WHAT WE BELIEVE
It is imperative to know where your church stands on key doctrinal elements. In this section, you can review Reliance Church’s Scripture-based theology on a diversity of specific subjects, from salvation to the Bible to water baptism. Spend some time reading over our doctrine to learn about the foundational beliefs that shape the ministries and teachings at Reliance.
What Is Salvation?
DEFINITION OF SALVATION
God created man with the capacity to choose good or evil. Accordingly, He knew that humanity would ultimately sin and need to be reconciled to Him. The heart of God’s plan is to reconcile sinful humanity to Himself through the Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5–6). The word salvation is defined as “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” All have sinned (Romans 3:23), but we cannot save ourselves, because only a sinless person can save a sinful person. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died for sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:6–8).
PROVISIONS OF SALVATION
Certain provisions were necessary for salvation to be available to humanity: the death of Jesus Christ, the burial of Christ, the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3–4), the ascension of Christ (Mark 16:19, Acts 1:9), and the exaltation of Christ (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3).
PROCESS OF SALVATION: GOD’S PART
God is the initiator of our salvation. He is sovereign and acts to secure salvation for sinners through election, regeneration, justification, adoption, and sanctification. Election: By grace, in omniscience (all-knowing power) God has chosen salvation through Christ for those whom He foreknew would accept Him (Ephesians 1:4–5). Regeneration: God makes us alive through Christ, enabling us to be born again and to experience a new birth (John 3:3). Without a new birth, we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Justification: When God justifies us, He declares us guiltless before Him and places all of the righteousness of Christ to our credit. Justification represents both God’s forgiveness of our sins and the righteousness He has accounted to us (Romans 3:28; 5:1). Adoption: Adoption means, “The placing of a son.” God gives us the full rights of inheritance in His family as if we had been born into it (Galatians 4:4–5; Ephesians 1:5). Because we are God’s children, we can call Him Abba, or, Daddy (Romans 8:15). As God’s children, we can be confident that He understands us, takes care of us, and will bless us. Sanctification: When we become Christians, God sanctifies us, which means to set us apart. He sets us apart positionally, practically, and permanently for Himself (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Through sanctification, we become more and more like Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
PROCESS OF SALVATION: HUMANITY’S PART
Just as there is a divine side of salvation, there is also a human side that shows itself through “free will.” God is the initiator and man is the responder. God, in the person and work of Jesus, initiated the process (Romans 5:08), while man, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, chooses to respond in belief, repentance, and faith. Belief: Acknowledging Jesus Christ not only in our heads, but also in our hearts (John 3:18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Romans 10:9). Repentance: This is a sincere and thorough change of mind and heart toward sin (Psalms 51:3; 2 Peter 3:9). We must not only turn from our sins, but we must also turn to God (Acts 3:19; 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Faith: This is a confiding trust. It involves our intellect, emotions, and will (Mark 4:16–17; Romans 10:9, 17; Ephesians 2:8–9; Hebrews 11:1, 6). PRODUCT OF SALVATION God created us, and Christ purchased us so that we might know Him, walk with Him, and glorify Him (Ephesians 1:11–12). He also wants us to bear much fruit (John 15:8; 13:34–35), as we invest our lives in service to Him (Matthew 16:24–26; Galatians 6:10). We bear fruit by winning others to Christ and helping them grow spiritually (Romans 1:13; Proverbs 11:30), by sharing our blessings with others (Philippians 4:17), by giving praise and thanks to God (Hebrews 13:15), and by living a changed life through our conduct and character (Galatians 5:22). Some people wrongly think that because they have “prayed to receive Christ,” they can live as they please. This is not so, because salvation brings about a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and motivates believers to follow God’s purpose for their lives.
Statement Of Faith
WHAT IS A STATEMENT OF FAITH?
A Statement of Faith is the written declaration of the church’s positions on essential matters that pertain to the exercise of our Christian faith. The following statements comprise Reliance Church’s Statement of Faith:
• We believe the only true basis of Christian fellowship is Christ’s agape love, which is greater than any differences we possess, and without which, we have no right to claim ourselves Christians.
• We believe worship of God should be spiritual. Therefore, we remain flexible and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct our worship.
