Doctrinal Musing on Ecclesiology (Church)

I believe the church is the people of God who are the one community called by God comprised of all faithful believers of all ages.[1] The church consists of people who are chosen (1 Pet 2:9), called (Rom 1:6), and loved (1 Pet 2:10) by the Father, and who are true believers in Jesus Christ and his redemptive work, and who are indwelt, sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.[2]

The universal church is invisible and consists of all people from all times and places who are united by their faith in Jesus Christ. The universal church is Jesus’ new humanity, “the first fruit of the new creation, the whole company of the redeemed through the ages.”[3] The universal church is the body of Christ (Rom 12:4-5; Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:24) of which Christ is the divine head (Col 1:18; Eph 1:22). The universal church is the flock of Christ (John 10:14-16; 1 Pet 5:2-4) and the bride of Christ (Eph 5:25-27; Rev 21:2). It is God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:5) and his household or family (Gal 6:10; Eph 2:19).

The universal church is manifest in local and temporal form (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 1:2; Acts 9:31) as the visible church which “is both embassy and parable of the kingdom of heaven, an earthly place where his will is done and he is now present, existing visibly everywhere two or three gather in his name to proclaim and spread the gospel in word and works of love, and by obeying the Lord’s command to baptize disciples (Matt. 28:19) and celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19).”[4]

Baptism is a washing with water, which symbolizes the cleansing of believers from the stain and dirt of sin through the grace of God (Acts 22:16). Baptism is associated with repenting of sin and believing in the gospel (Acts 2:38, 41, 18:8), and so it is a sign and declaration of one’s union with Christ and association with his death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3-4).

The Lord’s Supper is a sacramental sign and spiritual truth of the believer’s redemption by Christ’s death. I agree with John Calvin when he writes, “I hold then… that the sacred mystery of the Supper consists of two things—the corporeal signs, which, presented to the eye, represent invisible things in a manner adapted to our weak capacity, and the spiritual truth, which is at once figured and exhibited by the signs.”[5] Thus, when believers partake of the Lord’s Supper, they do so in a heavenly and spiritual manner. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the King of heaven and his people of earth meet in celebration of Christ’s accomplished redemptive work and in anticipation of the heavenly banquet. I believe Christians meet with Christ in the Lord’s Supper and participate in and benefit from the spiritual meaning of his atoning sacrifice. We receive “forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.”[6]

I believe in the unity and fellowship of the church. The church is one in essence and transcends all barriers because it is founded on one gospel, united to one Lord and indwelt by one Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5) and “[i]n Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11). “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Php 2:1-2), and “[m]ake every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3). The unity of the church is expressed in fellowship by meeting together (Acts 2:46), by greeting one another (1 Cor 16:19-20), by extending hospitality (Rom 12:13), by sharing resources (Acts 2:44-45), and by suffering together (2 Cor 1:7).

Although Jesus Christ alone is the head of the church (Col 1:18) and the Holy Spirit directs the church (Acts 13:2), God calls and equips individuals to lead and to oversee the church (Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3:1, 8). I believe in a congregational church government model with plural local elders which includes the lead pastor as one of the elders (Acts 15:22, 20:17, 28).  I believe the church exists to worship (Eph 5:16-19; Col 3:16) and glorify God (Rom 15:6; 2 Thess 1:12; Eph 3:21), to edify believers (1 Cor 14:26; Eph 4:12-13; Col 1:28), to show mercy by caring for the poor and needy (Acts 11:29; 2 Cor 8:4; 1 John 3:17) and to evangelize lost people of all nations (Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8). “The Church is at the very centre of God’s cosmic purpose and is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must itself be marked by the cross”[7] which demonstrates Jesus’ sacrificial love and service towards others. 


[1] Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), EPUB edition, pt. 5, ch. 17, “The Church as Mystical, Universal and Local.” [2] Millard J.Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013), [3] “The Church” in A Reforming Catholic Confession, https://reformingcatholicconfession.com/. [4] “The Church” in A Reforming Catholic Confession, https://reformingcatholicconfession.com/. [5] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, bk 4, ch.17, section 11, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.xviii.html. [6] “An Outline of the Faith Commonly Called the Catechism–The Holy Eucharist” in The Book of Common Prayer (1979). [7] “The Church and Evangelism” in The Lausanne Covenant. https://www.lausanne.org/content/covenant/lausanne-covenant

Doctrinal Musing on the Holy Spirit

I believe in God-the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor 3:17-18; Heb 9:14), the third person of the Holy Trinity (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Peter 1:1-2). The Holy Spirit has both unity and distinction within the Godhead and “is of one substance, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God,”1 “and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified”2 (Gen 1:2; Rom 1:4; Rom 8:2; 1 Cor 2:10-11; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pet 4:14).  The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son (John 15:26; John 16:7) as “the unseen yet active personal presence of God in the world”3 (Psa 139:7; John 3:8) in order to bear witness to Jesus4 (John 15:26; 1 John 4:2-3), continue Jesus’ redemptive ministry (John 14:12-17; Acts 1:8), and unite believers to Jesus5 (Titus 3:5). 

