What I Believe

You may have heard it's not about doctrine; it's a relationship. Conversely, you may have heard the opposite: It's not about the relationship, but about doctrine. Some of you may recognize this is a false dilemma. It's not either/or, but both/and. It's about a relationship, but it's also about sound doctrine.

The importance and necessity of sound doctrine is a constant theme in the New Testament. And the most important part of discussing doctrine is to see the difference between an "essential doctrine" and a "non-essential" doctrine. This distinction may be a place where people get confused about doctrine.

Some people give up talking about doctrine because they find it is divisive. People get into arguments about right or wrong, true or false, and essential and non-essential doctrine. 

Allow me to help you understand how to navigate an essential and non-essential doctrine.

An essential doctrine is a doctrine that must be true for the Gospel to be true. (And opposite to that are "non-essential" doctrines. These don't have to be true for the Gospel to be true.)

An example of an essential doctrine would be the deity of Jesus Christ.

Another would be the humanity of Jesus Christ. God the Son became a real human being and lived his as a human being.

So, from those two doctrines, we would have a declaration of the dual nature of Christ. Jesus is the only person with two natures is an essential doctrine.

The Trinity is an essential doctrine. That is, it must be valid for the Gospel to be true. God is three persons in one Being. Not three persons in one person.

Another essential doctrine is Jesus' virgins birth, his sinless life. Jesus of Nazareth died physically on the cross and then rose again in bodily form on the third day. 

 

These are some of the essential doctrines that must be true for the Gospel to be true.

An example of a non-essential doctrine would be something like women in authority in the church. Some Churches ordain women to ministry. Although traditionally, that is a change in practice, it is not an essential doctrine.

Some Christians believe the gifts of the Spirit are not for today. Others believe that all the gifts in the New Testament are still available today. 

Although Christians will divide over this, it is not an essential doctrine.

The mode of baptism would be another non-essential. Some churches practice infant baptism. Others believe in believer's baptism.

Whether you're a premillennial dispensationalist, Post Millennial, or A-millennial (to name 3) is non-essential. 

Some Christians believe that once saved, always saved. Others think you can lose your salvation. Sorry, this is not an essential doctrine. What you think about this belief doesn't make the Gospel valid. That is, it doesn't have to be true for the Gospel to be true. The age of the earth or universe sets many people off. Sorry, this is not an essential doctrine.

Now, let me make this point "non-essentials are not non-important." Non-essential doctrines are still important. That is to say, what you believe affects how you live AND how effective you are in the mission of Christ.

For instance, two views on how people receive salvation will affect how you evangelize.

What you believe about being filled with the Holy Spirit will affect how you live and what kind of church meetings you'll have.

There are more than a few themes pointing to the importance of Sound Doctrine, but here are four:

 

1. Sound doctrine is "the faith" for which the church contends (Jude 3) 

2. Sound doctrine is essential to the church's spiritual wellbeing. (Eph. 4:4-15)

3. Sound doctrine is the truth the church upholds (1 Tim. 3:15-16).

4. Sound doctrine evaluates the conduct and behavior of the church. (Titus 2:1)

In reality, I can say that the Bible is my creed because correct doctrine is an accurate and systematic statement of what the Bible teaches. I strive to be doctrinally correct in the essentials. 

It is impossible to discern right and sound doctrine without being a student of the Scriptures. God has not only called us to read the word but to study the word.

I affirm my dependence upon the Scriptures for my doctrine and uphold the Bible as my final authority for faith and living.

The statement of faith outlined here is neither exhaustive nor infallible. Instead, it is my interpretation of sound doctrine.

My doctrinal summary of those truths is that which I hold as foundational to the Christian faith. I have compiled this statement to fulfill three main functions:

 

  1. To stand as a recent confession of my beliefs.
  2. To identify my ministry in a day of varied theologies.
  3. To be a standard by which I can evaluate myself and those who work alongside me.

 

STATEMENT OF FAITH

Bible

The Bible to be sixty-six books written by at least forty authors over fifteen hundred years. The Bible has many themes, but one central theme is Jesus Christ's person. (Matt. 5:18; Lk 24:44-49; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). God inspired the biblical authors to convey the message of Jesus Christ. (Lk 24:44-49)

God

The Godhead exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; these three are distinct persons in one God. (Gen. 1:1,26; Deut. 6:4; Mat.28:19-20; John 4:24; 2 Cor. 13:14).

