The Holy Scriptures
God created man so that man would glorify God and enjoy him forever. The standards God has given to man, by which man may glorify and enjoy God, and God may find enjoyment in man, are the holy scriptures as originally given. The holy scriptures were written by inspiration of God and include nothing apart from the Old and New Testaments. They teach what man’s duties are toward God, and are binding upon all. The holy scriptures are now complete and have been sealed. Nothing may be added to them. Revelation has now ended, so that there are no further revelations of God which bind the conscience, thought or deed of man. The vision is sealed and there is no longer any prophet, vision or seer. God does, however, guide by his Holy Spirit through conscience, circumstances, human wisdom, and in our heart, in addition to and in agreement with the principles and commandments found in the scriptures themselves.
(Gen. 1:26-28;I Cor. 10:31; Psalms 36:7-8; II Tim. 3:16; John 14:21; I Thess. 4:5; Rev. 4:11; Eph. 2:20; Deut. 4:2; Psalms 19:7; I Pet. 1:21; I Tim 3:16; II Thess. 1:7-9; Daniel 9:24; Prov. 30:6; Deut. 12:32; James 4:12; Rom. 10:17)
We believe that God is an eternal Spirit, without measure, unchanging in his essential being, wisdom, power, holiness, righteousness, goodness and truth. There is only one God, who exists in three persons, each of whom is perfectly equal in the divine essence, glory and power.
(John 4:24; Psalms 90:2; Job 11: 7; Ex. 3:14; James 1:17; Psalms 147:5; Isa. 6:3; Ex. 34:6; Deut. 6:4; Matt 28:19; John 17:5)
The Acts of God in History
We believe that before all things, God determined his will and the purpose of all his deeds according to his holy and eternal will. He also ordained all things beforehand to the glory of his name alone, and carries out his counsel in the works of creation, salvation and providence. God created all things by the word of his power in six days, and created all things very good. He created mankind male and female, in his likeness and image, holiness and righteousness, and gave him government over creation. God rules and protects his creation and its actions at all times in holiness, wisdom and sovereign power. When he created man, God made with man a covenant of grace unto life, on the condition that man obey God perfectly. By this covenant man was forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest he die.
(Acts 14:18; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11-12; Gen. 1:1; Eph. 1:5; Heb. 1:3; Gen. 1: 1-31; Gen. 1: 27- 28; Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 1:28; Psalms 145:17; Isa. 28:29; Heb. 1:13; Psalms 103:19; Hosea 6:8; Gen. 2:15-17)
Sin and Its Consequences
Satan tempted Adam and Eve, who fell from the position in which they were created when they sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. Sin is nonconformity to the will of God and the transgression of his commandment in deed or in nature. When Adam sinned, all humanity sinned in him and fell with him because in the covenant made with him, Adam represented all of his progeny. The first sin constituted Adam a sinner devoid of holy joy, that is, corrupted in his nature, an object of God’s wrath. All men now bear Adam’s nature and are devoid of natural righteousness, their nature being corrupted in all of its parts, although not to the ultimate extent. In other words, all men bear the guilt and consequences of Adam’s first sin and therefore do sinful deeds out of the true volition of their sinful nature. Because of the first sin, humanity has lost the near presence of God, has become an object of God’s righteous anger and curse, is therefore enslaved to all kinds of suffering in this life, to death itself, and finally to the pains of hell forever.
(Gen. 3:1-6; Gen. 3:6-8; I John 3:4; Psalms 51:7; Acts 17:26; Rom 5:18; Gen. 1:28; Rom 5:19; Rom 5:12; Eph. 2:3; Rom 5:18; Rom 3:10; Eph. 2:1-2; Gen. 9:6; Matt 14:19; Gen. 3:8; Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:10; Rom. 6:23; Matt 25:41)
God’s Saving Grace
God, in his eternal being and out of the freedom of his own person alone, has not left all men to perish in sin and suffering. He has chosen some among men to eternal life and made with them a covenant of grace in which he undertakes to save them from sin and suffering and to bring them into a new position of salvation by means of a Saviour, in order to be glorified in them and to show the world through them his inexpressible glory. To this end, God chose Abraham in order to raise up through him a special people to be a light to the world. He brought Abraham’s descendants to Mount Sinai, gave them with his grace the Law of his covenants with them, and granted them the promise of a Saviour. He then sent them prophets to teach them his ways and to clarify the promise of salvation given to them.
