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                  In-Depth Bible Teaching - Acts 17:11

"...in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily,

whether those things were so." Acts 17:11

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I.  The Scriptures

   I believe in the Holy Scriptures, accepting fully the writing of the Old and New Testament, the sixty-six canonical (John 16:13) books of the Bible, as the very Word of God, verbally inspired in all parts and therefore without error as originally given of God, altogether sufficient in themselves as our only infallible rule and absolute authority of faith and practice.  The term inspired means, more precisely God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).  The breath of God in the Bible is a symbol of His almighty creative word (Genesis 2:7; Psalms 33:6), therefore, the Scriptures are the direct product of the activity of God.  God provided this written revelation through human instruments, who were “borne along” or “moved” by His Spirit (2 Peter 1:21, Acts 27:15).  While bearing the stylistic marks of their various human authors, the words, phrases,  and the relationships [syntax - grammar] of those words to one another were so influenced and controlled by God that the selected men would choose the right material and record it with infallible accuracy.  Thus, the very words (Galatians 3:19), the relationship of the words of a phrase, the respective clauses, and units of thought of the Bible are inerrant and authoritative.  Where textual difficulties have arisen during the course of transmission, it is the responsibility of sober, godly textual criticism to determine the identity of the original reading.  (Ex. 4:12; 2 Sam. 23:2; Matt. 5:18; John 10:35, 16:13, 17:17; 1 Cor. 2:12,13; 1 Thess. 2:13).  Illumination by contrast is the work of God in enabling man to understand God’s Word.   It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13,14; 1 Cor. 2:12-16; 2 Cor. 4:1-7).

II.  The True God

     I believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Ghost - KJV) (Genesis 1:1, 26; Isa. 6:8; Psalms 45:6,7), these three are ONE Triune God working in perfect unity of thought and will (John 10:30; 1 Cor. 2:11; Romans 8:9; John 14:16, 18, 23), Who is personal, spirit, sovereign (Mark 12:29, John 4:24; 14:9; Psalms 135:6); perfect, holy (Isa. 6), infinite, and eternal in His being, holiness, love, wisdom, and power (Psalm 18:30, 147:5; Deut. 33:27); absolutely separate and above the world as its Creator; yet everywhere present in the world as Upholder of all things (Gen. 1:1; Psalms 104, Col. 1:16, 17); self-existent and self-revealing (Romans 1:20) in three distinct Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John 5:26; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), each of Whom is to be honored and worshipped equally as true God (John 5:23; Acts 5:3,4).  Although the three Persons of the Godhead possess the same attributes and nature, the Son and the Holy Spirit sometimes assume sub-ordinate positions (John 16:14) and roles in carrying out the plans of the Godhead with respect to mankind (John 5:37, 15:26; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 2:18).  God reveals Himself to men in various ways, including nature (Romans 1:19,20), the written word (2 Timothy 3:16), and the living Word, Jesus Christ (John 1:18; Heb. 1:2).  Revelation through nature involves only God’s power and transcendence, and is misinterpreted by sinful men.  At this time, the living Word, being in heaven, is known only through the words of Scripture (Romans 10:17; 2 Cor.  4:1-7).  Any extra-biblical revelation in terms of dreams, angelic revelations, tongues, are not part of God’s method of speaking to men today and as such must be rejected based upon the criteria of Galatians 1:6-9 and 1 Corinthians 13:10 (the “perfect” is the complete Word of God in the Bible).  

