What We Teach
“ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8,9
The Apostle Paul gave this charge to the Ephesian elders, Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God (Acts 20:28). By these words, the principal occupation of local church leadership is set forward. Church leadership is a matter of shepherding. To shepherd the flock of God is to take responsibility before God to watch, warn, teach, and lead His church unto holy and blameless living (Ephesians 1:3,4; 5:26,27; Philippians 1:9-11). This responsibility is necessarily carried out; not among professors, or counselors, or administrators; but, in the plurality of God appointed elders who seek the Father’s full counsel for His flock. It is from this high calling that the elders of Grace Church of North Olmsted seek to set before God’s people a clear teaching on important matters that face the believer in this generation. Through these booklets titled, What We Teach, it is our aim to pastorally and prayerfully commend the Word of God to the minds of all our people. It is our utmost desire to set these booklets forward with all the authority true of God’s Word and in the pastoral manner described from Scripture. Paul expressed our desired aim when he wrote, we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Recognizing that the Bible is the very Word of the living God to man and understanding the priority of knowing and obeying its truths, the elders at Grace Church of North Olmsted are deeply committed to studying and teaching with diligence and authority. The central ministry of Grace Church of North Olmsted is the continuous imparting of Scriptures to the people of God that they may know God and serve Him in worship and ministry. Through study, the elders have come to conviction regarding the major theological truths of the Bible. This booklet presents those major truths. These are the primary doctrines of the Christian faith and reflect the heart of the teaching here at Grace Church of North Olmsted.
The Holy Scriptures
We teach that the Bible is completely the inspired Word of God (Heb 1:1,2; 2 Tim 3:16 ) and constitutes the written revelation from God to man (Heb 1:1,2). By completely inspired we mean that the 66 books of our Bible are in every word (i.e., verbal plenary inspiration), inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16 ). The Holy Spirit is the agent through Whom the Holy Scriptures are breathed (2 Pet 1:20 ,21). We teach that the Word of God is objective (Exod 17:14 ), propositional (1 Thes 2:13 ), and absolutely inerrant in the original documents (Isa 30:8). We teach that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (1 Peter 1:23 -2:3; Matthew 5:18 ; 24:35; John 10:35 ; 16:12 -13; 17:17 ; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20 -21; 3:15 -16). We teach that God spoke by His written Word through a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God’s Word to man (2 Peter 1:20 -21). This written Word was given without err in the whole and in the part (Isa 30:8; 40:8; Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16). We teach that whereas there may be several applications to any given passage of Scripture, there is but only one true interpretation. This singular interpretation is to be found as one diligently applies the grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the illumination of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17 ; 16:12 -15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-15; 1 John 2:20 ).
We teach that there is one living and true God (Deut 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), an infinite and intelligent Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence but eternally existing and subsistent in three Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Psalm 139:8; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14), each equally deserving the same worship and obedience (Acts 17:24-29; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 19:10), and each equally infinite, eternal, and unchanging in being and attributes. We teach each Person of the Godhead is equal in deity (Deut 6:5; John 1:1-3; Acts 5:3,4) and distinct in function and role relationship (Matt 28:29).
God the Father
We teach that the First Person of the Trinity, God the Father, is Creator (Gen 1:1). God the Father orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8,9; 1 Cor 8:6). As absolute and highest ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Job 1:6; Psalm 103:19; Rom 11:33 ). His Fatherhood denotes a spiritual relationship, first as His designation within the Trinity; and second, within mankind—creatively in relation to all men, but spiritually only in relation to believers. He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass, and continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chron 29:11). This He does so as not to be the author and approver of sin (John 8:38 -44), nor to abridge the accountability of moral intelligent creatures (1 Pet 1:17 ). God the Father has graciously chosen from all eternity those whom He would have as His own (Eph 1:3-6); He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; and He relates Himself to His own as their Father (John 1:12, 18; Eph 1:3-6; Heb 12:5-9).
