The Bible (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the written Word of God. As a “God-breathed” revelation, it is thus verbally inspired and completely without error (historically, scientifically, morally, and spiritually) in its original writings. While God the Holy Spirit supernaturally superintended the writing of the Bible, that writing nevertheless reflects the words and literary styles of its individual human authors. Scripture reveals the being, nature, and character of God, the nature of God’s creation (its creation, ruination, restoration, second downfall, and eventual redemption); and, His comprehensive plan of redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ. The Bible is in all matters that it addresses the supreme and final authority. Scripture is its own commentary and its own interpreter. The Holy Scriptures are a Christian’s final objective authority on faith and practice. The Bible contains everything needed for a disciple of Christ to grow in spiritual maturity and to live godly in his or her practical walk, bringing pleasure to God.
The physical universe, the realm of nature, is the visible creation of God. It declares God’s existence and gives a trustworthy revelation of God’s character and purpose. In Scripture, God declares that through His creation all humanity recognizes His existence, power, glory, and wisdom. An honest study of nature — physical, biological, and social aspects — can prove useful in a person’s search for truth. Properly understood, God’s Word (Scripture) and God’s universe (nature), as two revelations (one verbal, one physical) from God, will never contradict each other.
There is one infinitely perfect, eternal and personal God, the transcendent Creator and sovereign Sustainer of the universe. This one God is Triune, existing eternally and simultaneously as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three persons in the Godhead share equally and completely the one divine nature, and are therefore the same Deity, coequal in power, nature, and glory (separate and yet indivisible).
Jesus Christ is both true God (the second person of the Trinity) and true man (the incarnate Son of God). He is the “only begotten” Son of God. All things were made by Him and for Him. All events surrounding Jesus Christ’s life and ministry as recorded in Scripture are true, including: His eternal preexistence, His virgin birth, His attesting miracles, His sinless life, His sacrificial death for sin on the cross, His gloriously bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His present work in heaven as High Priest and Advocate. Although He presently ministers on behalf of Christians in the Heavenly Tabernacle, after the order of Aaron; He will return in glory to establish His Kingdom after the order of Melchizedek where He will reign from His own throne in the New Jerusalem in the heavens, with His coheirs (His bride), and from His father David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem, with the nation of Israel, for one thousand years. He will resurrect and judge all mankind.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is divine in nature and coequal with the Father and the Son. His ministry in the salvation of mankind is to convict persons of their sin, to reveal to them the meaning of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection, to convince them that salvation may only be apprehended through/by faith alone in Christ alone; and, upon a person’s decision of faith alone in Christ alone, to breathe eternal life into the spirit of the person; thereby achieving for that person a permanent position “in Christ.” This aspect of salvation is known as the “salvation of the spirit.” His ministry in the sanctification of believers is, upon their willingness to accept it, to teach them the “mature knowledge” of God’s Word, which will thereby transform (mature) them into the image of Christ and will permit them to achieve a life of faithfulness by the “fullness of the Spirit” to God’s glory. This aspect of salvation is known as the “salvation of the soul.” He has always been in the world breathing life into that which was “dead in trespasses and sin” and was sent specifically on the Day of Pentecost to work among the eternally saved to call out a bride for God’s Son (i.e., the bride of Christ will be taken from the body of Christ, which will be determined by issues and determinations that emanate at the Judgment Seat of Christ).
Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God (having rational, moral, and spiritual capacities) to fellowship with Him and to give Him glory. Human beings are therefore the crown of God’s creation (possessing inherent dignity and moral worth), and thus are distinct in kind from all other life on earth. Adam and Eve, the first human beings, chose to rebel against God and go their own autonomous way. As a result, all of mankind became separated from God, the image of God in man became distorted, and the sinful nature passed on to their progeny. Because of original sin (which includes both corruption and guilt), unregenerate human beings are incapable of understanding, pleasing or commending themselves to God. The only remedy for mankind’s pitiful condition is redemption, which is based on Christ’s finished work on the cross, and is achieved through/by faith alone in Christ alone. Man’s composition consists of spirit, soul, and body; each of which is subject to its own unique salvation in accordance with God’s grace-provided plan. Each is essentially described under the heading of “Salvation,” below.
Redemption & Justification
God, in his sovereignty, has acted to bridge the gap that separates mankind from Himself. He sent His Son Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, attested by miracles and by a sinless life, to take upon Himself the sin of all mankind and to pay the full penalty for humanity’s sin on the cross. Jesus Christ suffered and died in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the Father’s just wrath against man, and providing the bases for affecting true reconciliation between God and man. In the atoning death of Christ, both God’s love and God’s justice are fully manifested. The righteousness of Jesus Christ in perfectly fulfilling the law of God has been graciously credited to all believers who need only to receive it by faith alone in Christ alone. Redemption is solely a work of God’s grace, received exclusively through non-meritorious faith in Jesus Christ, and never by works of human merit.
Justification is a judicial act of God’s grace wherein because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, He acquits a person of all sin and accepts the person as righteous in His sight. Justification is strictly a work of God’s grace, apprehended through/by faith alone in Christ alone.
