Statement of Faith
Statement of Faith
This church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church. The Word of God, the Bible, is its sole rule for faith and practice..
2. THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH
Grace Baptist Church exists to honor and glorify God through the making and maturing of Christ-like disciples who are both useful and fruitful in the work of God. Building godly hearts for godly living (Proverbs 4:23) by taking the Word of His grace, the unchanging promises of God, to the world shall be the central purpose which shapes the ministries of Grace Baptist Church.
3. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHURCH
God-Centered in focus
Existing to bring glory to the great God whom we serve, the focus of the preaching, the programs, and the praise of Grace Baptist Church shall be God-centered. Our God-centered focus is revealed in our:
Commitment to excellence.
We believe that God's glory is worthy to be honored by the eager effort of God's people. Seeking to reflect the excellence of our God, Grace Baptist Church is committed to a purpose-driven ministry which establishes measurable standards and seeks to accomplish them by using our God-given resources effectively. Excellence in ministry is more than being the best or doing our best: it demands proper stewardship in the performance of the right mission (Matt. 25:14-30).
Commitment to a Word-centered fellowship.
We believe that the sole authority for the faith and practice of God's people is the Bible, God's inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word. The making and maturing of Christ-like disciples demands the clear proclamation of the all-sufficient Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17). We are committed to building godly hearts for godly living (Pro 4:23) by concentrating on the communication of biblical truth with practical application to every area of daily living.
Commitment to effectual prayer.
We believe that God's people must be committed to following God's demand for fervent and persistent prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-7; Luke 18:1-8). As a loving Father, God delights in answering the prayers of His children (Matt. 7:7-11). Most importantly, God is honored by answered prayer (Ps. 50:15). Therefore, we are committed to regular times of corporate prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:23-31; 13:1-3), loving intercession for fellow believers (Phil .1:9-11), and continual praying for the furtherance of the Gospel and the redemption of the lost (2 Thess. 3:1; Rom. 10:1).
People-Oriented in Program
The maturing of Christ-like disciples who will be useful and fruitful in the work of the ministry demands a people-oriented focus. Programs are not more important than people. Our people orientation is seen in our:
Commitment to gift-based ministry.
We believe that God has gifted every believer with the abilities necessary for a fruitful ministry in the local church (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10). These gifts have been given for the good of the church (1 Cor. 14:12) and for ministering to others (1 Pet. 4:10). Therefore, we shall seek to place believers into areas of ministry according to their God-given gifts and abilities.
Commitment to Spirit-motivated ministry.
We believe that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of God's people to burden them about ministering for God's pleasure (Phil. 2:13; Ps. 37:4; Neh. 2:12). Therefore, we will seek and encourage the bottom-up development of ministry throughout the church.
Commitment to an equipping ministry.
We believe that every member of the local church is responsible and accountable for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12). God has given vocational ministers to His church for the purpose of equipping and empowering church members to engage in effective ministry. Such ministry will result in the building up and strengthening of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). Therefore, we shall strive to place the ministries of Grace Baptist Church into the hands of nonvocational ministers.
Commitment to servant leadership.
We believe that God has established clear positions of leadership within His church (1 Tim. 3:1,10). These leaders are committed to genuine servant leadership which seeks the benefit and development of those who are served (Matt. 20:20-34; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Therefore, we honor Christ-like humility and strive to forge consensus among God's people through diligently teaching biblical principles.
Commitment to mentoring spiritual leaders.
We believe that God calls on spiritual leaders to develop the next generation of spiritual leadership through the mentoring process (2 Tim. 2:2). Therefore, we call believers to a serious ministry commitment and invest our lives in the development of spiritual leaders who can rise to fill our place.
Process-focused in Discipleship
Useful and fruitful disciples who live like the Lord Jesus are not developed through events, rather God's people learn to live godly through development of a godly heart. This demands that we focus on the process of discipleship, and this focus is demonstrated in our:
Commitment to providing accountability in the context of loving relationships.
