(From The Constitution and Statement of Faith of Calvary Bible Church, revised and adopted May 1999)
This article contains a summary of the doctrinal beliefs of Calvary Bible Church. We believe that it reflects the teaching of the Bible, God's inerrant Word. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute our rule of faith and practice. They hold the place of authority in our church and in our lives. It is the responsibility of the Christian to believe the Scriptures and to live according to them. Each believer is guided by the Holy Spirit and is able to understand God's Word. When the Scriptures are silent, or on matters nonessential to salvation, we permit freedom of interpretation if such interpretation does not conflict with the basic teachings of the Scriptures as explained in sections one through fifteen of this Article.
1. The Scriptures
We believe that "all Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16). We accept the Old and New Testaments (66 books) in their original form as the Word of God and we believe that they are without error or contradiction. The Holy Spirit so guided the writers that what they wrote are the very words of God (2 Peter 1:19-21; 1 Corinthians 2:13). This divine inspiration is true only of the Bible and extends to every part of the Bible and to every word and letter of the original manuscripts (Matthew 5:18; John 17:17). The Bible, not human reason or experience, is the final authority for Christian belief and practice. All the Scriptures center on the Lord Jesus Christ and lead us to Him (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44; John 5:39; Acts 17:2-3). Furthermore, even though the Church is not bound by the Old Testament Law, all the Scriptures were written for our instruction, encouragement and edification (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11).
It is the duty and privilege of every saved person to read and practice God's Word and to faithfully attend a Bible believing and Bible teaching church to be instructed in the truth of the Word and to be fully equipped for the work of the ministry (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25).
We believe that there is one and only one living and true God, an infinite, eternal Spirit, the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. God is absolutely pure, holy, and good and is worthy of all our love, confidence, honor, and obedience (Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 83:18, Psalm 90:12, Psalm 147:5; Jeremiah 10:10; John 4:24; Ephesians 4:6). We believe that in this one God there are three separate Persons who have been revealed as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Matthew 2 Corinthians 13:14). These three are equal in their deity and perfection, but they carry out distinct and harmonious functions in the sovereign plan of God (John 5:17-19, John 10:30, John 15:26; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
3. The Person and Work of Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became man without ceasing to be God (John 1:1, John 14; Philippians 2:5-8). He freely took upon Himself a human nature but without personal sin (Hebrews 2:9-18, Hebrews 4:15). He was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit in a virgin woman, Mary (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-35). We unreservedly and unquestionably affirm the full deity and full humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 16:16; John 1:1, John 14, John 10:30-31, John 20:28; Galatians 4:4; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20).
We believe that the Lord Jesus paid the full penalty of our sin when He died on the cross as our Substitute (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore our sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24; Luke 22:19) and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19; Matthew 26:27-28; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13). Christ's death was the perfect, final, and eternal sacrifice, and we can add nothing to it by our own efforts (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:10-14; 1 Peter 3:18). The death of Christ is sufficient to save all men (1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:19) but is effective and is applied only to those who believe in Christ as their personal Savior (1 Timothy 4:10; John 1:12, John 3:16).
We believe that Jesus died and was buried and then arose from the dead in the same body though glorified. The bodily resurrection of Christ was a real event (Matthew 28:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:4-20). We believe that Christ ascended into heaven and that He is now exalted at the Father's right hand (Acts 1:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 1:20-23; Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 9:24). There He is continually representing His people as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 10:21-22), Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34), and Advocate (1 John 2:1-2). In the future Christ will return from heaven, first in the air to catch away the Church, and then, after the Tribulation, to the earth to establish His Kingdom.
4. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. He is God, equal in nature with God the Father and God the Son (Matthew 28:19; John 14:16, John 17, John 15:26-27; Acts 5:3-4). He was active in creation; He restrains sin and Satan in the world; He convicts unsaved men of sin, of the righteousness of Christ, and of the future judgment of sin as the Gospel is proclaimed; He draws men to Christ in salvation; He indwells, seals, guides, teaches, assures, and helps the believer (Genesis 1:1-3; John 3:5-6, John 14:26, John 16:8-15; Romans 8:9, Romans 14-16, Romans 26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Hebrews 9:14).
We believe that it is the responsibility of every believer to live under the control of the Holy Spirit and to give evidence in his life of the Spirit's presence through obedience and praise to God (Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Philippians 1:1). The Holy Spirit's ministry in this age is to glorify Christ in and through the believer (John 16:14) by reproducing the character of Jesus Christ in the believer's life (Galatians 2:20, Galatians 4:19).
