Basic Beliefs

I believe in:

1. The plenary inspiration of Scripture. The Bible is the Word of God; all the original scripts represent what was “God-breathed” to the inspired writers; it is to be accepted as such as a whole (“plenary”), not just attributing inspiration to certain parts. Its words are living and these alone can satisfy the deep need of the souls of men (2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pet.1 :20,21; remember, you can look up these citations by clicking on them!).

2. The Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally one God (Deut.6:4 ; Isa.57:15; 2 Cor.13:14;Heb.9:14 ).

3. The sovereignty of God (Rom.9:10-29.)

4. The total depravity of man. By the fall of man in the garden of Eden death has come through sin and has passed unto all men, for all have sinned (Rom.3:23, 5:6-12).

5. The deity, the virgin birth, the incarnation, the perfect life and atoning death of the eternal Son of God; His resurrection and ascension (Mat.1 :23, Luke 1:26-38; John 20; Acts 10:38-40;Rom.4:25 ).

6. The coming of the Holy Spirit to convict the world and indwell the believer (John 14:16-17; 16:8-15; , Acts 2:1-13).

7. The apostles’ teaching, precisely given by the Lord and accurately preserved in the New Testament Scriptures, intended to be the form of Christian witness until the end of the present age (Heb.2:3; Acts 2:42; Rom.6:17; Jude 3).

They believe that:

8. At the new birth, through personal acceptance of Christ as Saviour and Lord, a person becomes a child of God, and a member of the Church which is His Body, into which he is baptized in the one Spirit (John 1:12; 2 Cor.5:17; Gal.3:26,28; 1 Cor.12:13).

9. No person, born again, and therefore baptized into the Church which is the Body of Christ, can ever be lost again. Therefore the teaching of the falling away of believers, so far as eternal life is concerned, is false (John 10:27-30; 1 Cor.3:15).

10. Following conversion and the accompanying baptism in the Holy Spirit into the one Body the Lord’s command is that the disciple should then be baptized by immersion in water and received into a Church of God. The term “saints” is used in the New Testament to describe all those who have taken a place in churches of God. Anyone wanting to be received into a church of God, and who is already baptized as a believer into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, would not be re-baptized; however, infant sprinkling is unacceptable as it is unscriptural (Mat.28:18-20; Acts 2:41,42, 10:47,48).

11. The scriptural terms ‘the Church the Body’ and ‘the Church (or Churches) of God’ are intended to highlight different things and are not simply interchangeable, for they do not describe all the same people. All believers from Pentecost until the Lord returns are members of the Church the Body and can never be severed from it. Most are already in heaven. A Church of God is the unit of testimony in any town or village (no matter in how many companies it may meet), and is composed solely of disciples who have been baptized and added together according to the New Testament pattern, in fellowship with Churches of God worldwide. The terms “brothers” and “sisters” are frequently used in the New Testament to describe such saints. From such Churches of God, an erring brother or sister may leave or be excommunicated, thus losing their place in the Church of God locally but retaining membership of the Church the Body (Eph.5:25-27; 1 Cor.1:9 16:19 Gal.1:2; 1 Cor.5:5,13).

12. The Church the Body is not viewed in Scripture as synonymous with the House or Temple of God. In the New Testament it is the Churches of God, linked together in a fellowship of assemblies, which together comprise the House and the Temple. The existence of the House of God is presented in the New Testament as conditional on obedience. Just as a Church of God can cease to exist, so too can the earthly activity of the House of God (Eph.2:20-22; 1 Pet.2:4-10; Heb.3:6; Rev.2:5).

13. ‘Miraculous’ gifts, such as speaking in tongues, were a powerful witness to the truth of the new teaching given by Christ to the Apostles, as such they were entirely appropriate to the apostolic era. Such gifts were, we believe, then withdrawn in harmony with Old Testament precedent that miraculous powers were given to God’s servants for limited periods only (e.g. Moses, Elijah, Elisha). They are not, therefore, practiced in the present day Churches of God. The concept of a ‘second blessing’, marked by speaking in tongues, which believers should seek as a sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit, is seen as unscriptural. Tongues were a sign to the unbelieving, not to them that believe. God’s healing today in response to prayer is thankfully recognized, but is not regarded as a continuation of the special miraculous ‘gifts of healing’ in New Testament times (Heb.2:4; 1 Cor.14:22, 12:4-11, 28-31).

14. On the subject of prophecy, the teaching of a pre-tribulation Rapture is scriptural, every believer being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, the dead in Christ being raised, and the living saints changed. All believers will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ, each one to receive reward according to the deeds done in the body (1 Thes.4:15-18; 2 Cor.5:10; Rom.14:10-12).

