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Revised Statement of Faith January 7, 2013

Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Bible Study, Discussion, Faith.
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The Scriptures

I believe the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, is God-breathed (written by men and uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit) and that it was written without error (infallible) in the original manuscripts. It is the complete and final revelation of the will of God to man, and the Divine and final authority for Christian life and faith and is the sole basis for my beliefs.

  1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
  2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
  3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
  4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
  5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

 

The One True, Almighty God

There is but one living, and true, triune, God: He who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable immense, eternal, almighty, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory.

He is perfect love; gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

He is perfect justice; terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty through their own efforts.

He is perfect wisdom; bridging the desires of perfect love and the satisfaction of perfect justice through the fully sufficient atoning work of Christ Jesus.

God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, not deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever is His pleasure.

In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all his commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

~ God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

~ God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Christ Jesus He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed, and did, the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion.

He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever-present Lord.

~ God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

 

Creation

I believe that Scripture is inerrant in its concept of unique and intentional creation of mankind. The evidences and proofs of science do not contradict the basic truths of the creation account in that God created the universe, created our world, created life on our world, and intentionally and separately created mankind in the unique image of Himself (self-awareness, spirit, intelligence, reason, and eternal spirit. While the creation account describes God’s work in methods understandable by early man, it does not, in its presented truth, deny the possibility of mechanisms used by God in that creation; mechanisms which science is beginning to understand although it does not understand its cause or purpose.

I do not hold to the literal interpretation of a “6 day” creation. God is infinite in His existence and our “day” is not measured as His (2 Pet 3:8).

 

Man (creation and sin)

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created us male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice.

By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race and the world. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, bringing corruption to God’s perfect creation and falling from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherits a nature of sin and corruption (Rom 5:12-21). Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.

 

Salvation

Salvation is the gift of God, by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins; that this salvation is the possession of those who by faith accept Christ as their personal Savior. I believe that there is no other way of salvation

In its broadest sense salvation includes: justification, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord allowed to us through His grace.

Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and *believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

*from the Greek “pisteuō” meaning:  to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace (Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith, a gift from God, is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.)

Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life. Sanctification is not a one-time event – it is a continual process throughout the life of the regenerate believer.

Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

 

The Christian Life

I believe that the Bible teaches that each believer can live, and is commanded to live, in separation from all worldly and sinful practices, being ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world. While we cannot fully disengage ourselves from this world and the curse of the flesh while in this world, we should not willfully participate in those things which are not sanctified (or more realistically – things which we are admonished to avoid) by God through His Holy Inspired Word.

The Christian life can be (should be) viewed as a wheel with 4 spokes:  The hub (center) of the wheel is God, with 4 spokes representing Prayer, Bible Study, Fellowship, and Worship. The balance of the Christian life is maintained only when the hub is always centered and the spokes are continuously maintained.

 

The Believer’s Authority

The believer possesses great authority, through Christ, over the powers of spiritual darkness, which are led by Satan, the ruler of this world. We actively exercise this authority as we pray, walk by faith, exercise spiritual gifts, and progress towards spiritual maturity in Christ.

 

Election

God from eternity did, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men are predestined unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These men, thus predestined and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestined unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, had chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him to do so.

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He fore-ordained the means to accomplish such. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. No others are redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation

 

Baptism

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. I do not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation, but an outward declaration of an internal alteration.

 

Evangelism and Discipleship

The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to testify the truth of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty and privilege of every child of God to seek constantly to demonstrate the glory of God’s grace by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

Through our testimony He aims to open the eyes of the spiritually blind; he aims that they would then turn from the darkness of sin to the light of righteousness; he aims that they would turn from the power of Satan who can only hold them by lies, and come to God. He aims that all their sins be forgiven. And he aims that by faith, not legalistic burdens, they would join the saints in the pursuit of holiness.

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others.

All those who abide in Christ are endowed with certain spiritual gifts and it is through employment of these gifts, as much as, if not more than, through words that effective evangelism and discipleship occurs.  A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively (in word or deed) for the strengthening of someone else’s faith.

Preach the Gospel constantly, and if necessary, use words.

 

The Church

The New Testament describes the church as the Body of Christ as well as the Bride of Christ. This includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve him by faithfully doing his will in the earth. This involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in the entire world for a testimony. The ultimate mission of the Church is the making of disciples through the preaching of the gospel.

In the context of the local church; a New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous congregation of born-again, baptized, believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ (to love your God with all your heart, body, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself), governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture (1 Tim 2:12).

Jesus was pro-woman to the max. But he did not choose women to be apostles. That wasn’t because he was enslaved to his times. It was because, in coherence with the rest of the Bible (Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 2), he believed that it would be healthy for the church and the family if men assumed the role of Christ-like, humble, caring, servant-leaders, and if the women came in alongside with their respective gifts to help carry his leadership through according to those gifts.

 

The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. The Holy Spirit brings a present, though partial, reality of the Kingdom of God on earth as he acts in and through our lives with sovereign, supernatural power.

 

Christ’s Return

Jesus Christ will return to the earth physically to raise the dead, judge the world, consummate His glorious Kingdom, and bestow eternal blessing on those declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ – this is the hope of the Church. The wicked, rejecting Christ as Lord and Savior, will be fairly judged for their sins and will be banned from God’s presence forever, along with Satan and his angels.

I do not hold to a particular ‘tribulation’ theory (“post-trib”/”pre-trib”) for I do not feel that the end of these days should be, or is, of paramount importance to a Christian. We are assured of our eternal glory with Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and as such our focus should not be on when and how Jesus will come again, nor on what will or will not happen during that time.

Our focus should constantly be on the sharing of the Gospel of Christ and our obedience to Christ’s commandments given to us in Matthew 22:37-39 and John 15:12.

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