Statement of Faith

This is my personal statement of faith.  Feel free to comment as you may help me refine it further.

Jehovah God is one God in three ‘Persons’ (Elohim) [Gen 1:1-2,26; John 1:1-2,14] known as the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ His one and only Son [John 3:16], and the Holy Spirit [John 14:15-16:15].  God is omnipresent (everywhere present), omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), immutable (free from all change) [Psalm 102:27; Heb 13:8; James 1:17], and sovereign over all [Psalm 24:1; Job 41:11; Ex 9:29].

Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, the Logos, made flesh [John 1:1-2,14], conceived by the Holy Spirit coming upon and overshadowing the virgin Mary [Luke 1:26-35], through whom He was subsequently born [Luke 2:1-20; Matt 1:18].  Jesus Christ was and is truly/fully God and truly/fully man [John 5:18; Php 2:6-7], the unique God-man, from the point of the Incarnation (conception) and forward [For more info: "Two natures of Jesus"].  The Word was/is preexistent as part of the Triune Godhead (the Trinity) from ‘the beginning’ [Gen 1:1; John 1:1; 1 John 1:1-3] and He is ‘the Alpha and the Omega’ [Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13], the Beginning and the End, sustaining all things [Col 1:17; Heb 1:3].  In His preincarnate state, Jesus Christ made appearances known as Theophanies (or, more specifically, Christophanies) such as the fourth man in the fiery furnace [Dan 3:24-25] and the person with whom Jacob wrestled [Gen 32:22-30].

Salvation unto eternal life is only through Jesus Christ [John 14:6] as a result of His Atoning death on the Cross [John 3:16; Romans 5:8], providing propitiation for the sins of mankind [Isa 53:4-5; 2 Cor 5:21; I Peter 2:24], thereby defeating Satan [Gen 3:15; Php 2:9-11].  Following His death, burial and Resurrection on the third day [Php 2:8; Matt 28:1-7; Luke 24:1-10,46] and His subsequent earthly appearances in His Resurrection body [Luke 24:13-44; Acts 1:3-8], Jesus Christ Ascended [Acts 1:9] to be at the right hand of the Father [Acts 2:33] and now serves as our mediator [Gal 3:19-20; 1 Tim 2:3-6].  Salvation is a free gift of unmerited grace through faith in Jesus Christ [Rom 3:23-24; Eph 2:8-9], initiated by the Father [John 6:37, 44, 65], and evidenced by works of righteousness [James 2:14-26] through the power of the Holy Spirit [Gal 5:22-25; Eph 5:18]. Jesus’ death also fulfilled the Law of Moses [Matt 5:17, Romans 8:1-2]; consequently, Christians are free from this bondage [Gal 3:10-25], though the law is still applicable in the sense that it points out our sin [Rom 7:7-25; James 1:25].

If we believe the aforementioned and acknowledge the fact that we are sinners in need of salvation [Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23], repent of our sins [Luke 13:5; Matt 3:2], and accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, we will gain eternal life [Romans 10:9,13], salvation from eternal damnation.  At the point of salvation the Holy Spirit indwells every believer [Romans 5:1-2,5] identifying each one as a new creature [2 Cor 5:17], and hence, a disciple, a Christian, or Christ-follower.  Christians are a Royal Priesthood [1 Peter 2:9] with the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [Mark 15:37-38] to petition the Father by prayer [Heb 10:19-22] in the Name of Jesus Christ [John 16:24], i.e., in His character, as revealed through His Word.

The Holy Bible, sacred Scripture, consists of 66 books – 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT – not including what is known as the Apocrypha (or deuterocanonical books according to the RCC).  The Apocrypha, though useful in its own right, is not inspired Scripture.  In its original form, the Bible is the Holy Spirit-inspired, God-breathed [2 Tim 3:16], inerrant, and infallible Word of God [Prov 30:5; 2 Peter 1:20-21], complete unto itself.  The Bible will never be superseded or supplemented by any other teaching [Prov 30:6], and nothing should be subtracted from it [Deut 4:2; Matt 5:17; Rev 22:18-19].  Its full counsel provides the way to live a complete Christian life [2 Tim 3:16-17].

