What We Believe
T. Kem Oberholtzer, Ph.D.
President/Founder Grace Rock Ministries
BIBLIOLOGY (Study of the Scriptures)
I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the original autographs of Scripture. Through a process of dual authorship, God, using the superintending work of the Holy Spirit, breathed-out His revelation to the human authors of Scripture, using their own personalities and literary styles to record what He purposed. This inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the Scriptures – historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical. I believe the Bible to be the very Word of God, inerrant, and infallible. It is the believer’s sole authority for faith and practice.
Each individual believer has the responsibility and privilege to study, interpret, and through the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit, apply Biblical truth to his/her life. The sixty-six books contained in the Scriptures are properly understood through the grammatical, historical, literal method of interpretation.
(Ps. 119:160; Matt. 5:18; John 17:17; I Cor. 2:10-13; II Tim. 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21).
THEOLOGY PROPER (Study of God)
I believe there is one living and true God who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. God is one in essence, but eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each having the same nature, attributes, and worthy of worship, confidence, and obedience.
(Gen. 1:1,16; Deut. 6:4; Ps. 139; Is. 40; Matt. 28:19; John 4:29; 10:30; II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:6)
God the Father, the first person of the Trinity is the absolute and highest authority of heaven and earth which He created apart from any pre-existing materials (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3). The source of His existence is within Himself and not contingent upon anything external to Himself (Ex. 3:14-15). He is free of all limitations other than those He imposes on Himself (Phil. 2:5-8). He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Rom. 8:28-30; 11:28-36). He orders and decrees all things according to His purpose and will for His own glory (Rom. 9:20-23; Eph. 1:11). He is the source of all good in the universe and in no way approves of or is the author of sin (Jas. 1:13-16). On the basis of His grace, He saves from sin those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-6).
God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, is the eternal Son of God, the virgin-born Son of Man, who became flesh to reveal God, redeem man, and rule over God’s kingdom (Ps. 2:7-9; John 1:1-18; 10:36).
In His incarnation as the God-Man, Jesus Christ, gave up none of His divine essence, but voluntarily limited the use of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-8). Being human, He was subject to all temptations, problems, and sufferings yet He did not sin (Heb. 4:14-16; I Pet. 2:21-24).
Christ’s ministry while on earth was to reveal God, glorify the Father, and provide for the salvation of mankind through His death and resurrection by His sinless life and substitutionary death on the cross, He satisfied divine justice concerning sin (Rom. 3:25; II Cor. 5:19; Heb. 10:5-10; I John 2:22).
In His resurrection from the grave, God confirmed both the deity of Christ and His acceptance of Christ’s atoning work on the cross, raising Him bodily as a guarantee of the future resurrection life of all believers (Matt. 28:6-10; Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:5-10).
Christ ascended into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the Father, serving as the believer’s mediator, intercessor, and high priest (I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 4:14-16; 7:25). His return is imminent at which time He will rapture His church before Daniel’s seventieth week, judge believers at the Bema Seat, judge the nations, set up His kingdom on earth for a thousand year rule, following which He will execute final judgment on Satan and all unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment (I Thess. 4:16-17; II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11; 20:1-15).
God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, executes the Father’s will in relation to the world of men. His sovereign activities include creation, Christ’s incarnation, the inspiration and authorship of Scripture and the work of salvation (Gen. 1:2; Matt. 1:18; II Pet. 2:20-21; John 3:5-7).
His work in this age began at Pentecost when He came from the Father, as promised by Christ, to initiate and complete the task of building the body of Christ, the church (Acts 2:4; 11:15).
The ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to believers today involves regeneration (Titus 3:5-7), at which time the believer is permanently indwelt (I Cor. 6:19), baptized into the care of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13), sealing (Eph. 1:13-14), distribution of spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:8; I Cor. 12:4), illumination of Biblical truth (Eph. 1:18), sanctification (II Thess. 2:13), controlling of the believer as he confesses sin and submits to the Lord (Eph. 5:18), and intercession for saints (Rom. 8:26-27). Believers are instructed to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25), not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and not to quench the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 5:19). The focus of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to glorify Christ (John 16:14).
The ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to unbelievers includes conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) and restraining of sin in the world (II Thess. 2:6-7).
ANGELOGY AND SATANOLOGY (Study of Angels and Satan)
Angels are spirit beings, created simultaneously by God, for the purpose of being ministers of God. They function as God’s messengers (Job. 38:4-7; Heb. 1:14).
Lucifer, Satan, one of the angelic beings, became prideful, sinning and rebelled against God. He along with a group of angels influenced by him was cast from heaven (Ezek. 28:12-19). These fallen angels, referred to as demons, are divided into two groups: (1) those bound and confined until judgment (II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), and (2) those who serve Satan in opposing the work of Christ (Matt. 12:24-27; I Pet. 5:8).
