What We Believe
Welcome to the section on What We Believe. In this section we cover the following points:
Why Doctrine Matters
Doctrine is simply something that is taught. Specifically, doctrine is something taught as the principles or creed of a religion. Paul instructed Timothy to watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers� (1Ti 4:16). Teaching the truth as found in the Holy Scriptures is the means of securing the salvation of souls. This is why doctrine is so important.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work� (2Ti 3:16-17). A minister of the Gospel must therefore be one who correctly handles the word of truth� (2Ti 2:15).
Dangers of False Doctrine
Doctrine may be either true or false, and false doctrine is dangerous. Some people use God's Word deceitfully or ignorantly. Paul warned Timothy that the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2Ti 4:3). Paul is speaking of a time when Christians abandon sound biblical teaching in favor of teaching that is more conformable to their selfish desires. This certainly describes much of Christianity� today, where numerous false teachers twist the Scriptures in an attempt to make the Bible say what they want it to say.
Godly ministers must be guardians of the truth who stand against false doctrine. One qualification for a church leader is that he must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it�€� (Tit 1:9).
Scripture as the Basis for Doctrine
Sola scriptura, a Latin term meaning by scripture alone, was a foundational principle of the Protestant Reformation. It is the position that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. All other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God.
This stands in contrast to the Church of Rome which holds that both Scripture and church tradition are equal authorities in determining Christian doctrine. Doctrines not found in Scripture such as papal supremacy, purgatory, transubstantiation, exaltation of Mary are nevertheless accepted as truth because they have the authority of the Catholic Church behind them. Roman Catholicism claims to be a living and continuous source of revelation from God. We, however, do not agree with that position.
Extra-biblical revelation is also claimed by cults, such as the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, as well as numerous indigenous ones that are unique to Africa. In addition, there are many false prophets preaching another Jesus and a different gospel (2Co 11:4) in churches, on television, and at crusades who falsely proclaim that the Lord has revealed to me some new truth which cannot be supported by Scripture or is only braced by some verse twisted and torn out of context.
Long ago in 1519 Martin Luther debated the great Catholic theologian John Eck. The debate lasted eighteen days. Luther had been accused to the pope for preaching dangerous doctrines, especially the doctrine that man is saved by faith in Christ alone. Luther's teaching was in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church which declared that salvation comes by faith plus good works and that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. At one point in the debate Luther blurted out:
A council may sometimes err.
Neither the church nor the pope can establish articles of faith.
These must come from Scripture!
Doctrine Expressed in Biblical Terms
At various times in its long history, there have been attempts to reform the Catholic Church from within, but they always came up against great opposition. As late as 1950 Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical Humani Generis in which he criticized attempts by some Catholic theologians to update Church teachings and to weaken the significance of the dogmas . . . by seeking to free them from concepts and formulations long held by the Church and to return instead to the language of the Bible . . . .Pope Pius preferred terminology formulated by the church over that of the inspired Scriptures. We do not agree with the pope on this issue. We shall therefore restrict ourselves to making a statement of belief using biblical terms instead of the language of church councils and papal decrees.
Some may object, insisting that it is necessary to use extra-biblical terms in order to combat heresies and state the orthodox position. To this we respond by saying that the language of the church throughout its history often contained terms that were open to various interpretations that led to even more quarrels, accusations and schisms. Furthermore, in putting down heresy church councils sometimes strayed into the realm of the unknown and declared their theological speculations to be orthodox doctrine. In addition, we should note that orthodoxy varies from group to group. What is orthodox to one may be heretical to another, and, as history has proven, even speculative matters of doctrine, sometimes literally as small as one iota (the Greek letter i), have divided the church.
Articles of Faith
We believe the following to be the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Before reading this rather lengthy section, we request you to read all the above. We furthermore encourage you to follow the example of the Bereans and examine the Scriptures to see if these things be true (Acts 17:11). Like the early Christians, we have reached our beliefs by being "devoted . . . to the apostles™ teaching (Act 2:42), and we want to avoid nullifying the word of God for the sake of tradition (Mat 15:6). The following declarations, therefore, we hold to be true and in keeping with the analogy of faith as presented in the whole of Scripture. Sound scriptural support for each belief is given at the end of the statement. Necessary explanations are in italics.
