THE BRIDGE CHURCH STATEMENT OF FAITH
Introduction. The creeds of the church throughout history are not a record of what we must believe but of what we have believed. The scriptures are the only infallible record of faith and practice. Since, however, the scriptures were given by God to us for our understanding, we must be ready to give a reason of the hope that lies within us. This is the outworking of the Word in the flesh who has made God known to us.
The following is our statement of that faith, the common denominator of our church. It is not so comprehensive that we cannot agree on many points and it is not so simple that it does not present a definite body of belief. Each doctrine is given first as a definite explanation of what we understand the Bible to teach and then second as an application to what we consider to be issues current in our day. Verses are included for reference and are not intended to be exhaustive but exemplary of the Bible's teaching.
Section 1 - The Bible
A. Explanation. We believe that the Bible is God's only written revelation to man (1 Cor 2:9-10); that the original documents were supernaturally inspired by God's Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21) and, therefore, are the perfect and infallible rule for doctrine and practice (2 Tim 3:16-17).
B. Application. We believe that the Bible is to be interpreted literally (2 Peter 1:20), or normally, in its grammatical and historical context. We believe that it is infallible in all subjects it addresses (Heb 4:12). We believe that only those translations which faithfully translate the meaning of the original documents can or should be called the Word of God (Neh 8:2,8).
Section 2 - God
A. Explanation. We believe that there is one and only one true and living God (Deut. 6:4). He is the eternal Being who, being completely separate from the world, created the world and everything in it (Eph. 3:9). He has made Himself known to His creation as God the Father (Eph. 4:6), God the Son (John 14:9-10) and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:4,9), commonly called the Trinity. He is not three gods in one but one God manifested in three persons.
B. Application. We believe that God is both transcendent, being totally separate from His creation, and immanent, having kept the testimony of Himself in the world (Rom 1:19-20). We deny the New Age pantheistic definition of God being the life-spirit and of the same essence as the world (Acts 17:24-26, 29-31). We also deny that God is in any way in the process of being developed by the ongoing history of the world (Heb. 13:8). We accept the Bible's overwhelming portrayal of God in the masculine sense as opposed to God being without gender (Matt 6:9).
Section 3 - Jesus Christ
A. Explanation. We believe that Jesus Christ is fully God (Jn 10:30) and has existed with God throughout eternity (Mic 5:2). He is the second person of the God-head who voluntarily laid aside the prerogatives of His position (though not His divine essence) for the sake of incarnation (Phil 2:5-8). He was born of a virgin (Isa 7:14), lived a sinless life (Acts 3:14), died and rose again bodily for our redemption (Acts 3:15). He ascended back into heaven and is now seated at God's right hand (Heb 10:12) making everlasting intercession for the saints (Heb 7:25).
B. Application. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only means of coming to God (Acts 4:12) and cannot be offered as one of many christs. We believe that acceptance of his person (as truly God) and work (having been raised from the dead) is absolutely essential to belief (Rom 10:9-10). We deny that Jesus Christ was any race but Jewish in His earthly life (Lk 1:68-70) and believe that He accepts any person of any race who puts his trust in him (Gal 3:28-29). We believe that the Jesus of the New Testament was a historical person and His miracles were authentic and real (Acts 1:1-3).
Section 4 - The Holy Spirit
A. Explanation. We believe that the Holy Spirit is fully God (Acts 5:4,9) and exists as a divine person in the God-head (Rom 15:13). His unique job is to convict the world of man's sinfulness, God's righteousness and the world's coming judgment (Jn 16:8-11). He is the regenerating agent for salvation (Jn 3:5-7), the baptizing agent at salvation (1 Cor 12:13) and the intercessor in salvation (Rom 8:26).
B. Application. We believe in a very positive ministry of the Holy Spirit within the church rather than the present Charismatic confusion (1 Jn 4:1). We do not believe that the present Power Evangelism is a true interpretation of the kingdom of God nor a true manifestation of the power of God (2 Cor 6:14). We do not believe that the personification of wisdom (ie "sophia") is an identification of the Holy Spirit as a feminine being (Prov 8:22-23 with Jn 14:17-18).
Section 5 - Human Beings
A. Explanation. We believe that man was created directly and immediately by God in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27). Man, therefore, unlike any other creature, is created to find his life's fulfillment and fellowship in God (Acts 17:28). By man's disobedience in the Garden of Eden, he forfeited that fellowship and became a sinner separated from God's favor (Rom 5:12). Because man is an eternal being, possessing a soul made in God's image, he will live eternally (Rev 20:12).
B. Application. We acknowledge that the Bible uses the term "man" in referring to both men and women (Gen 1:26, 1 Pet 3:4). All human beings are either male or female, the Bible giving no other designation for human beings (Gen 1:27). Various nationalities, color of skin and different languages are wonderful variations which God has given mankind (Acts 17:25-26). These things do not make any person lesser or greater in worth before God (2 Cor 5:14-16).
Section 6 - Spirit Beings
A. Explanation. We believe that God created spirit beings called angels (Psa 68:17). From among these holy ministers of God, some fell into sin following Satan as their head (Isa 14:12, 2 Peter 2:4, Rev 12:9). We call those that remained holy "angels" (Rev 5:2), and those that sinned "demons" or "devils" (Rev 16:14). These beings, good and bad, are the only created beings that exist in purely spirit form without the need of a body (Heb 1:14).
B. Application. Though we believe that spirit beings exist in a world unseen to us, we do not believe that the world was created for them nor that men are merely pawns in their hands (Psa 8:4-6). We believe that a believer, possessing the Spirit of God, cannot be possessed by an evil spirit (2 Cor 6:14-16). We do not believe that when the spirit of man departs his body at death that such a spirit is free to contact living humans (2 Cor 5:6-8), nor does that spirit become an angel or a demon (Rev 20:4-6).
