Sunday Worship at 10:30 a.m.

Beliefs

How Did We Get Our Essential Beliefs

We can think of no greater task of the Elder Gathering than to ensure that our church is grounded in the core beliefs that have united Christians for over two thousand years. The core beliefs that have united Christians through the ages are called “orthodoxy.” Derived from two Greek words, orthos, which means straight, right, or correct, and doxa, which means thinking, opinion, or beliefs, the term orthodoxy can be defined simply as right Christian thinking or beliefs. Our desire is to articulate a comprehensive (not exhaustive) belief statement for our church that is both orthodox and stands in the great tradition of evangelicalism. As such, our belief statement has been developed out of a broad set of historic Christian beliefs and an evangelical consensus. In specific terms, the organization, categories, and support of each of our ten (10) essential beliefs have been shaped by the following:

• The Biblical Canon
• 2nd Century Rules of Faith – Irenaeus (c. 190) and Tertullian (c. 200)
• The Early Church Creeds, such as the Nicene Creed (325), the Apostles Creed (c. 390), and the Athanasian Creed (c. 500)
• The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)
• The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
• The New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1833)
• The Southern Baptist Faith and Message Statements (1925, 1963, 2000)
• The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (1978)
• The Lausanne Covenant from the International Congress on World Evangelicalization (1974, 1989, 2010)

Through our Essential Beliefs, we seek to maintain the dictum: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” As such, to stay focused on our Mission and Core Identity as a gospel-centered church, we recognize the distinction between Essential Beliefs, Core Values, and Debatable Matters of faith (see figure below). Our essential beliefs are first order Christian doctrines held throughout church history since antiquity. These ancient beliefs are common to all Christians. This statement of faith is not intended to be an exhaustive description of all Christian doctrines, but a comprehensive overview of our essential beliefs.


Essential Beliefs

1. The Doctrine of the Bible -
We believe the Bible, all 39 books of the Old Testament and all 27 books of the New Testament, is the inspired self-disclosure of God. We affirm that the Bible as a whole and in its parts is completely inerrant in the original manuscripts, as human authors were supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit to write the very words of God without error and without losing their own distinctive literary styles and personalities. The Bible is entirely trustworthy and is the infallible guide and final authority for Christian beliefs and living. Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

2. The Doctrine of God -
We believe that the God revealed in Scripture is the only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection. His essence cannot be comprehended by anyone but Himself. God is the most pure spirit, invisible, and without body or parts. He is immortal, immense, eternal, and incomprehensible. God is most holy, most wise, most free, and most absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will for His own glory. God is most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth. He is able to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin and to reward the diligent who seek Him. God is complete and most fair in His judgments. We believe the one almighty God is triune and exists eternally as three distinct Persons, yet as one co-equal Being. The three Persons of the Trinity are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is co-existent and co-eternal and each is fully God and of the same essence. The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of our communion with God, and our total dependence rests in Him alone. Genesis 1:26; 17:1; Exodus 3:14; 34:6, 7; Deuteronomy 4:15, 16; 6:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Nehemiah 9:32, 33; Job 22:2, 3; Psalms 5:5,6; 90:2; 115:3; 119:68; 145:17; 148:13; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 6:3; 46:8-10; 48:12-13; Jeremiah 10:10; 23:23-24; Ezekiel 11:5; Daniel 4:25, 34, 35; Nahum 1:2, 3; Malachi 3:6; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 1:18; 4:24; 5:26; 14:1; 15:26; Acts 15:17-18; Romans 11:34-36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 4:13; 11:6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21; Revelation 5:12-14.

3. The Doctrine of God the Father -
We believe the eternal Father is the loving Creator of the heavens and earth, and is neither begotten nor proceeding. He is the sovereign God who rules over the universe with the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is perfect in holiness, righteousness, and justice, lacking in nothing, and worthy of all praise and honor. His ways are inscrutable and His judgments are unsearchable. Through His grace, He gave His only Son for the redemption of humankind. Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

4. The Doctrine of God the Son -
We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, eternally existing with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As the second distinct Person of the Trinity, all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus. He is fully God and fully man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The incarnate Christ lived a sinless human life and purchased atonement for sinners with His blood by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin, evil, and death. He ascended to the right hand of the Father as the only mediator between God and humans. Jesus Christ will physically return again someday to consummate His Kingdom on earth. He is the beginning and the end, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.

