Freedom Bible Fellowship
Rev. Date – 1-25-09
We the members of the Freedom Bible Fellowship do ordain and establish the following Articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
Article I – Name
The name of this local church shall be Freedom Bible Fellowship.
By this name we affirm that in Christ we are free from sin, free from self, and free to serve (John 8:36). Freedom from sin means freedom from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (sanctification), and the presence of sin (glorification). Freedom from self means freedom from our sinful self, coupled with a commitment to use our redeemed self for the glory of Christ. Freedom to serve means freedom to do all that Christ commands.
By this name we affirm that the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice (Matthew 4:4; II Timothy 3:16).
By this name we affirm that our fellowship in Christ is with one another, with His Father, and with the doctrine of His apostles (I John 1:3-7). This fellowship is realized in our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our willingness to follow Him at all costs (Philippians 1:3-6; 3:7-11).
Article II – Purpose
Our purpose is to worship God in spirit and in truth according to the requirements in His Word, and to make disciples by faithfully preaching and living His Word where we live. It is our vision to be used of God in this way to edify believers and make new converts, beginning in our own communities, and reaching as far as God will enable us (Philippians 3:3; I Peter 2:4-5; Matthew 28:18 20; John 4:23-24; Colossians 1:25-29).
Article III – Statement of Faith
The Bible is the inspired Word of God (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21)
Inspiration – The original manuscripts were breathed by God, communicated to men whom He chose for that purpose, and faithfully recorded by them without error in every word (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21).
Preservation – God has preserved His Word in the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. Through the processes of human copying and translating, we have reliable, preserved copies of His original Word. He works through His Word wherever He has preserved it (Isaiah 55:11). We are responsible to rely on the best available copies taken from the original languages and translated into the most common tongue of our culture (Acts 2:9-12).
Authority – The inspired and preserved Word of God is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice regarding His will revealed in them (Luke 4:4; Acts 20:27). We do not add to or subtract from the Bible (Revelation 22:18, 19). We submit to the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit teaches us through a proper interpretation of them, which consists of discerning their original meaning through the use of normal grammatical, historical, and literary analysis; which in turn is applied to our particular circumstances (John 16:13; Nehemiah. 8:8). We do not judge the Scriptures, rather we are judged by them (James 2:12).
There is one true God, Creator of all (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 61:1). He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Acts 3:13). He exists in three persons – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18-21; John 1:3; 10:31; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:5-6). These three are separate and eternal persons with different functions, and are equally One God (John 10:30; 15:26; Mark 3:29). The Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is eternally God and in subjection to His Father (John 8:29,58). Jesus was born of Mary while she was a virgin (Luke 1:34-35), lived a sinless life (Hebrews 2:2), died a sinless death in the place of sinners (Hebrews 7:26-27; I John 2:2), and was buried and rose with a glorified physical body three days later (Luke 24:39,46). The Holy Spirit is eternally God and proceeds from the Father and the Son in subjection to their will (John 15:26; Hebrews 9:14).
God is omnipresent – in all time and places at the same time (Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3). He is omniscient – He knows everything and nothing is hidden from Him (Psalm 147:5; Hebrews 4:13). He is omnipotent – He can do anything except be tempted with evil, or lie, which would be contrary to His nature (Matthew 17:20; Titus 1:2; James 1:13). He alone is holy – separate from His creation, and Himself uncreated; and separate from sin and sinners (Habakkuk 1:13; Hebrews 7:26; Revelation 15:4). He is eternal, without beginning and without end (Psalm 90:2; Revelation 1:11). He is sovereign over all, including the affairs of men (Daniel 4:17). He controls everyone and everything for His own good and wise purposes, causing all good, and controlling all evil without being the author of sin (Ephesians 1:11). He has decreed everything that comes to pass, and nothing can come to pass that He has not decreed (Isaiah 46:8-11).
The angels are innumerable and were created by God in various kinds and orders (Hebrews 12:22; Colossians 1:16). They were created holy, but with the ability to willfully leave their original condition (Jude 1:6). Many of the angels followed Lucifer in his pride, leaving their first condition (Revelation 12:4). The angels inhabit God’s creation (Genesis 28:12). The holy angels serve the needs of God’s elect, performing all His bidding (Hebrews 1:14). The unholy angels are controlled by God, and can only proceed by His permission, reserved under His control for the Day of Judgment in the Lake of Fire prepared for them and Satan (Job 1:11; Matthew 25:41; II Peter 2:4).
God made man holy, in His own image – male and female. He breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, thus conferring upon them an everlasting soul, unlike animals whose souls come from and return to the earth (Genesis 1-3; Ecclesiastes 3:21). As a physical and spiritual being, man is personally accountable to God (Romans 14:12). God chose Adam as man’s representative to show what we would do with our free will under the best of conditions (I Corinthians 15:22). By his own free will, Adam sinned (I Timothy 2:14). In Adam we are all spiritually dead, lacking the moral ability to please God (Romans 5:12; 8:7; I Corinthians 15:22). Man’s free will is like God’s in that it is bound by our nature (Jeremiah 13:23). God’s nature is only holy, therefore He can only do what is holy (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Revelation 15:4); whereas man’s nature is only unholy, therefore in our fallen condition we can only do what is unholy (Isaiah 53:6). All of man’s natural works outside of Christ are sinful (Isaiah 64:6). This condition is called total depravity.
All whom God has chosen out of every nation will be saved by His grace (John 6:37; Ephesians 1:4; I Peter 1:2). Once in Christ by repentance and faith, they will be preserved by Christ and will persevere to the end (John 5:24; Colossians 1:23). Their salvation cannot be forfeited by any means (Romans 8:1; John 10:27-30).
God commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30). God’s law in man’s conscience and the witness of God’s creation render every unbeliever inexcusable for his unbelief (Romans 1:20; 2:14-16). All who refuse to repent will be justifiably condemned by God (John 3:18; 5:40; Revelation 20:11-14).
