I. God’s Providence
We believe that God is personally involved in making sure the Universe does not fall apart. How exactly He does this is something the Church has not always been able to agree on (mainly because we are not allowed to watch it happen).
The discussion about God’s providence has three basic parts to it. The three parts are 1) Preservation, 2) Concurrence, and 3) Government. Here is a brief definition of each one taken from a theology book written by Wayne Grudem.
#1. Preservation means “God created all things existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them.” In other words God is the reason rocks are always hard, and why it hurts when (and if) you get hit with one.
#2. Concurrence means “God cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do.” What this means is that if someone picks up a rock and throws it at you, it will not become soft to avoid hurting you.
#3. Government means “God has a purpose in all that he does and he providentially governs or directs all things in order that they accomplish his purposes. What this means is that rocks are always going to be hard, which means we have to teach children not to throw rocks in order to avoid hurting people who might get hit.
Let me give you another example of this. We are able to live on this planet because of gravity. Gravity is the force that makes things fall down and hit the ground. Preservation, Concurrence and Government mean that there will never be a time when I can drop a rock and watch it “fall up into the sky” and leave the earth’s orbit.
There is a supernatural act we are not allowed to see that prevents that from happening.
II. Man’s Free Will
We also believe that all men, women and children have an ability to make choices that have real consequences. God has give us a gift that he did not share with any other life form on this planet.
Somehow within God’s providence we have freedom to make choices, and this freedom includes the opportunity to make choices that are not in our own best interest. We are under no obligation to do what God considers to be good.
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
II. God’s Covenants
We believe that God’s interactions with people are based on His covenants. Wayne Grudem says “The covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.”
There are two main covenants in the Bible. The first covenant was a legal agreement between God and a man named Abraham. The Bible says “On that day the LORD made a covenant with (Abraham) saying, “To your offspring I give this land…” (Genesis 15:18 ESV)
The second covenant was a legal agreement between God and the future generations of Abraham’s family. With Moses acting as God’s representative, the children of Israel formed a covenant with God at Mount Sinai by saying “all the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 24:3 ESV)
Unfortunately, the people of Israel did not keep their end of the covenant: “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant.” (Hosea 6:7 ESV)
We believe God has a plan to overcome our inability to live up to His standards. The Bible says this: “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:6-12 ESV)
So we believe that understanding the covenants is the key to understanding how God interacts with people living in this world.
We believe in the existence of angels.
Angels are spirits that are loyal to God. The kind of work they do is described in the Bible this way: “Are they not ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those that are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 ESV)
There is one very important thing that has been overlooked about angels. To state it simply, I can tell you that not all angels are angels. That may sound a little confusing to you, so let me explain what I mean.
We have developed a habit of using the word “angels” as a generic term to describe several different kinds of spiritual beings that the Bible never describes as angels. If you want to know more, then I have a book to recommend for you.
Angels by Michael Heiser
IV. Satan and Demons
The Bible tells us that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19 ESV)
Comments like this one tell us that there are evil spirits active in this world. This is an easily misunderstood topic, so let me put it in its proper Biblical context. Here is a summary for you:
When God created the world, part of His design was to allow us to make choices that have real consequences. As a result of a single choice that Adam made, from the moment we are born in this world, we are citizens of a satanic kingdom.
The proof of one’s citizenship in the satanic kingdom is the corruption in human nature. We are born with a corrupt sin nature that we sometimes act on by engaging in behavior that God disapproves of.
However, we need to realize that having corruption in your life does not mean you are struggling with what is commonly called “demon possession.” That is what happens when someone who has a corrupt sin nature decides they want to “sell their souls to the devil” in order to improve some aspect of their lives. The evil spirits responsible for what we call “demon possession” use this on people who have the influence and authority to make decisions for others by working in government or creating cultural habits that can be used to inflict pain and suffering on others.
A part of the work in making disciples requires us to help new believers become able to recognize the influence of evil spirits and reject them when they show up. Discipleship also involves learning God’s plans on how to identify and rescue people who “sold their souls to the devil” and are being used to spread corruption in our cultural habits.
We believe in prayer.
The Bible tells us what to think about prayer. We are told that “…you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2 ESV)
The Bible is full of stories showing us how prayer changed the world. God does listen to what his people are willing to ask for while he decides how the story of our lives will unfold.
We believe in miracles.
“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11 ESV)
The Bible is full of stories encouraging us to believe that God is willing to move heaven and earth to support those who are loyal to Him. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most well known miracle in the Bible.
Resurrection: Myth or Miracle?