What We Teach


The Holy Scriptures

We teach that the Bible is God's written revelation to man, and thus the sixty-six books of the bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) as contained in the original manuscripts.

We teach that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible and God-breathed.

We teach that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and thus, the only rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:3).

We teach that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God's Word to man without error in the whole or in the part (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16).

We teach the literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation of Scripture. We teach that there is only one meaning of Scripture, the meaning which the author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, intended his audience to hear (2 Peter 1:20-21). Nothing in this method of interpretation (or hermeneutic) determines the meaning of the text; that meaning was determined when the author spoke or penned the words. This hermeneutic serves only to inform our understanding. Although there is only one meaning of Scripture, there may be many applications that flow from that interpretation. Note: This method of interpretation affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17).

We teach that it is the responsibility of every believer to ascertain carefully the true meaning and intent of Scripture. That meaning can be understood today as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-15; 1 John 2:20).

We teach that the Scripture is God's Word for all generations. Only from the correct understanding of the intended meaning can we: 1) discover the commands which God gives us to obey, and 2) discern the timeless principles which endure as relevant to, authoritative over, and applicable for our lives today. The truth of Scripture forever stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.

God

We teach that there is but one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14) -- each equally deserving worship and obedience.

God the Father

We teach that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8-9). He is the creator of all things (Genesis 1:1-31; Ephesians 3:9; Revelation 4:11). As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Ephesians 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Habakkuk 1:13), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4-6); He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as his own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 12:5-9).

God the Son

We teach that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9).

We teach that God the Father created according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2).

We teach that in the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-man (Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9).

We teach that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Micah 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9-10; Colossians 2:9).

We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23,25; Luke 1:26-35); that He was God incarnate (John 1:1,14); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God's kingdom (Psalm 2:7-9; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:29; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 7:25-26; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

We teach that, in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives of coexistence with God, assumed the place of a Son, and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Philippians 2:5-8).

We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15; Romans 3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24).

We teach that on the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Romans 3:25; 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

We teach that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that he is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:38-39; Acts 2:30-31; Romans 4:25; 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1).

We teach that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross (Acts 17:30,31). Jesus' bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Romans 1:4; 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23).

We teach that Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His body, unto Himself at the rapture and, returning with His church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20).

We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one through whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22-23):

  1. Believers (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
  2. Living inhabitants of the earth at His glorious return (Matthew 25:31-46).
  3. Unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15)

We teach that as the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the head of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and the coming universal King who will reign on the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31-33), He is the final judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:14-46; Acts 17:30-31).

God the Holy Spirit

We teach that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity including intellect (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), will (1 Corinthians 12:11), eternality (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscience (Isaiah 40:13-14), omnipotence (Romans 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and Jeremiah 31:31-34 with Hebrews 10:15-17).

We teach that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Genesis 1:2), the incarnation (Matthew 1:18), the written revelation (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7).

We teach that a unique work of the Holy Spirit began in this present age, when He came from the Father as promised by Christ (John 14:16-17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the body of Christ, which is His church (1 Corinthians 12:13). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:7-9), glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and transforming believers into the image of Christ (Acts 1:5; 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22).

We teach that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells (Romans 8:9), sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13).

We teach that the Holy Spirit is the divine teacher who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God's revelation, the Bible (John 16:13). Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9), and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and follow His guidance in understanding His Word (2 Peter 1:19-21; 1 John 2:20,27).

We teach that the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ (John 16:13-14) by implementing His work of redeeming the lost (Acts 1:8) and building up believers in the most holy faith (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We teach, in this respect, that God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting of the saints today and that speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church were for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and were never intended

to be characteristic of the lives of believers (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 13:8-10; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:7-12; Hebrews 2:4).

Salvation

We teach that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:4-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Salvation, therefore, is totally of God, who before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, leaving the rest in their sin, to their just condemnation (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4-5; 2:1-7; 2 Timothy 1:9). Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Sin

We teach that man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Genesis 2:7,15-25; James 3:9).

We teach that God's intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for man in the world (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).