Election (Foreknowledge and Predestination) – In His omniscience God foreknew that all mankind would seek their own ways, and not Him (Psalm 53:2, 3; Isaiah 64:7). In grace He chose to not leave us to ourselves, for had He made His choices based on our choices, He would surely have damned us all (Romans 3:19-20). Instead He chose a people for Himself before the world began (Ephesians 1:4). These people are an innumerable group of believers called the “elect” from every tongue, tribe, and nation on earth (Mark 13:27; Revelation 7:9). In Christ, they have been predestined to be saved (Ephesians 1:3-6; I Peter 1:2). Nothing can keep them from being saved (John 6:37a). God alone knows who the elect are, and this by no means negates the responsibility of all men to respond by repentance and faith to the truth that He makes known through conscience, creation, and the proclamation of His Word (John 10:14; Acts 17:30; Romans 1-2). Humans who die in the womb, at birth, or never attain a consciousness of God are covered by the righteous judgment of God who says of Himself – “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25; Jonah 4:11).
Regeneration (Repentance and Faith) – As the gospel is proclaimed through the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:17; I Peter 1:23), the Holy Spirit acts unilaterally upon the hearts of men, giving life to all of God’s elect (John 6:63-65; Matthew 11:27; John 10:27-30; I Thessalonians 1:5; I Peter 3:18). He graciously and certainly draws each one of them to repentance for their sin, and to faith in the finished work of Jesus as their only hope of salvation (John 6:64; Acts 20:21). Repentance is the gracious work of God whereby we are brought to turn from our sin as defined by God’s law, to God the Father whom we have offended and whose law we have broken (II Corinthians 7:10; I Thessalonians 1:9). Faith is the work of God whereby we are brought to understand and believe that Jesus alone is the only substitute who can fulfill all of His Father’s requirements on our behalf (Philippians 3:9). All Biblical repentance and faith will produce the fruit of the Spirit to some degree in the life of each believer (Luke 8:8; John 15:2; Galatians 5:22-23).
Justification (The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) – Upon repentance toward God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner is declared just before God (Romans 5:1). This is a once-for-all judicial act whereby God declares the sinner “not-guilty” on the behalf of Jesus Christ and His gracious work (Romans 5:9; 8:1). By means of His perfect life, and perfect death, Jesus fulfilled all that was necessary to pay for the sins of His people, and provide a salvation sufficient to the purposes of God in the general offer of the gospel (Matthew 1:21; Mark 16:15; Hebrews 10:12; I Timothy 4:10). By His resurrection He sealed and guaranteed the purposes of His Father for all whom the Father has chosen (Acts 13:33-34; Hebrews 7:15, 16). Nothing can ever be laid to the charge of God’s elect, for since it is God who has declared them justified, who can lay anything to their charge (Romans 8:33)?
Sanctification (The work of the Holy Spirit) – Upon justification God sends His Holy Spirit to indwell us (Ephesians 1:13, 14) and begin the life-long process of actually implementing the character of Christ in us (I Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:10-11,29). It is a constant remodeling process that is not complete until we reach eternity (Philippians 1:6). Those who are being sanctified will not become sinless in this life, but they will sin less as the Holy Spirit brings them along in their personal growth toward the image of Christ (Ephesians 3:16; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Peter 3:18; I John 1:8).
Glorification – Our salvation will be complete when we are glorified at the return of Christ. By means of glorification we will completely shed our mortal bodies and take on a glorified body like Christ’s. We will be made like Him, sinless and equipped to live with Him forever, worshipping and serving the rest of eternity in perfection (Romans 8:30; I Corinthians 15:42-44, 53-54; I John 3:2).
The local church is Christ’s primary institution for building His kingdom in this world (Matthew 16:18). The Church exists as a universal body and many local bodies (Ephesians 1:22-23; I Corinthians 12:27). Its universal structure is formed by its Head (Christ), and all members in particular, none being more important than any other (I Corinthians 12:13-27). The members of the universal church are known only to God (invisible to us), and cross all boundaries wherever the election of God crosses (II Timothy 2:19). Though separated by time and culture, all members of the universal church experience mystical yet real union in our head the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:30). The Chief Architect of the Church, Jesus Christ, is her Cornerstone, and has built it upon the Prophets and the Apostles, with each member (Old Covenant and New Covenant) being living stones upon that foundation (Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:5). The local manifestations of the Church are visible reflections of the universal (invisible) Church. Each local assembly is formed by its Head (Christ), and each member takes a visible role in particular, none being more important than any other though serving different functions. The one great difference between the Universal Church and the Local Church is that the Local Church is not pure like the Universal Church is. The Local Church is a mix of true believers (wheat) and unbelievers (tares) (Matthew 13:30). The true believers in the Local Church have Christ as their cornerstone, and are built upon the Prophets and the Apostles. They cross all boundaries and are held together in the common bond of Christ. As a visible assembly, the Local Church is served by leaders whom Christ gives to each one of His churches. Christ gives these gifted leaders to the church in the form of elders for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the building up of His body (Titus 1:5; Ephesians 4:11-12). Members of the local church serve under the authority of Christ as they are equipped by their leaders to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:17). The members and leaders work together to carry out the will of Christ in His Kingdom, making the best use of spiritual resources (Elders responsibility), and physical resources (Deacons/Deaconesses responsibility). Deacons and deaconesses are given by appointment of the elders (Acts 6:3; Romans 16:1). Each person in the church (leaders and members) should come to know and use their spiritual gift for this age, which does not include the sign-gifts of the apostles – healings, tongues, prophesies, and miracles (Romans 12:1-8; II Corinthians 12:12). The tasks of the members and leaders of the Local Church are to worship God by means of the elements prescribed in the New Testament (preaching, teaching, praying, singing, giving, fellowshipping, communion, and baptism), thereby equipping themselves for the work of ministry – making disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all of the commands of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). As the pillar and ground of the truth, the local church has the responsibility to encourage righteousness in the other two institutions of Christ – the family and the government (I Timothy 3:14-15; Ephesians 5-6; Romans 13:1-7).
