Pastoral Leadership Affirmation of Faith

General Revelation
God has personally revealed Himself to humanity through creation. Creation allows people to perceive His glory (Psalm 19:1), His power and divinity (Romans 1:20), and His goodness and provision for humanity (Acts 14:17). This revelation through creation goes forth to all people in all the earth, and there is nowhere that it is not known (Psalm 19:4).

God also reveals Himself through the conscience of every person, by which they understand His moral standards and are able to know His righteous law (Romans 2:14-15).
Though all people have received this knowledge of God through creation and conscience, they do not respond rightly to it. Instead, people suppress and pervert these truths about God, choosing not to worship Him (Rom. 1:1-32). As a result of this suppression of truth, God is just in bringing His wrath against people, for they are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).

Special Revelation
God personally reveals Himself to many people as redeemer who is graciously restoring sinful people to Himself. This revelation has come through miracles and mighty deeds (Exod. 12:1-51, 14:1-31), dreams and visions (Gen. 28:1-22, Dan. 7:1-28), Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2) and now, primarily through holy scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).

God supernaturally inspired the text of the Bible, so that when scripture speaks, God speaks. He did this through His Holy Spirit by preparing men to receive, and moving them to communicate His message according to their own personalities, backgrounds and writing styles (2 Pet. 1:21). Thus the human and divine elements are united in the words of scripture in a way that it may be accurately claimed that God speaks through certain people (Acts 28:25). This inspiration extends to each individual word of scripture down to such details as number and verb tense (Gal. 3:16, Matt. 22:32), and to all of scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). Because the words of scripture are God-breathed, the text of scripture in the original autographs is without error in all areas, including science, geography, morality, spirituality and history (2 Sam. 22:31). Though these words are inspired and without error, sinful man is unable to receive them that he might understand and be saved (1 Cor. 1:21, 2:14). It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit as He illuminates the minds of sinful people, that they are able to welcome the saving message of Jesus Christ, and recognize the truth, authority and spiritual significance of the scriptures (1 Cor. 2:12,13).

The Bible consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, which have been universally held by the church. These books were authenticated by Jesus Christ (Luke 24:44), and reflect the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42). The scriptures, though not exhaustive, are sufficient to bring sinners to salvation and lead them in the righteous living that God desires for His people (2 Tim 3:15-16). The scriptures are the final authority in the life of the believer because of their divine inspiration.

The Nature of God
There is one God (Dt. 6:4) who is exists eternally in three coequal yet distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). Though the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally one, sharing the same essence and attributes, there is a distinction in their roles in activities like creation (Gen. 1:1-2; John 1:3) and redemption (Eph. 1:3-14). The three persons of the Godhead exist eternally in unbroken fellowship with one another, having mutual affection, and seeking mutual glorification (John 17:1, 24).

God is personal (Eph. 4:30; Heb. 11:6) and spiritual, not having any physical body (John 4:24). God is self-existent, dependent upon nothing or no one for His existence (Ex. 3:14-15; John 5:26) and eternal, having neither beginning or end (Ps. 90:1-2). He is unchanging in His essence, attributes, promises and purposes (Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17), but He chooses to relate to humanity in a responsive way, which may include a change in His attitudes or relationships (1 Sam. 15:35; 2 Sam. 24:16). God possesses all knowledge of things past, present and future whether actual or possible (Ps. 139:1-6; Rom. 11:33). He possesses all power to do whatever He wills in accord with His own nature and purpose (Mt. 19:26; Eph. 3:20), He is everywhere present in His creation (Ps. 139:7-10; Acts 17:27), though separate from it (Ps. 103:19).

God is holy, separate from humanity in both purity and perfection (Is. 6:3; 1 Pet. 1:16). He is righteous and just (Rom. 3:25-26) exhibiting complete fairness in all dealings with His creation. He is truth (John 14:6) and, therefore, always represents things in an accurate way and as they actually are (John 17:17; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). He is loving, and perfectly demonstrates this through the giving of His Son as a sacrificial offering for sin (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10). God is also gracious and merciful. He extends favor to His people who are undeserving of such gifts (Ex 34:6; Eph. 2:8), and withholds deserved judgment in His patience (Eph. 2:4; Tit. 3:5).