We teach that in Adam's sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; Romans 6:23); became subject to the wrath of God (John 3:36; Romans 1:18); and become inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-12). With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself (Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:14), man is hopelessly lost. Man's salvation is thereby wholly of God's grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We teach that because all men were in Adam (Romans 5:12), a nature corrupted by Adam's sin has been transmitted to all men of all ages (Romans 5:19), Jesus Christ being the only exception (Hebrews 7:26). Through Adam's one transgression, there resulted condemnation to all men (Romans 5:18). All men are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-18).

Election

We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).

We teach that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7) and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; John 3:18-19,36; 5:40;

Romans 9:22-23; 10:9-10; Philippians 2:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8).

We teach that the unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part nor to God's anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2; Psalm 14:1).

We teach that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11-16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:25-30; John 12:37-41; 2 Timothy 1:9). (See Appendix A).

Regeneration

We teach that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24), when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to the divine provision of salvation. Genuine regeneration is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct (Matthew 7:15-20). Good works will be its proper evidence and fruit (Ephesians 2:10), and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4-10). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming (Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2-3).

Faith

We teach that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is man's necessary responsibility to the call of the gospel message (John 3:16; Acts 13:38,19; 16:31; Romans 4:3-5; 10:4). This faith involves the assenting to the facts about the life of Christ as well as trusting in the person of Christ (John 20:30,31). Faith is reliance upon Christ, not mere credence (James 1:22). True faith will always manifest itself by works of righteousness (Romans 6:14; Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-17). Those who believe in Jesus will be protected by God for salvation (1 Peter 1:5) and will persevere until the end (Philippians 1:6; Revelation 13:10; 14:12).

Justification

We teach that justification before God is an act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares man righteous. This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; 4:6) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Thus, God is enabled to be "just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).

Sanctification

We teach that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint (Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10,14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:1). The sanctification is positional and instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. This sanctification has to do with the believer's standing, not his present walk or condition.

We teach that there is also by the work of the Holy Spirit a progressive sanctification by which the state of the believer is brought closer to the standing the believer positionally enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God (Psalm 119:19-11; John 17:17,19) and the empowering of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18), the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 5:23)

In this respect, we teach that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict -- the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh -- but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended (Philippians 3:12). All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Galatians 5:16-25; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).

Security

We teach that all the redeemed once saved are kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).

We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word (1 John 5:13, 19; Hebrews 6:11; 10:22; 2 Peter 1:10), which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Romans 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13,25-26; Titus 2:11-14).

Separation

We teach that separation from sin is clearly called for throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

We teach that out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior (Romans 12:1-2). We also teach that separation from any association with apostasy, and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God (1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).

We teach that believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Hebrews 12:1-2) and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness demonstrated by a beatitude attitude (Matthew 5:2-12) and a continual pursuit of holiness (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-10).

We teach that there are two extreme approaches to worldly separation: at one end is a legalism that confuses and constricts the sanctification of the church, and at the other is a license that corrupts the sanctification of the church. Separation is not Biblical if it takes us out of the world. We are to remain sanctified in the world (John 17:15-17). Separation is not Biblical if it focuses on personal preferences or man-made rules (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Separation is not Biblical if by it we neglect the very people who need to hear the gospel (Mark 16:14; Matthew 28:19-20; John 4:4, 31-35). Separation is not Biblical if it allows us to sin (Romans 6:1-14; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).

The Church

The Universal Church

We teach that the church is a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born-again believers (Ephesians 2:11-3:6). The church is a mystery not revealed until this age (Ephesians 3:1-6). All who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into to one united spiritual body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-8), of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18).

We teach that the purpose of the church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Ephesians 4:13-16) and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).

Local Churches

We teach that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17,28; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Corinthians 11:18-20; Hebrews 10:25).

We teach the calling of all saints (i.e. believers) to the work of service (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 4:12; Revelation 22:12). We teach the importance of the commitment of all saints to be baptized (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:19-20) and to associate with a local assembly of believers (Acts 5:13; Hebrews 10:24-25). All saints are called to continually devote themselves to apostolic teaching (i.e. learning from the Biblical teaching of the church), to fellowship (i.e. to sharing of one's time and resources), to breaking of bread (i.e. partaking of the Lord's Supper and eating meals together), and to prayer (both individual and corporate) (Acts 2:42).

