About the Bible
The Scriptures are the very Word of God from Genesis to Revelation (2 Tim 3:16). They were verbally inspired at the time of their writing, are completely inerrant, providentially preserved, and entirely sufficient. Verbal inspiration is a supernatural event whereby God, through the Holy Spirit, moved men to write the Scriptures (2 Pet 1:21). Since the Scriptures are the very words of God, and He is perfect, it is completely inerrant in the original documents. Although God spoke through men, incorporating their personalities and styles of writing, no Scripture was a matter of the writer’s own initiative; therefore the Bible is considered to be completely truthful (Titus 1:2; 2 Pet 1:21-22).
Providential preservation refers to the sovereign act of God by which His Word has remained throughout time. Although there are no longer copies of the original manuscripts, the full meaning and all of the words of the original have been preserved by God’s providential work through men.
Since the Scriptures are the very words of God, they are authoritative and completely sufficient (2 Tim 3:16). They are sufficient in that they contain God’s revelation of His will for the salvation of men and address all issues pertaining to life (2 Pet 1:2-4). No further revelation is needed for the child of God to live a life that is in accordance to the will of God, nor is there needed revelation for any other reason.
There is one and only one true God. He is living and eternal. He did not have a beginning and He will forever remain (Rev 1:8). He is infinitely holy (Lev 11:44; 1 Pet 1:15); therefore, His holiness is revealed in every aspect of who He is. He can never do anything that would contradict His holiness. He is completely perfect (Jas 1:13) and never changes (Mal 3:6; Jas 1:17). He is characterized by love (1 John 4:8) and grace (Eph 1:5-8; 2:7-9), but His holy nature demands that He must also be just (Ps 73:17-20, 27) and righteous (Jer 9:24; 10:10). He is the creator (Gen 1:1) and sustainer (Col 1:16-17) of the world. He is the preserver of all who believe (Rom 8:29-30; Jn 10:28) and He delivers wrath on those who do not believe (Eph 5:5-6). He is completely sovereign. Everything He wills comes to pass and nothing frustrates His plan (Isa 46:9-11).
While one, God is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each person in the Godhead is equally God yet distinct in function. Although the Trinity cannot be fully comprehended by human intellect, the Scriptures provide clear testimony of the Trinity as a reality. Ephesians 1:3-14 provides a demonstration of how all three members of the Trinity serve in their respective roles in regard to redemption. God the Father is the one who purposed the plan of redemption according to His good pleasure and chose those who will be redeemed (Eph 1:3-6). Jesus, the Son, serves as the means through which redemption is made possible, and thereby makes those chosen for redemption acceptable to the Father and provides them with an inheritance (Eph 1:7-12). The Spirit serves as the one through whom the inheritance of the redeemed is secured and kept unto the praise of the glory of the Father (Eph 1:13-14).
About Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is the eternal Son of God and possesses all of the divine attributes of the Godhead (Titus 2:13). He is coequal and co-eternal with the Father (John 1:1-3; 10:30; 14:9; Heb 1:2). Christ was the agent through whom God the Father created all that exists (John 1:1-5; Col 1:16) and is the sustainer of creation (Col 1:15-17). Christ’s incarnation took place through the virgin birth (Is 7:14; Matt 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26-35). Throughout the incarnation, Christ was both fully man (Matt 27:50; Luke 2:40, 52; 10:21; 24:39; John 11:33) and fully God (John 10:30). His coming to earth did not compromise His position as deity. He willingly laid aside His privileges of deity, but none of the divine nature itself (Phil 2:5-8). The incarnation made it possible for God to reveal Himself to man (John 1:1-2) as well to die, providing redemption (John 3:16; John 12:47).