The Holy Spirit empowers all believers [Romans 8:9-11] to live out the Christian life [Gal 5:22-25]; and, His indwelling is a seal guaranteeing eternal life [2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14] if we stand firm to the end [Matt 24:13].  The Holy Spirit’s presence brings conviction of sin and guides into all Truth [John 14:17; 16:8-11,13], and the Spirit speaks not on His own, only what He hears [John 16:13].  He will testify of and bring glory to Jesus Christ [John 15:26, 16:14], teaching all things [John 14:26].   The Holy Spirit provides spiritual gifts to believers [1 Cor 12:7-11; Romans 12:4-8], disbursed just as He determines [1 Cor 12:11], and He intercedes on our behalf [Romans 8:26-27].

All Christians should have a part in the Great Commission, making disciples of all nations [Matt 28:19; Mark 13:10].  This includes initial conversion through the power of the preaching of the Gospel [Luke 24:47; 1 Cor 15:1-7], followed by instruction to obey the teachings contained in His Word [Matt 28:20; John 8:31-32], in order to foster continuing growth [Heb 6:1; 1 Cor 2:6; Php 3:12-16] and to comfort those going through various trials brought forth by God for our development [James 1:2-4; Heb 12:5-11; Romans 8:28-30].

Jesus Christ will return again [Matt 24:30; 1 Thess 4:16] in the same manner He Ascended [Acts 1:10-11] and gather all Christians, first the dead, then the living [1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:15-17].   Unbelievers/non-disciples will be (remain) separated from God and will forever dwell in the furnace of fire [Matt 13:41-42]/lake of fire [Rev 20:11-15; Dan 12:2], while believers will be in God’s presence in Heaven [Matt 13:43; Dan 12:2-3] for all eternity [John 3:14-16, 4:14, 5:24-25, 6:40, 10:27-28, 17:2; Rev 3:21].

29 Responses to Statement of Faith

  1. Sylvia says:

    What a great statement of Faith Craig, peppered with scriptural truth. I really look forward to following your insights on this blog.

    God Bless you richly brother.

  2. Craig says:

    Thanks Sylvia! May God richly bless you!

  3. Jan (2) says:

    Hi Craig,
    I have appreciated your writings in the past and look forward to reading your blog. Have added it to my favourites.

  4. Craig says:

    Thanks Jan (2). I remember your name from another blog.

  5. Elizabeth A says:

    Hi Craig. You may remember me from ‘Endtimes ‘. I met up with both Jan(2) and Sylvia last summer :). I have an article which was sent to me by a friend who has been a type of ‘mentor’ or spiritual father to me in the past. I would like to address the problems of this article with him, but feel somewhat intimidated because of his ‘seniority’. He is a Baptist Minister. Can you give me your opinion? Or maybe just some pointers? I know alot about this stuff now but find it hard to explain clearly!! Many thanks, and the blog is really helpful : )

  6. Craig says:

    Elizabeth A,

    Hello! I’ve contacted you at your email.

  7. cherylu says:

    Hi Craig,

    I saw that you said you had made some changes to your statement of faith so I came over to take a quick look.

    I notice that in your first paragraph about Jesus you refer to Him at one point as the God-man. In light of some of the conversation on your site, and the statements that you recently made about how that way of saying things can be misconstrued, I am wondering if you have it that way for some specific reason or if that is something you maybe missed when you were making your changes to this statement of faith?

  8. Craig says:

    cherylu,

    When “God-man” is used in conjuction with “truly/very God” and “truly/very man”, which makes a clear distinction of two separate natures, it is just fine. When by itself exclusively, it can be construed as monophysitism. It is possible that someone could understand “truly/very God” and “truly/very man” as if there were two separate distinct entities in one body and hence Nestorianism. So, rather than include the complete hypostatic union, this convention of using “God-man” in conjunction with “truly/very God and “truly/very man” eliminates both of these heretical views.

  9. Craig says:

    I’ve just added a link which provides further explanation of the hypostatic union.

  10. cherylu says:

    Thanks Craig. All of these nuances in even how to state things get pretty trickey!

  11. Craig says:

    cherylu,

    I do appreciate the question, though as I’m by no means infallible. There may be something here that’s not worded well or even incorrect (I hope not); and, if so, I’d sure like to change it. Feedback is appreciated!

  12. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for your digging for truth. I find your site trustworthy, and it have helped me and my husband to see where we have come from.