The Work of God
God has an eternal plan which He is working out in history, and is based solely on His own good pleasure and desire (Eph. 1:11). What God has purposed to do will surely come about (Acts 2:23), even as it utilizes the individual choices of men and women (Acts 4:27-28). This plan is all-inclusive (Eph. 1:11) and extends to the lives of believers (Rom. 8:28), governments (Acts 17:26), chance occurrences (Acts 1:24-26) and even evil (Gen. 50:20; Is. 45:7; Acts 2:23), though God is not the author of it, or responsible for it (Jas. 1:13). God’s plan also includes the redemption of certain human beings whom God has chosen to be His before the world was created (Eph. 1:4-5). This choice was based solely on the merciful choice of God, and never on any human merit (Rom. 9:16; Eph. 2:8). The ultimate end of God’s plan is that His glory would be magnified (Eph. 1:12; Rev. 4:11).

God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1) and all that is in them in six days (Ex. 20:11) by the word of His mouth (Ps. 33:6) using no pre-existing materials, but creating all matter itself (Heb. 11:3). God also upholds and sustains His creation at all times (Col. 1:17; Heb 1:3) and is intimately involved in it, graciously providing for His creation (Mt. 6:30) and ruling over it (1 Tim. 6:15).

The Person of Christ
Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, and as such is co-eternal (John 1:1), co-equal and shares the essential nature and attributes with the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 10:30). In scripture the deity of Jesus is established by His own claims to equality with God (John 8:58; Mt. 11:27). He received worship as God (John 5:23, 9:38), and forgives sin (Mark 2:5) which is an activity reserved in scripture only for God (Mark 2:7). His miracles, signs and wonders attest to His divine identity (Lk. 8:25; Jn. 2:11; Acts 2:22), and His resurrection from the dead proclaims Him to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He is also described by the apostles to be God (Rom. 9:5, Tit. 2:13).

In the incarnation, the eternal second person of the trinity took on a human nature and became man (John 1:14). In doing this, He laid aside the glory (John 17:5), lifestyle and prerogatives of the divine mode of being (Phil. 2:7). Jesus Christ was fully human (Heb. 2:14), which was demonstrated by a life of normal human development and learning (Luke 2:52). Jesus was a true man who physically existed and was limited in the ways that other humans are. He experienced fatigue (Mt. 8:24), hunger (Mt. 4:2) and thirst (John 19:28), as well as the range of genuine human emotions including anger and distress (Mark 3:5), compassion (Mt. 9:36), sorrow and love (John 11:35-36). As a human, Jesus was also tempted in all ways that we are (Mt. 4:1-11, Heb. 4:15), but in all of these experiences He maintained a totally sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26). In Jesus full humanity and full deity are united forever unmixed, unchangeable, undivided and unseparated in one person (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5).

Man
Man was formed by God from the dust of the ground and the breath of life, in an immediate, special act of creation on the 6th day as the crowning piece of His creative work (Gen. 2:7, 1:31). Man was endowed with dignity, value (Gen. 9:6; Jas. 3:9) and distinctiveness from creation, being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). This image is an ability to reflect and make visible the glory and character of God on earth, and is something that is possessed by every human being, regardless of their relationships or actions (Gen. 1:26). As a result of this image of God, man is placed in a position of dominion over creation (Gen. 1:26, 28; Psalm 8) in order to rule to the glory of God (Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11). As a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, and its consequences for the human race, the image of God in man was marred and distorted, preventing him from fully and accurately reflecting the character of God (Rom. 3:23). Despite this marring effect of sin, the image of God is still present in sinful mankind (Gen. 9:6; Jas. 3:9), and being restored and recreated in those who have been redeemed by Christ (Col 3:10; Rom. 8:29).

Man is an essential unity of material and immaterial parts, which are only divisible at physical death (2 Cor. 5:1-21). The immaterial part of man may best be thought of as multi-faceted, for it is described in ways that are different depending on purpose, occasion and relationship (1 Thess. 5:23; Mark 12:30).

Men and women were both created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), and therefore have the same essence, dignity and standing before Him and possibility of relationship with Him (Gal. 3:28). Though completely equal in essence and standing, men and women have distinctive and complementary roles given by God, which are to be lived out faithfully in the home and church (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:11-14).

