Articles of Faith and Ecclesiology

Articles of faith and ecclesiology are concise expressions of biblical theology that are intended to clarify how specific doctrines are interpreted and applied.

These articles expresses my beliefs about the following issues:

  1. The Doctrine of God
  2. The Doctrine of the Word
  3. Ecclesiology

 

***This page is still under development, so please feel free to periodically check back on this page as I continue to refine and develop the contents of this section.***

 


 

ARTICLES OF FAITH

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD

The nature and being of God is the most sacred truth of the Christian Church.

Yahweh is One: there is no other 

The Father is the perfect personal essence of Yahweh in heaven.

The Son is Yahweh in the flesh and ascended to glory; the personal word of God that took on flesh to declare the radiance of God’s glory and provide the atoning sacrifice for sin in order that he might redeem the lost and become their high priest.

The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of Yahweh that dwells with his people and gives life to his creation.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one eternally coexistent divine being.

Bible References: Numbers 6:24-27; Deuteronomy 4:39; 6:4; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 9:6; 48:16; 63:10; Mark 12:29; John 1:14, 20; 14:26; 16:7-8, 13-15; 17:3, 5; Romans 15:18-19; 1st Corinthians 2:10-11; 2nd Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 9:14; 1st John 2:1

THE DOCTRINE OF THE WORD

The nature and authority of God’s word establishes the Church in the true knowledge and will of Christ.

All things were created by the Word of God

All creation was created by the word of God through Jesus Christ

All creation was ordered by the word of God through Jesus Christ

All creation is sustained by the word of God through Jesus Christ

All Christians are born again through the living and enduring word of God

Bible References: Genesis 1:1, 26; Psalm 33:6; John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-17; 3:10; 1st Peter 1:23-24

All Scripture is infallibly inspired by God

All Scripture was inspired by God when the Holy Spirit moved upon the saints of old to breathe through their unique personalities and perspectives the living, finished, and infallible word of God

All Scripture infallibly conveys the eternal and living voice of Christ through the Holy Spirit

Jesus Christ exercises his Lordship in the Church through the authority of Scripture by the personal illumination of the Holy Spirit

All God’s children come to know the truth through the anointing of Christ’s Spirit and listen to his voice and to the testimony of his apostles through the Holy Spirit who guides them in the word

Bible References: John 6:63; 10:27; 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1; 2:3-4; 4:12; 1st John 2:21; 4:6; 2nd Peter 1:21; Jude 1:3

All Scripture is authoritatively appointed by God

All Scripture is authoritatively appointed to save, sanctify, and equip the believer through the powerful good news about Jesus Christ so that we might know Yahweh

All Scripture authoritatively conveys the faith that was appointed in the name of Jesus to save the lost

All Scripture was authoritatively appointed by Jesus Christ to sanctify the believer through the Holy Spirit – spirit, soul, and body – so that they may know God and remain in his holy fellowship

All Scripture is authoritatively appointed by God to teach, rebuke, correct, and train his children so that they may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work

All Scripture has as its divine goal the kind of holy love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith

Bible References: John 14:23; 17:17; Acts 4:12; Romans 1:16; 10:17; Ephesians 5:26; 1st Timothy 4:5; 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1; 2:3-4; 4:12; 2nd Peter 1:21; 1st John 1:5; 2:3-6, 20; 4:7-12; 5:2; Jude 1:3

 


ARTICLES OF ECCLESIOLOGY

The formation, order, commission, purpose, and life of the Christian Church are the sacred doctrines of christian ecclesiology.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP

Elders – Shepherds of the Church

The men who are appointed as elders over the Lord’s Church carry out one of the physical expressions of the Lord’s shepherding.

#1.  Their Flock

Elderships work in unity together to shepherd their Church community within the will of God so that no single elder has unilateral authority.  Elders shepherd the flock(s) of unattended believers that are most naturally related to their ministry through the ministry of the word, shepherding, evangelism, church planting, and church growth.

