I. The Scriptures
I believe that the Bible, exclusively comprising the 66 books of the Old and New Testament canon, is the Word of God. Every word of Scripture is inspired (2 Tim 3:16). Since the Bible is God-breathed, it is both inerrant (without error) and infallible (incapable of error). The Bible is true in everything it affirms, whether in doctrine, Christian living, history, geography, or science. Only the original manuscripts were inspired (1 Cor. 14:37, 1 Cor. 2:13); however, all accurate copies and translations of the autographs can be said to be inspired in a derivative sense, inasmuch as they reflect the original. God has providentially preserved His Word through secondary causation in the totality of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts, resulting in reliable, trustworthy translations in various human languages, which are faithful to the original text of Scripture. While we do not have the original text of Scripture, we do have the original text among all the manuscript evidence (John 10:35, Rev. 22:18-19, 2 Tim 2:15).
II. The True God
I believe in the one true and living God eternally existing in three self-existent, uncreated persons of one and the same essence, equal in divine attributes, yet distinct in personality (Deut. 6:4, Jer. 10:10, 2 Cor. 13:14, John 4:21-23, Gen. 1:2, John 5:23). God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in Whom all things have their source, support, and end. The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God; it is presumed (Gen. 1:1). God has revealed Himself through general revelation, both through creation (Rom 1:20, Psa. 19:1-6) and conscience (Rom. 1:32). Therefore, all men are dependent upon and responsible to Him (Acts 17:25-28, Rom. 1:32). All men, however, suppress this knowledge of God and are without excuse (Rom. 1:18, John 1:9). God has also revealed Himself through direct revelation, visions (Ezek. 1:1), dreams (Dan. 9), mighty acts (Ex. 5:1-2, 6:1), Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2-3), and the Bible (Heb. 1:1, 2 Pet. 1:21). God exists simultaneously and eternally in three persons: Father (Eph. 4:6), Son (Heb. 1:1-2, 4:14), and Holy Spirit (John 14:26, Matt. 28:19). God instantaneously, by supernatural means, created the universe, including all “kinds” (Gen. 1:11-12) out of nothing in six normal 24-hour days (Gen. 1:3,6,9, Ex. 20:11).
III. Jesus Christ
I believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the eternal Son of God (Luke 20:13, John 3:16), is the second person of the Godhead (John 17:5, Phil. 2:5-7). Jesus Christ was conceived and born of a virgin through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:34-35). Though truly God, Christ became incarnate in human form (John 2:21, Matt. 2:26,28). As the God-man (John 17:23), Christ was fully human (1 Tim. 2:5) and fully divine (Col. 2:9, John 1:18, 20:28, Rom. 9:5, Heb. 1:8), consisting of the hypostatic union of two distinct natures. At the incarnation, Christ temporarily and voluntarily gave up the independent use of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-8, John 17:5), and took on the form of a servant, voluntarily restricting Himself in order to achieve His objectives in redemption (John 10:10, Gal. 4:4, John 8:28-29). The redemption of mankind was accomplished through the sacrificial death of His own son (Heb. 2:10, 17, 9:23, Gal. 3:10,13). The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself freely on the cross, bore the sin of the world, suffered the complete wrath of God against sin (1 John 2:2, Rom. 1:32, Heb. 2:2), and provided an unlimited atonement (John 1:29, 1 John 2:2) for the sins of the whole world applicable only to those who receive Christ with repentant faith (Rom. 3:25-26, Heb. 9:22,26, Lev. 17:11). His death was both substitutionary and vicarious (Rom. 3:25-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 3:13) in that He died in the place of and for the benefit of sinners and redeemed man from bondage (Matt. 20:28). His death also reconciled man to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19) and was sufficient to pay once and for all the penalty for the sin of all men (1 Tim. 2:6, Heb. 2:9). However, Christ’s death is effective for believers alone (1 Tim. 4:10, John 3:36). Christ physically rose again from the dead the third day (Luke 24:36-43, 1 Cor. 15:3-4). After our Lord’s post-resurrection ministry was complete, Jesus ascended visibly and bodily into heaven (Acts 1:11) and is now exalted at the right hand of the Father as the head of the church (Col. 1:18) and as advocate and intercessor for the saints as our great high priest (Heb. 7:25). Christ will return to take the saints in rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and later establish His millennial kingdom (Rev. 19:11ff, 20:3-6).
