What We Teach

I. The Holy Scriptures

We believe and teach that the Bible is God's written revelation to man, and thus the 66 books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1 Cor. 2:7-14; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

We believe and teach that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Tim. 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed.

We believe and teach that the Bible constitutes the only necessary and infallible rule of faith and practice and is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness (Matt. 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:3, 20-21).

We believe and teach that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God's Word to man (2 Pet. 1:20-21) without error in the whole or in the part (Matt. 5:18; 2 Tim. 3:16).

We believe and teach that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation - the author's originally intended meaning, which is binding on all generations. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:7-15; 1 John 2:20). The literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation insists on following the normal rules for interpreting all literature, including the priority of context, the normal meaning of words and figures of speech, the rules of grammar and syntax, and the historical context in which the book or passage was written. Although some things in Scripture are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16), it 1 is sufficiently clear so that when we diligently apply these principles, we are able to discover its meaning (Ps. 19:7; 119:130; Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:14; 21:42; 22:31), especially in those matters that pertain to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23).

II. God

We believe and teach that there is but one living and true God (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5-7; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6), an infinite, all-knowing, self-existent Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14) - each equally deserving worship and obedience.

A. God the Father

We believe and teach that God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and executes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Ps. 145:8-9; 1 Cor. 8:6). He initiated the creation of all things in six literal days (Gen. 1:1-31; Ex. 31:17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:9), including the special creation of man and woman (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:5-25). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps. 103:19; Rom. 11:36). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Eph. 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chron. 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither the author nor approver of sin (Hab. 1:13; John 8:38-47), nor does He diminish or destroy the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Pet. 1:17).

We believe and teach His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Acts 17:28-29; Eph. 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:18). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Eph. 1:4-6); He saves from sin and adopts all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He becomes, upon their adoption, their spiritual Father (John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Heb. 12:5-9).

B. God the Son

We believe and teach that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial (of one and the same essence), and coeternal with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9).

We believe and teach that God the Father created all things according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by Whom all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2).

We believe and teach that, in the incarnation (God becoming man), the second Person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives of coexistence with God and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-8).

We believe and teach that in the incarnation Christ surrendered only His preincarnate glory (John 17:5) and the independent exercise of the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second Person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-Man (Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 2:9), yet without sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26).

We believe and teach that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Mic. 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9-10; Col. 2:9).

We believe and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26-35); that He was God incarnate, very God and very man (John 1:1, 14); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God's kingdom (Ps. 2:7-9; Isa. 9:6; John 1:29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7:25-26; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

We believe and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His perfect obedience (Rom. 5:19) and through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross. His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15; Rom. 3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:24).

We believe and teach that on the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Rom. 3:25; 5:8-9; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).

We believe and teach that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He has ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Matt. 28:6; Luke 24:38-39; Acts 2:30-31; Rom. 4:25; 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1).

We believe and teach that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross (Rom. 1:4). Jesus' bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).

We believe and teach that Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His Body, unto Himself at the rapture, and returning with His church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 20).

We believe and teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22-23):

  • He will evaluate the faithfulness of believers at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10).
  • He will judge those who survive the Tribulation at the Second Coming (Matt. 25:31-46).
  • He will judge the unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne on the basis of their works and condemn them to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

He alone is the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), the Head of His Body the church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18), and the coming universal King, who will reign on the throne of David (Isa. 9:6; Luke 1:31-33), He is the final Judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matt. 25:14-46; Acts 17:30-31).

C. God the Holy Spirit

We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit, the third Member of the Trinity, is a divine Person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor. 2:10-13), emotions (Eph.4:30), will (1 Cor. 12:11), eternality (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), omniscience (Isa. 40:13-14), omnipotence (Rom. 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial (of one and the same essence) with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Jer. 31:31-34 with Heb. 10:15-17).

We believe and teach that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Gen. 1:2), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18), the written revelation (2 Pet. 1:20-21), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, regenerating the elect, persuading, and enabling them to embrace Jesus Christ by faith, and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 2:22).

We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit came from the Father as promised by Christ (John 14:16-17; 15:26) at Pentecost to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ, which is His church (1 Cor. 12:13). The Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign Agent in regeneration (John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5), baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 1:13).

