What We Believe

Theology

General revelation is the means by which God has provided a basic knowledge of Himself to the entire world through creation and conscience (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-21, Romans 2:14-15). General revelation cannot bring a man to salvation (Romans 10:17, Acts 17:24-28) but to theism. Nothing created God. He is the eternal self-existent One (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2).  He differentiates Himself from man and angels (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 55:8-9; Hebrews 1:4-5). Philosophically speaking, God is the uncaused cause. Biblically speaking, He is the Creator (Genesis 1:1).  All else is created by Him (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2).

God has two prevailing characteristics that define His attributes, natural and moral. First, His natural attributes describe the scope and power of His sovereign character (Isaiah 40:18). He is eternal. Therefore, He exists outside of the bounds of time (Psalm 90:2; John 8:58; 2 Peter 3:8), while His creation exists only within the confines of time (James 4:14). God is immutable. He cannot change (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), for He is perfect as He is. God is transcendent. He is far superior and greater than all His creation (Romans 1:21-23). He is infinite. There are not any limitations to our God (Acts 17:24). God is omnipresent yet distinct from creation itself (1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48-49, Acts 17:24-25; Hebrews 7:26). His omnipresence allows Him to be everywhere at all times (Psalm 139:7-10; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:24; John 3:13). God is omniscient. Thus, He knows all things about everything (Ezekiel 11:5; John 18:4; Colossians 2:3; 1 John 3:20). God is omnipotent. He has all ability and authority (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37). God is sovereign. He knows the end from the beginning (foreknowledge). He is able to work His plan in accordance with the free will of man (Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 46:10; Acts 4:27-28; Romans 8:28). God is holy. He is morally perfect without any sin (Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 57:15; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 1:16; 1 John 3:5). Finally, God’s moral attributes would describe how He chooses to exercise His power, particularly within His relationship to humanity (Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:15). He desires His children to be transformed into the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). God’s goodness is one of His most attractive attributes (Psalm 145:9). He is benevolent toward everyone (1 John 4:8). God is truth and always keeps His promises (Numbers 23:19). He is merciful and compassionate (Psalm 147:11). God gives us undeserved favor through His grace (Romans 5:20). God is just in all that He does (Isaiah 45:21). All of these attributes along with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are considered to be God’s moral attributes.

Christology

Jesus is the uncreated, eternally existent Son of God.  He created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17), so it is by definition impossible for Him to be created.

The title of firstborn (Colossians 1:15) denotes supremacy and headship without mandating Christ being created. Jesus Christ was indeed divinity wrapped in humanity at His first advent (John 1:1 & 14; 1 John 5:7). The Scriptures are clear that Christ was, in fact, a man (John 1:14, 19:28; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:9-18; Hebrews 4:15). Philippians 2:6-8 provides great insight regarding Christ’s preexistence and deity. The main thrust is in the statement that “Christ made Himself of no reputation” (which in the Greek is literally “He emptied Himself”). He did not empty Himself of His deity, but rather by taking the form of a servant He placed Himself at the full disposal of His creation (Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 3:16). He no longer expressed the external components of His divine form (John 17:5).  He voluntarily limited the demonstration of some of His divine abilities and attributes (Matthew 24:36) for the purpose of fulfilling our redemption.

Yet, without apology, Jesus made a direct claim to be Jehovah of the Old Testament (John 8:58, John 10:30; Exodus 3:14).  The titles He uses of Himself, such as Son of man (Daniel 7:13; Matthew 9:6) and Son of God (John 3:18, John 5:17-18, John 9:35-37, John 10:36) expresses equality with God, not inferiority to God.  Christ did works which were only possible for God to do. Jesus created the world (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2).  He forgave sins (Mark 2:5-7; Luke 5:20-21) and gives eternal life (John 3:16; John 17:2; Romans 6:23). Jesus never committed a sin (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22).  Jesus could not have sinned because He, as God, was holy (Luke 1:35; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26-27; 1 John 3:5).  His very holiness precluded even the possibility of sin. Jesus ascended to Heaven (John 3:13; Acts 1:9).  He knew everything (John 2:24-25, John 16:30). Jesus received worship (Matthew 14:33, Matthew 28:9; John 9:38, 20:28; Hebrews 1:6). This would have been blasphemous had He not been God (Isaiah 42:8; John 17:5). However, God gives reference in the first person to Jesus Christ’s deity (Hebrews 1:8; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 9:6).

