- The Scriptures, comprised of the 66 canonical books of the Christian Bible, are our ultimate authority. They are God-given, true, and through them we can know and obey God.
- There is only one true God, Creator of heaven and earth, who eternally exists in three distinct persons. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. There is one God.
- All things exist for the glory of God.
- We, along with all of humanity - Christ excluded - are sinners by nature and choice.
- The deserved penalty for sin is physical and spiritual death.
- Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, was born of a virgin and is both fully God and fully human.
- Jesus Christ died as the sacrificial substitute to pay the penalty for sin.
- Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and will one day physically return.
- There will be a future physical resurrection of the dead. Only those who turn from sin and to Jesus in faith and repentance will be raised to eternal reward. Those who do not turn from sin and to Jesus will be raised to eternal punishment.
- Only through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone can we be reconciled to God, forgiven of our sins, and experience true life and joy.
EXPANDED THEOLOGY & DISTINCTIVES: These statements contain deeper reflections on many of the basic beliefs as well as what might distinguish us from other churches that would affirm the same basic doctrines. We do not expect all members to embrace all aspect of these distinctives. However, the distinctives are indeed Biblical positions held by all elders and thus shape the way we are led and how ministry environments are guided throughout SHC as we travel verse-by-verse through Scripture.
We accept the Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, as the written Word of God. The Bible is an essential and infallible record of God revealing Himself to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Given by God, the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God and are, thus, free of error. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession or theology, must be tested by the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture. As inerrantists, we confess that when all the facts are known, and when the Bible is properly interpreted, the original autographs of the Bible will be shown to be completely true in all that they affirm.
**Distinctive: In both practice and conviction, we affirm exegetical preaching (verse by verse through the Scriptures) as the wisest mode of teaching the Bible. We do so (a) to avoid heresy (b) to avoid hobby horse topics (c) to avoid feeding our own passions (d) to grow in Biblical literacy and (e) to saturate ourselves with what God chose to graciously give us for edification. (2 Tim 4:1-5).
THE TRIUNE GOD
There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty and perfect in holiness, truth and love. In the unity of the Godhead, there are three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal and co-eternal. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father. Yet each is truly Deity. One God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is the foundation of Christian faith and life.
GOD THE FATHER
God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world out of nothing. Through the same word, He daily sustains all creation. He rules over all and, together with the Son and the Spirit, is the only Sovereign being. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love Him and, in His unfathomable grace, gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for mankind’s redemption. He made all things for the praise of His glory and intends for man, in particular, to live in fellowship with Himself.
Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the eternal Word made Flesh,
supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He
is fully God and fully man. Through Him, all things came into being and
were created. He was before all things, and in Him, all things hold
together by the word of His power. He is perfect in nature, teaching and
obedience and is the only Savior for the sins of the world, having shed
His blood and died a vicarious death on the cross. By His death in our
place, He revealed divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our
guilt and reconciling us to God. Redeeming us from sin, He rose bodily
from the grave on the third day, victorious over death and the powers of
darkness and performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He
ascended into heaven where, at God’s right hand, He intercedes for His
people and rules as Lord over all, awaiting His return. He is the Head
of His body, the Church, and should be adored, loved, served and obeyed
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Through the proclamation of the gospel, He persuades men to repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord. By the same Spirit, a person is led to trust in divine mercy. The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about the new birth and dwells within the regenerate. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son who, in turn, came to glorify the Father. He will lead the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word. He is to be respected, honored and worshiped as God, the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit empowers believers for Christian witness and service. The promise of the Father is freely available to all who believe in Jesus Christ, enabling them to exercise the gifts He sovereignly bestows for ministry and mission. The Holy Spirit desires to continually fill each believer with power to bear witness to the gospel and imparts His gifts for the edification of the body and the work of ministry in the world. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the first-century church are available today and are to be earnestly desired and practiced in an orderly manner. The healthy exercising of diverse gifts within a unified body is essential to the mission of the Church in the world today.
**Distinctive: We do not see in Scripture that Spiritual gifts ended with the close of the New Testament or the death of the last apostle (1 Cor 12:1-11). As such, the gifts we see on display in the New Testament
may still be used by God, to fulfill His will within the life of the
church (1 Cor 12-14) and will not be allowed to distract from the Gospel message nor bring glory to mankind in our gatherings (1 Cor 14:40).
God made man—male and female—in His own image, as the crown of creation so that man might glorify Him through enjoying fellowship with Him. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God. Being estranged from his Maker yet responsible to Him, man became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and, apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. He is at enmity with God, hostile toward God and hateful of God. Fallen, sinful people, whatever their character or attainments, are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ alone.
**Distinctive: In Scripture, we see men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity and value as well as distinct by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church. As it relates to the church, men and women are both expected to lead; however, the office of elder is reserved for qualified men (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Therefore, Safe Haven functions from a complementarian perspective.
The Gospel is the good news of God’s grace invading the darkness of this world. It is the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption and consummation ordained by God and orchestrated through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the Gospel. His resurrection is the power of the Gospel. His ascension is the glory of the Gospel. Christ’s death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His mysterious love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men can be saved. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite privilege that redeemed sinners have in glorifying God because of what He has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches and ministries to proceed from and be related to the Gospel.
SALVATION: MAN'S RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL
The proper response to the gospel is faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, a faith that is naturally accompanied by repentance from sin. Biblical repentance is characterized by a changed life, and saving faith is evidenced by kingdom service and works. This response to the gospel is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional election of God for His own pleasure and glory. This gospel of grace is to be sincerely preached to all men in all nations. The Scriptures proclaim REAL HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY & GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY concurrently - so we affirm both simultaneously.
