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What I Believe: The Essentials

For a missions application, I was asked to “briefly” describe my convictions on a few key issues. Here is what I wrote.

In this section, please briefly describe your beliefs concerning the following questions.
1. What do you believe about the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible?
Scriptures are not the product of human opinion, but are the result of human writers being moved of God to write (2 Pet. 1:20-21). They stand apart from and above human thoughts and opinion (Jer. 23:28-29) and are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). I believe that the original writers wrote without error, but that some errors have crept in over the years through copyists mistakes. These errors touch only minor portions of the Bible, and do not affect doctrine. I do not believe that any modern version (e.g. KJV) is absolutely without error.
2. What is your concept of God?
God is the creator. He is separate from His creation (He is “holy” or “different”), but He interacts in it in love. He exists and functions both outside of and within time. As a timeless God, He predestines and controls all of history. As working within time, He changes His plans to accommodate human free will, He is at times grieved by human sin, He repents, He relents, and He answers prayer.
3. What is the purpose of Christ in relation to mankind?
Jesus is the Son of God (John 1), who has come into human history to conquer Satan, sin and death, to be the perfect human that Adam was not, and to thus create a new dynasty of life to replace the dynasty of death created by original sin (Rom. 5 ). In so doing, Jesus forges a “new and living way” to God (Heb. 10:20), by inviting humanity to become children of God by becoming sons (and daughters) of God (Rom. 8 ) through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ (Col. 1:22).
4. What are your views concerning the Holy Spirit’s person, ministry, and gifts?
All Christians receive the Holy Spirit upon salvation, as a pledge of the full inheritance of redemption in Christ (Eph. 1:14). Through the Spirit, all Christians bear fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) in increasing measure, to the extent which they abide in Christ (John 15:5). In addition, the Spirit gives gifts for the edification (literally “up-building”) of the church (1 Cor. 14:12). I am not a “cessationist,” meaning that I believe that the gifts which were present in the Early Church are still available for the church today: however, Paul cautions that a focus on love is more important than a focus on gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). Although people sometimes receive special gifts or a new level of spiritual infilling at turning-points in their lives, or sometimes when elders lay hands on them and pray for them (2 Tim. 1:6), I do not believe in a post-salvation, secondary “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” and I do not believe that speaking in tongues is a special “sign-gift” authenticating a person’s supposed “spiritual infilling.” (Rather, the fruits mentioned above are the measure of one’s maturity, cf. Mat. 7:16-20) Although I have never been part of a church where prophecy, healing and speaking in tongues are regular parts of the service, I would not condemn churches who practice in this way. Only, I believe that the checks-and-balances (1 Cor. 14:27-29), and the procedures for testing which Scriptures mandate (1 Cor. 12:2, 1 John 4:1) should be applied, if the gifts are to be emphasized. I have never heard of any church which has done this in the way in which Paul mandated.
5. What is the condition of mankind?
Humans are sinners by nature and by choice. Mankind is born into sin (Psalm 51:5) because of their association through birth with their Federal Head, Adam (Romans 5). Because of this sin nature, all humans will sin as soon as they are given the opportunity. Thus, all of humanity stands condemned already (John 3:18) and stands under the awful wrath of God (John 3:36) apart from the saving work of Christ (John 3:17). However, babies and children who have not yet reached the age of accountability seem to avoid the judgment which they would have incurred, had they an opportunity to sin (cf. 2 Sam. 12:23). This is because we are not judged for our father’s sins (Jer. 31:29-30): however, our father’s sins do incline us to sin, and in this way judgment passes on through the generations of the ungodly (Exod. 20:5).
6. What is the significance of the Church?
The church is the visible representation of the invisible body of Christ (Rom. 12:5, etc.). The purpose of the church is to worship God, to equip and mature the saints (Eph. 4:11-16), to be a light to the world (Mat. 5:14-16), and to bring God’s message to the world (2 Cor. 5:20). In the same way that not all Israel was “true Israel,” (Rom. 9:6) not all who attend the visible church are true followers of Christ. This being said, one should not abandon the visible gathering of the “church” (Heb. 10:25). One of the main reasons for communal worship are Godly authority (Heb. 13:17) accountability (Jas. 5:16) and access to good teaching (1 Tim. 3:2, 2 Tim. 2:2, 2 Tim. 2:24).
7. What is the Christian’s responsibility to individuals and society?
A supposed religion which is all talk and no actions is empty and potentially even counterfeit (Jas. 2:18). The “true” religion of a Christian must include compassion and care of needy and lonely people (Jas. 1:27).A Christian is to pray for their government leaders and those in authority over them (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Christians are to be in submission to said leaders in all matters which do not violate their consciences (Rom. 13:1-5). This includes matters which seem onerous, or unnecessary, or seem to be “needless red-tape.” A Christian should be “above reproach” in this matter, so as not to incur the shame of prosecution for breaking a law (1 Pet. 3:17).I do not believe that a Christian can serve in the military, police-force or any government role which has authority over these departments without violating Jesus’ message, especially in the sermon on the mount (cf. Mat. 5:39). However, I recognize that many sincere, devoted Christian people believe differently than me on this point. I do not believe that pacifism is a salvation issue. I have worked, and will continue to work with both pacifists and non-pacifists.
8. What are your beliefs about homosexuality and the church?
Homosexuality is a sin (Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26-32, etc.). It is not compassionate to “waver” on this point, because to do so is to allow people to remain trapped in sin, and ultimately to bar people from salvation (1 Cor. 6:9).This is a water-shed issue in our generation, because it forces people, churches, missions and denominations to decide: 1) Where is truth ultimately found? (In Scriptures, or in contemporary science?) 2) What is the purpose of religion? (To worship the God of the Bible or to satisfy the cravings for self-fulfillment within the human heart?) 3) What is the purpose of ethics? (To satisfy the requirements of a Holy God or to make the greatest number of people as happy as possible?)I could not work with a mission with a weak stance on this issue.
9. Who can go to heaven and how can they get there?
Only those who enter through the “narrow gate” (Mat. 7:13-14) which is Christ (John 10:7) can be saved. We walk the way to Heaven by coming to and through Jesus (John 14:4-6). It is my purpose in life to lead as many people as possible to do so, by right belief, right profession (Rom. 10:9-10) and the right-living which naturally flows from a true conversion (Rom. 6).When I was younger in the faith, I wrestled with the question “what about those who have never heard of Christ?” At the time I found great comfort in the solution of C.S. Lewis on this question, that although Jesus is the only way to God, perhaps God has other means of saving those who have not heard. Recently, however, I have been shocked, motivated (and a little bit terrified!) by the words of J. Gresham Machen. He asked, in effect, “What if it really is true that all those whom the church has not reached with the Gospel are going to Hell?” One could argue that God is unjust to place the eternal fate of one person in the hands of another. Perhaps. But, is this not exactly what God does with parents? And isn’t this just what Scriptures say? (cf. Mat. 16:9, 18:18, Rom. 10:14-15). Doesn’t God hold His servants accountable, when He commissions them to exhort to repentance, and they do not speak on His behalf? (cf. Ezek. 18) Listening to Machen rather than Lewis on this point has literally “lit a fire under me,” and caused me to turn from academic speculation towards evangelism, down-to-earth gospel preaching and now into missions.
10. Are there other convictions of significance to you?
I am a complementarian, which means that I believe that God has called men to lead their homes and the church, through Christ-imitating servant-leadership. I can work with people who disagree with me, and would not be opposed to working under female leadership in most circumstances.

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