How important is it really to have the “right faith”? I would say it is very important. How meticulous should one then be? We live after all in an age when ecumenicalism reigns. Any doctrinal differences between churches and denominations are played down. One seeks instead the “ least common denominator”, if there is one, and ignores or keeps silent about the rest. Let us clear up some things about the “right faith” so we can draw a conclusion.
Faith in God versus atheism
Only about 7% of the world’s population count themselves as atheists. Almost half of these are found in communist China and the other half are mostly “enlightened” modernists in the West. The word “atheist” comes from two Greek words, namely a (negative) and theos (God). This means that atheists don’t include God, or indeed anything supernatural, in their worldview. 93% of the earth’s inhabitants claim to believe in something, a religion or world view, that includes more than what can be perceived by our five senses. Is it then a case of “to each his own” for these people? No, not according to the Bible.
Christian faith versus other religions
As a Christian I am often asked what happens to those who believe in something other than Jesus and the Bible. They are after all “believers”, it is reasoned. Won’t God honour their longing, sincerity and search for truth? Anyway, truth is usually regarded as subjective and not objective, i.e. what is true for one person is not necessarily true for another and vice versa. Are there not then many ways to God and eternal life?
Jesus’s exclusive statement
Jesus is very blunt about this. He makes a very exclusive statement when Thomas asks Him about the right way. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”” (John 14:6 NKJV). Either Jesus is right or He is a liar. Not being an atheist but having “faith in God” is therefore not enough.
Protestantism versus Catholicism and Orthodoxy
If the Christian faith is the “right faith”, which form of Christianity should I profess? About a third of the world’s population belong to some form of Christianity, if only as a tradition. The word catholic comes from the Greek and means “universal” or “general”. The term orthodox also has a Greek origin and is probably best translated as “strict” or “true”. So, Catholics claim to be the universal church and Orthodox Christians claim to have the right doctrines. But what about the Protestants?
Scripture, tradition or both?
Protestant churches are divided into three main groups, the Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican. Just as the word suggests, these people protested against something. They strongly questioned the teachings of the Catholic Church which, in common with those of the Orthodox, are based on both Scripture and tradition. In practice this often means that tradition overrules the Bible. The Word of God is regarded as needing interpretation and definition by the “official church” and its hierarchical leadership.
What is written?
The Protestants protested therefore against the Catholic Church’s approach to the revealed truth of the Bible. They asked the question: “What is written?” In the wake of that statement the Reformation’s so-called “five solas” were formulated: sola scriptura (by Scripture alone), sola fide (by faith alone), sola gratia (by grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone).
One church and one faith
We believe of course in a “universal church”, and are thus “catholics”, consisting of all those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour (1 Cor 12:13). Vi believe also in the “right teachings” that have been given to oss once and for all (1 Tim 6:20) and which, according to the Bible, set us free (John 8:31-32). We can therefore also call ourselves “orthodox”. But we do not believe that any human organization of church denomination can claim to be the “universal church” or the sole advocate of the “right faith”. Instead, we ask ourselves the question: “what is written?” and profess Protestantism’s five slogans, the five “solas”.
The Protestants stirred things up and brought a large part of Christendom much closer to the Scriptures than it was before. Unfortunately, much of Protestantism still thinks in terms of state churches and has developed general, traditional creeds not unlike those we find in Catholicism and Orthodoxy. In other words, in many areas one can say that the Reformation was never completed.
Uncertainty remains, unfortunately!
Even though it was established, at least initially, that salvation was by grace through faith one did not want to appear to advocate a Christianity that would seem to allow lawlessness and carnality. The reformists therefore guarded themselves against any such accusations by coining the phrase “”we are saved by faith alone but faith is never alone”. In other words, our good deeds do not save us but they must follow a “true faith”. Without them one cannot be sure that one is a child of God. So, within Lutheranism and among the Armenians one can lose one’s salvation and one’s deeds are therefore a kind of guarantee or protection against this happening. Calvinists, though, believe that salvation is eternal. A lack of deeds would then show that one is probably not one of the chosen and that one’s faith is therefore not a saving faith.
We can know
Among Protestants the idea that deeds can merit salvation is normally rejected. But they are seen as either keeping us saved or proving that we have salvation. This would mean that we cannot, after all, be sure of our salvation. John writes that we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). A Biblical understanding of the full meaning of grace is thus still conspicuous by its absence, even in Protestant circles. How should we regard this?
