THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB).
THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD
“All Scripture is inspired by God...” (2 Timothy 3:16a). We believe all Scripture is inspired by God. We understand that in the reception and transmission of God’s Word, chosen men were moved by the Holy Spirit to unerringly record God’s precise message for the world (2 Peter 1:21). We believe that all the original manuscripts of Scripture were completely and equally inspired by the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the genre, whether historical, doctrinal, prophetic or poetic, the Holy Spirit presided over the selection of all thoughts and words employed by the writers.
THE BIBLE AND JESUS
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” (John 5:39). We believe that Scripture finds its climax in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We believe that virtually every portion of Scripture, including the Old Testament, is properly understood in light of how it relates to Christ in either His First or Second Advent.
THE BIBLE IS THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY
We believe that the Bible is the final authority for all Christian faith and practice. When properly interpreted, Scripture is completely sufficient for our instruction and spiritual edification. Scripture is not meant to be mixed with human viewpoint or replaced by human philosophy. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete...” (Colossians 2:8-10a).
THE BIBLE IS SUFFICIENT
We believe that Scripture is the voice of God to the church today (Colossians 3:16). Through the written word, the Holy Spirit communicates Christ’s message to us. In this age we are not commanded to seek new revelatory or prophetic messages, instead we are commanded to study God’s already-provided message in order to know its life changing truth. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
THE TRIUNE GODHEAD
“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’—” (2 Peter 1:17).
THE TRIUNE GOD
We believe our one God exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe these three are one and the same true God, referred to here as the Godhead. Each member of the Godhead has precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections. All three members of the Godhead are worthy of precisely the same worship, trust, and obedience. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” [emphasis added] (Matthew 28:19) “‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
References: (Exodus 20:11; Deuteronomy 4:39; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 42:1; Mark 12:29; John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17; Revelation 1:4-6)
GOD AS CREATOR
The Godhead is the absolute and sole creator of the universe. All things were made by His divine authority and not through an evolutionary process. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them...” (Exodus 20:11a). “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17). “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6).
PERSON AND WORK OF GOD THE FATHER
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).
GOD THE FATHER’S SOVEREIGNTY
We believe that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, co-equal with the Son and the Spirit, orders all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8-9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the creator of all things (Genesis 1; Ephesians 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, in His infinite wisdom He alone is sovereign in, and over, all creation (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:33-36; Jude 25). He is the sole author of redemption (Hebrews 5:9-10, 13:20; Jude 25a). He alone allows all living creatures to exist (Acts 17:24-28; Revelation 4:11). He directs and governs material creation and time-based events (1 Chronicles 29:11).
GOD THE FATHER AND SIN
In His sovereignty, He is neither author nor approver of sin in any form. Sin can never be traced back to God (Habakkuk 1:13; John 8:38-47; James 1:13). He does not circumvent the accountability of any moral, intelligent creature (1 Peter 1:17). He saves from sin and adopts as His own all who come to Him through Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:5). Upon adoption, God the Father becomes the true Father of every child He receives (Hebrews 12:5-9).
PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST
“The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).
DEITY AND HUMANITY
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, is entirely co-equal with the Father and with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:44-45, 26:64; John 1:18, 10:30). In His incarnation, Christ became a man without ceasing for even one moment to be God (John 1:1-2, 14; Colossians 2:9). In order to reveal God and redeem sinful man, Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit to be born as a true human being by means of Mary, a virgin (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4-5).
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
We hold that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption by bearing our sins in His own body and dying on a cross (Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 2:24). Christ was crucified, not drowned or strangled, in order to die as the sacrificial lambs died, via the shedding of blood (Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 9:22). His death was a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 1:29, 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Our justification was made sure by the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (Romans 4:24-25).
GIFTS RESULTING FROM BELIEF IN THE GOSPEL
We believe that on the basis of the efficacy of the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ for all mankind, the sinner who trusts in Christ is immediately freed from the penalty of sin (John 3:16; Acts 13:39; Romans 3:25, 5:1). The sinner who trusts in Christ is immediately declared righteous, given eternal life, born again as a child of God, and adopted into His family, all thanks to the awesome work of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 3:25, 5:8-9; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18).
