INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as originally given, the essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. Divine inspiration occurred as the Holy Spirit superintended the human authors in their different styles of writing so that divine revelation would be given to humanity as God-breathed Scripture, the very words of God written without error in whole or in part. The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but is, in reality, the whole counsel of God, the trustworthy and sufficient standard by which all truth claims must be tested, the sole authoritative rule for faith and practice. We believe, therefore, that the Scriptures are to be studied, proclaimed, obeyed, and cherished and that every portion is, without exception, profitable for doctrine and Christian growth.
THE ETERNAL GOD
We believe in the one true and living God, the Almighty Creator of all things, visible and invisible and that His eternal being is triune, one God in three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are infinitely transcendent in holiness, power, and glory, having identical attributes and perfection. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly Deity, and each is equally worthy of worship, obedience, trust, and awe.
GOD THE FATHER
We believe that God the Father is the eternal source of all that exists, who as Creator of heaven and earth, has given witness of His eternal attributes and His infinitely wise sovereignty. The Holy Scriptures reveal the transcendent immutable, immortal, incomprehensible holiness and glory of God the Father.
The Father’s plan for relationship with His creatures necessitated the ultimate and absolute act of redemptive sacrifice from Him – the sending of His only begotten Son to bear the penalty of His righteous wrath that men might be reconciled to Him. The will and purpose of God the Father are executed eternally, wisely, providentially, and graciously that men may know Him, fear Him, worship Him, obey Him, serve Him and glorify Him with gratitude and joy. In His eternal counsels, the Father ordained and provided in the New Covenant for His law to be written on the fleshly tables of regenerate hearts so that He might dwell among His people and that they may dwell with Him in the splendor of His holy presence throughout eternity.
THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST
We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the living God and that He is fully God and fully man, having existed before all things came into being as the eternal Word. We believe that Jesus the Son was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, that He lived a sinless life, ministered in mighty miracles among men, and that He voluntarily sacrificed Himself on the cross in bloody death once and for all on behalf of mankind. As the Lamb of God, the Son was sent to redeem sinners from the just wrath of God by the efficacy of His atoning blood. By His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, He revealed the redemptive nature of divine love and upheld divine justice, reconciling us to God. By confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, we acclaim Him as Savior, King of kings, the only Mediator between God and men, the Good Shepherd, and our great High Priest who ever lives to intercede for the redeemed at the right hand of God.
THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION
We believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead on the third day as the Scriptures said, in a glorified state in which He appeared to His disciples over many days teaching them concerning the Kingdom of God; and that after forty days the risen Savior ascended into heaven in glorious authority, hailed by the angelic company and seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. In His ascended glory He assures the church that He must reign until all His enemies are subdued under His feet. The ascended Lord is Head of the Church and Shepherd and Overseer of the souls of the redeemed.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe the Holy Spirit to be the third Person of the Triune God whose purpose in redemption is to convict men of sin, regenerate the believer through repentance and faith, sealing the redeemed person in God’s family, and further, to guide, strengthen, anoint and endow the church with ministry gifts that the church and individual believers may glorify the Lord Jesus Christ as His witnesses and servants in the world.
We believe that all who receive Jesus Christ in the new birth are recipients of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We distinguish, however, between the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a vital act of God’s power available to any redeemed person either simultaneous with or subsequent to the new birth. With this power baptism comes the privilege of speaking in tongues, which is of great edification to the believer. We believe the distinctive promise of God’s power in the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to be accepted by faith as God’s gracious provision leading to an ongoing thirst for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in daily life.
Consistent with this promise, we affirm that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit found in Scripture are distributed to the Body of Christ in the wise sovereignty of God and that these gifts, in the context of a fully biblical ministry under godly authority, are a vital part of the church’s experience in worship, evangelism, and congregational maturity. We further believe that these gifts are to be desired earnestly, discerned in the light of Scripture, and accepted with gratitude.
MAN – IN CREATION, THE FALL AND SALVATION
We believe that man was created in the image of God and was endowed with inherent worth, dignity, and freedom by virtue of the Creator’s eternal purpose and grace. However, man sinned and fell in utter disobedience and shame and in his original sin, experienced the fierce wrath of God and, as a result, death reigns in humanity. In his fallen state, man is helpless, lost, undone, without God, and without eternal hope. All his efforts at righteousness are futile and cursed depending, as they are, on the energy of fallen human nature. Salvation from sin’s curse and the condemnation of the law comes solely through faith in the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. This salvation is entirely by the grace of our Lord, not of works or by any human effort. Words, deeds, and attitudes of righteousness that proceed from the regenerate heart are evidence of the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the child of God. By the inward witness of the Spirit, a new identity in Christ with its assurance of eternal life is part of the inheritance of the believer.
THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER
We believe that the motive and goal of all believers should be governed by the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, a calling to live separate from the sinful activities, wickedness, and spiritual corruption in the world while actively being witnesses of the Lord’s grace and truth in the world. Consecration to Christ includes the imperatives of spiritual growth such as prayer, Bible study, confession of sin, purity of thought, word and deed, and faithfulness to the revealed will of God as it pertains to the family, the church, and other vital relationships and responsibilities.
