Doctrine

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All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17, NASU)

What We Believe

Two points should be stressed. First, while our doctrinal statement is not intended to be comprehensive, it is as complete as we can make it without being guilty of serious doctrinal overkill. It is our desire that you get as clear a picture of our conservative theological position as possible. Second, we are not affiliated with any particular denomination, which allows for greater flexibility when needed.

Although our emphasis on the contemporary workings of the Spirit may seem at times to present our beliefs in a Pentecostal or charismatic light, as an organization we are neither, and yet we accept both views along with other evangelical beliefs. Our leadership stresses that empowerment in the things of the Spirit is simply part of what it means to be Christian. To deny such is contra-biblical.

TRINITY[1]

There is one God who is three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.[2] The three persons are co-equally God.[3] The Son came pointing mankind to the Father[4] who in turn confirmed His Son; the Spirit, sent by the Son, came directing humanity to the Son.[5]

FATHER

The Father is the first person of the Trinity. He is Almighty[6] (all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present), holy,[7] faithful,[8] eternal[9] and unchanging.[10] Maker of covenants with individuals in the lineage of Christ, His covenant name is YHWH[11] (or Jehovah). His final Old Testament covenant was the Mosaic Law—the sacrificial system that served to foreshadow the coming of His Son who would die for the sins of many.[12] The Father is the object of worship for both redeemed humans and holy angels.[13]

SON

Jesus Christ the Son is the second person of the Trinity.  Although fully God, He was born of a virgin and thus entered the world fully human, yet without sin.[14] In order to be identified with those He would die for, He self-limited much of His power for His earthly season. After ministering publicly for a little over 3 years, He was crucified at the hands of sinful men—an act that had always been central to God’s eternal plan.[15] Following 3 days in the grave, He defeated death[16] through His physical resurrection.[17] He now resides in Heaven with the Father,[18] making intercession for His Church[19] until the time of His return and gathering of the saints.[20] Through the Son’s sacrifice, the Father’s former covenant of Law was fulfilled and His New Testament (or present covenant) of grace[21] is in force.[22]

HOLY SPIRIT

The Spirit is the third member of the Trinity. He is a person in the same manner as the Father and the Son. His purpose is to perpetuate the work inaugurated by the Son, through the church. He convicts the world of sin,[23] restores the repentant sinner,[24] and equips the church with power to evangelize those who are spiritually dead.[25] His ongoing and unchanging work spans the period between Christ’s first and second comings.

ANGELS

Angels are ministering spirits.[26] Their purpose is to serve God and serve and protect His church. Like redeemed humans, they too are worshippers of God.[27]

SATAN & DEMONS

As with angels, Satan and demons are spirit entities. Their sole purpose is to destroy God’s crowning achievement—mankind.[28] Sometimes they attack humans directly. In most instances, they attack through either circumstances or other humans that serve them, whether knowingly or unknowingly.[29] Fallen humans are held in Satan’s power[30] until they are released as a result of receiving God’s salvation. While the power of the demonic realm is great, it is nevertheless subject to the power of God and the power He manifests through His church.[31]

MAN

Mankind was created without sin and was sinless until choosing to rebel against God.[32] What was sinful in Adam and Eve was passed down through their progeny.[33] Humanity is therefore corrupt apart from the restoration only God can supply.[34] All humans are spiritually dead until they are made alive in Christ.[35]

SALVATION

Only God the Son can do for humanity what humanity can never accomplish for itself—the removal of a fallen and sinful nature in exchange for the righteousness of God.[36] Not by good works is anyone saved.[37] Only the Son who is without sin could offer up His perfect life as a sacrifice for corrupt mankind. Jesus is the only means of receiving salvation[38] and restoration to God.[39] Only God the Father can initiate the invitation for humans to draw near to Him through His Son;[40] a calling to which all humans are accountable.[41] Salvation is made available only by grace through the acceptance of Christ’s atonement, making redeemed humans heirs to the Kingdom of God.[42]

FAITH

Biblical faith is understood to be a trust and reliance on the Person, the power, and leading of God as various measures[43] of faith are birthed and brought to maturity by the Spirit of God.[44] This believing-trusting-faith[45] is divinely distributed as God chooses, but every believer is accountable for the increase of their faith.

RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST

There is a fixed date known only to the Father,[46] when the Son will visibly and triumphantly return to earth to raise the dead and gather unto Himself His church,[47] and set up His Kingdom.[48]

JUDGMENT

All humanity will be judged in some capacity. Those that have accepted Christ’s redemptive sacrifice have already been judged worthy of eternal life and restoration to God,[49] although their works will be judged[50] at a future date. Such individuals will participate as judges in the judgment of fallen angels and unredeemed humanity.[51] Whereas humanity may hold to some form of religious belief,[52] those that do not personally receive Christ’s sacrifice will at the time of the final judgment be eternally condemned—body and spirit—to Hell and eternal torment[53] and separation from God,[54] without hope[55] for future forgiveness.

CHRISTIAN MINISTRY

All believers are gifted and equipped to minister in some capacity or capacities,[56] and are thus accountable for their faithfulness to fulfill their service to the body of Christ, which is the church. We encourage our fellow laborers to get involved in whatever ministry or service for which they have been gifted.[57] When all parts of the body function as God intends, the church is strong and vibrant; a principle which equally applies to mission and parachurch organizations.

EVANGELISM & MISSIONS

Christ’s commands to the church can be distilled into two primary edicts—love the Lord and one another, and go into the world and make disciples. In order to accomplish the latter, the church is to proclaim the Word of God as empowered by the Spirit.[58] This means that as we go forth as Christ commanded, signs and wonders[59] will attest to the Gospel message. The ability to minister in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit—as God enables and directs—was never given a time limitation[60] and does not challenge the canon or authority of Scripture. For this reason, our organization is not cessationistic (the belief that God no longer works miracles through the church). Believers are encouraged to freely share with others what they themselves have received from God.[61] Christ never intended that His followers should evangelize a lost and dying world solely through programs or and individual’s talents.

In addition to the supernatural element, good works should also abound.[62] Effective evangelism should include community-wide evangelism, prison evangelism, bible and tract distribution, evangelism and discipleship training, and anything else that effectively proclaims the Gospel in word and in deed.

SCRIPTURE

Old and New Testament writings are inspired by God[63] and must be treated with absolute respect. Biblical interpretation is to be God-centered and should always be applied to the spiritual needs of humanity. Unfounded teachings, speculations, and additions to Scripture (apocryphal and cultic writings) are to be avoided.[64] Scripture is to be understood in the manner in which God intended—literal unless otherwise clearly indicated as symbolic.

DOCTRINE

IPICM’s leadership embraces a conservative doctrine from a restorationist[65] perspective. Liberal positions and hyper-faith teachings[66] are viewed with suspicion and are generally incompatible with the overall IPICM mission philosophy.[67] Discussions involving contested doctrinal issues for the purpose of proselytizing are discouraged. We recognize the need for doctrinal variation within the body of Christ and are well pleased to work with all evangelical churches and organizations that herald the lordship of Jesus Christ.

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Notes & References

[1] Whereas some terms are not expressly mentioned in Scripture (such as Trinity and rapture), when viewed in their entirety, the meanings behind such terms are unquestionably present.

The concept of Trinity is difficult to logically comprehend because humans reason as humans and not from the transcendent, divine perspective. God’s ways are not the ways of His creation–a truth woven throughout the fabric of Scripture. Physicists know there are at least 11 dimensions–12 if the most recent topic of string theory is included–but physical matter is generally understood to exist only within the first 4 (height, width, depth, and time). Any attempt to understand the remaining 7 or 8 is not unlike the nearly insurmountable task of understanding the person of God. Simply stated, His majesty is beyond any significant comprehension on our part.

