What we teach
Short version – the long version can be found at the bottom of the page
By "the Bible" we mean the Old Testament (the completed Hebrew/Aramaic form, finalized before Christ) and the New Testament (in its original manuscripts, written by the apostles or disciples of the apostles (1). The Old Testament contains the 39 books also recognized by the Jews, Jesus, and the apostles; the New Testament contains the 27 books recognized by the church as a whole.
The Bible is written by men to be understood by men. This means that human language is used, and that the language is to be interpreted the same way language is normally interpreted (2) in its genre (3). As a consequence, every person with God's help can and should read and understand the Bible on their own (4), though they may find helpful explanations of language and cultural/historical context by discussing with others and using commentaries and sermons.
The Bible is God's word and is sufficient for teaching and instruction in righteousness (5, 6). This means that everything written in the Bible (if understood the way it was intended) is theologically, historically, and scientifically true (7, 8). It is therefore edifying to read the Bible (9), and obeying the principles in the Bible is obeying God.
There is only one God (10). He is almighty (11), all-knowing (12), eternal (13), uncreated (14) and unchanging (15). He is righteous (16), merciful, gracious (17), and loving (18). The Father (19), the Son (20), and the Holy Spirit (21) are three divine persons. Each of them is God, and together they are God. He created all that exists (22) and sustains it (23) for His name's sake (24). God has planned everything that happens (25), and nothing happens except by His will (26).
God created Adam and Eve, physical humans, in His image on the sixth day of creation (27). When they disobeyed God (28), their sin affected nature itself and all their descendants (29). All humans, descendants of Adam, are disobedient to God (30) and seek their own glory instead of worshiping Him (31). According to the principles of righteousness they deserve punishment (32). The righteous consequence for sin is eternal punishment in Hell (33).
God loved humans (34) and did not wish that they be righteously punished in Hell (35). The Father therefore sent His Son (36), Jesus, as predicted by the Old Testament (37), to be punished in our stead (38). The only way to avoid righteous punishment and rather be forever with Jesus (39) is to admit (40) and repent (41) of sin and trust God's salvation (42). This happens by trust in God alone, independent of good deeds (43). When we turn to God we are forgiven (44) and the Holy Spirit lives in us (45) and leads us in good deeds (46). God has beforehand chosen those that will be saved (47), and those that are saved cannot lose their salvation (48). No one can be saved except through Jesus (49). Those that are saved seek to glorify God by everything they do (50), but still continue to sin (51) and repent of their sin (52) until they die (53).
The end times
Jesus will return to judge all humans who have ever lived (54). He will separate those who have trusted God and repented of their sins from those who have not. The first group goes to heaven to live with Jesus because He took the punishment they deserved; the second group goes to Hell to receive the just punishment for their own sin (55).
Jesus' church, or Jesus' body, is comprised of all humans on Earth that are saved. A local church is comprised of a group of saved individuals who gather to serve Jesus. The head of the church is Jesus, and each local church should be led by a group of qualified elders. The church should meet regularly to correct, exhort, and encourage each other, stirring one another up to love and good works, edifying others with each other's spiritual gifts, hearing the Bible preached, worshipping God in song to remind one another of Biblical truths, praying together, and spreading the gospel of Jesus to the rest of the world.
Some Bibles have a text in 1 Joh 5:7 that is often used as evidence for the Trinity, but if you look at the text history and see which manuscripts do and do not have this text, it becomes clear that this was not in John's original manuscript. It would be therefore wrong to say that one believes in the Trinity and back it up with this verse, because the evidence for the Trinity in this verse is not a part of the inspired original text. It is right to believe in the Trinity, but it would be wrong to believe based on wrong evidence.
"Seek and you will find" – Some think that this means that we can pray and seek for whatever we want. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5-7 we are told what we should not seek after – food and clothing – and also told what we should seek after – God's kingdom and His righteousness. Matthew's intentions clearly come through when we read and understand the context it is written in. A verse can never fully be understood taken out of its context.
The creation account in Genesis 1 is extremely debated. Some believe that it is a poetic description, not of physical reality but of theological truth; while others believe that the account is historical, scientific, and theologically correct. The question we must ask ourselves is of the text's purpose. If the text is meant to be a historical account, we must take it literally both scientifically and theologically. But if it is meant as a poetical uplifting of God's wonderful works, then the text doesn't need to communicate anything of historical truth.
For example, we understand Psalm 18:9 about the smoke from God's nose figuratively because it is clear that it is a part of a poetical text whose purpose isn't literal physical descriptions.
On the other hand, the description of God speaking from the fire in Exodus 3:2 clearly meant to be read as a historical text that is meant to be read literally.
2 Cor 1:13, Deut 30:11-13
The Bible is enough for teaching and guidance in truth. Thus, we do right by focusing on the truths that the Bible focuses on, and focus less on things that the Bible isn't so clear or doesn't focus on. What the Bible says little on is not necessary for us to say much on. It doesn't mean that we don't care about the spirit of the times, but rather that we should start from biblical principles when we do so.
Three observations that help us understand that the creation account was meant to be understood historically are: the consistent use of the word "genealogy" throughout Genesis where Moses clearly wants to convey a story; there is little in Genesis that reminds us of poetry, and there is no divide between the creation account, Adam, and his descendants.
2 Tim 3:16
If it seems like there is a contradiction in the Bible, there are three logical alternatives:
- God made a mistake, and this isn't a real alternative;
- The text has not been delivered to us in a good way. This can be because of A) mistakes while copying manuscripts, in which we would expect that there would be disagreements between manuscripts, or B) mistakes or reduced accuracy in the translation process, in which case it often pays to have multiple translations to look at;
- or that our understanding of the text is wrong. A misunderstanding such as this can be corrected by studying both texts in their contexts.
1 Cor 8:4
1 Tim 1:17
Gen 1:1, Joh 1:1-3
1 Jn 4:8
2 Tim 1:2
2 Pet 1:1
Acts 5:4, 9
Gen 5:3, Rom 5:12-24
Rom 1:18-3:19, 22
Phil 2:21, Rom 10:3
Rom 2:5-11, Mt 21:41, 25:46
Deut 7:7-8, 1 Joh 4:10
Ez 33:11, 1 Tim 2:4
John 8:42, Rom 8:32
2 Cor 5:21, Rom 5:6-8
1 Thess 4:17
1 Joh 1:9
2 Tim 3:15, Lk 18:10-14
Eph 2:1-9, Rom 11:6
1 Joh 1:9, Col 2:13, Ef 1:7
Eph 2:10, Tit 3:8
2 Tim 1:9, 1 Cor 1:28
Joh 10:28-29, 1 Joh 2:19
1 Cor 10:31
1 Joh 1:8-2:2