BIBLIOLOGY (The Bible)
The Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired Word of God. Inspiration is God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs.The emphasis in Scripture is on the finished product of inspiration being God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Inspiration is verbal and plenary; the very words of Scripture are inspired (Mt. 5:18, I Cor. 2:13) and all Scripture is equally inspired. Because the entire Bible is inspired, it is wholly inerrant and infallible. Thus, it is true in everything it affirms, whether in doctrine, Christian living, history, geography, or science. Inspiration is confined to the original autographs (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37 with 1 Cor. 2:13). Copies and translations partake of inspiration in a derivative sense in so far as they accurately reflect the words of the original. God has providentially preserved His Word through the many extant manuscripts.Because the Bible is inspired, it has inherent authority and requires verification from no external source (John 10:17, 35). Although inspiration gives authority, recognition of such authority comes via the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. Individually, believers are enabled to recognize the authority of God’s Word. Corporately, the Church was enabled, in the process of canonization, to recognize those writings which were genuinely inspired.The Word of God should be interpreted using normal means. A normal or literal hermeneutic seeks to place each passage within its historical and grammatical context. Such a process yields a recognition of dispensational distinctions in Scripture which further aid proper interpretation. Although the meaning of Scripture can be derived by any person using a proper interpretive method, the significance is grasped only by believers via the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination (1 Cor. 2:14).
THEOLOGY PROPER (God)
God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support, and end. God has made general information about Himself known to all men through creation (Rom. 1:20) and conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). This general revelation tells men that they are dependent on God (Acts 17:25-28); they are responsible to Him (Rom. 1:32); and that they need acceptance by God. Since the existence of God is a matter of general revelation, God’s special revelation in the Bible makes no attempt at proof.God is a person. His personality is seen in His possession of intelligence (Acts 15:18), will (John 6:38-39), emotion (John 3:16), self-consciousness (Ex. 3:14), etc. The attributes of God may be divided into two categories: Greatness and Goodness. The attributes of God’s greatness include: self-existence (Ex. 3:14), infinity (Gen. 21:33; 1 Kings 8:27), perfection (Matt. 5:48), omnipotence (Matt. 19:26), omniscience (Psa. 139:1-4), omnipresence (Psa. 139:7-12), immutability (Mal. 3:6), and incomprehensibility (Rom. 11:33). The attributes of God’s goodness include: holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; Psa. 99:4-9), truth (Psa. 31:5; 1 Thess. 1:9), love (1 John 4:8), righteousness (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 145:17), faithfulness (Psa. 36:5), mercy (2 Cor. 1:3, Eph. 2:4), and grace (Eph. 1:7, 1 Peter 5:10).God exists wholly and indivisibly, simultaneously and eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). These three persons exist in one divine essence, identical in nature, having the same attributes and perfections, equal in power and glory, worthy of all honor, worship and adoration.God is the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things. God has planned all things according to His own will and for His good pleasure and glory (Eph. 1:11; Psa. 115:3; Psa. 135:6; Isa. 48:11). God created the universe in six normal twenty-four hour days (Gen. 1; Ex. 20:11). Although God has ceased from creation (Gen. 2:2), His work of preservation continues (Col. 1:17).
Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Triune God. He is coequal (John 10:30) and coeternal (John 6:38; 8:58) with the Father. His preexistence is seen in that He was the agent of creation (John 1:3; Col. 1:16) and was manifested in the Old Testament as the Angel of Yahweh (Gen. 16:10-13; Ex. 3:24; Zech. 1:12-13).Via the miracle of the virgin birth, God the Son, without ceasing to be God, became man (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:20-23; Luke 1:34-35). The Incarnation resulted in one Person having two natures: He is fully human (1 Tim. 2:5) and fully divine (Col. 2:9). In adding humanity to His divinity at the Incarnation, Christ voluntarily gave up the independent use of His divine attributes and prerogatives (Phil. 2:5-8). Man’s redemption required the perfect life (Heb. 5:8-9) and death of Christ (Heb. 2:17). Because He is God, He is incapable of sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15, 13:8). Therefore, His work in both life and death was effectual. In life, He perfectly kept God’s law (Gal. 4:4). In death, He paid the penalty for sin demanded by God’s law (1 John 2:2). The infinite worth of the work of Christ, though sufficient for all men (1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9), is efficient only for the elect (1 Tim. 4:10).Christ rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died (Luke 24:36-43), ascended visibly into Heaven (Acts 1:11), and is now exalted at the right hand of the Father as the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18) and as our great High Priest (Heb. 7:25).
PNEUMATOLOGY (The Holy Spirit)
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God. He is coequal and coeternal with both the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4). The Holy Spirit is a person. He possesses the characteristics of personality such as intelligence (1 Cor. 2:10-11), will (1 Cor. 12:11) and emotion (Eph. 4:30).The Holy Spirit was active in the past in creation (Gen. 1:2), inspiration (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the Incarnation (Matt. 1:18). He is presently active in that He restrains the effects of depravity (2 Thess. 2:6-8), imparts spiritual life to the elect (Titus 3:5), indwells (1 Cor. 6:19), baptizes (1 Cor. 12:13) seals (Eph. 4:30), illumines (1 John 2:27), and gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:11) to believers.The gifts the Spirit grants to believers today are intended for use in the service of the local church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:12; 1 Peter 4:10). Those gifts whose purpose was tied to the founding of the Church are no longer operative (tongues, healing, knowledge, etc.). These temporary gifts served to authenticate God’s messengers and their message in the foundational apostolic era (Eph. 2:20; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:2-4).