The Bible is what it claims to be �the word of God. It does not just contain the word of God; it is the word of God. The Bible is the word of truth� and the holy scriptures. All Scripture is God-breathed. Everything we believe as far as doctrine is concerned is based on this fundamental truth.
(Rom 1:2; 2Ti 2:15; 3:15-16; Heb 4:12)
This is our basic presupposition, and we believe there is sufficient evidence on the side of the Bible™s genuineness and trustworthiness to be convincing to anyone who sincerely seeks the truth. Proven facts of modern science do not contradict the Bible, though they may sometimes contradict man's false interpretations of the Bible.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God wherein God reveals himself and his will to man. The Bible has not been corrupted and is authoritative in matters of doctrine, life, and conduct.
(Psa 119:11, 105; Pro 6:23; Isa 55:11; Mat 4:4; Act 1:16; 2Ti 3:16-17; 2Pe 1:20-21)
Since Scripture was given by inspiration of God, we may assume that the Bible was without error in the original writings. Although no autographs are known to exist today, over 5600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament make it the most copied literary work of antiquity by far. While these manuscripts understandably contain some variations (due to the methods employed in copying), extensive textual scholarship assures us that no cardinal doctrine is brought into question by any viable variant.
The Holy Scriptures consist of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament plus the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The New Testament was formed as apostles and close associates wrote gospels, epistles, and the apocalypse, and these writings were accepted by churches as being genuine and therefore suitable for use in public worship. The church exercised extreme care to exclude any writing that did not meet the test for authenticity.
(Lk 1:1-4; Col 4:16; 1Th 5:27; 2Th 2:2; 2Ti 3:15-16; 2Pe 1:20-21; 3:15-16)
Like the Palestinian Jews of Jesus™ time, we do not accept the Apocrypha as part of the Old Testament canon.
There is one God, Creator of heaven and earth; the First Cause, himself uncaused. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the God and Heavenly Father of all believers.
(Gen 1:1; Exo 20:1-3; Deu 6:4; Mat 27:46; Mar 12:29; Joh 17:3; 20:17; Rom 15:6; 1Co 8:4-6; Eph 1:3; 4:6; 1Ti 2:5; Heb 1:9; Jas 2:19)
To love God with all one™s being is the most important commandment given to men. Our love of God is first based upon God's great and unconditional love of us, and the greatest expression of that love is the gift of his only begotten Son.
(Deu 6:5; Mar 12:28-30; Joh 3:16; Rom 5:8; 8:32; 1Jo 3:1; 4:8-10)
God is spirit, meaning he is without a material body. He is invisible and immortal.
(Joh 4:24; Act 7:48-49; 1Ti 1:17)
Although anthropomorphic language used in Scripture should not be taken literally, nevertheless it allows us to somewhat get a conception of God in our minds.
God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. There is nothing good that he cannot do, no knowledge that he does not possess, no place where he cannot be found, and no change in his character, purpose or plans.
(Gen 17:1; Psa 46:1; 139:8; 1Jo 3:20; Jam 1:17)
God is the Supreme Sovereign who is righteous, merciful, and gracious to all. He governs by the wise coordination of the will of his subjects with his own will, and he works in all situations for the ultimate good of his people for he himself is good. Even in a world of sorrows, we have assurance that a God of infinite love rules over all.
(Exo 15:18; Neh 9:31; Job 13:15; Psa 25:6; 86:5, 15; 100:5; 103:19; Dan 4:17; Act 4:28; 17:26; Rom 8:28-39; 1Ti 1:17; 2Ti 4:8; 1Jo 4:8; Rev 19:6)
God is good and in him is no darkness at all. He cannot be tempted to do evil, and neither does he tempt anyone.
(Psa 145:9; Jam 1:13; 1Jo 1:5)
The KJV translation of Genesis 22:1 reads: "God did tempt Abraham." The Hebrew word signifies no more than to
prove or test, not incite to sin.
There is but one God, the Father, and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit of God in the Virgin Mary. As the eternal Word (Logos) of the Father manifest in human form through the incarnation, he is the true representation of the invisible Deity. The perfections which are in the Father are also in the Son so that he who sees the one sees the other.
(Luk 1:26-35; Joh 1:1, 14, 18; 3:16; 14:8-9; Rom 15:6; 1Co 8:6; Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3)
Jesus is a distinct being from God. Although the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son, the Son is not the Father and the Father is not the Son. The Word (Logos) was God and yet the Word was with God. This is a great mystery which no one this side of eternity can explain nor comprehend.
