I came to Christ early in 1988. I was 20 years old. Through an interesting set of circumstances, I was "tricked" into reading my Bible, starting at Genesis. Thankfully, at the time I had a translation I could actually understand (and eventually discovered several other reliable translations beyond the King James Version). The result being, I read through the whole Bible from cover to cover within ten months of that first year of faith.
That success and the encouragement of a dear brother set me on a path to read through the whole Bible almost every year since then. On top of that, the Navigators taught me to look for one truth from each day's reading to apply to my life. What was one thing I need to work on engrafting into my beliefs or practicing in my life? (Through some hard times, I also learned to keep that one thing for that one day, rather than let each day's lesson pile up until I collapsed under the load. I figured out that every lesson God needed to teach me would come up again and again, because God teaches the same lessons throughout His Word.)
That first year I was also introduced to the ministry and teaching of the Institute for Creation Research. They showed me that I could trust every word of the Bible as true and reliable, just as written. Since I can trust the record of the Creation and the Flood exactly as recorded in Scripture, I can trust every thing the Bible teaches, exactly as recorded.
All that to say, as deliberately as possible, everything I believe about "Life, the Universe and Everything," I have sought to base only on Scripture. All the beliefs I've grown up with from church and parents and pastors and society, as many as I can recognize, I have determined to hold up to the Scriptures and evaluate as carefully as possible to discern their truth. What I can see taught consistently throughout the Scriptures, I have retained; what was challenged by Scripture, I held loosely or laid aside, depending on the degree to which Scripture either didn't confirm or outright denied.
Statement of Faith
I believe that the Bible (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments only) is the Word of God, given by inspiration of God to men over the centuries. It is the standard of life and godliness according to which all believers are called to live. I believe it is without error in its original manuscripts, and miraculously preserved in accuracy through the ages by the superintendence of God. It is not difficult to understand, especially to those indwelt by the Spirit, but its teachings can be difficult to accept and receive (impossible for the natural man), so obedience to it demands faith. God wrote it in full awareness of the multitude of generations that would read it, and spoke to the author's generation for the benefit of every generation to follow. Without God's revelation of Scripture, we could not know anything with certainly about God, His Creation or His Will.
I believe God to be eternally existent in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ of Nazareth) and the Holy Spirit. They are all equally God, yet distinct from one another. They are not three Gods, but one in spirit and in essence and in being. They are ordered by authority, the Father being over all, the Son being subject to the Father, a perfect ambassador, saying and doing only that which He sees and hears the Father saying and doing, and the Spirit subjecting Himself to the Son and the Father. The Spirit is sent from the Father at Jesus’s request and takes only from what Jesus gives to Him to reveal to us. In so doing, they are perfect in unity, not just in being but also in purpose.
God is sovereign over all things, knows the beginning and end of all things and works all things to the fulfillment of His purposes. Nothing happens outside His plan or purpose; He understands all things. He is all-powerful and can carry out all His holy will. He cannot sin, nor does He tempt anyone to sin. He cannot tolerate or abide sin, but must destroy it. Yet in His mercy, He delays His wrath, while He waits for the full number of the redeemed to be saved.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word of God, being fully God, the exact representation of the Father to His Creation. He was with God in the beginning and through Him all things were created for Him. He took on human form when conceived by the Holy Spirit through the virgin Mary of Nazareth. He is both fully human and fully God at the same time. Thus, He is qualified by His perfect, sinless life to offer His death as the atonement for man's sins, and He is capable of shedding His blood in death by his human nature. On the third day after His death, He was raised to life again by right of a sinless life and by the power of God. After forty days, continuing to appear to His disciples and teach them, He ascended into Heaven in their sight. He sits now at the right hand of God, interceding for the saints and awaiting the day when the Father sends Him back in the same way He went, to receive all those who belong to Him and to rule over all Creation.
The Holy Spirit is personal in nature and being. He is not an impersonal force, He can even be grieved. He indwells all those who believe in Jesus. It is He who washes and regenerates all those who believe. He intercedes for God's people, and teaches all that the Lord Jesus gives Him to reveal. Though worthy of worship as fully God, He does not draw attention to Himself, but points to the Son to be glorified, in accordance with the will of the Father. He is the Comforter and Helper of the saints, and convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
God created all that exists from nothing, by the command of His Word, through Jesus Christ, for His Son and for the praise of His glory. I believe He created all things in six literal, 24-hour days approximately 6,000 years ago. He created man on the sixth day, making them male and female, of equal value, but different purpose, as a reflection of His own triune nature and to be a testimony of His relationship with His redeemed people.
God created Man to be with Him in perfect fellowship and to rule over all His Creation. Adam and Eve first broke faith with God when they violated His command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The consequence was the entrance of death into God's perfect Creation, the curse on the ground and the suffering brought to women in childbirth and into relationships. Eve was deceived, but Adam was charged as the first sinner.
We are saved from the penalty and the power of sin by believing that Jesus is the Son of God, fully God and fully Man, that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried and was raised to life again on the third day and appeared to many witnesses. When we believe, we are washed by the Holy Spirit and made a new creation, no longer are we sinners (identified and defined by our past sins), but saints (holy and blameless in Christ because of Christ's atoning sacrifice). As such, we are called to walk in newness of life, as slaves of righteousness and no longer slaves to sin. Faith in God and His solution to sin calls for deliberate and determined obedience to God and rejection of sinful behaviors. Obedience (works) do not save; they are the product of genuine regeneration and the evidence of true faith.
I believe and affirm that the Scriptures teach the sovereignty of God in the election or choosing of all who will believe. Only those whom God chose from before the beginning of Creation will be saved. However, God has not revealed to us or to the rest of Creation whom He has chosen, so we like the rest of Creation wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. So while I fully believe in election and predestination, I do not believe we can know with absolute certainty who is and who is not chosen; we are all urged to make our calling and election sure. I hold that in tension with the revelation of man's personal responsibility (his free will) to believe and obey the Lord. Hence, the Scriptures are written from the perspective that all men are fully and personally responsible for their life and choices. I cannot reconcile the two and would not dare to go beyond what the Scriptures reveal in an attempt to do so. Therefore, I urge all men to repent; every invitation is to every man, whoever is willing.
Though God has placed His Spirit in all who believe, that does not eliminate the need for Believers to meet together and to know one another in order to build each other up. Jesus gave gifts of apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers to the local church in order to build them up to maturity, defined as living in the likeness of Himself. Believers should take one another as their primary community in this world and submit themselves to the fellowship and to the teaching of appointed leaders, knowing one another closely in order to fulfill the mission of each member doing their part to build the whole community up into the likeness Christ. Baptism is one of the first steps of obedience in the life of the new believer. It does not save, but immersive baptism most beautifully illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit in the washing and renewal of the believer when he trusts in Christ's sacrifice and resurrection. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is also an important practice in the life of the church. It is a time to remember the sacrifice of Christ, His blood spilled and His body broken for our redemption. He paid a terrible price, the ultimate price for our sin; our sin should be in sight, examining ourselves, confessing any unconfessed sin, renewing our commitment and determination to break with sin and pursue holiness in response to His sacrifice.
It is God's ultimate purpose to restore complete fellowship with His Creation and to reinstate the glory of the original Creation by sending Jesus back to earth at the appointed time to rule and reign. I believe Jesus will rule with believers (Jewish and Gentile) over the earth for a literal thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, the Lord will call all the dead to rise to their judgment. All those whose names were not written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment. At that time, the Father will make a new Heavens and Earth and come down from His eternal abode to dwell with men forever and ever. Then all prophecy of Scripture will be completed.