Core BeliefsCornerstone Bible Church
Philosophy of Ministry
Throughout its 20 + year history, Cornerstone Bible Church has been known for its in-depth teaching of God’s Word with the expressed goal of equipping the saints for personal ministry and thereby bringing glory to God.
All the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are inspired (verbal and plenary) by God. Thus the Bible is inerrant and without mistakes in the original autographs. The Scriptures are the only infallible guide for our daily thought-life as well as our practical, moral, and spiritual instruction.
The Interpretation of Scripture
There are indications in both Testaments as to the normative method of interpretation. Scripture should be interpreted according to a conservative, normal and literal hermeneutic and should include close observation of its grammatical and historical components. There is but one sense or meaning for each passage of Scripture. Though taking the Word of God literally, and at face value, in classical hermeneutics there is room for poetry, figures of speech, illustrations, types, and symbols, but these literary genres do not take away from the foundational or normal interpretative understanding of Biblical truth. Normal interpretation also argues for progressive revelation, i.e., that the Holy Spirit over a period of time revealed certain truths in a progressive fashion. For example, the revelation of Jesus Christ starts in Genesis, but is not fully complete until the book of Revelation. Literal interpretation stands in opposition to allegorical interpretation. Allegory as a system is an unacceptable philosophical approach to understanding the Word of God, and we see it as contrary to proper Biblical interpretation.
We believe that according to the "eternal purpose" of God (Eph. 3:11) salvation in the divine reckoning is always "by grace through faith," and rests upon the basis of the shed blood of Christ. We believe that God has always been gracious, regardless of the dispensation, but that man has not at all times been under an administration or stewardship of grace as is true in the present dispensation of the Church. We believe that God grants to the believer as a free, unmerited gift the faith for salvation.
The Sovereignty of God
God is Absolute Sovereign over all creation and history. His sovereignty also extends to the providence of God whereby He sustains all creatures, giving them life and removing life as He pleases. The sovereignty of God also extends to the doctrine of divine election whereby those chosen by the council of the Lord’s own will, shall come to Him in faith. And yet, even though difficult to reconcile in human understanding, the sovereignty of God does not remove the responsibility of man.
The Believer Complete in Christ
Though the saved person may have occasion to grow in the realization of his blessings and to know a fuller measure of divine power through the yielding of his life more fully to God, he is, as soon as he is saved, in possession of every spiritual blessing and absolutely complete in Christ (positionally speaking), and is therefore, in no way required by God to seek a so-called "second blessing," "second work of grace," or a "second baptism."
We reject what is called Lordship Salvation. This teaching seems to go against the clear biblical teaching that salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing can be added to His work on the cross, or to the proclamation of one’s personal faith and trust in His finished work of eternal redemption.
We believe God keeps eternally all those He has elected and called to salvation and that none are lost. God will, however, chasten and correct His own in infinite love; but having undertaken to save them and keep them forever, apart from all human merit, He, who cannot fail, will in the end present every one faultless in Christ, and on His merits, before the presence of His glory and conformed to the image of His Son. We believe that saints can have eternal assurance that they are the children of God and so are eternally kept by the power of God. This assurance gives confidence and peace, helping the believer grow in spiritual maturity.
The Great Commission
We believe that it is the explicit command of our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples in accordance with His Gospel, through evangelism of non-believers and instruction of believers, for the building up of the body of Christ.
We believe that the rapture of the church will be followed by the fulfillment of Israel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 6:1 -19:21) during which the church, the body of Christ, will be in heaven. The whole period of Israel’s seventieth week will be a time of judgment on the whole earth, at the end of which “the times of the Gentiles” will be brought to a close. The latter half of this period will be the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), which our Lord called the great tribulation (Mt. 24:15- 21). We believe that universal righteousness will not be realized previous to the second coming of Christ, but that the world is day by day ripening for judgment and that the age will end with a fearful apostasy.
The Second Coming of Christ
The period of great tribulation in the earth will be climaxed by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth as He went. The millennial age will follow, with Satan bound. Israel will be restored to her own land and the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled by the consummation of its three divisions - Land (Palestinian Covenant), Seed (Davidic Covenant), and Blessing (New Covenant finally brought to complete fruition).
We believe that the Bible presents the fact that God has not always dealt with mankind the same way in every age. According to Biblical terminology these distinct periods are called "administrations" in regard to the purpose of God or "stewardships" concerning the responsibility of man as originated from the New Testament usage of the Greek word, oikonomia. We believe that classical or traditional dispensationalism is the system that best represents the Biblical teaching on this matter. Classical or traditional dispensationalism is distinguished by a consistent literal interpretation; a clear distinction between Israel and the Church; taking into account progressive revelation; recognizing the glory of God as the ultimate purpose of God in the world.
