“Beloved…contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3) The following paragraphs are brief, but theologically precise, statements of what we believe and teach as a local church regarding the fundamentals of the Christian Faith.
THE SCRIPTURES – We accept the Bible, consisting of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, as the written Word of God. The Bible is the only essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all that it teaches.
GOD IS TRIUNE – There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty, and perfect in holiness, truth and love. In the unity of the one godhead there are three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These are coexistent, coequal, and coeternal, yet loving one another in dis-tinct roles of headship and submission.
GOD THE FATHER – God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His Word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world out of nothing. Through the same Word He daily sustains all His creatures. He rules over all and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is good and faithful to every promise, working all things together for good to those who love Him. In His unfathomable grace He gave His Son Jesus for the redemption of His elect. He decrees that all creation will exist for the praise of His glory. He is to be loved, honored, and worshipped as God the First Person of the Trinity.
JESUS CHRIST – Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, is the eternal Word of God made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, just as the Old Testament prophets foretold.
He is perfect in nature, teaching and obedience. He is fully God and fully man. He was always with God and is Himself God. Through Him all things came into being and were created. He was before all things and in Him all things hold together by the word of His power. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation and in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily.
He is the only Savior for the sins of the world having shed His own blood and died a vicarious death on Calvary’s cross. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld the 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 all the powers of darkness and He appeared to many witnesses performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He ascended into heaven where, now at God’s right hand, He intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all and one day He will return.
He is the Head of His body the Church and should be loved, adored, served, obeyed and worshiped as God the Second Person of the Trinity.
THE HOLY SPIRIT – The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Through the proclamation of the Gospel He brings about the new birth, indwells the regenerate, granting the desire and ability to believe the truth, repent of their sins, trust in God’s mercy and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. He unites all believers in faith to Jesus Christ whom alone He has come to reveal and glorify. He is the Comforter who is neither to be grieved nor quinched as He leads the Church into the one right understanding and application of of God’s Word. He empowers God’s people to bear spiritual fruit as they walk in the obedience of faith. He is to be loved, obeyed, and worshipped as God the Third Person of the Trinity.
MAN – God made man, male and female, in His own image, as the crown of creation, that man might enjoy loving fellowship with Himself. Tempted by Satan, man distrusted God’s goodness and rebelled against God righteousness. Being estranged from his Maker, yet still responsible to Him, man became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and, apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives in slavery to sin and Satan as an enemy of God. Fallen, sinful man, whatever his attainments in this world, is lost and without hope apart from salvation by faith in Christ.
THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION – The Gospel is the good news that the death of Jesus Christ was a once for all substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. Christ satisfied the demands of God’s holy justice and appeased His holy wrath. He purchased God’s saving grace for all who believe and justified God for His common grace of kindness toward all sinners who do not believe.
Jesus Christ is therefore the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name under Heaven by which anyone can be saved. Our ability to respond in faith to this Gospel is itself provided by the free and unconditional selection of God. The Gospel is therefore effective only in those who, by the grace of God, are born again and thereby willing and able to genuinely repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone to save them. This Gospel is to be sincerely preached to all people in all nations without bias or prejudice. True conversion is characterized by a new life of love that delights to walk in the obedience of faith and is zealous to do good works that are pleasing to God.
Salvation is the free gift of God. In it the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner by God’s judicial decree. Thus justified by faith alone he is accepted by God and his debt for sin is forgiven. The believer is thus reconciled to God as Father and adopted as His child into His eternal family. He is liberated from the law of sin and death and empowered by the Spirit of God to walk in new life.
