Glorification- We teach that at death, or the return of Christ, depending on which happens first, all true believers will be made new in perfection, no longer tainted by sin and the sin nature, so that we will no longer experience the effects of sin and death.
We will dwell with Christ in perfection and at the resurrection we will all receive perfect, indestructible, glorious bodies for the New Creation. Death- We teach that death is the result of sin and the fall. Resurrection- We teach that every believer will receive a glorified physical, body, at the resurrection that will occur when Christ returns from heaven to judge the world. See also Eternal Death below. Eternal Life- We teach that Christians die and go to be with the Lord right away.
However, we also believe that when Christ returns, all Christians will live with him forever in glorified bodies in the New Heavens and New Earth Phil. Eternal Death- We teach that when non-Christians die they go to hades, a place of eternal torment and misery. They will stay there until Christ returns to throw death, hades, and all nonbelievers, including Satan and his kingdom, into the Lake of Eternal Fire, which is the second death, also known as hell.
The Church- We teach that the church plays a central role in the plan of God to reconcile people to himself through Jesus Christ.
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The global or universal church is all Christians everywhere of all time. The local church as defined in 2. The church is central and absolutely essential to the Christian life in scripture. Baptism- We teach that every Christian should be baptized by immersion in obedience to Jesus as an expression of their total allegiance to him and his church. Baptism is a picture of our death and resurrection with Christ, where our old lives are seen to end as we are raised up as new creations, in a new kingdom, under the reign of a new King, with new hearts, spirits, and His Holy Spirit.
Papyrus of Ani; Egyptian Book of the Dead [Budge]
Baptism is a physical expression of deep, internal, spiritual realities. Communion- We teach that communion, the eating of the bread and drinking of the cup, is the weekly remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ for redeemed sinners like us. It is a picture of the Gospel. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ given for us while the cup symbolizes his blood poured out for us as the New Covenant people.
As we meditate on the Gospel by faith and partake of the bread and juice by faith we believe that Christ is spiritually present nourishing and strengthening his people. We do not believe that the elements are transformed in any way. They remain bread and juice.
We believe that the only ones who should take communion are baptized believers who are not living in unrepentant sin Matt. Marriage - We teach that the Biblical definition of marriage is one man and one woman until death and that all other unions I. We believe that when God joins a man and woman together, they should not separate but remain married until death.
Marriage is a parable that is meant to put the relationship between Christ and His Church on display for the world to see. Divorce and Remarriage- We teach that a man and woman, when married, should uphold their vows until death. We believe that what God has joined together, no man should separate.
However, while we believe and teach that God hates divorce, we realize that it happens. If all other measures have been taken and divorce does occur, we teach that a man or woman can only be remarried, Biblically, if adultery has taken place. Matters of Opinion- While there are many core Christian doctrines that we must agree on, there are many areas of the Christian life where we should be led by our Holy Spirit-led-convictions and conscience.
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If there were a thousand worlds, the gospel of Christ might, upon this ground, be preached to them all, there being enough in Christ for the salvation of them all, if so be they will derive virtue from him by touching him in faith; the only way to draw refreshment from this fountain of salvation. Secondly, That the preachers of the gospel, in their particular congregations, being utterly unacquainted with the purpose and secret counsel of God, being also forbidden to pry or search into it, Deut.
And this is one principal thing, which, being well observed, will crush many of the vain flourishes of our adversaries; as will in particular hereafter appear. A second thing to be considered is, the economy or administration of the new covenant in the times of the gospel, with the amplitude and enlargement of the kingdom and dominion of Christ after his appearance in the flesh; whereby, all external differences being taken away, the name of Gentiles removed, the partition wall broken down, the promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world, as he was father of the faithful, was now fully to be accomplished.
Now, this administration is so opposite to that dispensation which was restrained to one people and family, who were God's peculiar, and all the rest of the world excluded, that it gives occasion to many general expressions in the Scripture; which are far enough from comprehending a universality of all individuals, but denote only a removal of all such restraining exceptions as were before in force. So that a consideration of the end whereunto these general expressions are used, and of what is aimed at by them, will clearly manifest their nature, and how they are to be understood, with whom they are that are intended by them and comprehended in them.
For it being only this enlargement of the visible kingdom of Christ to all nations in respect of right, and to many in respect of fact God having elect in all those nations to be brought forth in the several generations wherein the means of grace are in those places employed , that is intended, it is evident that they import only a distribution of men through all differences whatsoever, and not a universal collection of all and every one; the thing intended by them requiring the one and not the other.
