We believe that the members of Nor’wood Bible Church must accept the Bible as the very Word of God and be committed to its principles and truths in obedience as well as intellectual acknowledgement.
For this purpose we have developed a doctrinal statement, “What We Believe,” to present the basic doctrines to which we are committed in our preaching, teaching, and training.
We promote the truths of this statement and serve as a local assembly of believers for the honor and glory of God.
Concerning: The Word of God
We believe all 66 books of the Bible, as originally written, are inerrant and infallible because of the verbal, plenary inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
We believe the Holy Spirit used godly men as instruments of authorship, whereby, the words were God’s and the human author’s personality was apparent (2 Peter 1:19-21; John 16:12-13; 1 Cor. 2:13).
We believe the Word of God to be the only infallible rule of faith and practice in the life of all believers (Matt. 5:18; John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12), and that it is the believer’s responsibility to submit to its authority.
We believe that all Scripture is to be interpreted literally. By “literal interpretation” we mean the practice applied to any document where the sense of a sentence and the meaning of that sentence is viewed in the usual, ordinary, or normal way of writing or conversing. Further, we hold that Scripture may have many applications, but there is only one interpretation (2 Peter 1:20-21).
We believe there is one and only one living and true God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4), an infinite, intelligent, all-powerful Spirit who is eternally manifested in three persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; John 14:16-20; 2 Cor. 13:14). They are one and are to be equally obeyed and worshipped.
God The Father
We believe He is the first person of the Trinity and the highest being in existence. He is a holy and just God, He is the creator of the universe (Gen. 1 and 2), and He rules and governs its existence by His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. In His love and mercy, He sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of His people. When men receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, they become the sons of God and He their spiritual Father (John 1:12; Rom. 8:15).
God The Son
We believe that Jesus Christ is the second member of the Trinity, and that He is equal with the Father in all divine attributes (John 10:30). Being an eternal being, He, with God the Father, took part in the creation of all things (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-16). In His incarnation, we believe that He became fully man and yet remained fully God — the God-Man. The method of His incarnation was by the virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 1:26-35). Being virgin born, He lived a flawless, sinless life, which presented Him as the only efficacious sacrifice for all of mankind. In fulfillment of God’s will, Jesus was sacrificed on a cross, voluntarily giving His life for the forgiveness and remission of the sin of His people, which He bore in His body (1 Peter 2:24). We believe in His bodily resurrection from the dead, by which He proved His deity (Rom. 1:4), securing the eternal salvation of every born-again believer. Presently seated at the right hand of God the Father, He alone is man’s Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), the believer’s Advocate (1 John 2:1), and High Priest (Heb. 4:14).
God The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity, and that He is equal with the Father and the Son in all divine attributes (John 14:15-20; Acts 5:3-4). As an eternal being, He, with God the Father and God the Son, took part in the creation of all things (Gen. 1:2).
We believe the Holy Spirit was the agent who guided men into all truth, making known to them, through revelation, all that God wanted them to record in the canon of Scripture (John 14:26, 16:13).
We believe the broad ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of its guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11).
We believe the Holy Spirit is the agent of the new birth (John 3:5-6), that He indwells every believer (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13), that He is the seal of our eternal salvation (Eph. 1:13-14), and that He gives the believer spiritual understanding (1 Cor 2:14).
We believe the Holy Spirit has gifted every believer, and that these divine enablements are for building one another up in love, showing Christ to the unsaved world through the unity of ministry (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; Eph. 4:11-16).
We believe that God has sovereignly given gifts to every believer (1 Cor. 12:11). We believe that God may distribute whatever gifts He sees necessary for our day. We believe, however, that no one person has all the gifts. Nor is any single gift possessed by all (1 Cor. 12:29-30).
We believe that man was originally and immediately created by God in His image and likeness, and that from innocence he fell by the sin of disobedience and incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death. In his lost spiritual state, he is unable to do that which is acceptable to God. He is hopelessly lost apart from the salvation which is found only in Jesus Christ. We believe that this total depravity has been transmitted to the entire human race, Jesus Christ being the exception. All men, consequently, are sinners by divine declaration, by nature, and by choice (Gen. 1: 26, 2:17; Psa. 14:1-3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10,23; 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:21; James 2:10).
