EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 4: What I Believe

Standard

JESUS CHRIST

We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.

 

God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to be Immanuel, “God with us” (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Jn. 3:16). In other words, Jesus took on human flesh and dwelt amongst men (Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:6-7). The incarnation of Jesus displays that He is both fully God (Jn. 1:14; 8:58; Col. 2:9), and fully man (Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:7-8; Heb. 2:14). That is to say that Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, both human and divine. The incarnation of Jesus was the fulfillment of the promised Messiah to the nation of Israel—and ultimately all of mankind (Gen. 3:15; Is. 11:1-5; Jn. 4:25-26). As the Messiah, Jesus served as God’s anointed one to bring salvation to all who believe (Jn. 1:12-13; Acts 16:31).  jesus glass

The birth of Jesus Christ was miraculous in itself. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20; Lk. 1:35), and born of a virgin (Is. 7:14; Lk. 1:35-38). This truth shows that Jesus was born not of the will of man, but of the will of God the Father. Moreover, Mary’s virgin birth to Jesus in Bethlehem fulfilled Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah (Is. 7:14; Mic. 5:2).

Jesus lived a perfect life. When faced with temptation, Jesus never gave in to the enticing offers of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:14-15). When faced with submitting to the Father’s will, Jesus was always obedient (Matt. 26:39; Jn. 5:30; 6: 38; Phil. 2:8). When faced with the fleeting pleasures of sin, Jesus remained steadfast and sinless (Jn. 8:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). Jesus’ perfect obedience led Him to the cross where He satisfied the wrath of God against sin (Phil. 2:8; Heb. 12:2). Under the governance of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ was tortured, beaten, and ultimately murdered by crucifixion (Mk. 15:15; Jn. 19:1). Jesus’ suffering under Pontius Pilate gives weight to the historicity of Jesus Christ. However, Jesus’ death does not signify the end of His life.

The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that He was resurrected from the dead (Matt. 28:6-7; Mk. 16:6; Lk. 24:6; 2 Tim. 2:8). In rising from the dead, Jesus conquered death and the power of sin (1 Cor. 15:19-28; 15:55-56; 2 Tim. 1:10). Jesus’ resurrection was physical and bodily (Lk. 24:39; Jn. 20:20, 27; 1 Jn. 1:1), disputing the notion that He only “appeared” to be raised from the dead. Furthermore, Jesus ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father (Lk. 24:51; Jn. 20:17). There, Jesus intercedes for believers before the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24). In doing this, Jesus becomes both the High Priest that no man could be (Heb. 8:1-7), and an Advocate that brings grace and forgiveness to unworthy sinners (Jn. 1:17; Acts 2:38; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).

EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 3: What I Believe

Standard

THE HUMAN CONDITION

 We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.

 

Scripture clarifies that all of creation is good, but that the creation of man prompted God to call creation very good (Gen. 1:31). Man is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; Jam. 3:9). In other words, God created mankind in the likeness of Himself. Man images God in various ways such as exercising dominion (Gen. 1:28), being in relationships (Gen. 2:23-24), and making cognitive decisions (Gen. 4:7). However, mankind fell into sin through the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-24). The sin of Adam not only earned him banishment from the Garden, but also served as the doorway of sin and death into the world, and ultimately, all of mankind (Rom. 5:12-14).  Thus, the original sin of Adam and Eve has led to various implications concerning the human condition.people condition

First, all humans throughout all time are sinful by nature and choice. Concerning man’s nature, all are sinful from the time of birth (Ps. 51:5; Eph. 2:3). That is, the heart of man is totally depraved (Jer. 17:9). There is not one area in the life of man that is not some how affected by sin (Matt. 15:19; Rom. 1:18-24). Though people can be “upright citizens” apart from God, it remains that righteousness and perfection is unattainable by work or deed (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:8-9). Moreover, mankind consciously rebels against God and His created order (Rom. 1:18-23). Mankind willingly disobeys God and chooses the fleeting pleasures of sin over the joy found in God (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