• We believe worship of God should be intelligent. Therefore, our services are designed with great emphasis upon the teaching of the Word of God that He might instruct us how He should be worshipped.
• We believe worship of God should be fruitful. Therefore, we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have been truly worshipping Him.
• We believe in all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity.
• We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, hence we hold that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the inspired, infallible Word of God.
• We believe that God the Father is the personal, transcendent, and sovereign Creator of all things.
• We believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, provided for the atonement of our sins by His vicarious death on the Cross, was bodily resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit, ascended back to the right hand of God the Father, and ever lives to make intercession for us.
• After Jesus ascended to Heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit on the believers in Jerusalem, enabling them to fulfill His command to preach the Gospel to the entire world, an obligation shared by all believers today.
• We believe that all people are, by nature, separated from God and responsible for their own sin, but that salvation, redemption, and forgiveness are freely offered to all by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When a person repents of sin and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, trusting Him to save, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit, all his or her sins are forgiven, and he or she becomes a child of God, destined to spend eternity with the Lord.
• We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Scriptures, and that they are valid for today if they are exercised within the Scriptural guidelines. We as believers are to desire the best gifts, seeking to exercise them in love that the whole Body of Christ might be edified. We believe that love is more important than the most spectacular gifts, and without this love, all exercise of spiritual gifts is worthless.
• We believe that church government should be simplistic rather than a complex bureaucracy. We depend on the Holy Spirit to lead, rather than on fleshly promotion.
• We await the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, and we believe that the second coming of Christ with His saints to rule on the earth will be personal, pre-millennial, and visible. This motivates us to holy living, heartfelt worship, committed service, diligent study of God’s Word, regular fellowship, and participation in adult baptism by immersion and Holy Spirit Communion.
• We seek to teach the Word of God in such a way that its message can be applied to an individual’s life, leading that person to greater maturity in Christ.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
The greatest privilege a Christian has is the privilege of prayer. Prayer is not only a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of every believer. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The simple definition of prayer is talking to God, letting our concerns and requests be made known to Him, and listening for His response. When we pray, we admit our need for God and our total dependence on Him. It is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that we have access to God (1Timothy 2:5). We approach God in Jesus’ name, not our own. Prayer is not intended to be a means of trying to get from God what we want, but rather, a means by which we enable God to give us what He wants. Regarding prayer, Billy Graham said, “Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us; rather it pulls us up to Him.”
We pray because God commands it (2 Chronicles 7:14; Luke 18:1). Through prayer, we receive (James 4:2), we experience fullness of joy (John 16:24), and we find help in times of trouble. Prayer is the cure for worry (Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7) and prayer also helps us to resist temptation (Matthew 26:41).
WHEN ARE WE TO PRAY?
The Bible commands us to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Apostle Paul exhorted believers to pray “always with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).
TYPES OF PRAYER PRAISE AND ADORATION
Through praise and adoration, we acknowledge God’s goodness. When we pray, we enter God’s presence (Matthew 6:9). As we reverence the Lord by communing with Him in prayer, our relationship with Him becomes more intimate and our love more tender.
CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE
Confession and repentance are prerequisites for approaching God. The Bible assures us of forgiveness if we confess our sins to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
It’s always healthy to remember what God has done for us, and to give Him thanks for it. We’re to thank Him during the good times, as well as the bad times, “giving thanks always for all things…” (Ephesians 5:20). We’re also to make our requests to God “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).
As believers, we are to pray for our own needs, seeking God’s help in our daily affairs. We must never think that our requests are too insignificant or too overwhelming to bring before the Lord. As Christians, we are to prayer about everything, confident that God hears us, cares about us, and acts on our behalf.
Intercession means to pray on the behalf of others (1Timothy 2:1). We’re instructed in Scripture to pray for our family, friends, Christian leaders, country, and whatever else God lays on our hearts.
WHAT IF I DON’T PRAY?
