Statement of Faith

STATEMENT OF FAITH

The Bible

I believe the Bible, comprising the sixty-six books from Genesis to Revelation, is a special revelation from God (Numbers 12:6; 2 Timothy 3:16a), given to mankind through the dual authorship of human authors and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit oversaw this process in such a way (2 Peter 1:20-21) as to use each author’s individual personality and writing style to compose a text which is God’s very own Word to mankind (1 Thessalonians 2:13). This record is “God-Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) equally in all of its parts and in every word, and is without error in the original documents. I believe that the text that we have today is a reliable representation of those original documents.

I believe the Bible is used by the Holy Spirit to communicate truths to mankind that are necessary for salvation (Romans 10:14-17, 2 Timothy 3:15). I also believe it is the sufficient means by which we can understand God’s plan for life and godliness (John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:3; Hebrews 4:12Deuteronomy 29:29), and is the final authority in the believer’s life (John 8:31-32; 17:17).

God

I believe that there is one living and true God, an all knowing spirit, infinite and perfect in all of His attributes. I believe He is “The Self-Existent One,” (Exodus 3:13-14) meaning that there was never a time when God did not exist (Nehemiah 9:5); and that He is eternal, meaning there will never be a time when He will not exist (Deuteronomy 33:27).

I believe that God is “perfect” (Matthew 5:48) in all His ways (Psalm 77:13); that in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). I believe God is “immutable” (James 1:17) meaning He does not lie, nor change His mind (Numbers 23:19). What He says He means, and what He means He brings about (Isaiah 46:9-10). His character demonstrates, among other things, His love (John 3:16), His holiness (Leviticus 19:2), His justice (Romans 11:33), His righteousness (Romans 1:17), His mercy (Lamentations 3:22), His power (Exodus 9:16), His majesty (Psalm 8:1), His authority (Romans 13:1) and His glory (Isaiah 42:8) to such an extent that encountering these attributes compels a true believer to worship (John 4:23).

Sovereignty of God
I believe God is Sovereign, meaning that nothing in all creation escapes His notice (Hebrews 4:13) and that all things come about under His authority and control (1 Corinthians 15:25-28). He brings about all things for His glory (Isaiah 42:8) and our good (Romans 8:28). Although God uses man and creation to bring about His will, it is by His power (Isaiah 40:10) and His Spirit that all events come to pass (Zechariah 4:6). God answers to no one (Romans 11:34-35); His judgments are unsearchable and His paths are beyond tracing out (Romans 11:33); for by Him and through Him and to Him are all things that He may receive the glory (Romans 11:36). Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Providence of God
God created and preserves all things (Nehemiah 9:6; Genesis1:1-2:25); and moment by moment sustains them by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). He not only creates and sustains, but governs (Isaiah 9:7) His creation, making known and bringing about His purposes from beginning to end, from ancient times (Isaiah 46:9-10). God does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). He has established His throne in heaven  and His kingdom rules (Psalm 103:19) over every creature (Job 12:10); over every nation (Job 12:23); and over every individual life (Esther 4:14; Proverbs 21:1). Within His providential will God uses secondary agents (i.e., His creation and the willful choices of men), to bring about His purposes, none of which will be withheld from Him (Exodus 4:21; Job 42:2).

The Tri-Unity of God
God has chosen to reveal Himself to us as being three distinct Persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14) but yet remaining indivisibly One God (Genesis 1:26a; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; 45:5-7). The three persons of the God Head operate in a united, intimate and eternally cooperative relationship with one another, exercising roles and accomplishing purposes, without elevating or diminishing one relative to the other(s) (Ephesians 1:1-23).

