Expanded Statement on Our Core Doctrinal Convictions
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1. The Holy Scriptures
1.1 We believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Proverbs 30:5; Numbers 23:19; John 17:17).
1.2 God’s self-revealed Word expressed in the Holy Scriptures is the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture (see verses under 1.1).
1.3 Scripture contains all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and it now contains everything we need God to tell us for his own glory, for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly presented, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned may gain a sufficient understanding of them (2 Timothy 3:15-17; I Corinthians 1:21, 2:13-14).
1.4 God’s Word is revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors, even when the author’s intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware. Thus, the meaning of Biblical texts is a fixed historical reality, rooted in the unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible is a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to communicate. The work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible, and prayer for His assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God‘s Word (1 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 4:6-7; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; Psalm 119:18; Ephesians 1:18; John 6:45).
2. The Trinity, One God in Three Persons
2.1 We believe in one living, sovereign, and all-glorious God, eternally existing in three Persons: the Father, fountain of all being; the Word or the Son, eternally imaging forth the radiance of the Father’s glory, not made, without beginning; and the Holy Spirit, proceeding eternally from the Father and the Son. Therefore, each person of the Trinity has the whole divine essence, yet the essence is undivided, is infinite, without beginning, and executes distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption (Deuteronomy 6:4; Daniel 4:34-35; Psalm 138:5; Matthew 28:19; John 1:1, 14, 18; John 15:26; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3-6; Acts 5:3-4).
2.2 God is supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, each Person beholding and expressing His eternal and unsurpassed delight in the all-satisfying perfections of the triune God (1 Timothy 1:11; John 15:11; Matthew 25:23; John 17:24; 1 John 1:3-4).
2.3 God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in and unto himself all sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory unto them. He is the fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and he has sovereign dominion over all creatures to do whatsoever he pleases. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent from the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands, therefore to him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever he is further pleased to require of them (John 5:26; Psalm 148:13; Psalm 119:68; Job 22:2-3; Romans 11:34-36; Daniel 4:25, 34-35; Hebrews 4:13; Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 15:18; Psalm 145:17; Revelation 5:12-14).
3. Of God’s Eternal Decree and Election
3.1 We believe that God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 46:9-10; Isaiah 41:21-23).
3.2 God upholds and governs all things in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image (Isaiah 40:26; Colossians 1:16-17; Matthew 10:29-30; Lamentations 3:37-38; Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 1:20, 3:19).
3.3 By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice. These angels and men thus predestined and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished (1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4; 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18).
3.4 God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, has chosen in Christ those that are predestined to life unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other condition or motivating cause inherent to the creature (Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12).
3.5 As God has appointed only the elect unto glory, so he has, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means to that end so that they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64).
3.6 The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men embracing and obeying the will of God revealed in his Word may be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33; Romans 11:5, 6, 20; Luke 10:20).
4. God’s Creation
4.1 We believe that God created the universe, and everything in it, out of nothing, by the Word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good. Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency, God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Genesis 1:1, 31; Hebrews 11:3; Psalm 50:9-15; Isaiah 43:7, 35:10; Colossians 1:16; Acts 17:24; Revelation 5:9).
4.2 God created a great multitude of spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies, called angels. Though often unseen, angels glorify God by carrying out God's purposes and serving God's people. We believe that demons are evil angels who once were like the good angels but who, led by Satan, rebelled against God and lost their privilege of serving God, and now continually work evil in the world. We believe that as evil and corrupt as Satan and his demons are, ultimately, limited by God's control and have limited power in the world (Hebrews 1:14; Acts 12:23; Jude 1:6; Job 1:6-12).
4.3 God directly created Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side. We believe that Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race; that they were created male and female equally in the image of God, without sin; that they were created to glorify their Maker, Ruler, Provider, and Friend by trusting His all-sufficient goodness, admiring His infinite beauty, enjoying His personal fellowship, and obeying His all-wise counsel; and that, in God‘s love and wisdom, they were appointed differing and complementary roles in marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the church (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7, 21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Genesis 1:31; Ephesians 5:22-33).
4.4 Marriage is an institution of God’s creation and is a lifetime covenant commitment between one man and one woman for the mutual help of both husband and wife, for the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means by which to fulfill the Lord’s command to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:18, 24; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33).
5. The Fall of Man, Sin and His Punishment
5.1 We believe that although God created man morally upright, he was led astray from God‘s Word and wisdom by the subtlety of Satan‘s deceit, and chose to take what was forbidden, and thus declare his independence from, distrust for, and disobedience toward his all-good and gracious Creator. Thus, our first parents, Adam and Eve, by this sin, fell from their original innocence and communion with God (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:1-13; Romans 5:12).
