BETHEL LIFE INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP ®

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ARTICLES OF FAITH

 

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PREAMBLE

Bethel Life International Fellowship stands firmly in the mainstream of historical Christianity.  It takes the Bible as its all-sufficient source of faith and practice, and subscribes to the historic creeds of the universal Church. In common, it emphasizes Christ as Saviour and coming King.  It also presents Christ as Healer, and it adopts the position that wholeness takes place in the life of the believer through Responsibility and Repentance (2 Corinthians 3: 18; Psalm 51:3 – 4; Ezekiel 18:30; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 34:18). After this, Restoration (Psalm 51: 12 – 13; Isaiah 58) is required.

 

HOLY SCRIPTURES:  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)  by which we understand the whole Bible to be inspired in the sense that holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the very words of Scripture. (2 Peter 1:20, 21). Divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the original writings. The whole Bible in the original is, therefore, without error and, as such, is infallible, absolutely supreme and sufficient in authority in all matters of faith and practice. (Psalm 119:160)

 

The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but is, in reality, the complete revelation and very Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christian believers today receive spiritual illumination to enable them to understand the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2: 12 – 14), but God does not grant new revelations that are contrary or additional to inspired biblical truth. (Proverbs 30: 5, 6)

 

THE GODHEAD:  We fully believe the mystery of the Godhead. We believe that Jesus was both human and divine, and that the Godhead is to be understood to mean all of the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19 and 2:9): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these three are one God, having the same nature and attributes and are worthy of the same homage, confidence and obedience. Jesus was Mary’s son and Mary’s God, God manifest in the flesh; the flesh of Jesus was the same as ours, with the exception that it had no sin; that Jesus was the Eternal Father made visible, apart from which there is no God.

 

ANGELS

 

CLASSIFICATION:  Angels were created as intelligent and powerful beings to do the will of God and worship Him. (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 5: 11, 12). However, Satan, the originator of sin, fell through pride and was followed by those angels who rebelled against God.  These fallen angels or demons are active in opposing the purposes of God. (Isaiah 14: 12 – 17; Ezekiel 28: 11 – 19; Ephesians 6: 11-12; 1Timothy 4: 1; Jude 6)

 

Those who remained faithful continue before the throne of God and serve as ministering spirits. (Hebrews 1:14).

 

THE BELIEVER AND DEMONS:  Demons attempt to thwart God's purposes; however, in Christ, the believer may have complete liberty from the influence of demons through obedience to God’s Word.  He cannot be possessed by them because his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit in which Christ dwells as Lord. (Matthew 6: 24; 1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20)

 

MAN: Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1: 26; 2:7) He fell through sin and, as a consequence, incurred both spiritual and physical death. (Romans 5:12; James 1: 14, 15) Spiritual death and the depravity of human nature have been transmitted to the entire human race (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3: 10-19, 23) with the exception of the Man Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 7: 26). Man can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1Timothy 2:5, 6)

 

SALVATION

 

ATONEMENT OF CHRIST:  Salvation has been provided for all men through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. (Isaiah 53:3-6; John 12: 32, 33; 1Peter 1: 23, 25) It is the only perfect redemption and substitution atonement for all the sins of the world, both original and actual. His atoning work has been proven by His resurrection from the dead. (Acts 2: 36; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 10: 12; 1John 2:2)

 

 Those who repent and believe in Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and receive eternal life. (Acts 20:21; 1Peter 1:23, 25)  Furthermore, in the atonement, divine healing was provided for all believers in God’s sovereignty. (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Matthew 8: 16b, 17)

 

REPENTANCE AND FAITH:  Man can be born again only through faith in Christ.  Repentance, a vital part of believing, is a complete change of mind wrought by the Holy Spirit,(Isaiah 55:7; Acts. 17:30; Galatians 3:22, 26; Ephesians 2:8; 1 John 5:10-13) turning a person to God from sin.

 

REGENERATION:  Regeneration is a creative work of the Holy Spirit by which man is born again and receives spiritual life. (John 3: 3b, 5b, 7; 2Corinthians 5:17, 18a; 1Peter 1:23)

 

JUSTIFICATION:  Justification is a judicial act of God by which the sinner is declared righteous solely on the basis of his acceptance of Christ as Saviour. (Romans 3:24; 4:3 -5; 5:1-2)

 

THE CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE

 

ASSURANCE:  Assurance of salvation is the privilege of all who are born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ, (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35-39)resulting in love, gratitude and obedience toward God.

