Doctrinal Statement

Please note: like any Doctrinal statement, this statement is incomplete.  If there are areas you think that I should address, let me know.  Likewise my human understanding of God's word is not infallible if I have (directly or through careless phrasing) stated something you believe is contrary to scriotural teaching, please let me know so I can address the misunderstanding or further research the topic.

Doctrinal Statement

A.  The Bible

The Bible is the written word of God1 and is His revelation of Himself.2 It is written by His prophets3 and apostles to His people corporately and individually. The Bible is a unified message organized into 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament and will last forever.4,5 All of scripture is verbally inspired by God and is perfect in the original autographs.6 Scripture has been preserved by God through the ages and we have inherited a reliable record of what was originally written. All scripture, both in the Old and New Testament, is useful for teaching, correction, reproof and training in righteousness.7,8 As the word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Bible is living and active in the lives of those who are exposed to it and it will pierce the defenses we raise to convict us of sin and it will help us to understand the desires God has for our lives.9 The Bible can only be fully understood by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.10,11,12 The Bible is understandable by anyone led by the spirit, even without training, to the level necessary for salvation and godly character.13 Greater insight into God’s word can be obtained through spirit directed study using proper tools and training.14 The bible is the standard by which all truth and morality is judged15 and aids the believer in avoiding sin.16 The Bible is inerrant and is authoritative in all matters on which it speaks.17

B.   God

The Godhead is three persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. The three separate persons of the Trinity are one in essence and therefore one God, not three Gods. Since God’s existence is beyond our comprehension, we can use analogy to understand the Trinity better, but we can never fully understand the Trinity. All three members of the Trinity have a hand in our creation, existence, salvation, growth and future.
All members of the Trinity share certain attributes. God is all knowing, He knows all that it is knowable with logical consistency (God cannot know that 2+2=15 because it is not logically consistent, but he does know the future before it comes to pass).18 God is present everywhere, His presence is what maintains existence in all of creation, but He also can choose to manifest Himself in ways, places and times of His own choosing.19,20 God is all loving, all love either comes from God or is an imitation of God’s love.21 God’s love is expressed in justice, mercy and grace. God is just,22,23 He is the source of all justice,24 and cannot tolerate the unjust and unrighteous in His presence.25,26 God is merciful,27 when God withholds the judgment that is deserved, it is not because we have an intrinsic right to forgiveness but because of His mercy.28 God is graceful;27 God’s grace through Jesus’ death gives us a relationship with Him when we do not deserve it.29,30,31 God is all powerful; He can do anything that is logically consistent with His nature (it would be logically inconsistent for God to create a stone that is too large for Him to move).32,33,34,35

1.         God the Father

God the Father is the first person of the Trinity. Ultimately, all that is done is done for His glory.36 Redemption flows from the love of the father.37 In salvation, God the Father chose not to spare His son, thereby providing salvation for those who believe.38 The father wishes for all men to come to repentance.39 In terms of salvation, He is only rightly the father of those who believe.40 In terms of creation, He is the father of all.41 The Father loves the Son and is well pleased in Him.42 God the Father is the source of all wisdom.43,44

2.         The Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus is and always has been God.45,46 As part of the Godhead, Jesus is willingly in a position of subservience to the Father.47 While eternally existent as God, Jesus veiled His divine nature and was born as a man through the virgin birth.48 Jesus grew, as any other child, in wisdom and stature, but was sinless throughout His life.49,50 In Jesus’ life, He taught with authority,51 healed the sick52 and raised the dead.53 These miracles were not metaphorical, but actual. Jesus chose to die on behalf of men to pay the penalty of sin on their behalf.54 Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice for sin55 and paid for all of the sins of those who accept His offer of salvation.56 When Jesus died, it was true death, not swooning,57 and when He rose on the third day it was a true, physical resurrection.58 Unbelievers began to disparage the resurrection from the very first day.58 After His resurrection, Jesus taught for 40 days59 and was seen by many witnesses.60 At the end of the 40 days, Jesus ascended into heaven, in like manner to the way in which He will return triumphantly to earth. 61 Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father62 where He is preparing a place for the redeemed to dwell in Heaven.63 When the the fullness of time has come, Christ will return with a trumpet sound to gather the elect,64 starting with the dead in Christ rising first.65 Following the time of tribulation (Daniels 70th week), Christ will establish a millennial reign66 after which Satan will be released for a short period.67 Then Satan and his demonic hordes will be judged and God will establish a new heaven and earth which will last for eternity.68