We believe that salvation is completely by the grace of God as He sent His only Son as a sin sacrifice, and that man’s salvation is not contingent upon his goodness, works, or merit (John 1:12, 3:16; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We believe that for man to receive salvation (i.e. establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ), he must have an understanding of certain biblical facts (Matt. 13:23) and that this understanding is a manifestation of God’s grace through the regenerating and illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. First, man must understand that God is holy and just and requires absolute holiness (Isa. 5:16, 6:3; Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Second, man must understand that all men are sinful and that sin separates them from God (Isa. 59:2, 64:5-7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 4:17-19). Third, God, in the ultimate expression of love and grace (John 3:16), sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an atoning sacrifice for man’s sin (Rom. 3:21-25; 1 John 2:1,2). As the God-Man, Christ bridged the gap between God and man (Eph. 2:12-13) and is man’s sole means of access to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). Fourth, man, having realized God’s holiness, his own sinfulness, and the person and work of Christ, must willingly accept these things as true (intellectual), grieve for and express hatred of his life of sin (emotional), and submissively follow Christ and the teachings of God’s Word (volitional) (Heb. 11:6; James 2:19; Acts 17:30, 26:20; Rom. 6:17,18; Heb. 3:14, 5:9).
Note: When we use the terms “Christian” or “Believer,” this definition is what we have in mind.
We believe that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are communicated (John 3:3-7). It is instantaneous and is accomplished only by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24; 1 Peter 1:23). Regeneration will be shown by repentance, faith, and righteous living (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:14-19). It is through such obedience that the believer is being transformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18). This transformation will be completed at the glorious return of Jesus Christ for His Church (1 John 3:1-3).
We believe that election is the act of God by which, before the creation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2; Rom. 8:28-33). In order to guard against harmful speculation, we believe the following qualifications should be made:
- According to Scripture God is absolutely sovereign (Psa. 115:2-3; 135:6; Prov. 16:9; Lam. 37-38; Eph. 1:11). At no time does God surrender or put aside His sovereignty.
- According to Scripture man’s choices are significant and God’s sovereignty never reduces man to the status of a robot or a puppet.
- Man is responsible before God for all he is and does and has. However, man’s responsibility never makes God contingent (subject to anything outside of God Himself).
- Faulty conclusions in this complicated area of biblical truth can be minimized if we limit our deductions to what the writers of Scripture present and look diligently for how God’s sovereign choices and man’s responsibility are evidenced.
- God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility may appear to be mutually exclusive, yet Scripture upholds the truth of both of these propositions simultaneously. Although our finite minds are incapable of grasping the vastness of this glorious truth, as far as the Bible is concerned, the two propositions are taught and are mutually compatible. Therefore, we should accept the mystery of providence from our God whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa. 55:11).
We believe God exercises His sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, and wisdom (Rom. 9:11-16). This sovereignty must never exalt the will of God as separate and apart from His character as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:25-28; John 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:9).
We believe that the doctrine of election in no way prohibits or devalues evangelistic efforts. God has commanded us to take the gospel to the world because Christ died for the world. In obedience, we are to respond to this command with the inspiration of passion and power, and leave the mystery of election with God (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
We believe that justification before God is an act of God by which He declares righteous those who believe in Christ (Rom. 8:33). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Rom. 3:20) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Col. 2:13-14), and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us by our acceptance of the shed blood of Christ on the cross for our sins. Through Christ’s blood, and only through that blood, do we have forgiveness (Rom. 4:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21).
We believe that sanctification, which is a setting apart unto God, is twofold:
- POSITIONAL SANCTIFICATION
It is already complete for every believer because his position in relation to God is the same as Christ’s position. Since the believer is in Christ, he is set apart unto God in the same measure that Christ is set apart unto God (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2,30, 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Heb. 10:10, 14, 13:12).
- EXPERIENTIAL SANCTIFICATION
While the standing of the Christian is perfect in Christ, his present state is no more perfect than his experience in daily life. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18, 7:1; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:3-4).
[As a result, we believe that every believer faces a battle between his spiritual nature (a new creation) and his humanness. This battle lasts the entire natural life of the believer, thus all claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. However, the Holy Spirit does provide the victory over sin, and it is the believer’s responsibility to yield to that victory (1 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 4:22-24; 2 Pet. 3:14-16). An habitual failure to do so would certainly bring the reality of one’s salvation into question.]
We believe that, because of the eternal purpose of God toward the objects of His love, because of His freedom to exercise grace toward the meritless on the ground of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, because of the very nature of the divine gift of eternal life, because of the present and unending intercession and advocacy of Christ in heaven, and because of the regenerating, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all who are saved, all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are kept secure in Christ forever (John 5:24, 10:27-30, 14:16-17; Rom. 8:1, 31-39; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30; Heb. 7:25; I John 5:13; Jude 24).
We believe it is the privilege of all believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation (I Peter 1: 3-5). In addition, we believe the testimony of God’s Word clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Rom. 6:15-22, 13:13-14; Gal. 5:13; Titus 2:11-14).
We believe that all those who are saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon our blessed Lord and Savior. This is a separation from all religious apostasy, all worldly and sinful practices, pleasures, and associations. This separation should be from these sinful things unto God (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).
