Beliefs

DOCTRINES AND PRACTICES

GOD—There is one true and living God who created and sustains all things. 
He is one in essence but exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As the source of all, He has revealed Himself through His creation, through the Scriptures, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all Christians.  (Isa 45:5; John 1:1-3; Col 1:15-17; John 10:30; 2 Cor 13:14; John 14:6, 17; Ps 19:1; Luke 24:27; Heb 1:1-3; John 16:13-15)

JESUS—Jesus of Nazareth is the divine, eternally existing, and uniquely begotten Son of God.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit apart from a human father, was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was crucified as the only sufficient and atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, was then raised from the dead both literally and physically, and now sits enthroned in heaven at the right hand of the Father.  There He sits as our High Priest, awaiting the day of His return to the earth when He will judge the righteous and the unrighteous, the living and the dead, and when He will establish His eternal kingdom on the earth.  (2 Pet 1:17; Matt 1:18; Luke 1:26-38; Heb 4:15; 1 John 2:2; Acts 2:24; Eph 1:20; Heb 4:14-16; Acts 17:31; 1 Pet 4:5; 2 Tim 4:1; Luke 1:31-33)

SPIRIT—The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, was sent from heaven by the Father with a mandate to glorify the Son, to convict the world of the sin of unbelief, to regenerate those who believe, to guide them into all truth, to enable them to live godly lives, and to equip them for the work of ministry.  (John 14:25; 16:8, 13-14; Titus 3:5; Rom 8:9-11; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 4:7-13)

SCRIPTURES—The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments comprise the Word of God.  As such they were uniquely inspired or “breathed out” by God and inerrantly conveyed to humanity through sacred manuscripts originally penned by prophets and apostles of old.  These are the Church’s Holy Scriptures.  They were authored by chosen men who were supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit; they are therefore infallible as regards the facts to which they attest and all that they communicate concerning salvation.  They constitute a completely trustworthy record of divine revelation and are the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21; Heb 4:12; 2 Pet 1:21)

HUMANITY—Human beings from every nation, tribe, and tongue are created in the image and likeness of God.  We would contend, therefore, that each and every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.  Moreover, each person’s gender is biologically established and is an intrinsic, immutable aspect of his or her nature and identity.  God created each person as either male or female, and these two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image of God among humankind.  As to the blessing of marriage, we believe both that it is a divine ordinance pertaining solely to the union of one man and one woman and that it is meant by God to bind each to the other for the entirety of their earthly lives.  God has also set sexual intimacy apart, intending for it to be an expression of love and commitment between wedded couples only.  Any expression of sexuality outside of marriage is sin.  (Gen 1:26-27; 2:7, 21-25; Exod 20:12-17; Ps 139:13-18; John 10:10; Lev 18; 20; Matt 19:4-9; Rom 1:18-31; 1 Cor 6:9-10, 15-20; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Jude 7)

SIN—Sin entered the human race through Adam and Eve, the original parents of us all.  These two were created in the image and likeness of God, initially enjoyed an intimate relationship with Him, but then chose to reject His revealed will.  This left Adam and Eve fallen and all their descendants estranged from God, enslaved to the power of sin, and without restoration or salvation from the righteous judgment of God.  Apart from God’s gracious intervention, there is no remedy for this broken human condition.  (Gen 1:26; 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Eph 2:1; John 8:34; John 3:3-8)

SALVATION—God reaches out in grace and freely justifies, or “declares to be right” with Him, all those who respond in complete faith to His offer of salvation through Christ.  There is salvation only through the blood of Jesus, the one who, on the cross and in our place, bore the penalty for our sins.  The merits of His substitutionary sacrifice are applied to the account and heart of each repentant sinner whenever he or she comes to faith and responds properly to the gospel declared by the apostolic community and recorded in the New Testament.  Fallen men and women must hear the good news of the gospel, repent of their sins, put their faith in Christ, and be united with Him through baptism into His name.  Furthermore, they must take most seriously the many warnings of Scripture regarding the need for Christians to continue by faith to the end of their lives.  For indeed any believer can forfeit salvation by abandoning his or her faith in Christ.  However, because they have been saved by grace through faith, all those who remain in faithful union with the Lord Jesus can and should be perfectly confident in their salvation.  (Titus 2:11; Rom 3:21-26; 4:23-25; Eph 2:8-9; Rom 5:1-2; 6:1-11; 10:9; Acts 2:38; 3:19; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21; 2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 4:1-3; Heb 3:12-13; 6:4-6; Rev 2:4-5)

