Delcaration of Faith – Part 2
With regard to Initial Salvation:
“Now after John had been handed over, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the good news.'” Mark 1:14-15
I DECLARE that salvation consists in justification before God, a single exchange made on the cross, in which our sin is laid upon Christ, who paid its penalty, and His righteousness is imputed to us. By this exchange alone are sins pardoned and sinners accepted as righteous in God’s sight.
I declare that justification is an objective work of Christ that is wholly outside us and is itself neither experienced nor perceived by the convert. It has everything to do with Christ’s righteousness being imputed to believers, and nothing whatsoever to do with any righteousness infused into or wrought in the believer himself, and this understanding of justification is an essential element of saving faith.
I declare that because of the righteousness of God, the believer is freed from the curse which falls upon all who fail to do the righteous requirements of God’s law.
I declare that the believer’s imputed righteousness provides reconciliation between him and God, so that he is no longer under wrath, but has peace and fellowship with Him.
I declare that salvation comes wholly by God’s grace and is received through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, and that no works of man can merit or aid it.
I declare that God invites all to repent and believe, and that it is the duty of everyone to repent and believe Him.
I declare that God invites all people to salvation through the proclamation of the gospel, and proposes mercy and grace to every man if he will ask for it in faith and repentance, though only those enabled by the Holy Spirit do ask.
I declare that God effectually calls His elect to salvation, ensuring by His providence that they come under the hearing of the word of God, which is the seed of regeneration.
I declare that through knowledge of God’s laws, and of their failure to do them, the Holy Spirit brings the elect under conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, making them know that they are dead in their sins.
I declare that in His own time, the Holy Spirit regenerates, or quickens, the elect, so that he is born again, a new creation; thus the Spirit conquers the sinner for the glory of God.
I declare that the regenerate man is dead to sin and has a new heart now enabled, indeed inclined, to choose God.
I declare that the Spirit permanently indwells a man from the moment of regeneration, and that it is the Spirit to whom the good works of his life are to be ascribed.
I declare that the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence is the seal and guarantee of the regenerate man’s salvation.
I declare that the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is an anointing whereby a man knows that he is chosen by God and is enabled to believe all that God has revealed in the Bible.
I declare that the anointing of the Holy Spirit has to do with the development of holiness and understanding in the faith for all believers from the first moment of salvation, and is not connected with miraculous or ecstatic manifestations, nor is it bestowed upon only some believers.
I declare that when the Holy Spirit regenerates a man, he freely, naturally, and inevitably responds through the inseparable and saving graces of faith and repentance.
I declare that faith is a saving grace whereby a sinner flees to and unites himself with Jesus Christ alone for salvation, as He is presented in the word of God.
I declare that faith consists in agreement with God concerning sin and righteousness and judgment, and as such necessarily involves belief in the testimony of the word of God about Christ, most importantly, His deity, humanity, incarnation, righteousness, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection; also necessary are belief in God’s existence and His role as Creator, only Savior, and righteous Judge, in the seriousness of one’s own sin, and in the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life.
I declare that faith necessarily involves a deliberate and conscious trust in Jesus Christ for the guidance and direction of one’s life.
I declare that faith necessarily involves repentance, that saving grace whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin and a recognition of the mercy of God in Christ, has grief and hatred for his sin and therefore turns from it to God as Lord, fully pursuing new obedience.
I declare that those who respond to God in faith and repentance, thereby partake of the body and blood of Christ–that is, His one-time sacrifice on the Cross–and receive complete forgiveness on the basis that the penalty for their sin has been fully paid.
I declare that upon salvation, the believer becomes a slave of God and a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and is set apart as holy (i.e., sanctified) for the good works which God has prepared for him to do, and for eternal life.
I declare that because all believers have been set apart as holy, they are properly called saints, which in Greek literally means, “holy ones.”
I declare that upon salvation, the believer is adopted as a son of God, becoming a co-heir with Christ, having the hope and promise of His inheritance, which is eternal life.
I declare that Christ bestows eternal life on all believers upon their salvation, and that it is a gift which cannot be renounced or taken away; otherwise it would not be eternal.
I declare that eternal life consists in the personal knowledge of God and His truth, and in unending fellowship with Him, both in this life and forever afterward.
I declare that upon salvation, all believers are united to Christ and are thus properly said to be in Christ.
I declare that the healing and abundant life associated with salvation are spiritual, consisting in the removal of sin and condemnation, and in the life which the Spirit gives, which frees one from being dead in sin.
I declare that believers before Christ’s incarnation were justified by grace through faith and partook of Christ’s sacrifice, just as now; only their faith did not necessarily entail knowledge of Jesus Christ, yet it consisted in the imputed righteousness of God and faith in His promise to provide salvation for His people.
I declare that those who die unborn or in infancy, or who by reason of handicap never attain to moral consciousness, are elected by the Father, redeemed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and are justified by God’s grace in the same manner as all God’s people.
I declare that since Christ’s incarnation, no reasoning adult has ever been saved without conscious knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ, or without true repentance.
With regard to Continuing Salvation:
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
I DECLARE that the Bible speaks of a sanctification which continues throughout the believer’s life, whereby the Holy Spirit moves him toward moral and spiritual maturity.
I declare that this sanctification is a moral and not a mystical or mental process, one of being made holy, with one’s actions becoming more and more reflective of the obedient character and mindset of Christ.
I declare that sanctification manifests itself not only in obedience but in that obedience being motivated by love for God.
I declare that sanctification only rarely manifests itself in a change of the basic personality or in release from troubling physical or psychological conditions.
I declare that obedience consists not in the following of human traditions and cultural norms but in following the instruction of God’s law.
I declare that legalism consists, firstly, in the attempt to merit or repay one’s salvation through obedience to the law.
I declare that legalism consists, secondly, in pressing human regulations and one’s personal convictions by the Spirit upon other believers: extending biblical norms beyond what God has revealed, infusing cultural norms with moral and spiritual significance, elevating traditions to normative status, and accepting fellow believers on the basis of similarity and human conformity.
I declare that legalism has as its primary results, shame, feelings of guilt, fear, denial, immaturity, conflict, pride, self-righteousness, lack of love, misunderstanding of the gospel, and spiritual and emotional slavery.
I declare that the Spirit accomplishes His work of sanctification through the purifying power of the Bible, using people, circumstances, and spiritual disciplines as the channels through which He brings the believer into the knowledge and application of God’s word.
I declare that the believer, while saved from the penalty of sin, nevertheless struggles with a sinful nature, which wars against the Spirit’s sanctifying work in his life.
I declare that the believer’s death to sin means freedom from bondage to its power; the believer now has a Spirit-indwelt new nature enabled and inclined to do good, but which exists alongside the sinful, or fleshly, fallen nature until death.
I declare that all believers are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; they will persevere and continue to grow in grace, and can never lose or relinquish their forgiveness.
I declare that no believer is completely sanctified in this life, but continues to struggle with sin.
I declare that believers await the culmination of their salvation, the revelation and return of Jesus Christ, when they will be glorified.
I declare that believers’ glorification will consist in complete Christlikeness when they see Him as He is, and the refashioning of their bodies into incorruptible ones.
I declare that the glorified believer will be forever freed from death and from the presence and effects of sin.
With regard to the Christian Life:
“Religion pure and uncorrupted before God, even the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep one’s self unstained from the world.” James 1:27
I DECLARE that the purpose of the Christian life is to delight in glorifying God.
I declare that one who is not manifestly glad in God does not glorify God; he cannot make God look glorious if knowing and serving this God gives no gladness to his soul.
