Posted by: Heather | May 1, 2009

What I Believe

About two years ago, our young church (has only been gathering for about 3 years) began discussing the selection of elders. When It became apparent that I was going to be examined for this purpose, I was asked to put down in writing my “doctrinal statement” This was a very good exercise for me. Whether or not you are being publicly examined or not, it isn’t a bad idea in my opinion to be able to state simply what you believe. I was thinking while I was at work today about the variety of people I have “met” in this forum, and realized that many of you don’t really know me. We read each others’ posts and have some good discussions, but all we know about each other is what has been put down in this forum. So, I thought I would cut and paste the doctrinal statement I put together on this blog. I am open to comments or discussions. However, you don’t have to agree with me or my way of saying things. The critical point is to be sure you agree with Christ. He is the one you will have to answer to on “that day”

  • I believe in the God of the Bible, who is the Creator of the universe. I believe he created all that is in 6 literal days. I believe he is intricately involved in all that has happened from then until now, and will continue to be.
  • I believe God is absolutely holy and perfect, eternal, all knowing, all powerful, the source of all that is good, and everywhere at once.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, and is God himself.
  • I believe Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but existed as God before.
  • I believe these three personalities all share the same attributes, are totally united, and yet perform different functions, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • I believe Jesus was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem as the Prophets foretold in the Old Testament.
  • I believe Jesus is a real man, who lived a perfect and sinless life.
  • I believe Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried for the sin of mankind.
  • I believe that Jesus literally and physically rose from the dead under his own power on the 3rd day as he said he would do, and that he has made this same resurrection power available to all who believe in him so they can live in victory over sin, this is the resurrected life.
  • I believe salvation of the sinner’s soul is by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ, and not of works. I believe good works are an evidence of salvation, but not a requirement for salvation.
  • I believe Jesus ascended to heaven and is seated at God’s right hand because his work is done. He intercedes as an advocate to God the Father on the behalf of all who believe. I believe he is now the King of Heaven and Earth.
  • I believe that Jesus will return to rule on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I believe he is the judge of all men, living and dead, and will perform this judgement in his own good time. This time will be the perfect and complete fulfillment of prophecy.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Comforter. He convicts men of sin. He speaks what he hears from scripture. He gifts the members of the church with what is needed. Some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors or teachers.
  • I believe Jesus will build his church and that the gates of hell will not stand against it.
  • I believe that fellowship between saints is the result of their fellowship with God, and that they will be known in the world for their love for one another.
  • I believe sin can only be forgiven by God, and that He forgives all who repent and ask for it in faith. I believe that salvation of the sinner’s soul can be found in none other than Jesus Christ.
  • I believe that God has chosen in advance who will be saved.
  • I believe that God holds mankind responsible to put his faith in God and has given us a free will to make this choice.
  • I believe that all will be resurrected bodily. Some to eternal damnation, and others to live with God.
  • I believe the 66 books of the Bible are God’s own words to mankind.
  • I believe they were without error in their original texts and that we can trust several current translations to learn that original meaning. I believe the best way to find this meaning is not to depend upon one translation, but to compare several reliable ones prayerfully and ask God for wisdom.
  • I believe the truth in the Bible is Spiritually discerned in the heart of the believer by the work of the Holy Spirit, because no man has known the mind of God, but we have been given the mind of Christ.
  • I believe that every person is born a slave to sin, and that even believers struggle with this tendency to sin until our physical bodies die.
  • I believe we are to be holy and righteous, but I also believe that a person could keep the whole Law of Moses and still fall short of holiness and righteousness. I believe that we are to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and that we are to love one another as Christ loved us. This would sum up the Perfect Law of Liberty, or the Royal Law, which is part of the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood shed for our sin.
  • I believe in a literal thousand-year reign on earth by Jesus, which is still to come in the future.
  • I believe that in the last days before Jesus returns to reign on earth, it will be like it was at the time of Noah, and that it will be a very evil time. I believe at the end of this time Jesus will come in the clouds, and that those who have put their faith in Him will meet him in the air (first the dead in Christ, followed by those who are alive) as he returns to judge the world and rule. I do not believe this calling away will be secret, but that every eye will see the return of our Lord. While no man knows the hour or day, we will be able to recognize the time approaching.
  • I try to avoid reading scripture through other people’s frameworks of understanding. (Calvinism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Covenentalism, etc.) I find that often these belief systems have a grain of truth, and some misunderstandings as well. I believe the proof of a person’s genuine faith is seen more in their life than in how well they have diagrammed God and the world around them. All of my above beliefs are held in an open hand before Christ, and if He chooses to correct me, his will be done. The final authority in my life and thinking is God’s Word, not any man’s creed, and my own included.

