NSBC Membership Covenant
The NSBC Church Membership Covenant is comprised of five sections: 1) the Church 2) the nature of covenants 3) the Statement of Basic Beliefs 4) the obligations of NSBC elders to the NSBC body and 5) the obligations of members to NSBC
Who is the church?
The church is the community of all true believers for all time. This definition understands the church to be made of all those who are truly saved. Paul says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). Here the term “the church” is used to apply to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. But that must include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well. So great is God’s plan for the church that he has exalted Christ to a position of highest authority for the sake of the church: “He has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22–23). Jesus Christ himself builds the church by calling his people to himself. He promised, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). And Luke is careful to tell us that the growth of the church came not by human effort alone, but that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). But this process whereby Christ builds the church is just a continuation of the pattern established by God in the Old Testament whereby he called people to himself to be a worshiping assembly before him. There are several indications in the Old Testament that God thought of his people as a “church,” a people assembled for the purpose of worshiping God. When Moses tells the people that the Lord said to him, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the earth . . .” (Deut. 4:10), the Septuagint translates the word for “gather” (Heb. qāhal) with the Greek term ekklēsiazō, “to summon an assembly,” the verb that is cognate to the New Testament noun ekklēsia, “church.”
Although creation has been subjected to the curse of the fall (Gen. 3) the church is the result of God’s continual love toward his creation and represents his desire to restore and reconcile a people to himself. This is done through the Gospel which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins in accordance to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-3). This reconciliation between God and man is where the church begins. Since the bringing about of the church is the work of God, the church exists for the glory of God as all things exist for the glory of God and stands as a light to a dark world. God has and continues to invite his church to participate in pushing back the darkness through Gospel-proclamation as a means to showcase his glorious nature. The church is called many things in the scriptures including a gathering of the children of God, the household of God (Eph. 2:19), the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2,9) and the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31). It is never less than these, but simply stated, the church is a people that God has sovereignly saved, reigns over and declares with all of his loving kindness, “These are mine!”
This declaration is why being a part of the local church is far more than attending regularly or serving occasionally. The church is meant to represent this divine relationship between a holy God and a fallen, but forgiven man. In 1 Corinthians 12, we understand that there are many parts to the same body, none more important than the other, but all useful for the purpose for which it was created. In the same way that the body mutually relies on the other parts, the body of Christ is dependent on one another to function in a healthy way. For as the scripture tell us, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’’ (1 Cor. 12:21). Likewise, we all need one another. While our gifts and abilities differ, we all work together under the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3-8) for the same common purpose, to bring glory to God. (Eph. 2:9-10)
Membership within North Side is an acknowledgement of this truth on a local level and serves as a reflection to that which is true on a world-wide scale. Since all members are united to Christ, the head of the church, we are joined together with each other through our faith in Christ, both to those within the local family and those that are not.
What is a covenant?
A covenant is generally defined as “a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.” In the Scripture, we see covenant mentioned over 300 times and find numerous examples, some in the relationship between God and man (Gen. 6,9, 15; Ezek. 20; Hos. 2; Jer. 31; Matt. 26) and others exclusively between men (1 Sam. 18; 2 Sam. 5). In some covenants one party fulfils both sides of the agreement while in other covenants both sides adhere to the agreement as mutually obligated parties. God’s covenant to redeem a people, since it is his work alone, is an example of the former while the local church covenant is a reflection of the latter. If for any reason, one party fails to fulfill their side of the obligations, the other party is released from certain responsibilities. In many ways, this covenant articulates obligations and conditions that are universally true for all Christians. For example, all Christians everywhere are required to submit in obedience to the teaching of the Scriptures, commanded from the Word of God to pursue holiness, to steward well the resources God has gifted to them, etc. These, among others, are general obligations for any Christian, anywhere in the world. Regardless of the failure of a local church, certain obligations are still to be upheld in the covenant relationship between God and man.
If at any time, any member feels that the local church (i.e. North Side Baptist Church) is not remaining faithful to the agreed upon covenant, then that member has the obligation and permission to express in a loving, humble manner the concerns in which they feel need to be addressed. These concerns should be directed to the church leaders (i.e. elders) of North Side Baptist Church while refraining from gossip or slander in the process of this call to attention. If the elders are unwilling to change from disobedience to God’s Word and the covenant, the member is therefore released from any obligations and encouraged to seek membership at another Gospel-centered church. In addition to this reason for leaving, there may be other faithful and righteous reasons for moving out of a covenant membership with North Side Baptist Church. While specific obligations will be articulated in this covenant in the areas of individual parties, the corporate church body, and the elders to individual members, the primary purpose of this document is to acknowledge the common and universal obligations each Christian holds under the banner of salvation. It is a grand privilege to be in the family of God and thus, this covenant seeks to add weight to the duties of each member while at the same time providing an immeasurable delight in knowing we are in covenant with God and with each other.
Statement of Beliefs
We believe that the Gospel is the redemptive work of God to save his people. The theme of the Bible points to this redemptive work in the person of Jesus. We see in the Scriptures the grand narrative of this story through God’s providence, power, and provision to reconcile man to himself through the truth of the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ. For this reason, we seek to be explicitly gospel-centered in our preaching, teaching, and praxis.
• The Bible – The Bible is God’s word to us. Human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit wrote it. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is the truth without any mixture of error (II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21; II Tim. 1:13; Psalm 119:105; Prov. 30:5).
• God – God is the creator and ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three personalities: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God (Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matt. 28:19; I Pet. 1:2; II Cor. 13:14).
