We believe and teach that the Holy Scriptures, as found in the sixty-six books of the Bible (i.e., the Protestant Canon) constitutes the infallible and authoritative Word of God.
God has revealed Himself to man generally (i.e., in nature and conscience), but these avenues are insufficient for salvation because of man’s persistent resistance (Romans 1:18-2:16). However, in the course of human history, our gracious God has also revealed Himself particularly through a variety of modes (e.g., Hebrews 1:1-4), all of which are made known to us through the Scriptures.
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures:
- Verbal – that in the original writings the Holy Spirit guided the choice of words used while preserving the individual writer’s style and vocabulary.
- Plenary – that every portion of the Bible is infallible as to its truth and final as to its divine authority (2 Timothy 3:16: 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13; John 5:39).
We believe and teach that although no one text-type or any particular version derived from it necessarily represents the autographs identically at every place, some of the various traditional and contemporary English translations should be looked upon as being reliable conveyers of God’s Word to mankind.
In light of all these truths, the Bible is fully authoritative, (i.e., it alone is our infallible rule for faith and all practice) (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:44-47; Isaiah 1:10; 8:16, 20; 30:8; 34:16; 40:6-8; 55:11; Jeremiah 23:29; Zechariah 7:12; Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 5:17-19; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12-13).
We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that these three are one God equal in attributes and nature (Mark 12:29; John 1:1-4; 10:30; 14:9-12; Luke 3:21,22).
GOD THE FATHER
As Father, He is the sovereign Architect of both creation (including personal beings, time, space, and history) and re-creation, (i.e., salvation Ephesians 1:3-14).
The attributes of God as revealed in His Word give us various perspectives on the Father. His essential spirituality or personality (e.g., John 4:24) is well attested through affirmations and indications of His being self-conscious (e.g., Exodus 3:14), alive and active (e.g., Deuteronomy 5:26; John 5:17, 26), intelligent (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:3), emotional (e.g., Deuteronomy 5:9; Hosea 11:8; Romans 1:18), purposive (e.g., Isaiah 14:26-27; Ephesians 3:11), and free (e.g., Psalm 135:6; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:18).
He exhibits an array of attributes (e.g., Exodus 34:5-7; Deuteronomy 7:9-10; 32:3-4; 1 Kings 8:22ff; Psalm 145:8ff; Nahum 1:2-8). Those attributes which display incomparable Deity, such as His self-existence or aseity, infinitude (including eternality, omnipresence, omniscience [everything is fully known by Him], and omnipotence [He is all-powerful over everything], immutability [His unchanging purpose] and incomprehensibility [no creature can fully fathom His Person] [cf. respectively, Exodus 3:14; Psalms 90:2; 139:7-10; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 11:17; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 55:8-9] are appropriately labeled attributes of greatness. Characteristics such as these are God’s unique possessions [e.g., Isaiah 45:5-6] and are, therefore, incommunicable (i.e., non-transferable). He also richly displays communicable (or moral) attributes, i.e., characteristics of His goodness, such as justice or righteousness, grace (including His love, beneficence, restraint), and faithfulness (cf. respectively, Genesis 18:25; Psalms 103:4, 13; 119:68; 2 Peter 3:9, 15; Lamentations 3:23). All of these particular attributes are circumscribed by His absolute holiness (e.g., Leviticus 11:44; Isaiah 6:3; John 17:11) and utter perfection (e.g., Matthew 5:48).
In view of His attributes of greatness, He is transcendent (i.e., He is over, above, and beyond all creatures) in Being (e.g., Psalm 113:1-5; Isaiah 57:15a); however, from the perspective of His qualities of goodness, He is nevertheless genuinely immanent (i.e., He is actively concerned about all His creatures) (e.g., Psalm 113:6-9; Isaiah 57:15b).
