A General Statement of What We Believe
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.
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 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 ).
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.
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).
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.