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and its consequences (John 16:8-11; 1 Cor 14:24-25) and “by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith”6 (Ezek 36:26-27; John 3:5-8; 6:63; Eph 2:1-5). The Holy Spirit indwells believers (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16; 2 Tim 1:14) and seals them, marking them out as belonging to God (2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14). He “guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service”7 (Rom 8:14; 1 John 2:27; 1 Cor 12:3-7; 2 Cor 4:16; 2 Cor 3:18). He sanctifies believers enabling them to live holy lives dedicated to the service of God (Matt 3:11; Rom 8:13; Rom 15:16; 2 Thes 2:13).

The Holy Spirit wisely and sovereignly distributes gifts to the church for the edification and benefit of the body of Christ and for the witness in the world  (Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 4:11). The Holy Spirit unifies the body of Christ (Acts 2:44-47; Eph 2:18-22; Eph 4:3). The Holy Spirit inspires prophecy, gives knowledge and inspired the writers of Scripture (Num 24:2-3; 2 Pet 1:21; 1 Cor 12:8; 2 Tim 3:16). The Holy Spirit assures believers of their final victory in Christ and assures their inheritance in the age to come in the eternal kingdom of God (2 Cor 5:5; Eph 1:13-14).  


1Article V: “Of the Holy Ghost,” in Articles of Religion, https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/book-common-prayer/articles-religion#V 2Nicene Creed, https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/nicene-creed.  3“The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit,” in A Reforming Catholic Confession, https://reformingcatholicconfession.com/. 4Affirmation 14: “The Power of the Holy Spirit” in The Lausanne Covenant, https://www.lausanne.org/content/covenant/lausanne-covenant. 5“The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit,” in A Reforming Catholic Confession, https://reformingcatholicconfession.com/. 6Confession 9: “The Power of the Holy Spirit,” in Foundational Documents-Confessional Statement at The Gospel Coalition, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/. 7Confession 9: “The Power of the Holy Spirit,” in Foundational Documents-Confessional Statement at The Gospel Coalition, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/#confessional-statement.

Doctrinal Musing on Soteriology (Salvation)

I believe in the necessity of salvation due to the universal rule of sin in human nature (Isa 64:6; Rom 3:19-23) which separates humanity from God (Isa 59:1-2; Eph 4:18), causes spiritual death (Rom 5:15-16; Col 2:13) and enslaves humanity to evil (Hos 5:4; Rom 7:14-20; 2 Pet 2:13-19). 

“From all eternity God determined in [love and] grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them”[1] (Eph 2:4-5; Rom 3:22-24). God accomplished his salvific plan through the life and work of Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 4:9,14). 

God made “provision for human wrongdoing, corruption, and guilt, provisionally and typologically through Israel’s Temple and sin offerings, then definitively and gloriously in the gift of Jesus’ once-for-all sufficient and perfect sacrificial death on the cross (Rom. 6:10; 1 Pet. 3:18) in the temple of his human flesh (Heb. 10:11-12).”[2] Thus, the death of Jesus was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity (John 10:11; 1 Cor 15:3; Gal 1:4; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 3:16). Jesus bore the punishment for the sins of humanity satisfying God’s justice and removing humanity’s guilt and oppression and reconciling humanity to God (Isa. 53:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 2:14-15).

God calls people out of a state of sin and death to grace and salvation by Christ[3] (1 Cor 1:9; Eph 1:8; 2 Pet 1:10). This call leads to conversion which involves turning to God with repentance and with faith in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross (Luke 24:46-47; John 1:12; Acts 10:43, 20:21). Closely related to conversion is regeneration which involves the Holy Spirit renewing a person’s inner being, creating new life and transformation (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor 5:17; Php 1:6; 1 John 5:1).

Through faith in Jesus, believers are declared righteous before God (Rom 1:17, 3:28, 5:1). The righteousness of Jesus is imputed to believers (Php 3:9). On account of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the demands of the law of God are fulfilled (Rom 8:3-4) and believers are shielded from God’s wrath (Rom 5:9). Believers are adopted into God’s family (Gal 4:4-5; Eph 1:5) where they have access to the Father (Eph 2:18), to the inheritance of Christ (Rom 8:17; 1 Pet 1:4), to the provisions and protection from the Father (Matt 6:31-33), and to the loving discipline from the Father (Heb 12:6). 

God continues the work of salvation through the process of sanctification. This process of sanctification is the divine act of making Christians holy (Rom 12:1-3). It brings people’s moral condition into conformity with God’s holiness (Matt 5:48; 1 Pet 1:15-16) and with the legal status started in justification (1 Cor 6:11). Sanctification is accomplished by the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Rom 8:13; Rom 15:16; 2 Thes 2:13), but Christians also must strive to work and grow in sanctification (Rom 8:13; Php 2:12-13).

Genuine believers “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved”[4] (John 10:28-29; 1 Pet 1:5,9). All true believers will be glorified. Glorification is the final step in the salvation process. It involves the completion of sanctification, the removal of spiritual defects and the ultimate transformation of the body into a new glorified eternal body (1 Cor 15:38-52; Php 3:20-21; Jude 24; Rev 21:1-2).


[1] Confession 5: “The Plan of God” in Foundational Documents-Confessional Statement at The Gospel Coalition, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/#confessional-statement. [2] “The Atoning Work of Christ” in A Reforming Catholic Confession, https://reformingcatholicconfession.com/. [3] Chapter X: “Of Effectual Calling,” in The Westminster Confession of Faith, https://reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_ proofs/index.html. [4] Chapter XVII: “Of the Perseverance of the Saints” in The Westminster Confession of Faith, https://reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/index.html.