Simply put, we believe whatever the Bible says, period. If it is in the Book, we believe it, if not, we donít.
God doesnít issue his Word in versions. There are hundreds of different Ďtranslationsí of the Bible in circulation today, and they are all different. I am not talking about different wordings, with essentially the same meaning; I am talking about words left out, whole verses left out, words changed to a totally different meaning, etc. from the Greek and Hebrew Textus Receptus that was accepted as Godís Word by the early Church. Things different are not the same, and so all these versions cannot be the "all scripture given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
It is our position that the King James (Authorized Version) 1611 and subsequent revisions is the final, complete, and inspired Word of God for the English-speaking people.
Many people will argue that sections of scripture are not meant to be taken literally, but rather figuratively (I have seen Genesis 1-11 and Revelation most often used this way). Usually this is to explain away sections that do not fit with their preconceived beliefs. However, it is our position that the Bible is always literal unless the context clearly identifies it as figurative, such as some parables of Jesus, some of the Psalms, and when figures are used in Revelation. We use the Bible to determine our beliefs and explain our observations, not try to fit our beliefs into the Bible.
In the first chapter of Genesis the Bible clearly explains that the world was supernaturally created out of nothing by God in 6 literal, 24-hour days, not slowly evolved over millions of years by time, chance and natural processes. This position is well supported by scientific evidence, which is more in favor of special creation than naturalistic evolution.
When God created the world, everything was perfect; there was no death, disease, suffering, extinction, pain, thorns, etc. Man was at perfect harmony with God and Nature. But this utopia was soon to change.
The Fall of Man
The first man, Adam, soon disobeyed God and as a result, plunged the whole human race into sin (read about it in Genesis chapter 3). Now Adam and all his descendants were separated from God and could no longer walk with him as Adam had before his sin. As a result, sin, death and suffering entered the world. All bad things that happen are a result of the curse that God placed on the earth. The future looked dark for the human race, which was destined to eternal damnation in a Lake of Fire. But God promised a Deliverer, the seed (descendant) of the first woman, who would bruise the head of the serpent who had deceived them.
About 1500 years later, mankind had become so wicked that God was sorry that he had created him. God purposed to destroy the entire world with a massive world-wide flood. But God found one righteous man, Noah. God told him to build a massive boat to save him, his family, and two of every kind of animal.
The flood lasted about a year, and the entire world that had existed up to that time was destroyed without a trace. Noah and his family and the animals on board the Ark were left to populate the earth (read the whole story in Genesis 6-9).
The flood left its mark on the earth in the form of the billions of fossils found in the earthís crust and geologic features such as the Grand Canyon.
After the flood, people began to multiply and spread across the face of the earth. God promised to one childless man, Abraham, that in his old age he would have a child, and that his descendants would become a mighty nation, in whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 15, 22:18). Abrahamís descendants became the nation of Israel. Through Moses, the first leader of the Israelites, God gave a system of commandments which if a man kept, he would be righteous. These commandments are recorded in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
God knew that because of manís natural drives, which drive every man to sin, that it was impossible for a man to keep all of the law all the time. So he devised a system of sacrifices to cover sin (detailed in Exodus and Leviticus). These sacrifices could only cover the sin of the people temporarily, not remove it. The obedient Israelites were Ďsaved on credití, waiting for a better sacrifice that was yet to come (Hebrews 9:23).
Over the years, God gave the Israelites clues through his servants the prophets about the coming Messiah, who would save the people from their sins. He was to be born of a virgin in the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem in Judea, and would grow up in Nazareth by the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:23). During his lifetime he would preach good news to the poor and downtrodden, and would heal the sick, the blind, and lame (Isaiah 61:1). He would look like an ordinary man, with nothing especially attractive about his appearance. At the end of his life, he would be beaten and cruelly killed, not for his own fault, but for the sins of the people (Isaiah 53).
Jesus, the son of Mary, fulfilled all of these prophesies. He lived 33 years and was faced with everyday temptations, just like every other person has down through the ages. But Jesus was different Ė he did not succumb to the temptation, like all others have. He lived a perfect, sinless life and as a result, he did not need to die, like all the rest of humanity. He died, just like a sinful man, a cruel death on a Roman cross. He died in our place, so that we could be counted righteous in his place.
But he didnít stay dead. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, triumphant over death, hell, and the grave. He spent the next 40 days on earth with his followers, and then ascended into heaven, where he remains today, alive and well ready to impart his righteousness to anyone who accepts this payment that he made for all mankind. Itís free.
A Holy Life
Once a person has accepted the gift of eternal life that God offers, his sins are paid for, and he is on his way to heaven. There is nothing he has to do in order to keep his salvation. But God expects his children, those who trust him for their salvation, to live a life that would bring glory and honor to him. He also expects us to spread the Good News of salvation to those around us.
We at Winchester Baptist Church strive to attain this goal. As a result, we have some standards that serve not for the purpose of being regulatory, but to bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.