I’ve been doing some updating of my doctrinal statement this summer. Below is an accordion view of my position on the major doctrines. You may also download the document as a PDF here.
On the Holy Scriptures
I believe the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, to be the verbal and plenary inspiration of God. The Bible, in its original autographs, does not contain error and is infallible, authoritative, complete, and trustworthy. God has providentially preserved the Bible in the totality of manuscripts.
The Bible is the inspiration of God (2 Tim 3:16). The Holy Spirit superintended the writing of the human authors so that the words recorded were the exact words God wanted to be written (2 Pet 1:21). Inspiration extends only to the original autographs. The Holy Spirit’s work of inspiration ceased with the writing of the last canonical book (1 Cor 13:10).
Authority and Translations
The Bible is relevant for all areas of life—not just matters of faith (2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pet 1:3). It was given in the common languages of the day and understood by common man. Translation of the scriptures is necessary to maintain God’s intention of revelation. Though not inspired or inerrant of themselves, translations of the manuscript copies carry full authority insomuch as they accurately reflect the originals.
Inerrancy and Infallibility
Because God is the Author of the Bible and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18), the Bible is without error in its original autographs. The autographs are accurate and truthful in all aspects including historical and scientific data (Deut 32:4; Ps 33:4; Rom 3:4; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18).
Assuming the univocal nature of language, that it only has one meaning, a normal hermeneutic is the best method of interpretation, taking into account grammar, context, and historical culture of the audience to whom the text was written. This method of interpretation will lead to a dispensational understanding of God’s dealings with humanity throughout history. The Holy Spirit illumines the believer’s understanding of Scripture. Without the work of the Holy Spirit man cannot effectively apply Scripture (1 Cor 2:11, 14).
On the Nature of God
I believe that the God of the Bible is the personal, infinite spirit being who exists independently of any other being. He exists in three distinct yet inseparable persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each is equal in all their perfections yet distinct in their function.
Existence of God
While Scripture assumes and never attempts to prove it, both creation and the law of God written on humanity’s heart argue for the existence of God (Gen 1:1; Ps 19; John 1:1; Rom 1:19ff).
Attributes of God
Certain of God’s attributes reveal his transcendence and uniqueness above all creation. God is self-existent (Exod 3:14; John 5:26), perfect (Ps 18:30; Matt 5:48), omnipotent (Jer 32:17; Rev 19:6), omnipresent (Ps 139:7–12; Jer 23:24), omniscient (Ps 139:1–6; 1 John 3:20), eternal (Cor 21:33; Rev 1:8), and immutable (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8).
God possesses moral attributes, which are not exclusive to him, but which he perfectly manifests. He is holy (Isa 6:1–5; 1 Pet 1:15, 16), true (John 17:3; Ps 31:5), and love (1 John 4:7–8). Further attributes of God are those of his personality. He has intellect (1 John 3:20), emotion (1 John 4:8, 16), and a will (Eph 1:11).
Unity of God
God exists as three distinct persons united in one essence (spirit). Each person possesses all the attributes of God and is called God by the Scriptures: Father (1 Cor 8:6), Son (John 1:1c; Heb 1:8–10), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3–4); but all persons make up one God (Deut 6:4). Each person within the Godhead functions differently in relation to creation. God the Father is the economic head over the Son and the Spirit (John 3:34–35; 6:38; 10:18; Rom 8:27, 30). He chose some to salvation (Rom 8:29–30; Eph 1–4). He sent the Son to accomplish the atoning sacrifice for the world (John 3:16; Phil 2:8–10). He is the recipient of the believer’s prayer (Matt 6:9; Heb 4:14–16). Subsequent sections of this document discuss the functions of God the Son and God the Spirit.
God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility
God is actively maintaining the existence and property of creation (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3; Acts 17:28; Ps 104:10–30; 147:9) and is directly involved in accomplishing his sovereign will (Eph 1:11; Ps 103:19; Rom 13:1; Ps 148:8; 37:23–24). God holds man responsible for his choices. Man cannot choose to glorify God on his own because of his bondage to sin (Rom 1:18–21; 3:10–12, 23). Evil in this world does not surprise God, but he uses it to greater demonstrate his glory to an entirely depraved humanity (Eph 1:6).
On the Person and Work of Jesus Christ
I believe Jesus Christ is the eternal second person (God the Son) of the holy trinity. He was born of a virgin named Mary, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, resurrected bodily, and ascended to heaven to act as the believer’s advocate before the Father.
Christ is eternal and coequal with the Father (John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30). Having existed before his incarnation, Christ’s activities included creation (Gen 1:26; John 1:3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2) and appearances as the Angel of the LORD (Gen 16:7–14; 22:11–18; Exod 14:19). He possesses all the attributes of God including immutability (Heb 13:8), omnipresence (Matt 18:20), omniscience (John 21:17), omnipotence (Matt 18:20), and holiness (1 John 3:5).