3.         The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit is a person and has all of the attributes of God.69,70,71 The role of the Holy Spirit is to call us to God,72,73 educate us about the things of God,74 connect us in communication with God,75,76 and comfort us in times of difficulty.77 Our response to the Holy Spirit is to be filled with Him,78 walk with Him,79 not grieve Him,80 and not quench Him.81 The Holy Spirit is the one that enables us to say Jesus is Lord.72 It is the power of the Holy Spirit working through us that allows us to be sanctified and to live a holy life.73

C.   Satan

Satan is a real and living being who is a creation of God. He was created by God to be the protector of God’s glory,82 but in conceit decided that he wanted to become God.83,84 While Satan is powerful, he is not God, therefore, Satan is not omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent. Satan is intelligent and powerful. He seeks to deceive85 and destroy humanity made in the image of God.86 Satan is the accuser of the brethren.87 If the believer resists the devil, then the devil will flee.88

D.   The Fall of Man

Adam and Eve were literal people in the literal Garden of Eden. When Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,89 she was deceived by Satan. When Adam partook, he did so in full knowledge of his sin.90 Because of this sin, death entered the world, prior to this there was no death of any living thing.90 The death that entered the world was both physical and spiritual (meaning separation from God). We are all sinners as descendents of Adam: we all sin91 and stumble.92

E.   Salvation

Understanding salvation begins with understanding that we are all participants in the fall which originally was initiated by Adam and Eve.93 Because of this fall, we are all deserving of going to hell.94,95 Salvation comes only through the grace of God.94,96 Salvation comes through accepting Jesus’ death on our behalf and making him Lord of our life.56 We are cleansed through the blood of Christ.97

1.         Election and Free Will

Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Because of this, no biblical Christian can doubt that God predestines some for salvation. The question is what basis God uses to choose those He predestines.
Those who hold to Reformation Theology say that God has chosen for His own glory without regard to mankind. As evidence they point to passages where God chose one person over another for no apparent reason.98,99 They would say He predestines based on the foreknowledge of what will bring Him the most glory. The strength of this position is that it ascribes sovereignty to God.
Those who hold to Armenian Theology would say that mankind has been given free will to choose whether or not to be saved. They point to passages which describe God’s desire for all to be saved,100 or that whosoever believes on the name of the Lord will be saved.101 They say that God predestined based on His foreknowledge of the choice the person would make. The strength in this position is that it recognizes the need for an individual’s life to change.
Most people would assert that these two views are mutually exclusive and cannot coexist. In physics theory, energy cannot exist as both a particle and a wave, and yet light can be proven to be both a particle and a wave. In the same way, these two theological principles coexist. God is sovereign and chooses who to save based on His own glory and yet the choice for salvation is a real choice and not coerced or forced in any way.
If salvation were based solely on the choice of man, without God’s unearned predestination, the choice of salvation would be a work. If salvation were solely based on man’s decision and God was forced to predestine those who would eventually decide to be saved, then man would be sovereign instead of God. God has called us to preach the gospel to all men; we cannot identify who will be saved, but God has chosen to use us to share the gospel. Our task is to enthusiastically obey, not to question who or why God chooses.

2.         Lordship Salvation

Choosing to make Jesus your Lord is a work of man and does not lead to salvation.102 However, if a person has been saved it will result in them making Jesus their Lord.103,104 As one speaker summarized this, “it is pretentious to claim Jesus as your savior unless He also becomes your Lord.”

