Beliefs - 16 Core Truths
1. The Scriptures Inspired
The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
*Pastor's note: This is the foundation of all the other core truths. The Reliability of Scripture is our one presupposition. This is not blind, but we have rational and extra-rational causes for trusting this to be God's Word.
2. The One True God
The one true God has revealed himself as the eternally self-existent "I AM," the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind. He has further revealed himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10,11; Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22).
*Pastor's note: (1) The Bible answers for us the question of the universe's First Cause. (2) Though the term is extra-biblical, the doctrine of the Trinity is clear in Scripture.
The Adorable Godhead
(a) Terms Defined
The terms trinity and persons, as related to the Godhead, while not found in the Scriptures, are words in harmony with Scripture, whereby we may convey to others our immediate understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God, as distinguished from "gods many and lords many." We therefore may speak with propriety of the Lord our God, who is One Lord, as a Trinity or as one Being of three persons, and still be absolutely scriptural (examples, Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:16,17).
(b) Distinction and Relationship in the Godhead
Christ taught a distinction of persons in the Godhead which He expressed in specific terms of relationship, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but that this distinction and relationship, as to its mode is inscrutable and incomprehensible, because unexplained (Luke 1:35; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Matthew 11:25-27; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3,4).
(c) Unity of the One Being of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Accordingly, therefore, there is that in the Father which constitutes Him the Father and not the Son; there is that in the Son which constitutes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is that in the Holy Ghost which constitutes Him the Holy Ghost and not either the Father or the Son. Wherefore the Father is the Begetter; the Son is the Begotten; and the Holy Ghost is the One proceeding from the Father and the Son. Therefore, because these three persons in the Godhead are in a state of unity, there is but one Lord God Almighty and His name one (John 1:18; 15:26; 17:11,21; Zechariah 14:9).
(d) Identity and Cooperation in the Godhead
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are never identical as to person; nor confused as to relation; nor divided in respect to the Godhead; nor opposed as to cooperation. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son as to relationship. The Son is with the Father and the Father is with the Son, as to fellowship. The Father is not from the Son, but the Son is from the Father, as to authority. The Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son proceeding, as to nature, relationship, cooperation, and authority. Hence no person in the Godhead either exists or works separately or independently of the others (John 5:17-30,32,37; 8:17,18).
(e) The Title, Lord Jesus Christ
The appellation Lord Jesus Christ is a proper name. It is never applied in the New Testament either to the Father or to the Holy Ghost. It therefore belongs exclusively to the Son of God (Romans 1:1-3,7; 2 John 3).
(f) The Lord Jesus Christ, God with us
The Lord Jesus Christ, as to His divine and eternal nature, is the proper and only Begotten of the Father, but as to His human nature, He is the proper Son of Man. He is, therefore, acknowledged to be both God and man; who because He is God and man, is "Immanuel," God with us (Matthew 1:23; 1 John 4:2,10,14; Revelation 1:13,17).
(g) The Title, Son of God
Since the name Immanuel embraces both God and man, in the one person, our Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that the title Son of God describes His proper deity, and the title Son of Man, His proper humanity. Therefore, the title Son of God belongs to the order of eternity, and the title Son of Man to the order of time (Matthew 1:21-23; 2 John 3; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 7:3; 1:1-13).
(h) Transgression of the Doctrine of Christ
Wherefore, it is a transgression of the doctrine of Christ to say that Jesus Christ derived the title Son of God solely from the fact of the Incarnation, or because of His relation to the economy of redemption. Therefore, to deny that the Father is a real and eternal Father, and that the Son is a real and eternal Son, is a denial of the distinction and relationship in the Being of God; a denial of the Father and Son; and a displacement of the truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (2 John 9; John 1:1,2,14,18,29,49; 1 John 2:22,23; 4:1-5; Hebrews 12:2).