God the Son
We teach that the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is God (John 1:1-3, 14). He possesses all that is divine (John 1:1,2; Matt 28:18; Matt 18:19 ; John 16:30 ; Heb 13:8) and is co-equal (John 10:27 -30), consubstantial [meaning: “of the same substance.” The import of this word has to do with the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God of the same nature with the Father. As physical children are of human nature, the Second Person of the Trinity is of divine] (Heb 11:3), and co-eternal (John 1:1-2) with the Father.
We teach that in the incarnation, Jesus Christ voluntarily surrendered independent exercise of His divine attributes (Phil 2:5-8) and the outward manifestation of His heavenly glory (John 17:5).
We teach that in the incarnation, the Second Person united to His divine nature a truly human nature. He was truly human so that everything that can be said of man (not man as fallen) can be said of Him (Gal 4:4; Luke 2:52 ; John 12:27 ; Matt 4:2; Heb 4:15 ). Jesus Christ is truly God so that everything that can be said of God can be said of Him apart from the addition of a perfect human nature (Micah 5:2; Matt 28:20; John 16:30 ; Heb 13:8). The human and divine nature are distinct and yet united in one person so that Jesus Christ does not possess a double personality. These natures are inseparably united and yet not co-mingled or confused.
We teach that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:25; Luke 1:26-35) and lived a sinless (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; John 8:46; John 14:30), impeccable (Heb 4:5; compare Jas 1:13; John 5:19; Matt 28:18), and a holy life (Heb 7:26; 1 Pet 1:16). We teach that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God to man (John 1:18 ; 14:9), to seek and save lost sinners (Luke 19:10 ; 1 Tim 1:15 ), to die a sacrifice for sin (Mark 10:45 ; Heb 2:9; 1 John 3:5), and to eventually rule His physical Kingdom (Psalm 2:7-9; Isa 9:6).
We teach that through His death, Christ accomplished redemption for believing sinners. His death was voluntary (John 19:30), substitutionary [“in believers place”] (Matt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6; 1 Pet 2:24), propitiatory [“in satisfaction of God’s holy character and perfect Law”] (1 John 2:2), reconciliatory [“breaking down the hostility –caused by sin –of God toward the sinner, and the sinner toward God, thus making peace”] (Rom 5:1-11), and redemptive [“the purchase of men from the domain of sin to the domain of righteousness”] (Col 1:12-14; Rom 6:5-10; 1 Pet 2:9-10). We teach that upon the basis of the efficacy of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin, declared righteous, given eternal life, and admitted to the family of God (John 10:15; Rom 3:25; 5:8; 2 Cor 5:14-15; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18).
We teach that our justification is made sure by Jesus Christ’s literal, physical resurrection from the dead; and that Christ is now ascended to the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56) where He is our advocate (1 John 2:2; Heb 7:25), our sympathetic High Priest (Heb 4:16), and is now preparing a place for those who love Him (John 14:2).
We teach Jesus Christ as fully sufficient Lord and Savior to sustain believers from all manner of sin and its consequences (Col 2:9,10; 2 Pet 1:3; John 6:67-68; 2 Cor 12:9). We teach that Jesus Christ will return to receive the Church, which is His body, unto Himself at the Rapture, and returning with His Church in glory, will consummate His kingdom in its millennial manifestation (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes 4:13-28; Rev 20:1-15).
We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One through Whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22 -23):
- Believers (1 Cor 3:10 -15; 2 Cor 5:10 )
- Living inhabitants of the earth (Matt 25:31-46)
- Unbelieving dead ( Rev 20:11 -15)
God the Holy Spirit
We teach that the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is God. He possesses all that is divine (Heb 9:14 ; Psa 139:7-10; Isa 40:13,13; 1 Cor 12:11 ; John 16:13 ) and is co-equal (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14 ; 1 Cor 12:4-6), consubstantial (Acts 5:3,4), and co-eternal (Heb 9:14 ) with the Father and Son. We teach that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Gen 1:2), the incarnation (Matt 1:18 ), written revelation (2 Pet 1:20 -21), and salvation (John 3:5-7).