We teach the autonomy (or independence) of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate (or be inter-dependent) with other local churches for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its pastors and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation (Acts 14:23; 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Leadership

We teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18; 1 Peter 5:4) and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called overseers, and pastors -- 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1) and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Philippians 1:1), both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5).

Elders (Overseers, Pastors, Teachers, Shepherds)

We teach that the priorities of elders are (1) to keep right with God (Acts 20:28a); (2) to feed, and give oversight to the flock of God (Acts 20:28b; 1 Peter 5:2); (3) to warn and to protect the flock from false teaching and teachers (Acts 20:29-31); (4) to pray and study (Acts 20:32; Acts 6:4; James 5:14); and (5) to be free from self interest (Acts 20:33-35). These priorities should be expressed in the actions of each individual elder and in the actions of the board of elders.

We teach that elders are appointed to this office by the other elders of the church (Titus 1:5). Those who are appointed are those who have been entrusted with, and know the Word of God, are able to teach, and meet the qualifications for the office (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Thus, each elder must be male, above reproach, a one-woman man, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, free from addiction to wine, not pugnacious, gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money, one who manages his household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, not a new convert, having a good reputation with outsiders, not accused of dissipation or rebellion, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, a lover of what is good, sensible, just devout, self-controlled, one holding fast the faithful word.

We teach that elders, as under-shepherds of Christ the Chief Shepherd, have Christ's authority in teaching, overseeing, shepherding, leading and ruling the church (1Peter 5:1-4). The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7,17).

We teach that each elder is accountable first and foremost to God (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5). In addition, each elder is accountable to the other elders and the entire church body in order to insure that they continue to meet the qualifications and fulfill the purpose of the office (1 Timothy 5:17-22).

Deacons (Servants)

We teach that the priority of the deacon is to free the elders of responsibilities that hinder their ability to be devoted to prayer and to the word (Acts 6:2-4), and to fulfill the other duties of their office. These duties will be those assigned by the elders. Those who are appointed will be those whose service has been tested for faithfulness and those who meet the qualifications for the office (1 Timothy 3:8-13 & Acts 6:3). Thus, each deacon must be male, of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, a man of dignity, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not fond of sordid gain, one who holds to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, a one woman man, a good manager of his children and his own household.

We teach that deacons are fellow leaders with the elders and are to be esteemed as such by the congregation (Philippians 1:1).

Church Discipline

We teach the importance of discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2), mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matthew 18:5-14), as well as the need for discipline of sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Matthew 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 1:10-11; 3:10-11).

We teach that the purpose of the local church is to reveal the holy character and caring heart of God to a perishing world. Church discipline is an essential part of church responsibility to attain and maintain the stated purpose. Church discipline is applicable to all regular attendees, and is not meant to give license to the church leadership in gray area trivia, but rather the end result should be to purify the church (1 Corinthians 5:6-8), to restore and erring member, to deter sin, and to demonstrate the reality of righteous living to the unsaved world.

We teach that church discipline is to be handled prayerfully, carefully, and justly, and only after several individual attempts of corrective or preventative action has been taken. There are five steps that must occur in any church discipline situation: 1) Note and mark those who are in need of correction (Romans 16:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). 2) Arrange a private meeting with the offender (Matthew 18:15) and rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3). 3) If this fails, set up a second meeting, this time with several other present (Matthew 18:16). During these preliminary private and semiprivate meetings, the individual should be repeatedly admonished (Titus 3:10) rebuked (2 Timothy 4:2) and warned (1 Thessalonians 5:14). 4) As a final resort, the unrepentant one is to be brought before the entire church (Matthew 18:17; 1 Timothy 5:20). 5) Upon refusal to submit to church discipline, the guilty party is to be spiritually excommunicated. This constitutes two fearful things, a denial of Christian fellowship (Romans 16:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14; 1 Timothy 6:3,5; Titus 3:10) and a deliverance over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20).

