The Godhead (Trinity)
We believe God as revealed in Holy Scripture is “triune” in his essential being—one God, infinite, eternal, almighty and perfect in holiness, truth and love. This one God is eternally revealed in three unique Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal and co-eternal. Each person is truly Deity and together they comprise the being of God. This one God consisting of three Persons serves as the foundation of Christian faith and life.
God the Father
God the Father is first revealed in Holy Scripture as the Creator of all there is. He supernaturally created everything out of nothing by the power of his majestic word and by that same word continues to sustain all that is. He made all things and sustains all things to the praise of His glory. He is the only Sovereign and, together with the Son and Holy Spirit, rules over all things for the execution of His perfect plan and purpose. No plan or promise of His can be thwarted. While He is sovereign over all things, He is guiding all things towards the final consummation whereby He will be “all in all”. His greatest act was to send His only Son, Jesus Christ to redeem mankind.
God the Son (Jesus Christ)
Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, is the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin. He came into the earth subject to all the temptations of sinful men and women, yet without sin in thought, word, or deed. God the Father made all things through His Son. Before His incarnation (becoming flesh) He was one with the Father, the very God of gods, and continued to be so after his incarnation. His supreme work after taking on human flesh was to become the Savior of all men by his atoning death on Calvary whereby He shed His blood and gave his life as a ransom for many. His death was a real death and the only means by which sinful humanity could be redeemed. Having accomplished eternal redemption, He bodily rose from the dead on the third day, victorious over death and the powers of darkness, appearing to over 500 witnesses and through many convincing proofs, proved that He was King of kings and Lord of lords.
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the blessed Godhead, was in the world before God’s work of redemption was accomplished in his Son. Upon the completion of redemption, He was sent from the Father to those who believe in Him. He now works in this world to convict men of sin and to grant them repentance and faith in the Gospel. The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about the new birth, and dwells within through regeneration. He comes to glorify the Son by making real to the Church all that God the Father accomplished through His Son in redemption. He is the “Spirit of truth” by which He leads the Church into a right understanding and application of the truth of God’s word and the realities of redemption. He gives spiritual gifts to the church for the common good of all believers. He is fully God as is the Father and the Son.
Holy Scripture (the Bible)
All of the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New comprise “God’s Word Written”. The Bible is the infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to man and came directly from God (II Timothy 3:16-17). Being given by God, the Scriptures are fully and verbally inspired (God-breathed). Therefore, in its original form, the Bible is totally and completely without error. The Scriptures contain the complete will of God for all things pertaining to life and godliness. All believers are exhorted to diligently study the Scriptures and apply them to their lives. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession, or theology, must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture.
Human beings are the crown of creation, having been made in the image and likeness of God. God made them male and female so that they may glorify their Creator and serve as vice-regents of the world He has made. Therefore it takes both male and female to image the Creator. Man is the only creature among God’s creation that has the capacity to know and have fellowship with God.
Human beings were tempted by Satan and disobeyed, rebelling against God and now exist in a “fallen” state. Estranged from his Maker, he became subject to divine wrath. Inwardly and outwardly, men and women are depraved and unable to respond to God unless aided by a special work of grace given by God Himself. This depravity is both radical and pervasive. In himself, unregenerate man is incapable of returning to God and now lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. He is at enmity with God, hostile towards God and hateful of God. Fallen, sinful people, regardless of their character or personal attainments in life, are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ.
The only hope for fallen men and women is in the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that God, through his Son, made a way for sinful man, estranged from God, to be reconciled. The Gospel is the declaration of what God has done in Christ, through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. His death was a substitutionary death and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. Our sins demanded divine punishment and Jesus’ death satisfied the righteous demands of God’s holy justice so that it appeases his holy wrath. This is the only way that men are made right with God, Jesus Christ being the only mediator between God and man. At the cross, everything necessary was accomplished so that God might be gracious and merciful to sinful men and women. It is also through the cross that God’s amazing love is revealed. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Christ and the infinite privilege that redeemed sinners have of glorifying God because of what He accomplished.
