Personal Doctrinal Statement
Because I believe it is beneficial for all believers to examine their beliefs in light the Scriptures from which they are derived from time to time, as Paul so instructed us [II Corinthians 13:4-9], I have prepared this personal statement of belief. I'm posting it on this web site for those who wonder from whence I am coming, and as an encouragement for others to open the Book and learn from God.
In Articles 1 through 16 below, I set forth what are the foundational Scriptural teachings essential to my life as a believer. They state truths which, unless indicated otherwise, I accept as unquestionable because of the extent to which they are clearly communicated by the Scripture. As well as this, I believe they are essential to knowing who God really is, what His will is for my life, and how I may better submit to and become conformed to His will and to the the image of His Son [Romans 8:29]. Articles 17-21 represent beliefs which, while not essentials, are nevertheless, important to the life of faith.
In these articles, I have, because of our inherent tendency to misinterpret and misunderstand the writings of others, made every effort to be thorough and comprehensive, but not completely exhaustive. These articles are not cast in stone. There is much to consider and remember and a Christian's beliefs (or a church's doctrine, for that matter), should be subject to change and correction (as mine often has been), by the Holy Spirit [I John 2:27], as one's relationship with God "through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" [II Peter 1:2], develops and matures. There is, of course, concerning this document, the vile typographical error to be considered.
Article 1. The Bible
The entire Bible in its original writings is "inerrant" (there are no errors of any kind in the original writings), "verbally" inspired by God (inspiration extends to the very words which the writers used in the original writings), and of "plenary" authority (having full authority, i.e. all Scripture is inspired and written under the authority of God). [II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21]
Article 2. The Trinity
Article 3. The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a Person Who: convicts the world of sin; regenerates believers; baptizes believers; seals believers; indwells believers; enlightens believers; teaches, corrects and empowers believers. [John 16.7-14; I Corinthians 2:6-16; 3:16; 12:13; Ephesians 1:13, 17-18; 3:16; 4:30; Titus 3:5;Romans 8:1-17]
Article 4. Jesus Christ
Article 5. The Nature of Man
Man was created in the literal sixth Day of the Creation account; In the Image of God as a dichotomy, (body + spirit = living soul), and in innocence [Genesis 1:27-28]. As an deliberate act of his will, Man rebelled against his Creator [Genesis 3:6]. By this act, Mankind's nature changed and marred the Image of God in Man and all his descendants, thereby cutting himself off from the Source of spiritual Life (spiritual death, not destruction), and all of us became dead in trespasses and sin. Mankind's sin introduced corruption and decay into God's Creation [Romans 8:19-23]. Mankind is therefore unable, in and of himself, to do anything that is pleasing to God. [Romans 3:9-23; Ephesians 2:1-9] Man is able to be saved because the Image of God in him, marred though it may be, still retains the ability to respond to God's various revelations of Himself as well as to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit upon hearing the Gospel of Christ. [Romans 12:3]
Article 6. God's Gift of Salvation
God justifies ungodly sinners by His grace alone. God's grace is His unmerited favor toward man, or "God's redemptive mercy, and the pleasure or joy He designs for the recipient." (Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Longon: Oliphants; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.) Salvation is totally dependent upon the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary: His shed blood paid the penalty for and, washes away our sin. Because we are but flesh, God covers us in His righteousness, safeguarding us from ourselves. The means by which an individual receives God's gift of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. [Romans 3:21-28; 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7; I Peter 1:18-19]
Article 7. Eternal Security
All those who have
truly received God's gift of salvation are eternally secure in
Christ (once saved, always saved). [Romans 8:1, 29-39; Ephesians
1:4, 13-14; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 7:25] Furthermore, God will
not permit those who are truly His to fall so far into sin as to
become completely lost [Acts 5:1-11; I Corinthians 5:5; I
Corinthians 11: 26-32]. (Added for clarity
Article 8. Life After Death
Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Ecclesiastes 12:7 “... the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
Through Jesus Christ, we are promised the resurrection to eternal life in His presence. I Thess. 5:9-10 "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him."