Sin
Man was created good and upright in the sight of God (Eccl. 7:29), with the capacity of willful obedience or disobedience (Gen. 2:16-17). Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the garden, and as a result experienced immediate spiritual death and banishment from the presence of God (Gen. 3:23-24). They also received the sentence of physical death which would eventually send them back to the dust from which they were created (Gen. 3:19). Their sin resulted in a disruption of human relationships (specifically the marriage relationship) (Gen. 3:16), and even the natural order over which they were to exercise dominion and authority (Gen. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:20-21). As the natural and familial head of the human race, the effects of Adam’s sin are passed on to all of mankind (Rom. 5:12). The effects of physical and spiritual death are therefore felt by all (Eph 2:1; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Adam’s familial connection to mankind renders them guilty before God (Rom. 5:18), and his natural connection to them passes on a tainted character, and pre-disposition to sin (Gen. 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Eph. 2:3). The tainted character which all have received from Adam, is present in every area and aspect of life, extending to the mind and understanding (Eph. 4:18), the heart (Jer. 17:9), the conscience (Tit. 1:15), and the will (Rom. 6:16-17). This all-encompassing tainted character has resulted in the personal sin of every person in history (except for Christ) (Psalm 14:3; Eccl. 7:20; Is. 53:6) as they turn from God and fail to reflect His glory and live up to His standard (Rom. 3:23). Though not all sin is identical in either temporal consequence or divine punishment (Rom. 1:27; Mt. 11:23-24), it does all lead to separation and alienation from God, which is spiritual death (Is. 59:2; Col. 1:21, 2:13) and an expectation of God’s wrath for all who are not in Christ (Jn. 3:36; Eph. 2:3, Rom. 3:25). All people are utterly incapable of freeing themselves from this pre-disposition to sin and self, and unable to respond to God’s gracious offer of redemption apart from His enabling work in their lives (Jn. 6:44, 56; Rom. 8:7).

Angels
Angels are personal, spiritual beings who have knowledge, volition and emotions (Heb. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:12). They were created by God for His great glory (Col. 1:16). Angels were created distinct from and more powerful than human beings (Heb. 2:7), though men will ultimately judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). In keeping with their purpose of glorifying God, angels sing of His glory in worship (Is. 6; Rev. 4), bring His messages to men (Mt. 1:20; Lk. 2:9-12), bring forth wrath as agents of His judgment (Gen. 19:1-38; 2 Thess. 1:7-8), battle demonic forces (Dan. 10), and minister to the saints (Heb. 1:14), and even to Christ in His incarnation (Mt. 4:11).

God created all angels good (Gen. 1:31), and they had opportunity sometime after creation to either follow God or rebel (2 Pet. 2:4). Those angels who rebelled against God are identified in scripture as evil spirits (Acts 19:15), unclean spirits (Mt. 12:43), demons (Lk. 10:17), and spiritual forces of wickedness (Eph. 6:12). Some have been restrained by God until the day of judgment (Jude 6), while others have joined with Satan in his opposition to God, attempting to thwart His work, promote false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-2), afflict people with physical ailment (Lk. 13:11), and hinder the growth of believers in Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:10-18).

Satan does have influence in believers’ lives, as he works in concert with their own sin (Mt. 16:23; Acts 5:3). Though believers may yield to the tempting, deceiving work of Satan, he does not have any legal authority or power over them, as they have been brought out of his dominion and into the kingdom of Christ by his redeeming work (Col. 1:13-14). Though Satan is still actively seeking to destroy believers (1 Pet. 5:8), he has ultimately been defeated by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, by which believers are forgiven (Col 2:13-15). He is also practically defeated in the lives of believers as they stand firm in the faith, and resist his influence (Eph. 6:1-24; Jas. 4:7).

Atonement
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). He did this in full accordance with the will of God the Father (Jn. 10:15-18, 17:4), by humbly taking the form of a servant, dying on the cross (Phil. 2:8) as a sacrifice for sins (1 Pet. 2:24). He was raised to life on the third day (1 Cor. 15:20), and after 40 days, ascended to the right hand of the Father (Phil 2:9; Heb. 12:2).