III.  The Lord Jesus Christ - His Person and Work

     I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Second Person of the Triune God, the Eternal Word and Only Begotten Son, our great God and Savior (John 1:1, 3:16; Titus 2:13; Romans 9:5); that, without any essential change in His divine Person (Hebrews 13:8), He became man by the miracle of the Virgin Birth (John 1:14; Matt. 1:23), thus to continue forever as both true God and Man, one Person with two natures (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5; Rev. 22:160; that as Man in flesh and form (Phil. 2:6,7), He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15; John 8:46); that as the perfect Lamb of God He gave Himself voluntarily (John 10:14-18; Eph. 5:21) in death upon the Cross bearing there the sin of the world (John 1:29; Rm. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:14,19; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2), and suffering its full penalty of divine wrath in our stead (Isa. 53:5,6; Matt. 20:28; Gal 3:13; John 1:29); that apart from the shedding of His blood there is no remission (payment) of sin (Heb. 10:18), that this death involved separation from God (Matt. 27:46) and spirit and body (Matt. 27:50); that He arose from the dead and was glorified in the same body in which He suffered and died (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:25-28; Acts 4:10); that as our great High Priest, He ascended into heaven, there to appear before the face of God as our Advocate and Intercessor (Eph. 4:8; Heb. 4:14, 9:24; 1 John 2:1).  Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, co-equal with the Father (John 1:1, 8:58, 17:5; Col. 1:17).  Christ is expressly called God (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).  He is worthy of worship (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6; Phil. 2:10,11; Rev. 5:8).  The use of the phrase “Son of God” with reference to Christ is also a proof of His deity. The phrase signifies, in accordance with Semitic thought, sameness of nature, not origin.  Christ, then is the One who shares the very nature of God (cf. The Jews’ response to His claims in John 5:18, 10:33, 36, 19:7).  Since angels and men are sometimes designated “sons of God,” it is important to stress that Jesus is the unique Son of God (John 3:16; Heb. 11:17).  During the period from His birth to His death, He did not exercise independently His divine attributes, but, instead, submitted to the Father and Holy Spirit for guidance and power (Matt. 3:16-4:1, 12:28; John 5:19, 8:28, 14:10).

     I believe in the personal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ before the Tribulation when He will resurrect the dead in Christ Church-Age believers and then by translation of those alive at this coming (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Titus 2:11-13). Thus, all Church-Age believers, His Bride, will meet the Lord in the air to return to His Father’s house in heaven with Him. This is the Blessed Hope for which we should constantly watch and pray, the time being unrevealed but always imminent.

      I believe in a premillennial 7-year Tribulation, where God will “remember” Israel and use the Tribulation to bring national Israel to national repentance and to call for deliverance by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Isa. 44:21; Jer. 31:34; Lev. 23:23; Eze. 37). It is during this seven years that God will pour out the righteous judgments of God upon the unbelieving world (Rev. 6:1-18:24).

     I believe in the personal, visible, and glorious return of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation, when He will descend to the earth with His Church (the Bride of Christ) and establish His glorious and literal kingdom, ruling upon the earth as King, over all the nations for a thousand years (Rev. 19:1-20:6; Matt. 13:41-430), at the close of which He will raise and judge the unsaved dead (Matt. 25:31-46, John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). Finally, He, as Messiah, (John 1:41) will deliver up His Messianic Kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28), in order that as the Eternal Son, He may reign forever with the Father in the New Heaven and the New Earth (Luke 1:32,33; Rev. 21:1-22:6).

IV.  The Holy Spirit

     I believe that the Holy Spirit is not merely an influence (Matt. 28:19), but a divine Person; that He is the source and power of all acceptable worship and service and is our abiding Comforter and Helper (John 15:26,27; Acts 1:8, 2:33-36), that He never will depart from the Church nor from the weakest believer (John 14:16,17, 16:13-15; Acts 1:8; 5:3,4).  Further, He is the Third Person of the Triune God, being god Himself (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3,4; Heb. 9:14; Psalm 139:7-10; Luke 1:35), the divine Agent in nature, revelation, and redemption (Gen. 1:2; Psalms 104:30; 1 Cor. 2:10; 2 Cor. 3:18); that He convicts the world of sin (John 16:8-11), regenerates those who by faith chose the Lord as their savior and believe (John 3:5, Romans 10:17), indwells, baptizes, seals, empowers, guides, teaches, and sanctifies all who become children of God through the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:19, 12:13; Eph. 3:16, 4:30; Romans 8:14; John 14:26; 1 Cor. 6:11).

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

      At the turn of the century, Pentecostalism arose emphasizing a “second experience,” apart from conversion, and described it as the baptism of the Spirit, usually accompanied with a sign, speaking in tongues.  The implication was that conversion saved an individual from punishment, but he was incomplete until the “baptism experience”  when he was provided the power to live the Christian life.  In this day, this “baptism experience” has continued and crosses many denominational lines.  Because of this, my position regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues, and extra-biblical revelation, based upon what I believe the Bible teaches, is that a man is made complete in Christ at the moment of his conversion (Acts 11:15-17 cf. Acts 1:5, 1 Cor. 12:13 with 1 Cor. 1:1,2; Romans 8:9,16).  He then appropriates continuously and increasingly those provisions which are his in Christ Jesus (Eph. 5:18). Therefore, I believe that the charismatic gifts are not evidence of any unique baptism (second blessing, etc.) or filling or superior ministry of the Holy Spirit; and the practice, teaching, and promotion to the contrary is error.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an initial Christian event simultaneous with conversion (1 Cor. 12:13).  As the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, His ministry needs to be continuously and increasingly appropriated (Eph. 5:18). The primary evidences of the resulting fullness (or control) of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22,23).