We believe that all who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are immediately baptized through the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body — the Church, i.e., the Universal Church, the Invisible Church, or the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13), of which Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22, 4:15; Col. 1:18), and which is His espoused Bride (Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 19:7-8).
We believe that the formation of this body was in embryonic form with the disciples and Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry as He was with them as Counselor and Comforter (Matt. 18:15-20; John 14:16). The Church was then delivered and empowered on the day of Pentecost (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:1-21, 38-47).
The Church, being made up of all born-again believers in this present age (Eph. 2:11-22, 3:1-6), is distinct from national Israel (1 Cor. 10:32) and a mystery not revealed until this present age (Eph. 3:1-6, 5:32). However, we feel that a case for the spiritual relationship between the Church and Israel, as the people of God, can be made. The application to the Church of Old Testament prophecies given to Israel is not unusual. For instance, the use of Jer. 31:31ff. in Heb. 8 and 10. Further occurrences of a Jewish or Israelite flavor can be seen in Peter’s reference to Joel 2 and the day of Pentecost (the birth of the Church), recorded in Acts 2, the need to be Jews inwardly in Rom. 2:28-29, the “Israel of God” in Gal. 6:12-16, the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ in Eph. 2:11-20, the strong Jewish essence throughout 1 Peter, and those who “say they are Jews and are not” in Revelation 2:8-11 and 3:7-13. It must be maintained, however, that the Church does not supplant Israel as the nation of God’s choice and the focus of God’s future dealings from a national, religious, and economic standpoint — the Messianic Kingdom (Zech. 14; Rom. 11:11-32)
We believe the New Testament teaches the establishment and continuance of a local body of believers known as the local assembly or local church, which is to be the visible expression of the Invisible Church (Acts 14:23, 20:17, 28; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). We believe the members of this one invisible spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in a visible local assembly and that failure to do so is sin (1 Cor. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25).
We believe the one and supreme authority for the Church is Christ (Eph. 1:22, 5:22-24; Col. 1:18), and that the order, discipline, and worship are appointed through His sovereignty. Within God’s order, the New Testament teaches only two offices: first, that of the elders, also called bishops (overseers), pastors (shepherds), and pastor/teachers (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-4); second is that of deacons (servants). Both of these offices have definite qualifications (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
We believe the New Testament teaches a plurality of elders who have the authority for the Scriptural guidance and leadership of the congregation. They are not to be dictators, but have the responsibility of loving leadership, and the congregation is to submit to their leadership (1 Tim. 5:17-22; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Thess 5:12-13). We believe the Bible also teaches leadership within leadership as exemplified in:
- James as the leading elder in the church at Jerusalem.
- In principle, with Paul as a gifted man who headed up three missionary journeys.
We believe in the disciplining of church members for any continued sin, and that this discipline must be governed by Scriptural guidelines (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Thess. 3:6, 3:14-15; Gal. 6:1).
We believe in the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations. It is Scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. However, each local church, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, is the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation as well as of all matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government (Acts 15:19-31; 1 Cor. 5:4-7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
We believe the purpose of the Church is to glorify God (Eph. 3:21) by building itself up in the faith (Eph. 4:13-16), by instruction of the Word (2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:42; 1 John. 1:3), and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world through missions (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8, 2:42).
We believe that it is God’s purpose for the Church to be the representation of Christ in the world. To accomplish this purpose, the Holy Spirit has given divine enablements to believers as members of His Church. First, he gave gifted men for the purpose of preparing God’s people for works of service (Eph. 4:7-12). He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:5-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11). At the moment of spiritual birth, every believer receives such a gift or gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-13). These gifts are sovereignly bestowed and cannot be sought (1 Cor. 12:11). It is essential that every believer discovers, develops, and employs his spiritual gift or gifts for the edification of the Body and the accomplishment of the work of Christ in the world (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
We believe that two ordinances have been committed to the Church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Christian Baptism (by immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19]) is the testimony of a believer displaying his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and our union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6:1-11; Acts 8:36-39). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42).
We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes and should be preceded by a time of solemn self-examination. We believe that while Christ’s flesh and blood are not actually present, the elements of the fruit of the vine and bread represent His blood and body which were given for all who believe (1 Cor. 11:23-38).
We believe that God’s method of financing His earthly work, which is the development of ministries, the care of its ministers, and the propagation of the gospel, is by the sacrificial offerings of His people; that it is to be given to the Lord through the local church and distributed as directed by the leadership of that church as the need arises (1 Cor. 9; 2 Cor. 9).