God is not the originator of sin (Isaiah 6:3; James 1:13; Hebrews 6:18) within His creation. The original sin occurred in Heaven as a result of Satan’s pride (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). The first man was then deceived by Satan when they chose to sin (Genesis 3). Because of this action of disobedience, the entire human race has been plunged into a sinful nature (Psalms 51:5; Psalms 58:3; Romans 5:12), and thus all are sinners (Romans 3:10 & 23). Adam’s sin, caused death to come upon all men (Romans 5:12).  Death came on man in multiple different ways – man now has physical death (Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 9:27), earthly spiritual death (Isaiah 59:2), and ultimately eternal spiritual death (Revelation 20:14 – 15; Revelation 21:8). Death is defined as a separation.

Man is now depraved in his nature and he needs radical internal transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3-7) through the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Sin separates the saint from having fellowship with God (Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Galatians 5:16-26) – it does not break the relationship of salvation (John 10:29), but it does break the fellowship of sanctification (Amos 3:3; 1 John 1:5-7).  It mars the likeness of Christ we are supposed to be displaying (1 Peter 1:14-16). Sin keeps others from glorifying God (1 Peter 2:12). It grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and quenches Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  Sin also may lead to chastisement from God (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Incarnation of Christ

Incarnation means “in the flesh.” Applied to the Lord Jesus Christ, the term means “God embodied in flesh”. (Isaiah 7:14 – … shall call his name Immanuel. & Matthew 1:23 – … they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.) The Bible in no uncertain terms teaches that God took upon Him flesh, and in the form of a man walked upon the earth. Philippians 2:8 “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself…” God became “flesh and dwelt among us” – John 1:14 and in Him dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” – Colossians 2:9. In His earthly body Jesus was heir to all the sufferings that come with having a mortal body.  There was however a difference: in Jesus was no tendency to sin. He “was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin” – Hebrews 4:15. Because Jesus Himself was tempted, He is able to help and comfort us when we are tempted, and because of this help we do not have to yield to the devil’s subtlety (Hebrews 2:17-18 – Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.).

Virgin Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ

Had Jesus been born of a human father as all men besides Him have all been, He would have been subject to man’s fallen sin nature, but because He was born of a virgin as the Son of God, He did not possess the sin nature of Adam, but was born 100% man with the nature of God. Because there was no earthly father, His birth was a supernatural miracle also. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” – Matthew 1:23 (Isaiah 7:14 & Luke 1:27).

Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Christ being born of a virgin is fundamental to our beliefs, or else God is a liar; and “God is not a man, that he should lie” – Numbers 23:19. “He is a God of truth and without iniquity” – Deuteronomy 32:4. It is “impossible for him to lie” – Hebrews 6:18. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then He fails to meet the conditions that God said His Son would meet, as to the manner in which He would come into the world. The virgin birth is essential to the deity of Christ. It is also essential to our salvation, as without being virgin-born, Jesus would not have been the spotless sin-free Savior needed to be the sacrifice for all man’s sins.

Deity of Christ

The fact of Christ’s deity is supported over and over in Scripture.

  • Peter testified of His deity in Matthew 16:16 – “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • A Voice from Heaven declared it in Matthew 3:17 – “This is my beloved Son”
  • A Voice from Heaven declares it again in Matthew 17:5 – “This is my beloved Son”
  • The Disciples confessed it in Matthew 14:33 – “Of a truth thou art the Son of God”
  • Gabriel declared it to Mary in Luke 1:35 – “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”
  • John the Baptist testified of it in John 1:34 – “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
  • The Apostle Paul testified of Jesus divine sonship in Acts 9:20 – “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God”
  • Demons even recognized His deity in Matthew 8:29 – “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?”

