The Holy Scriptures in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are the verbally inspired Word of God, and without error in the original writings. They represent the supreme and final authority for doctrine and life. We believe the Bible is sufficient for all of life. Thus, we do not believe in integrating secular psychology with the Scriptures in counseling. Because of this, we find ourselves "always reforming" our church life in order to be more consistent with the Word of God.
There is one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These persons are the same in substance, and equal in power and glory. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect in His love and holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. He perfectly knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about His eternal good purposes to redeem a people for Himself and restore His fallen creation, to the praise of His glorious grace.
Being estranged from his Maker, yet responsible to Him, he is dead in trespasses and sins, enslaved to sin, held captive by the devil to do his will, and under the wrath of God. He is spiritually deaf, blind and dead. As such, he is completely unable to save himself, or even to cooperate with God in his salvation. He does not possess the desire or ability to turn himself to God. Since man is a sinner by nature, and will always make choices in accordance with his nature, his "free will" will always choose to reject the God of the Bible. Thus, God, in sovereign grace, must turn the sinner to Himself if he will ever be saved. Man?s unwillingness and inability to repent and believe stems from his own wicked heart; thus he is blameworthy for not repenting of his sins and believing the gospel.
The Plan of God
We teach that before the foundation of the world, God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end chose them to salvation. This choice was not based on the fact that God knew which persons would believe of their own free will, for no one fits that description. This choice was based upon God's good pleasure alone. God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and will one day glorify them ? all to the praise of His glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe the gospel, and promises to save all who do so.
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, revealed in His birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Christ?s crucifixion is the heart of the gospel, His resurrection is the power of the gospel, and His ascension is the glory of the gospel. Christ?s death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God?s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His great love and reveals His amazing grace.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. He is fully God and fully man. He was always with God and is God. Through Him all things came into being and were created. He was before all things and upholds all things by the word of His power. He is the only mediator between God and man; there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved. Jesus Christ came for the purpose of saving those chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father.
After living a perfect life, He bore the full fury of God's wrath against sin as a substitutionary sacrifice on the cross. Because this sacrifice is sufficient for all, God can sincerely and genuinely offer the gospel to all men. Because this sacrifice is efficient for the elect, it will infallibly result in their eternal salvation. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. He rose bodily from the grave the third day, victorious over death and the powers of darkness. He ascended into heaven where, at God?s right hand, He intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all, awaiting His return. He is the Head of His body, the church, and should be adored, loved, served and obeyed by all.
The Holy Spirit empowers believers for Christian witness and service. The Holy Spirit desires to continually fill each believer with power to witness, and imparts His gifts for the edification of the Body and the work of ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit is sovereignly free to dispense all of His gifts which were at work in the church of the 1st century. The spiritual gifts are to be practiced in an orderly manner according to the regulations laid out in the Scriptures.
The church universal is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. It is not a religious institution or denomination, but a living organism united to Jesus Christ, the Head. The ultimate mission of the church is to worship and glorify God, and the means by which this is accomplished is the making of disciples through the preaching of the gospel and teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded. Believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it. Upon conversion, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, the Lord?s Supper and prayer. The church is to be led by Biblically qualified male elders (also called pastors or overseers) who serve according to their giftedness. Deacons serve the church by assisting the elders under their direction. All the members of the church universal are to be a vital and committed part of a local church.
Ordinances Of the Church
Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ?s atoning work and become His disciple. Therefore, in obedience to Christ?s command, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person?s union with Christ in His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death, he has risen to newness of life with Christ, and his sins are washed away.
The Lord?s Supper should be observed regularly in connection with a full meal by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. It symbolizes the breaking of Christ?s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ?s death. The Lord?s Supper signifies Christ?s death for our sins in the past, our spiritual unity with other members of Christ?s body in the present, and the heavenly marriage supper of the Lamb we will enjoy in glory in the future.
All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word, and deed. The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard. If someone does not persevere in faith and obedience to the end it is an indication he was never regenerated by the Holy Spirit. However, God will so work in those He has chosen and regenerated that they will inevitably persevere to the end and be everlastingly saved.
The consummation of all things includes the future, physical, visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the translation of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the establishment of the new heavens and the new earth. In the consummation, Satan with his hosts and all those outside Christ are finally separated from the benevolent presence of God, enduring eternal conscious punishment in hell, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with Him forever, serving Him and giving Him unending praise and glory. Then shall the eager expectation of creation be fulfilled and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God who makes all things new.
Preserving Unity Amidst Disagreement