Expanded Articles of Faith
1. We believe that the Bible, composed of the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired Word of God, is inerrant in the original manuscripts, and is the supreme and final authority in life and faith.
The 66 books of the Bible contain God’s special revelation of Himself to humanity. While God’s attributes are perceived through creation leaving none with excuse (i.e., general revelation, cf. Psa 19; Rom 1:20), God has revealed Himself personally in history and throughout history in the Bible. This revelation is objective, knowable, propositional information given by God to human authors, for example through the OT prophets (e.g. 1 Kings 14:18; 16:12, 34; Jer 37:2, Zech 7:7, 12) and the NT authors, under the superintending work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13). Because this revelation is propositional and rational, it may be, and has been, written down by human authors under the direction of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:13; Gal 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet 1:10-12; 2 Pet 1:21; 3:2, 15-16) without error. The books of the Old and New Testament, then, contain in written form the very Word of God.
The purpose of this revelation is God’s glory for all things are to be to God’s glory (1 Pet 4:11; Rev 14:7). God has disclosed information about Himself (e.g. He is all-powerful, immutable, holy, loving, all-knowing, omni-present, and good). God has revealed Himself most fully through Jesus (Heb 1:1-4). In Scripture, God has provided in written, final form everything necessary for salvation through trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ alone for the remission of sins. Further, Scripture, as God’s Word, is living and active (Heb 4:12), working through the aid of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:14; cf. John 10:27) in the heart of a person to convict one of sin and the need for forgiveness in Christ alone, and to provide the means of growth in Christ-likeness. The canon is complete, sufficient, and closed. There is no need for, nor expectation of, any further revelation or additional writings. As God’s Word in written and final form, Scripture is, then, the final authority.
God communicated through human authors within particular cultures at particular moments in history to address different needs and concerns. This communication from God to humans was ultimately recorded in written form by humans (e.g. narrative, psalm, letter, law, proverb, parable, speech, prophecy, etc.). Thus, Scripture is the Word of God addressed and given to particular individuals within particular cultures. But, it must be stated clearly that the particularity of the utterances does not bind or limit the Word of God to those cultures. God’s Word is sufficiently clear to be understood by all peoples in all cultures at all times to accomplish God’s purposes.
The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are inerrant. In affirming the accuracy of the Old and New Testaments, we affirm, for example, the truthfulness of the historical narratives of the OT, the reality of miracles as recorded in Scripture, the historical reliability of the Gospels, and the authenticity of the authorship of every biblical document as is claimed by Scripture.
The Bible is fully truthful in all its teaching. Thus, we hold to the view that the Bible is both infallible and inerrant. By this we mean that the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice, and also, that the Bible is without error in historical details or scientific facts. I am in agreement with The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) which affirms: “that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.”
2. We believe in one eternal God existing equally in three eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I affirm the above statement on the doctrine of the Trinity. While the word “Trinity” is not found within Scripture, Scripture clearly teaches that: God eternally exists as three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), each person is fully God, and there is one God. The doctrine of the Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament (e.g. Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Ps 45:6-7; 110:1; Isa 6:8; 61:1; 63:10), and more fully developed in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John (1:33-34; cf. 14:16-17,26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22). The three persons are intimately inter-related (John 1:33-34; cf. 14:16-17, 26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22). The three distinct persons of the Godhead are seen, for example, in the baptism of Jesus (Matt 3:16-17), the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), and the Upper Room Discourse (John 20:21-22).
