June 11, 2001
By Bishop LUCIANO MONTES
Know The Apostolic Doctrine
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - Acts 2:42
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them..." - 1st Timothy 4:16
More than ever before, it is of vital importance that a believer acquaint himself with at least an introduction to the Apostolic Doctrine. In a day which erroneous philosophical and theological theories are confusing the Christian community, it is important that the new believer be founded upon sound Biblical doctrine. The word doctrine is derived from the Latin words doctor (which means "teacher") and doctrine (which means "teaching"). In other words, doctrine means "that which is taught" or "a teaching".
When we say Apostolic Doctrine, we are referring to the fundamental doctrine which is found in the book of history of the New Testament called "The Acts of the Apostles". That is where the origin and development of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is found. This church was directed by the apostles and the teachings, revelations, and mysteries that He imparted to them through His Spirit. These doctrinal principals of our Church should be known by all new believers, and they should be in agreement with them so that they may then help other new converts who will be coming after them. As the Apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2nd Timothy 2:2).
In this lesson you will find a summary of some of the doctrinal principals which are set forth in the Constitution of our Church and which are based on Holy Scripture. We hope that through this lesson we will be contributing toward your being founded in the sound doctrine.
1. The Church
We believe that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is one and that it is universal and indivisible, composed of all men regardless of nationality, language, race, or custom, who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and who have been baptized in the body by the Holy Spirit (1st Corinthians 12:13). The common bonds uniting the members are faith and love, and its flag and banner is the name of Jesus Christ, before whom the Church marches gallantly (Song of Songs 6:10).
2. There Is Only One God
We believe there is only One God who has manifested Himself to the world in various forms throughout the ages, and that He has especially revealed Himself as Father in the creation of the universe, as Son in the redemption of human kind, and as Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the believers. This God is the creator of all that which exists, be it visible or invisible, He is eternal, infinite in His power, holy in His nature, attributes and purpose, and He possesses an absolute and indivisible divinity. He is infinite in His greatness, His nature is inconceivable and His essence is indescribable. He is known completely only to Himself, because such an infinite mind can only be understood by itself alone. He has no body or parts, and therefore is free of all limitations.
"The first of all commandments is, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" (Mark 12:29; Deuteronomy 6:4). "But to us there is but one God...(1st Corinthians 8:6)
3. Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ was born miraculously of the Virgin Mary, by the work of the Holy Spirit, and that at the same time He is the one and only true God (Romans 9:5; 1st John 5:20). The God of the Old Testament took upon Himself human form. (Isaiah 60:1-3). "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." ( John 1:14). "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1st Timothy 3:16).
We believe that in Jesus Christ the divine attributes of God were incorporated with human nature in an incomprehensible yet perfect way. Having been born of Mary, He was human, and having been begotten in Mary of the Holy Spirit, He was divine. That is why He is called the Son of God and the Son of Man. Therefore, we believe that Jesus Christ is God, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).
He is the Creator of all (Colossians 1:16,17; Isaiah 45:18). He is Omnipresent (John 3:13; Deuteronomy 4:39). He performed miracles as the Almighty God (Luke 5:24-26; Psalms 86:10). He has power over the sea (Mark 4:37-39; Psalms 107:20,30). He is the same yesterday , today and forever (Hebrews 13:8; Psalms 102:27).
4. Holy Spirit
We believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised by God in the Old Testament and which poured fourth after the glorification of Jesus Christ (Joel 2:28,29; John 7:37-39; 14:16-26; Acts 2:1-4; 1:16-18).
Furthermore, we believe that a person demonstrates baptism in the Holy Spirit by speaking in new tongues or languages, and that this sign is also for our time.
We believe also that the Holy Spirit is power that permits us to to testify of Christ (Acts 1:8), and that it helps to form a Christian character that is more acceptable to God (Galatians 5:22-25). That same Spirit endows men with gifts for the edification of the Church (Romans 12:6-8; 1st Corinthians 12:1-12; Ephesians 4:7-13), but we in no way believe that any man can endow others with any such gifts, for "one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (1st Corinthians 12:11 [NIV]). "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:7 [NIV]).
All members of the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus should seek the Holy Spirit and try to live continually in the Spirit, as recommended in Romans 8:5-16, Ephesians 5:18, and Colossians 3:5.
5. Water Baptism
We believe in water baptism by immersion in the Name of Jesus Christ and that it should be administered by an ordained minister. Baptism should be by immersion because it is representing the death of man unto sin which is like unto the death of Christ (Romans 6:1-5). It should be in the Name of Jesus Christ, since this was the practice of the Apostles and ministers who baptized during the early period of the Church according to the Holy scriptures (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:6; 22:16.)
6. The Lord's Supper
We believe in the literal practice of the Lord's Supper as instituted by Him (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1st Corinthians 11:23-26). Unleavened bread should be used in this sacrament, which represents the sinless body of the Lord Jesus Christ, and unfermented wine, which represents the blood of Christ shed for the redemption of our sins.