Each believer is expected to be involved in the world around them, seeking to impact their world for Christ (Matthew 5:13-16; II Corinthians 5:20). We are to work faithfully for Christ in whatever legitimate calling we fill from conversion forward (I Corinthians 7:20-24; I Thessalonians 4:11). In our relationship to the world we are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:6-19; I Corinthians 5:9, 11; I John 2:15-16). We are expected by Christ to access His presence and power in our lives to overcome the world rather then being overcome by the world (I John 4:4; Romans 12:2; II Peter 1:3). Living by Christ’s grace and commandments will impact our marriages, our families, our work, our finances, our citizenship, and our decisions in matters of conscience.
Marriage and Divorce – Marriage is a life-long covenant of companionship between one man and one woman, made before God and witnesses (Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:4-6). Marriage is for all humanity, but Christians may only marry other Christians (I Corinthians 7:39; II Corinthians 6:14). The man and woman in marriage have equal dignity and value before God, but are called by Him to fulfill different roles which are reflective of the relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but due to the hardness of the human heart, He has made provision for it in a way that protects the innocent parties (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 19:8). Marital infidelity breaks the marriage covenant and warrants divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9). Marital desertion of a believing partner by an unbelieving partner breaks the marriage covenant and warrants divorce (I Corinthians 7:15). Reconciliation, especially among professing believers must always be sought, but where it cannot be accomplished, Scripture has clearly described the path of sin and righteousness for the parties involved. Divorce for any other reason other than the exceptions of infidelity or the unbeliever’s desertion of a believer, causes the parties involved to commit adultery upon re-marriage. The victim of irreconcilable adultery or of an unbeliever’s abandonment, may re-marry without committing sin (Matthew 19:8-9; I Corinthians 7:15).
Family – God’s law governs our relationships within our families (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21). Children are gifts from God and He expects parents to raise their children to fear and serve Him (Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 6; Ephesians 6:1-4). Parents are assigned by God as temporary authorities over their children, and it is the task of parents to follow His pattern for raising their children (Deuteronomy 5:29; 6:6-7; Hebrews 12:9-11; Matthew 5:48).
Work and Finances – The fourth and eighth commandments require us to work diligently in order to provide for our needs and the needs of those under our care (Exodus 20:9,15; Ephesians 4:28; II Thessalonians 3:10; I Tim. 5:8). Diligent work and wise investments in the diligent work of others, are designed by God as the proper means to make profit (Proverbs 14:23; Luke 16:8). Avoiding debt beyond one’s means to pay, proper spending habits, and saving habits should be practiced around the priorities of giving a proportionate amount of our profits back to God, properly caring for the needs of our own families, giving to the needs of fellow-believers, and finally caring for the needs of all men as we are able (Proverbs 22:7; I Corinthians 16:2; II Corinthians 9:6-7; I Timothy 5:8; James 2:16; Galatians 6:10). God is the provider of all wealth and riches (Proverbs 10:22; Ecclesiastes 5:19; Jeremiah 27:5).
Citizenship – The government is to be recognized as an institution of God through which He works to further His Kingdom in this world (Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 2:20-21; 4:17,35). We are responsible to be in prayerful submission to government leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2; Luke 20:25; Romans 13:1-7). When government leaders require us to disobey God, we must obey God rather than men, but continue with a submissive attitude towards them (Acts 5:17-42), rendering all that is due them.
Decisions in Matters of Conscience – Jesus died to free us from sin, from ourselves, and from the fear of man (Colossians 2:11-23). In matters of conscience (where God has not spoken regarding sin and righteousness), we are bound to submit our beliefs and behaviors to God and God alone (Romans 14:4-12). The exercise of our liberty in such matters must always be subject to the priorities of Christ, which are: (1) Keeping an undefiled conscience before Him (Acts 23:1); (2) Building up my fellow-believers (Romans 14:19); (3) Making the most of every opportunity to evangelize the unconverted (I Corinthians 9:19-23). The general practice prescribed by Scripture is for all believers (weak and strong of conscience) to live according to their conscience before Christ without judging or despising each other (Romans 14:1-12). Special care must be taken in the case of a weaker brother who is so weak that he is said to “stumble” by doing what his conscience forbids him to do, simply because his stronger brother does it (I Corinthians 8:10-13; Rom. 14:23). In this case, the strong of conscience are required to curtail their freedom until their stumbling brother can be edified by re-submitting his conscience to Christ alone, rather than to the authority and practice of his stronger brethren (I Corinthians 8:13). Note – the offense in this passage is the violation of the stumbling brother’s conscience by the stumbling brother himself. The offense is not the freedom of the strong causing a dislike in the attitude of the weak. The weak are admonished elsewhere to not take up an offense against the strong in the exercise of their freedom, and the strong are admonished to not despise the weak for their abstinence in such matters (Romans 14:3). Special care must also be taken in the case of a weak brother who takes it upon himself to judge others while attempting to impose his restrictions on others as a matter of spirituality. All such legalistic impositions are to be resisted through the continued exercise of one’s freedom (Mark 3:1-6; Galatians 2:1-5,11-16). Scripture requires the restraint of liberty in the case of the stumbling brother, and the practice of liberty in the case of the legalistic brother. In all other cases, we are to simply manage our liberty (engaging or refraining) so as to accomplish the priorities of Christ (I Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:25-27).
