What We Believe..
We are non-denominational. This means that while we may believe and support various doctrines and practices of other denominations, we do not fall under any specific denomination.
The reason for this is two-fold:
First, there are certain practices and doctrinal beliefs of denominations which we do not subscribe to, which would hinder us from taking on their denominational title and
Second, we do not recognize any denominational labels in the New Testament Church. That being the case, we feel no pressure or responsibility to hold to any doctrinal label.
Therefore, we affirm that we are a Christian Church, made up of born-again believers in Jesus Christ, which seeks to believe, practice and live according to the Bible.
As a group of believers, we believe in community. In the Bible, Jesus Christ refers to the church as His Body. This means that are all connected,
and as such, called to live and worship as a family; The family of Christ, His body on the earth.
We believe this is very, very important, as society today teaches radical individualism and isolationism. We need each other and are happy that
we have each other to share life with...both the good times and the bad times. We love on each other, we support one another and we assist one another on this walk of faith!
Statement of Faith
(This is long...It is the "nuts and bolts" of our faith and practice)
The Benefits and Limitations of A Statement of Faith:
Although the Bible is the final authority in matters of faith and practice, a statement of faith can serve as an excellent summary of what we believe the Bible teaches. Many people claim to believe the Bible, yet disagree on vital issues. A statement of faith provides necessary definition. It also serves as a helpful teaching tool by providing a concise summary of Biblical truth. As we believe, so we teach. We recognize that any statement of faith is a fallible, human attempt to summarize the riches of God's revelation and should therefore be open to further revision in the light of Holy Scripture. The following is a summary of what is taught as Biblical truth at Turning Point Church of Utica (TPCU).
WHAT WE BELIEVE:
I. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
We believe that the Bible is God's complete written revelation, and the sixty-six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired in all parts) Word of God and cannot be added too or subtracted from (1Co. 2:7-14; 2Pe. 1:20-21; Rev. 22:19; Prov. 30:6).
We believe that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation of God, by men (1Co. 2:13; 1Th. 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2Ti. 3:16), infallible, and absolutely inerrant in the original manuscripts. We also hold to a grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Gen. 1:31; Ex. 31:17).
We believe that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice, being fully sufficient for every human need and all that pertains to life and godliness. (Mat. 5:18; 24:35; Jn. 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1Co. 2:13; 2Ti. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 2Pe. 1:3, 20-21).
We believe that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God's Word to man (2Pe. 1:20-21) without error in the whole or in the part (Mat. 5:18; 2Ti. 3:16).
We believe that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true contextual and/or prophetic interpretation. The precise meaning is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation under the leading of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12-15; 1Co. 2:7-15; 1Jo. 2:20). It is the responsibility of all believers to give themselves to the diligent study of the Word of God in order to be able to ascertain the true intent and meaning of the Scripture, recognizing that proper, accurate application is binding on all generations. Yet the Truth of Scripture always stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of Scripture.
We believe that there is but one living and true God (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5-7; 1Co. 8:4), an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes and substance, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen 1:26, Mat. 28:19; 2Co. 13:14; Isa. 48:12-16), each equally deserving worship and obedience.
A. God the Father
We believe that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Ps. 145:8, 9; 1 Cor. 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:1–31; Eph. 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps. 103:19; Rom. 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Eph. 4:6), but He is Spiritual Father only to believers (Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass
(Eph. 1:11-12). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chr. 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Hab. 1:13, 1Joh. 1:5), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Pet. 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Eph. 1:4–6); Among those chosen are all those of the world who would repent and believe (Jn 3:16, Gal 3:14, 2 Pet 3:9). He saves from sin all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Heb. 12:5–9).
B. God the Son
We believe that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, being co-equal, co-substantial, and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 10:30; 14:9).
We believe that Jesus Christ is known by God as the Word of God, and that when God spoke the world into existence, Christ was the agent of that creation (Gen 1:3,6,9,11,14, 20,24,26, Jn 1:1-4, 10, Col 1:16). God the Father created all things according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom, and for whom, all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2; 1 Cor. 8:6).
We believe that in the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ willfully surrendered the use of His status and privileges of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-man (Phil. 2:5–8; Col. 2:9).
