Testimony/Doctrinal Statement

Doctrinal Statement of Jim Brinkman

For the Purpose of Ordination to the Gospel Ministry

First Baptist Church of Collinsville, Illinois

 

Personal Testimony:

 

I was adopted as an infant into a Roman Catholic family and was educated in the parochial school system. I became an altar boy and while going to public high school I attended religion classes at my Catholic church. At age eighteen while a freshman in college my mother was rushed to the hospital to have a baby. The baby died first and then about 1 a.m. my mother died. In between deaths I rushed to my church down the road from the hospital and on the altar pleaded and bargained with God to save my mother’s life. After I returned from the church to the hospital, a short time later our doctor emerged with blood all over him and said “I lost her”. I immediately cursed God and for the next sixteen years: from age eighteen to age thirty four I became a militant atheist. I dropped out of college and began to drift through life. I did well in my career and yet spent much of my time as a  drunk and an angry person. I had no ability or desire to maintain a long term relationship with a woman and ended up in counseling because of suicidal tendencies. I had ended my relationship with my family, didn’t believe in God, had no ability to commit to a relationship and I became paralyzed by depression. I had a lady friend that I used to know as a loose, loud, party girl, approach me at a local fitness center and ask me to a Bible study. I didn’t go but pursued her. We dated but she spent the entire time witnessing to me and I remained hostile but continued to see her. Eventually I broke it off and the depression deepened. On January 4, 1984 I closed the door to my garage, started my car and said “Jesus if You’re real I need you now”. I fell asleep. I estimate that I slept for perhaps fifteen minutes and when I awoke the car was still running and I was fine. I asked Christ to forgive me in the front seat of my car and accepted His free gift of eternal life.

 

I spent the next two weeks immersed in the scriptures. I read the entire Bible in two weeks and immediately started hunting for a church. I was on fire. I ended up at First Baptist Church of Ellisville, Missouri and was blessed to be under the tutelage of a master teacher in Dr. Charles Murray. Eventually I helped start a singles ministry and when the SBC had a program of distributing marked NT’s to the community I volunteered the singles’ ministry efforts at targeting the apartment complexes. On October 29, 1985, on a bitter cold day my partner and I split up and knocked on the last doors alone in order to complete the task. The last door I knocked on was a young lady who was only home because of an ingrown toenail so she could not be at her retail job. To make a long story short, I was privileged over the next weeks to lead her to Christ and on September 20, 1986 we were married.

 

Lynn contacted me shortly after that first encounter and began attending church with me. We dated but she hadn’t prayed to receive Christ. She attended the Sunday School singles class that I was teaching. She had been witnessed to a year or so earlier by a young man in Kansas City where she lived at the time. In December of 1985 she went to Florida with her mother. Lynn was raised as a Roman Catholic also and while in Florida she knelt at her bed in her mother’s condo and prayed to receive Christ. When she returned, one glorious Sunday Dr. Murray received Lynn as she walked forward. When he introduced her to the church as a candidate for baptism he had me walk forward also and while we were standing there he announced that we were engaged to be married. The entire church gave us a standing ovation that I will never forget. Lynn and I covenanted with the Lord that we would stay chaste during our engagement period and God has truly blessed that decision abundantly.

 

We married and had four children over the years; Michael was a honeymoon baby and was born in 1987. Anna came along in 1990 and we lost a baby we name “Matthew Elizabeth” at about five months into the pregnancy. In 2001 Grace was born despite the fact that I had a vasectomy after Anna was born. We prayed and God over rode that surgery. I went to the doctor and he tested me and said he could only find one sperm in his testing. The vasectomy was still working. God is good all of the time.

 

In 1991 I was ordained as a Deacon at First Baptist Church of Maryville, IL. By Pastor Fred Winters. Fred was assassinated in the pulpit about two years ago. During that time I was asked to participate in Mission Gate; a ministry to the prison population. For eight years I went into Greenville Federal Prison in Greenville, IL and preached for about an hour while others led music and the rest of the worship service.

 

In October of 2009, while a deacon at First Baptist Church of Collinsville, Illinois our pastor announced that he had a brain tumor. We had no one to take the pulpit in our church of about 300 attendees. I offered my services and they asked me to preach for a month and see how it goes. I am now entering my nineteenth month in the pulpit and our Pastor has recently gone on to be with our Lord.

 

While our church is searching for a younger man to lead our church they did offer to ordain me into the gospel ministry. During these nineteen months I have been blessed beyond anything I’ve ever imagined other than my conversion, my marriage and the birth of my children. At some point in this process I realized that God was calling me to preach the gospel. I can’t force myself to think about not preaching. I have continued to travel in my secular job and am writing sermons on airplanes, in hotels, in restaurants and often up until midnight or later on a Saturday night. It has been a thrill and a blessing to know that people have been ministered to by what God is doing through me.

 

Ordination to me is simply an affirmation by my peers and my church that I belong in the pulpit. I don’t know what God has in store for me but I know that He put me where I am and unless He calls me home I don’t believe He would set me aside and not continue to use me.