5.2 As the head of the human race, Adam’s fall became the fall of all his posterity, as all are conceived in sin and by nature children of wrath, therefore corruption, guilt, death, and condemnation belong properly to every person. All persons are thus corrupt by nature, enslaved to sin, and morally unable to delight in God and overcome their own proud preference for self-rule, rather than humble, joyful submission to God's benevolent rule (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:10-19; Romans 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:2-3; Romans 8:7-8).
5.3 God has subjected the creation to futility, and the entire human family is made justly liable to untold miseries of sickness, decay, calamity, and loss. Thus all the adversity and suffering in the world is an echo and a witness of the exceedingly great evil of moral depravity in the heart of mankind; and every new day of life is a God-given, merciful reprieve from imminent judgment, pointing to repentance (Romans 8:20-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Matthew 5:45; Romans 2:4).
5.4 Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether opposed to that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion. However, when God converts a sinner into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. Due to man’s remaining corruptions, he does not perfectly will that which is good, but continues to will that which is evil, until his will is finally and fully redeemed (Romans 5:6, 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44; Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15,18-19,21,23).
6. God’s Covenant
6.1 We believe that the distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he has been pleased to express by way of covenant (Luke 17:10; Job 35:7, 8).
6.2 The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his offspring, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe (Galatians 3:10-12, 21; Romans 10:5-6; Romans 5:12-20; Genesis 2:17; Romans 8:3; Romans 3:20; Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 42:6; Mark 6:15-16; John 3:16; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 6:44-45).
6.3 This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foreshadowing Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament (2 Corinthians 3:6-9; Hebrews 8-10; Romans 4:11; Colossians 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, Hebrews 11:13, John 8:56; Galatians 3:7-14).
6.4 Under the Gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. Though they differ in their provisions, there are not two covenants of grace, but one (Colossians 2:17; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Hebrews 12:22-28; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ephesians 2:15-19; Luke 22:20; Galatians 3:14-16, Romans 3:21-30, Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:3-24; Hebrews 13:8; Acts 15:11).
7. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God
7.1 We believe that in the fullness of time, God sent forth His eternal Son as Jesus the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. We believe that, when the eternal Son became flesh, He took on a fully human nature, so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one Person, without confusion or mixture. Thus, the Person, Jesus Christ, was and forever is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ and the only Mediator between God and man (Galatians 4:4; Luke 1:34-35; John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14-17; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Timothy 2:5).
7.2 Jesus Christ lived without sin, though He endured the common infirmities and temptations of human life. He preached and taught with truth and authority unparalleled in human history. He worked miracles, demonstrating His divine right and power over all creation. His life was governed by His Father‘s providence with a view to fulfilling all Old Testament prophecies concerning the One who was to come (Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 1:27; Matthew 11:4-6, 14:19-20; John 13:19; Luke 22:31-34; John 21:18-19; Luke 24:25-27; Genesis 3:15; Psalm 110:1-7; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 9:6-7).
7.3 Jesus Christ suffered voluntarily in fulfillment of God‘s redemptive plan, that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, that He died, was buried and on the third day rose from the dead to vindicate the saving work of His life and death and to take His place as the invincible, everlasting Lord of glory. During forty days after His resurrection, He gave many compelling evidences of His bodily resurrection and then ascended bodily into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for His people on the basis of His all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, and reigning until He puts all His enemies under His feet (John 10:18; Acts 2:23, 4:27-28; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 4:25; Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13).
8. The Saving Work of Christ
8.1 We believe that it pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; head and savior of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his offspring and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified (Isaiah 42:1; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 5:5-6; Psalm 2:6; Luke 1:33; Ephesians 1:22-23; Hebrews 1:2; Acts 17:31; Isaiah 53:10; John 17:6; Romans 8:30).
8.2 By His perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death as the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place as our substitute, the just for the unjust, Christ suffered our punishment, fully appeased the wrath of God against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and completely removed the condemnation of the law against us (Romans 5:18-19, 3:24-25; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:21, 3:13; Colossians 2:13-14).
8.3 The atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the gospel to all persons, so that to every person it may be truly said, ―God gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life. Whosoever will may come for cleansing at this fountain, and whoever does come, Jesus will not cast out (John 3:16; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19; Colossians 1:23; John 6:37).
8.4 The death of Christ did obtain more than the bona fide offer of the gospel for all; it also obtained the omnipotent New Covenant mercy of repentance and faith for God’s elect. Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way. In His death, Christ expressed a special covenant love to His friends, His sheep, His bride. For them He obtained the infallible and effectual working of the Spirit to triumph over their resistance and bring them to saving faith (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20-21; Share on Facebook Share on Twitter