Jesus is very God of the very God, One with God, co-eternal with the Father. The body that died on the Cross was a human body, yet it was the body wherein His deity was incarnated. God dwelt among us in the flesh. Jesus was the virgin-born son of God Himself, when He lived among men and when He died on the cross. (John 1:1, John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9)

Christ’s Vicarious Atonement for Man by the Shedding of His Blood on the Cross

Vicarious means “in the place of another” or to identify oneself with another. The Vicarious Atonement of Christ has a much deeper meaning. It means that the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross identified Himself with us and our sins. He literally took our place; He literally suffered our penalty. He who knew no sin became sin for us “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” II Corinthians 5:21. The Son of God in our place “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” I Peter 2:24. Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9); and when we accept Him as our Savior we are then identified with His righteousness instead of our own sin.

Atonement means “reconciliation between two parties who had been separated by a difference.” Broken down in the simplest way, at-one-ment means that two people were divided, then something happened which made it possible for them to become one again. If we are saved, our sin once divided us from God, because God cannot tolerate or condone sin. Then Jesus came and paid the price for our sin on the cross. He suffered the penalty of our sin for us, and our sins were then put away by faith in His finished work on the cross. Jesus took our sin, so our sin was no longer there separating us from God. God’s wrath against our sin was satisfied by Christ. Jesus made full atonement for our sin on our behalf with God.

“Without the shedding of blood is no remission” Hebrews 9:22. This principle is emphasized all throughout the Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned, it required the shedding of blood to provide a covering of their sin. Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Because of this, Jesus had to shed His own blood. When God shed the blood of the animal, it symbolically pointed to Calvary where His Son, The Lamb slain, from the foundations of the world (Revelation 13:8), would lay down His own life to save us from the penalty of sin. Jesus’ blood was far superior to that of any shed in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the blood would only cover someone’s sin and had to be repeated, but Jesus blood shed only once, permanently removes the penalty of all our sin from our account, if we accept Him as our Savior by faith.

The following, I think describes the infinitely and eternally important value of the Blood Atonement of Christ incredibly well, it is from the Niagara Creed (1878):

“We believe that our redemption has been accomplished solely by the blood of Christ, who was made to be sin, and made a curse, for us, dying in our room and stead; and that no repentance, no feeling, no faith, no good resolutions, no sincere efforts, no submission to rules and regulations of any church, or of all the churches that have existed since the days of the Apostles, can add in the very least to the value of that precious blood, or the merit of that finished work, wrought for us by Him who united His person true and proper divinity with perfect sinless humanity.”

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ from the Tomb

I Corinthians 15:3-4 states “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” The God-man took the place of sinners, died on the cross for them, conquered death, and bodily came forth from the grave. Paul Wernle had this comment on the resurrection: “The Resurrection of Jesus was an unparalleled event; the sovereignty of death was at an end; he that had ears could hear the first peal sounding for the general resurrection to usher in the world that was to come.”[1]

Without the resurrection being true, our faith is based on a lie (I Corinthians 15:12-19).  The resurrection is a fundamental truth of the Christian faith. Paul said “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also in vain… ye are yet in your sins” I Corinthians 15:14,17. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, He was not the sinless Son of God. If He became a prisoner of death, then He was nothing more than a man, and we would then have no hope of resurrection either by trusting in Him. Without the resurrection there is also no justification: Romans 4:24-25 “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” The New Testament is full of accounts testifying that Jesus rose from the dead. The bodily resurrection of Jesus from the tomb is infinitely important to our faith. It matters that we believe it. It matters that it is true. Unless He rose again the third day according to the Scripture, He is not able to save us from our sins, He would then be bound by sin and death.

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and, that He is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling and sealing them unto the day of redemption (John 16:8-11; Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 12:12-14; II Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13-1). The Holy Spirit is the Divine Teacher who assists believers to understand and appropriate the Scriptures, and that it is the privilege and duty of all the saved to be filled with the Spirit (John 5:18; 14:26; I John 2:20, 27).

Regeneration means a renewing of life. By its miracle a man once dead in the trespasses of sin becomes a “new man in Christ Jesus”. A new heart replaces the old stoney heart, and a new spirit is put inside (Ezekiel 11:19-20). When we are born again, the grace of God imparts into us a new nature. The Bible describes it: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” II Corinthians 5:17. Until a man is born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God, he is dead to God (Ephesians 2); and being dead he is unable to please God. Concerning spiritual things an unregenerated man cannot comprehend, the Bible says they are foolishness to him (I Corinthians 2:14).

