Personal Doctrinal Statement

The following is my Comprehensive Personal Doctrinal Statement which was presented to the Ordination Council at Patterson Park Church on July 13, 2013

Contents

Introduction – Epistemological basis for theology

Doctrinal Statements:

  • God (Theology, Christology, Pneumatology)
  • Scripture
  • Man, Sin and Satan (Anthropology, Hamartiology)
  • Salvation (Soteriology)
  • Church and its Mission (Ecclesiology and Missiology)
  • Final Things (Eschatology)

Introduction – Epistemological Basis for Theology

“The impulse behind confessions of faith is doxological, the desire to speak the truth about God, to give voice to the beauty of holiness in the fullest possible sense. However, the particular forms that historical confessions take are shaped by confrontation. Their purpose is to respond to the spirit of the age by re-articulating in a pointed way the specific content of Christianity so as to face new challenges as well as new forms of old challenges. As a result, formal confessions are characterized by pointed distinctions. They are exercises in drawing boundaries where the particular force of traditional Christian claims is sharpened to heighten the contrast between true belief and false belief…. As they shape our faith, confessions structure our identities.”[1]

“Divine revelation is the source of all truth, the truth of Christianity included; reason is the instrument for recognizing it; Scripture is its verifying principle; logical consistency is a negative test for truth and coherence a subordinate test. The task of Christian theology is to exhibit the content of biblical revelation as an orderly whole.”[2]

“The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God.”[3]

Statements like the previous three quotes are reasons why I have chosen to start with the doctrine of God rather than a doctrine of scripture.  I believe that sometimes when beginning statements with the doctrine of scripture we reveal our modernist tendencies.  Even though we would not explicitly say it, we feel compelled to assume first the inerrancy of scripture before assuming the character of God.  If I am forced to choose one starting presupposition, I would choose to start with the doctrine of God.  Because I believe that God exists and that he speaks, I then believe that the Bible is his word.

God

The one, true and living God is an intelligent, spiritual and personal being of inexpressible glory who is worthy of all worship.[4]  His glory is displayed as he is creator, sustainer and ruler of the universe, redeemer, perfect in holiness, and perfect in knowledge of all things past, present and future.[5]  He is the triune God who reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, distinct as persons but undivided in essence.[6]

1. God the Father[7]

God the Father reigns with providential care over the universe and perfectly directs the course of history and its every detail according to his gracious will.[8]  He treats all humans fatherly desiring to be Father in truth to all those who become his children through faith in Jesus Christ.[9]  Everyone must find their life from God their King and Father being led by the Spirit to be dependent on his word.[10]

2. God the Son

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son, equal with God.[11]  He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.[12]  He perfectly revealed and did the word of God as he became completely human, being fully God and fully man yet without a sin nature.[13]  Through his substitutionary death he is exclusively the savior of all believers.[14]  He was raised from the dead with a glorified physical body and appeared to many witnesses before ascending into heaven.[15]  His present ministry is to be the one mediator between God and man and to rule as Lord over all believers.[16]  He will imminently return in power to judge the world and bring the consummation of his kingdom.[17]

3. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the personal and fully divine Spirit of God.[18]  He inspired men to write scripture and illuminates them now to understand truth.[19]  He convicts the sinner of sin, righteousness and judgment.[20]  He exalts Christ, through the word of Christ, calling men to faith and repentance and effecting regeneration.[21]  At the moment of regeneration he baptizes believers into the body of Christ.[22]  He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows spiritual gifts which empower unified believers for service, discipleship, worship and perseverance.[23]  He indwells believers, fills them, seals them until the final redemption and with his presence sanctifies and provides the believer with assurance of full maturity in Christ keeping them until the end.[24]

Scripture

The Holy Bible was divinely inspired by God and written by men.[25]  Though composed by man, God is its author making it timelessly applicable and giving it one unified message of the redemption that is found in Christ alone.[26]  It is without error, totally true and trustworthy.[27]  It reveals the principles by which God judges us and is the standard by which all action, word or thought is measured.[28]  All scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.[29]

Man, Sin and Satan

God made man as a special creation in his own image for his own glory.[30]  Every person of every gender, race and age possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love because they are all made in the image of God.[31]  In the goodness of God’s creation, he made both genders, male and female, equally in the image of God.[32]  He was originally created innocent of sin.[33]  Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race.[34]  They were created to glorify God in the unity of their distinct complementary roles.  Through the headship of one man and the submission of one woman, marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and the church.[35]  Together in this unity they are meant to fulfill God’s command to rule over the earth and multiply the human race.[36]

1. Sin and the Fall

Being free to choose, man chose to sin and directly transgressed the law of God.[37]  Through sinning the nature of humanity was parasitically polluted.  As a result all children inherit a nature that is totally corrupted by sin and an environment that is pervasively cursed.[38]

Because of this sin nature, as soon as man is capable of moral action he becomes a transgressor and falls under condemnation.[39]  Sin leads to immediate spiritual death because man is cut off from God as their life source and it leads to eventual physical death.[40]

2. Satan and the World

Satan is a created personal spirit who is one of the hosts of fallen angels called demons.[41]  He is the great adversary of God and His people.[42]  He tempted Adam and Eve in the garden.[43]  The world, the flesh and the devil continue to be the agents of temptation today.  Satan and the world’s judgment and final doom are sure.[44]

