We believe that God made man upright, according to Ecclesiastes 7:29, but that man sinned against God in the Garden when he disobeyed God and longed to be equal to his Creator instead of trusting and obeying the Word of his Lord. We believe that all of mankind sinned in Adam because of our fleshly union with him and the Adamic Covenant God made with our forefather (Romans 5:12-14), thus bringing death to all men (Genesis 5). Whereas “the first Adam” longs to be equal to God, the “last Adam” longs to do the will of God and doesn’t focus on being equal to God (Philippians 2:5-11).
Man, having sinned against God and been removed from the Garden, is under a death sentence and his every imagination is evil from his youth according to Genesis 6:5-7. Man’s heart is desperately wicked according to Jeremiah 17:9. And yet, even in our total depravity, we believe that man can please God by faith, as in the case of Noah (Genesis 6:8; Hebrews 11:7). Noah was called “righteous” by the Lord because of his faith, not because of any work of merit (Genesis 7:1). If one is saved by grace through faith, then even in the Arminian system, he or she cannot brag or boast before God (see Ephesians 2:8-10 and Romans 4).
We believe in the Five Points of Arminianism: First, man is totally depraved (D) and unable to do anything apart from divine grace. Next, we believe that election (E) is unconditional in that God chose from before time how to save, but conditional in that one must believe on the Lord Jesus by faith in order to be called “God’s elect.” God does not choose apart from faith, and Hebrews 11, called by the Church (as a whole) the “Roll Call of Faith,” is evidence enough against Calvinism’s view that “God chooses apart from faith.” There is no such thing as elect sinners; not even John Calvin himself approved of such a heretical notion as “elect sinners.”
Next, God’s atonement is universal (U), available for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes is not condemned, but He that believes not is condemned already…” (see John 3:16-18).
The grace of God toward man has appeared in Jesus Christ and offers every man the opportunity to be saved (Mark 16:15; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:4, etc). Man has a responsibility to repent and believe the gospel (Acts 17:30-31). God did not damn anyone to Hell from before the foundations of the world, as Hell wasn’t created for man but for the Devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41), but the Lord will allow man to go to Hell if he spurns the love of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When God’s love is spurned, only hate remains.
We believe that one must believe to be saved, that one is not saved apart from faith. We don’t believe in regeneration before belief but instead, regeneration after belief. In one simple example to prove this, Paul tells the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16:31 to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” then preaches the Word of God to the jailer because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (see Romans 10:17).
We believe that one must first hear the Word of God and be convicted (C) by the Spirit’s drawing power (Jesus says no one can come to Him unless the Spirit draws him or her, John 6:44), seeing that repentance and confession are the result of the move of the Holy Spirit of grace in the life of an individual. Conviction alongside of hearing the Word of God moves someone to be saved, but one must exercise faith to be saved; God forces no man (see the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8), and those who aren’t saved after hearing the Word are those who choose not to accept the message. Coming to God is an act of faith, and Jesus calls us to come in Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 11:6, and Ephesians 5:14. We can only come to God by the Holy Spirit of grace, and we need the Spirit’s convicting and cooperating grace to remain in Christ and bear fruit, as we have been made anew in Christ “unto good works.”
We believe that God is not one person (hence, we reject modalism), but declare that God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This Triune God created man in His image, after His likeness (see Genesis 1:26-28) and is represented at Jesus’ baptism: the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove, Jesus the Son is baptized and comes up out of the water, and God the Father speaks from Heaven saying, “This is my Beloved Son; in whom I am well-pleased” (Mark 2:11). All three persons of the Triune Godhead are mentioned at Jesus’ baptism in the gospels, and the Trinitarian view of God is not up for debate.
Man must believe on the Lord Jesus, not the Holy Spirit or the Father, to be saved, since there is only one name given among men whereby mankind must be saved. There is salvation in none other, Peter says (Acts 4:12). The person who does not believe in Jesus cannot be saved and does not have the Father either (1 John 5:12). Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
We believe that believers can have the Spirit of God and experience regeneration but then fall away due to their own hardness of heart, as in the case of the Rocky Soil believer who “believes for a time” and falls away in times of temptation “on account of the Word” (see Mark 4:17), or in the case of King Saul who, though given “another heart” by God (1 Samuel 10:9), still loses the Holy Spirit of God and gets an evil spirit in the Spirit’s place (1 Samuel 16:14).
Judas is also an apostate, one who was elected by God for the apostleship but betrays the Lord out of his love of money and is taken captive by Satan (John 13:27). Hebrews 6:4-6 tells us that those who fall away cannot be “renewed again to repentance,” since Christ will not be crucified a second time. Once apostates have “trampled underfoot the Son of God,” “counted the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified a common thing,” and “insulted the Spirit of grace,” they cannot return because there is no atonement left for them.
This is why Jesus tells the disciples that “any branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit is taken away” (John 15:2). The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness that “in the latter days, some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). We don’t profess to know more than the Holy Spirit does; His word on apostasy in 1 Timothy 4:1, for us, settles the matter.
We believe that every person born has a soul, that every soul must spend eternity somewhere (we deny Annihilationism or Conditional Immortality and declare it unbiblical doctrine and against God’s Word – a view that says one only gets a soul when he or she believes in Jesus), and that whether or not one ends up in Heaven or Hell is not a matter of “the final determination of God,” as John Calvin said, but a matter of men and women choosing to accept or reject the gospel and remain faithful, keeping the faith until death (2 Timothy 4:7; Revelation 2:10).
We believe that, in accordance with our views on salvation and apostasy, that church discipline and excommunication are not optional, but mandatory. We will practice church discipline for those who are walking contrary to the Word of God publicly, and we will excommunicate those who, after being warned and admonished in the Word of God, continue to walk contrary to it. As the man sleeping with his stepmother was excommunicated “so that his soul may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5), so we will excommunicate members in order to save their souls. The Lord wants no man to perish; neither do we.
We believe that it is our duty to be a church that reflects God rightly, and we forfeit that right when we think excommunication is ancient and outdated. The goal of excommunication is to bring the sinning party to repentance. Our desire is to see souls reconciled to God’s church, but we recognize that man’s depravity is so dark that some may choose not to reconcile. We can do nothing in such cases but commit the sinning parties to God’s grace and let them part.
Finally, we rejoice in God our Savior, His love for all men, and His desire that all men be saved, but we recognize His special love for the Church (made up of believers only), see Ephesians 5:25, and His desire to unite the Church with Himself when He returns again. Like the five wise virgins, the Church remains dressed in white, pure, spotless, and waiting for her BrideGroom to come again and receive her (and all her members) unto Himself, just as our Lord promised (John 14:3). Until then, let all who name the name of Christ be ready for His return, with our lamps trimmed and burning (Luke 12:35-48).
Come Lord Jesus, come!