The purpose of this doctrinal statement is to express the foundational truths upon which our church is built and by which it will be protected. A doctrinal statement is not a sermon or a devotional; rather, it is a theological foundation upon which our church stands, as well as a theological fence that protects our church from false teaching. For an idea of how we apply these doctrinal truths in our local congregation, please listen to our sermons or contact our leadership about any questions you may have concerning our doctrinal statement.
We believe that human beings were created in the image of God to live in a relationship with him and to display his glory and beauty throughout the world as they commune with him. Because of sin we have been separated from God and do not know him and are therefore unable to live according to our God-given design and purpose and are under his just judgment. We are brought into a relationship with him only through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. Therefore, the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is essential and central to the fulfillment of our mission to fill the earth with the knowledge of God. The following doctrinal statement outlines the biblical truths that are central to our ministry. To God alone be the glory for all of the good things he will do in the ministry.
II. The Bible
We believe that God, through human instruments, is the author of all the Scripture, not just parts of it, and thus the entire Bible is divinely inspired (2 Ti. 3:16).
Though the Scripture came from God, God used men to write the Scriptures. In writing the Scriptures the personalities and vocabularies and experiences of the men are evident in their writings. However, though God used these men in such a way that their individuality is obvious, this by no means implies that the Scripture was a combination of God’s message commingled with man’s message. Though the Bible was written by men, these men did not in any way originate this message, but rather were carried along by the Holy Spirit in such a way that they recorded the Word of God exactly the way that God alone intended it to be recorded (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Because God is the author of Scripture we believe that in its original manuscripts, original languages and according to its intended meaning, all of the Scripture is without error and is our only infallible guide (Ps. 19:7; Jn. 17:17) as it pertains to the truth about God and his eternal plans and purposes in Christ. As such the Scripture is the final authority on all matters and is binding on all of creation.
We also believe that the canon of Scripture is complete and that there is no new genuine revelation from God that was, or will be given to man after the completion of the New Testament (Heb. 1:2; Rev. 22:18-19). The Bible, which contains 66 books (39 OT and 27 NT) is a sufficient revelation of God and it is complete and we adamantly reject any notion of additional revelation being given to man after the completion of the canon of Scripture, nor do we accept any apocryphal writings as carrying the same authority as Scripture.
III. The Trinity
We believe that there is one God (Dt. 6:4; Mk 12:29) eternally existing in three persons. We believe the three persons of the Trinity are God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is fully God, co-eternal, and co-equal within the Godhead (Jn. 1:1-3, 14; Acts 5:3-4). All three persons of the Godhead are to be honored as God and worshiped and obeyed fully. The plans and purposes of the Godhead are one yet we believe that each person of the Trinity plays a distinct role in the execution of the plans and purposes of the Godhead.
IV. God the Father
We believe that God the Father, through Jesus Christ, is the creator and sovereign ruler over all of creation. He is sovereign over all affairs in his creation including salvation. All of the Father’s purposes and plans in creation and redemption are to display his glory and are accomplished in and through Jesus Christ (Ge. 1; Jn. 1:1-4; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3; Eph. 1:10-11).
V. Jesus Christ
We believe Jesus Christ is the unique God-man who is at the same time fully man and fully God. He is co-eternal with the Father and is thus fully God and through him creation came into being and is sustained (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3). According to his Father’s purposes in redemption Jesus Christ willingly left his glory in heaven and was born on earth of the virgin Mary and is thus fully human (Matthew 1:18-21; Gal. 4:4; Php. 2:5-11). In becoming human in no way did he surrender his divine essence or being. We believe that he is completely sinless in every way (John 14:31; Heb. 4:15; 1 Jn. 3:5).
Through his perfect life, substitutionary death on the cross for sinners, and his resurrection from the dead, he has accomplished salvation for sinners (Ro. 4:25-5:1; 1 Cor. 15:3-5). We believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead bodily after being buried in his tomb for 3 days and that he appeared to many and gave convincing proofs for his resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-8). He is therefore the firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:18) and has ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9) where he sits on his throne at the right hand of the Father and makes intercession for his people as their great High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16; 7:23-25; 9:24-28; 10:11-14). He is also the head of a new creation as the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:17-20). We believe that he makes all of his people a new creation in him and that one day he will renew all things, including the entire created order and thus reconcile all things to himself (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:8-10; Colossians 1:20; Revelation 21:5).
VI. The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity and is therefore God and should be honored as such (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 2:11-12). The Holy Spirit participated with the rest of the Trinitarian Godhead in creation (Ge. 1:2). The Holy Spirit is the agent by which those who are spiritually dead are regenerated and made alive according to the sovereign work of God alone and are brought into a spiritual union with Christ and thus are made to be spiritual children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:5-8; 1 Jn. 3:9; Tit. 3:5). We believe the Holy Spirit is with and dwells in all believers and is essential for salvation (Jn. 14:17; Romans 8:9; Tit. 3:5). The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16:8) and is given to glorify Jesus Christ (Jn. 16:14-15). The Holy Spirit is the endowment of our future inheritance in glory and the guarantee that our salvation is secure (Ephesians 1:13-14). We believe that as the Holy Spirit indwells believers he enables us to live a holy life that bears holy fruit as a result of his work in us (Galatians 5:22-25). We believe that the Holy Spirit equips believers with spiritual gifts for service in the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 12:4-11). We also believe that it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the Bible and thus insured that the message was inerrant, and is a faithful and true witness of God and his glory in Christ (2 Ti. 3:16-17; 2 Pe. 1:21).