Article 9. The Body of Christ
By revelation, God made known to the Apostle Paul insight into the "mystery of Christ" (the Body of Christ), which in other generations was not made known to man as it was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets of Paul's time. [Ephesians 3:1-10; Romans 16:25-26] At the heart of this insight are the following truths:
Jesus Christ chose the Apostle Paul to be His instrument to bear His name and a new message of reconciliation to the world. [Romans 2:16, 16:25; I Timothy 1:11; II Timothy 2:8] No longer was God working through the nation of Israel to dispense His grace, but in the Body of Christ, each individual, whether Jew or Gentile, was given opportunity to come to God through faith in Jesus Christ. [Acts 9:15; 13:44-43; Romans 11:13; 15:15-16; Galatians 2:7-10; 3:23-29; Ephesians 2:11-3:12]
Article 10. Spiritual Gifts
Every believer has been gifted by God for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ. [Romans 12:3-6; I Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:7-16] Individual believers have gifts which differ according to the grace given to them from God. [Romans 12.6; I Corinthians 12]
Article 11. Sanctification
Sanctification is separation unto God; or, separation from evil; or, the resultant state, that is, the conduct befitting those who are thus set apart.
Positional Sanctification: Every believer is set apart unto God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ's body and the resulting work of the Holy Spirit. [Hebrews 10:10; I Corinthians 1:2, 30; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2-3] God sees every believer as complete in Christ. [Colossians 2:10] God sees every believer as positionally seated with Christ in heavenly places. [Ephesians 1:19-2:7; Colossians 2:12]
Experiential sanctification (Godly living) is everyday conduct which is befitting a person who is set apart unto God. [Romans 6:19; II Corinthians 7:1; I Thessalonians 4:3-12; Hebrews 12:14]
Salvation does not remove the believer's natural tendency to sin during this life. [Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 7]
One who is set apart unto God is no longer under the control of sin; the believer has the ability to be freed from sin's control in his everyday life as a result of his identification with Jesus Christ. [Romans 6:5-7: Galatians 2:20]
Everyday conduct which is befitting one who is set apart unto God results as the believer considers himself dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus, and therefore does not permit sin to control his body, but presents himself to God as one alive from the dead, and his body an instrument of righteousness to God. [Romans 6:11-13; 12:1-41 Corinthians 6:12-20; Ephesians 4:17-6:20; Colossians 3:1-46]
The following are essential to the believer's success in Godly living:
Through experiential sanctification (Godly living) the believer will be transformed by God [Philippians 2:13], and reveal to the world that the will of God includes everything that is good, and acceptable, and perfect. God will be glorified. [Romans 12:2; II Corinthians 2:14-17: I Peter 4.'7-11; II Peter 1:5.3]
Ultimate sanctification: the final perfected state of the believer which will be attained only when we see Jesus Christ face to face. [Philippians 1:6; I Peter 5:10; I John 3:2]
Article 12. The Unity of Believers
Through God's present method of dispensing His grace, all believers are united by the following factors: [Ephesians 4.1-6]
Acknowledging this unity, we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace. [Ephesians 4:1-6]
Article 13. The Believer's Mission
The believer's highest purpose is to glorify God, which means "to magnify, extol, praise, or ascribe honor to Him, to acknowledge Him as to His being, attributes, and acts." (Vine, W.E. Opt. Cit.). [Romans 15:5-6; Ephesians 3:21; I Peter 4:11]
One of the primary means by which we glorify God is by living a Godly life. [John 15:3; Romans 12:1-2; Titus 2:10]
Additionally, It is the believer's mission to proclaim to the world the Message of Reconciliation, that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting their trespasses against them", and that "He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him". "Reconciliation" means to be brought back to friendship with God. [II Corinthians 5:17-21]
It is also the believer's mission to promote the spiritual growth of fellow believers. [Ephesians 4:11-16; 3:14-19]
Article 14. The Communion of the Lord's Supper
The communion of the Lord's supper is for any member of the Body of Christ to observe. It is to be observed as part of a full meal, which is the δεῖπνον (deipnon); the main meal of the day referenced by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11:20, with the Church gathered on the Lord's Day. Therein we remind ourselves of the magnitude Jesus Christ's work on our behalf due to the enormity of our sin (discerning the body), "until He comes." [I Corinthians 11:23-33]. It is not to be observed as a “cup-and-a-crumb” service, as institutional churches typically do.
