AFFIRMATIONS – GOSPEL CLARIFICATION – DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
BELIEFS THAT MATTER
The Holy Scriptures:
We believe that all “Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” by which we understand the whole Bible is inspired in the sense that holy men of God “were moved by the Holy Spirit” to write the very words of Scripture. We believe that this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings – historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical – as appeared in the original manuscripts. We believe that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error.
We believe that all the Scriptures center about the Lord Jesus Christ in His person and work in His first and second coming, and hence that no portion, even of the Old Testament, is properly read, or understood, until it leads to Him. We also believe that all the Scriptures were designed for our practical instruction (Mark 12:26, 36; 13:11; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 10:35; Acts 1:16; 17:2–3; 18:28; 26:22–23; 28:23; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21, 3:16).
We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that these three are one God, coequal in power and glory, having the precise same nature, attributes, perfections and worthy of precisely the same honor, confidence, and obedience (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God (John 1:1–2, 14). Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35 ). He accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as our substitute and our justification through His resurrection from the dead (Romans 3:24-25; 2 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 18-19; 2:24). His death provided a payment for the sins (past, present, and future) of all men and, therefore, made eternal life available as a gift to all those who believe.
We believe His literal bodily resurrection from the dead guarantees redemption forever (Luke 24:39; Hebrews 10:9–14; 1 Peter 1:3–5). The Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified body is now in Heaven, exalted at the right hand of God the Father, where He presently fulfills the high priestly ministries of Representative, Intercessor and Advocate for His people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1–2).
The Holy Spirit:
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the blessed Trinity, though omnipresent from all eternity, took up His abode in the world in a special sense on the day of Pentecost according to the divine promise, dwells in every believer, and by His baptism unites all to Christ in one body, and that He, as the Indwelling One, is the source of all power and all acceptable worship and service. We believe that He never takes His departure from the church, nor from the feeblest of the saints, but is ever present to testify of Christ; seeking to occupy believers with Him and not with themselves nor with their experiences. We believe that His abode in the world in this special sense will cease when Christ comes to receive His own at the completion of the church (John 14:16–17; 16:7–15; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:7).
We believe that, in this age, certain well-defined ministries are committed to the Holy Spirit, and that it is the duty of every Christian to understand them and to be adjusted to them in his own life and experience. These ministries are the restraining of evil in the world to the measure of the divine will; the convicting of the world respecting sin, righteousness, and judgment; the regenerating of all believers; the indwelling and anointing of all who are saved, thereby sealing them unto the day of redemption; the baptizing into the one body of Christ of all who are saved; and the continued filling for power, teaching, and service of those among the saved who are yielded to Him and who are subject to His will (John 3:6; 16:7–11; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians12:13; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 John 2:20–27).
We believe that some gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and miraculous healings were temporary. We believe that speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism nor of the filling of the Spirit, and that the deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our salvation in the resurrection (Acts 4:8, 31; Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 13:8).
Satan, Fallen Angels, and Unfallen Angels:
We believe that God created an innumerable company of sinless, spiritual beings, known as angels; that one, “Lucifer, son of the morning” the highest in rank, sinned through pride, thereby becoming Satan; that a great company of the angels followed him in his moral fall, some of whom became demons and are active as his agents and associates in the prosecution of his unholy purposes, while others who fell are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Isaiah 14:12–17; Ezekiel 28:11–19; 1 Timothy 3:6; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
We believe that Satan is the originator of sin, and that, under the permission of God, he, through subtlety, led our first parents into transgression, thereby accomplishing their moral fall and subjecting them and their posterity to his own power; that he is the enemy of God and the people of God, opposing and exalting himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped; and that he who in the beginning said, “I will be like the most High,” in his warfare appears as an angel of light, even counterfeiting the works of God by fostering religious movements and systems of doctrine, which systems in every case are characterized by a denial of the efficacy of the blood of Christ and of salvation by grace alone (Genesis 3:1–19; Romans 5:12–14; 2 Corinthians 4:3–4; 11:13–15; Ephesians 6:10–12; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:1–3).
We believe that Satan was judged at the Cross, though not then executed, and that he, a usurper, now rules as the “god of this world;” that, at the second coming of Christ, Satan will be bound and cast into the abyss for a thousand years, and after the thousand years he will be loosed for a little season and then “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone,” where he “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Colossians 2:15; Revelation 20:1–3, 10).
We believe that a great company of angels kept their holy estate and are before the throne of God, from whence they are sent forth as ministering spirits to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Luke 15:10; Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 1:14; Revelation 7:12).
We believe that man was made lower than the angels; and that, in His incarnation, Christ took for a little time this lower place that He might lift the believer to His own sphere above the angels (Hebrews 2:6–10).
