God – There is one God (Eph 4:4-6) who is the Creator of the Universe (Gen 1:1; Heb 11:3) and of all humanity (Gen 1:26-28). For this reason, He has ultimate authority over everything. He loves us deeply, (1 John 4:8-10), is compassionate and merciful (Jas 5:11) and, because He desires our repentance, He is patient with us (2 Peter 3:9). He has revealed Himself to be a Trinity (cf. Gen 1:26), namely, God the Father (Col 1:2), God the Son (John 20:28) and God the Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
Jesus – The second person of the Trinity, God the Son, took upon the name Jesus when He humbled Himself, giving up the glory of Heaven to come to Earth (Phil 2:5-8) as a human being (John 1:1-2, 14; Heb 2:7-9). He did this so that He could willingly sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sins (John 10:15-18). He is the head of the Church that He came to establish (Matt 16:18; Col 1:18), which, upon His death, He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). One day, He will return to trumpet the resurrection, judge both the living and the dead, and take the Church to Heaven for eternity (1 Cor 15:24; 2 Pet 3:10-12; John 5:28-29; Matt 25:31-32).
Holy Spirit – The third person of the Trinity, God the Spirit, revealed the Word of God to humanity through the inspired writers of Scripture (2 Pet 1:20-21; Eph 3:1-7). During the writing of the New Testament (c. AD 30s to 90s), He gave various individuals in the Church the ability to work miracles by which to confirm the Gospel message, that it was indeed from God, and He guided all to knowledge of the truth (Heb 2:3-4; Acts 2:1-4, 14;Mark 16:17-18; 1 Cor 12:1-11). Today, the Holy Spirit continues to convict the hearts of people through the completed revelation of God’s Word, the Bible (Rom 1:16-18; John 16:8), and He specifically intercedes for Christians (Rom 8:26), as Christ does as well (Rom 8:34). The Holy Spirit also dwells within the the individual Christian and the Church, which are both described as God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16-17).
The Bible – The Bible is the inerrant, completely inspired, written Word from the mind and mouth of God. It was written by 40 chosen men, from various backgrounds, over 1,600 years, yet maintains a perfect unity in theme and purpose. Furthermore, ancient manuscript evidence is overwhelmingly sufficient for us to know that we have what was originally written by those chosen men thousands of years ago. Once completed at the end of the first century AD, the Bible became, and still is, the completed revelation of God’s Word and will, such that there is no need for anything else (Rev 22:18-19; 2 Pet 1:3). The Bible is all we need to know both what God wants for us to be and how He wants us to live our lives, namely, in a way that pleases Him (2 Tim 3:16-17).
The Church – The Church is a body (Col 1:18) composed of immersed (“baptized”) believers (Acts 2:38, 41; see below), who are called out of the world and assembled together in Christ. The Church of Christ’s name does not denote division or preference, but ownership. Jesus established her (Matt 16:18) and purchased her with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Therefore, she is His Church. As a result, there is one body and one teaching (i.e., doctrine) from Christ (Col 1:18; Eph 4:4-6), and that one body should abide in that one doctrine (2 John 9). The Church is to be unified in mind and judgment (1 Cor 1:10), not with the false unity of (doctrinal and ethical) compromise. The individual talents of each member are important and they work together for the sake of the Church, that she may grow properly (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12-31). And it is the Church that will be delivered to Heaven on the Day of Judgment (1 Cor 15:24).
Authority – Ultimate authority is with God. It is He who decides what is right and what is wrong. We learn of His commands and expectations through the Bible alone. Authority for what we do and the way we live our lives is expressed to us by God in one of the following ways:
Explicitly (i.e. a direct command) – These are obvious, and there should be no argument. Examples include the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), and passages such as John 13:34, Colossians 3:9, 21; Philippians 4:6-7, etc.
