Statement of Belief
The authority of Scripture as the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16) and, thereby, truth (Gen. 2:24; Ps. 12:6; 19:7-10; 119:51; Prov. 30:5,6; Matt. 5:17; 19:5 ff; Jn 17:17; 10:35; 16:12), being both infallible and inerrant (1 Jn. 3:20; Titus 1:2) written/communicated for the purpose of being an all-sufficient guide for becoming a friend of God and maintaining that friendship both individually and corporately (Deut. 31:19; Jn 20:30-31; Rom. 4:22-25; 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).
God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
God, the Father Almighty, creator and judge of heaven and earth is infinite, personal (triune), transcendent, immanent, omniscient, sovereign, and good. The Son, Christ, is the beloved son of God, God incarnate (Jn 1:14; 3:16; 10:34-36; 5:17-18; 10:30-33), who has the power to exist eternally (Jn 8:58), the authority to forgive sins (Mk 2:5-11; Lk 7:48-49), and the authority to determine man's eternal judgment (Jn 5:21-29). The Holy Spirit is a distinct person (part of the Godhead) and not an impersonal power. He does the kinds of things persons do: intellectual activity (Rom 8.27; 1 Cor 2.10-11; Jn 16.8), volitional activity (Acts 13.2; 15.28; 1 Cor 12.11), commanding activity (Acts 16.6-7); speaking activity (Jn 16:13-14; 13.2; 1 Tim 4.1; Rev 2.7), teaching activity (Jn 14.16,26; 1 Cor 2.13; Neh 9.20), and experience emotions (Rom 15.30).
Bible does explicitly affirm the deity of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 1:1; Phil 2:5-12; Col 2:9; Jn 16:5-15; Acts 5:3-4; Jn 10:30). The Bible reveals the truth of the triune God (what I refer to as the “Godhead”) while still retaining a place for the mystery of it (Deut 29:29; Matt 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Rom 11:33-34).
The Divinity of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord (Jn 1:1-3, 14-15, 29-30; Jn 20:28-31; Gal 1:1; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9, 1:15; Heb 1:8-12), who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary (Jn 1:1, 14; Matt 17:5), suffered under Pontius Pilate (Matt. 27:1-2; 32-60), was crucified, died, and was buried (Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor 15:4; Acts 2:24; Hosea 6:2). On the third day he rose again (Rom 1:4; 1 Cor 15:4; Acts 2:24; Hosea 6:2) and then ascended into heaven where he is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Ps 110:1; Mk 16:19; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb 1:3, 8-12; Gal 4:4, 5).
Hell is the “second death,” a condition of total darkness (Matt 8:12), a ferry lake of burning sulfur (Jude 7; Rev 14:9-11; 20:10, 14-15). Hell is the eternal punishment (Matt 25:46; 13:50) consigned to the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars (see Revelation 12:8, hence deliverance from hell does not stand apart from obedience) to be shut out from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess.1:7-9). The time spent in heaven for the redeemed will last as long as that of the unredeemed in hell (Matt 25:46); the punishment of the unsaved is just as eternal as the life of the righteous (Matt 25:41, 46; Mk 9:44).
The Second Coming
The second coming of Christ will be unexpected (Mk 13:32-37; Acts 1:6-7; 2 Pet 3:10, 1 Thess 5:2, 4-6) and be accompanied by phenomena that the whole world will notice (Matt 24:29, 30-31; 1 Thess 4:16; 2 Thess 1:7). Christ’s return will be the occasion for several key eschatological events: the resurrection of the dead (Jn 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor 15:51-52), the escort to judgment (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43; 24:36-41; 1 Thess 4:16-17; Matt 25:31-33), the Judgment (Matt 12:36-37; 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; Rom 14:9-12; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Heb 9:27), and the beginning of heaven and hell (Jn 11:23-24; 1 Thess 4:15-17; Jude 1:6; Rev. 20:4-6).
Same-sex intercourse by a same-sex practice (not same-sex desire) is the focus of Paul’s condemnation when he threatens exclusion from the kingdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). The point is not that one act of homosexual or heterosexual experimentation condemns you but that returning to this life permanently and without repentance will condemn you (Rom 1:24-27; 28-31). (see Gen 19:4-9; Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9-10; and 1 Tim 1:9-10).
