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Doctrinal Statement
 


We affirm that the sevenfold unity expressed in Eph. 4:1-6 is the Holy Spirit’s doctrinal statement for the Church, the Body of Christ.  The framework for all doctrinal and practical requirements for the Body of Christ is contained in this passage.

 

Desiring to be in submission and obedience to the Spirit’s command to guard this unity (Eph. 4:3), we believe and proclaim the following truths:

 

I. ONE BODY

A. The Church

Under the present dispensation there is only one elect company (church).  It is designated "the Body of Christ," and its historical manifestation began with the apostle Paul before he wrote his first epistle (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 3:6; 1 Th. 2:14.16; Acts 13:45-46).

 

God does not recognize national distinctions in this dispensation.  Therefore, Paul (by inspiration) instructs us that – within the Body of Christ – there is neither Jew nor Gentile but all are one in Christ Jesus and members one of another (Gal. 3:28; Rom. 12:5).  The Body of Christ must not be confused with God’s elect of other dispensations, i.e., the elect Jews (Israel) and the elect Gentiles. These will retain their identities as Jews and Gentiles throughout eternity (Rev. 21:12-14; Lk. 22:28-30; 1 Cor. 7:17-20; Rom. 11:29).

 

 

B. The Lord's Supper

The “Lord's Supper” is a regular meal of fellowship (1 Cor. 11:21, 22, 33, 34) which is eaten by members of the Body who come together as an assembly (in ekklesia). This common meal, taken without dietary restrictions or regulations (I Cor. 10:17), is itself a declaration of the removal of the dividing wall of partition that previously separated Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-16) and a recognition/acknowledgment of the unity of the Body.  Behaving divisively at this fellowship meal (like Judas, who defiled Israel's Passover during Messiah’s last supper) is the sin for which some of the Corinthians were judged (I Cor. 11:29-30).  Individuals who behave divisively at the fellowship meal manifest their failure to discern and embrace the saints (literally "set apart ones") as joint-members of the Body of Christ.

 

The traditional “communion” ordinance/ritual, which utilizes a sip of juice and a nibble of cracker, is pagan (mithraic) in origin and is nowhere sanctioned in the Holy Scriptures.

 

C. Mission

The mission of the Church, the Body of Christ, is to proclaim the message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:14-20) and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the Mystery (Eph. 3:9).  The responsibility of the local assembly is the edification of  the Body of Christ; i.e., equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, for progressing to maturity, and for attaining to the unity of the One Faith (Eph. 4:12, 13).

 

II. ONE SPIRIT

 

A. His Person

The Holy Spirit is a Person Who, as God, eternally co-existed with the Father and the Son (Deut. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Acts 5:3, 4).

 

B. His Work In Regeneration

1.   Total Depravity:All men by nature are spiritually dead and, hence, are totally unable and unwilling to do anything pleasing to God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 3:9-12).  Because man, in his natural state, hates and opposes the sovereign God of Scripture. no man can nor will come to Christ unless he is drawn by the Spirit of God (John 6:37, 44; Rom. 3:10-11; Eph. 4:18).

 

2.    Unconditional Regeneration: Solely on the basis of God’s redeeming love, the Holy Spirit regenerates the elect giving him a new nature.

3.   Perseverance and Sanctification: The believer is kept eternally secure by the power of God (Rom. 8:29-39), as follows: the Holy Spirit’s work in the elect delivers them from the controlling power of the sin nature (though the sin nature is never eradicated during this life) and creates in them a new nature which loves and obeys God (Php. 2:11, 12; Col. 3:9-11; Rom. 6:11, 7:22;  2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:16-25; Ps. 110:3).  

As saints we are to maintain a Christ honoring testimony – demonstrating obedience to the Lord, love toward His people, and progress in the knowledge of God’s Word (Rom. 12:1-2, 9; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:11; Php. 1:7; I Tim. 6:20-21; I Jn. 4:19).

 

C. His Other Gifts

All of the sign gifts of the Acts period (charismatic baptisms and the empowerment of certain individuals to the offices of apostle and prophet) were given for a specific purpose and limited to a specific time.  None of these temporary gifts extended beyond the death of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Eph. 4:5, one baptism, cf. VI below).

 

The only offices sanctioned by God for the Body of Christ are “evangelists” (missionaries), teaching pastors/bishops, and deacons (Eph. 4:7-16; I Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9).

 

III. ONE HOPE

God never chooses an individual to more than one hope, and each individual's hope is immutable (Rom. 11:29).

 

The Hope ordained by God for the Body of Christ, before the foundation of the world, is eternally in the third heaven (Eph. 1:3, 2:6; 2 Cor. 12:2, 3).  The new earth will be the abode of Israel and the Gentiles.  In the new heavens and new earth (the dispensation of the fullness of times [Eph. 1:10]), the governmental structure of the elect, under God, will be: the Body, with Christ as its Head, governing the holy angels (1 Cor. 6:3); the holy angels governing redeemed Israel (Acts 7:53; Heb. 1:14; Dan. 10:12); redeemed Israel governing the redeemed Gentiles (Isa. 61:5-7; Am. 9:11-12); and the redeemed Gentiles exercising dominion over animal and plant life and over the earth (Gen. 1:26; Job 19:25-26).