**Distinctive: The Scriptures declare salvation as fundamentally the work of God and no man will enter heaven boasting in anything we've done. Before the
foundation of the world, God elected His people, setting His affection
and grace upon them (Rom 8:29-30). In love, God predestined His people for adoption (Eph 1:4-6).
Faith is a gift of grace that is given by the mercy and pleasure of
God, so that no one may boast. Apart from drawing of God,
humanity cannot choose of his own accord to worship God and pursue
righteousness (John 6:44, Rom 3; Eph 2:1-3). God’s sovereignty in salvation is comprehensive: from first to last, all of salvation is the work of God. Therefore, as we search Christ's teachings and the rest of the Scriptures we find ourselves situated in the reformed tradition alongside men of today like David Platt, RC Sproul, Al Mohler, John Piper, men of old like Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, and primarily the very words of Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc. Again, simultaneously it is mankind's responsibility to personally call upon the name of the Lord in repentance, surrender, and obedience unto salvation (John 3:16, Rom 10:13). Humans are morally culpable. In other words, we refuse to rip out/discard any portion of Scripture just because we do not understand them. We are neither "Calvinist" nor "Arminian". We are neither "Puppets" nor "Self-determinists". We are Biblicists.
MAN'S INHERITANCE THROUGH THE GOSPEL
Salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone repenting of sin by the miracle of regeneration and looking to Christ and His substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God as a free gift. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him. He is justified and fully accepted by God. Through Christ’s atonement for sin, an individual is reconciled to God as Father and becomes His child. The believer is forgiven the debt of his sin and liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God’s Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification, seeking to produce His fruit in us. Our minds are renewed, and we are conformed to the image of Christ. Though indwelling sin remains a reality, the Spirit leads us to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely keeping His commandments and endeavoring to so live in the world that all people may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word and deed. The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard. Nevertheless, the believer’s ultimate confidence to persevere is based in the sure promise of God to preserve His people until the certain end.
God, by His Word and Spirit, creates the Church, calling sinful men out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ’s body. By the same Word and Spirit, He guides and preserves that newly redeemed humanity. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination. Rather, the Church is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve Him by faithfully doing His will on earth. This service involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in the entire world. The ultimate mission of the Church is to bring glory to God by making disciples. Upon conversion, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and prayer.
All members of the Church are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context, they are called to live out the implications of the gospel as the people of God and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit has given ministerial gifts to the Church, including prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the equipping of Christ’s body so that it might mature and grow. In the context of the local church, God’s people receive pastoral care and oversight and the opportunity to steward their gifts for His glory and the good of the others.
**Distinctive: As a local church, we have chosen to partner with two organizations that we align with in like theology and like mission. We support the Acts29 Network which is a diverse, global network of church planting churches. In doing so, we are able to help encourage, equip, resource, and support churches that plant churches. We also support the Southern Baptist Convention which, through the "Cooperative Program", allows us to participate in the largest missionary organization in the world with over 7500 missionaries in 104 countries.
Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ’s atoning work and become His disciple. In obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the Church, oneself and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that a former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts a person’s release from the mastery of sin.
**Distinctive: The precedent we find in the New Testament is baptism following conversion by immersion into water. Baptism by immersion symbolically depicts the believer's real union to Christ in His death and resurrection. (Rom 6:1-14) As such, we practice "believer's baptism by immersion".
As with baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we come to the table with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
**Distinctive: The Scriptures illustrate the early church taking communion sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometime periodically (Acts 2:46-47; 20:7, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:26). We choose to do so weekly during our response time each Sunday as we gather to share in teaching and music that celebrates the Gospel.
The consummation of all things includes the future, physical, visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the translation of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. In the consummation, Satan, with his hosts and all those outside Christ, are separated from the benevolent presence of God, enduring eternal punishment, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, will live and reign with Him forever, serving Him and giving Him unending praise and glory. Then, the eager expectation of creation will be fulfilled, and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God, who makes all things new.
PARTNERSHIPS: As the old saying goes, "you can learn a lot about someone by the people they associate themselves with". It is probably just as true a statement for organizations as it is individuals. With that in mind, below you will find links to groups that we count it a joy and honor to support in prayer, financially, or simply by recommending to you as a great ministry to partner with on mission:
• The Acts29 Network: As part of A29, we are part of a diverse, global network of church planting churches. Along with a constantly growing number of church (currently over 700), we partner to equip, resource, assess, and train church planters world-wide.
• The Southern Baptist Convention and International Mission Board: As a supporting member of the Cooperative Program, we are able to partner with over 47,000 churches to support 6 seminaries, 3500+ foreign missionaries and 5000+ domestic missionaries to over 3200 unengaged people groups.
• Reformed University Fellowship at the University of Alabama: More than just a ministry on campus, Reformed University Fellowship seeks to be a ministry for the university. The main goal of this doctrinally robust organization is to help students see how the Lordship of Christ informs every area of life.
• Campus Outreach at the University of Alabama: CO is new to Ttown and we're excited to see what God is up to through this group. With a focus on glorifying God by building laborers on the campus for the lost world, we gladly champion this team and organization.
• Northport Elementary School: While not a missions organization, it can truly be said that God has used this school to open doors for ministry that we simply would not have had otherwise. It is an honor to financially support and partner with NES on a consistent, strategic, and weekly basis.
• Samaritan's Purse: If you are looking for a way to share the Gospel through the meeting of felt needs, look no further than Samaritan's Purse! Having witnessed their ministry first hand through the tornado of 2011, and partnering to send goats to Bolivia, we gladly provide a link for you to plug in.