Why Is Doctrine Important to Us?
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching...”
—2 Timothy 3:16
Doctrine means “teaching,” and it is by doctrine or teaching that the great realities of God; our relationship to Him; and the truths of Christ, the Spirit, salvation, grace, and glory are made known to us. It is by doctrine (through the power of the Spirit) that believers are nourished and edified. Where doctrine is neglected, growth, grace, and effective witnessing for Christ cease. There is an inseparable connection between belief and behavior, between divine truth and Christian character. Sound doctrine helps a community of believers guard itself from false teaching, which brings discord and division (1 Tim.1:18-20; 6:4-7). Sound doctrine is important because it is the chief instrument in cultivating godliness among God’s people (1 Tim.6:3).
The Holy Scriptures
We believe in the Scriptures—both the Old and New Testaments—to be the verbally inspired Word of God, written by men in God's control, inerrant and infallible in the original manuscripts and the final authority in faith and life. We accept the grammatical-historical system of interpretation of the Scriptures, and accept the historical record of the Bible as accurate. (2 Tim. 3:13-15; 2 Pet.1:20-21)
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who are identical in essence, equal in power and glory, and possess precisely the same attributes and perfection, each equally deserving obedience. (Deut.6:4; Matt.28:19; 2 Cor.13:14)
The Person and Work of Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God; He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin in order that He might redeem sinful man. He accomplished this redemption by voluntarily giving Himself as a sinless, substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, thereby satisfying God's righteous judgment against sin. He gave proof that He accomplished that redemption by His bodily resurrection from the grave. He then ascended to the right hand of His Father where He intercedes on behalf of His people. (Matt.1:21; John 1:1-2; 14, 18; 10:15; Luke 1:34; Rom.3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Pet.2:2-4)
The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the Divine Person who convicts the world of sin; He alone brings new life to those who are spiritually dead; He places all believers into the one true church, which is the Body of Christ, He indwells them permanently, seals them unto the day of redemption, and bestows spiritual gifts upon them. (John 3:3-8; 14:16-17; 16:7-11; 1 Cor.12:4-11; Eph.4:30; 5:18)
The Condition of Man
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, in innocence and without sin. But in Adam's sin, the race fell, inherited the guilt of his sin and a sinful nature, becoming spiritually dead and alienated from God, so that man is a sinner both by nature and choice. Man, in himself, is incapable of remedying his lost and depraved condition. Depravity has produced a total inability in the sinner to change his character and life, by his own volition, in order to become acceptable to a holy God. (Gen.1:26; 3:1-24; Rom.3:10-18; 5:12; Eph.2:1-3)
We believe that salvation is the gift of God's grace given to all whom God has elected to salvation. It includes all that God does in saving the elect from the penalty, power, and presence of sin and in restoring them to a right relationship with God. As such, it is solely the work of God from initiation to completion. It cannot be gained by good works, but it is a free gift for all who put their trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. The repentant sinner, who, after being enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, is forgiven and saved from his sins and made righteous before God. God's purpose for saving people is to bring Him glory. (John 1:12; 2 Cor.5:21; Eph.1:7; 2:8-9; Phil.1:6; Titus 2:11-14)
Security, Assurance, and Responsibility
We believe that all the saved—those in whom God has accomplished His transforming work of grace—are kept by His power and, thus, are secure in Christ forever. This assurance, however, is not the occasion for sin, for God in holiness cannot tolerate persistent sin in His children, and in infinite love He corrects them. True faith in Christ is expressed by a fruitful, God-pleasing life that endures until death. (Matt.7:20; John 10:27-29; Rom.8:29-39; Heb.12:6; James 2:20; 1 John 5:13)
We believe that God, in the Scriptures, has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. This includes the salvation from the penalty of sin and, just as surely, the provision of sanctification (separation) from sin. Sanctification from sin affects both the positional and practical aspects. Positional sanctification as a work of the Holy Spirit is complete and absolute; however, practical sanctification is a result of the continuing work of the Spirit, using the Word of God to provide nourishment for growth into maturity in Christ. While the Word and the Spirit assure the process of practical sanctification, it is yet imperfect in this life. There is some element of corruption in every part of the fallen nature, which is the source for the war between the flesh and the Spirit. Spiritual growth occurs as believers feed on the Word and are in fellowship with other believers for encouragement and service. (John 17:17; 1 Cor.1:30; Rom.6:19, 22; Heb.10:25; 1 Pet.2:2; 2 Pet.1:3)
We believe the true Church, called in Scripture the Body of Christ, is a spiritual organism. Every person who has trusted Jesus Christ for salvation is a part of the church. The local church, as established in Scripture, is made up of redeemed individuals who have joined together for worship, instruction, fellowship, and evangelism. (Acts 2:42; 13:1-2; 1 Cor.12:13; Eph.1:22)
We believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, instituted two ordinances to be observed by all believers as a matter of obedience, not as a condition for salvation—water baptism, which is subsequent to the believer's profession of faith, and the Lord's Supper. (Matt.28:19; 1 Cor.11:23-26)
The Eternal State
We believe that, at death, the souls of those who have trusted Christ for salvation pass immediately into His presence and remain there in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body at Christ's coming for the Church, when soul and body will be reunited. We then shall be with Him forever in glory. We also believe that, at death, the souls of unbelievers remain in conscious misery until the final judgment when the soul and body will be reunited and cast into the lake of fire—not to be annihilated, but to be separated from God forever in conscious punishment. (Luke 16:19-26; 2 Cor.5:8; Phil.1:23; 2 Thess.1:7-9)
The Second Coming
We believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, physically, and suddenly in power and great glory; and that He will gather His elect, raise the dead, judge the nations, and establish His kingdom. We believe that the righteous will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be consigned to everlasting conscious misery. (Matt.25:23, 30-31; Acts 1:10-11; Rev. 20:1-7; John 5:28-29)
We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.