What We Teach

Concerning The Church

God’s plan for this dispensation is that the people of God regularly assemble and associate themselves in local communities by establishing churches under the authority of God’s Word and for the purpose of edifying and equipping disciples of Christ to better know Him, love Him, live in obedience to Him, and disciple others toward a deeper relationship with Him.

A church is a local congregation of Christians who, by mutual commitment, regularly assemble together in Christ’s name to declare, uphold, and proclaim the Word and worth of God, and to officially affirm, equip, and oversee one another’s faith in Christ through discipleship, corporate worship, the teaching and preaching of God's Word, and the observance of the ordinances.

The church is governed by the teachings of God’s Word through delegated leadership, and is to obey Christ’s commission to make disciples by evangelizing the lost, and training, equipping, and developing believers to know Christ better, become more like Him, live in obedience to Him, and be used by Him for His glory.

Church membership is a formal, officially agreed upon relationship between a local church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship, and the Christian’s public commitment and submission to living out his or her discipleship under the authority and in the care and fellowship of that church. Without membership, there is no official relationship or commitment between a Christian and a particular local church, nobody responsible to encourage and oversee the Christian in his walk, and no community the Christian has committed to be a part of. Therefore, every believer should formally identify with the believing community by becoming a member of a local church.

The one, supreme authority for the church is Christ, and church leadership, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. Jesus authorized the local assembly to exercise the authority of the keys of the kingdom. The church is to exercise this authority under the oversight and leadership of biblically qualified elders (also called pastors and overseers). The congregation is to be led by elders and served by deacons, whose qualifications and duties are defined in the New Testament. Though the church utilizes these two offices, all believers have equal access to God and are gifted and called to serve Him as ministers.

The elders lead as servants of Christ and are commissioned by Him to bear the responsibility of teaching, leading, protecting, and caring for the local church. The church’s leaders are to model the humble leadership of Jesus Christ.

The congregation is to recognize, support, and submit to their leadership within scriptural guidelines.

Universal Church
The family of God as it exists in this dispensation, the worldwide New Covenant community, is often collectively called the Church—made up of all who have been redeemed by God since the cross of Christ, both Jew and Gentile.

(Matthew 16:15–19; 18:15–20; 28:19–20; Acts 2:37–47; 14:23, 27; 15:13–21; 20:17–28; 1 Corinthians 5:9–13; 11:17–34; 12:12–27; 14:12, 26; 2 Corinthians 2:6; 5:14–21; Galatians 1:6–9; Ephesians 1:22–23; 3:1–6, 21; 4:11–16; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:13, 18; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1–15; 5:3–9, 17–22; 2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16–17; 4:3; Titus 1:5–9; Hebrews 10:22–25; 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1–5; 1 John 1:3)

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the New Covenant ordinances of the church commanded by Christ, and are a scriptural means of testimony for the church. Baptism has no saving power, but is a one-time act of obedience for a believer to be publicly identified with Christ and with His people. The Lord’s Supper, to be administered with the elements of bread and the fruit of the vine, is a regular, symbolic commemoration and proclamation of Christ’s work on the cross, anticipation of His return, celebration of our union and fellowship with Christ and our fellow believers, and renewal of our commitment to Christ and to His church. As such, the Lord’s Supper marks out the church from the world, and thus is only for believers.

(Matthew 28:19–20; Luke 22:14–20; Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12–13; 36-39; 10:47–48; 16:30–34; 18:7– 8; Romans 6:3–6; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34; Colossians 2:12)

Church and State
The church and state ought to remain distinct as institutions. God has delegated certain authority to various spheres, or governments—namely, the household, the local church, and the civil magistrate. Neither the family nor the church exists by the permission of the state. Nor does the civil magistrate bear the authority of the keys of the kingdom to declare individuals as citizens of Christ’s kingdom. Nor should the church swing the sword as a civil authority.

This distinction between the institutions of church and civil government, and their proper jurisdictions, ought not be construed, however, to mean that religion and politics should, or can, be separated. The religious convictions of individuals ought rightly to shape and direct their every action—including the policies, strategies, penalties, and measures employed by those in governing positions. Christians ought to seek to influence for good the public square, including the policies of the civil magistrate, through whatever course be available to them. Nor ought this be construed to mean that churches must not speak to political issues. Within the commission to make committed and competent disciples by teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded, churches are to teach what accords with proper justice, righteousness, mercy, and peace. Churches ought also to call upon the magistrate to uphold justice and to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ, demonstrating the peace and righteousness of the coming King, to whom the nations owe their fealty.

