Concerning the Bible
I believe that apart from God revealing Himself to man, it is impossible for man to know or understand Him (John 1:18; Romans 3:10-18). Therefore God took the initiative to reveal Himself to man through what is commonly called general and special revelation (Romans 1:20; 5:8).
General revelation speaks of God’s invisible qualities expressed through His creation, revealing His eternal power and divine nature, so that men are without excuse (Psalm 19:1, 2; Acts 17:24-27; Romans 1:20). Special revelation refers to God’s personal disclosure of His redemptive plan for His people, expressed through a variety of means such as: speaking to and through the prophets (Exodus 3:1 – 4:17; 2 Samuel 23:2), performing miracles (John 11:38-40), and by appearing to man in theophanies (Genesis 16:7-13). God specifically revealed Himself and His plan through the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3), and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Ephesians 3:2-9).
While in the past God chose to reveal Himself in a variety of means and in the giving of His Son (Hebrews 1:1, 2), today He reveals Himself through the Scriptures. I believe that all Scripture was given by the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and that God used the individual temperaments, training, and backgrounds of the human authors to compose and record His revelation to mankind without error, resulting in the exact words that God intended in their original form (2 Peter 1:21). Therefore the inspiration of Scripture is both verbal (Matthew 4:4), and plenary (Romans 15:4), and extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings – historical, poetical, doctrinal, prophetical – to the smallest word and inflection of a word as it appeared in the original manuscripts (Matthew 5:17-18).
Since the entirety of Scripture is inspired by God, it is without error, and consequently true in all that it affirms. Since God has revealed Himself through the Scriptures, the Scriptures are the believer’s only infallible authority for faith and practice (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16).
There is only one correct interpretation of Scripture, although there can be various applications of the text. I believe that in using the grammatical-historical method of interpretation, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can gain understanding into the author’s intended meaning and thereby draw appropriate application (1 Corinthians 2:15).
I believe that there is only one true God who exists in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and that these three persons are coeternal and coequal, having precisely the same nature and attributes, yet working in distinct ways to accomplish God’s purpose (Genesis 1:26; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 3:16,17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2). God is the creator of all things, and continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events for His glory (Genesis 1:1-3; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Acts 17:24-29; Colossians 1:17), and yet in His providence He works with secondary causes in fulfilling His purpose, such as prayer, nations, people, and natural laws (Genesis 45:5; Isaiah 10:5, 6; Ecclesiastes 1:5-7; Acts 12:5-7).
God’s being is best defined in terms of His attributes. He is eternal, in that He transcends time (Isaiah 44:6). He is omnipotent, and is therefore all powerful (Genesis 18:14; Acts 17:24). He is omnipresent, present everywhere at the same time, and is not limited by time and space (Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 22:23, 24; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). He is omniscient, knowing all things past, present, and future (Acts 17:31). God is also loving (1 John 4:8), holy (1 Peter 1:16), faithful and true (Isaiah 25:1). I believe that each of these attributes are basic to the nature of God, and because God has attributes of greatness as well as goodness, He can be trusted and loved (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5).
I believe that man was created by God to bear His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7). Created as male and female, man was blessed to fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28); however because of man’s stubborn self will, he chose to go his own way and break fellowship with God (Genesis 2:17, 3:6, 8), resulting in physical and spiritual death (Genesis 2:17; 5:5; Romans 6:23).
Because of Adam’s one act of rebellion, God imputed his guilt to the entire human race (Romans 5:12-14; Romans 3:23), with the exception of Jesus Christ who was the only man who has not sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Hence all men are totally depraved by nature (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 5:12-14; James 2:10), and are therefore unable to function in moral responsibility apart from God’s grace (Romans 3:10-18). Though all men are guilty of sin from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5), each human being will be judged individually for his or her own sins (2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 20:11-15). God in no way condones or causes sin (James 1:13, 14), nor does sin thwart God’s sovereign will (Romans 11:28-31).
While sin marred the image of God in man (Ephesians 4:22), man still remains in God’s image (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7); however man still needs spiritual regeneration before his fellowship with God can be restored (John 3:3).
