Doctrine of Scripture
The Word of God was written by men and the text itself was inspired by God. God breathed out the scriptures through the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16; 1 Thess 2:13), moving holy men through their life experiences, mind, and vocabulary to record his words as Scripture (2 Pet 1:20-21). The sixty six books of the Bible are the Word of God, verbally and plenary inspired in every word (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible is therefore completely and thoroughly inerrant in its original manuscripts.
God’s written Word is sufficient. Through the learning of its doctrine, conviction from its truth, restoring by its application, and discipline by its instruction, the man of God can be fitted into the complete aptitude required of him for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).
The Holy Scriptures are providentially preserved. Through this historical process, God has seen fit in his sovereignty to keep the scriptures intact. God, in His eternal plan, has allowed for the scriptures to be copied by men, which have introduced variants, additions, and removals of text into the extant manuscript copies. Through textual criticism of all extant manuscripts, the text, intent, meaning, and doctrine of the original non-extant autographs has been obtained for us and is reflected in formal translations of the Bible available today.
Doctrine of God
God is holy, sacred and wondrous in every aspect, making him deserving of reverence and worship (Lev 11:45; Exod 15:11). He is the preexisting creator of time, space, and everything created (John 1:1-3; Gen 1:1-31). As such, he is sovereign over all, without equal, and exhibits power through his eternally orchestrated plan (Isa 46:9-10; Eph 1:11). He is sovereign in creation (Gen 1), history (Isa 45:1; Job 42:2), and redemption (Eph 1:4). God is glorious in all his actions, revealing his majesty (Psa 93:1-2), honor, grace (1 Pet 5:10), independence, holiness, immanence, immutability, impeccability, jealousy, justice (Deut 32:4), love (1 John 4:8), omnibenevolence (Psa 18:30), omnipotence (Psa 33:8-9; Jer 32:27), omnipresence (Psa 139:7-13), total omniscience (1 John 3:20; Jer 38:17-23; Matt 11:20-24), providence (Jas 1:17), transcendence (Isa 55:8-9), veracity (Titus 1:2), and wrath (Rom 1:18; 2:5), perfectly expressed in his incarnation (Heb 1:1-4).
God is an infinite, incorporeal Spirit (John 4:24), one in essence, and three in persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deut 6:4; Matt 24:19; Luke 3:22). Persons in the trinity are coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal in divine attributes (John 14:9; Heb 9:14; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 12:4-6; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:13-14). These persons within the Godhead share personality traits such as intellect (1 Cor 2:10-13; Luke 2:40), emotion (John 11:35; Eph 4:30; Psa 78:40), will (1 Cor 12:11), and veracity (Titus 1:2).
The persons within the Godhead perform unique functions within the eternal plan of God. For example, the Father sends the Son (John 5:30), the Son redeems the lost (Luke 19:10), and the Spirit conforms the children of God into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18).
Doctrine of the Person of Christ
Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God (Matt 16:16-17), the second person of the Trinity (Matt 3:16-17; Heb 1:1-2), fully divine (John 1; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8), of the same substance and coequal with God the Father (John 1:1, 10:30, 14:9), existing eternally before creation, with the Father (John 1:1-3, 17:5; Col 1:15-17), and from the Father (John 1:14).
Through his incarnation he became a man (Gal 4:4-5; Phil 2:5-8), united typically as spirit and body, one and the same person (John 1:14), having two fully united natures (John 1:14; Rom 1:3-4), being fully God and fully man without confusion, mixture, change, division, or separation (Col 2:9), not emptying himself of deity but taking on limits of humanity, accepting change in role, privilege, and status (Phil 2:6-8). He was asexually conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35), conceived according to her humanity (Isa 7:14), being divine from conception (Matt 1:21-25), and therefore worthy of worship (Heb 1:6; Matt 2:11; John 9:38).
He was chosen by God to be the mediator (1 Tim 2:5-6), prophet (Acts 3:20-22; Luke 13:33; Matt 13:57), priest (Heb 4:15, 9:12, 10:12), king (Matt 21:5; 27:11), the head of the church (Eph 5:23), the heir of all things (Heb 1:2), and the judge of the world (Acts 17:31; Isa 42:1).