GOD THE SON
We believe and teach that the second Person of the Godhead is eternally of the same essence of Being as the Father (e.g., John 10:30; 14:9). This full Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ is attested in various ways. He is called “God” (e.g., John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5), “son of God” in the Semitic sense of sameness of nature (e.g., John 5:18; 10:33; 19:7), “the Lord” (e.g., 1 Corinthians 2:8), “the Holy One” (cf. Acts 3:14 with Isaiah 48:17), “the First and the Last” (cf. Revelation 1:17-18 with Isaiah 44:6), “the Alpha and Omega” (cf. Revelation 1:8 and 22:13), and “the Amen” (Revelation 3:14). Also, He is especially recognized as Creator, Sustainer, and Savior (e.g., John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2; Titus 2:13). In His preincarnate appearances, he was known in the Old Testament both as “LORD” (e.g., Genesis 18:1-2, 22) and as “the Angel of the LORD” (e.g., Genesis 16:7). His attributes of greatness and goodness also correspond to the Father’s.
Without surrendering His full Deity—the emptying of Himself in Philippians 2:5-8 was not of His divine essence but pertained to the independent exercise of His Divine prerogatives during the First Advent—through the incarnation (John 1:14) which was initiated by the Virgin Birth or Miraculous Conception He took upon Himself genuine humanity (e.g., Hebrews 2:9-18). He thereby became the unique God-man who consequently is the perfect Revealor, Savior, Mediator, and ultimately the Judge of all men (cf. respectively, John 1:18; Titus 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 5:27). Through this loving condescension, He fully accomplished His task of grace which culminated in His sacrificial death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, furnishing the grounds for the forgiveness of believing sinners (cf. respectively, Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Romans 6:1-11; Romans 1:4; 4:25; Acts 1:9).
GOD THE SPIRIT
We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, is equal in nature with God the Father and God the Son (e.g., Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 18; 2 Corinthians 13:14). His Divine Personhood is attested by many references to His attributes of greatness and goodness. In His role of functional subordination within the economy of the Trinity, He bears Divine witness to the Person and work of Christ in this age (e.g., John 15:26). In His relationship to the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is their divine Author and Applier (e.g., 2 Samuel 23:2; John 14:25-26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Peter 1:21).
He is the predominate Divine Agent in the Father’s plan of salvation through the work of the Son (e.g., John 3:1-10; 16:8-11). The Holy Spirit has always been active in regeneration and renewal, i.e., in personal salvation and sanctification. He is vitally associated with our adoption, sealing and service (e.g., Romans 8:12-17; Ephesians 1:13; 5:18; Colossians 3:16).
We believe and teach that in His gifting ministry (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) the extraordinary gifts (e.g., miracles and tongues) were for attestations during the Apostolic era (Ephesians 2:20). They had served their purpose (e.g., 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4) and are, therefore, inappropriate for today. For example, instantaneous healings for the purpose of attestation are replaced by prescribed means of prayer in the established Church (e.g., James 5:13-16). Furthermore, historically conveyed illustrations in the Old and early New Testament eras of special fillings or empowerments for particular tasks have been superseded by evidences of His abiding presence, (e.g., the “fruit of the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-23).
THE FALL OF MAN
We believe that Man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequences of which all mankind are now sinners; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.
We believe that this total depravity in man has been transmitted to every child born of man (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-21). Consequently, all persons from their conception and birth are innately unholy and stand condemned by condition (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:1,3), and commission (Romans 1:18-3:20) before their Creator and Judge.
Man’s depravity is total in breadth (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 1:2-6; 53:6; Romans 3:9-20) and depth (Ecclesiastes 9:3b; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:14-23). Furthermore, all the functions of man’s heart, i.e., rational, volitional, emotional, etc. are morally tainted by sin and perversity (Genesis 6:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Ephesians 4:17-19) leaving mankind utterly hopeless and helpless in reference to any kind of human reformation or rescue (Isaiah 64:5; Jeremiah 13:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 1:21-22).
The realities are not only crucial for an accurate theology, but also for a Biblically acceptable methodology for ministry (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
SALVATION OF MAN
We believe and teach that the salvation of sinful men ultimately depends upon the sovereign grace of God (e.g., Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). This great truth, however, never nullifies or diminishes the sinner’s responsibility of appropriation nor the servant’s responsibility of communication (Romans 10:8-15). As a matter of fact, the Bible always makes clear its prerequisite for true faith and repentance as substantiated by a genuine commitment and as confirmed by evidences of obedience. Biblical Christianity is discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 9:23-26, 62; 14:25-35; etc.)
