Major/Essential Doctrinal Statements
These articles authenticate true conversion. Belief in these major doctrinal articles is mandatory for church membership.
We accept the Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, as the written Word of God. The Bible is the only essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not to be added to, superseded, or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession, or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture. Isaiah 55:11, John 10:35, II Timothy 3:15-17, Hebrews 4:12, II Peter 1:21.
Reason: We believe Scripture is God’s Word and Final authority on all matters of life and doctrine. Scripture is absolute truth! Scripture is God’s special revelation to humanity that most clearly presents the Gospel.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He was perfect in nature, teaching and obedience. He is fully God and fully man. He was always with God and is God. Through Him all things came into being and were created. He was before all things and in Him all things hold together by the word of His power. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation and in Him dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily. He is the only Savior for the sins of the world having shed His blood and died a vicarious death on Calvary’s cross. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, the third day He rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness and for a period of forty days appeared to over five hundred witnesses performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He ascended into heaven where, at God’s right hand, He intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all. He is the Head of His body the Church and should be adored, loved, served, and obeyed by all. Matthew 1:18-25, John 1:1&14, Romans 1:4, 3:21-26, 8:34, Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25, I Peter 2:24, I John 3:5.
Reason: God the Son is the Person of the Holy Trinity that secured salvation. Only through Christ Jesus can a person be saved.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Through the proclamation of the gospel He persuades men to repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord. By the same Spirit a person is led to trust in divine mercy. The Holy Spirit brings about the new birth, and dwells within the regenerate and unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son who in turn came to glorify the Father. He will lead the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word. He is to be respected, honored, and worshipped as God the Third Person of the Trinity. There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty, and perfect in holiness, truth, and love. In the unity of the godhead there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal, co-eternal. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly Deity. One God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the foundation of Christian faith and life. Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 57:15, Matthew 28:19-20; John 16:7-11; Acts 5:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; Titus 3:5; Revelation 4:8.
Reason: God the Spirit is the Person of the Trinity that executes works of regeneration and sanctification that is necessary for salvation.
Jesus Christ is the gospel. The good news is revealed in His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the gospel, His resurrection is the power of the gospel and His ascension is the glory of the gospel. Christ’s death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His mysterious love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the Cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite privilege that redeemed sinners have of glorifying God because of what He has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches and ministries to proceed from and be related to the Cross. John 1:12, 3:16, 5:24, Acts 4:12, Romans 4:25, Ephesians 1:7-8, 13-14, Philippians 3:9-10.
Reason: Jesus Christ alone is the only means of salvation!
God the Father
God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world out of nothing. Through the same Word He daily sustains all His creatures. He rules over all and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love Him, and in His unfathomable grace gave His Son Jesus Christ for the redemption of all who believe. He made man for fellowship with Himself, and intended that all creation should live to the praise of His glory. Genesis 1:1, 3; Job 41:11; Psalm 50:10-12, 148:13; Isaiah 6:3, 43:7; Ephesians 1:11-12; Revelation 4:11.Reason: God the Father is the “First among Equals” of the Holy Trinity.
Though the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture, this doctrine was progressively revealed throughout redemptive history and is understood in three truths:
- God eternally exists in three Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit.
- Each Person is fully God.
- There is one God.
The Trinity doctrine is the bedrock of all Christian doctrine because it affirms all major or essential Christian doctrine to include:
- the Gospel: If Jesus was not God, could any “creature” bear the full wrath of God?
- the deity of Christ: If Jesus was not fully God, would we rightly doubt that we could trust Him? We are not to pray or worship any creature.
- justification by faith alone: Could we depend on a creature for salvation?! Can any work of finite, unholy man satisfy God’s holy wrath that demands an infinite, holy sacrifice?
- the independence of God: If there were no interpersonal relationship within the Godhead, it would be difficult to see how God could be without need.
- the inspiration and authority of Scripture: If God is truly immanent and transcendent, then so is His Word.
Clearly, the doctrine of the Trinity defines the object of our faith and our worship. This doctrine separates Christianity from all other religions. God the Father is the Member of the Trinity that planned and foreordained salvation.
God made man – male and female – in His own image, as the crown of creation, that man might have fellowship with Him and reflect His glory. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God. Being estranged from his Maker, yet responsible to Him, he became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. He is at enmity with God, hostile toward God, and hateful of God. Fallen, sinful people, whatever their character or attainments, are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ. Genesis 1:27, 3:1-19, Romans 3:10-11, 21-26, 8:2.
Reason: To deny the sinful nature of fallen man would be to deny the necessity for Christ’s substitutionary atonement. To deny the need of Christ would be to deny Christ
Man’s Response to the Gospel
Man’s response to the gospel is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional election of God for His own pleasure and glory. It is also true that the message of the gospel is only effectual to those who genuinely repent of their sins and by God’s grace put saving faith in Christ. This gospel of grace is to be sincerely preached to all men in all nations. Biblical repentance is characterized by a changed life, and saving faith is evidenced by kingdom service or works. While neither repentance nor works save, unless a person is willing to deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Christ, he cannot become His disciple. Matthew 16:18, 28:19-20; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12, 2:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4.
Reason: Salvation is secured only by responding to the Gospel.
Man’s Inheritance Through the Gospel
Salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone turning from sin in repentance and looking to Christ and His substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God as a free gift. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him. He is justified and fully accepted by God. Through Christ’s atonement for sin an individual is reconciled to God as Father and becomes His child. The believer is forgiven the debt of his sin and via the miracle of regeneration liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God’s Spirit. Romans 5:1, 9, 18, 8:15-17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5.
Reason: Justification is attained by faith alone in Christ alone. Man adds nothing to the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement.
Minor/Non-essential Doctrinal Statements
Though nonessential for salvation, the following minor/nonessential doctrinal statements have a major impact on ROCC’s ministries, visions, and values as well as in the life of believers. Agreement to support, not necessarily belief in, these doctrinal statements is mandatory for membership of River Oaks.
Empowered by the Spirit
Ordinances of the Church
Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ’s atoning work and become His disciple. Therefore, in obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the Church, oneself and the world; a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts a person’s release from the mastery of sin. Matthew 26:26-29, 28:19, Acts 2:42, 8:12, Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23-24, Colossians 2:12. As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of his blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body. 1Corinthians10:16-17;11:17-34