The Word of God
The Word of God is the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments from Genesis to Revelation. These alone are the God-breathed words that the church has held to be sacred Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The original authorship of those 66 books are without error. All copies and translations of the original authorship are also inerrant to the degree that they accurately represent what that the original author meant. There is a wealth of Biblical manuscripts available for both the Old and New Testaments, so we can be sure with great accuracy what the original authors wrote. The textual variants that do exist in the manuscripts do not change any essential doctrine of the Word of God.
Quoted from Article XIII of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy:
“[I] deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.”
God has eternally existed as one God in three persons. Those three persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:4). All three persons are equally divine (John 5:18; Acts 5:3-4). All three persons share the same essence and nature. All three persons are the same being but are not the same person (Luke 3:21-22).
God the Father
God the Father is fully God. He is spirit (John 4:24). He is not man. God the Father sent God the Son into the world (John 5:37; John 12:49). The Father loves the Son (John 3:35). The Father gives to the Son all those who will come to him (John 6:37).
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man (Colossians 2:9, Luke 24:39). He is God the Son. He is a person. He is not solely spirit. He had no beginning and will have no end (John 8:58; Daniel 7:14). Jesus has always been God. Jesus has not always been man. Jesus became man when he was conceived in the womb of a virgin named Mary by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:31-33). Having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and not the seed of another man, Jesus did not inherit a sinful nature. He has a sinless nature. Living as a man on the earth, he was tempted in every way yet without sin. Jesus has never and will never sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus will continue fully God and fully man in his human body forever (Philippians 2:13).
The Holy Spirit is fully God. He is a person. He is spirit. He is not man. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. He can be lied to (Acts 5:3). He is grieved by sin (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit regenerates men with a new nature/ soul in order to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells those whom he regenerates (John 14:7; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).
Man was created by God on the sixth day of the week in which God created everything. Man was created male and female in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-31). Man was created out of the dust of the earth. God breathed man’s life and spirit into him (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7). God created man with an eternal spirit. Man does have a beginning but will have no end. All men will exist in spiritual death or spiritual life for all eternity after their physical death here on earth ( Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46). After disobeying God by eating from the tree that God commanded him not to eat from, man was cursed by God with death. This death affects all mankind since the first man, Adam, was our representative (Romans 5:12; Romans 5:18). Man is born spiritually dead, which means he is alienated from the life of God. He is born with a sinful, corrupt nature. From conception, man does not do good because man is not good. Or to say it another way, from conception man does evil because he is evil. Man will also die physically because God’s curse for the wages of sin is death. Left to himself, man will continue in spiritual deadness from conception to physical death, at which point his spirit will perish and he will remain in spiritual death for eternity.
Man’s evil nature and spiritual deadness can only be changed by God the Holy Spirit’s regeneration. The Holy Spirit regenerates or changes the spiritually dead nature/ soul of man for a spiritually living nature/ soul (Ephesians 2:5). This means that after the point of regeneration, man is no longer spiritually dead to God. Once regenerated, man will see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). This will cause him to repent and believe in Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Acts 11:18; Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Gospel is the good news that man can enjoy God forever. When man disobeyed God in the garden and was cursed with spiritual and physical death, his perfect enjoyment of God was broken. Men are born separated from the enjoyment of God. Being spiritually dead in sin, man spends his days disobeying God and seeking pleasure in things that dishonor and belittle God. God is most concerned for his own glory! Man deserves wrath for failing to glorify God as he ought. In order to propitiate his own wrath towards man, God became a man, Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14). Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life to the will and law of God (John 4:34; Matthew 5:17; Galatians 4:4-5). In love, Jesus voluntarily gave himself up to be cursed by his Father and crucified by men (John 15:13; Galatians 3:13; Matthew 27:35). He drank the full cup of God the Father’s wrath for his elect people (Luke 22:42-44; Revelation 14:10). He declared that it was finished (John 19:30). After letting out a loud cry, he gave up his spirit and died (Matthew 27:50). Three days later he rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4). His resurrection was the declaration that he was indeed God’s Son, the anointed one (Romans 1:3). Jesus was who he claimed to be (John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; John 14:6). Had he not been raised there would be no forgiveness of sin (1 Corinthians 15:17). But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead and in him all can be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The only way to receive this salvation from God’s wrath that Jesus has accomplished is to repent and believe Him (John 3:16; Isaiah 30:15; Acts 3:19; Acts 20:21). By faith, the righteousness of Christ is considered ours (Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And by faith, the wrath of God that we deserve has been completely absorbed by Christ and none remains (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Every spiritual blessing is given us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, everlasting life, peace, and joy are offered to anyone who will be his disciple (John 16:22; Romans 14:17; Matthew 25:21).
