Doctrine

What a person or a group of people collectively (a local church) believes about God and how to live is of paramount importance.  As is the case with any organization, our beliefs underpin every decision we make.  If our beliefs are wrong then our decisions and actions are wrong.

As you will discover if you read through the entirety of our doctrinal position, we begin with the foundation of God's Word.  We do not derive our beliefs from logic or reason or deduction, but rather from the revelation of God in Scripture.  Time and again in God's Word He admonishes us to "rightly divide the word of truth."  It is our responsibility as believers to diligently study the Scriptures and understand what He has revealed to us.

It is also imperative that we diligently apply that understanding to our lives.  The link between sound doctrine and righteous living is critical.  If our doctrinal base begins to erode, our moral foundation is sure to follow.  We must stand firm on the solid truths of God's Word so that we can know Him and walk in a right relationship with Him.

Please take the time to examine what we believe.  Look up the Scripture references and find out for yourself if we are "rightly dividing the word of truth."  We have divided our doctrinal positions into 10 areas of study.   These areas provide the basis for most "Systematic Theology" courses at seminaries.

About God - Theology

The term "theology" tends to be a catch-all word used to describe the entire belief system of an individual or movement.  To be precise though, theology refers to the study of God.

We believe that God exists but is unknowable by man apart from divine revelation, either general or specific. General revelation, through nature and the constitution of man, enables one to know there is a God, but only Specific (Special) revelation, the Word of God, enables one to know God in a personal manner. Because of Specific revelation we know that God is an invisible, personal, and living Spirit. His attributes include, but are not limited to, his Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Immutability, Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, Goodness, Mercy, Truth, Love, Faithfulness, and Perfection. Because of Specific revelation we know that God is three persons in one essence. He has one indivisible essence which wholly and equally pervades each member of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit. Each of the three persons of the Godhead is fully God without division. Because of Specific revelation we know that the Triune God is related to the Universe (everything that is not God) in four ways: He planned it (Decree), created it (Creation), upholds it (Preservation), and controls it (Providence).

About Man - Anthropology

Man holds a special place in creation, not because he has intrinsic worth and value of his own, but because he was created for a purpose and he was created in the image of God.

We believe that the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were created by God supernaturally and directly. The entire human race has descended from Adam and Eve by procreation. Adam and Eve were created with a holy nature, but not a confirmed holy character. They were created in the image and likeness of God. This involves three areas. One is that man is capable of having relationships with others - with God and with fellow humans. Another is that he is to be a physical representative, ambassador, for God on Earth. The final area is that man has a substantive likeness to God - personality, spirituality, and morality. All of these aspects--relationships, man's imaging of God, and his likeness of God--have been distorted by the Fall. Man has a physical and spiritual part, material and immaterial. He also has a conscience that passes judgment on his own deeds in reference to an internal moral standard. Man has a free will, within certain parameters, and is responsible for the decisions he makes.

About the Church - Ecclesiology

Each local church is a visible manifestation of the one true church, the Body of Christ.  It is our responsibility as believers to join with a local church and serve God through it faithfully.

We believe that the Church consists of all believers with Christ as the Head. It is referred to as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and a building with Christ as the foundation. A person becomes a member of the Church at the moment of salvation when the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the Church. This Spirit baptism results in a permanent union between the believer and Christ and the believer and all other believers. We believe the visible manifestation of the Church is in local, autonomous congregations of believers. All believers should become members of their local congregation with the requirements for membership being a profession of faith in Christ and water baptism. This makes the requirements for local church membership a picture of the requirements for universal church membership.

We believe the Church was completely hidden in the Old Testament, being a mystery to the Old Testament prophets. While there may be parallels between Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament, the Church is not the recipient of the promises made to Israel. The Church began at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

We believe the local church is to be governed by congregational rule with one elected pastor and as many elected deacons as deemed necessary. There are only two ordinances to be observed in the local church: 1) Baptism, an identification with Christ and a picture of salvation; and 2) the Lord's Supper, a time of self-examination and a picture of life in Christ. The mode of Baptism is unquestionably immersion and the Lord's Supper is merely a time of remembrance.

We believe the Church has a responsibility to separate itself from those practicing sin and teaching false doctrine. The goal of this separation is both to keep the Church pure and to bring about reconciliation on the part of the one practicing sin. When individual members of a local church persist in unrepentant sin after being confronted, the church has a responsibility to break fellowship with the member.

