The following statement of doctrine is the teaching standard of this church. We believe these doctrinal teachings are the result of the proper interpretation of God’s Word according to a literal, historical and grammatical perspective. While this statement may seem overwhelming to the young Christian, it should be the desire of every believer to grow in his/her understanding of biblical teaching as he/she matures in Christ. God’s Word encourages every believer to move beyond the milk of the Word to solid food, “leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ” and to “press on to maturity” (Hebrews 5:13-14, 6:1). This doctrinal statement is provided to assist believers in gaining a better overall understanding of the essential teachings of the Word of God.
Section A: Man Created and Fallen
1. We teach that man was directly and immediately created by God in His image for the purpose of glorifying God, enjoying His fellowship, and ruling this earth for Him. We teach that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal 24-hour days and we reject all forms of evolutionary theory as to the origin of the universe and/or man (Genesis 1:1-31; Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).
2. We teach that in Adam’s sin of disobedience the entire human race fell into sin, and thus each member inherited a sinful human nature, became separated from God, is totally depraved, possessing no spark of spiritual life, and is completely unable to remedy his lost condition apart from the intervention of God’s grace (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-23, 5:12-20, 8:6-8; I Corinthians 2:14: Ephesians 2:1-3; James 2:10; I John 1:8, 10).
Section B: The Bible
We teach that the Bible, consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is the verbally inspired Word of God, the final authority for belief and practice, completely without error in the original writings, infallible and breathed out by God (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21; Matthew 5:18; John 16:12-13).
Section C: The Godhead
We teach that there is but one true and living God, eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three distinct Persons are one in essence, having the same nature, attributes and perfections, and are each worthy of the same worship and obedience (Deuteronomy 6:4; II Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1, 14; Acts 5:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:4-18, 22:8-16).
Section D: The Person and Work of Christ
1. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Triune God, possessing all the divine perfections, being co-equal, consubstantial (of the very same substance) and co-eternal with God the Father (John 10:27-30; John 14:9).
2. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became a man (taking on human nature without sin), without ceasing to be God, becoming fully man and fully God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He was, indeed, Immanuel (God with us) come to reveal God and to redeem sinful men and women (JohnÂ 1:1, 2, 14; Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:18-25).
3. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ lived a life of sinless perfection though tempted in every manner just as we are, and thus became the perfect sacrifice for our redemption, accomplishing our salvation through His death on the cross as our representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice (Romans 3:24-25; I Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 4:12).
4. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again from the dead on the third day, and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-19; John 20:24-29; Luke 24:36-48).
5. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry as our Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate before God the Father (Acts 1:9-10; Hebrews 7:25, 9:24; Romans 8:34; I John 2:1-2).
Section E: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
1. We teach that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God, possessing all the divine perfections, being co-equal, consubstantial (of the very same substance) and co-eternal with the Father and Son (Matthew 28:17-20; Acts 5:3-4).
2. We teach that His Old Testament ministries were limited in scope, including selective indwelling, restraint of sin, and enablement for service. His New Testament ministries include conviction, regeneration, indwelling each believer, sealing, filling, distributing spiritual gifts and illumination (John 16:8-11, 13; I Corinthians 12:1-11; II Corinthians 3:6; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14).
3. We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes each believer with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, placing them into His Body, the Church (Mark 1:7-8; I Corinthians 12:12-14).
4. We teach that the ministry of the Holy Spirit centers on the glory of Christ and not on Himself, and that the gifts He gives to the Church serve to equip the Church to bear witness of Christ to the lost and to magnify Christ in the lives of the saved–not to bring attention to the Holy Spirit nor to the gifts themselves (John 16:13-15; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; II Corinthians 3:18).
5. We teach that each believer receives a spiritual gift from God’s Spirit who is sovereign in distributing the various gifts to each believer as He deems appropriate and thus it is both unnecessary and improper to ask for certain gifts over others (Ephesians 4:7; I Corinthians 12:7-11, 28-30; Romans 12:3-8).
6. We teach that certain gifts were foundational in nature (e.g., apostles and prophets, Ephesians 2:20) given for the establishment of Christ’s Church on earth and that certain miraculous sign gifts (e.g., speaking in tongues, healing, etc.) accompanied the foundational gifts as authenticating proofs that God was now speaking through this new group known as the Church (Acts 2:1-14, 4:1-16, 5:12-39; I Corinthians 14:20-22; II Corinthians 12:12).
7. We teach that both the foundational and authenticating gifts gradually ceased as the New Testament Scriptures were completed and their authority became established, thus fulfilling their function in laying the foundation of the Church on earth (Ephesians 2:20; I Corinthians 13:9-12).