I declare that delight in the glory of God includes hatred for sin, despising the wicked, fear of displeasing God, hope in God’s promises, contentment in God’s fellowship, desire for the final revelation of God’s Son, exultation in the redemption He accomplished, grief and contrition for failures of love, gratitude for undeserved benefits, zeal for God’s purposes, and hunger for God’s righteousness.
I declare that it is the believer’s duty toward God that all his emotions respond properly to his reality and so reflect His glory.
I declare that the pattern of a believer’s life is one of positive righteousness and ethical accountability.
I declare that the believer may yet fall into sin, incur God’s judgment on himself, and feel the Spirit convicting him of the need for repentance; thus the believer is simultaneously sinner and saint.
I declare that the believer may be restored from sin to more joyful relations with God through confession and renewed repentance.
I declare that confession means not vocal proclamation of each specific instance of a sin, but sincerely expressed assent to what sin has been committed and what God’s view toward sin is.
I declare that a believer’s accountability to God increases in strictness on the basis of his doctrinal knowledge and influence on others.
I declare that it is the believer’s task to seek to glorify God by discovering and doing His will.
I declare that the believer is wise to seek not only God’s will generally, but most especially God’s will for his own individual life, as God is very particular about who does what work in His kingdom.
I declare that God chooses to conceal much of His will within Himself, but that He makes known that which is necessary for believers to obey Him.
I declare that God’s will is known not intuitively, but by careful, prayerful study of the Scriptures, and the discovery of its application to the believer’s individual life through the correct use of the mind and the guiding illumination of the Holy Spirit.
I declare that God’s will and God’s work cannot often be recognized by observation of visible results, human gratitude and affirmation, or the apparent opening and closing of avenues of opportunity. Most of God’s most obedient workers are almost entirely anonymous.
I declare that availability to God is not a matter of presumptuous initiative, but of waiting on God to show where that individual believer is best equipped to function in the carrying out of God’s work.
I declare that a believer’s separation from the world and accountability to the church require dissociation from organizations whose teachings are out of harmony with the message of Christ and the essential teachings of the Bible, as well as any organization which requires oaths of secrecy as to its teachings, beliefs, and practices.
I declare that the life of a believer is one of faith rather than sight.
I declare that a believer has given up all rights of self-determination and self-reliance in the course of his life, and is totally dependent on God for guidance and direction.
I declare that faith involves self-denial, a willingness to suffer all manner of things and to forego all manner of pleasures for the sake of God’s glory.
I declare that faith involves an assurance that God will fulfill His promise to provide for all the believer’s needs.
I declare that faith involves a recognition that every good thing in the believer’s life is a gracious and undeserved gift from God.
I declare that faith involves the recognition that God works through small things as well as large ones, and accomplishes great things through small tasks.
I declare that faith recognizes that God’s will is not necessarily the health, prosperity, and success of the believer, but rejoices with Him in the infirmities He uses to bring about His glory and conform us to the image of Christ.
I declare that the true believer may yet have doubts as to his salvation as a result of sin, affliction, lack of doctrinal knowledge, or simply the nature of fallen humans to doubt.
I declare that the believer’s doubts may be put away through observing the work of the Spirit indwelling him, who provides evidence of the believer’s calling, and through knowing that God is faithful to complete the work He has begun.
With regard to Christian Disciplines:
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little benefit, but godliness is beneficial for all things, because it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
I DECLARE that the biblically balanced Christian has a full head and a full heart, radiating both intellectual light and fervent heat.
I declare that Christian disciplines are not acts done to gain God’s favor and acceptance, but are channels through which the Spirit accomplishes sanctification.
I declare that Christian discipline is not burdensome, but frees the believer to understand and obey the Bible and to develop the character of Christ.
I declare that the discipline most directly indispensable to the believer’s internalization of God’s word is hearing, reading, and study of the Bible.
I declare that it is the obligation of the believer to study the whole Bible, with the aim of determining the author’s meaning and proper application of it to the reader’s life.
I declare that memorization of biblical passages greatly enhances one’s growth in the knowledge and application of the Bible.
I declare that Christian meditation consists only in the absorption of the Bible by the whole mind with the goal of understanding and application.
I declare that continual, deliberate learning characterizes the wise and obedient Christian.
I declare that education in all areas of knowledge is beneficial to the practice of life.
I declare that the ultimate purpose of education is to know God and His truth, and out of that knowledge to love God and follow Him.
I declare that believers should educate themselves using reliable sources of information and not sources based on popular or amateuristic ideas, especially with regard to the Bible and the physical and social sciences.
I declare that the discipline of service should be motivated by obedience, gratitude, gladness, humility, love, and most of all by the glory of God.
I declare that service in obedience to God involves not only occasional acts of heroism and great sacrifice, but more often the daily mundane, ordinary, and trivial work of God’s kingdom.
I declare that it is the duty of all believers to serve actively in church ministries in accordance with their spiritual gifts for the glory of God and the strengthening of the church.
I declare that God may call believers to acts of obedience for which they do not appear to be gifted, but that God will equip them adequately in His own time.
I declare that service often may involve no recognition and no visible indications of results; this is the work which will receive the greatest reward in heaven.
I declare that the time, money, talents, and possessions of the believer are owned by God and entrusted to the believer for responsible management for His glory.
I declare that believers should discipline their use of time through recognition of its shortness and uncertainty, and of their accountability to God for its use.
I declare that believers should give joyfully, regularly, systematically, and sacrificially of their money to support the work of God, especially giving to the ministries from which they themselves receive benefit and instruction.
I declare that a believer’s regular giving should be directed toward his home church.
I declare that believers should also be eager to give when presented with an opportunity to help their brothers and sisters in the faith when they have need.
I declare that believers should give generously not to their friends only, but even present gratuitous gifts to those who take away their goods.
I declare that the tithe is spoken of in the Bible only in the context of the Old Testament sacrificial system, and is unattested in the first centuries of the church.
I declare that the abrogation of the tithe is not so that believers might give less, but that they should demonstrate that all they have belongs to God.
I declare that the amount and frequency of giving is properly determined through the leadership of the Spirit and the believer’s proportional ability to give.
I declare that giving money does not guarantee a greater financial return from God such as a “hundredfold increase,” but that God promises to provide for the needs of the believer in all circumstances.
I declare that giving is itself a grace and blessing from God.
I declare that the believer should seek times of silence and solitude, so as to escape the cares of the world, better set one’s mind on God, and achieve more intimate worship and prayer.
I declare that the discipline of solitude should not shut out those under one’s spiritual care.
I declare that fasting is neither commanded nor expected of believers in the New Testament, nor is it required for successful Christian living or spiritual warfare.
I declare that upon the Spirit’s prompting, a believer may fast in accordance with the biblical example for occasional repentance or guidance.
I declare that fasting done out of obligation or habit, or done without prayer, is nothing more than a cessation from eating.
I declare that continual prayer is the joyful privilege and indispensable obligation of every believer.
I declare that God decrees and uses the prayers of righteous believers for the carrying out of His work.
I declare that in prayer believers should present requests to God for their needs in acknowledgement of their dependence on Him.
I declare that prayer glorifies God when the one praying has the heart and mind in the right mood for talking to God, is sincerely aware of his needs, asks only what God allows, rids himself of all boasting and self-opinionated ideas, and prays with real confidence of success, despite the necessary humbling.
I declare that believers ought to pray in the name of Christ in submission to the will of God.
I declare that believers should follow the example of Solomon, to request wisdom and understanding of God’s will, more than material blessings, and should not pray from selfish motives.
I declare that believers are to seek to expand and proclaim the glory of God by praying for the salvation of others and participating in evangelism.
I declare that the believer’s proclamation of the gospel is God’s appointed means for the conversion of sinners and the growth of the church.