We believe, that by the spoken power of God’s Word alone, that the Triune God sovereignly created the universe out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3) in 6, literal, 24 hour days (Genesis 1). We also believe that God sustains all things in creation by the Word of his power (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17) and that all things were made for is glory (Psalm 19:1, Ro. 1:19-20).
We believe that human beings, both male and female, were created in the image of God for the purpose of living in fellowship with him and displaying his glory to the creation (Ge. 1:26-28). In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve fell into sin and thus failed to live according to their God-given design and were therefore punished by God (Ge. 3:16-24). As was true of Adam and Eve after the fall, we believe that because of sin we being in union with Adam are now by nature evil, spiritually dead, unable to have true fellowship with each other, condemned and under God’s judgment, subject to physical death, unable to live according to our God-given design, separated from God, and under his wrath (Ro. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22; Eph. 2:1-3; Col 1:21). We believe that man is completely unable to remedy his condition by his own will, or power and resources and is in desperate need of God’s salvation in Christ.
Concerning the current issue of transgenderism we believe that God has sovereignly created each individual person as either male or female, and both male and female image forth our glorious creator God in their own unique way (Ge. 1:27). We believe that the authority and prerogative to determine each person’s gender lies with God alone who sovereignly designed each person according to his own purposes. Therefore, any change or alteration of one’s gender is rebellion against God’s design and authority, who alone has the right to create us according to his will (Ps. 139:13-16; Isa. 43:1-7; Ro. 9:20-21; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11, 10:6). Therefore, to claim to identify with or alter one’s body unto becoming a gender contrary to that which God himself made a person to be, is sin and rebellion against the design of God.
This sin is not so unique in that it cannot be pardoned. Like all of us fallen people, transgender individuals are seeking an identity outside of God’s design and who he made us to be in Christ. Others do this as well when they seek identity in beauty, riches, achievements, or anything else other than Christ. If a transgender individual, or any other sinner, confesses their sin to God, trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation believing his death on the cross atones for their sin, believes God raised Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day, and walks in repentance towards God, he will be saved and given a new identity in Christ (Acts 13:39; Romans 10:9; Eph. 1:1-14; Col. 1:21-23). God loves transgender people and so do we. In love, both God and we his people call the transgender community (and all communities) to faith in Christ and repentance towards God unto salvation.
We believe that salvation, from beginning to end, is solely by the sovereign grace of God alone that he has displayed and achieved in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. Salvation is only in Jesus Christ and there is salvation in no other (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12). Sinners receive salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 4:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-10; Gal. 2:16; 3:10-14; Php. 3:8-10; Col. 1:21-23; Tit. 3:4-7), which is always accompanied by repentance (2 Cor. 7:10; Acts 17:30; Luke 5:32; 13:3,5 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; 2 Ti. 2:25; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pe. 3:9). We believe in the eternal security of the believer and hold to the biblical notion that it is impossible for a genuine believer to lose his or her salvation (Jeremiah 32:38-41; John 6:39; 10:27-29; 17:2, 6-12, 15-17; Ro. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:13-14; Heb. 7:25; 1 Pe. 1:5; 1 Jn. 2:19).
We also believe that while the true believer’s salvation is secure and guaranteed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, nevertheless it is demanded of believers that we persevere to the end of our lives in faith and holiness (Mt. 7:21-23; 10:22, 24:13; John 8:31-32; Col. 1:22-23; Heb. 3:12-14; 1 Jn. 2:19; 3:9-10). God’s power and indwelling Spirit towards us who believe will enable and cause us to persevere in faith to the end and thus our salvation is eternally secure, because by God’s sovereign grace, he will personally see to it that his people persevere to the end (Jr. 32:38-41; Ez. 36:26-27; Ro. 8:29-30; 1 Pe. 1:5).
This does not mean that we do not possess salvation in this life, but rather, we believe that we do possess our salvation now, and yet, there still remains a future reality of our salvation that has not yet occurred, but is guaranteed because of the person and work of Christ. Therefore, we believe that our salvation takes place in stages with a clear beginning, middle, and end, which are guaranteed to be completed for all true believers (1 Cor. 15:1-2; Ro. 8:29-30). Below are the stages and components of a believer’s salvation that unfold in his life.
1. Election We believe that apart from any foreseen faith, merit, or goodness in his people, but solely according to his own grace, purpose, and will, that the Father has chosen a people from every tribe, language, and nation, for salvation in Christ before the foundation of the world to the praise of his glorious grace according to his free purposes in election (Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12; Romans 8:29-30; 9:14-24).