     Further, it is clear that Biblical tongues in the Book of Acts is unlearned foreign languages supernaturally given by the Holy Spirit. The gift of tongues was a sign confirming the validity of the apostolic message (cf.  1 Cor. 1:6,7, 22 with 14:22; Heb. 2:4; Mark 16:20) and with the completion of the Scriptures (1 Cor. 13:8-10), no further revelation is required.  I also believe that with the death of the apostles in the First Century, so too, the apostolic office ceased.  Therefore, tongues as a further or extra-biblical revelation can not exist today.  Thus, their purpose has ceased once their purpose had been fulfilled. I believe that God does heal and answer the prayer of faith, according to His will and therefore, precludes my cooperation in any healing campaigns with “faith-healers.”

V.  The Fall of Man

     I believe in the Creation, seven literal 24-hour days (Genesis 1), and the Fall of man, that he was the direct creation of God, rather than by evolutionary or other means, but made in the divine image (Gen. 1:26-28, 2:7, 18-24; Matt. 19:4; 1 Thess. 5:23); that by personal and conscience disobedience to the revealed will of God man became a sinful creature and the progenitor of a fallen race (Gen. 3:1-24, 5:3), who is universally sinful in both nature and practice (Eph. 2:3; Romans 3:23, 5:12), alienated from the life and family of God (Eph. 4:18; John 8:42-44), under the righteous judgment and wrath of God (Rom. 1:18, 3:19), and have within themselves no possible means of earning their salvation apart from accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, by faith (Mark 7:21-23; Matt. 19:26; Romans 5:12, 7:18).

VI.  The Way of Salvation

     I believe Salvation is the free gift of God (Rom. 3:24, 6:23, Eph. 2:8,9), neither merited nor secured in part or in whole by any virtue or work of man (Titus 3:5; Romans 4:4,5; 11:16), in whom all true believers have as a present possession the gift of eternal life, a perfect righteousness, sonship in the family of God, deliverance and security from all condemnation, every spiritual resource needed for life and godliness, and the divine guarantee that they shall never perish (1 John 5:13; Romans 3:22; Gal. 3:26; John 5:24; Eph. 1:3; 2 Peter 12:3; John 10:27-30), that this salvation includes the whole man, spiritual and physical (1 Thess. 5:23,24); and apart from the Lord Jesus Christ there is no possible salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

        I believe God has granted humanity the freedom to chose Him/Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord or to reject His free offer of salvation. God neither preordained nor predestined anyone to an eternal existence apart from Him, rather it is His desire for all humanity to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). The “whosoever’s” of the Bible mean whosoever and does not limit it to the “elect.” I believe election refers to biblical groups elected to serve God. One becomes a member of the elect Bride, by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death upon the Cross, shedding His blood as payment for our sins, by His burial and resurrection from the dead, by His ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven, by accepting Him as Savior by faith alone and not works. Thus, “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9) The next verse indicates why we are saved and become part of the Bride of Christ: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Thus, once we freely choose to receive Christ as our Savior, we become part of the “group,” the Bride of Christ, whom God has “elected” the group to serve Him for eternity. The only other groups designated “elect” in the Bible are the righteous angels that did join Satan’s rebellion, and the nation of Israel (Luke 9:26; 1 Tim. 5:21; Deut. 6:6-8; Isaiah 45:4. Hence, I cannot support or be part of any Calvinistic teaching or doctrines.  

     Further, I believe the Scriptures teach that regeneration, or the new birth, is that change wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit by which a new nature and a new spiritual life, not before possessed, are imparted at the time of accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, by faith. This change occurs instantaneously, after faith. One then becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17,18). Calvinism teaches that this change, regeneration occurs at some point prior to any act or choice of faith. I reject Calvinistic understanding of this, The result is that the mind is given a holy disposition, the will subdued, the dominion of sin broken, and the affections changed from a love of sin and self to a love of holiness and God. The change is instantaneous, effected solely by the power of God in a manner incomprehensible to human reason.  The evidence of it is found in a changed disposition of mind, the fruits of righteousness, and a newness of life (John 3:1-18, 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18,19).