I declare that the Great Commission of Christ was given to the church as the duty and privilege of every believer.
I declare that every believer is to seek constantly, aggressively, and persuasively to set the gospel before sinners by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ, with the recognition that prayer and the speaking of God’s word are the normal means by which God draws unbelievers.
I declare that fellowship is a discipline whereby the believer finds strength, refreshment, encouragement, instruction, and correction through spending time and sharing his life with other believers.
I declare that believers should live out their whole lives in worship of God, as a discipline to be learned and cultivated as an end in itself.
I declare that believers are to worship not only privately, but also corporately with other believers as a church.
I declare that active participation in the church is the obligation of every believer and is prerequisite to growth in the faith.
With regard to the Nature of the Church:
“But in case I am delayed, I am writing so that you might know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15
I DECLARE that God has preserved a people on earth from the time of Abraham, and collected that people into an assembly in the time of Moses, and made them a nation under the old covenant.
I declare that Christ instituted a new covenant, whose assembly consists of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
I declare that the church is the true people of God, the collection of believers in all times and places, united by their common faith.
I declare that the church consists visibly of churches, which are local bodies of believers associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel.
I declare that a church is a true New Testament church to the extent that it (1) centers its worship around the preaching of the whole word of God, (2) observes the two ordinances of Christ, (3) disciples and disciplines its members for growth in the faith, (4) orders its worship and ministry according to the Bible, and (5) recognizes Jesus Christ as the only true head of the church.
I declare that a church need not have visible historical continuity with other true churches to be a true church.
I declare that the church is the body of Christ, meaning that it is the primary means by which Christ’s work is accomplished in the world.
I declare that the members of the church are spiritually related as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as the children of God.
I declare that the New Testament church was instituted at Pentecost through the granting of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling distinguishes the church from the Old Testament assembly.
I declare that the church saw its first growth at the preaching of Peter; thus it was upon Peter (whose name is “rock” in Greek) that Christ first built his church, which has all the apostles and prophets as its foundation and Christ as the cornerstone.
I declare that the purpose of the church is the glorification of God, and its mission is to worship Him as He desires to be worshiped.
I declare that to fulfill its purpose and mission, the church is sent out into the world to proclaim God’s glory to all people and nations, to set forth His law and His gospel aggressively and persuasively, and to disciple new believers to maturity as God adds them to the congregation.
I declare that each local church is an autonomous body, operating under the Lordship of Christ, and that no office or institution has legitimate authority over more than one local church.
I declare that a church should be led through strong pastoral authority, after Christ’s example of servant-hearted leadership and the biblical model of men gifted by God to be great among their people.
I declare that a church should operate under democratic processes, recognizing that each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord in the discovery of God’s will for the operation of the church.
I declare that a church should maximize the freedom of its members to do ministry by minimizing its use of regulatory committees, preferring accountability over authorization.
I declare that churches should maintain wise business practices in all things.
I declare that churches should not allow any buying or selling in the sanctuary or at the main entrance to the sanctuary, but should do so only in an out-of-the-way place designated for that purpose.
I declare that a church should not restrict or deprive a ministry for financial insufficiency, but should give more faithfully or else cooperate with other churches for the carrying out of that ministry.
With regard to the Offices of the Church:
“So as a fellow elder and as a witness of Christ’s sufferings who will share in the glory to be revealed, I urge the elders among you: shepherd the flock of God which is among you by overseeing it not out of necessity but voluntarily, in a godly way–not greedily, but willingly, nor as overlords of your charges. Instead, be patterns for the flock, and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
I DECLARE that Christ, as the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls, has given the church one office of spiritual authority, whose officers the Bible most commonly calls elders, but whom it also names shepherds (pastors) and overseers; of these terms, my denomination prefers the term “pastor.”
I declare that, according to the biblical example, a local church was designed to have at least one and sometimes several pastors; thus it is proper for multiple members of a modern “church staff”–including evangelists and missionaries–to have pastoral duties.
I declare that the main tasks of the pastor are to instruct his members in the whole word of God, and to oversee the well-being of the church and the carrying out of its mission.
I declare that the spiritual authority of a pastor carries with it no legitimate authority in the temporal realm, and does not diminish the individual church member’s accountability to believe and act according to God’s word.
I declare that for the pastor to act in a priestly or mediatorial fashion, or to claim the powers of absolution of sin and the determination of salvation or condemnation–which powers God reserves to Himself–is blasphemy and a denial of Christ’s finished work of atonement.
I declare that traveling ministers, such as evangelists, may have pastoral duties in their home churches, but that authority does not extend to other churches.
I declare that professional ministers are fully deserving of paid support by any church in which they minister, though the minister also has the right to refuse such support.
I declare that pastors who perform their duties well are especially worthy of double honor, and thus are owed a very generous salary from their local church, ideally twice the median income of the membership.
I declare that churches should hold their pastors to the highest standards of faith and conduct.
I declare that church members should lay no serious accusation against their pastor except on the account of multiple eye-witnesses, but that the pastor should suffer public rebuke if found guilty of the accusation.
I declare that for the proper functioning of the church, and in order to relieve the pastor of an abundance of temporal duties and allow him to focus on the ministry of the word of God, the Spirit led the apostles to institute the office of “ministry,” whose officers are commonly called deacons.
I declare that the deacon’s function does not exempt pastors from menial, “unspiritual” tasks, nor is the pastor exempted from the normal obligations of Christian life.
I declare that deacons have no spiritual authority, but are to manage the mundane and temporal matters involved in the carrying out of the church’s mission, and to care for the spiritual well-being of the congregation under the authority of the pastor.
I declare that ministers, both pastors and deacons, are ordinary people with personalities, interests, struggles, responsibilities, and temptations just as the laity.
I declare that no one should assume a ministry position of themselves, but that God calls specific individuals to their respective ministries, in accordance with His will for that person and that church at that time.
I declare that the call to a ministry can be recognized through the internal conviction of the Holy Spirit with regard to one’s qualifications for office, as well as one’s being equipped for that ministry and being brought to opportunity and a point of decision through God’s providence.
I declare that God will not call to ministry someone who is unqualified, and that He will equip whomever He calls.
I declare that the Bible restricts the office of pastor to men only, and to those who have experience in the faith.
I declare that to qualify as pastor, a candidate must be wise, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, meek, peaceable and not quick-tempered, marked by venerable seriousness, and free from the love of money; he must also have a reputation outside the church as a man of integrity, and be free from the use of addictive or judgment-inhibiting substances.
I declare that to qualify as pastor, a married candidate must be joined to and faithful to one wife throughout her lifetime, and his children must be believers who are dignified and under control.
I declare that a pastor who does not hold fast to the Bible as God’s word, disqualifies himself for his ministry.
I declare that deacons must be Spirit-filled, wise, of good reputation, dignified, honest, free from the love of money, and marked by a clear conscience; like pastors, they must be free from the use of addictive or judgment-inhibiting substances.
I declare that deacons must be monogamous throughout their lives and be responsible managers of their children and family.
I declare that deacons should undergo a period of testing before their position is secured; candidates who are beyond reproach should be approved as deacons.
I declare that women who serve as deacons should also be dignified and self-controlled, especially faithful, and free of all gossip.
I declare that a church which appoints or retains a pastor or deacon who is unqualified for the office shares guilt for the sin of the appointment.
I declare that the position of pastor or deacon is a privileged service of God and is not the right of the one holding the office.
I declare that ordination is the solemn and prayerful act of laying hands on new pastors or deacons, performed by the congregation of the church–by themselves or in their presence by their officers–in order to appoint them officially to their positions and express affirmation of their call from God.
I declare that ordination is the biblically appropriate means of appointing pastors and deacons.