(Mat 27:46; Luk 22:42; 23:46; Joh 1:1; 5:30; 14:10-11; 17:1; 20:17; Eph 1:3; Phi 1:2)
Jesus declaration in John 10:30 that he and the Father are one does not mean they are one and the same person playing different roles. The word "one" in the passage should be understood as it is in Christ™s prayer for his disciple: Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name . . . so that they may be one as we are one� (Joh 17:11). It speaks of unity of purpose, not oneness of person.
Oneness theology (which teaches that the one God, whose name is "Jesus," plays three different roles - Father, Son and Holy Spirit) likes to use the illustration that one man can be a father and a son and a brother. Though this statement is true, as an illustration of God it is misleading, for it is evident that one person cannot be a father or a son or a brother to himself. He only has such relationships to other persons.
The Son is submitted to the Father. While on earth, Jesus told his disciples that the Father is greater than he is, and Paul states that "the head of Christ is God," even in his exalted position in heaven.
(Mat 26:39; Joh 4:34; 6:38; 8:28-29; 10:29; 12:49; 14:28; 1Co 11:3; 15:27; Heb 10:5-9)
Jesus Christ is both Son of God and Son of Man, and as such has a divine nature as well as a human one. While on earth, he was in reality a human being (not just having human appearance), and therefore he experienced human frailties. At the same time, he was in reality a divine being (not just having godlike qualities), and therefore he was called Immanuel �God with us. The two natures in the one person continue even after his resurrection and ascension into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God. Both on earth and in heaven, the essence of Deity inhabits him in bodily form, having a material body from birth to death and a glorified body from his resurrection.
(Isa 7:14; Dan 7:13-14; Mat 1:23; 2:2; 8:29; 12:8, 40; 14:33; 16:13-17; 22:44; 26:63-64; 27:40-43; 28:9; Mar 1:1; 14:62; Luk 1:26-35; 5:24; 22:69; Joh 5:23; 14:1; 20:28, 31; Act 2:33-34; 8:37; Rom 1:3-4; Eph 1:20; Col 2:9; 1Ti 2:5; 3:16; Heb 1:1-6; 2:16-17; 12:2; Rev 5:12-14)
The Scriptures do not reveal how the two natures are related in the one person, and any theological statement about the same is mere conjecture.
As the perfect man, Christ overcame temptation and lived a sinless life that was completely pleasing to his Father. Christ therefore qualified as the acceptable sacrifice to secure our salvation �the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
(Mat 3:17; 4:1-11; 17:5; Joh 1:29, 36; 8:29; 2Co 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:27; 9:26; 10:12)
Jesus is the most excellent exemplar for us to follow in that he lived a sinless life that was always pleasing to his Father. If we follow him we will never err or go astray.
(Mat 3:17; 17:5; Joh 8:29; 1Co 11:1)
The sinless Christ took upon himself our sins and died on the cross as the sacrifice to redeem humanity. His shed blood is the propitiation that turns away the wrath of God from repentant sinners who call on his name.
(Joh 3:14-16; Rom 3:22-26; 5:8-11; 1Co 15:3; 2Co 5:21; Eph 1:7; 2:16; Heb 9:12; 1Jo 2:2; 4:10)
God raised Jesus from the dead. In his conquest of death he was given lordship over heaven and earth. He ascended into heaven and was enthroned at the highest place of honor next to God himself.
(Mat 22:44; 28:18; Act 1:9-11; 2:23-24, 32-33, 36; 1Co 15:3-4, 20, 27)
It is the will of God that we honor his Son as we honor him. To honor is to esteem, reverence, praise, do homage to. Following the example of the New Testament Christians, we worship God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not render proper homage to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, do not worship the true God, and cannot therefore be true Christians or have true religion. God will not accept someone™s adoration that refuses to equally honor Christ.
