We accept the Scriptures as our authority in matters of faith and practice. Therefore, we believe the following doctrinal statements:
- The Scriptures are true, authoritative, sufficient and inerrant (Ps. 19:7-11; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
- There is only one true God, Creator of heaven and earth, who eternally exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 46:9-10; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 1 Timothy 2:5; Genesis 1:26; Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 28:17-20; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
- All things exist for the glory of God (Psalm 148; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 61:3; Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 1:3-14).
- All humanity, Christ excluded, is sinful (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23; 5:8, 12-21; 7:18; Ephesians 2:1-3).
- The deserved penalty for sin is physical and spiritual death (Genesis 2:15-17; Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12; 6:23; James 1:14-15).
- Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, was born of a virgin and is both fully God and fully human (Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:52; John 1:1-4, 14; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-3).
- Jesus Christ died as the sacrificial substitute to pay the penalty for sin (John 1:29; 10:1-18; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18).
- Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and will one day physically return (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 1:20-21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:12-34; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 1:7).
- There will be a future physical resurrection of the dead. Only those who turn from sin and to Jesus in faith and repentance will be raised to eternal reward. Those who do not turn from sin and to Jesus will be raised to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).
- Only through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and repentance from sin can one be reconciled to God and experience true life and joy (John 3:18, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).
Statement of Theological Distinctives
We recognize that in different areas of interpretation of the Bible, true followers of Jesus will sometimes disagree. The following are particular Theological Distinctives of RCC. Though agreement with everything in this section isn’t necessary for covenant membership, it is helpful to give a few more specifics on the Theological Distinctives of RCC, particularly for those of the elders. In the task of preaching at Raintree, no one is to contradict these Distinctives.
- Divine Sovereignty: God is sovereign over all things such that there is no aspect of reality outside of His ultimate control. Though God’s rule extends to all things, it is particularly His sovereignty over the work of salvation that is a theological distinctive. We believe that it is exceedingly good and glorious news that salvation is not dependent on the desires and deeds of man, but is grounded instead in God’s eternal decree of election. Though man is responsible for his sin, God is ultimately and entirely responsible for drawing those He would save unto Himself and overcoming their natural resistance to the gospel (Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Ephesians 1:3-14, Romans 8:26-9:23; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
- Church Offices: We teach that the Bible recognizes two basic offices in the Church: the office of elder (also called pastor, bishop, over-seer) and the office of deacon. The elders are given the responsibility of giving direction and spiritual oversight to the church. Deacons are official servants of the church, who take care of the physical and material needs of the body.
- Believer's Baptism by Immersion: Baptism is intended only for those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and can give sufficient testimony to the basics of Christian beliefs. We also baptize by immersion because it is the original meaning of the word and best symbolizes the reality to which baptism points: our death and resurrection in Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:1-11). Though believer’s baptism by immersion is required to become a member of RCC, it is included here as a Theological Distinctive (instead of being included in the Basic Statement of Beliefs) because one can submit to believer’s baptism by immersion to become a member, without necessarily thinking that it is necessary for obedience to the biblical command to be baptized.
- The Complementary Role of Men and Women: Men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity and value but are different by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church, especially as it comes to teaching and authority. These role distinctions are God’s grace to man and woman and are to be protected, preserved and practiced for His glory and our joy (1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33-35; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
- Role of Women in the Church: The Bible reveals that women are incredibly important in the work of the church and spreading of the Gospel. Women will be encouraged to participate in all sorts of ministries in the church. The instruction from the Apostle Paul, however, must be taken into account: I Tim. 2:12—”I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” Because of this passage, along with the elder qualifications listed in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, the task of preaching and the office of elder will be limited to men, as qualified by Scripture.
- The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: The spiritual gifts that we see exercised in the Scriptures are for the building up of the faith of the church, but it seems clear that the apostles were given gifts with particular power and consistency that aren’t necessarily the norm for the church today. We recognize that particular gifts (like tongues, prophecy, and healing) have been greatly misunderstood and misused in some churches, so to focus more around the experience rather than the truth to which they point, in particular, the Gospel. In saying this, we do believe that the spiritual gifts have an important place in the church today (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16).
- Eschatology: The Bible teaches that Jesus will one day physically return, and that all believers must live their lives with such urgency and focus as to be ready for his return. As far as the exact order of events involving the Rapture, millennium, and consummation of all things, we allow for a diversity of thought and opinions among our elders, those who will preach, and among the congregation of RCC. This is not to indicate that these specific issues do not matter, but that they are secondary issues that do not affect one’s theology in such a way as to cause division.
- Perseverance of the Believer: We teach that when a person genuinely repents and believes in Jesus, they are saved from their sin. Because salvation is due only to God's grace (Eph. 2:8-10), salvation cannot be lost. They have eternal life, and it is indeed eternal (forever). However, if a person claims to believe in Jesus but practices a lifestyle of sin, then we must take the words of Scripture very seriously where it says: “Do not be deceived ...I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The way we live our lives is an important indicator of whether or not we have genuinely turned from our sin and believed in Jesus. When there is true saving faith in Jesus, a person will persevere to the end, following Jesus.