The Holy Spirit miraculously conceived Jesus within the womb of a virgin named Mary (Matt 1:18–24). By experiencing human circumstances, Christ demonstrated his full humanity (Matt 21:18; Mark 11:13; Luke 2:52; John 4:6; 19:28; Heb 5:8).
Death and Resurrection
Jesus Christ voluntarily died on the cross as the substitutionary atonement for sinners (Isa 53:5; John 10:17–18; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18). By dying on the cross, Christ provided reconciliation with God (Rom 5:6–11; 2 Cor 5:18–21), propitiation of God’s wrath upon sin, and, upon unreserved trust in Christ, the redemption from the bondage of sin (Matt 20:28; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:18–20).
Christ resurrected bodily (John 20:11–18) as evidenced by the empty tomb (Matt 28:6; John 20:12), the linen wrappings (John 20:18; 11:44), and his many appearances following his crucifixion (Acts 7:56; 9:4–5). The resurrection of Christ is significant to the faith of the believer as it makes justification sure to all who believe and gives believers assurance of the future resurrection (Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:17–20). Presently, Christ is the High Priest, Advocate, and Intercessor for all believers (Heb 4:14–15; 7:23–25; 1 John 2:1; Rom 8:34).
On the Holy Spirit
I believe the Holy Spirit is the eternal third person (God the Spirit) of the holy trinity. He is an agent in the salvation of believers and works in the lives of unbelievers, convicting them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
The Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3, 4; 1 Cor 12:4–6, 11, 18; 2 Cor 3:17). He has demonstrated divine works (Job 33:4; Cor 1:2; Rom 8:11; 2 Pet 1:21). He possesses divine attributes (Heb 9:14; 1 Cor 2: 10, 11; Luke 1:35). He is equal with the Father and the Son (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 12:4–6; 2 Cor 13:14).
The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of a person—will (1 Cor 12:11), emotion (Rom 15:30; Isa 63:10), and intellect (1 Cor 2:10, 11; Rom 8:27)—and has the capacity for relationship.
The Holy Spirit was involved in Christ’s conception in Mary (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:35). He anointed Christ at his baptism confirming him as Messiah (Matt 3:16). The Spirit raised Christ from the dead (Rom 8:11) and bears witness to Christ after his ascension by being present in believers (John 16:14; Acts 5:32).
The Spirit is convicting sinners of sin, the righteousness of God, and of judgment (John 16:8–11). The Spirit is also preserving creation (Gen 1:2; Ps 104:29–30).
The Spirit regenerates the elect, giving them spiritual life from death to sin (Eph 2:15; Titus 3:5–6). He indwells, by taking up residence in him (John 14:16; Acts 1:8) and appealing to the believer to do right according to God’s Word (Gal 5:17); and he fills the believer (Eph 5:18).
The Holy Spirit empowers believers with spiritual gifts to the church (1 Cor 12:11; 1 Pet 4:10). Certain abilities were manifested in the early church and used to authenticate new revelation, conversion, and the gospel (Acts 11:15–18; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4). These sign gifts—prophecy, tongues, and signs and wonders—are no longer empowered by the Spirit (Acts 11:15–19; Heb 2:4; 1 Cor 13:8–13).
I believe God created (Ps 148:1–5) a great number (Dan 7:10) of sinless (Gen 1:31) superhuman (Heb 2:7) spirit-beings (Eph 6:12; Heb 1:14) called angels (Col 1:16). Angels are immortal (Luke 20:36), moral (2 Pet 2:4), and personal beings (Luke 1:19; Rev 22:8–9) who cannot procreate (Matt 22:30). Sometime between their creation and the fall of humanity, one of the angels, Satan, sinned, led a rebellion against God, and was cast from heaven.
Angels minister to believers (Heb 1:14) and minister to God by continually praising and worshipping him (Ps 148:1–2; Isa 6:3). Angels have made declarations of God to humanity (Luke 1:26–38; Matt 28:5–7; Mark 16:6–7) and have offered physical protection (Ps 34:7; Acts 5:19), encouragement (Acts 27:23–25), direction (Acts 8:26), and assistance in answered prayer (Acts 12:1–11). Angels wage war against the forces of evil (Dan 10:12–14; Eph 6:12; Rev 12:7).
Satan is at work in this world to destroy the image of God and his program for humanity. To do this Satan offers a counterfeit program (2 Tim 3:5), blinds the mind of the unbeliever to the things of God (2 Cor 4:4), tempts believers (1 Thess 3:5), and works to defeat believers any way he can (1 Pet 5:8). He is the believer’s adversary but can be successfully resisted (1 Pet 5:8; Jas 4:7).