 

Bibliology

 

I believe that the Bible was written by men of God  (2 Pet. 1:19-20), (Acts 1:16), (Acts 28:25), controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ps. 119:105, 130, 160), (Luke 24:25-27, 44,45), (John 17:17), that it is truth without any mixture of error (Ps. 119:89, 160), (Prov. 30:5-6), (Rom. 3:4 and 15:4), (1 Pet. 1:23), (Rev. 22:19), (John 5:39, 45-47), (John 12:48), (Luke 16:31), (Ps. 19:7-11). It is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) in that the Spirit of God inspired men to write and yet are still the very words of God. God did not dictate His word to mortal men but rather inspired them to write in their own distinctive style and manner, all the while faithfully executing His will. The Bible shall remain to the end of the age. It is the only and final written revelation of God’s will to man and it is the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried (Ps. 119:105)

 

·        The Holy Bible is the canon of scriptures; the collection of sixty-six books from Genesis to Revelation which as originally written, does not merely contain and convey the word of God, but is the very word of God and is limited to these books only. The canon of scripture is closed (Jude 3).  In order to be included in the Canon, a book must have Divine authorship. The apostles were the ones charged with writing the scriptures in the New Testament just as the prophets had the same charge in the Old Testament (2 Pet. 3:2), (John 14:26), (John 16:13). The deciding factors therefore in inclusion into the Canon of scripture is apostolic authorship. In the case of the five books not authored directly by apostles; Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews and Jude, it was determined historically with testimony, that the authors did so under the direction of the true apostles. Books such as those included in the apocrypha were determined not to have been authored or approved by true apostles and therefore they are not part of the true canon of scripture.

 

·        The Bible is inspired by God; the verbal (every word), and plenary (all words) content of scripture is the act of God which superintends human authors so that, using their own personalities, they composed without any mixture of error in the original manuscripts, God’s revelation to man. (2 Pet. 1:20-21), (Rev. 21:5). Therefore God’s word is inerrant (without error) and infallible (will not fail).  (Is. 55:11). God’s word is also sufficient with regards to making man morally and practically adequate for living a life that pleases God and honors Him. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

 

·        The Bible was and is preserved through the transmission of the word and work of the Holy Spirit whereby He has substantiated the same content as the original manuscripts. (Rev. 22: 18-19), (John 10:35), (Matt. 5:17-18).

 

I believe in a literal interpretation of scripture. (Luke 10:25-26) where each word should be understood in its grammatical historical sense. The believer has also been promised illumination of the scriptures (John 16:12-15), (1 Cor. 2:11-12). This is the work of the Holy Spirit which helps the believer understand the truth of scripture as he yields his life to the Lord’s commands and applies himself to prayerful study. (2 Tim. 2:15), (Acts 17:11), (1 Cor. 3:1-2).

 

God has communicated to His creation through both general and special revelation. General revelation is outlined in Romans 1:18-20 regarding God’s existence stating that He has revealed Himself in what He created so that man is without excuse. He also revealed Himself to mankind morally through their conscience which is stated in Romans 2:14-15.

 

Special revelation is communicated only through the word of God. It alone contains the gospel message. General revelation reveals the existence of God but does not contain the gospel message. Therefore the plan of salvation is revealed only in scripture and it is our ministry as agents of reconciliation and ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5) to take the gospel message to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:18-20)

 

Theology Proper

 

 

The Ontological Trinity: I believe in one God Who exists in three separate, distinct Persons: Elohim is a plural name for God and is used in Genesis 1:26: God said “Let us make man in our image”.  In Matthew 28:19 Christ instructs us to baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, yet in Deuteronomy 6:4 the word of God declares that “the Lord our God is one God”. The three Persons in the Godhead equally possess the characteristics and attributes of God including omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence and are all equal, co-eternal, yet they are only one in essence.

The Economic Trinity: describes the process of how the Trinity functions. (1 Peter 1:2) The Father is the One Who begets and the Son is the begotten. This is an eternal relationship. (Ps. 2:7), (John 1:14). The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (John 14:26), (John 15:26), None of the three Persons are of less importance than the others but they function in different manners yet all are in concert to the goal of bringing honor and glory to Himself as He accomplishes His good pleasure, fulfilling His eternal purpose . (Isa.46:9-11)

Attributes of God:

·        God is eternal: God has always existed and will continue to exist endlessly. He is not bound by the limitations of time. (Ps. 90:2).

·        God is Self sufficient: He is able to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants and is accountable to no one. God has no deficiencies; He is perfectly pure. God is uniquely self-existent and self-sufficient. He is not lonely and is in need of nothing as He possesses all things. (Ps. 50:10-12), (Acts 17:24-25)

·        God is immutable: He is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes and promises. (Mal. 3:6), (Ps. 102:25-27) This means that His decrees and His word can be trusted and implemented in our lives. This means that once He saves us, He will not change His mind or go back on His word to keep us. (John 10:27-28)

·        God is omnipresent: not limited with respect to time and space therefore He is present everywhere at all times. (Ps. 139:7-11), (Jer. 23:23-24)

·        God is omnipotent. He is all powerful and able to do anything consistent with His own nature (Ex. 6:3) (Daniel 4:35)

·        God is omniscient: God fully knows all things actual and possible. (Acts 15:18), (Job 37:16), (1 John 3:20).

·        God is Spirit. He possesses no human body with size or dimensions (John 4:24)

·        God is love: infinitely and eternally good and shows Himself to be love through the giving of Himself to His creation (1 John 4:8), (John 3:16).