Just my thoughts,

Craig

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Responses

  1. I believe you are correct on everyone of those!!!

  2. I believe like you on all but two: I believe in “foreknowledge” rather than God chooses who will be saved, and I do believe in the secret catching away (pre-trib rapture) of the saints. But those two are, to me, peripherel issues and not major ones and not points of fellowship for me. Good job!

  3. Oh, and I cannot get to Heather’s site no matter WHAT I do! My internet server is giving me problems but it really doesn’t like her site! Can’t figure out what is wrong.

  4. Mary,
    I stripped off several of the 3rd party widgets that might have been causing problems.

    Heather

  5. Mary,
    I agree that both of these two topics are peripheral. On the first one, I wonder if we will sit around in heaven and discuss it, as we may STILL not understand it. I certainly don’t understand everything I know about sovereignty, free will, predestination, and foreknowledge. I believe to a certain extent all 4 are true, and where we go wrong is that we think one excludes the other. I think our own thoughts may be too small on this topic.

    As far as a pre-trib rapture, I still hope it is true, but I don’t see very good support for it in scripture. So I plan to suffer and hope I don’t need to. Fortunately, Revelation says “blessed are those who read” rather than “blessed are those who diagram and understand” the book.

    As always, I appreciate your comments. Glad to see you back.

    Craig

  6. I agree, Craig. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t talking about the same things, just the words are different, because these things are hard to describe, if not impossible.

    Oh well, like they say, “If I could understand everything about God, all it would prove is that He isn’t any smarter than I am!”

    I can get on Heather’s site now. I go to my Favorites list and get to it there. Maybe taking off her widget helped, too, I don’t know.

    Yeah, I guess we’ll find out about the Rapture. Either we will or we won’t!

    How exciting, though, that you church group has matured enough to be able to select elders! And that is great that you sat down and wrote out your beliefs about the Bible.

  7. To clarify (not argue, as I am not too sure about much in this topic)
    I do believe in the rapture. However I believe scripture says every eye will see it. I believe it will happen after the sun goes dark and the heavens shake. All on earth will be terrified, and those without Christ will want the mountains to cover them. However, we will look up for our salvation will be drawing near. (I don’t believe it will be secret) I am not sure of the concept of a 7 year tribulation – as I find some serious flaws with the 70th week of Daniel still being in the future. (not to say it can’t be a seven year period, just not THAT seven year period) I think we will be raptured at the 6th trumpet of Revelation. After great tribulation but before God’s wrath. However, I am not sure the “tribulation” is a 7 year period. (So I am neither pre – mid – or post tribulation. I think the “tribulation” period may be the entire church age, and we may be in it now – but not sure of this idea.

    So I don’t believe in a secret rapture, and I am not sure it is “pre-trib” but I certainly look forward to a literal rapture.

    Craig

  8. Yup. Well, about the pre-trib rapture, I’ve never been one of those who thinks that the purpose for it is so that Christians will not have to suffer (although I have heard lots of pre-tribbers say that, lol). Christians have always suffered, and always will somewhere in the world, and even if there is a pre-trib rapture, I believe the persecution will be pretty nasty at that point.

