The Bible is God’s unalterable source of revelation to people (1Pt.1:24-25). The sixty-six books of the Bible were given by the inspiration of God’s Spirit and are not the product of human creativity or ingenuity (2Pt.1:20-21). Every word of the Bible is inspired by God in the original manuscripts (2Tim.3:16, Mt. 5:18). The Bible in its original manuscripts is without error and is completely accurate in all that it affirms (Jn. 17:17, Ps. 19:7). The Bible will stand as God’s reliable source of revelation eternally for all people (Is. 40:8). The remarkable transmission of the biblical Text through the ages has done very little to blur the exacting picture of the original documents.
The Scripture is to be interpreted considering the literal, grammatical and historical aspects of a given text. There may be several applications to any given passage but there is only one true interpretation (2Pt.1:20). That interpretation is arrived upon and applied personally to the reader by the involvement and activity of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 2:7-16, 1Jn. 2:20).
Our understanding of the Bible is foundational to all theology since any accurate picture of truth is derived from the Bible.
God The Father
There is only one true and living God (Deut. 6:4, Is. 45:5-7, 1Cor. 8:4). God is a sovereign (Ps. 115:3), eternal (Is.44:6), all-knowing (Ps. 139:4), all-powerful (Job 42:2), holy (Is. 6:1-7), unchanging (Mal. 3:6), just (Ps. 97:2) and loving (1Jn. 4:8) being that exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14). God is one essence that is truly God, existing in three distinct persons.
Our understanding of God the Father articulates the person, purpose and plan of God which is indispensable since people are accountable to their Creator.
God the Son (Jesus Christ)
Jesus Christ is coequal with the Father, possessing all the glory of the Godhead (Jn. 14:9, Heb. 1:3). Jesus is God in very essence and pre-existed as God in all His glory before His incarnation in time and space (Jn. 8:57-58, Phil. 2:6-7). Jesus Christ became a man, virgin born (Mt. 1:23), to redeem mankind and at that time accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity without violating or detracting from His divine essence (Heb. 2:14-15, Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Col.2:9).
Jesus accomplished redemption through His willing, sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross (Jn. 10:15, Rom. 5:8, 1Pt. 2:24) and was raised physically from the dead as proof and guarantee of our justification (Rom. 1:4, 1Cor. 15:16-20). Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and mediates as the Advocate and High Priest of those who are His (Ac.1:9, Rom.8:34, Heb. 7:25, 9:24, 1Jn 2:1). Jesus has promised to return to receive the church and will establish the earthly millennial kingdom (Ac. 1:9-11, 1Th. 4:13-17, Rev. 20:1-6).
Our understanding of Jesus teaches us of our only means of salvation. It explains the work and person of Christ which is indispensable for saving faith.
God The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of God (Heb 9:14, Ps. 139:7-10, Is. 40:13-14, Jn. 16:13) and is a distinct personality of the Godhead having intellect (1Cor 2:10-13), emotions (Eph.4:30), and will (1Cor. 12:11). The Holy Spirit is coequal with the Father and the Son (Mt. 28:19, Ac. 5:3-4, 28:25-26, 1Cor. 12:4-6, 2Cor. 13:14). The Holy Spirit regenerates the Christian at conversion (Tit. 3:5-7, Jn. 3:3-8), places the Christian into the body of Christ at conversion (1Cor.12:13), indwells the Christian at conversion (1Cor. 6:19), and is guarantee of the Christian’s redemption (Eph. 1:13-14), and leads the Christian on a daily basis as he or she submits to His leadership (Gal. 5:16-25, Eph. 5:18, Rom. 8:14).
The Holy Spirit executes the ministry of the church by manifesting Himself as He wills through individual Christians in a variety of gifts (1Cor. 12:7-11) and placing them in offices within the church (Eph. 4:11-12). Some of these gifts and positions were granted temporarily for the establishment of the church and the authenticity of revealed truth (Eph. 2:20-22, 2Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:3-4).
Our understanding of the Holy Spirit provides the critical information regarding the Person and work of the One who indwells us and leads us on a daily basis.
The human race began by the direct and instantaneous creation of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Men and women are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27) possessing all the necessary attributes of personhood (i.e. intellect, emotion and will) and exist to glorify God (Is.43.7).
People forfeited the intended fellowship with God (Is. 59:2), incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:16-17, Rom. 5:12), became subject to the wrath of God, (Jn. 3:36) and lost the ability to be independently acceptable to God (Rom. 5:6-10) through Adam’s one act of disobedience (Rom. 5:12). People exist relationally separated from God and express that sinfulness in a variety of sinful acts (Is. 59:2, Rom. 3:10-18). All people are not as “bad” as they could be, but all people are as “bad-off” as is possible.
Our understanding of people instructs us to recognize ourselves as we are – sinful and in need of salvation.
