We believe and teach that the salvation of sinful men has always ultimately depended upon the sovereign grace of God. A single divine method of salvation by grace through faith has been in effect since the fall of man (Romans 4:1-9; 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). This great truth, however, never nullifies or diminishes the sinner’s responsibility of appropriation nor the servant’s responsibility of communication (Romans 10:8-15).
God’s sovereign plan of salvation was divinely drafted in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8), including all of its provisions (the work of Christ and the Spirit) and processes (Titus 3:3-7). Furthermore, on an individual, historical basis, His grace stands behind all the stages of salvation, i.e., past justification; present sanctification; and future glorification (Romans 8:29-30). Thus, our salvation is entirely accomplished by the almighty power of the sovereign and gracious triune God: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…” (Titus 3:5). Some vital constituents of His salvation plan include the following:
We believe and teach that election is the gracious act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously calls, regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).
We believe and teach that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8).
We believe and teach that the unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is unconditional, i.e., not related to any initiative of their own part nor to God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2).
We believe and teach that regeneration (i.e., the new birth) is a gracious supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24). The new birth results in the believer’s union with Christ (Colossians 2:13) in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11), thus receiving the spiritual graces of the New Covenant (i.e., reconciliation, peace with God, a new heart, new affections, and deliverance from the dominating power of sin etc.) (Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Romans 2:28-29; 5:1; 6:5-7, 11,14; Colossians 2:11-12).
Because genuine regeneration involves the imparting of a new life, a new heart and saving faith, it will be manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. “Faith working through love” will be its proper evidence and fruit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12b; Galatians 5:6; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4-10). This grace-empowered obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer’s glorification at Christ’s coming (Romans 8:17; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2-3).
We believe and teach that justification before God is a gracious act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; 4:6) and involves the placing of our sins on Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21). By this means God is enabled to “be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
We believe and teach that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and identified as a saint. This sanctification is positional, permanent, and instantaneous and should not be confused with progressive sanctification. This sanctification has to do with the believer’s standing, not his present walk or experiential condition (Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 3:11; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2).
We believe and teach that there is also by the work of the Holy Spirit a progressive sanctification by which the state (i.e., practice) of the believer is brought closer to the standing he positionally enjoys through justification. This sanctification is an effect of the love of God manifested in the soul, whereby through the gracious empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is enabled to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ (c.f. “regeneration”) (John 17:17, 19; Romans 6:1-22; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 5:23).
In this respect, we teach that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict. He is a new creation in Christ doing battle against the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 7:15-25), but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).
We believe and teach the biblical doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. This doctrine has two parts: (1) God will so work with His people in His grace that they will inevitably be preserved to the end and be saved (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1; John 10:28-30; Philippians 1:6). Thus no true child of God, born of the Holy Spirit, will ever be lost (Romans 8:29-30). (2) It is equally true, however, that no person will be saved without persevering to the end. In order to be saved, believers must persevere to the end in faith and obedience (Mark 13:13; Colossians 1:22-23; Hebrews 3:14; 12:14). The means God uses to bring about our perseverance are His magnificent promises (2 Peter 1:3-4) and His terrifying warnings (Hebrews 10:26ff).
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