IV. The Holy Spirit
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is coequal, coexistent, and coeternal with both the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19, Acts 5:3-4, 2 Cor. 13:14). The Holy Spirit is Himself God (Acts 5:3-4) and possesses all the personality characteristics, such as life (Rom. 8:2), intelligence (1 Cor. 2:10-11), freedom (2 Cor. 3:7), emotion (Eph. 4:30), and purpose (1 Cor. 12:11). He is a person (John 16:7-14) and not a force or energy, or abstract power (Zech. 4:6). The Holy Spirit was the active agent in creation (Gen. 1:2, Job 26:13, Eph. 2:18), inspiration (2 Pet. 1:20-21), and conception of the Christ-child in the virgin birth (Matt. 1:18, Luke 1:35). His ministry today consists in restraining sin (Gen. 6:3, 2 Thess. 2:6-8, Luke 6:33), convicting men of sin, judgment, and righteousness by the Word of God (John 16:8-11, John 3:20), and regenerating those who believe (Deut. 5:29, Eph. 4:18 cf. Psa. 116:10, Titus 3:5, John 3:3, 5-8). In regards to the believer, the Holy Spirit indwells (Num. 27:18, Gen. 41:38, Prov. 1:23, 1 Cor. 6:19), baptizes (1 Cor. 12:13), seals (Eph. 4:30), guarantees (Eph. 1:13-14), illumines (1 John 2:27), fills (Acts 13:52, Eph. 5:18 cf. Luke 5:26, 6:11), sanctifies (2 Thess. 2:13, produces fruit (John 15:16, Gal. 5:22-23), bestows gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), and resurrects (Rom. 8:11). The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts upon believers for the purpose of service within the local church (1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:12, 1 Pet. 4:10, Rom. 12:6). The miraculous gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and the working of miracles have ceased, having fulfilled their purpose of authenticating the apostles as God’s messengers (2 Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:1-4). The present-day Charismatic/tongues/healing movement has no biblical basis and is not a product of the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the existence of Satan as a distinct personality, who was originally created perfect and holy. Satan, because of pride and ambition (1 Tim. 3:7), fell through an act of rebellion after creation was completed (Gen. 1:31-2:1). He is now the “god” of this present age (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of this world (Eph. 2:2), the enemy of God and every believer, and attempts to frustrate the plan of God (Gen. 3:4-5; Job 1-2, Matt. 4:1-11), oppose believers (Rev. 2:10, 12:10), sow tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:39), and tempt believers to sin (1 Cor. 7:5). When he fell, Satan and all other angels who followed him (now called demons) were cast out of heaven (Matt. 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). Satan will be cast down to earth during the tribulation (Rev. 12:7-9), cast into the abyss during the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-3), and finally consigned forever along with his fallen angels to the lake of fire per his sentence at Calvary (John 16:11, Rev. 20:10).
VI. The Fall of Man
I believe that God on the sixth 24-hour day of creation, directly and immediately created man’s body and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:7,22, Job 33:4, Matt. 19:4), resulting in a living soul from the union of body and spirit (Gen. 2:7). The first woman, Eve, was likewise created supernaturally and directly from the bone and flesh of Adam (Gen. 1:27, 2:21-22, 5:1,28-29, 1 Tim. 2:13, 1 Cor. 11:8,12). The entire human race descended from Adam and Eve by procreation with the exception of Christ (Gen. 3:20, Acts 17:26, 1 Cor. 15:47). Adam’s disobedience in the garden (the fall) brought spiritual, physical, and consequently, eternal death upon himself and the entire human race (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 5:12-19, Rev. 20:15). Therefore, the image of God in man was marred by the fall but not erased (Gen. 9:6, 1 Cor. 11:7, James 3:9). As a result of Adam’s fall, man is not able not to sin. All men are sinners by state, disposition, and choice (Ps. 51:5, Jer. 17:9, 1 John 1:8, Eph. 2:1-3). Men are therefore alienated from God, spiritually dead, and under the penalty of eternal condemnation (John 3:18, Rev. 20:15, Rom. 5:18).
VII. Atonement for Sin
I believe that mankind is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) and stands justly condemned before God (John 3:18). Man is lost (Luke 19:10) and is blind to his lost condition (2 Cor. 4:3-4). God made provision for the salvation of all men through the cross-work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8, 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is wholly of grace, a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9), and cannot be merited by any virtue or work of man. The gift of salvation must be personally appropriated through repentant faith, which is also gift from God (Eph. 2:8, Acts 11:18, 2 Tim. 2:25).