The work of Christ may be viewed in three ways. He is the prophet who was foretold by Moses (Acts 3:22), and He speaks for God with unique authority (Mt. 5:38-39; 7:28-29). His ultimate work as prophet is in revealing the Father, in order that He may be known (Jn. 1:18; Heb. 1:2-3). Christ is also our great High priest (Heb. 4:14). His priestly work is seen in His sacrificing for the sins of His people (Heb. 2:17, 9:26), as well as His ongoing ministry of intercession for believers (Heb. 7:23-25, 1 Tim. 2:5). Finally, Christ is King. He has been raised to a position of authority, in which, all authorities and powers are subject to Him (1 Pet. 3:22). He is head over the church (Col. 1:18) ruling for their growth and benefit (Eph. 1:22). And He is the anointed Davidic King (Acts 2:30-33) who will one day reign forever (Rev. 11:15) ruling the earth with justice and righteousness (Ps. 2:9, Is. 16:5), and executing judgment (Rom. 2:16), with all people bowing to Him as Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).

The sacrifice of Christ was of a substitutionary nature (2 Cor. 5:21), as He willingly took upon Himself the penalty of sin (Is. 53:6, 1 Pet. 2:24), and the wrath of God (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 4:10). This sacrifice has made provision for all people (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:2), though it is only effective for the elect who come to Christ in faith (Jn. 10:26-28). The sacrifice of Christ not only satisfies the just wrath of God (Rom. 3:25-26), but also cleanses people of their sin (Heb. 7:27), rescues them from their slavery and bondage to sin (Eph. 1:7; Tit. 2:14), brings them back into loving fellowship with God the Father (Rom. 5:10-11; Col. 1:21-22), serves as an example and admonition for loving self-sacrifice for the benefit of others (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 John 4:10-11), and triumphs over Satan, sin and death (Col. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:54-57).

Salvation
God has extended His unmerited favor and blessing on all of mankind, and that it is manifested through human law and government (Rom. 13:1), the general restraint of sin (2 Thess. 2:7), and the benefits of His creation (Acts 14:17; Mt. 5:45). He has also bestowed His effectual grace upon the elect (2 Tim. 1:9), by which they receive salvation through personal faith in Christ (Acts 16:31).

God has from the foundation of the world chosen some, based on His own good purpose and pleasure and no merit of their own (Rom. 9:11), to receive salvation, and believe in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5; Acts 13:48). God’s purpose in election is the furthering and manifestation of His own glory (Eph. 1:12, 14). The non-elect are condemned on the basis of their rejection of the living God and His gracious revelation (Jn. 3:17-18, Rom. 1:18, 23; 1 Pet. 2:7-8). Though the call to salvation in Christ goes goes out widely (Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:13), it is only effective in those whom God has chosen (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Their election is made known by their response to the gospel call by the work of the Spirit (1 Thess 1:4-5), through which, God enables them to respond in faith and come to Christ (John 6:65; Acts 16:14).

Conversion is the process, by which, a person receives Christ in repentance and faith (Acts 2:38). Repentance is a shift of mindset, which results in a person turning from sin and self to God (Acts 26:20). Faith is an understanding of the gospel and personal trust in Christ’s sacrifice (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3:22; Acts 16:31). Saving faith is not based on works of righteousness in a person’s life, but entirely on the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). As a person responds to the gospel in faith he or she is adopted into God’s family (Eph. 1:5; Rom. 8:15-17), brought into a restored relationship of friendship and intimacy with Him (Col. 1:21-22; Rom. 5:11), and justified before Him (Rom. 5:1). Justification is the act by which God declares a believer righteous (Gal. 2:16), not counting their sin against them (Rom. 8:1) and imputing to them the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The believer is also united with Christ in His death to sin (Rom. 6:3, Col. 2:20), and His resurrection to new life (Rom. 6:4; Col. 3:1-4).