Salvation

Jesus Christ alone obtained eternal redemption for everyone who accepts him as Lord and Savior.[45]  God’s grace alone is the sufficient reason for salvation to be offered freely to all believers.[46]  There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ,[47] which is accomplished through his perfectly obedient life, his death on the cross and his bodily resurrection.[48]  Salvation is the redemption of the whole man and includes the following experiences: election,[49] regeneration,[50] repentance,[51] atonement,[52] justification,[53] adoption,[54] baptism in and filling with the Holy Spirit,[55] union with Christ,[56] sanctification,[57] perseverance until the end,[58] and glorification.[59]

The Church and its Mission

The local, autonomous, indigenous, gathering of believers embodies and expresses the reality of the one, holy, universal and apostolic church.[60]  This universal church is composed of all believers of every age and culture.[61]  The local church seeks to reflect the universal church in all of its rich principles as the body and bride of Christ.[62]  The church follows Christ as its Lord, is formed by the Spirit, reconciles earthly divisions, testifies to the gospel of Jesus Christ, exercises spiritual gifts, and worships as a new covenant community.[63]  The mission of the church is to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth, making a distinction to all that only those who have faith in Christ are saved.[64]  The two ordinances that the church observes are baptism by immersion[65] and the Lord’s Supper.[66]  The two offices in the church are elders and deacons, and the office of elder is limited to men as qualified by scripture.[67]  The church is governed congregationally by the laws of Christ.[68]

Final Things

The hope and prayer of all believers is that Jesus would return soon and perfectly establish his kingdom and himself as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.[69]  A childlike trust of Jesus now as King allows men to enter that kingdom and begin to enjoy its benefits and fulfill their purpose as servants of that kingdom.[70]  Christ’s imminent, visible and bodily second coming will finally remove his church from the world and will not occur until the full number of his elect are brought in.[71]  This will bring the world to its appropriate end in God’s own timing and way.[72]  The bodies of those who have died in Christ will be raised from the dead and they will join all the saints with him in glory.[73]  A great judgment will then fix forever the final conscious state of men in heaven or hell.[74]  Those who are counted righteous in Christ will receive their reward and live forever in endless joy where sin, death and the curse are no more and those who are counted wicked will die forever in endless punishment never able to receive forgiveness for their sins.[75]

 

footnotes:


[1] Russell Reno, “At the Crossroads of Dogma,” in Reclaiming the Faith, edited by Ephriam Radner and George R. Sumner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), page 105.

[2] Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, vol. 1 (reprint, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1999), 215.

[3] The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1609), and The Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith (1742)

[4] It seems just about impossible to me to give an accurate definition of God, so “inexpressible glory” is something of a paradox.  On the one hand He leaves us speechless, but on the other hand we can not remain silent.  “Inexpressible glory” seems to be a fitting expression in the face of our humility when we see God.  Like Isaiah before us, we are people of unclean lips but we have been given the words to speak.  We attempt what is ultimately impossible but with great confidence that we speak truthfully because we have been given the words to speak and the power of the Spirit to speak those words.  (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3-7; Acts 2:3-4)

“One, true and living” are common characteristics to ascribe to God to establish his uniqueness, yet essential to make the distinction between those who do not believe that God is one, true or living.  Saying that God is one also implies that he is the only one who is worthy of worship.  He is not one among many different gods, he is the only God.  God often describes himself as eternally living.  We worship the same unchangeable God as Abraham worshipped.  (Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 20:1-7; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; Jeremiah 10:10; Matthew 10:37; 12:29-30; Revelation 4:11)

“Intelligent, spiritual and personal” – A host of other communicable attributes could be listed here.  God is spirit is how Jesus describes him, but we must at the same time guard against unintelligent or impersonal views of what it means to be spirit.  Calling God personal seems especially relevant in the face of the many impersonal characterizations of gods in other religions like Allah.  It is helpful to contrast God’s immanence and his transcendence.  God is not only something wholly different than what we are, but he is also intimately knowable.  (John 4:24; Psalm 147:5; 83:18; Hebrews 3:4; Romans 1:20; Jeremiah 10:10)

[5] The glory of God is the end for which all things happen.  He creates not because he needs to but as an overflow of his character.  He makes himself known through creation and all that he does.  (Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:13-14; Psalm 19:1-3; 50:9-15; Isaiah 35:10; 43:7; Acts 17:25; Matthew 25:23; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3)

Little else is said of the doctrine of creation in this document.  I believe it to be an actual event in time where God spoke the universe into existence out of nothing.  Adam and Eve were the first two humans in existence.  All indications point to the passing of time from man’s perspective to be six literal days. (Genesis 1-2)

Holy is also a common fundamental way of describing God.  (Leviticus 19:2; 20:2-3; Isaiah 6:3; I Peter 1:15-16; Revelation 4:6-8)

The phrase “perfect in knowledge” is a direct attack against notions of the “openness of God” or “free-will theism”.

[6] The doctrine of the trinity is certainly common in Evangelical confessions, but a doctrine that is essential to state with clarity.  Historic Christianity has held that three distinct persons exist which are perfectly unified with the exact same essence.  God is one and God is three.  We should expect to stand in amazement of how this is possible and we should not expect to be able to fully grasp an infinite God with our limited understanding.  (Luke 3:22; Matthew 28:19; John 15:26; II Corinthians 13:14)

[7] God the Father should hold a unique focus for us.  Many confessions of faith tend to marginalize him by only briefly mentioning him in theology proper while giving special attention to the Son and Spirit but not the Father.