We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher, who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God's revelation, the Bible (2 Pet. 1:1921; John 16:13). Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation (Rom. 8:9), and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit through His Word (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16; 1 John 2:20, 27).

We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the most holy faith (John 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 2 Cor. 3:18).

We believe and teach, in this respect, that God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting of the saints today, and that speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church were for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and were never intended to be characteristic of all believers or normative in the church age (1 Cor. 12:411; 13:8-10; 2 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:7-12; Heb. 2:1-4). All the biblical miraculous sign gifts have ceased.

III. Man

We believe and teach that man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, selfdetermination, and moral responsibility to God (Gen. 2:7, 15-25; James 3:9). God created man as a two-part being: a material body and an immaterial soul or spirit (Matt. 6:25; 10:28; Rom. 8:10).

We believe and teach that God's intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for man in the world (Isa. 43:7; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11).

We believe and teach that in Adam's sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence, incurred the penalty of spiritual, physical, and eternal death, became subject to the wrath of God, and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man's salvation is thereby wholly of God's grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-19; John 3:36; Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; 1 John 1:8).

We believe and teach that, because all men were in Adam as their legal representative, the real guilt for Adam's sin and a corrupt nature have been transmitted to all men of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All men are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Ps.14:1-3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12).

IV. Salvation

We believe and teach that salvation is wholly of God's grace, on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ and the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of any human merit or works (John 1:12; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

A. Regeneration

We believe and teach that regeneration is a supernatural work by which the Holy Spirit imparts new spiritual life (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the Spirit's power through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24; Jam. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). As a result, the Holy Spirit enables the sinner to respond in faith and repentance to the divine provision of salvation (Acts 16:14). Righteous attitudes and conduct along with good works are the proper evidence and fruit of genuine regeneration (Matt. 3:8; 1 Cor. 6:1920; Eph. 2:10) and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Eph. 5:17-21; Phil. 2:12b; Col. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:4-10). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

We believe and teach that the believer's pursuit of Christlikeness climaxes in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming (Rom. 8:17; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2-3).

B. Election

We believe and teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1-2).

We believe and teach that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Rom. 9:22-23; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; Rev. 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith, and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48).

We believe and teach that the unmerited favor God grants to totally depraved sinners in election is unconditional (Rom. 9:10-18; Eph. 1:4). That is, it is not conditioned on or related to any human initiative or to God's anticipation of what they might do by their own will (Matt. 11:21) but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Eph. 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Pet. 1:2).

We believe and teach that election is not based merely on sovereignty in an abstract sense, as if God chooses in isolation from all that He is. God is truly sovereign, but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Rom. 9:11-16). A proper understanding of divine sovereignty in election will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character, as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:25-28; 2 Tim. 1:9).

C. Justification

We believe and teach that justification before God is a gracious act of God (Rom. 8:33) by which He instantaneously forgives and declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 4:1-8; 2 Cor. 7:10; Isa. 55:67) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 2:11). This new status or standing of righteous before God is totally unearned and apart from any virtue or work of man (Rom. 3:20, 28; 4:5-6; Gal. 2:16).

Justification consists of the imputation of our sins to Christ (Is. 53:4-6; Col. 2:14;1 Pet. 2:24) and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us (Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21). By this means God is enabled to "be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).

D. Sanctification

We believe and teach that every believer is positionally or definitively sanctified (set apart) unto God at salvation and is therefore declared to be holy and identified as a saint. This sanctification is instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. Positional sanctification has to do with the believer's standing, not his present walk or condition (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:2).

We believe and teach that the believer is also, by the work of the Holy Spirit, progressively sanctified. Through this gradual process, the state of the believer increasingly draws closer to the standing he enjoys positionally through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; Rom. 6:1-22; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Thess. 4:3-4; 5:23). Although Christians at times behave in a carnal or fleshly way (1 Cor. 3:1-4), we deny that the normative or permanent state of a true believer can be carnal or fleshly. All believers without exception are engaged in progressive sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 12:14).

In this respect, we believe and teach that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict— the new person he is in Christ doing battle against the flesh—that part of him that remains unredeemed with its beachhead in the body. But adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. However, although eradication of sin is not possible, the Holy Spirit does provide for our victory over sin (Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:22-24; Phil. 3:12; Col. 3:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).

