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our statement of beliefs

The Word of God

We believe the Bible, as revealed in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, are the authoritative, inspired and infallible Word of God.  Scriptures teach that men, carried along by the Holy Spirit, wrote them not as an expression of their own will, but as prophetic words inspired by the Holy Spirit.  While they are written in various literary forms, and are at times complex and difficult to understand, we believe them to be what many theologians refer to as perspicuous, meaning their message of salvation and instructions for a life of faith can be easily grasped and understood by all seekers with an open heart.  

 

We also acknowledge that we live within a Post-Christian society, so there is an ever-present temptation to either water down scriptures, or adjust them to be more relevant to our modern sensibilities.  We do not believe that is appropriate, but must let the full scope of scriptures stand on their own in each generation.  While it may be tempting to let our culture critique the Bible, we believe the Bible should critique our culture in every generation.  They represent the lens through which we filter our feelings, experiences and opinions, and must be how we practically express the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Deut. 4:1-6, 6:1-9; Psalm 119; 2 Chron. 34; Nehemiah 8; Matt. 5:1-7:28:19; John 8:31-32, 12:44-50; Acts 2:42, 17:10-11; 2 Tim. 3:14-4:4; Hebrews 4:12-13; James 1:22-25; 1 Pet. 1:24-25)

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

We believe the Gospel (literally “good news”) of Jesus Christ is represented by the message of Jesus in the New Testament, especially the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Each writer, in their own way, reveals the central message of all scripture in the person of Jesus, breaking into humanity as God in the flesh.  This was testified to in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament.  His perfect and sinless life, lived as a human among fallen people, is the best expression of God’s incredible and limitless grace toward people that have rejected him.  Jesus’ willing submission to God’s calling of saving humanity was expressed by His sacrificial death on a cross for our sins.  That complete and finished work ushered in salvation and a new life for us today, as well as hope for eternal life beyond this broken world.  

 

Our response to the Gospel is to repent of the sin which alienated us from God, and make Jesus the Lord of our lives.  We must humbly acknowledge that we have been separated from God and are spiritually dead without the saving work of Jesus on the cross. When we accept that and live into this new life, we don’t do it alone, but are transformed from within and empowered by the work of Holy Spirit.  In this way, the Gospel is a clear and inspiring picture of the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in all His fullness calling all humanity into His powerful and grace-filled redemptive story.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Gen. 1-3, 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:1-16; Isaiah 7:14, 11:1-4, Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2-4; Daniel 2:44-45; Rom. 3:10-12, 21-26, 7:8-26; Matt. 4:17, 25:31-32;  Luke 1:32-33; John 1:1-3; Gal. 3:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:1-8; 2 Cor. 5:11-21; Acts 2:36, 3:19-21; Col. 3:1-4; Titus 3:3-8;  Rev. 21:1ff)

 

Salvation and New Birth

We believe the correct response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is first of all to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God loved us enough to send His one and only son into this world to die for our sins.  We did not deserve it.  This belief should compel us to desire His lordship in our lives, and draw us into a new and transformed life of salvation.  This belief leads a person to repent, (which simply means to let the grief caused by the realization of our sins produce a total change of heart and mind), and get baptized by full immersion in water for the forgiveness of their sins.  Baptism represents our participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, ushering in a total change of status before God.

 

We believe this is the normative way of salvation as expressed most clearly in the pages of the New Testament and through the teaching of the early church.  We also believe that God is sovereign and can grant salvation to anyone He sees fit, so we teach this plan of salvation humbly, realizing that we are obligated to teach what we find in scripture, but that God ultimately decides who is granted salvation and who is not.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Matt. 28:19-20; John 3:1-9; 3:16-18; 3:19-21; 1 Cor. 8:6; Luke 13:3-5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 4:12; 8:36-38, 9:17-19, 16:31-33, 20:21, 22:16, 26:20; Romans 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 2:12; Gal. 2:20, 3:26-27; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21)

 

Life of faith in the local Church

When God calls people out of their lost state in this world, he calls them into a community of fellow redeemed sinners.  He has broken down the walls of hostility that a fallen society has built up, and called people to live together in a state of spiritual unity, all with the purpose of showing the world the wisdom of his plan of unification.  While there are multiple expressions of Christian communities, the life of a faithful disciple cannot be lived in isolation from other people, especially those who disagree with our viewpoints.  The battle for the kind of unity the world needs is fought within the messy and often complicated walls of the local church.