CHURCH—All born again believers are part of one spiritual body—the Church.  Christ is the head of this Church, which itself consists of all Christians everywhere organized into a vast number of local assemblies.  The members of these local assemblies gather together regularly in order to devote themselves to the worship of God, to prayer, to teaching and learning Scripture, to fellowship, and to their observance of the Lord’s Supper.  In addition, the evangelistic mission that Christ has bound upon the Church mandates that all believers participate in bringing the gospel to the many nations and people groups of the world.  Their primary objectives should be to make disciples among the nations and to plant local churches which will themselves be faithful to the mission of evangelism.  Christians, moreover, are to avoid division and to pursue zealously the unity for which the Lord Jesus once prayed.  (Eph 4:4; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; Acts 2:42; Matt 28:19; John 17:20-21)

BAPTISM—All believers must complete their gospel-prompted commitment to Christ through a water baptism of full immersion in order that the one baptized might be fully united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.  Christian baptism must be conducted in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  This is to be a unique event in the life of the believer because it marks that special moment when he or she is united with Christ and begins living in fellowship with Him.  In and of themselves, however, the waters of Christian baptism cannot save.  And yet, it is baptismal faith that allows the Holy Spirit to bring about the believer’s new birth and to unite him or her with the body of Christ.  (Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38; Rom 6:3-4)

COMMUNION—One of the reasons that the church gathers together weekly is to participate in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The meal provides an opportunity for the church to remember, give thanks, and proclaim the Good News of Christ’s saving work.  (Acts 2:42; Heb 10:25; 1 Cor 11:28-32)

PREACHING—While topical preaching is appropriate on occasion, the regular, pastoral teaching of the Scriptures on the Lord’s Day should be expositional, that is, one biblical text is considered at a time, and the message and flow of the text shape the message and flow of the sermon.  (Neh 8:8; 1 Tim 4:13)

LEADERSHIP—The New Testament describes and prescribes that the church should be both Elder-led and congregational.  The Elders (also known as Bishops/Overseers/Pastors) of the church are the overseers of its affairs and the shepherds of its members.  They are the final interpretive authority of the Bible’s meaning and application in the local congregation.  Moreover, they are responsible for the instruction, oversight, edification, discipline, restoration, and overall spiritual well-being of the church as a whole and its individual members.  In keeping with the biblical understanding of roles for men and women in the home and the church, which is grounded in creation and not culture, our church leadership is patriarchal.  The office of the Deacon is also recognized in our church as those men who serve in ongoing, official capacities and at the direction of the eldership.  (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-4; Heb 13:17; Matt 18:15-17; Gal 6:1; 1 Cor 5:11-13; 1 Pet 2:5, 9; Acts 6:3-6; 1 Tim 2:12; 3:1-2; Tit 1:5-6, 9; 2:1-15; 1 Tim 2:13)

DISCIPLINE—The local church is made up of various men and women who are at different stages of spiritual development.  Yet, the goal of the entire congregation is to pursue holiness in Christ, individually and corporately.  Therefore, the church cannot permit someone to continue in a lifestyle of sin without discussing the issue with him or her.  The Lord and His apostles have given us clear directions of how to handle sin in the church.  First, an individual should talk face-to-face with the person.  If the sin continues, then, secondly, two or three witnesses should discuss the sin with the person (this is most likely the time that an elder(s) should be involved).  If the issue is still not resolved, then, thirdly, the matter should be taken before the entire congregation.  Lastly, if the person has still not repented, the church should no longer allow the person to remain a member.  Each issue must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, slowly, carefully, and prayerfully, and the eldership should oversee the process.  The goal is for the sinner to repent and be fully restored to fellowship with the local church.  (Matt 18:15-20; Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19-20; Titus 3:9-11; 1 Cor 5:11; 2 Thess 3:13-15; 2 John 1:9-10; Rom 16:17-18)

ESCHATOLOGY—Christ will one day return to earth both literally and physically in order to judge the living and the dead.  There will be wrath for the unrepentant and eternal life without sin, suffering, and sadness for the faithful.  The rapture, as commonly taught in dispensational traditions, is not a biblical doctrine.  Christ will return at any moment to judge the world and to set up His kingdom, and the end of this age as we know it will take place immediately.  The saved of humanity will be with the Lord forever in a new heaven and earth, and they will be given glorified bodies which are not subject to disease and death.  (Matt 24-25; 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; Heb 9:28; Rev 22:12)



For Progress and Joy in Christ