2. Effectual Calling We believe that God effectually calls to himself, those whom he has chosen for salvation. By his power and grace the Father begins to woo and draw his elect to Jesus Christ and he is the initiator who causes them to become aware of their sins and compelled to come to Christ. When God effectually calls his elect to him, all of those whom he has chosen will in fact gladly come to him because of the power and greatness of his call which is the primary cause of their coming to Jesus as he clearly taught in John 6:44. Additionally, Paul taught that all of God’s elect are called by God, and that all who are called are justified and glorified by God, and thus we see that this effectual calling is only to the elect (John 6:44; Romans 1:6; 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:18; 1 Th. 2:12; 2 Ti. 1:8-9; 1 Pe. 2:9; 2 Pe. 1:3). The effectual call of God goes forth through the human proclamation of the Gospel, and when the effectual call is operative, there is divine power in the hearer’s heart to respond to the message with saving faith. There is also a general Gospel call (Mt. 11:28-30; 22:14; John 7:37-39;) to all people to come to Jesus Christ, but this general call is not the same as God’s effectual call. It is a sincere call to all sinners to come to Jesus Christ. However, being incapable of responding to that call on their own because of the hardness and deceitfulness of sin, those who are not of the elect will never willingly choose to respond to the call and will not come to Jesus. Acts 13:26-48 is a good example of both calls at work. The Gospel was proclaimed through Paul, a human instrument, to all who were there indiscriminately, a response to the Gospel was called for, and some were hardened and unbelieving (vs. 44-46), and others responded with saving faith and these people are the ones about whom the text is careful to say in vs.48, “…as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” The Gospel call went out to all, but it was only the individuals who were appointed by God for eternal life who were effectually called and enabled to come to saving faith by God’s sovereign grace.
3. Regeneration In regeneration, which is essential for salvation, we believe that when the Father effectually calls his elect, the Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates their hearts and gives them spiritual life enabling the elect to believe, imparting a new divine nature into the inner man of the genuine believer. This is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit whereby he indwells all believers, and this is not something that a believer does for himself, but rather, as God’s elect, the believer has this work done to him by God (John 1:11-13, 3:3-8; Ro. 6:1-23, 8:9; Gal. 3:2-5,14; Eph. 1:13:14, 2:4-10, 3:17; 2 Peter 1:3-4;). In regeneration sinners become new creatures in Christ (2 Co 5:17), whereby they are given a new heart and live a transformed life as they now hate the sin they once loved, and they love the true glory of God and all of his ways, which they once hated (Jr. 31:33, 32:39-40; Ez. 36:26-27; 1 Jn. 3:9-10).
4. Faith and Repentance (Genuine Conversion) Having been chosen by God’s free grace in election, having been effectually called by him to Jesus, and having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and given new life (all of which are things God does to us), the believer then gladly, freely, and willingly responds to the Gospel with faith and repentance. This is the first thing that the believer does in salvation. He willingly chooses to trust in Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished in the Gospel on the sinner’s behalf, as the sole basis for his salvation, and this salvation is received by faith alone (Ro. 4:1-8; Gal. 3:10-14; Eph. 2:8-10). The essence of this faith is that it is sincere, it is heartfelt, and it is “living faith,” in that it is genuine and not false. All true saving faith will be accompanied by repentance, which is a sincere and heartfelt remorse for sin, a sincere confidence in Christ for salvation, and a genuine turning away from a life of sin and rebellion against God, which will then express itself in a life of good deeds that flow from faith and the new life the believer has received in Christ (Romans 4:1-8; 6:1-4; Ja. 2:18-23; Mt. 3:1-10; Titus 2:11-14). Zaccheus is a good example of such a life (Lk. 19:1-10).
5. Justification We believe that justification is a legal declaration made by God towards a believer wherein the believer is declared to be not guilty and is also declared to be just in God’s sight. Justification is received solely by faith in Jesus Christ alone and in no way do our works contribute to our justification before God (Romans 3:28, 4:1-8; Gal. 2:16, 3:1-9). Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life of love to the Father in our place and was fully pleasing to God (Jn. 14:31; Heb. 4:15; 1 Jn. 3:5). This perfect life is credited to all of Christ’s people who, by faith alone, come to him alone for acceptance with God (Jr. 23:6, 33:16; Ro 4:23-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 1:30; Php. 3:9). In justification, the very righteousness of Christ himself is credited to believers and it is by virtue of possessing His righteousness by faith that our legal standing with God is one of being declared righteous. The justifying righteousness that Jesus achieved for his people through his sinless life is essential to their salvation. We believe that any denial of the imputation, or crediting, of the righteousness of Christ to the believer is tantamount to proclaiming a false Gospel.
6. Propitiation In propitiation, we believe that at the cross Jesus was punished by God in the place of his people for their guilt and sin (Isa 53:5; Ro 3:25-26; 1 Jn. 2:2;) and thus he satisfied the wrath of God towards all true believers.
7. Redemption In redemption we believe that the ransom price required to redeem us from slavery to sin was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross when he purchased our redemption with the sacrifice of his own life (Mt. 20:28; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 9:12; Rev. 1:5).
8. Reconciliation and Adoption We believe that through faith in Jesus Christ and his saving Gospel, sinners who were once hostile to God, at enmity with God, and who were separated from God, become reconciled through the Gospel, are now at peace with God (Romans 4:25-5:2, 5:6-11; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Col. 1:21-23; 1 Pe. 3:18). We also believe that once a sinner is reconciled to God through the Gospel, then that person is adopted into God’s family and becomes his child, and therefore an heir of God himself, as well as all things as a co-heir with Christ in the New Heavens and the New Earth. God’s children share in the blessings of receiving a new identity, a new relationship to God, and an imperishable, eternal inheritance kept in heaven for his children (Jn. 1:12; Romans 8:14-17, 31-32; Gal. 3:26-29, 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5; 1Pe. 1:3-5; 1 John 3:1-2;).
