For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
EPHESIANS 2:8-10 (ESV)
About Grace Baptist Church
Grace Baptist Church (GBC) began holding meetings at Middleton Grange School here in Christchurch, New Zealand in February 1995. Since that time we have continued to meet to worship God each Sunday morning. Since April 2006 we have been meeting in the Performing Arts Centre at Heaton Intermediate School.
GBC began with the support of other Baptist churches in New Zealand and overseas, and is a member of the Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand (FRBCNZ). A helpful summary of what we believe regarding many of the core teachings of the Bible is a document known as the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, which aims to present the teaching of the Bible in a systematic and summarised form. However, the Bible alone is our authoritative guide to what we believe and practice, and we trace our history, not to 1689, but to the first century and the teaching of Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The message we preach each Sunday is the message of the Bible. It is a message which tells us what we should believe and how we should live in order to please God. At Grace Baptist Church we preach the wonderful message of God's grace in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. We baptise those who publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. We welcome into membership baptised believers who desire to commit themselves to the care, fellowship and discipline of the church (Acts 2:40-42).
The focus of our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the common bond we share with “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). As a local church, GBC is united together by fundamental doctrinal convictions that might best be described and summarized as Orthodox, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, and Baptist.
As dynamic spiritual communities of believers, local churches should always be growing and bearing the fruit of faith in Christ in contemporary life and practice. At the same time, Christ has commissioned His church to “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13) delivered to us by the Apostles and preserved in the Scriptures. It is not the task of the church to discover some new thing in doctrine, but to maintain a firm grip on “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
GBC consciously identifies with Christian doctrine that is both scripturally rooted and historically informed. We embrace the historic, orthodox understanding of Christian doctrine affirmed in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedon Confession and the Athanasian Creed.
We embrace the core teachings associated with the Protestant wing of the Christian Church, as distinct from the dogma of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. We believe the Bible is the sole trustworthy authority regarding matters of faith and practice. We hold that justification (the forgiveness of sin and a righteousness before God) is by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, through God’s grace alone, to the glory of God alone.
In addition to the core Protestant convictions mentioned above, we also embrace the Reformed view of the sovereignty of God in salvation, known as the Doctrines of Grace. These biblical teachings were recaptured at the time of the Reformation.
Evangelicalism is a movement of believers all over the world who seek continuity with the essential theological principles of Orthodox Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. We believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement, the necessity of the new birth, the necessity of personal holiness, and the need to evangelize the lost.
We recognize that true churches of Christ differ with respect to the practice of Christian baptism and the structure of church government. As Baptists, we believe that Christian Baptism is a believer’s immersion in water into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is the solemn symbol of the believer’s union with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is a prerequisite to the privileges of Church membership.
As Baptists, we also believe in the biblical pattern of elder-led, autonomous local churches. While we affirm local church independence, we desire fellowship and cooperation in fulfilling the Great Commission with like-minded churches. As an expression of that desire, we are in friendly cooperation with many gospel churches in Christchurch, New Zealand and beyond. GBC is a member church of the Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand.
What we Believe...
THE GOOD NEWS
At the heart of what we believe is what the Bible calls the ‘gospel’, the good news centring in on the person and work of Jesus Christ. It’s pretty obvious when you look around the world, even in our own backyard here in NZ, that something is wrong. The Bible explains what’s wrong but also offers us some incredibly good news.
The Bible teaches that God made the whole universe. At the start everything was perfect, but humans ruined it all by rebelling against God. They didn’t want him as their King. They wanted the freedom to do their own thing. Nothing has changed. Today we do the same, choosing to live our own way instead of how God has told us to live. The Bible calls this sin. It affects every aspect of our lives, our own thoughts and actions, our relationships and even nature. This leaves us with a big problem. God is perfectly good, and we are totally not good! What is worse, because he is just, he can’t simply ignore our sin. He must punish it with eternal death. That is how serious sin is.
But the good news is this: God hasn't given up on his world. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save the world. Jesus, a real man and also fully God, was killed on a cross some 2000 years ago to pay the debt for our sin that we could never pay. But he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life, confirming that he had fully atoned for sin and in the process had defeated our greatest enemy, death. Now, whoever believes in him as their King and Saviour can begin to enjoy life the way God intended it to be—in relationship with him.