  1. Elders commit to the eldership of their local Church community
  2. Elders do not exercise unilateral authority
  3. Elders shepherd the nearest related and unattended flock(s)
  4. Elders relate to each other in mutual respect, humility, and submission

Bible References:  Titus 1:5; Acts 15:6, 22; 16:4; 20:17; 1st Timothy 1:3-5

#2.  Ministry of Shepherding

Elderships shepherd together in unity to both ensure the spiritual health of their elders and to provide an example of Christian unity to the Church body that they should emulate.  Elders shepherd their flock(s) from a position of humility in order to personally look after the physical and spiritual needs of the Church body, and to ensure the flock in the Lord’s pasture is well taken care of during times of both plenty and trial.

  1. Elderships are responsible to look after the spiritual wellbeing of their elders
  2. Elders shepherd the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the flock(s) entrusted to them by God

Bible References: John 17:1-26; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; 1st Peter 5:1-4

#3.  Ministry of the Word

Elders submit to Scripture as the sole authoritative means by which the Lord exercises his Lordship over the Church.  They shepherd the fidelity of Biblical teaching in the Church so that disciples are faithfully reared in the word of Christ.  Their ministry in the word promotes love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith so that the Church may learn to walk in holiness with love.  They are responsible for ensuring that false doctrine does not gain a foothold in their church to lead lambs to the slaughter.

  1. Elders shepherd the Church in the doctrine that produces love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith
  2. Elders guard the ministry of the word to ensure faithfulness and to preserve truth
  3. Elders guard against speculative and opinionated teachings

Bible References: Acts 20:28-31; 1st Timothy 1:3-5; 5:17; Titus 1:9-11;

#4.  Ministry of Prayer

Elders are devoted to prayer as the primary means by which they seek God’s direction and blessing for their flocks and ministry efforts to the glory of God.

  1. Elders shepherd according to the will of God having sought the Lord’s will in prayer
  2. Elders assemble together to pray for the physical and spiritual needs of their flocks

Bible References: Psalm 105:4; Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 10:21; John 15:7-8; James 5:14; 1st John 5:14-15

#5.  Authority to Lead

Elders shepherd by the authority of God’s word and as confined to the word of God.  Elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit to watch over the souls of their flock and expected to minister with all honor and integrity.

  1. Elders are worthy of their wages
  2. Elders who have proven to be good leaders are worthy of double honor
  3. Elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit to watch over the souls of their flock

Bible References: 1st Thessalonians 5:12; 1st Timothy 5:17

#6. Qualifications to Lead

Elders must be spiritually qualified to lead their flocks as examples of Christ for the Church body to emulate.  They must prove themselves in their home before they stand to shepherd the household of God because their ministry to their wives and children reveal the quality of their hidden character.  While elders must be characterized by the virtues required for leadership, and in this way be blameless in possessing these attributes, they may experience areas of perceptible deficiencies and should, therefore, be seen growing in Christ so that their progress may be evident to all.

  1. Elders must shepherd God’s flock willingly with an upright heart
  2. Elders must lead by example
  3. Elders must not lead with a heavy hand
  4. Elders must clothe themselves in humility
  5. Elders must be blameless as overseers of God’s household
    • They must not be arrogant
    • They must not be hot-tempered
    • They must not be an excessive drinker
    • They must not be a bully
    • They must not be greedy for money
    • They must be hospitable
    • They must love what is good
    • They must be sensible
    • They must be righteous
    • They must be holy
    • They must be self-controlled
    • They must hold to the faithful message as taught
    • They must be able to encourage the Church with sound teaching
    • They must be able to refute those who contradict sound teaching
  6. Elders must possess these attributes as the result of their being new creations
  7. Elders must possess these attributes as their dominate character traits
    • Elders should pray and grow together in these qualifications
    • Elders may experience deficiencies in these qualities without being disqualified so long as their deficiencies are marked by repentance and progressive sanctification over time
  8. Elders must be married to one wife and love her as Christ loved the Church
    • Or be the widower of a proven marriage in whom the Church has confidence
  9. Elders must have good children and raise them faithfully in the Lord
    • Or must have faithfully raised their children
  10. Elders should submit to proven elders who lead well

Bible References: 1st Timothy 3:1-7; 4:15-16; Titus 1:5-9; 1st Peter 5:1-5

#7. Appointment to Lead

Elderships were established locally by delegates like Timothy who were sent out by the apostles to appoint the elders whom the Lord has chosen by the Holy Spirit.  Elders are now cautiously appointed by the local Church with prayer and fasting as their ministry is entrusted and commended to them in the presence of the Lord and his assembly.

