God the Father
I believe that there is only one true and living God (Deuteronomy 6:4), the Father and Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1), an infinite personal spirit (John 4:24), perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, love and knowledge. I believe that He is unchangeable in His being (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), all glorious in His nature (Psalm 145:5), and absolutely sovereign over creation, providence and redemption (Psalm 115:3). He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, in that He hears and answers prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), and in that He saves from sin and eternal death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 8:33)
Jesus Christ is fully God (John 1:1) and fully man, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16), conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). The Scriptures teach of His virgin birth (Luke 1:34-35), sinless life (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5), and miracles (Acts 2:22). Our hope is in His substitutionary atoning death (John 11:25; Romans 5:11; Hebrews 10:12), bodily resurrection (Acts 1:3), ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9), perpetual intercession for His people (Hebrews 7:25), and personal visible return to earth (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 1:7).
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit came from the Father and the Son (John 15:26) to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), and to apply the benefits of Christ’s work to the elect in regeneration and sanctification (John 3:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by the Spirit at regeneration (1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts, helps, teaches, and guides every believer (1 Corinthians 12:11; John 16:13). The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is one in essence, co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existing with God the Father and God the Son (Acts 5:3-4; Psalm 139:7-8; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
The Bible teaches of the existence and personality of Satan, a fallen angel, who led a great company of angels into rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-15). He is the great enemy of God and man (Genesis 3:15). His work includes sowing lies (John 8;44) and bringing accusations against the children of God (Revelation 12:10). However, Satan has been disarmed (Colossians 2:15) and his work has been destroyed (1 John 3:8; John 12:31) He and his demons will one day be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
The Bible teaches that salvation is found only in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Salvation is an act of the Trinity, completely devoid of any participation on behalf of mankind, as he is unable to save himself (Romans 9:16). Nevertheless, this is not meant to belittle or nullify the fact that men everywhere are responsible for their sin and their own repentance (Acts 17:30). Salvation originated with God the Father in His eternal, unconditional, and merciful acts of election and predestination (Ephesians 1:3-6); Salvation is brought to fruition by God the Son in His perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection, resulting in our redemption, adoption, reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification (Ephesians 1:7-12; 1 Corinthians 1:30); Salvation is then communicated, or applied to us, by God the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). The Spirit changes us from the inside out, preforming the gracious act of regeneration (John 3:8). With this comes the gift of faith and the spiritual ability to believe in Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, our salvation becomes a present reality, and He spurs us on in our sanctification (1 Peter 1:2). It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that serves as a seal (Ephesians 4:30), establishing us as children of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).
All people are created by God in His image (Genesis 1:26), to glorify Him forever (Isaiah 43:7; Romans 15:6). As image bearers, each human being has inherent worth and dignity from the time of conception (Psalm 139:13). However, because the first couple, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command when tested, they and all people since are alienated from God and are sinners by both nature and choice (Psalms 51:5; Romans 5:12). Because God is Holy and cannot tolerate sin, all people are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), under condemnation, and unable to save themselves or remedy their condition (Romans 3:10-23).
The church is the body of Christ; of which He is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23). There is a universal, invisible aspect, in which it is composed of all of the elect who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:23), including both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-18; 1 Corinthians 12:13). It also has a local, visible aspect whose members consist of an assembly of baptized believers (Acts 2:38-42) who come together for worship (Psalm 27:4;), Bible study, prayer, fellowship, evangelism (Acts 1:8), and the observance of the ordinances. The Scriptures teach that there are to be men appointed as elders (pastors & bishops included) to lead and care for the body of Christ (1 Timothy 3:1-7), with deacons also serving with them in the ministerial care of the body (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
The Virgin Birth
Jesus Christ was literally conceived by the Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35) in the womb of the virgin named Mary (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27). This was a fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14).
Baptism is an ordinance of the church given to us by Christ (Matthew 28:19). The Scriptures teach baptism of the regenerated believer by immersion in water (Acts 8:36-38; Acts 2:41; John 3:23; Acts 8:12-13). By experiencing baptism, a believer publicly declares his repentance of sin, his union with Christ, and his new life in Christ (Acts 2:38), particularly by symbolizing our joining with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-12). This ordinance is not a means for salvation (1 Peter 3:21), but is a visible sign of our invisible faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is an institution of the church given by Christ (Luke 22:19-20) in which we commemorate the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross until He comes again. The elements of the Lord’s Supper are bread and fruit of the vine, and they only embody a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Christ (Matthew 26:26-29). The Lord’s supper should only be taken by regenerated believers and should be preceded by honest self-examination of our faith and our sin, repenting of any sin we have not yet surrendered to the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-31).
Priesthood of Believers
Scripture describes believers as “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). Christ has bridged the gap between us and God, allowing us access to God (Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 10:19-20). Now, we are able to offer spiritual sacrifices of praise and works (1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15-16). The greatest benefit that this has for the believer is our ability to go boldly before the throne of God in prayer, petition, and supplication (Hebrews 4:16).
The Scripture teaches that the elect, who are called by the sovereign grace of God, are also justified in the sight of God on account of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:30; Philippians 3:9) Justification is a judicial act of God in which He pardons us as sinners, accepts us as just, and restores our right relationship with Himself from our previous enmity with Him (Romans 3:23-26). The cause and prerequisite of justification is our personal faith in Jesus Christ as crucified Savior and risen Lord, because the meritorious ground of our justification is entirely in Christ (Romans 5:1, 9). Therefore, our justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God. (Romans 3:24; Galatians 2:16).
The death of Christ on the cross was not for anything that he had done wrong, but was for our sins (1 Peter 2:24). It was our sins that Christ propitiated (1 John 2:2). Christ suffered our punishment, in our place, to satisfy the wrath of God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:9; 1 Peter 3:18).
All who are drawn to Christ are sanctified by the Holy Spirit and called to live a holy life before God (1 Peter 1:2, 15-16). Sanctification is a progressive work of God’s grace in which the believer participates by confession of sin, repentance, holiness of life, and conformity to the Lord’s will. (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:13-14)
I believe that tithing is a practice that is recommended in the New Testament as something that is beneficial to the believer. I am unaware of any clear command to tithe in the New Testament and understand the New Testament teaching on giving to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). I acknowledge the Old Testament commands to tithe (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5), but consider these requirements to have been fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15) and now giving should be done according to what each person “has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).