Jesus Christ began His eternal reign as King and Lord over all at the time of His ascension to His Father (I Peter 3:22). He is currently ruling and reigning over all things according to His own purposes (Ephesians 1:11), and will continue to do so until He destroys His last enemy (death) at His return and the resurrection of the righteous (Romans 8:21-23; I Corinthians 15:23-28). He will return physically to this earth at a time in the future known only to God, bringing with Him the spirits of the redeemed who have died (Acts 1:11; Matthew 24:36; I Thessalonians 4:14). Believers who are alive at His coming will be caught up to meet Him in the air and will forever be with Him (I Thessalonians 4:17). He will raise the dead, and personally judge all men (Acts 17:31; Romans 2:6-11; II Corinthians 5:10-11). His judgment will result in eternal punishment for all who reject His saving grace, and eternal joy and blessing for all of His redeemed people who will live forever in the new heavens and the new earth where only righteousness will dwell (Matthew 25:31-46; II Thessalonians 1:3-10; II Pet. 3:13). As we eagerly anticipate the day of His return, we are to occupy ourselves by doing His will as revealed to us in the Bible (Luke 19:13; II Peter 3:10-18).
Article IV – Membership
Section 1- Requirements for Membership
Any person shall be eligible for membership in this church, who:
- professes repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37 42; 5:14; 20:21)
- manifests a life transformed by Christ’s power (I Corinthians 1:1-2; 6:11; II Corinthians 4:7; 5:17)
- has been scripturally baptized upon profession of faith (Matthew 28:18 20; Acts 8:12; 10:44-48)
- expresses substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church (Amos 3:3; Romans 15:5-6; I Corinthians 14:40; Ephesians 4:3)
- intends to give whole hearted support to its ministry (I Corinthians 12:25; I Thessalonians 5:13)
- is willing to submit to its government and discipline (I Corinthians 1: 10, Hebrews 13:17).
Section 2 – Types of Membership
Each member of the church is a vital part of this body and has a special function in the life of this church (I Corinthians 12:7,14). There is, however, a practical need to define different types of members.
- Regular members – All who are received into the membership of the church, who continue in the Biblical duties of membership, and who do not come under corrective discipline of the church, will be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership (Acts 2:37 47). The minor children of such members are considered family members of FBF. They are entitled to the privileges and responsibilities appropriate to their age.
- Temporary Members – Persons who come to live in our area for a limited period of time (such as students, military personnel, persons on special work assignments) may be received into or removed from the membership of the church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons having permanent residence in our geographical area. If such a person is already a member of a church in his place of permanent residence, he need not be released from the membership of his “home church” but will be regarded as a temporary member while in our midst, enjoying all the rights and privileges and subject to all the liabilities and discipline of regular membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary residence as a member in good standing, he will be released to the fellowship of his “home church” and no longer be regarded as a member of this church (Acts 18:27, Romans 16:1-2).
- Associate members – Regular members who move away from our area may, at their request, be retained as associate members of this church until they join themselves to another church, or a period of six months elapses, whichever occurs first. In unusual cases associate membership may be retained for longer periods of time by special arrangement with the elders, provided regular communication with the church is maintained. At the discretion of the elders, associate membership may also be granted to invalids, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves unusual circumstances. An associate member shall enjoy the privileges of pastoral oversight and church fellowship, and be subject to the discipline of the church if required. An associate member shall not be permitted to vote in any business meeting of the church, or to hold any elected position in the church.
Section 3 – Procedures for the Acceptance of New Members
Membership in Freedom Bible Fellowship requires a public confession of conversion to Christ given to an elder(s) (Romans 10:9-10); baptism by immersion following conversion (Matthew 28:19-20); and adherence to the doctrinal statement (Amos 3:3; Romans 16:17). Upon approval of the elders, the names of new members will be announced publicly during a stated worship service of the church.
Section 4 – Conduct Required of Members
All regular members and temporary members should attend the stated public worship services of the church unless providentially hindered (illness, accident, unusual working conditions, vacations or similar family schedules, and other such circumstances). The stated public worship services of the church are the Lord’s Day morning services (Prayer Meeting, Sunday School, Morning Worship, and the Lord’s Supper when scheduled). The members are strongly urged to engage themselves in due preparation of heart prior to these meetings and to make every effort to be punctual in attendance (Isaiah 1: 10 17; Matthew 7:12; 15:8; II Corinthians 14:40; Hebrews 10:24-25). Additional meetings which are not required, but should be attended if able are the business meetings of the congregation, any special meetings which the elders may occasionally deem necessary to call, and informal fellowship meetings (Acts 2:42).
- Financial Support
Scripture clearly teaches that Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by systematic, proportionate giving through the local church (Malachi 3:8 10; I Corinthians16:1-2; II Corinthians 8 and 9). Members are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture as their primary means of giving. Beyond the fulfillment of this Scriptural requirement, members are also encouraged to participate in personal acts of benevolence that need not be conducted through the church (Hebrews 13:16). However, the financial giving to this church should be expressive of one’s level of commitment as a member of this assembly, in view of a Christian’s responsibility to support the work of the ministry and the work of the gospel (I Corinthians 9:13-14; Galatians 6:6). The tithe is not imposed upon our members as a requirement, but is encouraged as a general guide for basic giving and as an expression of worship. Offerings should be in accordance with one’s ability and the willingness of his heart (Exodus 36:2 7; II Corinthians 8:1 12; 9:7).
- Promotion of Edification and Peace
The church is represented in Scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having concern for the health and protection of the whole (I Corinthians 12:12 27; Ephesians 4:4, 11 16). The members of this church must strive for the good of the entire body. Members must prayerfully seek to discover their gifts and talents and exercise them appropriately (Romans 12:3 8). We must also seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another and maintain mutual transparency and honesty so that we may be better able to pray for one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 4:25; I John 3:16 18). In addition, we must discreetly confess our faults to one another (James 5:16), faithfully admonish and encourage one another (Matthew 18:15; I Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25), and refrain from all backbiting and gossip (Psalm 15:3; Proverbs 16:28; 26:20 22). In pursuit of the peace and well being of the church, the elders may determine that some matters of congregational business are so sensitive that the members will be expected to keep such matters confidential and not to discuss them with persons outside this assembly (Proverbs 11:13).