    – Right now we are on our second year in a land far from our home in Norway – and as we are confronted with the occult practises here, and all the “christian cults” we see all over here – we have needed to study our own history to see if we are teaching the truth to the not yet reached….What we have found this last 5 months have shocked us and we are left with a deep deep sorrow for how far MSoG, NAR and so on have came into the churches of today – and I’m sad to say that I have promoted this until I saw the underlying false prophesies.

    So thank you again for studying this and give such a good overview. I also appreciate the tone you use – I am sad to read other good resorce pages, but the arrogant tone of many make me not want to share their sites. (maybe I react because I’m a non-american?)

    So keep up the good work! God bless you!
    Charlotte

  13. Craig says:

    Thank you for your very kind words. I’m both humbled and grateful the site has helped you and your husband.

    It is indeed shocking the amount of false teachings that have come into the churches. You are undoubtedly not alone in innocently promoting some ot these false teachings. They are insidious being quite cleverly disguised.

    You wrote, “I am sad to read other good resorce pages, but the arrogant tone of many make me not want to share their sites.

    I am American born and from a small town on the east coast though living in Texas more than half my life. I, too, find the tone of many sites unpalatable — and it’s not because I’m “holier than thou.” (I used to contribute to one site that consistently employed the same tone. I am also far from perfect in my Christian walk — not as if any of us are perfect.) Some of these have excellent research — research into areas I’ve not yet looked into. However, I cannot in good conscience link to some of those sites. I’ve thought about writing a post on that issue at some point.

    If the point is to help save those who are caught up in these teachings unawares, then I don’t believe it’s very effective to use excessive sarcasm and language bordering on, if not downright, libelous about the individuals who are perpetuating false teaching. This seems to defeat the purpose in my mind. The truth of the false can be presented without “being ugly” about it.

    Thanks again for the encouragement!

  14. Arwen4CJ says:

    It is really sad how these groups are moving onto college campuses. When I was in undergrad, there were a couple Christians my freshman year who belonged to this Bible study that was off campus, but in a nearby town. These two girls invited different people to go to this Bible study, especially people who attended Bible study on campus that was not affiliated with the out of town Bible study. This on campus Bible study was through Campus Crusade for Christ.

    I’m not exactly sure what happened, but somehow there was a split in that Bible study over the issue. My guess is that the Campus Crusade For Christ staff didn’t like the ideas that some of these students were trying to bring into the Bible study. Anyway, that Campus Crusade For Christ Bible study fell completely apart sometime during my sophomore year.

    Thankfully, there was more than one Campus Crusade Bible study at the college, and I happened to attend a different one. I had friends that belonged to the other one, though. Many of them ended up being deceived and walking right into false teaching. Some of them are still connected with the heretical group, and I graduated from college in 2005.

    I should also point out that the son of the off campus heretical Bible study started attending my college my sophomore year as well. More people from the Bible study infiltrated the school — that’s probably another big reason that the other Campus Crusade Bible study fell apart. After that Bible study folded, the off campus group started their own Bible study on campus that met at the same time as the old Campus Crusade Bible study did.

    Because I had some friends that went to this heretical Bible study, I attended a few of the Bible studies. I had no idea how dangerous the teachings were, or that they were starting to affiliate with dangerous groups. When I went, what I saw was that people seemed to deeply love Jesus. They seemed to have something I didn’t have — and they seemed to have a deeper relationship with Jesus than the one I had. They even took mission trips to Africa and other places, and all of this was really attractive to a college student who was seeking to grow in her faith.

    However, after attending the Bible study a few times, I started to grow uneasy about it. The biggest clue that I received that something was wrong was when I brought my non-Christian friend to the Bible study. He and I had been talking about Christianity and faith and everything — and I got him to agree to go to the campus chapel service with me. That took a lot. Because I liked the Bible study (this was my freshman year), I invited him to the Bible study and he came. When they found out he wasn’t a believer, they locked him into a room with some of the long time members of the Bible study. They wouldn’t let him out until he prayed a prayer to accept Jesus. They acted totally cooky around him. After he stepped out of the room and was talking to me and one of the leaders, the leader asked him if he had accepted Jesus. He said he had. I looked at him when he said it, and I had a feeling that he was lying just so that she would leave him alone. (At that point I didn’t know what they’d done to him in the room.) A member of the Bible study happened to be walking by when he gave his answer, and the person excitedly exclaimed, “I can see it in your eyes!”