I declare, therefore, that all the members of a church staff should be ordained either as pastors or as deacons, in accordance with the nature of their duties, including women when serving as deacons.
With regard to Preaching:
“He must hold fast the faithful word that is in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able to encourage with sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9
I DECLARE that God desires corporate worship to be centered on the expository preaching of the whole word of God.
I declare that all preaching should be expository preaching, which consists in proclaiming the meaning of a biblical text and communicating its specific applications to the lives of the congregation.
I declare that preaching is God’s appointed means for the awakening of the church and the preservation of the saints, and thus should be characterized by blood-earnestness.
I declare that the goal of preaching should be to glorify God by bringing about the congregation’s knowledge of Him and submission to His word.
I declare that preaching is grounded on the cross of Christ, which provides the ultimate solution to the needs of the congregation.
I declare that the preacher’s gift comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, and his authority is derived from the word of God which he exposits.
I declare, therefore, that a preacher’s authority rises and falls with his manifest allegiance to the text of the Bible.
I declare that good preaching must be not only based on the Bible, but saturated with it, and should not only be applicable, but should probe the needs and sins of the congregation.
I declare that it is not enough simply to speak the truth if it is spoken poorly, but that sermons should be presented with a delivery proven to connect well with the audience and provoke a response, abounding with vivid images, keen analogies, and appropriate behavior, but without melodrama and affectation.
I declare that good preaching aims to stir up holy affections–such emotions as hatred for sin, delight in God, hope in His promises, gratitude for His mercy, desire for holiness, and tender compassion, so as to transform the congregation’s behavior.
I declare that preaching establishes a model for the congregation as to how to interpret and apply the Scriptures.
I declare that gladness and gravity should be woven together in the life and preaching of a preacher in such a way as to sober the careless soul, sweeten the burdens of the saints, and create an atmosphere reflective of the love and holiness of God.
I declare that the preacher must be marked with a love for people, not taking precious realities lightly, nor loading people down with the burden of obedience without providing the strength of joy to help them carry it.
I declare that preachers should strive for practical, earnest, and glad-hearted holiness in every area of their lives.
I declare that preachers should live their lives in constant communion with God in prayer, mingled with fruitful study of the Bible in its original languages.
I declare that preachers should read good books written by those filled with the Bible and who are earnest about the truths they discuss.
I declare that preachers should direct their minds to the contemplation of death and its implications for life and ministry.
I declare that preachers should consider the biblical teaching that as teachers they will be judged with greater strictness.
I declare that preachers should follow Jesus’ example as a man kind, righteous, and joyful, but also a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.
I declare that preachers should strive with all their strength to know God and humble themselves under His mighty hand.
I declare that preachers should cultivate their own joy in the ministry of the word, so as not to strive against God and their hearers.
I declare that the preaching of the word of God is not limited to the office of pastor, but that the pastor should be the normal and usual preacher for his local congregation.
With regard to Corporate Worship:
“An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers.” John 4:23
I DECLARE that the local church gathering is the place established by God for corporate worship of Him.
I declare that corporate worship is the responsibility of local churches, and that while believers have the privilege of worshiping wherever and whenever they gather together, the special occasions of high emotion which characterize conferences, crusades, and retreats should not set the standard for typical worship in a local church.
I declare that a church should meet to worship God every Sunday in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, as well as at other times during the week.
I declare that the purpose of worship is to glorify God in a manner that pleases Him.
I declare that worship wrongly focused or wrongly performed, displeases God and may bring His chastening.
I declare that worship and praise neither prepare for nor bring the presence of God; rather, the presence of God prompts worship and praise.
I declare that a church should worship and give glory to all three Persons of the Trinity, doing so in submission to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I declare that worship should be in spirit and in truth; meaning, genuinely with the whole self and in full accord with God’s truth as revealed in Jesus.
I declare that worship cannot be done in spirit unless the worshiper is at that moment in loving relationship with God and with his neighbors.
I declare that worship cannot be done in spirit if it is focused on evangelism, Bible knowledge, political purposes, modern trends, or tradition; worship must be directed toward God and not toward people.
I declare that worship cannot be done in truth unless its form and content are in agreement.
I declare that the form and content of worship should be in conformity and agreement with all the message of the Bible.
I declare that worship should incorporate emotive, symbolic, and aesthetic aspects to underline and strengthen the meaning of its words, but that these should be the servants of theological truth, and not the masters.
I declare that the theological truth of the Bible precludes the use of icons and pictures of any of the three Persons of the Trinity in the context of worship.
I declare that the words used by a church in worship should be theological expressions–words of faith, and words about God.
I declare that the language used by a church in worship should reflect natural, reverent intimacy with God.
I declare that even the most cursory look at the psalms, hymns, and prayers of the Bible reveals that praise consists not in expressing how we feel about God, but in joyfully and solemnly declaring who He is and exactly what He has done to merit our worship.
I declare that the congregation should understand the meaning of the words said and sung in worship, as well as why they worship as they do.
I declare that a church should worship in unity, and that the entire range of a church’s membership should be welcome and intermingled in all its worship services.
I declare that churches which shun orderly worship, neglect reverence, hold back difficult theological concepts, refuse confrontation, value spectatorship over participation, pursue the contemporary trends of the world, or devalue time-tested ways of glorifying God, have their success at the expense of the souls of their congregation and are without true worship.
I declare that a church should express God’s truth in the context of its culture; that is, that the ideas communicated through the music, movement, architecture, clothing, and decoration in its worship should reflect, and certainly not contradict, the message of the Bible and the reverential spirit of worship.
I declare that a church may use products of the culture in which it is situated and consecrate them for use in worship–so long as they do not carry with them overtones of materialism, commercialism, emotionalism, rebellion, and other attitudes destructive to worship; and so long as the use of these products does not place the church’s worship in submission to the fast-changing trends of secular popular culture.
I declare, however, that churches should rather have a culture and style distinctly their own, not merely derived from the culture around them.
I declare that a church should encourage musicianship among its members for the production of good worship music, that the members should learn to read music, and that those whom God has gifted should be trained by the church in the arts of composition and performance for the glory of God.
I declare that church lyricists should be specially trained in the Bible and theology, so as to give substance, accuracy, and specificity to their compositions.
I declare that the holiness of a worship form is a matter not only of style, but also of the manner of presentation, the intent of the author, and the discipline and preparation given to its use.
I declare that the aesthetic aspects of worship should be orderly and effortful, and should strive to be in accord with objective standards of beauty.
I declare that the aesthetic aspects of worship should be designed to bring the worshiper into an attitude of worship and prepare him emotionally for the messages expressed in the service.
I declare that God’s aesthetic standard for worship is that the worshiper give his best.
I declare that worshipers should be free to express the genuine affections aroused through worship, provided that such expression builds up and unites the congregation and is in harmony with how God desires to be worshiped.
I declare that the worshipful participation of all the congregation is best achieved today through the careful and creative blending of historical and recent worship forms.
I declare that a church should follow biblical models for the order and elements of its worship, recognizing their theological significance, and rearranging and modifying its worship accordingly.
With regard to the Elements of Worship:
“Let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.” 1 Corinthians 14:40
I DECLARE that, since the center of worship is the preaching of God’s word, the elements should either prepare for or be in response to the message of the sermon.
I declare that all that is employed in worship should be subject to the approval of the senior pastor for its biblical and theological content and for its appropriateness to the church and the occasion.
I declare that congregations should prepare for worship through the confession of sin to God and determination of repentance, and through the reconciliation of disrupted relationships, so that each one’s worship will be acceptable to God.
I declare that the public reading of Scripture is indispensable to true worship and should accompany every service.