The Bible ordains the penalty of life for life when the life of an unborn child is taken (Exod. 21:22-25) and commands “You shall not murder” (Exod. 20:13). The Bible uses the phrase “innocent blood” about twenty times while always condemning the shedding of innocent blood. God chastised the Jews for shedding innocent blood when they sacrificed their children to the idols of Canaan (Ps 106: 38).
The Gift of Salvation
Saved by Grace (the source), through Faith (the means), at Baptism (the occasion) (Eph 2:8; Rom 6:4; Mk 16:16; 1 Pet 3:21). You must believe Christ’s divinity (Jesus Christ as a divine person, the Lord) and his work (Rom 5:1, Heb 11:6, Eph 2:8, Rom 10:13, Jn 3:16), you must repent of sin (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Pet 3:9), you must confess Christ (a public witnessing to the fact that you do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God [Matt 10:32-33, Rom 10:10, Matt 16:13-17]); you must be baptized (immersed) in the name of Christ for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38,1 Pet 3:21, Gal 3:27, Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3-5). Furthermore, one must live godly (1 Tim 6:11-16; Phil 4:8-9; Gal 5:21-22). Results of salvation: justified (Rom 5:1), sanctified (Acts 26:18), forgiven (1 Jn 2:12); reconciled (Rom 5:10), redeemed (1 Pet 1:18-19), adopted (Gal 4:5), and saved (Titus 3:5).
The Availability of Salvation
People have access to receive salvation and adoption as sons of God. It is God’s desire for all to be saved (Jn 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4). The salvation community is exclusive (see Ephesians 1:4-5; hence “exclusive blessings” for election is the root of all subsequent blessings) to those chosen/adopted (in Christ). It is the ones who have entered into the Father’s love (see John 17:24) and the covenant of redemption by joining in Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Phil.2:12, 13; 2; Thess 2:13) who have salvation as His people ("Jew" is a metaphor for a saved persons of all ages; those acceptable to God is the hearts which are circumcised [see Romans 2:28,29]). Salvation is found in no one else but the Lord Christ Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5; Jn 3:16, 18,36; 14:6). If we choose to reject God’s Son (whether in word or deed), we do not meet the requirements for salvation (Jn 3:16, 18, 36).
The Christian Life involves many things
Acts 2:42 (NASB), “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
a) Prayer: Matthew 26:41; Luke 18:1.
b) Bible Study: John 5:39, 20:30-31; Acts 17:11; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:15.
c) Worship: Matthew 18:20, 26:26-29; Acts 20:6,7,;1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:25-27. d) Faithfulness: Matthew 28:10-20; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10
Test of Christian Fellowship
Who can we fellowship with as Christians? Our test of fellowship as Christians is recorded in 1 John 4; what some refer to as the “Target of Truth.” There are five principles or beliefs with which we can test our fellowship: (1) God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal and one, (2) Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (3) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (our sanctification and validation [promise]), (4) the authority of Scripture, and (5) to love one another.
Miraculous Spiritual Gifts
A miraculous gift is an ability provided by the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural (miraculous) acts, and the New Testament provides two lists of miraculous gifts: Mark 16:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. The fact that the Biblical names of these gifts sound supernatural (healing, effecting miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues) suggests the miraculous nature of these gifts. The New Testament describes two key uses for miraculous gifts: (1) to provide new covenant revelation (1 Cor. 14:3, 29-31, "Living New Testaments”), and (2) to provide divine confirmation for the claim to new revelation (Mk 16:20; Acts 2:22; 8:6; Heb 2:3-4).
The Placement of Music in Church Worship
We find God instructing His church in the New Testament to worship in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19). The reference to “psalms” here is instructive. The Greek word psalmos means “a striking or twitching with the fingers on musical strings, a sacred song sung to musical accompaniment.” So, we do have a clear New Testament mandate to use musical instruments in worship; however, to use tools in worship is a Christian liberty and should be renounced if unity in a Christian community (a church) is disturbed due to those weak in faith (Rom 14).
