Purpose of the Church
The church exists to glorify God. God is glorified as we manifest His presence as we do His work (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Pillars of The Church at Clanton
· Proclaiming the authority of God’s Word without apology (2 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 4:12);
· Boldly sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:36-38; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:19-20);
· Lifting high the name of Jesus Christ in worship (Mark 12:30; John 4:23-24; John 12:32, Romans 12:1);
· Fellowship (Acts 2:47, I John 1:3);
· Believing in the power of prayer (Jeremiah 33:3; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16).
We believe the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in their original writings. We believe the 66 books of the Old Testament and the New Testament are God’s complete and sufficient revelation and therefore carry God’s authority for the total well-being of mankind (Psalm 119:97-104; Psalm 119:160; Matthew 5:18; John 5:46-47; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-16).
We teach that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is only one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-15; 1 John 2:20). It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.
God (God the Father)
We believe in the only one true God (John 17:3), the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). He created all things (Revelation 4:11) and upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is a God of truth and without iniquity, He is just and right (Deuteronomy 32:4) and He shall judge the world (Psalm 9:8).
We believe that the Godhead eternally and simultaneously exists in a compound unity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes and perfections, and are worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence and obedience (Mark 12:29; John 1:1-4; Matthew 29:19-20; Acts 4:3-4).
Jesus Christ (God the Son)
We believe in the total deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe He is the manifestation of God in the flesh. He is the only man ever to have lived a sinless life. We believe He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. We believe Him to be true God and true man (John 1:1, 1:14, 1:18; John 14:8-9; 1 Timothy 3:16, Colossians 1:15). We believe Jesus Christ to be the sufficient sacrifice by substitutionary atonement for our sins. (Lev 17:11, Rom 3:25, I John 2:2, I John 4:10).
We believe Jesus to be the head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 5:23, I Corinthians 11:3).
Holy Spirit (God the Spirit)
We believe in the total deity of the Holy Spirit and that His ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:14).
The Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner upon belief in Christ, baptizing the believer into one body of which Christ is the head. The Holy Spirit indwells, guides, instructs, fills, comforts and empowers the believer for godly living (Mark 13:11; John 14:26; John 16:13; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, of God’s righteousness and of coming judgment (John 16:8-11).
While we believe that the Scriptures do not teach that certain gifts have ceased, they indicate that use of the gifts vary according to the need that each gift meets. The Church at Clanton does not encourage the use of “sign gifts.” Instead, we seek to emphasize the more excellent way of love as well as zeal for the more edifying gifts (John 16:8; 13:15; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 1:22; 4:11-12; Romans 8:9-17; 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:4-5, 12:11-13, 12:19; Galatians 5:25; Hebrews 4:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
The Bible lists of these gifts are not necessarily exhaustive, and the gifts may occur in various combinations. All believers are commanded to earnestly desire the manifestation of the gifts in their lives. These gifts always operate in harmony with the Scriptures and should never be used in violation of biblical parameters. (Hebrews 2:4; Romans 1:11, 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:16; I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 1:5-16; I Corinthians 12:1-31, 14:1-40; I Peter 4:10). See also Charismatic Movement
We believe man was created in innocence under the law of his Maker but, by voluntarily transgressing, fell from his sinless state. Consequently, all mankind is sinful. All people are sinners not only by inheritance, but by their own choice and therefore are under just condemnation without defense or excuse. We believe that without exception every man and every woman is totally depraved and needs a Savior (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 3:10-19; Romans 1:18, Romans 1:32; Romans 5:1-2).
Salvation & Repentance
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice. We believe that each person who by faith receives Him as personal Savior is justified on the basis of Jesus Christ’s shed blood on Calvary. Each person who receives Christ as personal Savior is born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby becomes eternally secure as a child of God. We believe the Holy Spirit baptizes each believing person into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation and that there is no second baptism of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:37-39; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 1:13).
Repentance is the commitment to turn away from sin in every area of our lives and to follow Christ, which allows us to receive His redemption and to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Thus, through repentance and belief we receive forgiveness of sins and appropriate salvation (Acts 2:21, 3:19; I John 1:9, Mark 1:15, Rom 10:9).
We believe in the resurrection of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, His ascension into heaven and His present life for us as High Priest and Advocate (Acts 1:3; Acts 1:9; Romans 10:9).
Heaven, Hell & the Return of Christ
We believe in the “blessed hope”: the personal, premillennial return of the Lord Jesus Christ. His return has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost. The saved are raised to eternal, conscious bliss in heaven (Matthew 25:34; John 14:2; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Revelation 2:7); the lost are raised to eternal torment in hell in conscious separation from God. (Matthew 8:11; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 13:49-50; Mark 9:47-48; Luke 12:5; Revelation 21:8).