I declare that in worship, members of a church may give testimonies to the work of Christ in their lives and ministries, to the glory of God and encouragement of the congregation.
I declare that worship should include prayers which are characterized by variety, specificity, and deliberation.
I declare that the Lord’s prayer, if used in any corporate setting, should be spoken or sung in a manner that is in keeping with its simplicity and humility.
I declare that a church should follow the biblical example of assenting to elements of worship through a spoken congregational “Amen.”
I declare that a brief time of fellowship during worship is important to the corporate spirit of worship.
I declare that churches should speak the essentials of their faith in worship, particularly their own adopted confession, that the congregation may affirm and rejoice in God’s truth.
I declare that the church should express its faith and its worship through singing.
I declare that the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” of Scripture are the threefold division of the Book of Psalms, which interweave the thanksgiving, wisdom, instruction, and warning whereby the word of Christ may dwell in the hearts of the congregation; this should be the model for biblical singing in worship.
I declare that the most important of worship songs are those of praise addressed to God, and full of specific doctrine for the instruction of the congregation.
I declare that the Bible supports the use of musical instruments, free and joyful praise, and songs written by contemporary believers in the context of church worship.
I declare that the biblical use of applause is too easily misunderstood today to have a place in church worship, as it conveys praise of the performer, enjoyment of the music, or high emotion stirred up by an exciting performance; thanksgiving to God is better conveyed through other forms of worship.
I declare that believers should be given an appointed time to respond to the specific message of the sermon, and especially to commit themselves to that response at a place consecrated for that purpose; which we call the “altar.”
I declare that it is good for believers to respond to the sermon by taking oaths before God to renounce sins and do acts of righteousness.
I declare that unbelievers in attendance of a worship service should hear the message of salvation presented, and that those whom the Spirit leads should have an appointed time to make their conversion known to God and to the entire congregation during a time of invitation.
I declare that conversion and the believer’s response to the message should be called for distinctly, so that neither one obscures the importance of the other.
I declare that the members of the congregation should respond to the sermon also by the worshipful and joyful giving of material offerings to God for the payment of their ministers and the support and continuance of the church’s work.
I declare that as an act of worship, the giving of offerings to God is the privilege of believers only, though unbelievers may of their own accord support the work of the church outside of the worship service.
I declare that a church should open and close its worship with greetings and benedictions which commend to the congregation the grace, peace, love, and fellowship of God.
With regard to Ordinances:
“So we were buried together with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk around in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
I DECLARE that a church is well-ordered if its ministers serve as pastors and not as priests, and if it properly practices the ordinances of Christ.
I declare that the two ordinances which Christ has commanded His churches to practice are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which is also called communion or the Eucharist.
I declare that the ordinances are not bare symbols, nor optional, but are vital acts of obedience through which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work of sanctification, in that they are visible proclamations of God’s word.
I declare that the benefit of the ordinances comes not from the doing of them alone, nor from the one administering them, but from the faith and proper consideration of the one receiving them.
I declare that those who preside over the ordinances should be pastors or deacons, and should be members of the churches in which they administer those ordinances.
I declare that baptism is the Lord’s established means whereby a believer openly professes loyalty to Christ and enters into membership in the church.
I declare that the biblical mode of baptism is only by immersion in water, and that a single, complete immersion, performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is sufficient for a genuine baptism.
I declare that any mode of baptizing other than immersion, or baptism in any name other than that of the entire Holy Trinity, is not baptism.
I declare that the proper subject of baptism is a believer, one who has testified of saving faith and repentance.
I declare that the believer receives no forgiveness or removal of sin through being baptized, the necessary work having been accomplished at Christ’s death and applied upon the beleiver’s response of faith.
I declare that baptism represents, first of all, the washing of purification from sin which the Spirit has already performed in the believer.
I declare that baptism is also a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and of the believer’s participation in them through his death to sin and new life in the Spirit.
I declare that upon proper baptism, believers should be accepted by their local church as having full membership, for as long as they continue to grow in grace and obedience, or until they transfer their membership to a different local church.
I declare that the Lord’s Supper is the most solemn remembrance of Christ’s atonement and the most intimate fellowship given to the church.
I declare that Christ commanded that the Lord’s Supper continue regularly in the church until His return.
I declare that the Lord’s supper consists in the entire congregation’s sharing of bread and of the fruit of the vine, to memorialize the death of Christ and the believer’s own partaking of Christ’s sacrifice when he was saved.
I declare that the Lord’s Supper also memorializes our future fellowship upon His return.
I declare that justifying grace is not dispensed in the taking of the Lord’s Supper, but that it strengthens one’s fellowship with God and with the church.
I declare that to practice the Lord’s Supper as a continuing sacrifice of Christ is to trample on the meaning of His atonement and to deny the clear teaching of the Bible.
I declare that the elements of the supper are only symbolic of Christ’s body and blood, and that Christ’s physical body is presently located only in heaven.
I declare that the use of elements other than bread and the fruit of the vine diminishes the symbolism of Christ’s body and blood.
I declare that the drink used in the original Lord’s Supper was ordinary diluted wine, whose content was much more similar to grape juice than to any wine produced today.
I declare that properly baptized believers in good standing with their local church are the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper.
I declare that if a properly baptized believer is in good standing with a well-ordered church, he should not be restrained from reflectively taking the Lord’s Supper, whether at his home church or when visiting other churches.
I declare that for the sake of consistency, one should only take the Lord’s Supper in churches whose members would be welcome to take the Lord’s Supper in one’s home church.
I declare that if a properly baptized believer is in a state of personal sin, but not under disciplinary restriction by his church, he should not refrain from the Lord’s Supper, but instead approach it in an attitude of repentance and renewed intent to honor the sacrifice of Christ.
I declare that the Lord’s Supper should be observed only in the context of a gathering of the whole local church, and not with only one faction, class, family, or age group.
I declare, however, that for those who by chronic physical disability are unable to meet with the congregation, appointed representatives of the congregation may visit them for the taking of the elements, symbolizing the observance with the entire local church.
I declare that these representatives should be multiple and should not include pastors, so as not to convey a priestly or mediatorial act in distributing the elements.
I declare that foot-washing is not an ordinance to be continued by the church, but an act which Christ performed to illustrate a principle of humble service; it is that principle which believers should continually practice toward one another.
I declare that a church’s confirmation of one’s advancement of knowledge and obedience in the faith is not an ordinance, it being found nowhere in the Bible; nor is it a means of grace.
I declare that confessing one’s sins to a minister and doing penance serve no purpose toward the end of grace and forgiveness, as every believer is equally a priest, the minister has no authority to forgive sin, and works of righteousness never mitigate sin in any way.
I declare that the ordination of ministers is not an ordinance, it’s not being commanded by Christ; nor is it a means of grace.
I declare that, though a wedding is to be performed in the presence of the church, it is not an ordinance, it being neither commanded by Christ nor universal in its scope; nor is it a means of grace.
I declare that acts performed by a minister upon a person near death serve no purpose toward the end of grace and forgiveness, as the minister has no authority to forgive sin, and the practice is found nowhere in the Bible.
With regard to Outreach:
“So go make disciples of all the nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look, I am with you every day, even to the consummation of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
I DECLARE that all the members of a church should actively involve themselves in the ministry activities of their local church.
I declare that a church, in the carrying out of its outreach ministry, should not compromise its proclamation of the whole word of God for any reason.
I declare that the primary ministry of a church to the outside world should be the proclamation of the gospel to bring Him glory and bring new disciples–first of all in its own community, and also across the world.
I declare that churches should be the primary means of assistance for the needy of any society, including the widowed, the orphaned, the poor, the abused, the unborn, the aged, the sick, and the oppressed.
