The Study of the Word of God
The written content of the Bible was revealed by God in order to unveil Himself and His eternal plan to mankind.
Through inspiration, God moving holy men to write, the Lord made certain that His revelation about Himself was recorded without error in the original documents. Every facet of Scripture (including statements that regard science, history, and geography) is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21).
Illumination is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers, teaching them all things from the closed canon of Scripture, through their study and meditation for the purpose of glorifying Christ. The Spirit also uses those who have the gift of teaching, as well as the written works of those now dead, to carry out this ministry (Psalm 119:99; John 16:12–15; Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 2:9–3:3; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 John 2:27).
Since the Bible’s ultimate Author is God, it is without error and is our authoritative guide in all matters of faith and practice (John 16:12–15).
The canon of Scripture is a closed collection of all writings and only those writings inspired by God. The 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament and the 27 books of the Greek New Testament comprise the whole canon of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18–22). Because Scripture is God’s only written revelation to men, it is our sole source of infallible guidance for faith and practice. We do not accept the apocryphal books as canonical (Matthew 5:17–18; cf. Revelation 22:18–19; Jude 3).
Interpretation of Scripture.
We believe in a normal (literal), grammatical and historical interpretation of Scripture that affirms, for example, the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in seven literal, 24-hour days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17).
Scripture states that it is able to equip us for every good work. In addition, the Lord states that He has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the body of knowledge wherein His great and precious promises are recorded. Therefore, we believe that the Bible alone, as believers apply it to their lives, is a sufficient resource to prepare them to handle all the problems and exigencies of life and ministry (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:3–11)
The Study of God
The Bible reveals One, triune God existing in three persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — eternal in being, identical in nature, equal in power and glory and having the same attributes and perfections
(Deuteronomy 6:4; John 4:34; 16:8–13; Ephesians 1:11; 3:11; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Hebrews 10:7)
The Study of Jesus Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God (John 1:1–2, 14).
The Virgin Birth.
Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35).
His Substitutionary Death.
He accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for all men (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 1:18–19).
His literal bodily resurrection from the dead guarantees redemption forever (Luke 24:39; Hebrews 10:9–14; 1 Peter 1:3–5).
His Present Session.
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 Study of the Holy Spirit
His Salvation Work
We believe the Holy Spirit is a Person who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment; that at the moment of salvation He regenerates and indwells all believers during this present age, baptizes them into the body of Christ, seals them unto the day of redemption, and imparts to them at least one spiritual gift for good of all mankind
(John 16:8–11; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 12–14; Ephesians 1:13–14).
His Postsalvation Work
The Spirit continues to minister to believers throughout their lives by comforting, convicting, enabling, interceding on behalf of, leading, producing fruit in, sanctifying, teaching, and witnessing to one’s human spirit. Each believer is commanded to walk by means of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit is grieved or quenched by acts of personal sin
(John 16:12–15; Acts 9:31; Romans 8:14, 16, 26; 9:1; Galatians 5:16–18, 22–23; Ephesians 3:16–20; 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to every believer. These gifts are God-given abilities that Christians should employ to serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. God used some spiritual gifts (such as apostleship, miracles, tongues, healings, and prophecy) that were temporary in nature as signs to unbelieving Jews and as a validation of the New Testament message and its messengers. The sign gifts legitimately functioned until the completion of the canon of Scripture, ceasing by the end of the first century
(Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:7–11, 28–30; 13:8–10; 14:21–22; Ephesians 2:20; 4:11; Hebrews 2:3b–4; 1 Peter 4:10).
The Study of Angels
We believe in the existence of a superior creation called angels now divided into two categories: elect and fallen. Fallen angels (demons) are enemies of God and all people; they further divide into two classes: imprisoned and free
(Mark 8:38; 1 Timothy 4:1; 5:21; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
The Bible reveals a conflict between Satan and his forces (the fallen angels) and Michael, an archangel, and the elect angelic forces. This conflict has real impact on Christians, and thus, they are to prepare themselves for effective spiritual warfare. Through observing man, angels learn the wisdom of God
(Daniel 10:13; Ephesians 3:10; 6:10–18; cf. Revelation 12:7–9).
God’s Word reveals the personality, fall, and program of Satan, the leader of the fallen angels. His future confinement is in the Lake of Fire with all fallen angels and unbelieving humans. There they will experience everlasting conscious torment
(Ezekiel 28:12–17; Job 1:6–7; Revelation 12:7–9; 20:10)
The Study of Man
We accept the Genesis account of creation and believe that God created the universe by His spoken word in the seven consecutive, and literal days there recorded
(Genesis 1; Psalm 33:6, 9).
We believe mankind was created in the image and likeness of God and that in Adam’s sin the human race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God
(Genesis 1:26–27; Romans 3:22–23; 5:12; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 2:12).
We believe mankind is neither inherently good nor able to merit eternal salvation. There is nothing in Adam’s fallen descendants with which God can be pleased. Mankind is, therefore, completely dependent upon God’s grace for eternal salvation from Hell
(Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9–18; 6:23; 7:18).