(Mat 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luk 10:16; Joh 5:23; 8:49; 15:23; Rom 10:9; Phi 2:11; Heb 1:3, 6; 1Jo 2:23; Rev 5:8-14; 7:10-11)
Some (e.g., Muslims) will therefore ask, Do Christians not worship two (or even three) gods? Our answer is that true worship cannot be reduced to a simple mathematical statement. In the Old Testament we learn that there is no other god but the true God (i.e.,Yahweh� or Jehovah). All other so-called gods are false gods and are nothing. It was God's eternal plan to provide redemption for sinful man through the perfect sacrifice that would enable God to be both just and the justifier of him who believes (Rom 3:26) � thus God took human form through the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son (i.e., begotten by the Spirit, not by physical union with Mary). This event begins the New Covenant.
At the birth of Christ, the Father himself commanded all the angels to worship his Son (Heb 1:6). As a babe lying in a manger in Bethlehem, magi from the East also came and worshipped him (Mat 2:2, 11). In a boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus accepted the worship of his disciples as they said,Truly you are the Son of God (Mat 13:33). On the morning of his resurrection other followers worshipped him (Mat 28:9), and again later the disciples worshipped as he ascended into heaven (Luk 24:50-52). In heaven he receives the worship of multitudes of angels and other heavenly beings (Rev 5:8-14) as well as those who have been redeemed (Rev 7:9-12). And at the final judgment all will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,�€� to the glory of God the Father (Phi 2:9-11).
Being both divine and human, Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man, faithfully representing the cause of God before men and the cause of men before God.
(Job 9:32-33; Rom 8:34; 1Ti 2:5; Heb 4:14-16; 7:25; 8:1-6; 9:15; 12:24; 1Jo 2:1)
The mediatory role played by priests today contradicts the plain teaching of the New Testament that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Its design is to keep people in bondage to the church which the priests represent.
From beginning to end, the Bible presents the story of God's plan of salvation for fallen man. The promise of salvation is first given in Genesis 3:15: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. This promise is fulfilled in the defeat of Satan, the ancient serpent, by Christ, the Holy Child of the Virgin Mary and the Lamb slain from the creation of the world. The Christ that is revealed in Scripture is Jesus Christ �the One who existed before the world was and who, in the eternal sight of God, had already taken on himself our human nature in order to redeem fallen mankind.
(Gen 3:15; Mat 1:20-23; Luk 1:31-35; 2:10-11; 10:18-20; Joh 1:1-18; Act 4:27-28; Rom 16:20; 1Co 2:7-8; Col 1:15-22; Heb 1:1-14; 2:14-18; Rev 13:8; 20:2-3)
The theological term eternal generation� can only be true if it refers to the incarnation which was a reality in eternity before it ever was enacted in time. There is no Son of God apart from the only begotten Son of God (begotten not created). It should be noted that some modern translations have translated the Greek word monogenes (Joh 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18) as one and only� rather than only begotten� (cf., NIV and KJV). While one and only Son� is a possible translation of the Greek, we prefer only begotten Son because it denotes the incarnation. It is correct to speak of the "incarnation of God," but the term "incarnation of Christ" is misleading.
We believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the Lord God, the Almighty One. The Son is God manifested in human form in order to be Savior of the world. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ coming to indwell believers and transform them into the likeness of God's Son.
(Gen 17:1; Mat 28:19; Joh 1:1, 14; 3:34-35; Rom 8:9-11, 29; 1Co 3:16; 6:11; 2Co 1:21-22; 3:16-18; 13:14; Tit 2:13; 1Pe 1:2; 1Jo 4:12-14; Rev 21:22)
The Spirit of God in the Old Testament is viewed as the energy or power of God and the life force or divine breath that originates only with God himself. The Spirit was God in action with a view to accomplishing some particular purpose of God. The Spirit occasionally came upon certain individuals for special purposes. The Spirit was thus God immanent in man and in the world. In the New Testament the term Holy Spirit is synonymous with the terms Spirit of God and Spirit of the Lord, also referred to by variations of the expressions Spirit of the Father and Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ or similar wording. Under the New Covenant the Spirit is given to all believers.