The sole Saviour of God’s elect is Jesus the Messiah, who came from the family of David according to the promise, to whom pertains that Name which is above every name. He, being the eternal and unique Son of God, became man and thus was and will eternally be God and man, two distinct natures in one true person. The Messiah became man when he took to himself a real body and a human soul, was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of her, all without sin.
(Eph. 1:4-5; Rom 8:29; Matt. 26:28; Rom. 8:27-39; Eph. 1:11-12; Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 11:17-18; Ex. 20; Deut. 18:18-20; Is. 53; Jer. 31:31-34; 1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 1:3; Phil. 2:9; John 1:14; Heb 2:14; Matt. 26:38; Luke 1:31; Heb. 7:26)
The Works of the Messiah
In the days of his humiliation and as our Saviour, Jesus fulfilled the offices of prophet, priest and king. Now, being exalted and glorified, he continues to fulfil these offices. As Prophet, by his word and Spirit he reveals to us the will of God for our salvation. As Priest, he offered himself once and for all as the atoning sacrifice for the salvation of the elect, thereby fulfilling all that was intimated in the Tabernacle; he satisfied the righteousness of God and now continually intercedes for us. As King he subdues us to himself, rules over and protects us, and restrains and conquers all of his and our adversaries. Christ humbled himself when he was born in poor circumstances; bound to the Law of Sinai and, by his death and burial, participated in the suffering of this world, the anger of God, and the cursed death of the crucifixion. He was exalted and glorified by rising from the dead, ascending to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. He will yet be glorified by his future appearing in the world to judge everyone in perfect righteousness.
(Deut 18:15-18; Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:6; Psalms 2:6; Acts 2:36; John 1:18; John 20:31; John 14:26; Heb 9:28; Titus 2:14; Gal. 2:22; Heb. 9:1-12; I John 2:2; II Cor. 5:18; Heb. 7:25; Psalms 110:3; Isa. 33:22; I Cor. 14:25; Luke 2:7; Gal. 4:4; Isa. 53:3; Phil. 2:8; Deut. 21:23; Matt. 12:40; I Cor. 14:4; Mark 15:19; Heb. 1:3; I Thess. 1:10; Acts 17:31; Matt 27:46)
Man’s Duties to God
God requires all men without exception to think and act according to his will. The essence of the will of God is found in the commandment to love him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and our neighbour as ourselves. The will and commandments of God are revealed in the holy scriptures alone. Man is never free from the commandments of God, nor from the teachings of his eternal law, which are revealed in the scriptures. Although there were many and diverse revelations of that Law throughout human history, they always revealed that one and eternal law of God. The law is not a way of salvation but a way for saved men to live; it also leads sinners to the Messiah. The ceremonies, as given through Moses, were fulfilled in Christ.
(Jer. 22:29; I Thess. 1:10; Matt. 22:37-40; Psa 19:8-11; II Tim 3:16; Rev. 19:5; Psa. 19:10; Heb. 1:1; Gal. 2:16; I Thess. 4:1; I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 3:20; Deut. 10:4; Matt 19:17; Col. 2:20-21, 16-17; Rev. 19:5)
The giving of the Holy Spirit is not a substitute for the word of God; the word of God is the sword of the Spirit and is not to be divorced from him. Nor does the Spirit reveal new truths which are not found in the scripture, or special meanings in the scriptures that relate to any individual reader. Rather, he stirs believers to read, study and understand the scriptures and in this way guides them in their life of faith. Every believer is given the Spirit to this end. Whoever does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ. God calls all men to repent and to believe in the Messiah to the salvation of their souls, promising that all who call upon him will be saved. No man can keep the law of God perfectly.
