(In the sixties, as new congregations were founded and were concerned to follow the way of blameless service to the Lord, many believers fulfilled sanctification and had the desire to put into writing the foundational truths of their service. They did this in the form of a constitution. This is the constitution of one congregation of our brotherhood.)
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).
"And Joshua said unto all the people ... Choose you this day whom ye will serve ... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the people answered and said. God forbid that -we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods ... The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey" (Josh. 24:2, 15, 16, 24). "To observe and to do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His judgements and His statutes" (Neh. 9:38; 10:29).
"I/any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).
It is observable that there are cases of wandering away from the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ in our brotherhood of Evangelical Christian Baptists, in that many of our believers have gone onto the path of conscious, known sinning and lose their salvation. We, the believers, express our desire for sanctification in that we ourselves re-examine our lives and renew our covenant with the Lord and with each other. As a foundation for our mutual understanding we accept the following:
1. Our congregation is a voluntary association of evangelical Christian Baptists who confess Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. "For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
2. The only Head of our association is Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body" (Col. 1:17, 18).
Our unchanging leader is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who teaches, reminds, admonishes and comforts us. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
The unvarying foundation of our teaching is the Word of God, which was written by holy men of God, moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21), Who is the only one Who can prepare each one for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
3. Our main objectives are:
a. Sanctification: "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3).
b. Evangelism: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19, 20).
4. As a foundation for our relationships with each other as members of the unified body of Jesus Christ we affirm:
a. Brotherly love, mercy, patience. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34). "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth allthings" (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
b. Self-sacrifice: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
c. Mutual support and responsibility for the welfare of another: in joy and in sorrow to hasten to the aid of the people of God, especially there, where deprivation and persecution arise; to enter into all the needs of the congregation and to bear all the hardships of
the work and the cross of their sufferings. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).
5. We acknowledge that the congregation itself elects ministers out of its own midst, those whom God has chosen, in that He has given them appropriate gifts and the zeal for the ministry from above (Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 1:20-26) and who deny their own personal gain for the furtherance of the Word of God (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).
Only the congregation, and no one else from within or without, has the right to elect its' ministers, and the congregation is not allowed to extend this right to anyone else. The ministers must account for their work to the general assembly of the whole congregation which supervises the ministers and of necessity re-elects, sets aside and recalls them. "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).
6. Regarding the question of relationships with other congregations, we will strive to have brotherly fellowship with all congregations which support the Truth and which are of one mind with us regarding the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will extend full support to all those who love the Lord.
7. Regarding the question of relationships with the State we acknowledge, that "there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Rom. 13:1) and that in all civic matters we are obligated to submit ourselves on the basis of Romans 13:7; "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." In matters of faith, however, we must follow the instructions
of Jesus Christ: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21).
However, giving that which is God's to Caesar—that is, allowing the godless to decide questions of faith—is a very serious sin, because it is nothing less than robbing Christ of the right to lead His Church and to be its Head. This is also a violation of the existing law: the Decree on Separation of Church and State and of the Constitution of the USSR.
In the context of what has been discussed above, the questions regarding the inner life of the congregation are a congregational private matter and may not be revealed to those who are outside (1 Tim. 3:9).
Matters of registration and similar things which have to do with the outside agencies, must be decided on a legal basis without the interference of outsiders in the inner life of the congregation.
The election and the ordination of the ministers, baptism, worship services, etc., according to the Word of God and also according to the existing laws, are internal church, personal matters of the believers. Based on 1 Cor. 12:28 these matters are not to be discussed with outsiders. We consider all of the foregoing as necessary to fulfil our lives—first of all, because we love the Lord, and also because we know that everyone who wanders away and does not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God (2 John 9). Erring from the truth is a sin which leads to death (James 5:19-20).
Therefore, as we renew our covenant with the Lord and with each other, in that we do not trust in ourselves but in the Lord, we will make every effort so that we do not err from the truth and commit no known sin, rather, constantly walk in the way of holiness.
While we are trusting in the Lord we will seek to place our whole life, without reservation at His disposal, to trust His guidance totally and to follow Him wherever He may lead—into suffering, into persecution, into prison and into exile and to receive reproach for the sake of the Name of Christ, the disgrace, the dishonour and the theft of our property with joyful acceptance. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).
As we trust in the Lord, we will strive diligently to love every brother and every sister as we love ourselves and not have an attitude of resentment, jealousy, anger, or bitterness against anyone; to love the brotherhood and the beloved church of Christ and to be prepared to lay down our life for the brethren and, following the example of the church in Macedonia with deed and in truth, to participate in the service of the congregation. "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). "They ... gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:5).
As we trust in the Lord, we will strive diligently to allow our lives to witness to the grace of the love of God in the example of our personal life as well as in the preaching of Christ as the Saviour of sinners.
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 10:32, 33).
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every that who believeth" (Rom. 1:16).
"Choose you this day whom ye will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).
"That, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:28).
To Him be the honour! Amen.
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