I declare that a church should be both responsible and generous in its benevolence to the needy.
I declare that a church should not seek to expand its membership by drawing members away from other true churches, nor depend upon unbelievers to enter its meeting place before it confronts them with the gospel.
I declare that a church should be eager to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and the teachings of the Bible.
With regard to Discipleship:
“He [Uzziah] continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought Yahweh, God prospered him.” 2 Chronicles 26:5
I DECLARE that the church is commissioned not to win souls, but to make disciples.
I declare that those who join a church are entrusted by God to its care for growth in the faith.
I declare that the church should disciple new believers through mentoring; experienced believers should devote time and effort to them for a relationship of nurturing and training.
I declare that members advanced in the faith should concentrate their discipleship on selected believers who show extraordinary potential, for greater opportunity of effective instruction, and maximum results for God’s kingdom.
I declare that mentors should commit to constant association with those they mentor, and to have concern for them as a personal guardian.
I declare that mentors should require of their charges unquestioning loyalty to Christ and resolution to grow in grace and knowledge.
I declare that mentors must by their lives provide good examples for those they mentor.
I declare that mentors should train their charges with the intent that they in time become mentors themselves.
I declare that church members should disciple one another through corporate Bible study in groups small in size, with an intent to refine their own methods of determining the true meaning and proper application of the Bible.
I declare that each of a church’s Bible study groups should have a leader whose role it is to set forth the example of how to study and interpret the Bible, and to give the meaning of a passage and suggest applications.
I declare that churches should instruct both children and adults in the doctrines of Christianity, as well as the history and workings of their church and the church at large.
I declare that churches should encourage one another through fellowship and time spent together.
I declare that church fellowship should involve the sharing of food and other acts of unselfish community.
I declare that church fellowship should increase in frequency and intimacy as the signs of Christ’s return come to fulfillment.
With regard to the Church’s Characteristics:
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
I DECLARE that Christ’s sacrifice has made the church holy, set apart for the glory of God, and that its holiness is evident by the lives of its members, the faithfulness of its message to the Bible, the love that it shows for God and one another, and the persecution it receives from the world.
I declare that the “catholicity” of the church is its being the only institution established by God for the proclamation of His glory and the only one entrusted with His truth.
I declare that the apostolicity of a church consists in its faithfulness to the teaching of the apostles as preserved in the New Testament.
I declare that a church has authority over the spiritual lives of its members, but no temporal authority.
I declare that a church has no authority to pronounce judgment on the world, but only on its own members.
I declare that the “keys to the Kingdom” and the power of binding and loosing are given to the church and have to do with judging matters on the basis of the Bible–not bestowing or revoking salvation, or controlling angelic and demonic forces.
I declare that the Bible commands churches to holds its members under discipline with regard to fidelity of doctrine, purity of life, and unity of fellowship.
I declare that church discipline is necessary to prevent the maligning of God by giving the name “Christian” to one who is corrupt, to prevent other believers from being corrupted, and to inspire shame and repentance in the sinner.
I declare that the biblical method of disciplinary action is restriction from the taking of the Lord’s Supper, or complete revocation of fellowship and membership, in full consideration of the possibility that the disciplined is not a true believer; but a church has no authority for temporal punishments.
I declare that church discipline should be carried out for the purification of a church and for the salvation or restoration of those it disciplines; it should therefore be temporary, and the repentant should be restored to full fellowship.
With regard to God’s Work Among Churches:
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are the seed of Abraham, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:26-29
I DECLARE that the church at large is united by its common salvation through the sacrifice of Christ, and that its unity is a picture of the perfect unity within the Godhead.
I declare that the unity of the church is spiritual and Spirit-produced harmony, and not visible structure or enforceable conformity; since the death of the apostles, there remains no structure or office with authority over more than one local church.
I declare that the division of the visible church into denominations on the basis of their differing faiths and practices has promoted the growth of the church and the re-discovery of much biblical truth.
I declare that a local church should be united in its essential beliefs, in its worship and ministry, and in its attitude of humility toward one another.
I declare that members should consider one another of equal worth before God and standing as members of the church, regardless of nationality, descent, socio-economic class, gender, or condition before coming to Christ; nor should churches allow divisions based on experience with or affinity for particular personalities in Christian ministry.
I declare that a local church should have enough consensus on matters of doctrine that their differences will not hinder their ministering together and collective proclamation of God’s word.
I declare that because churches differ so greatly even on the most important matters of doctrine and church organization, not all churches can cooperate with one another, and that doing so would require a great deal of compromise in their faith.
I declare that churches should cooperate in ministry work which is too great for one church, so as to accomplish great things for God’s kingdom.
I declare that, for the cooperation to be done in order, churches should establish associations and conventions as advisory and administrative bodies for the eliciting, combining, and directing of resources for the carrying out of cooperative ministries.
I declare that such organizations should have no authority or political or monetary influence over one another, or over the churches.
I declare that the ministries for which churches ought to cooperate include missionary, educational, and benevolent endeavors, as well as any end which is itself justified, and in which the churches’ cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His word as revealed in the Bible.
I declare that churches’ cooperation with other churches, including involvement in associations and conventions, should be voluntary and dependent on other churches’ desire to accept their cooperation.
I declare the necessity for cooperation in an association or convention is unity and integrity in what the churches believe and practice; such organizations should be free to determine what their standards for faith and practice are, and make cooperation decisions based on them.
I declare that associations and conventions are wise to declare their standards for faith and practice in a written confessional document and maintain integrity with that confession throughout all the institutions and agencies of those associations or conventions.
I declare that decisions whether or not to cooperate in ministry with a church have no bearing on that church’s local autonomy, or on the consciences of that church’s members.
I declare that organizations, ministries, and events which deliberately seek to transcend denominational boundaries have an obligation to God to maintain doctrinal integrity within the essentials of the Christian faith, and should in all cases be accountable to a local church denominationally associated.
With regard to God’s Work Beyond the Church:
“And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:23
I DECLARE that God’s kingdom, which is the kingdom of heaven, includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King; particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ.
I declare that God’s kingdom will come in its fullness when all things are brought into visible subjection to Christ at His return.
I declare that the proliferation of the gospel among Gentiles was not a secondary idea, nor a plan prompted by Jewish rejection of the Messiah, but that the blessings given to Abraham and his descendants were always part of God’s plan to redeem a people from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
I declare that if the Jews would accept Jesus as their Messiah and worship Him according to the Old and New Testaments, God would work through them as He works through all His people.
I declare that the biological descendants of the Old Testament Israelites still have rightful ownership of the land which God gave them unconditionally and perpetually, but that those who have rejected the Messiah have forfeited their place in God’s kingdom.
I declare that believers who work together for the forming of a ministry should exercise that ministry under the direction and discipline of a local church or organized body of churches.
I declare that “parachurch” organizations which have their own worship and ministry, but exist apart from the direction and discipline of any confessional church, are outside God’s parameters for New Testament ministry and set a dangerous precedent for unaccountable teaching and activity in the name of Christ.
I declare that civil authorities have no authority over the conscience or over the faith and religious practice of the church; the state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends.
I declare that governments should in their legislative and judicial actions prefer no religious group over another, or impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind.
I declare that individuals within and under those governments should nevertheless have freedom to express and practice their religion in public and in private.
I declare that churches should not appeal to civil governments for the carrying out of their own work.
I declare that churches have no authority to levy taxes, wage war, or give physical enforcement to their policies.
I declare that governments which have usurped the work of the church should endeavor with the church to restore that responsibility to its rightful place.
I declare that governments should not impose taxes for the support of any form of religion or opposition to religion.