[8] The primary way scripture speaks about God as father is by emphasizing his eternal providence and perfect outworking of his will.  God made all things and all things were created to show that he is King of the universe.  We submit to God the Father as clay submits to the potter.  God’s sovereignty extends to every minute detail and nothing is left out of his control. (Deuteronomy 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Acts 1:7; I Timothy 1:17)

[9] God is in one sense father to all, even those without earthly fathers.  Everyone, even the fatherless, knows what a good father is like because God is the source of fatherhood.  And yet in another sense, God is only truly the father of those who have become his children.  Believers are right to address God as “our heavenly Father” in prayer, because we seek his will and his kingdom.  (Matthew 7:11; 23:9; John 14:6-13; 17:1-8)

[10] God is the source of all life.  All things are made from him and find their life coming from him.  All prayer is directed to God the Father as Jesus Christ is our mediator between us and Him.  As the Spirit led Christ into the wilderness he also directs us to feed off of the words of God.  The Spirit directs us to call God our Father.  As Father he protects us, teaches us, feeds us, disciplines us and judges us.  (Jeremiah 17:13; Matthew 3:17; 4:4; 6:9ff; Romans 8:13-14; I Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Hebrews 12:5-9; I Peter 1:17)

[11] The Son is equal and eternal with God.  (Psalms 2:7ff, 110:1ff; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 28:19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; John 1:1-18; 5:26; 10:30,38; 14:7-11; 17:1-5; Romans 1:3-4, 21-22; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; Hebrews 13:8)

[12] I almost did not include the virgin birth here.  I think the primary reason it is included in ancient creeds was because it is a test of whether someone believes in the inerrancy of scripture.  But in addition to making this distinction it does have theological merit in demonstrating the relationship Jesus has with the other members of the trinity being conceived by the Holy Spirit and having God as his Father.  With God as his father it can be demonstrated that Jesus does not receive a sinful nature from his earthly father Joseph.  (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:35)

[13] Jesus reveals God.  He is God’s greatest revelation of who he is.  Jesus as a man also perfectly obeyed the word of God, being our prime example and demonstrating to man how he is to live.  (Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:15-15)

[14] The substitutionary death of Jesus is the core of the message of the gospel.  He takes our place on the cross dying the death we deserve and in exchange imputing to us the righteousness that he alone has earned.  (John 1:29; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; Romans 5:6-13; 8:1-4; I Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:14-28; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 John 4:14-15; Revelation 5:9-14; 12:10-11)

[15] The resurrection and ascension are clearly attested to by many witnesses.  More importantly though it is the basis for which we find new life in Christ and have confidence in a risen Lord who intercedes on our behalf.  (Matthew 28:1-6; Luke 24:36-46; John 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5; Romans 8:34; I Corinthians 15:1-8, Ephesians 1:20)

[16] Jesus’ present ministry consists of being mediator and Lord for all Christians.  We offer our prayers through Jesus because he has made a way for us into the Holy of Holies.  At the same time we receive our instruction from him for how we ought to live.  (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16; Ephesians 3:11; Hebrews 9:12-15,24-28; Revelation 19:16)

[17] I will say more later about the nature of the return of Christ.  I thought it appropriate to mention here that the confidence of his return is fundamental to the believer’s identity of him now. (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Titus 2:13-14; 1 John 3:2)

[18] The Spirit is God and is a unique person of the Trinity equal with God (Genesis 1:2; Matthew 3:16; 28:19; John 16:7-15; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 2:10-11)

[19] More is said about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit under the doctrine of scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)

The Spirit illuminates the word of God for us so that we can understand what God says.  Otherwise, left to our carnal mind, we would not correctly interpret scripture.  (1 Corinthians 2:10-14)

[20] Conviction is the primary role of the Spirit in the life of the unbeliever.  Believers too may be convicted of their sin but not in the same way as the unbeliever.  The Spirit speaks to the unbeliever about a coming judgment but to the believer about the judgment that has already come on Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

[21] The primary job of the Spirit is to exalt Christ.  From the beginning of the world to the end, the Spirit is constantly pointing us to Jesus.  The Spirit does nothing apart from driving us to Christ.  From the conviction of sin to the giving of spiritual gifts, Christ is always the focus.  (Luke 4:18-19; Acts 10:44; Hebrews 9:8,14; I John 4:1-6, 13-16; 5:6; Revelation 22:17)

On our own it is impossible for anyone to respond rightly to the message of Christ that the Spirit speaks to us.  Thus, the Spirit effects regeneration so that faith is possible.  Regeneration is where the Spirit of God breathes life into a dead body.  A lengthier discussion of the relationship between regeneration and faith is found under the doctrine of salvation.

[22] The Spirit baptizes believers into Christ.  There is no second coming of the Spirit.  Believers do not need to seek a moment of the baptism of the Spirit which is subsequent to salvation.  Baptism is simultaneous with salvation.  As soon as someone believes, they have the Spirit and they are found baptized into the body of Christ.  Baptism into the body also connotes the doctrine of adoption where a believer is welcomed into the family of God in fellowship with God and other Christians.  (Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 12:3-13)

[23] Spiritual growth is a necessary result of having the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit will be cultivated in the life of the believer.  The comfort that the Spirit provides is directly related to the cultivation that he provides.  Nothing comforts more than the knowledge that God is at work in your heart, changing you to be the person he wants you to be.  Also, if God calls us to something he will empower the believer to be able to fulfill their calling.  What many people don’t consider when thinking about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is that he purposes to cultivate spiritual maturity in the life of the believer.  (Matthew 4:1; Luke 12:12; 24:49; John 14:17, 26; 15:26; Ephesians 3:16: Acts 1:8; Romans 8:26-27; Galatians. 5:22-23)

The purpose of the spiritual gifts is for the empowerment of the believer and the edification of the body.  The work of the Spirit is explicitly Trinitarian.  He gives us access to the Father through Jesus Christ.  The emphasis of the spiritual gifts then is meant to join believers together as the body of Christ worshipping God together with the exercise of our gifts.  (Ephesians 2:18; 4:3-6)

The reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is only made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The true Christian will endure until the end and those who do not persevere prove that they are not true believers.  (Matthew 13:20-21; John 8:31; 13:18; 6:66-69; 1 John 2:19, 27-28; 3:9; 5:18)

[24] The Spirit both indwells and fills the believer.  For the true believer indwelling is a one time, permanent event.    The filling that believers experience is different than indwelling.  This filling can be compared to the temporary filling that came upon believers in the Old Testament.  Because of filling, Christians daily seek to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, daily seeking a renewed life under the mercy of God.  This temporary empowerment called filling is normative for believers today, we still experience times of God’s special strength to do his work, but it does not always look the same.  I do not believe that any of the sign gifts have ceased, but I do not believe that God commonly employs them today.  He could if he wanted to.  (Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 3:11; John 1:33; 3:5-7; Acts 2:1-4; 4:31; Romans 6:3-5; 8:9-11,14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 5:18; 2 Timothy 1:14)

The Spirit is called the Holy Spirit for a reason because his purpose is to make holy, to sanctify.  Believers are specially set apart for the service of God and this only happens because they have been made holy for him.  This sanctification comes because they have first been cleansed from their sins and dedicated to God.  If anyone would serve God they must first be forgiven.  Since the Spirit remains in the life of believers, He will continually make them more holy conforming their image all the time to be closer to the image of Christ.  (Proverbs 4:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 7:1; 13:9; Ephesians 1:4; Philippians 3:12-16;1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 1:5-8)

The perseverance of the saints is made possible through the sealing of the Holy Spirit.  Not only do Christians work to keep themselves in the love of God, but God does the keeping too.  The assurance of salvation for a Christian is not based upon a conversion experience but upon the endurance of the believer.  A one time profession of faith should not be emphasized over or against an ongoing growth in faith.  (Matthew 26:41; Luke 11:35; 9:23; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:11-12, 30; 6:18; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18)

The doctrine of eternal security and assurance of salvation go hand in hand.  Humans do not perfectly understand the mind of God and the mind of God is the only place where eternal security truly lies.  Humans may gain assurance of this salvation through the presence of the Spirit in their lives.  God truly promises to keep believers until the end.  No one can prevent God from fully enacting his plan, not even the believer.  Assurance through continual growth in Christ is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.  (John 10:29; Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13; Hebrews 1:14; 13:5; 1 John 4:4, 13; Jude 24-25)

[25] The Holy Bible consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament.  The phrase “verbally inspired” is a useful one if understood correctly, but omitted because of the confusion that seems to be inherent in it.  The word “verbally” is often incorrectly interpreted to imply some form of dictation theory of the writing of scripture.  I believe even the words and grammatical structures are inspired by God and are useful, when understood correctly, for delineating the truth.  Because I omit “verbally”, I try to explain in later sentences exactly what I believe.  (Exodus 24:4; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Acts 1:16; 3:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21)

[26] Recent studies in biblical theology have been very helpful in emphasizing the unity of the text and the redemptive message of the entire Bible.  A “dual authorship” is important to maintain as the intention of the human author never contradicts God’s intention for us.   With this message, God’s word is timelessly applicable. (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 16:13-17; 21:33; Romans 1:16; 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:15; I Peter 1:10-12, 25)

[27] The Bible does not contain any errors in the Hebrew or Greek original manuscripts, nor are there contradictions.  But, I believe it is not necessary to affirm the doctrine of inerrancy to be a Christian.  (Proverbs 30:5-6; Isaiah 34:16; Luke 16:29-31; John 10:35; 17:17; Romans 3:4; Revelation 22:18-19)

[28] The authority of scripture extends over everything that humans can know.  Though the knowledge contained in it is not exhaustive, it is always authoritative.  What someone learns by general revelation must always be tested with the standard of special revelation.  Christians are held accountable to obey every word of God as recorded in the Bible.  The Bible is effective to guide and teach us the principles by which God would have us live out every detail of our lives.  The hearing of the word of God then should be a heavy matter because to whom much is given much is required.  (Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11, 59-60, 105, 140; Acts 17:11; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48; John 12:47-48; Romans 2:12; 3:1-2; 1 Thess. 5:21; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 4:1, 6; Jude 1:3-4)

[29] This sentence is one of the few sentences where I directly quote from the Baptist Faith and Message.  An appropriate Christological hermeneutic is fundamental to interpreting any biblical passage.  While all scripture does not directly speak about Christ it is all a testimony about him, pointing to him.  Scripture is only rightly understood after it is put within the context of God’s redemption made possible in Christ.  What the entirety of scripture is trying to do, Jesus does perfectly in revealing to us who God is and what his plan for history is.  Therefore Jesus is the Word among all the words of God.  God is saying one thing and his Word is Jesus.  (Luke 24:44-46; John 1:1-4, 14; 5:38-39; Acts 2:16ff; Romans16:25-27; Hebrews 1:1-2)

[30] This one unique qualifier is what sets apart man from every other created being, even angels.  The greater that man reflects the image of God the greater glory that God is given.  This is not only man’s most fundamental identity but his supreme purpose in life.  The first man Adam was the special creation of God and did not arise out of previously existing forms of life.  (Genesis 1:26-28; Isaiah 43:7; Acts 17:26-31; I Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 1:11-12)

[31] The dignity of all humans is a fundamental belief of Christianity.  Discrimination based on God-given characteristics, like age, gender, or race, should be rejected by Christians.  The statement that I make is very similar to the Baptist Faith and Message statement except that I have added the phrases, “every gender” and “every age”.  I think this is important because the image of God in every human is the basis for arguing against such atrocities as abortion or euthanasia.  The greatest evidence of man’s dignity is the fact that God became a man and then died to save him. (Genesis 1: 26-27; John 1:14)