Article 15. Baptism
During God's present method of dispensing His Grace, the essential baptism is the divine baptism of all believers by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, calling us to practice unity. By this one baptism, every member of the Body of Christ is identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. [I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 1:26-27]
Article 16. The Rapture or the Imminent Return of Christ
I believe that the New Testament epistles indicate that Christ will return for the Church, the Body of Christ, prior to the prophesied Tribulation period. The very non-prophesied nature of the Body of Christ seems to necessitate the Church's completion prior to God's resumption of His ministry to the nation of Israel when He begins the prophesied Tribulation period. The “imminent” aspect is Dispensational in nature whereas, before Acts 28, the Believers, hoping for Jewish national repentance, believed the Lord would return and establish the earthly Kingdom immediately after that event (Acts 3). After Acts 28, the Church carried on that “imminent” belief, as Paul taught that the Body was being constructed, during the times of the Gentiles (Rom. 11), and no one knows when that time will conclude.
Article 17. The Beginning of the Church
Because of the unique nature of the Body of Christ and the specific calling of the Apostle Paul to reveal this new ministry of the Church [Romans 2:16, 16:25; I Timothy 1:11; II Timothy 2:8], I believe the revelation of the Church of God occurred at the end of the Book of Acts. Because I'm no longer a thief, I reject the Acts 2 argument as yet another hangover of the traditions of the early church fathers, and the mid-Acts position, as a failed effort to placate the Acts 2 crowd. Scripture does not reveal the specific time or set of events associated with that revelation. The actual beginning of the Church was, however, before the Foundations of the World, and that it was kept hidden from Mankind as part of God's overall plan for the redemption of His Creation [Romans 16:25; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 3, 6:19; Colossians1:26-17]. Since the foundational creation of the Body supersedes any concern over the date of the revelation, dogma concerning the first question seems to have little bearing or consequence on scriptural doctrine.
Article 18. Sign Gifts
Some of the gifts listed in the New Testament were what have been referred to as "sign gifts". These were given to be a special judgmental witness against unbelieving Israel [Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:27; Romans 11:8], and to establish the veracity and authenticity of the Apostles and their message, as God's prophetic plan for Israel was unveiled. I believe the "sign gifts" are no longer the expected norm for believers today. That being said, there is nothing in Scripture that would preclude from God the performance of miracles in full accordance with His will.
Article 19. Water Baptism
Over twelve different types of baptism can be found in the Old and New Testaments. The issue of water (ritual) baptism has caused great confusion and division among believers for many centuries. There are many disagreements about the purpose and practice of water baptism in the Church today. Paul, the Apostle sent by God to minister to the Gentile world, was not sent to baptize with water, but to preach the Gospel. Nowhere in the epistles of the Apostle Paul do I find any clear instruction for emphasis upon water baptism as essential for the Church: the Body of Christ, which we are all baptized into by the Holy Spirit [Galatians 3:26-29]. In light of this, I do not believe that water baptism is to be practiced as a sacrament for the Church today [I Corinthians 1:17]. If baptism is practiced, it must follow the New Testament church pattern of baptism by immersion immediately following conversion, with rare exceptions (such as physical inability). It follows that the responsibility for performing baptism falls upon the person who makes a new convert, and it is to be performed as soon as earthly possible, after someone accepts Christ as savior. Baptism does not have to be performed in the context of the Church assembled.[Acts 8:26-39]
Article 20. Interpretation and Application of the Scriptures.
