DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS

CORE DOCTRINE: We believe that a church should be united around a core set of doctrines, or foundational beliefs, represented by the following seven doctrines that have characterized historic Christianity. By joyful necessity we require every member and leader of Mingo Valley Bible Fellowship to not only agree with these doctrines, but also maintain unity around them.

THE GODHEAD

We believe and teach that there is but one true and living God,[1] Creator of all things visible and invisible,[2] eternally existing in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[3] These three equally divine persons, constituting the Godhead, have precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and are equally worthy of the same exaltation and obedience.

THE BIBLE

We believe and teach that God has spoken in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, comprised of 66 books. God so superintended the writing of these books that the human authors, without suppressing their own experience, personality, methods, and style, were moved along by the Holy Spirit to record the very words of Scripture, which in all parts—historical, poetical, didactic, and prophetical—and in every word is the inspired Word of God and without error in the original manuscripts.[4] These same Scriptures center on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen in His first and second comings. Hence, no portion of Scripture is rightly interpreted until it leads to Him.[5] We also believe and teach that the Bible is the only authoritative source of God’s special revelation that is sufficient for salvation and practical instruction.[6] It is, therefore, deserving of belief in everything it teaches, obedience in everything it requires, and trust in everything it promises.[7]

MANKIND, CREATED & FALLEN

We believe and teach that man, both male and female, was originally created in the image and after the likeness of God[8] to live in relational harmony with God and one another, but fell from that lofty estate through sin against God. Adam’s fall resulted in all mankind’s separation from God and subjection to the power of Satan.[9] Every child of Adam is likewise born into this world inheriting both guilt and a sinful human nature, which not only possesses no spark of divine life, but also is totally depraved apart from divine grace.[10] Therefore, all humans are both sinners by nature and choice—continually desiring and acting only from that which conforms to their sinful hearts—and subjects of divine wrath and judgment.[11] The only hope for mankind to find freedom from his estate and obtain spiritual life and salvation is through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.[12]

THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST

We believe and teach that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God and Second Person of the Trinity, became incarnate.[13] He is fully God and fully man, having two distinct natures in one unique person. He was the promised Messiah and Lord Who was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.[14] He lived a sinless life[15] and was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He died as a penal substitutionary atonement,[16] arose bodily from the dead,[17] and ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.[18] He will come again to judge the living and the dead[19].[20]

SALVATION

We believe and teach that salvation is God’s gift received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.[21] The achievement of this salvation is owed to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is He Who died as a substitute for sinners to satisfy God’s wrath and bear sin’s penalty so that God might impute the righteous life of Christ to, forgive the sin of, and grant eternal life to the sinner by faith.[22] The gift of salvation is applied by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, by which a new nature is imparted from above,[23] and a new life is implanted through the Word,[24] resulting in a new status as a child of God[25]. We believe and teach that, owing nothing to human merit or good works,[26] the sinner is converted by repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus, thus responding to the outward call of the gospel of Jesus Christ[27].

THE CHURCH

We believe and teach that the true church constitutes all the redeemed in Christ, who are united by the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ, of which Christ is its head, and are called the bride of Christ, of which Christ is her beloved.[28]

We believe and teach that the true church, while being one, holy, universal, and apostolic church,[29] is localized in various expressions, each of which is ideally composed only of the redeemed in Christ.[30] The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances for the local church—baptism as an act of initiation into the covenant community, and the Lord’s Supper as the continual activity of covenant renewal—both serving as visible and tangible expressions of the gospel.[31] The local church must likewise uphold the centrality of the Word of God in its preaching, teaching, and reading.[32]

We believe and teach that the local church is to be ordered under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, with properly appointed and qualified leadership that leads a clearly defined church membership, so that the church may reflect God who is a God of order.[33] Among its responsibilities, the leadership must equip all members for the work of the ministry; for every member is gifted by the Holy Spirit to build up the body of Christ, so that every member may be presented to Christ as mature.[34]

