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 Statement of Faith

The River Church of San Diego, California

What we are committed to and what we teach.

1.  We believe the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.


  • Revelation: A divine self-disclosure in history and in language, calling men into a relationship with God. 


  • General Revelation: Creation, Gen. 1; Ps. 19; Conscience, Rom. 1:19, 2:14-15.


  • Special Revelation: God’s Word in written form, 2 Pet. 1:21; and God’s Son, Jn. 1:1-14 are the two primary ways of special revelation.   Also one could add: Theophanies, direct communication (Gen. 2:16), Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21), Dreams (Num. 12:6), and          Visions (Is. 1:1).


  • Inspiration: This is the process whereby God breathed out His message through selected messengers and it was written down               without error in the original manuscripts. “The product” of Scripture is the significant issue in Inspiration, not the process.

       2 Tim. 3:16-17


The Scriptures are:


  • Verbal: words and propositions, Matt. 4:4.


  • Plenary: it extends to all parts of Scripture, Matt. 5:18.

  • Infallible: completely trustworthy, truthful, honest and accurate, Pro. 30:5-6.


  • Inerrant: without error in the originals, Tit. 1:2, Num. 23:19, and subsequently is: Authoritative in all matters of faith, practice and life. 1 Thess. 2:13.


2. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; each equally deserving worship and obedience.


  • First of all, the Bible assumes the existence of God, it does not try to prove it. Gen. 1; Ps. 14; Ex. 3:14; Heb. 11:6.


  • God is the Creator of all things. Gen. 1-11; Is. 42:5, 45:18; Rev. 4:11.


  • He is infinitely perfect. Deut. 32:4; Matt. 5:48.


When we say that God is perfect, we mean that He is Holy. Holiness is the essential and foremost attribute of God in the Scripture. The holiness of God is the complete, pure, immeasurable perfection of His being. 


  • He exists eternally in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


  • The Unity of God. Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4. We do not have three Gods, but One.


  • The Plurality of God. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7.


  • God the Father. Eph. 1:11 says, “God works all things after the counsel of His will.” God is the planner of all that there is and is in control of everything through His Sovereignty and Providence. Dan. 4:35.


  • God the Son. Heb. 1:5; 5:5-8; Jn. 1:1-3; Eph. 1:7-11. Jn. 10:30, 14:9. Jesus Christ, God’s Son is revealed to us in Scripture as co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father. He is the second person of the Godhead.


  • God the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:3, 4, 9; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; Heb. 9:14; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Lk. 1:35; Ps. 104:30. All the attributes of God belong to the Holy Spirit. He partakes of the very same essence as God the Father and God the Son, and is co-equal in eternal nature. 


Thus, we have evidence from the Scriptures themselves that we have One God who is manifested in three distinct personalities: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


3. We believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, Mary. He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, according to the Scriptures. He rose bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven where, at the right hand of the majesty on high, He now is our High Priest and Advocate.


  • Jesus Christ is true God and true man. Jesus was ‘one person’ with two natures. He had the nature of God: Jn. 8:58; 10:30; Phil. 2:6; Jn. 1:1; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.  Jesus Christ  had the nature of true man: Phil. 2:7; Lk. 2:10-11; Matt. 1:23; Heb. 4:15; Jn. 1:14.


  • Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a young Jewish virgin, by the name of Mary. Matt. 1:21-25; Lk. 1:34-35.


  • Christ died on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Matt. 27:33-56; Rom. 3:21-30; 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 2:24; Heb. 10:14.

  • Christ was raised from the dead on the third day in His physical body. 1 Cor. 15:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:21; Jn. 20; Acts 2:24, 32, 17:30-31.


  • Christ has ascended to heaven as our High Priest and Advocate. Heb. 4:14, 5:1-10, 7:21; Acts 1:9-11.


4. We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict men of sin, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct, gift and empower the believer for godly living and service.


  • The Holy Spirit will glorify Christ. Jn. 16:13-14, 15:26-27, 16:15.


  • The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin. Jn. 16:7-11; Tit. 3:5.


  • The Holy Spirit regenerates the believer. Tit. 3:5; Jn. 3:5-6; Jms. 1:18.


  • The Holy Spirit indwells believers. Jn. 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:18-20; Rom. 8:9. 


