At Salem Evangelical and Reformed Church, we are committed to contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In unity with the historic Christian church, we believe and confess the Apostles’, Nicene, and Chalcedonian Creeds as accurate representations of Scripture’s teaching and we affirm the 5 “Solas” of the Reformation. Along with these doctrines, the basic doctrines within this Statement of Faith represent what we believe to be core elements of Biblical teaching that make up “the faith” for which we contend. We expect all members to affirm these doctrines.
We believe that the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Scripture is inspired by God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), infallible and inerrant in its original form (Psalm 12:6, 18:30; John 17:17), the only final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and a wonderful gift from the Lord (Psalm 19:7-11). After the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, Scripture is the primary and supreme way that God reveals Himself to humanity. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for salvation and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured (Isaiah 40:6-8).
We believe that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Timothy 2:5) – infinite, eternal, almighty and perfect in holiness, truth, and love. God exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Peter 1:1-2). They are co-existent, co-equal, co-eternal, and share the same nature and attributes. Each is part of the one true God and each exists to know, love, and glorify one another. One God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the foundation of Christian faith and life.
GOD THE FATHER
We believe that God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3). By His Word, through His Spirit, and for His glory He created the world from nothing (Genesis 1) and sovereignly rules over it (Psalm 24:1). God the Father sent His Son into the world to give humanity the hope of salvation (John 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:3), raised Him from the dead (Galatians 1:1), and is worthy of all glory and praise (Ephesians 1:3-6; Philippians 1:11, 2:11, 4:20; Revelation 1:6).
GOD THE SON
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who is with the Father for all of eternity (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3, 8:56-58, 17:4-5). He is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and is “the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). He was before all things, and in Him all things hold together by the Word of His power (Colossians 1:15-17). He humbly took on flesh out of submission to His Father (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-8) and was both fully God (John 1:1-3, 20:28; Colossians 1:15-17, 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-3) and fully man (Romans 1:2-3; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15).
Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). He was tempted in all the ways that man is tempted (Hebrews 4:15), yet remained sinless (John 8:29; 1 Peter 2:21-23). Though He was sinless, He willingly died on the cross as a substitute in order to pay the penalty for the sins of all who would believe in Him (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 20:28; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Galatians 1:4;1 John 4:10). On the third day, He was physically raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:4, 12-34) and never died again (Romans 6:9-10). He appeared to many (1 Corinthians 15:3-7) before He ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11), sat at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33) and even now intercedes for His people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25, 9:24). He will come again in power and glory (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 1:7).
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is therefore God (Acts 5:3-4). The Holy Spirit is described as the Spirit of truth and the Helper, or Comforter (John 14:16-17, 26, 15:26, 16:7). Through the Holy Spirit, God regenerates sinful hearts and unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith (Ezekiel 36:26-27, 37:14; John 3:5-8, Ephesians 1:13-14; Titus 3:5-6). Additionally, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:8), teaches and brings to remembrance what Jesus taught (John 14:26, 15:26), presently dwells with and in believers (John 14:16; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19), intercedes for them to the Father (Romans 8:26-27), seals them for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and is essential for their sanctification (Romans 8). The Spirit also gives gifts to each believer for the building up of the church and the advance of the gospel (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:12; Galatians 5:22-26).
We believe that every human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and that all of life is sacred from conception until death (Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5). Because of this, every human being possesses dignity and worth. Each person’s biological sex has been sovereignly established by God (Genesis 1:27, 5:2). Humanity is the crown of God’s creation (Genesis 1:31) and was created to be in unbroken relationship with Him in paradise (Genesis 1-2).
We believe that Adam and Eve, the first human beings, sinned by listening to the serpent and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God had forbidden (Genesis 3). This willing and sinful disobedience against God separated them from God and introduced sin, sickness, and death into the world (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:19). All of creation, including mankind, experienced the effects and consequences of sin (Romans 5:12, 8:19-23). All human beings, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are born with a fallen nature and are sinners not by constraint, but by choice. Each human being is depraved in their minds, wills, and affections (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-12, 23, 7:18; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 John 1:8-10), deserves both physical and spiritual death (Romans 5:12, 6:23; Galatians 5:19-21; James 1:14-15; Revelation 21:8), and is incapable of saving themselves (Romans 8:7-8; Ephesians 4:17-19).
We believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus’ death was an atoning and substitutionary sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 4:10) and on the cross He endured the wrath of God against sin (Jeremiah 25:15; Luke 22:42; John 3:36; Romans 3:23-26, 5:9). He took the sins of His people upon Himself (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Peter 2:24) and gives them His righteousness (Romans 5:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:19-25) when they trust in Him. Man can only be justified (viewed as righteous) before God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Isaiah 53:11; Romans 3:21-26, 4:25). Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Peter 3:18); there is no other name by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12).
Salvation is not, in any sense, a human work; it is all of God’s grace. Man is called to respond to God’s grace with faith (Romans 3:28, 5:1, 10:9; Galatians 2:16) and repentance (Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17; Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 7:10). When one trusts in Christ and turns away from their sins, they are promised forgiveness of sins (Proverbs 28:13; Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9) in this life and eternal life in the presence of God in the next (John 3:16, 5:24). Though perfection will not be achieved on this side of eternity, the call of the Christian is to live a life of ever-increasing holiness in worship to the God who saved them (1 Peter 2:24). Good works are evidence of salvation, not a way to be saved (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:17; 1 John 4:19). The Christian can have assurance of salvation because God is the One who saves (John 6:37, 10:27-30; Romans 8:38-39).
We believe that the universal Church is composed of all who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The local church is not a building but rather a group of believers gathering together in a specific place. The church is described in the New Testament as the people of God (2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:10), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:12, 5:23), the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16), and a pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Because Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Colossians 1:18), the church will never be destroyed (Matthew 16:16-18).
The church exists to teach the Word of God, worship Him, have fellowship with one another, pray, and eat the Lord’s Supper together (Acts 2:42-47). Above all, the church exists to make the gospel known to the world, in word (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17; Ephesians 3:8-11) and in deed (Ephesians 3:8-11; 1 John 3:17-18), and to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19).
We believe that Jesus instituted two sacraments for His people—baptism (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:3-5) and communion (or the Lord’s Supper) (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). These two sacraments should be observed and administered until Christ’s return.
We believe in the personal, visible, physical, and glorious return of Jesus Christ from heaven to consummate His kingdom (Matthew 16:27; Mark 14:62; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Hebrews 9:28). When He comes again, there will be a bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15) and He will judge both the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; 2 Timothy 4:1). Those who have not trusted Christ will be cast into eternal judgment in hell (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 20:14-15) but those who have trusted Christ will have eternal life of endless joy with God (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4) in the new heavens and the new earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 5:4; Revelation 21-22).
We believe that God alone is the Creator of marriage and has the authority to define the marital relationship (Genesis 2:18-24). According to God, marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman and serves as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:31-33). Same-sex marriage and unbiblical divorce are against the Lord’s design and are displeasing to Him (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-12; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 7:12-16; 1 Timothy 1:10). Any and all forms of sexual activity outside the boundaries of the sacred marital relationship between one man and one woman (adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or even lustful intent towards such) is clearly and expressly prohibited by the Lord (Matthew 15:19; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 13:4) and is ultimately unsatisfying. As a church, we do not tolerate bigotry, bullying, or hate but seek to love those who are lost by proclaiming the good news of the gospel—that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).