Authorship and Inerrancy
The 66 books of the Bible are collectively God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, and are the sole authority for faith and practice. The Bible is verbally inspired by God in every word1, absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and understandable. It is to be interpreted literally using a grammatical-historical method. The Holy Spirit so moved on the hearts of men as to author the Scriptures2; therefore, they are without error in whole or in part3.
(1) 2 Timothy 3:16 (2) 2 Peter 1:20-21 (3) Matthew 5:18
Interpretation and Application
Whereas there may be more than one application of any given passage of Scripture, there is only one correct interpretation. It is the responsibility of all believers, with the aid of the Holy Spirit1, to carefully ascertain the true intent and meaning of Scripture, keeping in mind the context and intent of the original author2. Proper application is binding on all people, in all places, in all times3. The Scriptures stand in judgment of men; men never stand in judgment of the Scriptures4.
(1) 1 John 2:27 (2) Acts 17:11 (3) John 10:35 (4) Hebrews 4:12
There is but one living and true God1 who exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and co-eternal, yet separate in function2.
(1) Deuteronomy 6:4 (2) Genesis 1:1,26; John 1:1,3; Matthew 28:19
God the Father
The first person of the trinity is an infinite, personal spirit1, perfect in holiness, goodness, wisdom, power, and love. He orders and disposes all things according to His grace and good pleasure2. He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption3. He infallibly foreknows all that will come to pass, and He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men.
(1) John 4:24 (2) Psalm 145:8,9 (3) Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36
He is God’s only begotten Son1. He is truly God as well as truly man, possessing all the attributes of deity2. He was conceived of a virgin,3 lived a sinless life,4 died on the cross as the substitute for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter,5 was buried and arose bodily from the dead,6 ascended into Heaven,7 and is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for His people.8 He will soon return visibly to earth9 to gather His children, execute judgment on believers10 (as well as unbelievers),11 and rule and reign on earth12.
(1) John 1:18 (2) Philippians 2:5-11 (3) Luke 1:26-38; Isaiah 7:14 (4) 1 Peter 2:22 (5)Romans 3:25-26; Galatians 2:16 (6) John 2:19-21; Romans 8:11 (7) Acts 1:11; 2 Timothy 3:16 (8) Hebrews 7:25 (9) Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 1:7 (10) 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10 (11) Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15 (12) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Zechariah 14:9
The Holy Spirit
He is a divine person1, is eternal,2 and possesses all the attributes of deity including intellect3, emotion 4 and will5. He is omnipresent6, omniscient,7 and omnipotent8. He was sent from the Father9 and the Son10 to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment,11 and to guide believers into all truth12. He indwells every true believer,13 as He has baptized them into the Body of Christ14. The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts, as He wills on every believer for the purpose of building up the church15.
(1) Acts 5:3-4 (2) Hebrews 9:14 (3) 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 (4) Ephesians 4:30 (5) 1 Corinthians 12:11 (6) Psalm 139:7-10 (7) Isaiah 40:13-14 (8) Romans 15:13 (9) John 15:26(10) John 16:7 (11) John 16:7-11 (12) John 16:13 (13) Romans 8:9 (14) 1 Corinthians 12:13(15) 1 Corinthians 12:11; 1 Peter 4:10
Man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness, free of sin, with a rational, intelligent nature that included free will and moral responsibility to God1. He was created to glorify God, enjoy fellowship with Him, and accomplish His plans in the world2.
(1) Genesis 1,2 (2) Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11
Sinfulness and Separation
However, mankind, in Adam, chose to sin and so incurred the penalty of physical and spiritual death1. He is now hopelessly depraved and sinful,2 and under condemnation3. He can only be saved from eternal judgment, which is separation from God, by God’s grace through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ4.
(1) Genesis 3; Romans 5:12 (2) Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 3:10-18 (3) John 3:18(4) John 3:36; Romans 3:23; 6:23
Saving Work of Christ
Salvation is completely of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not by human merit or works1.
(1) John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10
Sovereign Plan of God
In order to display the full extent of His glory, it pleased God to choose, before the foundation of the world, those whom He would graciously regenerate, justify, sanctify, and glorify1. This act of choosing (predestination/election) is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life--not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ-- in consequence of which choice they are called, justified, and glorified. God’s sovereign election does not negate the personal responsibility of every individual to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord2, nor does it negate the responsibility of every believer to make known the gospel of the glory of Christ3.