We believe that a mark of a maturing believer is a commitment to biblical fellowship. Such fellowship seeks to encourage and exhort other believers to faithfully follow Christ (Rom. 15:14; Heb. 3:13) and is best developed in the context of loving relationships where there is a common interest in the welfare of others (John 13:34-35; Phil. 2:3-4). Therefore, we structure ministry opportunities where meaningful relationships and mutual accountability can be developed.
Commitment to training believers for effective life stewardship.
We believe that God calls on every believer to be found faithful in the stewardship of all that He has entrusted to his care. As managers of God's resources, believers will be held accountable for how they invest their lives, abilities, material assets, and even their relationships (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12). Therefore, we are committed to the development of stewards who are well-pleasing to their Lord.
Commitment to relational evangelism.
We believe that God has placed every believer into a relational network of people that is to be their primary evangelistic focus. We believe that Christ sends each believer out to develop redemptive relationships with the lost (John 17:18; 20:21). Believers are not to be of this world, but in the world, giving a clear verbal witness about Christ (Rom. 10:9-15), and living out the Christian life so that the unbelievers may see it (Matt. 5:16; John 13:34-35). Therefore, we encourage every believer to have regular contact with the world, while avoiding its corruption. We seek to train believers to communicate the Gospel and to provide opportunities for unbelievers to be introduced to the fellowship of our church.
4. OUR CONFESSION OF FAITH
We believe that the Bible in the autographs, exclusively comprised of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the only inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God (1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
Inspiration is the supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness (2 Tim. 3:16). The mode used by God in inspiration was that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21). Although there is a human aspect in the process of inspiration, the Scripture finds its origin in the mind of God (2 Peter 1:21; 3:15). The Scripture's ultimate origin certifies that it is without error (inerrant: John 17:17) and that it is incapable of failing in its judgments and statements (infallible: Mt. 5:18).
We believe that God providentially preserved His Word as evidenced in His divine promise (John 10:35), in the Biblical practice of keeping records (Ex. 17:14; Joshua 24:26), in the continuing authority of the Scriptures (Mt. 5:18), in the implied warnings regarding tampering with the Scriptures (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19), in the command to know the Scriptures (Deut. 6:4-9; John 3:10), and in the existence of translations, versions, copies, and reproductions of the text.
We believe that the Scriptures' central message is clear and plain (perspecuity: Ps. 119:105; Ps.119:130), that it is self-attesting (1 Thess. 2:13), and that each believer can come to the Scriptures directly. Therefore, the Scriptures must be interpreted correctly to ascertain God's message, to formulate correct doctrine, and to have valid and authoritative content in teaching and preaching.
We believe that God parcelled out His revelation as He willed it and as man was able to receive it (Heb. 1:1), that with each dispensation came additional revelation, and that, while everything in the Bible is written for the New Testament believer, not everything is written to the New Testament believer (Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
We believe that the natural man cannot understand the significance of the Scriptures (1 Cor. 2:14). It is only those who possess the Spirit and have received the Scripture in faith who profit from it (1 Cor. 2:10-16; Heb. 4:2). At the new birth, the Holy Spirit removes any hostility towards the Word, imparts certainty that the Scriptures come from God (1Thess. 1:5), and illuminates the mind to understand the significance of the Scriptures and to accept it as true (1 John 2:20, 27).
We believe in a closed canon: that the process of special revelation and inspiration has ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-13; Rev. 22:18-19)and that the canon is the only collection of divinely inspired books and writings which are therefore authoritative, sacred, normative, and binding. No tradition or claim of further revelation can replace the authority of the Scriptures (Ps. 119:89; 2 Tim. 3:16).
We believe in the one triune God. He is existing eternally in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons exist in one divine essence, identical in nature, having the same attributes and perfections, equal in power and glory, worthy of all honor, worship, and adoration (Mt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 13:14).