  1. Elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit as overseers to shepherd the Church
  2. Elders are appointed by Christ himself to shepherd the Church
  3. Elders are appointed cautiously by the Church
  4. Elders are appointed with prayer and fasting
  5. Elders are committed to the Lord
  6. Elders are appointed in local pluralities

Bible References: Acts 6:2-3; 14:23; 20:28; 1st Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; Titus 1:5

# 8. Discipline, Correction, and Removal of Elders

Elders are protected from baseless accusations by the principle that an accusation of only “one” is invalid.  Elders must actively shepherd one another together as their first line of defense against wolves that might rise up among them and do incalculable damage to the flock.  Unity among elders is central to promoting openness so that elders can watch out for one another.  An elder who publicly sins against the body is disciplined before the entire body so that his fellow elders will stand in reverence before God.

  1. Elders cannot be accused based on the accusation of one witness
  2. Elders must look out for one another to guard against wolves
  3. Elders who are caught in public sin are publicly disciplined so that the whole eldership may reverence God

Bible References:  Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-10; Acts 20:28-31; 1st Timothy 5:19-20

Deacons & Deaconesses – Servants of the Church

The mission of the diaconate is to be the physical embodiment of Christ’s servanthood.  Deacons do not possess the authority to lead or teach, therefore, both men and women may serve as deacons.  However, where the term “deacon” is taken to indicate a church office in which leadership authority has been invested, the role would necessarily be restricted to men.

#1.  Qualifications to Serve

The men and women appointed to serve the Church as deacons and deaconesses must embody the servanthood of Christ in their ministry to the physical and spiritual needs of the Church.

  1. Deacons and deaconesses must have honorable character
  2. Deacons and deaconesses must be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom
  3. Deacons and deaconesses must be in monogamous relationships with honorable households
  4. Deacons and deaconesses must not be malicious gossips
  5. Deacons and deaconesses must not live hypocritical lives
  6. Deacons and deaconesses must not be greedy for monetary gain
  7. Deacons and deaconesses must not overindulge in wine
  8. Deacons and deaconesses must be proven to be faithful to Biblical truth

Bible References: Acts 6:3; 1st Timothy 3:8-13

#2.  Appointment to Serve

The men and women appointed to serve the Church as deacons and deaconesses are first called and equipped by God with the grace necessary to embody the servanthood of Christ, and recognized by Church leadership with prayer and laying on of the hands to show the Church’s approval of their ministry.

  1. Deacons and deaconesses are appointed by God
  2. Deacons and deaconesses are given the gift of service by the grace of Christ
  3. Deacons and deaconesses are confirmed by Church leadership with prayer and the laying on of the hands

Bible References: Acts 6:6; Romans 12:4-7, 16:1-2; 1st Corinthians 12:28

#3.  Ministry of Service

The diaconate exhibits the servanthood of Christ in ministering to the diverse physical and spiritual needs of the Church wherever those needs exist.  Deacons and deaconesses can serve the needs of sick members at home and in hospitals.  They can serve in shelters, orphanages, and the other various ministries of compassion.  They must be prepared to be the testimony of the gospel in the humility and love of Christian service to the lost and helpless.