·        God is holy: God is separate from any and all sin and seeks His own honor and glory. The idea of holiness includes both a separation from evil and a devotion to God’s glory. (Is. 6:3), (1 Pet. 1:16)

·        God created all things. (Gen. 1:1), (Col. 1:15-17)

·        God is sovereign: His activities are all based on His sovereign predetermination. God both designed and willed all things before He acted (Eph. 1:11), and all His actions are in harmony with His perfect character and attributes. The purpose of all He does is to brings glory to Him (Ps. 19:11), (Rev. 4:11). Whatever God decrees will come to pass. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states “"The order of God’s decrees are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He has fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass. This is God’s perfect will. His permissive will is God graciously working in our lives when we stray from His perfect will. Instead of us living in fear that we have missed out on God’s perfect plan for us, instead He works within our imperfections to brings us once again into His perfect will. (Rom. 8:28).

Attributes of the Father: I believe that the Father is eternal and fully God. The Father is Spirit (John 4:24) in that He is a non corporeal being. He is the Father of Israel (Is. 63:16). He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:29, 30). He is the Father of all who believe in Christ (Gal. 3:26). God the Father elects (Eph. 1:3-4). God the Father gives grace and peace, (Rom. 1:7), good gifts, (Jas. 1:17), commandments (1 John 5:3) and comfort. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

Christology

 

Jesus Christ is one of three persons of the Divine trinity. He is co-equal, co-eternal, and equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19) (2 Cor. 13:14), (John 10:10).

 

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary and God in the flesh. (John 1:1, 14), (Phil. 2:6).The Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary and placed within her the spotless lamb of God. Christ was conceived therefore without sin within a sinful human mother. (Luke 1:16-35), (Is. 7:14), (Gal, 4:4), (Matt. 1:18-35).

 

In the incarnation of Christ, He emptied Himself of the glory that He had with the Father before the world existed (John 17:5) and humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7), (2 Cor. 8:9). He became obedient to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), (John 4:34), and voluntarily chose to depend on the power of the Father and the Holy Spirit to perform His miracles. (Matt. 12:18), (Luke 4:14-18).

 

In the one person of Christ there are two natures. (Rom. 1:3-4). He was fully human (Luke 2:52, 19:10, 23:46), (Phil 2:7-8), (John 4:6-9) and He was fully Divine. (John 1:1, 14:18, 12:37-41), (2 Cor. 13:14), (Col. 1:16-17), (Heb. 1:6-8). The two natures were organically and divinely united in a hypostatic union, meaning that the retention of His divine nature was intact and joined by a true human nature. The union of His divinity with His humanity did not diminish either but He existed in one body as fully God and fully man.

 

The temptations of Christ were real because He was in human form. (Heb. 4:15) Even though His humanity was in union with His divinity He did not deal with temptation in His divine power but overcame true temptation in the strength of His humanity.  As Adam fell of his own volition, Christ overcame sin of His own volition. (1 Cor. 15:22). As for His divine nature, James 1:13 states that “God cannot be tempted with evil” so in His divinity there was no opportunity for Him to sin. I believe therefore in the impeccability of Christ but also that the temptations that Christ faced were real. His victory over the temptations did show that a man totally yielded to God and relying on the word of God and the power of God is able not to sin.

 

Jesus Christ fulfills a three-fold office of prophet, priest and king. As prophet, Christ was the channel of God’s revelation to man (Heb. 1:1-3). As priest, Christ became our sacrifice (Gal. 1:4), our advocate (1 John 2:1) and mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). As king, Jesus Christ has a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36), but a future millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:6) and a future eternal reign (Rev. 22:3-4) Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and while His first coming inaugurated the kingdom, He has not brought about the fullness of His kingdom at this time. For instance, He reigns in us but not in the sense that He will reign in glory. He holds all things together within the entire universe (Col. 1:17) but He has not yet created all things new (Rev. 21:5). His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) but at His appointed time He will return and establish His kingdom on this earth resulting in creating all things new and ridding this world of sin forever.

 

The atoning death of Christ was voluntary (John 10:17). It was also vicarious in that He died for our benefit and became our substitute. (2 Cor. 5:21). His death was also propitiatory in that it appeased and satisfied God’s holy wrath against sin and against my sins. (1 John 4:10). Christ’s death was redemptive in that He purchased my soul from the gallows and redeemed me. He bought me back with the price of His blood (Gal. 4:4-5). Lastly His death was substitutionary in that he took my place of death and His blood healed my relationship with God which had been shattered by my sins. (1 Peter 2:24)

 

Jesus Christ died for everyone. (1 John 2:2), (John 1:29). His death was sufficient for all men to cover the guilt of sin for the basis of reconciliation. However any

who reject or fail to believe in His sacrificial, atoning death, burial and resurrection from the dead will be judged and separated from God for all eternity (John 3:18).

 

Jesus Christ arose bodily from the grave the third day after His death on the cross. (2Tim. 2:8), (Luke 24:6-7). He ascended back into heaven to prepare a place for His people, was exalted by the Father to a place of power at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20-23). The resurrection proved His claims about Himself being deity (Rom. 1:4). It gives us an ever living High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16), assures us of our resurrection (John 5:28-29) and establishes our justification (1 Cor. 15:17).