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead (Acts 17:29). Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are not the same person (John 16:7; Luke 24:39). They are clearly seen interacting with each other and have distinct and dynamic roles (Matthew 3:16; Luke 4:1; Acts 10:38).

The Holy Spirit is a person, and not a mere force (2 Corinthians 13:14 – we cannot have communion with a force). He demonstrates aspects of personality, including emotion (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19), volition (1 Corinthians 12:11), personal interaction (John 16:13), intellect (Romans 8:14 & 26-27), obedience (Acts 10:19-20), and He can be lied to (Acts 5:3).

Baptism of the Spirit takes place only once at salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13) and places us into one body (Ephesians 4:4-5). The presence of the Holy Spirit now indwells in the believer’s heart permanently (Romans 8:9; John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16) and is the pledged guarantee, or seal, on the part of God that the believer will receive all the promised future blessings of his salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:12-14; Ephesians 4:30). The baptism of the Spirit should not be confused with the filling of the Spirit. Baptism is never commanded, but filling is commanded (Galatians 5:16 & 25). The idea of the Spirit filling the believer is a direct reference to the Spirit controlling the believer (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:13). His work in the yielded believer’s life develops transformational qualities called “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Trinity

There is one God in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was miraculously born of the virgin Mary. Jesus is fully and truly God, and fully and truly man. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, and only Jesus saves from sin. Each member of the Trinity is co-eternal in being, co-identical in nature, co-equal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; John 14:10, 26; II Corinthians 13:14).

God is Trinity – The Trinity of God is well stated in the Anthanasian Creed, which states:

“We worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. ”[2]

Charles Spurgeon said this regarding the Trinity and the Anthanasian Creed:

“We do not find the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity set forth in Scripture in formal terms, such as those which are employed in the Athanasian creed; but the truth is continually taken for granted, as if it were a fact well known in the church of God. If not laid down very often, in so many words, it is everywhere held in solution, and it is mentioned incidentally, in connection with other truths in a way which renders it quite as distinct as if it were expressed in a set formula. In many passages it is brought before us so prominently that we must be willfully blind if we do not note it.”

The Gift of Salvation

Salvation – a gift of God brought to man entirely by grace, apart from man’s works, and received by personal faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus does all the saving and the sinner does none of it.  When a sinner trusts Jesus to save them from their sins by faith alone, they become a born-again child of God, who then has guaranteed eternal security in their salvation through Christ. (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; I Peter 1:18-19).

Grace – God’s unmerited favor. We do nothing to work for our salvation, we are able to be saved by grace or by God’s unmerited favor towards us.

Eternal Security – We believe that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are therefore eternally secure in Christ. (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38-39;
I Corinthians 1:4-8; I Peter 1:4-5; Jude 24)

Justification by faith alone – to justify means to declare a man under the law guiltless. The Lord Jesus, by dying on the cross, satisfied God’s justice and left us blameless before the law. All a person has to do is accept by faith alone what Jesus has done, to be saved.

Salvation means “deliverance”. The word Gospel literally means “good news”. The Gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 5:8). Through faith in the Gospel, God is offering us salvation (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 1:13) from the result of our sin (Romans 5:12). Our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23). There is only one way that a person is able to come into a relationship with God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 5:11-12). Through Christ’s vicarious suffering/payment for us (Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18), He has made salvation from our sins possible (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 2:2). Jesus Christ is the propitiation (the satisfactory payment) for the sins of the whole world (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). God’s wrath was poured out upon Christ (vicariously) and not us. Therefore, God’s judgment is satisfied through the finished work of Christ (John 19:30). It is through Christ’s death we are reconciled to God through the imputation of His righteousness on our account (Romans 5:8; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 3:18).

One must repent from previous belief, and turn to exclusive belief in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Luke 13:3 & 5; Acts 20:21; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 3:9). It is God’s mercy and grace that provided salvation (Hebrews 8:12; Romans 3:24; Titus 2:11). Salvation is only received through faith in Christ (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:7). Upon salvation, we are justified (declared righteous) sinners before a holy God (Romans 5:1 & 9).