(i) Exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord
The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, having by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, angels and principalities and powers having been made subject unto Him. And having been made both Lord and Christ, He sent the Holy Ghost that we, in the name of Jesus, might bow our knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father until the end, when the Son shall become subject to the Father that God may be all in all (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22; Acts 2:32-36; Romans 14:11; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
(j) Equal Honor to the Father and to the Son
Wherefore, since the Father has delivered all judgment unto the Son, it is not only the express duty of all in heaven and on earth to bow the knee, but it is an unspeakable joy in the Holy Ghost to ascribe unto the Son all the attributes of deity, and to give Him all the honor and the glory contained in all the names and titles of the Godhead except those which express relationship (see paragraphs b, c, and d), and thus honor the Son even as we honor the Father (John 5:22,23; 1 Peter 1:8; Revelation 5:6-14; Philippians 2:8,9; Revelation 7:9,10; 4:8-11).
3. The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. The Scriptures declare:
(a) His virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31,35).
(b) His sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
(c) His miracles (Acts 2:22; 10:38).
(d) His substitutionary work on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
(e) His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4).
(f) His exaltation to the right hand of God (Acts 1:9,11; 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3).
*Pastor's Note: The core truth that makes much of the church-world define a belief as a "cult" is the denial of the Son of God as to His eternal co-existence and co-equaltity with the Father (Philippians 2:6-8; John 1:1-3).
4. The Fall of Man
Man was created good and upright; for God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:17; 3:6; Romans 5:12-19).
Pastor's Note: Due to the fall of Adam, the human race died spiritually in the Garden of Eden - that is, we are by nature spiritually dead and therefore owns no means by which he might personally know God (Ephesians 2:1-3). Since God is Spirit (John 4:23-24), we are born away from God (John 8:42-47).
5. The Salvation of Man
Man's only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
(a) Conditions to Salvation
Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God according to the hope of eternal life (Luke 24:47; John 3:3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 2:11; 3:5-7).
(b) The Evidences of Salvation
The inward evidence of salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit (Romans 8:16). The outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24; Titus 2:12).
*Pastor's Note: The resurrection from spiritual death is the miracle that bring salvation. It is not a mere religious agreement, it is rather a recognition made possible by resurrected spiritual consciousness - to be born again.
6. The Ordinances of the Church
(a) Baptism in Water
The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded in the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 10:47,48; Romans 6:4).
(b) Holy Communion
The Lord's Supper, consisting of the elements--bread and the fruit of the vine--is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4); a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26); and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26); and is enjoined on all believers "till He come!"
Pastor's Note: For us these are not sacraments - they have no grace or power in and of themselves. Rather, the grace and power are in the spiritual experiences that they serve to memorialize. Baptism does not save adult or baby, only being born again does. Communion is not a sacrifice of Christ. That happened once for all (Hebrews 10:8-12).
7. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word, and for the lost (Mark 16:20).
*Pastor's Note: This, with the 8th Core Truth, is what most distinguishes us as a fellowship. We would belong to another fellowship (Alliance Church, for instance) were it not for our belief that the Scripture taught this truth. This is not the same as being born again, which brings us into the family of God by spiritual birth, but is in addition to that and for the purpose of empowerment to do the work as Jesus did (Acts 10:38).
8. The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-10,28), but different in purpose and use.
*Pastor's Note: That the apostles had a litmus test of a physical sign for spirit baptism is clear from Acts 8:15-19 (ask "How did they know they had not yet received? How did the apostles (and Simon) know when they had). Combined with the oft repeated standard that every matter be established by 2 or 3 witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1), we find that the three witnesses of the reception of the Spirit in Acts directly accompanied by speaking in tongues settles the question as to what that physical evidence is and when it occurs in those baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God (Romans 12:1,2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12). Scriptures teach a life of "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). By the power of the Holy Ghost we are able to obey the command: "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15,16). Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:1-11,13; 8:1,2,13; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:12,13; 1 Peter 1:5).
Pastor's Note: The modern "grace movement" ignores what Paul says is the work of grace...saying no to ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:11-12). It minimizes the life lived under the authority of the Old Covenant (Testament) Law which Psalm 1 says clearly is the source of a man's blessedness, prosperity, fruitfulness, and confidence with God, though not the source of his salvation. We disagree with this mischaracterization of grace as a license to sin (Romans 6:1-3).
10. The Church and Its Mission
The Church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:22; Hebrews 12:23). Since God's purpose concerning man is to seek and to save that which is lost, to be worshiped by man, and to build a body of believers in the image of His Son, the priority reason-for-being of the Assemblies of God as part of the Church is:
a. To be an agency of God for evangelizing the world (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16).
b. To be a corporate body in which man may worship God (1 Corinthians 12:13).
c. To be a channel of God's purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 14:12).