God the Father
I believe the first person of the Trinity, God the Father, functions as the architect of the purposes of the God-head. He created all things (Genesis 1:1-31) through the agency of God the Son (1 Corinthians 8:6), and exercises sovereignty over all creation (1Chronicles 29:11) providence (Romans 11:36), and redemption (Ephesians 1:11; 3:9; 4:6). He has graciously chosen those whom He would have as His own from before creation (Ephesians 1:4-6), and has adopted them (John 1:12; Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 6:18) . He is not the author of, nor approves of sin, and His sovereignty does not reduce mankind’s accountability for sin. (1 Peter 1:17; Hebrews 12:5-9)

God the Son
I believe that Jesus the Christ is the second person of the Trinity, designated as God the Son, and functions to accomplish the architected will of God the Father. Jesus possesses all the divine attributes of God the Father. (John 10:30; 14:9)

God the Son is not only the agent of creation (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2), but it is through Him that all things continue to exist and operate (Colossians 1:15-17).

I believe that Jesus Christ is the “Incarnate” Word of God (John 1:1; 14:9-10), sent by God (John 5:23), meaning that the eternal Son of God left heaven, came to earth (John 3:13) and took on human flesh (John 1:14), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26-35). In this state of humiliation He remained fully God (John 8:58; Colossians 2:9), yet was also fully man (Hebrews 4:15), laying aside the full prerogatives of deity, without any compromise of His divinity, and condescended to accept all the essential characteristics of humanity (Philippians 2:5-8).

While living a sinless human life (2 Corinthians 5:21) Christ revealed (John 14:9) and brought glory to God the Father as He humbled Himself and became obedient to death on the cross (Philippians 2:9-11). In so doing Jesus voluntarily accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross (John 1:29; 10:15; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18). Christ’s shed blood is a substitutional and satisfactory payment for the sins (Romans 3:24-25) of all people who put their trust in God’s promised salvation (Galatians 3:16); turning God’s wrath away from His children forever (Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 2:3-5). It is through His sacrificial death that the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and is adopted into the family of God.

I believe that Jesus Christ bodily rose from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:38-39) for our justification (Romans 4:25), ascended into heaven (Acts 1:11) and is currently at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). He is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 9:24), our only intercessor (1 Timothy 2:5), always interceding for us (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25-26) as we approach the throne of grace with confidence. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, as we receive mercy and find grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1).

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son (Romans 1:4) and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 14:19; Romans 6:5-10; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

God the Holy Spirit
I believe the Spirit of God as revealed in Scripture (John 16:13) possesses the attributes of God (Hebrews 9:14), is doing the work of God (John 14:26), is revealing the words of God (Acts 28:25), is receiving honor as God (Acts 5:3-4), and is therefore God the Holy Spirit. His ministry is to glorify Christ (John 16:14) by convicting sinners of their need for a savior (John 16:8-9). After repentance and submission to Christ (Acts 20:21), He seals them securely for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

The Holy Spirit was active in creation (Genesis 1:2), the incarnation (Matthew 1:18), the written revelation (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7).

At Pentecost The Holy Spirit came from the Father for a unique purpose as promised by Christ (John 14:16-17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the body of Christ, which is His church (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit is the supernatural agent in regeneration, initiating and embedding believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit indwells (I Cor. 6:19), sanctifies, empowers for service (Eph 3:20), and seals believers unto the day of redemption (Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13).

The Holy Spirit is the divine teacher (John 16:13). Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9), and it is the duty and privilege of all those born of the Spirit to submit to the control of the Spirit in their thinking, emotions and actions (Ephesians 5:18; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

Creation

I believe that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, Hebrews 11:3). I further believe that the creation of the heavens with all their hosts, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them were created in six days, after which God “saw all that He had made” and said “it was very good” (Nehemiah 9:6; Genesis 1:31). On the seventh day He abstained from work and rested (Exodus 20:11; 31:17).

Angels
I believe that angels are created beings of another order of creation than man. They were created to serve God and to worship Him (Luke 2:9-14; Hebrews 1:6-7, 14; 2:6-7; Revelation 5:11-14; 19:10).

Satan and Fallen Angels
Satan is a fallen angel, and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19), by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Matthew 25:41), and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:1-15).

Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and mankind, that creation purposed to reflect His image (Isaiah 14:12-17; Matthew 4:1-11; Revelation 12:9-10). He is the prince of this world who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:20), and will be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

Mankind
I believe that man was directly created by God, as an act of God’s expression will in time, being crafted in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26; James 5:9). Man became a living being when God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Genesis 2:15-25). God’s intention for creating man was that man should glorify God (Isaiah 43:7), enjoy God’s fellowship, and  live life in the will of God, and in so doing accomplish God’s purpose for man in the world (Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).

Sin and Death

I believe Adam was the first man created and was, as every other thing God created, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Adam freely chose to rebel against God (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:4-6). As a result of Adam’s sin, sin and death entered into the world (Genesis 3:17-19), and condemnation came to all mankind (Romans 5:10-12). Mankind lost its innocence and incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death through a corrupted nature passed to all people of all ages (Jesus the Christ being the only exception). As a result, mankind is inherently corrupt and spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9), subject to the wrath of God, and hopelessly lost (Romans 3:9-18; Psalm 14:1-3). Being in this state, each person is incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God (1 Corinthians 2:14) without God extending divine grace. As a consequence, all people are inherently sinful by nature (Romans 3:23), unable to save himself (Psalm 22:29; 1 John 1:8), desperately in need of a Savior (Romans 6:23), and individually responsible to respond to God’s offer of salvation (John 3:36). But God who is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4) set eternity in the heart of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so they may know He exists (Romans 1:18-20) and knowing that, respond to the message of His grace (Titus 2:11).

I believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Romans 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 20:13-15). At the time of physical death I believe the souls of those who are in Christ pass immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23), and remain in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8) until the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At the time of physical death I believe the souls of those outside of Christ are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Revelation 20:13-15).

Salvation

I believe that salvation is a gracious expression of the sovereignty of God, a work begun by God before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-11) was, is and always will be a free gift from God (Romans 6:23), wholly by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) apart from any righteous acts of our own (Titus 3:5). And “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10) This salvation is available to anyone who puts their faith and trust in God’s promise of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 10:11-12).

I believe that Christ’s shed blood on the cross was complete payment for the sins of everyone who puts their faith in Him (Romans 3:23-26). As a result “anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11), nor will they ever experience God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1-2), but rather are able to fully experience true “peace” and “fellowship” with God (Romans 5:1-2; 1 John 1:3).

I believe Christ’s work on the cross cannot be truly understood or appropriately responded to until we recognize our own sinfulness and need for a savior leading to repentance and forgiveness of sins (2 Corinthians 7:10).

I believe that the salvation provided by God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ has both an immediate purpose and ultimate realization. Those saved by God are saved in and through this present life and into life eternal. I believe at the instant we trust Christ in response to the Gospel of grace we are reborn as children of God (1 John 5:1a) and adopted into His family; being heirs of all He has to offer (Galatians 2:20).  I believe that genuine faith will respond in obedience (Matthew 3:8) and love for Christ (John 14:23) and His Church (1 John 5:1b), and will be characterized by the new life eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14). As such, the saved are to live lives so permeated with the present reality of their salvation that their thoughts, words and deeds declare the reality of their faith and the surety of their future hope.

Election / “God Reaches Out”
God’s ultimate purpose in creation was, is and always will be to bring glory to Himself; a glory that He will not share with another (Isaiah 42:8). By His sovereign will (Ephesians 1:3-6), for His glory (Isaiah 48:11) and by His unmerited favor (Ephesians 2:8-9) God chose before the foundation of the world, to elect a people out of fallen humanity for His very own; heirs of all He has to offer (Galatians 2:20; 4:6-7). By His own hand (Isaiah 59:16), through His immeasurable love (1 John 3:1) God elected a people that would “know Him,” “be known by Him,” “see Him face to face” and “be like Him” (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2) and give Him glory (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11).

Election should not be considered an action of abstract sovereignty; God is truly sovereign, and He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11-16). The unmerited favor that God grants to a totally depraved sinner is not related to any action or initiative of theirs, or God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7).