Those whom God has chosen experience regeneration (or new birth), by which they exercise faith in Christ, are given a new heart, and are made alive to God (1 Pet. 1:3; Tit. 3:5; Eph 2:4-5; 1 Jn. 5:1; Deut. 30:6; Eze. 36:25-27). This new heart is appealed to in order that a Christian might take off the works of their old nature (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:5), and glorify God by their obedience to His commands in accordance with their new self (Eph. 4:23-24, Rom. 6:13). This is the process of sanctification, which is a cooperative effort as the Christian responds to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:12-13). Sanctification is a life-long process in which the Spirit wars with the remnants of the sinful nature in the believer (Gal. 5:16-17), in order that He might bring about growth in the entire person (1 Thess. 5:23), thus conforming the believer progressively to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10).

Those who have been chosen, regenerated and called by God, who have received His salvation by faith, will continue in the same by the power of God (1 Cor. 15:2, Col. 1:23, 1 Pet. 1:5) and be safe in His loving hands (John 10:27-29; Rom. 8:31-39). These believers are also to someday partake in God’s glory (Rom. 8:17, 18, 30).

The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the eternal third person of the Triune Godhead (Acts 5:3-4), sharing the existence, character and power of the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14). The Holy Spirit is a personal being, and as such is referred to with personal language (Jn. 14:16-17, 15:26). His personality is also seen in the exercise of will and intellect (1 Cor. 12:11, Jn. 16:14), and in emotional response (Is. 63:10, Eph. 4:30). In addition, the Holy Spirit engages in very personal works such as teaching and reminding (Jn. 14:26), testifying (Jn. 15:26), guiding (Jn. 16:13) and even convicting of sin (Jn. 16:8).

The Holy Spirit has been at work in many ways from the beginning of creation. His work was seen in creation itself (Gen. 1:2), and in the history of the nation of Israel through the inspiration of prophets (2 Sam. 23:2, Ezek. 11:5), the anointing presence and guidance of kings (1 Sam. 10:6, 16:13), and even in the building and adorning of the Tabernacle (Ex. 31:3, 35:31). The Holy Spirit was also very active in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed that the Spirit had anointed Him for ministry (Lk. 4:18-ff.), and the results of this are seen as the Spirit led Christ (Mt. 4:1), gave Him great joy (Lk. 10:21), and enabled Him to cast out demons (Mt. 12:28). The work of the Spirit continued into the period of the early church as He filled the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to them (Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit’s work in the church begins as He regenerates the elect, giving them a new heart and life (Tit. 3:5, Jn. 3:5, Ezek. 36:26). This regeneration results in the Spirit taking up residence in every believer (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Tim. 1:14, Rom. 8:9), and becoming the deposit, guaranteeing their salvation (Eph. 1:14, 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5), sealing them for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). Each believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion (Acts 10:1-11:30) placing them in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). As a part of the body, each believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit which are to be used for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7-11). These gifts are abilities either natural (Rom. 12:7) or supernatural (1 Cor. 12:10) which are empowered by the Holy Spirit and are to be used to serve other believers to the glory of God (1 Pet. 4:10-11). There is a range of diversity in the gifts (1 Cor. 12:8-10), and there is no reason to suppose that any of these gifts is no longer in operation, though where ever a gift is exercised, it ought to be done in an orderly way (1 Cor 14:39-40).

The Holy Spirit continues to work in the church by filling believers, empowering them for special service and mission (Acts 4:31). But this filling is also in an ongoing sense, as believers are commanded to continually be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). This ongoing empowerment of the Spirit brings about the fruit of Godly character and wisdom in the believer’s life (Gal. 5:22-23, 2 Pet. 1:5-8).

The Church - Universal
The church is made up of all those who have trusted in Christ for salvation, and who are incorporated into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 4:4-6). The church is an entity which was foretold by Christ (Matt. 16:18) and brought into existence by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). Together, the members of the church make up a spiritual body which submits to Christ as its head (Eph. 1:22). As such, Christ is the authority to be obeyed (Eph. 5:23-24), the source of growth and maturity for the body (Col. 2:19; Eph. 4:15-16), and the Chief Shepherd who guides and cares for His church (1 Pet. 2:25, 5:4). Jesus stands as the builder of the church (Matt. 16:18) who sacrificed Himself in order to redeem her (Eph. 5:25), and who is worthy of all supremacy as the firstborn over the body (Col. 1:18). The church’s mission in the world is to witness to the salvation offered to the world and secured by the death and resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20), to build up believers in spiritual maturity, Christlikeness and doctrinal stability (Eph. 4:13-14), to be a herald of truth in the world (1 Tim. 3:15), and in all of this to glorify and exalt God and His excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9).