    I believe the purpose for the pre-trib rapture is so that Antichrist can come to power (the restrainer, the church, is taken out of the way).

    Also, the belief has a purifying effect (don’t let Him find you sleeping — nothing has to “happen” for the rapture to take place). I have noticed that the demise of the popularity of the pre-trib rapture among those who used to enjoy thinking about it, has resulted in a lack of holiness.

    But, yes, these things are, for me, hard to figure out. I love to study and read about it, though. I like John MacArthur’s commentaries on Matthew 24 and Revelation.

  9. I certainly enjoy discussing it with you, and looking forward to it as well.

    Thanks again for your input. I really do appreciate the perspective of someone with the varied experience you bring to the discussion.

    Craig

  10. Mary said:
    Also, the belief has a purifying effect (don’t let Him find you sleeping — nothing has to “happen” for the rapture to take place). I have noticed that the demise of the popularity of the pre-trib rapture among those who used to enjoy thinking about it, has resulted in a lack of holiness.
    ************************

    Good point.

    Reminds me of 2Peter 3:3-6 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
    And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
    For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
    Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished
    ************************

    The “scientific” community has been denying a worldwide flood for years. A lot of Christians have bought into that idea, too. Those of us who believe in a literal flood are often considered to be ignorant.

    And, recently, I read about a prominent emergent church leader who said he thinks Christians need to give up on the idea of a rapture and Revelation-esque end-of-time scenario. People who take end-times Bible prophecy seriously are starting to be considered fundamentalist kooks by mainstream society, too.

    Hm. It’s amazing to me how accurately Peter described our times.

    Heather

  11. Yes, Heather, the verse I like is in I John 3:2b,3: “…but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him puriefeth himself, even as he is pure.”

    Once Christians forget about the imminent second coming of Jesus, or push it to the background, the purifying effect seems to go away in the church.

    That’s why we classic “pre-trib rapture” people are adamant is saying that nothing has to happen in order for the rapture to take place: not the appearance of anti-christ, not the one-world government, etc.

    Waiting for things like that to happen causes us to get sleepy, thinking, “Oh, well, the anti-christ has not appeared yet, and this hasn’t happened and that hasn’t happened…, so we’re going to be here for a while…” and before you know it, you are spiritually asleep.

    I just find it interesting that the lack of holiness in the church today seems to be tied in with the demise in interest in the pre-trib rapture (or if you don’t believe in the pre-trib rapture, or in any secret rapture — at least attention should be given to the “day of the Lord” or, the end of the world, when Christ will come back for every eye to see, in judgment).

    Of course, there were always all sorts of weird things taught back in the 70’s and 80’s about the pre-trib rapture, like it would happen to help us escape persecution, or that if you owed money on your credit card you wouldn’t go, or that if you didn’t speak in tongues you wouldn’t go, or if you weren’t perfect in every thought word and deed you wouldn’t go. All that stuff is nonsense, of course.

    But, I guess we’ll know someday. Either the rapture will or will not happen pre- or mid-trib, or we will die of old age and find out when we get to heaven.

  12. I think it is interesting in Matthew 24 when Jesus was asked about the sign of His return, He repeatedly said to stay alert- Not just to be watching *for* the “indicators” but also in order to not be *fooled* by false Christs or false prophets (because there will be many impressive ones that appear before Jesus does).

    Then, He tells the parables of the unfaithful servant, ten virgins, talents and sheep and goats. Staying alert and being obedient are essential aspects of true Christianity!

    Like Peter, Jesus also points to The Flood as a “sign” of His imminent return. He said that people will be pretty much going about their everyday lives and He’s going to make a grand entrance that shocks anyone who is clueless! He even said it will surprise those who are paying attention!

    When disaster strikes, don’t our governments just try to tape things back together and go on as though nothing is really wrong?