Second, man’s inherent sinful nature and cognitive choice of sin leads to alienation from God. Sin drives a wedge between God and man and therefore produces alienation and estrangement (Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21). In other words, man’s choice of hostility and evil deeds yields alienation from God (Eph. 2:1-2, 12; Col. 1:21). Moreover, sin also leads to God’s wrath, or severe anger. In other words, God’s purity and holiness necessitates that He hate and punish sin (Is. 13:11; Rom. 2:5). In the same way that sinful disobedience led to estrangement and punishment in the case of Adam, so too do all who follow in Adam’s footsteps receive the same end (Rom. 5:18).

In light of these truths, man’s situation is utterly hopeless before God as the Righteous Judge. However, God does leave mankind to fend for himself, but rather made a way for sinners to be justified before Him (Jn. 14:6; 1 Cor. 15:55-56). Man’s only hope to defeat the power of sin is the power of the cross of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:14-15). Only by grace through faith can any man be reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:22). Furthermore and finally, only through Jesus Christ can man experience the freedom over sin and death (Rom. 6:14, 8:2).

EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 2: What I Believe.

Standard

THE BIBLE

 We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

           

God communicates to people through His inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). All 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired; that is, the entire Bible communicates the very words of God Himself (2 Pet. 1:21). The grand narrative of Scripture points to its author, Jesus (Jn. 5:39). Meaning, all of the Old Testament points to the coming of Christ (Lk. 24:27), and all of the New Testament refers back to Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2). Some passages of Scripture communicate the exact words of God, such as words spoken through a prophet (Is. 7:7; Jer. 2:2; Ez. 5:7; Amos 5:4). Other sections, however, were written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).   bible bible

Although the Bible was written by man, the original manuscripts are without error. In other words, Scripture does not contradict itself, because that would infer contradiction on God’s part (Num. 23:19). Any passages that seem to contradict other sections are the result of reader error.  Regardless of its author, all books of the Bible (read in tandem with the whole counsel of Scripture) are authoritative in what they teach and command (Ps. 119:9-16; Is. 28:13). Jesus quoted Scripture as if it were authoritative over Him (Matt. 4:1-11; 26:24; Lk. 24:46). Therefore, all of mankind is subject to the authority of God’s revealed Word (Ps. 119:21; Rom. 15:4).

The broad narrative of Scripture is sufficient in revealing God’s plan for the salvation of man (Lk. 24:27; Acts 8:34; 17:2; Rom. 10:17). Meaning, one does not need to seek other “sources” beyond the Bible to know or understand what God requires of man to be saved. Though Scripture is sufficient in revealing God’s will for salvation, man is still dependent on the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures correctly (Ps. 119:18; Lk. 24:45; Acts 16:14).

For the Church, the Scriptures serve as ultimate authority in the daily affairs of believers, and members are to subject themselves under the Bible’s teachings (Acts 17:11; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Pet. 3:14-19). The Church can trust the Bible’s authenticity based upon how Jesus himself spoke of the Scriptures (Matt. 4:1-11; Jn. 13:18; 17:12), and how the Bible’s authors speaks of their writings (2 Pet. 3:16). Trusting the Bible’s authenticity is not a matter of trusting in man, but rather in God’s faithfulness to preserve His Word (Ps. 33:11; Is. 46:10; Matt. 24: 35; 1 Pet. 1:25).

EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 1: What Believe

Standard

GOD

We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory

 

            The Trinitarian God of the Bible has existed for eternity and is the creator and sustainer of all things (Gen. 1; John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:3, 11:3). God created all things without the help of any outside force or being (Job 38:4-7). God also created all things ex nihilo, or out of nothing (Heb. 11:3). God has no beginning and has no end (Rev. 1:8; 21:13). Not only is God the supreme ruler of the universe, but He is also endlessly perfect and holy (1 Sam. 2:2; Ps. 30:4; 1 Pet. 1:16). God’s sovereign rule points to His limitless power (Is. 40:26). Moreover, God has limitless knowledge in that He knows all things and therefore never learns anything (John 2:25). God’s level and standard of holiness is unattainable by anyone or by any good work (Rom. 3:23). God answers to no one (Job 38:1-7), and all of creation is subject to Him (Rom. 9:20). These truths communicate God’s transcendence above all things both in heaven and on earth (Ps. 83:18, 97:9; Is. 40:12-28).

