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I believe in the Holy Spirit, that He is the third Person of the Trinity, He is fully God, He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and He carries out the work of sustaining and empowering believers to live properly as children of God
The Person of the Holy Spirit:
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and, as such, is deity (Acts 5:3-4). He exists co-equally and co-eternally with the Father and the Son (2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2). His divinity is shown in how He is presented as equal with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6), by His names Spirit of God or Spirit of Christ (Gen. 1:2; Rom. 8:9), by His ability to give new life (John 6:63; Rom. 1:4; 8:2-11; 2 Cor. 3:6) and by His full knowledge of the thoughts of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11). He is personal in nature. He is said to “understand the mind of God” and to “search out all things” (1 Cor. 2:10-11) which emphasizes knowledge and intellect. He has a will and He “chose” to distribute spiritual gifts to the Church according to His will (1 Cor. 12:11). He commands believers to do certain tasks (Acts 8:29). He testifies of Jesus and bears witness that He is indeed from the Father and does so for those He indwells (Jn. 15:26-27). He teaches believers (Jn. 14:26) and guides them in all the truth of God (Jn. 16:13). He can be resisted (Acts 7:51), lied to (Acts 5:19), grieved (Eph. 4:30), and quenched (1 Thess. 5:19).
The Work of the Holy Spirit:
I believe that the Holy Spirit was active in creation (Gen. 1:2) and in empowering specific Old Testament people for particular acts of service (Num. 11:26-29; 24:2; Judg. 14:6). He was instrumental in the giving of prophesy and Scripture. Ezekiel said that “the Spirit came into me” causing him to speak the truth to God’s people (Ez. 2:2). The Holy Spirit was involved in the virgin birth of Christ (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35), came upon Jesus at His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17), and strengthened Jesus throughout His earthly ministry (Matt. 4:1; 12:28).
I believe that the Holy Spirit superintended the writing of the Scripture to ensure the precise results God wanted (2 Peter 1:20-21). The Spirit works in the lives of unbelievers convicting them of their sinful state before God and of the impending judgment (John 16:8). The Spirit’s work in believers heightened at Pentecost (Acts 2).
The Spirit works in New Testament believers for the glory of Christ (John 16:13-14). He is responsible for regeneration (John 3:3, 5; Titus 3:5; 2 Thess. 2:13). He indwells every believer at conversion (Rom. 8:9) and is involved in incorporating believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The Spirit seals believers until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). He is the guarantee of future salvation (Eph. 1:13-14; Rom. 8:23). The Spirit empowers believers for daily living and for service (Acts 1:8; Gal. 5:16-25), provides assurance of salvation (Rom. 8: 16), is intricately involved in the sanctification and spiritual maturity of the believer as the Christian’s “helper” and “comforter” (Jn. 14:16), and leads believers to be holy (Rom. 8:13-15).
Baptism in the Spirit is a one-time experience for each believer that happens at conversion (Acts 1:5; 2:38; 1 Cor. 12:13). From conversion on, each believer is to be strongly influenced by the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). The believer never receives more of the Spirit after conversion, but throughout the Christian life, the Spirit ought to influence the believer more and more as the believer responds rightly to the Spirit’s work through the Word.
The Spirit promotes unity in the body of Christ through the various gifts (1 Cor. 12). Spiritual gifts include individuals specially given by Christ such as pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11), as well as abilities endowed by the Spirit for the good of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). Apostles and prophets formed a unique role in the formation of the church (Eph. 2:20) and still minister to the church today through the Scriptures they wrote. However, there are no apostles and prophets today. The Spirit gives gifts to individual believers as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). The record of Scripture (Acts 2, 10, 19; Heb. 2:1-4) and church history suggest that several of the gifts such as healing, miracles, and tongues were confirmatory and temporal in nature, in that they confirmed God’s unique working through the apostles and the early church, but in a short while fell off the scene. What is most important is that love drives all use of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 13), that gifts are practiced in accordance with Scriptural guidelines (1 Cor. 14:40), and that believers focus on edifying others through their God-given abilities and gifts (1 Cor. 14:12, 26), rather than tearing others down and exalting themselves.
I believe that the church, of which Christ is the head, is one universal and spiritual body, gathered in local bodies, to whom has been committed the ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper, with the corporate purpose of glorifying God through worship, the edification of the saints, and the communication of the gospel to the world.
The Universal Church:
I believe that all those who place their faith in Christ are baptized in the Holy Spirit and placed into the church (1 Cor. 12:12-13), which is one universal and spiritual body (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:21-22; 4:4-6).