(1) Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2 (2) John 3:18-19; Romans 9:22-23; Revelation 22:17 (3) Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:11-15
Power of the Gospel Unto Salvation
The Holy Spirit does this saving work in connection with the presentation of the gospel of the glory of Christ. Thus, neither the work of the Father in election, nor the work of the Son in atonement, nor the work of the Spirit in regeneration, is a hindrance or discouragement to the proclamation of the gospel to all peoples and persons everywhere. On the contrary, this divine saving work of the Trinity is the warrant and the ground of our hope that our evangelism is not in vain in the Lord. The Spirit binds His saving work to the gospel of Christ, because His aim is to glorify the Christ of the gospel1. Therefore, we do not believe there is salvation through any other means than through receiving the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, except that infants and severely retarded persons with minds physically incapable of comprehending the gospel may be saved2.
(1) John 16:14 (2)Romans 1:19-20
Regeneration and Preservation by the Spirit
Apart from the effectual work of the Holy Spirit, no one would come to faith, because all are dead in trespasses and sin, that they are hostile to God, and morally unable to submit to God or please Him, because the pleasures of sin appear greater than the pleasures of God 1. Thus, for God’s elect, the Spirit triumphs over all resistance, wakens the dead, removes blindness, and manifests Christ in such a compellingly beautiful way through the gospel that He becomes irresistibly attractive to the regenerate heart,2 guaranteeing the sinner will repent and believe. All who are justified are kept by the power of God and will persevere in faith until their ultimate triumph in glorification. This perseverance is the promise of the New Covenant3, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God Himself, yet not so as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage our vigilance4.
(1) Ephesians 2:4-6; Romans 8:7-9 (2) 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 (3) Jeremiah 32:40 (4) Philippians 1:6; 2:12,13; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Peter 1:5
The Local Church
The establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught in Scripture1. The members of any given local church are instructed to organize and associate themselves together2. Jesus Christ is the Head and Lord of the Church3; every true Christian church exists to exalt, glorify, and magnify Him.
(1) Acts 14:23,27; 20:17; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1 (2) Hebrews 10:25 (3) Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18
The Leadership of the Church
To accomplish this, He has instituted officers called elders (also pastors, bishops)1 and deacons under Himself and over the assembly, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications2. These leaders rule and have authority in directing the church as servants of the Lord3, and the congregation is to submit to their leadership4.
(1) Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11 (2) 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5 (3) 1 Timothy 5:17-22 (4) Hebrews 13:7,17
The Life of the Church
The local church is the setting where discipleship takes place1, believers are accountable to each other2, and sinning members of the congregation are disciplined according to the standards of Scripture3. Each local church is free to govern its own affairs under the Headship of Christ. It is the responsibility of the elders to determine matters of policy, membership, discipline, benevolence, government, and the degree to which the local church will partner with other churches or organizations to propagate the Gospel4. Partnership is dependent upon local churches fulfilling three Biblical duties as set forth in the Belgic Confession of Faith (1561, Article 29). These duties are defined as (1) preaching the pure doctrine of the Gospel; (2) properly administering the sacraments of Baptism and Communion; and (3) the exercise of church discipline among its members.
(1) Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2 (2) Matthew 18:5-14 (3) Matthew 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16 (4) Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4-7,13; 1 Peter 5:1-4
The Importance of the Church
Every Christian has been gifted by God to serve Him in the local church1. Members, therefore, should use their gifts in active service to God in the church, thereby building the church in the faith2 and glorifying God3. Indispensable elements of building up the church are: instruction in God’s Word4; fellowship5; observation of the ordinances6; and advancement of the Gospel around the world7. All Christians are called by God to do the work of the ministry8.
(1) 1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Peter 4:10 (2) Ephesians 4:13-16 (3) Ephesians 3:21 (4) 2 Timothy 2:2,15; 3:16-17 (5) Acts 2:47; 1 John 1:3 (6) Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (7) Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8 (8) Ephesians 4:12
Baptism and Communion
The two ordinances given to the church to be observed regularly are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In baptism, a person is placed under water in the name of the triune God as a symbol of his previous conversion experience, which includes the death of the old self. As he is raised from the water, it is symbolic of his new life in Christ1. Baptism is not essential for salvation; it is, however, a significant act that all obedient Christians should follow, considering the example and command of Christ2. The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is to be practiced on a regular basis by a local assembly of believers, always preceded by self-examination3. It, like baptism, is a symbolic act, but extremely meaningful nevertheless, as it is an actual communion with Christ Himself, foreshadowing the Day when all Christians will enjoy unbroken, perfect fellowship with Him4.
(1) Romans 6:3-5 (2) Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 1:9 (3) 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 (4) Revelation 19:7-10
Return of Christ
The Lord Jesus will return personally and visibly to the earth to administer the final judgments and to establish His eternal kingdom1 .
(1) Revelation 20:11-15
Judgments of Christ
The wicked face an eternity of endless suffering1 and the righteous receive an eternity of perpetual blessedness2.
(1) Matthew 16:27 (2) 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 21:1-8