9. Sanctification Sanctification is the process that begins at the believer’s conversion whereby God, in cooperation with the believer, progressively conforms believers into the image of Christ as the Christian walks in a relationship with God and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In Sanctification both God and man actively participate and are in partnership as the believer grows in holiness throughout his or her Christian life (Php. 2:13). All genuine believers, though sincere in their faith and truly regenerated and born again by God’s Holy Spirit, still battle remaining sin in their lives, and always will as perfection is not possible in this life (Jn. 15:2; Gal. 5:5, 17; Php. 3:8-16; 1 Jn. 1:8). Through the Word of God, prayer, the church, creation, and the circumstances, blessings, and difficulties of life, God progressively transforms the believer into Christ likeness as we behold the glory of Christ (Jn. 15:1-7; Ro. 7:4-6; 2 Cor. 3:18, 12:1-10; Eph. 4:15-16; Php. 1:6; 1 Th. 5:23-24; Heb. 12:1-14; 13:20-21). By God’s grace and power that works in his life, the believer, responds in faith and obedience to God, confesses his sins, repents of his sins, and declares war on his sins as he lays hold of the means of grace to make genuine grace-wrought efforts to strive to grow in holiness by faith as he walks with God (Micah 6:8; Ro. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-5:21; Php. 3:8-16; Col. 3:5-17; 1 Ti. 4:6-16; Tit. 2:11-15;). This process is operable in the life of a believer until their death or until the Lord returns.
10. Glorification The final and consummate stage of our salvation is glorification, which is when the spirits of all believers will be united to their literal, resurrected, glorified bodies at the resurrection. The believer’s spirit is fully sanctified and made perfect at their death (Heb. 12:23). However, it is not until the Day of Resurrection when the believer will receive a resurrected and glorified body that is united to his perfected spirit. Our glorified bodies will be perfect, sinless, immortal, incorruptible, and will enable us to perfectly see and behold the undiluted glory of Christ forever and ever (Jn. 5:25-29; 6:44; 11:23-27; Ro. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:20-57; 1 Jn. 3:1-3). We also believe that not only will believers be glorified with Christ, but also, the entire creation itself, things in heaven, and things on earth shall also be made new, and God’s people will enjoy God in a New Heaven and New Earth for all eternity (Ro. 8:18-25; Eph. 1:9-10; Col. 1:20; Rev. 21:1-5).
11. Union with Christ We believe that each genuine believer is placed in an unbreakable, spiritual union with Jesus Christ at his conversion wherein we die to slavery to sin and are given new life in Christ to walk in union with him (Ro. 6:3-11). He indwells true believers (Eph. 3:17), and we are imitators of him as he lives in us (1 Cor. 11:1). It is in this union with Christ that believers possess all spiritual blessings, including every component of our salvation stated above (Eph. 1:3), as well as every aspect of our relationship with him. It is in Christ that we were elected by God for salvation and adoption as sons (Eph. 1:4-5). In Christ we are effectually called unto salvation (1 Cor. 7:22). In Christ we are born again (regenerated) by being raised to newness of life (Eph. 2:10). In Christ we receive a right standing with God by being justified in his sight (Gal. 2:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Ro. 8:1). In Christ we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 1:7). In Christ our sins have been fully paid for and God’s wrath has been propitiated (Ro. 3:23-25). In beholding Christ, by having life in him, and living in a relationship with him, believers are progressively conformed to the image of Christ in their sanctification (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Jn. 2:6; 1 Jn. 5:11 Jn. 15:1-7). In Christ we will be raised from the dead and glorified with him at the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:22). Thus, every promise and blessing for the believer is in Christ and is ours by virtue of our union with him (2 Cor. 1:20-22; Eph. 1:3).
X. Marriage and Family
We believe in the complementarian view of family and understand the Bible’s teaching on the roles of the family members as described below.
1. The Role and Calling of a Husband God has given to husbands, the privilege, honor, and burden of having authority in the home with which he is to use to serve and lead his family in a loving and God-honoring way. He is called to be gentle and understanding with his wife (1 Peter 3:7). He is called to wash her with the Word of God, which would include instructing her, guiding her, and correcting her with God’s truth. He is to so labor in his wife’s life, and so model Christ for her, that his words, actions, and leadership are unto presenting her to Christ in all holiness. He is to love her as Christ loved the church and is called to pursue Christ-centered oneness with her for the glory of God. (Ephesians 5:25-31). For the husband to misuse, abuse, or neglect his authority and therefore lead his family away from Christ is a great sin before God. He does not have authority to make everyone in the home his slave, rather, like Jesus, he has been empowered by God that he might serve his family like Christ (Mt. 20:28).
