What I believe Concerning:
God: There is but One God who co-exists eternally in three persons. These three persons--the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--though distinct, are equally quintessential in mind, nature, will, and attributes (Phil. 2:5-8). To speak of One is to speak of the Other. Jesus said, 'If you have seen Me you have seen the Father' (John 14:9). Among these three persons, who together form the Godhead (Col. 2:9), there is diversity of administration. It is the Father who 'sends' the Son (John 4:34, 5:24, 5:30, 5:36-37, 6:38, 39, 40, 44, 57, 7:16, 28, 29, 33, 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42, 9:4, 11:42, 12:44, 45, 49, 13:20, 14:24, 15:21, 16:5, 17:18, 21, 23, 25, 20:21). The Son, therefore, submits Himself to the Father (John 4:34, 5:30, 36, 6:38, 7:16, 8:42, 9:4, 12:49). And the Holy Spirit glorifies not Himself, but the Son (John 15:26, 16:13-14). Though there is subservience, there is still complete equality among the persons of the Godhead (Phil. 2:5-11).
Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, is very God of very God (Matt. 1:18-23; 1 Tim. 3:16). He is the long-awaited Messiah foretold by the Prophets (Matt. 1:16; John 20:31; 1 Pet. 1:6-12). Jesus was born for the purpose of honoring the Father by purchasing the salvation of the elect - those given to Him by the Father (John 6:37) before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; Rev. 17:8). He accomplished this by a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21), a vicarious death (Isa. 53:1-5), and a glorious resurrection (Matt. 29:1-7). It is through faith in Christ alone (believing that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of God - Matt. 16:16-17) that salvation is experienced (John 8:24; Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 2:16, etc.). His death on a Roman cross was according to the will of the Father (Acts 2:23) and was substitutionary; that is, He died in our place and for our sins (Isa. 53:4-5; 1 Pet. 2:24). Three days later, as He Himself predicted (Matt. 12:40; John 2:19-22), He was raised from the dead (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-13; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). Forty days after His resurrection, during which He showed Himself alive to select persons, Jesus ascended to heaven being taken up in a cloud (Acts 1:11). He is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the saints (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). According to His promise (John 14:3; Rev. 22:6-12), He will come again to claim His Bride, the Church (Rev. 21:2,9). He is coming in the same manner in which He was taken up (Acts 1:11 - in the clouds). When He appears, He will do so in splendid glory (visibly) being revealed to the entire world (Matt. 24:30, 25:31; Luke 21:27; 2 Thess. 1:7-10), at which time every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:5-11).
Salvation: Salvation is a four-fold experience: Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. Though there are differences of opinion as to the order of salvation--what is formally known as the ordo salutis --my belief is as follows:
- The Presentation of the Gospel (Faith comes by hearing) - Rom. 10:17
- Conviction by the Holy Spirit - John 16:7-11
- Regeneration (Monergistic Regeneration - the new birth) - John 3:3, 5
- Faith/Repentance - the acknowledging of the truth and a turning from sin (Faith) - 2 Tim. 2:25
- Justification (A right standing before God) - Acts 13:39; Romans 3:24, 5:1
- Sanctification (Both complete [imputed righteousness - the righteousness of God, or Christ's righteousness] and progressive [personal righteousness]) - Phil. 3:7-9
- Glorification (the redemption of the Body, i.e., the Resurrection) - sinless perfection - Romans 8:29-30
In this order, I place regeneration before faith. Thus I align myself with the reformers and of that branch of theology known as Calvinism (not hyper-calvinism), which I believe to be the true biblical teaching on election, especially in Paul and Peter (See Romans 9:11; Eph. 1:3-14; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:2, 5:13; 2 Pet. 1:10).
I do not allow for either pelagianism or semi-pelagianism. Man is not the author or initiator of salvation. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). The natural man receives not the things of God for they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14). Unless and until the Holy Spirit regenerates us - that is, brings us to life and thus enables us to believe - we shall ever remain in our sins without hope, without repentance, and without a desire to know Christ (John 3:3,5; Acts 16:8).
It should be clear from the above understanding that salvation is in no wise obtained on the basis of any good thing we do but solely on the basis of the finished work of Christ; that is, His Life, Death, Burial, and Resurrection. The Bible is replete with passages that speak to the truth of salvation being not of works, but of faith: (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7; Phil. 3:7-11, Gal. 2:16, Gal. 3). From beginning to end, salvation is a work of God (Eph. 2:10). Christ is both the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). As such, He will keep those for whom He died - those who were given to Him by the Father before the foundation of the world - and will lose none but raise them up at the last day (John 6:37-40). This is the security and assurance of the believer (Jude 1:24).
The Bible: The Bible is a Divine book given by a Divine Author - the Holy Spirit. All Scripture is God-breathed - inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21). I believe in the plenary inspiration of the Bible; that is, that inspiration applies to the very words, and even to the very letters, of Scripture (Matt. 5:18). The Bible is not the word of men, but is uniqely and unequivocally the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). Every word of God is pure (Pr. 30:5). Thus, I believe in both the infallibility and the inerrancy of the Bible. Because the Bible is God's word it is "quick and powerful" (Heb. 4:12); it is sufficient in its intent and purpose (Isa. 55:11); and it is all that is necessary in the life of the believer in order to reach full maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11-15; 2 Tim. 3:16,17). We are saved by the word (1 Pet. 1:23; James 1:21); we are sustained by the word (Matt. 4:4); we are sanctified by the word (John 17:17). It is by Scripture alone - sola scriptura - as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that the Church is governed and by which Christ exercises His lordship (Matt. 7:24-27). Obedience to the word of God, which is tantamount to conformity to Christ, is that which our Lord desires most in the believer (1 Sam. 15:22-23; John 14:15,21). The Bible is to be studied faithfully (2 Tim. 2:15); loved intently (Ps. 119:97); obeyed stedfastly (1 Cor. 15:58); proclaimed boldly (Acts 4:23-31); and defended courageously (Jude 1:3).