RESULTS OF THE RESURRECTION
We believe that by the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof of His acceptance of the propitiatory (satisfactory, peacemaking) work of Christ on the cross (Romans 1:3-4, 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:9-10). Jesus' actual bodily resurrection is also the assurance of our future bodily resurrection, just as Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (John 14:19; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23)
ASCENSION AND FUTURE RETURN
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and is now exalted to the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He serves as our representative, intercessor, and advocate (Acts 1:9; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25, 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2). We believe that at an undisclosed future date Christ will return to receive His church, which is His bride, unto Himself (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This future event is called the Rapture. At the end of the seven-year Tribulation, Christ will return to earth with His glorified church to establish a literal Millennial Kingdom (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20).
JUSTIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION, AND GLORIFICATION
Christ’s work is the basis of our justification before God (Romans 5:9; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:7). Christ likewise provides the power to overcome daily sins (sanctification) and guarantees that in the coming resurrection the believer will be eternally delivered (body, soul and spirit) from the presence of sin (glorification) (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 7:24-25).
Christ is the sole mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the head of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Colossians 1:18). In the future He will rule over the Millennial Kingdom from the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31-33; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Christ will judge and condemn all who fail to trust in Him as Savior (Romans 2:16; Revelation 20:11-15).
PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11).
THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is co-equal with the Father and with the Son (John 14:26, 15:26, 1 Corinthians 2:11-12). Although the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, since the Day of Pentecost He has indwelled every believer (John 14:16-26, 16:7; Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30). The Holy Spirit will never leave or abandon a believer (John 3:34, 14:16-17; Ephesians 4:30).
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PRESENT MINISTRY
We believe that the Holy Spirit’s present ministry in the Church Age is a special ministry unique to the church (John 16:7; Acts 1:4, 1:8, 2:33; 1 Corinthians 2:10). This ministry will end when Christ returns at the Rapture. (2 Thessalonians 2:2-7)
The present ministry of the Holy Spirit includes the following:
restraining evil in the world in order to stymie Satan’s agenda (the spirit of the antichrist) until the appropriate time (2 Thessalonians 2:7);
convicting the unsaved regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11);
gifting each individual believer for fruitful service in the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11);
affecting the production of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer (Galatians 5:16-23);
and training believers in order to promote their growth (1 John 2:26-27).
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10).
DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
We believe that at the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit gives every believer a unique spiritual gift designed to benefit the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7). This gift provides special grace in a unique area to enable the believer to contribute above-average service to his or her local assembly (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
References: (Ephesians 4:11-12)
The permanent gifts include, but are not limited to, gifts of pastor, teacher, evangelist, administration, exhortation, service, giving, leading, and mercy (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11, Ephesians 4:11-14).
We believe God is sovereign in the bestowment of all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:7), including the aforementioned office gifts of evangelists, pastors, and teachers, among others; which are given for the edification and directing of local churches. These gifted individuals are given to the church specifically for the growth and equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Some spiritual gifts found in the New Testament were temporary, or transitional, in nature and are no longer functional. We believe 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 gives a list of sign gifts that were specifically intended for the founding of the church and are no longer in service. “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.” [emphasis added] (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Although we believe sign gifts have ceased, we maintain that God continues to work supernaturally among His people according to His own will, and can at any time do any type of miracle He chooses (Genesis 18:14; Luke 1:37, 18:27). At times God supernaturally heals the sick and answers the prayer of faith, but this is always in accordance with His will and does not constitute a particular spiritual gift (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15). We understand that sign gifts ceased sometime after the church was founded. The following verses in their given order provide proof of the fact: Acts 19:11-12; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Galatians 4:12-13; Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20. We do not believe that speaking in tongues is, or ever was, a necessary sign of the baptism or filling of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:30).
The gifts of apostles and prophets were necessary in the establishment of the early church (Ephesians 2:20, 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, 14:22). These gifts functioned until the New Testament was written and compiled (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) and then they ceased.
THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).