We believe that today the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each believer and that He gives special men to the Church (evangelists and teaching pastors) and that these together with the Word of God are sufficient to bring believers to maturity (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:8-13). We believe that the miraculous sign miracles and gifts, such as speaking in tongues and instantaneous healing, gradually ceased as the New Testament was completed and as its authority became established. These sign gifts are not to be exercised today, either in the church or privately (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Philippians 2:25-27; 2 Timothy 4:20). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the act of God which places all true believers in this age into the body of Christ, the Church (Acts 11:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:13). It occurs at the instant a person believes in Christ and is not evidenced by external sign miracles or by speaking in tongues. We believe that God does hear and answer prayer regarding those who are sick, in accordance with His will (Philippians 2:26-27; James 5:13-18; 1 John 5:14-15).
5. Man and Sin
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God from the dust of the ground on the sixth day of the creation week (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7). Man was not in any way the product of an evolutionary development from lower forms of life but was created directly by God and for God (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11). Man was created in unconfirmed holiness but, through sin, fell from that state (Genesis 3:1-19). In Adam, the human race fell (Romans 5:12-21), inherited a sinful nature (Psalm 51:1; Genesis 5:3), and became alienated from God (Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 4:17-19). Therefore, all men apart from Christ are totally sinful (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-23; 1 Kings 8:46), wicked, lost, blind, and dead in sin (Luke 19:10; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 8:5-8). As a result, man is, of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition. Man's heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and his only hope is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The salvation of sinful men and women is the work of God and is totally of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 15:11). Salvation is the gift of God (Romans 6:23) which is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His work on our behalf (John 1:12, John 5:24, John 3:16, John 6:47; Acts 16:31). The moment a person believes in Christ as Savior, that person passes from death to eternal life and stands before God in the righteousness of Christ. The true believer is assured of God's acceptance and love forever because of Christ's work and not because of the believer's efforts (1 John 3:14; Ephesians 2:9-10; Romans 5:1). Salvation is based on the finished work of Christ in bearing the penalty and guilt of our sin. Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and apart from Him there is no salvation (Acts 4:12). Those who do not receive God's free gift of eternal life will perish under the wrath of a holy God (John 3:16-18, John 3:36; John 8:24).
7. Assurance (Eternal Security)
The Bible clearly teaches that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God's power and are safe and secure in Christ forever (John 5:24, John 6:37-40, John 6:47, John 10:27-30; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Hebrews 13:5). Therefore, it is impossible for a born again child of God to lose his salvation (John 10:28). On the other hand, the person whose life is devoid of Christian character ought to make certain of his calling and election (2 Peter 1:3-10) and should examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The question, therefore is not whether a saved person can be lost (which is impossible) but whether one who professes belief is truly saved (1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 2:9).
8. The Christian Life
We believe that the Christian life should be a life of joy and peace and obedience to the Lord who saved us. The believer is free to be guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and is not bound by the Old Testament Law or the rules of legalists (Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:25). This liberty in Christ, however, is not to be used as an excuse for sin (Romans 13:13-14; Romans 6:1-13; Galatians 5:13). The grace of God teaches us that we should deny ungodliness and worldly desires and should live sensible, righteous, and godly lives (Titus 2:11-13). Saved people should live in such a way that they do not bring reproach to the name of Christ. Separation from religious apostasy and compromise, from sinful and worldly practices, and from unscriptural associations is clearly commanded in God's Word (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-2 Corinthians 7:1). If a person is truly saved, he should manifest a life of constant obedience to the Word of God (1 John 2:3-5), a fervent love for other believers (1 John 3:14-19; 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:20) and a daily walk that is characterized by righteousness and Christ-likeness (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:10).
9. The Church
The Church, which is the body and the bride of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 11:2), is a spiritual organism made up of all born again persons of this present age. The Church Age began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2, Acts 11:15-17) and will be concluded at the rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) at which time the spiritual building will be complete (Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-7; Romans 11:25). Jesus Christ is the Head of the universal Church and of our local church (Colossians 1:18). We are members of Christ and members of each other (Romans 12:5). Therefore, we seek to exalt Christ in every ministry and activity of our church, and we are to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-17). False teaching and division are to be handled by church discipline (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10). As believers we are to love each other fervently (Ephesians 5:1-4; Romans 14:13-23; 1 John 3:14).