2. The Role and Calling of a Wife In partnership with her husband, the wife is also called to ensure that the home is a God-honoring place for her family. She, like her husband, is an image bearer of God (Genesis 1:26-28). She shares the same identity in Christ and will share in the inheritance of the saints with him (Romans 8:15-17; Gal. 3:28-29). Though she is an equal heir of Christ and eternal life with her husband, in this life she has a different role. Just as the Persons of the Trinity have distinct roles, yet nevertheless are equal in value, so also the wife, being equal in value, has the distinct role of being a submissive helpmate to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pe. 3:1-6). Being called to submit to her husband does not mean that she is to submit to any requests to sin or embrace false teaching. In such circumstances she must submit to God rather than her husband (Acts 4:18-20). However, after giving her input as his loving helpmate, a wife is called to submit to her husband, even if she disagrees with him, provided that submitting to him does not require her to sin against God or embrace false doctrine. She is to submit with respect and as one who entrusts her soul to God (1 Peter 3:1-6). This doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her own opinion, it doesn’t mean she never respectfully challenges her husband’s thinking, or that she isn’t an incredibly strong and capable woman. What it does mean, is that she will do these things with respect, courtesy, and with a gentle and quiet spirit towards her husband (Eph. 5:33), and will also submit to him in obedience to God’s command. Submission in no way implies that she is demeaned by her role in any way, in fact, the Scripture calls her submission to her husband, “very precious,” in God’s sight (1 Pe. 3:4). Jesus Christ himself, submitted to the Father in all things, including death on a cross, and it was to the glory of Jesus to do so, and submission did not demean his value in any way (Php. 2:5-11; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 4:34; 8:28-29; 14:31;). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is also submissive to the divine will (Jn. 16:13). So, submission is in God and submission is glorious, and both Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, though they submit to the Father, have perfect joy (Gal. 5:22; Jn. 15:11; 17:13). Therefore, it is the Spirit-filled wife’s glory and joy to submit to her husband’s leading as she entrusts her soul to God. A godly woman is strong in the Lord, trusts in her God, is committed to her family, is anchored in the home, is a diligent woman, and is a mighty blessing to her family and society (Pr. 31:10-31).
3. The Role and Calling of Children We believe that the Bible teaches that parents are to instruct and lead their children in the ways of God and have been given authority in the home to lead their kids to Gospel-driven obedience to God and to them, which includes properly disciplining them at times, without abusing them (Pr. 1:8-9; Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20). Though parents are given authority over their children that they are to use to demand obedience, nevertheless, they are not to be overly harsh, abusive, nor are they to exasperate their children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). Their children are called to show honor to their parents by their attitudes, speech, and conduct (Ex. 20:12), and if necessary, to care for them in their old age (1 Ti. 5:4-8).
4. The Issue of So-Called Same Sex Marriage We believe that the Bible clearly teaches that marriage is only between one man and one woman (Ge. 2:23-24; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Ti. 3:2). We also believe that the practice of homosexuality is declared by God in his Word to be sin (Lev. 18:22; Ro. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Ti. 1:10). Therefore, because the practice of homosexuality is sin, so also is same sex marriage. Both the act of homosexuality and the so-called same sex marriage is sin according to God’s Word and therefore same sex marriage is not a valid marriage in God’s eyes. Despite the fact that God’s Word clearly tells us that homosexuality is sin, it is also extremely clear that all homosexual offenders are freely and gladly offered salvation through Jesus Christ by faith in the Gospel and repentance of their sin (1 Cor. 6:9-11). God loves all sinners, including homosexuals, and this sin is not so unique that Christ is unable to save sinners from it. At the same time, it is also not so unique that it does not require repentance. By faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God calls all sinners, whether heterosexual or homosexual sinners, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, to believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead, and to repent of our sins so that we can be saved (2 Cor. 7:10; Acts 2:38; 17:30; Ro. 10:9; Col. 1:21-23). Thus, there is hope for all sinners, including homosexuals, and it is the job of the church to lovingly, not hatefully, call them to faith in Christ and repentance of their sins.
5. Divorce and Remarriage We would like to begin this section by saying there is no amount of marital failure that cannot be fully forgiven through the Gospel of Jesus Christ when a husband or wife bows to Christ as their Lord and savior. Having said that, God has clearly given his holy commands about divorce and remarriage and we will now articulate our beliefs concerning these commands. We believe that God created marriage to be a lifelong commitment between a husband and wife (Mt. 19:3-6; Mk. 10:1-12). Paul tells us that God commands that a believer is not to marry an unbeliever lest they become unequally yoked (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). Jesus is very clear in his teaching that to divorce your spouse and remarry is equivalent to committing adultery in God’s eyes (Mt. 5:31-32; Lk. 16:18). However, one exception to this rule is in the case of adultery. Jesus tells us that when one spouse is in sexual sin against the other spouse, (Meaning a literal, physical sexual relationship with another woman, man, or even animal) the innocent spouse is permitted to divorce the adulterer and is free to remarry without becoming guilty of adultery (Mt. 19:9). Divorce is also permitted in situations wherein a believer is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever desires to leave the marriage. In such cases the believer is not in sin if a divorce occurs due to that reason and is also free to remarry (1 Cor. 7:12-16). A believer is also free to remarry another believer in cases where their spouse has died (Ro. 7:1-3). In such a scenario the surviving spouse is free to remarry a believer. Should a believer find themselves in a situation of being in a divorce that occurred for unbiblical reasons (anything besides adultery or an unbeliever leaving you), then they are commanded to either remain single, or else be reconciled to their spouse (1 Cor. 7:10-11). In situations wherein an unbiblical divorce has occurred, remarriage is permissible if the spouse you are divorced from dies (Ro. 7:1-3), becomes an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12-16), or gets remarried or enters into a sexual relationship with someone else (Mt. 19:9). Sometimes situations are difficult to discern and understanding how the application of these truths applies in complicated situations requires much care, prayer, and counsel and we trust God will lead us by his Word.
