What I Believe
By Rich Wilbur
By stating what I believe, I understand that my beliefs may be
challenged. I understand this because of my fallible attempts to summarize and systematize the riches of an infallible
divine revelation. Nevertheless, I do not wish to minimize the importance of having a doctrinal statement.
The declarations below carefully specify my position with regard to the major Bible doctrines of the Christian
faith and provide a framework of my philosophy of ministry. These statements of belief also provide for me a guide
to keep me accountable and to guard against going adrift theologically.
It is through a strong conviction that I believe that the Bible
is God's written revelation to mankind, and therefore the 66 books of the Bible given by the Holy Spirit constitute
the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1 Cor. 2:7-14; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21).
I believe that the Word of God is an objective revelation (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13), verbally inspired in every
word (2 Tim. 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed. I believe the
literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture, which affirms the belief that the opening chapters
of Genesis present creation in six literal days of creation (Gen. 1:31; Ex. 31:17).
I believe that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matt. 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35;
16:12, 13; 17:17; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21).
I believe that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended
the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and
recorded God's Word to mankind (2 Pet. 1:20, 21) without error (Matt. 5:18; 2 Tim. 3:16).
I believe that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true
interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical-historical
method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:7-15; 1 John
2:20). It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing
that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never
do men stand in judgment of it.
I believe that there is but one living and true God (Deut. 6:4;
Is. 45:5-7; 1 Cor. 8:4), an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence,
eternally existing in three Persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14) -- each equally
deserving worship and obedience.
God the Father
I believe that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity,
orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Ps. 145:8, 9; 1 Cor. 8:6). He is the Creator
of all things (Gen. 1:1-31; Eph. 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign
in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps. 103:19; Rom. 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation
within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Eph. 4:6), but He is
Spiritual Father only to believers (Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come
to pass (Eph. 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chr. 29:11). In His
sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Hab. 1:13), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral,
intelligent creatures (1 Pet. 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His
own (Eph. 1:4-6); He saves from sin all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own
(John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Heb. 12:5-9).
God the Son
I believe that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity,
possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father
(John 10:30; 14:9). I believe that God the Father created "the heavens and the earth and all that is in them"
according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operations
(John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2).
I believe that in the incarnation (God becoming mankind) Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but
nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second person
of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-mankind (Phil. 2:5-8;
I believe that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Mic. 5:2; John 5:23; 14:9, 10;
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23, 25; Luke 1:26-35); that He was God
incarnate (John 1:1, 14); and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over
God's kingdom (Ps. 2:7-9; Is. 9:6; John 1:29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7:25, 26; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19).
I believe that, in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity laid aside His right to the full prerogatives
of coexistence with God, assumed the place of a Son, and took on an existence appropriate to a servant while never
divesting Himself of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-8).
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial
death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John
10:15; Rom. 3:24, 25; 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:24).
I believe that on the basis of the efficacy of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed
from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous,
given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Rom. 3:25; 5:8, 9; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).
I believe that my justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He is
now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as my Advocate and High-Priest (Matt. 28:6;
Luke 24:38, 39; Acts 2:30, 31; Rom. 4:25; 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1).
I believe that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave
proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus' bodily resurrection is also the guarantee
of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
I believe that Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His body, unto Himself at the Rapture and,
returning with His church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:13-18;
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22, 23)...
- a. Believers (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10);
- b. Living inhabitants of the earth at His glorious return (Matt.
- c. Unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15).
As the mediator between God and mankind (1 Tim. 2:5), the head
of His body the church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18), and the coming universal King who will reign on the throne
of David (Is. 9:6, 7; Ezek. 37: 24-28; Luke 1:31-33), Jesus Christ is the final Judge of all who fail to place
their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matt. 25:14-46; Acts 17:30, 31).
God the Holy Spirit
I believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, eternal, possessing
all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor. 2:10-13), emotions (Eph. 4:30), will (1
Cor. 12:11), eternality (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), omniscience (Is. 40:13, 14), omnipotence (Rom.