(Gen 1:2; 2:7; Exo 31:3; Jdg 6:34; 1Sa 16:13; Isa 61:1; Mat 3:16; 10:20; 12:28; Luk 1:35; 4:18; Joh 3:34; Act 2:17-18, 38-39; 5:9; 16:6-7; Rom 8:9-11; 2Co 3:3, 17-18; Gal 4:6; Phi 1:19; 1Pe 1:11)
The promise of the Father� spoken of by Jesus is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was first promised to Israel in their time of exile: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities . . . . And I will put my Spirit in you. The result of this is a changed heart having potential for undivided devotion to obeying God's word. Jesus no doubt was referring to this when he spoke to Nicodemus about the new birth, saying that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." Paul reflects on the same where he writes: He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.� This is what happened on Pentecost, which was the fulfillment of the Baptist's prophecy about the Christ: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
(Eze 11:19-20; 36:25-27; Mat 3:11; Luk 24:49; Joh 1:32-33; 3:5; 7:37-38; 15:26-27; Act 1:4-5; 2:33; Tit 3:5-6)
The term baptism of the Holy Spirit refers to predictions given in the gospels and the record of their fulfillment in Acts. John the Baptist declared that the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism marked out Jesus as the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus invited the spiritually thirsty to come to him and be refreshed, promising that believers would later receive the Spirit, which he symbolized as inward flowing streams of living water. This was fulfilled after Christ's ascension into heaven and exaltation at the right hand of God, when he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out the Spirit on the group of 120 Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem.
There are two other occasions in Acts where the Spirit is given to a large gathering of people to Samaritans and to Gentiles. Together with the Jewish believers in Acts 2, these represent the three main ethnic divisions (according to the Jewish worldview) mentioned in Act 1:8. Since there was great enmity between these groups, we believe that in each incident God's design was to present an extraordinary manifestation of power that would serve as convincing proof to the Jewish Christian that those they might wish to exclude from membership in the Body of Christ (i.e., Samaritans and Gentiles) would also comprise the one universal church together with them.
(Luk 3:16; Joh 1:32-33; 7:37-38; 4:9-14; 10:16; Act 1:4-5; 2:33; 8:15-19; 10:44-48; 11:15-19; Gal 3:14)
While it might appear to some that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second blessing that each individual believer should receive after salvation, we believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is actually a historical event (with continuing effects) whose fulfillment is recorded in the book of Acts starting with the Jewish believers in chapter 2 and then its subsequent stages involving Samaritans and Gentiles, as well as the transformation of disciples of the Baptist (Acts 19:1-7) into Christians under the New Covenant. If the baptism in the Spirit is a second blessing to be sought after by non-Spirit-filled� Christians, then we would certainly expect to see Paul or other apostles mention such a major doctrine in their epistles, but evidence of such is lacking.
Furthermore, in John 7 where Jesus tells his disciples about the Spirit, the Apostle explains that at the time Jesus spoke those words the Spirit had not yet been given for the reason that Jesus had not yet been glorified (v.39). And when (after his resurrection) Jesus instructed his followers to wait for the Spirit (Luk 24:49; Act 1:4-5), the same was still true �they had to wait because Jesus had not yet been glorified. That condition, however, was soon to be met, and as Peter explains in Acts 2:33, Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. We conclude therefore that the outpouring of the Spirit upon the church has already occurred. There is no such thing as a genuine Christian who does not have the Holy Spirit. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9).
True Christians have the Spirit of Christ (i.e., the Holy Spirit) living in them, and its powerful operations in their hearts are the proofs of his indwelling. He influences, directs, and guides Christians, producing spiritual fruit in their lives and progressively transforming them into the likeness of the Son of God.
(Rom 8:9-11, 29; 2Co 3:17-18; Gal 5:22-23; 1Th 5:23; 2Ti 2:21)
The Holy Spirit is comforter, counselor, teacher, and intercessor. He is the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of adoption. The Spirit in our hearts is the deposit of our future inheritance in the kingdom of God. The Spirit works to convict people in regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment.
(Luk 12:12; Joh 14:16-18, 26; 16:7-8, 12-13; Rom 8:15, 26-27; 2Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14)
The Holy Spirit's objective is first and foremost to bring glory to Christ.
(Joh 15:26; 16:12-14)
Christians are out of order when they center their attention on the Spirit and offer prayers to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit directs our attention towards Christ.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to be Christ's witnesses to the world and to serve within the body of Christ through various kinds of spiritual gifts and ministries.
(Act 1:8; Rom 12:4-8; 1Co12 :1-30; Eph 4:11-13)
We see no indication in the Scriptures that spiritual gifts were only given to the church on a temporary basis, and that the gifts would be withdrawn upon completion of the New Testament.
