Basis of Partnership
The truth that unites us is that...
- There is one true and unchanging God, perfect in every way, who exists eternally in three distinct but equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 32v4, Malachi 3v6, Matthew 28v19)
- God is the all-powerful creator, preserver and ruler of all things, visible and invisible, governing them according to his faultless and sovereign will. He is distinct from his creation, and so although involved in it, he is not part of it. (Colossians 1v15-17, Hebrews 1v3, Ephesians 1v11)
- God’s purpose in creation is to glorify himself in his Son, by sending him to redeem a people to be his own, eager to do what is good, and by bringing all things under his rule. In the gospel, therefore, God calls all people to honour his Son, submitting to him in everything. (Ephesians 1v3-10, 22-23, Titus 2v14)
- God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given is in its entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. It is therefore to be submitted to, both individually and corporately, as it alone speaks with final authority in every age, being always sufficient for all matters of belief and practice. (John 10v35, 16v12-15, 1 Thessalonians 2v13, 2 Timothy 3v16-4v5)
- God has made humanity in his likeness and according to only two distinct genders. Men and women are equal in sharing an inherent value, dignity and worth, yet created to complement one another by their difference, honouring and upholding the distinctive roles assigned them by God within marriage and the church. (Genesis 1v27-28, 2v20-24, 1 Timothy 2v11-15)
- Since the fall, all human beings have been sinful and guilty, and are subject to God’s wrath and condemnation. Alienated from his life, the inclinations of their minds, hearts, wills and bodies are corrupted by sin, leading them to suppress the truth about God. (Ephesians 2v1-3, 4v17-19, Romans 1v18-32, 5v12-21, 7v14-25)
- The Lord Jesus Christ is unique in being God’s incarnate Son, fully God and fully man, yet without sin. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, was raised bodily from death, and visibly ascended into heaven from where he now reigns over all things with the authority of God the Father. (Luke 1v26-38, Hebrews 4v15, Acts 2v22-36)
- By his resurrection from the dead, Jesus was declared to be God’s only Lord and Christ, his promised Saviour-King who redeems sinful human beings from the guilt, penalty and power of sin so that they can share in God’s kingdom. He is the only mediator between God and humankind, in whom alone salvation is to be found. (Acts 2v31-36, 4v12, Galatians 3v13-14, 1 Timothy 2v5)
- In his substitutionary death Jesus bore the full penalty for sin, satisfying God’s justice so that those who believe are pardoned, credited with Christ’s righteousness and so justified, which is to be declared righteous by God. From this one act of atonement every spiritual blessing flows. (Romans 3v9-4v8, 5v1-21, Acts 13v39)
- Salvation is received solely through being united to Christ by faith, and so by grace alone, not as a reward for moral or religious effort. From the moment he or she first believes, the sinner is wholly justified and reconciled to God, with the sure and certain hope of eternal life. (Philippians 3:1-9, Romans 4:1-5:11)
- The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective, bringing individuals to new birth and faith. He indwells all believers in order to give them a true understanding of the Bible, bring assurance of salvation, move them to do good, grow them to maturity, equip them for service, empower them for mission, and so renew them in the image of God that the church might display the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 1v15-2v10, 4v4-5v20, 1 Corinthians 12v1-14)
- Those who are truly born again place their faith in Christ, repenting of their sins, calling on him for salvation and submitting to him as Lord. Being renewed into his likeness, they strive to obey his will, which includes a rejection of all occult practices, other religions and spiritualities, blasphemy, hatred, bitterness, rage, violence, sexual immorality, adultery and homosexual sex, crudity, dishonesty, slander, factionalism, jealousy, selfish ambition, drunkenness and greed.
(Galatians 5v16-26; 1 Corinthians 5v9-11; Ephesians 4v17-5v20)
- The one, holy, universal church is the Body of Christ to which all true believers belong. It is made visible in local congregations of believers which are called to worship and serve God in the world, to proclaim and defend his truth, to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to exhibit his character, and to demonstrate the reality of his new order. (Matthew 28v18-20, 1 Peter 2v9-12, 1 Timothy 3v15)
- The unity of Christ’s body is expressed within and between local churches by mutual love, care, correction and encouragement, all in accordance with the Bible. Fellowship within and between local churches is truly Chris9an insofar as they are faithful to Christ and his gospel. (Ephesians 4v1-16, 2 Corinthians 6v14-16, 2 John 7-11)
- The Lord Jesus Christ will visibly return in glory to raise and judge the dead, granting the fullness of eternal life to his people and eternal punishment to those who have not believed the gospel. God’s kingdom will then be fully established as he creates a new heaven and earth from which evil and evildoers, suffering and death will be excluded, and in which he will be glorified forever. (Matthew 25v31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1v6-10, Revelation 20v11-21v8, 22-27)
The Working Basis for Regional Gospel Partnerships
In addition to our shared doctrinal convictions, we share the following core ministry convictions that enable us to form and motivate us to commit to working partnerships in our regions:
- That establishing, securing and growing healthy local churches is central to God’s saving purposes in the world.
- That the verbal message of the gospel of Christ and him crucified is the only foundation and the essential means of growth and multiplication of healthy local churches.
- That the Word of God (the Bible) must have a real, practical and ruling centrality in the daily life of the local church.
- That biblical exposition is the primary ministry of the word which sustains and promotes all other forms of healthy ministry (including the full range of speaking and serving ministries).
- That working regional partnerships between local churches (that transcend denominational and other divides on the basis of core doctrinal unity) are not only possible without sinful compromise, but positively valuable in advancing the gospel and growing the church.
Churches and their leaders are prepared to invest time, energy and money in regional gospel partnerships when they see the potential value of the partnerships for the progress of the gospel. Included in this is a recognition that the partnerships provide:
- A means of sharing good practice in healthy gospel ministry in the regional contexts, including disseminating good practice from national and specialist bodies.
- A means of cooperating (coordinating activities and sharing resources) in their gospel mission in the region (for example in training leaders, evangelism, and church planting).
- A means of creating and sustaining ownership of responsibility for gospel advance in their regions.
- A means of promoting and sustaining relationships of mutual support and accountability between leaders (and to some extent churches) that counter isolation and isolationism and help to keep people (and churches) going in healthy gospel ministry.
- A means of affirming an identity that clarifies and communicates where churches and ministers stand and what they stand for within British Evangelicalism.
- A means of demonstrating a visible and active unity between churches that commends the gospel before a watching world.
The extent and manner that these beneficial outcomes are realised will vary between gospel partnerships and change over ‘me. Similarly, the extent to which different churches and church leaders contribute towards and benefit from these things will also vary within gospel partnerships. Not least this is because some of these things may be available to them from other networks to which they belong.