Hence, those objections which are made against the particularity of the ransom of Christ and the restraining of it only to the elect from the terms of all, all men, all nations, the world, the whole world, and the like, are all of them exceeding weak and invalid, as wresting the general expressions of the Scripture beyond their aim and intent, they being used by the Holy Ghost only to evidence the removal of all personal and national distinctions,--the breaking up of all the narrow bounds of the Old Testament, the enlarging the kingdom of Christ beyond the bounds of Jewry and Salem, abolishing all old restrictions, and opening a way for the elect amongst all people called "The fulness of the Gentiles," to come in; there being now "neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all," Col.
Hence the Lord promiseth to "pour out his Spirit upon all flesh," Joel; which Peter interpreteth to be accomplished by the filling of the apostles with the gifts of the Spirit, that they might be enabled to preach to several nations, Acts , "having received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations" Rom. And this is that which the apostle so largely sets forth, Eph. Now, in this sense, which we have explained, and no other, are those many places to be taken which are usually urged for universal grace and redemption, as shall afterward be declared in particular.
We must exactly distinguish between mans duty and God's purpose, there being no connection between them. The purpose and decree of God is not the rule of our duty; neither is the performance of our duty in doing what we are commanded any declaration of what is God's purpose to do, or his decree that it should be done.
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Especially is this to be seen and considered in the duty of the ministers of the gospel, in the dispensing of the word, in exhortations, invitations, precepts, and threatenings, committed unto them; all which are perpetual declaratives of our duty, and do manifest the approbation of the thing exhorted and invited to, with the truth of the connection between one thing and another, but not of the counsel and purpose of God, in respect of individual persons, in the ministry of the word.
A minister is not to make inquiry after, nor to trouble himself about, those secrets of the eternal mind of God, namely,--whom he purposeth to save, and whom he hath sent Christ to die for in particular. It is enough for them to search his revealed will, and thence take their directions, from whence they have their commissions. Wherefore, there is no sequel between the universal precepts from the word concerning the things, unto God's purpose in himself concerning persons.
They command and invite all to repent and believe; but they know not in particular on whom God will bestow repentance unto salvation, nor in whom he will effect the work of faith with power. And when they make proffers and tenders in the name of God to all, they do not say to all, "It is the purpose and intention of God that ye should believe," who gave them any such power?
The external offer is such as from which every man may conclude his own duty; none, God's purpose, which yet may be known upon performance of his duty. Their objection, then, is vain, who affirm that God hath given Christ for all to whom he offers Christ in the preaching of the gospel; for his offer in the preaching of the gospel is not declarative to any in particular, neither of what God hath done nor of what he will do in reference to him, but of what he ought to do, if he would be approved of God and obtain the good things promised.
Whence it will follow, First, That God always intends to save some among them to whom he sends the gospel in its power. And the ministers of it being, first, unacquainted with his particular purpose; secondly, bound to seek the good of all and every one, as much as in them lies; thirdly, to hope and judge well of all, even as it is meet for them,--they may make a proffer of Jesus Christ, with life and salvation in him, notwithstanding that the Lord hath given his Son only to his elect.
Secondly, That this offer is neither vain nor fruitless, being declarative of their duty, and of what is acceptable to God if it be performed as it ought to be, even as it is required. And if any ask, What it is of the mind and will of God that is declared and made known when men are commanded to believe for whom Christ did not die?
I answer, first, What they ought to do, if they will do that which is acceptable to God; secondly, The sufficiency of salvation that is in Jesus Christ to all that believe on him; thirdly, The certain, infallible, inviolable connection that is between faith and salvation, so that whosoever performs the one shall surely enjoy the other, for whoever comes to Christ he will in no wise cast out.
Of which more afterward. The ingraffed erroneous persuasion of the Jews, which for a while had a strong influence upon the apostles themselves, restraining salvation and deliverance by the Messiah, or promised seed, to themselves alone, who were the offspring of Abraham according to the flesh, must be considered as the ground of many general expressions and enlargements of the objects of redemption; which yet, being so occasioned, give no colour of any unlimited universality.
That the Jews were generally infected with this proud opinion, that all the promises belonged only to them and theirs, towards whom they had a universality, exclusive of all others, whom they called "dogs, uncircumcised," and poured out curses on them, is most apparent. Hence, when they saw the multitudes of the Gentiles coming to the preaching of Paul, they were "filled with envy, contradicting, blaspheming, and raising up persecution against them," Acts ; which the apostle again relates of them, I Thess.