E. Security

We believe and teach that all the redeemed, once saved, persevere in their faith because they are kept by God's power, and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom. 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 24).

We believe and teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian security as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Rom. 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Gal. 5:13, 25-26; Titus 2:11-14).

F. Separation

We believe and teach that both the Old and New Testaments call for separation from sin, but that the Scriptures clearly indicate in the last days apostasy and worldliness will increase (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).

We believe and teach that, out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us, and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. We also teach that God commands our separation from all religious apostasy and worldly and sinful practices (Rom. 12:1-2, 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 6:147:1; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).

We believe and teach that believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:11-12; Heb. 12:1-2) and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness that reflects the teaching of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:2-12), a continual pursuit of holiness (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-10), and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24).

V. The Church

We believe and teach that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual Body, the church (1 Cor. 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32; Rev. 19:7-8), of which Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18).

We believe and teach that the formation of the church, the Body of Christ, began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21, 38-47) and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

We believe and teach that the church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born-again believers in this present age (Eph. 2:11-3:6). The church is distinct from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32), a mystery not revealed until this age (Eph. 3:1-6; 5:32).

We believe and teach that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Cor. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25).

We believe and teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor—teachers; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:1-2) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9) and carry out their service in a godly manner (1 Pet. 5:1-5).

We believe and teach that these men lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Tim. 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Heb. 13:7, 17). At the same time, their leadership must be characterized by a servant's heart (Matt. 18:10-14; 1 Thess. 2:5-7; 1 Pet. 5:3). The Elder's primary role is to equip the saints for the work of service which results in the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).

We believe and teach the importance of discipleship (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:2), mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matt. 18:5-14), as well as the need for the discipline of sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Matt. 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16). We believe and teach the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). It is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders of a local church are responsible to determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Cor. 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet. 5:14).

We believe and teach that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God (Eph. 3:21), which is accomplished only as the church carries out its biblically assigned mission. The church's primary mission to God is to worship Him and to serve as the pillar and support of His truth (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Its mission to itself is to ensure the mutual care and edification of its members, by instruction in the Word (2 Tim. 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3), and by the regular practice of the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42). Its mission to the world is to make disciples of all the nations, by communicating the gospel, baptizing them, and by teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8; 2:42).

We believe and teach the need of the church to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:7-12), and He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:58; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; 1 Pet. 4:10-11), calling all saints to the work of service (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 4:12; Rev. 22:12).

We believe and teach that there were two kinds of gifts given to the early church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given temporarily in the apostolic era for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles’ message (Heb. 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 12:12); and ministering gifts, given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary (1 Cor. 13:8-12).

We believe and teach that no one possesses the gift of healing today, but that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith and will answer in accordance with His own perfect will for the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Luke 18:1-6; John 5:7-9; 2 Cor. 12:6-10; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14-15). In addition, we believe and teach that the gift of prophecy (in the sense of receiving new revelation directly from God), the gift of tongues, and the gift of the interpretation of tongues have all ceased. However, we acknowledge that miraculous gifts can be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (1 Cor. 13:13-14:12; Rev. 13:13-14). The only gifts in operation today are the nonrevelatory, equipping gifts given for edification (Rom. 12:6-8).

We believe and teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6:1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42).

We believe and teach that the Lord's Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Cor. 11:28-32). We also teach that, whereas the elements of Communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, participation in the Lord's Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ, who indwells every believer, and so is present, fellowshipping with His people (1 Cor. 10:16).

VI. Angels

A. Holy Angels

We believe and teach that angels are invisible spiritual beings (Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:14; 13:2), who at times can assume bodily form. They were created by God and are therefore not to be worshiped (Rev. 22:8-9). Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they are created to serve God and to worship Him (Luke 2:9-14; Heb. 1:6-7, 14; 2:6-7; Rev. 5:11-14; 19:10; 22:9) and they also serve the saints (Heb. 1:14).

B. Fallen Angels

We believe and teach that Satan was the greatest of the created angels and is the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator (Ezek. 28:11-19; Isa. 14:12-17), by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:1-14), and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Gen. 3:1-15).

