The Scriptures repeatedly declare that God is their author or that they are inspired by Him. ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [lit. God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16). We wholeheartedly accept these affirmations and believe that the Scriptures give abundant evidence of their truthfulness.
The exact nature of this inspiration is to be determined from the phenomena of Scriptures and from what Scripture itself teaches on this subject. We believe that this inspiration is plenary [complete] in nature, extending equally to all parts of Scripture. Thus the words of Christ recorded in the Sermon on the Mount are no more inspired than the words of Paul, or those of the prophet Hosea, or those found in the books of Moses. This inspiration extends not only to moral law and spiritual truths, but also to the historical and scientific.
The Bible is neither a scientific or historical textbook; it is God’s covenant word to all men. Nevertheless, when it makes reference to matters contained within these spheres, the writers still speak for God and, therefore, what they state in these areas is also inspired and reliable. This is seen in that Christ sets His seal of authority upon a vast variety of facts recorded in the Old Testament as infallibly true. These include facts from the realms of religion, law, education, history, science, government, and other spheres. This inspiration, as is clearly indicated in the Scriptures, deals not only with the thoughts conveyed but with the words by which these thoughts are conveyed. Therefore, the inspiration of the Scriptures is verbal in nature. Christ has indicated that even ‘one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled’ (Matthew 5:18). Since the inspiration of the Scriptures is both plenary and verbal, it follows that the Scriptures as originally given in the original manuscripts are infallible and inerrant in all that they teach. Our Lord declares, ‘the Scripture cannot be broken’ (John 10:35).
The doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery. This does not mean that we can have no reliable ideas about it or that certainty is impossible, but rather that the Trinity cannot be known by human discovery but must be understood by divine revelation. The Bible teaches four facts which together constitute the doctrine of the Trinity:
1. The Father is God
2. The Son is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God
4. There is but one God
All four of these facts are incontrovertibly declared in Scripture. These were theologically defined in the early Church by saying that there were three persons in the one essence of the Godhead. The term Trinity was first used by Tertullian, circa 220 A.D. We believe that these persons within the Godhead are one in their nature and eternal in their being. Since they co-exist eternally they are not various modes of existence at various times by the same person. Each member of the Godhead is co-eternal and equally ultimate, both one and many, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Person and Work of Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity; therefore, equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As a divine being He shares with the other members of the Trinity all of the attributes of divinity, both communicable and incommunicable (eternal, immutable, omnipotent etc). In the incarnation, He took upon Himself the true nature of man. These two natures continue united in His person, yet ever remain true divinity and true humanity, unmixed and as to their essence, unchanged.
In His work, Christ discharges all three of the offices of the mediator between God and man: those of prophet, priest, and king. In both His humiliation and His exaltation He fulfils all things that are required for the salvation of human beings.
His Death and Resurrection
As our High Priest, both by His death and His intercession on high, Christ has made full atonement for the sins of those whom the Father has given to Him. We believe that the death of Christ was vicarious in nature and effects three different results. First, it was a propitiation and thus turns aside the wrath of God from the heads of sinners and makes it possible for God to be ‘well pleased’ with them. Secondly, it is an expiation and thus removes or blots out our sin from before the face of God. Thirdly, it provides reconciliation and this turns the hearts of estranged people back to their God again. Concerning His resurrection, which is the great central fact upon which the Gospel is founded, we believe that Christ upon the third day, arose from the dead and walked out of the tomb with the selfsame body with which He was crucified and yet with different qualities. We believe that the resurrection of Christ is established on the authority of God’s infallible word and by many varied and convincing proofs, such that it cannot be denied or overthrown. On this solid foundation the Christian faith rests.
The Doctrine of Man
We believe that human beings were created by an immediate act of God as clearly taught in the history of Genesis 1 and 2. We believe that God created male and female in His own image and, therefore, gave to them a transcendent value and worth. We believe that humans were given meaningful choice and liberty, but humanity chose to rebel against the Creator and the result is spiritual death: the image of God is marred and the human will is inclined to sin. Through the gracious work of the Mediator and the Holy Spirit, human beings may be regenerated, become new creatures in Christ, and the image of God may be fully restored in them.