Christ accomplished redemption through His death on the cross and the shedding of His blood (Col 1:14; Eph 1:7). This sacrifice was voluntary (Phil 2:5-8), substitutionary (Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24), propitiatory (Rom 3:25; 1 John 2:2) and redemptive (Rom 3:24). While only those who believe in Christ for their salvation enjoy the benefits of eternal life, all of mankind receives the common grace of life during which God temporarily restrains His wrath. The benefits of the atonement toward the believer include the believer being set free from the punishment (Rom 3:24-25), penalty (Rom 5:8-9), power (Rom 6:1-11), and ultimately the presence of sin, and adopted into the family of God (Rom 8:12-17). The believer is also justified (declared righteous) (Rom 3:24-25) and given eternal life (John 3:16).
Christ completed His work with His resurrection. Christ literally and physically rose from the grave after being put to death on the cross (John 20:19-20). This resurrection evidenced the deity of Christ as well as showed that the atoning sacrifice was acceptable before God (John 14:19; Rom 1:4). Christ’s resurrection also assures believers of the resurrection in which they, too, will share (Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15).
Christ has now ascended to the right hand of the Father (Heb 10:10-12) and is the head of the church (Eph 4:15; Col 1:18), and mediates as the believer’s Advocate and High Priest (Heb 4:14-16; 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). One day, Christ will return to receive His body, the church, unto Himself (1 Thess 4:13-18). When Christ returns with His church following the tribulation, He will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Matt 25:29-31; Rev 20).
About the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is co-equal with the Father and the Son (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:10-13), underived and eternal (John 15:26; Heb 8:14). The Holy Spirit bears all of the characteristics of personality and deity, which include: emotion (Eph 4:30), will (1 Cor 2:11), intellect (1 Cor 2:10-13), truthfulness (John 16:13), omniscience (Isa 40:13-14), omnipotence (Rom 15:14), and eternality (Heb 9:14). The Holy Spirit played an essential role in creation (Gen 1:2); the incarnation (Matt 1:18), and written revelation (2 Pet 1:20-21).
In regard to mankind, it is best to understand the work of the Holy Spirit separately as it relates to unbelievers and believers. In reference to the unbeliever, the Holy Spirit’s divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:7-9). In relation to the unbelieving world, the Spirit also restrains the evil one until God’s purposes are accomplished (2 Thess 2:7).
In reference to the life of the believer, it is important to recognize that the Spirit is the sovereign agent in regeneration (John 3:5-7; 1 Cor 12:13). He baptizes all believers into Christ (1 Cor 12:13) and seals them until the day of redemption (Eph 1:13). These are instantaneous acts of the Spirit and occur only once; therefore this does not refer to a “second grace” or receiving more of the Spirit. However, it is part of human responsibility to be filled (controlled) by the Spirit (Eph 5:17), which is done by living according to the Word of God (Col 3:16). The believer’s strength is supplied by the Holy Spirit’s empowering ministry (2 Cor 3:4-6). The continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer includes His indwelling presence (Rom 8:9), sanctifying work (process of making holy) (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 6:11; 2 Cor 3:18), and empowering for service (strength and ability to serve God) (2 Cor 3:4-6). The Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to each believer (1 Cor 12:4-11). These gifts are to be used for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Cor 13:5; Eph 4:16).
The world was created by God out of nothing in six literal, twenty-four hour, successive days (Gen 1:1-31). This reflects a literal interpretation of the Genesis account without any use of allegorical or metaphorical interpretation (Gen 1:1; Jer 10:12; John 1:3; Acts 4:24; Acts 17:23-26; Rom 1:20; Col 1:16, 17; Heb 11:3; Rev 10:6). Man was created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27; 1 Cor 11:7). The creation of both man and animals was completed at the moment of their creation. There is no biblical basis for the evolution of species (Gen 2:7, 21-23).
The Scriptures teach that man was created by God in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27). Man was created free of sin with the ability to think, rationalize and with a moral responsibility to God (Gen 2:7, 15-25; Jas 3:9). However, as a result of Adam’s disobedience, sin has been passed to all men (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22). Every man is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1-3). Theologically this is known as total depravity. This does not mean that all unbelievers are as sinful as they could be, but it does mean that man has no ability to do good or to earn salvation on his own (Luke 6:33; Rom 2:14). Man, in total, is a slave to sin and death (Rom 5:12; Eph 2:3; 4:17-19). Prior to salvation, man is condemned and considered to be an enemy of God (Rom 5:8; 10). As a result of the sin nature, all unbelievers are alienated and hostile in mind; engaged in evil deeds (Col 1:21). Sinful lusts, motivated by a hatred of God’s law, dictates the lives of unbelievers. (Rom 7:5). Apart from God’s grace and mercy, man is completely without hope for salvation and is incapable of pleasing God in any way (Eph 2:4-10).