Salvation of individuals is wholly carried out by God’s grace, based on the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross and is in no way contributed to or accomplished by the merit or work of the individual (Eph. 1:7, 2:8-10, 1Pt. 1:18-19). Those who repent and put their trust in Jesus as their provision for the sinful condition (Mk. 1:15, Lk. 24:46-47, Ac. 3:19, 11:18, 20:21) are declared righteous by God (Rom. 3:21-22, 8:33).
The work of God in justifying those He has called will not be thwarted by anything (Rom. 8:28-39). Since the work of salvation is initiated and carried out by God, those who are being saved will never lose their standing before God (Rom 8:1, Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30, Jn. 6:37-40) and will persevere in the faith (2Tim. 2:19, 1Jn. 2:19, Heb. 3:6, 14).
From a human perspective one is saved after hearing the message of the gospel (Rom. 10:14), being convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin (Jn. 16:8-9), mentally turning from sin to God (2Cor. 7:9-11), placing one’s trust in Jesus as the complete and sole payment for sin (Jn. 3:14-15). At this point God’s Spirit indwells the individual (Rom. 8:9), resulting in new birth (Jn. 3:3) which is often referred to as conversion (Mt. 18:3, Ac. 15:3, Rom. 16:5). Each step in the process of salvation is granted by God including repentance and faith (Ac. 11:18, Eph. 2:8).
The converted individual then naturally bears fruit in keeping with the internal transformation that has taken place (2Cor. 5:17, Mt. 3:8, 7:17-23, Jn. 3:36).
Our understanding of salvation provides us the knowledge of the process and provision of becoming a Christian. This allows us to confidently follow and trust the revealed plan of salvation.
The universal Church is composed of all Christians from Acts 2 to the rapture and is considered the complete body of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33, Mt. 16:18, Jn. 1:12-13). The church is not to be confused with the covenant relationship with, nor the promises to Israel (Rom. 11:1-2, 25-29).
Christians gathered in geographical locations around the world, meeting the requirements of the local church, would be what the Bible most often refers to as the church (1Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:2, 1Th. 1:1). The local church has a biblical purpose (Ac. 2:42-47). The church is to worship God through Christ (Phil. 3:3), to build up one another (Heb. 10:24-25), to equip one another (Eph. 4:11-12) and to communicate the gospel to non-Christians (Ac. 1:8). The local church has biblical leadership (Tit. 1:5) responsible to instruct (1Tim 3:2), serve (1Tim. 3:10), discipline (Mt. 18:15-18), oversee (1Pt. 5:1-3), and administrate (1Tim. 5:17) the local congregation.
The local church practices the water baptism of new disciples (Mt. 28:19) as an external sign of their inward baptism (1Cor. 12:13, Ac. 10:47), and the Lord’s Supper as a continual reminder and proclamation of Christ’s death (1Cor. 11:23-26).
Our understanding of the church provides us with the value, structure and parameters of Christ’s body on earth. It encourages us to participate in and love God’s divine institution called the church.
All people will be physically resurrected (Ac. 24:14-15, 1Cor. 15:22-23, Jn. 5:28-29), the saved to blessing and reward (2Cor. 4:14), the unsaved to torment and punishment (Rev. 20:13-15, Dan. 12:2). God has appointed Jesus to judge the world (Jn. 5:22), both Christians, concerning rewards (1Cor. 3:11-15), and non-Christians, concerning punishment (Rev. 20:6, 11-15, Mt. 8:12, 25:14, Rev. 14:10-11, 21:8).
Jesus will return for His church and rapture her from earth at which time the dead in Christ will rise and those who are alive will meet the Lord in the air (Ac. 1:11, 1Th. 4:16-17). This will initiate the celebration in honor of the awaited union of Christ and His church (Rev. 19:7-9). On earth, the rapture will allow for the beginning of the great tribulation (Rev. chps. 4-19), and the rise of the Antichrist (2Th. 2:1-12). During this seven year period (Dan.12:7, Rev. 11:2-3, 12:14) God will righteously judge mankind (Rev. 16:5-6) and prepare Israel to receive her Messiah (Jer. 30:3, 7, Dan. 9:27, 12:1, Rev. 7:3-8, 11:3-13).
Following the tribulation God will establish His Kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15), Satan will be imprisoned (Rev. 20:1-3), Christ will reign as Messiah (Lk. 1:31-32) and God will fulfill His covenant promises to Israel (Ezk. 37:21, Ac. 1:6-7, Jer. 31:33-34, Is. 11: 6-9) for one thousand years (Rev. 20:6). Ultimately, God will provide a new Heaven and a new Earth where the redeemed of God will dwell forever (Rev. 21:21-22:5).
Our understanding of last things motivates us to live in light of the future that God determined. It provides comfort and encouragement as well as leading us to live a pure life.