We are delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13) and from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:8-9). The justification of man never rests upon man’s righteousness or good works (Acts 13:39; Romans 3:20, Romans 4:5; Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:11; Titus 3:5). It is required that he receives the free gift of eternal life (Romans 5:15 & 18; Romans 6:23) to acquire salvation.

Once a person has trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior they are immediately adopted into God’s family (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Biblical spiritual adoption refers to aspects of glorification, not justification.

A believer can never lose his salvation (John 6:37; John 10:27-29). A saint cannot commit a great enough sin to revoke his salvation (Romans 8:35-39; Colossians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:13). Because God has given us His Spirit as a seal and as an earnest (Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 1:4-5). Therefore, it guarantees His return for us (Titus 1:2).

God is not willing that any would be predestined to hell (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4). He wants everyone to be saved (Luke 19:10). For God to ordain that some would not be saved would be a direct contradiction to His stated character and will (Isaiah 6:3; 1 John 4:8 &16). “Elect” literally and simply means “chosen”.  The concept of election is inseparable from predestination. “Predestination” indicates a preplanned destiny or destination. God did not elect certain people to go to Heaven (2 Peter 3:9). Rather, He elected a plan (1 Peter 1:19-21) that would allow every man the ability to exercise his free-will to choose to receive or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Luke 13:34; Acts 26:24-28). The saints are referred to as the elect (Romans 8:33; 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:1-9). They are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). Predestination is not in reference to justification (1 John 2:2). In a positive sense, predestination is Biblically associated with conformity to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). This is accomplished progressively through sanctification and ultimately upon glorification (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Bible – Both Old and New Testaments

The Bible is the very Word of God and is to be the only authority of our faith and practice. It is absolute in its authority. The inspiration of both the Old and New Testaments is all important, for its truth is the foundation of all other statements. All we know about sin and salvation, Heaven and Hell, eternal life and death, the plan and purpose of God, and about His will for our life, is revealed in no other place but the Bible. The Old and New Testament are the verbally (God chose every word) and plenary (full inspiration) inspired (God-breathed) Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible, and God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and life. (Psalm 119:89; John 17:17; II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21).

James M. Gray (President of Moody Bible Institute 1904-1934) wrote this about the reliability of the Scriptures:

“The character of its contents, the unity of its parts, the fulfillment of its prophecies, the miracles wrought in its attestations, the effects it has accomplished in the lives of nations and of men, all these go to show that it is divine, and if so, that it may be believed in what it says about itself.”[3]

Canonicity

The canon refers to those books which are a part of the Bible.  (The Greek kanon means a measuring rod – the idea communicated is that these books measure up to the standard.)  These books were authoritative from the moments of their inspiration (1 Thessalonians 2:13); canonization refers to the process by which the churches recognized their authority. Canonization was verified by the books’ fulfillment of four characteristics:

Catholicity – The books were accepted by all (or the overwhelming majority) of the churches.  As the church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), the church is the organism to which God has entrusted His Word (Ephesians 2:20).

Consistency – The books agree with previously inspired doctrine, the teachings of Christ, Scripturally and logically, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), change (Malachi 3:6), or contradict Himself, and thus any of His statements must be able to be synthesized with each other with sound theology.

 Apostolicity – The books must have been written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.  The household of God is built on the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20), which conveys the idea of the foundation of God’s Word, as these were the men (2 Peter 1:21) who God used to write the New Testament.

Authority – Scripture carries with it at least an authoritative air, if not explicit declarations of its authority and divine origin (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  As Christ spoke with authority (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22), so the Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16) is also authoritative.

It does not need to cite others or give multiple opinions, but may of itself give dogma and doctrine, for it is itself the Word of God. The church recognized the authority with which these books were written (1 Timothy 5:18; 2 Peter 3:16).