About the Spirit - Pneumatology

There is unfortunately great confusion concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation.   People often seek to glorify the person and work of the Spirit through magnifying spiritual gifts and/or giving undue attention to the Spirit.  Scripture is clear that the Spirit came not to seek His own glory but rather to glorify Jesus Christ.

We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Divine Trinity. He is fully God and has a genuine personality. In the Old Testament He was instrumental in the Revelation of God to man and enabled certain men in supernormal ways to accomplish God's will. In the New Testament He was instrumental in the ministry of Jesus Christ - filling, leading, anointing, and empowering Christ to fulfill His mission. We believe that today the work of the Holy Spirit may be seen in four distinct areas: in the world at large (Common Grace); in the life of an unbeliever (Conviction); in the life of a believer at the moment of salvation (Regeneration, Indwelling, Sealing, and Baptism); and in the life of a believer after salvation (Filling, Fruit, Illumination, and Gifts). The Holy Spirit will continue much of His ministry throughout the Tribulation and the Millennium.  We also believe that the Holy Spirit will throughout the course of His ministry refuse to bring glory to Himself, but rather seek to glorify Jesus Christ.

About Salvation - Soteriology

Christ's death on the cross paid the penalty of sin and enabled all who would accept him as Savior to have their sins forgiven and gain eternal life.

We believe that man is a sinner, deserves to go to Hell, and will never choose God on his own.  God provided the means of salvation through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is only by God's grace that God brings conviction, through the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the heart of man concerning man's sin and unbelief.  Those who do accept Christ are made spiritually alive and justified before God.  The Spirit of God comes to dwell within them and enables them to live for God.  Because of the fact that salvation is a free gift of God's grace, it can never be lost or taken away.  Those who do not accept Christ will be judged according to their works and sentenced to an eternity in Hell.

About Angels - Angelology

Misinformation and a growing public curiosity have combined to create much misunderstanding about angels and their function in God's creation. Fortunately the Bible has much to say about what angels are and are not and what their purpose is in today's world.

We believe that angels are a class of spiritual beings created by God, each having personality and immortality. Each angel was created directly by God since angels do not engage in procreation. They were all originally holy but with the moral freedom to sin. Satan made this decision to sin in rebellion against God and convinced a large number of the angels to join him. He and the other rebellious angels were cast from Heaven and allowed to rule this world as an adversary of God and His people. As such, Satan serves the greater purpose in God's plan. Eventually, Satan and the other rebellious angels will be cast into Hell eternally. We believe that Hell was created for Satan and the fallen angels, not for man.

We believe that the unfallen angels were confirmed in their holiness because of their decision not to rebel against God and, therefore, will never sin. They are referred to as cherubim and seraphim and serve as messengers, protectors, and worshippers of God. They have been accurately described as "administrators of the universe." In relationship to believers they serve as protectors, revealers of truth, for guidance and answering prayer, and as a test of hospitality.

We believe that the fallen angels were confirmed in their sin and will never be redeemed. They are seen today as demons. Demons have the ability to oppress carnal believers and possess unbelievers. This possession involves the demon controlling and dominating the victim in such a manner that cannot be resisted. While we do think demonic possession is possible today, we do not think Christians should engage in exorcisms. The only valid response to demonic possession is prayer.

About Christ - Christology

The term "Christology" refers to the study of Christ.

We believe that Jesus Christ is, always has been, and always will be God. Specifically He is the second Person of the Trinity, equal in essence with the Father and Spirit, and having no beginning or end. He existed before the creation of the universe and was instrumental in its creation. In the Old Testament He is seen as the angel of Jehovah. In the New Testament He is seen as the Messiah and as God Himself.

We believe that the eternal Son became human through the process of the incarnation. The incarnation involved Mary, a virgin at the time, being impregnated by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The result was a unique God-man, Jesus Christ. In the incarnation, Jesus was fully human, lacking only an inherited sin nature. In the incarnation, Jesus was fully God, lacking only the outward manifestation of Deity. There was no intermingling of the Divine and human natures. This union of God and man is a permanent one and enables God to genuinely experience humanity. It also allows Jesus Christ to uniquely serve as a mediator between God and man. We agree with the Chalcedonian statement that

He is one Christ, existing in two natures without mixture, without division, without separation; the diversity of the natures not being destroyed by their union in the one person; but the peculiar properties of each nature being preserved and concurring to the One Person.

We believe that the God-man Jesus Christ not only never sinned but was unable to sin. As such he was unjustly accused, sentenced, and put to death. His death on the cross was voluntary, sacrificial, substitutionary, and propitiatory, providing atonement for all men.

