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Doctrine Illuminated: The Bible (7min read)

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In these Doctrine Illuminated articles, the core beliefs of Addison Street Community Church are fleshed out in more detail. Begin by examining the section of the Doctrinal Confession, found at the top, and then discover an explanation of each of its lines below.



Section 1. The Bible.
 
"We believe that the Holy Bible of the Old and New Testaments was breathed out by God and written by human authors as the Holy Spirit carried them along. It is therefore without error, sufficient for the faith and practice of the Church, and the final standard by which all human conduct, confessions, and opinions should be judged."

What do you believe in? And why do you believe in it? These are surely two of the most important questions you can ask. We live in a generation in which truth has been made relative, and in today’s world, everyone seems to be his or her own ultimate authority over what is true and what should be followed as a source of knowledge and moral decisions. In this section of our confession, we explore why the Bible can be trusted as the absolute and infallible (containing no mistakes) truth to be believed, followed, and obeyed.

 

"We believe that the Holy Bible of the Old and New Testaments."

The Bible is not a series of disconnected stories. From Genesis (its first book) to Revelation (its last), the Scriptures form a single story that reveals the one and only God who created the whole world and humanity. All of humanity quickly showed their need for a savior when Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator in the 3rd chapter of the whole story. This is important because it shows how both the Old Testament and the New Testament are the Word of God, part of the same narrative. This narrative starts with creation, then presents the fall of humankind, followed by the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, and finally ending with the hope of his return when everything will be renewed (see Revelation 21-22).

"[The Holy Bible] was breathed out by God and written by human authors as the Holy Spirit carried them along."

2 Timothy 3:16 declares that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” and 2 Peter 1:21 says that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” These two verses together show us that behind every human author of the Biblical books there was One true Author that was inspiring (breathing out) what was written down. Does it mean these human authors were secretary-like writers that just wrote down what was dictated? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit used these people’s skills and different styles to put down in words the content He had in mind. Therefore, today we have the perfect Word of God that reveals all we need to know about the Lord and the need we have to be reconciled with Him through the Son, Jesus Christ.
 

"It is therefore without error."

Being breathed out by the Holy Spirit, the Bible cannot contain error because God is perfect and thus cannot make mistakes. In the Scriptures there is no contradiction, there is no inconsistency. Psalm 19:7 declares that “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul”; and in Luke 1:27 we find that “the Word of God will never fail.”. Every prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled in its own due time, becoming a blessed assurance that the promises it makes concerning the future are as good as done.  Every ethical norm in Scripture is trustworthy and profitable for our good.  Every story is recounted accurately. God’s word is indeed without error!

"[The Bible is] sufficient for the faith and practice of the Church, and the final standard by which all human conduct, confessions, and opinions should be judged."

The Bible is therefore the basis of the Christian faith. It reveals and teaches us all that is needed to believe about the fundamental questions of life: Who is God? Who are we?  What is the end of humankind? How are we saved? How should we live? Our confessions are birthed from Scripture, and our doctrine has the intention to make each of these beliefs clearer and easier to apply to our lives. Every time opinions and ideas become a matter of debate, the Bible should be brought up as the final judge that will declare the right and righteous sentence, for it is the Lord’s very word.

We believe in the Bible because it is the Word of God, breathed out by the Holy Spirit. It is perfect in every aspect, and it can be trusted as the ultimate authority over all that we need to know about God, about ourselves, about the world, about salvation, and how to live a godly life.

Doctrine Illuminated: Justification (10min read)

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In these Doctrine Illuminated articles, the core beliefs of Addison Street Community Church are fleshed out in more detail. Begin by examining the section of the Doctrinal Confession, found at the top, and then discover an explanation of each of its lines below. 



Section 8. Justification.
  
"We believe that justification is that great blessing of the gospel, which consists of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. It is not earned by works of the law but is given by faith alone to the one who believes in Jesus Christ alone. It brings us into a state of peace and favor with God, and it secures every other blessing needed for time and eternity."