We believe that the atoning work of Christ is the only basis for our redemption and that entrance into the Kingdom of God is by the new birth alone (John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We believe that salvation is eternally secured to all believers, and that this assurance is their portion from the very day of their trust in Christ (John 3:16; 10:28- 29; Hebrews 10:22; Romans 8:28-39).
Some vital components of His salvation plan include:
- Unconditional Election: (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Amos 3:2; John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:5, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).
- Effectual Calling: (John 6:44-45; Romans 9:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14).
- Regeneration: (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 3:1-10; Titus 3:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23).
- Conversion: (i.e., Repentance and Faith) We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on Him alone as the only and all sufficient Savior (Faith: Genesis 15:6; Jeremiah 17:7; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 11:1; James 2:1ff);
- Repentance: (2 Kings 17:13; Luke 13:1-5; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).
- Justification: We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in Him is Justification; that Justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's atoning work; by virtue of which faith His perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity (Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 3:20, 24, 26, 30, 4:1-5).
- Adoption: (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:5).
- Sanctification: We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means as: the word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness and prayer (Leviticus 20:22-26; John 17:17, 19: Acts 20:32; Ephesians 1:4; 5:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10; 12:14).
- Perseverance of the Saints: We believe that all who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given repentance and faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end ( 1 Peter 1:4-5; John 6:38-40; John 10:27-29; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 1:6).
We believe that the true Church, which is the Body of Christ, is composed of all believers who are united to the risen Lord by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-6; 5:23-32). Although salvation is bestowed and appropriated individually, the scriptural focus is always upon the Corporate Body within which the individual is to be a complementary, contributing member (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27). Christ establishes and oversees this unity and diversity in order that the local Church might become the primary context for worship and service, especially including edification and evangelism (Ephesians 4:1-16). The primary purpose of the Church, whether viewed from the local perspective or the universal, is to glorify God (e.g., Ephesians 1:2-14; 3:21).
The Scriptures establish two categories of office within the Church: elders (also designated overseers or bishops, and pastor-teachers) and deacons (e.g. Philippians 1:1) to lead and serve the flock under Christ. Those who serve in these capacities must be qualified Biblically (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5) by being men of noteworthy integrity (i.e. above reproach). The elders-overseers-pastor-teachers who have been given a divinely delegated authority are especially accountable for the spiritual welfare of their Master’s flock. He will judge not only them and their guidance of His sheep, but also the flock’s expected submission to their spiritual direction (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
Since the primary purpose of the Church is to glorify God, it is His ordained context for both discipleship and discipline. Everything in particular carried out by the Church must be done appropriately and in order (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:40).
Within the context of its assembled fellowship we believe in believer’s baptism; and the Lord’s Supper, in which believer’s are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.
It is also the context for preserving purity (1 Peter 1:4-16) including the Scriptural obligations of discipline and separation (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 5:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Titus 3:9-11; 2 John 7-11).
Each local church is independent or autonomous in status although there may be occasions of interdependence among local assemblies of the same mindset and loyalty to the Lord and His Word (Acts 15:19-31; Romans 15:26-27).
LAST THINGS (ESCHATOLOGY)
We believe and teach that the study of eschatology is to have primarily an ethical effect on the people of God (e.g., 1 John 2:28-3:3; 2 Peter 3:10-14).
Individual eschatology involves Biblical considerations of death, the intermediate state, resurrection, judgment, and the final state. Personal conscious being is not interrupted by physical death (e.g. Luke 16:19-31). For the believer, his soul/spirit is ushered immediately into the presence of Christ at physical death (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:1-8) until the time of the Resurrection at which time he will receive a body suited for a new, ultimately eternal order (1 Corinthians 15:12-58; Philippians 3:20-21). The souls/spirits of the unregenerate at physical death also continue, but in conscious torment until the resurrection which will be followed by the final judgment (e.g. Revelation 20:13-15), at which time they will be thrown into the lake of fire.
All men will experience a bodily resurrection: the saved to eternal life and overwhelming joy; the unsaved to eternal separation and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:19-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-11).
Cosmic eschatology comprehensively takes in both the consummation of history and the completion of God’s eternal plan. The universal kingdom or reign of God (e.g. Psalm 145:13) will be completely and finally established to remain unchallenged (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). We believe that the end of the world is approaching and that Christ will return again personally in power and glory.