Preamble Keeping in mind Paul’s admonition to “let all things be done decently and in order.” (I Corinthians 14:40), we the members of the West Milford Baptist Church do adopt and accept and abide by the following articles and declare them to be the Constitution and by-laws of this local church. This constitution is composed with the prayer that we like Timothy, might know how to conduct ourselves “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth” (I Timothy 3:15). Article III. Articles of Faith The Articles of Faith as herein stated, we believe, express the doctrinal position of the Baptist Churches historically and shall constitute the rule of faith for this local church. A. Of the Scriptures We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible, and God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine revelation of God to Man. The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning. The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the church. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21) B. Of the True God We believe there is one and only one living and true God, and infinite Spirit, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy all possible honor, confidence and love, that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption (Exodus 20:2-3; I Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11). C. Person and Work of Christ 1. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful men (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-2, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-8). 2. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption throu His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice, and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:18-36; Romans 3:24-25; I Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:3-5). 3. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate (Acts 1:9-10; Hebrews 9:24; 7:25; Romans 8:34; I John 2:1-2). D. Of the Holy Spirit 1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person equal with God the Father and God the Son and of the same nature; that He was active in the creation; that in His relation to the unbelieving world, He restrains the evil one until God’s purpose is fulfilled; that He convicts of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; that He bears witness to the truth of the gospel in preaching and testimony; that He is the agent of the New Birth; and that He indwells, seals, endues, guides, teaches, witnesses, sanctifies, and helps the believer (John 14:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Hebrews 9:4; John 14:26; Luke 1:35; Genesis 1:1-3; John 16:8-11; Acts 5:30-32; John 3:5-6; Ephesians 1:13-14; Mark 1:8; John 1:33; Acts 11:16; Luke 24:49; Romans 8:14, 16, 26-27). 2. We believe that the sign of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gift of healing were temporary. We believe that speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that ultimate deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our answer the prayers of believers for physical healing. (I Corinthians 1:2; 13:8; 14:21-22) E. Of the Devil, or Satan We believe that Satan is a person, the author of sin, the unholy god of this age. That he is the open and declared enemy of God and man; and that he shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire (Job 1:6,7; Isaiah 14:12-17; Matthew 4:2-11, 25:41; Revelation 20:10). F. Of Creation We accept the Genesis account of creation and believe that God created the universe in six literal, 24 hour periods. We believe that man came by direct creation of God and reject evolution, the Gap Theory, or any other unscriptural theories of origin. (Genesis 1:2; Exodus 20:11) G. Of the Fall of Man We believe that man was created in innocence and in the image and likeness of God, but by voluntary transgression fell from his sinless and happy state and became alienated from God in consequence of utterly unable to remedy his lost condition. Therefore, under condemnation without defense or excuse. (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:10-19; Romans 1:18, 32). H. Of the Virgin Birth We believe that Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost in a miraculous manner, born of Mary, a Virgin, as no other man ever born, or can ever be born of waman, and that He is both the Son of God and God the Son (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:35; John 1:4). I. Of the Atonement for Sin We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace, through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon Him our nature, yet without sin, honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and by his death made a full and vicarious atonement for our sins, that His atonement consisted not in setting as an example by His death as a martyr, but was a voluntary substitution of Himself in the sinner’s place, the Just dying for the unjust. Christ, the Lord bearing our sin in His own body on the tree; that having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in Heaven, and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfection, He is in every way qualified to be a substitute, a compassionate and an all-sufficient Savior. (Ephesians 2:8; Acts 15:11; Romans 3:24; John 3:16; Matthew 18:11 Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:14; Isaiah 53:4-7; Romans 3:25; I John 4:10; I Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). J. Of Grace In the New Creation We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be born again; that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; that it is instantaneous and not a process; that in the new birth the one dead in trespasses and in sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God, and that the new creation is brought about in a manner above our comprehension, solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; that is proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life. (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; I John 5:1; 3:6-7; Acts 16:30-33; 2 Peter 1:4; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 2:13; John 3:8). K. Of Justification We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in Him is Justification. 1. That Justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life, on principles of righteousness. 2. That it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood, His righteousness is imputed to us. (Acts 13:39; Isaiah 53:11; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 8:1; Romans 5:9-11). L. Of Faith and Salvation We believe that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only condition of salvation. It is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in Him. Whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. (Acts 16:31; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10; I Peter 1:18-19) M. Of the Local Church We believe that the local church is a congregation of immersed believers associated by covenant of faith and fellowship of the Gospel, observing the ordinances of Christ governed by His laws and exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His Word; that its officers are pastors, and deacons, whose qualifications, claims and duties are clearly defined in Scriptures. We believe the true Mission of the church is the faithful witnessing of Christ to all men as we have opportunity. We hold that the local church has absolute right of self-government free from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations; and that the one and only superintendent is Christ through the Holy Spirit; that it is scriptural for the churches to cooperate with each other in contending for the faith and for the furtherance of the Gospel; that each local church is the sole judge of the measure and method of its co-operation; on all matters of membership, of policy, of government, of discipline, of benevolence, the will of the local church is final. (Acts 2:41-42; I Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23; Acts 20:17-18; I Timothy 3:1-7; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23-24; Acts 15:13-18) N. Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life, that it is pre-requisite to the privileges of a church relation. We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration of His death until He come and should be preceded always by solemn self-examination. (Acts 8:26-39; John 3:23; Romans 6:3-5; Matthew 3:16; Colossians 2:12; I Corinthians 11:23-38) O. Of the Security of the Saints We believe that all that are truly born again are kept by God the Father for Jesus Christ. They are secure forever, and cannot lose their salvation. We believe it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through testimony of God’s Word which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh. (Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11-15; John 6:37-40, 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 35-39; I Corinthians 1:4-8; I Peter 1:4-5; Philippians 1:6; Jude 1). P. Of the Righteous and the Wicked We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked, that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem, while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death; in the everlasting felicity of the saved and everlasting conscious suffering of the lost. (Matthew 3:18; Genesis 18:23; Romans 6:17-18; I John 5:19; Romans 7:6; Romans 6:23; Proverbs 14:32; Luke 6:25; Matthew 25:34-41; John 8:21). Q. Of Civil Government We believe that God has ordained and created all authority consisting of three basic institutions: 1) the home. 2) the church. 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. (Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 5:22-24; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 2:13-14) R. Of the Resurrection, Personal, Visible, Premillennial Return of Christ, and Related Events 1. We believe in the Bodily Resurrection (Matthew 28:6-7; Luke 24:39; John 20:27; I Corinthians 15:4; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:2-6). 2. The Ascension (Acts 1:9-11; Luke 24:51; Mark 16:19; Revelation 3:21; Hebrews 12:2). 3. The High Priesthood (Hebrews 8:6; I Timothy 2:5; I John 2:1; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrew 5:9-10). 4. The Second Coming (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; I Thessalonians 4:16; James 5:8; Hebrews 9:28). 5. The Resurrection of the Righteous Dead (I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:42, 44; I Corinthians 15:52). 6. The Change of the Living in Christ (I Corinthians 15:51-53; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20-21). 7. The Throne of David (Luke 1:32; Isaiah 9:6-7; Acts 2:29-30). 8. The Millennial Reign (I Corinthians 15:25; Isiah 32:1; Isaiah 11:4-5; Psalm 72:8; Revelation 20:6). S. Of Separation We believe that the saved are called into a life of separation from religious apostasy, and from all worldly and sinful pleasures, practices and associations which would bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord. (Romans 16:17; I Peter 2:11; I Thessalonians 5:22; I Corinthians 6:19-20; II Corinthians 6:14-17). T. Of Movements Contrary to Biblical Faith We believe that Ecumenism, Ecumenical Evangelism, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism (Neo Evangelism, New Conservatism) Liberalism; and the Charismatic Movement; are out of harmony with the Word of God and the official position of the West Milford Baptist Church. (Jude 3-4; I Timothy 4:1; I John 4:1-2; 2 John 9-11). U. Human Sexuality 1. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a 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. Any employee of the church becoming pregnant or causing pregnancy as a result of consensual intercourse outside of the marriage relationship shall be terminated from employment. (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 19:5, 13; Genesis 26:8-9; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1, 6-9; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4). 2. We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2; I Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 5:22-23). 3. 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. (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:18; I Timothy 2:8-15; 3:4-5, 12) V. Divorce and Remarriage We believe that God hates 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 pastor or deacon. Malachi 2:14-18; Matthew 19:3-12; Romans 7:1-3; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6) W. Abortion 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 of pregnancies due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the mental well-being of the mother are acceptable. (Job 3:16; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 139:14-16; Isaiah 44:24; 49:1, 5; Jeremiah 1:5; 20:15-18; Luke 1:44) X. Missions 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. The church will practice faith promise giving to support our missionaries. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20) Y. Lawsuits Between Believers We believe that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against another Christian 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 as the claim is pursued without malice or slander. (I Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:31-32) Z. Giving We believe that every Christian as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him is obligated to support his local church financially. We believe that God has established the tithe as the basis for giving, but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the support of the church, the relief of those in need, and the spread of the Gospel. We believe that a Christian relinquishes all rights to direct the use of the tithe or offering once the gift has been made. (Genesis 14:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; I Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; I Timothy 5:17-18; I John 3:17) AA. Music We believe that music in the church is for promoting worship of God and not for our entertainment. Our music must remain conservative, Christ honoring and free from any worldly style and influence. We totally reject rock-and-roll and country-western music in any of our ministries. We also reject the modern CCM movement which blends worldly music with Godly words and calls it Christian music. (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:11; Philippians 4:8; Leviticus 10:10; Ezekiel 22:26) Article IV – Covenant Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this Church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to give it a sacred pre-eminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the Church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations. We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions, to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances. We engage too, by the grace and power of God, to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling and backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from worldly amusements such as movie attendance, gambling, rock and country music, dancing; to be free from all oath bound secret societies and partnerships with unbelievers; to abstain from the sale and use of tobacco in any form, narcotic drugs, or intoxicating drink as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to promote the cause of Christ. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer, to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech, to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior and secure it without delay. We moreover engage that, when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other Church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant, and the principles of the Word of God.