The New Testament affirms that the Father is God (e.g. Phil. 1:2; 2 Cor.1:2; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:2), that the Son is God (e.g. John 1:1-3; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30, 14; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Rev. 1:8; 22-12, 13, 16, 20), and that the Spirit is God (e.g. John 3:5-7; Acts 5:3-4; 13:2; 1 Cor 2:10-11; 2Cor 3:17-18; 1 John 3:9). In John 1:1-2, the Word, which is Christ, is divine; moreover, while distinct from the Father, the Son is in intimate fellowship with the Father (cf. 1:3-18; 10:30; 14:9; 17:21). Both Old and New Testaments affirm the unity or oneness of God (Deut 4:35, 39; 6:4; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa 43:10; 44:6; 45:5; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Cor 8:4-6; 1 Tim 2:5). The three persons, each God, are at work in salvation. This is seen, for example, in 1 Peter 1:1-2. Peter writes to the elect dispersed throughout Asia Minor “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.”
3. We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, that He is true God and true Man, and that He is the only and sufficient Mediator between God and man.
Jesus, the Davidic Messiah
First, it is important to recognize that Jesus is the Messiah from the line of David, and therefore, Jesus fulfills God’s promise made to David that his offspring would reign eternally (2 Sam 7:12-16; cf. Psa 89:1-4, 19-37; 132:11-12). As the Davidic King, Jesus fulfills the hope and expectation of Israel for a king who would provide restoration of the nation, reconciliation with God, and lead all nations to glorify God (Jer 23:5-8; 30:21-22; Ezek 37:21-23; Zech 3:8-10; 6:12-15; Hag 2:21-22), albeit in a way hidden in the eternal plan of God and revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Acts 2:22-39; 3:11-26). So, Jesus is the Son of David (Matt 1:1; cf. 22:42; Luke 1:31-33), but instead of being a militaristic or nationalistic king, Jesus reigns by conquering Sin and Death by sacrificing Himself (Mark 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34; 15:1-32) on the cross. Christ’s fulfillment as the Davidic Messiah affirms the truthfulness, accuracy and continuity of the Old Testament. God’s plan of salvation, ‘the scarlet thread’ of redemption, runs throughout the Old and New Testament and points towards Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. The consistent message of Scripture is that God has eternally planned redemption (Acts 2:23; Eph 1:3-6; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Pet 1:19-20; Rev 13:8) and is at work within history to provide salvation through Christ.
The historicity of Jesus’ virgin birth, death, and resurrection
We affirm the historicity of Jesus’ virgin birth (Luke 1:26-38, 46-55; Matt 1:18-25), life, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection, appearance, and ascension to Heaven to the right hand of God, and affirm the Gospels as accurate sources of history. As the Apostle Paul wrote, if Christ has not been raised from the dead then our preaching (the Gospel) is in vain (1 Cor 15:14); moreover, if Christ was not literally raised from physical death to physical life, then we are still in our sins and we are the most to be pitied (1 Cor 15:17, 19). Orthodox, evangelical Christianity is predicated upon the actual, real, and historic fact that Christ lived, died on the cross, was resurrected three days later, ascended to Heaven, is currently at the right hand of God where he reigns (Col 3:1; 1 Pet 3:22), and will literally return to earth again at an unknown point in the future.
Jesus is fully God and fully human
First, Scripture clearly teaches that Christ is God and has always been God (e.g. John 1:1-3; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30, 14; 20:28; Col 2:9; Titus 2:13; Rev 1:8; 22-12, 13, 16, 20.) Second, Christ took the form of mankind by being born as a baby and then growing through natural processes into an adult man. In this, the Incarnation, God the Son humbled Himself to take on human flesh (Phil 2:5-8). So, Christ who is God became fully human. Third, herein lies the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, namely “the assumption of the human nature by the preexistent eternal Person of the Son of God in such a way as to draw the human nature into the oneness of the divine Person without division or separation of nature, but also without change or confusion of natures” (see Muller, DLGTT). This definition reflects The Chalcedonian Creed (A.D. 451) which teaches and confesses “one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man . . .” I will not reproduce the entire Creed here, but I point to it in order to affirm the Scriptural, orthodox teaching that Christ is truly God, truly man, and one Person with two distinct natures. Thus, Christ continued to be God when He existed fully as a man. Christ, then, is one person with two natures.
