Doctrinal Distinctives of the DRBC Pastors
- Introductory Thoughts:
It is our desire that everyone hearing our preaching/teaching have the opportunity to know our doctrinal commitments, including points of doctrine that go beyond what is stated in the DRBC Statement of Faith.
We continue to study carefully the Word of God regularly as we prepare to preach and teach. The following doctrinal distinctives derive from our shared conviction that they are taught in the Bible. Failure to preach and teach them would be to violate conscience. This document is not intended to be a thorough defense of these convictions (or even an adequate beginning for making the case for them). An exhaustive treatment of each would require volumes. We are convinced that the best way to arrive at truth in what we believe, live, preach and teach is represented in the following sequence that demonstrates the flow of Truth from God to man, and includes the particular theological disciplines necessary for proper recognition and reception of God’s Truth:
God>>Revelation (General and Special)>>Bible>>Hermeneutics/Exegesis>>Biblical Theology>>Systematic Theology (informed by Historical and Dogmatic Theology)>>Practical Theology
The 66 Books of the Bible, contained in what we call the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God and are the very words of God. Jesus affirmed the Hebrew Scriptures as we have them today (Luke 24:44). The New Testament is the product of the ministry of the Holy Spirit (as was the OT—2 Peter 1:16-21), in His role of giving to the Apostles the words of Jesus, which He received from the Father (John 14:15-26; 15:26-27; 16:5-15; 17:14-21). Paul cites the writing of Luke as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18 citing Luke 10:7), and Peter affirms the writing of Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). The Bible as originally given by God is inspired by God and as such is infallible, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient as our only rule for faith and practice. The Holy Spirit ministers to believers by illuminating the truth of the Bible. Because he is without this supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit, unregenerate man is unable to savingly comprehend the meaning of Scripture (Romans 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14).
Because the Bible is infallible, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient, it is necessary to interpret the Scripture in a very specific way. We are committed to the literal-grammatical-historical method of hermeneutics (the interpretation of Scripture, as demonstrated in Nehemiah 8:6-8 and Acts 8:27-35). This means that we interpret the words of the Bible according to what the words actually and literally mean, taking into consideration such factors as vocabulary, grammar, literary context, historical context, and literary genre. The literal interpretation of Scripture does not discount metaphors, analogies, and allegories. Rather, the literal-grammatical-historical approach is meant to guard against subjective theological (or emotional, ideological, or any other category of motive) commitments as the standard for determining the meaning of Scripture. Our hermeneutical foundation is that the words of Scripture convey to us what God and the human writer intended to communicate. What Scripture ever means is what it meant when it was written. There is no hidden, subjective, mystical meaning, though there are occasions when the fulfillment of a given passage included an additional referent than the original writer had in mind (see for example Hosea 11:1/Matthew 2:13-15). It’s meaning doesn’t change from reader to reader. Applications to various persons and situations may vary, but the meaning is, always has been, and always will be the same—what God originally meant to communicate when He inspired it to be written. Our understanding of passages may be expanded, but the reader can add no additional meaning to any passage of Scripture that was not already present when originally inspired by the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the literal 6 days of creation as the natural and clear reading of Genesis 1.
We believe that Adam and Eve are historical figures, the first human beings created by God. They were created by God in the condition of innocence, but were tempted and encouraged into sin by Satan (who came to them in the form of a serpent). Death entered creation as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12, 17). Through Adam’s sin, all of his descendants were “made sinners” (Romans 5:19a). The only remedy is provided by the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), the Lord Jesus, as through His work “the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b).
Abandoning the clear reading of the Creation account in order to harmonize it with certain claims of “science” is fraught with danger. Our commitment is to the Word of God as the authoritative source regarding the origins of mankind and the universe. Since “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” it is foundational to the Christian faith that we read every word of Scripture as God’s authoritative Word to us. If we deny the authority of Scripture at one point, we have denied it everywhere. Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).
- Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation):
It is our joy to preach the “doctrines of grace.” We heartily affirm the biblical truth of the doctrines behind the historic acronym, “TULIP”: Total Depravity (John 6:44, 65; Romans 3:23; 8:6-8), Unconditional Election, (Isaiah 46:9-11; Acts 13:48; Romans 9:11-13, 16; 11:29; Ephesians 1:3-11); Limited Atonement (John 6:37-39; 10:7-16, 26-28; 17:9), Irresistible Grace (Psalm 115:3; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Galatians 1:15-16), and Perseverance of the Saints (John 10:27-29; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). We reject the system known as Hyper-Calvinism, as it is characterized by an unbiblical fatalism and the notion promoted by some hyper-calvinists that the gospel is not to be preached to the elect. Since the only way to identify the elect is through their response to the gospel in repentance and faith, the idea of withholding the gospel from the non-elect is nonsensical and unbiblical.
We preach these doctrines as the basis for robust evangelism and missions. We reject that these doctrines, rightly understood, represent any hindrance to evangelism and missions. These doctrines exalt God according to His Nature as described in Scripture, and recognize the helpless predicament of fallen man, dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13).
In the case of Limited Atonement, the doctrine emphasizes that the Lord paid completely and intentionally the penalty for the sins of those given to Him by the Father (see, for example John 17:2). This harmonizes with the biblical teaching that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone (John 6:22-71; Acts 13:48; Romans 9; Eph 1:3-11; 2:1-10). There does not exist the sinner who desires to be saved but who cannot because the scope of the atonement is not broad enough. The only sinners who will ever desire to be saved on God’s terms are those for whom Christ died, and who are effectually called to salvation by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a clearer title for this doctrine is Definite Atonement, as this phrase emphasizes the actual accomplishment of Christ.
- Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church):
We hold to Believer’s Baptism by Immersion and the Lord’s Supper as the two ordinances of the Church, and an Elder-led church polity. The congregation shares in responsibility for the activities of the local church, but should support and submit to the leadership of the God-called elders of the church, as they will give an account for their leadership (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17). Although the elders may poll the congregation as seems helpful to them, DRBC does not engage in congregational voting to reach authoritative decisions in church matters. Note: The terms pastor, elder, and overseer are used interchangeably in Scripture for the same office within the church.
- Eschatology (Doctrine of the End times/Last Things):
We hold to the bodily, visible, premillennial return of the Lord Jesus to the earth, after which He will rule the world (with His saints) from Jerusalem for 1000 years, the pinnacle of human history on this sin-fallen planet, during which Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1-6). Near the end of this period, he will be released to once again lead a rebellion of humanity against God. The defeat of this Satanic rebellion will result in Satan being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:7-10).
God will fulfill His promises to Israel by means of the New Covenant, in which the Gentiles are included. Not only will all the believing natural seed of Abraham be saved in the end times (Romans 11:26), but also all who repent and believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus are positionally the children of the promise, both Jews and Gentiles, so that God’s salvation will reach to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:5-6). We believe the best explanation of all the biblical testimony is that the Church (elect, believing Israelites with grafted-in, elect, believing Gentiles) will be raptured from the earth prior to the Tribulation, a 7-year period according to Daniel 9:27, referred to in Jeremiah 30:7 as “a time of distress for Jacob.”
The result of God’s salvation plan for mankind includes Israel’s residence in the land of Israel as promised to Abraham and restated throughout the ministry of the Hebrew prophets. Thus, the current relationship of Gentile believers to Israel should be characterized by loving evangelism as exemplified in the ministry of Paul. Though the vast majority of Israel is yet in unbelief and thus enemies of God for the sake of believing Gentiles (Rom 11:11-32), Israel’s eventual, restoration to her land and her final and total spiritual redemption are explicit unconditional promises of the New Covenant (Deut. 30:5-6; Jer. 31:31-40; 32:36-44; Ez. 11:14-21; 36; 37). In addition, Israel’s residence in the land (with hearts for their God and for the Messiah) is promised by God in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-7; 15:1-18; 17:1-8) and in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-17; 1 Chron. 17:1-15), and clearly pictured in Ezekiel 36 and 37.
The relationship between redeemed Israel and redeemed Gentiles in one new man, the Church, is characterized by the pattern of ‘not only . . . but also.” This is seen throughout Scripture, but see for example Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 35:11; Isaiah 49:5-6; Zechariah 14; Acts 11:17-18; Romans 1:16; 15:8-13. Throughout Scripture, the question is never, “Is God going to redeem Israel?” The question that had to be addressed repeatedly by the Apostle’s was “Is God going to redeem Gentiles, too?” And the answer is “yes!” The eternal state to which we are headed is characterized by worship of the Lamb of God by redeemed people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The eternal home of the redeemed is described in Revelation 21 and 22 and are characterized by the people of God enjoying and celebrating the glory of God forever!
- Anthropology (The Doctrine of Humanity):
We believe that man, during his natural life and after his resurrection, is a conditional unity of the material part and the immaterial part. God created humans to have bodies, both now and in the eternal state. The terms soul, spirit, and mind refer to aspects of the immaterial aspect of a human being. In the Intermediate State, between a human’s death and the resurrection of the body, there is mystery, but Paul describes the physical nature of existence at that time as being “unclothed” with a desire to be “further clothed” (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
- Gifts of the Spirit.
The Apostle Peter divided up the gifts of the Spirit given to God’s people for ministry into two categories: speaking and serving (1 Peter 4:10-11). More detailed lists reflecting these categories are found in Paul’s writings (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-10, 27-31; Eph. 4:11). All believers are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit according to His will so that they may be equipped to serve the Body of Christ. It is clear that some of the gifts are attached to apostolic ministry, as Paul made reference to “the signs of a true apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12). He was writing to defend his true apostolic calling, which was under attack in the church at Corinth. Since he described theses signs as having been performed among the Corinthian believers “with signs and wonders and mighty works,” we can see the connection between the miraculous signs and apostolic ministry. We no longer have Apostles with us, so we are convinced that we no longer have those with “the signs of a true apostle” with us, either.
We are convinced that God can do what He is pleased to do. That includes miraculous events, like healing of the sick, or one speaking a language which one has never studied, especially for the purpose of evangelism. However, because we are no longer serving under the direct supervision of the specially gifted and called Apostles, we do not believe that God has gifted individuals to use the gift of healing or the gift of tongues at their personal discretion as in the ministry of the Apostles and those under their direct authority. So, we are functional (or, soft) cessationists when it comes to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. In other words, we believe in divine healing, but not divine healers. Because we believe that the Bible is the sufficient Word of God and that no further revelation of the Word of God is necessary, we do not believe that God is communicating direct, inspired revelation outside of the Bible. The Holy Spirit illuminates believers in accordance with the Bible, and subjectively leads them providentially and through conviction. We consider the Bible to be the powerful supernatural provision of God’s Word to us given through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord accomplish the fullness of His purpose in the life of every believer!