Statement of basic beliefs

The Scriptures ~ We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New testaments to be the verbally inspired word of God, the final authority for faith and life, infallible and God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Matt. 5:18; John 16:12, 13).

The Godhead ~ We believe in one triune God, eternally existing in three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--coeternal in being, coeternal in nature, coequal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections (Deut. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:14).

The Person and Work of Christ ~ We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man (John 1:1, 2, 14; Luke 1:35). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice; and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Rom. 3:24; 1 Peter 2:24; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of representative, intercessor, and advocate (Acts 1:9, 10; Heb. 7:25, 9:24; Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2).

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit ~ We believe that the Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead and a person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and that He is the supernatural agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling them and sealing them unto the day of redemption (John 16:8-11; 2 Cor. 3:6; 1 Cor 12:12-14; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 5:18).

Humanity ~ We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that through Adam's sin, the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God. Man has a radical propensity to sin, and of himself is utterly unable to remedy his lost condition (Gen. 1:26, 27; Rom. 3:22, 23, 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3, 12). We also believe that humanity is created in the image of God, and thus has intrinsic value. This is seen in the reality of Jesus Christ's incarnation, becoming a man, and his willingness to die for humanity.

Salvation ~ We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 2:8-10; John 1:12; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Eternal Security and Assurance of Believers ~ We believe that all the redeemed are kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 6:37-40, 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1, 38, 39; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; 1 Pet. 1:5). We believe it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's word, which clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Rom. 13:13, 14; Gal. 5:13; Titus 2:11-15). We believe that the saved person is in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ, and will bear fruit in their life before they die.

The Ministry and Spiritual Gifts ~ We believe that God is sovereign in the bestowing of spiritual gifts. It is, however, the believer's responsibility to attempt to develop their sovereignly given spiritual gift(s). The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion and is the placing of the believer into the Body of Christ. We also believe that particular spiritual gift(s) are neither essential (proving the presence of the Holy Spirit), nor an indication of a deep spiritual experience (1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 13; Eph. 4:7-8). We believe that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith, in accordance with His own will, for the sick and afflicted (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14, 15). We believe it is the privilege and responsibility of every believer to minister according to the gift(s) and grace of God given to him (Rom. 12:1-8; 2 Cor. 13; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

The Church ~ We believe that the church, which is the body and espoused bride of Christ, is a spiritual organism made up of all born-again persons of this present age (Eph. 1:22, 23, 5:25-27; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor 11:2). We believe that the establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament scriptures (Acts 14:27, 18:22, 20:17, 1 Tim. 3:1-3; Titus 1:5-11). We believe in the autonomy of the local churches, that they are to be free of any external authority and control (Acts 13:1-4, 15:19-31, 20:28; Rom. 16:1, 4; 1 Cor. 3:9, 16, 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). We recognize believers' baptisms and the Lord's Supper as scriptural means of testimony for the church in this age (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 2:41, 42, 18:8; 2 Cor. 11:23-26).

The Second Advent of Christ ~ We believe in the "blessed hope," the personal, imminent, coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His redeemed ones. (I Thes. 1:10, 4:13-18, 5:9; Zech. 14:4-11; Rev. 3:10, 19:11-16)

Cultural Distinctives

Multicultural
Our neighborhood is an area where cultural divisions are clearly seen.  We believe that the church is a global community of every race, tribe, economic level, and tongue.  For this reason, we are intentionally diverse and multicultural and seek to put diversity on display where and when possible for the proclamation of the Gospel and the glory of God.

Urban
We are committed to the city and embrace the unique challenges the city offers.  This means that we are intentional about partnering with other nonprofits and community resources but also simply reaching and equipping people from the city, for the city.

Local

While many members live in the neighborhood and others come from all over the city, we are a local expression of Jesus.  We encourage members to embrace the mission wherever they live and, if an when possible, to live near one another in the neighborhood. We want to reach Baltimore with the Gospel and find that this best happens when living near and among our neighbors.


Indigenous

While we are made up of both local and Baltimore transplants, we seek to be a church that raises up “indigenous” leaders for the urban context. Leaders who will be here in 30 years.  We seek to create a venue for “transplants” and life-long locals to build transformative relationships and learn from one another.

Relational
Our church primary grows through relationships. We cultivate relationships with one another in and encourage members to cultivate relationships with the lost for the glory of God.


historic distinctives

Baptist
The Garden is rooted in historic Baptist church polity.  Among many facets, this includes our conviction of believer’s baptism.  Baptists, while historically autonomous, willingly partner and organize with other Baptist churches for missions and equipping future pastors.  For this reason, we cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Reformed
The Garden is rooted in a historically reformed baptistic theology.  We appreciate and cherish many of the old confessions of faith the “five solas” of the Protestant Reformation.

Elder Led
We believe that the Bible calls every local ekklesia (‘assembly’ or ‘church’) to be led by a plurality of elders.  The word elder is synonymous in the Bible with “pastor” and “bishop.”  According to Scripture, elders are to be men who meet all qualifications in 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1.  The Garden has structure ourselves with both paid staff elders and non-staff elders working side-by-side as equals in leading, loving, and shepherding the church.

Deacon Served
We believe that the Bible calls every local ekklesia (‘assembly’ or ‘church’) to be served by deacons.  While elders perform the service of the Word, Godly men and women who meet the qualifications of “deacon” in 1 Timothy 2 serve the physical needs of the church.  The original deacons were ‘table waiters’ and it was their duty to see all in the church were properly fed.  Our deacons focus on Sunday ministry teams, finances, and mercy ministries within the church body.

Congregational
We believe that according to Scripture, the actual congregation of the church has the final responsibility for the health of the church.