The King James Version is translated from the right text family (Old Testament Masoretic text and the Greek Received Text) using the right translation philosophy. The Received Text family, is ideologically and historically the correct family from which to draw. Furthermore, it was translated through formal equivalency, the philosophy which best supports the Scriptural emphasis on the words of Scripture, and preserved through the churches, God’s vehicle for this age. (Finally, the language of the 17th century is more precise than modern English, which means the KJV would be superior to a modern translation.)

The Creation of Man by Direct Act of God

When we read in Genesis that “God created man” (1:27), we do, and we must accept that as fact. Evolution teaches that man was not created by a single and direct act of God, but that man evolved from lower creatures of life over millions and billions of years. We must earnestly contend for this fundamental belief; it is considered by many now as a myth. We must testify to the facts of Scripture, especially the creation accounts in Genesis. They are the foundation of it all. Bob Jones II made this statement about contending for our beliefs: “If we do not contend for the faith, we will not keep the faith. Contending for the faith is essential; that is why God commands it.” (Jude 3 – Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.)

Everything in creation was prepared for man. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Then we find recorded “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them.” The Bible states God formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Man, though he was created in the image of God, fell from the place where God meant him to be; and he has need of God’s regenerating grace to restore him.

Marriage

Marriage was not devised by man, but rather it is an institution of God (Genesis 2:20-24; Matthew 19:4-6). God defined marriage as being a lifetime union between one man and one woman. (Matthew 19:5-6; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Romans 7:2). Biblically speaking, those of the same gender are incompatible for completion of God’s creation of man (Genesis 2:18). God gave to marriage the gift of physical intimacy to enjoy and to procreate (Hebrews 13:4; Genesis 1:27-28). Any sexual relationship outside the bounds of Biblical marriage, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, is an illegitimate sinful act of fornication that is not condoned or blessed by God (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:13; Ephesians 5:3). God has set forth order within the home. Husbands and wives are equal in value; but the husband has been deemed as the head of the house in position (Ephesians 5:24;1 Peter 3:1 & 5). Wives are to submit themselves under her husband’s leadership, as well as love and care for her family (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:19; Proverbs 31). Likewise, children are to be obedient to their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:20). Parents are given children to train for the glory of God (Psalm 127:1-5; Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 23:26).

Divorce while not what God originally intended is biblically permissible as found in Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32. Fornication, (sexual sin, which can include adultery) I believe in this context habitual sexual sin is implied as a legitimate cause for the Exception Clause to be exercised, though is not commanded, and a biblical divorce would be the result of the exercise of the exception clause. With a biblical divorce the innocent party, man or woman, is free to remarry biblically in the future. The innocent party of a biblical divorce is the husband or wife of zero spouses at the time of the divorce and would be considered the husband of one wife or the wife of one husband if a subsequent marriage were to take place.

The Church

The church is the body and the espoused bride of Christ and is solely made up of born-again persons (I Corinthians 12:12-14; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:25-27). The establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:27; 20:17, 28-32; Titus 1:5). The church has two offices, that of pastor and deacon. The qualifications and descriptions of which are found in I Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-13 and one could also include Acts 6:16 for deacons. These descriptions and qualities that are to be found in a pastor and deacon need to be studied out deeply and understood correctly in their application, we need to make sure we are staying true to the Word and not to tradition in this area.[4] One qualification that is misunderstood the most is the qualification of “husband of one wife.” The local church is to be autonomous and free from external control or authority (Acts 13:1-4; 15:19-31; 20:28; I Corinthians 3:4-10, 16; I Peter 5:1-4). There are two ordinances given to the local church: 1) Baptism – baptism in a local church is to be for only believers and administered by immersion and 2) The Lord’s Supper – this is to only be for baptized believers (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; 18:8; I Corinthians 11:23-26).

Eschatology

This current time period (dispensation of grace [Ephesians 3:2-6] / church age) is one in which the church is preeminent in God’s plan for dealing with mankind. The rapture (the removal of the church) is necessary in order to revert back to God’s work with Israel which follows this dispensation (Luke 21:24).

The Rapture is most notably discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and is also mentioned in John 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15. The Rapture is that event upon which the church saints are caught away from the earth to meet Christ in the clouds and return with Him to Heaven.