Implicitly – Sometimes people have the mistaken impression that the Bible is so ancient it is not applicable to our time. That is as far from the truth as it can be (Heb 4:12). Sometimes we have to use our mature, trained consciences and compare the issues of our day to Biblical commands and principles in order to find out what we should do. That’s what the Hebrews writer was dealing with in 5:12-14. It takes spiritual maturity, and that is how we inference what is right and what it wrong.
Example – Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to “imitate me as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). We can, and should, follow the example of the apostles to determine what we should and should not do. While commands give us the what, the approved (by God) example of the apostles and the first century Church shows us the how of those commands.
Silence – Silence is just as binding as above just mentioned. When God commands something, He commands it to the exclusion of all other options (unless clearly stated in Scripture). There are many examples of this, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. For instance, in Gen 6:14, God commanded Noah to use “gopher wood” to the exclusion of all other woods. In other words, it was not necessary for God to explicitly say, “Do not use oak, cedar, maple, etc.” Another example would be Nadab and Abihu’s “strange fire” from Lev 10:1-3 and Moses striking the rock instead of speaking to it in Num 20:7-13. A good example in the New Testament would come from Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which explicitly states that Christians must sing, praising God from the heart. It is not necessary for the Bible to say, in addition, that instruments are not allowed, since such a command in inherent in the silence of these passages.
Sin – To sin means “to miss the mark.” In other words, when we sin, we have not hit the target that God has set up for us; we have violated His laws in some way, as committing sin is to be lawless in one’s actions (1 John 3:4). Sin separates us from God (Isa 59:1-2) since God is holy, and sin cannot be in His presence. That’s why God planned to send his Son (Gen 3:15; Rom 5:12) to redeem us from our sins (Tit 2:14).
Grace – It is by God’s mercy and grace that we are saved (Eph 2:5-9). We accept God’s grace through our obedient faith (Eph 2:8). Without God’s grace, we could have no hope of salvation. Salvation cannot be earned, but it must be accepted through humble obedience. Being a beneficiary of God’s grace also means that God has expectations for the way we live our lives (Tit 2:11-13; Rom 6:1-2).
Salvation – Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, comes through the blood of Christ (Rev 1:5-6). Once someone has been convicted by the Word of God (Acts 2:36-37), they naturally desire freedom from the bondage of sin. The people on the day of Pentecost asked, realizing they were responsible for the death of Jesus, “what should we do?” (Acts 2:37) The same question must be asked today, too, and the answer is still the same:
Hear the Word of God (Rom 10:17)
Believe the Jesus (John 3:16-17)
Repent (Luke 13:3)
Confess publicly that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt 10:32-33)
Be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet 3:21)
Continue in faithful service for life (Rev 2:10)
Immersion – Immersion is for the forgiveness of sins, not because of the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We know this because it is only through immersion that we enter into Christ (Gal 3:27), as immersion, itself, allows us to share Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3-4). Immersion is an explicit command of salvation (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21).
Worship – To worship simply means “to prostrate oneself” and that is exactly what we we seek to do when we worship God in humility. God is seeking true worshipers to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). We seek to worship him in spirit by pouring our hearts before Him in praise. We worship in truth by examining the Bible to see how He wants us to do this, not by injecting our own preferences into how worship should be conducted. This being the case, God command Christians to meet every Lord’s Day (Heb 10:25) to worship Him in an orderly manner (1 Cor 14:40) as He as prescribed, namely, by praying (1 Tim 2:8), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), giving (1 Cor 16:2), preaching (Acts 20:7) and singing with voices only (Eph 5:19). To observe our worship here at South Green, click here.
Christ’s Return – We set our hope on the promise delivered in Acts 1:9-11. We know that Jesus will return someday with His holy angels to judge the world (Matt 25:31-32; 2 Thess 1:7-10). On that day, all will see Him (Rev 1:7), the dead will rise, the just will go to Heaven and the unjust will go to the torment of Hell (John 5:28-29). On that day, the world will end, and the earth, and all that is within it, will be burned and pass away (2 Pet 3:10-12). It is because of this that Christians seek to share the Gospel with those who are lost (2 Cor 5:9-11)!