- Support of and Submission to Leadership
Members are expected to support and submit to the elders of the church. Supporting God’s servants necessitates praying for them and their labors (Ephesians 6:18-19), cultivating personal acquaintance with them, loving them, and esteeming them highly for their work’s sake (I Thessalonians 5:12-13), standing by them and not forsaking them in their afflictions (II Timothy 1:15), and defending rather than damaging their good name (Acts 23:5; I Timothy 5:19). Submitting to God’s servants means imitating their Christian graces, faith, and godly principles as they also imitate Christ (I Corinthians 11: 1; Hebrews 13:7; I Peter 5:3); receiving their teaching with all readiness of mind and teachableness of spirit, yet with ultimate allegiance to the Word of God alone (Acts 17:11; James 1:19 2 1; I Thessalonians 2:13); humbly heeding their Scriptural rebukes and warnings as from those appointed to watch for our souls and committed to present us complete and mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 13:17); seeking and carefully considering their counsel as from those counted faithful by the Lord (I Corinthians 7:25); and cheerfully embracing and abiding by their decisions regarding corporate policy in the church (I Timothy 3:5,15; Hebrews 13:17), without complaining, even when personally differing with their judgment (Romans 10:21; Philippians 2:14; Jude 8 10).
- A Godly Christian Life
All who come into the membership of this church are expected to walk worthily of the Lord (Colossians 1:10), that His Name be not blasphemed (Romans 2:24) but rather His excellencies be displayed through us, and that the good name of the church be not damaged but rather enhanced. Therefore, every member is expected to cultivate godliness in the following areas:
1. Personal Devotions: Each member is expected to make a habit of regular times in prayer, scripture reading and meditation (Psalm 55:17; 88:9; Daniel 6:10; Matthew 6:5 13; Colossians 4:2; Psalm 1:2; 119:11,97), seeking to maintain a clear conscience before God (Acts 24:16; I Timothy 1: 19; Hebrews 10:22). These times of devotion should include periodic self examination, prayerfully conducted by the standard of God’s Word (Psalm 139:23-24; II Corinthians 13:5; II Peter 1: 10, 11), and careful, spiritual observance of the Lord’s Day (Genesis 2:1 3; Exodus 20:8 11; Isaiah 58:13-14; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).
2. Family Life: As the God appointed head of the family, the husband must lead the household with gentleness and love, but also wisdom and firmness (Ephesians 5:22-33; 6:4; Colossians 3:21; I Timothy 3:4-5). The wife must also be in subjection to her husband as unto the Lord in all things according to the rule of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22 24; I Peter 3:1). The husband with the wife must nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), by setting a godly example before them, by leading them in family worship, by instructing them consistently in the Scriptures (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:6-7), by praying for them (I Chronicles 29:19), and by wise and firm discipline, including corporal punishment when it is needed (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 29:15; Hebrews 12:7).
3. Personal Evangelism: Evangelism is not restricted to experts or professionals (Acts 11:19; II Corinthians 4:13; 5:18-20). All Christians should be deeply concerned for the glory of God, the eternal welfare of lost men, and the prosperity of the church (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 9:1 3; Ephesians 3:20-21). Therefore, members are expected to pray for the extension of the Kingdom of God throughout the entire world (Matthew 9:37-38; Ephesians 6:18 20; II Thessalonians 3:1-2; I Timothy 2:1 8), and to seize every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of the lips (Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16-17; Philippians 2:14 16; I Peter 3:14 16).
4. Christian Liberty: Each member of the church is required to render in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established by the Word of God (Romans 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (I Corinthians 10:3 1; I Peter 1:17), a loving regard for the consciences of stumbling brethren (Romans 15:1 3; I Corinthians 8:9), a compassion for the lost (I Corinthians 9:19 22), and a serious regard for the health of one’s own soul (Romans 13:14; I Peter 2:16).
5. Relationship to The World: God never intended the glorious blessing of Christian liberty which we enjoy to become an excuse and covering for sin (Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:16). To the contrary, we have been liberated from the bondage to our former sins in order that we might be a people set apart to God and distinct from the sin that is in the world (Leviticus 18:1 30; Titus 2:11 14; II Peter 1: 14,15; I John 2:16). Accordingly, we are commanded to detest rather than love godless attitudes and behaviors (Proverbs 1: 10 19; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:11; James 1:27). Therefore, members are expected to be separate from the sin that is in the world, while loving the sinners that are in the world, and developing relationships with them that honor God and can be used of the Spirit to win them to Christ (I Corinthians 5:9-10; 9:21-22).
Section 5 – Termination of Membership
Removal of membership generally occurs by abandoning the fellowship without providential cause (Acts 2:42), voluntary removal of membership (Romans 12:18; Acts 15:37-41), or church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20).
Reasons for Termination
- By Transfer
When it is so requested, the elders may grant a departing member in good standing a letter of transfer to the fellowship of another church (Acts 18:27). No such letter may be given to a member who is at that time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any church which is in their judgment disloyal to the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), or which does not exercise godly care over its members.
- By Resignation
Members cannot terminate their membership unilaterally under all circumstances. As a general rule, a member may voluntarily resign from membership, however, a resignation offered by a person guilty of sin which calls for corrective discipline is not valid, and the church may proceed with public discipline as is appropriate to the circumstances (Acts 15:24; I John 2:18,19; II John 7 11).
- By Exclusion
If a member habitually absents himself from or ceases to attend the stated meetings of the church without showing just cause, or if upon relocation a member ceases to maintain vital contact with the church, such a one may be excluded from membership at the direction of the elders. In such cases, the elders will attempt to contact the person and to understand, rectify, and/or resolve any conflicts (Ezekiel 34:4). If these efforts are ineffective the elders shall inform that person (when feasible) and the congregation that such a person is no longer a member. If a member not guilty of heresy, scandalous immorality, or divisiveness either renounces his commitment to keep any of the requirements of membership (Psalm 15:4; 24:4; Matthew 5:37) or ceases to practice them as a pattern of life (Ecclesiastes 5:1 5; Matthew 21:28 31; 23:3) and yet wishes to remain in membership, refusing to resign voluntarily, he may be excluded, but only after repeated admonitions from the elders (II Timothy 2:24-26). In such cases the elders shall announce to the congregation at a stated meeting of the church their intention to exclude that person. Time will be allowed for objections or questions to be raised privately with the elders by any member. If no objection is raised which the elders consider to be valid, the person will be excluded by action of the elders. The congregation and the person shall be informed of this action.
