Statement of Faith

1) The Bible.  The entire 66 books of the Bible are the Holy Spirit-authenticated word of God (John 16:13-14). Although the Bible was written by human authors in a variety of styles and genres, it is “God breathed” (2Tim 3:16) and is without error in the original manuscripts (Ps 12:618:30Pr 30:5John 10:35John 17:17Titus 1:2). It is truthful and trustworthy, and it has supreme authority in all it addresses (Acts 17:11). It is the complete written word of God (Deut 12:32Rev 22:18-19) and should be studied diligently by all people (Pr 2:1-51Pt 2:2).

2) God.  There is only one living and true God (Deut 6:4Is 45:5), creator of heaven and earth (Gen 1:1), who is infinite in being and perfection (Ps 139:17-18145:3Rom 11:33-34).  Everything that takes place is under His sovereign control (Job 38-41; Rom 8:2811:36Eph 1:11). He is a transcendent spirit who is distinct from His creation (Is 40:12-31), but he is also intimately involved in every detail (Pr 16:33Mat 6:2610:29) and is knowable (1John 1:32:3). God is all powerful (Gen 1:1Job 42:2), all knowing (Job 37:16Ps 147:51John 3:20), everywhere present (Jer 23:23-24), unchanging (Heb 13:8), loving (1John 4:8-10), holy (Rev 4:8), just (Deut 32:4), and glorious (1Chr 29:11). His perfect knowledge extends to all things past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures (Luke 22:34). God is eternally existing (Ps 90:2) in three persons (Mat 28:192Cor 13:14) who are equal in every divine attribute and who execute distinct but harmonious roles (Mat 3:13-17Heb 9:14) in the work of creation, providence and redemption:

– God the Father, who bears this name especially in relation to the Son (Heb 1:5) and to His children (Eph 3:14-15), is the originator of all things and initiates revelation (Heb 1:1-2), creation (Heb 1:2), redemption (Gal 4:4-5), and covenant relationship with His people.

– God the Son, is the eternally existent Son of God (John 1:1-3) and is equal to the Father as deity (John 5:17-1820:28Titus 2:13). In fact, as the Word (John 1:1) and image of God (Col 1:152:9), he is the most definitive revelation of all God is (John 1:182Cor 4:6Heb 1:3). He was incarnated as the man Jesus (1John 4:2), being conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and born of the virgin Mary (Mat 1:1823). We believe in His sinless life (Heb 4:5), miracles, and teachings. We also believe in His substitutionary atoning death (Rom 3:24-25), bodily resurrection (Luke 24:1-8), ascension into heaven (Luke 24:50-51), perpetual intercession for His people (Heb 7:25), future visible return to earth (Acts 1:11), and eternal dominion over all people (Dan 7:13-14).

– God the Spirit is a personal being (2Cor 13:14Eph 4:30) equal as deity to the Father and the Son (Acts 5:3-4Heb 9:14). He was sent by the Father and the Son (John 14:1615:26) to glorify Christ (John 16:13-14); to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); and to regenerate (John 3:5-8), sanctify (Rom 8:132Cor 3:18Gal 5:22-23), and empower (Acts 1:8) all who believe in Jesus Christ. Believers have communion with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit (Rom.5:5). The Holy Spirit dwells in every believer in Christ (John 14:17Rom 5:58:9), and he is their abiding helper (John 14:16), teacher (John 14:26), and guide (John 16:13).  Knowing God better (Phil 3:10), loving and delighting in him and His ways (Deut 6:5), and bringing him joy (Matt 3:17) should be the chief goal of every person.

3) People.  Adam and Eve, who were historic people, were created in the moral and spiritual image of God as free, rational, and relational beings and were given responsibility for and authority over God’s creation (Gen 1:26-28). Even after the Fall, all people retain the image of God (Gen:6; Jas 3:9) and therefore have great value and worth. All people are sinners by nature due to the Fall (Ps 51:5Mat 15:19) and by choice (Is 53:6), and therefore they are under condemnation (Rom 6:23), leading to spiritual and physical death (Eph 2:1-3). People are corrupted by sin in every area of life (Rom 3:9-181Th 5:23), hostile toward God and incapable of pleasing him (John 15:5Rom 5:68:7-8).

4) Salvation. People are so dead and lost in sin (Col2:13) that they can only be saved by God’s initiative, as God works in their hearts (John 6:4465). A right relationship with God can only be obtained through the atoning death of the righteous one, Jesus Christ (Is 53:6), who came to earth by God’s gracious predetermined plan (Acts 4:27-28Gal 4:4). Those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation (Galatians) are saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9) and preserved in the faith (John 5:24Rom 8:129-30) by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6).