    I went a few more times after that — I even went to their retreat. They invited people in my Campus Crusade Bible study to go to the retreat, and a lot of us did. However, that was the last thing that most of the people in my Bible study had to do with that group.

    Later, I had a friend who was in the Campus Crusade Bible study with me who was going to go on the spring break trip. As soon as one of the girls who was part of the heretical Bible study found out that my friend was part of Campus Crusade, she completely ignored her. She refused to talk to her. I found out later that the heretical Bible study hated Campus Crusade and everyone who was associated with it. (This was spring of my sophomore year– after the heretics had caused the other Campus Crusade Bible study to fold.)

    Because I’d stopped going to that heretical Bible study by the time they started up the Bible study on campus, I had no idea that their teachings were more and more heretical. The year I graduated, they had started their own church and had affiliated themselves with Randy Clark and Global Awakening. They also started up a Soaking Center that has ties to TACF. I accidentally came across their website at the time of the Lakeland “revival,” and they heavily promoted it. They were showing it nightly.

    The entire group is now sold out to the likes of Patricia King, Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, Randy Clark, TACF, and the like. They now experience all of the weird manifestations that Bethel does.

    My best friend from college was involved in that Bible study — she was trying to show them the truth, but they wouldn’t listen to her. She happened to be a democrat, and the leaders knew it — they condemned her from the pulpit. She also had feelings for a boy in the group, and he liked her as well. She went on vacation for a week or so with her family. While she was gone, the leadership told the boy that she liked to go out with another girl. They told him he had to get into a relationship with someone else, and so he obeyed. When she returned, she learned that they boy she liked was with someone else. He told her what had happened, and that he really wanted to date my friend instead of the girl they made him date. She tried to convince him to get out of the relationship, and to be with her. He said he wished he could, but that he had to obey the leadership. My friend said that they didn’t consider her to be a real Christian, and that they were suspicious of her and treated her like an outcast.

    From these experiences, as well as the ones I had when they began bringing in heretical things to the church I was attending, it seems that there is a lot of expectation about following church authority, and to go against it is equated with going against God.

    I understand why college kids are so vulnerable to these spiritual predators. When so much of the church is dead — there are so many nominal Christians and churches these days — big social clubs — that when a person who wants to grow in Christ finds a group of other Christians who are passionate for Christ, you want to join them. These predators appear to have a close relationship with Christ — closer than the average Christian. They want you to have that relationship as well. Then, spiritual manifestations and all kinds of power is displayed — it may seem like God is really favoring the group. It was only by God’s grace that I didn’t get sucked into this group myself.

    I’ve recently visited my old college’s website. That group is still heavily active on campus. In fact, they took over the time that my friends in Campus Crusade had our praise and worship service, and Bible study. I think Campus Crusade is still present on campus, but it appears to meet at another time, and there is no Campus Crusade led worship night anymore :( It is possible that this heretical group took over what used to be my Bible study now — or caused that one to split. At any rate, they have our old time and place. It seems they are actively warring against any other Christian group on campus, especially Campus Crusade.

    A dangerous cult has been established on the campus, and it seems that the campus leadership doesn’t even know it. If I still attended, I would seek to expose it for what it is. I thought about reporting it — but then I realized I haven’t been on the campus is 7 years. I don’t think anyone would take a complaint from me seriously. I have no direct experience with the current Bible study. I will just pray that that group is exposed, or at least that concerns are raised about the theology. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, or at least it was when I attended there.

  15. Craig says:

    As regards Statements of Faith, it is not uncommon for a particular SoF to be/appear orthodox in distinction from said church’s practice which is anything but orthodox [edited for clarity]. This creates a contradiction at best. However, with Johnson, his books display just how far from orthodoxy he really is.

    As for miracles, there may well be evidence of healings; but, I’ve not seen any verifiable proof. These always seem to happen to some mysterious person in a far off place. Now, I DO believe God heals today and he may heal through any believer’s prayer, through anointing by oil (James 5:14), or even through the hands of a believer touching a sick individual. The Spirit gives “as He determines” [I Cor 12:11].