We believe, however, that much of what is passed off today as various gifts of the Spirit are not genuine but counterfeit. Many who manifest their so-called spiritual gift�s do so (either ignorantly or knowingly) out of the flesh rather than by the Spirit, and because church leaders lack discernment and/or the courage to stop such foolish manifestations, the delusion goes unchecked and the lie is accepted as truth by gullible Christians.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Men are not condemned only because they reject Christ but also because they are sinners. Sinners stand condemned even without having opportunity to either reject Christ or receive him. Belief in Christ is the only way to escape condemnation and have eternal life.
(Mat 18:8; 25:46; Joh 3:16-19, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; Rom 1:20, 28-32; 2:1-16; 3:9, 19, 23; 8:1; 11:32; Gal 3:22; 1Jo 1:8-10)
Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation by which sinful men may receive eternal life and come to God. There are not many paths that lead to heaven. There is only one, and that is through Jesus.
(Joh 6:68-69; 11:25-26; 14:1, 6; Act 4:12; Rom 10:13)
Salvation is the free gift of God which no man can earn by accumulating a record of good works. Salvation is received by having faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross and belief in his resurrection from the dead. We are justified by God's grace and mercy.
(Luk 18:9-14; Joh 3:16-19; Act 15:11; 16:30-31; Rom 5:9; 6:23; 10:9-10; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:4-7; 1Jo 2:2)
Sinners must repent of their sins in order to be saved. Repentance means to turn away from sin and turn towards God. Belief without repentance is not true belief. Repentance does not make the sinner completely sinless, but it does change the direction of his life.
(Mat 4:17; Mar 1:15; 6:12; Act 2:37-38; 26:20; 1Jo 1:5-9)
Jesus is both Lord and Savior, and he will not be the latter without being the former. Those who want him as Savior but are unwilling to submit to him as Lord will be sorely disappointed on the Day of Judgment. Confessing Jesus as Lord means acknowledging his right to rule over one's life, making a sincere commitment to faithfully serve him, and admitting dependence on him for one's welfare.
(Psa 23:1-6; Mat 7:21-23; 10:32-33; Act 2:36; Rom 6:23; 10:9; Eph 5:17; Phi 2:11; 3:8; 4:19; Col 1:10; 3:17, 23-24; 1Th 4:2; 2Ti 2:19; 4:1, 8, 18; Heb 10:30)
The one in whom Christ lives and who lives in Christ and walks according to the Spirit of holiness may know that he has eternal life. He who professes Christ yet does not follow Christ is a pretender to that which he professes to believe.
(Mat 7:21-27; Mar 4:13-20; Joh 5:24; 6:66; Rom 8:1-4, 9; 1Co 15:2; 2Co 5:17; Gal 5:16; 6:8; Eph 5:5-6; Col 1:21-23; 2Ti 2:19; Tit 1:16; Heb 12:14; Jam 1:12; 1Jo 2:3-6, 15-17; 3:7-10, 14-15; 5:11-13)
Love is the distinguishing mark of the followers of Jesus �love for fellow Christians, love for one's neighbor and even love for one's enemies. As we preach against sin, we must be ever mindful to follow the example of our Lord and show love towards the sinner.
(Lev 19:18; Mat 7:12; Mar 12:31; Luk 6:35; 7:34; 10:25-37; Joh 13:34-35; Rom 5:8; 1Jo 4:7-21)
It is the duty of believers to bear witness to Christ by word, deed and character. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be his witnesses by producing spiritual fruit in our lives that result in good works and by giving us various spiritual gifts thereby enabling us to do beyond what our natural abilities would allow. Our witness is both vocal and silent.
(Mat 5:14-16; Mar 5:19; Luk 24:47-48; Joh 13:34-35; Act 1:8; 2:11; 16:22-34; 26:16-18; 1Co 7:16; Eph 2:10; 1Pe 3:1-4, 15)
It is the obligation of every Christian to spread the Gospel throughout the world and make disciples for Christ. This does not mean that each and every Christian is called to personally take the Gospel to other parts of the world, but it is the collective responsibility of all members of the body of Christ to carry out the Great Commission with each individual believer contributing to that effort in some way according to the call of God and his means and abilities, whether going abroad or staying at home.