XI. The Church
A. The Spiritual Nature of the Church
We believe that all who have repented of their sins and put their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ for salvation are members of the church, which is the body of Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and the final authority in all matters concerning the church (1 Cor. 1:17-20; Eph. 5:23-24). We delight to fellowship with all who have come to Christ alone for their salvation and rejoice to be brothers and sisters in the Lord with them. The people of God are from every tribe, language, nation, race, socio-economic status, and gender who have been saved by God’s grace in Christ (Rev. 5:5-14). Within the body there are many different gifts, different callings and offices, different experiences and backgrounds, and we delight to share our common faith in the one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with people from all walks of life and we believe that as we love each other, serve, and fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ the body is built up and grown (Eph. 4:1-16; 1 Cor. 12:12-27).
The church is a spiritual organism, whose life and energy comes from the Spirit of God alone. The life and energy of the church is distributed to the saints in the mode of spiritual giftedness, which is to be used selflessly by every member for the edification of the whole (1 Cor. 12-14) We believe the church has been commissioned by God to preach the Gospel among the nations and make him known throughout the world and is the primary instrument by which the Great Commission is fulfilled (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-18; Acts 1:6-8; 2 Cor. 5:20).
B. The Structure of the Church: The Roles of Elders, Deacons, and the Congregation
We also believe, that though the church is a glorious spiritual organism, God, in his wisdom, has ordained that churches organize into individual, local, congregations. While we all have fellowship and unity in Christ with all believers throughout the world, due to our finiteness and limitations, we cannot congregate with every believer in the world and we must therefore, fellowship in a local congregation. We believe in the autonomy of the local church (2 Cor. 10:13-15). We believe that within the local church God has raised up two recognized offices to serve the church that continue today, which are the office of pastor/elder and the office of deacon.
1. The Role of Pastor-Elder The first office is the office of pastor/elder/bishop. We believe that the office of pastor, elder, or bishop, is one and the same office because the terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament in talking about the same office (Acts 20:17,28; 1 Pe. 5:1-2). We believe that God has given the pastors-elders the authority to teach the Word of God and to rule and lead the church of God under the Lordship of Christ and in full accountability to his Word. The elders are to use their authority to serve the church, to build the church up, and to lead it with love (1 Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:17). In order to serve in this office a man must be called of God to this work. This calling is recognized and confirmed in the church according to the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, as well as other texts. Essentially a man must qualify for the office from a character and godliness standpoint, a knowledge standpoint, and he must demonstrate a giftedness to teach and shepherd the flock of God. This is a high calling and should not be taken lightly and the ordination of men unto this office should not be done hastily (Ja. 3:1; 1 Ti. 5:22). The congregation will give valuable input as it pertains to elder and deacon candidates (Acts 6:3-6), however, the final decision and authority to lay hands on prospective elders and ordain them to pastoral ministry lies with the elders themselves (Acts 13:1-3; 1 Ti. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Ti. 1:6). We also believe that God has designed that this office be filled by men and that women are not to serve as elders and pastors in the church. This in no way is because women are inferior to men, but rather, because it is not God’s design for women (1 Ti. 2:8-15). The issue here is not an issue of equality but an issue of role. Just as Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and 2nd person of the Trinity is equal in value to God the Father, nevertheless, his role is one of obedience to the Father and he does not exercise authority over the Father. This is not because he is qualitatively inferior to the Father, but rather, because he has a different role in the Godhead. So it is with women and the office of pastor and deacon. They do not fill these offices because God has designed male headship in the family and in his church. Nevertheless, women do have a very valuable and glorious role of influence, teaching, and even leadership in some aspects of church life. God has designed that the older and more spiritually mature women in the church should lead and mentor the younger women in the church unto faithfulness and love (Titus 2:3-5). In addition to this, women have an important teaching role towards the children, especially the children in their own homes (Pr. 1:8, 31:26).
2. The Role of Deacons The second office within the church is the office of Deacon. This is an office that is one of service and not of rule. The deacons do not have any inherent authority in the church except for that which is delegated to them by the elders to carry out certain diaconal tasks (Acts 6:6). This is a very high calling with great rewards (1 Ti. 3:13), and in order for a man to serve in this office, he must be tested and found to meet the qualifications for it in 1 Timothy 3:8-12. The qualifications for a deacon are very similar to that of an elder, as the character qualifications of deacons strongly parallel those of an elder. However, the one major difference from a qualification standpoint is that a deacon, unlike and elder, is not required to be able to teach or to be able to refute those who contradict the Word of God, but instead must merely believe the mysteries of the faith, and by implication the elementary truths of the faith, with a clear conscience (1 Ti. 3:9 for deacons, compared to 1 Ti. 3:2 and Tit. 1:9 for elders). This office is not merely an office of carrying out menial tasks. This office is for a person to serve the practical needs of the church in a leadership capacity. When certain needs arise in the congregation that require a deacon to step in, the deacons will work with the elders to clarify the work, discuss what needs to be done, and to be given the authority by the elders needed to carry out their task as leaders (Acts 6:6).
3. The Role of the Congregation We believe that every member of the congregation is called to serve in the body and to contribute to the up-building of the church (Eph. 4:15-16). We believe that in addition to serving one another, each member of the congregation is to have the Word of God dwell in them richly and encourage, strengthen, comfort, correct, admonish and exhort one another towards love and good deeds (Col. 3:16; Heb. 5:12; 10:24-25). As a Spirit indwelt child of God, each member is gifted and vital to the church (1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 4:7). We believe the Scripture shows us in multiple cases the vital input that the congregation gives to the church leadership in the life of the church and therefore the leadership highly values the input of the congregation (Mt. 18:15-20; Acts 6:1-6, 15:22 1 Cor. 1:11 etc.). However, we do not believe that the members of the congregation are given ruling authority in the church. The congregation is called to live in sweet submission to its leadership (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5) and is responsible for upholding and laboring for the unity of the body in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-6).
