My Doctrinal Positions
Everybody has presuppositions, certain things they hold to be absolutely true on which their other beliefs are based and their worldview is built. I presuppose that a personal God exists, that truth is absolute because its source is this eternal God, and thus the Bible, as the Word of God, is absolutely true.
Because I presuppose the truthfulness of the Bible, I base my worldview beliefs on it and defend my positions with it. There are certain Christian doctrines that are essential or primary and others that are secondary and debatable. The following is an outline of my doctrinal positions, some of which I believe are essential for every believer and others of which are secondary.* As such, I humbly state them as my personal positions based on my studies and recognize and respect differences of opinion.
My purpose in posting this is to provide my readers with the doctrinal foundations for my writing. Though lengthy, this is not comprehensive so I am willing to answer questions either about the content here or things I have withheld. However, I will not engage in (nor will I allow in the comment thread) any debates on these positions as that is not my purpose in posting them.
*Because I have established this at the beginning, I did not feel compelled to prelude every statement with “I believe.” I am not claiming my positions on the secondary doctrines as dogma.
Revelation–general and special
Revelation is God’s act of revealing Himself, His works and His will to mankind. General revelation is available to all through creation, pointing us to our creator (Ps. 19:1-6; Acts 17:23), but has been distorted and rejected (Rom. 1:18-25). Thus, special revelation, God’s direct revelation of Himself to mankind, found in the Bible, is necessary for salvation.
The Bible, its very words and every part, is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit supernaturally worked through the human writers of Scripture so that the words were both the writers’ and the very words of God (2 Pet. 1:20-21). It is therefore authoritative.
The Scriptures, in the original manuscripts, contain no errors and affirm nothing contrary to fact. (2 Tim. 3:16; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).
The Bible can be understood by those who read it through illumination, the process whereby the Holy Spirit enlightens those in a proper relationship with God in their understanding of Scripture (1 John 2:27)
The goal of hermeneutics (method of Bible interpretation) is to determine the author’s original intent through an accurate understanding of the historical and cultural context in order to draw the meaning out of the text (exegesis), rather than inserting meaning into the text (eisegesis). Scripture should be interpreted literally, following the rules of grammar within the literary genre (for example, figures of speech in the books of poetry should be read as such). Scripture must always interpret Scripture and a verse must be read first within the context of paragraph, then chapter, then book, then testament, then the whole of the Bible.
God is one in essence (Deut. 6:4) and three in person (Matt. 28:19), with each person bearing full deity (John 3:5-8, 6:27). Jesus Christ is not created (John 1:1), but eternally begotten of the Father (John 3:16). The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and Son (John 15:26).
His Divine Attributes
God is transcendent, wholly other than we are and yet immanent, allowing us to know Him. Though we can never fully comprehend who God is, we see in Scripture many of His attributes. The following list is not exhaustive but lays the foundation. God is eternal (Ps. 90:2). He is spirit (John 4:24), but is real (Ex. 3:14) and living (1 Thess. 1:9). God is absolute and immutable, unchanging in His being, character, attributes, plan, moral standards and will (Mal. 3:6). He is omniscient, including knowledge of the future, and omnipotent, able to do anything consistent with His nature (Heb. 4:13; Jer. 32:17). God is sovereign (Dan. 4:35). He is holy (Rev. 4:8), righteous (Ps. 119:137), and just (Rom. 3:26). God is good (James 1:17) and He is love (1 John. 4:8). He is glorious (Ps. 19:1) and majestic (Isa. 6:1-5).
Jesus Christ is God (Col. 2:9) and is eternal (John. 1:1), was present at creation (John. 1:3) and sustains all things (Col. 1:17). At the incarnation, he became fully man while maintaining full divinity (see Matt. 8:24-27). He claimed to be God (John 8:58) and his divine nature was evident as he healed the sick (Matt. 9:35), taught with authority (Mark 1:21-22), forgave sins (Mark 2:5-7), and granted salvation and eternal life (Acts 4:12). He is omniscient (John 2:25), omnipotent (Matt. 8:26-27) and omnipresent (Matt. 18:20). He receives the praise and prayers of men (John 9:37-38; Rev. 5:13; Acts 7:59). In regard to his humanity, he had a human birth (Luke 2:7), developed as a normal child (Luke 2:40), and physically suffered and died (Luke 23:33, 46). He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52) and faced temptation (Heb. 4:15). Thus Scripture clearly shows us that Jesus is the eternal God who took on human flesh–two distinct natures in one person.