(Psa 96:1-13; 1Ch 16:23-24; Mat 24:14; 28:18-20; Mar 13:10; Luk 24:47-48; Act 1:8; 8:4; 13:47; 26:14-18; Rom 10:13-15; 2Co 5:18-20)
Every believer has a ministry. Ministry means service to God and service to others, both within the body of Christ and to the world. Each Christian must discover the ministry to which he has been called and faithfully serve therein.
(Rom 12:4-8; 1Co 12:7-31; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:11-12)
We do not believe that God calls women to serve as pastors or in other ecclesiastical positions whereby they have authority over men. Christ only called men to be his apostles. Paul did not allow women to teach or have authority oven men. The reasons given for this restriction have nothing to do with culture or public opinion. Changing times do not change the word of God. Qualifications given for overseers or elders restricts these offices to men.
(Mat 10:2; 1Ti 2:11-14; 3:1-2; Tit 1:5-6)
Although the New Testament places restrictions on women, this is not to say that women cannot have ministries. But if a woman is serving in a ministry that the Scriptures forbid her to have (even if she is doing a good job), it is evident that she is not serving in the ministry to which she has been called by God. It would be better that she serves where God calls her. The New Testament has a number of notable things to say about women in ministry. Many women served on Jesus ministry team (Mat 27:55-56; Luk 8:1-3); Women were the first ones commissioned to announce the good news of Christ's resurrection (Mat 28:1-8); Paul recognized the valuable contributions made by women (Rom 16:1-3, 6, 12-13; 2Ti 1:5); Philip the Evangelist had four daughters who had the gift of prophesy (Act 21:9); Priscilla together with her husband Aquila were counted among Paul's helpers and there was a church that met in their house (Rom 16:3; 1Co 16:19); and some scholars believe that Phoebe may have held the office of deaconess in the church at Cenchrea (Rom 16:1).
The church is comprised of all who have been born again. In the New Testament the church is referred to as the Body of Christ and Christ is its head. Christ loves the church, and his desire for the church is that it be holy and united. Schisms within the Body of Christ are not acceptable. The church is the family of God wherein are united the inhabitants of distant nations, countless tribes speaking different languages, and the extremes of society from rich to poor, educated to uneducated.
(Mat 16:18; Joh 17:11, 22; Act 2:41, 47; 1Co 1:10-13; Eph 4:13; 5:23-27; Col 1:18, 24)
The rite of admission into the church is by water baptism. The mode of baptism is by emersion in water and is administered to those who repent of their sins and call upon the Lord to save them. Baptism is the rite in which a repentant sinner publically declares his commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. Its symbolism is twofold: (1) purification or washing away sin, and (2) identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
(Mat 28:19; Act 2:38, 41; 8:36-39; 22:16; Rom 6:4; 1Pe 3:21)
We do not practice infant baptism. Infants should be presented in the church for dedication to Christ by their parents.
Children may be baptized upon their heartfelt acknowledgement of Christ as Lord and Savior.
Baptism� that took place prior to one's new birth is not true baptism.
There were two offices of church leaders in the early church. Elders (or overseers, the terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament) were men who served as the spiritual shepherds of the church. They bore responsibility for the oversight and instruction of church members. Even apostles were classified among the elders.
The other office of church leaders in the New Testament church was that of deacon. Deacons were leaders who had responsibility for meeting the material necessities of the Christians, such as food distribution to needy widows. The first deacons were most likely the seven men chosen in Acts 6. The qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3 might indicate there were also female deacons, where wives� can be translated women� (i.e., women deacons or deaconesses). Phoebe may have held the office of deaconess.
(Act 6:1-6; 20:17, 28-31; Rom 16:1-2; Phi 1:1; 1Ti 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9; 1Pe 5:1-4)
The ecclesiastical hierarchy of bishops (overseers) over elders (presbyters) did not develop until the second century.
Accounts of miracles recorded in Scripture are true. God did miracles in Bible times and he continues to do miracles today. In saying that miracles happen in our time, we also recognize that fake miracle workers, posing as gospel ministers, operate today. The Scriptures also speak of miracles performed by satanic power.
(Deu 11:3; Mat 7:21-23; Joh 2:11; 6:2; 14:12; Act 2:22; 6:8; 8:6; 15:12; 1Co 12:10, 28; Gal 3:5; Heb 2:4; Rev 13:14; 16:14; 19:20)
Many so-called mighty men and women of God are actually specialists in showmanship, and their miracles are more akin to magic that to ministry. Many of these so-called miracle workers are simply masters of delusion who are quite adapt at crowd manipulation (see Mat 7:21-23; Act 8:9-11; 2Co 11:13-15).
