What We Believe

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Doctrinal Statement

 

I.                    The Scriptures

All scripture is inspired by God, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, and is useful for teaching, for reproof when necessary, for correction of self, and for training in righteousness.  As applied personally, when an individual is saved, scripture becomes the training manual for the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2), thus ingraining God’s Word into our hearts.  As one becomes more mature in knowledge of the scriptures, one can begin to reach out to new believers, training them in their explanation.   Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is alive, and able to penetrate the spirit, convicting us of any action which is unrighteous.  The Word has the capacity to judge our motives and intentions.   The scriptures, therefore, are capable of providing a constant, moment-by-moment guide for living, preaching, teaching, counseling, correcting, and for the mature, understanding the heart of God and His will for our lives.

II.                  The Holy Trinity

The scripture is consistent in explaining God as a triune being.  The term triune, as used to define and explain the nature of God, therefore, shows us that God is three separate persons and personalities, equal in their position as God.  At the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16, we find all three personalities present where the Holy Spirit descends like a dove, and a voice is heard from God the Father, proclaiming His Son Jesus.

In John 14:26, Jesus explained that after He ascended to Heaven, His Father would send His Holy Spirit to teach all things. In John 15:26, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bear witness to Him.

The apostles also taught (Galatians 4:4) that the Holy Spirit would come into our hearts, crying Abba!  Father!; and, for water baptism the instruction (Matthew 28:19) was to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God, the Father, baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, giving us the gifts of the Spirit under the administration of the Holy Spirit, who gives as He wills.

The three persons of the trinity were all present at the creation and glorify each other.  Jesus, the Son, and the second person of the trinity, is in submission to the Father and is the head of the Church universal.  The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Teacher, and Gift giver.

III.               Man, the Fall, and Redemption

Man, in the person of Adam, was created to tend the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) and have dominion over the land, God’s creation (Genesis 1:26).   Adam was God’s perfect creation, innocent, without sin, and without the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam had only one command to keep, and that was not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, under penalty of death (Genesis 2:17).  God permitted the serpent to tempt Eve (Genesis 3:1).   Adam exercised his free will, which is a gift from God; disobeyed God by following Eve, and then ate of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.   Adam died a physical and spiritual death.  Because of Adam’s sin, we have inherited his sin nature and are separated from God.   Physical death entered the world because of Adam’s sin.  Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16), was sent into the world as our Redeemer to die for our sins and provide the gift of eternal life to anyone who will confess Him as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:8-9);  believing that God sent Jesus to the cross, and raised Him from the dead.   This demonstrated that salvation is a gift of God.  We are saved by His grace, and cannot earn it by our own good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).   In Jesus, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins and obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His Will (Ephesians 1:11). 

IV.               Requirements for Salvation

The Bible teaches that salvation requires repentance, faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God.  It requires that we accept that Jesus suffered, shed His blood, and died on the cross at Calvary to pay the price for our sins and salvation; believing that God raised Him from the dead and that through His blood all of our sins are forgiven—past, present, and future.

Salvation is much more complex than a prayer and confession of belief. Believing that Christ can save one from eternal separation from God the Father is only the first element.  The second element is where one finds the difficulty, making Christ the Lord of his life.  Making Christ Lord requires obedience to the Word, and submission to the Lordship of Jesus.   This is where many people miss what Jesus requires of us when our understanding deepens and we become totally dependent on Jesus for everything that we have and are.  As one grows to understand the magnitude of whom and what Jesus is, one’s personal experience of the cross becomes so real that his life is transformed.  If we do not see a transformed life, then we have reason to question one’s claim to salvation.  

The scriptural requirements for salvation are:

  1. Repentance – (2Cor. 7:9-10) Made sorrowful to the point of repentance.  Godly sorrow producing a repentance leading to salvation.  Without genuine repentance, i.e. a decision to turn from a sinful life and to accept the saving grace of God, salvation is not possible.
  2. Faith-(John 3:14-18) Believing that God sent Jesus to the cross to die for our sins, and that when one accepts that and believes that Jesus was who He said He was, brings everlasting life.  This belief in Jesus provides an escape from eternal judgment.
  3. Understanding God’s Grace- (Eph. 2:8-9) Understanding that salvation is a gift from God, and not from anything we deserve through good works.  Even the faith that we have to believe in the salvation is itself a gift from God. 
  4. Christ alone- (Acts 4:12) Believing that salvation comes from believing in Jesus Christ.  There is no other name in heaven known whereby we must be saved.   Understanding and believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation is a prerequisite for salvation.   John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
  5. Sincere desire to change- (Rom. 12:2) Presenting ourselves to God as a sacrifice, and not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds, and prove what God’s Will is.  This transformation comes from the washing of God’s Word through our spirits and transforms us into the person that God wants us to be.