THE FALL OF MANKIND
We believe that Adam, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), was originally innocent until, through flagrant disobedience (Ecclesiastes 7:29), he sinned because of the temptation of Satan (Genesis 3:1-7, John 8:44).
We believe that God’s plan in the creation of man was that man should worship Him only, enjoy His fellowship, live within His will, and unceasingly accomplish God’s commands on earth (Genesis 1:26-29; Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11). Sadly, as a consequence of sin, Adam instantly became relationally separated from God (death, Genesis 2:17), and as a result, he became subject to the devil’s authority (Genesis 6:5; Romans 5:12, 14).
TRANSMISSION OF THE SIN NATURE
We believe that Adam’s spiritual death and the total depravity of his human nature have been transmitted down to the entire human race, from human fathers to their children (John 3:6, Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:47-49). Every child of Adam is born into this world with a depraved nature, utterly sinful, and without a spark of divine life (Genesis 5:1-3; Ephesians 2:1-3). Mankind’s nature is essentially and unchangeably evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:6; Colossians 2:13). All human beings are sinners by imputation, by an inherited sin nature, as well as by their own volition (Romans 5:12). All people are therefore guilty before God (Psalm 14:1-3, 51:5; Romans 3:10-19, 23; 8:6-7; Ephesians 2:1-3).
JESUS’ EXCLUSION FROM TRANSMISSION
Because of the absence of a human father, from whom Jesus would have received a sin nature, the virgin birth of Jesus, a true human, excluded Him from this transmission (Matthew 1:16, 18-25; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 4:2-3).
Although we believe in the total depravity of mankind, having been corrupted in every aspect of his nature through Adam, we maintain mankind’s dignity due to having been created in God’s image, as demonstrated in a universal knowledge of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-16).
SALVATION FROM SIN’S PENALTY
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
ORIGIN OF SALVATION
We believe salvation is exclusively from God (Psalm 3:8; John 2:9; Revelation 7:10). We believe in justification that is granted by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and to the praise and glory of God alone (Romans 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 1:29-30; Ephesians 2:9). Our salvation is based on the redemption price paid by Jesus Christ, based only on the merits of His sacrifice (Romans 3:25-26) and never on human efforts, which are worthless (Isaiah 64:6).
We believe that when an unregenerate person personally believes in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, he or she is declared right before God (Romans 3:24-25, 3:28, 4:5, 11:6; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19) and becomes forever accepted by God in the same way Christ is accepted by God. The moment an unregenerate person believes in Christ, he or she instantaneously passes from spiritual death into spiritual life (John 1:2, 5:24) and is born again as a new creation in Christ (Romans 2:28-29; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; 1 Peter 1:3, 23).
We oppose many non-biblical expressions used today to communicate the Gospel and mankind’s necessary response to it. The following are some erroneous responses to the Gospel: make a commitment to Christ, turn over the controls of your life to Christ, believe plus be baptized, believe and keep the Ten Commandments, submit to Christ’s mastery or lordship in your life, repent of or confess your sins, pray the sinner’s prayer, come forward to receive Jesus, or ask Jesus into your heart. None of these responses are required for salvation (John 14:6, Galatians 1:6-9).
We reject lordship or commitment salvation messages. Likewise, we reject the cross-less or promise-only salvation message promoted by many free-grace preachers. Lordship salvation adds works to the Gospel (Acts 15:11; Romans 3:28, 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5) while the cross-less message removes the person and work of Christ from the Gospel. Faith in the identity of the Savior and His work of dying for our sins and resurrection are essential to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23; 2:2; 15:1-4, 12; Galatians 1:1-4; 6-9; 3:1). The book of Acts provides many clear examples of preaching faith in Christ’s person and work to the lost for obtaining eternal life (Acts 2:22-24, 32; 3:14-15; 4:10, 33; 5:30-33; 8:34-37; 10:39-40, 43; 13:28-31; 13:37-39; 17:2-3).
THE ONE TRUE GOSPEL
We believe the only correct Gospel is that the God-Man Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day. We believe that non-meritorious faith is the only acceptable response to the Gospel message (John 3:16-18, 5:24, 6:32-40, 8:24; Acts 16:30-31 Romans 3:28, 4:5).