Evidence of Man’s Depraved Condition
We believe that Romans 1–3 gives an excellent summary of what mankind is like before regeneration. Every human being has sinned and falls short of the glory of God. Mankind’s sinfulness—upon which the wrath of God is presently being revealed—is characterized by lesbianism, homosexuality, covetousness, maliciousness, murder, deceit, gossip, violence, disobedience to parents, and unmerciful attitudes and actions
(Romans 1:18, 24–32; 3:23)
The Study of Sin
We believe the Scripture reveals three categories of sin: Imputed Sin, Inherent Sin, and Personal Sin:
At conception God credits to every member of the human race the responsibility and penalty for Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12; 5:18–19; 1 Corinthians 15:22).
Inherent Sin (Sin Nature)
Every person inherits a sinful capacity that causes and leads him to commit personal acts of sin (Romans 6:6; 7:17–18; Ephesians 4:22).
Any lack of conformity to the will of God in word, thought, or deed is an act of personal sin against the Lord (Mark 7:20–23; Romans 6:12–13; 2 Corinthians 10:5; James 3:5–6).
The Study of Salvation
Genuine Offer of Salvation
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 2:1; 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).
Means of Salvation
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. 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 a firm assurance of eternal life (John 5:24; 6:47; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8; 1 John 5:9–13).
The Study of God’s Oversight of History
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).
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).
The Study of the Church
The Universal Church
We believe the Church, that is, the body and future bride of Christ, is a spiritual entity made up of all born-again believers of this present age, regardless of their affiliation with churches or other organizations (Ephesians 1:22–23; 5:25–27; 1 Corinthians 12:12–14; Ephesians 4:11–16). The birth date of the Church was the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:5 with 11:15–16 and ch. 2). The Church is a distinct entity, not to be confused with Israel (1 Corinthians 10:32).
The Local Church
The universal Church is visibly functional through fellowship groups, called local churches, meeting in identifiable locations (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). Local churches should be autonomously governed by their own leadership (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). The congregation is responsible to submit to its leadership (Hebrews 13:17). We believe that the local church is an assembly of believers meeting together for the purposes of worship, communion, Bible study, prayer, fellowship, mutual care, discipline, and witnessing (Acts 2:41–47; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:24–25).
We believe that God calls qualified men to lead and teach the assembled congregation, and that a woman is neither to teach men nor to exercise authority over men in the church. In all other areas of church life and ministry, women may and should serve (1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:33b–37; 1 Timothy 2:12–15).
The Study of the End Times (Prophecy)
The Blessed Hope
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).
The Second Coming
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).
The Eternal State
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)
The Grace Responsibilities of Believers
The Christian’s reasonable service of worship is to become a disciple of Christ, living in a manner worthy of his high calling in Christ. It is the obligation and privilege of every believer to witness by life and by word to the truths of Scripture and to seek to promote the Gospel in all the world. It is the responsibility of all believers to remember the work of the Lord in prayer and to support it with their financial resources as the Lord has prospered them (Acts 1:8; Romans 12:1–2; 14:13; 1 Corinthians 5:9–13; 16:2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:14–7:1; 9:7; Philippians 2:1–11; 1 John 2:6).
We believe the following principles are to be followed for proper conduct where doubtful things, that is, things not specifically addressed in the Bible, exist:
1. One must recognize that Christ gives the believer liberty to participate in what the Scripture does not prohibit (Romans 14:14; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Galatians 5:1; Titus 2:15).
2. One must understand that personal liberty is not the highest principle of conduct—love is (1 Corinthians 8:1, cf. 9–11)! Consequently, if using one’s liberty to participate in a doubtful thing causes a weaker Christian to stumble, then out of love, the stronger Christian should not participate. To cause a weaker believer to stumble is to influence him or her to take part in something against his weaker conscience. This becomes an act of personal sin for both people (Romans 14:23; 1 Corinthians 8:10, 12). Accordingly, to cause another to stumble does not mean merely to perturb or irritate him, but rather to entice him to participate in something contrary to the dictates of his weaker conscience (cf. Romans 14:23).
3. When fellow Christians disagree on their management of doubtful things, they should live and let live! They should not attempt to pass judgment on the opinions of others in the area of doubtful things (Romans 14:1), but rather let each man be fully convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:5). This is dealing with one another in grace!
The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is to produce spiritual maturity reflected in consistent Christlike attitudes and behavior that glorify God (Galatians 5:22–25; Colossians 1:23–29). Obedience to the Word of God, therefore, while not necessary for obtaining eternal salvation from Hell, is the essential responsibility of each Christian (Romans 6:12–23; 1 Corinthians 2:14–3:4; Hebrews 5:13–14). The Bible does not teach that obedience will be manifested to the same degree in all believers. If a believer does not yield to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his or her experience, failure will result. This will be evidenced by sinful acts or even prolonged disobedience (1 Corinthians 10:1–13; Galatians 5:16–21). The Bible labels this failure carnality, or living that is characterized by the control of the flesh, during which the believer looks no different than the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 3:1–4). God responds to carnal behavior with divine discipline (Hebrews 12:4–13), which may come in degrees, even to physical death (1 Corinthians 11:30).