A SUMMARY OF DOCTRINES
Typically, a "Summary of Doctrines" lets people know "where we are coming from." They are never exhaustive descriptions of every single thing that we believe. And the summary below does perform that function. But before you begin to examine these teachings, please PLEASE keep the following in the forefront of your consciousness: we are utterly convinced that what God started through the prophets, His Son, His Spirit and His apostles was first and foremost a LOVE movement. It was (and is) a movement motivated by His own unique version of "love." And the primary goal of His love movement is to convince you to to abandon yourself into that love, to the end that you willingly allow His heart to replace yours. Only after you are convinced and converted at the level of your love should you get caught up in the various doctrinal summaries that abound. Many zealous “Bible-believing” Christians I have met do not seem to me to have yet been converted into becoming His lovers. As you browse the internet, make sure that your primary "search criterion" is to find a fellowship that will disciple you in the way of that love.
REMEMBER, NO MATTER HOW PERFECT YOUR "ORTHODOXY," HE WILL ONLY EMPOWER HEARTS THAT ARE MOTIVATED BY HIS MOTIVATION!
Having said that, read on...
I. GOD OUR FATHER is the source of the being for His eternal Son and eternal Spirit. They share His "being," which is not true of any of us creatures, even of the mighty angels. And, through the Son and Spirit, He has caused all that exists to come into being in seven days, by supernaturally speaking us all into being (Genesis 1:1-27).
His character is marked not only by love, but also by truth and holiness (I John 4:8, 5:7, Leviticus 19:2). Therefore, the sign of one who is elect of God and under the saving influence of His Spirit is a similar zeal for love (as HE defines love), for His revealed truth and for holiness of life. "Knowing" God is the kind of "knowledge" that one has of a spouse: orthodoxy of theology is vital, but orthodoxy can be had without knowledge of God and without His salvation. Just because you believe that one is justified by faith apart from works of the Law does not mean that you possess that justifying faith.
II. JESUS is the incarnation of the eternally begotten Son of the Father (John 1:1-3, 14, 17:5,24). Prior to that incarnation, He existed in the form of God (Philippians 2:6). He is the supreme authority over heaven and earth, possessing all of the authority and glory of the Father (Matthew 28:18, Colossians 2:10). He has this authority and glory both by virtue of being creation's Author, and because He has won that right in the living out of His human life as Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 2:5-10). In His death, the offering of His life of perfect obedience and trust was found acceptable by the Father, and He stood in the place of the guilty to bear our punishment and to turn away the divine wrath (that wrath being the Son's wrath every bit as much as the Father's). Therefore God has caused Him to become our source of righteousness and of peace with Him (Philippians 2:8-10, Romans 5:19, Isaiah 53:4-12). In Him the Adamic curse has become undone; in Him, and in Him alone, the glory of God and the love of God are now available to the children of Adam!
No one can enter into the glorious destiny of the children of God and escape the eternal rejection of hell unless they are determined to submit themselves to Jesus in the childlike, wholehearted way that Jesus submitted Himself to the Father. Any "belief" and confession without submission born of trust does not bring us into salvation (Matthew 7:20-21, 10:34-39, 24:42-25:30; John 14:21, 15:14; Romans 6:16-22, 8:14-17; Hebrews 2:1-3, 12:14; 2 Peter 1:5-12). He did not allow Himself to be tortured to death so that we might play games with His teachings and His commands.
A day has been appointed for His return to this dimension, at which time He will establish His glory and kingly millennial rule upon the entire creation, after which time the Father Himself will descend from heaven, establishing a new heaven and earth (Matthew 24:29-31, 36-37; Acts 17:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-2:10; Revelation 19-20).
III. The eternal and divine HOLY SPIRIT proceeds from God the Father and comes to us only through the Name and intercession of Jesus (John 14:16, 26; Hebrews 9:14). He gives the natural order its life (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30; Job 33:4); He also brings eternal life into the believer who trusts in the Son's redemptive work and submits to His authority (John 3:5-6, 20:22). He will also come upon the disciple who receives Him, bringing power and spiritual gifts (i.e., the baptism in the Holy Spirit; Acts 2:1-4, 8:14-19; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). He chooses communities of true disciples to be His center of operations upon the earth (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:19-22).
