General Doctrinal Statement
There is one God, creator of all things, infinitely perfect, holy, eternally existent in three co-equal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For example, God is gracious, merciful, compassionate, abounding in steadfast love and is the righteous Judge of all people. [Gen 1:1; Deut 6:4; Ps 18:30; 103:8; 119:156; 86:15; 25:10; 9:7-8; Is 6:3; Matt 28:19; John 1:1-3; 15:26; Eph 4:6; Col 1:16; 2:19; I Tim 2:5; Heb 9:14]
The Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, and is sinlessly perfect. He died sacrificially as our substitute, suffering God’s punishment for our sin. He rose bodily from the dead and ascended to His Father’s right hand, where He now ministers as our Great High Priest. [Luke 1:26-35; Rom 5:19; 1 Cor 15:1-19; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 1:20; 1 Tim 2:5-6, 3:16; Heb 4:14-16; 1 Peter 2:22, 24; 1 John 2:1, 3:5
The Holy Spirit is personal and fully God, possessing all the distinctively divine attributes. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
At conversion He:
- baptizes (joins) the believer into the body of Christ
- indwells him personally and permanently
- seals him, guaranteeing his eternal security
- sets him apart to a holy life
- enables him to live a godly life
- endows him with spiritual abilities (i.e., gifts) which benefit the church
[Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 12:6-13, 28-31, 6:19; Gal 5:15, 22-23; Eph 1:13-14, 2:20, 4:30]
The Bible (Old & New Testaments) is verbally inspired by God and without error in the original documents. It is entirely reliable and is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. The grand theme of Scripture (the written Word) is God’s glory revealed through Jesus Christ (the Living Word) [Luke 24:27; John 1:1,14, 5:39; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21]
Mankind was created by God in His image, and as such, has the capacity for fellowship with God. Mankind, though, has rebelled and is sinful by nature and practice. The result of this condition is separation from God that leaves mankind deserving a lost eternity in hell. [Gen 1:27; 2:16-17, Ps 51:5; Is 53:6; 59:2, Jer 17:9, Rom 3:23, 5:12; Rev 20:15]
Mankind needs to be saved from the consequence of his sin and restored into a living relationship with God, which is impossible for a person to accomplish by works or religious observances. This, rather, is accomplished by the death and resurrection of Christ and is viewed as a gift of God by grace. Any person who, in faith, acknowledges his or her sinful condition and trusts in Christ’s finished work is, at the moment of conversion:
- forgiven and saved from the consequences of sin
- brought into a new relationship with God (eternal life)
- made secure in this salvation and relationship forever
[John 3:3, 16, 36; 10:27-29; Rom 3:28, 10:9, 10, 13; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5; Heb 9:11-14; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 John 5:11-13]
The universal Church is not an organization but a living organism known as the body of Christ. It is composed of all true believers in Jesus Christ, regardless of where they meet. The local church is a gathering of believers in a locality who meet in corporate testimony to the Lordship of Christ and to the oneness of the body of Christ. They gather for fellowship, teaching of God’s Word, worship at the Lord’s Supper and prayer. They also evangelize those who are outside of Christ with a view to making new disciples. Government and discipline are the responsibility of the local church. [Matt 28:18-20, 18:15-17; John 4:23, 17:21; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 5:1-6:4, 11:23-26; Eph 1:22-23, 4:11-16; Phil 1:1; Col 1:18]
There are two particular commands that Christ left the Church to practice through out the years:
- Baptism of believers by immersion in water as an outward public testimony of an inward conversion. (Baptism is not a means of or an aid to salvation). [Matt 28:19; Acts 2:41, 8;12, 8:35-39; Rom 6:3-6; Col 2:12]
- The Lord’s Supper for believers which is a remembrance of the Lord in His death for us. [Matt 26:26-29; Luke 22:15-22; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7; 1 Cor 10:16-17, 11:23-26]
God originally created a large number of spiritual beings (angels) for His service. One of these beings, Satan, led many others (now called demons) in rebellion against God. While their ultimate judgment and condemnation is certain, they currently seek to hinder the purpose of God by influencing believers to sin. The indwelling Holy Spirit, though, is greater than Satan or his demons and is able to help the believer resist sin. [Job 1:6-2:10; Matt 4:1-11, 25:41; 2 Cor 11:13-15; 1 John 4:3-4; Rev 20:1-3,10; see also Is 14:3-23 , Ezek 28:12-19]
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Summary Statement of Biblical Eldership
We believe the Bible teaches that a team of biblically qualified elders is to lead the local church, men who are equal in authority, serving as under-shepherds to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
[Note: This is a quick summary statement of what the Bible teaches about elders. For an exposition showing the biblical basis for this, see the “What Is Biblical Eldership?” section of this website.]
God’s word speaks of elders in the plural who share in the overall governance of the church.
Although elders may function differently according to their gifting, all are needed to provide overall responsibility and authority to lead the church.
Scripture lays out explicit teaching on elder qualification (or characteristics) for those who shepherd the local church.
Elders are to be males, as taught in Scripture. While women may serve in many roles in the church, God has ordained that men, and not women, are to serve in the overall governing and teaching roles.
The Office & Work
The office of elder is to be distinguished from the spiritual gift of pastor or pastor-teacher (which an elder may or may not have). Any who serve with the gift of pastor or pastor-teacher do so under the authority of the elders. Further, the work of elder is to be distinguished also from the work of deacon.
The elder who rules, teaches or preaches well is worthy of financial support (i.e. “double honor” see 1 Tim. 5:17-18), so that he may serve the church more fully. Such an individual serves under the authority of the elders as a whole and does not supplant but supplements the elders’ pastoral ministry.
The biblical terms elder, overseer, bishop and the contemporary terms shepherd-elder and pastor-elder all refer to the same individuals.
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