• Mankind – People are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like Him in character. People are the supreme object of God’s creation. Although every person has tremendous potential for good, all of us are marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called “sin.” This attitude separates people from God and causes many problems in life (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; Isa. 59:1-2).
• Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to Heaven’s glory and will return again someday to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Matt. 1:22-23; Isa. 9:6; John 1:1-5; 14:10-30; Heb. 4:14-15; I Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 1:3-4; Acts 1:9-11; I Tim. 6:14-15; Titus 2:13).
• The Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truths, and guidance in doing what is right. He gives every believer a spiritual gift when they are saved. As Christians we seek to live under His control daily (II Cor. 3:17; John 16:7-13; 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; I Cor. 2:12; 3:16; Eph. 1:13; Gal 5:25; Eph. 5:18).
• Salvation – Salvation is God’s free gift to us but we must accept it. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from sin’s penalty. When we turn from our self- ruled life and turn to Jesus in faith we are saved. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his or her life by faith (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; John 14:6; Titus 3:5; Gal. 3:26). How can someone find salvation?
• Eternal Security – Because God gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ, the true believer is secure in that salvation for eternity. If you have been genuinely saved, you cannot “lose” your salvation. The grace and power of God maintain salvation. Salvation is not maintained by the self-effort of the Christian. It is the grace and keeping power of God that gives us this security (John 10:29; II Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25; 10:10-14; I Peter 1:3-5).
• Eternity – People were created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are real places of eternal existence (John 3:16; 2:25; 5:11-13; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15).
Biblical Obligations of NSBC Elders to the NSBC Body
As shepherds and overseers of a local church, elders are entrusted with protecting, feeding, leading, and caring for the church body as a whole, as well as each individual member of the congregation. The following is an overview of the responsibilities and requirements of an elder as spelled out in scripture.
The elder covenants to….
• Let the scripture be his guide and criteria when appointing other elders, including elders that will serve as part of the church staff (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
• Use the Holy Scriptures, prayer, and Godly counsel to lead the church in a wise use of its resources in seeking to make disciples of all peoples (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
• To care for the church by leading it to grow in the knowledge of truth, the manifestation of grace, and a spirit of love (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:28; James
5:14; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
• To use the whole counsel of God’s word in our teaching and counseling (Acts 20:27-28; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Titus 2:1).
• Equip the members of the church for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).
• To protect the church from false teachings and false teachers (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:28- 31; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 John 4:1).
• To lovingly and gently exercise spiritual correction when needed for the sake of God’s glory, for the good of the one needing correction, and for the overall health and purity of the congregation (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
• To lead by example in following the obligations of church membership listed below (Philippians 3:17; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; 1 Peter 5:3).
Biblical Obligations of the Members to the NSBC Body
As church members God has redeemed us unto Himself in order that we might display His goodness and His glory in the world in which we live and in the world to come. We have been brought into the body of Christ and are being transformed by God’s word and His Spirit to reflect Christ, His character, and His values in all that we do. The following obligations of the church member are not an addition to the scriptural obligations for all Christians, rather, they are a clear and accessible explanation of what scripture demands from all those who have been born again. Therefore, I covenant to…
• Submit to the authority of Scripture as my sole source of authority in all that it addresses (Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
• Pursue spiritual growth and health through regular Bible reading, prayer, Christian fellowship and spiritual disciplines (Luke 18:1; Acts 17:11; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27;
Ephesians 5:1-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22).
• Participate in the ordinances of the church, namely:
o Baptism by immersion after conversion (Matthew 28:19-20).
o The Lords Supper (Communion) (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
• Participate in the life of NSBC by faithful and regular attendance and intentional disciple- building relationships (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25; Titus 3:14).
• Make disciples of all nations in both my immediate context (Acts. 17:26) and to the ends of the earth (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:18-20) through evangelism, giving, and praying.
• Be a faithful steward of my God-given resources by giving of my time, talents, and financial resources to serve the body of NSBC and to assist in the mission of the church,
which is to make disciples of all peoples (Matthew 25:14-30; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
• Pursue personal holiness in all areas of my life by striving to manifest those actions and attitudes that bring delight to God, while putting aside those actions and attitudes that scripture deems sinful. This would include:
o Complete chastity before marriage and complete fidelity within a monogamous and heterosexual relationship once married. Therefore, regardless of my marital status, I covenant to abstain from immoral sexual practices such as premarital sex, adultery, pornography and homosexuality (Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 6:15- 20, 10:8; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4).
o Holding as sacred the marriage covenant and agreeing to participate in biblical counseling seeking reconciliation before pursuing divorce (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
o Refraining from all illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossiping, and other behavior that scripture deems sinful (Romans 1:28-32, 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; James 3:3-18).
• To set aside all actions and activity that scripture would deem as foolish (Romans 14:14- 23).
• To strive to keep my Christian freedom from becoming a stumbling block to my brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 8:1-13).
• To submit to the biblical process of spiritual correction when dealing with a known sin in the life of another and by receiving spiritual correction when approached biblically by
fellow believers. The aim of all spiritual correction is repentance and restoration (Psalm 141:5; Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians 5:9-13; Hebrews 12:5-11).
• To do the following when I sin:
o Confess my sin to both God and fellow believers (James 5:16).
o Repent and seek the help of other believers in helping put my sin to death (Romans
8:13; Colossians 3:5; 1 John 1:6-10).
• To protect the unity of the church and to strive for peace within the church by submitting to the elders (Ephesians 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5).
• To notify the church and seek another church where I can fulfill my biblical responsibilities if I ever leave the church for righteous reasons.