5. The Doctrine of God the Holy Spirit -
We believe that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son. As the third distinct Person of the Trinity, preceding from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is present in the world to effectually draw sinners to Jesus and to restrain evil. He also indwells every Christian from the moment of salvation, sealing them until the day of final redemption. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. He bestows spiritual gifts to every believer to unite and equip the church for ministry. As Christians, we seek to live under His control daily. Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.

6. The Doctrine of Humanity -
We believe that all people, both male and female, are made in the image of God and have been given inherent dignity and a mandate to fill the earth with God’s glory. The first created humans, Adam and Eve, were tempted by Satan, disobeyed God, and fell into sin. The guilt of their sin was imputed, and a corrupted nature was conveyed to all subsequent generations, being subject to death and being separated from God, self, others, and all of creation. All people are depraved and without excuse apart from the salvation in Christ alone. Genesis 1:26-30; 2:7,18-25; 3:6-9, 16-19; 8:15-17; Psalms 1:1-6; 8:3-8; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5-9; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18, 23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19, 21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

7. The Doctrine of Salvation -
We believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, and not through personal human effort. The Good News is that Jesus is Lord. As the only mediator between God and humankind, Christ offers imputed righteousness and justification to all who profess faith in Him. Salvation is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. Because God is the author of salvation, giving eternal life through Jesus Christ, the true believer is fully adopted and secured into God’s family for eternity. Salvation is maintained by the grace and power of God, not by self-effort of the Christian. It is the grace and keeping power of God that gives us this security. Without God’s forgiveness and salvation, people are without hope and will endure eternal judgment in hell. In its broadest sense, salvation includes regeneration (evidenced by repentance and faith), justification (being free from the penalty of sin), adoption (enjoying the full liberties and privileges of being the children of God), sanctification (growing in Christlikeness), and glorification (the culmination of salvation and the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed). Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.

8. The Doctrine of the Church -
We believe the Church is the global fellowship of Christ. The Church exists to worship God and do His will on earth. As redeemed humanity, the church has been commissioned by Christ to make disciples of all nations. All believers are important in the body of Christ and are to be nurtured and equipped for ministry. Being declared righteous through Christ, believers are compelled to abide in Christ and walk by the Spirit daily to progressively mature in holiness, until the sure and certain day of final glory in the fully consummated Kingdom of God. As we anticipate the return of Christ, the church shall be the salt of the earth, bearing witness to the world of the inaugurated Kingdom of God. Matthew 5:13, 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.

9. The Doctrine of Church Ordinances -
We believe that the church must practice the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is done by immersion in water following a profession of faith in Jesus’ Lordship. It demonstrates union with Christ as an emblem of our death to sin and resurrection to new life. Likewise, the church must practice the Lord’s Supper until Christ returns again, as a solemn commemoration of the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood for us. Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

10. The Doctrine of End Times -
We believe that after Jesus has placed all enemies under His feet, He will physically, literally, and bodily return again to earth for the final judgment of the living and dead and the final consummation of his Kingdom in the New Heavens and Earth. When Jesus returns, the dead will be physically resurrected, believers unto life everlasting and unbelievers to eternal judgment. Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.


Summary

Our essential beliefs are first order Christian doctrines held throughout church history since antiquity. These ancient beliefs are common to all Christians. This statement of faith is not intended to be an exhaustive description of all Christian doctrines, but a comprehensive overview of our essential beliefs. Our church recognizes that there are always debatable matters within a family of faith. These debatable matters or second order doctrines should be expected, but should not constitute a test for Christian truth or fellowship. These doctrines may represent strong personal convictions or theological nuances, but do not define the gospel itself. As a church, we must be able to distinguish between debatable matters of faith and essential beliefs. All beliefs are not equal. It is our desire never to blur, nor overly focus on second order convictions over first order essential truths. At the same time, we recognize and will respect individual freedoms within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.