Section F: Salvation
We teach that salvation is wholly of God by grace, through the redemption provided by the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the basis of the merit of His shed blood on Calvary’s cross; not on the basis of human merit or works (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10; I Peter 1:18-19).
We teach that regeneration is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the new birth and new life is given to man (John 3:3-7). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24; Romans 10:17) so as to secure voluntary obedience to the Gospel. Saving faith is the only requirement for man’s salvation (John 1:12, 3:16, 36; Romans 4:4-8, 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9). Regeneration will be manifested by repentance, faith and good works, these being the fruit of salvation and not the basis for it (Matthew 7:13-23, 13:1-23; Ephesians 2:10; Acts 13:48).
We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves and sanctifies (Mark 13:27; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-33, 9:6-23; Ephesians 1:4-11; II Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 2:10; I Peter 1:1-2). Divine election in no way destroys man’s personal responsibility since God predestined both the end (man’s salvation) and the means to that end (i.e. evangelism, prayer, personal faith, etc., cf. John 6:37, 44; Acts 13:48; Galatians 6:7-8).
We teach that justification before God is an act of God by which He judicially declares righteous those who believe in Christ (Romans 8:33-39). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16) and involves the divine act of imputation, the charging of our sins to Christ (Isaiah 53:4-6; Colossians 2:14; I Peter 3:18) and the imparting of Christ’s righteousness to us (Romans 4:6; I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21). By this means God is enabled to be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26, 4:3-5).
We teach that sanctification (being set apart from sin to God) is a three-fold process:
a. Positional Sanctification
As a result of the application of Christ’s work to the believer, every Christian is immediately placed into the Body of Christ and is, therefore, declared to be righteous, called a saint, sanctified, and seated positionally with Christ in the heavenly places. Positional Sanctification has to do with one’s standing before God, not his present life experience (ActsÂ 20:32; I Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:11; Ephesians 1:3, 2:6; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2; Hebrews 2:11, 10:10, 14, 13:12).
b. Progressive Sanctification
Even though every believer has been positionally sanctified, he still wrestles with temptation and sin in this life. Therefore, while his standing in Christ is perfect, his present state is no more perfect than his practice in daily living. Through obedience to the Word of God and reliance on the Spirit’s power, the believer’s experience is progressively brought closer to the perfect standing he enjoys through justification (John 17:17, 19; Romans 6:1-22; II Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:15-27; I Thessalonians 4:3-4, 5:23).
c. Ultimate Sanctification
Every believer is involved in a conflict in this present life, one between living the new life in Christ or the old life of sin. God has supplied the believer with the ability to overcome the power, bondage and control of sin through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the various means of His grace (e.g. prayer, the Lord’s Table, fellowship of other believers, etc.). At the second coming of Christ , the child of God will be ultimately delivered from this conflict and will then, and only then, be completely free from sin’s influence and presence. At that point his experience will perfectly match his position in Christ (I John 3:2; Romans 8:29-30; Philippians 1:6.)
5. Eternal Security and Assurance
a. We teach that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever. One who truly places his faith in Christ alone can in no way lose his salvation since his salvation is based solely upon the absolutely sufficient merit of Christ’s sacrifice and not on the works of the believer (John 5:24, 6:37-50, 10:27-30, 17:15-20; Romans 5:9-10, 8:1, 31-39; I Corinthians 1:4-8; Hebrews 7:25; I Peter 1:5; Jude 24).
b. We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the eternal security of their salvation on the basis of the promises of Godâs Word, however, the Bible is clear that believers should not use their security as an excuse for sinful livingÂ (RomansÂ 6:1-2, 12-22, 13:13-14; GalatiansÂ 5:13; TitusÂ 2:11-15).
We teach that all believers should live in a manner worthy of their calling as Christians and not dishonor Christ by sinful and worldly activities and actions. The believer is called to live as a light in a dark world but should be careful not to participate in the darkness around him. While the Scriptures teach that in the last days apostasy (falling away from the truth) and worldliness will increase, the committed Christian must separate himself from all such apostasy, sinful pleasures, practices and associations (II Timothy 3:1-5; II Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Romans 12:1-2, 14:13; I John 2:15-17; II John 9-11; I Corinthians 5:9-13).
We teach that, wholly apart from the benefits of salvation, which are bestowed equally upon all who believe, specific rewards will be given according to the faithful service of each believer. These rewards will be given at the judgment seat of Christ when He returns for the Church (I Corinthians 3:9-15, 4:3-5, 9:18-27; II Corinthians 5:10).