We believe and teach that the local church is to emphasize discipleship[35] and the diligent keeping of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, rising above preferences and differences, loving one another with a pure heart fervently, and protecting its holiness through mutual accountability and church discipline[36]. The church is assured by her Lord that He will, as He so unequivocally promised, build his church.[37]

THE FUTURE

We believe and teach the imminent, personal, bodily, and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ as Judge and King at the final consummation of all things,[38] the universal resurrection of all humans—the righteous unto everlasting life, the wicked unto everlasting condemnation[39]—the restoration of creation itself from bondage,[40] the new heavens and the new earth, wherein only righteousness dwells,[41] and the eternal eradication of sin, death, and evil,[42] so that God might be all in all[43].

 

DOCTRINAL DISTINCTIVES: In addition to our core doctrine we hold to certain doctrinal distinctives that characterize the teaching of our ministries and leadership. By joyful necessity we require every elder of Mingo Valley Bible Fellowship to not only agree with these doctrinal distinctives, but also maintain unity around them. While Mingo Valley Bible Fellowship does not require deacons and those desiring or maintaining membership in Mingo Valley Bible Fellowship to agree with these teachings, it is expected that every member will approach these distinctives in a spirit of charity in order to maintain unity and peace in the church (Eph. 4:3).

THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

We stand in the stream of Protestant theology that was largely characterized by the teachings that have been called “the Doctrines of Grace.” Based on the five solas of the Reformation—sola scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)—we teach the doctrines of grace. These are called doctrines of grace because the work of salvation from beginning to end is sourced in divine sovereign grace.

SANCTIFICATION

Christians have a new relationship to holy God as a result of salvation such that their new description is “saints”—those who have been set apart unto God. The Bible refers to this setting apart as sanctification. The New Testament teaches about the Christian’s sanctification in a three-fold manner.

  1. Positional (or Definitive) sanctification refers to the Christian’s standing before God as holy through the self-sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. As such, every believer is declared by God to be a saint in Christ.[44]
  1. Progressive sanctification refers to the Christian’s increasing transformation into the character of Christ, whereby the Christian wages war against the flesh in obedience to the Word of God and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who energizes the believer to live a holy life in conformity to the will of God.[45] These resources, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, are dispensed to Christians the moment of their salvation, and so they are in no way required by God to seek a so-called “second blessing” or “second work of grace.”[46] Characteristic of this sanctification is that it is synergistic—a cooperative effort between God and the Christian—in contradistinction to the work of salvation which is monergistic—a work of God alone.[47]
  1. Perfect sanctification (or Glorification) refers to the complete and final holiness that Christians will reach when they see their Lord face-to-face in glory, and, thus, they will be like Him.[48]

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST

We teach that a robust biblical gospel makes as much about Jesus’ Lordship as His Saviorhood, and as much about repentance as it does faith. While attempts at times throughout church history have sought to separate too sharply both the titles of Christ and components of conversion, biblically speaking Jesus is at the same time both Lord and Savior, just as conversion is at the same time both repentance and faith.[49]

We further teach that genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ results not only in a right standing before God, but also in a life of obedience. In other words, while we believe we are saved by faith alone, faith is never alone; faith works.[50] We, therefore, reject any so-called gospel message that reduces faith to a mere mental assent to a set of facts, minimizes the call to discipleship, undermines the necessity for a changed life, and/or comforts the soul of an individual who remains in sinful behavior.[51]

CREATIONISM

We teach that the most straightforward reading of the early chapters of Genesis yields six literal 24-hour days of creation. We also teach that the clearest synthesis of biblical history supports the interpretation of a young earth. We, therefore, reject all theoretical claims of an evolutionary process either of creation or Adam.

SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

We teach that the demands of God upon His people are adequately accounted for in the Scriptures.[52] That means we are committed to counsel the souls of our people directly and exclusively from the Word of God. Likewise, we find the interpretations and applications of secular psychology to be wholly inadequate to meet the spiritual needs of the believer.