In the Garden of Eden, by instigating man’s sin, Satan, the prince of this world, prompted the fall of mankind, bringing them under the influence of his power (Gen. 3:1-7).
Satan’s work today is to disseminate false doctrine (I Tim. 4:1), blinding unblievers to the gospel (II Cor. 4:3-4), attacking believers’ faith (Eph. 6:16), counterfeiting miracles (II Thess. 2:9), and embodying and influencing unbelievers (Mark 5:1-13).
Satan’s judgment was passed at the cross when all of man’s sins were dealt with (John 12:31; 16:11). His activity will be confined during the Millennium and his judgment executed following the Millennium, as he and his demonic hosts will be cast into the lake of fire, second death, for eternity (Rev. 20:1-3; 10-15).
ANTHROPOLOGY AND HAMARTIOLOGY (Study of Man and Sin)
I believe man was brought into existence by direct, immediate, creative acts of God (Gen. 1:26-28). The first woman was created by a special formative act of God (Gen. 2:21-22). Man is distinguished from all other creatures by being created in the image of God with a spirit and the ability to make a moral choice (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:9; 16, 17). Man was originally created in a state of untested holiness and fellowship with God (Gen. 1:31; 2:15; 3:8). Man was given dominion over creation with the purpose of ruling for the glory of God (Gen. 1; 26-28; Is. 43:7).
Adam and the woman’s sin was direct disobedience to the revealed Word of God (i.e. not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -Gen. 3:16-17). Both sinned willfully and with understanding. Because of unity of the race, all of mankind participated in the fall with Adam, resulting in death (i.e. spiritual and physical) passing to all mankind (Rom. 5:12-15; 6:23). Man’s nature itself was corrupted and creation cursed (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 8:18-22). Due to man’s rebellion, his relationship with God was broken and is in need of salvation from his sin. Since Adam’s fall, man is a sinner by nature (Eph. 2:1-3) and by practice (Rom. 3:9-18). Man stands guilty before God and will endure the wrath and judgment of a holy and just God. In spite of mans’ sin, God’s grace has provided a way for mans’ sin debt to be paid through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8; II Cor. 5:21).
SOTERIOLOGY (Study of Salvation)
Because of mans’ total moral and spiritual depravity, no one may enter the kingdom of heaven unless they experience the new birth (John 3:3).
Man needs to be reconciled to God, and even though God is the offended party, He has lovingly made reconciliation possible by the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. This propitiation by Christ was penal because He bore the penalty of our sin, which was death (Rom. 3:23; Heb. 2:9; I John 2:2). This work of atonement by Christ was substitutionary in that He suffered in the believers place (Gal. 3:13; II Cor. 5:21).
All the phases of salvation constitute the completion of God’s election. Election is God’s sovereign choosing based on no merit of the individual; it was accomplished in eternity past and was based on God’s loving mercy (Eph. 1:4-7; Rom. 9:10-13; II Tim. 1:9). No man will be saved or not saved against his own free will (John 3:16; I John 5:11-12). Salvation is based on grace and comes to man through faith as God’s gift (Eph. 2:8, 9). Man appropriates salvation when he, by faith, accepts Christ’s redemptive act on his behalf (John 1:12; I Thess. 1:9; I Cor. 1:18). By this placing of faith in Jesus Christ, man immediately receives the righteousness of Christ, eternal life, and the removal of the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23).
Justification is the judicial past aspect of salvation. It is the work of God’s grace whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer and his sin debt paid Justification has a negative aspect in that it removes punishment (Acts 13:28-29; Rom. 5:9; 8:33). It is positive in that it restores man to favor with God (Rom. 4:6; 5:18; 8:1).
Sanctification is the present aspect of salvation. It is the ongoing, perfecting, maturing, work of the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 4:7-8). The Holy Spirit sets the believer apart from sin unto God and progressively conforms him to the image of Christ, thus enabling him to perform works worthy of God’s approval (Heb. 10:10; 2:11; II Cor. 7:1, I Pet. 1:15-16). The basis of sanctification is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9-14); I cor. 6: 19-20). The means of sanctification is the Word of God (John 17:17; I Pet. 1:22; Ps. 119:11). The Spirit of God and the Word of God work together to mature believers into the image of Christ.
ECCLESIOLOGY (Study of the Church)
I believe in the church of Jesus Christ. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit initiated the universal body of Christ, the church (Acts 2:4). Anyone today who places his faith in Christ is immediately baptized into the care of the Spirit and placed in this universal body of which Christ is the head (I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:23). Members are instructed to associate themselves together for fellowship and worship in local, organized assemblies (Heb. 10:24, 25; Acts 2:42, 46, 47).