[2] Isaiah 9:6-7

[3] Matthew 28:19; John 10:30

[4] John 5:19; 8:28; 15:26

[5] John 14:25-26

[6] Genesis 35:11  “Almighty” (NASU translation) appears 58 times in Scripture.

[7] Leviticus 19:2

[8] Deuteronomy 7:9

[9] Isaiah 9:6

[10] Malachi 3:6

[11] Exodus 3:14

[12] Hebrews 10:1-4

[13] Revelation 22:8-9

[14] Hebrews 4:15

[15] Acts 2:23

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

[17] Luke 24:39

[18] Acts 7:56

[19] Romans 8:34

[20] John 14:3

[21] John 1:17

[22] Hebrews 7:22; 9:15; 13:20

[23] John 16:8

[24] Titus 3:5

[25] Acts 1:8

[26] Hebrews 1:14

[27] Isaiah 5:2-3

[28] John 10:10

[29] Ephesians 6:11-12

[30] Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38

[31] 1 John 4:4

[32] Genesis 1:26-31; 3:16-19

[33] Romans 5:20

[34] Romans 3:9-18

[35] Romans 6:11

[36] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[37] Titus 3:5

[38] Acts 4:12

[39] John 14:6

[40] John 6:44

[41] John 15:22

[42] Galatians 4:4-5

[43] Romans 12:3  The word translated “measure” is from the Greek metron, from which is derived the word “meter.” Because there is no definite article (“the”) present in the New Testament text, a better translation might be “a measure,” indicating that not all believers have the same measure of faith.

[44] Hebrews 12:2

[45] The New Testament word translated “faith” is pistis. In addition to faith, it is translated trust and belief. All three elements are required to correctly understand its biblical use.

[46] Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7

[47] Matthew 24:30-31; John 6:40,44; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

[48] Luke 22:29-30

[49] 1 Peter 4:17

[50] 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10

[51] 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

[52] Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Timothy 3:1-5

[53] Matthew 13:49-50

[54] Revelation 20:12-15

[55] Ephesians 2:12

[56] Romans 12:6-8

[57] 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6

[58] Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8

[59] 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

[60] While 1 Corinthians 13:8 is frequently used by some to suggest signs and wonders ceased by the close of the first century AD, a closer look at 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 clearly reveals that not to be the case.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. NASU

Note the following 7 points:

(1) Almost universally accepted, commentaries refer to the “perfect” as either the second coming of Jesus Christ or the setting up of His Kingdom, which can only be accomplished upon His return. (Pre-2011 editions of the NIV bible translate to teleion as “perfection,” but this is incorrect. While the word is an adjective, it is used nominatively and should be translated as a noun. The 2011 version continues to miss the meaning by translating to teleion as “completeness.”)

(2) “Perfect” and “face to face” refer to the same thing–a person. Prosopon pros prosopon is translated “face to face” in this single New Testament occurrence. However, the phrase appears 5 times in the Septuagint translation. (See Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:10; Judges 6:22; and Ezekiel 20:35. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament concluded approximately 200-250 years before Christ.) Significantly, all 5 appearances reference an individual’s personal encounter with God (or more correctly, the Angel of the Lord). This strongly suggests that Paul understood nothing short of the physical return of Jesus Christ would signal the end of spiritual gifts.

(3) Paul’s 2 illustrations (the immature child and the imperfect mirror) are intended to relate to the ongoing presence of the imperfect charismatic gifts, which will no longer apply once the “perfect” has come.