C. The Sacraments of the Church
1. Believer’s Baptism We believe in the baptism of believers who have made a conscious and informed profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior (Acts 2:38), and thus we reject the practice of infant baptism. We believe in baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39), as a sign that represents the spiritual reality that the one being baptized, through faith in Jesus Christ, has been placed in a spiritual union with Jesus whereby he has been spiritually buried with Christ and died to a life of slavery to sin, and has also been spiritually raised with Christ whereby he walks in newness of life (Romans 6:1-11). We believe that the waters of baptism also represent the washing of sin that Jesus accomplished on the cross (Acts 22:16). We also believe that believer’s water baptism is a public profession of faith in Christ whereby not only does the believer identify with Jesus, but also pledges that his conscience has been cleansed by the Gospel and he makes it his aim to follow Jesus Christ with an obedient life (1 Pe. 3:21). We do not believe that baptism in any way contributes to our salvation, nor is it something through which we receive the Holy Spirit. Rather, we receive the Holy Spirit through faith in the Gospel, not water baptism (Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 3:5; Jn. 7:37-39). That being said, baptism is commanded by God (Mt. 28:18-20) and must be obeyed by all believers.
2. The Lord’s Table We believe that the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated by all believers whereby we commemorate and rejoice in the death of Christ, which was sufficient to atone for our sins and to procure the New Covenant blessings for all true believers (Mt. 26:26-29). At the Table we believe that not only are we proclaiming the death of Christ as the instrument whereby New Covenant blessings were secured for believers, but also, we are proclaiming our faith in his bodily return (1 Cor. 11:23-26). We also believe that at the Table all true believers enjoy a special and unique fellowship with God when we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:14-22). This is not to say that we do not always have Christ present with us, surely we do (Mt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). However, we enjoy a special fellowship with him at the Table. This ordinance is for believers only and it is to be taken by faith that salvation is through the Gospel, which the Table represents, rather than an act of participating at the Table. The Table does not in any way contribute to our salvation, instead, it is an ongoing expression of faith in the crucified Christ to save us through the New Covenant, which was inaugurated by his death on the cross.
D. Spiritual Gifts in the Church
We believe that the Holy Spirit fills and gifts every true believer with spiritual gifts through which they serve God for the glory of his name and the building up of the church. We believe that believers are given spiritual gifts in different measures and are to use those gifts in humility and love for the glory of God and the good of others (Ro. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 12:11; 14:12). We believe there are a variety of different types of gifts that are all to be used in a harmonious and orderly fashion and in a manner that compliments the gifting of other believers in a spirit and environment of love for the good of the church (1 Cor. 12:4-13:13; 14:26-33, 40).
We believe that the scripture tells us that there are gifts that are service-oriented such as administration, helping, and hospitality, and there are also gifts of a more miraculous nature. In the early days of the church during the Apostolic age, God used miraculous gifts to accomplish his purposes, including confirming the Gospel message of the Apostles through these miraculous signs and gifts (Mk. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 12:11-12; Heb. 2:3-4). We believe God can still use these gifts to confirm his message, however, we do not believe that it is essential due to the fact that being able to work miracles is nowhere given as a qualification for church leadership. We believe that the greatest evidence of the work of the Spirit in a person’s life is a love for Jesus (Jn. 16:12-15), a desire for the Word of God (Jn. 15:26-27, Jn. 16:12-15; See also the cross reference of Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:18), and a holy and loving life (Gal. 5:22-24; 1 Cor. 13-14). These precious things, rather than extreme experiences, are the true evidence of the work of the Spirit. Where extreme experiences are enthroned in a believer or a church, the Word of God is dethroned and that always leads to spiritual ruin. Who God is for us in Christ as revealed by the Word of God clearly taught, understood, believed, and obeyed, is that which holds a premium in our church.
We believe that the miraculous gifts still continue to this day as there is no exegetical warrant for their discontinuation. However, having said that, we exercise extreme caution in our position. We seek to be Christ-centered in our teaching and lives, we stand on the Word of God as the final authority on all things, and we put a premium on love to God, love to man, and living for his glory. Any valid manifestation of gifts of a miraculous nature would have to serve these things. In the Scripture, whenever the miraculous occurs, we see that it is virtually always accompanied by a message about God and the emphasis lies with the message of his Word, rather than drawing attention to the miracle itself. In fact, the miracles point to the message of who God is rather than supplant it (Mt. 8:5-13; 9:1-8; Acts 2-3; 10, 14).
Though we believe these gifts continue in the church, in the instance where someone might claim to have any gift, but especially those of a more miraculous and abnormal nature, the eldership and the church would be extremely prayerful and cautious about how the use of a particular gift might play out in our church in accordance with our core values of being Christ-centered, holy, and God-glorifying. This is to ensure any use of a gift is unto the edification of the body, the glory of Jesus, a spirit of love, and to guard against irresponsible, erroneous, distracting, and prideful manifestations of the gifts (1 Cor. 14). Additionally, we do not believe there is an office of healer in the church, however, we do pray in faith for healings to take place according to God’s will (Ja. 5:13-18).