CESSATIONISM

We teach that the Holy Spirit gifted the earliest church with certain miraculous, foundational gifts that are no longer distributed to the church. The gifts of apostleship, prophecy, tongues, healings, and miracles served to validate the church in its infancy stage but are no longer necessary due to the completion of the New Testament canon. The gift of tongues was the spiritual endowment to speak in a known language unknown by the speaker; but the New Testament explicitly states its cessation.[53] Modern phenomena of ecstatic utterances and private prayer languages find no biblical support, and fail to account for the parameters set for the usage of tongues in the New Testament, namely, that they should be used in the church and with interpretation.[54]

The gifts of healings and miracles gave recipients the ability to perform acts that suspended the laws of nature. These miracles of the New Testament church were not the norm, in the same way that miracles and healings at the hands of God’s people were not the norm in the rest of the Bible.[55] Furthermore, these gifts were designed to validate the novel message of the gospel.[56] While we affirm the absolute sovereignty of God to heal and perform miracles, we believe the spiritual gifts of healings and miracles are no longer operative.

The gifts of apostleship and prophecy produced the New Testament as the foundation upon which the church is built. Now that this foundation has been laid there is no longer a need for these gifts.[57] As such, any modern attempts to claim apostolic or prophetic gifting go beyond sacred Scripture.

BIBLICAL ELDERSHIP

We teach that the Bible envisions a plurality[58] of biblically qualified elders[59] (i.e., “overseers,” “shepherds,” “pastors,” “bishops”) who both live in Biblical community with and lead the local church under their Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.[60] The office of elder requires male leadership. These men are equal in authority, sharing the shepherding responsibilities to know, lead, feed, and protect those entrusted to their care. While all elders share in the areas of spiritual care and doctrinal oversight for the church, some are set apart as vocational.[61]

COMPLEMENTARIANISM

We teach that both men and women equally are image-bearers of God, and equally enjoy spiritual standing before God in Christ.[62] At the same time God has established a pattern of complementarity between men and women in the home and church, and this order is a reflection of the gospel. A man is responsible to lead in his home as husband and father, demonstrating the same sacrificial love that characterized his Lord, while a woman is blessed with the role of submission to her husband as analogous to the church’s submission to Christ.[63] The church is likewise to be led by strong, male leadership in both biblically mandated offices of elder and deacon.[64]

EXPOSITORY PREACHING

Since the whole Bible is inspired by God,[65] the majority of our preaching and teaching is expository. Expository preaching and teaching is the communication of theological truth discovered from a passage of Scripture and applied to a given audience to bring about joyful obedience to God. As we commit ourselves to this practice, week-by-week, passage-by-passage, book-by-book, our people are exposed to the whole counsel of God[66] and increasingly transformed into the image of Christ[67].

We recognize other legitimate methods of preaching and teaching, such as topical or biographical. At times we will employ these methods. But the primary method of teaching to which we devote ourselves is expository.

A practical benefit resulting from expository preaching is that it protects the church against preferences for certain teachings. Churches may give the majority of their teaching to end times, financial giving, or any other matter. However, this has an adverse affect on the health of the church, as its members receive an imbalance of biblical intake. Expository preaching protects God’s people from such malnourishment, assuring that all God’s truth is prioritized for its full, maturing effects.

PREMILLENNIAL THEOLOGY

We hold to a premillennial interpretation of eschatology whereby the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth to establish a literal 1,000-year kingdom, followed by the last judgment and the eternal state.[68] We deny, therefore, that the end-time events in the book of Revelation have been fulfilled in a partial or complete sense.

[1] Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4.

[2] Genesis 1:1-3; Nehemiah 9:6; John 1:1; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2.

[3] Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14 [or v. 13 in some translations].

[4] Mark 12:26; 12:36; 13:11; Acts 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21.