We believe and teach that Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Isa. 14:1314; Matt. 4:1-11; John 8:44; Rev. 12:9-10); that he is the prince of this world, who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 16:20); and that he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Ezek. 28:11-19; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

VII. Last Things

A. Death

We believe and teach that physical death resulted from sin and is a punishment for sin (Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 5:12, 17; 6:23). It is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26). Death involves no loss of our immaterial consciousness (Rev. 6:9-11). The soul of the lost enters conscious punishment (Luke 16:19-26), and the soul of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). However, at death there is a separation of soul and body (Phil. 1:21-24). For the redeemed, that separation will continue until the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-17), which initiates the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6), when our soul and body will be reunited to be glorified forever with our Lord (Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:35-44, 50-54). Until that time, the souls of the redeemed in Christ remain in joyful fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:8).

We believe and teach the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (Matt. 25:46; John 6:39; Rom. 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Cor. 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Dan. 12:2; John 5:29; Rev. 20:13-15).

We believe and teach that the souls of the unsaved at death are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Rev. 20:13-15), when the soul and a resurrection body will be united (John 5:28-29). They shall then appear at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and shall be cast into hell, the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41-46), cut off from the life of God forever (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).

B. The Rapture of the Church

We believe and teach the personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ before the seven—year tribulation (1 Thess. 4:16; Titus 2:13) to translate His church from this earth (John 14:13; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:15-5:11) and, between this event and His glorious second coming with His saints, to reward believers according to their works (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10).

C. The Tribulation Period

We believe and teach that immediately following the removal of the church from the earth (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) the righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon an unbelieving world (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; 2 Thess. 2:7-12; Rev. 16), and that these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to the earth (Matt. 24:27-31; 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 2:7-12). At that time the Old Testament and tribulation saints will be raised, and the living will be judged (Dan. 12:2-3; Rev. 20:4-6). This period includes the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24:15-31; 25:31-46).

D. The Second Coming and the Millennial Reign

We believe and teach that, after the tribulation period, Christ will come to earth to occupy the throne of David (Matt. 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:10-11; 2:29-30) and establish His messianic kingdom for 1,000 years on the earth (Rev. 20:1-7). During this time the resurrected saints will reign with Him over Israel and all the nations of the earth (Ezek. 37:21-28; Dan. 7:17-22; Rev. 19:11-16). This reign will be preceded by the overthrow of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and by the removal of Satan from the world (Dan. 7:17-27; Rev. 20:1-7). We believe and teach that the kingdom itself will be the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel (Isa. 65:17-25; Ezek. 37:21-28; Zech. 8:1-17) to restore them to the land that they forfeited through their disobedience (Deut. 28:15-68). The result of their disobedience was that Israel was temporarily set aside (Matt. 21:43; Rom. 11:1-26) but will again be awakened through repentance and will enter into the land of blessing (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-32; Rom. 11:25-29).

We believe and teach that this time of our Lord's reign will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness, and long life (Isa. 11; 65:17-25; Ezek. 36:33-38) and will be brought to an end with the release of Satan (Rev. 20:7).

E. The Judgment of the Lost

We believe and teach that following the release of Satan after the 1,000—year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:7), Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Rev. 20:9). Following his final defeat, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). Then Christ, who is the Judge of all men (John 5:22), will resurrect and judge the unsaved dead, both the great and small, at the Great White Throne Judgment.

We believe and teach that this resurrection of the unsaved dead to judgment will be a physical resurrection and having received their judgment (John 5:28-29), they will be committed to eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:11-15).

F. Eternity

We believe and teach that after the completion of the millennium, the temporary release of Satan, and the judgment of unbelievers (2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:7-15), the saved will enter the eternal state of glory with God. The elements of this earth will be dissolved (2 Pet. 3:10) and replaced with a new earth, wherein only righteousness dwells (Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:15; 21:27; 22:1-21) and the heavenly city will come down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). This new earth will be the eternal dwelling place of the saints, where they will forever enjoy fellowship with God and one another (John 17:3; Rev. 21-22). Our Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28), that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Cor. 15:28).

VIII. Church Distinctives

Every church has its distinctives. They may be carefully thought out and articulated or simply assumed, but there will always be non-negotiable principles that guide the choices and decisions made throughout that church's ministry. At First Baptist Church Roosevelt there are two nonnegotiable distinctives that support and shape all we do: 1) A High View of God and 2) A High View of Scripture.