  • Deacons and deaconesses are the testimony of Christ’s gospel servanthood
  • Deacons and deaconesses serve with diverse gifts of helping and administration
  • Deacons and deaconesses serve the spiritual and physical needs of the Church

Bible References: Matthew 25:31-36; Acts 6:1, 4; Romans 12:4-7; 1st Timothy 5:3-16; 1st Peter 4:11

#4.  Discipline, Correction, and Removal

Error in deacons or deaconesses are addressed directly in private by those who are spiritually mature, then with witnesses, and if necessary before the whole assembly for the purpose of restoring them to service according to Jesus’ instructions.

  1. Anyone caught in error is addressed in private, then with witnesses, and finally before the Church
  2. Anyone refusing to correct their error is to be removed from their service and the fellowship of the Church

Bible References: Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2

Teachers – The Ministry of the Word

Teachers are men who are counted faithful with God’s word to minister the stewardship of the Word to the body.  They are appointed to equip the saints with the gospel for the work of ministry and build the body of Christ up in the truth of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of God’s Son.

#1.  Qualifications

Teachers are those who have been appointed by God as being faithful to the word and gifted by the grace of Christ to build up and equip the body of Christ with the word of God for the unity of faith.

  1. Teachers are an office appointed by God
  2. Teachers are recognized by the gift of Christ’s grace
  3. Teaching to the collective body is restricted by God to faithful men
  4. Teaching to the women of the body is also given to mature women

#2.  Their Mission

The teacher’s mission as a steward of God’s word is to nourish and feed the sheep with the word of God according to the grace provided by Christ so that the Church may be established in love from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and a sincere faith as she grows in the unity of faith and the knowledge of Christ.

  1. Teachers are appointed by God
  2. Teachers are recognized by the Church
  3. Teachers use their received gift to serve others by the grace of God
  4. Teachers use their gift to teach Scripture to God’s people
  5. Teachers preach the word using rebuke, correction, and encouragement
  6. Teachers preach the word with patience and understanding towards God’s people
  7. Teachers minister the word to nourish the Church in the sound words of godliness
  8. Their goal is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith
  9. They are responsible to hold firmly to the sound pattern of apostolic doctrine so that they can encourage and correct with patience and gentleness
  10. They are responsible to be diligent in personal preparation, training, and teaching so that they can faithfully uphold and preserve the words of truth and knowledge.
  11. They are responsible to clearly teach God’s people the difference between the holy and the profane
  12. They must not have a quarrelsome nature, but must be able to correct their opponents with gentleness

#3.  Their correction, discipline, and removal

Teachers are subject to stricter judgment.  Error in teachers is addressed directly in private by those who are spiritually mature, then with witnesses, and if necessary before the whole assembly for the purpose of restoring them to service according to Jesus’ instructions.

  1. Anyone caught in error is addressed in private, then with witnesses, and finally before the Church
  2. Anyone refusing to correct their error is to be removed from their service and the fellowship of the Church

Bible References: Leviticus 10:10-11; Nehemiah 8:3-12; Ezekiel 44:23; Malachi 2:7; Matthew 9:38; 18:15-20; 22:1-14; 24:45-51; John 8:31; 21:15-17; Acts 2:42; 11:18; 13:48; Romans 10:14-15; 12:7; 1st Corinthians 12:28; 14:6, 29; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 1:21-23; 3:16; 1st Timothy 1:5; 2:12; 4:6-16; 5:17; 2nd Timothy 1:13; 2:2, 15, 24-25; 4:1-5; Titus 1:9; 2:3; James 3:1; 1st Peter 4:10-11

THE ASSEMBLY

This section examines the Biblical doctrines concerning the community of believers who compose the Church.

Christian Community – The Family of Believers

#1.  Church membership

Members of the body of Christ have been adopted as the children of God in Christ through faith in the Lord’s name and are clothed with Christ in baptism, in which they are conformed to the likeness of his death, and are raised to newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit, who causes them to be born again through the living and enduring word of God by faith.  The believer’s redemption and forgiveness of sins is purchased by the blood of Christ and their new life is experienced in the resurrection of the Holy Spirit.