SANCTIFICATION – The Holy Spirit is the indwelling agent in our progressive sanctification. As He shines God’s love in our hearts He produces His fruit in our lives. Our minds are renewed and our actions are conformed to the image of Christ. Though our battle with indwelling sin continues throughout our lives, as we are led by the Spirit, we are enabled to walk in the Spirit and so delight in God’s commandments that we truly endeavor to live in this world for the glory of God. All believers are warned by God to persevere in their faith, knowing that they will give an account to God for their every word and deed. The spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship, giving, fellowship and confession of sin are provided by God as effective means of grace to assist us in our pursuit of holiness. Nevertheless, the believer’s ultimate confidence that he will persevere in the faith is based on the sure promise of God to keep all those who are His to the end.
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT – In addition to effecting regeneration and sanctification, the Holy Spirit also empowers believers for Christian witness and service. All genuine believers are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ at conversion. However, subsequent to conversion believers are also made to drink of the same Spirit in order to be repeatedly filled with the Spirit. Though the Holy Spirit may be resisted, grieved, and quenched by our sin and unbelief, by God’s grace He readily fills all who thirst with God’s love, joy, peace, wisdom and power. In this way He also imparts to His people supernatural gifts for the edification of the Body and witness to the world. All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in the Bible are still available for us today. They are vital for the mission of the church, and are to be desired and used within the guidelines of Scripture.
THE CHURCH - God by His Word and Spirit builds His Church, calling sinful men out of every tongue, tribe and nation of the human race into the holy fellowship of Christ’s Body. By the same Word and Spirit, God guides and preserves His redeemed as a gathered community. It is not limited to any religious institutions or denominations. Rather, the Church Universal is made up of all who are born again followers of Jesus.
The Church exists in the world to worship God, to nurture fellow believers and to bear witness to the Gospel. New local churches are to be planted in the world for a visible evidence of God’s salvation. The Church’s mission is to make disciples through the preaching of the Gospel. Though social transformation is an indirect benefit of changed lives, it is not the primary focus of the ministry.
All members of the Body of Christ are to function as committed members of a local church. In this context they are able to walk in the obedience of faith working through love, as they show their love for God by the way they keep His commandment to love one another.
ELDERS, DEACONS & MINISTRY GIFTS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH – The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to His Church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ’s body for works of service. Thankfully, these gifts continue to function. However, the closed canon of Scripture now fulfills the place of authority originally held by its authors. No church leader is ever exempt from the biblical qualifications for church office (1 Tim 3:1-13). Those with gift ministries do not hold special athority over the local churches and in order to function in any official capacity every minister must meet the biblical qualifications of an Elder or a Deacon.
Likewise, though women play a vital role in the life of the church, in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, women are not permitted to “teach or to have authority over a man” (1 Tim. 2:12). All church officers must therefore be men.
THE CHURCH ORDINANCES – Water Baptism is an initial act of the obedience of faith in Jesus Christ. It is intended only for those who have been born again. As a public testimony of one’s faith, it may be performed for the new believer by any trusted fellow believer, ideally in the presence of fellow church and community members. In it a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a visual demonstration of the believer’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that one’s former way of life has been put to death, and that one has now been raised to new life.
THE LORD’S SUPPER – As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be partaken of only by those who are genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the New Covenant sealed by the shedding of His blood on behalf of His people. It is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As the believer partakes of the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, he remembers and proclaims the death of Christ, receives spiritual nourishment for his soul, and signifies his unity with other members of Christ’s body. A common misunderstanding has been that this ordinance can only be effectively served in formal services by officers of the church. In the Bible we find believers often “breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46). We therefore encourage all our members to rejoice in the priesthood of all believers by serving and partaking of the Lord’s Supper with one another whenever and whereever desired.
THE CONSUMATION – The Consummation of all things includes the visible, personal and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the transformation of those alive in Christ into glorified bodies, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. In the Consummation, Satan with his hosts and all those outside of Christ will be finally separated from the benevolent presence of God to justly endure eternal punishment in hell, but the righteous, in glorified bodies, shall live and reign with Him forever in heaven. Married to Christ as His Bride, the Church will live in the holy presence of God, giving Him unending glory by praising and enjoying Him forever.