We believe that angels are created beings and therefore are not to be worshipped. Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they were created to serve and worship God (Luke 2:9-14; Heb. 1:6-7, 14, 2;6-7; Rev. 5:11, 19:10, 22:9).
We believe that Satan is a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator, involving numerous angels in his fall (Job 1:6-7; Isa. 14:12-17; Ezk. 28:11-19), and introducing sin into the human race (Gen. 3:1-15).
We believe that Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Matt. 4:1-11, 25:41), and that he is the prince of this world who was defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Gen. 3:15), and that he shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire (Job 1:6-7; Rev. 20:10).
Concerning: Last Things
We believe that physical death (Rev. 6:9) involves no loss of consciousness (Rev. 6:9-11; Matt. 10:28), that the soul of the redeemed pass immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23), that there is a separation of soul and body (2 Cor. 5:8), and that such separation will continue until the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6), when spirit, soul and body will be reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:16-17; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:35-44, 50-54). Until that time, souls of the redeemed in Christ remain in joyful fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:8).
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:11-15; John 5:28-29), the saved to eternal life (Rom. 8:10-11, 19-23; 2 Cor. 4:14; John 5:29; Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:6), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Dan. 12:2; John 5:29; Rev. 20:6, 13-15).
We believe that the souls of the unsaved at death descend immediately into Hades (Job 3:13-19; Luke 16:19-26), where they are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Rev. 20:1-15), when the soul and a resurrection body are united (John 5:28-29). They shall then appear at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and shall be cast into the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41-46) and cut off from the life of God forever (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41-46).
The 70th Week Of Daniel, The Great Tribulation, And The Rapture Of The Church
We believe that at some future time the Antichrist (man of lawlessness) will take a prominent political place and establish a covenant with the nation of Israel, which will mark the beginning of the “seventieth seven” (the seventieth grouping of seven years or a “week” of years) of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27). After three and a half years the Antichrist will desecrate the Jewish temple in Jerusalem with an act that the Scriptures describe as an “abomination that causes desolation” (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4). During the last half of this week of years there will be “great distress” (great tribulation) all over the world (Matt. 24:21). At this time God’s judgments are being measured out against the Christ-rejecting, unregenerate, and unrepentant inhabitants of the earth (Rev. 6-19). As seen in the Book of Revelation, during this time the judgments and wrath of God are directed to the unbelievers and not the saints of God. The culmination of God’s wrath occurs on the “Day of the Lord” when the Lord Jesus comes to resurrect the saints and catch His Church away into the air. His saints then accompany Him on the great and dreadful day of His wrath and judgment of the inhabitants of the earth (Isa. 13:1-13; Joel 2:28-32; Matt. 24:29-31; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11; Rev. 6:14-17; 14:14-20; 16:17-21; 19:1-21).
Christ’s Second Coming And Millennial Reign
We believe that following the “Day of the Lord,” Christ will occupy, on earth, the throne of David (Matt. 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:10-11, 2:29-30) and establish His Messianic kingdom on this earth for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7). During this time, the resurrection saints will reign with Him over all the nations of the earth (Ezk. 37:21-28; Dan. 7:17-22; Rev. 19:11-16). This reign will be preceded by the overthrow of the Antichrist and the false prophet and by the removal of Satan from the world (Dan. 7:17-27; Rev. 20:1-7).
We believe that the kingdom itself will be a fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (Deut. 30:1-10; Ezk. 37:21-28; Zech. 8:1-17) to restore them to the land which they forfeited through disobedience (Deut. 28:15-68, 30:1-10) with the result being that the nation was temporarily set aside (Matt. 21:43; Rom. 11:1-26) but will once again be awakened through repentance (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezk. 36:22-32; Rom. 11:25-29) to enter into the land of blessing (Rev. 20:4-6).
We believe that this time of our Lord’s reign will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness, and long life (Isa. 11:1-16; 65:17-25; Ezk. 36:33-38) and will be brought to an end with the release of Satan (Rev. 20:7).
Judgement Of The Lost
We believe that following the release of Satan after the thousand year reign (Rev. 20:7), Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against God’s people (Rev. 20:9) at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Rev. 20:9). Following this, Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and brimstone (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10) at which time Christ, who is the Judge of all men (John 5:22), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne Judgment.
We believe that the unsaved dead are physically resurrected, and after receiving their judgment (Rom. 14:10-13), they will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:11-15).
We believe that after the closing of the millennium, the temporary release of Satan, and the judgment of unbelievers (2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:7-15), the saved will enter the eternal state (Rev. 22:14) of glory with God; that the heavens and the earth are to be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10) and replaced with a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1). The Holy City that comes down from heaven (Rev. 21:2) is to be the dwelling place of the saints where they will enjoy fellowship with God and one another forever (Rev. 21 & 22).