  1. God chose us in Christ to be adopted as sons through him
  2. God loved the world by sending his Son so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life
  3. Everyone who receives Christ and believes in his name is given the right to be called children of God and receive eternal life
  4. Personal redemption and forgiveness of sin is purchased by the blood of Christ
  5. Personal regeneration in water and the spirit is required to enter God’s kingdom
  6. Personal faith comes from hearing the message of Christ and results in salvation
  7. Personal belief is expressed from the heart and results in righteousness
  8. Believers are united with Christ in the likeness of his death, burial, and resurrection in baptism
  9. Believers are clothed with Christ when they are baptized into him
  10. Believers are raised to newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit
  11. Believers are born again by faith through the living and enduring word of God
  12. Believers overcome this world by the mighty victory of faith

Bible References: John 1:12; 3:3-5, 16; Romans 10:10-17; Galatians 3:27-29; Ephesians 1:4, 7, 11, 13; 2:4-10; Philippians 3:21; 1st Peter 1:21; 1st John 5:1-4

#2.  Unity of local churches

The Church is composed of individual believers who are unique parts of the local assembly and individually members of the one universal Church.  The body of Christ cannot be divided into denominations or independent rogue members; we are all one in Christ if we belong to him.

  1. Believers individually share in the Lord’s body
  2. Believers compose the many different parts of the local church body
  3. Believers are baptized by one Spirit into the universal Church body
  4. Believers are equipped to build up the Church body as a whole

The universal Church is composed of autonomous local assemblies with recognized leadership and membership structures who are composed of individual members.

  1. Local assemblies are composed of Christians living life together in harmony
  2. Local assemblies are composed of Christians who meet together in one place
  3. Local assemblies are composed of Christians who agree in their faith convictions
  4. Local assemblies are composed of Christians who bear each other’s sufferings and joys together

The Church is one universal body composed of many individual members under Christ.

  1. There is One head of the universal Church, Jesus Christ
  2. There is One Shepherd over the one flock of God, Jesus Christ
  3. The body is One together in Christ as the Father is one with the Son
  4. The body has many unique and individual parts

Bible References: Psalm 133:1; John 10:16; 17:21; Acts 2:1; 1st Corinthians 1:10; 10:17; 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:12-13

#3.  Ministry and Missional foci of the local church body

The Great Commission is the central mission of the universal Church.

  1. The Church is commissioned to make disciples
  2. Disciples are made by being baptized into the name of God
  3. Disciples are made by teaching them to keep the commandments of Christ

The great commandment given to Christ’s disciples is to love God with their whole being.

  1. God must be the sole object of our love
  2. Holy love requires our whole being; all our heart, soul, mind, and strength

The second commandment given to Christ’s disciples is to love others as oneself and to love the Church as Christ loves her.

  1. The disciple must love others with the kind of love they would show to themselves
  2. The disciple must sacrificially love their brothers and sisters in truth and deed
  3. Sincere love is / does:
    • Patient
    • Kind
    • Does not envy
    • Not boastful
    • Not arrogant
    • Not rude
    • Not self-seeking
    • Not irritable
    • Not keep records of wrong
    • Not find joy in unrighteousness
    • Rejoices in truth
    • Bears all things
    • Believes all things
    • Hopes all things
    • Endures all things
    • Never ends

The work of ministry is the unity of the Church in faith and the knowledge of God’s son.

  1. There is one body because there is One God, Spirit, Lord, faith, baptism, and God
  2. Unity among Christ’s disciples is Christ’s high-priestly prayer for the Church
  3. The Church must preserve the unity of the Spirit through peace
  4. Christian ministry is to build one another up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of God’s Son
  5. Love is the perfect bond of unity
  6. Unity in thought, love, spirit, and purpose comes from:
    • The encouragement of Christ
    • The consolation of love
    • Fellowship with the Spirit
    • Affection
    • Mercy
    • Forsaking selfish ambition
    • Humbly considering others as more important than oneself
    • Looking out for the interests of others as well as one’s own

Bible References: Matthew 22:37-38; 28:19-20; John 15:17;17:20-21; 1st Corinthians 13:1-8; Ephesians 1:4 (ASV; CSB; NKJV); 4:3-13; Philippians 2:1-5; Colossians 3:14

HOLY WORSHIP

This section examines the Biblical theology of Christian worship.