Demons are evil and unclean angels who fell with Satan after his rebellion (Matt 12:24; cf. Rev 12:9). Some demons are bound in Hades awaiting judgment (Jude 6; 2 Pet 2:4). Other demons help Satan in carrying out his plan. Demons have inflicted disease (Luke 13:11; 13:16), have possessed unbelievers (Matt 8:16; 8:28; cf. 1 John 4:4; 5:18), and have promoted idolatry (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; Ps 106:36–38).
On the Nature of Man and Sin
I believe God created Adam, the first human, in his image out of the dust of the ground on the sixth day apart from any evolutionary process. I believe God created Eve, the first woman, out of the side of Adam. By disobeying God, Adam and Eve plunged humanity into bondage to sin. Sin is a lack of conformity to God’s moral law, which has affected every aspect of humanity.
By a direct act, God created Adam and Eve as the first humans on the sixth day of the creation week (Gen 1:26–27; 2:7). There is one human race originating from Adam and Eve (Gen 3:20). By creating man in his image, God gave man attributes of personality, which included intellect, emotion, and will; and he gave man moral likeness to himself, which is the ability to choose to do right (Gen 1:26–27; 2:16–17; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10).
Sin is a lack of conformity to God’s moral law, whether by act (Rom 3:23) or, disposition (Ps 51:5; Rom 8:7; Eph 2:5; 1 John 3:4), or state (Ps 51:5; Eph 2:5). While Adam and Eve were able to do right, they disobeyed God bringing a curse to the human race (Gen 2:16–17; 3:1–24; 1 Tim 2:14). Among the immediate consequences of this disobedience was death—spiritual separation from God and the beginnings of the process of physical death with the eventual separation from their bodies (Gen 2:17, cf. 3:19; Eph 2:1). The consequences were imputed to the entire human race (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22; Eph 2:1).
Sin has affected every facet of humanity to the point that all men are totally depraved (Gen 6:5; Isa 1:6; Rom 1:21–32; 3:10–18; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 4:17–19) and destined to everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire (John 3:16–18; Rev 20:12–15). Total depravity means that sin has corrupted every part of man’s being so that he can do nothing to merit favor with God, is an enemy of God, does not seek God, cannot choose God, and can do nothing to merit salvation (Rom 3:9–23; Eph 2:1, 8). Even when unsaved men attempt good, they do so with selfish motives in rebellion to God, which is sin (Prov 21:4; Isa 64:6).
On the Application of Salvation
I believe that God, in his love, has made salvation from sin available to humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which was the once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice for lost humanity. This salvation as planned by God in eternity past is eternally secure once applied to any person who repents of their sin and places their trust on Christ’s sacrifice alone for salvation.
In eternity past, God chose certain of sinful humanity to be recipients of salvation (John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4; 2 Thess 2:13). God based his choice on the good pleasure of his will and not on human merit (Eph 1:4–6, cf. Titus 3:5). God’s plan was to send his son as the God-man to live a sinless life and shed his blood on the cross (Rom 5:8; Heb 9:22, 26; 1 Pet 1:18–19) as the substitutionary atonement for sinners (Isa 53:4–6; Matt 20:28; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 2:2). Salvation is eternally secure (John 3:16; 10:28–29; Rom 8:30–39; 11:29; Eph 1:13–14; Phil 1:6). God leads his elect to faith in Christ (John 6:37, 44–45; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28–30).
REGENERATION is that act of the Holy Spirit (John 1:13; 3:5, 8; Titus 3:5) wherein he gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead (2 Cor 5:17).
CONVERSION is that act of the sinner wherein he or she repents of sin and turns the heart in faith to Christ as Lord and Savior (Ps 51:3–4; Acts 2:38; John 1:12; Rom 10:9–10; Eph 3:17; 2 Tim 3:15).
UNION WITH CHRIST. The sinner is united with Christ in a new judicious, spiritual, and vital relationship (Rom 6:4–8; 8:1; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 5:17).
JUSTIFICATION. God imputes Christ’s righteousness to the sinner declaring him just, which results in his acquittal from the penalty of sin (Rom 4:6–8, 8:1; Eph 1:7) and restoration to a position of favor with God (Rom 5:1–2).
ADOPTION. God places the sinner into his family with all the rights and privileges of an adult son (Rom 8:15; Eph 1:5; Gal 3:26; 4:5).
INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in the sinner appealing to him to live a life pleasing to God (1 Cor 2:10–12; 6:19).
SANCTIFICATION. Throughout the sinner’s life, God continually molds the believer to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; Phil 1:6; 2:12; 1 Tim 4:16; Jas 1:21).
GLORIFICATION. God will deliver the sinner from the presence of sin in this final phase of salvation, which occurs at death or the Rapture (Rom 8:23–24, 30; 2 Tim 2:10).