That the apostles themselves, also, had deeply drunk in this opinion, learned by tradition from their fathers, appeareth, not only in their questioning about the restoration of the kingdom unto Israel, Acts , but also most evidently in this, that after they had received commission to teach and baptize all nations, Matt. And no wonder that men were not easily nor soon persuaded to this, it being the great mystery that was not made known in former ages, as it was then revealed to God's holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit-- namely, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel," Eph.
But now, this being so made known unto them by the Spirit, and that the time was come wherein the little sister was to be considered, the prodigal brought home, and Japheth persuaded to dwell in the tents of Shem, they laboured by all means to root it out of the minds of their brethren according to the flesh, of whom they had a special care;--as also, to leave no scruple in the mind of the eunuch, that he was a dry tree; or of the Gentile, that he was cut off from the people of God.
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To which end they use divers general expressions, carrying a direct opposition to that former error, which was absolutely destructive to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Hence are those terms of the world, all men, all nations, every creature, and the like, used in the business of redemption and preaching of the gospel; these things being not restrained, according as they supposed, to one certain nation and family, but extended to the universality of God's people scattered abroad in every region under heaven. Especially are these expressions used by John, who, living to see the first coming of the Lord, in that fearful judgment and vengeance which he executed upon the Jewish nation some forty years after his death, is very frequent in the asserting of the benefit of the world by Christ, in opposition, as I said before, to the Jewish nation,--giving, us a rule how to understand such phrases and locutions: John , 52, "He signified that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad;" conformably whereunto he tells the believing Jews that Christ is not a propitiation for them only, "but for the sins of the whole world," I John , or the people of God scattered throughout the whole world, not tied to any one nation, as they sometime vainly imagined.
And this may and doth give much light into the sense and meaning of those places where the words world and all are used in the business of redemption. They do not hold out a collective universality, but a general distribution into men of all sorts, in opposition to the before-recounted erroneous persuasion. The extent, nature. Upon these expressions hangs the whole weight of the opposite cause, the chief if not the only argument for the universality of redemption being taken from words which seem to be of a latitude in their signification equal to such an assertion, as the world, the whole world, all, and the like; which terms, when they have once fastened upon, they run with, "Io triumphe," as though the victory were surely theirs.
The world, the whole world, all, all men! Call them to the context in the several places where the words are; appeal to rules of interpretation; mind them of the circumstances and scope of the place, the sense of the same words in other places; with other fore named helps and assistances which the Lord hath acquainted us with for the discovery of his mind and will in his word,--they presently cry out, the bare word, the letter is theirs: "Away with the gloss and interpretation; give us leave to believe what the word expressly saith;"--little as I hope imagining, being deluded with the love of their own darling, that if this assertion be general, and they will not allow us the gift of interpretation agreeable to the proportion of faith, that, at one clap, they confirm the cursed madness of the Anthropomorphites,--assigning a human body, form and shape, unto God, who hath none; and the alike cursed figment of transubstantiation, overthrowing the body of Christ who hath one; with divers other most pernicious errors.
Let them then, as long as they please, continue such empty clamours, fit to terrify and shake weak and unstable men; for the truth's sake we will not be silent: and I hope we shall very easily make it appear that the general terms that are used in this business will indeed give no colour to any argument for universal redemption, whether absolute or conditionate.
Two words there are that are mightily stuck upon or stumbled at;--first, The world; secondly, All. The particular places wherein they are, and from which the arguments of our adversaries are urged, we shall afterward consider, and for the present only show that the words themselves, according to the Scripture use, do not necessarily hold out any collective universality of those concerning whom they are affirmed, but, being words of various significations, must be interpreted according to the scope of the place where they are used and the subject-matter of which the Scripture treateth in those places.
First, then, for the word world, which in the New Testament is called KOSMOS for there is another word sometimes translated world, namely, AION, that belongs not to this matter, noting rather the duration of time than the thing in that space continuing. I shall briefly give you so many various significations of it as shall make it apparent that from the bare usage of a word so exceedingly equivocal no argument can be taken, until it be distinguished, and the meaning thereof in that particular place evinced from whence the argument is taken. Subjectively A.
Universally B. Partially; for 1. The visible heaven. The habitable earth. Adjunctively, in respect of, A. The inhabitants, and that,-- 1. Collectively for the whole. Distributively; for,-- 1.