Christ is both the builder of the church (Matt. 16:18) and the head of the church, giving direction to the church and ruling over the church (Eph. 5:23; Col 1:18). Christ nourishes and cherishes the church (Eph. 5:29-30), adds numerically to the church (Acts 2:47), and causes spiritual growth within the church (Eph. 4:15-16). As the body of Christ, the church exists to bring glory to God (Eph. 3:20-21) and to represent Christ to the world (John 17:18; Eph. 1:22-23). The church brings glory to God through worship (John 4:23-24; Col. 3:16-17), through building itself up in the faith (Acts 2:41-42; Heb. 10:24-25), through submission to the Word (James 1:19-25; 1 Pet. 1:22-2:3), and through communicating the gospel to the world (Matt. 28:19-20).
I believe that the church, as a united international body of Jewish and Gentile believers, is a mystery, not fully disclosed until this age (Eph. 3:3-6; Col. 1:25-27). The church is testified to by Jesus (Mat. 16:18-19; 18:15-17; Acts 1:5), began at Pentecost (Acts 2), but will not be fully completed until Christ comes to take up His bride (1 Thess. 4:13-18). While the church is a part of the people of God of all ages who have been saved by grace through faith (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:29), the church is similar to, but distinct from, the nation Israel (Rom. 11:23-27; 1 Cor. 10:32), which still has a role in God’s purposes.
The Local Church:
I believe that the local church is the visible representation of the universal church, although believers may at times exist outside of a local church and false converts may at times be present in a local church (1 John 2:19). The local church gathers in organized (1 Cor. 14:40), local (Acts 11:22; Acts 13:1) assemblies for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-16), all to the glory of God. The local church is a fellowship of true followers of Jesus Christ who are individually priests before God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9) and is characterized by unity in diversity (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12:4-8). Every believer ought to be accountable to (Matt. 18:15-17) and actively involved in a Bible-preaching local church, so that he or she may participate in the edification of the saints and be built up personally into the likeness of Christ (Heb. 10:23-25).
I believe that the local church has been given apostles and prophets as foundational gifts and that the local church still benefits from these gifted people through the Scriptures (Eph. 4:11; 2:20). I believe that the local church has been given two primary offices for today: elders or overseers (often called pastors) (Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-2) and deacons (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13). Elders and deacons must meet certain qualifications to serve in these capacities (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). The elder’s primary role in the body is to lead the flock spiritually through his own example, through prayer, and through feeding the flock through the preaching and teaching of the Word (1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28). The deacons are those whose primary role is to serve the body in whatever way is needed.
In the early church, women were actively involved in church ministry, both publicly and privately, in such capacities as teaching women (Titus 2:3-5), evangelizing and discipling believers (Acts 18:26; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14-15), laboring in gospel ministry (Rom. 16:3-4; Phil. 4:3), being a servant and patron of the church (Rom. 16:1-3), and praying and prophesying in public worship (1 Cor. 11:2-16). At the same time, though women play critical roles in the life of the church, both privately and publicly, the New Testament also upholds a distinction for the role of women in regard to the public ministry of proclaiming the Word (1 Tim. 2:11-15). Only men are to hold the office of overseer (1 Tim. 3:1-7) and to exercise authority in the church over men in the public teaching of the Word (1 Tim. 2:11-15).
I believe that the local church has been given two ordinances: baptism (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-32). Baptism is to be done soon after conversion and by immersion in water (Acts 2:41; 8:36-38; 10:47; 16:33). It is a public, external signification of the inward change that God has worked in the heart (Rom. 6:2-4). The believer has died to sin and has been raised to walk in the newness of life. The Lord’s Supper also functions as a symbolic reminder of the redemptive work of Christ (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:24-25). It is to be a time of unity, confession and forgiveness, and a time of looking forward to Christ’s return (1 Cor. 11:23-32). The ordinances point the believer back to the cross and Christ’s transforming work in our lives and in this way serve to strengthen believers and to encourage them to continue in the faith.