The ordinance of the civil magistrate is established by God in Genesis 9 as the means for man to uphold civil justice under the administration of the Noahic covenant. The governing authorities that exist are in place by the providence of God to punish evildoers and to protect the lives of the innocent under their watch. God has delegated to the civil magistrate the power of the sword in order to be a servant of God for good, to establish the justice and tranquility needed for their people to be secure in their person and property and to pursue virtue and godliness. The civil magistracy receives its authority from the ordinance of God, and rulers must never presume to act above or outside the Noahic commission, recognizing rather that they too are subject to the justice mechanism of the Noahic covenant. God has delegated the authority of the sword to civil government for certain ends only, and its rule is legitimate to the extent it pursues just ends by just means.

The church is not the kingdom, but is an outpost, or embassy, of the coming kingdom. Jesus has been given possession of all authority in heaven and on earth; he has been declared Lord over all creation. However, the political reality of his reign is not yet being exercised until he returns in power and glory to sit upon the throne in Jerusalem, thus establishing justice and peace over all nations. As an embassy of Christ’s coming kingdom, the church does not swing the sword for itself, but it does speak on behalf of the coming king who will judge the nations at his return. As such, the church has a prophetic ministry to proclaim Christ’s lordship, and to teach the nations the proper standard of justice. The civil magistrate ought to govern by the standard of Scripture, as taught by the local church, so as to uphold justice and minister for good as ordained by God; yet the church is not to coerce the state, just as the state is not to coerce the church.

Christians are to render submission and respect unto the governing authorities in all things lawfully commanded by them. The Christian’s first and highest allegiance is to Jesus Christ, though Christ calls us to seek the wellbeing of the country in which we reside and to submit to the governing authorities. Christians must not obey rulers when they command that which Scripture forbids, or forbid that which Scripture requires, and are to use prudence and wisdom when magistrates otherwise seek to reach beyond their lawful jurisdiction. We are to offer supplications and prayers for all who are in positions of authority, that under them we might lead peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness, piety, and dignity—which ought to be the aspiration of all men.

It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto. In the managing thereof, they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth. To that end, they may swiftly carry out the just retribution of the wicked, and may lawfully wage war, upon just and necessary occasion, for the defense of borders. We affirm the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel.

(Genesis 9:5–7; 41:39–43; 1 Samuel 8:10–20; 2 Samuel 23:3–4; Nehemiah 12:26; 13:15–31; Psalm 2; 82; Proverbs 8:15–16; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Jeremiah 29:7; Daniel 2:48–49; Matthew 14:4; 16:18–19; 18:15–20; 22:21; 25:31; 28:18–20; Mark 12:17; Luke 3:14, 19; 19:11–27; Acts 5:29; 17:6–7; 24:25; Romans 1:5; 13:1–7; Ephesians 1:20–23; Philippians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:10–12; 1 Timothy 2:1–4; Titus 3:1–2; 1 Peter 2:13–17)

The church is distinct from, and has not replaced or fulfilled, the nation of Israel in the plan of God. God permanently selected Israel as His covenant nation, for which certain covenants would be fulfilled for the display of God’s glory and faithfulness. Israel is now dispersed and oppressed because of disobedience and the rejection of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, but will be regathered in their promised land, in peace, in the future kingdom of Christ to enjoy fully the blessings and promises of God’s covenants with ethnic, national Israel.

According to a normative reading of Scripture, the nation of Israel has particular covenants of promise given to it (e.g. Abrahamic, Davidic, New) which have not all been fulfilled in every detail. Nevertheless, they must be fulfilled if the veracity of the promises of God is not to be called into question. The hope of the literal fulfillment of these covenants is to those Israelites identified in Scripture as the Remnant. These are the true Jews in every dispensation—the Israel of God.

(Genesis 12:1–3; 13:14–17; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:3–4; 20–37; 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5–6; 31:31–34; 32:37–41; 33:19–21; Ezekiel 11:17–21; 36:24–38; 37:21–28; Romans 9–11; Galatians 6:16)

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