F.    The Personal Sanctification of the Believer

Salvation is not ONLY a one time event, but consists of justification, sanctification and glorification.105 In the one time event of our justification (which many call being saved) we are granted the assurance of salvation and eternal life, but if that salvation is genuine it will result in sanctification. Sanctification is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the believer holy and Christ-like.106 Sanctification will result in works of righteousness, but salvation is not earned by the works of righteousness.107 Glorification takes place when the believer dies and enters into God’s presence, removing corruptibility and putting on immortality.108

G.  Separation

The believers are gathered by Christ as the church. In Greek, this word is εκκλησια, which could also be translated as “the called out ones.” The church is built on the confession that Jesus is the Christ.109 The church is to solve problems between believers without bringing them before unbelievers.110 We are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed into the image of Christ.111 Believers are not to love the things of the world;112 and yet the believers must be actively involved in the world or they will be hiding the light of Christ from those who need it.113 The believer is to avoid evil114 while loving those who are enslaved by the world.115 Separation from sin means avoiding some TV programs, but does not condemn all secular TV. It means avoiding some movies, but does not condemn all secular movies. It means avoiding some music, but does not condemn all secular music. We are to discipline ourselves for the purpose of Godliness,116 but we are also to remain culturally relevant.117

H.   Divorce, Remarriage and Ministry

Until about 1950, this issue was not a difficult one for the church. Divorce was rare and generally occurred only in extreme situations. Over the last 60 years this has become a pressing issue for the church.
In scripture, God allows two reasons for divorce: adultery118 and abandonment.119 Even in these cases, divorce is not required, but it is permitted. All other reasons for divorce are not biblically permissible. God gives guidelines in scripture that prohibit certain circumstances of remarriage,120 but never is remarriage universally condemned. Divorce always involves sin, either because adultery/abandonment occurs before the end of the marriage, or because it happens in the process of the divorce. If there has been adultery or abandonment prior to divorce, scripture seems to indicate that the innocent party may remarry.
When a person is divorced prior to their conversion, there are still consequences to sin that affect them, but at the same time, the old man has passed away and they are a new creation.121 The consequences include the scars in their life and the complexities of relationship that they must now navigate. And yet, their sin is forgiven as any other sin. In like manner, a repentant Christian divorcee is forgiven.
Many people mistakenly question whether a divorced Christian should be involved in ministry. According to scripture, all Christians should be involved in ministry. What is usually meant by this question is, “should divorced Christians be pastors, elders, deacons or teachers in the church?” Scripture is clear that teachers will be held to a higher standard and incur a stricter judgment.122 Scripture is also clear that pastors, elders and deacons should be μιας γυναικος ανδρα (one woman men).123,124 The question then is, does this refer to never divorced, to non-polygamous or to something else? Throughout scripture the focus is on the heart more than the actions. Hatred is equated with murder.125 Adultery is equated with lust.126 The standard of being a one woman man is higher than avoiding divorce or polygamy. A one woman man, whether married or not, has a demonstrated ability to be faithful to one person, not allowing his thoughts or eyes to wander. When a person is divorced prior to conversion or is the victim of divorce, due to abandonment or adultery, they may still personally hold the standards of being a one woman man (or one man woman) and qualify for church leadership/teaching responsibilities. Generally, a person who has been divorced should separate themselves from ministry for a prolonged time of healing and counseling before continuing in ministry, and must recognize that they may never again be equipped for church leadership/teaching roles.
If the divorce occurred prior to conversion, or the potential leader is the victim of divorce, then the church must determine eligibility of a remarried person for church leadership by evaluating their spiritual walk, their commitment to being a one woman man (or one man woman) and the effects the divorce have on their current life. While such a one may be eligible for leadership positions in the church, they may not be qualified as elders/pastors/deacons. In this case, they may need to express their ministry through other ministries within the church or through para-church ministries.

