We believe that the Bible is God’s Word. In the original manuscripts, it came about by God’s verbal (each word), plenary (as a whole) inspiration. He did this through the human authors of the Bible without any violation of their wills or personalities (2 Tim 3:16, 1 Cor 2:13, 2 Pet 1:21).
As a result, the original manuscripts of the Bible are inerrant. When interpreted correctly in their historical, grammatical, literary, and moral contexts, they are free of any error or contradiction in all that they affirm or deny on any subject, since God Himself is free of any error or contradiction. The Bible is therefore the infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians, unable to mislead them in all matters to which it speaks. (Num 23:19, Luke 24:44, Ps 19:7).
Scripture is perspicuous (clear), with its central message of the Gospel understandable to the simplest Christian through the Holy Spirit (Ps 119:130, Rom 15:4). It is also sufficient in its revelation of God, salvation, and all matters for the Christian to be equipped to live the Christian life (2 Tim 3:15-16, 2 Pet 1:3-4). Because God is the ultimate author of Scripture, it carries His authority for the church in all matters of faith and practice.
Any given passage of Scripture has a single meaning, as intended by the original author in his original context. This literal, normal meaning can be understood through the diligent application of proper interpretive skills and the illumination of the Holy Spirit on the believer’s mind. This meaning may be applied in multiple ways to the reader’s life (John 7:17, 1 Cor 2:14).
2. God the Trinity
There is one God existing eternally in one essence in a Trinity of three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 28:19). God is eternally sovereign over all things according to His eternal purpose and for His glory. (Eph 1:11, Matthew 10:29-31, Acts 15:18, Rom 1:24, Acts 2:23, Eph 1:6).
God The Father
God the Father eternally begets the Son and sends the Spirit. He is not begotten by and does not proceed from the other persons. He is called the Creator and the Father of believers; He loves the Son and others through Him, and is sovereign over all things (Eph 3:9, 1 Pet 4:19, John 3:16, John 1:12, Psalm 103:19). He orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (1 Cor 8:6).
God The Son
God the Son is eternally begotten by the Father and eternally sends the Spirit. He reveals God in creation and redemption (John 1:3, John 1:14, Col 1:16-17). He is coequal, consubstantial (shares the same substance), and coeternal with the Father. (John 10:30, John 1:1-5).
He exists as one person, the God-man, with two natures: human and divine (Col 2:9). These two natures exist in a hypostatic (personal) union without confusion, change, division, or separation.
In the incarnation, the Son was sent by the Father (John 3:16). The Son added a human nature to His divine nature, came to Earth, and was born of a virgin as Jesus the Christ (Phil 2:8, Matt 1:18). He lived as a man (Luke 2:7, Luke 2:52, John 4:6, John 19:28). He was tempted as we are but never sinned (Heb 4:15).
While on Earth, Jesus was arrested, tried, and voluntarily put to death via crucifixion (Matt 26:47-27:56). On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead in the resurrection (Matt 28:1-10). The fact that He was resurrected confirmed His deity and guarantees the future resurrection of all to either eternal life or eternal judgment (John 5:26-29).
Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended back to Heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9-11, Rev 3:21, Acts 5:31). Presently, He is glorified as a heavenly intercessor on behalf of His people. He mediates and advocates as High Priest (Heb 7:25, 1 John 2:1, Heb 8:1-2).
God The Holy Spirit
God the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son (1 Cor 2:10-13). He is coequal, consubstantial (shares the same substance), and coeternal with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19).
The Spirit declares and glorifies the Son, enables confession of the Son as Lord, and indwells believers from the moment of their salvation (John 15:26, 1 Cor 12:3, John 14:17). In doing this, He convicts, empowers, fills, helps, illuminates, teaches, and performs many other duties in His present ministry (John 16:7, John 16:8-11, Acts 1:8, Luke 4:1, John 14:16, 1 Cor 2:10-13, John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit empowers every believer with spiritual gifts to serve the church. (Romans 12:6-8). Spiritual gifts are permanent, distinguished from natural talent, create obligation within the believer, edify the church, and glorify God (Rom 11:29, 1 Cor 12:11, Rom 12:6, 1 Pet 4:11, Eph 4:12-13). Certain gifts, including apostleship, healing, miracles, prophecy, and tongues, were given as signs to authenticate the apostles and the church, and are no longer applicable to the lives of believers today (Acts 2:22, 2 Cor 12:12, Heb 2:4, 1 Cor 13:8-10, Rom 15:18-19, Rev 22:18-19, 1 Cor 15:8-9, Acts 1:22, Heb 1:1-2). This does not limit God’s capacity to perform miracles in the world, but distinguishes those spiritual gifts that were temporary from those that remain in the lives of believers today. Now, Scripture is the sole test of authenticity (1 Thess 5:21, 2 Tim 3:16-17).