 

SANCTIFICATION:  Sanctification is dedication to God and separation from evil. (2 Corinthians 6:14; 7:1)

In experience it is both instantaneous (John 17:17, 19; Hebrews 10:10, 14)and progressive.(1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:19-22; 1 Peter 1:14-16) It is produced in the life of the believer by his appropriation of the power of Christ's blood and risen life through the person of the Holy Spirit;( Romans 6:11,13,14,18) He draws the believer's attention to Christ, teaches him through the Word and produces the character of Christ within him.  (1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Peter 1:3-4) Believers who sin must repent and seek forgiveness through faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2)

BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience in which the believer yields control of himself to the Holy Spirit.(Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; Ephesians 5:18) Through this he comes to know Christ in a more intimate way,(John 16:13-15) and receives power to witness and grow spiritually.(Acts 2:1-4; 9-17, 39, 1Corinthians 14:18) Believers should earnestly seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8) The initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.(2Corinthians 3:18; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:4) This experience is distinct from, and subsequent to, the experience of the new birth. (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46)

THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT:  The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural abilities given by God through the exercising of which believers are enabled to minister effectively and directly in particular situations.(1 Corinthians 12:4-11) They serve the dual function of building up the church, and of demonstrating the presence of God within His Church. (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:12, 24-25) These gifts are for believers to become disciples to the nations. (Ephesians 4:11, 12)

 

DIVINE HEALING: Divine healing provided in the atonement of Christ(Matthew 8:16, 17) is the privilege of all believers.  Prayer for the sick and gifts of healing are encouraged and practiced. (1 Corinthians 12:28-30; James 5:14)

 

THE CHURCH

 

THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH:  All who are born again are members of the universal Church, which is the Body and Bride of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 5:25b; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:15)

 

THE LOCAL CHURCH

 

Purpose:  The local church is a body of believers in Christ who have joined together to function as a part of the universal Church.(Acts 14:23; 1 Corinthians 16:19) The local church is ordained by God and provides a context in which believers corporately worship God, (John 4:23; Acts 20:7) observe the ordinances of the church, are instructed in the faith and are equipped for the evangelization of the world.(Acts 1:8; 11:19-24; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 5:2)

 

 

Ordinances

 

The Lord's Supper:  The Lord's Supper is a symbol, memorial and proclamation of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. This ordinance of communion is to be participated in by believers until Christ's return.(Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-26)

Water Baptism:  Water baptism signifies the believer's identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and is practiced by immersion. (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38, 41; 8:36-39; Romans 6:3-5)

 

fOOt washing:  This ordinance is a divine command as any other in the New Testament. Jesus gave us an example that we should do even as He had done. He said that we ought to wash one another’s feet. “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”. (John 13: 4 -17) There is scriptural evidence that this was practiced by the church in the days of the Apostle Paul. (1Timothy 5:10)

 

Ministry

 

MINISTRY:  A divinely called and ordained ministry is the provision of the Lord to give leadership to the churchas it fulfils its purposes. (Acts 6:2b-4c; 13:2-4a; 14:23; Ephesians 4:8, 11-13)

 

THE END OF TIME

 

THE PRESENT STATE OF THE DEAD:  At death the souls of the believers pass immediately into the presence of Christ,(2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21, 23-24) and these remain in constant bliss until the resurrection of the glorified body.(Romans 8:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 2 Corinthians 5:1,4b)  The souls of the unbelievers remain after death conscious of condemnation (Luke 16:22-31; John 3:36) until the final bodily resurrection and judgment of the unjust. (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 20:11-15)

 

THE RAPTURE:  The rapture, the blessed hope of the Church, is the imminent coming of the Lord in the air to receive to Himself His own, both the living who shall be transformed, and the dead in Christ who shall be resurrected. (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13). This event takes place before the wrath of God is poured out during the tribulation.  Believers then will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to faithfulness in Christian service.(Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

 

THE TRIBULATION: The tribulation will be a time of judgment on the whole earth. (Matthew 24:15, 21-22; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) During this period the Antichrist will emerge to offer false hope to the nations.(2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:11-18)