He actively obeyed and did not sin (Heb 4:15; 7:26), is the perfect image of God (Gen 1:26; Col 1:15; Matt 28:18; Heb 2:8), serving as the example for believers (Heb 12:2; 1 Pet 1:21), and whose righteousness is imputed to believers (Phil 3:9; Rom 5:18-19). In love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10), he represented mankind by bearing their sin on the cross as a penal substitution (Isa 53:6; 1 Pet 2:24; Rom 3:23-26), by completely satisfying the Father’s wrath (1 Thess 5:9-10; Isa 53:11), by purchasing and making available redemption (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 2:15-17) and reconciliation (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-21), by effectively securing the justification and reconciliation of those that believe and persevere (Rom 3:25-26, 8:1; Col 1:21-23).
Upon death, His spirit, retaining its two nature unity, did not descend into hades but entered into heaven (Luke 23:43-46). Three days later, Jesus was resurrected permanently and physically by the Father (Rom 6:4; Gal 1:1), and Son (John 2:19-21, 10:17-18). This resurrection proves his deity (Rom 1:4), secures the regeneration of believers (1 Pet 1:3), provides them with power (Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-20; Rom 6:4, 11), and secures their justification (Rom 4:25) and resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-58; 2 Cor 4:14).
After forty days he ascended to Heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11), to the right hand of the Father in power (Heb 1:3-4; Mark 14:62) where he intercedes for believers (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25, 9:24).
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity, fully divine (Acts 5:3-4; Matt 28:19), sent from the Father and Son (John 14:16; 16:7). He actively led Jesus and unified the godhead at the atonement (Heb 9:14). He is active in the lives of believers. At the moment of salvation, believers are baptized into the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that initially took place at Pentecost (John 1:33; 1 Cor 12:13; Acts 2, 8, 10, 19). At the moment of salvation, he seals them as a down payment of their future inheritance (Eph 1:13-14). He gives speaking and service gifts to believers (1 Pet 4:10-11), unique to each person (1 Cor 12:14-21, 28-30), to be used in faith (Rom 12:6-8), according to his plan (1 Cor 12:11), to point to Christ for the glory of the Father (1 Cor 12:4-11, 27-31), for edifying the church (1 Cor 12:7, 14:5).
In the apostolic age, he gave sign gifts such as prophecy to reveal God’s Word, healing to prove the gospel’s power, and tongues to proclaim it to foreigners, for the purpose of initially authenticating the apostles’ message (Heb 2:2-4) during the establishment of the church. By the fourth century the purpose for sign gifts was fulfilled and the sign gifts ceased. Today he works through the scriptures to help the believer discern the truth for its significance (1 Cor 2:12-14). He works through the scriptures to convict believers of sin (2 Cor 7:8-12). He uses the scriptures in the lives of unbelievers to bring them under conviction to lead them to Christ (1 Thess 1:5).
Doctrine of Angels and Demons
Angels are high spirit creatures (Heb 1:14; Neh 9:6), made for God’s glory (Rev 5:11-14; 12:7), holy (Matt 25:31), elect (1 Tim 5:21), immortal (Luke 20:36), and limited in presence (1 Pet 5:8). They gave messages to humans (Luke 1:19) and appeared to be men (1 Cor 15:44; Matt 28:23; Rev 15:6; 18:1). In spirit form they minister to and observe believers (Heb 1:4). Assisting with and executing God’s terrifying judgment (Mark 8:38; 2 Thess 1:7; Jude 1:14-15), they gather and destroy sinful humans who are the enemies of God (Matt 13:37-41; Rev 15:1).
Demons are fallen angels (2 Pet 2:4). On rare occasions they are able to cause disease (Luke 13:11, 16; Matt 12:22), possess unbelievers (Mark 5:8-13), and tempt believers by their own desires (1 Cor 7:5). They primarily work to deceive people by false religion (1 Tim 4:1). They are powerless over Christ (Luke 10:18-19; Jas 4:7) and their activity is restricted by God (Job 1:12). They are destined to suffer eternally in the lake of fire and currently fear this judgment (Matt 25:41, 8:29; Rev 20:10).
