The Church is the body of Christ [Body Church] (Colossians 1:18, 24; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 3:21; Hebrews 12:23) sometimes known as the universal or invisible church (Matthew 16:18). The Body of Christ is composed of the total number of Spirit-baptized believers (1 Corinthians 12:13) from the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; Acts 11:15-16) to the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), whether they be in heaven or on earth. The Church is God’s vehicle for service in this dispensation (Ephesians 3:8-10) and is distinct from Israel (1 Corinthians 10:32). The Church has been given a priority position in the family of saints and is destined to be co-regent with Christ in His Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:21).
The local church is the earthly, visible representative of the body of Christ in a particular time and place (1 Corinthians 1:2; Revelation 2-3). It is comprised of a group of believers (Acts 2:47) who have been water baptized by immersion (Acts 2:41; Acts 8:38-39), organized with scriptural officers (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13), share the common faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3; Acts 2:42), observe the two ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper – Acts 2:41-42), carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and meet on the first day of the week at regularly stated times (John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:25; Revelation 1:10). The local church is God’s ordained instrument for His work and witness in this age (1 Timothy 3:15).
The primary purpose of the church is doxological [to bring glory to God] (Ephesians 3:21). The church carries out its doxological purpose through worship, edification, fellowship, and evangelism (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:7-16; Matthew 28:18-20). Each local church is autonomous and independent with Christ as head (Matthew 18:17), and the proper form of church government is congregational (Acts 6:1-6; Acts 13:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:19; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5). The officers of the local church are pastor (1 Timothy 3:1; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-2; Titus 1:5-7) and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8). By virtue of his office the pastor has ministerial authority delegated to him by the congregation (1 Timothy 3:1, 5; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24), but the voice of the body is the final court of appeal.
The local church has the duty to preserve unity in its action (Romans 12:16), maintain pure doctrine and practice (Jude 3), has authority to observe and guard the ordinances (1 Corinthians 11:23-24), to elect its own officers, leaders, and messengers (Acts 6:1-6; Acts 14:23; cf. 1 Corinthians 8:19), ordain men to the ministry (Acts 13:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:14), discipline its membership (Matthew 18:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6), settle its internal affairs (1 Corinthians 6:1-5), and determine its relationship to other ecclesiastical bodies (Acts 15).
Though a plurality of elders did exist in some NT churches (Acts 20:17; James 5:14), an equality of elder authority within one local church did not exist (1 Timothy 3:1, 8; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13, 19, 22; Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:12; Revelation 2-3; cf. Malachi 2:7; Haggai 1:13; 1 Corinthians 11:3). The pastor is the highest office in the NT church and has the oversight thereof (1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Peter 5:1-2). The deacon is subordinate to the pastor and deals with service in the church (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8). The ordinances of the local church are those outward rites, baptism and the Lord’s supper, which Christ has appointed in His church as visible signs of the saving faith of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Acts 19:5; 1 Corinthians 11).
In light of the doctrine of God’s holiness (Isaiah 6:1-3), the church militant has the responsibility to expose, separate from, and refute false teachers (2 John 9-11; 1 Timothy 1:19-20). The local church must be ecclesiastically separate by withdrawing fellowship from and refusing to collaborate or make common cause with an ecclesiastical organization/religious leader that deviates from the standards of Scripture or does not believe and obey the word of God in doctrine and practice (Matthew 7:15; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:16-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 John 4:1-3; Romans 16:17-18; Galatians 1:8-10). This doctrine includes separation from Christian individuals or organizations that affiliate with those who deny the faith or are content to walk with those who compromise the doctrine and practice of Scripture (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:18-20; Matthew 18:15-17).
The church is to be separate from the world (organized system of evil ordered against God) by refusing to nurture an affection for or an attachment to some aspect of the present arrangement of things such as the world’s thought patterns, amusements, fads, habits, philosophies, goals, practices, and lifestyles (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1-2; James 4:4; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21). The church must maintain the pivotal balance between being in the world but not being of the world (John 17:13-14; 1 John 2:15-17). The church is responsible to maintain her purity and testimony and must, therefore, exercise discipline over disobedient brothers (Matthew 18:16-17; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-15).
We are committed to biblical, orthodox, and historic doctrine, and practice ecclesiastical, personal, and civil separation, and affirm as well as defend those doctrines by means of a militant exposure of non-biblical expressions and practices. We are equally opposed to the New Evangelicalism defined as a conciliatory movement that accommodates neo-orthodoxy and neo-liberalism, that is antagonistic toward Biblical separation, and that cooperates with compromised movements such as ecumenical evangelism, contemporary Christian music, evangelical feminism, charismatic theology, and Christian psychology (etc.).
Baptism is a memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Mark 1:5, 9; John 8:38-39; Romans 6:3-4), a symbol of the Christian’s union with Christ (Galatians 3:27), and a prophecy of the believer’s bodily resurrection (Colossians 2:12). Baptism precedes church membership (Acts 2:41) and admits one into membership upon congregational assent.
The Lord's Supper
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of Christ’s broken body and shed blood (Matthew 26:26-28), a symbol of the believer’s participation in the benefits of Christ’s atonement (1 Corinthians 10:26; 1 Corinthians 11:26), and a prophecy of the final gathering of the saints with Christ in His Kingdom (1 Corinthians 11:26). Regeneration, baptism, church membership, and an orderly walk are all required for communion (Acts 2:41-42; 1 Corinthians 11:28). Close communion appears to be the normal practice in the early church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11).