Regeneration versus the law and good deeds
Nicodemus, a scribe and leader among the Jews, came to Jesus at night in John chapter 3. He wanted to discuss the question of how one could be righteous before God and thus be guaranteed a place in God’s kingdom. Jesus then begins talking about the importance of being born again and how no one can see the kingdom of God without this spiritual birth (cf.Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:23). How is one born again? By trusting in Him who gives us His own righteousness as a gift (Rom 4:3). In other words, a simple faith in the person of Jesus (that He is God’s Son) and His work (that He paid the price for my sin at the cross of Calvary). In the moment I convert from trusting in myself and my own “religion” to trusting in Christ and His work of atonement I become born again. His death, burial and resurrection are central to the Christian faith (1 Cor 15:3-4). Belief in this causes us to pass from death to life (John 6:47; Col 1:13).
The law’s inability
The law is like a bathroom scale. It can ascertain that I am overweight but not do anything about it. In such a case my diet must probably be changed and more exercise included in my daily life. In the same way the law can only show that I am a sinner, but it is totally unable to do anything about it (Rom 3:19-20). To justify a sinner like me requires an external righteousness, independent of my own efforts and given as a gift. That is exactly what God has done through Jesus (Rom 3:21-26).
Deeds are expected but not demanded
Good deeds are not able to change my relationship with God for the better. Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9). As previously mentioned, deeds cannot keep us saved either. Nor do they necessarily prove that our salvation is real. According to Scripture, deeds are rather the result of justification (Eph 2:10). They are thus the potential to glorify God in and through our lives (cf. Matt 5:16; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 6:20). They are expected but not guaranteed. If “fruit-bearing” was automatic in a Christian’s life then Jesus’s exhortation to “abide in Him” in John, chapter 15, would be meaningless.
John Wesley, the great English revival preacher, was once asked why he always persisted in saying to people that they needed to be born again. His answer was simple: because they needed to be born again! We need to believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour to be born again. Acts of obedience to the law have no part in this gracious, spiritual miracle, neither in becoming saved nor remaining saved nor proving one’s salvation.
Evangelical versus traditionalist
If I am born again is it enough to count myself saved or must I think about something more? Sometimes we hear the term “evangelical Christian”, a kind of “subcategory” of Protestants which includes only “turbo-Christians”. The word evangelical meant earlier that one believed the gospel (Latin “evangelium”), i.e. the good news about Jesus Christ, the world’s Saviour. It did not necessarily mean that one believed in a six day creation or a literal flood where only eight people were saved in an ark. That group was instead called fundamentalists or literalists. In the English speaking world the term “evangelicals” has long been used to designate more Bible-believing Christians. Nowadays this is so even in Sweden. Here the term “evangelical” describes Christians who differ from more traditional Christianity by a higher degree of faithfulness to the Bible. Should we then regard ourselves as evangelicals, for we are not traditionalists, are we? Can we further sort out these terms?
Fundamentalist versus evangelical
Today most people avoid the term fundamentalist and prefer, for understandable reasons, to call themselves evangelical. The meaning of fundamentalist has also changed during later years and acquired a political and social stigma due to certain associations. Fundamentalist is interpreted almost always as something negative. If one instead looks at the word’s meaning one sees that it is someone who believes in the foundation, the basic truths.
Dr. Steele’s wish
Dr. Arthur Steele, the founder of Clearwater Christian College, who was very helpful during a period in my Christian life, used to say that “I want the doctor I visit to be a “fundamentalist” who believes in the basics of what he practises”. In the same way, we want the pilot we fly with to have a “fundamentalist view” of aeronautics and believe in the basic laws of aerodynamics.
The whole Word of God is inspired
As Christians we believe in the “fundamentals”, i.e. the foundational truths of the Bible. Even though belief in the atoning work of Jesus is the most central part of our faith we believe that the whole of God’s Word is inspired and meant to equip us for service (2 Tim 3:16-17). Assuming one’s hermeneutics are sound, being a Bible-believing Christian doesn’t mean that symbolic language and parables are rejected. It does, however, mean that we do not do violence to the simple and clear message that Scripture communicates by interpreting it allegorically. In other words, we do not look for the “true” and “complementary” meanings behind that which is expressed in plain language. So what does that make us – fundamentalists? Yes, if the term is rightly used and understood. But even among Bible-believers there are differences of opinion, are there not? How should we relate to these disagreements?
