We accept the Bible, consisting of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, as the inspired Word of God. The Bible is the only essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It includes the salvation plan for those elected by God to salvation, as well as the portion for the unregenerate. Being given by revelation by God to the human authors, the Scriptures in the original documents are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Manuscript copying throughout the ages, being superintended by the Holy Spirit, assures retention of the inerrant, infallible, and authoritative word, and thus is free of error in all that it teaches. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and according to its purpose, as originally delivered, as well as in obedience to the Lord who speaks through it today in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives with the aid of the Holy Spirit who illuminates the word to the believer. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide for all of Christian life, practice, and doctrine. The Scriptures are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. The Bible is self-authenticating, in that no extrinsic sources are needed to prove its veracity. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession, or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.
God is Triune
There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty, sovereign, and perfect in holiness, truth, and love. In the unity of the godhead there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal, co-eternal. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly and fully Deity. One God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is the foundation of Christian faith and life.
God the Father
God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His Word and for his glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world and all of creation from nothing. He sustains and rules over all, and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love him, and, in his unfathomable grace, gave his Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of His people. He created with the express intent that all of creation would bring glory to His name.
God the Son
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the eternal Word, the second Person of the Trinity, made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He was perfect in nature, teaching, and obedience. He is truly God and truly man, thus, full deity, and fully man yet without sin, in a hypostatic union which always preserved both His humanity and His deity. He was before all things and in him all things hold together by the word of his power. Through the Son, all things came into being and were created. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, and in him dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily. He is the only Savior for the sins of the elect, having shed his blood and died a vicarious and substitutionary death to atone for their sins on Calvary’s cross. By his death in our place, he revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, on the third day he rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness, and for a period of 40 days appeared to more than 500 witnesses, with many convincing proofs of his resurrection. He ascended into heaven where, at God’s right hand, he intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all. He is the Head of his body, the Church, and should be adored, loved, served, and obeyed as Lord of all.
God The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the eternal third Person of the Trinity, is the Lord and Giver of life, who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Through the general proclamation of the gospel to all men, the Holy Spirit issues a specific call to the elect, in conformity with the will of God in eternity as to unconditional election, pointing to Jesus Christ and persuading them to believe the Gospel and repent of their sins. By the same Spirit a person is led to trust in divine mercy. The Holy Spirit brings about the new birth, unites the elect to Jesus Christ in faith, and dwells within the regenerate, leading the regenerate into holy living and Kingdom works prepared beforehand. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son, who in turn came to glorify the Father. The Spirit will lead the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word, and is our Counselor, Teacher, and Comforter. He is to be honored and worshiped.
God made man—male and female—in his own image, as the crown of creation, that man might bring glory to God. Tempted by the serpent, man rebelled against God by sinning against God. The original sin was the sin of Adam, which imputed spiritual death to every person, with the exception of Jesus Christ. Every person henceforth became a sinner by nature and by practice, in a state of total and complete depravity. Estranged from his Maker, yet responsible to him, he became the sure object of divine wrath, and, apart from a special work of grace completely outside of himself, utterly incapable of returning to God. In his fallen state, man’s total depravity extends to his mind, will, and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the judgment of God in this present age, though he may not consider it so, and shall live under that judgment throughout eternity unless saved. Sin has both a dominating and blinding effect, so that while man is at enmity with God, hostile toward God, and hateful of God, man may think himself good and worthy of heaven. Fallen, sinful people, whatever their character, works, or attainments, are lost forever and without any hope of avoiding hell apart from salvation in Christ.
Satan and Demons
Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man. A created being, he is at enmity with God and seeks to stop the purposes of God. His influence in the world is profound, his nature and objectives evil; however, he is subject, as is all of creation, to the sovereignty of God. In the exercise of that sovereignty, God has decreed to use Satan and his evil purposes for God’s own beneficent, good, and higher purposes. The legions of evil angels which do Satan’s bidding are identified in Scripture as demons. One day, at the culmination of history, God shall cast Satan and his demons into the Lake of Fire.
Through Adam’s sin, death came upon every person. Each is born spiritually dead, conceived in iniquity, and under the judgment and condemnation of God. Every person is born with a sin nature which separates him or her from God, and which gives rise to actual sin by the person during his or her life. The wages of sin is death, therefore, all people are destined to hell absent salvation by Jesus Christ. In addition, the created order suffered the consequences of Adam’s sin, as all of life is under the curse of death.
Heaven and Hell
Man’s sin makes him worthy of hell and indeed hell-bound. Christ’s finished work is the ground upon which His people shall be taken to heaven. These final states are described in scripture as actual places. Just as heaven is the eternal place of bliss in the immediate presence of God for the redeemed, it is equally true that those not predestined for salvation shall receive the eternal conscious judgment of God which their sins deserve. Heaven and hell are final, with no hope of change after death.
