What We Believe
Simply put, we believe there is one true and living God, the Holy Creator and sustainer of all things, who has revealed himself in history ultimately through the person of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus alone, God has made it possible for us to be rescued from death, freed from our sins, and adopted into a loving relationship with Him as His own children.
As with Christians of all traditions we affirm the historical Creeds in all they teach regarding the Triune God (Apostle’s, Nicene, and Chalcedon). Fellowship is a church rooted theologically in the convictions of the Protestant Reformation. Here are the specifics:
CONCERNING THE SCRIPTURES
We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally written, were verbally inspired, being the product of Spirit-guided individuals and are, therefore, wholly without error and absolutely authoritative. We believe the Bible is the supreme revelation of God’s will for all people and is our only rule of faith and practice. (Joshua 1:8; Matthew 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:18-19)
CONCERNING THE TRUE GOD
We believe there is one living and true God who is the infinite, personal, holy, sovereign being, the Creator and Governor of all things. This God exists eternally in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, equal in power and glory and executing distinct and harmonious offices in the great work of creation and redemption. (Exodus 20:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 6:16; Jude 24, 25)
We believe in God the Father Almighty, who reigns with providential care over all of his creation and over the entirety of history. He is all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, and relational God who hears and answers prayer. While he is fatherly in his attitude toward all humanity, he is a true Father to all who become his children through faith in Christ. His sovereign and loving purpose in redemption is realized through the sending of his Son and his Spirit for the salvation of the world. (Gen 21; Matthew 6:9; Exodus 6:3; Psalm 121:4; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 17:26; Exodus 34:6-7; Job 37:16; 1 John 3:20; Psalm 66:19-20; Matthew 6:6-8; Matthew 5:45; Luke 12:32; John 1:12; John 3:16; Galatians 4:4-6; Romans 5:5)
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternally-begotten Son of God and who took on full humanity so that he is fully God and fully man. As a human being he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, fulfilled the law of God in its entirety, suffered and died a vicarious and propitiatory death on the cross, and rose from the dead on the third day. In his glorified humanity he ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father, where he now reigns with the Father over all and intercedes for his people as their High Priest. From heaven He will return to judge the living and the dead and establish the new creation over which he will reign forever as its undisputed Sovereign. (Romans 10:9; John 1:18; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9; Philippians 2:7-9; Hebrews 1:1-14; Hebrews 2:9-18; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26-38; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22-24; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; Matthew 16:21; 1 Corinthians 15:4)
THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life, and the Spirit of Christ whose pre-eminent ministry in the new covenant is to glorify the Lord Jesus. He has inspired the Scriptures and it is through them that he primarily addresses humanity today. He convicts human beings of sin and opens the Scriptures to their understanding. He draws them to Christ, regenerates them, indwells them, and seals them as God’s possession to the day of resurrection. He continues to sanctify believers by cultivating his fruit, Christ-like character and holiness within their lives, and he empowers them to serve God in his church and in the world through various gifts that he gives them. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-9; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; John 3:5-8; Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11; John 15:26; 16:14; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; Hebrews 3:7; 10:15; John 16:8-11; John 14:17; John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9- 11; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 3:16-19; Ephesians 5:18; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
CONCERNING THE CREATION
We believe that God created all things for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness. As a benevolent and perfect creator, God providentially sustains, directs, and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, to the end for which they were created. While God created humanity and the universe in a state of goodness and perfection, death and corruption entered into God’s creation through the sin of Adam and Eve; as a result, the whole creation is cursed and awaits the day of its redemption.
We believe that God created the human race to have authority and stewardship over the earth. Consequently, humanity is responsible for protecting and tending the earth with the same love and care that God shows for all that he has made. (Genesis 1:1-31; Colossians 1:16; Romans 1:20; Genesis 1:31; Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 8:18-25; Revelation 22:3; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:15; Psalm 8:6-8)
We believe that God created each person, male and female, in his image which gives each person inherent dignity and worth. While both men and women are created equal in their dignity and personhood, God intended for them to have differing and complementary roles which serve to enrich each other.
We believe that human life is of immeasurable value and significance, from conception to death, and ought to be protected and cherished.