V.                 Water Baptism

Water baptism is filled with symbolic meaning.   In Acts 22:16, baptism is seen as washing away our sins.  It is also symbolic of our regeneration, by burial of the old person (in water), and the resurrection of the new person baptized into Jesus, with his sins forgiven.   It is also symbolic of spiritual unity (1 Corin. 12:13) where we are all baptized into one body.  In Rom.6:3-4, we are seen as having been baptized into the death of Jesus, and when Christ was raised from the dead we walk in the newness of that life.  We are, therefore, to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Water baptism is also a commandment.  In Acts 2:38, Peter instructs all to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and as a preliminary to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

VI.               Communion 

This is another sacrament filled with symbolic meaning.  In John 6:26, Jesus explained that the eating of the bread is symbolic of the eternal life that has been provided for us through His death and resurrection.  It is symbolic of the New Covenant (Matt. 26:26) between His believers and Him.  The act itself is a celebration of believers who are giving thanks for this gift (Luke 22:17-18).  It is also a means of Christian fellowship (Acts 2:42, 46) with our brothers and sisters within the local assembly, or wherever we happen to be when we are separated from the local assembly.  A prerequisite for taking communion is the examination of one’s self (1 Corin. 11:27-34) to ensure that one does not do it unworthily, casting judgment upon himself.

VII.            The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the experience obtained subsequent to salvation.  It sometimes comes simultaneously with salvation, but never before.  The prerequisite is salvation.  This experience was prophesied in Joel 2:28 that God would pour out His spirit on all flesh for the giving of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for power (Acts 1:5), and for the manifestation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These gifts are:  the speaking in other tongues (known and heavenly, 1 Corin. 1:31), prophecy, interpretation of tongues, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, various tongues, and the discernment of spirits.  The purpose of the gift is for edification and exhortation of the body of Christ for some of the gifts, such as prophecy; and for others, as signs and wonders for unbelievers to see and witness the Glory of God.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit provides power to speak under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, speaking Oracles of God, and truths out of the heart of God to exhort and edify the body of Christ.   Without the anointing, there is no power and no witness.

 

Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:4 says that, “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  The manifestation of the gift of speaking in other tongues should be the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  However, we sometimes find people who are unable to receive this gift, either because of fear, lack of true desire, or some other reasons.  It is the Holy Spirit, who gives the Gift, and it is when He chooses, as He sees an individual prepared and ready to receive it.  For those who are truly seeking, an earnest desire to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite.

VIII.          Sanctification 

Sanctification is being made Holy, set apart for the service of God.  Sanctification is both a process and an instantaneous gift at the moment of salvation.  The gift received at salvation produces a desire to please God and cleanse ourselves of any unrighteousness and anything that is not pleasing to God.  There is also a growth process that as we become washed and renewed in our minds and our bodies by the Word of God, a deeper understanding of our obligations for holiness becomes a part of us, and we become conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29).   Paul urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, which is our spiritual service of worship, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1).   This sums up the need in us to seek and to find the life that is pleasing to God.  This means that we must cleanse ourselves, on a moment-by-moment basis, from all things which are not pleasing to God.  Paul writes extensively about this in Philippians 3:7-14, where he states that he has suffered the loss of all things, counts it all as rubbish in order to gain Christ, and having a righteousness that is not of his own, but obtained through faith in Christ.  To know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings and to be conformed to His death, he is pressing on to attain the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.  These are standards which we all should seek to attain.  These scriptures seem to express the desire for holy living and the process of sanctification.

IX.               The Universal Church

  1. The Universal Church consists of all those who are believers in Jesus Christ.   This church is the Body of Christ who is to serve Him until His second coming. As He is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle, we must be diligent in cleansing it from all unrighteousness, to seek to remove differences between denominations because of unscriptural beliefs, and to become one church, as the Lord intended.  As more and more we see denominations returning to more traditional beliefs, founded by the Church Fathers such as Wesley, Martin Luther, and others, and so-called mainline churches have discovered that their members, certainly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, do not believe that the social gospel and social causes is the answer to their spiritual needs.  God is at work cleansing the Church Universal in preparation for Christ’s return.   Never in the history of the world, since the first-century church, have earth changing events so affected the whole world.  The unsaved are beginning to see God’s hand at work.  We are witnessing the beginning of the greatest revival that the world has ever seen, and we should be looking for the return of the Lord Jesus.  These are exciting times.
  2. The Local Church- The Local Church is where we seek fellowship with other believers for purposes of praise, worship, edification, healing, prayer, and seeking God for His Will for the church and its direction.  The Local Church provides a pastoral covering for its members and seeks to draw the unsaved through its doors.  The Local Church receives the tithes and offerings from its members.  It is our spiritual home.  The Local Church can provide teaching, training, outreach ministries to the community, benevolence giving for those who are poor in spirit and in need of both material and spiritual help.  The Local Church is God’s Lighthouse within the community.  It should illuminate God’s Word and purposes for all to see.   Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we should not forsake the assembling together, for encouraging one another.   We are under an obligation to attend and support the Local Church with tithes, gifts, prayer, fellowship, and the celebration of the sacraments and worship.  

