We believe Scripture, or the Bible, is the Word of God written to man. The Bible consists of the 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. God inspired human authors who, using their own unique gifts, passions, and communication style, wrote His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20–21). The Scriptures are inerrant in everything they address, including matters of faith, science, and history (Proverbs 30:5). The Scriptures are infallible and achieve the ends for which God intended them (Isaiah 55:11). The Scriptures are clear, “making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). The Scriptures are sufficient for faith and practice, and “are useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
We believe God is the eternal, uncreated Creator and Sustainer of all things (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16–17). He is the First and the Last, and beside him there is no god (Isaiah 44:6). This one God exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 6:4–5; Matthew 3:16–17) and each member of the Trinity is fully God. God is holy (Isaiah 6:3), unchanging (Malachi 3:6), omniscient (Isaiah 46:10), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7–8), omnipotent (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), gracious (Exodus 33:19), and loving (1 John 4:8).
A. GOD THE FATHER
We believe God the Father is the infinite personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He infallibly ordains all that comes to pass, that He concerns himself mercifully with the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all that come to him through faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:9; Luke 10:21–22; John 3:16; John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:1–2; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 1:6).
B. GOD THE SON
We believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, that He came in the flesh and was born of a virgin, and lived a sinless, miraculous life (John 8:46, 18:38b, 19:4, 21:25). He was in very nature God, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:4–5). He taught that He alone was the means by which man would be reconciled to God. He believed and proved that He was equal to God, eliciting the anger of His enemies according to the predestined purpose of God (John 5:18, 10:30–33, 14:6; Acts 4:28). He was tempted in every way, just as we are, and yet never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). According to the Father’s perfect plan laid out in eternity past, He gave himself up freely as a ransom for our sins (Mark 10:45; John 10:18; Acts 4:28; Ephesians 1:3–6; Philippians 2:6–11; Revelation 13:8). He was crucified by sinful men (Acts 2:36), and rose from the dead three days later (1 Corinthians 15:4). Today, He sits at the right hand of the Father until His second coming, when He will return as King of Kings to judge the living and the dead (Acts 1:9–11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:9–10; Revelation 1:7; 19).
C. GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe the Holy Spirit is fully God (Genesis 1:2; Acts 5:3–5). He is given as our Helper (John 14:26) and is the Deposit who guarantees the inheritance of every believer (Ephesians 1:13–14). He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7–11). He is the leading agent in the planting and building up of the church, since His job is to testify of Jesus and to the truthfulness of the gospel (Acts 1:8, John 15:26). The Holy Spirit gives gifts to each believer for the edification of the church and the proclamation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:22). While every believer is told to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit alone decides which spiritual gifts each believer receives (1 Corinthians 12:4–7, 11).
We believe God created man on the 6th day in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26–27). He created man morally perfect with a free will to choose good or evil (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 2:16–17). Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were able to choose to obey God and live under blessing or to disobey God and die under a curse. They chose to disobey God, and they died spiritually. Every part of man was affected by this original sin. All the areas of man’s self – his will, desires, mind, body, and conscience – were affected by the Fall (Jeremiah 17:9). God cursed man with immediate spiritual death (separation from God) and eventual physical death (Genesis 3:19). Because of their choice, their posterity is given a sinful nature at conception and is held equally responsible for Adam and Eve’s disobedience (Psalm 51:5). Every person also chooses of His own free will to disobey God as revealed in Scripture (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10); therefore, every person is a sinner by nature and by choice (Psalm 14:1–3). As a result, every person is an enemy of God (Job 15:14; 25:4), under His righteous wrath, and without excuse (Romans 1:18–32). Man is dead in trespasses and sins, and apart from the grace of God cannot and will not seek after God (Jeremiah 13:23; John 6:44; Romans 3:10–18, 8:5–8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–3; Colossians 2:13).
We believe that because every person has sinned against God by refusing to honor him as God and obey His Law, God is under no obligation to save anyone from His wrath. In fact, all men deserve eternal punishment (Romans 1:16–32). The gospel is the good news that God has chosen to save some undeserving sinners from His righteous wrath for His own glory (Ephesians 2:5–7; Titus 3:4–7). He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to do what man could not do and would not do, viz. live a sinless life and submit perfectly to God. Jesus gave himself up in our place and on our behalf (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). He then rose from the dead on the third day, victorious over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, 17).
We believe salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification (John 3:16, 6:44; Acts 2:37–38, 4:12, 11:18, 17:30; Romans 4:1–5; 2 Corinthians 7:10–11; 2 Timothy 2:25).
We believe regeneration is a change of heart given by the Holy Spirit who gives life to those dead in trespasses and sins. In regeneration, the Holy Spirit grants the ability to understand the Word of God, to exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ, and to love and practice holiness (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1–6; Titus 3:5; 1 John 5:1).
B. REPENTANCE AND FAITH
We believe repentance and faith are required by God for salvation. While two distinct principles, they are not two separate acts. A regenerate person turns from sin (repentance) and turns to Christ (faith) as a result of His new nature given at regeneration (John 6:44; Acts 2:37–38, 11:18, 17:30; Romans 4:1–5; 2 Corinthians 7:10–11; 2 Timothy 2:25). God has promised to save any who repent of their sins and trust in the finished work of Christ alone for forgiveness and reconciliation with God (John 3:16, 6:37; Acts 4:12).