We believe that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Mic. 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9,10; Col. 2:9).
We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23,25; Luke 1:26–35); that He was God incarnate (John 1:1,14, Col 1:19); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God’s kingdom (Ps. 2:7–9; Is. 9:6; John 1:29; Phil. 2:9–11; Heb. 7:25,26; 1 Pet. 1:18,19).
We believe, in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives and privileges of coexistence with God. The eternal Son of God took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5–8).
We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, a payment for the penalty of sin, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15; Rom. 3:24, 25; 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24).
We believe that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is efficacious, meaning Christ’s death accomplished it’s intended purpose which is freedom from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that the believer at the point of saving faith is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Rom. 3:25; 5:8,9; 2 Cor. 5:14,15; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).
We believe that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now intercedes as our Advocate and High-Priest (Matt. 28:6; Luke 24:38,39; Acts 2:30,31; Rom. 4:25; 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1).
We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus' bodily resurrection is the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:5-10; 1Co. 15:20, 23).
We believe that Christ will return in His own way and His own time to establish his kingdom (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 20).
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one through whom God will judge all mankind, both the saved and unsaved in every generation, at the Great White Throne Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46; John. 5:22-23; Rev. 20:11-15). As the mediator between God and man (1Ti. 2:5), the head of His body the Church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18), and the coming universal King who will reign on the throne of David (Isa. 9:6; Luke 1:31-33), He is the final judge of all who are not trusting in Him as Lord and Savior (Matt. 25:14-46; Acts 17:30-31, Rom. 1:19-20; 2:12-13).
C. God the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, eternal, not created, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity including intellect (1Co. 2:10-13), emotions (Eph. 4:30), will (1Co. 12:11), eternality (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Psa. 139:7-10), omniscience (Isa. 40:13-31), omnipotence (Rom. 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is co-equal and having the same substance with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1Co. 12:4-6; 2Co. 13:14; Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 10:15-17).
We believe that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to His elect. We also recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Gen. 1:2), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18), the written revelation (2Pe. 1:20-21, John 14:25-26), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7; 6:63).
We believe that the Holy Spirit was given by the Father as promised by Christ (John 14:16-17; 15:26) to complete the building of the body of Christ, which is His Church (1Co. 12:13; Eph. 2:21-22). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, issuing the call of God in the hearts of men, effecting the regeneration and conversion of those who would be saved, and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom. 8:29; 2Co. 3:18; Eph. 2:22).
We believe the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ at the moment of conversion (1Co. 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers for service, and seals the saints of God unto the day of redemption (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13; 1Pe. 1:3-5).
We believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit also as a separate and 2nd baptism, which one receives upon asking and in the timing of God alone. The Holy Spirit is the divine teacher who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they were moved to write God's revelation, the Bible. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, but it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (empowered, guided and controlled by), the Spirit (John 16:13; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:18; 2Pe. 1:19-21; 1Jo. 2:20, 27).
We believe the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts, but glorifies Christ in these gifts by revealing Him to His people, implementing His work of redeeming the lost, and building up believers in the most holy faith (John 15:26; 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1Co. 12:4-11; 14; 2Co. 3:18).
We believe that man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created in all spiritual, moral, and physical perfection, with a rational nature, intelligence, emotion, will, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Gen. 2:7, 15-25; Jam. 3:9).
We believe that God's intention in the creation of man was that man should worship glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for man in the world (Psa 86:9, Isa. 43:7; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11, 14:7).
We believe that in Adam's disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, which is sin, man lost his innocence, incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death, became subject to the wrath of God, and became inherently corrupt (Rom. 3:10-11), he is a slave to sin (Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:17), spiritual things are complete foolishness to him (1Co. 1:18; 2:14).
We believe that the only provision for man to be reconciled with God is by the grace of God, seen through the atonement of Christ’s sacrifice. The Bible clearly teaches that anyone who repents of their sins, recognizes and trusts in the authority of Jesus as Lord and accepts the forgiveness of sin through His suffering will be saved and is therefore “Born Again” with the promise of eternal life ( Act 4:12, Jn 3:3, 3:16, and 1 Jn 2:2), through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:13; 6:44-45; Eph. 2:1-9; 2Ti. 1:8-9; 2:25; Acts 13:48; 1 Jn. 1:8).