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13).
We believe God possesses the absolute sovereignty to grant unending life to undeserving sinners and freely does so for all who trust in Christ (John 3:16). The logical meaning of the term eternal life (John 3:36; Romans 6:23), the never-ending intercessory work of Christ (Hebrews 7:25, 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2), the immutability of God’s promises (1 John 5:13; Hebrews 6:17-19), and the abiding presence and sealing work of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30) are all proof of God’s faithfulness in guaranteeing our eternal salvation. The Bible repeatedly affirms that once saved the believer is kept eternally by God’s amazing grace (John 10:28, 17:11).
ETERNAL SECURITY IN RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
We do not believe that teaching this doctrine produces lazy, sinful, irresponsible, or carnal Christians, as many teachers fear (Titus 2:11-14). The teaching of eternal security compels believers onward, not downward. God’s grace motivates believers to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 states that “the love of Christ controls us…”
Also, as a perfect, holy, and loving Father, God always works to conform His children to the image Christ (Romans 8:28-30, 12:1-2). God’s goal in the believer’s life is holiness and maturity (Ephesians 2:10, 4:13; Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 1 Peter 1:15-16). God does not overlook sin or allow unchecked disobedience in the lives of His children (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19).
ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).
We believe it is the privilege of every child of God to be unquestionably assured of his or her salvation, starting from the very first day he or she believes (John 1:12). Even though a believer’s salvation can never be lost, removed, given or taken back, some believers sadly lose personal assurance of their salvation (2 Peter 1:9-10). Obviously, a lack of assurance negatively affects one’s enjoyment of salvation (Psalm 51:12; 2 Peter 2:20-22). For this very reason, one of the chief ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers is to give them assurance of being God’s children, as Romans 8:16 teaches: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Assurance is the birthright of every child of God (John 20:31). Assurance is not derived from personal worthiness, but from God’s testimony in His written word (1 John 5:13) and from the efficacy of Christ’s finished work (Hebrews 7:25).
THE TWO NATURES OF THE BELIEVER
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16-17).
THE SIN NATURE AND THE NEW NATURE
We believe that every human being is born with a broken and depraved human nature received from Adam (John 3:6). At the moment of regeneration (salvation), the child of God is born again with a new nature (1 John 3:9; 2 Peter 1:4). For the rest of his or her life on earth, the believer possesses two natures (Romans 7:17-20; Galatians 5:16-17). We do not believe the Bible teaches that the sin nature is eradicated at salvation (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 1 John 1:8).
TERMS FOR EACH NATURE
These two natures are generally referred to as the old nature and the new nature, although theologians have coined numerous terms such as the adamic nature, the sinful nature, the fleshly nature, and the carnal nature to describe the old nature. The apostle Paul referred to the old nature as “sin” or “indwelling sin” (Romans 6:6-7, 7:17).
The new nature is sometimes referred to by theologians as the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). In Romans 7:22 and 2 Corinthians 4:16, the apostle Paul referred to the new nature as the “inner man.” Having been born of God, the new nature is perfect and incapable of sinning (1 John 3:9).
CHRISTIAN LIVING – SANCTIFICATION
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
We believe that sanctification as taught in the Bible is threefold.
THE FIRST ASPECT OF SANCTIFICATION
First, at salvation every believer is positionally sanctified in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2). Just as Christ is set apart unto God, every believer is positionally set apart unto God as well (Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 10:10, 14). The moment a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she is deemed to be perfect in God’s eyes.
THE SECOND ASPECT OF SANCTIFICATION
Second, a Christian is conditionally sanctified based on their daily walk of faith (1 John 1:7). The Christian life is lived by God’s enabling grace, based on the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 12:9; Philippians 2:13, 4:13; Hebrews 13:20-21) and on the blessings and promises of God in Christ.
As the believer consistently walks by faith (dependence on God and His word), the result is spiritual growth (2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20, 5:6; Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 11:6; 2 Peter 3:18), Christ-likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:13, 15, 24; 5:25-27; 1 Peter 2:2), faithful obedience (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Peter 1:14) and fruitful service (John 15:1-7, Galatians 5:22). This progressive sanctification results in the abundant Christian life (2 Peter 1:2-4).