Humanity was created by God in a sudden, divine act, in His image and likeness, as the high point of all of creation (Gen 1:26-27). The first two people, Adam and Eve, were created without sin in perfect relationship with God (Gen 1:31).
Humanity was created to rule and subdue the Earth and in doing this, God instructs people to be fruitful and multiply (Psalm 8:4-8, Gen 1:28). Humanity’s ultimate purpose, however, is to give Him glory (Isaiah 43:6-7).
When Adam and Eve sinned for the first time, humanity failed to achieve these purposes. Sin was introduced into creation, humanity was separated from God and spiritually dead, and the process of physical death began. The image of God in humanity became marred and distorted by sin, with all people being totally corrupt in nature, willingly sinning and unable to save themselves apart from divine grace through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:12, Psalm 51:5, Gen 3:16-24, Isaiah 59:2, Rom 3:10-18, Rom 3:22, John 3:16, Psalm 14:1-3).
God created humanity in two distinct sexes/genders, male and female, with equal personhood and value (Gen 5:2). He created sex/gender as a biological, objective reality that cannot be changed (Deut 22:5, Gen 5:2). In tandem with their ontological (essential/existential) equality, He created the sexes with distinct, complementary roles in the household and the church (1 Tim 2:12, Eph 5:22-33). In doing this, He implemented a functional, but not ontological order between them (Gen 2:22, 1 Cor 11:8, 1 Tim 2:13).
God created the two sexes for relationship (Gen 2:18). He intends for one man and one woman to leave their parents, join together, and become one flesh in marriage (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:4-6, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Rom 1:26-27). Believers must marry only other believers (1 Cor 7:39, 2 Cor 6:14, Eph 5:33). Marriage is a blessing from God and ultimately points to the relationship of Christ and His church (1 Pet 3:7, Prov 18:22, Eph 5:31-32). It is to be lived out through the husband’s self-sacrificial love for his wife, the wife’s respectful submission to her husband, and mutual submission to Christ (Eph 5:12-33). Its purposes are relationship and procreation to God’s glory (Gen 1:28, Gen 2:18). Marriage is not required or necessary for every believer. Some are given the gift of singleness to the glory of God (1 Cor 7:7-9). Any sexual activity outside of the marriage bond of one man and one woman is sexual immorality and sinful before God (1 Cor 7:2).
All human beings are persons who possess dignity as those made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). Personhood begins at conception and ends, from the human perspective, at death (Gen 25:21-22, Job 3:3, Luke 1:41, Jer 1:5, Psalm 139:13-16, Gen 25:8). Thus, any harm to an unborn child is the harm of a person (Exod 21:22-25).
Believers share in salvation and blessings in Christ regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social status (Gal 3:28, Eph 2:11-3:6, Col 3:9-11). Every person of every ethnicity has been made in the image of God and all are ontologically (essentially/existentially) equal and equally valuable to Him (Rev 22:2).
Government has been instituted by God to lawfully exercise justice (“bear the sword”) in God’s service for good. The government is to be obeyed unless its commands conflict with God’s (Rom 13:1-7, 1 Pet 2:13-14, Acts 4:19-20).
At death, the soul/spirit moves into an intermediate state between death and resurrection: a temporary separation of body and soul wherein the souls of believers reside with God (2 Cor 5:8, Phil 1:22-24, Luke 9:30-31, Luke 16:19-31, Luke 23:43, Acts 7:59-60).
Sin is any lack of conformity to God’s will in attitude, thought, or action, whether committed actively or passively (Rom 2:23, Isa 1:2, Num 14:41, Judg 2:20, John 3:36, Rom 1:25). It originated in the fall of Satan and entered the world through Adam and Eve (Isa 14:11-12, Rom 5:12). Man sins freely under God’s sovereignty and is responsible for the accompanying consequences (James 1:14-15, 2 Sam 24:1).
The consequences of sin include, but are not limited to, shame, fear, blame, and death (Gen 2:17, Gen 3:10, Gen 3:12, Gen 3:7). Humanity’s relationship with God is severed in spiritual death and God’s wrath and judgment are upon all (Eph 2:1, Matt 25:46, Eph 5:6). Sin brings physical death and eternal punishment (Gen 3:19, Gen 3:24, Rev 20:11-15). In the Christian life, sin grieves the Holy Spirit and brings God’s discipline (Eph 4:30, Rev 3:19).
The sinful state and condition of all of humanity in Adam is called original sin. Adam’s corrupt nature has been passed down to all people and his sin is imputed/reckoned to all under his headship (Psalm 51:5, Eph 2:3, Rom 5:12-21). It is only through Christ that this can be reversed for restoration to take place (Rom 5:18-19, 1 Cor 15:22).