We believe dispensations are the divine administrations of human affairs from Adam through the end of time. Though time is not a primary consideration, each divine administration, or Dispensation, relates to a definite period of human history. The vast majority of the Bible deals with three such Dispensations: the Dispensation of Israel from the call of Abraham to Christ (which itself may be divided into the age of the patriarchs or promise and the age of the law), the present Dispensation of the Church from Pentecost to the Rapture, and the future Dispensation of Christ’s 1000 year kingdom, theologically designated as the Millennium. There should be no blurring or confusion of Israel and the Church; God deals distinctly with each group (Genesis 12:1–3; John 1:17 ; Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 10:32 ; Galatians 3:19 ; Ephesians 1:10 ; Revelation 20:1–7).
We believe that according to the “eternal purpose” of God (Eph. 3:11) salvation in the divine reckoning is always “by grace through faith,” and rests upon the basis of the shed blood of Christ. We believe that God has always been gracious, regardless of the ruling dispensation, but that man has not at all times been under an administration or stewardship of grace as is true in the present dispensation (1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 3:2; 3:9, Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 1:4).
Dispensations are not different ways of forgiveness and eternal life, but different administrations of God as He superintends the way mankind lives on earth. Eternal salvation was, is, and always will be a free gift by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:9–10).
Man, Created and Fallen:
We believe that the Genesis account of creation is to be understood historically and literally and not allegorically or figuratively.
We believe that man was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God, and that he fell through sin, and, as a consequence of his sin, lost his spiritual life, becoming dead in trespasses and sins, and that he became subject to the power of the devil.
We also believe that this spiritual death, has been transmitted to the entire human race of man, the Man Christ Jesus alone being excepted; and hence that every child of Adam is born into the world with a nature which not only possesses no spark of divine life, but is essentially and unchangeably bad apart from divine grace. (Genesis 1:26; 2:17; 6:5; Psalm. 14:1–3; 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:6; 5:40; 6:35; Romans 3:10–19; 8:6–7; Ephesians 2:1–3; 1 Timothy 5:6; 1 John 3:8).
Since it is impossible for God to be unfair to any person, and since He loves all men equally, desires all men to be saved, is not willing that any should perish, and invites all men to be saved, He freely and graciously offers salvation to all men. The drawing ministries of the Father and the Son and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit make it genuinely possible for any member of the human race to receive the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 45:21; John 3:16; 6:44; 12:32; 16:7–11; Acts 10:34–35; 16:31; Romans 5:8; 8:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 2:2; 1 John 2:2).
We believe Scripture reveals two clear and indisputable lines of evidence. One line shows God sovereignly choosing His own in Christ; the other shows man possessing the function of volition, able to receive or reject God’s uniquely born Son (regarding sovereignty, see Job 42:2; Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 46:9–10; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:29–33; Galatians 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1–2; regarding human volition, see John 1:9–13; 3:16, 36; 6:47; 20:30–31; Acts 16:30–31; Romans 10:11–13; 1 John 5:9–13, as well as every command in the epistles).
We believe salvation is the gift of God brought to mankind by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. Faith is a personal response, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life. God neither overrules nor implants mankind’s volition in accepting or rejecting His provision of salvation. A human being appropriates salvation by the sole means of faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, whose death and resurrection are the ground of man’s salvation. The means of salvation is to be properly correlated with and distinguished from issues related to discipleship (Acts 16:31; 4:12; John 1:12; 3:16, 18; 20:31; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8–10; 1 Peter 1:18–19; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 5:11–12).
No act of obedience (other than faith in Christ), whether preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment or willingness to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from sin, baptism, or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered a part of, faith as a condition for receiving eternal salvation. The saving transaction between God and the sinner consists simply of the giving and receiving of a free gift that is without cost to the believer (John 4:10; Romans 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8–9; Titus 3:5; Revelation 22:17 ).
A Christian, having believed in Christ as Savior at one moment in time, God forever keeps secure. However, God does discipline an erring son as a beloved child when necessary. Salvation once possessed cannot be lost. This belief in God’s merciful and secure salvation is not a license for careless living but, on the contrary, a powerful incentive for godly living (John 10:27–30; Romans 8:38–39; 12:1–2; 1 Corinthians 1:4–9; 12:12; Hebrews 10:14; 12:6–13; 1 Peter 1:3–5).
One’s assurance of eternal salvation comes through faith in the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ possesses eternal life. Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary to affirm assurance of eternal life (John 5:24; 6:47; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8; 1 John 5:9–13).
The Christian Life:
We believe the child of God has the privilege of walking in fellowship with God (1 John 1:6-7). Spirituality, of which fellowship is a part, is sustained by the Christian’s yieldingness to the will of God, and obedience to the Word of God. Sin in the Christian’s life interferes with his fellowship with God. 1 John 1:9, which promises forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins, does not deal with salvation, but with the restoration of a child of God to that position where he may again walk in fellowship with God. 1 John 1:6-9; 2 Peter 1:5-8; Colossians 1:10; John 15:8; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 11:31-31.