We teach that salvation is wholly of God, by grace on the basis of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, in the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (Jn. 1:12-13; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10; Tit. 3:5; 1Pe. 1:18-19).
We teach that as the body of Christ on this earth, we have a responsibility to evangelize. Being His body, we are His ambassadors to the lost, and He has chosen us to be the means of preaching His Word of salvation to the masses, that some might be saved. The Christian does not know who will come to saving faith and receive salvation, so he is responsible to evangelize or share the gospel with as many people as he has opportunity to share with. God has established the Christian's duty and privilege to evangelize because He has determined to save sinners through the preaching of the gospel. "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:13-17; 1Co. 1:18-21, 1 Thess. 2:13-14). The gospel therefore should be offered to all people indiscriminately (Matt. 28: 19-20).
We believe that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Rom. 8:28–30; Eph. 1:4–11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1,2).
We believe that the doctrine of election does not contradict or negate the responsibility and part of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezek. 18:23,31,32; 33:11; John 3:18,19,36; 5:40; 2 Thess. 2:10–12; Rev. 22:17), and that each person, individually, must choose to receive, appropriate or take the gift of salvation at which point Christ gives each the right to become children of God (John 1:12). All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37–40,44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8). God simply knows who will, because the chosen will.
God’s good pleasure to save sinners by a substitutionary atonement was founded in the love and justice of God. It was the justice of God that required the demands of the law to be met and His love that provided a way of escape for lost sinners. The atonement is the only means for the salvation of sinful man (Luke 24:26; Gal. 3:21-24; Heb. 2:10; 9:11-14; 10:1-14). If there were any other way to satisfy the justice of God, it would have been rendered (Acts 4:12; John 8:23-24; 14:6).
The atonement made propitiation to God and reconciled man to God by the removal of the wrath of God through the substitutionary work of Christ. However, this reconciliation, being provided for by God, must be appropriated by each man, individually, through faith in the finished work of Christ. Every man comes to the cross of Christ as an individual, not as a family or group. Scripture sets forth the atoning work of Christ as a propitiation (Rom. 3:21-26), a canceling the penalty of sin (Heb. 7:26-27; 9:6-15), reconciliation (Rom. 5:10; 2Co. 5:18-19), and redemption (Matt 20:28; Rom. 3:24; 1Co. 1:30; Eph. 1:7), thereby fully accomplishing it’s intended purpose.
We believe regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the soul is quickened and divine life is imparted (John 3:3-7; Tit. 3:5). It is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the power of the Word of God (John 5:24; Rom. 10:13-17, 1 Peter 1:23). Having been regenerated, the sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, is brought to repentance and responds in faith to the gospel. (1Jn. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29). Genuine regeneration will manifest itself in fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct (1Co. 6:18-20; Gal. 5:17-25; Eph. 2:10) as the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Eph. 5:17-21; Phil. 2:12b; Col. 3:16; 2Pe. 1:4-11).
This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Co. 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming (Rom. 8:17; Col. 3:4; 1Pe. 1:3-5; 1Jo. 3:2-3). While a born-again believer may stumble into sin on occasion, forgiveness is found in the confession of sin to God. Holiness will be the primary direction of his life and is the basis of his assurance (Heb. 6:11-12; 1Jo. 1:8-9).
We believe the justification of sinners is an instantaneous act of God (Rom. 3:21-26; 8:33) by which He legally declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Isa. 55:6-7; Luke. 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 5:1; 2Co. 7:10) and confess Him as Sovereign Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; 1Co. 12:3; 2Co. 4:5, Phil. 2:11). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Rom. 3:20; 4:6), and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Col. 2:14; 1Pe. 2:24) so that our sins are forgiven, and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us (1Co. 1:30; 2Co. 5:21). By this means God is enabled to be “just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
We believe there are two distinct aspects of sanctification, the first one being positional and the second one being progressive. Positional: Every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and identified as a saint. This sanctification is positional and instantaneous, having to do with the believer's standing, not his present walk or condition, and should not be confused with progressive sanctification (Acts 20:32; 1Co. 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2Th. 2:13; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; 13:12; 1Pe. 1:2). Progressive: While beginning at the point of conversion, sanctification progresses as a process by which the practice of the believer as an overcomer is continually brought closer to that position he enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Spirit, the believer is both enabled and compelled to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; Rom. 6:1-22; 8:29; 12:2; 2Co. 3:18; 1Th. 4:3-5; 5:23).
