Statement of Faith
Why is a Statement of Faith important for me personally and why do I believe that every true Christian should be able to sit down and document what it is that their personal Statement of Faith looks like? I have many answers to that question and it is important to stress that engaging in such an exercise can only bring clarity to that Christian who works through studying, documenting, and communicating their personal Statement of Faith.
First and most simply, a Statement of Faith provides for me both an interpretive guide, a roadmap as I read and study His Word, and an approach to understanding what I believe and why I believe it.
Second, it provides for me a comprehensive scriptural vantage point of the essential doctrines arrived at through a process of Biblical study, prayer, the receiving of sound teaching, and counsel from Brothers and Sisters in the faith that I consider to possess a certain wisdom in the Scriptures; Believers who are striving to mature in their faith; Believers in whom I have seen evidence of their witness for Christ.
Third, it prepares me for the conflict and the persecution that will assuredly come as I strive to live as a faithful follower of Christ, a peculiar person rejecting the world and its ways, and it helps me to define who I am and where I stand in Christ in the face of an antagonistic culture wrought with religious pluralism, a culture whose character and purpose is to reject the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourth and finally, the process of seeking to understand, to study and to listen to both sides of any disagreement, and to then document what I believe, allows me to prepare for countering the world’s pressure to compromise my faith in matters related to what I now know to be essential doctrine.
The personal pursuit of a Statement of Faith allows the Word of God, through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, to both inform and influence the whole person and it shapes one’s character, attitudes, decisions, priorities and choices. As a Believer commanded to carry the message of the Gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world, I recognize the urgent need within the Church today for making disciples. As I engage in sharing my Christian faith, while speaking to and teaching others, it is important for me to be as transparent and up-front as possible so that you, the viewer, can recognize where it is that I am coming from and why it is that I teach what I do.
To that end, the following is a “Cliff Notes” list of labels to What I Believe:
- Young Earth Creationist
- Fundamentalist – I believe the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of the living God; that it speaks to every area of life; that it shapes one’s worldview accurately; and that it reveals to us where history is headed
- I hold to a literal, grammatical-historical hermeneutic
- Believer’s Baptism, as opposed to paedobaptism
- Calvinist, as it pertains to the Doctrine of Election
- Go ahead and call me a “Christian Zionist”
That bulleted list should assist you in quickly identifying the theology that motivates D. Paul Beck to love and to serve the Lord. But, do you truly understand what is meant by each of those terms above? Do you truly understand what the accurate teachings are behind each of those bulleted labels? There within lies some of the problems within Christendom today - many have differing definitions for the same terms and many have not studied out the theology behind most of those labels. They have instead latched on to one or more teacher's perspective and have claimed it as their own. With that in mind, the following is a detailed Statement of Faith that attempts to define as clearly as possible many of the theological teachings found within the Bible that I believe.
God spoke in His written Word (the Bible) by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit superintended various human authors and through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God's Word to man (2 Pet 1:20-21). The Bible is without error in the whole or in part (Mt 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16). Whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (Jn 7:17; 16:12 15; 1 Cor 2:7 15; 1 Jn 2:20). It is the responsibility of Believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture. The truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.
The Bible is God's written revelation to man, and thus the sixty six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1Cor 2:7, 14; 2 Pet 1:20, 21). The Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thes 2:13; 1 Cor 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Tim 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God breathed. I teach the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Gen 1:31; Ex 31:17). The Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice in all matters.
There is one and only one living and true God (Dt 6:4; Is 45:5 7; 1 Cor 8:4). He is an intelligent, loving and personal Being; the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is an infinite, all knowing Spirit (Jn 4:24), perfect in all His attributes. God is all-powerful and all-knowing and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being (Mt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14).
God the Father
God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Ps 145:8, 9; 1 Cor 8:6). He is the Creator of all things (Gen 1:1, 31; Eph 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps 103:19; Rom 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Eph 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Rom 8:14; 2 Cor 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chron 29:10-11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Hab 1:13; Jn 8:38, 47), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Pet 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Eph 1:4, 6); He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as his own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (Jn 1:12; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Heb 12:5, 9).
God the Son
Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father (Jn 10:30; 14:9). God the Father created all things according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operation (Jn 1:3; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2). In the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second Person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God Man (Phil 2:5-8; Col 2:9). Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Mic 5:2; Jn 5:23; 14:9-10; Col 2:9).
The Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Is 7:14; Mt 1:23-25; Lk 1:26, 35); He was God incarnate (Jn 1:1-14); and the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God's kingdom (Ps 2:7-9; Is 9:6; Jn 1:29; Phil 2:9-11; Heb 7:25-26; 1 Pet 1:18-19). In the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives of coexistence with God, assumed the place of a Son, and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Phil 2:5-8). The Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (Jn 10:15; Rom 3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24). Our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and He is now ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Mt 28:6; Lk 24:38-39; Acts 2:30-31; Rom 4:25; 8:34; Heb 7:25; 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1).
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus' bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection to life for all believers (Jn 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom 1:4; 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor 15:20-23). Jesus Christ will return to receive the Church, which is His Body, unto Himself at the Rapture, and returning with His Church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes 4:13-18; Rev 20). The Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind (Jn 5:22-23):
- Believers (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10)
- Living inhabitants of the earth at His glorious return (Mt 25:31-46).
- The unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11-15).
As the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5), the Head of His Body the Church (Eph 1:22; 5:23; Col 1:18), and the coming universal King, who will reign on the throne of David (Is 9:6; Lk 1:31-33), He is the final Judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Saviour (Mt 25:14-46; Acts 17:30-31). On the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Rom 3:25; 5:8-9; 2 Cor 5:14-15; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18).
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a divine Person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity including intellect (1 Cor 2:10-13), emotions (Eph 4:30), will (1 Cor 12:11), eternality (Heb 9:14), omnipresence (Ps 139:7-10), omniscience (Is 40:13-14), omnipotence (Rom 15:13), and truthfulness (Jn 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Mt 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor 13:14; and Jer 31:31-34 with Heb 10:15-17). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. We must recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Gen 1:2), the incarnation (Mt 1:18), the written revelation (2 Pet 1:20-21), and the work of salvation (Jn 3:5-7).
The work of the Holy Spirit in this age began at Pentecost when He came from the Father as promised by Christ (Jn 14:16-17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ, which is His Church (1 Cor 12:13). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ (Jn 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 2:22). The Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Rom 8:9; 2 Cor 3:6; Eph 1:13).
The Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher, who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God's revelation, the Bible. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (Jn 16:13; Rom 8:9; Eph 5:18; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 1 Jn 2:20, 27). The Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the Church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up Believers in the most holy faith (Jn 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 12:4-11; 2 Cor 3:18).
God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting of the saints today. Speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the church were for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and were never intended to be characteristic of the lives of Believers (1 Cor 12:4-11; 13:8-10; 2 Cor 12:12; Eph 4:7-12; Heb 2:14).
Dispensationalism is a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God. Dispensationalism represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by several administrations of God’s rule. A dispensation is a religious order or system, conceived as divinely instituted, or as a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs of a particular nation or period of time. The term “dispensation” can be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose for world history.
Throughout history God has employed several dispensations but only one way of salvation. Dispensational Theologians normally name each new dispensation after the new ruling factor or factors:
- Dispensation of Innocence - From the creation of man to the fall of man.
- Dispensation of Conscience - From the fall of man through the Noahic Flood.
- Dispensation of Human Government - From the Noahic Flood to the call of Abraham.
- Dispensation of Promise - From God’s call of Abraham to the giving of the Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai.
- Dispensation of The Mosaic Law - From the giving of the Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai to the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Mount Calvary.
- Dispensation of Grace - From Christ on the Cross to His Second Coming.
- Dispensation of The Millennium - After the Second Coming of Christ to the release of Satan from the abyss and his final revolt.
The dispensations are chronologically successive. They are not different ways of salvation - the means of salvation has always been by grace through faith. The object of faith has always been God, but the content of faith has changed within different dispensations dependent upon progressive revelation found within His Word.
The physical universe of space, time, matter, and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Triune Creator, (the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) who alone has existed from eternity. Scripture, which serves as an eye witness account, teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ and approximately another 2,000 years from Christ to the present. The gap theory or an old universe/earth theory has no basis in Scripture since death would be introduced into the world before the fall of man. All things in the universe were created and made by God in six literal days, known as the Creation Week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six  consecutive twenty-four  hour days of creation. The Biblical record of earth history in Genesis 1-11 is fully historical and clearly expressed, including the creation and Fall of man, the Curse on the Creation and its subjection to the bondage of decay, the promised Redeemer, the worldwide cataclysmic deluge in the days of Noah, the post-diluvian renewal of man’s commission to subdue the earth (now augmented by the institution of human government), and the origin of nations and languages at the tower of Babel.
