Creeds

  • God – We believe in one God who exists eternally and simultaneously as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20, John 1:1). These three persons are equal in their personhood and deity, neither of them is more God than either of the others. However, the persons are distinguished from one another in role and relationship. We ought then to speak of the Father as the ordainer and orchestrator of all that occurs, the Son is the actor who carries out the desires of the Father, and the Spirit is the force or power by which the Son (and later the church) acts (Genesis 1:1-3, Ephesians 1:3-10). As such we can speak of the Son and Spirit is having joyfully and willfully submitted themselves to the Father as is fitting for their harmonious relationship. This triune God, is perfect in all his being and character have limitless power, knowledge, love, and justice. God’s character is simple, thus his divine attributes can not be separated but are understood to act in harmony with one another. God rules the cosmos with his sovereign and providential hand, working all things—whether good or evil—to his glory and the good of those who worship him. Though God can use the evil works of man to his glory, he does so unstained from the sin and guilt incurred by man’s freely chosen deeds (Genesis 50:20).

 

  • The Bible – We believe that the Bible, by which we mean the 66 recognized books comprising the Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God and, therefore, inerrant, true in all that it states, and authoritative to instruct individual believers and the church body for (1) appropriate beliefs about God, his work, and the world, (2) the Christian life in it trajectory and texture, and (3) the future hope of Christ’s return and final resurrection (Deuteronomy 4:2, John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). With that said, we must also assert that the Bible must be read in such a manner that honors the authorial intent of both the human and divine authors—this include an understanding of genre and historical context. It is not required that one be a formalized scholar to read and understand the Bible, to the contrary, the Bible is written clearly and is understandably (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Furthermore, the Bible contains all teachings that are necessary to understand and believe the gospel and maintain a robust spiritual life (Matthew 4:4). The Bible is also sufficient to understand God’s redemptive work and to trust in him for salvation and obey his commands (Deuteronomy 29:29).

 

  • Humanity – We believe that man was created without sin and in a harmonious relationship with God (Genesis 1:31, 2:25). Man’s creation displays distinction from that of the rest of creation in that man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-31, Genesis 2:3-25). Man was created to reflect God’s unity in diversity and as such mankind exists in two genders—male and female—who, like the persons of God, are equal in personhood and dignity though different in the roles and relationship they have (Genesis 2:20-25, 3:16-19). In spite of the goodness of man in initial creation, sin entered the world through the failure of Adam to obey the command of God to protect and lead (Genesis 2:15, 3:6-9). Sin has subsequently been passed down to all men and women through their human nature (Romans 5:12-21). All humanity has thus been born as sinners. Sin is ultimately about legal standing before God, who is king over all of creation (Galatians 3:10), in this legal sense everyone is equally a sinner before God, but not all sins are of equal offense to God or produce equal “natural” consequences (Proverbs 6:16-20, 1 Corinthians 6:18).

 

  • The Son – We believe the Son is a full and equal member of the Trinity, possessing all the necessary divine attributes (Philippians 2). He has always existed (John 1:1). The Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the will of the Father, became incarnate, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:24-25, John 1:14). As such, he did not inherit a sinful nature (Galatians 4:4-5). He lived a sinless life as the man Jesus (Hebrews 4:15-16), died a substitutionary death (1 Timothy 2:5), and was resurrected after three days to display God’s acceptance of his sacrifice for the sins of the world (Romans 4:25, 1 Peter 1:3). After his resurrection, Jesus taught his disciples preparing them for his departure (ascension) and subsequent return at the end of the age (Philippians 2:9). We now live in the time between those two events.
  • The Work and Offices of Christ – The atonement that Jesus obtained on our behalf is only possible because of the sacrificial roles he fulfilled. Namely, Jesus acted as the high priest in the order of Melchizedek who might offer a worthy sacrifice to God, he also took the place of the blemishless lamb, being the perfect/sinless sacrificial lamb that might cover all sins—past, present, and future (John 1:29, Hebrews 4:15). Jesus also fulfills the three Old Testament offices by which God ruled and related to his people. That is to say that Jesus is king, prophet, and priest. As king Jesus rules the church as its head (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 1:22-23, Revelation 19:16), as prophet Jesus speaks truth through the inspired and inerrant words of scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Hebrews 1:1-2), and as priest Jesus ministers before God the Father on behalf of his people (Hebrews 4:14, 7:25, 9:24). Jesus’s death, it should be said, is sufficient to cover the sins of the entire world, but in perfect justice and grace it has been decided that his death would only be effectual for the sins of those who believe that he is the son of God, the awaited Messiah, and that he lived, died, and rose for us and for our salvation to the glory of God.
  • The Church – We believe the Church can be understood in two ways: universal and local. The universal church is all the faithful believers in God’s Messiah (Jesus) from all time, in all places. The local church is a microcosm of that larger body within a particular community. Thus believers gather together regularly in obedience to Jesus for the preaching of his word, the right administration of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and the proper function and structure of commissioned elders and deacons (Matthew 26:26-29, Ephesians 2:20, 4:5). The church is faithful and obedient to its head, Jesus, to the extent that it leverages the means of grace (teaching of the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, sung worship, church discipline, sacrificial giving, fellowship/communion, evangelism, and the spiritual gifts of the body) for the mission of God to make disciples of all people (Matthew 28:18-20). Individual believers ought to be encouraged to partner with a local body of believers through membership such that they can receive by the appointed means the blessings of the church and be obedient to Jesus in submitting to elders and serving the family of God.

 

  • The Holy Spirit – We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third and full member of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is willfully and joyfully submissive to the Father and the Son though he is in complete equality of deity and personhood as them. His primary work is the glorification of Christ and the application of the work of Christ in redemption, thus he can be properly understood to be “the Spirit of Christ”. The Holy Spirit’s work can also be understood as the presence and the power of God as he is active in the world and the church. The Holy Spirit, thus, is the giver of new life (John 6:63), the empowerer of Christian service and ministry (Acts 1:8), the purifier of our hearts (1 Corinthians 6:11), the revealer of truth (2 Peter 1:21), and the unifier of the church (Ephesians 4:4).

 

  • Last Things – We believe that this present age, as the Bible speaks about it, will come to an end and we will enter into “the age to come”. Concerning the age to come, we affirm three truths: (1) there is an end of the present age, (2) Jesus will return to issue put an end to Satan, sin, and death, and (3) when Jesus returns he will accomplish in full all he sets out to accomplish. We also affirm that Jesus began this work in his first ministry when he inaugurated the kingdom of God. We maintain that it is of critical importance to understand the already-not yet balance of the kingdom of God. It is a grievous error to ignore Satan, sin, and death (over-realized eschatology) as such a position often leads to a distortion or neglect of the gospel to the detriment of the body of Christ and their ability to live the Christian life. Likewise, to neglect the truth of Jesus’s acts in bringing the kingdom partially into our reality may lead to the neglect of earthly ministry (specifically that which addresses the physical needs) to the poor, downtrodden, and vulnerable. It is well said that followers of Jesus can live as kingdom citizens to the extent that the kingdom has broken into this world and no further.

 

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