Concerning the Son
I believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who is coequal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26; Matthew 28:18-20; John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:14; Revelation 1:8). Jesus was fully man and fully God and claimed to be one with God and equal with God, existing in the image, form and the exact representation of God (John 5:16, 10:30-33, 14:6-9; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:5, 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). He was born of the Virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the prophecy concerning Him (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35).
Although tempted in all things, Jesus lived a sinless life while possessing the essential elements of humanity – body, soul, and spirit (Matthew 26:12, 26, 38; Luke 23:46; Hebrews 4:15). Rejected by the Jewish leaders, He was condemned by Pontus Pilate to suffer and die on the cross as an act of His own free will, and therefore became the perfect sacrifice to forgive sin and appease God’s wrath (John 10:17; Romans 5:8,9; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 7:27; 9:14). Jesus was buried and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, appearing to Peter, the twelve, and after that more than five hundred, thereby confirming His deity and guaranteeing the future resurrection of all believers (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:4-6).
After His resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven to the right hand of His Father in heaven, and serves as the head of the church, interceding on behalf of believers, while preparing a place for them in heaven (John 14:2, 3; Ephesians 4:15,16; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:3, 4, 7:25, 10:12, 12:2). One day Jesus will return to gather the church to Himself, and will reign as universal king, fulfilling the final prophecies concerning Him (Isaiah 9:6, 7; Matthew 24:30, 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 1:13-18, 11:15; 20:11-15).
Concerning the Holy Spirit
I believe that the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:4, 5), and that He is the third person of the Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of deity, including immutability (Hebrews 9:14); omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11); omnipresence (Psalms 139:7); truth (John 16:13); and love (Galatians 5:22). The Holy Spirit is also a person, who possesses all the elements of personality including an intellect (Ephesians 1:17); emotions (Ephesians 4:30); and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11).
In looking at the biblical data concerning the work of the Holy Spirit, His roles are numerous: He assures us of our salvation (Romans 8:16); He baptizes us (Acts 1:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:13); He convicts the world in regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); He directs us (John 16:13); He empowers us (Acts 1:8); He fills us (Ephesians 5:18); He guarantees our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14); He helps us (John 14:16,17); He indwells us (I Corinthians 3:16); He regenerates us (John 3:5); He seals us (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30); and He teaches us (John 14:26). The regenerating, indwelling, baptism and sealing by the Holy Spirit take place at the moment of salvation; however, the assuring, directing, filling and teaching aspects are ongoing ministries of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
The Holy Spirit is also the one who administers spiritual gifts to the church. He is sovereign in bestowing of all His gifts for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 13:8-10; Ephesians 4:7-12; 1Peter 4:10, 11). He does not glorify Himself or the gifts by grandiose displays, but executes His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the most holy faith.
I believe that salvation is best understood as a work of God’s grace by which He elects and predestines those who believe in Christ to be His adopted children (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1). Since the fall (Genesis 3), mankind has been unable to relate to God according to His design (Romans 3:23; 6:23) and because of our sin nature, man is unable to respond to God’s call for salvation (Romans 3:10-11). However, since God does not desire any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), He sent His one and only Son, to reconcile the world to Himself (Romans 5:8).
Salvation is made possible through Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Because of Christ’s perfect life and sacrifice (Isaiah 53:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:22; 1 John 3:5), He became the propitiation for sin, and atoned for the sins of the world once and for all (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 9:22; 10:10,14). While His work on the cross defeated sin and death (Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 3:18), His resurrection guarantees eternal life to those who believe (2 Corinthians 15:12-58).
Although Christ completed the work of salvation at the cross, each person must individually choose to accept God’s free gift of eternal life, by placing their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sin (John 1:12, 13, 3:16; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; Revelation 3:20). Further, no amount of sincere efforts, good resolutions, or faithful service on man’s part can earn salvation because of the human condition (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9).