Satan was once an angel, but became a demon through his pride and rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden and fell into condemnation (Gen 3; 1 Tim 3:6). He is limited in presence and seeks the destruction of believers (1 Pet 5:8). He is destined to be defeated and suffer eternally in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10-15).
Doctrine of Creation
For His own glory (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16), the triune God (Isa 44:24; 45:12; John 1:1-3; Gen 1:2), out of nothing (Heb 11:3), by the power of His word (Gen 1), created the inhabited universe in six literal successive twenty-four hour days and pronounced it very good (Gen 1:1-31).
Humans are body-spirit unities (Matt 10:28), that are distinct from the animals (Gen 2:7, 21-23), created purposefully, inherently, and distinctly male and female (Gen 1:27), in the image of God (Gen 1:27), with a distinct capacity in creation to glorify God (Gen 1:26; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24), able to commune (Gen 1:18), being morally responsible to God (Gen 2:17), with the purpose of representing God in ruling over creation (Gen 1:28).
Doctrine of the Fall of Man
According to his sovereign purpose, God did not create sin but did allow sin to enter creation, first in Satan, then in all mankind by Adam’s disobedience (Gen 3:1-7). Since Adam is the ancestor of mankind (1 Cor 15:22; Heb 7:8-10), all have inherited his sinful nature, spiritual death, and physical death (Rom 5:12-19). Though marred, mankind still retains God’s image (Gen 5:1-2; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), and cannot glorify God. Man is totally depraved (Rom 3:10-11; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3), worships the creation, performs evil, and has the capacity to reject the created gender distinction (Rom 1:18-32). The fall brought disruption to life: childbirth by trauma, intimacy by usurping, work by hostility, immortality by death, and relationship by separation (Gen 3:10-19).
For the manifestation of his common grace, God responded and promised children to the woman, work and food to the man, and one that would defeat Satan. To manifest his patience and justice, God’s eternal wrath is withheld (Rom 2:5) to be unleashed at the final judgment (Rev 10:11-15).
Doctrine of Salvation
In election, for the glory of his grace (Eph 1:6), before creation (Eph 1:4-6), by his sovereign will and not by foreseeing faith (2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:4-5; Eph 2:4-9), God foreordained some to receive eternal life (1 Pet 1:2). God made salvation available to all of mankind as a result of the atonement (John 3:16; 6:37). However, not by God’s choice, but by sin-enslaved volition the unregenerate do not receive it, and by the occasion of atonement, they receive condemnation as the due reward for their unbelief and rebellion against God (John 3:18), to the glory of God’s justice (Rom 9:22).
In regeneration, God by his will (John 1:12-13), at a moment in time (John 3:3, 7; Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13), by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel (John 3:8-16), brings elect individuals to eternal life, restoring the person’s capacity to know and obey God, and by his effectual call the elect immediately repent and place their faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (John 3:1-16).
In repentance, at the moment of regeneration, the elect respond to the Holy Spirit’s convicting power by turning from sinful thinking and aligning their thinking with what God says (Matt 3:1-2; 4:17). It is not an outward action, but a Godward change in thinking that occurs at the moment of regeneration. It is expressed in a continuing radical abandonment of sinful behavior and a putting on of correct thinking and behavior (Matt 5:27-30; Eph 4:25-32). Failure to repent leads to death (Luke 13:3).
In saving faith, at the moment of regeneration, exclusively as a result of hearing the Gospel (Rom 10:17), God enables the elect (1 John 5:1) to believe and trust solely in the Gospel for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life (John 3:16; Acts 10:43). Saving faith is not merely acknowledging the Gospel (Jas 2:19), but is immediately expressed in actions that demonstrate trust (Luke 23:39-43). These demonstrated actions are not salvific (Matt 7:15-21).