To rightly apply the Scriptures to our lives, we need an objective foundation for comparison. This is derived through interpretation. All Scripture is to be believed and interpreted literally as the actual words of God, [,Ps 119:57, 103, 130, 139; 138:4; Isa 59:21; Jer 1:9, etc. ], in its full and complete context (according to the rules of grammar pertaining to the languages of the original autographs and the evidences of history and archeology), while allowing for figurative interpretation where the context so indicates, preferring inductive to deductive learning methods.
Scripture is to be interpreted dispensationally where: the interpreter recognizes how God has changed His processes and methods (not His will) for dealing with Mankind over the course of time and revealed Truth which applies to those specific circumstances and not others. Further, we need to recognize that, as members of the Body of Christ, all Scripture has been given for our learning and instruction, but not all Scripture was written to or about us. This is, I believe, the essence of rightly dividing the Word of Truth [II Timothy 2:15].
Article 21: The Bride of Christ.
A popular expression not found in Scripture which is usually used to equate the Body of Christ with the Bride, the Lamb's wife [Revelation 19:7-9]. A careful study (which is available) of the relevant Scriptures indicates that the Bride is more than likely the Redeemed remnant of Israel, found alive at the end of the Great Tribulation. Their honor will be to inhabit and serve Christ, as the Bride, the Lamb's wife, in the Holy City, New Jerusalem [Revelation 21], which is, according to Galatians 4:26, the mother of us all. Paul compares himself and his duties towards Christ and the church with that of a Groomsman in II Corinthians 11:2-3. Through this, Paul teaches that he is responsible to Christ for the purity of the Church (which was one of the duties of an Israelite groomsman), spiritually speaking, not that the Church is to be reckoned as a bride. Ephesians 5:22-33 presents us with a simile of the human marriage relationship to the relationship Christ has to the Church, not a metaphor. Similar, but not the same. Ephesians 5:30 teaches the body relationship specifically, not the bridal. The fact that some translate a neuter Greek pronoun with a feminine English pronoun, in verses 26 and 27, is an error introduced by the translators who interpreted the text instead of translating it. Additionally, the bridal and body relationships are incompatible with one another. The Bridal relationship of marriage is personal, where two, husband and wife, become one flesh, not one being. The Body relationship describes the relationship between a diversity of people with Christ, where the many attain absolute oneness with Him. Building doctrine upon similes, the opinions of post-Nicaean church fathers, or less-than-literal translations of the Scriptures should be reckoned akin to building one's house upon sand. To insist upon teaching the mystical Bride=Body theory as a doctrine is confusing to most people who think about their beliefs, and it is inconsistent with sound principles of interpretation.
The above articles of my personal faith are the direct result of seeking God, that He would deliver me from unscriptural traditions and the imaginations of men, which have been the bane of the Church from nearly it's initial revelation. All the systems of belief I have experienced leave too many questions either unanswered, spiritualized away, ignored, or the questions became the vehicle by which I have received unscriptural rebuke, been marginalized, vilified and subjected to attempts by some to intimidate me into silence. Such treatment of those who disagree is the fruit of Man's traditions. Even those who say they do not adhere to any sort of system will find many of their beliefs nevertheless affected by these things.
The unity of the Body is a tantamount concern for our Lord [John 17], and should be for us as well. Achieving that unity should never come at the expense of sacrificing the Truth which God has given us for our benefit. Because churches and their doctrines are an development of man, we all must recognize that they are not perfect. Their doctrines and practices must be found to conform to the revelation of the Holy Scriptures. If they do not, then they must learn to do so, lest apostasy result. [Revelation 2:4] My personal beliefs and doctrines which have been formulated in my heart and mind by God through the work of the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with intense study [II Peter 1:1-12], prayer [I Thessalonians 5:17-18], and submission [Romans 3:13, James 1:22-24, Philippians 2:13], to what I have learned, are really my last and only refuge in this jungle of diverse, subjective theologies and church doctrines. My desire is not to hold the Truth, but to be held by the Truth; not to doctrines painted with well-intentioned, but excessively broad brush strokes, but to the simple, objective, trustworthy Word of God.
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