On Current Issues
We believe that corruptive influences have always been working against the Church, the body of Christ. Along with immoral forces, we reject the man-created philosophies of secular humanism, materialism, evolution, feminism, and the influences of secular psychology. While some truths may be imprinted into these and other opinions, basically, they run counter to the revealed truths of Scripture.
Women and Ministry
We believe that in the body of Christ men and women stand spiritually equal and constitute the Church universal. We believe women have had and always will have their God-given gifts and roles within this body. Accordingly, as the primary role of believing men is to be husbands and fathers, so the primary role of women is to be wives and mothers. We encourage women to exercise their gifts for the benefit of the church, but the Scriptures are clear that the offices of deacon, elder, and pastor-teacher are set aside for men. No amount of debate can water down what the Bible says about the individual and distinct callings of both sexes, in regard to gifts and roles.
Openness of God
We reject what is known as the Openness of God theory (also known as Open Theism) that says, in so many words, that God does not know the future. He is "open" to the free choices people make, and then responds to their free agency. This view violates the omniscience of God. It also violates the fact that in sovereignty, He has ordained all things. As difficult a doctrine as this is, it is still clearly stated in Scripture. The view of the Openness of God should be considered a heresy.
We reject the theories of Progressive Dispensationalism. The central disturbing tenet in this view is that the Lord Jesus Christ is now reigning on the throne of David in heaven. We reject the complementary hermeneutic, including the use of the “already/not yet” as an interpretive principle. We also reject the softening of progressive revelation and the forcing of a false continuity between the Testaments. The Lord is seated at the right hand of the Father presently in glory, but this is not the prophesied Davidic rule that will take place in time and history.
Purpose and Structure of the Local Church
The purpose of the church is to bring glory to God through the process of making disciples. The local church is to go about the task of making disciples through edification of believers and evangelization of the lost. As seen throughout the New Testament, edification is to be accomplished as the local church “gathers” to equip and mature believers. Likewise, evangelism of the lost is primarily to be accomplished by the local church as equipped believers “scatter” into the world to proclaim the gospel.
While the local church must develop its own contemporary strategies and approaches to edification and evangelism, the roles of the church “gathered” and “scattered” should not be altered. Therefore, we do not believe the “seeker” model represents the appropriate structure of the local church. Additionally, we do not believe the “emerging” or “emergent” church models (or any other contemporary ideas of church structure which do not conform to our understanding described above) are acceptable forms or structures of the local church.
Cornerstone Bible Church believes in a philosophy of shared pastoral/elder leadership. We believe that God raises up elders in the local church and that these men have responsibility for the proper functioning of the church – a responsibility for which they will give an account to the Lord (Hebrews 13-17). Accordingly, the leadership of Cornerstone Bible Church is structured according to the biblical model described as follows:
The terms elder, overseer (bishop), and shepherd (pastor) all refer to the same office and person. Elders are the shepherds or pastors of the flock. Elder-shepherds (pastors) are “overseers” (1 Timothy 3:1-2) that lookout over the flock.
The biblical model is that of plurality of elders with shared shepherding responsibilities. Acts 11:30; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 21:18; Jas. 5:14; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1
Shared eldership may be defined as “a collective form of leadership in which each elder shares equally the position, authority, and responsibility of the office” (Strauch). Shared eldership makes leadership more rooted and permanent, allows for more continuity, and helps the congregation avoid being defined by the personality, strengths, and weaknesses of one man.
Additional benefits of shared pastoral leadership include:
· Balance of people’s weaknesses. Rarely is a leader broadly gifted enough to perform all pastoral functions equally well. Shared leadership helps to round out each leader's gifts, making up for some of his deficiencies, supplementing his judgment, and creating congregational support for his decisions, leaving leaders less exposed to unjust criticism.
· Mutual sharpening. Being alone at the top of a pyramidal structure of leadership is a dangerous place for a Christian to be because mutual sharpening is so unlikely to occur in the absence of true organizational peers. Shared leadership facilitates mutual sharpening, mutual care, and mutual correction, helping leaders avoid the pitfalls of blindness to one's own faults.
· Lightened work load. Shepherding a flock is hard, diverse work. Shared leadership provides greater balance in executing the work of the ministry by enabling each elder to work primarily out of his gifts. A plurality of elders provides working fellowship for leaders and releases them from the obligation to perform all the shepherding functions in every instance necessary.
· Accountability. The modern pastorate is too often a haven for lazy or power hungry men. Shared leadership provides accountability for the quality of pastoral work, and for the godliness of pastoral character.