We believe that humanity was created to enjoy intimate fellowship with God. However, this fellowship was shattered when by willful disobedience, our first representatives Adam and Eve, rebelled against God’s rightful authority and disobeyed His loving command. As a result of their transgression, all of humanity became alienated from God, and all of creation was cursed. The sin and guilt of humanity’s first representatives passed to all, bringing spiritual and physical death. Now, all are sinners by nature and by choice and are, therefore, under just condemnation to an eternal hell, without defense or excuse, apart from the grace of God. (Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10-18, Romans 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 20:11-15)
We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly by the unconditional, electing grace of God the Father, given to us in Jesus Christ before the beginning of time. God the Father sent His Son to suffer voluntarily and die on the cross in our place as a substitute to cover our sins. Jesus’ self-sacrifice was completely sufficient and satisfied the justice of God and appeased the divine wrath directed against humanity. On the cross, Jesus canceled the record of our debt to God, triumphed over Satan and death and secured our peace with God.
Salvation is wholly apart from works and is received upon the sole condition of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to be saved the sinner must be born again, being regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God thus becoming the recipient of a new nature. The regenerated person is justified before God, adopted into the family of God, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God and by the Word of God and will ultimately be glorified by God.
Salvation, which is the experience of God’s mercy by sinful human beings, is based exclusively upon faith in Christ and there is no scriptural warrant to assume that any person can experience God’s mercy in salvation outside of Christ. (John 3:16, 10:28-29; Acts 4:12, 13:39; Romans 3:20-26, 5:1-8, 8:14-16, 29-30; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:4, 2:8-9; Hebrews 9:24-28; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Peter 3:18, 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:1-3)
CONCERNING THE ETERNAL STATE
We believe that all those who through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity in full enjoyment of God’s presence, sharing His glory. Those who the Father has given and drawn to Jesus will be divinely preserved and finally perfected in the image of the Lord at the time of their bodily resurrection.
Those who through impenitence and unbelief refuse to accept God’s offer of mercy in Christ will spend eternity in conscious everlasting punishment, separated from God’s presence and glory. (Psalm 16:1; Matthew 25:46; John 5:24-29, 14:2, 17:23-24; Romans 1:18-20, Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Hebrews 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 3:2-3; Revelation 20:11-15, 22:1-6)
CONCERNING THE CHURCH
We believe that the church universal is comprised of all the redeemed and comes to visible expression in local congregations of believers. The church is called out from the world, separated unto the Lord Jesus, and exists primarily for the worship of God. It also exists for the ministry of the Word, the mutual edification of its members, the propagation of the faith and the observance of the ordinances.
We believe it is a sovereign, independent body, exercising its own divinely awarded gifts, precepts and privileges under the Lordship of Christ, the Great Head of the Church. The spiritual leaders of the local church are elders (pastors, overseers) who are called to lead by shepherding, governing, teaching and preaching and equipping the members of the church for the ministry. In addition to the office of elder the church is served by deacons who give practical support and oversight to various areas of the church’s ministry. (Matthew 16:18, 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-47, 6:1-6, 20:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 5:1-5; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:1-16; 4:13; Titus 1:1-2:2; Revelation 2 and 3)
MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH
We believe that all members of a local church form a spiritual priesthood and are equal in rights and responsibilities regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or social class. As priests, members are to serve the household of faith and this involves a commitment to private and corporate prayer, a stewardship of time, spiritual gifts and financial resources to support the work of the gospel. (1 Peter 2:5, 9-10; Galatians 3:28; John 13:14-17; Galatians 5:13; Acts 2:42; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Corinthians 9:14, 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:7-11, 9:6-11; Philippians 4:14-19)
THE DISCIPLINE OF CHURCH MEMBERS
We believe that the local church has the responsibility to exercise loving and redemptive discipline of her members who have strayed from the teaching of the Scriptures through their attitude, beliefs, or through the actions of their lives. If loving admonishment to restore an offending member to spiritual health has failed, discipline may involve the loss of membership rights and exclusion from the membership of the church until the disciplined person will be joyfully received back into the church on the basis of confession and repentance of sin. (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 1:19-20, 5:19-20; Titus 3:10-11; 3 John 8-10)
THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH
We believe that, while Christians can and should worship God at all times and in all aspects of their lives, the first day of the week should be observed as the Lord’s Day as it commemorates Christ’s resurrection, and is the day the Church historically gathered for corporate worship, instruction and community. Scripture is to be studied by each believer, but it is best understood within the collective wisdom of the Christian community both past and present. We believe that our corporate worship is always a part of the larger worship of the church universal and therefore we affirm the importance of cooperation with like minded Christians in other churches. Worship acceptable to God is worship in spirit and truth. (Psalm 95:1-7; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Hebrews 10:25; Matthew 12:1-8; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; John 4:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15-17, 4:2; Ephesians 2:20, 4:11-13)
THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
We believe that it is the duty and privilege of every follower of the Lord Jesus Christ in the new covenant and of every local church of Christ to be involved in the Great Commission by making Christian disciples of the nations, both locally and globally. This is done through Spirit-empowered verbal witness and preaching, prayer and financial support, and is undergirded by a lifestyle of holiness, good deeds, and the pursuit of justice. (Matthew 4:19; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 8:1,4; Acts 11:19-24, 13:1-4; Acts 1:8, 4:31; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14; Philippians 2:14-16; Matthew 5:13-16)
CONCERNING BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
We believe that there are only two ordinances for the Church which are normally observed in the following order:
Christian baptism is by immersion in water and signifies the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. It is the first act of obedient faith by which believers dramatically signify that they have turned to and trusted in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. This act of baptism precedes church membership.