We teach that the work of the Holy Spirit in this age began at Pentecost when He came from the Father, as promised by Christ (John 14:16 -17; 15:26 ), to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ, which is His Church (1 Cor 12:13 ). The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into Christ-likeness (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; 2 Cor 3:18 ; Eph 2:22 ). We teach that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), indwelling, sanctifying, instructing, and empowering them for service, and sealing them unto the day of redemption (John 16:8-11; Rom 8:9; 2 Cor 3:6; Eph 1:13).
We teach that the Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher Who guided the apostles into all truth. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with the Spirit (John 16:13 ; Rom 8:9; Eph 5:18 ; 1 John 2:20 , 27).
We teach that God the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the bestowing of all His gifts for the perfecting of the saints today; and that speaking in tongues (unlearned languages) and the working of sign miracles gradually ceased as the New Testament Scriptures were completed and their authority became established (1 Cor 12:4-11; 2 Cor 12:12; Eph 4:7-12; Heb 2:1-4; 1 Thes 5:11).
Man and Sin
We teach that man in his original state was created free from sin with a rational nature for the purpose of glorifying and reflecting his Creator (Gen 1:26 ,27). Man chose to separate himself from God (Gen 2:17 ; Gen 3:1-6) and thus incurred both spiritual and physical death (Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1-3). The condition of fallen man is that of darkness of mind, depravity of will, and death in the soul. Man by nature is dead to God and unable to save himself apart from the intervention of God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:1-3).
We teach that the purpose of man’s creation was with the divine intention that he should glorify God, enjoy His fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God’s purpose for man in the world (Isa 43:7; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11).
We teach that in Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost, apart from the salvation which is the redemptive Word of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-19; John 3:36; Rom 3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; 1 Tim 2:13-14; 1 John 1:8).
We teach that all men were in the loins of Adam, and that the consequence of that sin has been transmitted (imputed) to all men of all ages, Jesus Christ being the exception. All men are thus sinners by divine declaration, by nature, and by choice (Psalm 14:1-3; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12; Jas 2:10).
We teach salvation is entirely the work of God and not man (Eph 2:4-9). This salvation was predetermined before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-6). We teach it was Christ’s redemptive work that atoned for man’s sin as He was made sin (2 Cor 5:21 ). Men are saved and justified on the grounds of Christ’s death alone (Heb 10:14 ) by God’s grace through faith alone (Eph 2:8,9).
We teach that regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are communicated (John 3:3-7). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24 ), so as to secure voluntary obedience to the gospel. Regeneration will be manifested by repentance, faith, and righteous living. Good works are its proper evidence and fruit (1 Cor 6:19-20; Eph 2:10), and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Eph 5:17-21; Phil 2:12b; Col 3:16; 2 Pet 1:4-10). This obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:18 ). Such conformity is climaxed in the believer’s glorification at Christ’s coming (Rom 8:17 ; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:23 ; 2 Pet 1:4; 1 John 3:2-3).
We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Rom 8:28-33; Eph 1:4-11; 2 Thes 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10; 1 Pet 1:1-10).
We teach that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes (Rom 9:11 -16).
We teach that justification before God is an act of God by which He declares righteous those who believe in Christ (Rom 8:33 ). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Rom 3:20 ), and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ ( Col 2:14 ; 1 Pet 3:18 ) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (Rom 4:6; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21). By this means God is enabled to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26 ; 4:3-5).
We teach that every believer is set apart (sanctified) unto God by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer is therefore declared to be holy and identified as a saint. This sanctification has to do with the believer’s standing, not his present state (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Pet 1:2; Jude 1).
We teach that there is, by the work of the Holy Spirit, an experiential sanctification, by which the state of the believer is progressively brought closer to the standing he enjoys through justification. Through obedience to the Word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life of increasing holiness in conformity to the will of God, becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; Rom 6:1-22; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 5:26; 1 Thes 4:3-4; 5:23).