They remain there until the end of the Tribulation, which will last for seven years. They are transformed from having physical bodies to having glorified spiritual bodies at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

The saints will stand at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), where they will be rewarded for what they did in service to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). At the conclusion of the Tribulation the saints will return with King Jesus to reign upon the earth for a thousand years (Jude 14; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 19:8 & 14).

God has created two distinct groups in which He is using to carry out His program in attempt to reach the world, the nation of Israel and the Church. Israel rejected their Messiah at His first advent, therefore God postponed His program with them (Romans 11:25-26). The Church has not replaced Israel (Romans 11:1), but has been commissioned to reach the world with the Gospel (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20). The church is an entity separate from Israel. Israel is a nation (2 Samuel 7:23), while the church is composed of believers from all nations (Acts 13:1). Israel is political (1 Samuel 8:22), while the church is separate from the state in its distinction. Israel has geographical possessions (Genesis 17:8), while the church is not a geographical entity (Acts 1:8). There may be Jewish people in the church, but that is because they have come to faith in Christ among the believing Gentiles (Romans 10:13).

I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church (Revelation 3:10). The promise that the Rapture brings comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18) would seem incongruent with a Rapture which only occurs after the most gruesome judgment of God. Tribulation is characterized mostly by God pouring out His wrath and judgment upon Earth for 3 ½ years (Revelation chapters 6-16). This wrath would inevitably touch the believers on the earth. However, this would create a contradiction in God’s promise to exonerate believers from His wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). The purpose of the Tribulation is to judge sinful man and to reinstate God’s plan for Israel, neither of which require or are advanced by the church’s presence. The Tribulation is referenced as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:8). The church then would not be involved in the time of Tribulation, which is both promised (Revelation 3:10) and evidenced in Revelation. The church is not mentioned in Revelation chapters 4-18, which details the Tribulation period. It is inconceivable that God would leave the Bride of Christ on Earth at an incredibly climactic period of history and not even mention them in the least. Also, there are no instructions for the church on surviving or living in a divine period of wrath during the Tribulation. The church is never told to look for the Tribulation judgment of God.

The account in Matthew 24 of great distress and persecution is spoken in the context of a discourse to and on Israel, not the church, as is the Daniel chapters 11-12 account.

God then returns to His original plan for the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). They turn to Christ in great numbers and witness for Him during the Tribulation (Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 7). The Antichrist will establish a government, likely as part of a one-world system.

Peace is established in Israel until Antichrist breaks the treaty and takes over personally (Daniel 7:25). He demands worship in the new Temple (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). The Antichrist will align a one-world army to destroy Israel at the battle of Armageddon (Ezekiel chapters 38:9 & 16; Joel 3:2; Revelation 16:14). Jerusalem will be the at the center of their campaign (Zechariah 12:2-11; Zechariah 14:1-4). King Jesus will then descend from Heaven at His second coming and annihilate the nations (Zechariah 14:1-3; Ezekiel 39:8 & 17-20; Revelation 19:11-18), just prior to His Second Advent on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 24:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). He will physically rule and reign for 1,000 years from David’s throne fulfilling the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:7; Revelation 20:1-6).

Judgement now comes to all who have rejected Christ and their names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:12).

The Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) is the place of condemnation for all who died without Christ throughout all of human history. They are judged by their works (Romans 3:10 & 23), specifically their rejection of Christ as Savior (John 16:9). This judgment is the end of the history of sin (Revelation 20:14). Immediately following this is the creation of the (sinless) new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).

Dispensations

The Bible can divide history into different periods or dispensations. There are seven of these, the last of which is the Millennial Kingdom. These divisions are referred to as “dispensations” in Ephesians 3:2 and “ages” in Ephesians 2:7. These periods can be distinguished in Scripture by some change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, or a portion of mankind. This distinction is done by commands or conditions God has put into place, man’s differing responsibility in these ages, and man’s inevitable failure to meet his responsibilities. Five of these dispensations are in the past, we are currently living in the sixth one, and the last one is the 1,000-year reign of Christ

 

[1] (Wernle, 1904)

[2] Most likely written in the 5th or 6th centuries.

[3] (Sandeen, 1970)

[4] For more information of this topic please see our book, “Rightly Dividing a Biblical View on Divorce”

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