Section G: The Church
1. The Universal Church
a. We teach that those who place their faith in Christ are immediately baptized with the Holy Spirit and are placed into one united spiritual body, the Church of Jesus Christ. This church consists of every person who has accepted Christ in the past, present and future (I Corinthians 12:12-13; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, 5:23-32; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 19:7-8).
b. We teach that the formation of this universal Church began on the day of Pentecost and will be completed when Christ returns for His own (Acts 2:1-21, 38-47; I Corinthians 15:15-47; I ThessaloniansÂ 4:13-18).
c. We teach that the Church is distinct from Israel in the outworking of God’s program (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 11; I CorinthiansÂ 10:32; Eph. 2:11-22, 3:1-6).
2. The Local Church
We teach that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament and that the members of the universal Body of Christ are commanded and encouraged to join themselves to a local church (Acts 14:23, 27, 20:17, 28-32; I Corinthians 11:18; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; I Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:1; I Tim. 3:14-16; Heb. 10:24-25; Rev. 2-3).
a. Autonomy of the Local Church
We teach that the local church is completely autonomous (free from any and all external authority and control) with the responsibility to govern itself according to the guidelines of the Word of God. While it is scriptural for churches to cooperate with each other for fellowship and evangelism, it is the responsibility of each individual church to determine the measure, nature and method of such cooperation through its God appointed leadership. The leaders of the church, within the guidelines of the Word of God, are solely responsible for determining policy on matters of membership, discipline, financial issues and government (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; I Corinthians 5:4-7; I Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5).
b. The Government of the Local Church
We teach that the government of the local church rests with the elders (also knows as overseers or bishops in the New Testament). These men must meet the biblical requirements set down in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Christ is the sole Head of the Church and elders are not to serve as lords over the congregation, but are responsible to seek the Lordâs will in governing the church. The congregation is commanded by God to submit to their leadership, appreciate them and esteem them very highly because of their work (Acts 20:28; Col. 1:18; I Tim. 5:17-22; I Pet. 5:1-4; I Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
c. The Ministry of the Local Church
We teach that, in addition to the elders who rule over the local church, there are designated servants in each assembly known as deacons (I Timothy 3:8; Romans 16:1; Acts 6:1-6). These men and women serve in the local church under the oversight of the elders. Each deacon must meet the respective qualifications laid down for men and women who serve found in I Timothy 3:8-13. We teach that all true believers are to serve and build up the rest of the Body of Christ through the use of their God given spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:11-16).
d. Discipline in the Local Church
We teach that unrepentant sinning members of the flock are to be disciplined in love according to the standards of God’s Word (Matthew 18:15-22; Galatians 6:1; Acts 5:1 ff; I Corinthians 5:1-13; II Thessalonians 3:6-15; I Timothy 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16).
e. Purpose of the Local Church
We teach that the purpose of the local church is to glorify God by seeking to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ by communicating the Gospel to all peoples, making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things commanded in Godâs Word. This purpose mandates that every local church have a strong missions program supporting evangelistic outreach both at home and abroad (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8, 2:42; Ephesians 3:21; 4:11-16; II Timothy 2:2, 15, 3:16-17).
f. The Ordinances of the Local Church
We teach that two ordinances (official church ceremonies) have been established for the local church by Christ Himself: Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
(1) Believer’s Baptism Christian baptism (immersion) is the Christian’s outward testimony of his belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and of his desire to die to sin and live for Christ. It is also the visible sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ, the Church (Romans 6:1-11; Acts 2:41-42, 8:26-39, 10:44-48).
(2) The Lord’s Supper The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration and proclamation of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ until He comes again. It should always be preceded by solemn self-examination. The bread is a symbol of His broken body and the juice is a symbol of His shed blood. The Communion elements do not become the actual body and blood of Jesus,
Section H: Angels
1. Holy Angels
We teach that angels are created beings; therefore, they are not to be worshiped. They are a higher order of creation than man, yet they are sent as ministering spirits to render service to the saints. They were created to serve and worship God (Luke 2:9-14; Heb. 1:6-7, 14, 2:6-7; Rev. 5:11).