As God, Christ existed before the foundation of the world, and He came to earth to become fully human. We affirm the clear teaching of Scripture that Christ, God the Son, pre-existent with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, took on human flesh and became truly man possessing all the essential characteristics of human nature. Thus, Christ had a physical birth (Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4), a physical body of flesh and blood (Matt 26:28; John 1:14: 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; 1 John 1:1; 4:2), grew physically, mentally, spiritually, socially (Luke 2:40, 52; Heb 5:8-9), had a soul (Matt 26:38; Acts 2:27, 31), had a spirit (Matt 27:50; Mark 2:8; Luke 23:46), hungered (Matt 4:2), thirsted (John 4:6-7; 19:28); became tired (Matt 8:24; John 4:6), felt sorrow, wept, and grieved (Matt 26:38; Luke 19:41; John 11:35; Heb 5:7; 7:27), and was tempted (i.e. ‘tested’ but without sinning; John 14:30; Heb 2:10, 17-18; 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 1:19; 2:22; 1 John 3:5, etc.).
It is crucial to rightly understand and teach on the full humanity of Jesus. First, it is the clear teaching of Scripture. Second, this teaching impacts Atonement. Who Jesus is impacts what He is able to do in Atonement. Because Jesus became man (John 1:1-14), became like us in every way (Heb 2:14-18) except without sin, Christ was then, the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins (1 Pet 1:19; 2:22, 24). Further, because the Son of God remains fully human even though glorified in Heaven (Acts 1:9; Rev 1:7), we can be like him (Rom 8:28-29; 1 Cor 15:49; Phil 3:20-21).
Jesus is the only and sufficient Mediator between God and man
“By His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus made a perfect atonement for sin, by which the wrath of God against sinners is appeased and a ground furnished upon which God can deal in mercy with sinners. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse in our place. He who Himself was absolutely without sin was made to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
I agree with the statement above in which a number of core theological elements reside, namely: (1) the relationship between blood sacrifice, atonement, and Christ as the final sacrifice; (2) the wrath of God; (3) redemption from the curse of the law; and (4) Christ becoming a curse to bring atonement. I will only briefly highlight the biblical teaching which these statements reflect in order to affirm my belief in these statements and make mention of a few aspects of their theological and contemporary relevance.
The Apostle Paul views the shedding of Christ’s blood as a sacrifice (Rom 3:25), a view the Apostle Peter also holds when he writes that the “blood of Christ,” shed on the cross is a ransom payment, a “ransom for many” (1 Pet 1:18-19). Paul writes that Christ, “has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death” (Col 1:22), reinforcing his words that Christ “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). Both apostles describe Christ’s fulfillment of the OT which calls for a blood sacrifice to atone for sins. Peter, for example, freely quotes from OT sources to indicate historical continuity in God’s salvific action over time which culminates in Christ. The shed blood (1 Pet 1:2, 19) of Christ, the perfect sacrificial lamb, and the resurrection of Christ (1 Pet 1:21; 3:18, 21) removes “sins” (1 Pet 2:24). Like elsewhere in the NT, the image of Christ’s death highlights the sacrificial aspect of atonement (cf. Col 2:14; for sacrificial terminology/imagery and Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice, see also, Acts 20:28; Rom 3:25; 4:25; 5:6-9; 8:3, 32; 1 Cor 10:16; 11:25, 27; 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14-15, 21; Gal 1:4, 2:20; 3:13; Eph 1:7; 2:13; 5:2, 25; 1 Thess. 5:9-10; Heb 9:12, 14, 18; 10:19; 12:24; 13:12, 20; 1 Pet 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5; 5:9.)
I think it is crucial to affirm this clear and consistent depiction of Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross. God sovereignly chose the cross, and Christ’s shed blood, as the means of propitiating (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10) His wrath (John 3:36; Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 5:9). Thus, to proclaim faithfully the Gospel is to teach accurately about the shed blood of Christ as the once-for-all sacrifice for sins (1 Pet 3:18). Being under the curse of the Law, we needed a perfect Savior who became that curse so that we could be righteous before God (Isa 53:6; Jer 23:6; Rom 5:19; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:10; 13; Tit 3:4-7; 1 Pet 2:24).
4. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the divine person given by God to indwell and equip every believer to glorify Christ.
I affirm that the Holy Spirit is described in Scripture as having the attributes of God and engaging in the activities of God, e.g. called God (Acts 5:3-4); Creator (Job 33:4); resurrects (Rom. 8:11); indwells (John 14:17); omnipresent (Psa 139:7-10); omniscient (1 Cor 2:10-11); consecrates (1 Pet 1:2); life-giver (2 Cor 3:6,8); in fellowship with believers (2 Cor 13:14; Phil 2:1); eternal (Heb 9:14); has a will (1 Cor 12:11); speaks (Acts 8:29; 11:12); loves (Rom 15:30); and searches the heart (1 Cor. 2:10). Therefore, I affirm that the Holy Spirit is a unique Person, the third person of the Trinity, who is God (John 3:5-7; Acts 5:3-4; 13:2; 1 Cor 2:10-11; 2 Cor 3:17-18; 1 John 3:9).
5. We believe that Satan is a created, fallen spiritual being, the unholy god of this age, the author of sin, and destined to judgment in the lake of fire.
I think it is especially crucial to proclaim the reality of a personal devil in a modern (or post-modern!) scientific-minded culture that perpetuates a secular worldview in which materiality is deemed the only thing “real.” I believe that a Biblical worldview does not demythologize the teaching of Scripture but instead asserts that Satan and demons exist. Throughout the Bible, a personal, evil being (the devil, Satan, Belial, etc.) opposes God and seeks to lead God’s people astray. The devil is a being created by God who is not equal with God, but receives authority on earth as God permits. For example, in the book of Job, Satan personally speaks with God and questions Job’s faithfulness to God (Job 1:6-11). In the Gospels, the personal being of the devil speaks with and confronts Jesus to thwart God’s purpose (Matt 4:3-11). When Jesus is accused that his authority to cast out demons came from “Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons,” Jesus affirms the reality of the devil replying that a house divided cannot stand (Luke 11:14-17). Further, Jesus instructs that his presence and his miracles demonstrate the present reality of God’s kingdom, a presence in direct opposition to the kingdom of Satan (Luke 11:18-20). Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), and he possesses a power to enslave humankind in darkness and captivity (Acts 26:18; Col 1:12-13). The evil powers, led by the personal being of Satan, possess “authority”; however, their authority is operative only within the “domain” in which they dwell, that is the “earth.” For example, when the “devil” tempts Jesus with all the “kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5) in exchange for Jesus’ worship, he is able to do so because “authority” has been given to him by God for a time (Luke 4:6). As “the ruler of the world” (John 14:30), the devil is at work through unbelievers (Eph 2:2). Moreover, the devil and the forces of evil scheme and roam the earth like a lion looking for someone to devour (Eph 6: 11-16; 1 Pet 5:8).
The major takeaway is that the Bible must not be demythologized. Satan is a real, personal being, and his forces of “darkness” are real, spiritual demons that are at work to thwart the purposes of God. While a ‘modern’ worldview may recoil at the notion of personal, evil, spiritual beings, it is the consistent teaching of Scripture. But affirming the reality of Satan and demonic beings is no cause for alarm to believers. As Paul explains, the devil and the evil powers have been defeated (Col 2:15; Eph 1:20-22; 2:6). In Christ, believers are “rescued” and “transferred” to Christ’s kingdom (Col 1:13) and placed with Christ in the heavenly realms (Col 3:1-3; Eph 2:6). Further, the promise of Scripture is that Satan and all evil will ultimately be destroyed forever when they are cast into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:10)!