Through the believer’s identification with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11, 7:4; Galatians 2:20; 2 Peter 1:3-4), he or she has everything needed to live a holy life pleasing to God. From the moment of salvation, every believer is complete in Christ (Romans 8:37, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 1:3, Colossians 2:10). Scripture does not teach a needed second blessing or a second work of grace.
THE THIRD ASPECT OF SANCTIFICATION
Third, we understand that the child of God will be fully sanctified (separated from sin’s ravages in every way) at either the point of death or at the Rapture, at which time he or she will be instantly transformed into Christ’s likeness (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 John 3:2).
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
SEPARATION AND OUR MINISTRY TO THE CHURCH
We will minister to congregations who have a different doctrine from ours as long as we are unrestricted in our teaching (Titus 1:10-14). As long as they are open to grace teaching and can be helped by our outreach, they will be welcome to attend (2 Timothy 2:22-26, 4:2).
However, we resist prolonged ministry with individuals or groups if there is no evidence of repentance from bad doctrine or practices. If we fail to see some measure of continual spiritual growth, in due time we will discontinue ongoing fellowship (Hebrews 5:12). Over the course of time, we will avoid any organization or group that continues to associate with apostate religious organizations or churches after having been taught sound doctrine (2 Timothy 2:15-21).
SEPARATION AND DOCTRINE
Since the church is the pillar and support of the truth, our goal is to teach pastors and teachers to rightly divide God’s Word. We cannot allow false doctrine to be taught or propagated. Believers are commanded to separate from religious apostasy and false teaching (Romans 16:17; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 John 9-10).
We believe we need to mark and avoid false teachers who seek to infiltrate or influence our local assemblies (Acts 20:28-32; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 6:20-21). We must refuse to approve, minister with, or financially support churches or ministries that reject or distort the truths of the Word of God (2 John 7-11), but we should support ministries that follow the truth of God’s word (3 John 5-8).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25).
THE BODY OF CHRIST
We believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately baptized by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Galatians 3:27-28). The church is the body and bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-8) over which Christ presides as head (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, Ephesians 1:22, 4:15; Colossians 1:18).
We believe that the formation of the church, the body of Christ, began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21, 38-47) before the conversion of the Apostle Paul (Acts 11:15, Romans 16:7) and will be completed at the coming of Christ at the Rapture of the church (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
THE STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH
We believe that the church is a unique spiritual organism (not a secular organization) designed and planned by Christ (Matthew 16:18), made up of all believers (living and dead) who have been redeemed during this present Church Age. Made of Jews and Gentiles (Romans 11:25, Ephesians 2:11-3:6), the church is called a “new man” in Ephesians 2:13-16 and is completely distinct from Israel (1 Corinthians 10:32). The church was a mystery in the Old Testament since it was not revealed by God through the holy prophets (Ephesians 3:1-6, 5:32).
We believe that the establishment and function of local churches is exclusively revealed and defined in the New Testament (Acts 14:27; 20:17, 28-32; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-11). Believers in Christ are directed to continually assemble themselves together (Hebrews 10:24-25). We strongly disagree with those who treat the church as a business and who look outside of the New Testament for its blueprint and function (1 Corinthians 11:18-20).
We believe that the one supreme authority of the church is Jesus Christ our Lord (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 2:19). Church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all sovereignly designated and directed through Him as shown in Scripture (Psalms 8:6; Ephesians 1:10, 22; 4:7-11; Colossians 1:18). The biblically selected officers that serve under Christ over local assemblies must all meet biblical qualifications as laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. These leaders are called elders (also bishops or pastors, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1-5) and deacons (Philippians 1:1). We observe from the New Testament that these roles were always staffed by men. We believe that these leaders operate as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 5:17-22) and have authority limited to the development and edification of their local church. The congregation is directed to submit to this biblical leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
THE AUTONOMY OF LOCAL CHURCHES
We believe in the autonomy of local churches. We are not proponents of denominations or sects. We believe that the Bible describes local churches as free from any external authority or control, with sole rights to self-government under the headship of Christ (Titus 1:5). We believe that it is acceptable for churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith, as long as this does not result in compromise or external control (1 Timothy 3:14-15). Each local church, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture and through congregational feedback, should be the sole judge of the measure and degree of external cooperation. The elders should determine via prayer, Scripture, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit all matters of administration, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4-7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
THE PURPOSE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE CHURCH
We believe that the objectives of the local church include the exaltation of Christ, the edification and equipping of the saints, and the evangelism of the lost (1 Corinthians 10:31, 14:12, 26; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 4:12-13).