We teach that every saved person is involved in a conflict – the new creation in Christ is set against the flesh – but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. All claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural. Eradication of sin is not possible, but the Holy Spirit does provide for victory over sin (Gal 5:16-25; Eph 4:22-24; Phil 3:12; Col 3:9-10; 1 Pet 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9).
We teach that all the redeemed once saved are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-50; 10:27-30; 17:15-20; Rom 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Cor 1:4-8; Eph 4:30; Heb 7:25; 13:5; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24).
We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which also, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Rom 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Gal 5:13, 25-26 ; Titus 2:11-15).
We teach that the doctrine of separation from sin is clearly evident throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that the Scriptures clearly indicate that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Cor 6:14 -7:1; 2 Tim 3:1-5).
We teach that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord and that separation from all religious apostasy, and worldly and sinful practices is commanded by God (Rom 12:1-2; 14:13; 1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1, 11; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11).
We teach that believers should be separated unto the Lord Jesus Christ (Lev 19:2; John 15:15 ; Gal 5:16; 1 Thes 2:11-12; 2 Thes 1:11-12; Heb 12:12).
We teach the church to be God’s divine institution through which the edification of the saints is to take place (Eph 4:1-16) and is composed of redeemed saints full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-47).
We teach the universal or invisible church consists of the entire number of elect – all who have been, are, and will be gathered into one under Christ, the Head (Heb 12:23 ; Col 1:18 ; Eph 1:10 , 22-23; 5:23 -32).
We teach that the visible pattern for the church is that of local assemblies (Heb 10:24 ,25), governed by elders who are shepherds and overseers (Acts 20:28 ), and whose primary task is to carry out the administration and stewardship of the Word of God (Titus 1:7). Jesus Christ is the supreme authority being the Head, with the believers being the body (Eph 5:32 ).
We teach the purpose of the church is to build up the saints unto the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:1-16).
We teach that because the Scriptures reserve all authority to local churches, there is no function left for synods, councils, or any kind of denominational authority. The Lord directly and personally shepherds and empowers local churches which are humanly autonomous and independent.
We teach that a particular local church, gathered and completely organized according to the Bible, consists of officers and members (Phil 1:1). The officers – appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church – are elders and deacons. These elders are appointed for the special duties – according to the biblical pattern – to watch over, teach, warn, and lead the flock under God’s care (Acts 20:17-30; 1 Pet 5:1-4). The duties of the deacons are to order the temporal affairs of the church such as the Lord’s Table, baptism, and physical ministry (Illustrated in Acts 6:1-7). We teach that each member of the church is given spiritual gift(s) to be used for the common edification of the body (Eph 4:14 -16; 1 Cor 12) unto the stewardship of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet 4:10 ).
We teach that the formation of the Body of Christ was planned from eternity past, began on the day of Pentecost (Eph 1:3-5; Acts 2:1-21, 38-47), and will be completed at the coming of Christ for His own in the Rapture (1 Cor 15:15-47; 1 Thes 4:13-18).
We teach that the Church is distinct from Israel (1 Cor 10:32 ), a mystery not revealed until this age (Eph 3:1-6; 5:32 ).
We teach the disciplining of unrepentant sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standard of Scripture (Matt 18:15-22; Acts 5:1-42; 1 Cor 5:1-13; 2 Thes 3:6-15; 1 Tim 1:19-20; Titus 1:10-16).
We teach that there are two kind of gifts: temporary confirming gifts and permanent edifying gifts. With the New Testament revelation at last complete, the confirming gifts are no longer a necessary criteria (1 Cor 13:8-12).
We teach that the temporary confirming gifts – healings, speaking in tongues (unlearned languages), interpretation, and the working of sign miracles – gradually ceased as the New Testament Scriptures were completed and their authority became established (compare 1 Cor 13:8-10; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:3-4; Acts 19:11-12 with 1 Cor 12:1-31; 1 Cor 13:8-12).