- By Excommunication: According to the teachings of Holy Scripture, a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and impenitently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing unity, peace, or purity of the church (Matthew 18:15f; Romans 16:17 20; I Corinthians 5; Titus 3:10-11).
Implications of Termination
- Freedom Bible Fellowship does not exist in isolation from, but is a part of, the universal church of Christ composed of all true believers. Accordingly, open and forthright communication among the churches is vital to the purity, peace, edification, and unity of the church universal. Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other evangelical leaders and churches the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Acts 15:24; I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 2:17; 4:10,14).
- Freedom Bible Fellowship does not exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, the church has a moral obligation to society both to act with integrity and to maintain its testimony (II Corinthians 8:20-21). Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the church authority mentioned above the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Leviticus 5:1; Proverbs 29:24; I Peter 4:15).
- Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or reports, or engage in any other behavior which threatens the peace and unity of Freedom Bible Fellowship or the universal church. Therefore, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the elders may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this congregation and the universal church (Acts 15:24; Romans 16:17 20; I Timothy 1:20; II Timothy 2:17-18; 4:10,14).
Article V – Officers
Section 1 – General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), and He governs His church through office bearers whom He appoints (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11) and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work (I Corinthians 15:9-10). There are two kinds of such officers: elders (also called pastors, or bishops) and deacons/deaconesses (Acts 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:1 13; Romans 16:1-2). It is the duty of church leaders and members to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for the office bearing, and after formally recognizing them by common consent, to set them apart by prayer and then to follow their leadership (Luke 10: 16; John 13:20; Acts 6:3 6; 14:23; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:5).
Section 2 – Elders
- Qualifications of Elders
Each elder must meet the spiritual qualifications of the office set forth in I Timothy 3:1 7 and Titus 1:6 9. Any man called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
- Duties of Elders
Elders are responsible for the spiritual ministry of the church. The eldership, as a body, is responsible to give comprehensive oversight to the church, including: the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God, both publicly and privately (Acts 20:17,20-21,27; Titus 1:9), the watching out for the welfare of the soul of every member of the church (Ephesians 4:11 16; Colossians 1:28; I Thessalonians 2:11; Hebrews 13:17), and the directing of the church in its tasks by setting general policy and by making specific decisions (I Timothy 3:4,5; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1,2). Nonetheless, the elders must always exercise authority with sensitivity to the needs of the flock (Ezekiel 34:4; I Timothy 3:4,5; I Peter 5:3) in the posture of servants and examples to the congregation respecting any large project or expenditure and should be willing to yield to the congregation when appropriate (Acts 15:22; 19:30; 21:11 14). In addition, the elders must maintain oversight over one another, and must give mutual counsel regarding the stewardship of one another’s gifts (Acts 20:28; Galatians 2:9).
- Plurality of Elders
Although in new or small congregations only one man may have the gifts requisite for the office of elder, the Scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1). The church leaders and members should endeavor to discover and formally recognize all the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite gifts and graces for the office, but only such men.
Should it come to pass, in the providence of God, that Freedom Bible Fellowship has only one man qualified for the office of elder, the church must wait upon God with fervent prayer that He might remedy this abnormality (Matthew 9:37-38). In such cases, the sole elder is urged to seek spiritual oversight, for himself and his family, from the eldership of another church. He should seek counsel for matters of importance and guard against being self willed or tyrannical in his attitude or rule (Ephesians 5:21; I Peter 5:3-5). The sole elder bears full authority in and responsibility for the affairs of the church.
Should it come to pass, in the providence of God, that Freedom Bible Fellowship is without any elders, a steering committee shall be formed, consisting of five male members in good standing, nominated and chosen by majority vote at a business meeting of the church (I Corinthians 14:40). This committee will make arrangements for pulpit supply, search for a qualified elder(s), and conduct other necessary business of the church. This committee shall seek constant counsel from the eldership of another like minded church. This committee shall be disbanded as soon as a man is called to the office of elder.
- Equality, Unity and Diversity of Elders
The elders are all equal in office and authority (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17), but diverse in gifts and function. Each elder must be “apt to teach”, be engaged in private instruction and admonition, and be engaged in the administration and government of the church (Acts 20:28; I Timothy 3:1 7). However, some will be more experienced, involved, and proficient than others in executing various dimensions of the pastoral office (I Timothy 5:17). Some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching than others (I Timothy 5:17). In view of this diversity, as well as the numerous and serious responsibilities of the office, it is highly desirable that at least one or more elders should devote greater portions of their time to the work of the ministry of the Word. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to such men as necessary (Acts 6:4; 18:3-5; I Corinthians 9:9-11; I Timothy 3:17).
- Number of Elders and Length of Term
The number of elders shall not be fixed. These may all continue as long as they remain qualified, able, and willing to serve. The length of their term of office cannot be fixed by the church.
- Chairmanship of the Elders
The elders shall choose one of their number to be chairman. They shall also select a vice chairman to serve as chairman in the chairman’s absence (I Corinthians 14:40).
Section 3 – Deacons and Deaconesses
- Qualifications of Deacons and Deaconesses
Each deacon(ness) must meet the spiritual qualifications of the office outlined in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8 13. Any person called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his/her agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of this church. Should he/she at any time move away from this position, he/she is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
- Duties of Deacons and Deaconesses
Deacons and deaconesses are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs, and benevolence concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the more spiritual matters (Acts 6:2 4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and subjection to the elders. The Chairman of the Board of Deacons and Deaconesses will choose a treasurer to serve as a custodian of the funds of the church. The treasurer will open and maintain bank accounts in the name of the church. A complete record of all receipts and disbursements will be kept, and monthly and annual reports made to the church. The treasurer will execute his/her duties in submission to the elders and deacons.