Marriage is a life-long covenant between one man and one woman. Monogamy was the original design of marriage and is the only form of marriage that should be practiced by Christians. Believers should not marry outside the faith.
(Gen 2:18-24; Mar 10:6-9; Rom 7:1-3; 1Co 7:39; 2Co 6:14; Eph 5:22-33)
The cohabitation arrangement known as same sex marriage is unholy; it does not constitute a marriage in the sight of God nor his church.
The husband is the head of the wife. As the head he is not to abuse his authority by treating his wife harshly and demanding obedience as his right. He is to follow the example set by Christ in how greatly he loved the church that he even laid down his life, being considerate to the wife and giving her respect.
The wife is to submit to her husband, obey him and show respect. She should dress modestly and not adorn herself to attract the attention of others, but adorn herself with inward beauty.
(Eph 5:22-33; 1Pe 3:1-7)
Divorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage covenant. The only valid reason for divorce given in the New Testament is adultery.
(Mat 5:32; 19:3-9)
Sexual sins include, but are not limited to, adultery, fornication and homosexuality.
(Exo 20:14; Lev 18:22; Mat 5:27-28; Gal 5:19-21; Act 15:20; Rom 1:26-27)
God is very concerned for the poor, and it is the duty of every Christian according to his means to alleviate the suffering of those in need.
(Psa 35:10; 72:4; Mat 19:21; Act 2:44-45; 10:2, 4; 11:29; Gal 2:10; Jam 2:14-17)
Those who are lazy, however, and prefer to live off the welfare of others have no right to help, in accordance to the rule laid down by Paul: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2Th 3:10).
God's work is to be supported by the tithes (a tenth all one's increase) and offerings (giving beyond the tithe) of God's people. Giving a tenth is mandatory, but offerings are given according to the amount one decides in his heart to give.
(Gen 14:18-20; 28:22; Lev 27:30; Mal 3:8-12; Mat 23:23; 2Co 9:7; Heb 7:1-10)
Jesus Christ will return to earth to establish the kingdom of God. Christians must live in a manner anticipating his return.
(Mar 14:62; Act 1:9-11; 1Co 11:26; 1Th 4:15-18; Tit 2:11-14; 2Pe 3:3-14; 1Jo 3:2-3; Rev 20:2-3; 22:12, 20)
There will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked "the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to eternal damnation."
(Luk 16:19-31; 20:36; Joh 3:16; 5:28-29; 11:25-26; Act 24:15; 1Co 15:12-23; Rev 20:5-6)
After death comes judgment. Every person will be required to stand trial before the tribunal of Christ and give account of himself. Christ is appointed to judge the world, and for this purpose he will assemble all before him and assign to each his eternal allotment. There will be varying degrees of rewards and punishments.
(Mat 25:14-46; Mar 6:11; Luk 12:47-48; 20:47; Joh 5:22-30; Rom 14:10; 1Co 3:8, 12-15; 4:5; 2Co 5:10; Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12-13)
Satan is the adversary of God and men. His power is great but not unlimited as he has restraints placed on him by God. His mission is to oppose all that is good and to lead men away from God and into sin. Those who follow him are known in scripture as the children of the devil, while those who resist him are the children of God. His defeat and doom is certain.
(Job 1:12; 2:6; Zec 3:1-2; Mat 4:1-11; 16:23; 25:41; Mar 4:15; Luk 10:18; 13:16; 22:3; Joh 8:44; 13:27; Act 5:3; 10:38; 26:18; 2Co 2:11; 11:14; Eph 6:11; 1Th 2:18; 2Th 2:9; Jam 4:7; 1Pe 5:8; 1Jo 3:8-10; Rev 12:9; 20:2, 7)
Both heaven and hell are realities. Heaven is the abode of God and his angels, the realm of holiness and happiness and the home of the children of God. Hell is the place of misery prepared for Satan and the fallen angels and for those who do not avail themselves of the grace of God that leads to salvation.
(Mat 6:9, 20; 10:28; Luk 16:23; Joh 14:1-3; 2Co 12:2-4; 1Th 4:16; 2Th 1:7; Heb 9:24; 1Pe 1:4; 2Pe 2:4)