IV. The CHURCH was brought into being by Christ in order for her to function as His earthly body and to be the manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth. We are called to receive and transmit the glory, the truth, the authority, the ministries and all the works that our divine Lord communicates to us from heaven (John 14:12; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:15). The church has authority to forgive on earth those who qualify for forgiveness from heaven (Matthew 18:15-19; John 20:23; 2 Corinthians 2:10).
The Church on earth is to consist of self-governing local congregations in full and complete intercommunion with each other, joyfully exchanging ministries, Spiritual gifts and earthly possessions. Each local congregation is under the rule of the common mind of the ministering team of elders (who are also called "pastors", "overseers" and "bishops"); each elder is in submission to the body of his fellow elders (Acts 14:23, 15:25; Hebrews 1:17). Every brother has the right of access to the team of pastors: for example, the husband and father, who has the ruling authority over his wife and children, is accountable to his pastors in the way he exercises that authority and leadership. Assisting the elders, especially in the work of distributing goods and services are the (male and female) servants (Greek: "diakonos" - Acts 6:1f, 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
Despite the abundance of fraudulent "apostles" in our day, the obedience of faith requires us to expect, fast and pray for the Holy Spirit to raise up from within the Church ALL of the ministries that He did then, including apostles and prophets. The Twelve Apostles were unique, but the apostolic ministry clearly was not (e.g., Acts 14:14, Romans 16:7(?), Galatians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:6, Revelation 2:2(?)). Those who claim to be apostles must be carefully tested, and must show the signs of a true apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12). His apostles and prophets are given by the Spirit, to help unite the local brotherhoods to one another, and to the will of God.
The possessions of the brotherhood are committed to the needs of each disciple, and the possessions of each disciple are committed to the needs of the community. Our Master’s desire for us is that our heartfelt desire for each other should be "that there may be equality" (2 Corinthians 8:13-15, an equality that is self-imposed [Acts 5:4]; the Church is God's solution to poverty in the world!). Living in the same kind of Christian community that Jesus had with his closest disciples, whether one is married or a vowed celibate, is a Spirit-inspired (but not mandatory) expression of the desire to leave all things and follow Christ (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-34; Galatians 6:2). One should draw as near to the center of the fire as one can bear the heat. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Obedience to the teaching of Christ requires a more radical degree of separation from all worldly cultures than is taught within mainline Christendom. That obedience also requires the rejection of all forms of violence, revenge and compromising of His teachings. This makes using deadly force and bearing arms impossible, and political representation of non-disciples almost impossible (Matthew 5:39-42; John 18:36; yet Romans 16:23). We are to put our continued survival into His hands in the same radical way He put His life into His Father’s hands: that is the pull and the inspiration of the Spirit from within.
V. THE SCRIPTURES are the creation and compilation of God Himself, down to the level of the very words. Have confidence in the brilliance, power and thoughtfulness of almighty God! He knows how to cause what He has revealed to also get faithfully recorded, even using us frail human beings! He revealed things to people of little technological knowledge, knowing that what was written then would also be read by those of our age. His choice of several modes of revelation (e.g., speaking to prophets and through divinely-protected recording of history), and His assembling them together through the activity of His people does not alter the truth that they are to be understood and, in the case of the New Testament, obeyed as the very words of God. The Church is subject to them until Jesus returns; no New Testament promise or command is to be set aside on the ground that it only applied to the first century. Every congregation must earnestly seek to teach all that is taught in the New Testament with the same emphasis that it is given there, and must be governed by it in all matters, including that of church discipline, worship and structure. Every congregation is obliged to encourage and receive exhortations to Scriptural obedience, and must change any of its ways as soon as it is shown that some other way better fulfills the intention of Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; John 10:35; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18-19).
VI. HUMAN NATURE is now such that it is natural and inevitable for every person to feel, think and act rebelliously (as GOD defines "rebellious"). This is because human nature was corrupted by the rebellion of Adam (Genesis 8:21; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 6:17-21; Hebrews 12:1). This rebellious condition gives birth (directly or indirectly) to all the spiritual, emotional and physical problems within human beings; it is encouraged from birth and cunningly manipulated during our formation by the satanic spirits around each of us, in order to draw us into ever deepening alienation from God and human fellowship, and into increasingly fearful bondages. The whole world -- its institutions, its accumulated wisdom and its citizenry -- lies hopelessly ensnared in the power of this enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2, 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; 1 John 5:19). Consequently, the world is at enmity (either explicit or implicit) with Jesus and his faithful churches (John 7:7, 15:18-24; James 4:4; 1 John 4:17). It is THAT kind of world and THAT kind of humanity that God so loved, and that we are called to love and befriend.