Because man is totally depraved and dead in his sins (Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 2:14), he is unable to understand his need for salvation. In addition, no amount of human effort is sufficient to earn salvation (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7). Salvation is wholly dependent on the sovereign grace and will of God. The means by which this grace is made available is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:7) and His shed blood (Col 1:14; 1 Pet 1:18-19). Those who receive this gift of grace are referred to in Scripture as God’s elect. Election is the act of God by which He chose in Christ, before the foundation of the world, those who would be regenerated, saved, and sanctified (Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:4-11; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10; 1 Pet 1:1-2). This choosing is not based on any human merit or work (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7). While the Scriptures place great emphasis on the sovereign act of God in salvation, the Scriptures equally emphasize the responsibility of man to repent and trust in the work of Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:18-19; Phil 2:12-13; 3:12; 2 Thess 2:10-12).
The process of regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). The Spirit accomplishes this in conjunction with the Word of God (John 5:24; Rom 10:10-17). One repents of his sins and places his trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ. At the point of regeneration an individual is also justified. Justification is the judicial act by which God declares one who repents as righteous (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Rom 8:33; 2 Cor 7:10). This act involves imputation of one’s sins to Christ (1 Pet 2:24) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer (1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21). Those who are regenerated and justified are kept by the power of God and are completely secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom 5:9-10; 8:1; 31-39; Eph 1:14; Phil 1:6; Heb 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24).
While an individual is declared righteous and holy in Christ at the moment of regeneration (1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11); the process of redemption continues until the believer enters eternity (Phil 2:12-13). That is to say that the believer is already positionally sanctified, united with Christ (Eph 4:23; Col 3:11), yet continues to be progressively sanctified throughout his earthly life. It is this process of progressive sanctification, or becoming like Christ that should be the purpose or goal in the life of each believer (Rom 8:28-29; 1 Cor 1:1-9; Titus 2:11-14). The process of progressive sanctification is accomplished as the believer strives, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live in accordance with the Word of God (Rom 6:15-22; 15:16; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Thess 4:3-4). The point at which a believer enters eternity and is made perfect is the completion of the salvation process and is known as glorification (Rom 8:30; 1 John 3:2).
About the Church
The church is the body of Christ and consists of all those who have been called forth by God, incorporated into Christ, and indwelt by the Spirit (Eph 1-2; 1 Cor 12:13). The church came into existence with the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47). Since the church was new at Pentecost, the church and Israel are two separate entities and should be viewed as such. Promises that are given to Israel (i.e. the establishment of the kingdom) are specific to that nation and will not be fulfilled through the church. The inception of the church began a new dispensation and should be understood as separate from the dispensations that preceded it (Eph 2). Christ is the head of the church (Eph 1:22; 4:15; Col 1:18; 2:19).
The local church is a visible representation of the body of Christ of which Christ is the head (Eph 4:15). Each local church is totally autonomous (Acts 15:22; Titus 1:5) and while Christ remains the head, each assembly is provided with those who should lead it, namely pastors and deacons (Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3:8; Heb 13:7, 17). The Scriptures are clear in regards to the qualifications for these two offices (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-16). Although the pastors and deacons are God’s given leadership, since Christ is the head, the Bible must always be regarded as the ultimate authoritative guide (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21; 2 Pet 1:2-4). The purpose of the local church is to glorify God by bringing every man to maturity in Christ. That is the entire body is built up and grown into the likeness of Christ. The purpose of the church is to be accomplished through a number of means including teaching and admonishing (Col 1:28-29; 3:16). The formal outworking of admonition is church discipline (Matt 18:15-20, 1 Cor 6). This process should be occurring constantly to ensure the continual spiritual growth of the church.