In justification, at the moment of regeneration (Titus 3:5-7), to the riches of the glory of his grace and mercy (Rom 3:24; Titus 3:5; Rom 9:23), for the glory of his name (1 John 2:12), by his gifting (Rom 3:24), on the grounds of the atonement, God imputes his righteousness to the believer and makes a legal declaration, recognizes that the sins of the believer are paid for and Christ’s righteousness now belongs to the believer, and thus declares the believer as just in his sight (Rom 3:22-28; Gal 2:16).
In positional sanctification, at the moment of regeneration, God sets apart his elect, declaring them holy by Christ’s justifying work (Heb 10:10; 1 Cor 1:2, 6:11). In progressive sanctification, for their good and His glory, God changes his elect over time to be more like Christ (Rom 8:28-29) through the application of the scriptures (2 Tim 3:16-17), restoring their capacity to glorify him (Rom 6:19; 2 Cor 3:18). In complete sanctification, only upon death or Christ’s return the elect are set free from indwelling sin and made perfect (Rev. 21:4, 27).
In the preservation of saints, God secures the salvation of the regenerate (John 6:39; 10:27-29), seals them with his Holy Spirit, which is a down payment of future blessing (Eph 1:13-14). This preservation is God’s doing (1 Pet 1:5; Phil 1:6), yet is bound to the perseverance of the saints, an enduring Christ-likeness distinct from the unregenerate, manifested in faith, life, and love (1 John 4:13-21).
Doctrine of Church
The body of Christ consists of all believers everywhere from Pentecost to the Rapture who are under the headship of Christ (Eph 5:23, 1:22-23; Col 1:18). The local church is a visible manifestation of the body of Christ, which consists of a recurring assembly of baptized believers bound by immediate time and space (Rom 16:1-16; Acts 2:41-47), for the purpose of God’s glory (Rom 15:5-6; Eph 3:20-21). The church is the pillar and ground of truth outside of which people are not ordinarily saved (Matt 18:18-20; Acts 2:47), in which the Bible is taught according to the apostles doctrine (2 Pet 3:14-18; Acts 2:42), in which the Bible should be authoritative (2 Tim 3:16-17), in which church autonomy should be practiced (Matt 18:15-17; 1 Cor 6:1-3), personal conscience should be recognized (Rom 14:5-12), fellowship and community should be maintained (Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:46, 4:32-37), believer’s baptism is practiced (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:31-47), and the Lord’s Supper is regularly observed (1 Cor 11:23-32).
The ordinance of baptism is the outward demonstration of faith in the gospel, is done by immersion in water, and can bring one into the local church (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38-41, 8:38). The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic remembrance of the atonement, open to all believers, not to be observed by the unbeliever, each one examining himself (1 Cor 11:26-29). Practice of these two ordinances must communicate that they are not salvific works (Rom 3:21, 22, 28). The church should also practice loving discipline to maintain her purity and reconcile the rebellious (Matt 18:15-20).
Each member of the church should gladly give of their finances to their local church for local distribution and not out of obligation (2 Cor 9:7; Acts 2:44-47, 4:34-35). Giving for ministry elsewhere is also done regularly, graciously, and through the local church (1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8:1-7).
Each church is to have men of godly character appointed to two offices: pastor/elders and deacons (1 Tim 3). The pastor/elders are to serve the body through the ministry of the word and prayer. The deacons are to serve by alleviating the pastor/elders from tasks that distract them from their role (Acts 6:1-6).
The Church is not Israel. True Israel believed the gospel and was baptized into the Church, accepted the new covenant in Christ’s blood (Matt 26:28; Heb 9:12; Eph 2:14-18), whose life fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant (Matt 5:17-18; Rom 10:4). Therefore, because the Church is not Israel, the Church has no right to claim the covenants, laws, and promises made to the nation Israel, unless they are affirmed in the New Testament. The rest of Israel rejected Jesus and was judged through the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (Mark 13:1-8). Furthermore, Jews today must believe the gospel to escape the great white throne judgment (Rom 1:16, 2:17-29, 3:9-20).
We hold to The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.