6. We believe that man was created in the image of God but sinned and thereby incurred spiritual death, which is separation from God. Therefore, all mankind is born with a sinful nature in need of regeneration.
I affirm the above statement, and I would like to highlight at least three items that I think are particularly relevant in today’s culture, namely man’s creation in the image of God, humanity’s fallen and sinful state apart from Christ, and salvation through faith in Christ described as being “born again” through the work of the Spirit. First, Scripture clearly teaches that humanity is the creation of God (Gen 1-2) made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). This understanding underpins our church’s position paper on abortion.
Second, the consistent Biblical message is that humanity stands condemned before God. Humanity inherits sin from the sin of Adam (Rom 5:12-21), and all humanity sins by failing to conform to the written and moral law of God (Rom 2:15-29). Sinful in nature, thoughts, and deeds, all humanity has a universal curse upon it for their disobedience against God (Isa 24:5-6). Therefore, all people must “suffer for their guilt” (Isa 24:6). Isaiah’s charge of universal transgression and punishment alludes back to God’s curse upon all humanity for the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:14-24) and includes Israel (Isa 59:12). Isaiah’s picture of rebellion, and thus judgment, is cosmological in scope. Isaiah proclaims judgment not only on “the inhabitants” (Isa 24:17) and “the kings” of the earth (Isa 24:21) but also on the “world of heaven” (Isa 24:21). On the day of the Lord, Isaiah warns, “They will be gathered together like prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished” (Isa 24:22). Similarly, the Apostle Peter indicates that apart from Christ, we are living futilely in sin (1 Pet 1:18; 4:3-4), and the day of punishment prophesied in Isaiah rapidly approaches (1 Pet 4:7). In summary, every person stands condemned (1 Kings 8:46; Psa 14:3; 143:2; Prov 20:9; Rom 1:18-3:20; 1 John 1:8-10). Without Christ, every person is darkened in their understanding and alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance in hardness of heart (Eph 4:18; cf. Jer 17:9; Titus 1:15). Without a new heart through the work of the Spirit which results from faith in Christ, each person will be judged according to his/her deeds (Rom 2:6; Col 3:25).
Third, I rejoice in the message of the Gospel because with it the person who trusts in Christ for salvation is “born again” through the Spirit and enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3; 1 Pet 1:3, 23) as a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Forgiven, “born again,” and in Christ, followers of Christ have the Spirit at work within them transforming them (Gal 5:13-26) into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; Col 3:10), the image lost due to sin.
7. We believe that Jesus died in our place for our sins, that He arose from the grave and ascended into heaven, and that he will return personally and visibly to earth.
I believe that man is justified solely by the death of Christ on the cross. Furthermore, a believer experiences both the removal of God’s impending judgment (justification) and the reception of Christ’s righteous as their own upon their confession of faith in Christ (Rom 3:20, 26, 28; 5:1; 8:30; 10:4, 10: Gal 3:24). Salvation is through faith in Christ alone; no other work is required to be saved and righteous in Christ (Rom 4:6; 5:17; 1 Cor 1:30; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9).
The NT describes the elect as having been “redeemed” (1 Pet 1:18) by the “blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:19) shed on the cross as a ransom payment. The shed blood (1 Pet 1:2, 19) of Christ, the perfect sacrificial lamb, and the resurrection of Christ (1:21; 3:18, 21) removes “sins” (1 Pet 2:24). As a result of atonement, the elect have “salvation” (1 Pet 1:5, 9, 10; 2:2). Reconciliation of man with God occurs through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross (Col 1:20, 22; cf. 2:15).