Neglecting to pray is a sin. David said, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). D.L. Moody summarized the necessity of prayer with this observation, “Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”
Baptism Of The Holy Spirit
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you . . . – Jesus, Son of God
WHAT IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when the Spirit of God comes upon a believer. The Holy Spirit fills the believer’s mind with a genuine understanding of truth, takes possession of the believer’s abilities, and imparts gifts that qualify the believer for service in the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit also speaks to the hearts of unbelievers, showing them their need for salvation (John 16:7–11). When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit dwells inside him or her (John 14:15–17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:13). But believers also need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to equip them for good works (Acts 1:5–8).
IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR EVERYONE?
To do God’s work, we need God’s power. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and who are children of God through Him (Act 2:38–39).
WHY WE NEED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to empower believers for service, witness, spiritual warfare, and boldness in their testimonies (Acts 1:8; 4:19–20, 29–31; 6:8–10; 1 Corinthians 2:4). Jesus commanded the disciples not to begin the work to which He called them until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:48–49; Acts 1:4, 8). When the apostles met other believers in Christ, they at once asked whether the believers had received the Holy Spirit. If not, they made sure they received Him (Acts 8:14–16; 19:1–5). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity in every Christian’s life for the service to which God has called us.
HOW TO RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). God fulfills His promises in a variety of ways, and no two human beings are alike in how they receive spiritual things. The New Testament tells us that some believers received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment of their conversion, such as Cornelius and his family (Acts 10). Others, such as the believers in Ephesus, received it at a later time (Acts 19:1–5). We should never limit God by our own expectations. He is sovereign and will work in whatever way He chooses.
WHAT IS COMMUNION?
Communion, often called “The Lord’s Supper,” is a memorial in which Christians identify with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20). It’s also a time for believers to remember the Lord’s broken body and His shed blood for all people (Luke 22:19–20).
INSTITUTION OF COMMUNION
Jesus Christ instituted Communion on the eve of His death when He ate the Passover meal with His disciples (Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–25).
MEANING AND SYMBOLISM OF COMMUNION
Bread and wine were originally served for the Lord’s Supper. Today, many churches, including ours, use crackers and grape juice. Either way, the ceremony is symbolic; The bread (or cracker) symbolizes Christ’s body, which was beaten and broken for us as He died for the sins of humanity. The cup of wine (or grape juice) symbolizes His blood, which was shed for us as He paid for our sins (John 10:17–18; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:8–9).
ESSENTIALS FOR OBSERVING COMMUNION
Anyone who participates in the Lord’s Supper must first be a believer. Jesus commanded His disciples to observe Communion (Matthew 26:26); therefore, a person must have placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for salvation before taking part in Communion. In addition to being believers, we must prepare our hearts to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Paul instructed believers not to “eat this bread or drink this cup in an unworthy manner..” (1 Corinthians 11:27). Finally, we must examine our lives for any un-confessed sin. Paul reminds us, “Let a man examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28) to avoid bringing judgment upon ourselves. As we become right with God through confessing our sins (1 John 1:9), we may then participate in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
PAST SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look back, remembering the Lord’s death on the cross. His death was more than just an atoning death—it was a substitutional death. Christ died in our place so that we might live. He took our sins upon Himself so that we could receive His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
PRESENT SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look within, considering our lives in light of our profession of faith. As we enter into Communion, we are to thank Him for our salvation and the privilege of being His child.
FUTURE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look ahead toward the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul said we’re to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord’s Supper foreshadows the great marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). Today, we stand between the two most important events in human history: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. When we observe The Lord’s Supper as Christians, we become connected to both.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
The Bible has a lot to say about Christians and their money. In fact, the Bible contains more than 2,000 verses on the subject. Time and again, the Bible associates our money with our commitment and relationship to the Lord. WHAT IS GIVING? The word give has been defined as “to make a present of.” One of the many ways we can give to others is to give financially. Through giving, the early church helped one another and invested in God’s work.
GIVING IS AN ACT OF WORSHIP
Giving is a spiritual sacrifice and an expression of love and gratitude, because everything we have comes from God (1 Chronicles 29:14). Some say, “I can’t afford to give!” In reality, we can’t afford not to give. David said that he would not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). No matter what we give to God, what is left will always sustain us better than if we hadn’t given at all.
GIVING IS A TEST OF OUR FAITHFULNESS
Giving reveals our value system. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). God does not ask us to give because He needs our resources. Rather, He challenges us to make Him the focus of our lives instead of our money and possessions.