Upon accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, a believer becomes part of His body, which is the church. There is one church universal, composed of all those throughout the world who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Scriptures command believers to gather in order to devote themselves to worship, prayer, teaching of the Word, observance of the ordinances (baptism and communion), fellowship, service to the body through the development of talents and use of spiritual gifts, and outreach to the world in fulfillment of the command of Christ to make disciples of all believers (Ephesians 5:23; Romans 12:1; Acts 2:42-46; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Matthew 28:18-20).
Wherever God’s people meet regularly in obedience to this command (Hebrews 10:24-25), there is the local expression of the church – under the oversight of elders and other supportive leadership. The church’s members are to work together in love and unity, intent on the ultimate purpose of glorifying Christ (Ephesians 4:16).
Realizing that the cause of Christ extends beyond any one local fellowship, we commit ourselves to an ongoing ministry of extending the command of Christ to make disciples in our community and around the world (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, I Peter 2:9).
The church exists to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) in the spirit of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). The commission is fulfilled as disciples of Jesus Christ are made and grow in their relationship with Him and likeness to Him. God is glorified as we manifest his presence as we do His work (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
In seeking to act upon the church’s purpose, we recognize the extraordinary value in multiplying the reach of his ministry by associating with existing local churches. God is glorified when The Church at Clanton and other churches associate with one another in order to foster relationships that edify, protect, encourage and support.
Issues for Clarification
We believe in the importance of serving the body of Christ by offering clear paths for people to start and develop healthy and growing relationships with others in the church body. We value an intentional plan to help every interested person enjoy godly relationships in the church. Church membership is a by-product of people who are growing in Christ and who grasp the importance of serving the Lord by using their gifts to serve others in the local church.
We teach that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual Body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-8), of which Christ is the Head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18).
We teach the calling of all saints to the work of service (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 4:12; Revelation 22:12).
We believe the disciples of Jesus Christ should minister to one another in the local church, rather than one or a small number of professional pastors bearing total responsibility to care for the entire congregation. Every member is a minister. God has given spiritual gifts to all of His people to provide mutual ministry in the context of the healthy and strong local church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Baptism & Communion
Baptism and communion are the only two ordinances performed by believers in the church. We believe that Christian baptism by immersion in water is a public identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is commanded of all believers and is for believers only (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 18:18). Scripture shows that a person was baptized after personally receiving forgiveness of sin by accepting Jesus Christ. The waters of baptism are a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life that happens when a person becomes a new creation in Christ (Colossians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:18-22).
Communion is the commemoration by believers of Christ’s death and a reminder (Matt 26:26-29)—through the bread and the juice—of the Savior’s fleshly body and shed blood. Communion is to be a time of confession of sin and should be preceded by careful self-examination (Acts 4:13; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29).
Sufficiency of Scripture
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and that they contain all the words of God that we need in order to completely trust and obey Him. The Scriptures are inerrant in their original writings (Psalm 119:97-104; Psalm 119:160; Matthew 5:18; John 5:46-47; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-16) and are infallible in their instruction (Proverbs 6:32; 2 Peter 1:19), eternal in duration (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25); the final authority and the standard for faith and practice (Matthew 4:4; Psalm 119); and sufficient for counsel in every issue of life (Psalm 19:14-17; 2 Timothy 3:16).
We believe that the very words of Scripture in the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic are inspired by God. Therefore, we believe that the Bible versions which translate God’s Word most literally into modern English should be preferred.
Creation, Evolution & God’s Sovereignty
We believe God created the universe in six 24-hour days, resting on the seventh. Before He created the universe, nothing except God existed (Genesis 1; Exodus 31:17; Psalm 33:6-9; Acts 17:24; Hebrews 11:3; Colossians 1:16).
God chose to create the universe and all that is in it to reveal His glory, divine nature, eternal power, infinite wisdom and supreme authority. (Isaiah 43:7; Psalm 19:1-2; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 1:20; Revelation 4:11). We deny the theory of evolution, which states that nonliving substances gave rise to the first living material, which then reproduced and diversified to produce all living creatures.
We believe that all people are descendants of Adam and Eve, whom God created personally and individually and as complete human beings (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). The fall of Adam and Eve infected all people with sin and death, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives the opportunity to receive God’s gift of eternal life. (Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
God rules over His creation and cares about and is involved in the lives of individual people (Job 12:10; Acts 17:25; Acts 25:28; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:13; Ephesians 4:6).
Salvation & Security
It is God’s divine decision to save a person (John 6:37; John 6:44; John 6:65; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 9:11-18; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:4-6; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:3) and it is God’s kindness, forbearance and patience that lead that person to repentance (Romans 2:4). The Bible also teaches that each person is responsible to embrace or reject Jesus as Savior and Lord and that God welcomes all who come to Him by faith apart from works (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 15:7; Luke 20:9-18; John 6:37; John 7:37; Romans 10:9-13; Acts 16:30-34; Acts 17:30.) Both of these truths—God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s decision to embrace Christ—are taught in the Scriptures. Their co-existence is a mystery and is completely understood only in the mind of our omniscient God.