God has designated two offices to administer order, discipline, and worship in the church: (l) the elders, spiritually mature, gifted men of God, who are the leaders and whose purpose it is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry to building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12; I Tim. 3:1-7), and (2) the deacons, men who are to minister to the physical needs of the body, along with other spiritual and administrative responsibilities (Acts 6:1-6; I Tim. 3:8-13).
Each local assembly is autonomous, electing its own officers and judging its own membership. It has the responsibility of guarding and observing the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper (II Cor. 11:23-29) and baptism by immersion (Mark 1:9-10) until the return of Jesus Christ.
The mission of the church is threefoldfold: (1) evangelism (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 15; 6), (2) edification inclusive of fellowship with each other (Heb. 10:24-25), observing and guarding the ordinances (I Cor. 11:22-29; Acts 2:38, 42), building itself up in faith, love, and unity (Eph. 4:8-13; Rom. 12:3-8), (3) eleemosynary, merciful works by the redeemed community toward needy mankind in general. This would include deeds of compassion toward the widows, orphaned, poor, needy, and oppressed (James 1:27; Mark 10:21, Ps. 72:12-13; Luke 4:16-21). To accomplish these purposes, God has given gifted men to the church, and spiritual gifts to each believer to develop and employ for the common good of the body (I cor. 12:4-13). The ultimate goal of the church is to bring glory to Christ (John 17:10; II Thess. 1:12). The completion of Christ’s church will end at the rapture of the believers (I Thess. 4:15-17).
A working definition of a local church is, an organized band of baptized believers practicing New Testament ordinances and actively engaged in carrying out the Great Commission, in sharing the Gospel and serving the lost.
ESCHATOLOGY (Study of End Times)
I believe in the imminent, pre-tribulational, pre-millennial, literal and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ as He comes to meet the church in the air. This translation of all church-age believers will include a transformation of our earthly bodies into incorruptible and immortal ones (I Thess. 4:13; 18; I Cor. 15:51-53). All believers will take up residence in a specially prepared place in the Father’s house (II Cor. 5:1-9; John 14:1-3). Following the rapture, believers’ works will be evaluated at the Bema Seat of Christ in heaven (I Cor. 3:10-15; II Cor. 5:10). The church will return to earth with Christ at His second advent; the church and all saints will then rule and reign with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 19:7-11; 20:6). Along with the church’s residence in the New Jerusalem following the tribulation period will be the Old Testament saints, the tribulation saints, and an innumerable host of angels (Heb. 11:10, 16, 12:22-23).
The period known as the tribulation, referred to as Daniel’s 70th week, will be a period of seven years following the removal of the church and the restraining of sin activity of the Holy Spirit (II Thess. 2:3-7) at which time the political antichrist signs a covenant with Israel (Dan. 9:27). At this time, God will pour out His wrath upon men; He will begin to discipline Israel (Matt. 24:1-28); Dan. 9:24-27). During the tribulation, an individual of dynamic personality and oratory power, referred to as the Beast (political antichrist) and empowered by Satan, will rise to world power and set up his false kingdom; he will embody all that is in opposition to God. The Beast will be encouraged in his rise to power by the False Prophet (religious antichrist) (Rev. 13:11-18). During the final three and one half years of the tribulation, known as The Great Tribulation, many Jews and Gentiles will be killed because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 13:2; I John 2:18; Rev. 7:9-14). At the end of this period, the kingdom of the Beast and False Prophets (political and religious) will be destroyed by Christ at the campaign of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16; 19:19).
The Millennial Kingdom will be a fulfillment of the unconditional promises of Yahweh give to Abraham (Gen. 15:1-21; 22:12) of a land, seed and a blessing. The believing Jews and Gentiles of the tribulation period will serve Jesus Christ, the Messiah, during this 1,000 year personal reign on earth (Rev. 19:20; Matt. 24:30). The church, the bride of Christ, will be ruling and serving Christ. Satan, who has been bound during this time, will be loosed following this 1,000 year rule to lead a rebellion by those who will follow him (Rev. 20:3-10).
After the final battle of the end of the Millennium, God and Magog, God will judge Satan, the Beast (political antichrist) and the False Prophet (religious antichrist), casting them into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10, 14). He then will judge all unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment. Their judgment will be on the basis of their works. Their just condemnation will be eternal torment and separation from God in the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41, 46; II Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:11-15). This is referred to as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14).
The current heavens and earth will pass away (II Peter 3:10-13). This event will be followed by the eternal state of the saved in the new heaven, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem. This will be a domain of matchless splendor where the redeemed of all ages will serve, worship, and dwell with God forever (Rev. 6:21-22).