The Final State of Man
At death a person’s spirit (or soul) leaves their earthly body and goes either to Heaven or to Hell. The bodies of both the saved and the lost remain in the grave until the Last Day, at which time they shall be raised by the power of God and rejoined to their souls. We believe that there will be a general resurrection followed by a general judgment, after which those which have truly been united to Christ shall be taken into the presence of God forever and those who are impenitent and unsaved shall be cast into outer darkness forever. We faithfully declare with sorrow that we believe in the conscious, eternal punishment of the unsaved.
God’s New People
We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God by the law written into the desires of our hearts, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Such works of righteousness constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace.
The new covenant community, the universal church, is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and support of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of His eye, graven on His hands, and He has pledged Himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her two sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great kingdom mission, and, above all, by her love for God and her members’ love for one another and the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions. Christ Jesus is our peace: He has not only brought about peace with God but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign and symbol of God’s advancing kingdom, and future new world, a people called to reclaim all things in terms of the crown rights of King Jesus. Its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-centeredness. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit and the continuing witness to God in the world.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe that Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances ordained by the Lord Jesus Himself. The former is connected with personal entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of His return and of the consummation of all things.
The Second Coming of Christ
We believe that at the Last Day, which must throughout this age remain unknown to people, Jesus Christ will come again to this world. His coming will be visible, bodily, glorious, and triumphant to fully inaugurate the totality of His kingdom rule. He will take His own to be with Him forever and He will destroy the wicked with fire. There will be a new heaven and a new earth in which perfect righteousness dwells. Of this fact we are to be certain; of its time we are to be uncertain, that, thus, we may always be ready and may say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity and is, therefore, equal in power and glory with the Father and the Son. We believe that the Scripture indicates that the Holy Spirit is a person and not a force, as has been held by some cults. The work of the Holy Spirit is manifold. With the Father and Son, He had part in the creation of the world and of humanity. He was active in the Old Testament in calling and inspiring Moses and the prophets in their work, and in equipping various individuals for special tasks. It was the Holy Spirit who caused Mary to conceive the Lord Jesus Christ in her womb, and the Spirit was given without measure to the Son. The Spirit was involved with the Father and the Son in the resurrection of Christ and was poured out in His fullness at Pentecost upon the Church.
In the economy of redemption it is the particular function of the Holy Spirit to apply the work of Christ to the lives of those whom the Father has eternally chosen in the secret counsel of His sovereign will. The Holy Spirit enlightens, convicts, regenerates, and thus effectually calls to Christ those whom the Father has given to Him. The Holy Spirit works faith and repentance in the heart and is the agent of sanctification through making us capable of conformity to the revealed law of God and imparting the holiness of Christ to the believer. The Holy Spirit equips the Church for its God-given task and speaks not of Himself but points men to Christ.
The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets, apostles, and others, in the inscripturation of the divine revelation contained in the Bible.
Concerning spiritual gifts we believe that the Spirit of God has given and does continue to give gifts to men and women for the glory of God's name and the edification of His Church. We believe that some offices and gifts were revelatory, and thereby temporary in nature - such as the apostle and prophet (as defined in Scripture as foundational Eph 2:20). Equally some offices and gifts are perpetual in nature - such as the office of elder, deacon, pastor, evangelist, etc. We believe that some of the ‘miraculous gifts’ were the peculiar authoritative stamp of God upon His new revelation. Equally, we believe that limiting God in His freedom to bestow gifts upon His Church is unscriptural. The apostle James clearly teaches about the power of prayer by which God may answer by healing gifts (cf. Chp 5:14-18) and he clearly speaks of gifts of these healings being manifest through the perpetual offices in God’s church. Equally, Paul warns us ‘do not forbid to speak in tongues’ and admonishes us to eagerly desire God’s gifts (1 Cor 14: 39).
The Person and Work of Satan
We believe that Satan is a created being, made originally by God as an angel whose title according to the Old Testament was Lucifer. Through the sin of pride this being fell and took with him a host of other angels who now, in their fallen state, are referred to as demons. We believe that Satan is in the Scriptures not merely a personification of evil but is an actual spiritual being of considerable power and great malevolence. It is his primary desire to vent his hatred of God by opposing God in all of his works and seeking to thwart the redemptive activities of Christ. Thus, he blinds the minds of men to the Gospel, and endeavors to keep them from its light; he tempts believers; and does all in his power to resist the building of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. According to the Scripture, he has been bound and limited in his powers by the triumphant death and resurrection of Christ and will, at the consummation of this age in the full realization of the Kingdom, be cast into outer darkness forever.