I am aware of two general perspectives on the will of God: (1) That we do not sin, or (2) That he (God) is glorified. The difference is monumental. The first choice is an unhealthy focus on self, while the second is a focus on God (which is our worship and ultimate calling). I perceive, with much biblical support, that the will of God is for him to be glorified (Ps 99:9; Is. 6:3; Habak 2:14; Jn 13:31; 2 Thess1:12; Rev 4:1-8). If anyone has questions about the use of instruments in worship, they really should be asking if instruments can be implemented to glorify God (a positive), not if using instruments is a sin (a negative), which is to ask if using instruments are lawful. Sin existed before the law. Law is not the absence of sin; you still suffer the consequences even in following the Law (Rom 2:13, 3:20; Rom 5:13).
The Placement of Women in Church Leadership
Women shall not serve as elders or pastors over men (see qualifications for elders in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). In light of Romans 16:1 (Phoebe, a “deacon” [servant] of the church), it seems permissible for women to serve as deacons (it would seem best, generally, to have women deacons in ministries where they are leading other women). Women may baptize and conduct a communion service, but these ceremonies involve a position of corporate leadership that should be reserved for men when men are present (1 Cor 11). There is a New Testament emphasis on women not being permitted to teach men (1 Tim 2:12), and I believe it is desirable for men to take the lead in public worship (divinely instituted order, see 1 Cor 11:3).
Eldership In Perspective of Marriage & Divorce
A translation of 1 Timothy 3:2 that retains the Greek sentence structure would be, “It is necessary for the overseer to be ... an of one wife husband.” Cf. NIV: “Now the overseer must be ... the husband of but one wife.” The sentence includes an object, “overseer,” and complement, “husband.” The phrase “of one wife” modifies the word “husband.” In Greek, however, the phrase “of but one wife” is in an emphatic position; which the NIV tries to bring out by adding the word but (meaning “only”). Therefore it is possible that the modifier, rather than the predicate noun, is Paul’s main focus, with the meaning, “If he is married, he must be faithfully monogamous.”
Both the cultural and literary context must decide the issue. Here’s my understanding:
Since in that culture, much like our own, marriage was prevalent, it is not very meaningful to require a man to be married. The fact of being a husband seems to me to be assumed. Also like our culture, polygamy was rare outside of Palestine, but illegal bigamy and adultery were relatively common. Almost everyone is agreed that the meaning of “of one wife” is faithful monogamy. In our case today, it would be important that we would look to see what the government (law) states as a potential elder’s civil union. In other words, is this man legally concerned to be a husband of one wife (even though divorced)?
The emphatic position of “of one wife” suggests to me that Paul was interested primarily in the quality of the character/reputation of the one who would be an elder. Since the quality of character is also the nature of the other items in the list, I think this supports the idea.
The evidence causes me to lean towards the less traditional interpretation (#2 above). I think Paul’s focus is on a reputation of sexual morality, a quality which might be demonstrated either by faithful monogamy in the standard state of marriage or by chastity in the relatively uncommon state of singleness. How a congregation carries that out in a way that causes their elders in their immediate location to be above reproach is another matter. The general heading, I think, for all the qualities in 3.2 is to be “above reproach.” Therefore, it is important for an evangelist to appoint an elder who is “above reproach” to those both outside and inside the Church. I think it may be that in various settings congregations may meet these qualities in different ways.
For example, in a setting in which divorce and infidelity is rampant and viewed as the norm, perhaps a church can best teach its “world” by taking a very narrow stance and not having any divorced elders; not because it’s a biblical injunction, but because that teaches them an important truth about God’s view of marriage and fidelity (in all areas of life). On the other hand, in a setting in which the area is reeling in pain from divorce and in need of healing or who has become self-righteous, perhaps the church can best teach their world by taking a broader stance and have a man as elder, who in the distant past (how distant?) was divorced but has had time to heal and demonstrate a changed life. Such a show of the possibilities of restoration and a redeemed life may teach that great truth to their world. He must be able to operate inside and outside the church without any concern raised about his posture of “good reputation.”