A. A High View of God

1. A Summary

Although God is immanent—accessible to us as Abba Father—Scripture also teaches He is transcendent—exalted far above us as our Sovereign King. Therefore, He must be treated with profound reverence and respect and never taken lightly (Eccles. 5:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:17; 3:15; 5:21; 6:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 1:17).

God's transcendence is captured in the attribute we call His holiness. God is holy or transcendent in two related, but ultimately distinct ways: He is transcendent in His moral purity and also transcendent in His majesty. He is separate or distinct from and exalted above everything else in the universe (Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Isa. 8:13; Hos. 11:9). Our greatest prayer must always be that God's transcendence is seen and known in the worship of this church and that He therefore is both loved and feared (Matt. 6:9, 1 Cor. 14:2425). It is our profound desire and chief concern that in our worship we treat God as separate, distinct, set apart, majestic, and transcendent. It is only in understanding His transcendence that we can truly see the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ through which we are reconciled and brought near to such a great and awesome God.

2. God is Sovereign in All Things

Contrary to theological perspectives in which man or even Satan is functionally in control, we believe God is absolutely sovereign over everything that happens in His universe. Psalm 103:19 says, "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all." God has supreme and unfettered freedom and power to act. Sovereign is what God is—by virtue of being God, He rules. Providence is what He does—He carries out His rule by actually administrating every detail in His creation (Ps. 103:19; Ps. 115:3; Is. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 8:28).

3. God is sovereign in salvation

A high view of God compels us to believe and teach that God alone acts to effect man's spiritual rescue. Salvation is accomplished by a sovereign act of God alone. At the moment of salvation, God initiates and accomplishes a miracle of new spiritual life called regeneration. It is a divine act of God by His Spirit through the instrument of His Word. Scripture describes God's sovereign work of regeneration as resurrection from spiritual death, a new creation, and spiritual birth (John 1:13; James 1:18-19; 1 Pet. 1:23; Eph. 2:1-6, Col. 2:13; Rom. 4:17; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; 4:24, John 3:1).

4. Worshiping God is the chief focus of corporate worship

Although God intends that we benefit greatly from corporate worship, people are not the primary audience. When the church gathers to worship, our primary focus should be on Him. Therefore, our worship services are designed to be God-centered (1 Cor 14:26; Heb 10:23-25).

B. A High View of Scripture

1. A Summary

Since we have such profound respect for God, we also have a profound respect for His Word. The Scripture is in part the reason for the existence of the church. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul identifies the church as "the pillar and support of the truth"! That truth is found in only one source—His eternal Word. As a pillar, the church exists to hold up the truth. And as a support, the church is the foundation on which the truth rests. The church holds up the truth by teaching it and supports the truth by defending it and passing it on to the next generation. In our desire to be a genuinely biblical church, we hold to an exalted view of Scripture. God has exalted above all things His Name and His Word (Sam. 7:28; Ps. 12:6; 119:151; John 17:17; Ps. 138:2).

A high view of Scripture means we believe and teach several crucial attributes of Scripture.

2. Inspiration

In 2 Tim. 3:16, Paul asserts that "all Scripture is inspired by God," or is of divine origin. Scripture—all of it, down to the very words—is the product of the breath of God (Ps. 12:6; 119:89; Prov. 30:5; Matt. 4:4; John 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:21).

3. Relevancy

In 2 Tim. 3:16, Paul also insists that all Scripture is profitable, useful, or beneficial. We don't make the Bible relevant—it simply is relevant! If God has breathed out His words to us, how could anything be more relevant (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 4:1-5)?

4. Sufficiency

In 2 Tim. 3:15, Paul describes Scripture as "able to lead you to salvation." In verse 17, he adds that the Scripture is sufficient to make us adequate, which means "capable, proficient, able to meet all demands." And Scripture fully equips us for every good work—it completely outfits us for spiritual service. It is a sufficient resource for the Spirit to use for both our salvation and sanctification (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; John 15:3; 17:17; Acts 20:32).