  • The Holy Spirit guides the believer. Jn. 16:13;l Acts 16:6-10; Acts 4:8-12, 8:26, 29, 39; Gal. 5:16, 22-23, 25.


  • The Holy Spirit instructs the believer. Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:11-13.


  • The Holy Spirit empowers the believer for godly living. Eph. 5:18; 2 Cor. 3:6, 17-18; Rom. 8:11, 26; Gal. 5:16-18.


  • The Holy Spirit gifts each believer. 1 Cor. 12, 14, Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11.


5. We believe that God created Angels to fulfill His will in heaven and on earth. Ps. 103:19-20; Job 1:6; Ps. 29:1, 89:5-7; Dan. 4:13, 17, 23, 7:9-10, 8:13.


There are two categories of angels:


  • Holy Angels. Angels are created beings and are therefore not to be worshiped. Although they are a higher order of creation than man, they will be judged by the saints, and they are created to serve God and to worship Him. These angels have maintained their original unfallen position as holy and [therefore] help fulfill God’s plan and purpose throughout the ages into eternity.  Lk. 2:9-14; 1 Cor. 6:3; 1 Pet. 1:12; Heb. 1:6-7, 14, 2:6-7; Rev. 5:11-14, 19:10, 22:9. Examples: Cherubim, Is. 6:2; Ez. 1:5-14, 10:19-22; Gabriel, Dan. 8:16, 9:21; Lk. 1:19, 26; ministering spirits to aid the saints, Heb. 1:14.


  • Fallen Angels. Satan is the chief and original fallen angel. He was created by God as Lucifer (KJV, Is. 14:12), “The shining one,” “Star of the morning,” NASB. Satan sinned through pride and carried with him a great a company of angels which work his evil purposes, warring against Christ and the Church.  These angels [Satan and fallen angels] are judged at the cross and permanently defeated and will spend eternity in hell. Is. 14:12-17; Ez. 28:11-19; Eph. 6:12; 2.     2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Matt. 8:29, 10:1, 25:41; Lk. 9:38; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:9;  Jn. 12:31; Col. 2:15; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:4, 7-9, 20:7-10.


  • Additionally: Even though Satan was judged at the cross, he was not ‘finally judged.’ He now presides as the “God of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and has three primary objectives; 1] Taking glory that only belongs to God, Matt. 4:9; 2] Blinding the minds of unbelievers, 2 Cor. 4:4; and 3] Hindering the walk of Christian’s, Eph. 6:12-18. Satan’s final judgment will come first at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when he will be bound and cast into the abyss for 1000 years, then after a very short rebellion he will be cast in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where he will be tormented forever. Col. 2:16; Rev. 20:1-3, 10.


6. We believe that man was created in the image of God to know Him, love Him, glorify Him, enjoy and be delighted with Him. But mankind chose to sin and disobey God and is therefore spiritually dead, separated from God and eternally lost. Only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit

 can he obtain salvation and spiritual life.


  • Man was created in the image of God. Gen. 1:26-27.


  • He sinned and disobeyed God. Gen. 3:6-7; Rom. 3:23, 5:12.


  • He is eternally lost and will spend eternity away from the presence of the Lord. Lk. 19:10; Is. 59:1, 64:6; Rom. 1-3, 2 Thess. 1:9.


  • He is separated from God and dead spiritually. Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1-3. Man also died physically because of sin, Rom. 5:12.


  • The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation and spiritual life. Jn. 3:5-6; Tit. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Thess. 2:13.


7.  We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ accomplished by His death upon a cross and His subsequent bodily resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe. Only those who receive Jesus Christ by faith are born of the Holy Spirit, thus becoming children of God. Those who receive and believe are the elect of God. 


  • The shed blood of Christ and His resurrection provide the only grounds for salvation. Rom. 3:24-25, 4:24-25; Heb. 9:14.


  • Those who believe and receive Jesus Christ have salvation and eternal life. Jn. 1:12-13, 3:16, 18, 36, 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 1 John 5:11-13.


  • Election. Election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies. Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1-2.


8. We believe that those people who have been born again and received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are not only forgiven and become members of God’s forever family, but these same ones are Secure in this salvation for all eternity. They are kept by the power of God, not the self-effort of the believer. They can know that they are going to heaven and have no doubts. In fact, the Holy Spirit Himself seals the believer unto the day of redemption.