VIII. The Church
I believe that the Church is the body of Christ (Col. 1:18,24, Eph. 1:22-23, 3:21, Heb.12:23), sometimes known as the universal or invisible church (Matt. 16:18). The Body of Christ is made up of all Spirit-baptized believers (1 Cor. 12:13) from the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5, 11:15-16) to the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The Church is God’s vehicle for service in this dispensation (Eph. 3:8-10) and is distinct from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32). The local church is the earthly visible representative of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:2, Rev. 2-3). It is made up of a group of believers (Acts 2:47) who have been baptized by immersion (Acts 2:41, 8:38-39), are organized with scriptural officers (Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:1-13), share the common faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3, Acts 2:42), observe the two ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s supper – Acts 2:41-42), carry out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), and meet on the first day of the week at regularly stated times (John 20:1,19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2, Heb. 10:25, Rev. 1:10). The local church is God’s ordained instrument for His work and witness in this age (1 Tim. 3:15). Qualifications for church membership consist of regeneration (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 1:2), a credible testimony of salvation (Rom. 10:9), baptism by immersion (Acts 2:41, Matt. 28:19), and an orderly walk (1 Cor. 5:9-13, Jude 4). The primary purpose of the church is to bring glory to God (Eph. 3:21). The church carries out its purpose through worship, edification, fellowship, and evangelism (Acts 2:42, Eph. 4:7-16, Matt. 28:18-20). Each local church is autonomous and independent with Christ as head (Matt. 18:17), and the proper form of church government is congregational (Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-2, 2 Cor. 8:19, 1 Cor. 5:4-5). The officers of the local church are pastor (1 Tim. 3:1, Acts 20:28, 1 Pet. 5:1-2, Tit. 1:5-7) and deacons (1 Tim. 3:8). The pastor’s authority is delegated to him by the congregation (1 Tim. 3:1,5, 5:17, Heb. 13:7,17,24), but the voice of the body is the final court of appeal. The local church has the duty to protect its unity (Rom. 12:16) and maintain pure doctrine and practice (Jude 3), has authority to observe and guard the ordinances (1 Cor. 11:23-24), elect its own officers and leaders (Acts 6:1-6, 14:23 cf. 1 Cor. 8:19), ordain men to the ministry (Acts 13:1-3, 1 Tim. 4:14), discipline its membership (Matt. 18:15-17, 2 Thess. 3:6), settle its internal affairs (1 Cor. 6:1-5), and determine its relationship to other ecclesiastical groups (Acts 15). The ordinances of the local church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38, 19:5, 1 Cor. 11). Since God is holy (Isa. 6:1-3), the church has the responsibility to expose, separate from, and refute false teachers (2 John 9-11, 1 Tim. 1:19-20). The local church must be ecclesiastically separate by withdrawing fellowship from and refusing to collaborate with an ecclesiastical organization/religious leader that deviates from the standards of Scripture or does not believe and obey the word of God in doctrine and practice (Matt. 7:15, 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 2 Tim. 2:16-20, 2 Cor. 6:14-18, 1 Jn. 4:1-3, Rom. 16:17-18, Gal. 1:8-10). This would include separation from Christian individuals who walk disorderly or with those who compromise the doctrine and practice of Scripture (2 Thess. 3:6, 1 Cor. 5:1-11, 1 Tim. 1:18-20, Matt.18:15-17). The church is to be separate from the world (evil world system) (1 John 2:15-17, Rom. 12:1-2, James 4:4, Eph. 5:11, 1 Cor. 1:21). The church must maintain the pivotal balance between being in the world but not being of the world (John 17:13-14, 1 John 2:15-17). The church is responsible to maintain her purity and testimony and, therefore, must exercise discipline over disobedient brothers (Matt. 18:16-17, Rom. 16:17, 1 Cor. 5, 2 Thess. 3:8-15).
IX. The End Times
I believe that the next event of God’s prophetic calendar is the imminent rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The rapture will be visible, personal, premillennial (2 Tim. 4:1, Rom. 11:25-27), and pretribulational (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, 2 Peter 2:7,9, John 14:1-3, Rev. 3:10, 4:4, 13:6, Jer. 30:7, Dan. 9:24-27). The church will be in heaven during the tribulation at which time the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:8-10, Rom. 14:10-12) and the Marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:1-10) will take place. Following the rapture of the church, the antichrist will be revealed (2 Thess. 2:7-8). He will become the leader of the revised Roman Empire (Dan. 7:20,24) and will sign a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27). The signing of the treaty will begin the seven-year period known as the tribulation. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the antichrist will break his treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27, Matt. 24:15), Satan will be cast down to earth (Dan. 12:1, Rev. 12:7-12), and the world will experience a time of unprecedented wrath and judgment (Great Day of the Lord, Zeph. 1:14-18; Great Tribulation, Matt. 24:21). The Great Tribulation will culminate with the return of Christ. The Lord will return, with the church believers, to defeat Satan and his armies (Dan. 7:13-22, Zech. 14:3-9, Rev. 19:11-19). The beast and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20), and Satan will be bound for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-2). Preparation will then be made for the millennial reign of Christ. The Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs will be resurrected (Dan. 12:2-3, Rev. 20:4), Israel will repent (Zech. 12:9-13:2), there will be a mass conversion of Gentiles (Zeph. 3:8-10), both Israel and the nations shall be judged (Ezek. 20:33-38, Joel 3:1-3), and the millennial temple will be constructed (Ezek. 40-48). The millennial kingdom will be inaugurated, and Christ will rule and reign for 1,000 years. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations and lead them in a final revolt (Rev. 20:7-9). God will destroy them with fire and cast Satan into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:9-10). Then the unsaved of all ages will be resurrected and judged at the Great White Throne. They will be eternally consigned to conscious torment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). The present heavens and earth will be destroyed, and a new heaven and earth will be made in which the redeemed of all the ages will dwell eternally with God (2 Pet. 3:10, Rev. 21:1-22:5).