15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father
and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3, 4; 28:25, 26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; and Jer. 31:31-34 with Heb. 10:15-17).
I believe that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. I recognize
His sovereign activity in creation (Gen. 1:2), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18), the written revelation (2 Pet. 1:20,
21), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7).
I believe that a unique work of the Holy Spirit in this age began at Pentecost when He came from the Father as
promised by Christ (John 14:16, 17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the body of Christ. His activity
includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming
believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 2:22).
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers
into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, employs them for
service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Rom. 8:9-11; 2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 1:13).
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the divine agent who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they
committed to writing God's revelation, the Bible (2 Pet. 1:19-21). Every believer possesses the indwelling presence
of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled
with (controlled by) the Spirit (Rom. 8:9-11; Eph. 5:18; 1 John 2:20, 27).
I believe that the Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself
nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost
and building up believers in the most holy faith (John 16:13, 14; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 2 Cor. 3:18).
I believe, in this respect, that God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting
of the saints today and that speaking in tongues and the working of sign miracles in the beginning days of the
church Ire for the purpose of pointing to and authenticating the apostles as revealers of divine truth, and are
never intended to be characteristic of the lives of believers (1 Cor. 12:4-11; 13:8-10; 2 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:7-12;
I believe that mankind was directly and immediately created by
God in His image and likeness. Mankind was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition,
self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Gen. 2:7, 15-25; James 3:9).
I believe that God's intention in the creation of mankind was that mankind should glorify God, enjoy God's fellowship,
live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God's purpose for mankind in the world (Is. 43:7; Col.
1:16; Rev. 4:11).
I believe that in Adam's sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, mankind lost his innocence;
incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently
corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With
no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, mankind is hopelessly lost. Mankind's salvation is thereby
wholly of God's grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:1-19; John 3:36; Rom.
3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 2:13, 14; 1 John 1:8).
I believe that because all people are in Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam's sin has been transmitted to all people
of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All people are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine
declaration (Ps. 14:1-3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12).
I believe that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis
of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (John
1:12; Eph. 1:4-7; 2:8-10; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19).
I believe 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 (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1
Pet. 1:1, 2).
I believe that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of mankind to repent and trust
Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18, 19, 36; 5:40; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; Rev. 22:17). Nevertheless,
since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as the gift itself, sovereign election
will result in what God determines. 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). I believe that the unmerited favor that
God grants to totally depraved sinners is 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 (Eph. 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7;
1 Pet. 1:2).
I believe that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign
but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness,
wisdom, grace, and love (Rom. 9:11-16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally
consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:25-28; 2 Tim. 1:9).
I believe that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy
Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-8; 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),
when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to the divine provision of salvation.
Genuine regeneration is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct.
Good works will be its proper evidence and fruit (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 5:17-21; Phil. 2:12b; Col. 3:12-17; 2 Pet.
1:4-11). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ
(2 Cor. 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer's glorification at Christ's coming (Rom. 8:16, 17;
2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2, 3).
I believe that justification before God is an act of God (Rom.
8:30, 33) by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins (Is. 55:6, 7;
Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10) and confess Him as sovereign Lord (Rom. 10:9, 10; 1 Cor.
12:3; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 2:11). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of mankind (Rom. 3:20; 4:6)
and involves the placing of our sins on Christ (Col. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:24) and the imputation of Christ's righteousness
to us (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Cor. 5:21). By this means God is enabled to "be just, and the justifier of
the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
I believe that every believer is sanctified (set apart) unto God
by justification and is therefore declared to be holy and is therefore identified as a saint. This sanctification
is positional 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 condition (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2
Thess. 2:13; Heb. 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:2).
I believe that there is also by the work of the Holy Spirit a progressive sanctification by which the state of
the believer is brought closer to the likeness of Christ 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 our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; Rom. 6:1-22; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Thess. 4:3, 4; 5:23).
In this respect, I believe that every saved person is involved in a daily conflict--the new creation in Christ
doing battle against the flesh--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. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible,
but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:22-24; Phil. 3:12; Col. 3:9, 10; 1
Pet. 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).
