult this document for a full description of our beliefs.
Below, we have briefly detailed our major beliefs and core values.
A Brief Declaration of Belief
- We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in their original writings as fully and verbally inspired of God, that God preserves the words of Scripture, and the church accepts them as the final authority for faith and life. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that it is divinely inspired and preserved. We believe in plenary, verbal inspiration and that the Bible is the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man, and the supreme, infallible authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
- We believe in one God eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in the Trinity, the unity of the Godhead in the form of three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are equal in every divine perfection and execute distinct but harmonious offices in the great work in redemption. We believe in God the Father; we rejoice that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and eternal death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
- We believe in the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ. We believe in Jesus Christ, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, of virgin birth, sinless in His life, making atonement for the sin of the elect by His death, burial, and resurrection.
- We believe in the personality, deity and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We believe in the Holy Spirit who came forth from God to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement to come. We believe His purpose is to regenerate, indwell, sanctify, and comfort those who believe in Jesus Christ.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, a substitutionary sacrifice, according to the Scriptures, and that all who believe in Him are justified through His shed blood. We believe that all men by nature, choice and practice are sinners, but that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We believe, therefore, that those who by faith receive Christ as Lord and Saviour will rejoice forever in God’s presence, and those who do not receive Christ as Lord and Saviour will be forever separated from God.
- We believe in the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, His ascension into heaven, and His present life as our great High Priest and Advocate. We believe His resurrection was bodily and personal, His ascension was back to heaven and visible, and He is now engaged as the great High Priest for each believer.
- We believe that all who repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, are born again of the Holy Spirit, and thereby become children of God. We believe that His blood was shed for us on the cross. Jesus Christ is the only propitiation for sin. Without the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ there would be no forgiveness of sin.
- We believe that Heaven is the literal, eternal, conscious abode of the redeemed, and that Hell is the literal, eternal conscious abode of the unredeemed.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ appointed two ordinances—baptism and Lord’s Supper—to be observed as acts of obedience and as perpetual witnesses to the cardinal facts of the Christian faith. We believe in the church: a living spiritual body of which Christ is the Head and of which all regenerated people are members. We believe that the local church is a company of professing, born-again believers in Jesus Christ, immersed on a credible confession of faith, and associated for worship, work and fellowship. We believe that to local churches are committed for perpetual observance of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and that God has laid upon these churches the task of proclaiming to a lost world the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and the enthroning of Him as Lord and Master. We believe that human betterment and social improvements are the inevitable byproducts of such a gospel, but we do not believe that a social gospel will save.
- We believe that baptism is the immersion of the believer in water as a confession of identification with Christ in death, burial and resurrection, and that the Lord’s Supper is the partaking of bread and fruit of the vine as symbolical of the Saviour’s broken body and shed blood, in remembrance of His sacrificial death until He returns.
- We believe in the priesthood of all believers. We believe that the apostolic office ceased with the death of the apostles. We believe that it is His church that He promised continual existence, to continue the work He started until He comes again. We believe that the ministry of reconciliation is committed to every believer and all are saints and priests of God. The believer is therefore able to commune directly with God, confess his sins directly before God and personally study the Word of God without need of any other proxy or representative before God saving the Lord Jesus Christ.
- We believe that all believers are called to a life of holiness, devotion and service to the Lord. We believe that every human being is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith; that each church is independent and autonomous and must be free from any ecclesiastical or political authority; therefore, church and state must be kept separate as having different functions with each fulfilling its duties free from the dictation or patronage of the other. We believe that spiritual gifts are given to the church for the express purpose of winning the lost and edifying other believers. The Holy Spirit is given to each believer upon acceptance of Christ and His purpose is to exalt and bring people to Christ in other than self-gratifying ways. Speaking in tongues was the least important of these gifts and was given as a sign for unbelievers. Since the present day Charismatic movement does not follow these Scriptural principles and purposes, it therefore cannot be of God or the Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the sealing, security and preservation of true believers in Jesus Christ. We believe in the eternal security of all who are born again and that such inheritance is incorruptible and undefiled, and that each believer is kept by the power of God and nothing can separate us from Him, ourselves included. We believe that believers can lose the joy of fellowship with God, can grieve God and can quench the Spirit of God in them, but they cannot lose the salvation of God granted to them.
- We believe in the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ over all creation as the heir of all things and in His personal, visible return as predicted in the Scriptures. We believe in the bodily and visible return of Jesus Christ according to His promise. We believe in the general resurrection of the dead. We believe that unbelievers will face God and be judged by Him according to their works, not for salvation, but for their proper and rightful places in the lake of fire. We accept that there are several biblically-reasoned views of eschatology and that there should not be ungodly division in the church over this issue.