I believe that the local church and its members are to be holy and unstained by the world (James 1:27; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). In addition, the Scriptures clearly affirm that there will be many false teachers who try to lead the church away from Christ (2 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). I believe that the local church and its members must beware of and repudiate false teaching (1 John 4:1; Rom. 16:17; 2 Cor. 6:14-17). I believe that the local church and its members are also to be separated from erring brothers (2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Cor. 5:9-11; Titus 3:10-11). This separation is to be practiced through the discipline of wandering members in the hopes of restoration (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:15; Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-2). This separation also ought to be practiced at an ecclesiastical level to preserve the truth of the gospel. It is our sharing in the gospel and in the Spirit that creates unity in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:1-6). If the clarity of the gospel is at stake, a firm stand must be made that clearly identifies the church and its members with the pure gospel of grace (Gal. 1:6-10; 2:11-14; Phil. 3:1-3).
I believe that Jesus is coming again as King and Judge to be united with His Bride, to inflict judgment on all those who have not obeyed the gospel, and to establish His kingdom in fulfillment of the promises of Scripture.
The Eternal State:
I believe that physical death involves the separation of the soul from the body (James 2:26; Phil. 1:22-24). For a believer, death means the immediate entrance of the spirit into the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). The spirit of the unrighteous enters hell, a place of torment and punishment (Luke 16:19-31; 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 20:13-14). This intermediate state is a conscious existence for all who die as they await their bodily resurrection – the righteous unto imperishable, glorified bodies (Rom. 8:10-11; 1 Cor. 15:24-54) while the unrighteous unto eternal disgrace and corruption (Rev. 20:11-15; John 5:28-29). The righteous will be judged and will receive the rewards due them in accordance with their works (2 Cor. 5:9-10; Rom. 14:10-12); the unrighteous will stand condemned at the Great White Throne and be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment and separation from God (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:11-15). The punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal (Matt. 10:28; Luke 16:23-28) and will be worse for those who had been given greater privilege (Matt. 11:20-24; Rom. 2:5).
The Heart of Eschatology:
I believe that Jesus is coming again to be united with His bride (1 Thess. 4:13-18) to inflict vengeance on those who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess. 1:5-10), to crush His enemies, and to establish His worldwide kingdom (Acts 1:5-11; Rev. 19-22). Believers ought to wait with eager anticipation for the coming of the Lord (James 5:7-9). Unbelievers should repent while there is still time since God has appointed Jesus as Judge (Acts 17:30-31). For believers, the Lord’s return ought to inspire hope in the midst of suffering and holiness in practical life (Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Peter 3:11-13; 1 John 3:1-3).
While I believe that the Scripture does point toward the chronology below, I also recognize that the Scriptures are not explicit in regard to prophetic chronology and that church history also points to a lack of consensus on this issue. With this said, I affirm the following view of prophetic chronology.
I believe that God’s plan is to bring everything in the universe into subjection to Christ (Col. 1:19-20; Eph. 1:9-10). I believe that the next event in God’s prophetic plan is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rapture His saints (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Those who have died in Christ will be instantly resurrected, and those still alive will be caught up together with them and be transformed into glorious new bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Following the rapture, the seven year tribulation will commence (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-31). During this time, there will be an outpouring of God’s wrath like none other in the history of the earth (Rev. 6:15-17; Is. 24; Jer. 30:7; Rev. 6-19). This will be a time in which Satan will persecute Israel with fierce destruction and deceive the nations with great success (Dan. 12:1-3; Jer. 30:7; 2 Thess. 2:3-12).
I believe that at the end of the tribulation period Jesus will physically return (Acts 1:11) to the earth to defeat Antichrist and his forces (Rev. 19:11-21), to bind Satan and seal him in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3), and to rule the world from Jerusalem for 1000 years (Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 14:9-11; Rev. 20:4-6). These thousand years, known as the millennium, will be a time of peace, prosperity, blessing, and righteousness (Is. 11:6-10; 65:20-25), and will ultimately fulfill God’s covenant promises to Israel (Is. 9:6-7; Ezek. 37:21-28; Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 11:25-26) as the Offspring of David rules the whole earth from His throne in Jerusalem (Is. 2:2-4; 11:1-5), along with His people (Dan. 7:21-22; Rev. 20:4). The millennium will be brought to an end with the final, brief release of Satan (Rev. 20:7). Satan will once more deceive and gather together the wicked against Christ and His saints at Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9). Christ will destroy them and cast Satan into the lake of fire. The wicked will be resurrected bodily to be judged at the Great White Throne and then will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-15) to suffer eternal punishment (Matt. 13:42; 25:41-46). I believe that these heavens and earth will be burned with intense heat (2 Pet. 3:10) and that God will create a new heaven and a new earth where believers will dwell eternally and joyfully in His presence, free from all sin and sorrow (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-22:5).
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