I believe that all the redeemed once saved are kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John
5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom. 5:9, 10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:4, 5; Jude
I believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony
of God's Word, which however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an excuse for sinful living and carnality
(Rom. 6:15-22; 13:13, 14; Gal. 5:13, 16, 17, 25, 26; Titus 2:11-14).
Sin and Separation
I believe that separation from sin is clearly called for throughout
the Old and New Testaments, and that the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness
shall increase (2 Cor. 6:14 -7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).
I believe that out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us and because our glorious God
is so worthy of our total consecration, all the saved should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring
love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. I also believe that separation from any association
with religious apostasy, and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 5:9-13;
2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:1; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).
I believe that believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:11, 12; Heb. 12:1, 2) and affirm
that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness demonstrated by a beatitude attitude (Matt. 5:2-12)
and a continual pursuit of holiness (Rom. 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-10).
I believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately
placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, the church (1 Cor. 12:12, 13), the bride of Christ (2
Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32; Rev. 19:7, 8), of which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18).
I believe that the formation of the church, the body of Christ, began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21, 38-47)
and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
I believe that the church is thus a unique spiritual organism designed by Christ, made up of all born-again believers
in this present age (Eph. 2:11 - 3:6). The church is distinct from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32), a mystery not revealed
until this age (Eph. 3:1-6; 5:32). I believe that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly
taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1;
2 Thess. 1:1) and that the members of the one spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local
assemblies (1 Cor. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25).
I believe that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) and that leadership, gifts,
order, discipline, and worship in the church are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures.
The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (who are also called bishops,
pastors, and pastor-teachers; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11) and deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications
(1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
I believe that these leaders lead or rule as servants of Christ (1 Tim. 5:17-22) and have His authority in directing
the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Heb. 13:7, 17). I believe the importance of discipleship
(Matt. 28:19, 20; 2 Tim. 2:2), mutual accountability of all believers to each other (Matt. 18:15-17), as the need
to discipline sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture (Matt. 18:15-22; Acts
5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 1:19, 20; Titus 1:10-16).
I believe the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government
and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). I believe that
it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith.
Local churches, however, through their pastors and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be
the sole judges of the measure and method of their cooperation (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Cor. 5:4-7, 13; 1 Pet.
I believe that 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. 2:2, 15; 3:16-17), by fellowship (Acts 2:47; 1 John 1:3), by keeping
the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42) and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world (Matt.
28:19; Acts 1:8).
I believe the calling of all saints to the work of service (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 4:12; Rev. 22:12).
I believe the need of the church to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end,
He gives the church spiritual gifts. He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of
the ministry (Eph. 4:7-12) and 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 Pet. 4:10, 11).
I believe that there are two kinds of gifts given to the early
church: miraculous gifts of divine revelation and healing, given in the apostolic era and continuing on for the
purpose of confirming the authenticity of the apostles' message ( 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3, 4); and ministering gifts,
given to equip believers for edifying one another. With the New Testament revelation now complete, Scripture becomes
the sole test of the authenticity of a person's message, and confirming gifts of a miraculous nature may at times
still be necessary to validate a person or his message as the Lord deems so (1 Cor. 13:8-12). Miraculous gifts
can even be counterfeited by Satan so as to deceive even believers (Matt. 24:24). I believe all New Testament gifts
are in operation today and may be used as equipping gifts given for edification (Rom. 12:6-8).
I believe that some do possess the gift of healing today and that God does hear and answer the prayer of faith
and will answer in accordance with His own perfect will for the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Luke 18:1-8; John
5:7-9; 2 Cor. 12:6-10; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14, 15). I believe that two ordinances have been committed to the
local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:38-42). Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the
solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior,
and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6: 1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship
and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41, 42).
I believe that the Lord's Supper is the commemoration and proclamation
of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Cor. 11:23-32). I also
believe that whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord's
Supper is nevertheless an actual Communion with the risen Christ who is present in a unique way, fellowshipping
with His people (1 Cor. 10:16).