In some of the most memorable movie scenes, an innocent person is standing in front of a jury waiting to be vindicated from the false charge that has been made against them. The verdict comes in and they are declared, “not guilty!” Everyone erupts with joy. Justice has been served. A similar dynamic takes place in the Christian life, but the major difference is that the Christian stands before a holy God, not as an innocent creature, but as one worthy of condemnation, or worthy of hearing God say, “guilty!” Yet through the free gift of God received by faith, the Christian instead stands vindicated, or justified, before Almighty God on account of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in their place. In this short article in the Doctrine Illuminated series, come and explore that great blessing of the gospel: the Christian’s justification.  

"We believe that justification is that great blessing of the gospel."

To be justified is to be declared righteous, that is, in a right standing with God. Since God created us to know him and to be righteous before him, then whatever means God uses to bring us back to that state is that great blessing of the gospel. Enter justification. At its heart is at least three things: the forgiveness of sins, right standing with God, and a new ability to live a pleasing life for him. As the Psalmist says, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1–2, ESV) The simple question for you, dear reader, is this: are you justified? Are you right with God and therefore in “that great blessing”?  

"[Justification] consists of the forgiveness of sins." 

To further bolster one of the central components of justification, look at what the apostle Paul says concerning it: “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:22-24) Notice that key phrase at the end, “in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” To say it another way: no forgiveness of sins, no justification. Yes, to be justified you must first know that you’re a sinner in need of forgiveness and justification. Are you aware of your natural enmity with God apart from the work Jesus? 

"And [justification consists of] the promise of eternal life."

But justification doesn’t just have to do with this life but secures for God’s faithful people eternal security in the life to come. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7) Through justification, the Christ-follower gets both the hope of eternal life now and true eternal life at the end of time when Christ returns. Do you long for eternal life? Then you must be justified. 

"It is not earned by works of the law."

When someone wants to make something very clear they often repeat themselves over and over again. Paul wants to make himself very clear that justification is not by works of the law. In other words, you can’t be justified by being good enough, even by trying to obey every single law that God lays out in the Old Testament. Notice how many times Paul says this in the course of a single sentence: “… yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16, author’s emphasis) How many times did he say that justification isn’t by works of the law? I’m no mathematician but I counted three times. One sentence. Justification ≠ works of the law. Justification = through trust in Christ Jesus.

"But [justification] is given by faith alone to the one who believes in Jesus Christ alone."

So if justification isn’t by works of the law, then you might be tempted to believe that in some odd way it comes by the exact opposite, that is, by lawlessness. But that’s not true. The opposite of obtaining justification by works of the law is to receive it by faith. This was understood long before Jesus hit the scene. Look what the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk says, “…but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This short phrase, “the righteous shall live by faith) is picked up by New Testament authors in several places. Why? Because it’s true. Justification comes by faith in Jesus Christ. So, here’s the easy question to ask yourself: “Do I live my life by faith in Jesus Christ?” 

"It brings us into a state of peace and favor with God." 

Because of God’s gracious justification of sinners in Christ Jesus, hostility is not the defining marker of our relationship with him, but peace is. Paul again states it succinctly, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) The logic is something like this, “because we have been justified therefore we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.” Whether you feel it or not, if you have living faith in Christ then rest assured that God is not hostile toward you, but peaceful. 

"And it secures every other blessing needed for time and eternity."

To put the phrase “every other blessing” into a single word, it would be, “God.” God is every blessing we need for time and eternity. All of God’s blessings are in some sense the very presence and goodness of God manifesting. Therefore, in Christ’s substitutionary death for us, he secured every blessing for time and eternity. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18) Look at that again. “That he might bring us to God.” The Christian has not only the remission and forgiveness of all their sin, but the Christian has God himself! He is everything you’ll ever need and everything you’ll ever want. Are you desiring anything? Find all your fulfillment in the very nature of God who brings you to himself through justification in Christ. 

 In case it wasn’t clear, the Christian’s justification comes through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their substitute. This brings them into Christ (a doctrine we call ‘Union with Christ’) so that they will be with Christ forever. Can you find many more glorious words than that precious thirteen letter word, “justification”?  

 

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