(4) The apostle never intended to apply his “perfect” reference to the canonization of Scripture or the church. To arrive at either conclusion is to deny the overall context of chapters 12 through 14 by interjecting concepts foreign to Paul’s intended purpose. First, nowhere can the idea of a future canon be found in the thinking of New Testament writers. For those who would refer to 2 Peter 3:16 as a reference to Scripture, the word graphas can just as easily be translated “writings” without inferring Peter intended to reference a future canon. In truth, the New Testament canon was not officially recognized as such before the Council of Hippo (AD 393) and the Third Council of Carthage (AD 397); more than three centuries following Peter’s death. (Even the Old Testament was not canonized before AD 90; decades after the deaths of the apostolic writers with the exception of John.) Second, neither can the notion of a perfect church in this present age be given serious consideration. In all but one of his epistles, Paul addressed numerous problems within each congregation. The idea of a perfect church existing before the return of Christ simply cannot be found among the apostolic writings.

(5) Paul clearly uses a “when” and “then” construction to indicate spiritual gifts would cease only upon the return of Christ at some future date. Other passages would seem to support this conclusion including 1 Corinthians 1:7, Ephesians 4:11-13, and Acts 2:15-21. Consider the following timeline in which the present existence of the Spirit’s gifts and manifestations are contrasted with a future in which such things will no longer be needed:

8 Love never fails; but (now) if there are gifts of prophecy, (then) they will be done away; if (now) there are tongues, (then) they will cease; if (now) there is knowledge, (then) it will be done away. 9 For (now) we know in part and (now) we prophesy in part; 10 but (then) when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; (then) when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

(6) The apostle seems to avoid the notion that the Spirit’s gifts would gradually phase out. Some have suggested their demise occurred during the decade between Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and his first letter to Timothy; the latter failing to reference spiritual gifts. To the contrary, the text seems to indicate a more abrupt demise would be caused by an action forcing the cessation (most likely at Christ’s return). Regardless, the theory of a gradual demise simply offers no response to the ongoing manifestations recorded during the first 2-3 centuries of the early church and well beyond. (As an added note, it should be remembered that the purpose Paul authored his letter to Timothy was primarily to discuss leadership within the church–not charismatic gifts. Just because a topic is not mentioned, we should not assume the topic is no longer valid. For example, the apostle also chose not to reference water baptism, yet few would dispute its ongoing validity.)

(7) There are at least 2 points that must be pondered. First, does God really expect today’s church to fulfill the Great Commission without the same equipment He gave His Son and early followers? In other words, did He really remove the very tools He once deemed critical to evangelism and church growth? If so, all that is needed today is the record of God’s former works (Scripture). But do past references negate the need for present testimonies that attest to the works of an ever-active God?

Second, some believe it may be possible God works marvels today in far away places but no longer does so in America where the bible is readily available. However, such logic is incredibly flawed. In many third world countries where Christianity is the dominant faith and people possess Scripture, the miraculous works of the Spirit are often witnessed today. (This is regularly attested in numerous posts on this site.) Even to suggest that the presence of Scripture invalidates the need for spiritual gifts, their manifestations where there is no Scripture argues for an ongoing presence in today’s world.

[61] Matthew 10:8

[62] While many wonders took place to supernaturally meet the needs of believers in early times, other needs were regularly met through believers meeting one another’s needs.

[63] 2 Timothy 3:16

[64] 2 Timothy 2:23

[65] Although a broad term, “restoration” is used here to indicate a desire to return to the type of Spirit empowered ministry as seen in the New Testament and particularly in the Book of Acts.

[66] Whereas liberal churches seldom replicate on the mission field, word-faith doctrine is generally accepted only in certain developed countries; its Americanized form is virtually nonexistent on the mission field. This begs the question, If word-faith teachings are true, shouldn’t they be universally recognized in all of Christianity–historically and in all parts of the world?

[67] 2 Peter 3:14-16  Overall, liberal interpretations of Scripture far too often do violence to the biblical message. Likewise, we include the more radical elements of word-faith teachings. Both positions place the human desire for self-justification and prosperity above divinely intended biblical meanings, as both are frequently guilty of a “pick-and-choose” interpretation. While the tendency to choose preferred beliefs is common to mankind, it was similar principles shared among first century religious leaders that set Jesus on a collision course with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes of His day.

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International Partners in Christian Ministry, IPICM

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