There are things in scripture over which churches throughout history have divided which we believe are not “salvation issues” meaning we can have differences of opinion yet all be born again Christians. As we like to say, “We can continue this discussion in heaven.”
It is important that we remain in harmony with other believers and not let preferences divide us (Romans 14) but our unity should come from a correct understanding of scripture.
The following list, though certainly not exhaustive, are commonly asked questions about things in which we believe the scriptures are very clear. We present them here merely for convenience so you know what to expect from our church.
We as a church are involved in several outreaches and ministries that include churches who do not see all things the way we do and we want to keep this unity in Christ but we believe careful Bible study will reveal these truths to any believer who searches the scriptures.
We are not affiliated with any other church, we are an independent, autonomous church, but we respect the opinions of such scholars as Dr. John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Dr. Steven Lawson, Phillip Johnson, Tom Pennington and Paul Washer, just to name a few. We have included many of their articles pertaining to the subjects below for your convenience. For a very complete list of Q&A from Dr. MacArthur, please visit the Grace To You online ministry.
- Is your church “Charismatic?”
- We have to be careful when we start talking terms without definition. What “charismatic” means to one person may mean something different to someone else. If you are wondering whether or not we speak in “tongues,” please refer to that specific question below. So let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing. Often times when someone asks if we are “charismatic,” they are asking if we believe that God has given His people in this present age the ability to:
- heal as Jesus and the apostles did
- tell the future (or “prophecy” as some misunderstand it)
- speak in tongues
- interpret tongues, or
- cast out demons, etc.
Many of these terms have been given their own section so let’s answer this question generally at first. We believe that certain gifts (called “sign gifts”) were given to certain people, namely Apostles, for a specific period of time (1 Cor. 13:8). Paul affirmed this truth when he was distinguishing himself from the false apostles in Corinth. He told that church in 2 Corinthians 12:12, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.”
These “sign gifts” given to specific people were given for a reason. Hebrews 2:3-4 says, “3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. The gift of tongues is not mentioned in any of the later epistles because that sign gift was for a specific time and had ceased (1 Cor. 13:8).
The same is true for casting out demons, prophecy and healing. Can God heal people at His discretion? Of course. Does He heal and perform miracles at His discretion? Of course He does and we are called to pray that He will do these things even today but that is very different than God giving certain people license to heal or cast out demons like the apostles did. We know that Paul and Peter both raised people from the dead but this is not something that believers are gifted with today.
The simple answer to this question, using definitions commonly associated with the “charismatic movement” is no, we are not a charismatic church but we recommend the book “Charismatic Chaos” or “Strange Fire” by Dr. John MacArthur for a comprehensive look at that movement. These sermon series by Dr. MacArthur may help clarify the issue as well:
Do you allow women to preach?
- Because of our culture today, this is such a touchy subject but it’s important to get something straight. Women are equal to men in gifting, talent and are equals before God regarding salvation but it is very clear in scripture that they were given different roles than men in God’s divine order. This does not imply that they are lesser human beings in any way just as a supervisor at work is not necessarily smarter or more gifted than those he oversees but he was given a different responsibilities. It is difficult to misinterpret 1 Timothy 2:11-12, “11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” This speaks to their role, not their giftings or talent.I often hear the argument, “What if they are gifted to lead and preach?” God gifted some women in this way because they’re supposed to lead and teach women and children (Titus 2). They are called to perform a specific role, just as men are. Titus 2:3-5 gives us specific instruction for women’s roles, “3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Clearly women are to teach younger women and children so many will be especially gifted to do so.
We follow God’s law not man’s and since it is clear that Elders and overseers are in roles of authority, they are to be men. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul says “if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” He is called to be the husband of one wife and he must “manage his own household well.” Scripture is replete with God’s call for a man to lead his family so it is impossible for that role to be filled by a woman and be within God’s will.
Here are some great articles regarding women, teaching, authority and roles:
Does your church speak in “tongues?”
- First of all, we understand that everyone has a different definition for almost every term made by man. Secondly, each of these sub-terms is a question unto itself but here it is in a nut-shell: The Greek word glossa (“tongues”), literally means “the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.” – Strong’s Lexicon G1100– In other words, it’s another language. More specifically, it was a gift, given by the Holy Spirit, which enabled someone to speak a language he did not otherwise speak.
- Let’s take a look at the best example we have in the Bible of speaking in tongues, let’s go to Acts 2. It is very clear how the Spirit used tongues. Peter is preaching to a diverse group of people and they all suddenly realize they are hearing him in their native language, truly a miracle. We believe speaking in tongues was a “sign gift” given during Apostolic times so that the gospel message could be easily spread from one language to another, and also mark the presence of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 12:12) so that those seeing and hearing would know that God was truly the author of the gospel message.It’s clear in 1 Corinthians 14 that Paul cautions that congregation concerning tongues. The Corinthians all were seeking the gifts that brought attention to themselves so Paul said to them in vs. 4, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.” In verses 6-8 Paul explains the uselessness of speaking in sounds, gibberish or another language no one understands, then in 9-12: “9So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” He sums up in verse 19, “however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Finally, in verse 22, Paul states plainly “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.”
