When Greenbelt church was constituted in 1957, it adopted a document known as “The Abstract of Principles” as the church’s statement of faith. This document was originally written in 1859 to be the statement of faith for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and remains so to this day. The writers of this document drew heavily from the Westminster Confession of Faith, written around 1649. Our statement of faith is a summary of the faith that Christians have believed throughout centuries. Our beliefs are important because it is our beliefs that define us as a church. If we were an organization that existed solely for the purpose of doing good to others, then we could all believe many different things, and it wouldn’t really matter—so long as we were doing good. But we are not. We are an organization which has Christ as our head. We exist to know Him and make Him known. Therefore, what we believe about Christ and our relationship with Him is of paramount importance for shaping how we gather together as His body.
There are many things that this statement does not talk about, such as whether or not all the spiritual gifts exist today, or the timing of Christ’s return. Are these important? Yes. However, we think that they aren’t so important as to warrant the church taking a position on this and then excluding others from membership those who would have different views on the issues. The issues on the statement are the things that are necessary for us to be saved and necessary for us to gather as a church.
The scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God, and are the only
sufficient, certain, and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver, and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself all
perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence,
God is revealed to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but
without division of nature, essence, or being.
God from eternity decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs,
and governs all creatures and events; yet so as not in anywise to be the author or approver of sin
nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.
Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life—not because of foreseen
merit in them, but because of His mere mercy in Christ—in consequence of which choice they are
called, justified, and glorified.
It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal
power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all
things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
7. Creation of Man
After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and
immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;
having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of
transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.
Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry,
who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in
8. Fall of Man
God originally created man in His own image and free from sin; but, through the temptation of
Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness;
whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under
condemnation, and, as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the
Virgin Mary, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and Man. Having taken upon
Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law and suffered and died upon
the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, rose again the third day, and ascended to His
Father, at whose right hand He ever lives to make intercession for His people. He will come again
for His Church. He is the only Mediator; the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church; and
Sovereign of the Universe.
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who enlivens the dead in trespasses
and sins, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and
renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God’s free and
special grace alone.
Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbles himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.
Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning
Christ, accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life. It is
wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a
life of holiness.
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin,
through the satisfaction that Christ has made. Not for anything wrought in them or done by them,
but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receive justification and rest on
Him and His righteousness by faith.
Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified by God’s Word and Spirit dwelling in them.
This sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to
obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ’s commands.
15. Perseverance of the Saints
Those whom God has accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor
finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they
may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their
graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church and temporal judgments on themselves, yet
they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto
The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all His true disciples, and in Him
is vested supremely all power for its government. According to His commandment, Christians are
to associate themselves into particular local assemblies, and to each of these churches He has given
needful authority for administering that order, discipline, and worship which He has appointed.
The biblical officers of a church are Elders and Deacons.
Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed
in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship
with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God,
to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in
the Lord’s Supper.
18. Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread
and fruit of the vine, and to be observed by His churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense
a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, to confirm the faith and other graces of
Christians, and to be a bond, pledge, and renewal of their communion with Him and of their church
19. Lord’s Day
The Lord’s Day is Sunday and is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be
employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private.
20. Liberty of Conscience
God alone is Lord of the conscience; and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments
of men, which are contrary to His Word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained
of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord,
not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God—the
righteous to rest with Him; the wicked to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last
day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.
God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when everyone shall
receive according to his deeds—the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment; the
righteous into everlasting life.