The local church is designed to be a genuine fellowship of God’s people participating together in faith and ministry. Such a fellowship is based on the sharing of biblical values. These values express the convictions and practices that have grown out of the church’s doctrine and theology. They put hands and feet to the church’s Confession of Faith.
Core Value 1: God-Centredness
God commands us to glorify Him in all we do. Furthermore, He requires us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (1 Corinthians 10:31; Mark 12:30).
Therefore we affirm that our lives in their entirety must be lived before God, under His authority, and for His glory alone. In the light of this, we will endeavour to be focused on honouring and pleasing God in our personal lives, our worship and all our cooperative activities (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
We deny that there is a place for man-centredness or for the promotion of our own popularity, carnal success or self-image (Jeremiah 45:5; Romans 2:29).
Core Value 2: Logic and Reason
God has created human beings as rational creatures in His own image (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 32:9).
Therefore we affirm the necessity of logic and reason as tools for the correct understanding of truth, which is not contradictory (Isaiah 5:20).
We deny that faith is illogical or irrational (Isaiah 1:18). We further deny that logic apart from revelation or reason apart from the Holy Spirit’s illumination is sufficient for knowing truth (1 Corinthians 2:6–16).
Core Value 3: Authority
God is the only being with intrinsic authority; consequently, all human authority is delegated by him (Romans 13:1; Matthew 28:18).
Therefore we affirm that God has established three spheres of human government, and that He alone defines what their various responsibilities are.
Family government is for the upbringing and education of children, as well as for the nurturing of orderly human relationships in honour, discipline and love. The family is the basic unit of society (Ephesians 5:22–6:4; Deuteronomy 6:4–9).
Church government is for the spiritual well-being and ministry of God’s people (1 Corinthians 12:12–27; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–15; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
Civil government is for the well-ordering and protection of society and includes the appropriate punishment of criminals (Romans 13:1–7).
We deny that any sphere of government is without accountability to God, and that any government may assume the responsibilities God has assigned to another sphere of authority. This means that, while there must be a separation of church and state, there is no separation of the state from God (Psalm 2; Revelation 11:15).
Core Value 4: Sanctity of Life
God the Creator has the sole right to give and take human life, which belongs to Him and is defined by Him alone (Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 42:5).
Therefore we affirm that life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is the taking of a human life (Psalm 51:5).
We deny that abortion is merely an issue of a woman’s right of choice over her own body (Psalm 139:13–16).
The Death Penalty
We further affirm the responsibility of civil government to execute the death penalty for premeditated murder, in order to demonstrate the sanctity of life and to deter such crime (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:4; Ecclesiastes 8:11).
We deny that the just execution of a murderer by the God-ordained authorities is itself murder, and that such criminals have a right to life (Numbers 35:30–34).
Core Value 5: Marriage and Sexuality
God created mankind male and female, and ordained marriage as a lifelong, monogamous union between a natural man and a natural woman (Genesis 2:18–25).
Marriage and Divorce
Therefore we affirm that husband and wife are no longer two but one and that God intends marriage to last as long as both partners are alive (Matthew 19:4–6). We affirm that there are certain circumstances in which Scripture permits divorce (Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:10–16); nevertheless, divorce always grieves the Lord and hurts those involved (Malachi 2:16).
We deny that marriage is merely a negotiated contract which may be terminated at will. We deny that divorce is permissible for any cause not permitted in Scripture.
Marriage and Sexual Purity
We further affirm that marriage is by nature heterosexual (Genesis 2:24), and that any expression of sexual intimacy is holy only in the covenant of marriage (Exodus 20:14; Hebrews 13:4).
We deny the legitimacy and permissibility of homosexuality, lesbianism, fornication, adultery, pornography, paedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, incest and other forms of sexual perversion (Romans 1:24–27).
Core Value 6: Discipline
God is a God of order and justice, who disciplines those He loves for their good (1 Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 12:5–11).
Therefore we affirm the duty of churches to discipline their unrepentant members, excommunication being the final means of grace for their reconciliation (Matthew 18:15–17). We further affirm the responsibility of parents to discipline their children in the spirit of loving correction. This discipline may include corporal punishment (Proverbs 22:15).
We deny that all such discipline in the church and the home is unloving or harmful to its recipients when done according to the rules of Scripture and in the spirit of Christ (Leviticus 19:17; Proverbs 13:24).
Core Value 7: Gender Roles
God our Creator has established a difference in the creation and roles of men and women, which we are not at liberty to change (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9).
Therefore we affirm the male headship of responsibility in the home and in the church, to be exercised in the spirit of Christlike, sacrificial servanthood (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Timothy 3:1–5).
