The core of who we are and what we believe
Rupertus Meldenius, a seventeenth-century Lutheran theologian, wrote, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity (love)." There will always be peripheral doctrines upon which Biblically rooted and committed Christ followers disagree, and we welcome dialogue on many issues related to Christian doctrine. However, we recognize the importance of having a framework around which we grow in maturity and relate to one another as a community of believers, and we hold the following essentials to be at the core of who we are and what we believe:
We believe in one God (Deuteronomy 6:4)who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). God is infinite, which does not always make sense to our finite understanding. He is not limited by time or space, and He is eternally self-existent (John 8:54-59). He is creator, eternal, all-knowing, ever-present, and all-powerful (Genesis 1 and 2). His character is multi-dimensional, but no facet of His character diminishes another. In other words, His grace and judgment, mercy and justice, love and jealousy all work together for good. Of all His characteristics God displays, He loves to relate to us as a father; as Christ-followers we are His dearly loved children, sons and daughters and belonging to Him and His family (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Jesus is the eternal Son of God (John 1). He was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-23), lived a sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; John 3:4-5), worked miracles (Acts 2:22; 10:37-38), and gave us an example to follow. Fully God and fully man, He died on a cross to pay the penalty for sin that separated us from God (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:4), rose from the dead to reconcile us to our Creator (Matthew 28:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:4), and to free us to have a new life in Him. Now, He sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us (Acts 1:9, 11; Philippians 2:9-11).
About the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is given to every follower of Christ to guide, comfort, convict, and adopt us into the family of God. The nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are by-products of a Spirit-filled life and evidence of spiritual maturity. The nine gifts of the Spirit are different expressions of the Spirit to build up the Church (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). We are instructed to diligently seek the gifts (1 Corinthians 14:26-33) in the context of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). We believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as shown through the book of Acts. He fills us and empowers us to know God more, to live a godly life, and to meet the needs of God's people and a hurting world.
About the Bible
Comprised of 66 books authored over thousands of years by dozens of authors, the Bible tells one seamless story: a passionate God on a relentless pursuit to redeem His creation. The Bible is God-breathed and the living Word from His heart to humanity. It is the authoritative and inspired Word of God and is trustworthy and reliable for telling us what to believe and how to live (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) to have community with Him and represent Him on earth. However, through a willful act of disobedience, we were separated from Him (Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:11-18; Romans 3:23). The Father sent Jesus to redeem us (John 3:16-17) through an act of atonement which culminated with Jesus' death on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) and resurrection from the dead. This gave us the opportunity to trade our sin for His righteousness through faith. Jesus' sacrifice is the only means for our salvation and reconciliation with the Father.
About Following Christ
When we place our faith in Christ, it ignites a spiritual chain reaction and produces evidence of our salvation. We are forgiven of sin through faith and declared right before God by His great grace (Ephesians 2:4-5). We become the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and He assures us of our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19), adopts us into God's family, and lives in us and empowers us for a life of following Jesus. Our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Revelation 3:5), we become citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), and we are given eternal life (John 3:16). We are born again spiritually (John 3:3). God paid a high price to redeem our lives, and He considers us His chosen treasure (1 Corinthians 6:20). As a part of His family, we will receive an eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
The evidence of salvation is two-fold. The internal evidence is the direct witness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16). The external evidence is the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we are transformed into the image of Christ as we know and understand Him more and more (2 Corinthians 3:18).
About the Church
The Church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the head of the Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The Church is also the Family of God. The Church is not a building or an event, but the community of individuals who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Church is four-fold: to glorify God (Colossians 3:16-17; Ephesians 1:12, 5:16-19), make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2), make Jesus known to a lost world (Acts 1:8), and meet the needs of those in our communities and around the world (Luke 6:35-36; Acts 11:29; 1 John 3:17; James 1:27).
About Baptism & Communion
We celebrate baptism as the first step of obedience for new followers of Christ, in which they identify with Christ's death and resurrection (Romans 6:4) and make a public declaration of their faith (Matthew 28:19). We also celebrate communion as an ongoing remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. The bread and cup are symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. It is an opportunity for a believer to examine oneself and experience forgiveness, healing, and wholeness granted to us in the cross and resurrection of our Savior.
About the Future
In the end of all things, Jesus will reign eternally. He will judge His creation according to the character that has been revealed to us through His word with justice and mercy (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:1-9). Those who have found salvation through Jesus Christ will enjoy His presence forever; those who have not will be separated from God for eternity (Revelation 20:11-15; 1 Corinthians 4:5).