All glory for the salvation of every believer belongs to God alone (Romans 3:21-31; Ephesians 1:7-9; Ephesians 2:8-9, Jude 1:24-25).
Those who are born of God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ persevere in the faith (Matthew 13:13; John 15:4-8; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:10-13; 1 John 4:13; 2 John 9; Colossians 1:23). God is faithful to His people, and empowers them to persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19-20).
We believe that everyone who is born of God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ is assured of salvation from the moment of conversion (Ephesians 1:13-14). This assurance relies on God’s decisive and faithful grace rather than on the works of the Christian. Obedience, good works and fruit-bearing do not earn or retain the believer’s salvation, but indicate the reality of the person’s love of Christ and profession of faith (Luke 6:46; John 14:21; James 2:17-18).
Eternal security in salvation relies on the Lord’s guarantee of each believer’s adoption as His son or daughter (Galatians 4:4-7), and His seal of the believer by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14) and the conviction that God gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a down payment toward future bliss in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
A person who professes genuine faith in Christ immediately becomes His possession (Luke 23:42-43; Acts 2:40-41; Acts 16:30-34), and nothing can snatch that person out of His hands (John 10:27-29). Having been bought with the price of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion as complete payment for sin, Christians are not their own. They are Christ’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This assurance is absolutely certain, reserved in heaven, protected by God’s unlimited power (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Process of Sanctification & Maturity
A person committed to a relationship with Christ focuses on a personal walk with Him, worship of Him and work for Him. That person will experience significant growth in personal sanctification and, therefore, will experience a closer personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and will become complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
We are committed to multiplying the godly characteristics of leaders’ lives into others (2 Timothy 2:2). This multiplication of ministry (discipleship) is key to the healthy growth of the church.
The chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God by loving Him with the entire heart, soul, mind and might (Deuteronomy 6:5; Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 22:37). All believing men, women and children are to glorify God and thus fulfill the purpose of their existence.
Worship glorifies God through adoration (Psalm 95:6), praise (Psalm 99:5), prayer (Daniel 6:10-11), thanksgiving (Nehemiah 12:46) and a complete yielding to Him (Romans 12:1). Worship declares His worth, pays Him homage and celebrates Him in a life of devotion. We seek to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (Exodus 15:1-21; 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 5:7; John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; 5:12).
Several tenets guide our worship. We seek to:
· lift high the name of Jesus Christ (John 4:22-26; John 12:32; John 14:6);
· lead God’s people to lift their hearts and voices to Him, giving Him praise and thanks in music and lyric (Nehemiah 12:45-46; Psalm 66:1-4; Psalm 95:1-2; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16-17);
· prepare hearts to hear the Lord speak through the proclamation of Scripture (Psalm 95:6-9; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; Psalm 119:103-105);
pursue excellence in worship, knowing that God is worthy of our best (Exodus 12; Deuteronomy 17:1; Psalm 33:3, 1 Timothy 4:14-15; Hebrews 11:4; Psalm 33:3).
Women in Ministry
The Church at Clanton affirms the God-ordained and significant role that women should play in establishing and leading the local church. Every leadership opportunity is open to women except those that are excluded by Scripture. The Scripture clearly states that men are to serve in office of elder and that women are not to serve in positions in which they exercise authority over men, or in which they teach doctrine to men. We do not see this as an issue of equality, for men and women are equal under God. The Bible is clear that men and women do not have the same roles. Qualified women should serve in any leadership position that is not forbidden in the Scriptures (I Timothy 2:12, I Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:6-9).
Satan and his demonic servants viciously oppose the work God performs in and through His people (1 Peter 5:8; Genesis 3:1-7; Ephesians 6:12). God, who by His nature is infinitely more powerful than Satan, in due time will have complete and total victory over Satan (1 John 4:4; Revelation 20:1-10).
Although it is appropriate to pray in Jesus’ name for protection against demonic activity, the Scriptures do not instruct the Christian to “bind Satan in Jesus’ name” (Jude 9). Rather, the Scriptures instruct the Christian to combat Satan by:
· humbly drawing near to God, knowing that He will give grace, mercy and strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 4:8; 1 Peter 5:6-10);
· resisting his temptations (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9);
· rightly applying the truth of the Scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11; John 8:44; Ephesians 4:24-27);
· forgiving offenses (2 Corinthians 2:10-11);
· putting on the whole armor of God’s truth, righteousness, readiness to share the gospel, faith, salvation and prayer (Ephesians 6:11-20);
· demonstrating faithfulness to the Lord by enduring trials (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:9-10)
The Lord changes lives and accomplishes His purposes directly through reading and applying the Scriptures, meditating on the truths of the Scriptures and prayer. The Lord also uses those who minister His Word as they encourage, exhort, admonish, edify, implore, reprove, rebuke, console and support others toward godliness.