 

Jesus Christ will again return bodily for His church at any moment (Acts 1:11), (John 14:2-3), (Matt. 24:27-44). After the tribulation, Christ will again return with His saints to rule and reign for a literal thousand years (Rev. 20:6). After that time, Satan, who had been thrown into the pit for the thousand years will be released for a short time and will gather a following from the offspring of the saints who have not believed and along with him they will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:2-3, 7-10). Christ will execute justice from His great white throne and will cast those who have been judged into the lake of fire where the devil, the false prophet and the antichrist have also been cast. (Rev. 20:11-15). Lastly, Christ will create all things new (Rev. 21:1-5) and will bring heaven to earth for all eternity where He will reign. There will be no night and no sun as God will illuminate all of creation (Rev. 21:4-5), (Rev. 22:5).  He will reign for all eternity and we will reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12) and He will never leave us. (Matt. 28:20).

 

Pneumatology:

 

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the divine trinity of the Godhead; co-equal and co-eternal and on the same level as the Father and the Son. He is a person and is called God (Acts 5:3-4). He possesses all divine attributes (Heb. 9:16), was active in creation (Job 33:4), in regeneration (John 3:5,8), in the resurrection (Rom. 8:11) and in inspiration (2 Pet. 1:21).

 

The Holy Spirit is not just an influence, but He is a real person. He has personality, intellect (1 Cor. 2:10-11), (Rom. 8:27), will (1 Cor. 12:11), love (Rom. 15:30), personal acts (Rev. 2:7), (John 14:26), (Acts 13:2), (Rom. 8:14-26).

 

In the Old Testament the work of the Holy Spirit was a selective indwelling. He enabled men for special service (Ex. 31:3), (Jud.14:6), (1 Sam. 16:13) but left when the task was done. (Jud. 16:20) (Ps. 51:11). From the time of Pentecost on, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell believers permanently (Eph. 5:18-20), (John 14:17). His work of restraining sin is also seen in the Old Testament (Gen. 6:3).

 

The Holy Spirit convicts the unregenerate of sin (John 16:8-11) witnessing to them and striving to bring them to Christ.

 

The Holy Spirits brings about regeneration and baptizes or unites every believer at the time of conversion with Christ and through this act, places them into the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13), (Acts 1:5), (Acts. 11:15-16), (Gal. 3:26-27).

 

The Holy Spirit comes to indwell every believer at regeneration regardless of how imperfect that believer may be. (1 Cor. 3:16), (Rom. 8:9). He then enables believers to grow in new life. (Rom. 8:14), (John 14:17), helps us in prayer and the study and comprehension of God’s word (Rom. 8:26-27), (John 16:13), gives us assurance (Rom. 8:14, 16), and He seals us to demark God’s ownership and our eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14), (Eph. 4:30), (2 Cor. 1:22).

 

There is no “second filling” or “second blessing”. We cannot get more of the Spirit than we receive at conversion. (Eph. 1:3). Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19), (Rom. 8:9).

 

The Holy Spirit will fill a believer and thus control his life for service as they prayerfully yield to His authority over them. (Acts 1:8), (Acts 4:8), (Eph. 5:18-26). The filling of the Holy Spirit is not one single experience, but can occur many times and should be sought anew and afresh with each act of service. The individual has the responsibility of yielding his life to be filled with the Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit provides illumination to all believers regarding the word of God. He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). One of the amazing realities of God’s word in my life is that His word was given to us through His Spirit and He speaks to me through that word to the very same Spirit who dwells within me. In that process the Spirit illuminates His words and drives them deep into me. So in essence God speaks His word to Himself in me and illuminates my understanding of His word and works in me to apply His word in me. He is the author of His word, the receiver of His word and the power of His word in me.

 

The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of a believer (Gal. 5:22-23) as the believer yields to the power of the Spirit and learns to walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17).

 

The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to every believer (1 Cor. 12) for a special purpose. Some gifts of the early church were temporary and passes out of usage with the end of the apostolic period. They had a specific purpose during the period that the New Testament was being written but after it was completed the purpose for such gifts was no longer valid or necessary. These temporary gifts included apostleship, prophecy, miracles, tongues and healing. These were sign gifts to unbelievers to authenticate the message of God’s Son (Matt. 9:6), (John 20: 30-31). They were only needed to lay the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20).

 

Since all spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7), (1 Cor. 14:12), there are no gifts for private use such as a private prayer language. Today we have a greater work (John 14:12). The church doesn’t need new revelation, more apostles or special powers. Peter, who had seen Christ glorified along with Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, stated that even that experience paled in comparison to possessing and understanding the very word of the risen Lord (2 Pet. 1:17-19). The church needs a new confrontation with the whole counsel of God, proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit with authority and love by men who are empowered by the Spirit of God and are committed to honoring His only written revelation.

 

Angelology and Satanology:

 

Angels are real and are an independent creation of God. (Ps. 148:2,5). Angels are spirits without bodies (Heb. 1:13-14), but have on occasion appeared unto men (Matt. 1:20), (Heb. 13:2). They do have personal characteristics (2 Tim. 2:26). They do not marry (Matt. 22:30). They will not obtain death (Luke 20: 35-36). They excel in wisdom and strength (Ps. 103:20), (2 Sam. 14:20). They are neither omnipotent, omniscient nor omnipresent.