Because of this, Christians can live in our broken world with confidence and hope. Confident, because God loves them and is working for their good no matter what their circumstances. And hopeful, because one day Jesus will return. When he returns he will judge every person who has ever lived. Those who during their lives refused to submit to him will be rejected by him forever and suffer forever in hell. Those who have trusted in Jesus will be accepted by God and will be rewarded with eternal life in a perfect new world, living in perfect harmony with God and each other.
IS OUR GUIDE
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Inspired by God the Holy Spirit 2 Timothy 3:16,17) & (Peter 1:20,21), the Bible is:
Infallible (completely trustworthy).
Inerrant (without error).
Sufficient (revealing all that we need to believe in order to be saved and to liva a God pleasing life).
Authoritative (it must shape every aspect of how we think and live). It is the final authority for all matters of faith and practice.
As a 'Reformed' church we affirm the basic biblical truths rediscovered at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarise the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:
Scripture Alone—the Bible alone is our highest authority.
Faith Alone—we are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Grace Alone—we are saved by the grace of God alone.
Christ Alone—Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Saviour, and King.
To the glory of God alone—we live for the glory of God alone.
As Baptists we affirm that the New Testament teaches the baptism of disciples alone. As the Lord Jesus Christ commanded "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19,20).
We stand firmly in the stream of historic Baptist beliefs as taught in the Bible and helpfully recovered in the beginnings of the modern Baptist movement in the 1600s, flowing out of the Reformation and Puritan period in England.
This is reflected in our adaption of the 1689 London Baptist confession of Faith as an "excellent summary of the things most surely believed among us".
With the glory of God as our aim, and the Bible as our guide, we are working together to be people who genuinely reflect the marks of a true church as outlined in the New Testament. Acknowledging that we will never perfectly achieve that in this life, we aspire to be a church growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:11-16). Some of the leading features of these aspirations were reflected in a series of sermons on ‘Our DNA’ preached at GBC a few years ago. As a church we aspire to be…
A GOD-CENTRED CHURCH
A God-centred church. (Exodus 33:12-16, Isaiah 45:21-22)
A WORD-CENTRED CHURCH
A Word-centred church. Acknowledging and submitting to the centrality of the Bible in every aspect of the life and worship of the church. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
MARKED BY PRACTICAL GODLINESS
A church which teaches and pursues the necessity of practical holiness in the life of every believer. (Hebrew 12:14, 1 John 2:4-6, 1 Peter 1:14-16)
A church which affirms all the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Saviour and Lord, and seeks to submit to Him in all things. (Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Timothy 2:5, Luke 24:25-27, Luke 6:46)
SUPPORTIVE OF THE FAMILY
A church which affirms and encourages the biblical ideas of marriage and the family. These relationships have been instituted by God and must be governed by His Word. (Ephesians 5:22-6:4, Genesis 2:18-25)
FAITHFUL AND BIBLICAL
The Church is not optional in the New Testament. It is God’s general will that believers gather together in local churches to serve and worship Him, and to be salt and light in the world. (Acts 2:41-42, 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, Matthew 5:14-16)
COMMITTED TO MAKING DISCIPLES
Every true church has a mission mandated by its Head, Jesus Christ. It is to be part of the great work of glorifying God by preaching the gospel to all people and making disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20)
A GATHERED BODY OF DISCIPLES
A church made up of true disciples of Christ. Every true church is a gathered body of disciples - sincere, committed followers of Jesus Christ, who are committed to making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 9:23)
MARKED OUT BY LOVE
A church marked out by love – love for God and love for others. (Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:16-18)
A GOD DEPENDENT CHURCH
A God-dependent church, continuing to trust in Him with all our heart. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Humbly seeking to do God’s work in God’s way.
VALUE HEAD AND HEART
A church which values both head and heart. We aspire to be a body of believers who both think deeply and feel strongly, avoiding both a dry intellectualism and an empty emotionalism. (Matthew 22:37, Proverbs 4:23, Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8)
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love".
EPHESIANS 4:15-16 (ESV)
Meet the Elders...
Pastor Rob Harrod
Rob Harrod has been the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Christchurch since early 2008. Originally from Australia, Rob studied for the gospel ministry at London Theological Seminary in the UK, and pastored in the inner suburbs of Sydney for many years. Rob has been married to Alison for over 35 years and they have four adult children and six grandchildren.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.