[32] God’s good gift to humanity includes the goodness of two genders.  The distinction in gender roles exists before the fall.  One of the ways mankind rebels against God’s created order is by denying the gender he has given.  Gender selective surgery and the reversal of gender roles should be rejected by Christians as an immoral affront to God’s created order.  (Genesis 1:27; 9:6; James 3:9)

[33] A sin nature is not essential to humanity.  Since man was originally created as good and innocent of sin, Jesus can also be called fully human yet without sin.  And in a sense, because of the tarnishing effect of sin on the image of God, Jesus could be considered more human than we are. (Genesis 1:31)

[34] I believe that Adam and Eve were the historical ancestors to the entire human race.  I believe that this does have bearing on the gospel message and not simply on the way we interpret scripture.  God must be the direct father of the first Adam for the image of God in man to be correctly established.  Also, the promises of God given to man in Genesis 3 lose historical value if Adam and Eve were not the parents of the promise.  This makes a Darwinian understanding of evolution nearly impossible for Christians to accept.  (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 21-22; 3; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 15:45; Romans 5:14)

[35] I am complementarian when it comes to my views on gender roles.  I believe that an egalitarian view of gender roles diminishes the opportunity for proclaiming the headship and submission that is central to the gospel message.  This difference in gender roles exists before the fall and does not have any bearing on the value of the human being.  Through their unity in marriage a man and woman have the great honor of demonstrating Christ’s self-sacrificial love for the church and the church’s submission to the Lord’s will.  Thus one of the most fundamental reasons why homosexuality is a sin is because it does not reflect the self-sacrificial love of Christ in his incarnation as he changes to love someone who is utterly different than himself.  The egalitarian does not have as strong of a case against homosexuality. (Genesis 1:28; 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, 39; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5; Colossians 3:18-21)

[36] Work is the good gift of God and it exists before the fall.  The gender roles are specifically designed to meet both commands of ruling the earth and multiplying the human race.  As man is made from the ground in order to rule of the ground and woman is made from man’s side in order to primarily focus on the multiplication of the human race.  The unity of gender roles allows mankind to better submit to and fit into what God is doing in the universe.  (Genesis 1:28; 2:5,18-22; Psalms 8:3-6)

[37] Man was free to choose to obey or sin and he chose to transgress God’s law seeking independence from God by deciding for himself what is right and wrong.  This freedom of choice in no way infringes upon God’s meticulous sovereignty.  A real choice for man does not mean that his will must be freely libertarian.  There is no logical contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man to choose.  (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12)

[38] The doctrine of total depravity is summarized in the statements that man’s nature is now parasitically polluted, totally corrupt, and pervasively cursed.   (Genesis 3; Psalms 51:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Romans 3:10-12)

[39] A distinction must be made between personal sin and the sin nature.  Everyone is a sinner by birth and by choice.  Sinners must be convinced of their own personal choice to sin before they can accept forgiveness.  This distinction between personal sin and a sin nature allows for what is commonly called an age of accountability.  I do not believe that there is a set age where people become accountable to God, but I do believe that God in his compassion will not condemn those who do not have the moral capacity to choose to sin.  This includes infants and the mentally handicapped.  The Bible is very clear though that everyone is condemned and that no one is innocent.  God in his justice will determine what this means and he will be proved to be just no matter what he decides.  It seems clear to me though that moral culpability comes with moral capacity. (Genesis 6:5,12; Psalms 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; 53:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 18:19-20; John 3:6; Romans 1:19-32; 3:9-23; 5:6, 15-19; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Titus 1:15; James 1:13-15)

[40] When Adam and Eve sinned, they experienced immediate spiritual death and this was demonstrated as they were cast out of God’s presence in the garden and prohibited from eating the tree of life.  Their bodies began to immediately degenerate and the slow process of physical death began immediately.  The same is true for us today.  Our only hope for life is in the author of life.  (Psalm 32:1-5; Romans 6:6; 7:14-25; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22)

[41] Angels, demons and Satan are all created spiritual beings.  Angels are messengers of God who help to mediate his revelation.  God created all angels to worship him and Satan was once one of those angels created for God’s glory.  The demons including Satan are fallen angels who have rebelled against God.  (Ezekiel 28:13-15; Matthew 24:36; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 2:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 1)

[42] Satan, the devil, is the great adversary, accusing God’s people against the truth of the gospel.  (Job 1:6-2:7; Zechariah 3:1-2; Mark 1:13; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:1-10)

[43] (Genesis 3:1-5, 13-15)

[44] Here is the reason why I include a statement about Satan, the flesh and the world under the category of man and sin.  This is the condition that man finds himself in now, surrounded by temptation on every side, directly from Satan, from the world around him and even from inside his own flesh.  Any understanding of who a human is needs to wrestle with this reality that a spiritual war is being waged against us.  One of the greatest comforts any Christian can receive is to be reminded of the inevitable doom of all that opposes God.  The Christian cries out with the prophets saying, “How long O Lord?”  (John 12:31; Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 2:3;6:12; Colossians 2:13,23; 1 Peter 2:11; 4:6; 2 Peter 2:18; 1 John 2:16; 5:4-5; Revelation 20:10)

[45] The exclusivity of Jesus Christ is a critical doctrine to hold in our inclusive and pluralistic society that tolerates everything except exclusivism.  There is no other way to the Father but through Jesus.  He alone purchases us with his blood.  His name alone is able to save.  If someone does not call on the name of Jesus believing in his death and resurrection to atone for sins, then they can not be saved.  The unreached person who does not know Jesus will remain condemned.  No other god, religion, or meritorious work is able to save.  (Matthew 1:21; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; John 14:6; Romans 10:9-11; Acts 2:21; 3:22-23;4:12; 16:30-31; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 1:8; 4:14; 8:25;)