Why would Paul say that “tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers…”? Because tongues were a sign to unbelievers to confirm that the message was indeed from God (Heb. 2:3-4), and so that the gospel message could be easily shared from culture to culture.
It is clear that speaking in “tongues” is NOT speaking gibberish and that is precisely what Paul was asking the Corinthians to cease. It is clear that the gibberish “spoken” in modern-day evangelical, charismatic churches only draws attention to self and makes us look like barbarians. Speaking in another language is wonderful if people understand what you’re saying!
For more on this subject, we recommend the book “Charismatic Chaos” or “Strange Fire” by Dr. John MacArthur or The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today by O. Palmer Robertsonplease. Also, see the following articles and comments for further study:
What style of worship do you have?
- We have a contemporary but respectful and reverent worship team. We believe that worship style is a preference but we need to keep in mind that it must be reverent and worshipful and not resemble a rock concert.
What are WPC’s thoughts on healing?
- The gift of healing was a gift reserved for Jesus and the Apostles. We are called to pray for those who are sick but there is no guarantee that God will heal them. All we can do is ask; we do not possess the power to heal.
What are your thoughts about homosexuality?
- The Bible speaks about homosexuality as a sin and we are called to abstain from it (Lev. 20:13; 2 Samuel 1:26; Romans 1:18-23, 26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10). Fleshly desires have never been an indicator of God’s will. As a matter of fact, fleshly desires are normally equated with sin. Homosexuality is no different. Just as it is sin for a man to lust after a woman who is not his wife, it is sin to lust after the same sex. At the same time, 1 Cor. 5 is clear that it is not our responsibility to judge those who are outside the church. Our command is to love them and pray for them.
- Secular Movements: Homosexuality (CARM.org)
- Answering Key Questions About Homosexuality
- God’s View of Homosexuality Part 1, Part 2
- Homosexuality and the Bible
- The Bible and Homosexuality
- Thinking Biblically About Homosexuality
- What the Bible Teaches About Homosexuality
- Grand Delusions by Burk Parsons
Do you believe baptism is a requirement for salvation?
- Baptism is our first act of belief and a symbol of our conversion but it is not a requirement for salvation. We of course have the obvious example of the thief on the cross who Jesus promised would be in “paradise” with Him that very day. We also have answers from Jesus, Paul, Peter and John as to what a person must do to be saved. Probably the most famous is Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” If it were a requirement of salvation, Paul would have surely mentioned it.Some people ask, “Then what about Acts 2:38 where Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” The Greek word translated “baptized” here is the word baptizo and should not be confused with the Greek word bapto. Both are translated into english as “baptize” but mean different things. There is a difference between baptism in water and baptism by the Holy Spirit. The word bapto is associated with dipping but the word baptizo was associated with a permanent change. Here is an excerpt from Strong’s Lexicon concerning both words:
This word (baptizo) should not be confused with baptô (911). The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (baptô) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizô) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.
When we are baptized by the Holy Spirit it produces a permanent change, not a symbolic one. Baptism by water is a symbol of the inner change or “baptism” by the Holy Spirit and should never be confused. In Acts 1:5, Jesus made the distinction when He said, “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” In this case the same word was used to mean two different things. In 1 Corinthians 10:2, Paul spoke of the Israelites being “‘baptized’ into Moses.” Also consider John the Baptists careful distinction of the two when he said in Luke 3:16, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Water baptism is our first act of obedience and an outward symbol of an inner baptism by the Holy Spirit.
Do you believe in church membership?
- Of course we do! People have no problem joining bowling leagues, softball teams, unions and any other club known to man, so why would joining a local church in membership be a problem? Membership is a great way to show your fellow local believers that you are accountable to them, that you belong to something much more meaningful than the local Elks Lodge and that you want to be counted among the family.Our culture has adopted a “church shopping” mentality that is contrary to scripture. It has been perpetuated by the fact that many churches have adopted a “consumer” mentality and treat people like customers that must be pandered to instead of a family that loves each other, corrects one another, disciples, instructs, fellowships, and serves one another. The church family is much stronger than any other type of membership and “membership” is actually a very inadequate description of what the bond within a church family should look like. We don’t call a family, even a broken one, a “membership.” Unfortunately membership is the closest thing we have in this world to show our bond to one another in the local church so though it is an inadequate description of what we are called to be to one another, we’ll take it.
Paul told Timothy to keep a list of widows, why do we believe it would be any different for members of the local church?
Do you practice open or closed communion?
- We practice open communion which means any blood-washed believer in Christ may practice communion with us in our church, whether they are just visiting or long-time members. Communion is explicitly for believers (1 Cor. 11).
Are you led by an Elder Board or just one pastor?
- We believe in the plurality of leadership meaning that we have a board of Elders but we also believe in the concept of a “first among equals” meaning that we have a head Elder who shepherds but is also accountable to the Elders.