I.       Church Ordinances

Many people confuse the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church with the ordinances of the Baptist and Evangelical Protestant churches. The difference is that in the sacraments, the belief is that grace is received by doing the act. In recognizing ordinances, we recognize that Jesus ordained that believers are to do certain things. We do these things out of obedience, not out of a desire to earn grace for ourselves. The two ordinances are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

1.         Baptism

The ordinance of Baptism is taught by Jesus.127 Biblical Baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; this is not a formula but a recognition of the authority of the Triune God. Biblical Baptism also comes after repentance.128 Baptism is a response to trusting Christ for salvation.129 Baptism is not salvation, but is the answer of a good conscience to God.130 In Baptism we symbolize that we have been buried with Christ,131 are dead to sin132 and are participating in His resurrection.124

2.         The Lord's Supper

When Jesus led the disciples in celebration of the Passover, He helped them to understand the symbolism behind the things they were doing. 133 The bread that was broken was the Afikomen. This is the last thing eaten in a Passover celebration. Jews do not know why the Afikomen is the second of three pieces of matzo, nor why it is broken and hidden (symbolically buried) and then reintroduced (symbolically resurrected) as part of the Passover ceremony. Of course we can see that this is explained when Jesus says that the Afikomen is His body broken for us. The cup that Jesus used was after they started eating supper, and is therefore either the third or forth cup of Passover. Historically, the third cup was interpreted as “God will redeem.” The forth cup was “God will take us as His people and be our God.” Both of these meanings are literally fulfilled when Jesus says that this is the new covenant in His blood.134
The elements in the Lord’s Supper are symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice, they do not become His body and blood as Roman Catholics believe, nor are they infused with His essence as the Lutheran Church teaches. The point of the Lord’s Supper is to follow Christ’s admonition of “do this in remembrance of me.”135
While the Lord’s Supper is symbolic, it is also serious. Before eating the Lord’s Supper, a person should examine themselves to make sure they are taking it in a worthy manner.136 If we do not eat in a worthy manner, it could actually cause us to be ill.129 Communion should also be taken in a unity of spirit.137 As there is no biblical admonition for the frequency of the Lord’s Supper, the frequency is up to the habit of the church. This frequency should be often enough to keep Christ’s sacrifice present in the minds of the congregation, and yet spaced far enough apart that it does not become only a meaningless ritual.
Because the Lord’s Supper does not convey grace, it is an ordinance, not a sacrament. It is an ordinance for the whole body of believers that is practiced by the local church. Since it is an ordinance for all believers, it is not for the church to decide who may or may not partake, because we do not know who is truly saved. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the local church to warn both non-believers and believers of the consequences of partaking in an unworthy manner.

J.    God's Future Plan

Throughout church history, there has been great debate and speculation as to what will happen in the end times. Some items have been universally held, others are more debated. Among the things universally held by orthodox believers are the physical return of Christ64 and the ultimate establishment of a new heaven and new earth.68 In scripture it is also plainly taught that there will be a catching away of the church.138 While it appears less clearly, scripture does seem to teach that this catching away (the rapture) will occur prior to Daniel’s 70th Week (the “Tribulation” period).139 The final three and a half years of this period (the Great Tribulation) will be a period of God pouring out His wrath on the earth and will culminate in what is commonly called the battle of Armageddon.140 This is followed by a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth.141 Finally, after a last rebellion by Satan and his followers, God brings final judgment on the earth and then sets up a new heaven and a new earth.68 At the final (White Throne) judgment, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Christ followers) will be resurrected to eternal life. Those whose names are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be judged based on their actions to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire (the second death).142,143