We believe that the purpose of the church is to glorify God both now and throughout eternity (Ephesians 2:6-7, 3:21). This is accomplished by building itself up in love and faith (Ephesians 4:13-16), by learning the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by praying and fellowshipping together (Acts 2:46-47; John 17:21; 1 John 1:3, 7), by observing the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42; 20:7), and ultimately by advancing the church of Jesus Christ, through the Gospel, to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
We believe in the two ordinances taught in the New Testament: believers' baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the Lord's Supper. These two ordinances are to be practiced by the church until Christ returns as tangible witnesses of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
“and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;” (Ephesians 3:9).
We believe that biblical dispensations describe the unique stewardships by which God has administered His plans and purposes on earth through mankind during the unfolding of human history (1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 3:2, 9; Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 1:4). We believe that the changes in the dispensational dealings of God with man depend solely on God’s sovereignty. While not reactionary, we observe that changes in God’s administration of human affairs consistently occurred on the heels of mankind’s failures and God’s judgment.
Theologically, these observable distinctions in God’s dealing with humanity have been referred to as dispensations. Each dispensation includes rules for life (either verbal or written), along with responsibilities from God, given to test the submission of mankind to God’s revealed will. Each particular dispensation or administration of human history has ended in failure by humanity and a resultant just judgment from God. During every dispensation, mankind’s efforts (or lack of efforts) to gain God’s favor inevitably ended in failure and God’s just judgement.
DIFFERENCES IN DISPENSATIONS
We believe that while the dispensation of Law, the present dispensation of the church, and the future dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom are the primary focuses of the bulk of Scripture, other dispensations are also clearly discernible. We hold to seven dispensations: innocence (Genesis 1:1-3:7), conscience (Genesis 3:8-8:22), human government (Genesis 9:1-11:32), the patriarchs (Genesis 12-Exodus 19), the law (Exodus 20:1-Acts 2:4), the church (Acts 2:4-Revelation 20:3) and the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
SALVATION AND DISPENSATIONS
We do not believe, as some affirm, that salvation came by different means in the various dispensations. Salvation in every dispensation has only ever been on the basis of faith by means of God’s grace, exclusively predicated on Christ’s death for sins and resurrection (John 8:56; Acts 4:12, 10:43, 13:26; Romans 4:1-25; 1 Timothy 1:4).
We believe that regardless of the dispensation, without faith it has never been possible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The principle of faith was predominant in the lives of the Old Testament saints from the very beginning (Hebrews 11:1-40). We believe that the Old Testament saints had faith in the concept of a future Messiah (Genesis 3:15, 15:6; John 1:29; Romans 4:3-8; Hebrews 11:7).
While they did not fully understand the redemptive significance of the prophecies or types concerning the future sufferings and work of Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12), we believe the Old Testament saints had faith toward God’s coming Savior, which to a large degree they understood (Genesis 3:15, John 8:56). Job, the oldest book in the Bible, shows that even Job knew a redeemer would come (Job 19:25). Enoch, the first Old Testament prophet who lived long before the flood, stated that the Lord would one day come in judgment, a reference to the Second Advent of Christ (Jude 14-16). Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, looked intently for a coming deliverer (John 8:56). Nearing the days of his death, Jacob spoke of a coming one (Genesis 49:10, 18). A great number of Old Testament writers predicted Christ’s appearance (Luke 24:25-27; John 1:45; Acts 8:30-35, 26:22-23). In John 5:39 Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures [Old Testament] because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”
INTERPRETATIONS OF DISPENSATIONS
We reject Hyper Dispensationalism, Ultra Dispensationalism, and Progressive Dispensationalism, along with their erroneous theological conclusions. Likewise, we reject Covenant theology and its use of allegorical interpretation. We believe in the literal, historical, grammatical, and contextual method of interpreting God’s Word.
