Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Do I Believe?

Sometimes I get asked where I stand on certain issues. I am careful to note that these are my personal beliefs, not the official beliefs of The Voice of the Martyrs, the nondenominational mission I lead. This is not a complete statement of belief, of couse. But for those of you who are want to know a bit more about my personal beliefs, I affirm the following confessions and statements:


The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.


My Doctrinal Confession

1. Scripture
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, given by divine revelation and inerrant in the original manuscripts, written by men who were prepared and superintended by the Holy Spirit. I affirm my belief in the infallibility of Scripture, in its absolute authority in all matters it addresses, including faith, life, history, and science.

2. The Triune God
I believe in the one and only true God: self-existent, infinite, personal, unchangeable, and eternal in His being; perfect in love, holiness, justice, truth, wisdom, and goodness; Creator and Sustainer of all things, visible and invisible; both immanent and transcendent to creation; eternally existent in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), one in substance and co-equal in power and glory.

2.1 The Father
I believe that the Father is begotten of none, being the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Author of our salvation, Father of all who are born into new life through faith in Christ.

2.2 The Son
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, being fully God and fully human; was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit; lived a sinless life, performed miracles, and taught concerning life in the kingdom of God; died on the cross as the unlimited atonement for the sins of all people, and was buried; rose from the dead with a glorified body, defeating death, giving new life for all who come to faith in Him; appeared to His followers over the period of forty days; ascended to the right hand of the Father where He is now our High Priest and Advocate.

2.3 The Holy Spirit
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Giver of new life, who proceeds from the Father; of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and Son; being truly and eternally God; who spoke through the prophets, inspiring men of God to accurately write the Scriptures; reproving or convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment; drawing unrepentant men and women to God, enabling them to come to faith in Christ; regenerating those who repent and believe on Christ, indwelling each new believer, sealing them as God's own possession, baptizing them into the body of Christ; enabling the believer to follow Christ by teaching, guiding, comforting, and strengthening him / her; conforming the child of God into the image of Christ, a work which will be completed when the Lord returns for His Church.

3. Mankind
I believe that mankind was created in the image of God, sinless and in perfect fellowship with God; that he fell through an act of rebellion and incurred both physical and spiritual death; that left to his own, he is eternally separated from God, destitute of any ability or desire to follow after God or submit to His authority. Without divine grace, mankind is incapable of doing any good works which are pleasing or acceptable to God, being completely, tragically, and irretrievably fallen. I affirm my conviction that apart from hearing the gospel, the unevangelized are without God and without hope in this world.

4. Salvation
I believe that mankind, through the voluntary and propitiatory death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, can be redeemed from his hopeless state. Through the grace of God, as the Holy Spirit enables him, the sinner may repent and come to faith in Christ, accepting the work of Christ on his behalf. The individual is given new life (regeneration), and is made a new creation in Christ. He is justified, completely forgiven of all of sins and offenses against God. He is set apart as God's own precious possession and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (sanctification). He is adopted into the family of God and is privileged to be able to call God "Father."

5. The Church
I believe that the church is an organism composed of all who have come to faith in the Lord Jesus, united under His headship, whose supreme mission is to make disciples of all nations through world evangelism and edification of God's people. The ordinances of the church are baptism and the Lord's Supper; baptism marking the beginning of the believer's life in Christ, and the Lord's Supper celebrating the continuing blessings of the sacrificial work of Christ for the believer.

6. Last Things
I believe that God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring all things to their appropriate end and establish the new heaven and the new earth. The hope of the believer is in the soon, sudden, personal, and visible return of Christ at which time the dead will be raised and Christ will judge mankind in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to the everlasting, conscious punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. The righteous, on the other hand, will receive their reward and dwell forever in the presence of God. Concerning the resurrection, I affirm my belief in a literal, physical resurrection of the body, which will be glorified at Christ's return.

7. Election & Predestination
I believe that election is the choosing act of God in which He determines whom He will entrust with certain responsibilities and privileges. The focus of election is on the people whom God has chosen to be the instruments of His purposes. Election, however, is not merely a title or a position. Election is for privilege and responsibility.

Predestination, on the other hand, is the planning act of God in which He determines what privileges and responsibilities the children of God will enjoy and do in order to accomplish His purposes and how they will do it; what He will do for them and what they will do and become. The focus of predestination is on God’s plan and purpose. The emphasis is not who the objects of predestination are but what are the elect predestined to.

8. Freedom of the Will
I believe that while freedom of choice was part of our original, created state, as fallen human beings we no longer can claim to have a truly “free will.” Paul tells us in Romans 1 that we consistently choose the wrong and even the right we do choose is often tarnished with ulterior motives. While some would argue that this must require an irresistible act on God’s part, it seems to me that a better explanation is found in what may be described as “prevenient grace,” whereby God frees our will to obey Him and to choose to follow Him. Hence, I believe that it is far more accurate to refer to the “freed will,” rather than to “free will.” The former still gives the full glory to God; the latter does not take sin seriously enough and makes it sound like the mind was unaffected by the Fall and sin.

9. Perseverance of the Saints
I believe that through the declaration of Scripture and the testimony of the Holy Spirit the obedient believer can be certain of forgiveness, salvation, a continuing walk with Christ, and the promise of the resurrection. The Scriptures do, however, warn against failing to abide in Christ, being hardened by sin, or being overcome by the world. To allow the Devil such a foothold is to open oneself to the temptation to consciously reject Christ, abandon one's faith, and ultimately be lost. Hence, I believe that it is possible to apostasize so as to cut yourself off from the only way to God. I believe that we must take very seriously the warnings of Scripure to stand fast, to stay faithful and that the original authors were not setting up straw men to knock down, warning of dangers that could never happen.


I also affirm the following statements:

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics

The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

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