2. Fallen Angels
We teach that Satan is a personal being, a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against the Lord, involving numerous angels in his fall and introducing sin to the human race by his temptation of Eve (Job 1:6-7; Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Genesis 3:1-15). Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and man (Matthew 4:1-11, 25:41; I Peter 5:8). He is in continuous warfare with God and His people, seeking to destroy everything that has to do with God, even going to the extent of appearing as an angel of light and counterfeiting the works of God (Ephesians 6:10-18; II Corinthians 4:3-4, 11:13-15). He fosters false religious movements and systems based upon works instead of the saving power of Christ’s blood and God’s grace (I Timothy 4:1-3; II Peter 2:1-3). He is called the prince of the world and was defeated through the death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 16:20, I John 3:8), and he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Section I: Dispensationalism
We teach that the Scriptures, interpreted in their natural, literal sense, reveal divinely determined dispensations or periods of human history in which God defines man’s responsibilities in successive ages. These dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather particular responsibilities which the Lord gave to direct man in expressing his faith towards God. Three of these–the age of law, the age of the Church, and the age of the millennial kingdom–are the subjects of much detailed revelation in Scripture (John 1:17; I Corinthians 9:17; II Corinthians 3:9-18; Galatians 3:13-25; Ephesians 1:10, 3:2-10; Colossians 1:25; Hebrews 7:19; Revelation 20:2-6).
Section J: Last Things
We teach the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29, 11:25-26; Revelation 20:5-6, 12-13).
We teach that the soul of the believer at death immediately goes into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23; II Corinthians 5:8). The believer’s soul is separated from his body until the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) when body and soul will be reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Philippians 3:21; I Corinthians 15:35-44, 50-54).
We teach 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) at which time the soul and body are reunited (John 5:28-29). Unbelievers will then appear before God’s Great White Throne to be judged (Revelation 20:11-15) and upon judgment will be cast into the Lake of Fire, separated forever from the life and blessings of God (Matthew 7:15-23, 25:41-46; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Daniel 12:2).
2. The Rapture of the Church and the Tribulation Period
We teach that Christ will return before the tribulation period to remove His Church from earth prior to the outpouring of His wrath (I Thessalonians 4:15-5:11; Titus 2:11-13; John 14:1-3; I Corinthians 15:51-53). Christ will meet them in the clouds and take them to heaven in order to judge their works and reward them accordingly (Romans 14:10-12; I Corinthians 3:11-15, 4:5; II Corinthians 5:10). During this time the fulfillment of God’s judgment on earth known as the Tribulation will be in progress fulfilling the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24-27, 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:15-31, 25:31-46; II Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 4-19).
3. The Second Coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom
We teach that the literal, bodily return of Christ with His saints to the earth will mark the end of the seven-year tribulation period, at which time He shall judge the nations and establish His Millennial Kingdom which will last for a thousand years. During this time the glorified saints will reign with Christ over Israel and the other nations. This thousand-year reign shall be preceded by the overthrow of the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet and the removal of Satan from this world. This kingdom will be a literal fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel to restore them to the land which they lost through disobedience, being set aside for a time, but who will once again be awakened through repentance to enter the land of blessing (Deut. 28:15-68, 30:1-10; Daniel 7:17-27; Ezekiel 36:22-32, 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Zechariah 8:1-17; Matthew 21:43, 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:10-11, 2:29-30; Romans 11:1-29; Revelation 19:11-20:6).
4. The Eternal State
We teach that at the close of the millennial kingdom, Satan will be loosed and will seek to deceive those born during the millennial reign of Christ. Satan will lead one final rebellion against the Lord but will be defeated by God and cast into the lake of fire for eternal torment. Those who did not believe in Christ will then be judged at God’s Great White Throne and face eternal judgment. All believers will then enter the eternal state of glory with God. The elements of this present earth will be dissolved and replaced with a new earth where only righteousness dwells. The heavenly city will descend from heaven to earth and shall be the dwelling place of the saints of God where they will enjoy fellowship with the Lord and one another forever. The Lord Jesus, having fulfilled His mission to redeem mankind, will then deliver over the kingdom to God the Father so that in all spheres the Triune God may reign forever and ever (Mark 9:43-48; John 17:3; Ephesians 1:18-23, 2:11-16, 5:5; I Corinthians 15:24-28; Rev. 20:7-15, 21-22).
In subscribing to these articles of faith, we by no means set aside, or undervalue, any of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The preceding statement of faith is designed to clearly define the content of the teaching and preaching of our church so that those who fellowship here will be able to avoid confusion, disunity and to refrain from teaching contrary doctrines. The church does not expect that everyone who fellowships here totally agree with each point in the doctrinal statement. It is expected, however, that each person who fellowships at Westview seek to be supportive of the church’s doctrinal position by submitting to the authority of the elders who, according to the Word of God, are responsible “for the teaching of doctrine and refuting of error in the local assembly” (Titus 1:9-2:1).