The Assemblies of God exists expressly to give continuing emphasis to this reason-for-being in the New Testament apostolic pattern by teaching and encouraging believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience:
a. Enables them to evangelize in the power of the Spirit with accompanying supernatural signs (Mark16:15-20; Acts 4:29-31; Hebrews 2:3,4).
b. Adds a necessary dimension to a worshipful relationship with God (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Corinthians 12-14).
c. Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in expression of fruit and gifts and ministries as in New Testament times for the edifying of the body of Christ (Galatians 5:22-26; 1Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11,12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Colossians 1:29).
Pastor's Note: These were the same purpose that God had for Israel and the Jewish people, but they overlooked the responsibility for which their privilege existed. We must be careful we don't do the same or we too will be cut off (Romans 11:21). God is not done with national Israel, and we do not accept the teaching that the Church has forever replaced Israel. God is not done with His chosen people (Romans 11:25-32).
11. The Ministry
A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the threefold purpose of leading the Church in: (1) evangelization of the world (Mark 16:15-20), (2) worship of God (John 4:23,24), and (3) building a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11,16).
Pastor's Note: We agree with the concept of the priesthood of all believers. All disciples of Christ are called priests, or to speak to God on behalf of other people. We also believe in the prophethood of all believers, that all disciples of Christ are called to speak to other people on behalf of God. These responsibilities are not limited to those in career ministry positions (such as the pastor).
12. Divine Healing
Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the Atonement, and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16,17; James 5:14-16).
Pastor's Note: We do not agree with the teachings that sickness is God's will, nor that God makes people sick, but we do understand that God allows and uses sickness for the purpose of discipling us to teach us to trust Him more and even to bring glory to Himself (1 Corinthians 11:30-32; John 9:1-4)
13. The Blessed Hope
The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52).
Pastor's Note: While not explicitly stated in our core truth here, we believe that Christ's return (the Rapture) for His people will precede the Great Tribulation (or Day of the Lord referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) talked about in Scripture. This is rooted in the identity of the one who restrains the coming of the evil one in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,6-8. It seems that this "retrainer" must be the Holy Spirit as He gave birth to the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; John 16:7-10). While most consider the Great Tribulation as a 7-year period between the Rapture and the Revelation of Jesus Christ (when Jesus returns physically to the earth) associated with the anti-christ, some hold that the Tribulation is only the last 3.5 years (Daniel 12:1,6-7). If they are correct, a mid-tribulation timeframe may still be "pre-tribulational." While we hold these conclusions, we are not dogmatic and do not encourage an attitude of escapism. We do not espouse a post-tribulation timeframe, but we should trust that even if we go through the Great Tribulation God we can count on His love and need not fear.
14. The Millennial Reign of Christ
The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on the earth for one thousand years (Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:27,30; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-14; 20:1-6). This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel (Ezekiel 37:21,22; Zephaniah 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27) and the establishment of universal peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 72:3-8; Micah 4:3,4).
*Pastor's Note: Because we believe God has promises yet to be fulfilled to Israel, we do not believe the millenium is symbolic or present (we cannot agree with post-millennial or a-millennial positions. We believe it is future, and probably even a literal 1000 years.
15. The Final Judgment
There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 19:20; 20:11-15; 21:8).
*Pastor's Note: A close study of Scripture shows that resurrection is not spiritual, but physical. Not only will the righteous be resurrected, but so too the wicked (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:4-6). Therefore, heaven and hell will be physical places (Matthew 10:28), and eternal states that will not end or find any termination (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-47; Revelation 14:11).
16. The New Heavens and the New Earth
"We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21 and 22).
*Pastor's Note: The eternal state we often call "heaven" will finally be on earth as God comes down to dwell among us (Revelation 21:1-4). It will be essentially a return to the conditions (though better yet) found in the Garden of Eden before man's fall, when God walked there in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Nothing sinful will dwell in this New Jerusalem, and if unrepentant sinners were permitted entry, it would return to the state we are currently in. Therefore, unless someone turns away from sin in the way God requires it to be done, he will not inherit this estate (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:6-8).