We believe that the End Times will begin with the Rapture of the Church when Jesus will return to take us to be with Him (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:9). Following this, all believers will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be rewarded according to their works (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:8-10). The next event on earth is the Tribulation, a period of seven years where God will pour out His wrath on the earth (Matt. 24:15-22; 1 Thess. 5:2-3; Rev. 6-16). After this, Jesus will physically return to conquer the earth (Rev. 19:11-21) and begin the Millennium, a period of 1000 years during which He will reign on the throne of David (Rev. 20:1-6). At the end of the 1000 years, Satan and his armies will rebel but will be completely defeated (Rev. 20:7-10). All unbelievers will then be resurrected to be judged by God at the Great White Throne Judgment and sentenced to eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). After this, God will wipe away all tears and create a new heaven and earth free from pain, sorrow, and death (Rev. 21:1-4) where we will be forever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17-18).
Category Archives: Doctrine
Doctrine: Civil Government
What does the Bible say about a Christian’s relationship to civil government? While there is quite a difference between the elected government in the US and the oppressive dictatorships in some countries, what God says about civil government applies to both. The statement below is our church’s proposed doctrinal statement about Civil Government.
We believe that God has ordained civil government for the good order of society and the punishment of evil (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:1-7). We should honor, obey, and pray for government officials (Acts 23:5; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-14, 17) and pay taxes when required (Matt. 22:15-22; Rom. 13:7). However, we must respectfully disobey laws and commands from civil government that contradict the clear teaching of Scripture (Ex. 1:15-21; Dan. 3:13-18; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). Because not all government officials are just or God-fearing (2 Sam. 23:3), we should use discernment so as not to be unnecessarily taken advantage of (Acts 16:35-39; 25:9-11).
The Righteous and the Wicked
Do you consider yourself to be righteous?
If you are a humble person, you might not want to agree with that description. But the Bible does make a distinct difference between the righteous and the wicked with no category in between. During our study, we will look at what the Bible says about these two categories. And as we do, we will see that it is not what we think about ourselves but what God thinks that matters.
The Righteous and the Wicked
We believe that there is a clear difference between the righteous and the wicked (Gen. 18:23; Mal. 3:16-18; 1 John 5:19). God considers those who are in Christ to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and those who continue in sin and unbelief to be wicked (Col. 1:21; John 8:23-24). This distinction becomes permanent after death when the righteous will receive eternal life while the wicked will receive eternal torment (Matt. 7:13-14; 25:34-46). Until then, the wicked can find God’s mercy by turning from their sin and trusting in Jesus (Isa. 55:7; Matt. 9:13; John 3:16).
The key to our righteousness is found in the words “in Christ.” If you look at 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, you will see several times that those words are used. Verse 17 – We have become a new creation in Him. Verse 19 – We have been reconciled to God in Him. Verse 21 – We have become righteous in Him. All of those things are because of Him.
With that in mind, the truth is evident that we are not righteous in ourselves but because of Him. In other words, God views us as righteous because we are trusting in Him. To God, I am righteous, not because I stop sinning or am perfect but because of Jesus. His righteousness covers my sinfulness and God now looks at me as if I am perfectly sinless.
Am I righteous? In God’s eyes I am because I am in Christ.
Unity & Separation
We believe that God desires unity within the Church (John 17:20-23; Eph. 4:1-6). We should strive for this unity because all believers are a part of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). However, because of differences of opinion, interpretation, and practice, unity is best accomplished by believers who share the same beliefs, convictions, and practices (Acts 15:36-41). We also believe that there are situations where unity is not possible or appropriate, and where God commands us to separate ourselves.
- Personal separation
We believe that all Christians should live in a way that reflects the change God has made in them (2 Cor. 5:17; Titus 2:11-14), that is holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), and that evidences a love for God instead of worldly desires and attitudes (1 John 2:15-17). This necessarily requires Christians to keep themselves from certain thoughts, conversations, and actions but it should not result in isolation from unbelievers (John 17:15; 1 Cor. 5:9-10).
- Separation from a disobedient brother
We believe that a Christian should lovingly confront another Christian who has sinned against him with a desire for his repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. If the sinning Christian does not repent, the next step is to involve other believers and, if necessary, to bring the matter before the local church (Matt. 18:15-17). If the sinning believer refuses to repent, he must be withdrawn from to show him the seriousness of his sin (2 Thess. 3:14-15) and to guard against his bad influence (1 Cor. 5:6-7). There may be situations when a believer’s sin is so egregious (1 Cor. 5:1, 11; 2 Thess. 3:6) that immediate separation is necessary.
- Ecclesiastical separation.