 

Angels were created as free moral agents (Gen. 1:31), (2 Pet. 2:4), but it appears that when Lucifer rebelled, other angels followed him. (Rev. 12:4), (Matt. 25:41). Some are loose (Eph. 6) others are bound (2 Peter 2:4), (Jude 6). Other angels remained and God preserved their integrity. (Matt. 25:31).

 

Scripture indicates that there are ranks of good and evil angels. (Dan. 10:13), (Col. 1:16). The mission of the good angels is to serve and guard the believer (Heb. 1:14), worship God (Isa. 6:1-3), and do God’s will (Ps. 103:20).

 

Demons appear to be fallen angels. (Matt 8:16), (Heb. 1:14), although their origin is not stated in scripture. Demons extend Satan’s power (Eph. 6:11-12), but they too will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented forever (Matt. 8:28-29), (Matt. 25:41)

 

Satan is the god of this world and is active (Job 1:7), he has access to the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:11-12) and has access to God (Job 1:6). Satan does have superhuman power and is a master of deception and the father of lies. (Rev. 12:9), (John 8:44). He appears as an angel of light as do his minion (2 Cor. 11:14-15) and is called the prince and power of the air (Eph. 2:2), prince of the world (John 14:20) and the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4).

 

Demons can possess non believers but cannot co-exist in believers since they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. People make themselves vulnerable to possession when they unwittingly or willingly vacate their minds or fill their minds with continuously evil thoughts and fantasies. Believers can be oppressed by demons. (1 Pet. 5:8-10) but are instructed to resist them by being firm in our faith. We are further instructed in doing spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

 

Satan is doomed. He has been under the curse of God since the fall of man (Gen. 3:14-15), and was defeated at Calvary (Col. 2:15). He will be confined to the abyss at the beginning of the millennium, then will be released for a short time after the millennium before being cast into the lake of fire.

 

 

Anthropology:

 

The creation account in the book of Genesis is to be taken literally. God created the world in six literal days and rested on the seventh. It is not a myth, nor is it allegorical. It is an historical account of the immediate creation of man. Man was created directly, not from a previously existing form of life (Gen. 1:27, 5:1, 6:7). All men are descendents from Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:27-28, 3:20, 9:19); thus I refute naturalistic and theistic theories of evolution.

 

God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. (Gen. 2:7). Man was created in the image of God. (Gen. 17), meaning that man was created to be like God and to represent Him. Man was created perfect without previous experience with sin, and was responsible for developing his holy character. (Gen. 1:31). God made man both male and female (Gen. 1:27),  stating that it was not good for man to be alone. (Gen. 2:18) He made them male and female for the purpose of procreation in order to fill the earth, subdue it and rule over every living thing (Gen. 1:28). Marriage therefore by design and purpose, is between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is an abomination before God (Lev. 18:22).

 

I believe that man is a dichotomous being possessing a soul and a body. (John 12:27), (John 13:21). While (1 Thess. 5:23) states that man possesses spirit, soul and body, that is an isolated verse that isn’t supported elsewhere in scripture and therefore would seem to me to be saying something other than declaring man as a trichotomous being.  As a proponent of nouthetic counseling, I reject the concept that the body is for medical doctors, the spirit is for psychological counselors and the soul is for biblical counselors.

 

Death brings the separation of the spirit and soul from the body. (Gen. 35:18), (James 2:26). The immaterial part of man will never die, but will either end up in heaven or hell to live forever. In Luke 16 and 2 Corinthians 5, it seems to indicate that those already dead will be resurrected; either with Christ at the rapture to be glorified, or those without Christ being resurrected at the end of the millennial period to be judged (1 Thess. 4:16), (John 5:29), (Rev. 20:12). There is no “soul sleep”. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (Matt. 22:32), (Luke 20:38), (Phil. 1:23).

 

Man was created with the ability to choose right or wrong. Man fell, freely yielding to Satan’s temptation (Gen. 3:6). The result was the total depravity of man with every part of man being affected by sin (Isa. 1:4-6). Through this mankind lost their original righteousness and their spiritual knowledge towards God and became enslaved to evil. (John 8:34).

 

With the fall came the result of death; both spiritual and in time the threat of eternal death. The fall resulted in women experiencing sorrow and pain in childbirth and in resistance to submission to their husbands. (Gen. 3:16) Also, this resulted in the cursing of the ground. (Gen. 3:17-19). That meant that man’s work would have to be done among thorns, weeds, storms, earthquakes and other natural imperfections in the world. (Rom. 8:22)

 

Adam and Eve in the garden were created able to sin and at the same time not able to sin. After the fall of man the human race was not able not to sin. That is; even the good that man seems to do, if not done to the glory of God is sin in His eyes. When man is born again and indwelt by the Spirit of God he alone is able not to sin while at the same time retaining the ability to sin. At glorification man will not be able to sin. So the net result in this present age is that true believers alone do not have to sin. (Rom. 6:11-14)

 

All men have sinned and possess a sin nature. They are captive to sin and Satan with no possible means of escape from within themselves. (Rom. 3:10, 23, 5:12, 7:14, 23), (1 Cor. 15:22). Everyone who remains in this condition will suffer the wrath of God (John 3:18).