I believe that angels are created beings and are therefore not to be worshiped. Although they are a higher order
of creation than mankind, they are created to serve God and to worship Him (Luke 2:9-14; Heb. 1:6, 7, 14; 2:6,
7; Rev. 5:11-14).
I believe that Satan is a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against
his Creator (Is. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:11-19), by taking numerous angels with him in his fall (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:1-14),
and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve (Gen. 3:1-15).
I believe that Satan is the open and declared enemy of God and mankind (Is. 14:13, 14; Matt. 4:1-11; Rev. 12:9,
10), the prince of this world who has been defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 16:20)
and that he shall be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Is. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:11-19; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
Last Things (Eschatology)
I believe that physical death involves no loss of our immaterial consciousness (Rev. 6:9-11), that there is a separation
of soul and body (James 2:26), that the soul of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke
23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), and that, for the redeemed, such separation will continue until the Rapture (1
Thess. 4:13-17) which initiates the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6), when our soul and body will be reunited to
be glorified forever with our Lord (1 Cor. 15:35-44, 50-54; Phil. 3:21). Until that time, the souls of the redeemed
in Christ remain in joyful fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:8).
I believe the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Rom. 8:10, 11, 19-23; 2 Cor.
4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Dan. 12:2; John 5:29; Rev. 20:13-15).
I believe that the souls of the unsaved at death are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke
16:19-26; Rev. 20:13-15), when the soul and the resurrection body will be united (John 5:28, 29). They shall then
appear at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and shall be cast into hell, the lake of fire (Matt.
25:41-46), cut off from the life of God forever (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).
The Rapture of the Church
I believe the personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ before the seven-year tribulation (1 Thess. 4:16)
to translate His church from this earth (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:15 - 5:11) and, between this
event and His glorious return with His saints, to reward believers according to their works (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2
The Tribulation Period
I believe that immediately following the removal of the church from the earth (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) the
righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon an unbelieving world (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; 2 Thess. 2:7-12;
Rev. 16), and that these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to the earth (Matt. 24:27-31;
25:31-46; 2 Thess. 2:7-12). At that time the Old Testament and tribulation saints will be raised and the living
will be judged (Dan. 12:2-3; Rev. 20:4-6). This period includes the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan.
9:24-27; Matt. 24:15-31; 25:31-46).
The Second Coming and the Millennial Reign
I believe that after the tribulation period, Christ will come to earth to occupy the throne of David (Matt. 25:31;
Luke 1:32, 33; Acts 1:10, 11; 2:29, 30) and establish His messianic kingdom for a thousand years on the earth (Rev.
20:1-7). During this time the resurrected saints will reign with Him over Israel and all the nations of the earth
(Ezek. 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. 20:1-6).
I believe that the kingdom itself will be the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel (Is. 65:17-25; Ezek. 37:21-28;
Zech. 8:1-17) to restore them to the land which they forfeited through their disobedience (Deut. 28:15-68). The
result of their disobedience was that Israel was temporarily set aside (Matt. 21:43; Rom. 11: 1-26) but will again
be awakened through repentance to enter into the land of blessing (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-32; Rom. 11:25-29).
I believe that this time of our Lord's reign will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness, and
long life (Is. 11; 65:17-25; Ezek. 36:33-38), and will be brought to an end with the release of Satan (Rev. 20:7).
The Judgment of the Lost
I believe that following the release of Satan after the thousand year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:7), Satan will deceive
the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, 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) whereupon 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.
I believe that this resurrection of the unsaved dead to judgment will be a physical resurrection, whereupon receiving
their judgment (John 5:28, 29), they will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire (Matt.
25:41; Rev. 20:11-15).
I 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 of glory with God, after which the elements
of this earth are to be dissolved (2 Pet. 3:10) and replaced with a new earth wherein only righteousness dwells
(Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:15, 21, 22). Following this, the heavenly city will come down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2) and
will be the dwelling place of the saints, where they will enjoy forever fellowship with God and one another (John
17:3; Rev. 21, 22). Our Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom
to God the Father (1 Cor. 15:23-28) that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Cor. 15:28).