  • They are forever alive in Christ. Jn. 5:24; 1 Jn. 5:11.


  • They are secure in God’s love and salvation for eternity. Jn. 10:29; Rom. 8: 28-39.


  • They are kept by the power of God not man’s efforts. 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Eph. 2:1-10; Jude 24


  • They can know that they are going to heaven. 1 Jn. 5:13


  • Believer’s are sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30.


  • We believe that only those who are members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church. 


In actuality, people are eligible for church membership if they make a positive confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, manifest the fruit of genuine repentance and show faithfulness in church fellowship. Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 26:20; Heb. 10:24-25.


10. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church.  Under Christ, every local church has the right to decide and govern its own affairs.


  • He is the Head and the Lord. Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22, 4:5.


  • Each local church has the right to govern its own affairs.


  • Church discipline is vital for the church. 1 Cor. 5-6; Matt. 18:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15.


  • Election of officers and delegates regarding inter-church cooperation is done through the church. Acts 13:1-3, 15:2-5, 16:5; 2 Cor. 8:16-24; 1 Tim. 3:1-13;  Tit. 1:5-9.


  • The writers of the NT always referred to ‘the churches’ giving us the idea that there were many of them. They also write to individual churches, with individual Elders and Deacons. Col. 4:15; Philemon 2; Rom. 16:1.


  • It seems that the Apostles wielded a great deal of power in the early days of the church, but each church was to pick out its own leadership and proceed. Acts 20; 1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1.


11. We believe that the true Church is composed of all persons who, through saving faith in Jesus Christ, have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and united in the body of Christ.


The true Church is all those who are truly saved and know Jesus Christ personally. There is no one in the true Church who is not regenerated and united organically (permanent spiritual reality) to Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Tit. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 12:5.


12.   We believe that Water Baptism [immersion] and the Lord’s Supper [Communion] are ordinances to be observed by the church during this present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as a means of salvation or providing merit or grace.


  • Water Baptism. Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:38, 8:36, 10:47-48; Rom. 6:1-3. This experience is for those who have already believed and in obedience to Christ’s command, their public baptism make is a statement of their commitment to Christ and His Church.


  • The Lord’s Supper. 1 Cor. 11:23-34. This marvelous experience is for those know and love Christ. The elements of communion are only representative [Commemoration or Memorialism] of the body and blood of Christ, nevertheless believer’s have actual spiritual communion with Christ who is present in a unique way, fellowshipping with His people.  1 Cor. 10:16.


13. We believe in the personal, premillenial, and imminent return of our Lord Jesus Christ. This blessed hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of each believer.


  • Christ will come again to this earth to rule and reign.


  • Personally. 1 Thess. 4:16.


  • Literally and Visibly and Bodily. Acts 1:11; 1 Jn. 3:2; Rev. 1:7.


  • Gloriously. Matt. 16:17, 24:30, 25:31.


  • Powerfully. Is. 9:6-7, 11:1-5, 40:9-10; Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 7:13-14; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 24:30.


  • Quickly. Rev. 22:7, 12, 20; Matt. 28:7-8.


  • With His saints. Jude 14; Zech. 14:5.


  • Premillennially. Matt. 24:29-31, 25:31-46; Lk. 21:20-24; Rev. 19-20.


Millennial Reign of Christ. After the Tribulation period, Christ will come to earth to occupy the throne of David (Matt. 25:31, Lk. 1:31-33, Acts 1:10-11, 2:29-30) and establish His Messianic kingdom for 1,000 years on the earth (Rev. 20:1-7). During this time the resurrected saints will reign with Christ over Israel and all the nations of the earth (Ez. 37:21-28, Dan. 7:17-22, Rev. 19:11-16). This reign will be preceded by the overthrow of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and by the removal of Satan from the world (Dan. 7:17-27, Rev. 20:1-7).


The Millennial kingdom itself will be a fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (Is. 65:17-25, Ez. 37:21-28, Zech. 8:1-17) to restore them to the land that they forfeited through disobedience (Deut. 28:15-68). The result of their disobedience was that Israel was temporarily set aside (Matt. 21:43, Rom. 11:1-26), but will again be awakened through repentance to enter in to the land of blessing (Jer. 31:31-34, Ez. 36:22-32, Rom. 11:25-29). 