We believe that biblical covenants are to be interpreted using a literal, historical, grammatical, contextual interpretation. Some Old Testament covenants were made specifically with the ethnic descendants of Abraham, called Israel, and are largely irrevocable. These covenants have many aspects yet to be fulfilled. When Christ returns to the earth, these covenants will be fully fulfilled and enacted (Genesis 12:1-2, 13:14-17, 15:1-5, 17-21; Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 31:31-34). The church should not be confused with Israel or deemed to have replaced Israel.
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’” (Acts 1:8).
MISSIONS IS A PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY
CHURCHES AND PARACHURCH ORGANIZATIONS
We believe that local churches, not parachurch organizations (like DM2), have the primary responsibility and central role in missions, including evangelism and church planting.
As an organization, DM2 exists to support the church’s efforts to spread the Gospel and establish local churches, both here and abroad. Believers considered for missionary service with DM2 must reflect a godly walk and exhibit humble submission to the Lord. He or she must be doctrinally sound, walking according to the Spirit, confirmed and sent forth by a local church (Acts 13:1-5; 16:1-3; Philippians 4:14-18; Romans 15:24).
We do not believe that a parachurch organization should ever usurp the authority of an individual local church, especially in mission service. We believe that parachurch organizations are secondary and subordinate to local churches (Acts 14:26-28; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalms 127:3).
We believe that God created and blessed the family as the foundation of human civilization.
Marriage unites one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment to each other (Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:4-6). Marriage provides for intimate companionship, pure sexual expression (Genesis 2:25; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5), and procreation. A Christian marriage should reflect the relationship Christ has with His church (Genesis 1:28, Proverbs 5:15-19, Ephesians 5:31-33).
HUSBANDS AND WIVES
The husband is commanded to love and provide for his wife just as Christ loves and provides for the church. A wife is commanded to respect and submit to her husband just as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33).
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
Children are counted as a gift from the Lord and are fully human from the moment of conception (Psalms 127:3, 139:13-16). Parents are to train their children in love by modeling godliness, teaching them Scripture, disciplining them, and providing wisdom and counsel (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Proverbs 1:8-9, 13:24, 22:6). Parents are to care for the needs of their children (2 Corinthians 12:14, Ephesians 6:4). Children are to obey their parents with respect and honor, caring for them in their times of need and old age (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 23:22; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 5:3-8).
“And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’” (Hebrews 1:6).
Holy Angels: We believe that angels are created beings and are never to be worshiped. Although they are a higher order of creation than mankind, they were created to serve and worship God (Luke 2:9-14; Hebrews 1:6-7, 14, 2:6-7; Revelation 5:11-14, 19:10, 22:9).
Fallen Angels (or demons): We believe that Lucifer was a perfect created angel, who through pride became a fallen being (Ezekiel 28:15), the author of sin, and the primary source of Adam’s rebellion. He is now called Satan. Satan is the declared enemy of God and man. In the end, he and the angels that fell with him (his demons) will be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire. Satan incurred judgment by rebellion against his Creator (Isaiah 14:12-17, Ezekiel 28:11-19). He enticed an enormous number of angels to follow him in his rebellion against God (Matthew 25:41, Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:1-14).
SATAN AND HUMANS
Through the deception of Eve, Satan triggered Adam’s deliberate transgression of God’s command (Romans 5:12) and hence introduced sin into the human race (Genesis 3:1-15, 2 Corinthians 11:3). We believe that at salvation the believer is removed from Satan’s ownership, authority, and dominion (Ephesians 2:1-6, Hebrews 2:14-15). We believe that although a believer may be the object of severe oppression and attack, he or she cannot be indwelt bodily by a demon (Job 1:6-7; Matthew 4:2-11; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Revelation 20:10).
THE BLESSED HOPE AND JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2).