The Lord’s Supper, which consists of token symbols (the bread and the cup) representing Christ’s broken body and spilt blood, is a commemoration of Christ’s death until He comes. It is the means through which believers regularly and thankfully remember the death of Christ for them, rededicate their lives to Him, receive spiritual nourishment, declare their unity in Christ and proclaim His second coming. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are acts of obedience by the believer to the commands of Christ. (Matthew 26:26-29, 28:18-20; Acts 2:41, 8:36-39; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32)
CONCERNING SATAN AND DEMONS
We believe that there is a personal devil who is “the god of this age” and “the prince of the power of the air,” full of all subtlety and deception, continually seeking to frustrate the plans of God and to ensnare the sons of men. Satan is not equal to God in nature or power. As the originator of sin he opposes the kingdom of God in every way and is assisted by a host of demons which the Scriptures identify as fallen angels. Satan and his hosts were defeated in the work of Jesus Christ at the cross which seals their ultimate and eternal doom in the lake of fire. (Isaiah 14:12-21; 1 Corinthians 4:4, 11:13, 15; Ephesians 2:2, 6:11-12; Colossians 2:13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 12:9, 20:10)
CONCERNING THE CHURCH AND STATE
We believe in the separation of church and state, each having a distinct purpose as ordained by God. The Christian has personal responsibilities to each as outlined in Scripture. (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
CONCERNING CIVIL GOVERNMENT
We believe that Civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of society and that Civil authorities are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed except in the things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and Sovereign over the rulers of the earth. The Church does not expect or require the State to enforce religious orthodoxy. (Daniel 3:17-18; Matthew 22:21; Acts 4:19-20, 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
CONCERNING MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
We believe that the family unit is one of God’s primary institutions in the world, along with the church and civil government. The Scriptures provide us with God’s standards and expectations for the home and the family. Biblically, marriage is defined as a life- long, exclusive, heterosexual covenant between one man and one woman.
According to God’s design, human sexuality is to be expressed and enjoyed as a gift from God within this context. All sexual relationships outside of the marital bond (e.g. incest, pre-marital and post-marital sexual relationships, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.) are offensive to God and are contrary to His standards. (Genesis 2:23-24; Matt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7; Hebrews 13:4)
We also affirm that while children are gifts from God, parents are responsible before God to raise their children to know God by their example of faith and their instruction in the faith. (Proverbs 4:1, 8:32, 14:26, 20:7; Ephesians 6:4) So marriage is monogamous, heterosexual, procreative and intended for life.
CONCERNING FUTURE THINGS
We believe that at the end of this age, at a time only known to God the Father, Jesus will return personally and visibly to the earth with his angels; he will exercise his role as judge and his kingdom will be fully consummated. At that time, the present fallen creation will be gloriously remade. The hope of the new heaven and new earth, the home of righteousness, will be fully realized. There will be a personal, bodily resurrection of all people, the righteous and the wicked. They will be judged according to their deeds. Those who have not been saved by faith in Christ will be consigned to eternal conscious punishment in hell with the devil and his angels, while the righteous will be rewarded with a blessed everlasting life together in the presence of the triune God.
God will be all in all and his people will be captivated by the immediacy of his overwhelming holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace. This is our hope and thus we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:30-31; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15; John 5:28-29; Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-13; Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 20:15; 21:22-22:5, 20)