The phenomenon of biological life did not develop by natural processes from inanimate systems but was specially and supernaturally created by the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of the major kinds of plants and animals was created functionally complete from the beginning and did not evolve from some other kind of organism. Yes, the chicken came before the egg... Changes in basic kinds since their first creation are limited to “horizontal” changes (variations) within the kinds, or “downward” changes (e.g., harmful mutations, extinctions). The creation record is factual, historical, and presented clearly; thus all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false. All things that now exist are sustained and ordered by the Lord Jesus’s providential care. However, a part of the spiritual creation, Satan and his angels, rebelled against God after the creation and are attempting to thwart His divine purposes in creation.
Adam and Eve
The first human beings did not evolve from an animal ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form from the start. The first human beings, Adam and Eve, were specially created by the Lord Jesus Christ, and all other men and women are their descendants. In Adam, mankind was instructed to exercise “dominion” over all other created organisms, and over the earth itself (an implicit commission for true science, technology, commerce, fine art, and education), but the temptation by Satan and the entrance of sin brought God’s curse on that dominion and on mankind, culminating in death and separation from God as the natural and proper consequence.
The record of earth history, as preserved in the earth’s crust, especially in the rocks and fossil deposits, is primarily a record of catastrophic intensities of natural processes, operating largely within uniform natural laws, rather than one of gradualism and relatively uniform process rates. There are many scientific evidences for a relatively recent creation of the earth and the universe, in addition to strong scientific evidence that most of the earth’s fossiliferous sedimentary rocks were formed in an even more recent global hydraulic cataclysm.
Miracles in the Natural World
Processes today operate primarily within fixed natural laws and relatively uniform process rates, but since these were themselves originally created and are daily maintained by the Lord Jesus Christ, there is always the possibility of miraculous intervention in these laws or processes by Him. Evidences for such intervention should be scrutinized critically, however, because there must be clear and adequate reason for any such action on the part of God.
Man’s Fall Affected Creation
The universe and life have been impaired since the completion of creation, so that imperfections in structure, disease, aging, extinctions, and other such phenomena are the result of “negative” changes in properties and processes occurring in an originally-perfect created order. Since the universe and its primary components were created perfect for their purposes in the beginning by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a competent and volitional Creator, and since He does remain active in this now-decaying creation, there does exist an ultimate purpose and meaning in the universe. Teleological considerations, therefore, are appropriate in scientific studies whenever they are consistent with the actual data of observation. The creation presently awaits the consummation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s purpose.
The Redemption of the Creation
The final restoration of creation’s perfection is yet future. The eventual accomplishment of God’s eternal purposes in creation, with the removal of His curse and the restoration of all things to divine perfection, will take place at the personal bodily return to earth of Jesus Christ to reign for one thousand years. After the one thousand years, God will create a new heaven and earth free from corruption and it will last for all of eternity.
Man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self determination, and moral responsibility to God (Gen 2:7, 15-25; Jms 3:9). God's intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for man in the world (Is 43:7; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11). In Adam's sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man's salvation is thereby wholly of God's grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-19; Jn 3:36; Rom 3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; 1 Tim 2:13-14; 1 Jn 1:8). Since all men were in Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam's sin has been transmitted to all men of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All men are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Ps 14:1-3; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12).
Angels are created beings and are therefore not to be worshiped. Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they are created to serve God and to worship Him (Lk 2:9-14; Heb 1:6-7, 14; 2:6-7; Rev 5:11-14; 19:10; 22:9). Angels are ministering spirits of God for the carrying out of His purpose, especially to those who inherit salvation.
Satan is a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator (Is 14:12-17; Ez 28:11-19), by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Mt 25:41; Rev 12:1-14), and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Gen 3:1-15). Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Is 14:13-14; Mt 4:1-11; Rev 12:9-10); the prince of this world, who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 16:20); and he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Is 14:12-17; Ez 28:11-19; Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10). Lucifer sinned through pride, becoming Satan the adversary. He is an actual being with all the characteristics of personality. He is the originator of sin and he operates today as the prince and god of this world. Satan deceives all of humanity.
One third of the angels followed Satan in his fall, some of whom became demons who are active as Satan’s agents in the carrying out of unholy purposes, while others who fell are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His Church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to Biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the Church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on Biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.
All who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual Body, the Church (1 Cor 12:12-13), the Bride of Christ (2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:23, 32; Rev 19:7-8), of which Christ is the Head (Eph 1:22; 4:15; Col 1:18). The formation of the Church, the Body of Christ, began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 21, 38, 47) and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the rapture (1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Thes 4:13-18). The Church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born again believers in this present age (Eph 2:11, 3:6). The Church is distinct from Israel (1 Cor 10:32), a mystery not revealed until this age (Eph 3:1-6; 5:32).
The establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal 1:2; Phil 1:1; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Cor 11:18-20; Heb 10:25). The one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18) and that Church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in Scripture. The Biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor teachers; Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-5). These leaders lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Tim 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Heb 13:7, 17).
Discipleship is commanded and of extreme importance to the health of the Church (Mt 28:19-20; 2 Tim 2:2). Mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Mt 18:5-14), as well as the need for discipline of sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Mt 18:15-22; Acts 5:1 11; 1 Cor 5:1-13; 2 Thes 3:6-15; 1 Tim 1:19-20; Tit 1:10-16).
The local church is autonomous, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Tit 1:5). It is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Cor 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet 5:1-4). The purpose of the church is to glorify God (Eph 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Eph 4:13-16), by instruction of the Word (2 Tim 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:47; 1 Jn 1:3), by keeping the ordinances (Lk 22:19; Acts 2:38-42) and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Mt 28:19; Acts 1:8; 2:42). All saints are called to the work of service (1 Cor 15:58; Eph 4:12; Rev 22:12).
The Church must cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the Church spiritual gifts. First, He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:7-12), and He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the Body of Christ (Rom 12:5-8; 1 Cor 12:4-31; 1 Pet 4:10-11). There were two kinds of gifts given to the early church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given temporarily in the apostolic era for the purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles' message (Hbe 2:3-4; 2 Cor 12:12); and ministering gifts, given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man's message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary to validate a man or his message (1 Cor 13:8-12). Miraculous gifts can even be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (1 Cor 13:13-14:12; Rev 13:13-14). The only gifts in operation today are those nonrevelatory equipping gifts given for edification (Rom 12:6-8). No one possesses the gift of healing today, but God does hear and answer prayers of faith and will answer in accordance with His own perfect will for the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Lk 18:1-6; Jn 5:7-9; 2 Cor 12:6-10; Jms 5:13-16; 1 Jn 5:14-15).
Two ordinances have been committed to the local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom 6:1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42). The Lord's Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self examination (1 Cor 11:28-32). Whereas the elements of Communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord's Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ who is present in a unique way, fellowshipping with His people (1 Cor 10:16).
God called a people to Himself (Gen 12; Is 45:4). The Jews are the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel is the Wife of Jehovah, unfaithful in the past, divorced in the present, and to be reunited in the future. There are certain key distinctions within Scripture. If one does not understand these Biblical distinctions, Scripture become contradictory because one part of the Bible says “you may” and another says “you may not” concerning the very same subject. One of these key Biblical distinctions is the one between Israel and the Church. In the Bible, Israel is represented as the “Wife of Jehovah,” whereas the Church is represented as the “Bride of Christ (Messiah).” A failure to maintain that distinction will only result in a misinterpretation of what Scripture teaches us.
There are seven covenants described in the Bible. Four of these covenants are specific to the nation of Israel (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, Palestinian/Land). Three of these four covenants are unconditional, meaning their fulfillment did not depend upon Israel’s obedience. God made one conditional covenant with Israel, the Mosaic, which has been rendered inoperative since Christ fulfilled the law. The Abrahamic, Davidic, and Palestinian/Land covenants have remained unfulfilled. God intends to fulfill all His promises to Israel in literal fashion just as His warnings and judgments were fulfilled literally.
Within Israel’s history of unbelief there has always been a believing remnant according to the election of grace. There will be a national regeneration of Israel at the end of Daniel’s 70th Week at which time all of the provisions of the unconditional covenants will be fulfilled, including the seed, land, and blessing aspects which will be realized in the Millennial Kingdom.
Relation between Israel and the Church
The Church is a completely different and distinct entity from the nation of Israel, and the two should not be confused hermeneutically. The Church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the Day of Pentecost (Mt 16:18; Acts 2:1-41), after Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Christ will continue to add to His Church until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-58). None of the curses or blessings pronounced upon Israel refer directly to the Church. The Church enters into the Abrahamic and New Covenants only by divine application, not by original interpretation. This leaves all the covenants, promises, and warnings to Israel intact. Israel, the natural Jewish nation, is still Israel. To be sure, Israel has been side-lined during the past ~2,000 years of the Diaspora. The Church has taken center stage in the Lord’s affairs as the Gospel has spread throughout the world. Nevertheless, God has carefully preserved the Jewish people, even in unbelief, through every kind of distress and persecution.