We believe God chooses to justify, or declare both not guilty and righteous, every person who repents of sin and believes the gospel. Though no person is righteous, God counts a believer’s faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as righteousness (Romans 4:1–5). Through faith, the righteousness of Christ is credited to the believer, and the believer’s guilt through sin is credited to Christ. No believer is justified by works of the Law, but each believer displays evidence of justification by doing good works (Galatians 2:15–16; James 2:20–24). Salvation is the work of God from start to finish, not a work of man, so that no man may boast (Romans 9:11; Ephesians 2:8–9) or despair (John 10:28–30). Those God has predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified He also glorified (Romans 8:30).
We believe sanctification is the lifelong process of becoming like Christ. Those who have been justified are also sanctified by God’s Word and Spirit dwelling in them. God chose us to obey him and be holy (Titus 2:11–14; 1 Peter 1:2). In becoming like him, we know him more intimately and display His glory. The process of sanctification will culminate in the resurrection of our physical bodies when we will be without sin (John 17:19; Romans 8:29–30; 1 Peter 1:23; Revelation 21:1–8, 22–27).
We believe glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the believer (Romans 8:29–39, Revelation 21:1–22:5).
THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH
We believe every person who repents of sin and believes the gospel is a member of the universal Church, which consists of all believers who have lived, are living, and will ever live (Colossians 1:24). The universal Church is the only institution that will not and cannot be defeated (Matthew 16:18). Christ died for His bride, the Church, and will sanctify the Church to present her to himself without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:25–27).
THE LOCAL CHURCH
A. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
We believe the local church is a visible expression of the universal Church, and we believe God has called every believer to join a local church. A local church is made up of a group of living believers who have covenanted together to preach the gospel, to care for one another and others, and to live distinct lives under the authority of God’s Word (Acts 2:42–47, 11:26, 12:5, 14:23). God has graciously given each believer spiritual gifts, which include but are not limited to those listed in Romans 12:4–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 and 27–28, Ephesians 4:11–12, and 1 Peter 4:9–11. These gifts are to be used to honor God, to build up the church, and to evangelize the lost; they should never be used to draw attention to oneself (1 Corinthians 13:1–3, 14:12). As Christ’s ambassadors, believers have the joy and privilege of caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed.
We believe God has graciously given elders and deacons/deaconesses to serve the church. We believe the spiritual qualifications for these roles are outlined in God’s Word (1 Timothy 3:1–13). The elders are set aside by God to lead the church, to equip the saints, to preach the Word, and to pray (Ephesians 4:11–12; 1 Timothy 3:1–7, 5:17–18). Their leading, equipping, preaching, and praying are to be done humbly in service to God and to His church. Leaders are to shepherd the flock willingly, not under compulsion or for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in their charge, but serving as examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2–3). In response, believers are exhorted to submit and to obey their leadership (Hebrews 13:17). Deacons/deaconesses are set aside by God to serve the church and to free the elders to devote themselves to prayer and ministry of the Word. (Acts 6:1–7).
EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP
We believe that the church and individual believers are God’s means for proclaiming the gospel by which He draws people to Himself, regenerates souls, and grants repentance and faith unto sanctifying perseverance. The proclamation of the biblical gospel to all peoples is the joyful duty of every Christian in obedience to the commission of Jesus to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach them to obey His commands (Romans 10:14–15; Matthew 28:18–20). The local church and every individual believer have the joy and responsibility to obey and to teach the commands of Christ to those under their care.
We believe God has given two ordinances to His church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We believe Jesus commanded every believer to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18–20). Baptism serves as a symbol of being buried with Christ and being raised to walk in new life and as such is to be performed only on professing believers (Romans 6:4–6). Baptism is a matter of obedience, not salvation. It does not confer favor from God beyond the blessings that come from obedience to God (Luke 23:43; 1 Corinthians 1:13–17).
B. THE LORD’S SUPPER
We believe the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ on the night He was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23). The Lord’s Supper consists of bread and grape juice or wine, which represent His body that was broken for believers and His blood that was shed for believers (1 Corinthians 11:24–25). The Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder to both believers and non-believers that Jesus has died, is risen, and is coming again (1 Corinthians 11:26). We will share communion with any believer of like faith and practice, but we will not allow unbelievers or those living in unrepentant sin or those under church discipline to participate, since these people would be eating and drinking judgment upon themselves (1 Corinthians 11:27–30).
We believe the full consummation of the Kingdom of God awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. We believe that every person will spend eternity in a literal place of blessing called Heaven or a literal place of cursing called Hell (Matthew 25:31–33). Every person who has repented of sin and has believed the gospel will spend eternity in Heaven worshiping God and enjoying His blessings (Matthew 25:34–40; Philemon 3:20; 1 Peter 1:3–5). Every person who has not repented of sin and believed the gospel will spend eternity in Hell enduring God’s righteous wrath (Matthew 25:41–46, Ephesians 5:6, Revelation 21:8). As such, we desire that every person examine themselves and test themselves to see whether they are in the faith revealed in the Scriptures, and we encourage every person to repent of sin and to believe the gospel (Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 13:5).