    However, Johnson makes it sound as though miraculous healings are to be expected as the norm. Yet, why does Bill Johnson wear glasses? Why did he have surgery for a hernia a few years ago? Why is his son Eric still deaf even though he’s been prayer for? And, just WHO does the healing, anyway?:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/by-whose-power-does-bill-johnson-perform-healings/

    Healings are not the arbiter of truth. Orthodoxy is the mark of Truth. Healings do occur in the metaphysical cults and other religions.

  16. Arwen4CJ says:

    If you go to a Vineyard church, then you should look for some Vineyard speakers who are solid. I would recommend Rich Nathan — as I’ve heard multiple sermons he’s preached. Unfortunately, he won’t name names of people preaching false doctrine. However, he does preach against false theology. He’s preached against the prosperity gospel and preached against Todd Bentley and Lakeland (without actually saying ‘Todd Bentely.’ He gave enough information that I knew exactly who he was talking about.) He preaches the real gospel.

    Here’s the one against the prosperity gospel:

    http://vineyardcolumbus.org/watch-and-listen/myths-that-christians-believe/is-it-gods-will-for-you-to-be-wealthy-healthy-and-happy/

    You can do a search on topics. I do have to say that it does look like Rich was deceived, at least initially regarding Toronto. I viewed the pdf of one of his 1994 sermons and read what he said. However, his position changed regarding those kinds of things. Let me see if I can find the one where he condemns Todd Bentley.

    Found it :)

    http://vineyardcolumbus.org/watch-and-listen/a-vision-for-life-seeing-the-big-picture/false-ways-of-growing-as-a-christian/

    “A few years ago there was a so-called revival that took place in a city here in the U.S. and tens of thousands of people from around the country flocked to this place because there was all this spiritual phenomenon happening. The man who led this so-called revival was called a modern day apostle. His revival meetings were hosted on TV for months. He claimed that 37 people had been raised from the dead by his ministry. ABC News looked at this claim and could find no documented evidence that even one person was raised.

    But as you watched this revival on TV, there were several things that you would immediately note. First of all, the speaker never in any clear way communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never. The speaker never called attention to the Cross. He never called attention to the free gift of God of salvation. He never told people that they were qualified to enter God’s presence because of what Christ has done. He never explained to folks that the whole Bible is centered on Christ.

    Instead, this so-called apostle said that he had been receiving revelations from God that people had heard enough about Jesus. And so he was to talk to people about angels, and specifically, the angel Emma. And instead of praying for people by placing his hand on someone, he literally would kick people in the head and scream, “Bam!” In fact he was baptizing thousands and thousands of Christians who were duped by this so-called apostle.

    Sadly, the whole revival collapsed in on itself when it was discovered that this apostle was having an affair and ended up divorcing his wife.

    If the message you are hearing is continually off and if the model is off, it doesn’t matter how powerful the spiritual experience is, the ministry will always yield bad fruit. As a pastor, it has been one of the saddest experiences for me over the last 25 years to watch folks travel here and there chasing spiritual experiences because they think that is the way they are going to grow as Christians while all the while their attention is being diverted from Christ and what Christ has done for us on the cross and through his resurrection and what Christ will do for us. If someone or some ministry or some movement is continually taking your eyes off of Christ, if the message is not about Christ, then that is one of the false ways of growth. It is a dead-end. You will never grow while you are being disconnected from Christ.”

    Also, I would look for John Piper material, as he’s pretty solid (although I don’t agree with his Calvinist views). He’s still my favorite Christian author. I really like his book ‘Don’t Waste Your Life.’ It isn’t a long book, and it is packed with a true passion for Jesus Christ. Since that is something that is so attractive to your daughter, it would be a really good book. John Piper isn’t Vineyard, but Rich Nathan really likes him, as did a lot of people in the solid Vineyard church that I attended in my grad school before an unsound pastor took it over.

    This is John Piper’s page:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/

    You or your daughter can download the book for free here:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/dont-waste-your-life

    I’m not sure if there is much by Larry McWherter out there — he was the old pastor of the Vinenyard in my grad school town. I put some of his sermons online in an account that I had. He was solid. He always preached sin and grace.

    Here’s a good one –

    http://www.mediafire.com/?axvpl2qik5a

    The title of it is ‘No Substitutes For Christ’

    Those would be my recommendations….