THE CHURCH – UNIVERSAL AND LOCAL
We believe the church universal consists of all regenerated followers of the Lord Jesus Christ whose trust is in Christ alone for salvation. We see the local church as an organized, visible expression of the Body of Christ in a particular place and time, committed to assembling together in love and reverence for God and His Word. The faithful church seeks God’s glory and the advance of His kingdom by calling believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Primary means by which the church serves and honors the Lord include worship, preaching, teaching, fellowship, nurture, discipleship, gifted ministries and pastoral care for the people of God, and faithful involvement in the fulfilling of the Great Commission.
SPIRITUAL CARE AND DISCIPLINE
We believe that each individual follower of Jesus Christ should seek, as the early disciples did, to adhere to standards of conduct which honor the Lord and His church. When it is deemed best for the life and integrity of the congregation and the testimony of the Lord, the delegated church authorities may discipline, with meekness, prayer, and patient counsel, any member who departs from the doctrines set forth in these articles or whose conduct is contrary to the spirit and practices of this body.
ORDINANCES OF THE NEW COVENANT
We believe that two ordinances are given in Scripture as essential and typical of the holy and redemptive purpose of God in the New Covenant. These are water baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Water baptism: Immersion in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is a symbol of the believer’s identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. This act of obedience to the Great Commission typifies the death of the old man and the resurrection of the new man into the newness of life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper: A ceremonial remembrance in the congregational life of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bread and the cup symbolizing the vicarious sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. The words of institution given by Jesus on the night of His betrayal and repeated in communion bear witness to the eternal relationship between Christ and the church as the bride of Christ anticipates His Second Coming.
CHURCH GOVERNMENT AND OFFICERS
We believe that the governing of local churches in accordance with the New Testament necessitates a structure that balances local church autonomy with the apostolic pattern reflected in the Book of Acts, the Epistles generally and, in particular, the principles of Ephesians 4:11-16. This pivotal passage of Scripture reveals apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to be the gifts of the ascended Lord, through whom the Body of Christ in each generation shall be equipped for a multiplicity of ministries, diverse callings, and effectual acts of service for God’s glory.
The vitality and effectiveness of the church, at large and in her local expressions, is directly related to the oversight and equipping of these local and extra-local ministers, provided they co-labor in Spirit-empowered plurality with distinctive roles defined according to the need of the specific churches or family of churches that may exist. A Presbytery in which a singular apostolically gifted Presbytery leader directs a plurality of Ascension gift ministers as a council facilitates the broad principle of apostolic oversight of the churches along with local autonomy in matters of faith, polity, organization, and administration. This pattern in a local church may be reflected in the structure of a plurality of elders or other duly chosen godly leaders co-laboring in concert with and under the authority of a singular Ascension gift leader, the pastor of the congregation.
Thus we believe that the New Testament Church should be apostolic in nature and is governed by delegated authorities. The ordained officers of the Church are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, and deaconess. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers shall not necessarily all function in one local church. However, it is believed that all of these officers shall function under the covering of a local church and all local elders are under the supervision of the five-fold Ascension gift ministries described above.
We believe that the Scriptures clearly demand high spiritual standards of church officers and that each may exercise gifts appropriate to their role and call within the framework of proper authority.
We believe that the Lord God Almighty created man as an eternal being with an immortal soul that will exist eternally after natural death either in heaven or hell. Through the new birth, God’s glorious work of redeeming grace, the child of God receives the witness of the Spirit, and assurance that includes the eternal hope and unending glory of the heavenly dwelling Jesus is preparing for His own, where the spirits of the justified are perfected in the immediate presence of God. All who die in Christ enter heaven instantly for “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8)
We believe in the certainty of eternal judgment in Hell for the lost, the unregenerate who being alienated from the life of God, die in sin. We thus repudiate any belief in an intermediate state between physical death and the eternal destiny of the soul, for “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
We believe that God, in His sovereign mercy, has provided for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing through various means, natural and miraculous. We believe God uses the prayer of faith, the practice of anointing with oil in the name of the Lord, expectant intercessory prayer, supernaturally endowed gifts of healing, individual prayer, and medical professionals and practitioners who, consciously or unconsciously, are instruments in the hands of the Great Physician. Believers are to call for the laying on of hands and anointing with oil as they look to the Lord for their healing, and giving thanks for all the instruments He chooses to use for wellness and for the relieving of human pain and suffering.
PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS
We believe that in His atoning death on behalf of sinners, Jesus Christ inaugurated a new holy priesthood, those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Through Jesus Christ, the great High Priest and Mediator, believers may now offer consecrated priestly service unto God with immediate access to the holiest of all through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. The priesthood of the believer is a precious and holy privilege whereby grace has abounded where sin once held sway and the regenerate worshipper now stands in Christ clothed in His righteousness, justified by Christ alone and fit to offer pleasing sacrifices of heart and life to the Lord. As priests of the Lord, each redeemed person must believe for himself, be baptized for himself, obey God’s Word for himself, and give an account to God for himself. This holy priesthood serves God’s contemporary purpose as well, by showing forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
We believe in the visible, personal, and bodily return of Jesus Christ, the blessed hope of the redeemed. In His own time and in His own way, He will bring about the consummation of His Kingdom, the rapture of the Church, the glorification of the saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the Final Judgment. At the last trumpet, the dead will be raised in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and Christ will judge mankind in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to the everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. The righteous, in their resurrected and glorified bodies, will receive their reward and dwell forever with the Lord. When Jesus Christ, the King of kings, subdues all rule and all authority and all power, the kingdom will be delivered to God the Father and the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.