Baptism of believers versus infant baptism
In some Protestant groups infant baptism is seen as part of the new covenant. It “replaces” circumcision in the Old Testament. In other groups it is said to remove original sin. These views have no support in the Scriptures. There baptism is described as an act of obedience and a testimony before God, angels and people. Through this outward act of obedience a person who has already believed and been saved testifies to the inward work of the Spirit which was already finished when they chose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 2:10). We are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, the church (1 Cor 12:13).
Literal versus allegorical approach to eschatology and prophecies
Many conservative Protestants and “evangelicals”, who, for example, believe in a young earth, the virgin birth of Jesus and divine miracles, still do not regard the future Messianic prophecies about Israel as literal. They interpret them instead figuratively, thereby departing, at least partly, from the Reformation’s rediscovered simple and direct hermeneutics practised in Antioch during the first centuries. That form of hermeneutics was later discarded in favour of the Alexandrian, so-called allegorical, method of interpretation. That this finally triumphed over the straight and literal approach depended to a large extent on the “super Church Father” Augustine’s great, and in this case negative, influence.
Watch out for replacement theology
27% of Scripture was prophetic when it was written. A large number of these prophecies were fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus. Many remain, though, to be fulfilled in connection with the Lord’s second coming. The fulfilment of these prophetic predictions will occur almost entirely in connection with the people and nation of Israel. Unfortunately, this inconsistency in Bible interpretation has led to various forms of so-called “replacement theology”. In these circles it is often said that the church has taken over Israel’s role and that the latter’s future blessings are already now, spiritually speaking, a reality in and through the church. The strange, even comical, thing is that one is not equally keen on seeing the unfaithful Israel’s curses, a result of their disobedience, transferred to the New Testament church.
On thin ice
We will therefore profess the straight and simple hermeneutics that lead us to “dispensational theology”. It is namely not only eschatology that suffers when the allegorical interpretation is unleashed – often soteriology is the next victim.
Dispensational versus covenant theology
“Dispensational theology” is not, as some would claim, a modern and humanly invented theological system. It is rather the result of a return to a consistent application of the reformists’ literal hermeneutics in all areas, including eschatology. What is the difference between dispensational and covenant theology and why is it important to take a stand on this issue?
Covenant theology’s ABC
On the one hand we have “covenant theology” which we can say is a system of interpretation based on two or three “theological” covenants. The first was a covenant based on deeds. Adam failed to fulfill his part of this conditional covenant, called the “covenant of works”. The second is, as a direct consequence of Adam’s shortcomings, a covenant based on the Father’s and Son’s mutual agreement to redeem a people for themselves. This is called the “covenant of redemption”. The third is, as a result of this agreement, an unconditional covenant in which God chooses and saves certain people in accordance with His eternal counsel. This is called the “covenant of grace”.
Dispensational theology can be summarized in the following five points: 1) A consistent use of the literal-grammatical-historical method of interpretation; 2) Israel and the church are two different peoples in God’s plan; 3) Jesus will return physically to the earth to reign from the throne of David for 1000 years; 4) God’s purpose in the world is to glorify himself; 5) The Christian is totally free from the law, both when it concerns justification and sanctification.
History is divided into different time periods or ages (dispensations). Each period begins with an offer of a blessing from God and ends in human failure to meet the required conditions. Even though people are saved by grace through faith in our age every dispensation has special “faith-demands” based on the measure of divine revelation one has received. Failure results eventually in God’s judgement. The number of dispensations varies somewhat among Bible teachers but is usually seven, whereof the present, the Church Age, is the sixth.
Assumed and theological covenants
The problem with covenant theology is that the covenants it is based on are “suggested” and “theological” in nature (the Hebrew word for covenant is not named in the passages of Scripture one uses). However, the covenants in dispensational theology are exegetical and Biblical as the word for covenant is used, for example in connection with God’s covenants with both Abraham and David.
Exegetical and Biblical covenants
Consequently, dispensationalism opens up Scripture and makes God’s Word interesting and understandable in a way covenant theology cannot. We understand, among other things, that God has two different plans, one for His earthly people, Israel, and one for His heavenly people, the church. Covenant theology is not necessarily but, unfortunately, often a breeding ground for anti-semitic theology and thinking, even if often unintentional. We need, therefore, to draw the conclusion that we believe in dispensational theology and not covenant theology.