GOD THE FATHER
We believe that God the Father is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support, and end (John 4:24). He has manifested His essence through His attributes which are divided into two categories. First, attributes associated with His greatness include: self-existence (Ex. 3:14), infinity (1 Kings 8:27), perfection (Mt. 5:48), omnipotence (Mt. 19:26), omniscience (Ps. 139:1-4), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-12), immutability (Mal. 3:6), and incomprehensibility (Rom. 11:33). Secondly, attributes associated with His goodness include: holiness (Ps. 99:4-9), love (1 John 4:8, 16), truth (1 Sam. 15:29), righteousness (Ps. 11:7), faithfulness (Ps. 36:5), justice (Rom. 2:6), mercy (Eph. 2:4), and grace (Eph. 1:7).
We believe that the source or ground of God's existence is wholly in Himself. He is totally uncaused and is independent of all things external to Himself. The Scriptures presuppose the existence of God (Gen. 1:1) and never directly defend it. Man, who is made in the image of God, clearly and undeniably possesses the innate knowledge of God through his conscience (Rom. 2:14-15) and general revelation (Ps.19:1-6; Rom. 1:20). Consequently, it is this innate knowledge that holds all mankind as inexcusable (Rom. 1:20).
We believe that God created the universe out of nothing (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9) in six literal, twenty-four hour days (Gen. 2:1; Ex. 20:11). God preserves that which He has created (Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:17) and controls it according to His divine purpose (Ps. 104). In the functional aspect of the Godhead, the Bible presents a certain priority in function only, not in essence. In the work of the Godhead, the Father is the planner, source, and functional authority (Gen. 1:1-2), the Son is the channel, and the Holy Spirit is the active agent (Eph. 2:18).
We believe that God has one single, all-inclusive, and comprehensive purpose, plan, or will. This plan (decree of God) is that eternal plan by which God has rendered all things certain and all the events of the universe, past, present, and future (Rom. 8:28; Eph 1:11).
GOD THE SON:
We believe that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, is God (John 1:1). He is called God (John 1:1, 18), He is worshipped as God (John 5:23), and He is identified as Yahweh of the Old Testament (Isa. 6:1, 40:3; Mt. 3:3; John 12:41). He is coeternal and coequal with the Father and the Spirit in essence (John 8:58; 10:30).
We believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin through the work of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:20, 23; Luke 1:35). This miraculous birth was necessary because it best explains the preexistence of Christ (John 1:1-2; 8:58). As a man, He grew and developed (Luke 2:40), expressed emotions (Mark 3:5; John 11:35), manifested an appetite (Mt. 8:24; John 4:2; Heb. 4:15), suffered and died (Luke 22:44; John 19:30, 34). He is fully God and fully man, one person with two distinct natures (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5).
We believe that at the incarnation, Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became the self-emptying One when He voluntarily laid aside (yielded to the will of the Father) the independent use of His divine attributes and prerogatives (Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus took on the role of a servant, voluntarily restricted Himself, in order to achieve His objectives in redemption (John 10:10; Heb. 5:8).
We believe that Jesus Christ died a genuine death as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of the whole world (Mt. 27:50; 1 John 2:2). With His death came the completion of His atoning work (John 19:30). Christ's death was in the eternal plan of God (Acts 2:23; Rev. 13:8), is of infinite value, and is sufficient for all the sins of the world (Isa. 53:6; John 1:29; I John 2:2), for reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), and for substitution (Isa. 53:6). The atonement is universal in its worth and is sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind (1 Tim 2:6; Titus 2:11, Heb. 2:9), but it is efficient only for believers (1 Tim. 4:10).
We believe that Jesus Christ rose miraculously and bodily from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:39; 1 Cor. 15:4-7) and that His resurrection was an act of the Triune God (Acts 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18). His resurrection is the firstfruits of our resurrection (1 Cor 15:23) and gives validity to our preaching (1 Cor. 15:14-15), faith (1 Cor. 15:16-17), salvation (1 Cor. 15:14, 17), and our present and future hope (1 Cor. 15:18-19). Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:11) where He is interceding for the saints (Heb. 4:15; 7:24-27), awaiting His return for the saints (1 Thess. 4:16) and the establishment of His Kingdom (Rev. 19:11ff).
