Thanks for your interest in the core beliefs of our fellowship. We are a community that takes what we believe very seriously, and we appreciate it when others do the same.
We Believe Jesus is Alive. It’s important to understand that our core belief is in a living person and not simply in a set of ideas or philosophies. Jesus Christ is alive today, and we believe that He is still leading His people by His Spirit, as he said he would (John 14:16-21, John 16:13-14). This means that Christianity is more than merely believing some facts about Jesus or studying his teachings and keeping his commands. Being a Christian means being in a living relationship with Jesus. But this is not to suggest that the teachings and commands of Jesus are unimportant. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Our belief in Jesus demands that we clearly understand and express who Jesus is, and what He has taught. The name of Jesus has been used to spread many false ideas, just as Jesus himself said it would (in Luke 21:8, for example). We need to be certain that the “Jesus” we’re following is the real Jesus.
Someone might ask, “But if Jesus is alive and leading his people today, why do we have this problem with false ideas about him? Why don’t people just get all the facts about Jesus from… Jesus?” That would seem obvious, but the picture is complicated by one little word: “sin”. We humans (even those who claim to follow Christ) love lies a lot more than we care to admit. The fact is, deep down most of us really prefer a false Jesus, at least from time to time. The real Jesus calls us to humility, repentance, forgiveness, submission, etc. We often prefer deception to such uncomfortable virtues. Jesus said it this way: “This is the judgment: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”(John 3:19) So we find that even when Jesus was physically present on the earth, He didn’t answer everyone’s questions and make things perfectly clear – a fact which frustrated his disciples. Jesus spoke in parables designed to reveal truth to those who were really seeking Him, and conceal it from those who were not (Luke 8:10). And the same is true today. God has permitted mankind to fill the earth and themselves with lies, but He continues to shine His light into the world and He has said that, “you will seek me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) God wants us to search for Him, so He has provided witnesses to the truth in the earth. These include the creation (Rom. 1:20), the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11), the people of God (Matt. 5:14-16), and the Bible (John 20:30-31).
We Believe the Bible is True. We believe that God inspired the writing of the Bible to provide us with a written testimony to the truth. We believe that God has miraculously preserved the truth of the Bible throughout history. The earliest existing manuscripts of the various books of the Bible show an amazingly high degree of fidelity to later texts, even over a thousand years of time. No other ancient book can compare. It’s true that a small number of changes have occurred. But these minor transmission errors do not degrade the message of the Bible at all. So, we believe that all the truth God intended to convey through the Bible has been preserved intact. Of course, even this does not mean that the Bible cannot be misunderstood or misapplied or that it cannot be intentionally twisted into saying something that God never intended. There are many examples of this, even in the Bible itself (Matt. 4:5-6). This is one reason that it is critical that we have a living relationship with God. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead His people into all truth (John 16:13). He said that His sheep would hear his voice and follow Him (John 10:27). We believe this, and rely upon the Spirit of God to keep us from falling into error like the Pharisees, who prided themselves in their knowledge of God’s written word but could not recognize God’s son when he was standing before them (John 5:38-40). Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” We believe that the truth of the Bible remains intact, and that it will be understood by those who have ears to hear it. We pray and study to this end.
Some readers of this page will want examples of specific truths that our fellowship affirms. An exhaustive list would be quite long, so the following is provided as a sample of the kinds of Biblical truths we affirm. We believe that Jesus is divine, and one with God the Father (John 10:30). We believe that He existed before the creation of the world, and that all things were created through Him (Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:12). We believe that Jesus is the Christ (the “anointed one”, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah), and the only begotten Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16). We believe that Jesus literally performed supernatural miracles like healing the sick, raising the dead, and calming the storm (ex. Mark 4:39). We believe that Jesus was tempted to sin throughout his life, just as we are, but he never sinned (Heb. 4:15). We believe that because of His love for the Father and for us, Jesus went willingly to death on the cross, accepting the punishment for sin that we justly deserved (1 Peter 2:24). And we believe that God raised Jesus physically back to life on the third day after his crucifixion (1 Cor. 15:3-4), that he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and that one day He will come again in power and glory to judge mankind (Matt. 25:31-46, Rev. 20:11-15).
We Believe that Salvation is by Faith. The Bible clearly teaches that every person has sinned (Rom. 3:10-12, Psalm 143:2), and because of our sin we deserve God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18-19). Even if we could be perfectly obedient to God’s law for the rest of our lives, it wouldn’t be enough to remove our guilt, or prevent God’s judgment (Rom. 3:20). So, we are totally unable to save ourselves. But in spite of our guilt, God showed us love and mercy. “God loved the world so much, that He gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.” God sent His Son into the world, “not to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17) Jesus, the Son of God, never sinned, so he never deserved God’s wrath. Yet, he willing chose to suffer the wrath of God on our behalf. “He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…” (1 Peter 2:24) Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, the way is open for us to be reconciled to God. The Bible says that, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) So, salvation from sin comes to us through faith in Jesus – not because we have earned it by good behavior. But if that’s the case, the question must be asked: Does our behavior matter at all? Yes it does. The Bible makes it clear that to have faith in Jesus means more than just understanding and agreeing with some facts about him. (James 2:19) Real faith will change the way a person behaves. Saving faith in Jesus causes a person to repent of their sin and seek to obey His teachings. It results in love and gratitude for the One who saves us, and a desire to follow Him. So then, good works are the fruit of a life that is connected to Christ. As Jesus himself said, “If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit,” and, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (John 15:5, John 14:15)
We Believe in the Church. The Church is not a building for worship, nor is it only a local group of believers who meet together (though the word is used in both of those ways). There’s ultimately only one true Church in the earth, and the Bible calls this Church the body of Christ, a body of which He is the head (Eph. 1:22-23, Col 1:24, 1 Cor. 12:27). Becoming a recognized member of any local church or Christian organization does not make a person a member of Christ’s body. So who are the members of this body? Paul describes them as, “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Eph. 3:6) Simply put, the true Church is composed of everyone who has saving faith in Jesus, as discussed in the prior paragraph. These are the members of Christ’s body. These are the “branches” that abide in “the one true vine” (John 15). These are the saints that compose “the bride of the lamb” – another Biblical symbol for the Church (Rev. 19:7-8). The Church is made up of the people in whom the life of Christ is found.
It’s important that we recognize that the Church of Jesus Christ is not contained in any one organization. The Church is scattered across the world, across time, and across many different organizations and groups of Christ-followers. It’s also important to point out that the Church is made up of imperfect people that disagree about a lot of things. There are certain fundamental beliefs that define what it means to be a Christian, but there are a lot more peripheral issues and doctrines that Christians disagree about, and disagreement in these areas does not exclude a person from the Body of Christ. So again, what defines the true Church is the connection to the true Christ. We can make lists of members of Christian organizations and the doctrines they confess all day long and never really say who is a part of the Church, the Body of Christ. But God knows, as Paul said to Timothy, “…the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2 Tim. 2:19)
We Believe the Apostle’s Creed
Finally, we affirm our belief in the Apostle’s Creed, an ancient statement of faith that reiterates some of the foundational teachings of the Bible:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church*;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
*Note that we do not believe that the “holy catholic church” is identical with the Church of Rome or any other visible organization. The word “catholic” means “universal”. In other words, although we are scattered through time and space, we recognize that there is only one true Church, the living Bride of Christ, composed of all God’s people.