 

The local church is also where Christians interact with the objective viewpoints of brothers and sisters who know them and love them enough to teach, correct, rebuke and train them.  In our current age of “De-churching,” the powerful witness of people striving to live together in harmony, based solely on their orientation to the cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ, cannot be replaced.  We acknowledge that church harm and abuse happen because of sin, but do not believe it’s a reason to isolate ourselves from the church, diminishing the beautiful and biblical vision of the church.  God’s church still remains his “crown jewel” and bride in a broken world.  We are all called to robustly engage in the church based on our faith in God and His promise of a better Kingdom.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Matt. 16:18, 18:20; Acts 2:42-47, 11:26, 12:5, 13:1, 14:23; Acts 20:17-31; Romans 12:5, 16:1, 5, 23; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 1:22-23, 2:19-22, 3:10-13, 21, 4:14-16; Col. 1:17-20, 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24-25; 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10; Jude 1:21-21)

 

Making Disciples

We believe the purpose of our lives is to know God and to make him known to others, which inwardly compels us to embrace and carry on the mission Jesus gave us to make disciples and teach them to obey everything he has commanded us. This means we don’t see our job as done when someone is converted to Christ, but we stay in there with them, doing our very best to help train people in the ways of God, as ongoing love, shepherding and training represent the heart of Jesus toward other believers. We meet each week for church not only to connect with God through our communion, worship and fellowship, but to visibly display to lost people the power of lives lived in service to King Jesus.

 

We realize the temptation to treat disciple-making as another corporate endeavor or allow it to become a slave to our personal goals or man-made versions of success.  We resist that, instead seeking to allow the Holy Spirit to work through redeemed and imperfect lives, on His terms and in His timing.  We believe this creates in Christians a Godly surrender and allows the Spirit to lead us in our missional engagement, instead of us feeling the need to blaze our own trail.  The mission belongs to God, we partner with Him, He does not partner with us.  It is a fine and delicate distinction that is worth wrestling with.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Matt. 28:19-20; John 13:34-35; Acts 2:37-41, 5:42; Romans 1:14-17; 1 Cor. 9:16, 24-27, 13:1-13; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 1:3-6, 20-21; Col. 1:28-29; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 1 John 3:16)

 

 

Holy Spirit

Those who are adopted into God’s family are graciously given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the power for any spiritual transformation in an individual Christian, and in the life of the church.  A life lived in step with the Spirit’s work is fundamental to true discipleship, so prayer, patience, listening and asking God and other spiritual people for discernment can only be done by striving to understand the theology of the triune God.

 

Sadly, in the name of efficiency, too many churches develop and perpetuate an overly rigid and monolithic view of how individual Christians and churches grow, as well as how one another discipling should look.  Since the role and work of the Holy Spirit can be mysterious and beyond our control, we usually simplify things in the name of “getting things done.”  Others have avoided teaching on the Holy Spirit based on real abuses by groups who misunderstand or distort the Spirit’s work in this world.  While it’s easy to recognize where this comes from, we believe a healthy and growing understanding of the Spirit’s work is the only way to realize a flourishing life, so we are committed to growing each day in our understanding of how God works through His Holy Spirit.

 

Scriptures for further study: (John 3:5, 16:7-11; Acts 7:51, 13:2-3, 14:23; Rom. 8:5-11; Eph. 1:13-14; 5:18; Gal. 5:16-25; 2 Cor. 3:3; 1 John 2:20, 27).

 

Christian Convictions

We realize the scriptures teach three levels of Christian convictions: There are essential (or core) elements, ones that if removed, changed or distorted, would result in a faith that would cease to be called Christian.  There are then secondary (or important) elements, ones that are vital to a healthy understanding of individual Christianity and church life, but are not necessary for salvation.  There are also tertiary (or disputable) elements, ones where God gives us personal freedom to disagree, based on many different variables, most importantly our consciences. 