[46] Salvation can not be earned by man.  Jesus alone earned it for us and it is onl by the grace of God that we are offered that salvation.  Not only does God’s grace freely offer salvation to all, but the sufficient reason for our salvation is God’s grace too.  Only God can receive any credit for saving.  (Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; John 1:12-13; 3:16; 1:1-14; Acts 11:18; 15:11; Romans 11:5-7,26-36; I Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7; Hebrews 4:14; 12:24; 1 John 5:1)

[47] Faith is a necessary component for salvation.  Without faith no one is saved.  In order for this faith to be effective it must be placed in the correct object, Jesus Christ and the redemption he purchased through his blood atonement.   It is God’s grace to accept the faith that we have.  Simply having faith is not sufficient, but it is necessary.  (John 3:16-18; Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16-18; 4:3ff; 6:23; 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26)

[48] The perfectly obedient life of Jesus is essential for our salvation.  The value of his blood that is shed for us is dependent on the perfection of his life.  The righteousness that he imputes is what makes the atonement meaningful.  We are not simply made capable of doing good, we are justified in God’s eyes because he sees the blood of Christ instead of the demand of the law on our lives.  Jesus’ death fully satisfies the wrath of God and no condemnation remains for us.  His bodily resurrection is the proof that God’s wrath has been fully satisfied and that it does not continue to punish him.   (Leviticus 17:11; Isaiah 42:21; 53:4-5; Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:21-26; 4:25 1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 1:3, 5:8-9; 8; 8:1; 9:13-15; 1 John 2:2; 4:10)

[49] Election is God’s lovingly unconditional choice made before time began to redeem an already condemned sinner.  It is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.  God’s election does not contradict the free agency of man, and it includes all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.  It undergirds, not diminishes, missions, evangelism and prayer.  (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; Romans 8:28-39; 9:13-20; Ephesians 1:3-10; 3:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:2-23)

[50] Because of man’s totally sinful condition, he must be born again in order to be saved.  Regeneration has already been discussed in the work of the Holy Spirit.  Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.  The Holy Spirit brings the conviction of sin, then He changes the heart through repentance and faith.  This regeneration makes repentance and faith possible. (Matthew 16:26; John 3:3-21, 36; Galatians 2:20; 6:15)

On our own it is impossible for anyone to respond rightly to the message of Christ that the Spirit speaks to us.  Thus, the Spirit effects regeneration so that faith is possible.  I say that regeneration is causal because it is the breathing of the Spirit of God into a dead life.  Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ which the Spirit has enabled us to hear.  Although regeneration is causal in the sense that it precedes faith, it happens simultaneously with the faith that comes from it.  No one has faith who has not been regenerated by the Spirit and no one can be regenerated without faith.  The fall of man so affects a person’s mind and will that man can not on his own accord respond rightly to the gospel unless he has been enabled by God through regeneration to have faith.  Faith is a gift of God’s grace.  Faith is a necessary condition for salvation, but grace is the sufficient condition. (John 3:6; Romans 8:5; 10:17; I John 2:29; Philippians 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9)

[51] Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.  Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace which are brought on by the regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit.  Repentance begins with the crucifying of the old self and the raising to life of the new.  All are commanded everywhere to confess their sin and repent..  The new heart is given to believers in order that they would obey God’s commands. (Psalm. 32:5; 51; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 4:17; 16:21-26; Mark 1:15; Luke 15:18-21; 18:13; 22:20; John 1:11-14,29; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 10:12-13; 13:11-14; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 5:17-20; Galatians 5:22-25; Colossians 3:1ff; Hebrews 8:8-12; James 2:14-26;4:7-10)

[52] The atonement is the vicarious substitution of Christ’s blood on our behalf which covers our sins.  The nature and extent of the atonement has been a subject of debate in the past.  The atonement is unlimited in its scope but limited in its efficacy.  This means that Jesus died to cover the sins of all people of all time, but the effect of this cover is different and salvation is not applied unless a person has faith in Christ.  To an extent common grace is a covering of sin.  All people are not immediately punished for their sin although they stand under condemnation.  God’s patience and kindness toward them are not possible except by the blood of Jesus.  Just as God was patient with the sins of people in Noah’s time and in a sense Noah was temporarily saving people from their impending doom.  The blood of Jesus is able to save everyone but is only effective for those who accept him.  I do believe in a particular redemption, that Jesus died for specific people.  But, I also believe that Jesus died for everyone, and in saying this I do not believe that this means that all are thus saved.  (Leviticus 16; Romans 3:23-25; 1 Peter 3:9, 20; I John 2:2; Titus 2:11)

[53] Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.  Justification is an accomplished event that is effective for the believer at the moment of first having faith in Christ.  It is a legal event where the believer is declared to be both forgiven and righteous.  This righteousness is the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.  Forgiveness through the perfect blood atonement of Christ’s righteous life is the only basis for God’s justification. (Proverbs 11:31; John 5:24; Romans 1:17; 5:8-10; 6:18, 22; 7:6; 10:9-10,13; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Ephesians 1:7 1 Peter 4:17-18 ; 1 John 2:29; 3:7)

[54] When God saves us he adopts us as members of his family.  We enter into personal relationships with God and his people.  Jesus is in one sense our eldest brother and we receive the inheritance of spiritual blessings along with him.  As a son of God we are disciplined by him.  We are to receive all things from our Father in heaven and do all things to honor him as our Father.  (Psalm 103:132-14; Matthew 6:9-12, 32; 7:11; John 1:12; 8:41-44; Romans 8:14-17, 23, 29; Galatians 3:23-26; 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:1,6; Hebrews 12:5-10; I John 3:1-2)

[55] Baptism in and filling with the Holy Spirit has already been discussed under the work of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at the moment of salvation and not in a later stage.