. This time of earthly rule by Christ will be characterized by harmony, justice, peace, righteousness and long life (Is. 11:1-6, 65:17-25, Ez. 36:33-38) and will be brought to an end with the release of Satan from the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:7). 


Following the release of Satan after the 1,000 year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:7) Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, at which time Satan and his army will be destroyed by fire from heaven (Rev. 20:9). After this, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:10), whereupon Christ, who is the Judge of all men (Jn. 5:22), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne Judgment, Rev. 20.


  • He will come of necessity, because of unfulfilled prophetic literature. Acts 1:11; Jn. 5:28; Lk. 12:37; Zech. 14:4; 2 Thess.1:8; Matt. 24:30; 1 Pet. 1:7,4:13; Job 19:25; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14; Rev. 1:7; 2 Thess. 2:8; Matt. 25:31, Rev. 5:13.


  • Christ is coming back for the Church.


  • It is Pre-Tribulational, Rev. 3:10; I Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 19:7-14. There is latitude here for other views of course; the mid-Tribulation, the Pre-wrath Rapture, Post-Tribulation positions are views others have taken.


The Tribulational period. We believe that following [could be immediate or have a transitional time space] the removal of the Church from the earth (Jn. 14:1-3, 1 Thess. 4:13-18) the righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon an unbelieving world (Jer. 30:7, Dan. 9:27, 12:1-2, 2 Thess. 2:7-12, Rev. 6-16) and that these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to the earth (Matt. 24:27-31, 25:31-46, 2 Thess. 2: 7-12, Rev. 19). At that time the OT and tribulation saints will be raised and the living will be judged (Dan. 12:2-3, Rev. 20:4-6). This period is the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27, Matt. 24:15-31, 25:31-46).


  • It is for those who have placed their faith in Christ. 1 Thess. 4:14; Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 1:7-9; Rev. 3:20, 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 15:14.


  • This issue of the rapture (the catching away) was not revealed in the OT. 1 Cor. 15:50-58.


  • The Church is betrothed to Christ, and at the rapture it is brought into union with Him as His bride. 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-8; Rom. 8:29; 1 Jn. 3:2; 2 Cor. 5:10; Lk. 12:36; Matt. 25:10.


  • The rapture brings the church into eternal glory and honor. 

1 Jn. 3:1; Rev. 19:14, 20:6; Jude 14-15; Rom. 8:19-22; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jn. 17:10; Col. 3:5; Rev. 19:8-14.


14.   We believe in the bodily resurrection of all the dead; of believers to everlasting blessedness and joy with their Lord in heaven and of unbelievers to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment in hell.


  • The bodily resurrection of the righteous to heaven. Lk. 14:13-14; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 11:35; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:6; Lk. 20:35-36.


  • The bodily resurrection of the unrighteous to damnation and punishment, which results in the condemned sinner going to a literal hell that Jesus spoke about. Hell is eternal, called ‘The lake of fire,’ a place of darkness, undying worms and conscious torment. Jn. 5:29; Rev. 20:11-15; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Jude 6-7; Matt. 5:22, 29-30, 10:28; 25:31-46; Mk. 9:48


Theological Positions of Great Importance.


*Proper Interpretation includes: To know and understand the Grammar, Syntax, Context, Cultural setting, and History of the relevant Biblical information, in order to come to a valid and legitimate interpretation. We categorically reject the school of Allegorical interpretation, that finds meanings that are not intended for the text. Without proper methods of interpretation, the Bible can easily be misinterpreted and be made to say something that the authors never intended. 


Abortion. We teach that conception is an act of God (Gen. 29:31; 30:22; Ps. 51:5; 139:13-16), and that He considers unborn infants as living human beings (Ex. 21:22-23; Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:51). Therefore, it is our position that God views abortion as murder, and as such is sin. However, forgiveness is always available and the woman who has had this unfortunate experience is not to be judged or in any way made to feel guilty. Repentance and confession on the part of this woman restores her to fellowship with Christ and therefore to the Church.


