church

We teach that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-8), of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18). 

We teach 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 (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). 

We teach that the church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born-again believers in this present age (Ephesians 2:11-3:6). The church is a mystery not revealed until this age (Ephesians 3:1-6; 5:32), and though distinct from ethnic Israel, members of the New Testament church are the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:1, 11; Galatians 3:6-7.

We teach 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; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies (1 Corinthians 11:18-20; Hebrews 10:25).

We teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18) and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as founded in the Scriptures. The biblically designated leaders serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also referred to in Scripture as bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11). Both the elders, as well as the deacons who assist them, must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5). 

We teach that these leaders (elders) rule as servants of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:17-22) and, under the authority of the Scriptures, direct the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17), while everyone (including leaders) is to likewise submit to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5).

We teach the importance of discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2), mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matthew 18:5-14), as well as the need for the discipline of sinning members of the congregation in accordance with the standards of Scripture with the goal of restoration (Matthew 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16).

We teach the autonomy of the local church (Acts 6:3; 15:22-25; 1 Corinthians 16:3). We teach that it is Scriptural for Bible-believing churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation of propagation of the faith. Each local church should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation (Acts 15:19-31; 1 Corinthians 16:1). 

We teach that the purpose of the church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Ephesians 4:13-16), by instruction of the Word (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:46-47; 1 John 1:3), by keeping the ordinances (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34) and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; 2:42). 

We teach the calling of all saints to the work of service (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 4:12; Revelation 22:12). 

We teach that the church is the unique instrument that God uses to accomplish His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. First, He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:7-12). SecondHe also gives spiritual abilities to each member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11). 

We teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: water baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion) (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Believer’s baptism is the solemn and beautiful testimony picturing the cleansing from sin and proclaiming commitment to Christ, and though baptism itself does not save, it is an act of obedience following conversion (Acts 2:41; Acts 3:19; 8:12, 36-38; 10:47-48; 16:30-33; 1 Corinthians 1:15-17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Baptism by immersion best pictures the cleansing from sin through the work of Christ and identification with Him (Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38-39; Titus 3:5). 

We teach that the Lord’s Supper (Communion) is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (I Corinthians 11:28-32). We also teach that whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless a unique time of fellowship of Christ with His people as they celebrate the new covenant in His blood (1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:25).