The objective of this ceremony is to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus Christ until His return to earth, and to demonstrate the communion and fellowship existing among the believers. No person should participate in this ceremony who is not a faithful church member or is not in good standing. If he does so without fulfilling these requirements, he cannot discern the body of Christ (1st Corinthians 10:15-17; 11:27-28; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
The Lord, after partaking of a supper with His Apostles celebrated an act which for the moment caused them to marvel. This was the washing of their feet. After completing this act, the Lord explained to his disciples its significance, and recommended that they wash each others feet. The Church practices this act in combination with the Lord's Supper, or indistinctly, as an act of humility and Christian fellowship ( 1 Timothy 5:10).
7. The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ
We believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ which took place on the third day after His death, as recorded in the Gospels (Matthew 27:60-64; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-12, 36-44; John 20:12-20). This Resurrection was foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 53:12), and it was necessary for our hope and justification (1st Corinthians 15:20; Romans 4:25).
8. The Resurrection Of The Just And The Unjust
We believe that there will be a literal resurrection of the dead in Christ and that they will be given a glorified and Spiritual body in which they will live forever in the presence of the Lord (John 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Job 19:25-27; Psalms 17:15; 1st Corinthians 15:35-54). Those Christians who are living when Christ comes to take up His Church, will be transformed and in like manner will live forever in glory in the presence of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1st Corinthians 15:51,52).
We believe also that there will be a resurrection of the unjust, but they will awaken from the slumber of death, only to be judged and to hear the harsh sentence that will make them heirs of the eternal fire (Matthew 25:26; John 5:29; Revelation 20:12-15; Mark 9:44; Daniel 12:2).
9. The Rapture Of The Church And The Millennium
We believe that the Church, which is composed of those who died in Christ and the faithful living upon the earth at the time of the Rapture, will be lifted, will meet the Lord in the air and will take part in the wedding feast of the Lamb. Thereafter, the Church will descend with the Lord to pass judgment upon the nations and will reign with Christ for a thousand years. This period will be preceded by the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon, which the Lord will bring an end to when He descends upon the Mount of Olives with all His saints to bring judgment upon the nations (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Corinthians 15:51-54: Philemon 3:20,21; Isaiah 65:17-25; Daniel 17:27; Micha 4:1-3; Zechariah 14:1-16; Matthew 5:5; Romans 11:25-27; Revelation 20:1-5).
10. The Final Judgement
We believe that the Lord has prepared a judgment day for all who have died without Christ and those living upon the earth who have not accepted the Gospel. This judgment will take place after the Millennium and is also known as the Judgment of the Great White Throne. The Church will not be judge on this occasion but will participate in the judgment of all men. At the end of this judgment, the heavens and the earth will be renewed by fire, and the faithful will dwell in the New Jerusalem. The Christian dispensation shall have ended and God will again be all things in all (Daniel 7:8-10,14,18; Corinthians 6:2,3; Romans 2:16; 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:5-15; 21:1-6).
11. Divine Healing
We believe that God has the power to heal our physical bodies, if it is His will, and that divine healing is a result of the sacrifice of Christ, since He has borne our grief's and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). The healing of the body is effected through a combination of the faith of the believer and the power of the name of jesus Christ, whose name is invoked when praying for the sick. The Lord Jesus Christ promised that those who believe in His name would lay hands on the sick and that they would recover (Mark 16:18). The sick should be anointed with oil in the name of Jesus Christ by ordained ministers in order for the Lord to fulfill his promise (John 14:13; Psalms 103:1-4; Luke 9:1-3; 1st Corinthians 12:9; James 5:14-16).
We believe that divine healing is obtained by faith and that if, on occasion, a brother has need to seek the care and ministration of medical science, others should not criticize him but should consider themselves lest they be condemned by that which they themselves approve (Romans 14:22). We recommend that members and ministers of our Church refrain from criticizing medical science, inasmuch as advancements in this field cannot be denied, since God has given men the ability to continue discovering the secrets pertaining to the functioning of the human organism. At the same time, we exhort them not to oppose the government sponsored programs promoting hygiene, vaccinations and cleanliness, but rather to collaborate with the same wherever and whenever possible.
We believe all members of the body of Christ should be holy, that is, separated from sin and consecrated to the service of the Lord. For that reason they should abstain from all worldly practices, diversions and filthiness of the flesh and Spirit (Leviticus 19:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:26,27; 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4; 2 Timothy 2:21; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:16).
We believe that marriage is sacred , inasmuch as it was established since the beginning of time, and that it is honorable in all (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). Marriages should be performed in accordance with the laws of the country and then solemnized in the Church according to the approved practices. Couples who have not legalized their union and who wish to be baptized, must first comply with civil law requirements. We believe that marriage is a union which should last so long as both husband and wife live. Upon the death of one, the other is free to remarry and does not sin if it is done in the Lord (Romans 7:1-3; 1st Corinthians 7:39). We believe also that marriages should take place solely among faithful church members. No minister should perform a marriage ceremony between a member of the Church and a non convert. members of the Church who, while being in good standing, marry a non convert, shall be judged by their pastor.
There is much more to be learned about the doctrinal principals of our church, therefore, it is necessary that the new believer diligently study the scriptures. Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). It is important to know the sound doctrine, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3,4). The believer who is well founded in the sound doctrine will not be confused by erroneous doctrine and false theories, but will in fact be able to teach others. "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16).
Bishop Montes is currently Secretary of Christian Education of the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus.
Read the other chapters in this book,
"Biblical Foundations for the New Believer
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