Friday, February 1, 2013

The New Hampshire Declaration of Faith, Revised in Modern English

I revised the NHCF under commission from
our nation's most affordable, fully-accredited seminary.

Written in 1833 with minor revisions in 1853, the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith ranks highly among historic Baptist confessions of faith. While its language and content fall short of the more definitive and eloquent Second London Confession of Faith (1689), the NHCF nonetheless is an important historical document that provides great insight to historic Baptist theology. The NHCF is of particular significance to contemporary Southern Baptists who identify themselves as conservative and evangelical, as it is the foundation upon which modern Southern Baptists set forth "those things most surely believed among us" in the Baptist Faith and Message. Incumbent upon modern Southern Baptists is the responsibility to contemplate and evaluate both their claims of faith and the integrity of their doctrine in light of this document.

I. Of the Scriptures, we believe that the Holy Bible, written by divinely inspired men, is the perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that God is the Bible’s author; salvation the Bible’s end; and, without any mixture of error, truth the Bible’s substance; that the Holy Bible reveals the principles by which God will judge humanity; therefore, the Bible is, and shall remain to the world’s end as the true center of Christian unity, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

II. Of the True God, we believe that there is one, and only one, living and true God; that God is an infinite and intelligent Spirit; that God’s name is JEHOVAH; and, that JEHOVAH is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness; worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love; revealed under the personal and relative distinctions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who are equal in every divine perfection, and who execute distinct but harmonious offices as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the great work of redemption.

III. Of the Fall of Humanity, we believe that mankind was created in a state of holiness under the Law of his Maker; that, by voluntary transgression, mankind fell from that holy and happy state, the result of which is that all humanity are now sinners, not by compulsion but by choice; that humanity’s nature is completely devoid of that holiness required by God’s Law; completely given over to worldly pleasures, Satan, and sinful passions; and, without defense or excuse, humanity is under just condemnation to all humanity’s eternal ruin.

IV. Of The way of Salvation, we believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; that, by the Father’s decree, the Son of God freely but sinlessly took our nature upon Himself; honored the Divine Law by His personal obedience; atoned for our sins by His death; rose from the dead; now reigns in heaven; unites in His wonderful Person the tenderest sympathies (as Son of Man) with the Divine perfections (as Son of God); and, is in all ways qualified to be a suitable, compassionate, and all-sufficient Savior.

V. Of Justification, we believe that Justification is the great Gospel blessing that, from His fulness, Jesus Christ bestows upon those who believe in Him; that, based upon principles of righteousness, Justification consists in the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life; is not bestowed upon us in any consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through Christ’s own redemption and righteousness; is freely imputed to us by God through faith; brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God; and, secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.

VI. Of the Freeness of Salvation, we believe    that the Gospel freely declares the blessings of Salvation to all humanity; that the gospel demands of all humanity an immediate heartfelt repentance and obedient faith; and, that nothing prevents the Salvation of the greatest sinner on earth except his own total, inherent depravity and voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ that will result in his awful condemnation.
                   
VII. Of grace in Regeneration, we believe that, in order to be saved, we must be regenerated or born again; that Regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that Regeneration occurs by the Holy Spirit’s power through Divine truth in a way that is above our comprehension or calculation; that Regeneration secures our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and, that Regeneration evidences itself in the holy fruit that we bring forth to God’s glory.

VIII. Of Repentance and Faith, we believe that Repentance and Faith are both sacred duties and inseparable graces, produced in our souls by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit; that Repentance and Faith deeply convince us of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and the way of salvation by Christ, through whom we turn to God with authentic (genuine and sincere) contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy and, at the same time, heartily receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, relying on Him alone as the only and all sufficient Savior.

IX. Of God's Purpose of Grace, we believe that Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He freely regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that, being perfectly consistent with the free agency of human volition, Election includes all the means in connection with (and necessary for) the salvation of sinners; that Election is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy and unchangeable; that Election utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of His free mercy; that Election encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that Election is demonstrated and proven by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel; that Election is the foundation of Christian assurance; and, that we must exercise utmost diligence to “make our calling and election sure.”

X. Of Sanctification, we believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His holiness; that Sanctification is a progressive work; that Sanctification begins in regeneration; that the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, our Sealer and Comforter, carries out Sanctification in believers’ hearts by the continual use of appointed means, especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.

XI. Of the Perseverance of Saints, we believe that only true believers endure to the end; that true believers persevere in their faithfulness to Christ, which is the grand mark that distinguishes them from false professors; that a special Providence watches over the true believers’ welfare; and, that true believers are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

XII. Of the Harmony of the Law and the Gospel, we believe that God’s Law is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral government; that  God’s Law is holy, just, and good; that the inability, which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen humans to fulfill the precepts of God’s Law, arises entirely from their love of sin; and, that one great end of the Gospel, and one great end of the means of grace connected with the visible Church, is to deliver fallen humanity from their love of sin, and to restore them through a Mediator to authentic (genuine and sincere) obedience to the God’s Law.

XIII. Of a Gospel Church, we believe that a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel; who observe the ordinances of Christ; who are governed by His laws; and, who exercise the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His word; and, that the visible Church’s only proper officers are Bishops or Pastors, and Deacons, whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.

XIV. Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, we believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its purifying power; that Christian Baptism is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation; and, prerequisite to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; and, always precede with solemn self-examination.

XV. Of the Christian Sabbath, we believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's-Day, or Christian Sabbath; that the first day of the week is to be kept sacred to religious purposes by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations; by the devout observance of all means of grace, both private and public; and, by preparation for the “rest that remains” for the people of God.

XVI. Of Civil Government, we believe that God establishes civil government for the interests and good order of human society; and, that we should pray for, conscientiously honor, and obey civil magistrates except in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

XVII. Of the Righteous and the Wicked, we believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the Righteous and the Wicked; that only those who through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly Righteous in His esteem; that all those who continue in unrepentance and unbelief are Wicked in His sight and under the curse; and, that this distinction between the Righteous and the Wicked remains both in death and after death.

XVIII. Of the World to Come, we believe that the end of this World is approaching; that, at the last day, Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation of the righteous from wicked will then take place; that the wicked will be condemned to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and, that, based upon principles of righteousness, the judgement will fix forever the final state of humankind in heaven and hell.

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