[56] Union with Christ is the relationship believers have with Christ which enables them to receive all the benefits of salvation.  When God thinks of a believer, he sees the perfect life of Christ, his death and his resurrection.  Now believers are able to pray before the throne of God because Christ has brought us there through his blood.  Believers can now live a godly life along with the body of Christ because they are now in Christ.  Ultimately, we are mysteriously partakers of the divine nature in fellowship with each member of the Trintiy.  (John 15:5; Romans 6:5; 8:1-18, 29-39; I Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:4; 2:5-13; 4:32; Colossians 2:12; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Peter 1:4)

[57] Sanctification is the process by which the believer is set apart for the service of God.  They are enabled beginning with regeneration to progress morally and spiritually through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.  The Christian becomes more holy in the same image of Christ giving evidence of growth throughout their life.  Even though a Christian may sin, the big picture of their life demonstrates a Christ-like direction.  (John 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Titus 2:11-14)

[58] All true believers endure to the end.  The perseverance of the saints is made possible through the sealing of the Holy Spirit.  Not only do Christians work to keep themselves in the love of God, but God keeps the believer too.  The assurance of salvation for a Christian is not based upon a conversion experience but upon the endurance of the believer.  A one time profession of faith should not be emphasized but instead an ongoing growth in faith.  Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation and thus grieve the Spirit, but all true believers shall be kept by the power of God through faith. (Matthew 26:41; Luke 11:35; 9:23; John 10:9,28-29; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:11-12, 30; 6:18; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 1:12; James 1:12; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:19)

[59] Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.  Christians are finally perfectly united with Christ and they share in his glory by perfectly reflecting his character.  (Romans 8:17;30; 2 Thessalonians 2:14)

[60] An understanding of the universal church must come before understanding what the local church is.  The universal church is the eternal reality that never ceases, but the local church is the temporary reflection of that spiritual reality.  The church is characterized by its unity.  There is only one church.  But, local churches are a reflection of that greater reality.  One day there will be no more local churches because we will be perfectly in the presence of God.  The attributes “one, holy, universal and apostolic” are historical Christian adjectives used in many of the creeds.  The local church though is autonomous without any organizing body above it.  But at the same time it finds itself cooperating with other local churches in order to reflect the oneness of the body of Christ.  Christ has made his Church holy but local churches still seek a greater degree of holiness.  The apostolic teaching is the faithfulness to the Word of God that churches have handed down for centuries.  (Acts Ephesians 4:; Revelation 22; Matthew 18:17; Acts 4:32; 5:11; 8:1; 11:31; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-13; 4:17; 14:23; Galatians 3:27-28; Ephesians 4:4-6; 11-16; 1 Timothy 3:5; 3 John 9; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3; 22)

[61] The democratization of the Spirit is a unique demarcation between the Old and New Testaments.  The church is supposed to be composed of all believers of every age and culture.  We ought to seek this diversification and inclusiveness with regards to gender, age, status, and culture.  We should be saddened by the lack of diversity represented in many of our churches.  (Joel 2:28-29; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:13-22; 5:25-27; Romans 1:16; 10:12; I Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians 3:11)

[62] Many pictures are given of the church, including the body, bride, or a building.  These rich principles inform local churches about how they are to act.  (I Corinthians 12; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 4:11-16; 5:25-32; Colossians 2:19; Revelation 21:2-9)

[63] Jesus Christ is the only authority of the church.  He is its Lord because all authority has been given to Him. The Spirit forms the church and it can not be controlled by human initiatives.  The church breaks down all of the common barriers that are seen in fallen man, like racial, economic or cultural barriers.  The church is the display of the gospel demonstrating through human reconciliation the hope of reconciliation with God.  The church testifies to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new covenant in his blood as its central message.  The Spirit gives every believer spiritual gifts that must be exercised in the body.  The sign of the church is its corporate worship.  (Matthew 16:15-19; 28:18; Acts 2:41-42, 47; 13:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 5:12-13; 12:14; 14:12; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Ephesians 2:19-22; 4:7; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:18; I Timothy 4:14)

[64] It is the duty of every Christian to make disciples of all nations.  A regenerate heart births a love for others which is chiefly demonstrated in the verbal proclamation of the gospel.  A Christian lifestyle and social initiatives undergird this testimony.  The message of the missionary is the exclusive gospel of Jesus, that unless you have faith in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins, you can not be saved.  (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17)

Church discipline is fundamental to the effort of the church to proclaim the gospel.  The church can not tolerate those who profess to be Christians but do not demonstrate a repentant heart.  The distinction between those who are Christians and those who are not is imperative for believers to receive assurance of their continued faith in Christ and for the world to know what it truly means to be a Christian. (Matthew 18:15-20; 28:18-20; Acts 5:11-14; Romans 16:17-20; 1 Corinthians 5:4-6; 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:6)

[65] Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and for taking the Lord’s Supper.  It should only happen once in the believer’s life as an act of obedience in order to symbolize the public testimony of faith in Jesus.  It symbolizes faith in the believer’s union with Christ in his death burial and resurrection to new life.  (Matthew 3:5-6; 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:22-23; 4:1-2; Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36-39; 10:47-48; 16:32-34; 18:8; Galatians 3:27-28)