The Gospel and Salvation
The Gospel is the message of the good news of salvation to God’s people. God uses the preaching and proclamation of the Gospel intentionally to issue a general call to all men, and within that, a specific call to faith and repentance to the elect who shall be saved by the power of God. The elect of God, atoned for at the Cross, shall be regenerated by the Holy Spirit in time and shall come to faith and repentance, and ultimately, glorification, all by the power of God. Once a person is saved, that salvation is secure throughout all of life and for eternity. Should he fall away from the faith, salvation was never granted to him.
The good news is revealed in Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Christ’s crucifixion is at the heart of the Gospel, his resurrection is the power of the Gospel, and his ascension is the glory of the Gospel.
Christ’s death was a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for the sins of God’s people. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases his holy wrath against sin. It also demonstrates his love and grace for His people. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite privilege that redeemed sinners have of glorifying God because of what he has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches, and ministries to proceed from and be related to the cross. Redeemed man’s new heart and spiritual rebirth is not a work of the natural man, but it is the Spirit who gives life, and is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional election of some by God for his own pleasure and glory.
There are many false “gospels,” but only the gospel of grace which declares the finished work of Christ and that alone, on the sinner’s behalf, is the true gospel. Like regeneration, faith and repentance are works of the Holy Spirit which are all of grace and nothing of man’s work or achievement. Regeneration precedes faith and repentance.
Biblical repentance is characterized by a change of mind which leads to a turning toward God and away from sin. While the works of mere men cannot save, once a person is saved, he is saved unto good works and holy living. Salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, and all of this resting on the authority of Scripture alone. The sinner passes from death to life. No one is ever justified by any work or righteousness on his part, salvation is completely of the Lord and is a gift from Him. At faith, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer as secure legal standing before the holy God. He is justified, forgiveness applied, fully accepted by God, and is positionally sanctified by Christ’s completed work on his behalf. Holiness, or separation unto the Lord and to the church is the progressive work of the Spirit in the lives of His redeemed. The believer shall some day be glorified, entering heaven and leaving the very presence and decay of sin.
Christ has commanded that believers proclaim the true gospel to the peoples of all nations.
The church consists of the community of true believers in Jesus Christ. There is a larger church body world-wide, who are our brothers and sisters, as well as the local body, also our brothers and sisters. God by his Word and Spirit creates the church, calling sinful men and women out of the world by His gospel, into the fellowship of Christ’s body. Since the chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever, the church’s function reflects the renewal of that goal following the devastating impact of sin within the world. Thus, the body gathers to worship God through praise and active worship, through the proclamation of the word of God, through the edification of fellowship, through teaching and discipleship, and through the outward focus of the gospel to the world.
The church’s function is both intensive and extensive. Intensive, in that it is commanded to build up and edify fellow believers in the most holy faith, through preaching, discipleship, prayer for needs, and care of the saints, and for the fulfillment of the ministries and biblical giftings which the Spirit has given to the members for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Extensive, in the fulfilling of the Great Commission to proclaim the gospel to all people, through evangelism and missions. Giving to the local church and to the larger body of Christ is a form of worship in that it fulfills the stewardship mandates of believers under the gospel.
All true believers are commanded to be members of a local church, where they may fellowship with the saints, and where their biblical giftings and talents may be used for the building up of the church. Women play a vital role in the life of the church, but in keeping with God’s created design they are not permitted “to teach or to exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12 ESV). In the context of the local church, God’s people are to receive pastoral care.
Ordinances of the Church
The Scriptural precedent for water baptism is faith, ie., a believer’s baptism. Baptism does not confer the new birth of regeneration, but is a command in scripture to those who have believed. Therefore, in obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the church, oneself, and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of his death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death, and vividly depicts a person’s trust in Christ, and resurrection to new life.
As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of his blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a remembrance of Christ’s broken body and shed blood on the believer’s behalf. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ until He returns, and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
In keeping with God’s word in the book of Genesis, marriage in the context of the Christian church is a sacred union between a man and a woman. The church possesses the biblical authority to unite a man and a woman in holy matrimony, and to dedicate their children to the Lord.
The Consummation of all things includes the visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of all of the dead: the saved to eternal life and the unsaved to eternal damnation and torment, and the translation of those yet alive in Christ, the judgment of the just at the seat of Christ, and the judgment of the unjust at the Great White throne of God, and the fulfillment of Christ’s Kingdom in the new heaven and the new earth.
In the Consummation, Satan with his hosts are bound, and all those outside Christ are finally separated from the benevolence of God, enduring eternal punishment, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with Him forever. Married to Christ as his Bride, the church will be in the glorious presence of God forever, serving him and giving him unending praise and glory. Then shall the eager expectation of creation be fulfilled and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God who makes all things new.