Total depravity is the result of original sin. In this state, outside of a relationship with Christ, all aspects of all people are polluted and corrupted by sin (Titus 1:15, Psalm 14:3). No one is able to please God on his or her own (Rom 8:7-8). All are naturally hostile to God and unable to accept spiritual truth (Rom 8:7, 1 Cor 2:14).
Salvation is wholly of God, only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not on the basis of human merit or works (John 1:12, Eph 1:7, 2:8-10, 1 Pet 1:18-19, John 14:6).
Because God is perfectly righteous, He cannot maintain fellowship with the unrighteous (1 John 1:5, Matt 5:48). Out of His love, He devised an eternal plan to redeem believers (John 3:16, Eph 3:11). It is Christ’s work on the cross, in dying for believers’ sins, being resurrected on the third day, ascending to the right hand of the Father, and interceding on behalf of believers that fulfills this plan (1 Cor 15:3-4, Rom 4:25, Eph 1:20-23, Eph 2:6, Rom 8:34).
This work was a propitiatory (appeasing), substitutionary sacrifice in which God’s wrath against sin was fully satisfied and exhausted in His justice in the person of Christ (Rom 3:25, 1 Pet 2:24). This work reconciled humanity to God and made peace between them (Col 1:20). It also redeemed those enslaved to sin by paying their ransom with Christ’s blood which led to forgiveness. (1 Pet 1:18-19, Rom 5:1, Matt 26:28). Finally, Christ’s work on the cross conquered sin, death, and Satan in victory (Heb 2:14-15, John 12:31). It did all of these things with perfect sufficiency and permanence for the elect (Isa 43:11, John 19:30, Matt 20:28, John 10:11-15, Acts 20:28, Rom 8:32).
Salvation began in eternity past when God freely and sovereignly elected to save certain people from sin and its effects for the blessings of eternal life through Christ (Eph 1:3-14). This did not occur based on God’s knowledge of any future action of the person, but unconditionally according to God’s will that He would save some (Rom 9:11-13, Matt 22:14). This in no way compromises God’s justice and does not contradict or negate a person’s responsibility to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Eph 1:5, Rom 9:14, John 3:18-19, 2 Thess 2:10-12).
From the human perspective, salvation begins with the external call/proclamation of the Gospel followed by the internal, effectual call of the Holy Spirit that overcomes spiritual death (Matt 22:14, Rom 10:13, Eph 2:1, 2 Cor 4:4, Eph 2:4-5, Rom 8:30, 1 Cor 1:24). This constitutes regeneration, the divine impartation of eternal life into the sinner (2 Cor 5:17).
When the believer is regenerated, he or she repents and embraces faith in Christ as his or her Lord and Savior in conversion (Acts 20:21, Heb 6:1). He or she is also justified (declared righteous), forgiven of all sin, imputed with the righteousness of Christ through faith alone, and legally declared to be righteous by God in Christ (Rom 4:7-8, 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 5:1, Rom 3:20-28). Finally, in adoption, the new believer is welcomed as a child of God into His eternal family and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:1-6, Gal 4:4-7, Ps 103:13, Luke 11:13).
Once the believer is saved, the rest of his or her life is spent under the process of God’s sanctification in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:2). This is the inward transformation by which believers are made increasingly holy and more like Christ through the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, and holiness (2 Cor 3:18, Rom 8:29, John 17:17, Luke 11:9, Prov 27:17, John 15:10).
Saved believers are also eternally secure in Christ (John 6:37-40, John 10:28-29). This does not negate the believer’s responsibility to persevere in faith (Matt 24:12-13).
Upon death, believers immediately go to be with the Lord (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor 5:8). At the second coming, they will be glorified in a transformation of both resurrected body and soul, perfected in holiness and conformed to the image of Christ (Phil 3:21, Rom 8:30, Eph 5:27).
Scripture also calls on believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Prayer is the means for believers to grow in holiness and receive grace from God (Heb 4:16). It is effective at bringing about real-world results through the mediation of Jesus Christ (James 4:2, 1 Tim 2:5).
The church’s purpose is to make disciples for God’s glory by teaching the Word, worshiping God, observing the ordinances, and cultivating fellowship (Matt 28:19-20, 1 Cor 10:31, Eph 4:12-16, 2 Tim 2:15, Luke 22:19, Acts 2:42-47). Active membership in a local church under the authority of elders is necessary for the believer (Heb 10:25, Acts 2:41-42, Heb 13:17). Those who are called to be pastors and teachers are to equip the saints from God’s Word so that they can serve. The goals of this include unity, maturity, and love (Eph 3:16-4:16).