Angels are spirit beings (Heb. 1:4) possessing the characteristics of personality (1 Peter 1:2; Luke 15:10; Job 38:7; Isa. 6:3). They were directly created in the opening moments of creation (cf. Job 38:7 and Gen. 1:1) as holy beings (Gen. 1:31).Satan is a fallen angel (Isa. 14:12) and the archenemy of God and the godly (1 Peter 5:7; James 4:7). Satan carries out his work as the ‘god’ of this present age (2 Cor. 4:4) and the prince of the world (Eph. 2:2) with the help of demonic emissaries who followed him in the original rebellion (Matt. 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Satan’s future doom is sure due to the work of Christ. All demonic forces were judged at the cross (Col. 2:15) and will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
Man was created by God instantaneously on the sixth day of creation (Gen. 1:26-27). God created man with both material and immaterial components (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). Adam was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) in that he bears a moral and personal resemblance to God. Adam was created as a holy being (Gen. 1:31; Eccl. 7:29).Because Adam’s original holiness was unconfirmed, it was possible for him to fall. As a result of Adam’s fall, all men are born spiritually dead and experience physical death (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12-19). That men are born spiritually dead means that they are sinners by nature and, consequently, by choice. This sinful condition effects the entire person: mind, will, and emotions. It renders men guilty and under the penalty of eternal condemnation (John 3:18; Rev. 20:15; Rom. 5:18).Man, since creation, acquires his body (material component) and spirit (immaterial component) via procreation (Gen, 5:3; Psa. 51:5; Acts 17:26). The image of God in man, although marred by the fall, has not been removed (Gen. 9:6; James 3:9).
Sin is failure to be like God in state (Jer. 17:9; Psa. 51:5), thought (Matt. 5:27-28), or act (Rom. 7:19). Sin entered the world as a result of the fall of Satan (Ezek. 28:11-16; Isa. 14:12-14; 1 John 3:8), and entered the human race as a result of the fall of Adam (Rom. 5:12).Adam acted as our representative and his sin is imputed to the entire race (Rom. 5:12-19), bringing depravity, condemnation, and death. Thus, all men are born totally depraved (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1). Depravity affects all persons (Rom. 3:10) and the entire person (mind [Eph. 4:17-18], will [John 8:24], emotion [Jer. 17:9]) and is therefore total. Therefore, man is totally incapable of saving himself (Matt. 19:25-26; Rom. 1:18; 7:18).
Salvation is wholly of grace in both its provision and application. As a gift of grace, it cannot be earned in any way (Eph. 2:8-9). God’s gracious provision was made through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in both His life (Heb. 5:8-9) and death (Heb. 2:17; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Though the provision is available to all men (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 2:2; 2 Peter 3:9), it is rejected by all except those to whom it is graciously applied. God’s gracious application of salvation means that he unconditionally and effectually grants faith and repentance to the elect (Eph. 2:8; Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25).
ECCLESIOLOGY (The Church)
The church (Col. 1:18, 24) is composed of the total number of Spirit-baptized believers (1 Cor. 12:13). It began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 11:15-16) and continues until the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The Church is God’s vehicle for service in this dispensation (Eph. 3:8-10), is distinct from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32), and will be given exalted position in the kingdom (Heb. 12:23; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21).The local church is the visible expression of the Body of Christ. It is comprised of those believers (Acts 2:47) who have been baptized by immersion (Acts 2:41; 8:38-39); is organized with the two scriptural officers (pastors and deacons [Phil. 1:1]); affirms a common faith (Jude 3); observes the two scriptural ordinances (baptism and communion [Acts 2:41-42]); carries out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20); and meets regularly at stated times (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25).The purpose of the church is to bring glory to God (Eph. 3:21) by edification, evangelism, and expansion (Matt. 28:18-20). The church exercises autonomous authority (Matt. 18:17) under the Headship of Christ and is governed by its pastors (Acts 15:6; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17; 1 Peter 5:3) in consultation with other godly leaders (Prov. 15:22) inthe church and with congregational participation in some decisions (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4-5; Acts 6:5; Acts 15:22).It is God’s desire that the church be pure in both doctrine and practice. Such purity is maintained by exposing and separating from error as well as exercising discipline over disobedient brothers (Matt. 18:16-17; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:8-15; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 John 9-11).
ESCHATOLOGY (The End Times)
The pretributional rapture (John 14:1-3; Rev. 3:10) of the church is the next event to occur according to the prophetic chronology (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The events immediately following the rapture include: the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10); the revelation of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:7-8); his treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27); his breaking of the treaty at the midpoint of the seven year tribulation (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15); unprecedented wrath and judgment (Zeph. 1:14-18; Matt. 24:21); and the marriage of Christ and the Church in heaven (Rev. 19:7).
The Tribulation period will end with the visible, bodily return of Christ and the Church to defeat Satan and his armies (Dan. 7:13-22; Zech. 14:3-9; Rev. 19:11-19) cast the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire, and bind Satan for the Millennium.
The beginning of the Millennium will be accompanied by several events: the OT saints and tribulation martyrs will be resurrected (Dan. 12:2-3; Rev. 20:4); Israel will repent (Zech. 12:9-13:2); there will be a mass conversion of Gentiles (Zeph. 3:8-10); the nations shall be judged (Ezek. 20:33-38; Joel 3:1-3); the Millennial temple will be constructed (Ezek. 40-48); and the marriage supper of Christ and the Church (Matt. 25:1-10).
At the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ, Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations and lead them in a final revolt (Rev. 20:7-9). God will destroy them and cast Satan into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:9-10). Then the unsaved of all ages will be resurrected and judged at the Great White Throne. They will be consigned to the eternal penitentiary of the damned, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). The heavens and earth will be destroyed and a new heaven and earth will be fashioned in which the saved of all times will dwell eternally with God (2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5).