5) The Church.  Jesus is actively building the universal church (Mat 16:18Eph 2:21-22), a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head (Eph 5:23) and all His followers are members (2Tim 2:19). We also believe in the local church, consisting of believers in Jesus Christ who should be baptized on a credible profession of faith and associated for worship, ministry, and fellowship (Acts 2:42). We believe the local church glorifies God by worshiping him, edifying one another in love (1Cor 14:26), and proclaiming the full word of God to every people group (Mat 28:18-20).  We also believe that local church leaders (Elders) should be male (1Tim 2:12-3:7) and should have authority (Heb 13:17) and the responsibility to lovingly discipline members who refuse to repent of sin (Mat 18:15-171Cor 5:9-13).

6) Baptism. The Lord Jesus has committed to the local church two sacred ceremonies: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Although baptism is not necessary for salvation (Eph. 2:8-91Pet 3:21), Christ commands and expects it as an act of obedience by every true believer (Mat 28:19). Because Christian baptism is a symbol of our new life of union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and because of the very meaning of the word “baptism,” it is best carried out by immersion in water, and it is to be performed in the name of the triune God (Matthew 28:19).

7) Communion.  The Lord’s Supper (“Communion”) was instituted by Christ as a commemoration of His sacrificial death and should be observed regularly until he returns (1Cor 11:23-26). The elements are symbolic of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice; therefore, we are not actually eating the body and blood of Jesus, nor do the elements inherently impart grace. Nevertheless, the visual reminder of Christ’s death and new covenant eaten by sincere believers in obedience to the Lord and in fellowship together nourishes our relationship with Christ and with each other.

8) Progressive Sanctification.  At the moment of salvation (justification), the Holy Spirit fully dwells in each Christian (Rom 5:58:91Cor 3:166:19) and increasingly produces fruit (Gal 5:22-23), such as love, obedience to God, humility, sexual purity, generosity, and spiritual maturity—all leading to greater and greater Christlikeness (Rom 8:29). As Christians we need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and with His help put off all types of sin (2Cor 7:1Eph 4:19-22). Sanctification culminates in glorification, which is the final blessed state of the redeemed.

9) Christians and Civil Government. The civil government is a third human social institution (along with the family and the church) ordained by God. Its specific ministry is encouraging righteousness,administering justice, defending life and property, and restraining evil (Rom 13:1-5). It is not independent of God, but subject to him (Rom 13:4,6). We are to be subject to lawful civil authorities (1Pet 2:13-14) yet may participate in influencing the laws and administration as citizens and holders of public office. However, we must respectfully disobey laws and commands of the civil government and accept the penalties whenever those laws are clearly contrary to the Bible (Acts 4:19-20).

10) Truth. All truth corresponds to objective spiritual and physical reality because God is the author of Scripture and the creator and sustainer of nature (Gen 1:1Num 23:19Col 1:16-17Titus 1:2). Such objective truth is grounded in the person and character of the Triune God (John 14:615:26Eph 4:20-21). As a result, it does not change with circumstances, time, or culture and is independent of what any person or group thinks about the world. Proclaiming the truth as revealed by the Scriptures is one of the primary tasks of the church (1Tim 3:15). The scientific method and other means of knowledge that are consistent with the scriptural worldview are useful in discovering truth about God’s creation. Scientific and experiential knowledge may inform but should never dictate how we interpret the Bible. Instead, the Bible is the final authority to which all truth claims must submit.

11) The Family.  The family consists of people united by marriage, biological relationship, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime, modeling the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-33). The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image (Gen 1:27). A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to exercise his God-given responsibility to lead his family (Eph 5:25-33). A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ (Eph 5:22-24). Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing from the Lord (Ps 127:3-5). Parents—not the church or the state—have the primary responsibility to direct and develop their children, and they will be held accountable by God for discipling their children in the instruction of the Lord (Pr 1:8-9Eph 6:4). Children are to honor and obey their parents (Eph 6:1-3). Sins which harm the family and pervert God’s intention for marriage, such as lust, pornography, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality, must be put off (Mat 5:27-301Cor 6:9-10).

12) The Last Things. The Lord Jesus Christ will personally and visibly return to earth (Rev 1:7) to deliver His people (2Th 1:6-7), to conquer all who oppose His will (2Th 1:8), and to consummate His Kingdom (Dan 7:14Rev 11:15). Therefore, our ultimate hope for a righteous world is not based on politics, science and technology, or any other human endeavor, but on the return of Jesus Christ (Rev 21). We believe in the resurrection of the body (Dan 12:21Cor 15:20), the final judgment (Acts 17:30-312Tim 4:1), the eternal blessedness of the believing righteous (Mat 25:34), and the endless conscious suffering of the unbelieving wicked (Mat 25:41462Thes 1:8Rev 14:9-11).

13) Taking Action. We believe our understanding and study of these doctrines will nourish our inner lives, strengthen our faith, and bring us comfort, peace, and joy. We also believe we need to act upon this statement of faith, that we need to be doers of God’s word and not only hearers who delude themselves (Jas 1:22.) In fact, we believe that at the final judgment, God will reward us for our faithfulness to these biblical beliefs and how we have put them into action (2Cor 5:10Rev 22:12).  This is a statement of faith that will guide the teaching ministry of Southwest Hills and, indeed, our very lifestyles  (1Cor 10:31).