    A huge number of people are totally oblivious to the fact that Jesus said there would be wars (pretty much constantly, all over the world), famines (like all over Africa, India, etc.), disease, (AIDS, cancer, SARS, weird mutated viruses and antibiotic resistant bacteria) and natural disasters (maybe I’m just imagining that they are getting more frequent and more devastating). I see news headlines that show the main international human response to be “WE must do something about [whatever problem] so we won’t become extinct!”

    I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Peter wrote the passage about people ignoring the first worldwide demolition…He was right there when Jesus talked about it!

    I know Jesus promised to come back for His Bride someday…and whether I am a “great” servant or a “small” one, He expects to find me busily obeying Him until that moment

    Mat 24:45-46 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has made ruler over His household, to give them food in due season?
    Blessed is that servant whom his Lord shall find him doing so when He comes.

    There isn’t much wiggle-room to excuse placing our faith on a shelf, is there?

    Heather

  13. I too have been wondering lately about Calvinism and the Rapture.Some things that seem so clear to me do not appear to be that way with other Christians.

    How do you determine what is important and what is not?

    For example, I <>know<> the Biblical position on homos*xuality is clear; but all of a sudden–lately–many people are insisting that there are “differences of opinion” on the matter; and are calling for a “truce” much like you have on the issue of predestination or the rapture.

    And so I am very conflicted over the matter of how strident I should be about points that Christians differ on.

    (By the way I cannot see evidence for splitting the 70 weeks into 69/1 either; but I am “post-tribulationist and believe that every eye will see Him).

  14. I also like your approach that if you are willing to be led; then God will guide you into all truth.

  15. “How do you determine what is important and what is not?”
    Good question. Personally, I take it back to 2 things. How does this difference affect the person and work of Christ? How does it treat the authority of Scripture? I find the major doctrinal differences will fall in these two categories. The minor ones will not. Then we must go to Romans 14, were we don’t want Christ to be spoken of as evil because of our personal opinions.

    Just my thoughts,

    Craig

  16. I enjoyed reading those and only disagree with you on two – I believe in foreknowledge of God instead of predestination and pre-trib – not arguing with you, but as someone pointed out recently, the tribulation will be to punish the sinners, not the saints. I sure hope God is pre-trib too! Thanks for posting that – helped refresh it for me. 🙂

  17. Romans 8:29-30
    (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.
    (30) But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    Mark,
    I believe in both foreknowledge and predestination because the Bible speaks of both. I also believe God gave us a will and holds us responsible for what we do with it.

    I deliberately avoided both “foreknow” and “predestined” in my statement because they are religious words that carry connotations beyond their dictionary definitions. (if you say one, people automatically assume you are Calvinist, the other and they assume you are Armenian) I have to say I am neither. I believe both sides have some good arguments. The problem in my humble opinion is that we as finite humans try to define God in a way that seems logical to us. I believe when God says something about himself, it is true. I find times when two things he says don’t make sense to me at the same time. That does not mean they aren’t true necessarily, it simply means I don’t understand. I am not the measure of God, He is his own final measure. Make sense? Not arguing either, just clarifying what I mean.

    As far as prophecy goes, I must admit that I don’t understand it very well at all. I have been pre-trib, but as I have studied it out for myself that belief has fallen apart. Not saying it isn’t true, (and actually, I would be thrilled if it was true) just that the biblical arguments for it and the methodology of that belief system as far as hermeneutics go are a bit weak.

    I am in the process of studying prophecy now on my own with my Bible, in an effort to clarify what is true. The short answer is that I don’t know what I believe at this point as far as time and order of things. I believe Jesus is literally and physically coming back when He decides to, and that it will be the exact fulfillment of prophecy. I just don’t understand what that will look like.

    Incidentally, I think the people who had the first coming “all figured out” missed it. The fulfillment of prophecy didn’t happen like they thought it would. May be that way again, who knows?

    Thanks for the comment, I appreciated it. Nice to hear from you again!
    Craig


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