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR GIVING
Although the Apostle Paul never overemphasized the subject of giving, he never neglected the importance of it, either. In 1 Corinthians 16:1–2, we find specific guidelines for giving: it is to be a universal practice for believers (v. 1); it is to be done weekly (v. 2); it is a personal act (v. 2); and it is something we should be prepared to do (v. 2). As we give, God will meet our needs and prosper us (2 Corinthians 9:6–10).
MOTIVES FOR GIVING
God promises to bless us if we have the right attitude toward giving (Luke 6:38; Proverbs 3:9–10). However, some people give with the wrong motives. They may give in an attempt to manipulate God, to relieve guilt, to increase self-worth, to achieve recognition, to obtain power, or to gain tax advantages. However, the Bible instructs us to “let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The motives that God desires for our giving are to: express our love to Him, please Him, lay up treasures in heaven, and help reach the world for Jesus Christ.
THE PRINCIPLE FOR STEWARDSHIP
A steward oversees the affairs and property of another person. Stewardship implies that everything we have belongs to God. Being a good steward means to manage our resources well and use them to glorify God.
THE PRINCIPLE OF TITHING
Old Testament law required God’s people to give 10 percent of their income, which could include flocks, herds, or crops. This 10 percent was known as a tithe. In addition to the tithe, God’s people were required to give offerings to the Lord for the care of the temple and the salaries of the priests. In the days of Israel, tithing was not voluntary giving. It was demanded as a form of taxation. Is tithing for today? Dr. J. B. Gabrell made this observation: “It is unthinkable from the standpoint of the cross that anyone would give less under grace than the Jews gave under law.” God makes an incredible promise to those who give to His work. He will “open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10–11).
The Holy Spirit
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the godhead. When Jesus ascended to the Father, He promised His disciples “another Helper,” the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17). In Greek, the word another means, “another of the same kind.” Jesus promised a supernatural Helper just like Him.
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PREEXISTENCE
The word for God is elohim, which indicates three or more (referring to the Trinity). The Holy Spirit was active at the time of creation (Genesis 1:1–2). When God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), He was addressing the other two Persons of the godhead.
THE PERSON AND NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Some have wrongly thought of the Holy Spirit as more of an “it” than a “He,” but Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” (John 26:13). The Holy Spirit has distinct functions in the lives of believers and the church (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 2:10–12; Acts 5:3–4). In the original Greek, the Holy Spirit is called the paraclete, which literally means, “One called alongside to help.”
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE WORLD
In John 16, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (vv. 8–9) and convinces the world of righteousness and judgment (vv. 10–11). The Holy Spirit also restrains the sweeping spread of evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Before we were Christians, the Holy Spirit spoke to our hearts, showing us our need for salvation. He drew us to Christ and convicted us of sin (John 15:26).
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER
Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit regenerates us (Titus 3:4–7; John 3:5; 6:63); indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19); seals us (Ephesians 1:13–14); guides us (John 16:13; Romans 8:14); teaches us (John 14:26); helps us to pray (Romans 8:26–27); and empowers us (Acts 1:8).
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As believers, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon us. This is known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . . ” (Acts 1:8). When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, He fills his or her mind with a genuine understanding of truth, takes possession of the believer’s abilities, and imparts gifts that qualify him or her for service in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4–10). The Holy Spirit imparts power for service and boldness in testimony and service (Acts 4:29, 31).
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The word, “Dynamite” is a derivative of the word used in the Bible to describe the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:08) In other words, the power of the Holly Spirit is dynamite power. This power is so important, that the Lord Jesus directed His Disciples to wait for it before they began their ministries. (Acts 1:04)
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT HE IS?
Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think of Christ? Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:42). A person’s answer to that question can determine his or her eternal destiny.
The Apostle John declares Jesus’ preexistence in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus says He is “the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 1:8). Jesus reigns eternally (Hebrews 1:8), and He exists before all things (Colossians 1:17).
Jesus did not become God—He has always been God (John 5:18), and is the second Person of the Trinity. (Also see: “What We Believe: The Trinity.”) Referring to His deity, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58). The preexistence of Jesus Christ and the deity of Jesus Christ are inseparable. It is impossible to accept one and deny the other.
