Bible Church Distinctives
Bible churches generally identify themselves with all other evangelical churches in or out of denominations. However, most Bible churches share certain distinctive emphases that distinguish them from other churches.
- First, Bible churches are evangelical. To be evangelical is to believe the Christian gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the atoning death of the God-man, Jesus Christ. The Greek word for “Gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον) transliterated as “euagelion” is where we get the word “Evangelical” or “Evangelism.”
- Bible churches are independent or denominationally unaffiliated. This is not to say they do not cooperate and fellowship with other Christian groups – they are just not organizationally controlled by them or bound to them.
- A third distinctive is that Bible churches are evangelistic. Technically, the term “evangelistic” is different from “evangelical.” An evangelical believes the gospel. An evangelistic person is one who tells others about the gospel. A person can believe the gospel (be evangelical) but be so wrapped up in himself or his own theology that he does not share the gospel. A bible church, though, is committed to spreading the gospel of Christ both at home and abroad.
- Additionally, Bible churches are Bible-teaching, hence the name Bible church. A Bible-teaching church is one that believes in the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, and teaches the Scriptures to guide its members in their daily lives. Bible churches interpret the Bible literally in its historical content. They take the meaning of the words in its normal, natural and usual sense, seeking to understand each passage in the content of the surrounding passages.
- Bible churches, in applying a literal interpretation of Scripture, usually are premillennial and dispensational. A premillennialist is one who believes that a literal 1,000-year of universal peace and righteousness is coming to the earth and that Jesus Christ will return to usher in that age. A dispensationalist believes that the Christian lives under grace, not Old Testament law, and that God has plans for Israel’s future.
- Bible churches have a deep respect for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They emphasize that every true Christian has been baptized by and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and that true spirituality is not based on ecstatic utterances or emotional experiences, but on letting God’s Word richly dwell in one’s life by faith.
- Bible churches believe in the eternal security of the believer, that is, that God is able to and promises to keep every true believer as His possession for eternity. True salvation can never be lost.
- Finally, Bible churches generally are characterized by a plurality of leadership, usually exhibited by some form of elder rule, in contrast to pastor-rule or pure congregational.