Section 7 - Sin
A. Explanation. We accept the fact that Adam and Eve were real persons (1 Cor 15:45-47). Their transgression was in direct disobedience to God's command (Gen 2:17) and by that disobedience, death, including physical, spiritual and eternal, came upon them and all of their posterity (Rom 5:12). All human beings, therefore, are conceived carrying Adam's sinfulness and are thereby sinners by nature (Psa 51:5). Man's present state without Christ is one of being spiritually dead in that sin (Eph 2:1).
B. Application. The biblical view of sin is in contradiction with current views of man's sinfulness such as the existential view that man is merely in a human dilemma (Psa 32:5); the social view that man is only a product of his environment (Psa 51:4); the animal view that man is the same as an animal (Gen 9:6); nor any other view that makes man not responsible before God for his own sin (Heb 9:27).
Section 8 - Salvation
A. Explanation. Salvation is provided by the person (deity) and work (bodily resurrection) (Rom 10:9-10) of Jesus Christ for any sinner (1 Tim 2:1,4,6) who will repent of his sinfulness (2 Cor 7:10) and trust Christ as his Savior (1 Thes 1:9). This trust is not a work that man can do of his own merit (Eph 2:8-9) but is rather an act of acceptance of the work already done on his behalf by Christ (Titus 3:5). When a person has received Christ as Savior, it is God's will for him to live a holy life (1 Thes 4:3). We believe that once a person has received Christ as Savior he is eternally secure in the keeping power of God (Jude 24).
B. Application. We understand that though Christians are eternally secure in Christ (John 10:27-29), this does not mean that they do not retain their sinful nature and therefore have occasional sin (1 John 1:8, 10). But we believe that the present priesthood of Jesus Christ (Heb 7:25) and the eternal cleansing power of His blood (Heb 9:12) keep us secure in Him for our past, present and also future sins (Heb 9:24-28).
Section 9 - The Church
A. Explanation. The Church is God's unique plan for this dispensation of grace (Eph 3:2,3,10). All those who have been saved since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ have been placed into Christ's body by Holy Spirit baptism (Jn 14:20, Acts 1:5, 1 Cor 12:13). It is God's will, therefore, that every believer assemble together with other believers in a local church body (Heb 10:25, 1 Cor 5:4) and practice the ordinances of baptism (Matt 28:19-20) and the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:23-26). The church must take accountability for its members to keep them from falling back into a life of sinfulness (Matt 18:15-17).
B. Application. We believe that each local church is to be independent from any body other than itself (1 Cor 5:4) and is to have Christ alone as its Head (Eph 1:22-23). In its mission, the church is not to accommodate the world but is to be like Christ so that the world may see what Christianity truly is (Eph 5:26-27). The church is not to align itself with those individuals or religious groups who walk contrary to the scriptures or who, by their nature, seek to replace the work of the local church (2 Cor 6:14-17).
Section 10 - The End Times
A. Explanation. We believe that the next event in biblical prophecy is the imminent rapture of the church (1 Thes 4:13-16) in which those who are saved will escape the Tribulation (1 Thes 5:9). After the rapture, the seven year tribulation period will take place on the earth (Rev 7:14) in order for God to judge those left in unbelief (Rev 6:17). At the end of the seven years, Jesus Christ will return to the earth with the redeemed (Rev 19:11-16) to bind Satan (Rev 20:2) and to establish a thousand year kingdom (Rev 20:3-7) promised to saints of all ages. After the thousand years, God will judge the lost of all ages at the great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15). The lost will be tormented forever in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14) and the redeemed will then live forever in heaven, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2).
B. Application. The greatest error of eschatology is to deny that Jesus Christ will return as He promised (2 Peter 3:3-4). Some believers have denied that He would come before the kingdom of God is established but we think that a premillennial return of Christ is clear in scripture (Rev 20:4). Some have also denied that the rapture of the church will be before the Tribulation but we affirm that it will (Rev 3:10). We do not think it is necessary for believers today to look for signs of his coming (Matt 24:23) nor to set dates for it to happen (Acts 1:7).
Section 11 - The Eternal State
A. Explanation. We believe that the Bible teaches a literal heaven (Rev 21-22) and a literal hell (Rev 20:14-15) and only those two destinations for the souls of all mankind. We believe that both are real to the senses and that both last forever (Matt 13:42-43). The New Jerusalem is equated with heaven (Rev 21:2) and will be the eternal abode for the righteous (Rev 22:1-6) while the lake of fire will be the eternal abode of the lost (Rev 22:18-19).
B. Application. We deny that the soul will ever be annihilated (Matt 25:41,46) or that lost souls will have a second chance for salvation after death (Luke 16:25-26). We also deny that those who have never heard the gospel will somehow be excused from the consequences of not believing (Rom 1:18-20, 2:14-16).
Section 12 – Marriage and Sexuality
Explanation and Application: Since God created mankind into genders distinctly male and female, we believe that the only legitimate marriage is that between a man and a woman. He has commanded that sexually intimate relations be only within the bonds of marriage. We believe that God rejects any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance. We believe that men and women are spiritually equal in position before God, but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions of men and women in the home and in the church. The husband is to be the leader of the home and men are to hold the leadership positions in the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible of licensure and ordination for pastor by the church. We hold the teachings of scripture as authoritative to the church over societal caprice or governmental policies. Gen. 2:24; 19:5,13; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1:26-29; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 5:1; 6:9; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 5:22-23; Col. 3:18; I Thess. 4:1-8; I Tim. 2:8-15; 3:4-5,12; Heb. 13:4