The Church - Local
The universal church is only and always expressed in the local church (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Timothy 3:15). The local church is a group of believers in a given area who are organized under leadership, and who regularly gather together to carry out the mission of the church (Philippians 1:1; Acts 20:17), and who utilize their spiritual gifts in an effort to build up the body as a whole, to the glory of God (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11). Though local churches are independently governed, they ought to work together in a spirit of unity to accomplish the goals of the universal church (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15; Acts 15:1-41). The local church has the responsibility to discipline its own members who are in unrepentant sin, in an effort to restore them and the local body to spiritual health (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).

The primary leadership and authority in the local church is The Senior Pastor, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:25, 5:4). Jesus rules his church by His word, given through the Apostles and Prophets (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:20; 2 Peter 3:2), and by appointing under-shepherds who serve the local body as Elder/Overseers, the only necessary office in the local church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7). The purpose of the Elder/Overseer is to shepherd the church by guiding her doctrinally (Acts 20:28-30; Titus 1:9), teaching the word faithfully (1 Timothy 3:2, 5:17), managing her affairs (1 Timothy 3:4-5, 5:17) and caring and praying for her members (1 Timothy 3:5; James 5:14). Elder/Overseers should be qualified men (1 Timothy 2:11-3:7; Tit. 1:6-9) who are able to serve as examples to the people (1 Peter 5:3). Elders/Overseers are to serve as a team, or plurality (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; James 5:14), with a goal of equipping their local flock to do ministry, and bring them to maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). A team of elders has a responsibility to involve the whole congregation in certain situations and decisions (Matthew 18:17, Acts 15:1-41), but are the primary decision makers (1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:7). In light of this weight of responsibility, the members of the church are given a charge to respect, obey and submit to their leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5).

In addition to Elder/Overseers, the local church may have Deacons where needed (Philippians 1:1). These are to be men and women who meet certain spiritual qualifications and pass a period of testing before serving in this capacity (1 Timothy 3:8-13).

The church has been given baptism and communion (the Lord’s Supper) as ongoing practices in the church (1 Corinthians 11:23; Matthew 28:19). Baptism is an outward profession of belief in and identification with the one true God (Matthew 28:19) and the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is to be by immersion in water (Acts 8:38) by those who have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38-41) and should be practiced soon after a person comes to faith (Acts 8:38, 9:18, 10:47-48). The Lord’s Supper is to be practiced in an ongoing way by the local church as a remembrance of the redemptive work of Christ (1Corinthians 11:24-25). It should be practiced by believers who have examined themselves before partaking (1 Corinthians 11:28), and as a proclamation of the work of Christ, and anticipation of His return (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Last Things - Individual
Physical death is the separation of the material and non-material parts of the person (James 2:26) until the resurrection. During this time, the non-material part of the believer goes immediately into the presence of God (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:9), while the non-material part of the unbeliever goes to a place of torment called Hades (Luke 16:23). The righteous will be resurrected to receive spiritual bodies (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44) and share in God’s glory (Romans 8:18), and the unrighteous to condemnation and everlasting contempt (John 5:29; Daniel 12:2). This everlasting contempt will be eternal, conscious punishment (Matthew 25:46) away from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The righteous will stand before the Lord to be judged regarding their faithfulness during life (Romans 14:12), bringing them differing degrees of rewards (2 Corinthians 5:10). The unrighteous will stand before the Lord for a judgment regarding their deeds (Revelation 20:12), bringing them varying degrees of punishment (Matthew 11:22).

Last Things - General
The goal of the events of the end of history is the glory of the headship and authority of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:18). To this end, the Lord Jesus will come again, personally and bodily (Acts 1:11) in triumph and great glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This coming will be in judgment upon His enemies who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8), and for the purpose of gathering His people to Himself (2 Thessalonians 2:1). Christ will usher in the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13), in which God will dwell with His people fully and finally (Revelation 21:3), to the praise of His glorious grace!