 

It is important, in a Post-Christian world, to understand the difference between these different convictions.  In fact, we think a lot depends on it. For instance, if we subscribe to a theology that seeks to alter or distort (even softly) essential convictions like the deity of Jesus or the reality of sin, we must refute that.  Or, if we come to believe the world’s issues can only be solved through a certain worldly paradigm or political approach, we have erroneously elevated a disputable conviction to the level of an essential one.  While the so-called wisdom of the world and the demand to conform to different ideologies press in on God’s church, it is all the more important that we clearly understand the different but important distinctions in Christian convictions.

 

Scriptures for further study: (1 Cor. 15:1-8; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 2:8; Eph. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:9; 1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-4:4; 1 Cor. 11:1-2; 1 John 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:14-16; Rom. 14:1-23).

 
Cultural Conversations/Hot Topics

As a community called out of the world and set apart for the work of God, we believe the Christian church is rightly lived as a counter-cultural minority in a world that demands conformity to its ways.  Today, when seeking a place of worship, many people desire to know where their church or spiritual community stands on the issues that represent the hot topics of the day.  We understand why many groups choose not to make statements about these kinds of things, but we want to be very clear about where we stand on them.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Psalm 51:10; Matt. 22:34-40, 20:24-27; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Acts 20:29-31; Rom. 12:2, Rom. 14-15; 1 Cor. 7:32-35, 11:2-9; 2 Cor. 4:4, 5:17; Eph. 2:1-2, 4:22-23, 5:21-33; Phil. 4:8; Col. 2:8, 3:2, 18-19; 1 Tim 3:1-7, 4:1-8; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Peter 1:14; 1 John 2:15-17)

 

God’s word has many things to say about everything happening in society, even the ones we experience as most polarizing.  Here are a few we think are important, and humbly express them not as our own opinions, but as the most faithful way we understand scripture to speak in these areas:

 
Gender Roles

We believe that God created men and women equally as humans.  There is no difference in who they are before the Creator, and any differences in biological makeup or role does not affect their worth or value in the eyes of God.  In Genesis, God created two biological sexes, and both equally reflect the nature of God in different ways, which are beautifully expressed in the scriptures as manhood and womanhood.

 

We believe the scriptures teach that there are different roles for men and women both in marriage and in leadership of the assembled church.  Husbands and wives are called to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, forming a divine partnership where men lay their lives down for their wives, just as Christ did for the church, and women lovingly model willingness to follow their husbands just as the church is to willingly follow Christ.  In the church, we see in scripture that God has called spiritually qualified men to lead in areas of authority, especially within the office of elder or church leader.  He has called both men and women to use their God-given talents and gifts to build up the church in a variety of ways, none more important than the other, the distinction of roles for some offices do not have any bearing on salvation or worth in the eyes of God.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Eph. 5:21-33; 1 Tim. 2:11-3:7; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9)

 

Marriage

In an age where marriage is increasingly being treated as a commodity to pursue individual happiness, we affirm that biblical marriage is a sacred and blessed covenant between a man and a woman, as defined by Jesus himself in the Gospels.  It is meant to be a light to the world, for the partnership and enjoyment of husband and wife, and for procreation.  We believe the Bible is very clear that it is a sin to engage in impurity, or any kind of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage, including same-sex unions and same-sex marriage.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Gen. 2:24; Prov. 18:22; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; Eph. 5:22-33; Heb. 13:4)

 

Racial Discrimination/Social Justice

We see every person through the biblical lens of equality, value and worth as image-bearers.  As a result of sin, discrimination and oppression of all kinds have affected people through all generations, and are still alive today.  We stand against racism, prejudice, discrimination and favoritism in every form, and believe God has a special place in his heart for the minority, marginalized and poor among us, so we are committed to pursuing biblical justice for them.

 

We also realize the world we live in offers a variety of polarizing solutions, so we faithfully reject humanistic solutions and choose to follow the ways of God instead of the ways of the world to build unity and love in the church of Jesus Christ.  We don’t want to define the world or ourselves through the lens of the oppressed and oppressor, not because we couldn’t but because Jesus didn’t. Our Lord grew up in the most unjust society imaginable and was mistreated along with his family from his birth till his death, yet he refused to use this as his primary identity.  This does not deny the lived reality of many disciples in many countries facing forms of injustice on a daily basis, but we imitate Jesus when we refuse to see ourselves as powerless victims, and instead choose to be overcomers. 