Doctrine of Giving by Grace
Tithing was practiced by Abraham before the Old Testament law by giving of a tenth to Melchizedek not from his personal income but from the goods plundered from the king of Elam and the recovered goods of Lot (Gen 14:8-24). Tithes from the Israelites and from the Levite priests were later instituted as a practice under the constraint of the Old Testament law (Lev 27:30). Tithes from the Levite priests were put in the storehouse and used to provide for those in need but were sinfully neglected (Mal 3:8-10).
In the church age, Christians are no longer under the constraint of the Old Testament law. Instead, we have Christ, who is far greater than the Old Testament law, the Levitical system, and Melchizedek (Heb 8:1-13). By Christ’s example of sacrificially giving himself on the cross, followers of Christ give sacrificially of their finances to their local church. This giving is sacrificial in nature and amount when compared to the law of the tithe and is a work of God’s grace done willingly from a cheerful heart and not under the constraint of the law (2 Cor 8-9).
Doctrine of Missions
God has a universal concern for mankind as his image bearers (Gen 1:26-30), and thus appointed Israel to be his representative in the Old Testament (Gen 12:1-3, 26:3-4, 28:14; Deut 4:5-8; 12-13), and the Church to be his representative in the New Testament (Matt 28:19-20), so that people can know him and be restored to their full capacity as image bearers to glorify him for all eternity (Exod 12:38; Lev 19:33-34; Pss 22:28, 47:8, 82:8).
In the New Testament, God reveals his concern and plan for people groups in the ministry of Jesus at his birth (Matt 2:1-12), in his teachings (Matt 8:10-12, 21:43; John 3:16, 4:23; Mark 11:17), in the training of his apostles (Matt 10; Luke 10; Acts 13:46-48; Gal 1:17-18), and his great commission (Matt 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).
God’s mission strategy in the Old Testament was mostly centripetal in nature, with the exception of Jonah (Jonah 1:2). Jesus’ teachings marked a drastic shift in God’s mission strategy, with a centrifugal thrust of missions in the New Testament rather than a centripetal one. This was commanded in the great commission and demonstrated by the early Church as they ministered first in Jerusalem (Acts 1:1-7:60), expanded ministry to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1-12:25), and continued to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:1-28:31).
The message of the death and resurrection of Jesus is required to save Jew and Gentile (Rom 1:16), because everyone suppresses general revelation (Rom 1:18-21), judges others according to their own unrighteousness and therefore brings themselves under condemnation (Rom 2:1), and violates their conscience (Rom 2:14-16). The unevangelized are currently experiencing a foretaste of the wrath of God through natural consequence (Rom 1:27) and are storing up the eternal wrath of God for their hard and unrepentant hearts (Rom 2:5). The unevangelized will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). Additionally, Jews boast in the law that they break (Rom 2:23-24).
Paul logically shows that all people groups, Jews and Gentiles, are under condemnation and in need of righteousness to have peace with God, which faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus provides (Rom 3:22, 4:24-5:1, 10:5-13), but must be heard by the preaching of a missionary (Rom 10:14-17), even to those that are not looking for God (Rom 10:20).
The result of reaching all people groups with the gospel will occur in the gathering of the redeemed from all people groups to worship God in eternity (Rev 5:9, 7:9-12, 21:24-27).
It is therefore, from command of the Lord, from the necessity of God’s glory, from God’s universal concern for all mankind, and for the restoration of God’s image bearers, that missionaries must go to all people groups to make disciples.
Doctrine of the Charismatic Movement
The charismatic movement misunderstands Acts as prescriptive in the doctrines of the Church and Holy Spirit rather than historically descriptive. This misinterpretation of Acts leads to a subjective application that is not led by the Holy Spirit, but rather led by personal desire, social pressure, or at worst demonic influence. These misunderstandings lead to a method of unbiblical worship that encourages disorder and is not compatible with the worship of biblical churches. Prophecy, healing, and tongues were for the purpose of initially authenticating the apostles’ message (Heb 2:2-4) during the establishment of the church. By the fourth century, the purpose for sign gifts was fulfilled and the sign gifts ceased.