Premillennialist versus amillennialist
One of the pillars of dispensationalism is that Jesus, according to the Bible, will return physically to reign over the world in the last age (dispensation), i.e. in the Millenium. This return occurs, then, before the kingdom is established. The kingdom is nothing we build now. He sets it up when He returns. Our task is to build up the body of Christ, i.e. His church on earth (Eph 1:20-23; 4:12). To believe that Jesus will return physically and literally to the earth to reign for a thousand years is to be a “premillennialist” (from the Latin meaning “before the Millenium”, cf. Rev 20:1-10).
To believe that there will be no literal Messianic rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem means that one is an “amillennialist” (from the Latin meaning “no Millennium”). The texts in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are often allegorized, even though they undeniably refer to an age the world has yet to see. One imagines that the kingdom has already been received and that David’s throne now exists in heaven. It is argued that He already reigns in the hearts of those who believe in Him and follow Him here on earth.
Hermeneutics decides the matter
The amillennialist view is hard to defend if one is hermeneutically consistent and interprets Scripture literally. There are also a number of variations in between and “doctrinal hybrids”. But we shall profess premillennialism, mainly based on our conviction that straight, simple and literal hermeneutics is superior to the allegorical.
Pretribulationist versus posttribulationist
Before the Messiah comes to establish His thousand-year kingdom, the world will undergo a very difficult time. It lasts for seven years and the Bible calls it the Great Tribulation, or Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7; Matt 24:3-28). In the Millenium, the church will be glorified and be called the Bride of Christ. This glorification will occur at the so-called Rapture. So far are all who profess premillennialism in agreement. What they disagree about is the timing of the Rapture. There are several viewpoints but two dominate the theological arena – directly before the Great Tribulation begins and immediately after it ends. The first opinion is called pretribulational (before the Tribulation) while the second is called posttribulational (after the Tribulation).
Some arguments for the pretribulationist view
Personally I see strong indications that the church will be evacuated before the Great Tribulation begins. The Tribulation is intended to bring, through extraordinary suffering, Israel to national salvation. It is also a time when the Lord will pour out His wrath over a world that denies Christ. The church is not destined to suffer wrath (1 Thess 1:9; 5:9). Neither is the church mentioned in the Book of Revelation 4-18, the chapters that describe the Great Tribulation.
Free grace versus Lordship Salvation
We have some important questions left before we finish. One of them is if a believer can be carnal and still saved. Arminians and Lutherans say that such a “carnal” person has fallen from grace and is no longer a child of God. Calvinists do not believe that “apostasy” is possible for a true believer and therefore say that “carnality” is proof that this individual was never born again to start with. He or she displayed temporarily some outward signs of conversion but circumstances eventually revealed that it was not genuine.
“Acceptable” versus unacceptable carnality
1 Cor 3:1-4 sheds illumination on this issue. Paul writes to the Corinthians roughly four years after his visit there and notes that they are still carnal. He makes it clear to them that at first their immaturity was both expected and tolerated. But after four years there was no excuse for such behaviour. The apostle says nothing about them risking losing their salvation. Nor does he hint that they were probably never saved. On the contrary, he refers to them consistently in the epistle as “brothers” and “believers” (e.g. 1 Cor 1:2, 26, 30; 3:16; 6:19-20). The consequences of refusing to walk in the Spirit are both temporal and eternal. The apostle describes the undesirable result later in the same chapter, verses 12 to 15, in the form of loss of eternal rewards.
Belief in God’s testimony is enough
Naturally we do not embrace and support carnal living, but the “carnal” Christian is a reality. Even though much is at stake it is not the person’s eternal destination. 1 John 5:13 says that it is possible to know that we are God’s children, totally based on the Father’s testimony, the objective testimony that we who have believed have eternal life, regardless of what outward circumstances indicate.
He is certainly Lord
Of course He is Lord in our lives. He becomes so automatically when we believe in Him as the Saviour. This is what we can call His “objective lordship” over our lives. His “subjective lordship”, i.e. the manifestation of His life in ours, is another matter. It may exist or maybe it does not. If our focus is on keeping and proving our salvation then the risk is great that we will live with the wrong motives and an unwanted fear. We believe therefore wholeheartedly in His “free grace”.