 

The event by which the Body of Christ is transported to the third heaven, at the appearing of Christ in the air (Tit. 2:13, 14; 1 Th. 4:13-18), is commonly called the "rapture."  This will take place before the beginning of Daniel’s 70th "week," commonly called the "Tribulation" (Dan. 9:25-27).

 

To the praise of God’s justice and wrath – the unsaved of all dispensations will be resurrected, judged, sentenced, and cast into the Lake of Fire, where they will suffer everlasting conscious torment (Rev. 20:11-15; 14:10, 11).  

IV. ONE LORD

A. His Person

The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity (called “the Word [Logos] of God” in John 1:1-18), became incarnate in history as the man Christ Jesus, to redeem the elect given Him by the Father.  At the time appointed by the Father, Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit; born of the virgin Mary; lived a perfect, sinless life; died on the cross; and was resurrected bodily from the dead (Lk. 1:35; Php. 2:6-9; Rom. 1:3-4;1 Cor. 15:21).  He is true God and true man.

 

B. His Relationship to the Body

God has ordained the Body of Christ to be the fulness of Christ in His humanity (Eph. 1:22, 23).  As such, they will dwell eternally within the unapproachable light in the third heaven (Col. 1:12), ruling over the elect angels (cf. III, the ONE HOPE, above).  To this Body – Jesus Christ is the One Lord and Head (Eph. 1:18-23;  2:6; Php. 3:20-21).

 

C. His Particular Redemption

God justifies men by His grace through the blood of Christ.  The intent of the death of Christ was to provide a certain redemption for those of God’s choosing (Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:3,4).

 

Regardless of dispensation, all who were ever the object of Christ’s redeeming love and work will be save for eternity (Rom. 8:29-39). 

 

The work of Christ secured absolutely nothing for the nonelect.

 V. ONE FAITH

 

A. The Bible

The entire Bible (66 books), in its original writings, is verbally inspired of God and is the sole authority for all doctrine and practice (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:21; Ps. 12:6, 7).  The Bible is to be interpreted by the grammatico-historical (sometimes called the natural or normative) method (2 Tim. 2:15), i.e., saints are to search and discover what any given passage said to (taught) the original hearers and, thus, how the passage is to be understood in its correct dispensational framework.

 

The Bible, in its entirety, is for our learning and growth (Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17).  The truths which are specifically to and for the Body of Christ were given through Paul (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 1:11-19, 2:7-9; Col. 1:25-27; 1 Cor. 3:10).

 

B. Saving Faith

True saving faith in each dispensation, based solely on the finished work of Christ (Php. 1:29; Rom. 8:32).  It is wrought by the Holy Spirit and is manifested by repentance toward God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21),

 

C. Mature Faith

 a life which is characterized by the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23).

 

 VI. ONE BAPTISM

 

Each saved person in this dispensation has been made a member of the Body of Christ by one divine baptism (1 Cor. 12:13), through which he is identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3).  

 

Since members of the Body are complete in Christ, apart from any religious ceremonial practices – they are not to participate in any form of water baptism, charismatic baptisms, ritual/religious circumcision, dietary restrictions, prohibition of marriage, holidays/holy days, or the observance of other ceremonies/ordinances.  Such impositions upon the Body of Christ have no foundation in the Pauline Scriptures and are, at best, the tradition of men (Eph. 4:5; Col. 2: 8-23; 1 Cor. 1:17; I Tim. 4: 1-3).

 

 

VII. ONE GOD AND FATHER

 

A. The Godhead

There is one God, eternally co-existing in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deut. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:14).

 

B. Creation

In six literal days, God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and everything in them (Gen. 1:1-31; Ex. 20:11; Col. 1:16).

 

C. Sovereignty

1.   Sovereignty in General: The Scriptures identify the true God by His unique attributes of immutability and sovereignty.  He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  In all of history, nothing has happened (nor can happen) apart from His explicit decree, which is based on His desire (Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:35; Prov. 16:1, 4, 33; 21:1).

 

2.   Unconditional Election: God, in eternity, chose out of mankind those He would save, for no other reason than His own wise, just, and holy purpose – apart from any conditions or merit present or foreseen in them (Ps. 65:4; Rom. 9:7-16, 11:5, 6; Eph. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:9).

 

3.   Reprobation: God decreed from eternity that He would permit those not chosen unto salvation, to follow their own sinful desires and to remain under His just judgment. To the praise of His justice and wrath – He will finally condemn them, not only for their unbelief but for their other sins as well.  This in no way makes God the author of sin but a fearful avenger and just judge (Ps. 5:5; Prov. 16:4; John 12:39, 40; Rom. 9:18-24, 11:7-10; Eph. 2:1-5; 2 Pet. 2:12; Jude 4).