Theological Impact on Ministry Distinctives
An Emphasis on all People Groups
God is interested in all people groups (Matt 28:19), and it is incumbent on the missionary to share in this character trait of God. Missionaries must retain an interest in all people groups, not just the ones to whom they are sent to reach.
Diversity of Culture in Worship
God is interested in maintaining diversity of culture in worship (Gen 11; Rev 7:11). Missionaries must make it an aim to ensure that cultural diversity is preserved in the worship of receptor cultures. The missionary must strive to understand the receptor culture, observe expressions of worship as natives apply the Bible, and seek to maintain them without compromising the Bible’s message (1 Cor 10:20-22).
God has fully disclosed himself in the incarnation (Rom 16:25-26). Missionaries must realize they have a great responsibility since Jesus revealed God by way of incarnation. This impacts missionary methodology as the Christ-like missionary will go, adjust to the redeemable influences of culture, and reveal Jesus Christ to people in the midst of their culture, rather than waiting for people in receptor cultures to decode the preacher’s culture or church subculture to arrive at his intended message (1 Cor 9:20-23).
By observing missions history, the missionary should see the importance of learning language and culture. Many missionaries have done a poor job at language learning, resulting in the suffering of Bible translations, preaching, creeds, and overall mission success. Understanding culture is necessary as well, so that one may communicate the gospel in a way that is easily understood by taking advantage of cultural terms and concepts. A significant amount of missionary time and energy must be spent in language and culture acquisition.
The missionary should submit to the governing authorities in the receptor culture (Mark 12:17; Rom 13:5). He should take on the responsibilities of a normal person in daily life and bear his own social burdens. The more a missionary is willing to adjust to the culture and social norms, the more likely it is he will be received in society. Joining neighborhood associations and being normally constructive in society should be seriously considered for the sake of the gospel. Developing and maintaining a relationship with governing authorities is encouraged (Luke 21:12-15). Integrating with society and submitting to governing authorities in a peaceful way may give opportunity to speak to a person in authority. Conversion of a leader may lead to a trickledown effect of Christianity in the receptor culture.
Churches Planting Churches
Throughout the New Testament there is a strong precedent for churches training disciples for future church planting endeavors (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim 2:2). Following this pattern, the missionary should submit himself to be trained for ministry by an elder in his church in his own culture, then minister nationwide, and then serve abroad as a church planting missionary.
The Power of the Message
Many missionaries today rely on power encounter to try and authenticate the truth of the Bible on the mission field. However, the receptor people group needs a truth encounter in their language, not a power encounter (Luke 16:31; Matt 12:38-40; 2 Pet 1:3). A presentation of the truth of scripture is what is needed for belief in Jesus, not miracles (Rom 10:10-17).
The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church
An expositional sermon takes the main point of a passage of Scripture, makes it the main point of the sermon, and applies it to life today.
Where is it in the Bible?
According to Scripture, God accomplishes what he wants to accomplish through speaking (see Gen. 1:3, Isa. 55:10-11, Acts 12:24). This means that if preachers want their sermons to be filled with God’s power, they must preach what God says.
The Bible has many examples of this kind of preaching and teaching: Levitical priests taught the law (Deut. 33:10), Ezra and the Levites read from the law and gave the sense of it (Neh. 8:8), and Peter and the apostles expounded Scripture and urged their hearers to respond with repentance and faith (Acts 2:14-41, 13:16-47).
On the other hand, God condemns those who “speak of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16, 18, 21-22).
Why is it important?
Expositional preaching is important because God’s Word is what convicts, converts, builds up, and sanctifies God’s people (Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:13; Jn. 17:17). Preaching that makes the main point of the text the main point of the sermon makes God’s agenda rule the church, not the preacher’s.
Biblical theology is sound doctrine; it is right thoughts about God; it is belief that accords with Scripture.
Where is it in the Bible?
The entire Bible teaches sound doctrine.
Many New Testament books, such as Paul’s epistles to the Romans and Ephesians, are stuffed to the brim with rich doctrinal teaching (see Rom. 1-11 and Eph. 1-3).