Gifts

We teach the need of the church to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. First, He gives men chosen for the purpose of the equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:7-12) and He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

We teach that there were two categories of gifts given the early church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given temporarily in the apostolic era for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the Apostles' message (Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12); and ministering gifts, given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man's message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary to validate a man or his message (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Hebrews 2:1-4). Miraculous gifts can even be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (1 Corinthians 13:13-14:12; Revelation 13:13-14). The only gifts in operation today are those non-revelatory equipping gifts given for edification (Romans 12:6-8).

We teach that no one possesses the gift of healing today but that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith and will answer in accordance with His own perfect will for the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Luke 18:1-6; 2 Corinthians 12:6-10; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14-15).

Ordinances

We teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:38-42).

Baptism

Christian baptism by immersion (John 3:23; Acts 8:36-39) is a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42). It is an act of obedience to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) and is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-11). For these reasons, genuine baptism can only come after one's conversion to Christ.

We teach that each candidate for baptism must be examined closely to determine their true conversion. The following marks will be sought out during interview and observations of the candidate's life: 1) the believer recognizes his/her sinfulness and has gone to God, pleading for mercy and trusting Christ alone unto salvation (Luke 18:11); 2) the believer gives evidence of having entered into "newness of life" (Romans 6:4); 3) the believer possesses a basic understanding of the doctrines of grace, that salvation is not of works, but of God's mercy and grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Lord's Supper

We teach that the Lord's Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32). We also teach that whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord's supper is nevertheless a special opportunity to share with God's people in the blood and body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). Thus, it should be done with an attitude of unity (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Marriage

We teach that God made man, woman and marriage (Genesis 2:18-25). Marriage has several purposes: 1) Pro-creation (Genesis 1:28); 2) Pleasure (Proverbs 5:15-19); 3) Partnership (Genesis 2:18); 4) Picture (Ephesians. 5:25-32); and 5) Purity (1 Corinthians 7:1-16). Because of the picture that is represented in the marriage bond of Christ and His love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-27) only believers in Christ can experience the true meaning of marriage.

We teach that it is the duty of the church to perform marriages only between believers in Christ who are intent on pleasing God in every area of their lives and are rightly related to the local church for the purpose of accountability in their marriage vows and righteous living (Ephesians 5:21-33). Thus, the pastors of Rock Valley Bible Church will only marry, or allow its' buildings to be used for the marriages of, those who are committed to serving the local church.

Divorce

We teach that divorced men and women and the broken homes that result, are the tragic consequence of sin (Matthew 19:6) and as such, these men and women are the victims of a shattering life-long blow that requires love, warmth and a source of stability from which to rebuild their lives. God says, "I hate divorce" (Malachi 2:16). The Bible never condones or encourages divorce, He only recognizes that divorce will happen, because of man's sin.

We teach that marriage is an exclusive and permanent union that can be separated by nothing but death before God (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:2,3). It is the will of God for those who marry to remain married until death separates them. Thus, all marriage counseling must be toward reconciliation and restoration of the marriage relationship. However, there are several, narrowly defined exceptions as a result of sin. These may constitute a Biblical divorce. A Biblical divorce may occur if one of the following situations are present: 1) there is sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9) and the offending party is not interested in repentance or reconciliation; or 2) a non-believing spouse divorces a believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:10-13).

Angels

Holy Angels

We teach that angels are created beings and are therefore not to be worshipped. Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they are created to serve God and to worship Him (Luke 2:9-14; Hebrews 1:6-7,14; 2:6-7; Revelation 5:11-14; 19:10; 22:9).

Fallen Angels

We teach that Satan is a created angel and the author if sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator, by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:1-14), and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:1-15).

We teach that Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Matthew 4:1-11; Revelation 12:9-10), the prince of this world who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:20) and that he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:11).

Last Things

Death

We teach that at physical death there is a separation of one's soul from one's body (Philippians 1:21-24), that death involves no loss of our immaterial consciousness (Revelation 6:9-11), that the souls of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8) and that, for the redeemed, such separation of body and soul will continue until the bodily resurrection of the dead in Christ.