Family Roles. We teach that the family is a God-ordained institution (Gen. 2:18-25), where men are to be the godly, loving, serving, providing, protecting, heads of their families (1 Cor. 11:1-2; Eph. 5:23-31); where women are to love their children and follow the godly, loving leadership of their husbands (Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22; Titus 2:3-5); where parents together are to train up their children in righteousness (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4); and where children are to follow and obey the godly, loving instruction of their parents (Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1-3). 


Marriage. We teach that a biblical marriage is between one man and one woman, and is intended for life (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:1-12). Further, we acknowledge that it is God’s will for believers to enter into marriage only with other believers (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:140, Therefore, the Elders will only conduct marriage ceremonies where both individuals are professing Christians, and provided there is no other Scriptural reason why the marriage would be unbiblical. Since each couple is unique, each couple will undergo pre-marital counseling to the satisfaction of the Elder[s] conducting the marriage ceremony. This church has the responsibility of helping people to be successful in their marriages.


Divorce. This church has the responsibility to reach out in love and help those who have gone through the difficulty of divorce and help them in the healing process of getting their lives biblically oriented as they start over again. If someone has had an unbiblical divorce in the past, we will not hold that against them when considering them for church membership. It must be noted, however, we believe God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but because of the hardness of individuals’ hearts (Matt. 19:7-8), God does permit divorce under two circumstances: 1) When a professing believer is married to an unbeliever, and the unbeliever wants a divorce, 1 Cor. 7:10-15.  2) When a couple is married, and one of the partners commits adultery and will not repent, then the innocent partner may seek a divorce, Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9.


Remarriage. This church has the responsibility to reach out in love and help those who have been remarried to be successful in their current marriage. If someone has had an unbiblical remarriage in the past, we will not hold that against them when considering them for church membership. Under the counseling ministry of the Elders, we would go forward and not backwards with people in this category. It must be noted, however, the Bible teaches that God only permits remarriage in the following circumstances: 1) Remarriage following death of a spouse, Rom. 7:2-3.  2) Remarriage following a biblical divorce, Matt. 5:23; 19:9.


Homosexuality.  We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, an unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ. Our church is open for anyone to come and we encourage all to do so. We will not punish or ostracize people because of their sexual orientation, but we will be very clear about God’s standards and His creative genius in providing one man and one woman for a life time of marriage. We will offer the same gospel and its obligations to those bound in homosexual sin as we would offer it to anyone participating in heterosexual sin. The gospel changes lives and this is the primary need for all people. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 2 Cor. 5:17.


*Interpretation addendum:


We are committed to a normal approach to interpreting the Bible. Sometimes this is called the Grammatical-Historical Method of Interpretation. That is, we believe that it is best to regard the Bible as a historical document and interpret it using the following methods: 


1. Context: we must always consult the immediate context, then the broader context. The Bible can be used to say anything and endorse anything if it is taken out of context. Someone has said it this way, “A text without a context is a pretext.” It becomes putty in the hands of the Bible interpreter if it is not carefully and consistently squared with the context. In other words, the best method is to study the text or passage and come ‘out of it’ with the meaning, not place a meaning ‘into it’ based on something that is not in the context itself.


2. History and cultural context. The Bible was written in a historical and cultural context, and we must understand that first before we can make any legitimate application to our lives today.


3. Literary style: every book has a specific literary style and the style must be determined before interpretation can be accomplished. Examples: there is history, there is poetry, there are symbolic writings, Ezekiel and Revelation for example. But, these books can be interpreted literally within a context and be true to its intended purpose, and yet find the meaning behind metaphors and similes. 


4. The Analogy of Scripture principle: the Bible does not contradict itself. The Bible interprets itself very often and it is a principle that one interprets the abnormal reference, the obscure reference in light of a larger context where cross referencing helps, and where the bigger idea is helpful to clarify. Example: there are a few places that might be construed as teaching that good works can provide what is necessary for salvation. But if one uses the entire New Testament, it becomes very clear that it is ‘by grace’ that a person is saved.


5. Grammatical Interpretation: The Bible uses normal language to communicate its message and we must understand that these words are best understood in light of normal grammatical understanding: tenses, moods, voices, words, phrases, nouns, verbs, conjunctions, prepositions. 


6. The study of words: we must know what a word means in its context, and often a meaning is determined by context, but individual words do have meanings. 

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