The Central Acts of Christian Worship

#1. Baptism

Baptism is the believer’s first and greatest act of worship in calling upon the holy name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the salvation of their souls as they surrender their person to be conformed to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  This essential confession of confidence in the sacrifice of Christ and working of God in the resurrection of the Holy Spirit is the disciple’s first testimony to the sovereign power and glory of God in Christ.

  1. Believers are commanded to be baptized in the name of God
  2. Believers are baptized into the one body of Christ by the Holy Spirit
  3. Believers are united with Christ in the likeness of his death in baptism
  4. Believers are clothed with Christ when they are baptized into him
  5. Believers are circumcised in their hearts when they are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to new life by the power of the Holy Spirit

Bible References: Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:47-48; 19:5; Romans 6:4-5; 1st Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:11-12; 1st Peter 3:21-22

#2. Communion

The Lord’s Supper is the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice and triumphant return in which the unified body of Christ observes the new covenant of Christ’s blood and enters God’s sanctuary through the veil of Christ’s body.  The observance of the Lord’s Supper by one unified body is the Church’s most sacred act of worship because in this meal we stand united together and confidently proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns.

  1. The sacraments are the symbols of Christ’s body and bread
  2. The bread is his body that was broken for our healing and reconciliation to God
  3. The bread we share is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth
  4. The cup is the new covenant of Christ’s blood
  5. The blood of Christ gives us boldness to enter God’s sanctuary through the veil of Christ’s body
  6. Christ’s sacrifice for sins perfected forever those who are being sanctified
  7. The Lord’s death and return is proclaimed as often as the Lord’s Supper is observed

Bible References: Matthew 26:26-35; 1st Corinthians 5:6-8; 11:17-32; Colossians 1:19-23; Hebrews 10:12-25; 1st Peter 2:24

#3. Prayer

Prayer is the communication of praise, thanksgiving, intercession, petition, and confession, to God. Prayer is a confessional acknowledgment of God’s power and position.

  1. Prayer can happen when we’re alone with God or joined together with others.
  2. Prayer is common practice throughout the believer’s life.
  3. We pray with the spirit and with understanding.
  4. Jesus taught his followers how to pray.
  5. Paul wrote often about his habit of prayer.
  6. Prayer helps us practice a posture of humility and obedience.
  7. Through prayer, we seek his will, aligning our desires to his will.
  8. God is glorified in his executing answers to our prayers.

#4. Praise

Worship is offered to our God in praise by declaring his glory and works among the peoples of the earth and by offering our lives to God in holiness.

  1. Yahweh is worth of praise
  2. Praise is given to God in response to his mighty works
  3. We are to declare his glory and wondrous works among the nations and peoples
  4. We are to sing with our voices about the glory of his name
  5. We are to sing with our hearts to make his praise glorious
  6. We sing praise with the spirit and with understanding
  7. God’s mercy leads us to offer him our lives as living sacrifices to him
  8. We are to glorify the God and Father of Christ with one mind and one voice
  9. We glorify God because we were bought at a price
  10. We are to continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, through Christ Jesus, bearing fruit with lips that confess his name
  11. God chose us so that we may proclaim his praises
  12. God is to be glorified in all that we do by doing it in the name of the Lord

Bible References: Genesis 4:1-7; Leviticus 10:3; 1st Chronicles 16:24; Psalm 6:9; 18:3; 66:2; 96:3, 8-9; Luke 18:43; John 4:24-26; Romans 12:1-2, 12; 14:8-12; 15:6-11 1st Corinthians 6:20; 14:15-16; Ephesians 1:12; 6:18-20; Colossians 3:17; 1st Thessalonians 5:16-19; Hebrews 12:28-29; 13:15-16; James 5:13; 1st Peter 2:9; 4:16