We believe that the new birth results in a completely new creation, not a reformation of the old. The old nature remains as capable of evil as ever after salvation and has not been changed or improved in any way. The old nature can now be controlled by the indwelling power and filling of the Holy Spirit.
The child of God has two births, one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit. Therefore he has two natures; a fleshly nature and a spiritual nature, resulting in warfare between the Spirit and the flesh which continues until physical death or the Lord’s return. John 3:6; Romans 7:15-25; 8:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16-17; 1 John 1:8; 3:9; 5:18.
We believe that all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are called into a life of separation from the world to which they have been crucified by the death of Christ, and should abstain from worldly lust and such practices and habits as will retard spiritual growth or cause others to stumble and, thus, bring reproach upon the cross of Christ. The believer is called upon to walk worthily, keeping himself unspotted from the world, zealous of good works. Ephesians 2:10; 5:3-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 3:17; Luke 8:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 Timothy 5:6; 1 Peter 2:11.
We believe that we are called with a holy calling, to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and so to live in the power of the indwelling Spirit that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But the flesh is never eradicated in this life and the individual chooses to keep the flesh in subjection to Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit or it will surely manifest its presence in our lives to the dishonor of our Lord. (Romans 6:11-13; 8:2,4,12,13; Galatians 5:16-23; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 1:4-7; 3:5-9).
The Church and its Two Ordinances:
We believe that the Church began with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and is composed of all believers in this age. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the one body of Christ. Believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ordinances of the church (Acts 2:1-47).
Neither water baptism nor the Lord’s Supper are to be regarded as means of salvation; they are, however, a scriptural means of testimony for the church in this age. (Matthew 28:19; Luke 22:19-20; Acts 10:47-48; 16:32-33; 18:7-8; 1 Corinthians 11:26).
The End Times (Prophecy):
We believe the next great event in the fulfillment of prophecy is the coming of the Lord Jesus in the air to receive to Himself, in the twinkling of an eye, both the dead in Christ and believers who remain alive. The theological designation for this event is the Rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:51–52; Philippians 3:20–21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; 4:13–5:10 ; Titus 2:11–14; 1 John 3:2).
We believe the Rapture of the Church will be followed by the fulfillment of Israel’s Seventieth Week, a seven-year period of tribulation, the latter half of which is the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation (Daniel 9:24–27; Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:15–21; Revelation 6:1–17).
We believe that the climax of the great tribulation will be the premillennial return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will make His enemies His footstool and set up His Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:4–11; Matthew 24–25; Acts 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10; Hebrews 2:8; 10:12–13; Revelation 19:11–20:10).
For a thousand years following His second coming, Christ will reign over the nations of the earth with a rod of iron in righteousness and justice with peace (Revelation 20:1–10; Isaiah 9:6–7).
We believe the souls and spirits of those who have believed in the promised Messiah (Jesus Christ) for salvation at death immediately pass into His presence. They remain there in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body, or translation at the Rapture, when soul and body reunited shall be associated with Him forever in glory. The souls of unbelievers remain after death in conscious misery until the final judgment of the Great White Throne, after the close of the Millennium.
Then, with soul and body reunited, they shall be cast into the torments of Hell from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (Luke 6:19 –25; 23:43 ; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:2–9; 2:11 –15).
We believe there will be a resurrection of the saved and of the lost; of the saved unto eternal life, and of the lost unto eternal conscious punishment. These two resurrections are separated by at least 1000 years. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:5-15; Matthew 25:41.
We believe the child of God is not under the law, but under grace; he is saved by grace and disciplined by grace. (Romans 6:14-15; 11:6,11; 2 Corinthians 3:17).
Evangelism and Discipleship:
We believe that it is the explicit message of our Lord Jesus Christ to those whom He has saved that they are sent forth by Him into the world even as He was sent forth of His Father into the world. We believe that, after they are saved, they are divinely reckoned to be ambassadors and witnesses, and that their primary purpose in life should be to make Christ known and make disciples from all people. (Matthew 28:18-19; Mark 16:15; John 17:18; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; 1 Peter 2:11).
WE AFFIRM THE FOLLOWING
2. The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.
3. Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life.
4. Justification is the act of God to declare us righteous when we believe in Jesus Christ alone.
5. Assurance of justification is the birthright of every believer from the moment of faith in Jesus Christ, and is founded upon the testimony of God in His written Word.
6. Spiritual growth, which is distinct from justification, is God’s expectation for every believer; this growth, however, is not necessarily manifested uniformly in every believer.
OUR GOSPEL CLARIFICATION
The current theological climate has revealed a number of errors that are having harmful effects upon people’s understanding of the gospel. With no animosity toward persons, we humbly but resolutely stand against the theological errors propagated by what has become known as Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel.
We repudiate Lordship Salvation because it contradicts the clear biblical truth that eternal salvation does not require any human works but is solely by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16,18; Romans 3:24; 4:4-6; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16, 21).