As a church, we value the truth. God calls us to uphold his truth and conform ourselves to it in word and deed (1 Tim 3:15). We are to follow the pattern of the sound words of the apostles, discerning between empty philosophy and faithfulness to Scripture (Eph 4:11-16; Col 2:8; 2 Tim 1:17; 1 John 4:1-5). God’s truth did not always characterize us. With the rest of humanity, we, too, morally opposed the truth about God (Rom 1:18). Only by a work of divine grace do we now embrace and celebrate the truth that is in Jesus Christ and that reveals him unto us for salvation (John 14:6; 1 Cor 2:6-16; 2 Tim 2:25). We still may not know God’s truth exhaustively due to our own sin and human limitations, but we do know God’s truth sufficiently for salvation and life with God.
The following distinctives help summarize some of our own commitments as a church to upholding and practicing God’s truth. These distinctives should also assist our guests and inquirers as they learn more about us. A more detailed articulation of our beliefs appears in the “Statement of Faith” of our Constitution and Bylaws.
WE ARE EVANGELICAL
To be an evangelical church first and foremost means that we strive to be faithful to and centered upon the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as God has revealed it in Holy Scripture (Rom 1:1-7; 1 Cor 15:3-4). God saved us through the gospel; he continues to transform us by the same gospel; and he means for the gospel to set the priorities of all we are both in confession and in practice (1 Cor 9:19-23; 15:1-2; Col 1:23). Historically speaking, this also means we uphold the essential truths of the Christian faith—such as the existence of the triune God, the complete deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, his virgin conception, his incarnation as the eternal Son of God, the pervasive sinfulness of all humanity, Christ’s substitutionary death as the only way of salvation, his physical resurrection, his sure and bodily return, salvation by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone, and the infallibility and divine authority of the Bible—and seek to walk humbly in accordance with them.
WE ARE REFORMED
To be Reformed means that we stand with those saints throughout church history who joyfully affirm that God, the world’s Creator and King, is at the center of the gospel. The Bible reveals that God designs, preordains, creates, and controls everything to achieve his eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, so that he may receive all praise (Rom 16:25-27; Eph 1:9-10; 2 Tim 1:9). That is especially true in how God saves us: in our natural state, fallen people lack all power to believe the gospel; in love, God freely and unconditionally chose to redeem a countless multitude of sinners through Christ; with unwavering devotion, Christ died as an atoning substitute for their sins, securing them for eternal glory; and with unconquerable power, the Holy Spirit ensures that all of these so chosen not only believe the gospel, but also persevere till appearing before the presence of God’s glory with great joy. In short, being Reformed means being thoroughly God-centered in our view of God’s world and his purpose in grace, so that our hearts cannot help but worship, “To God alone be the glory!”
WE ARE EVANGELISTIC
To be evangelistic means that we, as missionaries, are constrained by the love of Jesus Christ to extend the free offer of salvation to all people without distinction (Isa 45:22; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 10:43; 17:30; 1 Cor 1:18-25). God’s love indiscriminately offers to all peoples Christ in all his saving power through the gospel; and people must believe the gospel in order to be saved (John 3:16-21). Christian proclamation is God’s chosen means by which sinners hear the gospel (Luke 24:47; Rom 10:14-15; 15:20-21). Therefore, we plead with sinners to acknowledge God’s love for them in Christ so that they may not perish and we pray they will respond in repentance and faith (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 14:21; 1 Cor 15:1-2). God’s sovereignty over everything, even salvation, does not compromise but compels our devotion to primary evangelism and discipleship, since his gracious will ensures that rebels will believe (John 10:16; Acts 13:48; 18:9; 2 Tim 2:10; Rev 5:9-10).
WE ARE BAPTIST
To be a Baptist church refers to our convictions about what the Scriptures teach on the nature, practice, and priorities of a local church (also known as our “ecclesiology”). At the very least, that means we affirm the autonomy of the local church, maintain regenerate church membership, enjoy the priesthood of all believers, and celebrate the two ordinances of Believers’ Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (see our Statement of Faith and BF&M 2000). We also see the Great Commission as a cooperative effort, and so we partner with other SBC churches for mission through the Cooperative Program, the IMB, and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Being a Baptist certainly does not mean that we alone have the edge on truth, but it is our humble contribution to practicing only what will promote further gospel faithfulness.
WE ARE ELDER-LED
To be an elder-led church refers to how we practice church leadership. Subjecting ourselves to the Scriptures, our conviction is that each local church recognized, affirmed, and submitted to the leadership of biblically qualified elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Eph 4:11-16; 1 Tim 3:1-7; 5:17-21; Tit 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-4; Jas 5:14; Heb 13:7, 17). These elders provide the spiritual oversight of the congregation through prayerful submission to God’s word which expresses itself in the regular discipleship, leadership, protection, and care of God’s flock. In addition to corporate worship and personal meetings, the elders also lead the church in monthly members’ meetings in which the congregation is able to interact with the elders regarding the work of ministry and the life of the church. Thus, we practice congregational involvement under the spiritual care of elders (e.g., Acts 15:2-6, 22; 1 Tim 5:19-20; cf. Matt 18:17).
WE ARE COVENANTAL
To be covenantal has to do with how we understand the function of the biblical covenants in bringing coherence and cohesion to the overall storyline of Scripture, defining and guaranteeing God’s relationship with man, and directing its Christ-centered focus. We believe that through the series of interrelated covenants God has revealed his purpose and will for mankind and all things. From Adam to the present day and into eternity, all who are truly God’s people receive forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation only on the basis of Jesus’ perfect righteousness, received only through faith in him. This unified, Christocentric, covenantal understanding of Scripture stands in intentional contrast to any system that would teach that God’s people in any previous era were to be saved by works.