In this respect, we teach that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict--the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh--but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. The total eradication of sin in this life may not be not possible for the believer, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:20-24; Phil. 3:12; Col. 3:9-10; 1Pe. 1:14-16; 1Jo 3:5-9). Hence, we do not teach a sinless perfection, but we do teach that the believer’s life will necessarily be characterized by the pursuit of holiness (1Co. 5:9-13; Tit. 1:16; 1Jo. 2:3-6; 3:9-10).
We believe that all the redeemed once saved are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37–40; 10:27–30; Rom. 5:9,10; 8:1,31–39; 1 Cor. 1:4–9; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:4,5; Jude 24). It is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an excuse for sinful living and carnality. The question then becomes, if a person rejects God and salvation, returning to a life of sin, was he ever really saved? We believe it is God's desire that we make efforts to live close to Him, as opposed to trying to see where the line of “acceptable sinful behavior” is crossed for the believer (Rom. 6:15–22; 13:13,14; Gal. 5:13,16,17,25,26; Titus 2:11–14).
We believe that separation from sin is clearly called for throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Cor. 6:14–7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1–5). We believe that out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. Separation from any association with religious apostasy, and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God (Rom. 12:1,2; 1 Cor. 5:9–13; 2 Cor. 6:14–7:1; 1 John 2:15–17; 2 John 9–11). Thus, we believe that believers should be separated unto the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:17-24; Heb. 12:1-2) and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness demonstrated by a continual pursuit of holiness (Matt. 5:2-12; Rom. 12:1-2; 2Co. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; Tit. 2:11-14; 1Jo. 3:1-10). However, a believer is not to withdraw in isolation from the world; the world is his God-ordained place of ministry (Matt. 5:13-16, John 17:15; 1Co. 5:9-10). Rather, he is to expose the deeds of darkness as one who is in the world but not of the world (Eph. 5:1-17). We do this out of love and gratitude to Christ for what He has done for us, not out of any legalistic obligation.
V. THE CHURCH
The Makeup of the Church
We believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the Church (1Co. 12:12-13), the Bride of Christ (2Co. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32; Rev. 19:7-8), of which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18).
We believe the church is a unique spiritual body designed and built by Christ, made up of men and women in every age who have been saved by grace through faith. The Church is distinct from Israel, though at the return of Christ the elect remnant of Israel will be grafted into the Church and eternally joined to Him (Rom. 11:1-32).
We believe that the establishment, autonomy, and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1Th. 1:1; 2Th. 1:1) and that the members of the Church Universal are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies for edification, worship, prayer, and the ministry of the word (1Co. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25).
We teach the obedient submission of believers to the leaders God has appointed over them (Heb. 13:7, 17), the necessity of discipleship (Matt. 28:19-20; 2Ti. 2:2), the mutual accountability of all believers to one another (Matt. 18:5-14), and the practice of church discipline in accordance with the standards of Scripture (Matt.18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1Co. 5:1-13; 2Th. 3:6-15).
We believe in the autonomy of the local church with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any external hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Tit. 1:5). Churches are to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the one true faith. However, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, each local church should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1Co. 5:4-7, 12-13; 1Pe. 5:1-4).
We believe that God uses the church as His primary instrument to accomplish His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. First, He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:7-12). He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the body of Christ, and that these gifts remain available today, according to the sovereignty of God to bestow them as He sees fit (Rom. 12:5-8; 1Co. 12:4-31; 1Pe. 4:10-11).
The Leaders of the Church
We teach that the one, supreme authority for the church is Christ (1Co. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders or bishops, men called to the primary responsibilities of prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-4). The role of pastor/teacher is a specific function within the office of an elder (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11). Additionally, God has also appointed deacons to the operational and administrative leadership responsibilities of the body. Persons functioning in these offices must meet the spiritual qualifications set forth in the Scriptures (1Ti. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1Pe. 5:1-5).