At the moment of salvation, the believer is declared righteous and saved from the penalty of sin/wrath of God (John 3:36; Romans 5:9, 8:33, 34), and is therefore eternally secure (John 10:27-30; Philippians 1:6). While the standing of the Christian in Christ is perfect, the believer still retains his sin nature (Galatians 5:13). There is therefore a progressive sanctification, wherein the Christian grows in grace and is changed by the unhindered power of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:14).
While our sin nature remains, God restores us to our full human potential through sanctification. God’s purpose in sanctifying us is to conform us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29), and is therefore a lifelong process, whereby the fullness of the image of God is brought about in a believer’s life through the work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is characterized by a truthful, undefended openness about oneself with God and His people (1 John 1:5-7). Ultimately the child of God will come into a state of glorification, for when we see the Lord, we shall be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:2).
Concerning the Church
I believe that the church is both universal and local in nature. The universal church is composed of all followers of Christ from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the present, who are united by the Holy Spirit to the risen and ascended Son of God. By the same Spirit, we are all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29). Being members of one another, we are responsible to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3-10), and love one another from a pure heart (John 13:34, 35). The local church is an organized assembly of believers who practice the ordinances and are actively fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Although the church is the people of God (1 Peter 2:9, 10), it is distinct from Israel (Romans 9-11; 1 Corinthians 10:32). Christ, being the head over all things pertaining to the church (Ephesians 1:22), has commanded his followers to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Both ordinances are to be observed until the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Baptism is symbolic of an inward spiritual reality, and serves as a picture of our death to sin, and our resurrection to a new life in Christ (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). It is also a public declaration of one’s faith in the Godhead (Matthew 28:19). The only scriptural baptism is a believer’s baptism by immersion. Neither sprinkling children or adults is the biblical pattern for baptism, nor is immersion without faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin a biblical pattern for baptism. Baptism is simply an outward expression of an inward decision to align oneself with Christ’s character, conduct and commitments. Scriptural baptism pleases the Lord (Matthew 3:17), and therefore the believer’s baptism has value to the Christian (Colossians 2:12), the church, and the unbelieving community (Matthew 10:32).
The Lord’s Supper is also a symbol of the believer’s identification with Christ, in that it serves as a reminder of His sacrifice and ultimate return (Matthew 26:26-28). It is the symbol of the new covenant in Christ’s blood, and by its nature calls for self examination of sin (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
While Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22), the local assemblies have authority for administering the order, discipline, and worship of the church. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ, and over the assembly, are pastors (elders/bishops) and deacons (Ephesians 4:11,12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5). In general, the elders are the overseers (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7), the deacons are the servants (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13), and the believers are the ministers (1 Corinthians 12:4-13; Ephesians 4:12). Each believer has been given at least one spiritual gift, which is sovereignly given by the Lord through the Spirit, for the purpose of helping the church fulfill its God-ordained mission of worship, edification, and evangelism (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:7-13; 1 Peter 4:10,11).
Concerning Angels, Fallen and Unfallen
Angels are messengers or servants of God. They were created beings (Colossians 1:16), and possess intellect (1 Peter 1:12), feelings (Luke 2:13) and will (Jude 6). Angels are higher than men in God’s created order (Psalms 8:5). Michael and Gabriel are the only two angels whose names we know (Daniel 10:13, 21; 8:16). An angel’s role is be God’s messenger, and help believers (Hebrews 1:14).
I believe that the “adversary” is a high angelic creature, who before the creation of the human race, rebelled against the Creator (Isaiah 14:14) and became the chief antagonist of God and man. Sin originated with Satan who in his original state, was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). Satan was given a place on God’s holy mountain and was blameless until wickedness found a way in him (Ezekiel 28:11-18). It was ultimately Satan’s pride that led to his demise (Ezekiel 28:17), as he attempted to exalt himself to a position “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), and as a result was “thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-17). While Satan, and the power of sin and death where defeated at the cross, he still rules as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan’s ultimate destiny is to be thrown into the lake of fire to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15), and he uses deception to blind “the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan can create nothing, nor can he perpetuate any evil, physical or moral without the sanction of God (Job 1:2, 2:6).