The authors of the New Testament frequently argue that sound doctrine is essential for healthy Christians and healthy churches (see 1 Tim. 1:5, 2 John 1-6, and Titus 2:1-10).
Why is it important?
Biblical theology is essential for
Evangelism. The gospel is doctrine. Therefore, sound doctrine is necessary for evangelism.
Discipleship. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Christians grow by learning and living in light of the truth—in other words, by sound doctrine.
Unity. According to the New Testament, the only true unity is unity in the truth (1 Jn. 1:1-4; 2 Jn. 10-11).
Worship. To worship God is to declare his excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9-10) and to exalt him because of who he is (Ps. 29:2). True worship is a response to sound doctrine.
The good news is that:
The one and only God who is holy made us in his image to know him (Gen. 1:26-28).
But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23).
In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn from their sin and trust in him (John 1:14; Heb. 7:26; Rom. 3:21-26, 5:12-21).
He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted (Acts 2:24, Rom. 4:25).
He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness (Acts 17:30, John 1:12). If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God (John 3:16).
He is gathering one new people to himself among all those who submit to Christ as Lord (Matt. 16:15-19; Eph. 2:11-19).
Where is it in the Bible?
Romans 1-4 contains one of the fullest expositions of the gospel in all of Scripture, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 contains a succinct summary of the gospel.
Why is it important?
A biblical understanding of the gospel is important because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, and it is the only way for sinful people to be reconciled to a holy God.
Not only that, but everything in a church flows from its understanding of the gospel, whether preaching, counseling, discipleship, music, evangelism, missions, and on.
A biblical understanding of conversion recognizes both what God does and what people do in salvation. In conversion, God
gives life to the dead (Eph. 2:5)
gives sight to the blind (2 Cor. 4:3-6)
and gives the gifts of faith and repentance (Phil. 1:29; Acts 11:18).
And in conversion, people
repent of sin (Mk. 1:15; Acts 3:19)
and believe in Jesus (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 3:21-26).
A biblical understanding of conversion recognizes that only God can save, and that he saves individuals by enabling them to respond to the gospel message through repenting of sin and trusting in Christ.
Where is it in the Bible?
Jesus called people to repent and believe in him (Mk. 1:15). He said that unless someone is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Jn. 3:1-8).
Throughout the book of Acts, the apostles call people to turn from their sin and trust in Christ (Acts 2:38, 3:19-20, 10:43, 13:38-39, 16:31, 17:30).
Many of the epistles describe both our need to repent and believe in Christ and God’s supernatural work to accomplish this (Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Cor. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 4:3-6; Eph. 2:1-10; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 2 Tim. 2:25-26).
Why is it important?
A biblical understanding of conversion is important for churches because
It clarifies how churches should exhort non-Christians—they should call non-Christians to repent of sin and trust in Christ.
It reminds churches that they must rely upon God in all of their evangelistic efforts; only he can give new spiritual life.
It teaches churches to maintain a sharp distinction between themselves and the world.
Church members’ lives should be marked by the fruit of conversion,
Churches should admit to baptism and the Lord’s Supper only those who show evidence of conversion.
Churches should evangelize and teach about the Christian life in such a way that the radical nature of conversion is continually emphasized.
Evangelism is simply telling non-Christians the good news about what Jesus Christ has done to save sinners and urging them to repent and believe. In order to biblically evangelize you must:
Preach the whole gospel, even the hard news about God’s wrath against our sin.
Call people to repent of their sins and trust in Christ.
Make it clear that believing in Christ is costly, but worth it.
Where is it in the Bible?
Scripture contains both teaching on evangelism (Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Pet. 3:15-16) and examples of evangelistic preaching (see Acts 2:14-41, 3:12-26, 13:16-49, 17:22-31). Moreover, any time Scripture speaks of the gospel, it is teaching us what we are to share in evangelism (see, for example, Romans 1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Why is it important?
When a church has an unbiblical understanding of the gospel, they don’t evangelize, they evangelize in misleading or manipulative ways, or they share a message that’s not the gospel.