- Number of Deacons and Deaconesses and Length of Term
The number of deacons will not be fixed. These may continue in office as long as they remain qualified, able and willing to serve. The length of their term of office cannot be fixed by the church.
- Chairmanship of the Deacons and Deaconesses
The deacons and deaconesses will choose one of their number to be chairman. They will also select a vice chairman to serve as chairman in the chairman’s absence (I Corinthians 14:40).
Section 4 – Recognition, Installation, and Confirmation of Church Officers
- The Task of Recognition
The appointment of leaders in the church is the prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 4:11); however, He has ordained that the local church leaders and members, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, exercise the responsibility of recognizing, in its midst, persons whom He is so appointing (Acts 6:3). Elders, deacons, and deaconesses are ordained to office by the laying on of hands by the eldership (Acts 6:6; I Timothy 4:14). Since this is an expression of approval for which the elders alone are responsible, each officer must have the approval, not only of the church as a whole, but of the eldership in particular (1Timothy 5:22; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). Christ’s appointment of a person to these offices is recognized when that person possesses an inward conviction that the Lord is calling them to serve in a particular office, and when the church observes, in that same person, evidence of the gifts and graces required by Scripture for that particular office (I Timothy 3:1-7, 8-12; Titus 1:5-9). The recognition of office bearers is a matter of such gravity that it should be accompanied by much prayerful waiting upon God for guidance, a careful consideration of the relevant passages of Scripture, and an objective evaluation of each person considered (Acts 6:6; 14:23). These activities are the responsibility of each individual member of the church as well as the church as a whole (Acts 6:3,5)
- The Process of Recognition
Recommendations to the office of elder, deacon, or deaconess will be made by the elders (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23), who may, at any time during the year, call a special congregational meeting for this purpose. Periodically, the elders will survey the membership of the church to determine whether there exists a groundswell of support for any individual(s) for office (Acts 6:2-3); however, at any time, a member in good standing may recommend to the elders a potential recommendation for any particular office. Upon the recommendation of any individual for office, the elders will prayerfully and with biblical objectivity consider whether the individual recommended should be nominated (I Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; Titus 1:5-9). There must be a minimum period of one month from the time of a person’s recommendation until the meeting called for his public examination and congregational consent (I Corinthians 14:40). During this period, the members have a solemn obligation to prayerfully assess each person in the light of the relevant passages of Scripture (Acts 6:2-3, 6). Any member who has reservations concerning a person’s fitness for office should contact one of the elders (I Timothy 3:1-13; 5:22; Titus 1:5-9). Failure to resolve the reservation to the elders’ satisfaction may warrant either termination or postponement of the congregational review (I Timothy 5:22). When the time comes to consider a recommendation during a business meeting of the church, the candidate for office, and any members of his immediate family who are present, will be requested to leave the room while his qualifications are discussed by the congregation in the fear of God and the light of Scriptures. Following this discussion, in the absence of further serious concerns, the elders will approve the appointments, and notify the new office holder(s) (Acts 6:2-3,5).
Following the recognition of an office bearer by consent of the congregation and appointment of the elders, he/she shall be publicly installed in his/her office by public prayer at a regular worship service.
Office bearers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church. They will hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling.
Section 5 – The Discipline and Resignation of Officers
- The Warrant for the Discipline of Officers
While elders are overseers of the flock, they are themselves members of the flock. Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as are all the members of the church. Church officers are subject not only to the same rules of discipline as the other members, but in addition are subject to public reprimand by the elders (Galatians 2:14; I Timothy 5:20), and/or removal from office (I Timothy 3:2), if they no longer are qualified for their office or if they engage in sinful behavior that is disorderly or scandalous, thereby bringing reproach upon Christ and the church.
- Procedure for the Discipline of Officers
The process of discipline may be initiated either by the elders or by individual members of the congregation. Any member who is offended at the behavior of any church officer should first approach that officer privately and express his or her concerns. If the concerns are not resolved, the member should inform the elders of the situation, and wait upon them in their determination of the matter (Matthew 18:15-17). Since this is such a delicate and serious matter, the elders shall proceed with due caution and earnest prayer (I Timothy 5:19). If the elders judge discipline to be necessary, they shall inform the congregation of the basis for the proposed discipline in principle and in fact. If he so desire, the officer accused will have opportunity to speak in his own defense.
- The resignation of Officers
An officer may resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he feels that he is no longer able to discharge the duties of it.
Article VI – Business Meetings
Section 1 – General Statement
There shall be an annual business meeting of the church for the hearing of reports, the confirmation of officers, and the transaction of such other business as may be brought before the meeting. Special business meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
Section 2 – Notice of the Meetings
Notice of all the congregational meetings will be given at regular worship services. A minimum of seven days notice will be given for any meeting at which official church business is to be conducted. However, in the case of an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each regular member by mail or telephone of the date, time, place, and purpose of the meeting. Meetings for the hearing of special reports or for seeking input from the congregation may be called on shorter notice, but no vote may be taken or other business transacted at such meetings. Twenty percent of the regular members of voting age (18) must be present at any properly convened congregational meeting in order to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Section 3 – Chairmanship
As a general rule, the chairman of the board of elders will preside at business meetings. In the case of his absence or inability to serve, the elders will appoint another member of the church to preside, whether from among the elders, deacons, or congregation.
Section 4 – Secretary
The secretary (an individual appointed by the chairman of the board of deacons) will record the minutes of each congregational business meeting as well as keep record of the membership and attendance at such meetings.
Section 5 – Voting
All regular members who have reached the age of eighteen years of age and are in good standing in the church may vote on any question properly brought before the congregation. Unanimity of heart and mind under God shall at all times be sought and prayed for (Acts 6:5), but when unanimity is not realized, not less than a two thirds majority of the members present and voting shall be required to make any resolution valid.