Demons are the ones who carry out Satan’s agenda in the world, and therefore engage in all forms of temptation and deception that he employs. They can inflict disease (Matthew 12:22; Mark 1:26; 9:17, 20; Luke 9:39; Acts 8:7), and most predominantly, they oppose the spiritual progress of God’s people (Ephesians 6:12). Believers will help in judging the fallen angels (1 Corinthians 6:3), and their ultimate doom will be similar to that of Satan’s (Matthew 25:41).
Concerning the End Times
I believe that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent (Matthew 24:44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). The New Testament presents Christ’s return as a comforting hope (John 14:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18; Titus 2:13; James 5:7,8), and the theme of His second coming permeates the writings of the New Testament (2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 2:28). In understanding the nature of the second coming, it is certain that the second coming will be personal and bodily, and thus perceivable and unmistakable. While Christ has given us a glimpse as to the events surrounding His return (Matthew 24:4-30), Christ also makes it clear that no one will know about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Upon death, the spirits of those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation are immediately ushered into His presence (2 Corinthians 5:6-8), and there remain in conscious bliss until the resurrection of their glorified body at Christ’s second coming (Daniel 12:2; I Corinthians 15:53; 2 Thessalonians 2:1). Those who have not placed their faith in Christ suffer condemnation and await final judgment of the Great White throne at the close of the millennium. Once body and soul are reunited, they will be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (John 5:28,29; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Revelation 20:11-15).
Upon Christ’s second return, the saints – living and dead – will be gathered to the Lord in the air (Matthew 24:44; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). This event, known as the rapture, will precede the Tribulation and the Millennium (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; Revelation 3:10; 19:11-20:10). After the church is removed from the world, each believer will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged and rewarded according to his or her works (Matthew 25:31,46; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 6:3; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:11-15). The rapture of the church will be culminated by the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9).
The rapture will be followed by the fulfillment of Israel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:27; Revelations 6:1-19:21). This period of time will be a time of judgment upon the whole earth (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 3:8). During this time the antichrist will come to power, and will make a seven-year covenant with Israel, only to break it three and a half years later (Daniel 9:24-27; Revelation 13:16,17). The latter half of this period will be the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), which our Lord called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-21). The Tribulation will conclude with the return of Christ, and a host of saints in glory to destroy God’s enemies in the battle of Armageddon (Matthew 24:26-31; Mark 13:26; Acts 1:11; Revelations 16:13; 19:17, 21). The purpose of the Tribulation is to prepare Israel for her Messiah (Romans 1:25-27; Zechariah 12:10).
The period of the Great Tribulation on the earth will be climaxed by the return of Christ to the earth as He went, in person and in power, to introduce the millennial age, in which He and the saints will rule over Israel and the world for a thousand year period known as the millennium (Zechariah 9:10; Revelation 3:21; 5:10; 20:4; 22:5). I understand the Old and New Testament prophecies to be literal, and the fulfillment of God’s unconditional covenants to Abraham (Genesis 12:2,15:8,17:8) and David (Jeremiah 31:31) necessary. During this period, Satan will be bound and thrown into the abyss, and the earth will enjoy a time of peace, justice, and prosperity (Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; 32:18; 35:1,2; Revelation 20:1-3). At this time Israel will be restored to her land (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; 12:1), and everyone will have full knowledge of God, while looking to Jesus for leadership and life (Isaiah 11:9,10).
At the end of the millennial age, Satan will be released and will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them in battle against the saints, at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:7 -9). Satan will then be thrown into the lake of fire and God will judge all men at the Great White Throne (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10). Upon receiving their judgment, the unsaved will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire as well (John 5:28,29,41; Revelation 20:11-15).
Finally, the old heaven and earth will be destroyed, and a new heaven and earth will appear (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1). Having completed His mission, the Messiah will turn over the kingdom to His Father, so that the Trinity may have supremacy, and the saints will live and reign with God in the light of His eternal glory forever (1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 21:27; 22:3-5).