Women are not restricted from the offices of the church as there are clear examples of women who held leadership offices in both the Old and New Testaments (Jge 4:4, Est 2:17, Col 4:15), however it is acknowledged that these are exceptions rather than the norm. Women are to engage in ministries e.g. preaching the gospel to non-believers, which would include missionary work which is the call of all believers at varying degrees (Mt. 28.19; Act.1.8; 18.24-26); assisting the leaders of the church (Rom. 16.1); mercy ministries (Jam. 1.27); teaching the younger women (Tit.2.3); engaging in teaching one another in the common body life of the church wherein there is no necessary exertion of authority (Eph. 4.25; Col. 3.16; Heb. 3.13); teaching of children (2 Tim. 1.5; Eph. 6.4); exercising spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 11.5; Joel 2.28; Acts 21.9); engage in corporate payers as well as assisting in congregational worship (1 Cor. 11.5; Acts 2.42; 4.27; 12.12). The list above is by no means an exhaustive list on the sphere of women’s ministry. We believe that women who follow the pattern of Scripture will find an abundance of opportunity to serve and impact the world for the kingdom of God.
We believe that God has given the church many spiritual gifts for the edification of the body (Rom. 12.3-8; 1 Cor. 12.1-11; Eph. 4. 11-12). We believe that believers are given a great diversity of gifts making the body of Christ consist of believers with divers talents, callings, and gifts (Rom.12). We believe that every member of the body of Christ is called to use his or her gifts according to their individual gifting, calling, and faith for the mutual edification of the saints (Rom. 1.11-12; 12.3-8). We believe in the Sovereignty of the Spirit over all things pertaining to the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12.11). We do not believe that the spiritual gifts should be a point of division or the test for Christian fellowship (1 Cor. 13.1-2; 14. 40).
We teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: Believer’s Baptism and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:36-42).
1. Believer’s Baptism
We teach that Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the visible demonstration of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to new life (Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:11-12). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42), and is a pledge in the presence of God and His saints to live a life of good conscience before Him (1Pe. 3:21). While we are commanded to be baptized when we are saved, (Acts 2:38, 10:48, 22:16), Baptism has no saving merit or regenerative power; salvation is entirely the work of Almighty God in accordance with the eternal decree of the Father (Eph. 1:3-6), as accomplished on the cross by the Son (Rom. 5:9-10), and applied by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5). A new believer should not put off baptism, but rather, if soundly saved should desire to profess his new birth through baptism.
2. The Lord’s Supper
We teach that the Lord's Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of Christ’s death until He comes. The Lord’s Supper is reserved for those who have been born of the Spirit of God and must always be preceded by sober self examination (1Co. 11:28-32). The Lord's Supper is an actual communion with the risen Christ who is present in a unique way in fellowship with His people (1Co.10:16). Christ tells us it is His body and blood (Matt 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1Cor 11:24-25), and not simply a representation of them. However, while we take the bread and the wine as his body and His blood in the spirit, they are in no way physically transformed into the material body and blood of Jesus Christ. The elements of communion are meant to draw us closer to Christ and one another as His body and bride, in communion, to strengthen and bless us and to bring Christ and our standing as saved ever before our mind in remembrance.
The Mission of the Church
Exalting the Lord: It is the primary mission of the church to bring glory to God. Therefore the corporate meeting of the church is for the exaltation of God in worship, which is expressed in prayer, music, and the reading and preaching of God’s word (Rom. 11:36; 1Co. 14:23-25; Eph. 3:21, Psalm 150, Col. 3:16).
Edifying the Saints: The saints are edified through the means of grace by the instruction of the Word (Eph. 4:13-16; 2Ti. 2:2, 15; 3:16-17; 4:1-2), by biblical fellowship (Acts 2:46-47; Heb.10:25; 1Jo. 1:3), and by the corporate observance of the ordinances (Lk. 22:19-20; Acts 2:38-42).