I declare that it is the duty of churches to declare themselves to be churches, and thus not organizations to be taxed, and to do so in accordance with appropriate procedures, but also to manage their property and employees in accordance with the tax laws of their government.
With regard to Last Things:
“Blessed is the one who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and heed the things that are written in it, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3
I DECLARE that the believer has through the Bible great hope and confidence in the future and in the things that follow this life.
I declare that the Bible speaks of last things to encourage the believer both of the brevity of hardships and the short time in which to accomplish the work of God.
I declare that the Bible speaks of last things both to give the believer hope in God’s coming consummation of His kingdom, and warning of the account which he must give at the final judgment.
I declare that knowledge of last things allows the believer to face his own death and that of others without abject grief, hopelessness, or perception of injustice.
I declare that knowledge of last things assures the believer that righteousness, though often persecuted in this life, will finally be rewarded, and wickedness, though often profitable in this life, will finally be punished.
I declare that believers should live with constant joyful anticipation of Christ’s return and the consummation of God’s kingdom.
With regard to Death:
“O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?” Hosea 13:14
I DECLARE that a person dies when the soul departs the body and goes to await the body’s resurrection.
I declare that except by special miracle of God, death is the end of earthly existence until the resurrection.
I declare that death has occurred when the body–of which the brain is a part–will no longer support the person’s consciousness.
I declare that the fear of death comes from dread of the perceived painfulness of the dying process, and from uncertainty about what awaits after death.
I declare that believers have no reason to fear death, having God to comfort them in their pain by assuring them of the certainty of the eternal bliss which comes from being with Him forever.
I declare that physical death has been inherent in the created order from the beginning, the death of one life-form being necessary for the life of another.
I declare that spiritual death is the loss of ability to be in relationship with God, death in one’s sins, which is the state of all humanity as a result of Adam’s sin.
I declare that Adam incurred spiritual death when he sinned, and was ensured of physical death when he was driven out of Eden and blocked from the tree of life.
I declare that physical death serves God’s purposes by encouraging procreation, motivating diligence in the doing of righteousness, restraining the commission and effects of sin, and providing the possibility of blood atonement.
I declare that death in itself has no sanctifying qualities, but that it removes the believer from the presence of temptation, sin, and distraction, and thus places the believer in full submission to the Holy Spirit for the completion of His sanctifying work; but complete Christlikeness awaits the return of Christ.
I declare that death is the enemy of the believer in the sense that it ends the opportunity to worship and serve God on earth, to proclaim the gospel, and to enjoy the bonds of family, and in that it separates the body and soul, rendering the person incomplete apart from resurrection.
I declare that death is the hope of the believer in the sense that it ends all sorrow, separates the believer finally from sin, and brings him into the presence of God forever.
I declare that Christ conquered through His resurrection any power of death to end the believer’s enjoyment of God, by becoming the firstfruits of our own future resurrection.
With regard to the Afterlife:
“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
I DECLARE that if no life followed physical death, the whole of Christianity would be meaningless.
I declare that at death a person’s works are fixed, and his afterlife determined, so that prayers, baptisms, indulgences, and other acts for the dead are of no use.
I declare that there is no knowledge of the afterlife outside the Bible, and that all claims of visions or experiences in the afterlife are deceptions or delusions invented by Satan.
I declare that immediately upon death, the believer’s spirit is made present with God in heaven.
I declare that the “heaven” to which the believer’s spirit goes at death is a physical place apart from this universe, Paradise, and Abraham’s bosom, rather where Christ’s body is currently located and where the angels have their home.
I declare that the Bible uses the term “she’ol,” which in Greek is “hades” often to refer to the grave where the dead body lies.
I declare that the body at death is unconscious, unknowing, and unable to praise God.
I declare that “she’ol” or “hades” is also used to refer to the place of conscious torment which is the home of all the spirits of unbelievers who have died.
I declare that there are no such places as limbo, purgatory, or any other realm of departed spirits besides heaven and she’ol/hades.
I declare that the concept of purgatory, where it is said man is allowed the dignity to pay for some of his own sins, denies the finished atonement of Christ, the imputation of His righteousness, and justification by faith.
With regard to Signs of the End:
“They questioned Him saying, ‘Teacher, when therefore will these things be, and what will be the sign when they are about to happen?'” Luke 21:7
I DECLARE that the last days actually began in the time of the New Testament, and were evidenced by the appearance of antichrists, who denied the apostolic teaching of Christ’s incarnation and Sonship.
I declare that believers attentive to the times and the Bible will not be surprised at the coming of the end, for God has provided signs of its approach.
I declare, however, that the signs of the end will not indicate the exact time of the end, neither the day nor the hour of Christ’s coming.
I declare that the signs of which Christ spoke in His Olivet Discourse were not signs of the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple, but signs of His return.
I declare that claims that the end has come or that Christ has already returned, whether physically or spiritually, are false.
I declare that those who scoff at the promise of Christ’s return are foolish and carnal, and deliberately disregard God’s demonstration of His justice throughout history.
I declare that, while God’s people in every generation should be watchful for signs of the end, to relate present-day events with biblical symbols and figures of speech, without any warrant in the text itself, is unwise and an abuse of the Bible.
I declare that the proclamation by some end-times teachers that the United States is the modern-day equivalent of biblical Israel and thus the inheritor of its prophecies is foolishness.
I declare that the occurrence of wars, revolutions, natural disasters, and astronomical events are part of the progression of human history and will not cease but rather increase as the end nears.
I declare that among the more general signs of the end are an increase in knowledge, the proliferation of evil, and the proclamation of the gospel to all peoples.
With regard to the Tribulation:
“Now I ask you, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him…do not let anyone deceive you in any way; because it will not come until the rebellion comes first and the son of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3
I DECLARE that the man of lawlessness, empowered by Satan, will receive authority and worship from the world.
I declare that the man of lawlessness will use his power to blaspheme God and persecute post-rapture believers.
I declare that this great persecution will lead to a great apostasy, as false believers associated with the church reveal themselves and betray true believers to death.
I declare that God will bring severe judgment on the world for its worship of the man of lawlessness, but that His judgment will not lead them to repentance.
I declare that the proclamation of God’s word will continue throughout the Tribulation.
I declare that as the Tribulation continues, the nations of the world will gather against Jerusalem and plunder and besiege it.
I declare that the proliferation of sin and persecution, the cries to God for justice, and the gathering of the nations are all part of God’s moving of history toward the final day of the Lord and the consummation of His kingdom.
I declare that much is said in the Bible concerning the details of the Tribulation which are difficult to discern and may not be recognized until the time of their occurrence; thus differing interpretations of the order of seals, trumpets, and bowls, or the identity of the two witnesses, or the nature of locusts and falling stars, should cause no division or disruption of fellowship within the body of Christ.
With regard to the Return of Christ:
“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then Yahweh will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives….” Zechariah 14:2-4a
I DECLARE that the promise of Christ’s coming for the final day of the Lord is one of the clearest in all the Bible, and is that in which believers have their greatest hope.
I declare that Christ will physically and visibly return from heaven to earth with His angels, having the same body in which He ascended to heaven after His resurrection.
I declare that immediately upon Christ’s return, the bodies of all dead believers of all the ages–including those who have been beheaded by the man of sin–will be resurrected and reunited with their souls, which Christ brings with Him; this is the first resurrection.
I declare that the resurrected bodies will be transformed into glorified, Christlike, immortal, and incorruptible–yet still physical–bodies.
I declare that immediately following the resurrection, believers who are alive will be likewise transformed.
I declare that Christ’s presence will so draw believers that they will all be caught up to Him while He is yet in the clouds, and will be with Him forever.
I declare that the sight of Christ will complete the sanctification of believers, so that they will be like Him when they see Him as He is.
