What We Believe

What We Believe

ABOUT GOD

God is that Being whom no one or no thing greater can be conceived. God is superior to and more perfect than all else. He is the Being in whom all authority and truth resides. There is one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4). The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternal, self-existent One (Isaiah 43:10-13).

As the eternal one, He has always existed and will always exist. To be self-existent means that His existence depends upon no one other than Himself. He came into existence by His own power and He remains in existence by His own power.

God is infinite and sovereign to the universe. To be infinite is to be exceedingly immense and inexhaustible without limits. To be sovereign is to be the greatest supreme authority.

God as the Father is "creator." God, by His bountiful goodness, made us and everything on and around this sphere on which we live. He even created natural laws such as the law of gravity and the law of condensation and evaporation (Amos 5:8; 9:6, Isaiah 55:8-10, Psalms 137:7, Jeremiah 10:13; 51:16). As Elohim, we understand Him as a God who can do all that He wills to do.

Additionally, God has further revealed Himself in the principles of relationship and association (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 3:22). God interacts with His creation and creatures.

Regarding relationship, the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (John 10:38). Regarding fellowship, the Son is with the Father and the Father is with the Son (John 1:1-2). Regarding authority, the Father is not from the Son but the Son is from the Father (John 6:35-38). The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son for authority (John 14:26). Neither of the three work separately and independently of each other.

ABOUT JESUS

Jesus Christ made extraordinary and world historical claims about Himself. His claims set Him apart from all other religious leaders. He claimed to be divine, to be One with the Father who sent Him (John 10:30).

God withheld some knowledge from the prophets and even the angels (1st Peter 1:10-12, Ephesians 3:5). The knowledge that He once withheld, He later revealed through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:1-6). God withheld the full revelation of Himself until the coming of Jesus Christ.

Within the Old Testament, God only partially revealed Himself. He anticipated His full revelation that was to come through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must interpret God before the coming of Christ in lieu of everything we learn about God after the coming of Christ.

Through Jesus Christ, God provides the most comprehensive portrait of Himself. Jesus is the living logo of God (John 1:1-3, 14). The word "word" was translated from the Greek word "logos." It has been transliterated into the English language as "logo." A logo was a visible representation and demonstration of a concept. Jesus is the visible representation and demonstration of the concept of God. Jesus visibly represented and demonstrated the concept of God (John 14:6-11).

Jesus is the image icon of God (Colossians 1:15-20). The word "image" comes from the Greek word "eikon." It has been translated into the English language as "icon." An icon was a self-interpreting identity. Jesus is the self-interpreting identity of God. Jesus is the clearest identity picture of God (Hebrews 1:1-3).

ABOUT SALVATION

The message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus brought the church into existence. An appropriate response of faith toward the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus brings a person into a forgiven state, saved, and into the church.

Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is an adequate response of faith. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus proves that He is the Christ, the Son of God (see Romans 1:1-4, Acts 17:30-31). Therefore, only those who believe can become forgiven of sins, saved, and members of the church (see John 8:24, Acts 4:1-4, 8:35-37).

Repenting of sin is an adequate response of faith. Repentance is the change of heart within a person (see Matthew 21:28-32). In repentance, you change your allegiance (see Acts 2:38, 17:30, 26:19-20); you remove your allegiance from your selfish self and pledge your allegiance to the Savior.

Becoming baptized is an adequate response of faith. Baptism is your response to the call of God (see 1 Peter 3:21). Near the beginning of his ministry, the apostle Peter preached about baptism. Near the end of his ministry, the apostle Peter wrote about baptism. Even now baptism saves. What is baptism?

First we consider the dry side of baptism. It is a response of the mind, for it is an internal appeal toward God. The dry side is a response of the conscience. The conscience is a product of accepted teachings (see John 8:1-9, Leviticus 20:10). The dry side is a response of a good conscience. Within this context, a good conscience is a heart that trusts in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 3:21). The resurrection proves that Jesus is the son of God (see Romans 1:4, Acts 17:31). Only those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus have a good conscience for baptism (see John 8:24, Acts 8:35-37). If your conscience is insufficiently taught, your conscience will be insufficiently developed. And if your conscience is incorrectly taught, then it will be incorrectly developed.

Baptism takes place while the penitent believer is in water (see Acts 8:36-39). Baptism consists of taking the penitent believer to the water, and never bringing the water to the penitent believer. We should never attempt to reduce baptism to sprinkling and pouring of water. Some object to the necessity of being covered in water, but Jesus was sealed in His tomb (see Matthew 27:62-64, Romans 6:4). Some object to the necessity of water, yet water is specifically mentioned (see Acts 8:36-39, 10:47, 1 Peter 3:20-21). God refused to heal Naaman until he went into the water (see 2 Kings 5:14).

When those who heard the gospel believed, repented, and became baptized, they were forgiven, saved, and became a member of the church. Even now, a faith response to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ allows one to become forgiven of sins, saved, and a Christian.

