At Bethany, a wonderful quote attributed to a number of different church leaders over more than a thousand years, captures our spirit when it comes to matters of doctrine:
In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.
At BCC Connect, a class taught by our pastor for those who want to become members of our church, He teaches that there are three “essentials:” The Deity of Jesus, the authority of the Bible, and the truth that salvation is by grace through faith, not the result of our good deeds. The Bible speaks about a lot of other things that are obviously very important, and so the doctrinal statement below is simply a summary of some of the things that the Bible teaches that are at the core of what we believe. You can click on the Scripture references to see the actual biblical texts.
We believe there is one living and true God, Who is one in essence, while eternally existing in three distinct personalities: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Though each person of the Godhead possesses the same nature, each functions differently in respect to God’s dealings with man.
The first person of the Trinity orders and directs all things according to His own purpose, pleasure, and grace. He created the universe. He has decreed all things that come to pass for His own glory. He graciously involves Himself in the affairs of men, hears and answers prayer, and saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is both the eternal Son of God and virgin-born Son of man. Fully God and fully man, He surrendered nothing of His deity during His earthly life. Having led a sinless life, He satisfied the Father’s justice concerning sin by His substitutionary death. We believe in His substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, His physical ascension, and His visible return to this Earth to establish His earthly kingdom.
The third person of the Trinity executes the will of God in the world of men. It is the Holy Spirit Who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers the church to live a lifestyle pleasing to God, endowing it with special gifts which equip believers to accomplish distinct ministries, planned beforehand by God the Father.
We believe that man was directly created in the image of God to enjoy His fellowship and to fulfill God’s will on Earth. Man fell into sin by a voluntary act of personal disobedience to the will of God. Consequently, all men are spiritually dead and subject to the penalties this spiritual death imposes. The fall of man was a once-for-all historical fact. Its spiritually deadening effect spread to all men, each of whom is born with a sinful nature which separates him from God in thought, word, and deed. This hopeless spiritual reality can only be corrected by the person of Jesus Christ.
We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins as the only sufficient substitutionary sacrifice. All who believe in Him are declared justified by the Father on the grounds of Jesus’ death and resurrection. All who receive the Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith have been regenerated by and baptized in the Holy Sprit. They are thereby the children of God forever and members in the one true church, the Body of Christ. This salvation results in righteous living and good works as the believer submits his behavior to the Word of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is an important step for a believer who seeks to become a disciple of Jesus Christ because he commanded us to follow His example (Matt. 28:18-20). In fulfilling this command, the believer reveals that a coup has taken place in his life. The government of self has been overthrown. In its place, a new authority, Jesus, rules. Baptism does not lead to salvation, it reflects a “new person” (2 Cor. 5:17), taking a first step to follow in the footsteps of their Friend, Savior, and Lord.
We believe that all who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit belong to the one true church and are directed by the Scriptures to associate themselves in local, visible churches. The local church is the only scriptural representation of Christ’s invisible church and consists only of regenerated believers. The local church is autonomous in its relationship to other assemblies and is led by those who fill biblical offices of elder and deacon.
We believe that the next great event of human history will be the personal return of Jesus Christ. This is the Blessed Hope, which all those who love Jesus Christ yearn for. Though the time of Christ’s return is a mystery, known only the Father Himself, we believe it is as sure as Jesus’ first coming was fact.