VII.  The Church and Its Ordinances

     I believe the true Church of Jesus Christ had its historical beginning at Pentecost, is composed of all true believers, is the body (Eph. 1:22,23; Romans 12:5) and Bride of our Lord (2Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7), and is distinct from Israel (Acts 2:1, 41-47; 1 Cor. 10:32, 12:12,13; Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18).  A local church, in the strictest sense of the term, is characterized by corporate worship and prayer, practice of the two ordinances (Matt. 26:26-28, 1 Cor. 10:16,17), and exercise of Spirit-bestowed gifts (as defined in the Scriptures).  Essential church officers are the elder(s) [pastor, assistant pastor, etc.] and deacons, whose qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.  The elder’s duties are pastoral, administrative (1 Timothy 5:17) and educational (1 Timothy 3:2) in nature.  The deacons’ responsibility is to serve the assembly, especially with regard to the more mundane but important concerns (Acts 6:2-6).  Pre-requisites for membership in a local church are profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and submission to the ordinance of baptism (Acts 2:33-42).

     The ordinances of the church are symbolic acts observed in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are two in number:  communion (The Lord’s Table) and water baptism.  The ordinance of communion consists of partaking of bread, symbolic of the Lord’s broken body, and of the cup, symbolic of His shed blood (1 Cor. 11:23-28). This ordinance reminds us of the death and commends us to do this “till he come.”   Water baptism is to be performed following an individual’s profession of faith (Acts 10:47; 16:31-33). Baptism symbolizes spiritual cleansing, represents an outward expression of an inward attitude of repentance, the death, burial, and resurrection unto new life (cf. Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).  Note, Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 2:12 use the term baptism in a figurative sense to picture union with Christ and its implications.  The proper and scriptural mode of baptism is immersion and is supported by the usage of the term immersion in the Scriptures

     I believe the Scriptures teach that such as are truly regenerate, being born through faith and indwelled with the Spirit, will not utterly fall away and finally perish, but will  be preserved to the end being “kept by the power of God” unto the day of our presentation “before the presence of his glory (the only wise God our Savior) with exceeding joy” (John 6:39, 10:27-29; Phil. 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 2:19; Romans 11:29, Jude 1, 24). Unlike Calvinism, I believe God keeps us in Him and we cannot fall or lose our salvation. Calvinism teaches that we must persevere by continuing in good works to gather sufficient evidence that we are the elect.

VIII.  Existence of Satan

     I believe in the existence of Satan, who originally was created a holy and perfect being, but through pride and unlawful ambition rebelled against God (Ez. 28:13-17, Isa. 14:13-14, 1 Tim. 3:7; 1 John 3:8), thus becoming utterly depraved in character (John 8:44), the great adversary of God and His people (Matt. 4:1-11; Rev. 12:10), leader of all other evil angels and peoples (Matt. 12:24-26, 25:41), the deceiver and “god” of this present world (Rev. 12:9; 2 Cor. 4:4), that his powers are supernaturally great but strictly limited by the permissive will of God, who overrules all his wicked devices, for good (Job 1:1-22, Luke 22;31,32); that he was defeated and judged at the Cross, and therefore, his final doom is certain (John 12:31,32, 16:11; Rev. 10:10), that we are able to resist and overcome him only in the armor of God and by the Blood of the Lamb (Eph. 6:12-18; Rev. 12:11).

IX.  Future Reward and Punishment

      I believe that the terms Heaven and Hell refer to literal and distinct places and not to a condition or state.  Further, I believe in future life, bodily resurrection, and eternal judgment, that the spirit of the saved at death go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:8), where they abide in joyful fellowship with Him until His Rapture, when their bodies shall be raised from the grave and changed into the likeness of His own glorious body (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Cor. 15:35-38; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2), at which time their works shall be brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ for evaluation of our service to the Lord, not for judgment, but for the determination of rewards or loss of rewards, but not the loss of the soul (1 Cor. 3:8-15); that the spirits of the unsaved at death descend immediately into Hades where they are kept under punishment until the final day of judgment (Luke 16:19-31; 2 Peter 2:9), at which time their bodies shall be raised from the grave, they shall be judged according to their works and cast into the place of final and everlasting punishment, the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15, 21:8; Mark 9:43-48; Jude 13).

Robert R. Congdon

reaffirmed: July 2022, December 2022

Statement of Faith