Man’s Response to the Gospel
Sinful men and women are called upon to respond to the Gospel when they hear it. But the ability to respond comes from God who alone gives faith. Men and women enter the kingdom through the four doors of repentance, faith, baptism in water, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Of the four, faith is the most important, it being the impetus for the other three. Sometimes, two or three of these doors are mentioned in apostolic preaching (such as in Acts 2:38). Sometimes, faith alone is presented as the door into the kingdom (see Acts 16). In each situation, apostolic preachers were focused on the most important element for that situation. But taking an overview of apostolic sermons in Acts, it is clear that a proper response to the Gospel required men and women to enter through all four doors.
A biblical response to the Gospel is characterized by a changed life evidenced by kingdom service and works. Such repentance and good works do not save a person but they do serve as evidence that a person has taken up his or her cross and is following Jesus. We are not saved by our good works but we are saved for good works. This response to the gospel is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional election of God for his own pleasure and glory. This Gospel, which calls for men and women to repent, believe, be baptized, and receive the Spirit is to be preached in all nations.
Sanctification is the process of becoming more like God. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification and seeks to produce the image of Christ in us. Though indwelling sin remains a reality, as we are led by the Spirit we progressively put to death sin in our mortal bodies and freely obey God’s commandments. Thus, we are enabled to glorify God in our bodies as we live our lives by God’s grace in this world. Every believer must persevere in this grace, knowing that they will give an account to God for their every thought, word, and deed. The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, public worship and confession are a vital means of grace. Nevertheless, the believer’s ultimate confidence to persevere is based on the sure promise of God to preserve his people to the end.
The Holy Spirit empowers believers for Christian witness and service. The promise of the Father is freely available to all who believe in Jesus Christ, thereby enabling them to exercise supernatural power in ministry and mission. The Holy Spirit desires to continually fill each believer with power to witness and imparts His supernatural gifts for the edification of the body and work of the ministry in this world. All of the gifts of the Spirit at work in the Church in the first century are available today and are to be earnestly desired and practiced in an orderly manner. The gifts are essential to the mission of the Church in the world today.
The Church is comprised of all those the Father, through His Word and Spirit has called out of the world and into the fellowship of the body. By the same Word and Spirit, He continues to guide and preserve the Church. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination, but is comprised of all those who are true followers of Jesus having personally appropriated the Gospel to their lives. The Church exists to glorify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to accomplish his work in the earth, faithfully doing his will. This includes a commitment to see the Gospel preached throughout the world. The ultimate mission of the Church is worship, and the means by which this is accomplished is the making of disciples through preaching and embracing the Gospel, As God transforms individuals through the Gospel, this becomes the chief means of transforming society.
All true members of the Church are to be committed to local assemblies where they walk in the New Covenant as the people of God and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The ascended Lord has given to the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in order to equip the saints for the work of the ministry and so that the body will mature and grow (Ephesians 4:11-12). In the local church, God’s people receive pastoral care and leadership and the opportunity to employ their God-given gifts in his service in relation to one another and the world.
Ordinances of the Church
Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ’s atoning work and become a disciple. Christian baptism is by immersion according to Christ’s command in the name of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. Baptism does not regenerate, nor is it a mere symbol of our faith. It is an act of obedience through which a work of grace comes to the believer, uniting the believer to Jesus. The one who by faith and repentance is baptized is joined with Christ in his death and resurrection. Just as God uses the earthly elements of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper to impart a spiritual benefit, so also water, while having no magical properties in itself, is used by God to affect a spiritual benefit.
The Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have been joined to Christ through faith and repentance. It serves as the means of reminding the believer that he or she continues to partake of the saving benefits of Christ’s atonement. Those who partake should always examine themselves to be assured that they are partaking of it properly. Each time a believer participates in the Lord’s Supper he or she proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes.
The consummation is the uniting of all things in heaven and earth in Christ and will occur at the appearing of the Lord Jesus (the Second Coming). When he comes, all true believers will be raised and glorified, both dead and living. Glorification is the final stage in human salvation when our lowly bodies are transformed into the body of his glory. Even creation, which was subjected to decay and futility, will be transformed at the appearing of our Lord. At his coming, Satan and all his hosts, along with all those who disobey, will be separated from the presence of Christ and endure eternal punishment, whereby the righteous, with new bodies, will live and reign with Him forever, serving Him and giving Him unending praise. Then shall the earth and all created things give glory to Him who makes all things new.