1 Exodus 24:4
2 Luke 24:44-46
3 Hebrews 1:1-2
4 Matthew 5:17-18
5 Luke 21:33
6 Psalm 19:7-10
7 Romans 15:4
8 2 Timothy 3:16-17
9 Hebrews 4:12
10 Isaiah 34:16
11 John 16:13-15
12 2 Peter 1:19-21
13 Acts 17:11
14 Matthew 22:29
15 Deuteronomy 4:1-2
16 Psalm 119:11
17 John 17:17
18 Isaiah 46:10
19 Psalm 139:7-12
20 Genesis 35:7
21 1 John 4:7-21
22 Psalm 101:1
23 Jeremiah 12:1
24 Proverbs 29:26
25 2 Timothy 4:1
26 Isaiah 6:5
27 Psalm 86:15
28 Romans 9:6-24
29 Exodus 34:6
30 2 Chronicles 30:9
31 Hebrews 4:16
32 Job 26:14
33 Matthew 3:9
34 Ephesians 3:20
35 Matthew 19:26
36 Philippians 2:11
37 1 John 4:8-9,16
38 Romans 8:32
39 1 Peter 3:9
40 John 1:12
41 Luke 3:38
42 Mark 12:6
43 Ephesians 1:11
44 James 1:5
45 John 1:1-3
46 Colossians 2:9
47 Hebrews 1:2,8
48 Isaiah 7:14
49 Luke 2:52
50 Hebrews 4:15
51 Luke 4:32
52 Matthew 4:24
53 Matthew 11:4-5
54 John 10:17-18
55 Hebrews 9:24-28
56 Romans 10:8-10
57 John 19:30
58 Matthew 27:62-28:15
59 Acts 1:3
60 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
61 Acts 1:9-11
62 Hebrews 12:2
63 John 14:1-4
64 1 Thessalonians 4:16
65 1 Corinthians 15:52
66 Revelation 20:4-6
67 Revelation 20:7
68 Revelation 21
69 Hebrews 3:7
70 Acts 5:1-4
71 Acts 13:2
72 1 Corinthians 12:3
73 Romans 8:11-17
74 John 14:26
75 1 Corinthians 2:9-13
76 Romans 8:26-27
77 John 16:7
78 Ephesians 5:18
79 Galatians 5:16-17
80 Ephesians 4:30
81 1 Thessalonians 5:19
82 Ezekiel 28:14
83 Ezekiel 28:2,15-17
84 Isaiah 14:13
85 2 Corinthians 11:14
86 John 10:10
87 Revelation 12:10
88 James 4:7
89 Genesis 3:6
90 Romans 5:12-14
91 Romans 3:23
92 James 3:2
93 Romans 3:23
94 Romans 6:23
95 Revelation 20:14
96 Ephesians 2:8-9
97 Hebrews 9:14
98 Malachi 1:1-3
99 Romans 9:6-24
100 John 3:16
101 Romans 10:13
102 Matthew 7:21
103 Romans 10:9-10
104 James 2:14-17
105 Romans 8:29-30
106 Romans 6:19
107 James 2:18
108 1 Corinthians 15:53-54
109 Matthew 16:16-18
110 1 Corinthians 5:12
111 Romans 12:1-2
112 1 John 2:15-16
113 Matthew 5:14-16
114 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
115 Titus 3:2-3
116 1 Timothy 4:7
117 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
118 Matthew 19:9
119 1 Corinthians 7:15
120 Deuteronomy 24:2-4
121 2 Corinthians 5:17
122 James 3:1
123 1 Timothy 3:2,12
124 Titus 1:6
125 Matthew 5:21-22
126 Matthew 5:27-28
127 Matthew 28:18-20
128 Acts 8:36-37
129 Acts 8:12
130 1 Peter 3:21
131 Romans 6:4
132 Romans 6:11
133 Matthew 26:26-30
134 Mark 14:22
135 Luke 22:19
136 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
137 1 Corinthians 10:17
138 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
139 Daniel 9:24-27
140 Revelation 16:16
141 Revelation 20:1-4
142 Revelation 20:11-15
143 Matthew 25:31-46