Article VII – Church Discipline
Section 1 – Formative Discipline
Every follower (disciple) of Christ must be under His discipline (His instruction and correction), which He administers to each one, both personally (Acts 5: 1 11; I Corinthians 11:30 32; I Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 12:5 11; Revelation 2:22,23) and through the church (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:11 16; I Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:12 13). Mutual submission to one another and to the elders whom the Lord has set over His church (Ephesians 5:21; I Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the church collectively. There are occasions, however, when formative discipline alone is insufficient and corrective discipline becomes necessary.
Section 2 – Corrective Discipline
Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the church. As a general rule and whenever feasible, an effort must be made to resolve the difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before more drastic steps are taken (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19,20). The principles in Matthew 18:15 17; Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 5:1 13; II Thessalonians 3:6 15; I Timothy 5:19,20, and Titus 3:10 must be carefully and appropriately applied to each and every case of corrective discipline. In some cases, public admonition may be warranted (Matthew 18:17; I Timothy 5:20). In other cases, some of the privileges of membership of the church may need to be suspended and appropriate restrictions imposed (Romans 16:17; II Thessalonians 3:14,15). In the most extreme cases, excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary (Matthew 18:17; Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 5:1 13; I Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10). Since the church is a spiritual and religious institution, the punishments inflicted by the church in corrective discipline are also spiritual (II Corinthians 2:6,7). They include public, verbal reproof (Matthew 18:17; I Timothy 5:20), social avoidance (Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 5:9 11; II Thessalonians 3:6,14), and the withdrawal of distinctive Christian fellowship (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5:13; II John 10). These are intended to effect repentance through a sense of sorrow and shame (II Corinthians 2:7; II Thessalonians 3:14). The church has no right, however, to confiscate goods, revoke conjugal rights, or inflict corporal punishment of any kind. Nevertheless, a member guilty of criminal actions may be delivered to civil authorities according to the rule of Scripture (Romans 13:1 5; I Peter 4:15). The goals of corrective discipline are always the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church (I Corinthians 5:6), and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (I Corinthians 5:5; II Corinthians 2:5 8; I Timothy 1:10).
Section 3 – The general grounds and categories of sin which require suspension
- A stubborn private offender (Matthew 18:15 17)
When a private offense remains unresolved, even after the method prescribed by our Lord in Matthew 18:15,16 has been graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated offense. The brethren involved shall bring the matter to the elders who, if they judge the matter serious enough and cannot persuade the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the church, and recommend that the stubborn brother be suspended (Matthew 18:17). If even after suspension, the person remains adamant in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Article VII section 2 (Matthew 18:17).
- Divisive teachings or behavior (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10)
When a member deliberately persists in the propagation of serious doctrinal error contrary to Scripture and our confession, or attempts to sow discord among us contrary to Scripture and this constitution, he may be suspended as a factious man. Since every member is responsible to help preserve the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), none of us are to conceal such divisive behavior, but rather reprove it and disclose it to the elders (Deuteronomy 13:6-8; I Corinthians 1:10,11). Whenever the elders become aware of divisive behavior they are to confront it meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (I Corinthians 1:10; 4:21; Titus 3: 10; Galatians 6:1). If, after receiving repeated admonition from the elders, a member persists in such behavior, the elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the divisive brother be suspended. If, even after suspension, the person remains adamant in sowing discord or in spreading serious doctrinal errors, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this section.
- Disorderly behavior (II Thessalonians 3:6 15)
When a member deliberately persists in conduct which displays a flagrant or public disregard for the order appointed by God for all mankind in the creation ordinances (cycles of work and rest (Genesis 2:1 3,15; Exodus 20:8 11; II Thessalonians 3:6 15; I Timothy 5:8), and marriage (Genesis 2:18 25; I Corinthians 7:1 17,39; Titus 2:5), or the order established by Christ for His church in Scripture (I Corinthians 11: 17 34; I Corinthians 14; I Timothy 3:14,15) and adapted to our congregation in this constitution; he may be suspended as a disorderly man (II Thessalonians 3:10 12). If after receiving such admonition from the elders, a member persists in this behavior, the elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended (II Thessalonians 3:14,15). If after suspension, the person remains adamant in disorderliness; excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedures outlined in Article VII section 2.
- A scandalous sin
If a member has sinned scandalously but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the admonition of the elders, it would be wrong to excommunicate him. It may still be necessary, however, to suspend him for a time from some of the privileges of membership lest reproach be brought upon the name of Christ and the church (II Samuel 12:14; Romans 2:24), lest others be emboldened to sin (I Timothy 5:20), and lest the offender himself fail to test his own soul and realize the gravity of his offense (Hebrews 3:12, 13).
- Contempt of church discipline
If a person is accused or suspected of gross sin and absents himself from the congregation, refusing to meet with the elders that the matter may be investigated, such a person may be suspended from all privileges of membership (Numbers 16:12,20,23 27; Matthew 18:17). The elders may recommend at a later date to the congregation that this person be either excluded or excommunicated.
Section 4 – The general grounds and categories of sin which require excommunication
1. Some types of conduct must be categorized as “immoral” (I Corinthians 5:11; 6:9,10), and a member blatantly and impenitently guilty of such conduct must be cut off from the fellowship of the church (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5:3 5,13). In such a case, the elders shall make earnest efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, but if these efforts fail, they shall report the same to the congregation at a regular or specially called business meeting of the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated, which must be done, according to Scripture by the action of the entire church (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5). To be valid, an act of excommunication must have the approval of at least two thirds of the members in good standing, present and voting.
2. Some wrong opinions regarding the doctrines of Scripture are so serious that they must be categorized as “heretical” (Galatians 1:6 9; I Timothy 4:1-3), and a member who persists in propagating or holding any such position, in spite of earnest and patient admonition by the elders, shall be excommunicated in the same manner as an immoral person.
Article VIII – Amendments
This Constitution may be amended by a two thirds majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the congregation. No proposed amendment may be voted on which has not been distributed to the congregation in written form at least two weeks prior to such meeting.