The Bible was written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit through some 40 different authors over a span of 1500 years. It is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, and is a perfect treasure of divine instruction; the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. All Scripture is true and trustworthy; inspired by God, infallible, and inerrant. The bible is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. It is a testimony to Jesus Christ, who is the focus of divine revelation.
The Triune God
There is one living and true God. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – with distinct personal attributes, but equal in divine perfection – without division of nature, essence, or being. God is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being – the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. He is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all-knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience.
A. God the Father
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men, dealing with believers as His children, and therefore chastising the disobedient and rewarding the obedient. His love is unconditional, His glory and power are unmatched, His holiness is worthy of praise, and His eternal mission is redemptive in nature.
B. God the Son
Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind, yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
C. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration, He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service – acting as the divine Administrator for Jesus Christ in His churches.
Mankind is the special creation of God, made in His own image. God created us male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and given the freedom of will. By his voluntary choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race, whereby all Adam’s posterity inherited a nature and an environment depraved and inclined toward sin. From birth, man is dead in his trespasses and sin; under condemnation. Only God’s grace can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purposes of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man as the only acceptable sacrifice and substitute for the salvation of man’s sinful soul. Every person of every race possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
God’s Purpose of Grace
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, covenanted together in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel, and carrying out the Great Commission. The church observes two ordinances, governed by God’s laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In this, each member is responsible and accountable to the Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all the redeemed from all ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
There are two pictorial ordinances in the Lord’s churches: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to one’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual indebtedness to the entire world as trustees in the Gospel and a binding stewardship in our possessions. We are, therefore, joyfully obligated to serve God with our time, talents, and treasures; and should recognize all these as entrusted to us to use for God’s glory and for blessing others. According to Scripture, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Lord’s cause on earth.
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for life. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the means of sexual expression according to His Word, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The Gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
Evangelism and Missions
It is the duty and privilege of every Christian and church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary efforts by all rest upon a spiritual necessity of the redeemed life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord has commanded the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to constantly seek to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the Gospel.
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous (those who have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment and eternal separation from God. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.