Not only has God preserved the Jewish nation, but He has also kept His promise to save a remnant of Israel within every generation. The remnant of Israel in this age are the Jewish believers in Christ who have joined the Gentile believers, and form the Church, the Body of Christ. In this respect, a part of Israel (the believing remnant) intersects with the Church during the Church Age, but this does not make Israel the Church, or vice versa.
In the future, both God’s warnings and promises to Israel will come to pass. After the Lord is finished with the Church Age, and has taken the Church to Heaven through the rapture, He will restore Israel to center stage on the world’s divine theater. The seven-year tribulation period is also known as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and is not the time of the Church’s trouble (Gen 32:28; Jer 30:7). This will be a dreadful period of seven years, beginning, like birth pangs on a woman, with judgments that increase in frequency and intensity throughout those seven years. Those “birth pangs” eventually give birth to the Millennial Kingdom, which begins soon after Christ’s Second Coming. During this time of Jacob’s trouble, the world is judged for rejecting Christ, but more specifically, Israel is judged, purged, and prepared through the fiery trials of the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:21) until she petitions for the Messiah’s return (Hos 5:15-6:3).
As the stumbling of Israel brought blessing to the world at Christ’s First Coming, the reception of Christ by Israel at His Second Advent will bring world-wide blessing. The remnant of Israel that survives the tribulation period - some one-third of the Jewish people who enter Daniel’s 70th Week (Zech 13:8) - will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on the same earth and with the same capital city, Jerusalem, that rejected Him centuries before. Israel will be the head of the nations, and no longer the tail, and all nations will send representatives to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Church will return with Christ, and will rule with Him for one thousand years. Christ Himself told His disciples that they would rule over the twelve tribes of Israel in the regeneration (Mt 19:28). Thus, Israel has not been forgotten within God’s plan. While the Jewish nation still has a dark period facing it, there is a glorious finale to Israel’s long history on the near horizon.
Salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (Jn 1:12; Eph 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Pet 1:18-19).
Regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (Jn 3:3-7; Tit 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (Jn 5:24), when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to the divine provision of salvation. Genuine regeneration is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. Good works will be its proper evidence and fruit (1 Cor 6:19-20; Eph 2:10), and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Eph 5:17-21; Phil 2:12b; Col 3:16; 2 Pet 1:4-10). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming (Rom 8:17; 2 Pet 1:4; 1 Jn 3:2-3).
Election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:4-11; 2 Thes 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10; 1 Pet 1:1-2). Sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ez 18:23, 32; 33:11; Jn 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Rom 9:22-23; 2 Thes 2:10-12; Rev 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (Jn 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; Jms 4:8). The unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part nor to God's anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Eph 1:4-7; Tit 3:4-7; 1 Pet 1:2).
Election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11-16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 11:25-28; 2 Tim 1:9).
Justification before God is an act of God (Rom 8:33) by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Lk 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10; Is 55:6-7) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 12:3; 2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:11). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Rom 3:20; 4:6) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Col 2:14; 1 Pet 2:24) and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us (1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21). By this means God is enabled to "be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom 3:26).
Every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint. This sanctification is positional and instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. This sanctification has to do with the believer's standing, not his present walk or condition (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thes 2:13; Heb 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Pet 1:2). There is also by the work of the Holy Spirit a progressive sanctification by which the state of the believer is brought closer to the standing the believer positionally enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 17:17,19; Rom 6:1-22; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Thes 4:3-4; 5:23). In this respect, every saved person is involved in a daily conflict—the new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh—but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Gal 5:16-25; Eph 4:22-24; Phil 3:12; Col 3:9-10; 1 Pet 1:14-16; 1 Jn 3:5-9).
All the redeemed once saved are kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ forever (Jn 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Cor 1:4-8; Eph 4:30; Heb 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24). It is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Rom 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Gal 5:13, 25-26; Tit 2:11-14).
Separation from sin is clearly called for throughout the Old and New Testaments, and the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim 3:1-5). Out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. Separation from all religious apostasy and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God (Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 1 Jn 2:15-17; 2 Jn 9-11). Believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes 1:11-12; Heb 12:1-2) and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness that reflects the teaching of the Beatitudes (Mt 5:2-12) and a continual pursuit of holiness (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 7:1; Heb 12:14; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:1-10).