15. This is followed in due course by the period, known as “Daniel’s seventieth week”, of seven years in which the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, will wield Satan’s power, followed by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth in judgement, and then to enter His thousand-year reign (Dan.9:24-27; Mat.24:15-31; 2 Thes.2:3-10; Rev.20:2-10).

16. Thereafter the Devil who had been bound in the abyss for a thousand years, will be allowed to reassert his power, but will be overcome and cast into the lake of fire. When this is completed, the present heaven and earth will pass away and God will bring in a new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell (Rev.20:7-15, 21:1-5; Isa.66:22).

Activities and Government:

17. The Breaking of the Bread, or Remembrance, is held in the morning of the first day of the week. At the beginning of the assembly service, a brother goes to a prepared table and, first for the bread and then for the wine, gives thanks, breaks or pours, then distributes for all to share. Only those who have been baptized by immersion as disciples, and have been received into the Church are eligible to share the bread and wine. Various brothers then successively and spontaneously lead the church in offering worship and thanksgiving. This is done through prayers and hymns. True worship is by the Spirit of God, and the people of God bring their spiritual worship through Christ as the Great High Priest over God’s House. Christ fulfils this function in the heavenly sanctuary. This constitutes the holy priesthood service of the people of God. All are encouraged to say the Amen, but beyond this and the singing, sisters take no audible part in the meeting for the Breaking of the Bread, or on any other occasion when the assembly formally meets as a Church. On all such occasions sisters have their heads covered. (1 Cor.11:2-18). After the worship is over, a brother may teach from the Scriptures (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.11:20-29; Acts 2:41,42; Heb.10:19-22; Phil.3:3; 1 Cor.14:34-38).

18. Other activities later the same day may include meetings for the “ministry of the Word of God”, that is, teaching from the Scriptures, Sunday School and Youth work, the preaching of the gospel in the church building and at other venues, e.g. public places, hospitals, old people’s homes etc, together with distribution of gospel leaflets (Mat.28:18-20; 1 Thes.1:8).

19. In the Churches there is usually at least one mid-week meeting for prayer, and with it Scripture teaching or Bible study (Acts 2:42; Rom.12:12; Eph.6:18, 4:11-13).

20. By regular arrangements also, Bible teaching conferences, gospel rallies, special outreach meetings and gatherings for young people are held, frequently on a District basis (Mat.28:18-20; Phil.1:27).

21. In every Church there are at least two overseers or elders, and wherever possible, deacons also. Overseers meet regularly for prayer and discussion, and separately with the deacons (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Phil.1:11).

22. The Churches are grouped in recognized areas, corresponding in principle to the New Testament groupings of Churches by Roman provinces. The overseers in each area (usually termed Districts) meet regularly for consultation, on the principle that local overseers deal with matters which affect only those in their own Church, and overseers collectively in the District sphere deal with matters affecting the Churches in the District. Any matter beyond the capacity of local overseers, or any failure on their part in judgement, would go to overseers at a broader District meeting for counsel and help (2 Cor.8:1,19; Gal.1 :2; 1 Pet.1:1, 5:1-4).

23. Overseers in a country may meet by arrangement. Overseers of all the Churches world-wide meet at regular intervals. By this means, unity of teaching and practice is maintained throughout all the Churches (1 Pet.5:1-4; 2 Cor.8:19-23; 1 Cor.4:17, 11:16; Acts 15).

24. There is no system of clergy and laity. All the brothers are encouraged in the exercise of their gift. The apostle Peter described himself simply as a ‘fellow elder’; the Church of God in Philippi comprised only saints, overseers and deacons (1 Cor.14:26-33; Eph.4:10-13; 1 Cor.14:40; 1 Pet.5:1; Phil.1:1), and those arrangements evidently satisfied the needs of both very large and very small gatherings of Christians.

25. There is, however, recognition of the New Testament arrangement for the Churches to give financial support to brothers who are approved as teachers of the Word and for other forms of service, and who as such are engaged full-time in the work of evangelism and teaching (Acts 13:1-3, 15:40, 16:3; 3 John 5-8).

26. The general practice in local meetings, and larger conferences, is for all ministry of the Word to be by arrangement (1 Cor.14:26-33; Rom.12:5-8).

27. The Churches thus take their stand in witness to their understanding of the whole counsel of God. As a consequence, while they love all His children, they maintain a position of separation in divine service. Saints are taught to abstain from activities which are detrimental to the spiritual life. In contrast to present world trends, they emphasize high standards of morality. They also disapprove of the use of tobacco and the misuse of alcohol, discourage involvement in politics or military service, and stress generally the need for life and conduct to be worthy of their high calling (Acts 20:27; 2 Cor.6:14-18; Gal.2:18; 2 Tim.2:21; 1 John 2:15; 1 Cor.9:25-27).