The word incarnation means “in flesh.” It denotes the act in which the Son of God took to Himself the nature of humanity through the Virgin Birth (Matthew 1:23). John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
For Jesus to represent sinful humanity, He had to become a man. His Virgin Birth, which was essential for Him to be sinless, was prophesied long before it occurred (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:18, 23; Luke 1:34–35; and Galatians 4:4). Jesus experienced everything in life that we do: pain, suffering, thirst, hunger, sorrow, anger, and so on. However, Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
The penalty for our sins is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus died in our place and paid our penalty (Matthew 20:28; John 10:17–18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus’ death on the cross laid the foundation for a righteous God to pardon guilty and sinful people without compromising His righteousness in any way.
Jesus’ resurrection assures us of our future resurrection. Because of His victory over death, we have victory as well. Without the resurrection, there would be no gospel message. His resurrection has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt (Matthew 28:5–8; Luke 24:39; John 20:27–28). The empty tomb, the shape of His linen wrappings, and His appearances to many after His crucifixion were just a few of the credible evidences of His resurrection.
JESUS’ ASCENSION AND EXALTATION
After His resurrection, Jesus visibly departed from His disciples into heaven (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). His ascension and exaltation were necessary to complete the redemptive work of God. His work was not complete when He rose from the dead (Mark 16:19; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:20–21; Hebrews 1:3).
JESUS’ PERSONAL PRAYER
Jesus Christ will return to this earth and receive His church, the body of Christ, to Himself (John 14:1–4; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).
WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
The Bible is a book of history, science, poetry, and human behavior. Most importantly, it is a love story that reveals the heart of God through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE
The 66 books of the Bible were written over a period of 1,500 years by more than 40 authors in three languages on three continents. Rather than contradicting one another, the writers maintained complete historical, moral, prophetical, and theological accuracy. They wrote with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation.
THE BIBLE WAS INSPIRED BY GOD
The Bible was written by men (2 Peter 1:20–21) under the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16). God exerted His supernatural influence on the writers of the Bible. In other words, God was the author and men were His writing instruments. There are many proofs of this truth, but perhaps the greatest proof is the accuracy of fulfilled Biblical prophecy.
THE BIBLE IS TO BE READ AND STUDIED
Studying the Bible is essential for Christians. The Bible instructs us to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . .” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). The systematic preaching of the Bible is impossible without the systematic study of the Bible. We are not to skim a few verses in our daily Bible reading, nor are we to study a passage only when we’re about to share it. We need to immerse ourselves daily in God’s Word, like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).
THE BIBLE TEACHES US
The Bible is God’s instruction manual for life. Our lives reflect Jesus Christ as we obey His Word. The Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
THE BIBLE GIVES US HOPE
The Bible was “written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). We find hope through learning about God, His ways, and His plans for our lives and then through experiencing the fruit that comes through obeying the Scriptures. When we discover the promises of God, we recognize there is more to life than merely existing. We discover there is life beyond this life. Through the Bible, we obtain hope, encouragement, comfort, strength, wisdom, and much more. Best of all, we gain an understanding of how to know God personally and how to live for Him righteously.
THE BIBLE GIVES DIRECTION
Just as a flashlight enables us to find our way through the dark, the Bible helps us to see clearly and avoid stumbling spiritually. The psalmist described God’s Word as “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). As we allow the Bible to direct our lives, we’ll keep from stumbling and falling. If you want to be wise, read the Bible. If you want to be safe, believe the Bible. If you want to be right, obey the Bible.
THE BIBLE AND THE TRINITY
The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:11; 44:6; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). At the same time, the Bible plainly indicates a plurality within God’s nature, consisting of three eternal and coequal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each the same in basic nature, but distinct in existence. Although the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is a factual conclusion, reached by comparing and combining relevant scriptural truths. “We are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]” (1 Corinthians 2:13 AMPLIFIED).
ONE OF THE BIBLE’S GREAT MYSTERIES
The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Bible that cannot be fathomed by the finite mind. If God were small enough to figure out, He wouldn’t be big enough to worship. The Bible tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8–9). Though we will never fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity, there is no reasonable doubt that the Bible clearly teaches its truth.