I declare that Christ will descend to the Mount of Olives and proceed to deliver Jerusalem from the nations which have besieged it.
I declare that Christ will then physically war against the nations, in judgment of their wickedness and in vindication of His people, in what the Bible calls the Battle of Armageddon.
I declare that Christ’s war with the nations is prophesied in the Old Testament as the final “day of the Lord.”
I declare that, although natural disasters, “cosmic events,” and the coming of the Lord to earth to battle His enemies were often spoken as figures of speech in Old Testament judgment passages, there is no reason to doubt their literal occurrence at the return of Christ.
I declare that Christ’s judgment will bring the full end of the government of the man of sin, who will be cast into hell.
I declare that God’s people, then fully sanctified and thus with a proper perception of the seriousness of sin and the righteousness of God’s justice, will rejoice at the wrath of God and have a renewed sense of His grace toward them.
With regard to the Millennium:
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares Yahweh,’when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch.And He will reign as king and act wiselyand do justice and righteousness in the land.In His days Judah will be saved,and Israel will dwell securely;and this is His name by which He will be called:Yahweh our righteousness.'” Jeremiah 23:5-6
I DECLARE that, there remains a future time of peace on this earth which will follow the return of Christ.
I declare that those who see the Millennium as only representative of the church age, err in that they cannot explain the first resurrection at its beginning, the temporary binding of Satan, the link between its establishment and the return of Christ, or their own characterization of the first centuries of the church as simultaneously fulfilling the Great Tribulation and the Millennium.
I declare that following the Battle of Armageddon, Satan will be restrained and his influence of temptation on humanity will end for a time.
I declare that Christ will establish a physical kingdom on this earth, one characterized by harmony, prosperity, and peace.
I declare that during Christ’s reign, the created order will be changed so that death and predation no longer characterize natural processes or the behavior of living things.
I declare that the righteous will reign with Christ and have special privileges in His kingdom.
I declare that the righteous will celebrate with festivals and sacrifices, though out of joy and not as atonements for sin.
I declare that the righteous, with their glorified bodies, will never die, and will neither marry nor have children in Christ’s kingdom.
I declare that the wicked, not having been glorified, will die and leave descendants, and therefore their number will increase.
I declare that Christ’s rule over His kingdom will be strict, and Satan’s temptation will be absent, so that the sinfulness of the wicked is held in check.
I declare that at the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released and stir up a final rebellion among the wicked, who will by then outnumber the righteous, but that God will extinguish them all.
I declare that the Millennium will close with the resurrection of the bodies of all the unrighteous dead, which their souls will inhabit for eternity; this is the second resurrection.
I declare that after the Millennium, God will refurbish the entire physical universe, to its original state.
With regard to the Last Judgment and Eternity:
“Blessed are those who wash their stately robes, so that they may have authority to eat from the tree of life and to enter through the gateways into the city.” Revelation 22:14
I DECLARE that God has appointed one time when every person who has ever lived, both the righteous and the wicked, will give an account of every word spoken and deed done during earthly life.
I declare that the last judgment will follow the second resurrection.
I declare that at the last judgment, all will genuinely acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All evil and rebellion will cease as every created being is subjected to the will of Christ to the glory of God the Father.
I declare that those whom God has appointed for eternal life and justified through Christ’s propitiation and the imputation of His righteousness, will receive rewards for the things done for God’s glory, and will enjoy those rewards throughout their eternity with God.
I declare that those who refused to give glory to God on earth will receive punishments for their sins, and will suffer those punishments throughout their eternity apart from God.
I declare that eternity as we will experience it, consists not in timelessness but in unending time.
I declare that hell is a physical place of conscious torment prepared to punish Satan and the demons forever, and is also the final destination of all who die without faith in Christ and repentance toward God.
I declare that hell’s punishments will be of a single degree of severity and not based on God’s measure of the seriousness of the unbelievers rejection of Him.
I declare that hell’s conscious punishments are eternal, and that those who deny this have not grasped the biblical teaching of the seriousness of sin and the justice of God’s wrath.
I declare that God will renovate a new heavens and a new earth, not subject to decay as this one is, with no sorrow, pain, or fear; this may rightly be called “heaven,” though distinct from the heaven which preceded our resurrection.
I declare that life in the new creation will be effortful and exciting, full of discovery, worship, and service to God, such as is beyond our imagination.
I declare that God will dwell forever with His people on the new earth, as with Adam in Eden.
With regard to Ethics:
“Take away from Me the noise of your songs;I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.But let justice roll down like waters,and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:23-24
I DECLARE that the single authority for discerning right and wrong is the Bible, correctly interpreted and wisely applied.
I declare that God’s law, His eternal principles of right and wrong, is the obligation of every person to follow, and that obedience to it is a matter of each one’s true choice.
I declare that the ability to love and do God’s law lies not within human nature, but in the special enabling of the Spirit through His sanctifying work in the regenerated believer.
I declare that God’s law convicts us of our helplessness in being unable to fulfill it, shows us our sin, and warns us of judgment.
I declare that God’s law serves to control through fear of punishment those who are otherwise unconcerned with just and right behavior.
I declare that God’s law teaches believers how they might please God and encourages them to obey it by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
I declare that the essentials of God’s law, and particularly the existence of objective standards of right and wrong, are present in the created order and the human conscience, so that all are without excuse.
I declare that the ethics of Christianity cannot be divorced from the theology upon which they are built.
I declare that the ethical implications of Christianity extend to every aspect of personal and social life.
I declare that ethics involves not just correct individual decisions, or the avoidance of vices and bad habits, but the development of positive virtues which define one’s character as one of integrity.
I declare that God’s universal principles never conflict in such a way as to force one to sin, as God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure, and Jesus faced every sort of temptation and yet never sinned.
I declare that where moral principles appear to conflict, a prayerful consideration of the biblically higher principle, and particularly of the obligation to self-sacrifice, will resolve the dilemma.
I declare that ethical living does not affect God’s love or acceptance of any person, but that He loves all, and accepts only perfect righteousness, which is found among men only by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
I declare that God makes requirements of us because we are His people, not in order for us to become His people.
I declare that the goal of ethical living is to glorify God by making the will of Christ supreme in one’s own life and in human society.
With regard to Love:
“So become imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk around in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us, as an offering and sacrifice to God, a pleasing fragrance.” Ephesians 5:1-2
I DECLARE that the heart of God’s law is expressed in the commandments to love God first of all with the whole self, and to love one’s neighbor as much as one’s very own self.
I declare that love for God first and for one’s neighbor as one’s self is the proper foundation of every friendship, family, and indeed every human relationship.
I declare that love for God entails not just rightly directed worship, but correct worship, proper reverence, and placing His glory as the permeating priority in our decisions.
I declare that love for God entails valuing that which God has declared good, which includes the natural world.
I declare that love for our neighbor entails respect and consideration for him as an equal created in the image of God, in treating our neighbor as we ourselves would be treated, and compassion and help in his infirmities, both physical and spiritual.
I declare that, while a believer should consider all people of equal worth in God’s sight, there are some for which a believer has special responsibility, namely, his immediate family, his fellow church members, other believers, and the needy who seek assistance from him.
I declare that love for one’s self is not commanded in the Bible, but is a weakness against which one must struggle in the process of sanctification and self-denial.
I declare, however, that we as believers should endeavor to keep ourselves healthy and pure upon consideration that we are created in God’s image and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
I declare that love may best be defined with reference to the behavior of God as demonstrated in the Bible.
I declare that love’s truest demonstration is self-sacrifice for the benefit of another, and that such self-denial should characterize all a believer’s relationships.
I declare that all the requirements of love, and thus of God’s law, are summarized in the Ten Commandments.