What we believe and why
What We Believe and Why
In these days of confusing religious pluralism, it seems prudent for us to offer a general statement of what we believe. It is offered as a broad framework to help unify our community of faith and to inform you, a person whom we assume is seeking to find a like-minded community of Christians.
What We Believe About...
We believe there is one divine being who has existed eternally. God is the Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of the universe. He exists and reveals himself to humanity in three distinct, equally divine personalities: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is the personification of pure love and deeply desires a personal, eternal loving relationship with us. (Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Psalm 90:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2). His nature has been revealed in Jesus. He offers grace and mercy to humanity and is actively doing this in the hearts of men and women today.
Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus chose to become human, was conceived by action of the Holy Spirit and was born both fully human and fully divine. He lived a perfect human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the imperfection of all people when he died on a cross. He has revealed to all who chose to see, the true nature of God.
Then he rose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. In his life and by his death, exercising great restraint through love, he offered a way by which humanity can be rescued, and elevated toward what he has called us to be. Many of the facts of his life are revealed in scripture.
By His sacrifice he also showed us the power of sacrificial living. And after His resurrection He inaugurated the kingdom rule of God in our world, and in the human heart. He has ascended to Heaven and will return again someday. (Matthew 1:22-23; John 1:1-18; 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Acts 1:1-11; Titus 2:13).
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and Jesus the Son of God. He is present in the world so that people can become aware of their need for Jesus Christ, and of the divine power by which He operates. That power has been revealed to all peoples in manifest expressions of wisdom and love carried out each day, around the world. He lives in every Christ-follower distinguishing us as children of God. Thus we can come to know that nature within us which is from Him. He guides and transforms us into the way of Jesus. That way is expressed in our actions and comes from within our being. He provides us with the power to live a fruitful, victorious life, with an understanding of spiritual truth, and with the courage to boldly share the good news of Jesus with others.
The Holy Spirit is continuously transforming us into increasing holiness as we daily yield our will to His, desiring to be further changed into Christ’s image. He also gives each Christ-follower a spiritual gift or gifts for the purpose of glorifying God and serving others. (2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13; 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 3:16; 12:4-11; Ephesians 1:13;Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:11-13).
We believe God created every human being in his image. A key purpose for each human life is to live in growing relationship with God. In this way we can achieve a greater fulfillment in becoming who he intended us to be. Yet due to our own willfulness against God, we eventually become alienated from him and consequently become lost and sustain false hope.
Jesus Christ is our only promise for reconciliation through the forgiveness of God. In humility, we can accept salvation—that forgiveness of our sins and deliverance by the compassionate power of the Spirit of the risen Christ.
It is a gift too great to ever be earned. But it is freely given by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus. We confess our desire to be freed from our willfulness and sin. We acknowledge our desire to be united in Christ, and to learn His way. Then we connect fully with this grace-gift of God in our baptism. That is the total immersion in water of a penitent sinner for the remission of sins. (Romans 3:23-24; Acts 2:38, 4:12; Romans 5:1-11, 6:1-11, 23; Ephesians 2:8-10) In this, the symbolism is that of the death of our old willful selves. We allow ourselves to die, as did Christ, trusting God for our eminent renewal. It reminds us that we can accept a clear conscience, a new beginning, and can begin to walk a new path. It distinctly indicates that humble desire that is within ones heart. Thus it is a great initiating inner and outer act, all encompassing, enveloping us in union with Christ, with God. It is a cause for celebration which has endured for two millennia.
The church is the assembly of believers, rejoicing in their union with Christ. It is thus a living organism that Scripture calls the body of Christ. After all, each believer has been united with the body of Christ in their baptism. His death became theirs. But Jesus is also identified as the head of the church, the head of that body. The church is also called the Bride of Christ. Thus believers see Christ as their standard of decision making and as their life partner alive with them as they continue their walk.
As citizens of the kingdom Christ initiated and as children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, we are a “community” or “gathering” and we are called a “fellowship.”
So as such, it becomes our purpose to represent God in our daily encounters within our culture. As poor at that as we may be, with Christ as our head, we are to be as Christ in taking on His thoughts and actions as we encounter others. We are to be as Him, hands and feet, mind and soul, devoted to God and the true well being of mankind.
So the church exists not because of human goals or desires, but as a result of God’s creating and saving work in the world. Its power is to be from the power of the love and wisdom that is from God. The church is not seeking human power. It is to be a visible manifestation of how the Good News of Jesus Christ is present in human life and transforms human culture to reflect more faithfully God’s intentions for creation. It is a community that visibly and effectively participates in God’s redemptive activity in the world. In order to do this the church relies on prayer, devotion, and sacrificial living as expressed in God’s word. (Colossians 2:19; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
We believe the Bible is God’s “love letter” revealing his character to humanity. God divinely inspired human authors writing through their own era, culture, and traditions to communicate the values and principles which please Him and are in our best interests. Thus it reflects God’s word. The Bible is accurate, reliable and completely trustworthy. We accept the Bible as our timeless authority in all matters of our faith and practice. (Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Thus we spend considerable time in study and prayer so that we might better know. Coming to know the word, like coming to know Christ is a life long pursuit. Even though it’s basic, essential message is quite clear each one learns to incorporate it in his own, very personal walk with God.
We believe Satan is a real spiritual being; the ultimate personification of evil. It appears that he was originally created by God, who, before the creation of the human race, rebelled against the Creator and became the chief antagonist of God and, later, the human family. He and his army (demons) as well as the oppressive systems they perpetuate continue to work against God’s purposes in the world. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Revelation 12:10; Ephesians 2:2; 6:11-12).
Without doubt there is evil in the world. Combined with our own misguidedness, our limited views, and our sinful inconsiderate acts, suffering too is in the world. All cannot be predicted and all suffering cannot be eliminated. Suffering and evil are not the greatest influencers, nor the greatest powers.
Through belief–trusting faith enacted daily–we can be equipped to withstand any evil. With wisdom and strong, loving action we can defuse much of it. Clearly, God does for now accept it. Yet He carries out his will despite it. We in His image can learn to do likewise. And we are not alone in that effort.