The Bible presents three forms of salvation (i.e., spirit-salvation, soul-salvation, and body-salvation), all made possible by God’s grace-gift of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, and His vicarious sacrifice at Calvary. For it was upon the cross that Jesus Christ paid the penalty-price for the sin of all mankind, which was the spiritual-death He experienced, i.e., separation from the Father, for a three-hour period of time; at the end of which He proclaimed, “It is finished” (lit. “It has been finished”). He then voluntarily gave up His physical life (for man could not take it from him) and He was buried. On the third day He rose from the grave and eventually ascended to heaven where he presently sits at the right hand of God and executes the office of High Priest.
This salvation is a product of the “gospel of grace,” which is the eternal salvation of the spirit, a salvation inclusive of his “redemption” and his “justification” as seen above. It is the grace-gift of God. It may only be apprehended (obtained, achieved) by faith alone in Christ alone. Once obtained, it can never be nullified (cancelled, reversed, abolished) by either man or God. It is eternal in scope, irreversible, and completely apart from works.
This salvation is a product of the “gospel of glory,” and is best seen in the primary gospel presentation throughout Scripture, i.e., the “word of the kingdom.” It essentially means the “salvation of the life,” and has only Messianic verities in view (i.e., is millennial and not eternal in scope). It is a salvation that only believers in Christ (Christian) may address, and it is strictly achieved by their faithfulness in fruit-bearing; and, because it rest upon the believer’s quality of spiritual life subsequent to his redemption. There is therefore no guarantee that it may be achieved. It will be revealed by issues and determinations at the Judgment Seat of Christ, at which time those who qualify will be selected as the “bride of Christ” who will co-reign/rule with Him from a heavenly sphere as they enjoy their inheritance as first-born sons during Christ’s millennial reign upon earth.
The body will be transformed from corruptible to incorruptible at its resurrection or rapture. Those realizing the “salvation of the soul” will have a body covered with glory.
Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead, conquering sin, death, and all the powers of Satan. The resurrection is God’s historical affirmation and vindication of Jesus Christ’s unique identity (as God), mission, and message. Historical evidence of the resurrection is manifest in Christ’s empty tomb, His many resurrection appearances, and in the emergence of the Christian Church (body of believers). Jesus Christ now resides at the right hand of the Father and lives to indwell, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, all who recognize their sinfulness and who receive (through/by faith alone in Christ alone) God’s grace-gift of eternal life. There will also be a resurrection of believers for judgment of their works after being saved, which will result in the assignment of rewards or negative (“just recompense”) consequences, but never the revocation of their eternal salvation. There will also be a resurrection of unbelievers for judgment of their works, which will result in their eternal assignment in the Lake of Fire — because their names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The Church is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ (its Founder, Head, and Shepherd) and it encompasses all true believers at all times and places. The function of the Church is to carry out the Lord’s expressed will through the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the central purposes of the Church is to present the gospel of grace to all mankind (in both word and life), the good news that humankind can find salvation from sin through/by faith alone in Christ alone. The other central purpose of the Church is to make disciples of all who believe in Christ by presenting the “word of the kingdom” message, i.e., the meat of God’s Word. All persons who have placed their faith (confident trust) in Jesus Christ for salvation belong to the Church and are, thus, the children of God forever. This community of believers is made up of people who are neither perfect nor sinless, but by grace they may acquire the “mature knowledge” of God’s Word and thereby become more filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit resulting in the expression of Christ’s love, joy, peace, and other of His qualities. The Church will be raptured (snatched up) to the Judgment Seat of Christ before the Tribulation Period. At this time those believers who have indeed experienced the “salvation of the soul” will realize their inheritance as “first-born” sons of God and will become the “bride of Christ” to co-reign/rule with Him during His coming Messianic Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus Christ will return in the air to receive (“snatch up” or “rapture”) His Church (body of Christ), which will stand before Christ in judgment for appropriate judgment of their lives as Christians (not for their eternal salvation) and for inclusion in or exclusion from the “bride of Christ.” After this the earth will experience a seven-year period of God’s stern judgment, composed of three-and-a-half years of tribulation and three-and-a-half years of great tribulation. After this will follow Christ’s return to the earth, personally, bodily, and visibly to establish His glorious reign along with His bride (taken from His body) in a kingdom that will last for 1,000 years. At the end of this time-frame there will be one more great battle between the forces of good led by Christ and the forces of evil led by Satan, which will result in Satan’s (and his army’s) total defeat. Then Christ will resurrect and judge all unbelievers, and forthwith assign them, along with Satan, to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. Subsequent to this, “God will wipe away every tear . . . there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying . . . [or] pain, for the former things have passed away,” and all believers in Jesus Christ will continue to reign with Christ in a new heavens and a new earth throughout the eternal ages.
The Great Commission
Every believer is responsible to God to spread the good news of God’s redemptive plan (“salvation of the spirit”) to all mankind (by word and life), which is based solely on Christ’s vicarious death on the cross and may be obtained solely by faith alone in Christ alone; and to baptize every believer in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (although baptism is usually accomplished through a local church, every believer may administer it). They are also responsible to teach (by word and deed) believers the “mature knowledge” of God’s Word to the “saving of their souls.”
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