We believe that a relationship with other churches, organizations, or believers outside of the local church can be beneficial (Col. 4:12-15; Rom. 15:26). However, these relationships should be carefully examined before fellowship is offered (1 John 1:5-7). The local church should not cooperate in a spiritual endeavor with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1), false teachers (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 John 9-11), or believers who are worldly (1 John 2:15-17) or disobedient (2 Thess. 3:6). Such cooperation sends a mixed message about true faith (2 Cor. 6:14) and fellowship (1 Cor. 5:11-13).
Doctrinal Statement: Baptism
The following statement is the proposed revision to our church’s doctrinal statement about water baptism.
We believe immersion in water to be the New Testament mode of baptism (Acts 8:36-39) to be administered only to believers upon their public confession of faith in Christ (Acts 2:41; 8:12). We believe that Jesus Himself commanded the ordinance (Matt. 28:19) to symbolize the believer’s death to the old life of sin and his spiritual resurrection to the new life in Christ (Rom. 6:1-4).
How should a local church be governed?
This is my proposal for an update to our church’s doctrinal statement about the local church:
We believe that Jesus is the ultimate Head of the Church (Col. 1:12) and that the local church is to be led by qualified pastors/elders/overseers (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 1 Pet. 5:1-4) and cared for by qualified deacons (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:8-13). We also believe that the local church should be self-governed (Matt. 18:15-17; Acts 6:5; 15:22) and free from the interference of any external hierarchy or organization. We believe that it can be good for local churches to cooperate with each other (Acts 15; Rom. 15:26) but that every church is the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. On all matters of membership, policy, government, discipline, or benevolence, the will of the local church is final.
Doctrinal Statement: Justification
Tonight, we look at the third section of our church doctrinal statement that deals with salvation. The proposed statement provides a summary statement, a definition, the means by which it is obtained, and the results of justification according to the Bible.
We believe that, because Jesus bore the punishment for our sins (Isa. 53:10-11), everyone who believes in Him is justified (legally declared to be righteous) by God (Rom. 8:33). This justification is secured by faith (Rom. 4:1-5) and not by obeying the Old Testament Law (Acts 13:39). The results of justification include having peace with God (Rom. 5:1), being saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9) and receiving the sure hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).
Doctrinal Statement: The New Birth
What does the new birth have to do with a person’s relationship to God? You are probably familiar with what Jesus said to religious Nicodemus: “You must be born again.” Despite this man’s reputation as a Bible teacher, Jesus said that he still needed to be born again spiritually. This applies to everyone because we are all born sinners. All of us need to be born again. But what exactly does that mean?
In the paragraph below, I have revised a portion of our church’s doctrinal statement about the new birth. As you read through the statement, be careful to read each Bible passage in the parentheses.
We believe (1) that in order to be saved a sinner must be born again (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8), (2) that a believer becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:4), (3) that this is instantaneous and not a process (Acts 16:31), (4) that in the new birth the one dead in sin is made spiritually alive (Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13), (5) that the new birth is not a result of someone’s ancestry, will, or good works (John 1:13; Eph. 2:8-10), but wholly and solely by the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) in connection with divine truth (Rom. 10:17), and (6) that the evidence of the new birth is seen in a believer’s repentance (Acts 3:19), faith (1 John 5:1), and new life (Gal. 5:22-23).
If you read each Bible reference, you know that being born again/experiencing the new birth is necessary for someone to be changed by God. No matter how hard you try, you (a sinner) cannot give birth to yourself spiritually. You can’t give yourself spiritual life; this must come from God. However, when God brings you to repentance (a change of mind about your sin against God) and faith in Jesus (He died in your place to pay for our sins), the immediate result is the new birth (being made alive spiritually to God).
Have you been born again?
Doctrinal Statement: Understanding Salvation
We have been working through our church’s doctrinal statement this year. While God’s truth in the Bible has not changed, the way it is presented can be clarified so that we can understand it better. With that in mind, here is a proposed amendment to the doctrinal section about God’s salvation.
“We believe that God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16) and people are inherently sinful (Rom. 3:10-12, 23). Because of that, we are enemies of God and are unable to have a right relationship with God on our own (Isa. 59:2). We believe that God is just (Deut. 32:4) and will punish our sin against Him with death and eventually the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). However, we believe that God is love (1 John 4:16) and has provided a way for sinful people to be forgiven (Eph. 1:7) and reconciled to Himself (Rom. 5:10). He accomplished this by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in our place (Isa. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, willingly died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-5). We believe that God always keeps His promises and that all who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21) will be forgiven by God (Col. 1:14), saved from the coming judgment (John 3:16), and be given a new spiritual life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).”