We believe that He was resurrected on the third day providing the ultimate victory over death. Afterward, He ascended bodily into Heaven where He is presently at the right hand of the Father. His work in Heaven now includes being the Head of the Church, Intercessor, and Advocate. He will visibly return for His bride, the Church, prior to the tribulation.

About the Bible - Bibliology

Since knowing God is impossible outside of His own self-revelation (Theology:Revelation), it is imperative that we have a firm grasp of that revelation.  God's Word is the account of God's revelation of Himself to mankind.

We believe that the Bible in its original languages is the written, specific revelation of God to man. It was verbally (the exact words used) and plenarily (the entire corpus of scripture) inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is inerrant, without mistake, and without deceit. Modern translations are reliable and trustworthy to the extent that they accurately, literally convey the verbiage and meaning of the original text.

We believe that the original human authors used their own experiences, communal stories, research, and direct revelation from God to arrive at their choice of words and topics. The Holy Spirit ensured that the final product of their efforts was exactly what God wanted written. The human authors were not "human typewriters" merely recording the words put in their minds by the Holy Spirit. Rather, each book bears the distinctive characteristics of its human author while at the same time having the divine stamp of perfection. Because of the Divine origin of Scripture, we believe it to be the sole source of truth for faith and practice in the believer's life. It is authoritative and must be taken as the direct Word of God. It must be studied, taught, preached, and obeyed in all matters.

This is a critical issue and cannot be compromised in any manner! To allow for any error, to allow for only portions to be inspired, to allow for only meanings and not words to be inspired is to undermine the very foundation of our faith. If we don't have a perfectly reliable source of revelation from God Himself, then we are reduced to innumerable opinions and doctrine is worthless.

About Sin - Hamartiology

Sin separates!  It separates man from God, life from death, and Heaven from hell.   It can be summarized in one word - autonomy.  Sin is, in its purest essence, self-will.

We believe that sin for mankind originated in the Fall as recorded in Genesis. We believe that the Fall is a genuine historical account of events regarding Adam and Eve and Satan. Man was originally created in a holy, but untested, state. Had Adam and Eve made the decision to obey God, they would have gained an experiential knowledge between good and evil and thus developed a confirmed holy character. Instead they made the decision to reject God and elevate self. The results were devastating! Mankind was expelled from the Garden and doomed to suffer both spiritual and physical death. Creation itself has suffered from the curse of the Fall. The reason why God allowed this sin to occur is not clearly delineated in Scripture, but we believe it to be an inevitable consequence of allowing man to have a free will. In no way though is God the author of, nor responsible for, sin.

We believe that all men after Adam and Eve are sinners because of an inherited sin nature.  This sin nature guarantees that we will make sinful decisions and follow a selfish course through life.  Theologians debate the matter of whether men are guilty because of Adam's sin or simply receive a corrupted sinful nature thus guaranteeing they will sin on their own.  Regardless of the specifics it is certain that all have a corrupted nature and that all who achieve the capability of making choices will make sinful ones.

Many define sin as a lack of conformity to the moral law of God. While we believe this to be a true statement, we think the essence of sin is simply self-will. Human autonomy is at the root of every single human sin that has ever occurred.

About the Future - Eschatology

No one except God knows exactly what is going to happen in the future.  While it is impossible for man to look ahead, God has revealed certain things that are going to happen.

Our beliefs concerning eschatology reflect a firm belief in Dispensationalism. We believe that the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the Church, followed shortly thereafter by the Tribulation. This return of Christ for the Church is an imminent return. While the Tribulation is occurring on Earth, believers will experience the reward judgment for Saints and the marriage supper of the Lamb. Following the seven years of Tribulation, Jesus Christ will physically return to Earth with all His saints and destroy all opposition while ushering in His millennial kingdom. Only saved individuals will enter this millennial kingdom. Satan will be bound during the Millennium and incapable of influencing man. Jesus Christ will personally rule the Earth during this time and will guarantee perfect peace and righteousness. Nevertheless, men will still rebel during this time and Satan will be released at the end of the Millennium to gather the rebels for one final confrontation. Satan will be defeated and cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity. The Great White Throne Judgment will occur at this time. All of the unsaved will be resurrected to be judged according to their works and cast into the Lake of Fire also. God will destroy this present universe and create a new Heaven and new Earth. All believers of all ages will enjoy eternity with God.