[66] The Lord’s Supper is the symbolic remembrance of the death of Christ.  As an act of obedience, the church should regularly and corporately partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine.  The believer solemnly self examines and confirms their continued association with the body of Christ.  (Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-25; Luke 3:21-22; 22:14-20; John 3:23; 6:26-71; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; I Corinthians 5:1, 8; 10:3-32; 11:2, 11:17-32; Colossians 2:12)

[67] The congregation should set aside a plurality of elders to be the leaders of the church.  The elders are restricted, among other qualifications, to be only men, while deacons do not have this restriction.  The elders represent the church in leadership and take as their primary task the teaching of God’s word and prayer.  Women are prohibited from leadership for the same reason that women are prohibited from being the heads of their husbands.  Men take the role of headship to demonstrate that Christ is the true head of his Church.  (Acts 6:3-6; 14:23; 15:22; 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3; Titus 1; 1 Peter 5:1-4)

[68] I believe that congregationalism is the best form of church government.  The evidence of the New Testament is that the local congregation holds the responsibility of making the final decisions regarding their faith and practice.  Even Paul submits to the church at Antioch as they lay hands on him.  (Matthew 28:20; John 14:15, 21; 15:12; Acts 13:2-3; 15:1-30; The Epistles; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 5:1-13; 7:17; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 4.2; 1 John 4:21; 2 John 6; Jude 1:3)

[69] The first thing that comes to mind when the Christian thinks about the future should be our hope.  Christians should long for the future knowing with full confidence that what lies ahead God is working together for our good.  Jesus teaches the Christian how to pray about the future asking for God’s kingdom to come.  No interpretation about future events is framed well unless there is a clear understanding of what God’s kingdom is.  (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 6:9-10; Romans 8:19, 28; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; 11:10,16; 1 Peter 4:13)

[70] The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over those who willfully acknowledge Him as King.  Christians are meant to live for a purpose, and they will live forever fulfilling the purposes of service in God’s kingdom, ruling with Christ over the cosmos for eternity.  From the moment we are saved and throughout the rest of eternity we are supposed to live as a kingdom of priests, spreading the peaceful reign of God to every corner.  Entrance into the kingdom comes with faith in Christ.  For this reason, the kingdom is very near, because Jesus is so accessible.  Christians first bring the kingdom to all corners of the earth by introducing people to Jesus as their Savior and Lord who can rule over their hearts.  (Genesis 1:1; 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 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22)

[71] Many passages, including Jesus’ own words and the testimony of the early church all indicate that Jesus could return at any minute.  We must hold that his return is imminent.  Yet a tension exists because there is a sense in which his return has been delayed.  God is eager to bring about the consummation of Jesus’ kingdom bringing justice and vindication for the sins of the world, ending Satan’s reign once and for all, even though he has been effectively defeated on the cross already.  But, the only reason God is patient in bringing about the final judgment in Christ’s return is because he is waiting for the full number of elect to be brought in.  In this way Christians hasten the return of Christ by proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth.  (Matthew 16:27; 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 12:40; 17:22-37; 21; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2; James 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 2 Peter 3:7-18; Revelation 3:11)

[72] We must humbly acknowledge a degree of agnosticism here.  We can not know exactly how God will bring about the end of the world.  Any view regarding the rapture, the tribulation, or the millennial kingdom must be held loosely since the prophecy of scripture is not always literally interpreted.  If I am forced to choose a position, I would call myself a-millennial.  I do not agree with the classically dispensational hermeneutic that results in much speculation about the timing of the final events of history.  What scripture is clear about though is that the return of Christ signals the end of all things and that he comes again to judge the world.  This imminent judgment does not seem to leave room for a one thousand year waiting period.  In addition, there is not sufficient evidence to say that Christians will be removed from any tribulation, but on the contrary they must endure until the end. (Luke 12:40; 17:22-37; 21; Acts 1:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1ff.; 2 Peter 3:7-18; Revelation 19:11-20:6)

[73] Christians who have died before Christ returns will be raised to life with a physical glorified body which is just like Christ’s glorified body after he rose from the grave.  It is important that our resurrection be with both a physical and glorified body.  It is glorified because it is flawless and untainted by the curse.  The physical nature is retained to demonstrate the reconciliation of all things in Christ and to indicate that our eternal kingdom purposes continue in the physical new heavens and new earth.  (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Daniel 12:2; Luke 14:14; John 5:28-29; 6:40; 11:25-26; Acts 10:42; 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:12-59; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 3:13; I John 3:2; Revelation 21:1-2)

[74] The return of Christ signals the coming of a final great judgment.  The Bible often indicates that the final judgment will come with the second coming of Christ.  The point of his return is for this just vindication.  Once all are saved, he will not delay any more.  Heaven and hell must also be admitted to be true realities and those who exist in them have an eternal conscious existence.  There is a great divide between the two that can never be crossed and there is no other realm of existence.  (Isaiah 2:4; Matthew 13:37-43, 49; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27, 30-31, 44; 25:31-33; Luke 16:19-31; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:2-16; 3:5-6; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12; Hebrews 6:1-2; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Revelation 20:11-15)

[75] The basis for everlasting joy and everlasting punishment is the righteousness of the individual as they experience eternal rewards or eternal punishment.  The Christian bears the imputed righteousness of Christ and only with His righteousness can they justly experience the blessing of heaven that only Jesus deserves.  In addition, rewards are given in heaven for faithfulness, making the righteous works of Christians in this life to have eternal significance.  (Isaiah 11:9; Matthew 25:35-41; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; John 3:16; 4:36; Romans 6:32; 14:10-12; Philippians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; Jude 7; Revelation 20:15; 22:11)

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