We teach that no one possesses the gift of healing today, but that God does hear and answer prayer on the part of every believer, and will answer in accordance with His own perfect will for the sick, suffering, and afflicted (Luke 18:1-6; John 5:7-9; 2 Cor 12:6-10; Jas 5:13-16).
We teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:38 -42). Christian baptism (by immersion) is the testimony of a believer showing forth in solemn and beautiful emblem his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin, and resurrection to a new life (Rom 6:1-11; Acts 8:36-39). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41 -42).
We teach that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination (1 Cor 11:28 -32).
We teach Satan is a real personality and not a personification of evil (2 Cor 11:3; Isa 14:12 – 14; Rev 12:12 ).
We teach Satan was originally created with great wisdom (Ezek 28:12), great beauty (Ezek 28:12), in righteousness (Ezek 28:15), and with a special anointing (Ezek 28:14). We teach Satan fell from personal pride (Ezek 28:17) and unlawful ambition (Isa 14:12 -14). When Satan fell, he took one third of the angels in rebellion with him (Matt 25:41; Rev 12:7-9).
We teach Satan opposes God by contradicting His Word (Gen 3:4,5), counterfeiting His workers and work ( Rev 16:13 ), and usurping His position and power (2 Thes 2:4-9). Satan was in constant conflict with Christ (Gen 3:15 ; 4:1-11) and is in constant conflict with believers (1 Pet 5:8; Eph 6:16 ).
We teach Satan rules the evil system of the world (1 John 5:19 ) under God’s permissive will (Job 1:12 ). Satan binds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4) and snatches God’s Word from their hearts (Matt 13:19 ). Satan uses unbelievers to hinder the spread of the gospel (Acts 13:8-10) and to oppose the workers and work of God (Job 1:13 -19; Rev 2:13 ).
We teach angels were directly created by God (John 1:3; Col 1:16 ) before the creation of the earth (Job 38:7) and were originally created in a state of holiness (Mark 8:38 ). We teach angels’ were created by and for Christ ( Col 1:16 ) and were divinely designated to glorify God in their work and worship ( Rev 4:11 ). We teach angels are unique finite beings (Job 38:7) who have personality (1 Pet 1:12 ; Jude 6; Luke 2:13 ) and great knowledge (not omniscience 1 Sam 14:20 ; 1 Pet 1:12 ), great power (not omnipotence Dan 6:22 ; Rev 7:1; Rev 16:8,9), and swiftness (not omnipresence Dan 9:21 ; Matt 28:2). Angels are under the sovereign control of God (Gen 19:12 -17; Rev 7:1-3).
We teach that angels general ministry is to praise God (Psalm 148:1,2), worship God (Psalm 29:1,2), rejoice in the works of God (Job 38:4-7), and serve God with perfect obedience (Psalm 103:20).
We teach Christ will bodily return to earth to translate His church (1 Thes 4:17 ). At this time each believer will be judged according to his words to receive his reward (2 Cor 5:10 ). We teach that when the church is removed from the earth, a period of tribulation will begin such as the world has never known (Jer 30:7; Dan 9:27 ; Rev 16:1-21). This tribulation will be the righteous judgments of God upon a rebellious and sinful world. After this judgment period of seven years, Christ will return with His Church (Matt 24:15-31, 25:31-34; 2 Thes 2:7-12), the Old Testament and Tribulation saints will be raised, and the living will be judged (Rev 20:4-6; Dan 12:2-3; Rev 6:9-11). The antichrist and false prophet will be overthrown and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-7).
We teach that after the Tribulation, Christ will establish His Kingdom for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-7), reigning on the Throne of David (Matt 25:31; Luke 1:31 -33) with His resurrected saints.
We teach the unsaved, in a physical resurrection, will be judged at the Great White Throne, receive their judgment ( Rev 20:12 ,13), and will be cast into the Lake of Fire ( Rev 20:11 -15). We teach that believers will then enter into the eternal state of glory to be with God forever (Rev 29:7-15).