God is not three persons in one person (that would be a contradiction), but God is three persons in one Being. 

This Being we call God, we sometimes call the "Godhead." Many times we refer to the Father when we refer to God. However, it is appropriate to refer to each person of the Godhead as God.

God as Father

The Father is the source of all God does. He causes all things by His will. Most importantly, the Father sent the Son to save us from our sins. 

 Jesus said no one has seen the Father except the Son, prayed to the Father, said he and the Father are one, and if you have seen him, you have seen the Father. (John 5:36-37; 14:6-13; 15:26; 17:21-24)

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is God's only Son (John 3:16) and our sole mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Scripture teaches His pre-existence (John 1:1). He is truly God. His incarnation (John 1:1-14), He is truly Man. His virgin birth (Matt. 1:23-25), His sinless life (Heb. 4:15), His substitutionary atonement (Rom. 3:23-25), His death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:24-27), His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9-11), and His return from heaven (Titus 2:13).

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, who regenerates, indwells, and seals all those who have faith in Christ at the time of conversion (baptizes them into Jesus) and fills those believers (baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who yield to God). All four Gospels introduce Jesus as the one who will baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit. (Mat. 28:19; John 3:3-7; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19; 12:13; Eph. 4:30; Titus 3:5).

Man & Sin

God created man in His image, man sinned in Adam, and he is now a sinner by nature and by choice, yet maintains the essence of God's image in his fallenness. Man's sin is disobedience to God. Isaiah said it best when saying: "All we like sheep have gone astray; each one turning to his way." (Isaiah 53:6) God's image is disfigured in man because of sin, but not destroyed. (Gen 1:26-27; 3:1-6; Rom. 10:18, 5:12-14; James 3:9; Isaiah 53:6). 

Salvation

God offers salvation by grace through faith to all humanity in Jesus Christ. Human works, merit, or ceremonies cannot contribute to salvation. (Acts 4:12; 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9).

Church

The church is a spiritual and physical body made up of all believers, past, present, and future. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, and there is a two-fold aspect to the church, the universal and the local (Eph. 1:22-23; Philem. 2; 1 Thes. 1:1; Rev. 2:3).

Ordinances of the local church are two in number; water baptism (a public identification of the believer with Christ) and the Lord's supper (a memorial of the atoning death of Christ until He comes) (Mat. 28:19; Acts 2:41; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-24).

Resurrection & Judgments

The resurrection of all people will occur at the return of Christ. Divine judgments, rewards, and punishments will take place at the return of Jesus. (John 5:25-29; 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15).

Spiritual Gifts

Every believer has at least one spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:7-11). 

God, the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows the gift or gifts to each believer. 

When each believer properly exercises his gift in the assembly, he contributes to the Body of Christ's working and maturing (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; Eph. 4:1-16). 

Great Commission

Believers are sent into the world by Christ as the Father sent Jesus. We are ambassadors to go and make disciples and make Christ known to every people.

Christians must proclaim Christ's excellencies and refute those who contradict the truth of the Gospel. (Mat. 28:18-20; John 15:8; 17:18; 20:21; 2 Cor. 5:20-21; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3; ).

Angels

Angelic beings are personal beings, created holy, these remain servants of God, but now some exist as fallen, including Satan. Satan and his minions intend to supplant God and frustrate His purposes. 

Satan’s ultimate end is consignment to eternal punishment ((Ps. 148:2-5; Mat. 25:41; Eph. 6:11-12; Col. 1:16; 1 Tim. 5:21; Jude 6; Rev. 12:7-12; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; Eph. 2:17; Rev. 12:7-12).

Allow me to repeat here what I've written previously concerning doctrine and my statement of faith.

  1. Sound doctrine is "the faith" for which the church contends (Jude 3) 
  2. Sound doctrine is essential to the church's spiritual wellbeing. (Eph. 4:4-15)
  3. Sound doctrine is the truth the church upholds (1 Tim. 3:15-16).
  4. Sound doctrine evaluates the conduct and behavior of the church. (Titus 2:1)
  1. To stand as a recent confession of my beliefs.
  2. To identify my ministry in a day of varied theologies.
  3. To be a standard by which I can evaluate myself and those who work alongside me.

Please remember, this is not an infallible statement, but as I see and interpret the Scripture. You are free to disagree, but at least you know where I stand.

 

 

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