Non-charismatic versus charismatic theology
By charismatic theology we mean certain teachings that have gained ground during the last 100 years, first through the Pentecostal movement, whose expansion was impressively large during the first half of the twentieth century. Later came the so-called charismatic renewal which influenced a large part of the world and Christianity during the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Instead of establishing its own denominations, as in the case of the Pentecostal movement, almost all existing churches and faiths were affected and a degree of “Pentecostal theology” was included in their creeds, insofar as they had formulated any. Finally came what is usually described as the “third wave”. Through that emerged various Christian groups such as the Faith Movement and Vineyard. Even though there are large differences between these groups there are also certain common denominators which it is important to take a stand on. I want to focus briefly on two of these.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit misunderstood
First, they emphasize “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Instead of regarding it as something every believer will experience at the moment of salvation, when God’s Spirit places every born-again individual in the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), they teach that it is a “second blessing”. This “baptism of the Spirit” can occur in connection with salvation, many years later or not at all. Even though a number of scriptures are used in support of this teaching, it is basically built on an incorrect understanding of the giving of the Spirit in Acts, chapters 2, 8 and 10.
The Biblical view of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Even though the apostles and some other people, who were already believers, received the Spirit at Pentecost, this is not the norm in the New Testament. It was a one-time occurence. The Spirit, who in Old Testament times did not permanently indwell any believers, was now given in three stages, first to the Jews (Acts 2), then to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and finally to the Gentiles (Acts 10), all in accordance with the prophecy in Acts 1:8. Apart from an exception in Acts 19, where Paul’s apostolic authority needed to be confirmed, we do not find that the Spirit is given as a “second blessing” anywhere in the epistles. This teaching easily leads to striving, comparing and wrong priorities. The Spirit is given at the moment of salvation to all who believe, even though many “fillings of the Spirit” can follow and probably will take place (cf. Eph 5:18).
Spiritual gifts in their true perspective
Second, they teach that all the gifts of the Spirit are for today. Neither Scripture nor church history supports this. Certain signs, wonders and miracles were only manifested through the apostles and in connection with their ministry (1 Cor 12:12). Even though most gifts described in Rom 12 and 1 Cor 12 seem to be for today, it is clear that the offices of apostle and prophet are not. They were clearly fundamental in nature (Eph 2:20). They were equipped with a special authority and ability to break new ground (the apostle) and proclaim God’s revelations before the Scriptures were fully completed (the prophet).
The place for speaking in tongues
In the same way, speaking in tongues is not for today and therefore neither is the interpretation of tongues. Speaking in tongues was in use during the first generation of Christians (ca. 40 years). This unique and supernatural manifestation constituted a special sign to the Jews that the judgement was approaching. As the nation did not repent, despite having all the facts available (Jesus had died and risen in accordance with the Scriptures, cf. Acts 2:14-41; 1 Cor 15:3-4), the judgement eventually came when the temple was totally destroyed by the Romans in the year AD 70 (cf. 1 Kings 9:8; Mic 3:12; Matt 24:2; Luke 19:44). Historically, the hearing of foreign languages was a sign to the Jews that they had been judged, just as when they were in captivity in Babylon (cf. 1 Cor 14:21-22). God, due to Israel’s disobedience, has temporarily, but not finally, set the Jewish people aside. The task of evangelizing the world will instead be done by a people who will bear the desired fruit (cf. Rom 9-11). This “people” alludes to the church which is made up of all peoples and nations (Matt 21:43; 28:19-20).
Wonders and miracles
Even though God in his sovereignty and mercy heals and performs wonders today, it is not as it was in the time of Jesus and the apostles. In those days healing took place to confirm the Lord’s identity as the Messiah (Matt 11:2-5; Luke 7:18-22) and the apostles’ authority as the Lord’s messengers (Mark 16:20; Acts 14:3; 19:10-12). Today it is not obvious that God chooses to glorify himself through healing. That this is so is confirmed both by the Scriptures and history. Even in Paul’s time physical healing was not a matter of course, though he and the other apostles definitely had the ability (2 Cor 12:7-10; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:20).
God is sovereign
We do not regard ourselves, therefore, as “charismatic” in the classical theological sense as we believe that we receive the fullness of the Spirit at the moment of salvation. Nor do we believe that the, in the theological context, so-called “sign gifts” (miracles, healing, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues) are for today. Similarly, the offices of apostle and prophet are no longer in use. This does NOT mean that God cannot sovereignly heal or intervene miraculously in people’s lives in connection with prayer. He does that undoubtedly, but not to the same extent as in the time of the apostles.