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT:
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:18). He is coeternal and coequal in essence with the Father and the Son (Mt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4). He is eternal (Heb. 9:14), omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-10), omnipotent (Rom. 15:19), and omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11). He possesses the attributes of personality: intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), volition (1 Cor. 12:11), emotion (Eph. 4:30), and communication (Acts 8:29).
The Holy Spirit's involvement in the world included creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4), the exaltation of Christ (John 16:8-11), the conviction of sinners (John 16:8-11), and the restraining of sin (2 Thess. 2:6-7). His work with respect to Jesus Christ was that He prepared a body for Jesus (Luke 1:35), He anointed Jesus at His baptism (Mt. 3:16-17), He led Jesus at the temptation (Luke 4:1), and He empowered Jesus in His ministry (Luke 4:14, 18). In His work concerning the Scriptures, He was the active agent in inspiration (1 Peter 1:11), and He illumines believers to understand the significance of the Scriptures (1 Cor. 2:14ff). In His work in relationship to the believer, the Spirit regenerates (John 3:5-6), indwells (1 Cor. 3:16), seals (Eph. 1:13-14), baptizes (1 Cor. 12:13), controls (Eph. 5:18), assures (Rom. 8:26), and is our earnest (Eph. 1:14).
We believe that spiritual gifts are God-given abilities distributed by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:4; Rom. 12:6-13) for use in the service and outreach of the local church (1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28-31; 1 Peter 4:10). The purpose of the gifts is for the equipping of the saints for the work of service (Eph. 4:10-12) and for the good of the body (1 Cor 12:7).
Certain of the gifts were of a miraculous nature and served as a sign or confirmation of the formation of God's church, the body of Christ. Therefore, their purpose has been fulfilled, and we believe that the miraculous gifts have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8; Eph. 2:20; Heb. 2:2-4). One such gift is the gift of tongues; therefore, we believe that the Holy Spirit does not employ speaking in tongues as a present gift(1 Cor. 14:5, 9, 40).
We believe that angels were created in the opening moments of creation (Job 38:6-7). The angels were originally and directly created with great intellect and power (Dan. 9; 2 Peter 2:11), free from sin (Gen 1:31; Jude 6), immortal (Luke 20:36), and unable to procreate (Mt. 22:30; Luke 20:35-36). Angels can be classified as: 1) those who kept their holy position and are confirmed in holiness (Mt. 25:31; 1 Tim. 5:21); 2) those who left their original holy position and followed Satan in his rebellion against God (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 12:4).
The angels which kept their holy position, known as Archangel, Seraphim, and Cherubim, are ministers of God to carry out His work (Dan. 10:12-13; 12:1) and to minister to the saints (Heb. 1:14); they will accompany the Lord Jesus Christ at His return (Mt. 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7-8).
The evil angels, known as demons, are actively opposing the people of God (Eph. 6:12), hindering the work of God (Dan. 10:13), and afflicting God's people (2 Cor. 12:7; Rev. 2:10).
The head of this demonic race is Satan (Mt. 12:24; 2 Cor. 4:4) who is a personal being (John 8:44; Eph. 6:11-12), a powerful being (Jude 9), the author of sin (I John 3:8), the enemy of God and His people (Rev. 12:10; 20:8-9), and who will ultimately be cast with his followers into a literal lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:1-10).
We believe man was created on the sixth day of creation in the image of God as a direct and supernatural act of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). The image of God in man is moral (Gen. 1:31), mental (Gen. 1:28), social (Gen. 2:18), and is not necessarily physical (John 4:24). This image, although severely marred at the fall, is not totally lost or removed (Gen. 9:6; James 3:9).