Why is there so much confusion on the subject of baptism? An intellectual exegesis of Scripture (bringing the ideas of the author out of the text) rather than an emotional exegesis of Scripture (bringing the ideas of the reader into the text) peels away most of the layers of confusion. The Holy Spirit could not come until after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven (see John 16:7). Some forty (40) days after Jesus had risen from the dead, the Holy Spirit was yet to come (see Acts 1:1-8). The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit revealed the message of truth to those who wrote Scripture (see Ephesians 3:1-5, 2 Peter 1:21). The apostle Peter spoke the words of Acts 2:38 before Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the words contained in their gospels. Being from regions beyond Jerusalem, most of those who heard the words of Acts 2:38 had not heard Jesus speak (see Acts 2:9-11). Even those who had heard Jesus speak failed to understand His message; for that reason, they crucified Him (see Acts 3:17, 1 Corinthians 2:8).

Historically, the Jews offered sacrifices with an understanding that they would invoke the forgiveness (appeasement) of God. Even on Pentecost, they believed that they needed to respond in order to receive forgiveness of God. Therefore, they asked, "What shall we do?" (See Acts 2:37). Peter had just preached a persuasive sermon designed to convince the audience that Jesus was the Christ and Lord (see Acts 2:36). Obviously, some who heard also believed, for their hearts were pricked (see Acts 2:37). Hearts are never pricked until belief comes. In addition to believing, they asked what to do. In other words, they were now asking, "After believing, what (else) shall we do?"

If they had been forgiven (saved) just by believing, Peter should have told them so. If they had been saved just by believing, Peter misled them by allowing them to believe that there was something they needed to do in order to be saved. In the past, they had killed and offered an animal sacrifice in their effort to receive forgiveness of sins. Peter informed them that no longer would they have to kill a lamb. The Lamb (Jesus) had already been slain. Now, they must repent and be baptized to embrace the death of Jesus. Only after Jesus had been raised from the dead did He make the connection or correlate baptism with salvation (see Mark 16:16). Subsequently, Peter relates baptism to salvation (see Acts 2:38).

But what about Romans 10:9-10? Let's set the stage:

  • Those to whom the apostle Paul addressed this letter were called and had become saints (see Romans 1:6-7).
  • They had died to sin (see Romans 6:2).
  • They had been baptized into Christ and His death (see Romans 6:3).
  • They had been raised from the dead to walk in the newness of life (see Romans 6:4).
  • They had become united with Jesus (see Romans 6:5).
  • Their old selves had been crucified with Christ (see Romans 6:6).
  • They had obeyed from the heart the doctrinal teachings (see Romans 6:17).
  • They had been freed from sin (see Romans 6:18).
  • They had become servants of righteousness (see Romans 6:18).
  • Jews from Rome had been in Jerusalem on Pentecost (see Acts 2:10). It is likely they were baptized at that time. Therefore, the apostle Paul said to the believers-those who had already been baptized-"Confess and believe."


What about Ephesians 2:8, which states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith"? The Ephesians had heard the message of truth (see Ephesians 1:13a). They had believed the message of truth (see Ephesians 1:13b). They had been baptized (see Acts 19:1-5). In Acts 8:30-32, the eunuch did not understand what he was reading from Isaiah chapter 53. Philip began at Isaiah 53:7, the scripture the eunuch was reading, and preached Jesus to him (see Acts 8:35).

  • How could Philip preach Jesus when the name Jesus is not once stated in Isaiah chapter 53?
  • How could Philip demand that the eunuch believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God when believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is never stated in Isaiah chapter 53?
  • How could Philip introduce the subject of baptism while preaching Jesus from Isaiah chapter 53 when baptism is not stated in Isaiah chapter 53?
  • How did Philip understand Isaiah chapter 53 when the eunuch did not?


The answers to all four questions are the same. Philip had a Holy Spirit-led post-resurrection understanding of the Old Testament (see Acts 6:5) and the eunuch did not. God more fully revealed His will to the apostles and prophets (see Ephesians 3:5). Philip had heard the message from the apostles in Jerusalem (see Acts 6:1-5). There are some things that had not been understood before, but came to be understood only after the resurrection of Jesus.

Because Philip had a Holy Spirit-led post-resurrection understanding of the Old Testament, God enlightened him to understand things more fully than others understood. God enlightened His apostles and prophets to understand the Old Testament. When we read the New Testament, we gain insight into the inspired minds of the apostles and prophets (see Ephesians 3:5). Jesus recognized that men needed a post-resurrection understanding of the Old Testament scriptures. Therefore, He opened their minds to understand them (see Luke 24:44-47). God opened Lydia's mind to understand (see Acts 16:14); her understanding led her to be baptized (see Acts 16:15). The Corinthians had been baptized (see Acts 18:8). Earlier, Paul alluded to their baptism (see 1 Corinthians 6:8-11). He even reminded them of the role of baptism in the deliverance of the Israelites (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Where does the Old Testament teach the purpose of baptism? It does not. It just illustrates it. The lamb's blood became available for the Israelites (see Exodus 12:21-28), yet the Israelites were not free from bondage until they passed through the sea (see Exodus 14:26-29). God saved Israel on the day that they passed through the water (see Exodus 14:30). The Holy Spirit's inspired commentary called that experience a baptism:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Scripture does provide a roadmap toward the salvation that is found only in Christ Jesus. We can ascertain the will of God through reading Scripture. Obedience to this guidance results in the best possible life on earth as well as positions us for the best possible life beyond this earth.