The goal of this section is not to list every doctrinal stance of the Timberland Drive church of Christ and explain why we believe it—please visit our Bible Study, Bible Basics and FAQ sections for such doctrinal studies. Instead, the purpose of this section is to explain our perspective, or why we view things the way we do. We believe that if you accept the Bible’s claim that it is from God, as we do, this perspective is dictated by the scriptural text.
We Believe that that our personal opinion is not really that important. All that matters to us is what God would have us to do. Thus, our beliefs are not based on traditions of men, majority vote, or personal opinions, but on diligent study and careful consideration of God’s expressed will. If what we believe aligns with God’s will, we will be pleasing to Him. It is with that mindset that we share our firm conclusions with scriptural justification.
When Jesus spoke to the Jews of the first century, they could tell that He was clearly different from anyone they had every encountered. He spoke as one having all authority, and He claimed that authority for Himself (Matthew 7:28-29; Matthew 8:5-13). Today, we believe that Jesus is the source of all authority in religion. God speaks to us through Jesus Christ in “these last days” (Hebrews 1:1-4), and Christ has all authority to purge us of our sins and to direct us in the way to live. He is Lord and King, and it is our responsibility to listen when He speaks. He has the right to direct us in all that we believe and practice, as He has authority from God the Father (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus, we not only acknowledge His position, we make Him our personal Lord and King.
We can know that God exists by observing the creation, as “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1), but we would not know God unless He revealed Himself to us. He has revealed Himself through the Bible, “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:8-12). Christ accomplished this by using the Holy Spirit to inspire the apostles and prophets who wrote as they were directed, not by their own authority (2 Peter 1:20-21). The very words of this revelation are inspired by God, which literally means “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, we have the utmost respect for all the words of the Bible, and strive to interpret and follow these words carefully. We aspire to have the attitude of the Thessalonian brethren, whom Paul commended for accepting his word as God’s Word. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
This does not mean that we “don’t believe” in the Old Testament. We believe the Old Testament was given by God, and we see its value in teaching us about God and bringing us to Christ (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11), but we do not believe that we are subject to its laws or requirements (Hebrews 8:7-13). Galatians 3:24-25 says that the Old Law “was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” The first covenant (Old Law/Testament) ended and the second covenant (New Law/Testament) began when Jesus died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf (Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 9:17, 22, 28; Hebrews 10:4, 10; Colossians 2:14). As Hebrews 10:9 says of Christ, “…He takes away the first that He may establish the second.”
It is true that the New Testament is not a “law book” in the sense of compiled lists of rules and regulations, but instead contains books of history, correspondence, and prophesy written to a first-century audience. However, these inspired books repeatedly refer to a new law (James 2:12; Hebrews 7:12; Galatians 6:2) and Christ as the lawgiver (James 4:12). Furthermore, we know that we will be judged by the objective standard found in these New Testament books: the words of Christ (John 12:48-50). Thus, we strive to strictly follow the words of Jesus found in His revelation—for as He said Himself, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
This is all that God has given us today, and this is all we need today to know and do His will. If the Bible is how Christ communicates His will to us, then it is futile to look to other sources to direct ourselves. As Jeremiah 10:23 says, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” After His resurrection, Jesus spoke to His apostles, the ones who would be given the power of divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, and He tells them they will be guided into all truth (John 16:12-15). This truth was then written down by the inspired apostles and prophets to guide us into a knowledge of the truth. Only a complete revelation could make God’s man complete, so God revealed all truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). All truth is available to us now, as Jude 3 says, “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude says this body of truth was “once for all delivered.” The same phrase is used in reference to Christ’s death on the cross (Hebrews 9:28; 10:10). Just as Christ died once, God’s word was revealed once for all time. There is nothing more needed for us to know what God wants than what is found in the pages of the Bible, and we do not add to it, or take from it (Revelation 22:18-19).
In other words, we are required to follow divinely approved apostolic examples. The New Testament provides a fixed pattern of the way things were done in the first century church and the way Christ intends for them to be done today. Paul taught that we were to follow the apostles’ examples (Philippians 3:17; 4:9). In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-16 Paul tells this young church that they should “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” Jesus clearly condemns the traditions of men, so this was the pattern from God that they were to “hold to.” It was apostolic tradition. Whether they were taught these things in person, or whether an inspired writer wrote to them, they were supposed to hold to it and not change. Paul especially emphasized this need to closely imitate the divinely received pattern for life and worship to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 11:1, 16). This was necessary because these brethren had changed the worship and walk of the Christian to something else! He tells them that he taught the same thing in every church. This statement only makes sense if every church was supposed to be the same. If we could all be different from place-to-place or time-to-time, then Paul would have taught different things depending on the background and makeup of his audience. The fact that he taught the same thing everywhere tells us that we are supposed to follow the same pattern today. Clearly, the New Testament authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, intended a wider use of these writings beyond just “suggestions” for that time only (2 Peter 1:12-15). The Bible teaches that all first century congregations were supposed to be the same (unity in belief and practice) and remain that way after the apostles died, so we have no authority to change the work or worship of Christianity today.
It is a temptation for mankind to make Christianity more difficult and more complicated than it really is, rather than accepting the “simplicity of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Paul wrote and said that the mystery has been revealed to us (Ephesians 3:1-7), “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). That does not mean that all things are easy to comprehend. In fact, Peter speaks about the writings of Paul and says that some of them are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:14-16). However, by saying that some things are hard to understand, Peter clearly implies that they can be understood—and it is our responsibility to do so. It is in this common understanding that we find unity as Christians at large, as the local church at Timberland Drive, and as the church of Christ throughout the world.
The simplest way to explain why we believe what we believe is this: God revealed His Authoritative Will (The Bible) to be understood. As Human Beings, we have the ability and the capacity to reason and understand. Therefore, on any question regarding our Christian life, we find everything the Bible has to say about it—carefully study it and add it all together—and that is what we do. God has created us with the ability to comprehend His will. We must be willing to simply trust His method of revealing His will and submit to His ultimate authority over us.