10. Angels and Satan
The Bible clearly teaches the existence and personality of angels, both holy, elect angels (Luke 2:13, Luke 9:26, Luke 15:10) and fallen angels or demons (Mark 5:1-20; 2 Peter 2:4). Satan is a personal angel, the author of sin (1 John 3:8; John 8:44; 1 Timothy 3:6), and the open and declared enemy of God and men (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 Peter 5:8). His defeat was accomplished through the cross of Christ and he and his angels will be eternally punished in the lake of fire (John 12:31; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
11. The Second Coming of Christ
We believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will take place in two phases. The first phase will be the personal (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), imminent (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Titus 2:13; Revelation 22:20), and pre-tribulational (Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11) coming of the Lord Jesus for His Church. The rapture of the Church is the believer's confident hope. The rapture will be followed by the tribulation period, a period of seven years, during which God pours out His wrath on sinful men (Revelation 4-19). The second phase of Christ's coming will take place at the end of the tribulation period when Christ will return to the earth with His saints to establish His Kingdom (Zechariah 14:4-11; Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 20:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Matthew 24:29-31, Matthew 24:36-51).
12. The Eternal State
At death, the believer goes immediately to be with Christ (Philippians 1:21-23). He is absent from the body but face to face with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). There, in conscious joy, the believer awaits the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:4-6) when he will be reunited with his resurrected body, to be glorified forever with the Lord. At death, unbelievers go to be in conscious misery (Luke 16:19-26) until the second resurrection when they shall be reunited with their resurrected bodies to appear before Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:15). They will not be annihilated but will suffer everlasting conscious punishment under the wrath of God (Matthew 25:41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Mark 9:43-48).
We believe that God has revealed His will to mankind in progressive stages through the different periods of history. These historical periods are called dispensations. In each dispensation God called upon mankind to believe in Him and to obey His Word. In each dispensation people were saved by grace through faith in God's promises. The content of God's revelation, however, has progressively expanded in each dispensation (Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3:1-12; Colossians 1:24-27; Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:17). We further believe that the promises that God made to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament will be literally fulfilled to Israel in the future Kingdom. We reject both covenant theology (such as teaching which equates the New Testament Church with Old Testament Israel) and hyperdispensationalism (such as teaching which rejects water baptism and/or the Lord's Supper as ordinances for the Church today).
14. Marriage and Divorce
We believe that God's consistent ideal for marriage is that one man and one woman become one flesh for life (Genesis 2:7-24; Matthew 19:5). Marriage is established by a public commitment before God and is fulfilled through a sexual relationship between the marriage partners. This one flesh relationship is of God and is not to be dissolved by man. Furthermore, we believe that God has expressed a consistent hatred for divorce (Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 19:8) and it is never God's desire for a couple to be divorced. We do realize, however, that we are all sinners and that even Christians will sometimes fail to reach God's ideals (1 John 2:1). If a marriage fails and ends in divorce, the individuals involved should recognize it as sin and must deal with the sin and its consequences biblically. Even in cases where the Bible seems to permit divorce (i.e., when a mate is guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9), or an unbeliever abandons a believer, 1 Corinthians 7:8-18) it is still the result of hardness of heart, an unwillingness to repent of sin or to forgive sin, and a failure to obey God's full will (Matthew 19:8).
Application of Section 14 to Calvary Bible Church: We realize that God forgives sin and that divorce is not a greater offense than other sins. Yet the Bible is clear in placing certain limitations on the public leadership ministry of those who have been divorced (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6-7). For this reason a divorced man may not become a member of the official boards of Calvary Bible Church. All other public leadership ministries of divorced persons will require the review and approval of the Elders. The performance of marriages involving those who have been divorced will be subject to the discretion of the Pastor and must be approved by the Elders after thorough investigation. Violations of the biblical standards of marriage will be cause for discipline by the Elders, just as violations in any other area of faith or practice would be. At the same time, we as a church believe it is sinful to grieve the Holy Spirit by a bitter or critical attitude against a believer whose past life has been marked by divorce but whose present life is marked by submission to God's will. These guidelines are not intended to be harsh or legalistic. We do, however, sense a need to uphold the biblical standards of marriage in an era of compromise and decay. It is important that all of us remember that our present attitude and desire to please the Lord is of great significance. God will bless a humble and obedient heart.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His Church to observe two ordinances. These ordinances do not bring salvation to those who participate in them. We are saved by the grace of God through faith alone. We do believe, however, that these ordinances are an important part of the Christian life.
The first ordinance is water baptism "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Baptism is the outward expression and testimony of faith in Christ and symbolizes the believer's baptism by the Holy Spirit into one body of Christ (Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Baptism is to be administered by immersion to believers in Jesus Christ.
The second ordinance is the Lord's Supper or communion. The bread and juice used in the communion service are symbols of the body and blood of Christ and serve as reminders to us of His death for our sins (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The Lord's Supper shall be observed at least once a month.