 

Hamartiology:

 

Sin is the failure to conform to the moral law of God . Sin did not originate with God and God did not create evil. God is perfect and sin is imperfection. Sin originated with Lucifer when he led a rebellion of the angelic beings against the Lord of hosts (Isa. 14:12-14), (John 8:44), (1 John 3:8). With respect to the human race, sin originated with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:1-19). All descendents of Adam are born into sin. (1 Cor. 15:22), (Ps. 51:5). We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners by nature. No descendent of Adam can inherit eternal life. They must be born again into a living relationship with the living Christ (1 Cor. 15:22), (John 3:3-6).

 

The believer retains the proclivity to sin in his unredeemed flesh but his new nature cannot sin since his new nature is the Spirit of God. Paul lamented that sin was present “in my members” or in his flesh. (Rom. 7:15-25) Only believers have the ability not to sin through the power of the new birth and the new nature that results from that miracle. The process of practical sanctification is the progressive acting upon the new nature and denying the unredeemed flesh it’s passions and desires.

If a believer sins he impairs fellowship with God. (1 John 1:3) and other believers (1 John 2:5) and quenches the work of the Spirit. By confessing sin the fellowship with God is restored (1 John 1:9). A person who proclaims to know Christ but continues in habitual sin with no remorse and no desire to repent shows signs of being a non believer (1 John 2:4-5) and is to be dealt with  by being ultimately separated from the local church. (Matt. 18:15-17), (1 Cor. 5:1-13) This separation is an act of love and is designed to restore the person or to show the individual his or her need for true salvation. (Gal. 6:1).

 

Soteriology:

 

Salvation is solely the work of God on behalf of man. God gave His Son as a ransom for the penalty of sin. By the shedding of His blood, Christ paid the sin debt for mankind and satisfied or propitiated the demands of God. (1 Pet. 1:2), (Eph. 1:7), (John 3:16) This work of salvation is offered freely to all men (Matt. 11:28), (John 7:37-38), (Titus 2:11) Only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ will man ever be and has ever been saved. (Acts 4:12), (Rom. 3:24). His work was an atonement sufficient to cover the sins of all mankind. (Isa. 53:6), (John 1:20), (Rom. 5:20)

 

In 1618 the Council of Dort convened to deal with a false teaching by Jacob Arminius. Arminius put our a manifesto titled “The Remonstrance” and it contained five primary points: First, that man contains within him a spark of goodness that enables him to positively respond to the gospel. Second, that God’s call is not effectual, but that man can resist God’s call. Third, God’s election is based on His foreknowledge of who would receive Him of their own accord. Fourth, that Christ’s death did not secure salvation for anyone but rather it made salvation possible for everyone who of their own volition believes. Fifth, that it is the responsibility of man to maintain and retain his salvation and that salvation can be lost by man’s failure to continue in belief. John Calvin, in responding to these five points of false teaching, rebutted with these five points that are often referred to by the first letters of each point as TULIP:

 

Total Depravity: Man is dead in trespasses and sins and is unable to save himself (Eph. 2:1-3, 8-9). This is called “Total Depravity” which is the first point of Calvinism.  Thus God takes the initiative in salvation as all men freely choose to reject God. (Rom. 3:10-12), (John 1:4-5, 10-11). Just as Lucifer and the angels freely chose to reject God and Adam and Eve exercising their free will chose to reject God, all mankind, if left to their natural desires will freely choose to reject God.

 

Unconditional Election: God has therefore given His Son a people whom He will never cast out. (John 6:37-40). No man will come to Christ except he be one of those given to the Son by the Father and the Father draws him (John 6:44). These are God’s by His own sovereign choice (John 15:16), (2 Thess. 2:13), (Rom. 11:5-6), by grace and according to His good pleasure and purpose (Eph. 1:5,11). This election is according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:2), (Rom. 8:29), Who has predestined men to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:30). It was not of any merit of man (Eph. 2:8-9), (2 Tim. 1:9). Therefore, foreknowledge is not foreseen faith, for this would make God dependent on man, but it describes God’s determination to love His creation. (Jer. 31:3), (Rom. 9:11-16), (Jer. 1:5).

As to man possessing a free will; I believe that man is a free moral agent but will never choose God as stated above. Man is not truly free for he is a servant to sin (John 8:34). Freedom only comes when Christ breaks the shackles of sin (John 8:36). God holds man as responsible for his failure to choose Christ despite man’s inability to do so. Man is unwilling and incapable. God must rescue him.

·        Irresistible Grace: At God’s appointed time He acts sovereignly upon individual sinners, performing a spiritual work within; thus giving man a change of mind bringing about repentance (Acts 3:19), bending the sinner’s will to His own thereby drawing him to Christ (Acts 16:14).

·        Preservation of the Saints: The believer will never lose his salvation for he is kept by the power of God (John 10:27-29, 3:36, 17:11), (1 John 5:11-13), (Rom. 8: 35-39), (Eph. 4:30).