We deny that women are inferior to men in value (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 11:11–12), and we deny that women may serve in leadership roles as pastors or elders (1 Timothy 2:11–14).
Core Value 8: Vocation
God calls each of His people to serve Him in various ways in this world (1 Corinthians 7:20–24; Colossians 3:22–25).
Therefore we affirm the sanctity of labour and the validity of all vocations which are not contrary to the righteous requirements of Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6–10).
We deny that work and business are outside the realm of Christian living, and we deny that they may be performed as something other than service to Christ (Ephesians 6:5–9).
Core Value 9: Racial Harmony
God has created all mankind in His own image; all people are of one blood, having descended from Adam (Genesis 5:1–3; Acts 17:26–28). Furthermore, God in Christ has broken down every wall that sin has made to separate us, creating one new humanity in Christ (Ephesians 2:13–18).
Therefore we affirm the dignity and human brotherhood of all mankind in addition to the unity of all believers in Christ regardless of race, colour or ethnicity (Colossians 3:11). We will therefore take steps personally and corporately to encourage racial and cultural harmony, expressing this visibly in our communities and churches.
We deny that there is any basis in reason or in the Bible for racial discrimination by any person against other people (Revelation 7:9).
Core Value 10: Creation
God is the sovereign Creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1–2:3; Hebrews 11:3).
Therefore we affirm that the account of creation in Genesis is a record of historical events, that God created everything out of nothing, after its own kind, in six 24-hour days, and that man was specially created in the image of God.
We deny the philosophy of evolutionism in all its various expressions.
Core Value 11: Animals and the Environment
God has given mankind dominion over that part of His creation which is not made in His image and needs to be subdued, especially since the Fall and God’s subsequent curse (Genesis 1:26–28; 3:17–19).
Therefore we affirm the stewardship of human beings to use animals and the environment for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity within the guidelines of biblical principles of ecology. We also affirm God’s ownership of all land and mankind’s responsibility to use it for His glory, considering the needs of fellow human beings and future generations (Genesis 9:1–17; Psalm 24:1).
We deny that animals have rights or value equal to that of human beings. We also deny that the environment is without corruption, is self-determining, or shares in the nature of God in any way (Romans 8:20).
Core Value 12: Pluralism
The only true and living God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who has revealed Himself in holy Scripture (Isaiah 43:10–11; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:20).
Therefore we affirm that He alone is to be worshipped and obeyed in all of life, and that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour for sinners (Exodus 20:3; 1 Timothy 2:5).
We deny that any other religion or creed is valid and should be considered a respectable equal to biblical Christianity (1 Kings 18:21; Acts 5:29).
Core Value 13: Freedom of Religion
God has ordained civil government for the ordering of society in order to ensure the peaceful co-existence of all citizens irrespective of race or creed (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Timothy 2:1–4).
Therefore we affirm the responsibility of government to ensure that citizens are free to practise and propagate religion according to their consciences.
We deny that civil government has the right to prescribe or forbid any religion—be that religion Christianity, pluralism, secularism, or any other.
Core Value 14: Evangelism
God has ordained evangelism—the proclamation and teaching of the biblical message about Christ and Him crucified—as the primary human activity through which He will call His elect people to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:17–25).
Therefore we affirm that, in this regard, our core activity is to unite efforts in God-centred evangelism and missions, through which Bible-believing churches will be established throughout and beyond (Matthew 28:18–20).
We deny that evangelism is an activity aimed at entertaining the lost and meeting their felt social needs (1 Corinthians 2:1–5).
Core Value 15: Sufficiency of Scripture
God has revealed all that is necessary for life and godliness in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Therefore we affirm the complete sufficiency of the Scripture for faith and obedience in all areas of life (2 Peter 1:3; Matthew 4:4). We also affirm the completion of God’s revelation in the sixty-six books of the Bible (Jude 3).
We deny that any further revelation is being given today through so-called prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20), or through any revelatory gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8–13; Hebrews 2:3–4). We further deny that human traditions or conventions should be followed without continual evaluation in the light of Scripture, since such things have no intrinsic authority (Matthew 15:1–9; Colossians 2:20–23).
Core Value 16: Expository Preaching
God has ordained preaching as the primary means by which His people are brought to faith and sanctified (Romans 10:17; Ezekiel 37:4–6; John 17:17; James 1:18–25).
Therefore we affirm the centrality of expository preaching since this best reflects the mind of God and most edifies His people. We place a high premium on a Christ-centred exposition of the Scriptures (Psalm 1; Luke 24:27).
We deny that things such as films, drama and musical programmes, while having a place in life in general, should take the place of the preaching of the word in corporate worship (2 Timothy 4:1–4).