On the other hand, a biblical understanding of evangelism clarifies our role in the mission God has given to the church: we are to preach the good news about what Christ has done and pray that God would bring people to believe it.
According to the Bible, church membership is a commitment every Christian should make to attend, love, serve, and submit to a local church.
Where is it in the Bible?
Throughout Old Testament history, God made a clear distinction between his people and the world (see Lev. 13:46, Num. 5:3, Deut. 7:3).
Christ says that entering the kingdom of God means being bound to the church “on earth” (Matt. 16:16-19; 18:17-19). Where do we see the church on earth? The local church.
The New Testament explicitly refers to some people being inside the church and some people being outside (1 Cor. 5:12-13). This is much more than a casual association.
The church in Corinth consisted of a definite number of believers, such that Paul could speak of a punishment inflicted by the majority (2 Cor. 2:6).
Not only does the New Testament speak of the reality of church membership, but its dozens of “one anothers” are written to local churches, which fill out our understanding of what church membership should practically look like.
Why is it important?
Biblical church membership is important because the church presents God’s witness to himself in the world. It displays his glory. In the church’s membership, then, non-Christians should see in the lives of God’s changed people that God is holy and gracious and that his gospel is powerful for saving and transforming sinners.
In the broadest sense, church discipline is everything the church does to help its members pursue holiness and fight sin. Preaching, teaching, prayer, corporate worship, accountability relationships, and godly oversight by pastors and elders are all forms of discipline.
In a narrower sense, church discipline is the act of correcting sin in the life of the body, including the possible final step of excluding a professing Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper because of serious unrepentant sin (see Matt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-13).
Where is it in the Bible?
The New Testament commands corrective discipline (excluding unrepentant sinners from the fellowship of the church) in passages like Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 2 Corinthians 2:6, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.
The New Testament speaks about formative discipline (our efforts to grow in holiness together) in countless passages about pursuing holiness and building one another up in the faith, such as Ephesians 4:11-32 and Philippians 2:1-18.
Why is it important?
Think of discipline as the stake that helps the tree grow upright, the extra set of wheels on the bicycle, or the musician’s endless hours of practice. Without discipline, we won’t grow as God wants us to. With discipline, we will, by God’s grace, bear peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:5-11).
Scripture teaches that a live Christian is a growing Christian (2 Pet. 1:8-10). Scripture also teaches that we grow not only by instruction, but by imitation (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). Therefore churches should exhort their members to both grow in holiness and help others do the same.
Where is it in the Bible?
Peter exhorted his readers to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18)
Paul exhorted the Ephesians to grow by speaking the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15).
Many passages in Scripture instruct us to imitate godly leaders (Phil. 4:9; Heb. 13:7).
The point is that, according to Scripture, all Christians should grow in Christ, imitate other godly Christians, and encourage others in their growth in Christlikeness.
Why is it important?
Promoting biblical discipleship and growth is important because none of us are finished products. Until we die, all Christians will struggle against sin, and we need all the help we can get in this fight.
If a church neglects discipleship and growth, or teaches a skewed, unbiblical version of it, it will discourage genuine Christians and wrongly assure false Christians. On the other hand, if a church fosters a culture of Christian discipleship and growth, it will multiply believers’ efforts to grow in holiness.
A church that is not growing in the faith will ultimately yield an unhealthy witness to the world.
The Bible teaches that each local church should be led by a plurality of godly, qualified men called elders.
Where is it in the Bible?
Paul lays out the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Passages that evidence a plurality of elders in one local church include Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, 1 Timothy 4:14, 1 Timothy 5:17, and James 5:14.
Why is it important?
God gifts churches with elders to
feed God’s sheep God’s word (Jn. 21:15-17),
guide the sheep (1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 5:3, Heb. 13:7),
and protect the sheep from attackers (Acts 20:27-29; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Tit. 1:9),
while protecting both themselves and the church through the wisdom of their plurality (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).
The bottom line? Biblical church leadership is important because without it, God’s people are like sheep without shepherds.