5. Authority

In 2 Tim. 4:1-2, Paul demands that pastors and elders "preach the Word." He uses the primary New Testament word for preaching that means "to proclaim after the manner of a king's herald." It carries the connotation of formality, dignity, and gravity. And it explicitly means to speak with authority. Biblical preaching is not a conversation but a proclamation from God Himself that must be heard and obeyed (Titus 2:15).

C. The Chief Implications

1. Scripture is central in the services of our church

In 1 Tim. 4:13-16, Paul instructs Timothy and all church leaders that their chief assignment when the church gathers is to 1) read the Scripture, 2) explain the Scripture, and 3) apply the Scripture. Every other element of corporate worship originates with us and is addressed to God. But when we read and hear the Word of God taught, we are hearing and witnessing a divine work. God speaks to us through His Word. That is why the reformers taught that "the greatest and principal purpose of every church service is to preach and teach God's Word" and why the central focus in our corporate worship is on preaching the Bible (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

2. Scripture alone directs and informs the elements of our worship

The only acceptable worship of God is what Scripture actually prescribes.

This principle—sometimes called the Regulative Principle—grows out of Sola Scriptura: the fact that the Bible is the ultimate and only inspired authority of faith and practice. The Second Commandment explicitly warns how unprescribed forms of worship become idolatry. The regulative principle asks: "Where does Scripture command or sanction this practice?" If Scripture does not, then the practice is not permitted in corporate worship.

Therefore, our worship includes only these biblically mandated elements:

  1. We sing the Scripture—we choose music rooted in the truth of God's Word (1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
  2. We pray the Scripture—our prayers grow out of our response to the Scripture (1 Tim. 2:1-8).
  3. We read the Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13).
  4. We teach the Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13; 6:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-5; Titus 2:15).
  5. We give our freewill offerings to see true scriptural worship supported and extended.
  6. We see the Scripture acted out in the signs or ceremonies of:
    • Baptism (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 2:42; 16:31-33; 18:8).
    • The Lord's Table (1 Cor. 11:23-32).

The fact that these are divine directives adds solemnity to what we do on Sunday, but also great joy because as we do these things with the right heart, we can be confident it honors our God.

3. Consecutive expository preaching is our normal and consistent approach to teaching the Scripture

In Old Testament corporate worship, there was a consistent pattern of the consecutive reading of the law and the prophets, followed by an exposition or explanation of its meaning (Deut. 1:1, 5; Neh. 8:1-8). When you examine the ministry of Jesus, you find that a central focus of His ministry was participation in corporate worship in the weekly synagogue services (Matt. 4:23; Luke 4:14-16, 20, 31, 44; 6:6; 13:10; John 18:20), which centered on the consecutive reading and exposition of the Word of God. Timothy's chief assignment when the church gathered publicly was to:

  • Read the Scripture.
  • Teach or explain the Scripture.
  • Apply the Scripture.

This was true not only of the Old Testament, but of Paul's letters as well (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16). Ordinarily, following the Old Testament and synagogue pattern, the reading would have been consecutive with accompanying exposition. The Word has always been central and the key element of worship. And the ministry of the Word has normally been the systematic, consecutive reading and explaining of God's Word.

4. We interpret Scripture using a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic

Every biblical text has only one unchangeable meaning determined solely by the intent of the human author and ultimately the Holy Spirit. That meaning is expressed in letters, words, and grammar. However, Scripture's meaning can be difficult at times to understand and therefore misunderstood (2 Pet. 3:15-16), so it requires careful exegesis (2 Tim. 2:15). We seek to determine the meaning of every passage in Scripture by interpreting it literally, which simply means we follow the normal rules of interpreting any literature. We examine the language, grammar, words, culture, geography, and history in a process called the grammatical—historical method. There are figures of speech, allegories, symbols, and word pictures in the Bible just as exist in other literature. But as with other literature, we interpret the Bible in its simplest, most literal sense, unless there is authorial and contextual evidence not to do so.

D. Contemporary Applications

A high view of Scripture compels us to believe and teach the straightforward statements of Scripture about controversial contemporary issues—;even when a literal reading of Scripture disagrees with prevailing views, whether secular or Christian. The following is not a complete catalog of such issues but rather merely representative of how a high view of Scripture must inform our thinking.