Faith / “Man Responds in Trusts”
Election and Divine Sovereignty do not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; Revelation 22:17).

God’s plan involves salvation, grace and faith; all three of which are gifts of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith and trust in God, and love for God, are responses to God’s electing and loving us while we were dead in our trespasses and sins. As a result, all who 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; James 4:8).

Justification / “God Declares Us Innocent”
Justification is an act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He, as the Supreme Judge, declares those who repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11) to be “innocent”. This applied righteousness involves the placing of our sins on Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the placing of Christ’s righteousness on us (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Forgiveness & Propitiation / “God’s Wrath is Appeased”
The repentant sinner responding in faith is not only legally justified before God, but is relationally reconciled by God’s extending of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). We are no longer “children of wrath,” but rather declared right with God (Romans 5:9-10).

Propitiation is both the placating of a vengeful God and it is the satisfying of the righteous judgment of God; making it possible for Him to show mercy and extend forgiveness without compromising His righteousness or justice. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross completely satisfies the just demands of a holy God for judgment on sin (1 John 2:2; 4:10), and fulfills the wrath of God (a moral response of indignation), thereby conciliating Him who would otherwise be offended by our sin and would demand that we pay the penalty for it (Leviticus 16:14; Hebrews 9:5; Hebrews 9:11-15).

Positional Sanctification / “God Sets Us part”
Having been declared innocent by God, and having received forgiveness of sin, the believer is sanctified (set apart), (1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11) declared to be holy (Hebrews 10:10, 14; 13:12), and identified as a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2). This holiness has to do with the believer’s standing before God as determined by God (2 Thessalonians 2:13), and not related to his present walk or condition.

Regeneration / “God Makes Us New”
Regeneration is an instantaneous, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, when a repentant sinner responds to the gospel, making the individual a “new creation in Christ” (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5; 2Corinthians 5:17).

Genuine regeneration shows itself in God honoring attitudes and conduct (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 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 (Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12b; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4-10).

Progressive Sanctification / “God Makes Us Increasingly Christ-like”
Progressive sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit through which the believer is increasingly shaped to more perfectly reflect the standing they enjoy positionally through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God (John 17:17, 19) and the empowering of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18), the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:23), becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-22).

Every saved person is involved in a daily, lifelong conflict (Galatians 5:16-25; Romans 7:15-20) – the new self (a creation in Christ) engaged in battle against the old self. While eradication of sin is not possible (Philippians 3:12), the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).

I believe the Holy Spirit will continue a purification process within each believer (Titus 2:14) that He began when they were reborn of His Spirit (Titus 3:4-5); that this sanctification process is ongoing (John 17:17) and will result in changed lives (Philippians 2:12-13).

The Lord who sanctifies will assure that His children “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) as they strive to be imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and ambassadors for His sake (2 Corinthians 5:20). True believers will walk in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) over the course of their lives; be conformed to the image of Christ over time (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18) and be transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory which comes from God, who is the Spirit (Ephesians 3:17-19). I understand that the full realization of our sanctification will not take place until that time in which we meet Christ face to face (1 John 3:2; 2 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 9:28; 12:23).

Security / “God Keeps Us”
I believe that all the redeemed are kept by God’s power, secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).

The basis of salvation lies in the will of God, which can not be frustrated by the will of man.  A redeemed sinner is no more capable of losing his/her salvation (eternal life) than he/she was of earning it. It’s a gift from God (Romans 6:23) to anyone who trusts in Christ (Romans 10:11) and that gift is given by the One and only God (Isaiah 43:11-12) who searches the heart, examines the mind (Jeremiah 17:10), understands every motive behind the thought ( 1 Chronicles 28:9) and cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7).