Some sins, by virtue of their nature or the external circumstances surrounding them, are more evil in the sight of God than other sins. Every sin, however, is worthy of the anger and curse of God in this world and in the next. In order to escape the anger and curse of God, which we all deserve because of our sin, God demands that we trust in Jesus the Messiah and turn from our sins to him.
(Eph. 6:17; II Pet. 1:21; Eph. 2:20; Acts 17:11; John 5:39; Psa. 119:44-48, 41; Psa 19:34, 18-19; Rom. 8: 7-9; I Cor. 12:13; Titus 3:9; Rom. 8:9; Acts 17:30; Acts 2:21; 3:9-21; I John 5:16-17; Gal. 3:10; Matt 25:41; Rom. 3:23; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 3:19; Jer. 3:1)
Faith in Jesus is a saving gift of free grace which God gives us, by which we receive him and look to him alone for salvation. Turning from sin to God (repentance) is also a saving gift of free grace given by God, whereby a sinner turns from his sin to God with a sincere and painful realisation of his sin, and a continuous endeavour to obey every commandment of God at all times. The common means that God uses in order to convey to us the benefits of salvation, are his commandments – especially his word, the church, the sacraments and prayer, through all of which Christ works to the salvation of sinners and the blessing of the world.
(Eph. 2:8-9; John 1:12; Isa. 43:11; Acts 11:18; Acts 2:37; Jer. 31:18-19; Psa. 119:59; Matt 11:28-30; John 6:63; Eph. 1:13; 2:16-17; Matt 28:19-20; I Cor. 11:23-26; Luke 11:9-13)
We are saved when God realises in us by his Spirit the salvation that Jesus purchased. The Holy Spirit does this by giving us faith and repentance and uniting us to Christ by means of a saving call, through which he accomplishes God’s merciful intentions toward us. In such a call, God the Spirit enlightens our understanding through the knowledge of Christ, convinces us of our condition as sinners, releases and renews our soul from sin, and thus enables us to take Jesus the Messiah for ourselves: that same Jesus who is freely offered to us in the Gospel.
By such a saving call and by the virtues of the sacrifice of Christ, God grants the elect righteousness in his sight, the status of sons, the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to their sanctification, and all the blessings of this life which issue from or accompany his grace. The Holy Spirit strengthens believers in their conflicts, comforts them, rebukes them and reawakens in them the fear and love of God. He realises salvation in them and sanctifies them, so that they will once again bear the likeness of their Creator. All this he does in power, by virtue of the merits of the atonement provided by the Messiah for his elect, so that the Father might be glorified in all things.
(Psa. 3:9: John 1:13; John 3:7-9; Eph. 1:7,14; Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 11:18; Rom. 8:30; I Thess. 5:24; Rom. 8:23-30; Eph. 1:407; John 16: 7-11; Eph. 1:15-18; John 3:3; II Tim. 2:25-26; Col. 1:19, 2:13; John 1:12; Rom. 9:16; Matt 20:18-20; Rom. 5:1-2; Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8: 15-17; II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2; I Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:3; Judg. 14:6; Rom. 8:26, 11; John 14:16; Acts 2:37; John 14:25-28, 15-19, 16:7-15; Eph. 4:22-24; Eph. 1:19 to 2:1; I Thess. 1:4-6; Rev. 5:9- 10; Eph. 1:12; Acts 9:31; Zech. 12:10-12; Col. 1:13-15; Rom. 5:10)
God justifies believers by a free act of grace in which he forgives all our sins and accepts us before him by virtue of the righteousness of Christ, which is attributed to us and received by us through faith alone. The status of sons is also a free gift of the saving grace of God, who receives us into the company of his Son and accords us all of the privileges connected with that status. The Spirit of God powerfully sanctifies us by giving us the strength to die progressively to sin and live for righteousness according to the will of God.
(Rom. 9:22-25; Rom. 8:28-30; Rom. 10:13-17; John 6:37; John 6:39-40, 10:28-30)
The blessings which either accompany or issue from God’s grace, are the assurance of salvation, a quiet conscience, joy in the Spirit, continual spiritual development and persistence in all these things by the grace of God. All this is worked in us by the Holy Spirit, but not without our own continued endeavour.
