What We Believe

The Sylvania Church Statement of Faith

“We believe the Bible.” This statement is certainly an accurate description of Sylvania, but whether we believe the Bible is not the only consideration. In fact, it’s not even primary. More essential than whether we believe the Bible is what we believe about the Bible. In fact, we believe that what a person believes about the Bible is the most important thing about him or her. The late A.W. Tozer said it well:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. . . . Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most [deeply significant] fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. . . . Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God. (A.W. Tozer,The Knowledge of the Holy)

The following statement of faith looks deep into the core beliefs of Sylvania Church. Regarding these beliefs, Sylvania Church in Tyler is Baptist both according to its affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message (SBTC) and its affiliation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (part of the Southern Baptist Convention). That said, our commitment to reformed theology makes its doctrinal positions more closely resemble the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, which we encourage you to read for yourself. Due to the substantial length of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, we’ve constructed a more concise statement of faith that is unique to Sylvania Church in Tyler TX, capturing many of our distinctives.

Our hope is that you will be blessed and even drawn into worship as you consider what we believe. As always, please let us know if you have questions, comments, and/or concerns.

Our Statement Of Faith.

Sylvania is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the great doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. These include grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone, Christ alone, and the glory of God alone.

Our passion is to glorify God by evangelizing and discipling our community from a reformed theological perspective. From this God-centered orientation we savor His sovereignty and understand it as the solid foundation which undergirds and empowers all we believe and do.

I. Four God-Centered Observations

A. The Nature of God

The term “glory” points to God’s surpassing worth or value (Psalm 145:5). At Sylvania, we begin with God and with a large and lofty view of Him. His glory consists in the overwhelming and overflowing beauty which stems from the sum total of all His attributes working together in perfect harmony.

B. The Motive of God

God is committed to the maintenance and manifestation of His own glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). He loves His glory with infinite intensity. In fact, this love is the ground of His righteousness. He loves what is infinitely valuable. Therefore, His ultimate loyalty is to the maintenance and manifestation of His own glory (Ephesians 1:3-14Habakkuk 2:14). He manifests His glory by extending mercy and grace to undeserving sinners.

C. The Sovereignty of God

He is both Creator and Ruler (Daniel 4:34-35). All things are according to the counsel of His will. He rules the nations and governs the flight of the sparrow (Matthew 10:29). He is sovereign in salvation in that He saves by grace alone and leaves no room for human boasting (Ephesians 2:8-10). He is sovereign in exercising unconditional election (Romans 8:29), in enacting irresistible grace, and in enabling the perseverance of His people.

D. The Worship of God

His people are to be captivated by His glory. This involves both head and heart. The motive of worship is to magnify God and align ourselves with His purposes. Both intellect and emotion are crucial here. There must be light in the mind and heat in the heart.

II. Twelve Affirmations

A. God’s Word (II Timothy 3:16)

The Bible is God’s inspired, infallible and inerrant Word. It is the objective authority by which all experience is measured and evaluated.

B. The Trinity (John 1:1-3)

We believe in one living, true God who exists eternally in three persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons has distinct personal attributes, yet without division of nature, essence or being.

C. God the Father (John 3:166:27)

He is the infinite personal Spirit. He knows all things. We categorically reject the perspective of “open theism” which places limits on God’s knowledge. He knows the end from the beginning and providentially rules according to His pleasure.

D. Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21-23)

He is God’s eternally existent and only Son and the sole focus of saving faith. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life. He died a substitutionary death on the cross. He was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father. Presently, He makes intercession for His people at the Father’s right hand. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

E. The Holy Spirit (John 14:16)

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. He dwells personally in every believer–abiding as Helper, Teacher, Comforter and Guide.

F. Regeneration (John 3:145:24)

Human beings were created in the image of God. This image was marred by sin in the garden of Eden. Human beings outside of Christ are spiritually dead, enslaved and condemned (Ephesians 2:1-3). Regeneration is that gracious and sovereign work of God by which He awakens a person and calls him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord regenerates not on the basis of what is in a fallen sinner, but on the basis of what is in Him. He delights to show mercy to undeserving sinners.

G. The Church (Ephesians 2:19-22)

The universal church is a living, spiritual body comprised of those who are true believers. It is the body and bride of Christ, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The local church consists of a community of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith and associated for worship, nurture and outreach.

H. Christian Conduct (Romans 12:1-3)

Christians are called to live holy lives of service and testimony for the glory of God and well-being of others.

I. Ordinances (Matthew 28:19-20I Corinthians 11:23-26)

The ordinances of the church, as given by our Lord, are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. At Sylvania we follow the biblical pattern of baptism following one’s conversion and practice baptism by immersion.

J. Religious Liberty (I Timothy 2:1-5)

A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and promote opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

K. Church Cooperation (I Corinthians 16:1)

Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, agencies and local churches, when the end to be attained is itself justified and when such cooperation involves no compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word. Sylvania is an autonomous local body which enjoys voluntary affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.

L. Last Things (Revelation 20:4-6)

We affirm belief in the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ to earth, in the establishment of His eternal kingdom, in the resurrection of the body and of the final judgment. We affirm the endless suffering of the wicked and the eternal joy of the righteous.