Core Value 17: Genuine Christianity
A true Christian is a person whose nature has been transformed by the Holy Spirit from a God-resisting orientation to a God-seeking orientation (1 John 5:18–20).
Therefore we affirm that all true Christians display certain marks of regeneration; namely: ongoing and continual dependence on Christ alone (1 John 5:10–12); habitual obedience to His commands and habitual rejection of evil (1 John 2:3; 3:7–10); sacrificial love for God and fellow believers (1 John 3:10, 17; 4:7–21); the ability to overcome the ungodly pressures of a society antagonistic to its Maker (i.e. the “world”) (1 John 5:4); perseverance in faith and obedience to the end of life (1 John 2:19; Matthew 24:13; Hebrews 3:14).
We deny that a person who makes a mere outward profession of Christianity without displaying the above marks is a genuine Christian.
Core Value 18: Personal Devotion to God
God is a living God who dwells among His people in covenant relationship (Ephesians 2:22; Hebrews 8:8–12).
Therefore we affirm the individual believer’s personal walk with God in all of life, enjoying communion with Him in a vital relationship, which includes commitment to a local church (Micah 6:8; 1 John 1:3; Philippians 2:1).
We deny that mere intellectual adherence to an orthodox creed or confession apart from a regenerated heart issuing in good works is truly Christian (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 23:25–28).
Core Value 19: Good Works and Social Concern
God has created His people in Christ for good works, which are to be done in obedience to His commandments as the fruit and evidence of a true and lively faith, for the glory of God (Ephesians 2:8–10).
Therefore we affirm the importance of engaging in good works such as helping orphans, looking after widows, caring for the poor and speaking for the dumb (unborn children) (James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:3–16; Isaiah 58:6–7; Proverbs 31:8–9).
We deny that good works are the ground or basis (rather than the evidence) of our salvation (Romans 11:5; Galatians 3:10–14).
Core Value 20: Autonomy and Interdependency
God has instituted the local church as a self-governing body through which His people will be evangelised, edified and engaged in good works for His glory. He has also revealed in His Word that a local church may cooperate with other local churches (Matthew 18:15–20; 2 Corinthians 8:16–21).
Therefore we affirm the principle of local church autonomy, as well as that of the interdependency of local churches. We also affirm that local churches may cooperate with each other in order to unite their efforts and resources around common projects.
We deny the need to form an institution with officers bearing instruments of power that would undermine or even replace the autonomy of any local church. We also deny that any local church should ignore its relationships with other local churches; in particular, no church should receive members from another local church without regard for disciplinary measures taken by that church.
Core Value 21: The Unity of the Church
God’s Word teaches the essential unity of God’s people based upon union with Christ, truth and righteousness (Ephesians 4:3–6; 1 Corinthians 12:12–27).
Therefore we affirm a biblically and doctrinally based cooperation among true churches of Jesus Christ for the purpose of reaching the whole world with the gospel of Christ (John 17:20–23).
We deny that there is any biblical basis for an ecumenism that calls for an organisational unification of the Protestant churches of the world (and ultimately of all professing Christians), which disregards the essential and fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the virgin birth, the atoning work of Christ, regeneration, conversion, justification by faith alone and sanctification (Amos 3:3).
Core Value 22: Liberty of Conscience
God in Christ has purchased the liberty of believers, freeing them from the guilt of sin, God’s wrath, unbiblical traditions and regulations of men, Satan and the fear of death (Galatians 5:1; Colossians 2:8–23; Hebrews 2:14–15).
Therefore we affirm that believers are bound in their consciences only to God and His Word, not to the impositions of men and of Satan (Romans 14:1–15:4). We further affirm that Christian liberty is nothing but freedom to serve God within the boundaries that God Himself has set (Romans 6:8-22).
We deny that Christian liberty gives licence to sin of any kind (Romans 6:1–7). We further deny that any church or its leaders have a right to expect obedience from members when they teach things that are contrary or additional to God’s word (Matthew 15:1–9; Colossians 2:20–23).
Core Value 23: Hyper-Orthodoxy
Our Lord has warned His church against straining out gnats while swallowing camels (Matthew 23:24).
Therefore we affirm that in essentials there must be unity, in nonessentials liberty and in all things charity (Titus 1:9–11; 1 Corinthians 8:1–13; Colossians 3:12–15).
We deny that our understanding of infallible truth is itself infallible or that all matters are equally important. Therefore, we deny that all matters require contention and division among those who differ (Matthew 23:23).
For the purpose of fellowship at Brackenhurst Baptist Church, we consider non-essentials to be those matters which are outside of our Confession of Faith and Core Values.