 

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST:  The return of Christ to earth in power and great glory will conclude the great tribulation with the victory at Armageddon,(Matthew 24:27, 30; Luke 17:24, 26-30) the defeat of Antichrist and the binding of Satan. (Revelation 16:12-16; 17:8, 12-14; 19:11-20) Christ will introduce the millennial age,(Psalm 2:6-12; Daniel 2:44-45; Luke 22:29-30; Revelation 3:21; 20:6) restore Israel to her own land, lift the curse which now rests upon the whole creation, and bring the whole world to the knowledge of God.(Isaiah 1:24-27; 2:1-4; Zechariah 14:3, 4, 9; Romans 8:19-23; Revelation 22:3)

THE FINAL JUDGMENT:  There will be a final judgment in which the unbelieving dead will be raised and judged at the great white throne, according to their works.(Daniel 7:9-10; John 12:48; Romans 2:2, 6, 11, 16; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:11-15)

The beast and false prophet, the devil and his angels, and whoever is not found in the Book of Life, shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to annihilation but to everlasting punishment, which is the second death.(Matthew 25:41b; Jude 6; Revelation 20:10, 15; 21:8)

 

THE ETERNAL STATE OF THE RIGHTEOUS:  The righteous will share the glory of God in the new heaven and the new earth for eternity. (Matthew 13:43; John 17:24; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 11:10; Revelation 21:1-2, 10, 22-23)

 

POSITIONS AND PRACTICES

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:  Marriage is a provision of God wherein one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others enter into a lifelong relationship through a marriage ceremony that is recognized by the church and legally sanctioned by the state. The first biblical passage dealing with it is found in Genesis 2: 23, 24. It is apparent from this text that God intended for this relationship to be permanent and indissoluble. At the time of the establishment of this relationship, sin had not yet entered into man’s world therefore even “death” was not a consideration for dissolution because death was not in effect.

Marriage establishes a "one-flesh" relationship(Matthew 19:5; Malachi 2:15), that goes beyond a physical union and is more than either a temporary relationship of convenience intended to provide personal pleasure or a contract that binds two people together in a legal partnership.  Marriage establishes an emotional and spiritual oneness that enables both partners to respond to the spiritual, physical and social needs of the other. (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4)  It provides the biblical context for the procreation of children.

 

Marriage is to be an exclusive relationship that is maintained in purity. (Ephesians 5:3, 26, 27) It is intended by God to be a permanent relationship. It is a witness to the world of the relationship between Christ and His Church. (Ephesians 5:25, 31, 32)

 

Marriage requires a commitment of love, perseverance and faith.  Because of its sanctity and permanence, marriage should be treated with seriousness and entered into only after counsel and prayer for God's guidance.  Christians should marry only those who are believers.(2 Corinthians 6:14,15) An individual who becomes a believer after marriage should remain with his/her partner in peace, and should give witness to the Gospel in the home.(1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16)

 

The Bible holds family life as a position of trust and responsibility.  The home is a stabilizing force in society, a place of nurture, counsel, and safety for children. (Ephesians 6:4)

 

DIVORCE:  We believe that divorce is not God's intention.  It is God's concession to the "hardness of men's hearts." (Matthew 19:8)

 

In the context of what Jesus says in Matthew 19: 3 – 12; Mark 10: 2 – 12; Luke 16: 18, Jesus says; “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” His reference is to the “institution” of marriage as established in the beginning and not to every individual marriage made by men. It is possible for men to dissolve a specific marriage but no man can dissolve that which God has divinely instituted, namely the “institution of marriage”. We, must therefore agree that God does put “every” marriage together. Many are entered into without consulting God and therefore are not necessarily in His Will. (Proverbs3: 5, 6). We believe that the word “put away” (Deuteronomy 24:1) focuses on moral perversity and rebellion by the men of that day. Jesus used the Greek word for put away “apoluo” and not “apostasion”. When we understand the difference, a man who puts away his wife and has not provided her a “bill of divorcement”, the marriage is not dissolved and he is still married to her. Therefore if he remarries, this becomes an adulterous relationship. Jesus is more concerned with what is in the heart of an individual rather than just the overt actions taken. (Proverbs  23:7)  

 

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