X.                 The Ministry and Evangelism

The ministry, as given in Ephesians 4:11, is divided into five areas of callings:  “…and He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”  They are all different in their areas of spiritual gifts, responsibilities, and ministry.  The apostle is one who is divinely appointed by God as His representative.  The early disciples of Jesus became apostles, along with others who followed shortly after.  Among these were Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, James, and others.  Today, apostles are seldom seen, but their duties are founding churches, together with performing miracles and preaching the Gospel.   The prophet, limited to a New Testament definition, is a messenger from God, whose gifts and callings are to encourage and strengthen the community of faith, to define and reveal God’s Will, and to predict the future.  The evangelist’s calling and ministry is to the lost.  He is to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.  The pastor is the shepherd of the flock.  His calling and ministry is to the local church:   to preach and edify, to equip the saints for living according to God’s Will.  The pastor is responsible for training local church members in maturity, to make every believer capable of understanding the deeper meanings of the Bible and to survive spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-17), recognizing that immature believers will always be among the flock and need special care.  The pastor must have the heart of a servant, and be willing to lay down his life for his flock.  The teacher is responsible and called to teach and train the saints in holiness and spiritual truths.

The five areas of calling and ministry frequently overlap.  Many pastors are also teachers, prophets and/or evangelists.  The ministry of evangelism should be a calling and burden for every one of the separate areas, since it is an essential part of Jesus’ Great Commission to make the Gospel message available to everyone.

XI.               Divine Healing

Divine healing is a basic tenet of the scriptures, and one of the miracles of signs and wonders that follow the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.  It is one of the divine gifts of 1 Corin. 12.  It was one of Jesus’ demonstrations of God’s glory, and the gift was given to the apostles for signs and wonders following the preaching of the Gospel.  In James 5:14, the sick are called to go to the elders of the church to be anointed with oil, and prayed for in the Name of the Lord.   We should, as this scripture instructs, lay hands on the sick anointing them with oil, and pray the prayer of faith in obedience to God’s Word, expecting a miracle.  All such prayer should be given in a spirit of submission to God’s Will.  Even though God’s Will is for all to be free of sickness and disease, we cannot presume to know God’s purposes, and must submit such prayers to God for resolution according to His Perfect Will and Purpose.

XII.            The Resurrection

  1. Jesus Christ—According to scripture, John 2:19-22, Jesus announced to His disciples that if destroyed, He (the Temple) would raise up on the third day.   All three persons of the Godhead participated in this resurrection.  In Acts 2:24, Jesus was raised by God’s power.  In John 10:18, Jesus stated that He had the power to lay His life down, and He had the power to take it up again.  In Romans 8:11, we find that Jesus was raised by the power of the Spirit.   The evidence of the resurrection of our Lord is seen in John 20:20, 27, first by the disciples except Thomas, and then by Thomas who would not believe until he could see and feel His wounds.   Finally, in 1 Corin. 15, Paul gives testimony of over five hundred people at one time witnessing the resurrected Savior, most of whom were still alive when he wrote the epistle.  We also have the witness of our hearts that we serve a Risen Savior.
  2.  
    The Believer in Christ—According to 1 Thess. 4:15-17, the dead in Christ shall be raised from the dead, preceding those who are still alive in Christ, and then we shall meet Him in the air.  All Believers shall then be with Him in Heaven for a period until the Day of the Lord.
  3.  
    The Unsaved—In John 5:22-30, Jesus speaks of the dead as being raised for the judgment that God the Father has given to Him.  The dead who are not in Christ will then be resurrected for the judgment because of their unbelief.  Those who are in Christ escape the judgment because of their belief.

 

XIIIa.   The Millennial Reign of Christ

In Revelation 20:1-6, the believers who are dead in Christ, will be raised to rule the earth for a thousand years as priests of God and Christ.  The serpent, who is Satan, will be bound during this thousand year reign of Christ, after which he will be released for a time until the nations are deceived by him and gather together for the war, until they are devoured by the fire from Heaven.   

XIIIb.   Hell and the Lake of Fire

Hell and the Lake of Fire were made for Satan and his angels, and for all those who are judged as unrighteous.  These are all those who have not made Christ Lord and Savior.   The Lake of Fire is mentioned only in Revelation 20:10 as the place for all who participate in the war of the nations.   Satan and his angels will be tormented there forever.

XIIIc.   Eternal Damnation

2Peter 3:7 states that the heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men.   All who are not in Christ will be judged and sent to their destruction in hell and eternal damnation.

XIV.    The New Heaven and New Earth

2Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:22 are open interpretations, which means that heaven will pass away as it is not a required part of the new creation.  The new creation, as was the first in the Garden of Eden, will be perfect, and the Temple of Worship will no longer be needed.  All will worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the New Jerusalem and Heaven on earth.  The new creation will no longer need artificial light since illumination will be provided by the glory of God for all nations.  Only the righteous will reside in the New City of Jerusalem.

*Contents of the Doctrinal Statement were taken from Edwin W. Williams, Christian Ministers, International.
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