However, God is not separate from His creation, but is active in sustaining it moment by moment (Ps. 2:1-4; Matt. 5:45; Heb. 1:3). In other words, God works all things, whether seemingly insignificant or historically pivotal, to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11).

The attributes of God are not what “God is like,” but rather who God is. Moreover, God’s attributes are not above or separate from Him in any fashion. For example, God is love (1 John 4:8), but that does not imply that God is in any way subservient to love. Rather, love is in God’s nature along with various other attributes such as wrath (Rev. 6:16), mercy (Exod. 34:6), and faithfulness (Deut. 32:4).

God has existed eternally in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Matt. 28:19; Mark 3:16-17). The Trinity is not three separate parts of one God, but rather three divine persons with one essence. Furthermore, no person of the Trinity is to be held in higher regard than another. Each Person of the Trinity is equally important, but is separate in role and function. In other words, the Father planned redemption (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9), the Son secured redemption (John 19:30; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:20), and the Holy Spirit applies redemption (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14).

By His great grace, God has long planned to redeem a people for His own possession (Ex. 19:5-6; Rom. 11:33-36; 1 Pet. 2:9). God is most passionate for His own glory and renown (Ex. 9:14; Deut. 6:1-2; Josh. 4:23-24; 2 Kgs. 19:19; Ps. 83:18; Rom. 11:36), and redeeming people from the curse of sin is how He saw fit to glorify Himself best (Ps. 67:1-3; Rom. 1-11; Tit. 2:11-14). This plan of redemption was not a reactionary response to the fall of man into sin (Gen. 3:1-19), but rather God’s original plan (Rom. 9:22-24). Finally, the climactic fulfillment of redemption is God making all things, whether in heaven or on earth, new (Rev. 21:5).

EFCA Statement of Faith Current Issues: My Thoughts on Social Issues.

Standard

Current Issues

            Believing in Jesus Christ and trusting in Him for ultimate salvation has a deep effect on all areas of our lives (Tit. 2:11-14). Christianity is not simply a compartment in the life of a believer, but influences each sphere of life (Eph. 2:8-10). Moreover, Scripture is to inform the believer as they navigate through various moral matters  (2 Tim. 3:16-17).Image

Sanctity of Marriage

Marriage is an institutional covenant relationship between one man and one woman that is held accountable by God Himself (Gen. 2:23-25; Prov. 18:22; Heb. 13:4). Marriage reflects God’s covenantal love and commitment to His people as ultimately seen with Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:24-33). Therefore, in the same way God does not forsake His people (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5), so too the husband should continually pursue, love, and commit to his wife no matter the circumstance (Hos. 3:1-5; 1 Pet. 3:7). Even in the face of sin, betrayal, or adultery, marital reconciliation should be sought so as to magnify God’s commitment and love for us through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).

Gender Distinction and Roles

Moreover, God reserves the right to define who we are as people, including our gender roles and sexuality (Is. 14:24). Men and women are equal in essence (1 Pet. 3:7), but different in function. Whether in the marriage relationship or in church roles, men and women carry different but equally important roles. Men are to be overseers of the church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9), the heads of their respective households (Gen. 3:9; Eph. 5:23; Col. 3:18-19), and therefore active, responsible, and godly leaders. Women are to be gentle (1 Pet. 3:4), submissive to their respective husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:3-5), and thus be supportive, tender, and faithful women who seek after God’s own heart (1 Pet. 3:4-6). Whether man or woman, all are to submit to the Lordship of Christ (Ps. 22:28; Col. 3:11).