  17. Arwen4CJ says:

    I’m going to keep praying for you.

    I’m glad that you did call the college in order to talk to someone about their group. It sounds like the college isn’t taking this seriously :( Or, they are knowingly allowing it to happen. Wait, though….did you just talk to the main guy leading it? What about other staff? Do they have a chaplain there? Or others–like student affairs? Or — is this guy the head of student affairs?

    Well, it sounds to me like this professor IS endorsing it by his silence. He was well aware that some students were trying to go to that conference, and he didn’t warn them about the dangers. He didn’t speak out against it. If he was so against it, he should have been speaking out about it.

    I’m also glad that you took the time to attend one of their meetings in order to gather first hand information about what was going on. It sounds like the man is a horrible influence on the students. If they look up to him as a great leader, of course they are going to take what he says at face value. Do you remember any of the authors that he was selling?

    Too bad your daughter’s school doesn’t seem to have a Campus Crusade For Christ group or an Intervarsity group. Either would be good. It sounds to me like she needs to meet Christians who are on fire for Jesus who hold to orthodox theology. That’s one reason I would recommend John Piper’s book. It seems to me that unless someone encounters orthodox Christians who are on fire, there is this assumption that the only people on fire or growing in Christ are in Bill Johnson type settings. For some people, it’s even gotten to the point where real, orthodox Christians who are on fire for God are not ‘enough’ for them. They’ve been exposed to all kinds of false signs and wonders that they believe to be real. I think that is the main reason that these false signs and wonders are allowed to happen in settings like Bethel. They are delusions that keep people addicted to the false.

    That is why my heart breaks for all the young people (though not just young people) who are so thirsty to see God move and doing something — or be around Christians who are excited to serve Jesus, but get enticed into following false teachers because the false teachers happened to look like they were truly on fire for God.

    I know that’s kind of what happened with this one guy from the church I stopped attending in my home town. He told me that he wasn’t seeing God move anywhere else except for Bethel, so that’s where he’s going to go. Bethel has it, so he’s fully opening himself up to the stuff coming out of it.

    People are getting deluded into thinking that signs and wonders and spiritual manifestations mean that God is moving in these circles. And it is very attractive to think about — God moving — something that most Christians want to see happen, at least in some form. Those who love Jesus want to see lives changed. They believe that this is happening in big ways at places like Bethel.

    However, people who get drawn into these teachings don’t realize that they are being drawn away from Jesus Christ or the real gospel.

    I think you are right that she is being enticed by the high energy feel good “love on people” atmosphere, and that she isn’t understanding that the interpretation is not biblical.

    I’d like to know the last time that the professor or his son taught on the cross, and if they ever taught on sin and grace. If they are like the one pastor that I had, they might teach on the resurrection, but not on sin and grace. The resurrection, he taught, was so that we could heal people and do all kinds of signs and wonders now. That is the main message that these Bill Johnson types seem to be teaching. Ask her to find the main thread of his teachings. I’m sure he would give lip service to the cross, to sin, grace, and salvation, etc. However, if anyone tried to outline the main idea or the main thread of the teachings, I’m pretty sure that sin and grace would never be mentioned.

  18. Tim says:

    I thought this was an interesting article on “Apostles” issues

    http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/category/discernment/church-issues/nar

  19. Rick Giposn says:

    Have you ever received any information about the word “church” it’s origin or meaning? Interested in what you think about it if you have.

  20. Craig says:

    Rick,

    The Greek word transliterated ekklesia means basically “a gathering”, and usually, as it pertains to the Church body “a gathering of called-out ones”, or something to that effect. But, I’ve not done a full study on this.

    I’ve a feeling you’ve searched this out; and, if so, what have you determined?

  21. Craig says:

    Let me add this: the Church body is made up of all Christians, past, present, and yet future. By that I mean all those who, through their faith in Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit indwelling. This specifically excludes the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) / wolves (Matthew 7:15-23) and other ‘pew warmers’ – those who go to church buildings to appease their consciences without ever actually making a commitment to serve Christ, and hence not being Holy Spirit-indwelt Christians.

  22. Drew says:

    Greetings Craig

    I appreciated reading your statement of faith. Thank you for putting that together!

    That said, you may want to look at your wording in the last paragraph again.