We believe that Adam was created with a true knowledge of his God in righteousness and holiness (Ecc. 7:29; Col. 3:9-10), but by an act of his own volition, he chose to disobey God and plunged the entire human race into condemnation and depravity (Rom. 5:12; Gen. 3:1-7). As a result of Adam's act of disobedience and as the representative (federal headship) of the human race, God imputes sin to every person (Rom. 5:12); therefore, each individual stands guilty before God. Furthermore, each individual is absolutely responsible for his sin and its accompanying judgment (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
Each person is composed of an immaterial part and a material part (Mt. 10:28; James 2:26). The material part of man is represented by the body and the immaterial by the soul or spirit (2 Cor. 4:16; James 2:26). Both the material and immaterial parts of man are propagated by natural generation (traducianism: Gen. 5:3; Ps. 51:5; Acts 17:26).
We believe that man is totally depraved and is therefore unable to contribute to his salvation or to have any spiritual merit before God (Prov. 21:27; Rom. 3:10). Each person stands condemned for his rebellion to an eternal, conscious punishment which includes eternal separation from the presence of God (John 3:18; Rev. 20:15) unless he repents and trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16).
We believe in the universal sinfulness of the human race (Rom. 3:10-12). Sin is lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition, or state (Ps. 32:1; John 8:34; Rom. 7:17; I John 3:4). Sin includes pollution as well as guilt (Eph. 4:22). Sin is essentially selfish and desires to exalt itself over God, thus destroying the Creator/creature distinction (Gen. 3:5; Rom. 1:21).
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). It includes physical death (James 2:26), spiritual death (Eph. 2:1), and the second death which is the permanent and final separation of the person from God. The second death is an irrevocable continuation of spiritual death (Rev. 20:14-15). Therefore, as a result of Adam's sin being imputed to the entire human race, depravity,
condemnation, and death have affected the entire human race (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1-5). Depravity has penetrated man's body (Rom. 8:10), mind (Eph. 4:17-18; Titus 1:15), will (John 8:34), and heart (Jer. 17:9).
We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, chose all believers to salvation in Christ with all its accompanying blessings and responsibilities (regardless of human merit: Eph. 1:4). Salvation consists of the following: Election - God, in eternity past and according to His good pleasure, made His sovereign choice of unworthy sinners to salvation (Eph. 1:4-5, 11); Calling - There is one calling of God with two aspects: first, the general call invites all who hear the gospel to come and be saved (Mt. 11:28; John 12:32), and second, the effectual call is the direct work of the Holy Spirit that brings the sinner to faith and repentance (John 6:64; Rom. 8:30; 1 Tim. 1:8-9); Regeneration - the instantaneous, supernatural impartation of spiritual life to the spiritually dead (John 3:3; Eph. 2:1); Repentance - a change of view, feeling, and purpose toward God, sin, and ourselves (Acts 20:21; Heb. 6:1); Faith - knowledge of, assent to, and unreserved trust in the accomplished redemption of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures (Heb. 11:6); Justification - the judicial act of God by which He declares the believing sinner righteous and treats him as such (Rom. 5:1); Adoption - the judicial placement of the believer as a child of God and the bestowment of all the accompanying rights and privileges of a child (Gal. 4:4-5); Sanctification - the continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened (2 Cor. 3:18); Eternal Security/Perseverance - the securing by God of all true believers unto final salvation and the causing of them to persevere in grace until that time (1 John 3:9; Jude 24).
We believe that each person is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) and stands condemned before God (Rom. 5:23). Every person is in need of salvation which God has provided through the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The offer of salvation is universal (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8); therefore, every believer is responsible to proclaim the gospel and seek to evangelize the world with the gospel (Rom. 10:9-17). However, man left to himself is unable to respond to God in any way apart from God's work (John 6:44; Rom. 3:11).
We believe that the vehicle for worship and service in this dispensation is the church (Eph. 3:2-10). The New Testament church consists of believers who have been baptized and meet together for the purpose of evangelism, edification, fellowship, and worship (Acts 2:41-47). The church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), and Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22-23). Universally, the church includes all believers saved between Pentecost and the Rapture whether they are in Heaven or on the Earth.