Physical death involves no loss of our immaterial consciousness (Rev 6:9-11) and the soul of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ (Lk 23:43; Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8). There is a separation of soul and body (Phil 1:21-24) and for the redeemed, such separation will continue until the rapture (1 Thes 4:13-17), which initiates the first resurrection (Rev 20:4-6), when our soul and body will be reunited to be glorified forever with our Lord (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:35-44, 50-54). Until that time, the souls of the redeemed in Christ remain in joyful fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:8).
There will be a bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (Jn 6:39; Rom 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Cor 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Dan 12:2; Jn 5:29; Rev 20:13-15).
The souls of the unsaved at death are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Lk 16:19-26; Rev 20:13-15), when the soul and the resurrection body will be united (Jn 5:28-29). They shall then appear at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15) and shall be cast into hell, the lake of fire (Mt 25:41-46), cut off from the life of God forever (Dan 12:2; Mt 25:41-46; 2 Thes 1:7-9).
The Rapture of the Church (Harpazo)
There will be a personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ before the seven-year tribulation period (1 Thes 4:16; Tit 2:13) to translate His Church from this earth (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Cor 15:51-53; 1 Thes 4:15-5:11) and, between this event and His glorious return with His saints, to reward believers according to their works (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10).
Daniel’s 70th Week (The Tribulation Period)
Immediately following the removal of the church from the earth (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Thes 4:13-18) the righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon the unbelieving world (Jer 30:7; Dan 9:27, 12:1; 2 Thes 2:7-12; Rev 16), and these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to the earth (Mt 24:27-31, 25:31-46; 2 Thes 2:7-12). At that time the Old Testament and tribulation saints will be raised and the living will be judged (Dan 12:2-3; Rev 20:4-6). This period includes the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan 9:24-27; Mt 24:15-31, 25:31-46).
Second Coming and Christ’s Millennial Reign
The kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Currently, we are in the mystery or invisible kingdom phase of God’s kingdom. Christians are instructed to pray for the kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth (Mt 6:10). The full consummation of the kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and His rule for one thousand years over Israel and the Gentile nations.
After the tribulation period, Christ will come to earth to occupy the throne of David (Mt 25:31; Lk 1:31-33; Acts 1:10-11, 2:29-30) and to establish His messianic kingdom for a thousand years on the earth (Rev 20:1-7). During this time the resurrected saints will reign with Him over Israel and all the nations of the earth (Ez 37:21-28; Dan 7:17-22; Rev 19:11-16). This reign will be preceded by the overthrow of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and by the removal of Satan from the world (Dan 7:17-27; Rev 20:1-7).
The kingdom itself will be the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel (Is 65:17-25; Ez 37:21-28; Zech 8:1-17) to restore them to the land, which they forfeited through their disobedience (Deut 28:15-68). The result of their disobedience was that Israel was temporarily set aside (Mt 21:43; Rom 11:1-26), but will again be awakened through repentance to enter into the land of blessing (Jer 31:31-34; Ez 36:22-32; Rom 11:25-29).
The Kingdom of God will continue after the Millennium for all eternity. During the Millennium, the Church will co-reign with Christ, the unconditional covenants with Israel will be fulfilled, Israel will be restored along with the resurrection of the Old Testament saints, Satan will be bound in the abyss, the curse will be lifted, and the knowledge of God will permeate the world, and peace will be maintained by the iron-rod rule of Christ.
This time of our Lord's reign will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness, and long life (Is 11, 65:17-25; Ez 36:33-38), and will be brought to an end with the release of Satan (Rev 20:7), the Gog/Magog invasion (Ez 38, 39).
Great White Throne Judgment
Following the release of Satan after the thousand year reign of Christ (Rev 20:7), Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and will gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Rev 20:9). Following this, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10) whereupon Christ, who is the Judge of all men (Jn 5:22), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne judgment. This resurrection of the unsaved dead to judgment will be a physical resurrection, whereupon receiving their judgment (Rom 14:10-13), they will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire (Mt 25:41; Rev 20:11-15).
After the closing of the millennium, the temporary release of Satan, the Gog/Magog Invasion, and the judgment of unbelievers (2 Thes 1:9; Rev 20:7-15), the saved will enter the eternal state of glory with God, after which the elements of this earth are to be dissolved (2 Pet 3:10) and replaced with a new earth wherein only righteousness dwells (Eph 5:5; Rev 20:15, 21-22). Following this, the heavenly city will come down out of heaven (Rev 21:2) and will be the dwelling place of the saints, where they will enjoy forever fellowship with God and one another (Jn 17:3; Rev 21-22). Our Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor 15:24-28) that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Cor 15:28).