[5] Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44; John 5:39; Acts 1:16; 17:2-3; 26:22-23; 28:23.

[6] Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

[7] James 1:22; Hebrews 12:1.

[8] Genesis 1:26-27.

[9] Genesis 3:8-19; Isaiah 59:1-8; Ephesians 2:1-3.

[10] Romans 5:12-21; Psalm 51:1-6.

[11] Romans 3:9-18; 23; Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 2:12-16.

[12] Acts 4:12; 10:43.

[13] John 1:14, 18; Philippians 2:5-8.

[14] Romans 1:1-5; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35.

[15] Hebrews 4:15; 7:26.

[16] John 10:15; Romans 3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24.

[17] Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:38-39; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5.

[18] Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3; 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1.

[19] Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9; 1 Peter 4:5.

[20] The affirmations of this doctrine are rooted in the historic creeds, namely, the Nicean (325), Constantinopolitan (381), and Chalcedonian (451) creeds.

[21] Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:24-25.

[22] Isaiah 53:6, 12; Romans 3:23-25; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Romans 5:6-9; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:1; Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7; John 3:16; 5:24; 1 John 4:17; 5:11-12.

[23] John 3:3-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17.

[24] James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23.

[25] John 1:12.

[26] Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 3:5

[27] Mark 1:15; Acts 2:21; 20:21; Matthew 11:28-30; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:15-17.

[28] 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-8.

[29] Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:19-22. The Constantinopolitan Creed (381) confesses “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

[30] Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; 1 Corinthians 11:18-20; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; Hebrews 10:25; Matthew 13:24-30; 1 John 2:19.

[31] Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41; Romans 6:1-11; Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34.

[32] 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Timothy 4:13.

[33] Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5; Mark 10:42-45; 1 Timothy 5:17-22; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Corinthians 14:33.

[34] Ephesians 4:7-12; Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Colossians 1:28.

[35] Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2.

[36] Ephesians 4:1-6; Colossians 3:14-15; Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.

[37] Matthew 16:18.

[38] Psalm 110:1; Matthew 24:44; 25:13, 31; Mark 13:32-33; Luke 12:40; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 5:2; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:7; 19:11, 16; Ephesians 1:10, 20-21.

[39] Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 20:11-15.

[40] Romans 8:21.

[41] Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, 27.

[42] Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 20:10, 14.

[43] 1 Corinthians 15:28.

[44] Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2.

[45] 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:9-10; Romans 8:5; Galatians 5:16-26; 1 Peter 1:13-16; John 17:17; Romans 6:13; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 5:23.

[46] 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3.

[47] Philippians 2:12-13.

[48] Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 1:22; Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:2.

[49] Luke 2:11; Romans 10:9; Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21.

[50] James 2:14-26.

[51] Cf. Matthew 7:15-23; Luke 3:8; 9:23; John 10:27-28; 14:15; Acts 26:20; Romans 6:1-2; Ephesians 2:10; 1 John 2:3-6; 3:9-10.

[52] 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4.

[53] Acts 2:6-7; 11:15; 1 Corinthians 13:8.

[54] 1 Corinthians 14:27.

[55] Four intensified periods of miracles at the hands of God’s people are evident in the Bible—Joshua to Moses, Elijah to Elisha, Christ and his apostles, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11. Noteworthy of these periods are the relatively short amount of time this represents in history and the authenticating purpose of the miracles. Regarding the first, these miracles represent only 200 years of biblical history; the miracles were abnormal. Regarding the second, these periods of miracles occur simultaneous to God’s revelatory message. These miracles served to authenticate the message.

[56] Hebrews 2:1-4.

[57] Ephesians 2:20.

[58] Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1-5.

[59] 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.

[60] 1 Peter 1:4.

[61] 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

[62] Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:26-29.

[63] Ephesians 5:22-33.

[64] 1 Timothy 2:11-12; 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9.

[65] 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

[66] Acts 20:27.

[67] 2 Corinthians 3:18.

[68] Revelation 20:4-6; 11-15; 21:1 – 22:5.