The local church is a local assembly of believers who have been baptized by immersion (Acts 2:41), organized with pastor(s) and deacons (Phil. 1:1), observing the ordinances (Acts 2:41-42), sharing a common faith based on a body of truth around which to worship and fellowship (Acts 2:42), carrying out the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20), meeting at regular and stated times (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25) at a given location. The local church is the visible expression of the Body of Christ in any one place on earth (1 Cor. 1:2). The sole rule for faith and practice in the local church is the Word of God (1 Cor. 14:37-38; 1 Tim. 3:15).
We believe that the church is distinct from the nation of Israel in its origin, purpose, and destiny (Isa. 61:6; Phil. 3:20; Rev. 3:21). The church was inaugurated on the Day of Pentecost by the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2; 1 Cor. 12:13). Spirit baptism is the judicial placing of the believer into the Body of Christ at salvation (1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 1:22-23).
We believe in the congregational form of church government (Mt. 18:15-17; Acts 6:3; Acts 14:23). Therefore, governing authority resides in the members of the local church with each local church exercising autonomy and independence with Christ as the head. Consequently, no one person or organization can be over the local church. Pastors and deacons are the leaders of the membership, but have no more ecclesiastical authority than any other member in the body.
The offices of the church are pastors (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1) and deacons (1 Tim. 3:8). The qualifications for these offices are delineated in Acts 6:1-4, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. While a plurality of pastors is found in the Scriptures (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Phil. 1:1; James 5:14), it does not necessitate an equality of rule among them (Acts 15:13ff; 21:18; Gal. 2:12).
We believe the two ordinances of the church are the Lord's supper and baptism. An ordinance is a rite which Christ has appointed in His church as a visible sign of the saving truth of the gospel. It is a symbol and is not in any manner a means of grace. Baptism is the immersion of a professing believer into water and symbolizes the believer's union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13). The Lord's supper symbolizes the body that was given and the blood that was shed by Jesus Christ. It is a memorial to Christ (1 Cor. 11:24), a pledge of the New Covenant (1 Cor. 11:25), a proclamation of Christ's death (1 Cor. 11:26), and a prophecy and promise of Christ's Second Coming (Mt. 26:29; 1 Cor. 11:26).
We believe the church is responsible to maintain the truth of God's Word by separating from and exposing false teachers (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 John 9-11). The church is not to associate with a church, ecclesiastical organization, or religious leader who does not hold to the fundamental, cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith as revealed in the Scriptures (Mt. 7:15; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6-9, 14-15; 2 John 10-11). We believe that the church must maintain the crucial balance of being in the world, but not of the world (John 17:13-14; 1John 2:15-17).
THE END TIMES:
We believe that the next event on God's calendar is the rapture of the church which can occur at any moment (imminent: 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Rev. 3:10-11; Rev. 22:20). The church will be taken to heaven for its final redemption (2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:6), the bema or judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), and the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7).
After the rapture, the seven year Tribulation period will be initiated on the earth with the signing of a covenant between the Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27). This period will be a time of wrath and judgment such as the world has never seen before (Rev. 6:16-17; 14:15-18). It is for the purpose of chastening Israel (Isa. 28:15; Jer. 30:7), saving Israel (Dan. 12:1; Zech.12:10), saving the Gentiles (Zech. 3:9; Mt. 25:34), and reclaiming the earth for the Kingdom of God (1Thess. 1:10; Rev. 5). During the Tribulation many Jews and Gentiles will turn to God for salvation as a result of the ministry of the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3) and the Jewish evangelists (Rev. 7). The period will consist of three series of literal judgments (seals, trumpets, and bowls). In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and turn on them with great violence and contempt (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13).
At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return with His saints to conquer all His enemies, cast the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, and bind and cast Satan into the Abyss for a thousand years while Christ rules and reigns on earth in the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 19:11-20:4). After the thousand years, Satan will be set free for a season, and once again he will gather an army to overthrow God (Rev. 20:7-9). Jesus Christ will crush Satan and this army once and for all (Rev. 20:9-10). Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10), and all those that died without salvation will be summoned to the Great White Throne Judgment to receive their eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:12-15). God will recreate the heaven and the earth and, thus, will usher in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1ff).
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