Evangelizing the Lost: Jesus Christ has given the church an enduring commission to evangelize the lost, with this responsibility extending to every believer. Biblical evangelism must involve both the spoken word and the unspoken testimony of a life transformed by the grace of God in Christ (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8; 1Th. 1:2-10; Tit. 3:1-8; 1Pe. 2:12; 3:1-4, 15). We believe that the work of evangelism should not just be local but that we should endeavor to obey the great commission which extends the purpose of the church regarding evangelism to the whole world (Matt.28:19; Acts 1:8).
Holy Angels: Angels are created beings and are therefore not to be worshiped. Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they are created to serve God and to worship Him (Luke 2:9–14; Heb. 1:6,7,14; 2:6,7; Rev. 5:11–14).
Fallen Angels: Satan is a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator (Is. 14:12–17; Ezek. 28:11–19), by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:1–14), and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Gen. 3:1–15). We believe that Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Is.14:13,14; Matt. 4:1–11; Rev. 12:9, 10), the prince of this world who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 16:20) and that he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Is. 14:12–17; Ezek. 28:11–19; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
VII. Last Things (Eschatology)
Since no one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return, not even Christ Himself in His humanity (Matt. 25:13; Mark 13:32), the timing of the rapture of the saints at the return of Christ (1Th. 4:15-17) and the millennial debate between the various positions among premillennialists and non-premillennialists should not be made a test of Christian fellowship in and of themselves. While the fact of the rapture is undeniable, the conviction regarding its timing together with the millennial issue is subject to one’s presuppositions and the particular interpretive principles applied to unfulfilled Bible prophecy.
As such, Peter’s instruction and admonition sets forth an important principle for the saints. When serious consideration is given to the return of Christ and the cataclysmic destruction that will characterize the impending Day of the Lord, the exhortation to Christians is sobering: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2Pet. 3:11-14 ESV)
A. Death: We believe in the historical orthodox Protestant view of death, which is physical death involves a separation of soul and body with no loss of immaterial consciousness. The souls of the redeemed are made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23) and pass immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23; 2Co. 5:8), while the souls of the unsaved are held, awaiting final judgment.
We teach the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Rom. 8:10-11, 19-23; 2Co. 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:11-15). Believers shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment (Matt. 10:32) and made perfectly blessed in both body and soul unto the full, eternal enjoyment of God. The unsaved shall be condemned at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and cast into hell, the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41-46), where they will be cut off from the life of God, abiding under his undiminished wrath forever (Dan. 12:2; Matt.25:41-46; 2Th. 1:6-9).
B. The Rapture of the Church: We believe in the personal, bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ (1Th. 4:16-17; Tit. 2:11-13) to translate His Church from this earth (John 14:1-2; 1Co. 15:51-53; 1Th. 4:15-5:11) and so the saints shall always be with the Lord.
C. The Day of the Lord: We believe God will pour out the full fury of His wrath upon an unbelieving world (1 Thess. 4:15- 5:1-10; Jer. 30:7; Dan.12:1; Zep. 1:7-18; Rev. 14:13-16:21), and these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory with His saints and His holy angels to judge all those living upon the earth (Matt. 24:27-31; 2Th. 2:7-12;Rev. 19:11-21).
D. 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. Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.
E. Last Things: God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord. Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.
1. The Eternal State of the Lost: We teach the view of eternal punishment for the finally impenitent. We teach that prior to the final judgment Satan will be cast into the lake of fire where he, the beast, and the False Prophet will be tormented day and night forever (Rev. 20:10). At that time Christ, who is the judge of all men (John 5:22), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne Judgment, separating the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-33). The resurrection of the unsaved to judgment will be a physical resurrection, whereupon receiving their judgment they will be committed, under the abiding wrath of God, to an eternal, conscious, and unrelenting punishment in the lake of fire with the devil and his angels (Matt. 7:21-23; 13:40-42, 49-50; 25:41, 46; Heb. 10:26-31; Rev. 20:11-15).
2. The Eternal State of the Elect: We teach that after the Great White Throne Judgment the saved will enter the eternal state of glory with God. Following this, the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2) and will be the dwelling place of the saints, where they will forever enjoy fellowship with God and one another on a "New (Uncursed and glorified) Earth" (Isa. 35:8-10; John 17:3; Rev. 21, 22). The Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the Kingdom to God the Father that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1Co. 15:24-28).