We teach that the bodily resurrection of the dead in Christ will occur immediately prior to the Rapture of the living church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Matthew 24:30-31) - which is a part of the first resurrection unto spiritual life (Revelation 20:4-6) - when our soul and resurrection body will be united to be glorified forever with our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:35-44, 50-54; Philippians 3:21). Until that time, the souls of the redeemed in Christ remain in joyful fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-9).

We teach the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Romans 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:13-15).

We teach that the souls of the unsaved, at death, are kept under punishment until the second resurrection unto spiritual death (Luke 16:19-26; Revelation 20:6, 13-15), when the soul and the resurrection body will be united (John 5:28-29). They shall then appear at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and shall be cast into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41-46), cut off from the life of God forever (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The Rapture of the Church

We teach the personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Titus 2:13), for the purposes of judgment of the unrighteous world (the day of the Lord - 2 Peter 3:3-13), will be immediately preceded, on the same day (Luke 17:26-30), by the rapture (or the "gathering together in the sky") of Christ's church from this earth (Matthew 24:30-31; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:11). However, the rapture will not occur until after the following: the apostasy comes; 2) the man of lawlessness is revealed; and 3) Christ "cuts short" the great tribulation by Antichrist, (Matthew 24:15,21-22, 29-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). Thus, the rapture must occur sometime during the second half of Daniel's 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27). In between the rapture of the church and Christ's glorious return with His saints on the first day of the Millennium (Revelation 21:1-2), Christ will reward believers according to their works (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 11:18).

The Great Day of the Lord

We teach that immediately following the Rapture - The removal of the living church from the earth (Matthew 24:30-31; John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) - the righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon an unbelieving world (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-8; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 16:12-17). Scripture calls this time of God's wrath, the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; Isaiah 13:9; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 6:17).

Second coming and the Millennial Reign

We teach that after God's great wrath is poured out upon the earth, Christ will come to rule over the kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 7:27; Zechariah 14:9), establishing His Messianic kingdom for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-7). During this time the resurrected saints will reign with Him over all the nations of the earth (Revelation 2:26; 3:21). His reign will be preceded by the overthrow of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, 45 days earlier (Daniel 12:11-12), and by the removal of Satan from the world (Daniel 7:10-11; Revelation 19:19-20; 20:1-3).

We teach that on the first day of the Millennium, Satan will first be bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2-3), followed by the Sheep and Goat judgment of the day-of-the-Lord survivors (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:4), the restoration of the heavens and earth (Acts 3:21) destroyed during the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10-13) in preparation of the millennial rule of Christ (Isaiah 65:17-20; 66:22-24), and finally, the descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven to earth, containing the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2) who will then be forever united with her husband, their Lord Jesus Christ, who is to rule over earth, forever and ever (Revelation 21:3-5 with Daniel 2:44; 7:27 and Zechariah 14:9).

We teach that the Millennial Kingdom will be the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel (Isaiah 65:17-25; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Zechariah 8:1-17) to restore them to the land which they forfeited through their disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). The result of their disobedience was that Israel was temporarily set aside (Matthew 21:43; Romans 11:1-26) but will again be awakened through repentance to enter into the land of blessing (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32; Romans 11:25-29) after the completion of the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24; 12:11-12; Hosea 6:1-3; Romans 11:25-26).

We teach that this time of our Lord's reign will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness, and long life (Isaiah 11:1-9; 65:17-25; Revelation 21:9-22:5).

The Judgment of the Lost

We teach that following the release of Satan after the thousand year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:7), Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9). Following this, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10) whereupon Christ, who is the judge of all men (John 5:22), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

We teach that this resurrection of the unsaved dead to judgment will be a physical resurrection, whereupon receiving their judgment (Romans 14:10-13), they will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 20:11-15).

Eternity

We teach that after the closing of the millennium, the temporary release and ultimate defeat of Satan, and the judgment of unbelievers (revelation 20:7-15), the millennial saints will enter the eternal state of glory with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and with Christ and His bride. Our Lord Jesus Christ having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Corinthians 15:28).