    My understanding, as from the Spirit (who leads us into all truth) and the scriptures…

    …Before Christ died and ascended (making a way back to the Father), EVERY person’s soul went to Sheol after death (Sheol being in the earth). Those who had faith in God went to “Abraham’s bosom” (as Jesus points out in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus). Those who did not have faith went to “the place of torment,” which was also in Sheol (a chasm separated these two places, again, as is pointed out in the rich man/Lazarus parable).

    When Christ died He descended into the earth, into Sheol (Sheol is NOT hell; will get to that…). When Jesus subsequently ascended He “led captivity captive”, or led the souls of those believers who were in Sheol up to the 3rd heaven, to be with Him and the Father (the 3rd heaven is where the souls of all believers go who have died in Christ since Christ ascended). Jesus makes it clear that before Him NO ONE had ascended into heaven (John 3:13). The unbelievers from Adam’s time to now are all still in Sheol (the place of torment in Sheol, more specifically). With me so far?

    When Christ returns there will be a resurrection (Rev. 19-20). This resurrection (as I understand it currently) will only be for those martyred for Christ. They will reign with Christ on the earth for 1000 years. At the end of the millennial reign ALL PEOPLE who have yet to be resurrected will be resurrected- the believers (the sheep) will inherit life, the unbelievers (the goats) death (this death being in the lake of fire, aka hell or gehenna).

    No one will be in heaven with God forever. That’s a very Greek way of thinking (dualistic- spirit=good, flesh=bad). You will have a PHYSICAL BODY forever. That’s what resurrection is all about. A perfected spirit, mind, emotions, will, etc, living in a perfect body, with perfect relationships with God and others, in a perfect physical (and metaphysical/spiritual) environment! Man, that’s gonna be sweet :)

    I didn’t pick up any other errors in the rest of your statement when I browsed through (good work!), but probably best to make sure you get the resurrection right :)

    “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1

    “Rebuke mockers and they will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Pro. 9:8

  23. Craig says:

    Drew,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I was purposefully a bit vague in that last paragraph in order to accommodate the various eschatological views (pre-, a-, and post- millennialism). Also, I’m well aware of the difference between Sheol and Gehenna, the lake of fire (I note the difference in part of a book review here).

    You wrote, When Jesus subsequently ascended He “led captivity captive”, or led the souls of those believers who were in Sheol up to the 3rd heaven, to be with Him and the Father (the 3rd heaven is where the souls of all believers go who have died in Christ since Christ ascended). Do you have Scripture for that? How does that idea work with 1 Cor 15:51-54 (the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed) & 1 Thess 4:15-17 (…and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up…)?

    You wrote, No one will be in heaven with God forever. That’s a very Greek way of thinking (dualistic- spirit=good, flesh=bad). You will have a PHYSICAL BODY forever. I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at here. First of all, Scripture DOES say that Christians will be with God forever, eternally (in the numerous Scriptures I referenced above, especially Rev 3:21), though I don’t wish to debate over eschatological issues, as this would not be fruitful.

    Secondly, I don’t understand where you got the idea that I denied that we’d have a physical body. 1 Corinthians is clear that our new body is not flesh and blood (15:42-44, 50), but it doesn’t deny a physical body. Thirdly, dualistic thinking – which I’ve written about extensively here on CrossWise – is not strictly a “Greek way of thinking”, though it may have (I repeat, MAY have) originated with Plato.

    Save for your John 3:13 and Rev 19-20 reference (and your references at the end ‘rebuking’ me) you’ve not referenced any Scripture to back up your claims, so I’ve no way of knowing exactly where you’re coming from.

  24. drewdreiling says:

    Hi Craig

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yeah, I can understand you being vague re: the resurrection to accommodate the various eschatological views that are out there. That said, I don’t think vagueness is necessary (or helpful), at least on a matter like this where the scripture is quite clear. A combination of dedicated scriptural study, patience, and a continual attitude of requesting wisdom from the Lord (James 1:5) should garner us the proper perspective I’d think.

    I’m glad you are aware of the difference between Sheol and Gehenna/the lake of fire/the outer darkness/hell. It’s been my experience that many (even those in so-called “church leadership” positions) have a limited (or even erroneous) understanding of these two places, not to mention the heavenly places, the third heaven, the new heavens & the new earth, etc etc.