VII. A WAY OF SALVATION has graciously been provided for us by God, so that we might become freed from the guilt of sin, from the effects of sin (ours and others), and from the very power of sin. This salvation was created for us so that we might be able to enter into communion with Him and be made partakers of His divine nature. It was fashioned so that we might enter into the final glory that is the inheritance of the children of God (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:9-15; 2 Peter 1:2-4; 2 Timothy 2:10-12). The way of salvation involves: believing what Jesus said and revealed about Himself; coming under His Spirit's conviction of our deadly sinfulness; freely turning away from our godless independence to become His enslaved disciples, happily trusting Him to cover us with the righteousness and the atonement that are provided to disciples through His sacrifice on the cross; washing away our sins and entering these marvelous provisions of His new covenant through the baptismal immersion; receiving power and gifts from the Holy Spirit; and growing to victory over the world, our own flesh and the devil, in the power of that Spirit and within the fellowship of His local body (John 8:24, 13:12-17; Acts 2:37-38; Colossians 1:21-23; Acts 22:16; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:12-14; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:26-28, 21:7).
To Jesus and His apostles, the faith that saves means more than trusting that you are a sinner and that you are reconciled to God through His death and resurrection. It also means trusting Him enough to do what you are told and to believe what He teaches; it includes trusting Him enough to commit yourself to a life of turning the other cheek, blessing those who curse you, submitting to those in authority over you while at the same time separating yourself from the influence of the unregenerate world around you, being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, etcetera (John 15:14, 13:17, 14:21, 1 John 5:3, Acts 5:32, Romans 6:16, Ephesians 6:5, Hebrews 5:9, 13:17, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21 — listen to the cumulative effect of these passages, taking each passage in its grammatically natural and literal sense).
No person can fruitfully enter and persevere in this way of salvation unless God personally chooses ("elects") them beforehand, prepares them, inwardly convinces and calls them, and sustains and protects them during the course of their lives; every step in this way is initiated by God for a person. He does not violate a person's will in accomplishing all this; rather, it is He who enables our wills and makes possible their free surrender to His grace (John 6:37, 44, 65; Hebrews 12:2; Acts 13:48, 16:14, 22:14; Romans 9:11-24).
God truly desires the salvation of all men, and brings it to pass in every person that He can, each one of whom He knew before the creation (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11; Matthew 23:37; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8)
VIII. In our struggle to overcome sin, all disciples are to live in the light and to humble ourselves by CONFESSING OUR SINS to one another in a manner guided by our pastors (James 5:14-16; Acts 19:18; Ephesians 5:8-13). We are to expect counsel, exhortation and even rebuke (if necessary) from those who keep watch even over our very souls (Hebrews 13:17).
IX. In THE EUCHARIST, Christ is present to feed His people on earth with the very body and blood in which He was put to death for them in holy sacrifice, in which He was raised up to give them hope, and in which He was then glorified and made to share in the properties of spirit, so that His humanity now transcends its former limitations (John 6:35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 15:45). He accomplishes this feeding in the Lord's Supper or Eucharist, by uniting Himself to the bread and wine over which thanksgiving has been offered (Mark 14:22-24; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
In the eating of the Supper, a disciple also participates in the unrepeatable sacrifice of Christ, by virtue of His continual intercession on our behalf before the Father: the holy Sacrifice was offered once by Him, but is eaten and offered up often, because the sacrificial Lamb lives forever! (1 Corinthians 10:17-18; Hebrews 13:10, 7:24-27). We offer that one sacrifice to the Father, but it is in no way "repeated."
Christ is not trapped in the bread and wine, but rather ministers sovereignly through them according to the condition of a man's heart. The unregenerate and the lawless do not eat the Lord's Supper, but rather eat and drink judgment (1 Corinthians 11:17-21, 27-30).