The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:18) and is eternal (Heb. 9:14). He is a person, not just a force or presence (Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 13:14). He is omniscient (John. 14:26, 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10) and omnipresent (Ps. 139:7). The Holy Spirit’s works in the life of the believer are many. He regenerates (John. 3:5-6), indwells (Rom. 8:9), and gifts the believer (1 Cor. 12:7-11). He seals the believer for salvation (Eph. 1:13-14) and assures the believer of salvation (Rom. 8:16). He helps (John. 14:16-17) and guides the believer (John. 16:12-14) and intercedes for the believer (Rom. 8:26-27).
God created man as a direct and personal act, apart from any previous life form or evolutionary process. The image of God is a quality inherent in man’s nature, which the fall (Gen. 3:6-7) marred, but did not destroy.
Sin-Original and Actual
Sin has two aspects, original and actual. Original sin is the state all men are born into as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin and includes separation from God and death, both spiritual and physical (Rom. 5:12). Because all mankind has this sinful nature, all aspects of his being are affected by sin, making him totally depraved (Rom. 1:18-3:20). Actual sin is each act of rebellion against God, transgressing His law and failing to conform to the moral standards He has set.
The atonement Christ provided on the cross is penal and substitutionary, in that his death simultaneously satisfies God’s demand for a penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23; 1 John 2:2) and provides a substitute for sinful humanity (Rom. 5:8).
Justification by Grace Through Faith
One receives the gift of salvation by the grace of God through faith in response to God’s effectual call (Eph. 2:8-9). Saving faith involves intellectual change (Ps. 51:3-4), heartfelt sorrow over sin (Ps. 51:1-2), and a turning away from sin to obedience (Luke 14:33). Through this faith in Christ’s work on the cross, the believer has justification, or a right standing before God (Rom. 3:23-24). Justification satisfies both God’s justice and His mercy and is a single rather than ongoing event in the life of the believer. Though works cannot merit justification, they are the evidence of its occurrence (James 2:18; Gal. 5:6).
Union with Christ
Justification results in a restored relationship with God in Christ. The believer is in Christ (Rom. 8:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:17), Christ is in the believer (Rom. 8:10; Col. 1:27) and the believer is like Christ (Phil. 3:10; 1 John 2:6).
Holy Spirit–Baptism, Sanctification and Gifting
Holy Spirit baptism was initiated at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and occurs in the life of every believer once at the time of conversion (Acts 2:38-39; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). The purpose and effect of Spirit baptism is to usher the believer into a permanent relationship with Christ, all other believers, and the Holy Spirit. This permanent relationship with the Holy Spirit, or indwelling, is the means by which He sanctifies the believer. Sanctification is an ongoing, progressive process (2 Cor. 3:18), though there is positional aspect that occurs at conversion, setting believers apart from sin, as well as a final aspect that occurs at glorification, making the believer completely holy. All believers are given certain gifts by the Spirit to be used for the ministry of Christ and the edification of his body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).
Initiated at Pentecost
The Church began after Jesus had died and resurrected and the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers on the day of Pentecost (John. 15:26; Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-4).
Universal and Local
The universal church is made up of all believers and the local church consists of living believers meeting together out of obedience (Heb. 10:25) for the purpose of bringing glory to God (Eph. 1:11-14). This includes worship (John. 4:24), the spread of the Gospel (Matt. 28:19-20), and the mutual edification of the body of Christ (Acts 2:42-47).
Ordinances-Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
Baptism is a symbolic and public testimony to a prior saving faith in Christ and is not the means or method of salvation (Rom. 6:4). The Lord’s Supper is likewise symbolic, commemorating Christ’s work on the cross for the those who believe (1 Cor. 11:23-29).
God has arranged history into dispensations (Col. 1:25-26) and the Old and New Covenants fall into different dispensations. In the current dispensation of grace, the Church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, is God’s focus. However, the Church has not replaced Israel and has not absorbed all its blessings (see Romans 9-11). God’s promises to ethnic Israel will yet be fulfilled and in the last days, a significant number of Jews will be saved (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 11:25-27).
The second coming of Christ is yet future and will occur prior to his literal thousand year reign on the earth, during which time he will defeat the forces of evil and bind Satan (Matt. 24:27, 25:31-32; Rev. 20:2).
After the body of a person dies, the soul continues in a state of conscious existence, either present with Christ (2 Cor. 5:8) or separated from God anticipating final judgment (Rev. 20:14).
Following the millennium, there will be a rebellion, a resurrection, and a time of final judgment, followed by the eternal state (Rev. 20). Those who have not believed in Christ will be cast into the lake of fire, a place of eternal existence separate from God and His restraint of sin. For all who have believed in Christ unto salvation, there will be a new heavens and new earth wherein God will dwell eternally with His people (Rev. 21:1-4) who will have new, glorified bodies (1 Cor. 15:42-49).