THE BLESSED HOPE
We believe that the next great event in God’s prophetic plan will be the coming of the Lord in the air to bodily remove from earth the entire church, the bride of Christ (John 14:1-3), just as He promised. This extraction will include all living believers in Christ and all who previously died since Pentecost (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Theologically speaking, this event is labeled the Rapture.
Scripture calls the Rapture the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:11-14). We believe that every believer is to consistently look for this event to occur at any moment during his or her life here on earth. This expectancy is designed by the Lord as a motivation for holy living (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 John 2:28, 3:2-3).
THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
After being raptured, Church Age believers will have their lives evaluated by the Lord Jesus Christ. This event is called the Judgment Seat of Christ (Bema) and determines whether or not the believer receives rewards for his or her works (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). This judgement scrutinizes both our faithfulness as well as our motivations. Rewards, crowns, ruling authority, degrees of glory, and rank in eternity will all be determined at this event (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:2-4; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 1:10-11).
THE TRIBULATION PERIOD
“‘Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” (Daniel 9:27).
We believe that the Rapture of the church will be followed by the fulfillment of Daniel’s seventieth week, or seven years of judgment, as predicted in Daniel 9:27 (Revelation 6:1-19:21). During Daniel’s prophesied seventieth week (seven years), the church will be in heaven (Revelation 4-5). This entire seven-year period will showplace God’s judgment on the whole world for its rebellion against God and its mistreatment of Israel and will also be a judgement on Israel herself according to the prophecies of Daniel 9:24.
The Tribulation period is called the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7, Matthew 24:15-21). When those seven years end, then the times of the Gentiles will be over and Israel’s discipline will be ended forever.
We do not believe that universal righteousness can ever be realized prior to the Second Coming of Christ, as some teach. Instead, this world is progressively degenerating and slouching toward judgment (Matthew 24:36-41).
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
“They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:11).
We believe that the Tribulation will conclude with the return of the Lord Jesus to earth in person. He will ascend on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory in clear view of the world (Mark 14:62; Acts 1:11). Christ’s second coming will bring about the Millennial Age (Revelation 20:1-7).
When Christ returns, He will have Satan bound and thrown into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3). Also, at that time, Christ will lift the curse that now burdens creation, allowing unsurpassed blessings to abound in this world (Isaiah 11:1-9; Romans 8:19-23). He will then restore Israel to her land and give her worldwide preeminence. At that time, Christ will establish the New Covenant with Israel and she will experience the fullness of all God's covenant promises (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Zechariah 14; Romans 11:25-27; Hebrews 8:7-13).
DEATH AND THE ETERNAL STATE
“knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” (2 Corinthians 4:14).
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all mankind, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39-40; Romans 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41, 46; John 5:29; Revelation 20:13-15).
THE SOUL AFTER DEATH
We do not believe that physical death involves a loss of immaterial consciousness or so-called soul sleep (Luke 16:22-31, Revelation 6:9-11). The soul of man never dies (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:47). The souls of the redeemed pass immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8), while the unredeemed pass on to fiery judgment.
THE SOULS OF THE SAVED
There is the separation of the soul from the body at death (Philippians 1:21-24). For the Christian this separation continues only until the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The Rapture continues the first resurrection, started by Christ (Revelation 20:4-6). In our resurrection, our souls and glorified bodies reunite (1 Corinthians 15:35-44, 50-54; 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; Philippians 3:21). Until the Rapture, the souls of departed Church Age believers remain in joyful fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8).
THE SOULS OF THE UNSAVED
We believe the souls of the unsaved are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Revelation 20:13-15). At that time the souls of the unsaved are reunited with their resurrected bodies (John 5:28-29). Thereafter they will all appear before the Great White Throne Judgment for sentencing (Romans 2:5-11; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15). After their time of judgment, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Matthew 25:41-46). This is the second death (Revelation 20:14) when the unredeemed are exiled from God forever (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). This judgment will be in a dwelling place of infinite punishment.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH
We believe that after the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), God will introduce a new heaven and new earth “in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13). This place will include the celebrated city of New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:10). In that city God will abide with the redeemed forever (Revelation 21-22).
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible version unless otherwise noted, The Lockman Foundation, 1995.