Summary and conclusion
There are, according to the Bible, only two categories of people – those who are born once and those who are born twice (John 3:1-8). Those who are born twice die only once (Rev 20:6). In the same way those who are only born once die twice (Rev 20:11-15). We receive eternal life when we believe that God became a man in Jesus Christ (John 1:14; 1 John 4:1-3) and that He died, was buried and rose again with the purpose of reconciling sinners to Himself (John 6:47; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21). Are then all the other teachings meaningless and thus superfluous? No, absolutely not.
The whole counsel of God
Paul spent three years in Ephesus and taught them “night and day” (Acts 20:27-32). Similarly, the apostle stayed 18 months in Corinth (Acts 18:11). It is hard to believe that during these long periods he only gave them the absolute essentials. One proof of this is probably found in his ministry to the Christians in Thessaloniki. He could only work there for a few weeks before being forced to leave the city (Acts 17:1-10). Despite this, it is clear in both his epistles to the Thessalonians that he had already had time to teach eschatology, a teaching which many wrongly consider as not belonging to the foundations of the Christian faith. In other words, the teaching of Bible doctrine should be natural for us. Paul encouraged Timothy to keep what had been entrusted to him – everything that the apostle had taught his “spiritual son” (1 Tim 1:2; 6:19-20).
The definition of our faith
In conclusion, we are not atheists but have a faith in God (Ps 14:1). We reject, though, the notion “each to his own” and claim the Christian faith’s unique position among religions (John 14:6). We also dismiss the assertions of Catholics and Orthodox Christians that tradition must be consulted to “interpret” God’s Word and support Protestantism’s “sola scriptura” (by Scripture alone) (2 Tim 3:16-17). We do not believe that deeds have any role to play in either justification or sanctification. They can neither merit, keep nor prove our salvation, which is by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).
Further definition of our faith
We do not content ourselves with the traditionalist view of the Christian faith and emphasize the importance of the Gospels concerning people’s eternal destination (Acts 4:12). That makes us evangelical Christians, does it not? But we like to go beyond even this concept and believe in the Bible’s flawless and total verbal inspiration. Even though we admit that the Bible contains parables, symbolic language and suchlike, we believe in every word of God, in the foundations if you like (Matt 4:4). The question is, do we dare to call ourselves fundamentalists?
Even more definition of our faith
We must reject infant baptism and profess the baptism of believers, which we see a Biblical support for (Acts 8:12). Shall we be even more particular? Yes, why not? We reject covenant theology’s assumed and theological covenants and choose instead the exegetical and Biblical covenants that dispensational theology highlights (e.g. Gen 17:7; 2 Sam 7:8-16). We reject all allegorization of the Millenium and believe that Jesus will reign on earth for a thousand years when He returns (Rev 20:1-9). So we adhere to premillennialism. Before the Millenium, the world will undergo a seven-year period of great tribulation, which will cause Israel to repent and punish the world’s inhabitants for their rejection of God’s plan of salvation. We believe that the church will be removed before, not during or after, this period. So we get another label – pretribulationists.
Almost finished with the definition of our faith
We do not believe in the “necessity” of a believer showing a changed life to be “approved” as a Christian. Jesus becomes Lord over our lives automatically at the moment of salvation, His “objective lordship”. So we believe also in His free grace. Finally, we refuse many of the charismatic teachings and manifestations by believing in a complete spiritual baptism into the Body of Christ in the moment of salvation (1 Cor 12:13) and that some of the gifts were only meant as essential for the church’s establishment and expansion (1 Cor 13:8-10).
Believer versus disciple
There is a difference between a disciple and a believer. As disciples we are followers of Christ but also of them who have gone before us in the faith (Matt 4:19; 1 Cor 11:1). For us the teachings of God’s Word are very important. Should we content ourselves with an entrance ticket to heaven through being born again? We can of course stay there but why not learn more? Teachings do not divide, as some claim, but instead edify us. God has so much more for us than the basics. We are called to live by every word of God (Matt 4:4). Let us therefore leave the “milk” and move on to “solid food” and thus grow in grace and knowledge (Heb 5:11; 6:3; 2 Pet 3:18).