We reject the heresy that unless a person has spoken in tongues he or she does not possess the Holy Spirit. All believers receive the Spirit in connection with their faith in the Gospel and they cannot lose the Spirit because they are permanently indwelt by the Spirit who has sealed them unto the day of Christ (Jn. 7:37-39; Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 3:3-5, 13-14). A believer may experience varying degrees of the working of the Spirit in his life (Eph. 5:18; 1 Th. 5:19), however, he does not lose and regain the Holy Spirit throughout his life. We also believe that the canon is complete and that God will not give any additional revelation to his sufficient Word and thus we would refute and combat any notion that someone had received new revelation from God outside of the 66 books of the Bible.
XII. Angels and Demons
1. The Elect Angels We believe that angels are created as holy and sinless beings and are not co-eternal with God (Ge. 1:31; Neh. 9:6; Mk. 8:38; Col. 1:16). They are spirits (Heb. 2:14), and as such are typically invisible to man. To accomplish God’s purposes they do have the ability to take on physical form and have been seen by people (Nu. 22:31; 2 Ki. 6:17; Mt. 28:5; Lk. 2:13; Heb. 13:2). Angels do not marry, nor are they given in marriage (Mt. 22:30; Lk. 20:34-36). Angels are worshippers and servants of God themselves and they never seek to take worship or glory away from God (Col. 2:18; Rev. 5:11; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). In their service to God, angels are sent to minister to the saints in a variety of ways (Ps. 91:11; Heb. 1:14). They also carry out various God-given tasks including executing God’s judgment (Mt. 16:27; Lk. 9:26; Acts 12:23; Rev. 16:1).
2. The Fallen Angels/Demons
We believe that demons were originally angels who were created without sin and were declared by God as beings that were good (Ge. 1:31; Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:16). Prior to the fall of man, Satan led a rebellion against God and led many of the angels into sin against God who are now under his judgment (2 Pe. 2:4; Jude 6; Isa. 14:12-15; Ez. 28:11-19; Rev. 12:7-9). Satan was instrumental in the fall of man by leading Adam and Eve into sin through his lies and temptations (Ge. 3:1-13). This in no way removes the guilt of Adam and Eve in their sinning (Ge. 3:16-19), however, Satan was judged and condemned for his role in the fall (Ge. 3:14-15). Satan and his demonic servants are behind sin and evil with the agenda of stealing, killing, and destroying all that is good and glorifying to God, by blinding our minds from the Gospel of Christ through his lies (Jn. 8:44; 10:10; 2 Cor. 4:4). In doing this Satan masquerades as an Angel of Light and he is instrumental in promoting the doctrines of demons that comprise the false Gospels and False Christs that are proclaimed through human false teachers that are under his influence (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Cor. 11:3-15; 1 Ti. 4:1-5).
Satan and his servants are very much operable today and they are making war against the church of Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:10-20; 2 Cor. 1 Pe. 5:8; Rev. 12:17). Satan and the demonic realm can tempt, afflict, assault, bring bodily harm, and can even kill believers. However, he must first have permission from God to do so (Job 1:6-19; 2:1-8; Lk. 13:16; 2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Th. 3:5; 2 Cor. 2:11).
Though Satan makes war against the church of Jesus Christ and tempts us in many ways, in no way can he cause us to sin. In fact, through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Jn. 12:31-33), through belief in the truth (Eph. 6:13-20), through obedience to God (James 4:7-10; 2 Cor. 2:5-11; 10:3-4; 1 Jn. 3:4-10), through prayer (Eph. 6:18-19), and by the power of God (Eph. 6:10-12), believers are enabled to resist him and all of his agendas of wickedness.
While we acknowledge that Christians can, and are, under demonic attack throughout their lives, in no way can a Christian be indwelt by a demon and be so under demonic influence that they are incapable of believing God’s truth and obeying his commandments. This is true because all believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and cannot lose the indwelling of the Spirit in their lives (Ro. 8:9 Eph. 1:13-14). In order for a demon to indwell a Spirit-filled believer, the demon would have to have the power to expel the Holy Spirit from the believer so that the demon can inhabit the believer and take control of his life (Mk. 3:27). Therefore, we emphatically reject any notion that a Christian has a particular demon (a demon of lust, greed, lying etc.), that causes him to sin. We consider that to be false teaching and a denial of Christ’s victory over Satan in the believer’s life through the Christian’s liberation from the bondage to sin (Ro. 6:1-14), and deliverance from the domain of Satan (Col. 1:13-14).
XIII. The Last Things
We believe in the glorious, visible, and bodily return to the earth of our Lord Jesus Christ with his angels to consummate his Kingdom (1 Cor. 15:20-28; 1 Jn. 3:1-2). We believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of the wicked. We believe the wicked will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment and along with Satan and his demons, will be justly condemned to hell, which is a place of eternal conscious torment, in punishment for their rebellion against God and rejection of the Gospel (2 Th. 1:7-9; Jn. 3:18; Ro. 3:19-20; Mt 25:41-46; Mk 9:42-49; Rev 14:9-11; Rev 20:11-15). We believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of the righteous and that their final dwelling place will be in the presence of the Triune God in the New Heavens and the New Earth wherein they will enjoy God forever and glorify him by worshipping in spirit and truth for all of eternity (Mt. 25:31-40; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 42-57; Rev. 21:1-5; Rev. 22:1-5).