God needs no new or unique insight into the human condition in order to change lives, regardless of whether that insight is gained through psychology or some other tool of human origin. Psychological theories that may help people live healthier and more effectively are embellishments of principles already revealed in the Scriptures. Although some forms of human wisdom are true, they are not the Word of God. They are infinitely subordinate to, and not to be compared with, the matchless value of the Scriptures (Psalm 119:160; Isaiah 40:8; John 17:17).
Problems that are approached by integrating the Scriptures with psychological theories tend to deceive individuals into diminishing the God of the Scriptures and into believing that He has not provided and cannot provide sufficient truth, insight and wisdom to change their lives (Colossians 2:8-10).
There are occasions when a medical doctor may diagnose a physical problem that manifests itself in attitudinal, behavioral or emotional struggles. In those occasions, the use of medications may be appropriate. However, when psychology and other social sciences step beyond observing human behavior and seek to explain the causes of that behavior, they enter spiritual territory. Only the omniscient God can explain such causes and offer solutions that lead to godliness and a fruitful, joyful life.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He changes us as we discipline ourselves through obedience to the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-11). Each Christian’s passion should be to become more like Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2) and fulfill the Great Commandment to love the Lord with the entire heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37-38). The Christian who learns and applies the Word becomes mature and, in turn, can help others mature (2 Timothy 2:2).
The Lord’s church is a community of faith—a living body with Jesus Christ at the head (Colossians 1:17-18)—that influences, supports and helps bring men, women and children into healthy relationships with the Lord and with others of the church. A healthy church body applies biblical principles to relationships at all levels, i.e. the overall church context, ministries within the church, families within the church and individuals within the church. God-honoring application of biblical principles throughout the church leads to healthier relationships at all levels (Ephesians 4:14-16; Hebrews 12:12-13). This application also helps ensure the integrity of the church’s corporate and individual witness to a watching world (1 Peter 2:12).
The Church at Clanton is a non-charismatic, fundamental, conservative, evangelical body. We welcome all who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and all who are seeking Him.
We teach that there were two kinds of gifts given the early church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given temporarily in the apostolic era for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles’ message (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12); and ministering gifts, given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man’s message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary to validate a man or his message (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). Miraculous gifts can even be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (1 Corinthians 13:13-14:12; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15; Revelation 13:13-14). The only gifts in operation today are those non-revelatory equipping gifts given for edification (Romans 12:6-8).
The Church at Clanton seeks to prevent the propagation of doctrines that would cause divisions within an individual church. Therefore, members and adherents of The Church at Clanton are not to propagate the teachings and emphases of the current charismatic movement. Although we do not control personal, individual interactions with the Lord, the expression of tongues and other sign gifts are not to be expressed at meetings that are under the organization and authority of The Church at Clanton.
The Bible’s teaching on the subject of two church offices is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. Although there are three terms used for the offices of the church, i.e. bishop, elder and deacon, analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably.
Elder Qualifications (Titus 1:6-9)
Able to teach
Husband to one wife
Not addicted to wine
Free from the love of money
Manages own household well
Not a new convert
The Scriptures show that the Elders “serve by leading” and that their responsibility involves the spiritual oversight of the congregation. All Elders are equal in authority but not necessarily equal in influence.
The Elders’ primary responsibilities:
· Doctrine. Ensuring that the doctrine of the church is biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders;
· Direction. Ensuring that the direction of the church is consistent with The Church at Clanton statement of purpose and the four pillars;
· Discipline. Administering in love and humility the process of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 and Romans 16:17.
The Church at Clanton Pastor automatically serves as an Elder and because of his public presence and responsibility before the congregation, may be considered “first among equals” as a member of the Elder Board. The Pastor should be gifted primarily as a preacher/teacher and as a leader.
Plurality of Elders
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of elders governed individual New Testament churches (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; Philippians 1:1). The Scripture does not mention any congregations featuring a stand-alone pastor and leader. A plurality of godly elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scriptures’ teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counselors (Proverbs 11:4; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 24:6.). This truth does not eliminate the possibility and likelihood that one or more elders will stand out from the others as more public in their ministries or more influential in their workings on the Elder Board.
The Bible teaches that Deacons “lead by serving” (Acts 6). The qualifications for Elders and Deacons are the same regarding an individual‘s character, but they differ in aptitude.
The elders are to be “able to teach” while the deacons are to be “able and proved as servants.”
Deacon Qualifications (I Timothy 3:8-12)
Not double tongued
Not addicted to wine
First tested as servants
Not fond of sordid grain
Holding to the mystery of faith with clear conscience
Husband of one wife
Manages household well
Spouses must be faithful