·        Limited Atonement: The teaching that Christ died for the elect only. This is the one aspect of Calvinism that I am not dogmatic about. Having been a hard “five pointer” in the past, I have studied and am open to the fact that Christ’s death on the cross did indeed pay the sin debt for all mankind. (1 John 2:2). I used to think that this was not sound doctrine because if Christ died for all men’s sins then God couldn’t punish both the Son and the sinner for the same sins. That is double jeopardy and renders Christ’s finished work on the cross as ineffectual. On the other hand, if Christ didn’t pay the sin debt for all men then the gospel call to the non-elect would not be genuine. The ultimate question in my mind is: does man go to hell for inheriting the sin of Adam and being born with a sin nature and for his sins which he freely committed or is there another reason? In John 3:18 I think I have found the answer: “…he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” While it’s true that they did not believe because of their sin nature it still seems to me that the sentence of hell is pronounced because of their rejection of Christ and His atoning death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the basis for their eternal destiny. Even though their sins have been paid for at the cross, they perish because of their unbelief and their rejection of Christ’s payment of their sin debt. The offer of eternal life is valid to all since Christ died for all but those who refuse to accept that payment for their sins will perish in their sins. Because a mentally handicapped person or an infant has not rejected Christ I believe they go to heaven despite possessing a sin nature as a descendent of Adam. Their sins were paid for at the cross and they are not capable of accepting or rejecting the cross. The people of the old testament were saved by trusting in God’s future payment for their sins and those after the cross up to today are saved by trusting in the past work of the cross of Christ. I want to present these doctrines in a way that minimizes the usual knee-jerk reaction of thinking God to be unfair and going the route of the Romans 9 questioning of God’s character. I want the emphasis to be on man’s rejection of God and man freely rejecting Christ’s death as the payment for their sins. Man doesn’t go to hell because God didn’t choose them. They go to hell because they didn’t choose God and the sacrifice of His Son. Salvation is an instantaneous miracle of God and involves:

·        Regeneration: This occurs the moment the individual believes. To believe (pisteo) means to trust. It goes beyond head knowledge to acting upon the truth of God’s word. A true believer undergoes a new birth, not a process (John 5:24), and receives a new nature, given eternal life through the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17), (2 Pet. 1:4), (John 3:3-5).

·        Conversion: The initial experience of a sinner turning from sin toward God (Acts 14:15), (Acts 3:19), (1 Thess. 1:9). Repentance is the key in that one agrees with what God says about their sin and their condition. They have a change of mind and embrace the cross. Repentance is the essential requirement of conversion. One comes to the cross in brokenness over their sins and bows their knee to the Lordship of Christ. They do not yet know how to live for Christ but they have a willingness to do so. It is not biblical to assert that one can merely “accept Christ” and “Lordship” is an option down the line. (Rom. 10:9-10)

·        Justification: This is the act where the believer is no longer under condemnation but is declared righteous before God. This is a judicial act of God where God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to the believer so that God sees Christ in us and His righteousness. (Rom. 3:23-26), (2 Cor. 5:21), (1 Cor. 1:30).

·        Redemption: Where a believer is bought out of the market place of sin by the price of the blood of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:14), (Gal. 3:13).

·        Reconciliation: Man’s state of alienation from God is changed so that now he is restored to Divine favor. Man must change, not God, because God is unchangeable. (Rom. 5:11), (Rom, 11:15), (2 Cor. 5:18-19)

·        Adoption: The believer is placed as an adult son into God’s family and becomes a joint heir with Jesus Christ; not merely children but heirs. (Rom. 8:14-17).

·        Sanctification: This begins instantaneously but is a process that continues throughout a believer’s life. This is a state of being set apart from the world unto God and is both an act and a process (Acts 26:18), (Heb. 10:10). It is viewed as past, present and future in that I have been sanctified, I am being sanctified and I will be totally sanctified at glorification. The past is positional sanctification which occurs at conversion. The believer is set apart from the penalty of sin (1 Cor. 1:2). The present aspect deals with the believer growing in the grace and knowledge of God, cleansing himself through the Holy Spirit to daily grow in Christ likeness. (2 Cor. 7:1), (1 John 1:9). The future deals with the coming of Christ where he will become like Him and be made perfect, which will forever separate us from sin (1 Thess. 3:12-13).

 

Ecclesiology:

 

The Greek word “ecclesia”, meaning “called out”, has a two-fold significance in the New Testament. First, there is the church as an organism which is the mystical body of Christ, of which Christ is the living head. This includes all regenerated believers from the time of Pentecost to the rapture. These are the people God is taking out of the gentiles for His name. The Holy Spirit baptized each believer into this body, (1 Cor. 12:12-13), (Eph. 1:22-23), (Eph. 3:4-6). Secondly, it refers to a local church which is a body of baptized believers joining together to worship God and having two offices: Pastor and deacon and the observance of two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s table. The proclamation of the gospel is at the center of the purpose for the local church. (Acts 16:5), (Acts 2:41-42).

 

The church will not go through the Great Tribulation (1 Thess. 1:10), (Rev. 3:10), (Rev. 6:17), instead Christ may appear at any moment in the air and snatch His church into His presence. At that time the dead in Christ shall rise first, then those alive will be transformed in the twinking of an eye to be like Him. (1 Thess. 4:16-17), (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

 

The church is built upon the foundation of the prophets and the apostles with Christ Jesus being the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Christ has given the church first apostles, then NT prophets who filled the gap until the New Testament was written. These two offices disappeared when the apostles and prophets died and the New Testament was written, eliminating the need for prophets. The other two offices given to the church was the office of evangelist and pastors. (Eph. 4:11-13). These are the only two offices in today’s church.