Upon death, the souls of believers become perfect in holiness and enter into the presence of Christ. Their bodies rest in the grave until the resurrection, when all believers will rise glorified, will be justified in God’s judgement, made perfectly happy, and enjoy God forever. All sinners will all be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death, there to suffer the punishment for their sin: eternal destruction.
(Eph. 1:7; II Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:18-19; Gal. 2:16; I John 3:1; John 1:12; Rom. 8:17; Titus 3:5; John 3:6; II Thess. 2:13; Eph. 4:24; Col. 4:1-5; Rom. 8:1; Rom. 5:1-5; Prov. 4:18; II Cor. 3:18; Jude 24-25; Col. 1:29, 3:5; Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:6-8; I Thess. 4:14; I Cor. 14:43; Matt 25:31-35; Matt 25:21; Rev. 22:1-5; Rev. 20:11-15; I Thess. 1: 7-10; Rev. 21:8)
The Means of Grace
Messiah works by his word, especially through the preaching of his word, to sanctify believers. He causes the word to be an efficient means to convince and to turn sinners’ hearts from sin to God. In order for the holy scriptures to sanctify us, we must hear and read them attentively and prayerfully, having prepared ourselves beforehand. The way to understand the scriptures is not by a special spiritual gift of revelation, given only to certain believers, but by laborious effort, study and reading, accompanied by prayer to God for help. We must accept what is written in the scriptures with love and faith, hide it in our hearts, and live according to it every day of our lives.
Messiah has also commanded us to be baptised in water, to partake of the Lord’s supper, to pray and to share in congregational life. God uses all these things to sanctify, teach and comfort us in the way of God. Baptism is normally by immersion. It follows a credible profession of faith.
(Acts 2:41-42; I Pet. 1:22, 2:2; I Thess. 4-5, 2:13; Psa. 1; Prov. 8:34; I Pet. 2:1-2; Psa. 119:18; John 17:17; Deut. 30:11-14; Psa. 119:11; James 1:25; Matt 28:18-20; I Cor. 11:23-25; Heb. 10:24-25)
The true church comprises all those whom God has chosen who have been saved from their sins and to whom God’s Spirit has given new life by bringing them to faith in Christ. The New Testament also uses the word “church” to describe a local, organised body of believers who are united together for the service of God, among whom the Bible is taught, who endeavour to live together according to the commandments of Christ, whose mutual love is practically expressed, and who are governed by Elders and Deacons who do not lord it over them but guide and lead them in the fear of God. The leaders of the church are those to whom a call has come from God through the church and who are therefore under its authority no less than it is under theirs.
(Eph. 4:1-6; II Cor. 1:1; II Tim. 2:2; II Tim. 2:5, Gal. 5:13-14; Phil. 1:1; I Pet. 5:3; Heb. 13:7,17; Acts 14:21-23, 6:1-6; Eph. 5:21)
In an orderly Christian church, all things are conducted openly and in an orderly fashion. Elders are responsible for the spiritual and moral discipline, and the Deacons for the love, mutual help, and the material and secular matters of the church. In an orderly church, there is clear agreement on at least a certain well-defined minimum of the fundamentals of the faith and there is a shared understanding of the essence of the church, its mode of government and its activity. The church serves both to strengthen, comfort, guide and correct believers according to their needs, and to faithfully spread the knowledge of God in the world so that he may be glorified and adored by all. The church is a fellowship in the fear of God, which requires obedience to the holy scriptures and faithfulness to all the commandments of God.
(Rom. 12:11; I Cor. 14:33; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 5:17; Acts 6:1-6; I Cor. 1:10; Gal. 6:1-2; Rom. 12:12, 14; I Tim. 3:15; Rev. 21:24; II Thess. 1:10)
The Last Days
God will fulfil all of the promises given to Israel. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea. Christ will return just as he departed. The dead will be judged before God. Those justified by Christ will then be perfected in glory and enjoy eternal blessing in the presence of the Lord. The others will be lost. Every knee shall bow before the glory of God. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and God will be all in all.