Sacrificial atonement as proscribed by God lies at the heart of Scripture and functions as the means of the restoration of right relationship with God. The NT, as exemplified in Colossians and 1 Peter, utilizes images of sacrificial atonement to depict Christ’s shed blood because Christ’s shed blood serves as the final sacrifice for sins which restores all things to right relationship with God (Heb 10:10-14). Christ’s sacrifice is the means by which God acted to wipe away sin [expiation] and as a consequence, man does not experience the wrath of God *propitiation+ (Rom 3:25). The image of Christ’s death as the atoning sacrifice is found throughout the NT (Col 2:14; cf. Acts 20:28; Rom 3:25; 4:25; 5:6-9; 8:3, 32; 1 Cor 10:16; 11:25, 27; 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14-15, 21; Gal 1:4, 2:20; 3:13; Eph 1:7; 2:13; 5:2, 25; 1 Thess 5:9-10; Heb 9:12, 14, 18; 10:19; 12:24; 13:12, 20; 1 Pet 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5; 5:9). This atoning sacrifice is applied to all who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess Christ as Lord (Rom 10:9-10), and is the free gift of salvation (Rom 5:9-10; Eph 2:8-9).
Christ’s 2nd coming
I affirm (and rejoice!) in the statement above, and I note the Scriptural basis of Christ’s “coming” (parousia). To begin with, Scripture is quite clear that Christ presently reigns in Heaven at God’s right hand (e.g. Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22). As Colossians forcefully points out, Christ presently exists “bodily” in Heaven (Col 2:9) where He reigns over all creation (Col. 2:15; Eph 1:20-23; 1 Pet 3:22) despite unbelievers not yet recognizing this reign. But eventually every knee will bow to Christ and every tongue will confess Him as Lord (Phil 2:9-11). The promise of Scripture is that Christ will return to earth bodily just as He was bodily on earth prior to His ascension (Acts 1:11). This return of Christ will be visible (1 Thess 4:16-17; 2 Thess 1:7; 2:8; Tit 2:13). This return of Christ is described as the “hope” of every believer (Rom 8:25; Eph 4:4; Col 1:5; 1 Pet 1:13; Titus 1:2; 2:13) because at His return believers have the promise of eternal glory (Rom 5:2; Gal 5:5; Eph 1:18; Col 1:27; 3:4; 1 Thess 5:8). This hope of glory includes the promise that the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 4:14), and believers who are alive will be caught up to Christ to be with Him forever (1 Thess 4:17), i.e. Christ will gather together His people (2 Thess 2:1). As the Apostle Paul summarizes in 1 Corinthians 15, Christ’s resurrection assures believers of their bodily resurrection; moreover, Christ’s resurrection and promised return bring the assurance that all evil will ultimately be destroyed (15:24-25), including death itself (15:26), as all things are fully and finally subject to God (15:27-28).
8. We believe that the gift of salvation is offered by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, not by man’s works, and that this salvation gives the believer direct access to God.
Faith in Christ’s atoning work results in salvation, and it is through hearing the Gospel that people are provided the opportunity to respond in faith (Rom 10:17). Thus, hearing and reading the Word of God are the means by which people learn about the Gospel and become aware of their need to respond to Christ’ work on the Cross (Rom 10:14). For in hearing the Word, the Spirit convicts of sin and the Gospel call for personal repentance and faith becomes operative. For example, Peter points to “those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12), and in Colossians, Paul writes about the recipients “hearing the word of the gospel” (1:5) which Epaphras shared with them (1:7). As the Gospel is understood, , the Spirit is at work calling for repentance, response, and reception of Jesus (Matt 11:28-30; Luke 24:47; John 1:11-12; 3:16; Acts 2:37-38; 3:19; 5:31; 17:30; 20:21; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10, etc.).
Salvation, some effects of:
I note the Biblical concept of believers as “children of God” (John 1:12; 11:52; Rom 8:16, 21; 9:8; Phil 2:15; 1 John 3:1, 10; 5:2), relating to the Biblical concept of “adoption” which describes the fact that those who trust Christ become the sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8:15,23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). This beautiful promise of Scripture means that when we believe in Christ’s death & resurrection and trust in Christ alone for salvation, we become adopted into the family of God. This imagery describes a profound change which occurs to believers. For prior to faith in Christ and adoption into the family of God, we were not God’s people (1 Pet 2:10), but pagans living futile, empty lives apart from God (1 Pet 1:18; 4:3; cf. Col 3:7) destined for God’s wrath (Col 3:6). But through Christ, as the children of God, we receive every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3) which includes “adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5), a status which indicates that nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ (Rom 8:39).