Sexual Perversion

God has also created us as sexual beings (Gen. 1:28; Prov. 5:19), but that is not limited to mere sexual relationship (Gen. 1:27). Perversions to sexuality such as practicing homosexuality, extra-marital relationships, child abuse, masturbation, and even lust not “acted” upon are sinful and acts of rebellion against God’s design of true sexuality (Lev. 18:20; Matt. 5:28; 1 Cor. 5:9, 6:9-10, 6:18; Eph. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:10-11; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8).

Sanctity of Life

Faith in Christ also necessitates Christians to look after the poor and helpless (Gal. 2:10, Jam. 1:27), including the unborn child in the womb. God is active in forming new life at the moment of conception (Ps. 139:14-16; Lk. 1:44). Therefore, to abort an unborn child is to murder an innocent life (Ex. 23:7). God alone reserves the right to give and take life (Deut. 32:39). Not only is aborting an unborn child murder, but it is also a complete failure to look after the helpless.

Personal Standards

Finally, as a teacher I know that I will be held to a higher standard (Jam. 3:1). Therefore it is vital that I maintain consistent, personal devotions through prayer and studying Scripture (Ps. 51:12-13; 2 Tim. 2:15). If I am not feasting on the Word of God, then I will only be giving my flock that which I do not have myself. Moreover, it is vital that I strive to keep my head, heart, eyes, and hands free from moral impurity and financial misconduct so as to not sin against God and lose ministerial credibility (Ps. 119:37). This is done through consistent devotions (Ps. 19:7-10), accountability from my wife and older, mature men (Prov. 15:22; 27:17), and grace-empowered repentance and confession (1 John 1:8-9). Finally, as a minister of the gospel, it is absolutely necessary that I lead my home in godliness as priority over any church congregation or member. If church ministry comes before family, then I am committing the sin of idolatry and unbelief (1 Tim. 3:5).

EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 10: What I Believe.

Standard

We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

                                             Article 10, EFCA Statement of Faith

 

            The gospel is the good news that God has made a way for sinners to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:1-9). All of mankind has fallen short of God’s perfect standard (Rom. 3:23); but the gospel is that Jesus Christ came (John 1:14), lived a perfect life (Is. 53:9; Heb. 9:14), appeased God’s wrath against sin (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10), and places His perfect righteousness on all who believe in and receive Him (Rom. 4:5). Jesus Christ is the only source of eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Furthermore, God’s gracious provision of salvation through Jesus Christ requires a response. Jesus commands people to repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). Repentance is the act of turning from sin while simultaneously looking to God for grace and forgiveness (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 7:10-11). Believing the gospel entails that we believe its true content (Gal. 1:6-7), receive Jesus Christ as ultimate truth (John 14:6), and commit ourselves to following Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30; Luke 9:23, 14:27).

All people are commanded to believe in the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 1:15). In other words, every person from every corner of the earth is accountable to this gospel message (Ez. 18:32; Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9). However, Scripture tells us that many will not turn from their wickedness to God (Matt. 25:32-33; Rev. 20:11-15). The end result of not believing in the gospel and continuing in rebellion against God is eternal conscious punishment in hell (Matt. 7:13, 11:20-24, 25:46; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:10, 13-15, 21:8). Meaning, those who have rejected God through their sin will be constantly aware of God’s eternal wrath against them. As creator and sustainer of the universe (Gen. 1; Heb. 1:3), God is completely just in His punishment of those who have rejected His Son (Rom. 9:19-24); even those who have never heard the gospel message (Ps. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:18-25, 3:10-18, 23).