THE FATHER IS GOD
The Bible teaches that God is all-knowing (Job 37:16; Romans 11:33); all-powerful (Genesis 1:1–3; Job 42:2); all-present (Psalm 139:7–12); eternal (Exodus 3:4; Revelation 1:8); unchangeable (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17); holy (Isaiah 57:15; 1 Peter 1:15–16); righteous and just (Psalm 116:5); merciful and gracious (Psalm 103:8); and able to forgive sin (Exodus 34:6–7; Mark 2:7). The Bible ascribes these characteristics to God alone.
THE SON, JESUS CHRIST, IS GOD
The Bible ascribes the same attributes of God to His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21–23; 28:18; Luke 5:20–24; John 1:1, 14; 8:58; 16:30; 17:5; Hebrews 13:8). Jesus Christ is worshiped (Matthew 14:31–33; 28:9; Hebrews 1:6); He is called God (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:21–23; John 1:1,14; 20:28); and He can forgive sins (Luke 5:20–24; John 10:30–33). The Bible ascribes these attributes to God alone. (Also see: “What We Believe: Jesus Christ”)
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD
The activities and characteristics of God are attributed to the Holy Spirit (Psalm 139:7–10; Luke 1:35; 11:13; John 14:26; Hebrews 9:14). The Holy Spirit is a person (John 16:13–15; Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10–13; 12:11); He is Creator (Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4); and He is called God (Acts 5:1–11). (See also: “What We Believe: The Holy Spirit”)
A RATIONAL, BIBLICAL CONCLUSION
For the above reasons and more, we are left with no other rational, biblical conclusion than to believe that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit exist as a Holy Trinity: the God of the Bible. There is no question of the existence of the Trinity. The only question is one of belief. We should want to know God, not as whom we think He should be, but simply as whom the Bible reveals Him to be.
WHAT IS WATER BAPTISM?
Water baptism is not a personal choice, but a command for believers. Jesus established water baptism as an ordinance when He gave the great Commission (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). Water baptism is a public, outward testimony that indicates a personal, inward faith. It gives evidence of the inner change that has already occurred in the believer’s life when he or she was “born again” through faith in Jesus Christ. (Also see: “What We Believe: Salvation.”) Baptism identifies the believer with the message of the gospel, the Person of Jesus Christ, and other believers. It associates the believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and signifies the believer’s death to the old life and his or her resurrection as a new creation in Christ (Romans 6:1-8; Colossians 2:12).
WHY WE ARE TO BE BAPTIZED?
We are to be baptized because Jesus Christ commanded it (Matthew 28:19), and because we love the Lord. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Throughout the book of Acts, we read how the early church gave importance to water baptism (see 2:41; 8:12, 38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33: 19:3-5).
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
All born-again believers in Jesus Christ should be baptized (see Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12, 36-38; 16:31-33; 18:8).
ARE INFANTS AND CHILDREN TO BE BAPTIZED?
After Peter spoke at Pentecost, “those who gladly received his word were baptized” (acts 2:41). In the New Testament, every instance in which a person was baptized and his or her identity was given, that person was an adult. In light of Scripture, infant baptism must be ruled out, because infants cannot receive the Word of God and understand it. However, infants are to be dedicated to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:26-28). Children may be baptized if they receive and understand God’s Word. (Also see: “What We Believe: Child Dedication.”)
IN WHOSE NAME ARE WE TO BE BAPTIZED?
As part of the Great Commission, Jesus instructed the disciples to baptize “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
IS WATER BAPTISM NECESSARY FOR SALVATION?
The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and according to God’s mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). The thief on the cross next to Jesus had no time to be baptized; yet Jesus promised that he would be with Him in Paradise that day (Luke 23:43). The Bible contains no record of Jesus baptizing anyone-a strange omission if baptism was essential to salvation. The Apostle Paul declared, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” (1 Corinthians 1:17). This clearly indicated that salvation is a response of faith to the gospel-not the act of baptism. Therefore, water baptism is not an act that leads to salvation but and act of obedience that stems from salvation.