Baptism is a means by which one who has believed in Christ demonstrates obedience to the commands of Christ (Matt 28:19), and identifies with Christ (Gal 3:27; Col 2:12-13) and His body, the church (Acts 2:41). Baptism does not provide salvation, but it is simply an outward representation of the work of God that has already occurred in the one baptized (Rom 6:3-5). Because infants are not capable of belief in Christ, they are not to be the subjects of baptism. The proper mode of baptism is immersion and is a one-time event (Acts 8:37-39). The Bible does not specify that baptism should be required as a prerequisite to local church membership, but, since baptism is a command and it symbolizes identification with Christ and His church, wisdom strongly suggests that every member of the local assembly should be properly baptized. For this reason, the local church should make Scriptural baptism a prerequisite for membership.
Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is symbolic in nature. The Lord’s Supper reveals the participants’ union and identity with the blood of Christ and union with the body of Christ, the church (1 Cor 10:16-17). The Lord’s Supper is not a means of salvation. Those who participate in the Lord’s Supper should be those who are already believers in Christ and who have identified with the body of Christ. Since the Lord’s Supper reveals union with the body of Christ and since the local church is a visible representation of the body, it is proper that it should be observed within the local church. When a local assembly observes the Lord’s Supper it is best to limit participation to those who are members. However, those who are not members but are known to be believers should not be restricted from partaking. The Scriptures do not specify how often communion should be observed (1 Cor 11:26), however because of the significance of the Lord’s supper and the way in which it encourages the unity of the body, wisdom seems to suggest that it should be observed regularly and somewhat frequently.
While giving in the Old Testament was based upon that which the law commanded; giving in the New Testament is somewhat different. The Old Testament Law was very specific in regard to what each person should give, but the New Testament exchanges the restrictions of the Law for liberality in giving (2 Cor 8:1-2). This is not unlike other aspects of the Law in comparison to the New Testament commands. While the Old Testament says ‘you shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13), the New Testament says that to hate is equivalent to committing murder (1 Jn 3:15). While the Law limits giving to a portion of one’s possessions, the New Testament calls for believers to give themselves first (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 8:5) and then it expands giving to all areas of life. The New Testament never provides a percentage or recommends how much one should give, but it emphasizes that giving should be done out of one's abundance. While this looks like different amounts for each person, it should always be sacrificial (Lk 21:1-4).
About the Future
Before Christ returned to Heaven, He promised that He would come again and take those who believe on Him (John 14:1-3). This return of Christ for His church is known as the Rapture. At the time of the Rapture, which is known only to God, Christ will descend from Heaven with a shout and with the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thess 4:16). At the same moment, all of those in Christ will be caught up to be with Him; those who have already died will precede those who are still living (1 Thess 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:51-55). The Rapture of the church initiates what is described as Daniel’s seventieth week or the Tribulation. The purpose of the Tribulation is the fulfillment of God’s prophesied work with Israel. This is a literal seven-year period during which the wrath of God will be poured out upon the whole world (Dan 9:27; 2 Thess 2:7-12; Rev 3:10; Rev 6-19). During this time, New Testament believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ where each will receive rewards according to that which they did on earth (2 Cor 5:10).
The time of tribulation will come to an end with the second coming of Christ and the initiation of His millennial reign (Matt 25:31; Rev 19:11-16). At this time Christ, will judge the nations and send the wicked into the everlasting fire (Matt 25:31-46). Also, at this time the Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints will be resurrected to reign on earth with Jesus Christ for a literal one thousand year period. During this time, Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit (Rev 20:1-6). Following the one thousand year reign of Christ, Satan will be released from the bottomless pit and allowed to gather the nations to battle the saints (Rev 20:7-9). At that battle fire will come down from Heaven and devour Satan’s army and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:9-10).
Then the unbelieving dead will be resurrected so as to stand in judgment before God at the Great White Throne. Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life are cast into the literal lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15).