We believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:12, 13), the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32; Rev. 19:7, 8), of which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18).
We believe that the formation of the Church, the Body of Christ, began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21, 38-47) and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
We believe that the Church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born-again believers in this present age (Eph. 2:11-3:6). The Church is distinct from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32), a mystery not revealed until this age (Eph. 3:1-6; 5:32). Because of this, the Church did not exist in the Old Testament in the form of a “true” Israel, and thus the Church will not replace Israel in the receiving of specific physical promises made to Judah and Israel.
We believe that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Cor. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25).
We believe that the one supreme authority for the Church is Christ (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) and that leadership gifts: order, discipline, and worship in the Church are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (males, who are also called bishops, pastors, and pastor/teachers; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11) deacons (males), and deaconesses (females), all of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
We believe that the Bible teaches that the offices of elder and deacon, as well as the function of teaching pastor and shepherd are to be held by men (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). It is the Biblical model that women are not to teach men or have any spiritual authority over men in the Church (1 Tim. 2:12).
We believe that these lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Tim. 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing the Church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Heb. 13:7, 17).
We believe in the importance of discipleship (Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Tim. 2:2), mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matt. 18:15-17), as well as the need to discipline sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Matt. 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 1:19, 20; Titus 1:10-16).
We believe in the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any external hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). For example, it is both Scriptural and the pattern of the NT Church for true churches to cooperate with each other. Local churches, however, through their local leadership and common understanding of Scripture, should be the sole judges of the measure and method of their cooperation (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Cor. 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
We believe that the purpose of the Church is to glorify God (Eph. 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Eph. 4:13-16), by instruction of the Word (2 Tim. 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:47; 1 John 1:3), by keeping the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42) and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8).
We believe in the calling of all saints to the work of service (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 4:12; Rev. 22:12).
We believe in the need of the Church to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the Church spiritual gifts. He gives people chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:7-12) and He may also give unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the Body of Christ as He wills (Rom. 12:5-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11). Christ has given the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:7-12). The office of “apostle” has now ceased with the deaths of the twelve apostles (to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, one needed to have been with Christ [Acts 1:21-22] and seen Christ [1 Cor. 9:1]). If the office of “prophet” is understood to involve foretelling of future events in new revelation, then this office has also ceased because we now have the completed revelation of God in the Bible (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
We believe that the New Testament revelation is now complete, and Scripture becomes the sole test of the authenticity of a man’s message, and revelatory gifts of a miraculous nature are no longer necessary and operational in the Church today (1 Cor. 13:8-12). The purpose of gifts (people doing things for the Church) today are those given for edification of the Church body (Rom. 12:6-8).
We believe that God does provide whatever gifts He purposes for the Church, which includes supernatural activities if He so chooses (1 Cor. 12:7-11). God can and does still perform supernatural miracles today at His discretion, such as supernatural healing of sick people, and He commands the Church to pray in accordance with His own perfect will for the welfare of the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Luke 18:1-8; John 5:7-9; 2 Cor. 12:6-10; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14, 15). The supernatural gifts that are no longer given to the Church at all are new authoritative revelation from God (1 Cor. 13:8-10) because his revelatory work to man is now complete.
We believe that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Believer’s baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6: 1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41, 42). Because of this, believer’s baptism is a requirement for people to be admitted into membership in the local church.
We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of the death of Jesus Christ until He returns and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Cor. 11:23-32). We also believe that whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an actual Communion with the risen Christ who is present in a unique way, fellowshipping with His people (1 Cor. 10:16).