Eternal life is further secured by the fact that it is not only a gift to those He has chosen, but more importantly is a gift to Christ from God the Father (John 17:6, 9, 24; John 6:37) and neither God the Son nor the Father will ever let His own be lost (John 10:27-30). We can be confident of this because “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) and “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purposes” (Philippians 2:13)

While it is appropriate for believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation, God’s Word clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living, and such a presumptive lifestyle would indicate a lack of regeneration (Romans 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13, 25-26; Titus 2:11-14).

The Church

I believe that all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, The Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-8), of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18). The formation of The Church 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 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Church is a unique spiritual organism designed by God, made up of all born-again believers in this present age (Ephesians 2:11-3:6), distinct from Israel (1 Corinthians 10:32, Ephesians 5:32).

Local Churches
The establishment of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and the members of the one scriptural body (The Church) are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Corinthians 11:18-20) to fulfill the purposes of The Church through their local church.

The Purpose of the Church
The ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21), to corporately worship Him, and to manifest His glory to all creation (Ephesians 3:8-10) .

I believe the Church is to make disciples of all nations by spreading the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2:42) and building the Kingdom of God in the faith (Ephesians 4:11-16) until Christ returns (Revelation 22:12-13) and that every believer is responsible to participate in that endeavor with whatever gifts God has given each of us (Romans 12:4-8).

I believe the local church should meet as a body (Hebrews 10:25) to worship and glorify God (John 4:23-24), to proclaim God’s Truth and His message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), to teach and encourage every believer in the Word (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19-20) in their pursuit of holiness (1 Peter 1:16), for true fellowship (Acts 2:47; I John 1:3), in keeping of the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42), for mutual accountability (Matthew 18:5-14) and discipline of its members as established by Scripture (Matthew 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16).

Local Church Leadership
The one supreme authority over The Church is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18). Local church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures.

I believe in full equality within the Body of Christ; neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female (Galatians 3:28-29), but that Scripture mandates an order of headship within the church to which all believers must submit to preserve order and unity within the Body (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The biblically designated leaders, serving under Christ and over the local assembly, are male elders (bishops, pastors – Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11) assisted and supported by deacons, who must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5). These leaders provide a ministry of leadership as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the church. As a response of trust in God and obedience to His Word, the congregation grants to leadership their ministry of joyful followership, in order to present one unified local witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:7, 17).

Local Church Autonomy
I affirm 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 appropriate for local churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation of the Gospel. It is incumbent upon the local church, through their elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, to be the judges of the measure and method of their cooperation (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Local Church Gifting
All saints are equally called to the work of service (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 4:12), to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. First, He gives men chosen for ministries of leadership and for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:7-12). He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

I recognize that there were gifts given the early church for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles’ message (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12) and given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, I believe that Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man’s message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary to validate a man or his message (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).

Church Ordinances
I believe 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 testimony of a believer demonstrating personal faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and their union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6: 1-11). It is also a sign of identification and fellowship with the visible body of Christ, His Church (Acts 2:41-42).

The taking of the Lord’s Supper commemorates and proclaims His death until He comes, and should include solemn self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32). While the elements of communion are representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord’s Supper is more than simply symbolic, and is an actual communion with the risen Christ who is present in a distinct and unique way, in fellowship with His people (1 Corinthians 10:16).

Last Things

I believe God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring all things to their appropriate end and establish the new heaven and the new earth (Ephesians 1:9-10, Revelation 21:1).

I believe Jesus Christ will return to the earth suddenly, personally and visibly in glory according to His promise (Mark 13:27-37; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7; 3:11; John 14:1-3) to claim His Bride, the true Church (Revelation 19:7).

I believe the dead will be raised, and Christ will judge mankind in righteousness (John 5:28-29).

Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will spend eternity separated from and under the wrath of God (Revelation 20:15) consigned to the everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41, 46; Revelation 20:10).

I believe the righteous, in their resurrected and glorified bodies, will receive their reward and dwell forever with the Lord (Philippians 3:20-21; II Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:3) experiencing His perpetual grace and blessings (Revelation 22:5).

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