Second, believers are promised to be “heirs of God” (Rom 8:17). Before faith in Christ, one is dead in their trespasses, but God cancels his/her debt of sin at the cross (Col 2:13-14). Now, no one can bring a charge against or condemn one who is “in Christ” (Rom 8:33-34a). This is because “Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who is interceding for us (8:34b). A follower of Jesus is an heir of salvation because he/she has confessed Christ before people. God, the Judge, has become God, the Heavenly Father. Instead of charges, this one receives an “inheritance,” the assured hope of salvation based on God’s unmerited grace in the sacrifice of His Son. This, then, is what Paul means with reference to believers as “heirs”!
Lastly, at death the spirit of a believer departs to be with Christ in conscious blessedness. This is the promise given by Jesus to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43). Thus, I do not think that believers must wait until Christ’s return to be with Christ in Heaven. Moreover, it is promised within Scripture that believers will receive a new body like Christ’s at His return (1 Cor 15:12-49).
9. We believe that all who have trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord are guaranteed their salvation by God from the moment they trust in Him.
See John 10:28,29; John 17:11; Rom 8:33-39; Phil 1:6; Heb 7:25; 9:12-15; 10:14; 1 Pet 1:5,9; 2 Pet 1:10; 1 John 2:19; 3:9.
10. We believe that those who trust in Christ should be baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that baptism depicts the essential facts of redemption: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We believe that baptism also symbolizes what is true in the lives of those who have trusted in Christ: they are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
Confession before people is viewed as a tangible fruit of salvation and not as a qualifying condition for salvation. I agree with this statement. I think that Scripture clearly teaches that salvation occurs through faith in Christ, not through works (Eph 2:8-9). However, confession of Christ as Lord before men signals authentic faith (Rom 10:9-10), and all who confess Christ are to be baptized. Thus, baptism is an act of obedience (Matt 28:19-20) which identifies the believer as a follower of Christ. The word “baptism” literally means to immerse in water, and this should be the practice of believers if at all possible (Acts 8:38-39). I believe that baptism symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:1-5), and illustrates new life as a follower of Jesus. However, baptism is not required in order to be saved.
The New Testament teaches that at the moment of faith and repentance in Christ believers are baptized in/with/by the Spirit which refers to believers being filled by the Spirit and becoming members of the body of Christ. Therefore, I believe that the NT teaches that there is only one baptism in the Spirit which occurs at conversion (i.e., 1 Cor 12:13 does not support a second baptism in the Spirit at some point following conversion).
11. We believe that the Lord’s Supper (Communion) is a commemoration of the Savior’s death, and, through participating, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
See Matt 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor 10:16-17; 11:23-32.
12. We believe that the church (local) is comprised of believers in Christ who are joined together for the glory of God through worship, instruction, evangelism, service, and fellowship. Christ’s charge to the church is to make disciples around the world.
I affirm this statement and believe that the Church arose out of Christ giving himself up to death for it (Eph 5:25). Being in the Church is the result of faith in Christ. The Church is Christ’s body (Col 1:24); moreover, Christ is the head of the body, the church (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). In other words, faith in Christ results in believers becoming a member of Christ’s body. This imagery of the body is much more than a metaphor. Because the Spirit is within us, believers in Christ are intimately connected to Christ and to each other. Thus, the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) is made up of many members, each with indispensable gifts bestowed by the Spirit designed for the growth and edification of the body. Moreover, because we become members of this new eschatological entity which is Christ’s body through our unity of the Spirit within us, our deeds in the body impact Christ and other believers.