    I do have scripture for the “captivity captive” passage. It’s Paul in Ephesians, highlighting to the brothers in Ephesus the truth of our unity in Christ, and some of the purpose for Christ sending various gifts to believers through the Spirit, once He’d ascended…

    “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:4-13, NASB)

    What do you mean “how does that idea work with 1 Cor. 15:51-54″? These two passages are talking about completely different things. In Ephesians 4 Paul is discussing the unity that believers have (one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God…) and he also touches on Christ’s descending (into Sheol/the lower parts of the earth) and ascending (into the highest heavens), at which time He distributed spiritual gifts (some might say anointings) to the believers on the earth. The purpose of these gifts are for the building up (maturing) of the body of believers until we “attain to the unity of the faith”, and also the knowledge of Jesus, and to maturity in Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:51-54 Paul is dealing with the resurrection of the dead (and not the giving of the Spirit for the unification and maturation of the church, as he is in Eph. 4). And likewise in 1 Thes. 4:15-17, Paul is dealing with the issue of resurrection at the last trumpet (the end of the tribulation, when Christ comes back). At that time the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and the believers who are on the earth will be glorified (i.e. put on their imperishable body) without first experiencing physical death. While all of these resurrected believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (remember, He will be descending from heaven, and believers will be ascending from the earth), it doesn’t say the believers will stay in the air with the Lord forever! It’s more a picture of the Bride (the church) and the Husband (Jesus) rushing to embrace each other in love after years apart. Can you imagine it !?!?!?!

    Please forgive me for the harshness of my first response. I’m working on being more gentle and gracious (not a natural strength of mine I assure you).

    It’s getting late so I’d better get off to bed. I hope I cleared up some of what I was trying to say. I think we’re both saying the same thing, except that I think the escatological protocol is perhaps more clear than you think it is. Anyway, that’s why we have the Spirit right? To “lead us into all truth” and help us minister to one another, allowing us to attain increasingly greater unity and maturity in Christ.

    God’s blessings to you.

  25. Craig says:

    Drew,

    With all due respect, you’re straining gnats; but, most importantly you’ve gone well beyond the obvious context of the last paragraph of my statement of faith. In that last paragraph it’s quite obvious (taking into account the Scripture referenced, to include 1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:15-17) that I’m speaking about the yet future return of Christ and what that means for believers and non-believers alike.

    That said, your interpretation of Ephesians 4:4-13 is a novel one. I was expecting you to cite out Matthew 27:51-53, which is a difficult passage to understand and exegete (and please don’t express your own view on this).

    There are many different views of the Ephesians passage you cite. The view that Jesus literally went into Sheol, a view that was historically favorable, has now fallen into disfavor. I recommend Peter T. O’Brien’s commentary in the Pillar New Testament series as it goes through some of these interpretations, while discussing some of the other difficult portions of this passage. As to its supposed parallel in 1 Peter 3:18-20, I wrote in the book review I referenced earlier: “Wayne Grudem explains the various theories related to this passage in the appendix of the TNTC of 1 Peter, taking 37 pages to do so.” That’s another place to get good info.

    O’Brien, speaking on Ephesians 4:9-10, states the following:

    On balance, then, the incarnation provides the most obvious reference for the descent. But it needs to be borne in mind that, although the descent has attracted much discussion, Paul’s main focus is on Christ’s ascent in the context of giving gifts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999, p 296, emphasis in original).

    I’m in staunch agreement with O’Brien here. Paul is merely speaking about Christ’s Incarnation as the One who “descended to the lower, earthly regions” [NIV, 1984] in Eph 4:9.

    Given that you’ve gone well beyond my intentions in my statement of faith, I request you cease from this line of argumentation.

  26. I just want to thank you about a book you wrote. It inspired me enormes and I feel the holy spirit strongly, that this is a part of my calling also.

    Thank you for writing it in the name of Jezus christ.

    The book is called freedom to choose
    By ernest j gruen

  27. Craig says:

    Timotheus,

    I’m sorry, but I, Craig, the author of this blog, am not Ernie Gruen. Mr. Gruen went to be with the Lord a few years ago.

  28. I really liked that you included “immutable” and “sovereign over all” as two of God’s characteristics. Those two seem to be getting left out of the mix these days for some reason–especially “sovereign over all.”

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