Authority in the church is given by God in Scripture to pastors/elders (1 Tim 3). They are called to feed the sheep through teaching and prayer (John 21:15-17, Acts 6:4). They also provide oversight for the local church (1 Tim 5:17, 1 Thess 5:12). They must possess Christlike humility, a desire to serve, an ability to teach, and be above reproach (Mark 10:43-45, 1 Tim 3). While women are called to various offices in the church, God has reserved the office and function of pastor/elder for men (1 Tim 2:12, 1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Cor 11:3, Gen 3:16).
The office of deacon consists of men and women who partake in any ministry to meet the needs of the people in the church (Acts 6:1-6, 1 Tim 3:10-13). It has similar expectations and requirements to those of elders; and deacons must be above reproach (1 Tim 3:8-13).
The two ordinances given by Scripture to the local church are communion and baptism. Jesus commanded communion to be taken by believers on a regular basis in remembrance of Him (1 Cor 11:24-29). It should be taken only after self-examination before the Lord (1 Cor 11:27-32). The ordinance of water baptism is a public testimony of the faith of the new believer (Matt 3:6, Acts 19:4-5). It is to be done by immersion, signifying the spiritual reality that believers have died to sin and risen with Christ (Rom 6:4). Biblical baptism only applies to those who have believed and repented (Acts 2:38). It does not bring salvation (Luke 23:40-43).
Angels are spirit messengers of God (Job 1:6, Heb 1:14, Rev 1:1). The ministries that angels fulfill include, but are not limited to, worshiping and serving God, delivering messages, instituting God’s judgment, and protecting believers (Job 38:7, Ps 103:20-21, Acts 7:38, Gen 19:1, Ps 91:11-12). Angels are not to be worshipped (Col 2:18).
Originally a leader among angels, Satan rebelled, was exiled from Heaven, and now leads all of the fallen angels (Matt 25:41, Rev 12:9, Jude 9, Ezekiel 28:13-19, Isaiah 14:12-15). His ultimate goal in the lives of believers is to cause them to think contrary to God’s Word and thus act disobediently to God’s will (2 Cor 11:3). Ultimately, Satan and his demons have been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and will be permanently imprisoned and tormented in the lake of fire for eternity (Rom 16:20, Matt 25:41, Rev 20:10).
Demons are fallen angels that follow Satan (Matt 25:41). They share many of his characteristics and possess the same power as angels. Among other things, they can indwell humans, physically afflict people, promote false doctrines, perform false miracles, and encourage idolatry (Mark 5:1-16, Mark 9:17-22, 1 Tim 4:1, 2 Thess 2:9, Deut 32:17).
Spiritual warfare is the Christian’s struggle against the supernatural forces of Satan and his demons (2 Cor 10:3-4). The believer’s armor in this fight consists of truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Spirit, and prayer (Eph 6:10-20). Believers must immerse themselves in these things, continually growing in sanctification and righteousness in Christ.
8. End Times
The glorious end to come is a source of ultimate hope and encouragement for the Christian (1 Cor 15:58). There will be a sudden, personal, visible, bodily return of Christ (Matt 24:44, Acts 1:11, Heb 9:28, 1 John 3:2, Rev 1:7). No one except the Father knows when this will be (Mark 13:32-33). There will be judgment(s) of resurrected believers and unbelievers before Christ (Matthew 25:31-46, Rev 20:11-15).
Believers will come out of death to the resurrection of life (John 5:28-29). They will have glorified bodies that are imperishable, untainted by sin (1 Cor 15:35-49). Believers will see the face of God and dwell with Him and worship Him as His people in the New Heaven and New Earth and the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:3, Rev 22:3-4, Rev 21:2).
Those who refuse God’s salvation will be resurrected to judgment (John 5:28-29). They will be cut off from the glories of the kingdom and banished from God’s presence forever in Hell (2 Thess 1:9, Rev 21:8).
Hell is a place of punishment, destruction, and banishment (Luke 12:47-48, 2 Thess 1:9, Rev 22:14-15). It is the lake of fire where Satan, demons, and unbelievers will be sent for eternal, conscious, torment (Rev 20:10, Matt 7:19, Rev 20:15).
Heaven is the current dwelling place of God, angels, and dead believers (2 Cor 12:2-4, Isa 66:1, Mark 12:25, Luke 23:43, Heb 12:23). It is a glorious paradise with the presence of God (Matt 5:12, Luke 23:43). God and His people will move to the New Heaven and New Earth, specifically to the New Jerusalem, after the return of Christ. Ultimately, death will be defeated, all tears will be wiped away, and there will be no more crying, mourning, or pain (Rev 21:4, 1 Cor 15:54-55). The triune God will reign forever in glory (1 Cor 15:28, Eph 3:20-21).