1. The Sufficiency of Scripture

We believe that God has provided us in the Scripture with everything necessary to nurture and sustain spiritual life. That means we are committed to teaching and counseling directly and exclusively from the Word of God (Ps. 19:7; 119:9,11; John 15:3; 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 5:14; 2 Tim. 4:2; James 1:21). We do not believe that secular psychology has any legitimate role in the sanctification of the believer.

2. Creation

We believe Genesis is a straightforward, literal presentation of the historical events it describes. We teach, therefore, that God created everything in six literal days (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; Ex. 31:17). We reject every form of theistic evolution (Isa. 44:24; 45:18; John 1:3; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16).

3. The Role of Women

We believe that both men and women bear the image of God and that those in Christ enjoy equal spiritual standing before God (Gen 1:27; 5:1-2; Gal. 3:28). But Scripture teaches that God has assigned different roles and responsibilities to men and women. In the home, the husband is to be the gracious, loving head and the wife is to submit to her husband's leadership (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). God has provided equally clear roles in the church. While there are many ways women can and should serve, we believe that Scripture forbids women from teaching and leading men, or in any way exercising authority over men in the context of the church (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:9-12; 3:1-2, 5).

4. The Gift of Tongues

We believe that the gift of tongues was the miraculous, God-given capacity to communicate the truth of God's Word in human languages the speaker had never learned or studied. It was a manifestation of God's power and blessing to validate the gospel message the Apostles taught and to establish the early church (Acts 14:3; 1 Cor. 14:22; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4). We believe that ecstatic outbursts and private prayer languages share nothing in common with the New Testament gift of tongues, and that they are patently unbiblical (Acts 2:4-12; 1 Cor. 14:5, 13, 27).

5. A Changed Life

We believe that all those whom God has genuinely saved by grace through faith alone are new creatures in Christ and will demonstrate that new life by submission to Christ and obedience to God's Word (Matt. 7:21; Luke 6:46-49; Rom. 10:9-10). All Christians still sin (James 3:2; 1 John 1:8-10), sometimes horribly, and sometimes for extended periods without repentance (2 Sam. 11:26-12:15). But a decreasing pattern of sin and an increasing pattern of holiness will characterize every Christian's life (John 15:1-11; Gal. 5:19-25; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13; 1 John 1:6-7; 3:4-10).

6. Human Sexuality

We believe that God created mankind in His own image (Gen. 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; James 3:9). In two separate acts, He created only two distinct genders: male and female (Gen. 1:27; 5:1-2; Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6). The genders of Adam and Eve were established by God and defined by their physiological sex at creation (Gen. 1:27; 2:7, 22). Subsequent to creation, God determines the gender of all other humans by their physiological sex at the time of birth (Gen. 18:10; Lev. 12:2, 5, 7). Thus, all attempts to redefine human sexuality beyond the physiological male-female distinction (whether framed biologically or culturally) and all attempts to change one's birth gender are sinful rebellion against our Creator. As our Creator, God stipulates in His Word that the only legitimate and acceptable sexual desires and sexual acts are those between a man and a woman within the context of marriage (Gen. 2:24; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Matt. 5:28; 19:4-6; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 7:1-5; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Th. 4:3-8; 1 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 13:4).

7. Marriage

We believe marriage is a gift of God's common grace to all mankind as a fundamental building block of society (Gen. 1:28; 2:18, 24; Ps. 127:3; Prov. 18:22; 31:10-11; Heb. 13:4). As the architect of marriage, God alone retains the right to define its constructs and guidelines, and He has done so in His Word (Gen. 2:18-24). In accordance with Scripture, we teach that God's design for marriage is a public, formal, and official covenant between one male and one female (Gen. 2:24; Prov. 2:17; Ezek. 16:8-14; Mal. 2:14). God designed the marriage covenant to be a life- long bond, with divorce permitted only in the case of unrepentant sexual sin or of desertion by an unbeliever (Mal. 2:16; Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:12-16, 24). Although sexual sins of thought are not justification for divorce, all sexual immorality, both thoughts and behavior, must be taken seriously as a transgression against God (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:28; 15:19; James 1:14-15). God intends that the union between two believers be a loving illustration of the relationship between Christ and His church, when carried out in obedience to the Bible and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-33; 2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Pet. 3:7).

If you are interested to see our full constitution, including details about membership, church discipline, and church government, please download it at the following link: PDF of full constitution.