THE VALUE OF CHURCH
Involvement in a local church is essential in order to walk with God and grow spiritually. The Bible instructs us to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . . ” (Hebrews 10:24–25).
WHAT IS CHURCH?
The church is not a building, but an assembly of people who make up the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24; Romans 16:5). The universal church is not limited to any denomination. Rather, it consists of genuine Christian believers of all ages, both on earth and in heaven.
IS IT NECESSARY TO JOIN A LOCAL CHURCH?
Although we are all members of the universal church in the body of Christ, it’s very important for a Christian to identify with a body of believers in a local church. We need healthy relationships with one-another in order to develop fully as Christians (1 Corinthians 12:4–27). We are also disciples who are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). In order to accomplish this, we must spend time regularly with other believers.
WHAT MAKES A CHURCH EFFECTIVE?
When a body of believers surrenders to the Lordship of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to understand and obey the Word of God, then and only then, will they be an effective church. Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Only a spirit-filled church can be an effective church. (Also see: “What We Believe: The Holy Spirit” and “What We Believe: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”)
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH?
The purpose of the church is threefold: To know God through salvation; to grow in God through sanctification; and to be used of God through service. The Bible exhorts Christians to live, “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12).
WHAT IS THE PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH?
There are four essential functions that a church should practice: To be a learning church; to be a loving and united church; to be a worshiping church; and to be a praying church. We find the trademarks of a healthy church in the book of Acts: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer” (Acts 2:42).
WHAT ARE THE ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH?
Ordinances of the church are outward rites or symbolic observances commanded by Jesus, which set forth essential Christian truths. We observe the ordinances of water baptism and Communion. (Also see: “What We Believe: Water Baptism,” and “What We Believe: Communion.”)
WHO IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH?
The Bible says that the head of the church is Jesus Christ Himself (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23). Jesus told His disciples, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
God created humanity with a capacity to know, love, and worship Him. Worship is that place where the heart of God and the heart of His child meet. Oswald Chambers said, “Worship is giving God the best He has given you.” Worship carries the idea of showing reverence to God. It’s an active, adoring response whereby we declare His worth, or “worth-ship”. To worship means to bow down and pay homage to God: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:6).
WHO DO WE WORSHIP?
Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10). People are not worthy of worship, and neither are the idols which people make. God alone is deserving of our worship.
WHY DO WE WORSHIP?
We worship not to get something for ourselves, but because God is the Lord and is worthy of our worship (Psalm 45:11). The Bible declares, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11). We worship God because of the splendor of His being. God always has sought after worshipers, and continues to do so. He doesn’t need our worship, but He desires it—not for His benefit, but for ours.
HOW DO WE WORSHIP?
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worshiping in spirit means giving God the homage of an enlightened mind and an affectionate heart. Worshiping in truth is to worship God according to the truth He has revealed in His Word, the Bible.
FORMS OF WORSHIP
Worship is not a “spectator sport” where we sit and watch others. Worship requires participation. We worship the Lord through our words of praise and exaltation of God; by giving thanks to God in all things; by blessing His name through living a godly life; and by sharing His love and with others. In Short, we worship God with our entire life. Worship is a sacrifice. The Apostle Paul instructed believers, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV). We can make every day a worship experience when we yield ourselves to the Lord. God has created each of us with a mind, heart, and spirit—and wants us to use them for His glory. True worship is not lip service, but life service. Worship can be demonstrated in every area of our lives, every day of our lives.
EXPRESSIONS OF WORSHIP
We express our worship as we read the Bible (Psalm 119), pray, give tithes and offerings, and offer praise through music. But the greatest demonstration of worship is through the lives we live.
RESULTS OF WORSHIP
True worship always magnifies God and our outlook toward Him. As God is magnified, everything else becomes insignificant. We begin to see beyond our circumstances and limitations, our fears diminish, and our spirits become refreshed.
SO WHY SHOULD WE WORSHIP GOD?
1. He deserves it Revelations 4:10 – “You are worthy O lord to receive glory honor and power for you created all things and by Your will they exist and were created”
2. He desires it John 4:23-24 – the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”
3. He designed us for it 1Peter 2:9 – “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
4. He demands it Isaiah 43:21 – “This people I have formed for myself. They shall declare my praise”