 

There are only two scriptural offices in the local church. One is office of elder.  This office is described as a pastor (poimen), an elder (presbyteros) and the overseer (episkopos). All three titles are used to describe the one office in (1 Peter 5:1-2). The Pastor can be one of multiple elders with the pastor being the “teaching pastor” as described in (Eph. 4:11). Elders are to deal with the spiritual issues of the church and devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). Ephesians 4:11 lists the office of “Pastor/Teacher” as one of the four gifts to the church. This office is an elder who holds the primary responsibility for the teaching of God’s word. While all elders must be able to teach the “pastor/teacher” seems to indicate one person who has primary responsibility for the teaching of God’s word. He differs from the other elders in degree, not in kind. Elders are to rule (1 Tim. 5:17) and those who make their living teaching God’s word are instructed in that verse to be paid. A church that is elder led is not a dictatorship but is accountable to the congregation. Elders make the decisions and the congregation blesses those decisions as they trust in the integrity and spiritual discernment of their elder leaders.  The other office is the office of deacon. That office originated in Acts 6:1-6. They are to relieve the pastor of mundane, administrative issues and allow the pastor to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. The qualifications for these offices of both pastor and deacon are listed in (1 Tim. 3:1-13) and (Titus 1:6-9).

 

The church is to observe two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s supper. The act of baptism is apart from regeneration. Baptism is by immersion only into water as the meaning of the act is to depict the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and our following Him as an act of obedience. (Act. 8:36-39), (Acts 2:41), (Rom. 6:3-5). The Lord’s supper is for remembrance of Christ’s death until He comes. His death is symbolically represented in the broken bread and cup. Each believer is to examine himself before partaking (1 Cor. 11:26-28). The order of Christian obedience is; salvation, baptism, church membership and the Lord’s supper. (Acts 2:41-42).

 

The Bible believing church should hold to these distinctives:

·        Christian liberty and the universal priesthood of believers (1 John 2:27), (Rom. 14:4-5), (1 Tim. 2:5)

·        The supreme authority of scripture (2 Tim. 3:16), (2 Pet. 1:21).

·        Headship of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), (Col. 2:19)

·        Independence of the local autonomous church. (Phil 1:27), (Acts 15:2, 15), (1 Cor. 11:2, 20).

·        Two ordinances of believers baptism and the Lord’s supper (Matt. 28:19), (1 Cor. 11:28-30)

·        Regenerate church membership (Acts 2:41, 47)

·        Separation of church and state (Matt. 22:21), (Rom. 13:1) That is that the church is independent of control by any worldly government and free to worship and obey God without interference or control by outside government agencies.

·        There is no scriptural warrant of an ecclesiastical organization beyond a simple fellowship of independent local churches.

 

Israel is God the Father’s chosen people. God sent His Son to His chosen people and they rejected Him (John 1:11). The church began at Pentecost in Acts 2 and originated from Judaism and with Christ as the head being a Jew and the first Christians being Jews it is clear that the church has replaced Israel for a season. After the rapture of the church God will refocus on Israel and fulfill His unconditional Abrahamic covenant. Christ as Messiah will return and sit on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem for a literal one thousand years. I do not believe in “replacement theology”. As Romans 11 states, God has grafted the gentiles in and can take them away and graft Israel back in. I believe that is what will happen.  

 

Eschatology:

 

At death, believers are “absent from the body and present with the Lord”. (2 Cor. 5:8). Their mortal bodies can be buried in the ground or cremated and their ashes scattered into the sea. There is no such thing as “soul sleep”. At the rapture of the church, God will assemble the molecules of the mortal body no matter where they are and our bodies will be glorified and joined with our souls.

 

Today, all of God’s plans are fulfilled and Jesus Christ could appear at any time for His church. When this occurs, the dead in Christ will be raised first, then those alive will meet Him in the air with glorified bodies.  (1 Thess. 4:16-17), (Rev. 3:10), (1 Cor. 15: 51-51). Believers will then appear at the judgment (Bema) seat of Christ to be judged or rewarded for their works (2 Cor. 5:10), (1 Cor. 3:12-15). Then the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place to celebrate Christ’ reunion with His church (Rev. 19:7-9).

 

Immediately after the rapture the tribulation period begins. This is the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan. 9:25-27). The first half will be peaceful because of the covenant between the antichrist and Israel. During the last half, or the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, (Rev. 3:10), the covenant will be broken and Satan’s powers will be rampant and the judgment of God will be brought upon this earth. There will be 144,000 faithful Jews during this time as God’s witnesses. The end of this time will come with Christ’s returning to earth (2 Thess. 1:7-10), and the antichrist will be destroyed at the battle of Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14, 16), (Rev. 19:17-21).

 

The coming of Christ to rule with His saints starts the millennium period of 1,000 years. The Davidic throne will be established in Jerusalem (2 Sam 7:13), (Isa. 9:6-7). All creation will be blessed with peace. (Isa. 11:7-9,12). The Old Testament saints, along with the martyred tribulation saints will be resurrected at the beginning as the last of the first resurrection and will reign with Christ. (Dan. 12:1-2), (Rev. 20:4). Satan will be bound and thrown into the abyss during this time. He will later be released for a short time to try to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:2-3) before he is defeated and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 10).

 

At the end of the millennium the resurrected of all unsaved of all ages will stand at the Great White Throne to be judged by Christ. They will be condemned to eternal torment  in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-15). There will be a new heaven and earth where all of the saints will dwell with God forever. (Rev. 21:14), (2 Pet. 3:10-13).