The Church is the entire group of people who have been united to Jesus Christ by faith. It’s helpful to refer to this great multitude as the universal church. This group is called his body of which he is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). They are also called a spiritual house or temple, Christ himself being the builder and the cornerstone (2 Corinthians 6:16; Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-20). They are the household of Christ, being his brothers and sisters (Matthew 12:50; Hebrews 2:11). They have been elected or chosen by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9). Composing this group of people is a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages (Revelation 7:9). While keeping their diversity as part of God’s good design, they are all united as one man in Christ (Genesis 11:7; Revelation 21:24; Galatians 3:28). They will see God as he is and dwell with him, gazing upon his beauty forever (1 John 3:2; Psalm 27:4). They will have unceasing pleasure in his presence (Psalm 16:11). The church is the bride of Christ who will be one with Him in wedded bliss forever (Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 22:16-17).
The Church can also be described in smaller groups called local churches (Galatians 1:2). Each local church is a gathering of professed believers in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:23). Some may not be true believers though and therefore not part of the universal church (Matthew 13:30; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 16:22). Elders plural are to lead each local church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). They are to be qualified men (1 Timothy 3:1-7) that exercise oversight. It’s the elders who are to labor in preaching and teaching in the church (1 Timothy 5:17). The church is to gather for sound teaching, to fellowship, to break bread and to pray (Acts 2:42). Timothy, an elder that Paul established in Ephesus, was told to be devoted to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation or preaching, and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13). Local churches also remember the Lord Jesus Christ through the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus Christ gave man commands or orders to his disciples. Throughout history, the church has uniquely called two of them the ordinances. These are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them everything he commanded (Matthew 28:18-20.) Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water to signify the person’s union with Christ in his death, burial (going under the water) and resurrection (coming up out of the water) (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3-4). All those who have believed in Christ and chosen to follow him as a disciple should be baptized as commanded
The night before he was crucified, Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples. As they were eating, Jesus took the bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Then he took the cup of wine and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). Since Jesus told his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me,” the churches of Jesus Christ have obeyed and shared bread and wine together in remembrance of him since that night. As the cup represents the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, the “Lord’s Supper” as it’s often called, should only be taken by disciples of Jesus Christ, who themselves have become partakers of the new covenant by faith.
The Last Things
Jesus taught his disciples some specific things about the end of the age. He said that many famines and wars would happen on the earth, which would be just the beginning of the end (Matthew 24:7-8) He told them that the gospel of the kingdom would be proclaimed to all nations before the end would come (Matthew 24:14). He spoke of his own return when he told them, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31). “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
The Lord Jesus will return in the same way that he ascended (Acts 1:11). His second coming will inaugurate the Day of the LORD spoken of throughout Scripture as a terrible day of wrath for all God’s enemies (Isaiah 13:9-11; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:3-4).
It will be a day of judgement. The Word of God will judge all (John 12:48). There will be rewards for the faithful and punishment for the wicked (Isaiah 40:10; Revelation 22:12). The faithless will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Those who have built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ will receive what they deserve according to how they have built (2 Corinthians 5:10-15).