On the Nature of the Church
I believe a New Testament church is an assembly of regenerated persons who have been baptized by immersion upon profession of faith in Christ and are united (covenanted) for worship, building up of one another, instruction in the Word (discipleship), and observance of the ordinances—communion, and baptism.
A local church is an assembly of regenerated, baptized persons (Acts 2:38, 41; 1 Cor 1:2–8) who are united (covenanted) for worship, edification, and instruction (Acts 2:41–47; 4:32; 5:3–4, 13; 6:1–7; 13:1–3; 15:2–31; 1 Cor 22:17–34; Eph 4:11–16).
The church proclaims God to the world (1 Pet 2:9) and equips believers for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12). The church’s members should seek to provoke one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24) and proclaim the gospel to the world (Matt 28:19–20; Acts 1:8). Other activities of the church include teaching (1 Tim 4:13), praise (Acts 2:47), worship (Acts 2:42), fellowship (Acts 2:42), prayer (1 Tim 2:1–2), and assisting the needy (Acts 6:1–3; Jas 1:27).
Every regenerated person is part of a larger body composed of all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture (Acts 1–2; 1 Cor 12:12–13). As part of the Great Commission, the church is responsible to disciple the world (Matthew 28:19–20). Christ will present this church to himself without blemish as his bride after the Rapture (Eph 5:25–27; Heb 12:23).
Government and Offices
Christ is the head of the church and governs it through the regenerated people who comprise it—that is, a congregational form of government most closely resembles the New Testament model (Col 1:18). There is no higher ecclesiastical authority than the local church congregation.
The Scriptures ordain two offices for the New Testament church—pastor and deacon (1 Tim 3:1–13). God assigns pastors the responsibility to lead and care for the assembly in every area—both spiritual and temporal, with the primary function as preaching the word and prayer (Acts 6:3, Eph 4:11–13; 1 Tim 3:1ff; Heb 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1–4). Deacons are ministering servants to the congregation set apart for specific tasks (Act 6:1–7).
Christ instituted Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances for the church (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:23–29). Partaking of either the Lord’s Supper or Baptism merits no additional grace from God to the participant.
Baptism is symbolic of the believer’s identification with Christ and a picture of the believer’s future resurrection (Rom 6:2–5; Gal 3:27; Col 2:11–12).
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of Christ’s death, and a symbol picturing his broken body and his shed blood on the cross (1 Cor 11:23–29).
Both the local church and its members are to be separated from the world (Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 1:21; Eph 5:11; Jas 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17), false teaching (Rom 16:17–18; 2 Cor 6:14–18; Gal 1:8-10; 2 Tim 2:16–20; 1 John 4:1–3), and disobedient brethren (Matt 18:16–17; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5; 2 Thess 3:18–15).
The church is distinct from national Israel (Matt 16:18; Eph 3:2–10; Col 1:26). Christ instituted the church for this dispensation as a means of communicating the gospel to the unsaved world (Matt 18:17; Acts 1:15–16; 2:2–4; Eph 2:12–16).
On the End
I believe the end-time events include the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the literal thousand-year reign of Christ, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Upon physical death, the soul is separated from the body and is either in conscious bliss with Christ or in conscious torment in hell. Every human will experience bodily resurrection. Matters of theology pertaining to future events are cause for hope in the life of the believer today (1 Thess 4:18).
- The imminent return of Christ in the clouds to rapture his church (resurrect both living and dead in Christ) completing the fullness of the Gentiles (Rom 11:25; Phil 3:20; 1 Thess 4:13–18; Titus 2:13).
- The seven-year tribulation period begins with the signing of a covenant between Israel and the world ruler (Dan 9:27). During this tribulation period, God will draw the remnant of Israel to himself (Jer 30:7; Mal 3:6; Rev 7) and will judge unbelieving men and nations (2 Thess 2:12; Rev 3:10).
- The judgment seat of Christ and Marriage Supper of the Lamb (1 Cor 3:12–15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 19:6–10)
- The Second Coming of Christ and the destruction of Babylon at the Battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:14–16; 18)
- Resurrection of tribulation and Old Testament saints (Rev 20:4) and establishment of a literal earthly kingdom fulfilling promises made to Israel (Isa 2:2–4; 9:6–7; 35:1–10; Dan 2:44; Jer 23:5–8; 31:31–34). With Satan bound, Christ will reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years (Rev 20:1–4).
- At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be loosed for one final battle against Christ (Rev 20:7–9). Satan will lose this battle and be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:10). Thereafter, Christ will resurrect and judge all unbelieving humanity and cast them, along with death and hell, into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev 20:11–15).
Finally, God will replace the earth with a new heaven and a new earth where he will dwell with man for eternity (Rev 21:1–22:5).