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my beliefs

What follows is a snapshot of my essential beliefs. For a fuller treatment of each topic below, see my Toward a Christian Theology.

The Bible

The Christian Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God and the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of all people everywhere and at all times. God’s Word is the final authority for Christian faith and life. The Scriptures were written by humans who were divinely inspired at the time of their writing. Thus their product is God’s revelation of Himself to everyone. Translations that are faithful to the original texts are completely true and trustworthy. (See Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21)

God the Father

There is one and only one true and living God, who is Creator of all things, infinitely perfect in love, power, and knowledge. He eternally exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and all of human history according to his sovereign purposes. He is fatherly in His attitude and treatment toward all people. (See Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7)

God the Son

Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son of God and God the Son who is fully God and fully human, conceived of God’s Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Entirely without sin during his earthly existence he died a substitutionary death on the cross and made a complete and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of all people according to the Scriptures. Three days later, He arose bodily from the dead, appeared to His disciples, and ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of God the Father sits as the High Priest and Advocate of all who, through faith alone by grace alone, have become His chosen. In the Person of the Holy Spirit He now lives in all believers as their living Lord. (See 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; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1- 3,9, 34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16)

God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and, therefore, is fully God. He inspired writing of the Scriptures and continually illuminates people to apprehend truth. At the moment of regeneration He unites every believer into the Body of Christ. Gradually but certainly He cultivates Christ-like character and comforts His own. He seals every true believer for eternity and guarantees the fullness of maturity. He enlightens and empowers believers individually and the church corporately in worship, evangelism, and service. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict all people of sin, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living. The Spirit of God sovereignly bestows special gifts and abilities to every believer for service in the Church and to the world. (See Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17)

Humanity

All people everywhere are created in the image of God but willingly fell into sin and are without hope of heaven. Consequently, everyone sins by nature and by choice. Only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation be obtained and genuine human freedom not to sin restored. The image of God as originally designed is renewed whereby full humanity is gradually realized. Only the grace of God can bring individuals into a relationship with Him and enable authentic purpose and meaning. The sanctity of all humans is evident in that all are created in God’s own image. Therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love. (See Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18, 29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11)

Salvation

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the only basis for being made right with God (justification) and establishing a relationship with Him (salvation) through faith alone by God’s sovereign grace alone. Faith is the sum total of belief and repentance and is the only means of reversing the effects of the sin nature. Although repentance is necessary for salvation, it is not sufficient as a means apart from belief in Christ’s finished and final work on the cross. Only those who receive Jesus Christ through faith by grace are born again and become children of God forever. No human acts, including water baptism, are to be considered meritorious unto salvation apart from God’s free grace. (See Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5)

Church

The true Church is composed of all God’s elect and chosen persons who through faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the Body of Christ of which He alone is the Head. Believers may fall into sinful acts through neglect and temptation impairing their graces and grieving the Holy Spirit, thus bringing reproach on the name of Christ and temporary judgments on themselves. Yet all true members of the Church shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto final salvation. (See Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39– 12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2)

Jesus Christ is the Lord and sole Head of the Church and every local church has the privilege, under Christ, to choose and govern its own affairs within the confines of Scripture. As the Body of Christ the Church includes all believers of all ages, from every tribe, and tongue, people, and nation. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through the loving guidance and leadership of a team of biblically qualified elders who shall be viewed as co-equal in status and authority but distinct in function as God has enabled and gifted them. Individuals are responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord and to their leaders as shepherds. (See Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3)

Water baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper are practices to be observed by the Church during the present age. Both are symbolic representations of a uniquely Christian reality and are to be observed only by those with expressed faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. They are not to be regarded as a means of salvation. (See Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1- 7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16)

The Future

The Lord Jesus Christ will someday be revealed and personally establish a literal reign here on earth. The timing of His appearing, however, is not to be regarded as a dividing point amongst believers, but should play a vital role in the personal life and service of every believer. All people who have died will experience a bodily resurrection; the believer to everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord; the unbeliever to everlasting conscious punishment away from the presence of the Lord. The full consummation of the new Kingdom awaits the revelation of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. (See Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:6, 9, 18; 3:11; 5:10; 11:15; 20:1-22:13)

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ). Galatians 3:28

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