General “Big Picture” Principles:
In essentials of faith we have unity: Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
In non-essentials we have liberty: Romans 14:1,4,12,22 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters….Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand….So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God….So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.
In all things we are loving: 1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love.
In life we speak the truth in love: 1 Corinthians 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
1. About God:
We affirm the majesty, holiness, sovereignty and providence of God who creates, sustains, rules, and redeems the world. He has eternally existed as One in three, co-equal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:1,26-27; 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14.
2. About Jesus Christ
Jesus is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and purposefully offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins by dying on the cross (see #6 for how this applies individually). He rose from the dead after three days to demonstrate his power over sin and death. He ascended to heaven and will return someday to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5, 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:14-15; Titus 2:13.
3. About the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son. He is present in the world to make people aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He lives in every Christian from the moment they are saved. He provides the Christian with power for holy living, understanding spiritual truth, and guidance. He gives every believer a spiritual gift to be used in ministry. As Christians we seek to live by the Spirit’s leading and the Word (see #4 below). See 2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13, 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16; Ephesians 1:13, 5:18; Galatians 5:25
4. About the Bible
All Scripture is self-attesting and being Truth, requires our unreserved submission in all areas of life. The infallible Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is a complete and unified witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks. 2 Timothy 3:15 “The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us to do what is right.” See 2 Timothy 1:13, 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Psalm 119:105, 160, 12:6; Proverbs 30:5.
5. About Human Beings
People are made in the spiritual image of God; to be like Him in character. They are the supreme object of God’s creation. Although every person has tremendous potential for good, everyone is marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called “sin”. Sin separates people from God and one another and causes many problems in life. See Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isaiah 53:6, 59:1-2; Romans 3:23
6. About Salvation
Salvation is an act of God that does not depend upon any merit or achievement on our part. By God’s grace and choosing God saves us through faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Jesus’ work on our behalf, his crucifixion for our sins and resurrection for our eternal life, secured the salvation of all who believe this. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from the eternal consequences of sin. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his/her life by God’s grace through faith. See Romans 5:1, 6:23; John 14:6, 1:12; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26.
7. About Eternal Security
Because God gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, the true believer is secure in that salvation for eternity. Salvation is based on God’s faithfulness, not our own. It is by grace we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.)
See John 6:39, 10:29; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25, 10:10,14; 1 Peter 1:3-5.
8. About Eternity
People are created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by our sins, or eternally with God through the forgiveness and salvation provided for us through Jesus Christ. To be eternally separated from God is hell. To be eternally with God is heaven. Heaven and hell are real experiences of eternal existence. See John 3:16, 14:17; Rom. 6:23, 8:17-18; Revelation 20:15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9.
9. About The Priesthood Of Believers
Revelation 1:6 “Christ loves us, and by His death He has freed us from our sins and made us a kingdom of priests to serve God.” 1 Peter 2:9 “You are…the King’s priests…God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God. The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to “full time” ministry, regardless of his/her vocation. We practice the truth that every believer is a minister by encouraging every member to find a place of service and ministry in the church and in the world. Every believer has direct access to God through prayer and Bible reading. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
10. About Spiritual Gifts
We affirm all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit noted in Scripture are valid today, and that they must be subject to the guidance of God’s Word. Since the Holy Spirit is the source of Christian unity, we guard against any use of the gifts which would cause unnecessary division within the Church. We also affirm the priority of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.) over the gifts in our Christian life together (See 1 Corinthians 12-14).
11. About Spirit-Led Living
John 15:5 (Jesus said) “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing.” We believe the only way to live a Christian life is by God’s power at work in us. We seek to practice daily dependence on God’s Spirit to enable us to do what is right. (Phil. 2:13; Eph. 5:18)
12. About Telling Others The Good News Of Jesus Christ
1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those God brings us into contact with in the spirit of gentleness, respect, love and wisdom.