On the other hand, eternal joy, blessedness, and peace await those who have received Jesus Christ and submitted themselves to His Lordship (John 3:16, 11:25-26; Eph. 1:11-14; 1 Pet. 1:8-9; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 21:1-7). This eternal joy that awaits us as Christians in the new heavens and new earth will not be derived from indulging in whatever we wish without consequence (Eccl. 2:1-12; Ps. 73:25-26), but rather from seeing Jesus face to face (1 Cor. 13:12; Rev. 22:3-5), worshipping God with all the redeemed (Rev. 19:1-4), and experiencing life without sin, death, pain, or suffering (Rev. 21:4-5). Whether to eternal death or to eternal life, all people will be raised bodily at a time of God’s choosing to be judged by Him (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Heb. 9:27).  However, whether He is executing His wrath or His mercy, the eternal destinies of all people will result in the praise of God’s glory throughout eternity (Rom. 11:33-36; Rev 15:3-4).

EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 9: What I Believe

Standard

Here is what I believe concerning Christ’s Return. Please regard this post here for further details.

“We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivate the believer to godly living, sacrificial service, and energetic mission.” –Article 9, EFCA Statement of Faith 

            Jesus’ final recorded words promise us His return (Rev. 22:20). The gospel promises not only that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has occurred in the past (1 Cor. 15:20-22; John 21:24), that its effects take place in our lives in the present (Philip. 1:6; 2:13; Col. 2:6-7), but also that there is a future element to our salvation (1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Tim. 1:12; Acts 1:11; Matt. 25:31-46). As followers of Christ we are to expect this “final fulfillment of salvation,” which will defeat the presence of sin, death, and suffering (Rev. 21:4-5). This is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13)!

The return of Christ will be personal. In other words, Jesus Himself will return to earth. On multiple occasions Jesus declared that He would return (Matt 24:44; 25:31; Mark 13:5-6; 24-27; 14:62; Luke 21:36; Rev. 22:20). Moreover, Christ will not have a mere “spiritual” return, but a bodily one. Jesus’ bodily return shows us that all things, not just the spiritual, will be renewed (Philip. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4; Rev. 21:5). The personal and bodily return of Christ points to His humanity and deity (John 20:28; Gal. 4:4). Jesus will also have a premillennial return. Specifically, Christ will return before the period of time when Satan is bound and no longer deceives the nations (Rev. 20:1-10). Jesus also warned us to expect great “tribulation” near the end of the age (Matt. 24:3-31). These events will lead up to His returning (Matt. 24:29-30). However, Christians can rest in God’s sustaining grace through these future events (Deut. 1:30-31; Rom. 8:35; 2 Cor. 12:9; Philip 4:13; Rev. 3:10).

The glorious coming of Christ cannot be predicted and is known only to God (Matt: 24:36). Jesus told his disciples to remain watchful (Matt. 24:42). Elsewhere, we know that the return of Christ is impossible to predict (1 Thess. 5:2-6). Peter also warns us that the second coming of Christ will come like a “thief” (2 Pet. 3:10). Thus, Jesus’ coming will be unforeseen and unpredicted by anyone.

In light of these truths, we are to have a godly response through our lifestyles (2 Pet. 3:11-12). Because the exact time of the coming of Jesus is unknown to us, we are to be focused on obedient faith (Rom. 6:16; Jam. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:13). We are to watch in constant, diligent expectancy for the coming of Christ, and not become stagnant (Matt. 25:13; Eph. 5:15-16; Philip 4:5; 1 Thess. 5:6; 2 Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:13). Furthermore, we are to steward our time on earth faithfully (Matt. 25:24-30). The return of Jesus is to motivate us to godly living, sacrificial service, and energetic mission (Matt. 25:14-30; 28:19-20; Mark 12:1-11; 1 Thess. 5:9-11; Titus 2:11-15; 2 Pet. 3:14-15; Jude 21; Rev. 2:5; 10; 3:2). We do not know when Jesus will return, only that He will. Therefore, believers are to live as Christ did while on earth. Christians should be laboring in the plentiful harvest knowing that God desires none to perish, but all to reach repentance (Ez. 18:30-32; 2 Pet. 3:9; Luke 10:2). In summary, Jesus’ return is not only our great hope as believers, but also serves as great motivation for loving and serving Him faithfully.