 

We also reject the popular notion that one group of people has the moral high ground over another and therefore more of a right to speak and be heard than another group, but embrace the biblical principles of mutually healthy communication.

 

We believe that we must get to know each other better in order to truly understand where we’re coming from. Therefore, we are committed to practicing humble curiosity about the things we don’t know, in order to grow in our understanding, compassion, and love for each other.  We embrace the unity that Jesus bought with his own blood on the cross and commit to forging that unity and connection between our diverse members in the church.  Most importantly, we believe all of these issues need to addressed through the lens of the Bible, which offers everything we need for true reconciliation.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Deut. 10:18-19; Lev. 19:33-34; 1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 31:8-9; Isaiah 1:17; Luke 17:3-4; John 7:24; Acts 10:34-35; 1 Cor. 1:18-19, 12:26: Rom. 12:15, 14:10, 15:7; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:14-16, 4:3; Phil. 2:1-4; Col. 2:8, 3:8-15; 1 Tim. 1:13-14; 1 Thess. 5:2-22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; James 1:19-20, 2:1-4, 8-9, 3:13-18; 1 John 3:15)

 

 

Homosexuality

We believe the Bible teaches that to live out or give expression to the homosexual lifestyle is not within the acceptable bounds of Christianity. We realize we live in a world that is very fractured around this subject, and approach anyone who believes differently than we do with love and respect. We also invite them to experience the beautiful transformation and growth that can come when we deny our powerful desires and live a Gospel-centered life.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11)

 

Sexual Identity

We live within a society that has tragically decided to base personal identity mainly around human sexuality.  The Bible clearly teaches that God created two biological sexes – man and woman, and made them beautifully unique and diverse.  While that is one important part of who we are, it is not supposed to be where we locate our identity.  Our identity is found in the image of God we were given at birth, and our adoption as children of God we are given at our rebirth into God’s family.

 

By focusing identity on sexuality, Satan has convinced people to dramatically turn inward, making feelings and desires the most important markers of who we are in this world.  The created have become too comfortable telling the Creator how to make meaning.  We believe the biblical definition of who we are as people represents the most faithful and fulfilling idea of how to live fully human and flourishing lives in a fallen world.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Gen. 1:27; Mark 10:6; 2 Cor. 3:18, 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:10, 4:24; Col. 3:10)

 

Politics

People form their political views based on many powerful forces in their lives.  It can provide meaning and security as they navigate a world that is based on power.  In fact, while abuse and corruption abound, many positive changes have happened in countless lives because of political leaders or endeavors.  While it is natural to believe deeply in one’s political viewpoints, most are not worth dividing over, and the church is not the place for political debate.  Instead, we believe disciples of Jesus can remain politically active while all pledging their undivided loyalty first to the Kingdom of God and His values.  We may physically live in this world, but scripture tells us we are citizens of an entirely different kingdom.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Psalm 146:3; Matt. 22:17-21, 28:18; John 18:36 Rom. 13:1-7; Phil. 3:20;  1 Tim. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:24-25; Titus 3:1, 9)

 

Abortion

We do not see this as a political issue, since God’s Word clearly teaches the sanctity of life, from the very beginning (conception) to the very end (natural death).  Every viable human, born or not, is an image-bearer of God, and deserves to be treated as precious in His eyes.  Because of this, we oppose elective abortions as sinful and wrong.  We also understand that in rare cases, a mother’s life might be in danger, and decisions need to be made that are very difficult.  In those situations, we humbly and prayerfully submit to God’s wisdom, grace and mercy.

 

We understand that many need help in upholding the value of every life, so we support vigorously the beautiful and biblical act of adoption, as well as striving to meet the needs of women who feel they are in a crisis of pregnancy or unwanted child.

 

Scriptures for further study: (Gen. 1:27; Exodus 20:13; Job 31:15; Psalm 127:3, 139:13-16; Isaiah 49:5;  Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:41;  1 Cor. 3:16-17)

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