At Living Hope, we believe that the Scriptures are the infallible, inerrant Word of God. As such, they are the primary source we go to in order to learn about God. The way that God has revealed himself to us is vast, intricate, and beautiful. He hasn’t given us a textbook; He’s given us a story. For that reason, we’ve laid out our beliefs below not in a list of facts, but in a story – the story of God and man.
- The Fall
- The Flood
- Promise & Covenant
- Blessing & Curses
- Jesus & The Kingdom
- Resurrection, Commission, Ascension
- The Holy Spirit
- The Church
- The Bible
- Kingdom Consummation
The purpose of this Statement of Faith is to provide a succinct yet accurate summary of God’s working in the world. Its intent is to present the essentials of what Christians should believe. It is to be used as a teaching and communication tool. While it is founded upon Scriptures, it should not supplant them. It is presented in story form to emphasize the historicity of God’s revelation of Himself and of His work of salvation through His Son. Following this statement is another document which focuses on how Christ’s followers should live in light of these core truths.
In the beginning, the eternally existent, all-sufficient, and triune God created all that exists, visible and invisible. God created men and women in His own image and appointed them rulers, under His authority, of the earth. The first man and woman walked with God in the garden in perfect relationship with Him and one another. All that God created was “very good,” and the original world was void of sickness, suffering, conflict, and death. God instituted marriage and family, decreeing that a man should unite with a woman for life and so be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and develop it.
Life In Light of Creation
Since God is the good, loving Creator and Sustainer of all creation and sovereign over all, we belong to Him. Therefore we must worship, love, adore; pray to; trust; and obey Him.
Since God is good and created a world that was “very good,” we should reject the thought that the world originated through random processes or through perpetual cycles of competition, sickness, suffering, and death. We should view sickness, suffering, and death of man and animals as unnatural and look forward to the coming day of the restoration of all things to a state of health, harmony, and wholeness.
Since all men and women are created in the image of God and descended from one man and one woman, we must regard all men as valuable, treat them with dignity, respect all, and treat all justly regardless of race, gender, age, position, giftedness, health, or disability. Although justice does, at times, require punishment for particular sins, even sinful men retain the image of God and should be treated with dignity, even when punished.
Since God appointed men and women as rulers and caretakers of the earth, we are responsible to Him to treat the physical world around us as a stewardship entrusted to us. The earth belongs to our God to whom we will give an account for our stewardship. Being made in the image of God, men and women are also to work as creators and caretakers, designing, arranging, protecting, providing, developing, giving, loving. We should find purpose and fulfillment in the work of our minds and of our hands and do our work as unto the Lord.
Since God created all that exists, we should expect to find in His creation His fingerprints and through creation learn truth about His nature. We should view the study of His creation as edifying and profitable work.
Since God created us male and female and commanded that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and since He desires humans to multiply and fill the earth, one man should enter into a life-long covenant with one woman, be sexually active, bear children, and raise a family. Sexual activity outside of this God-ordained marriage relationship—such as adultery, cohabitation, polygamy, homosexuality, or bestiality—is a violation of God’s purpose and plan and will result in suffering and loss and the judgment of God.
Since God created humans male and female, we should celebrate masculinity and femininity, which God has designed to complement, not compete. Husbands should lovingly lead, provide, and protect their wives. Wives should respectfully follow, submit, and help their husbands.
Since it is God’s will that we be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, we should desire children and raise them to love and fear God and bring Him glory. Since God ordained and blessed the family, the nurture, provision, and education of children is the responsibility of the father and mother of those children, who should have authority to train their children in the ways of the Lord and of life, while looking to the extended family and community for help and support.
Since God is our supreme authority and since He has established human authorities to lead and organize society, we should submit to the appropriate authorities—children to parents, wives to husbands, employees to employers, church members to church leaders, and citizens to governing authorities.
Since God, in His goodness and wisdom, created a good world, He established certain laws of nature so that his creatures could depend upon them. Yet, the Creator of those laws can set them aside whenever He so desires. In His wisdom, He has chosen to seldom do so and has largely reserved miracles for the purpose of affirming His self-revelation. This miraculous affirmation is primarily associated with the coming of the two major covenants, the Mosaic covenant and the covenant of Christ. We should trust the laws of creation, yet believe that God can do miracles and may do them in response to our faith and prayers.
The archangel Lucifer lifted himself up in pride, rebelled against God, and became the evil Satan. Many of God’s angels followed him in rebellion, becoming demons. Satan tempted the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, who doubted God’s goodness and love, disobeyed God, and so joined the rebellion. In judgment, God brought death into the world and subjected creation to a curse, giving man a taste of the consequences of rebellion. Yet God promised redemption and mercifully continued to bless His creation, reveal His goodness, and pursue a restoration of relationship.
Life in Light of the Fall
Since all of us have followed Adam and Eve in their rebellion against God, and all of us have become radically corrupt:
- We should despair of finding acceptance with God through our own goodness and righteousness and cast ourselves on His mercy and grace.
- We must be vigilant to resist the evil desires of our corrupt nature, the pressures and influences that come from a corrupt world, and the temptations of the devil.
- We should not be surprised when we realize that we have sinned, but be quick to acknowledge our sins to God and, when appropriate, to others and to ask God for His help and grace to live uprightly.
- We should remain humble, gentle, and patient towards those who sin, for we remember our own need for God’s mercy and help. Plus, we realize we, too, could stumble if we grow proud and are not alert.
- We should not be surprised but rather be prepared for opposition to the truth of God, since truth exposes the sinfulness of men. We should be prepared for persecution as we preach the gospel, knowing that we are bringing truth and conviction to a sinful and depraved world.
Since God cursed the earth, human survival and flourishing have become more challenging and the work of creating, arranging, providing and protecting more difficult. Yet God has a redemptive purpose in difficulties and sufferings—they humble our pride, demonstrate to us the terrible consequences of rebellion, and draw us to God in a dependent relationship. We should rejoice in our trials, turn to God for strength, and yet work hard to do what we can to mitigate the effects of the curse.
As a consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, all human beings in all ages have been born estranged from God and bent toward sin and evil. Although humans still bore the likeness of God, that likeness was significantly twisted and marred. Human culture rapidly became corrupt until the earth was filled with violence and evil. In grief, God judged such evil by destroying the earth and its inhabitants with a world-wide flood, while saving land animals and eight people in a ship constructed by Noah, a righteous man.
Life in Light of the Flood
Since mankind became so quickly corrupt in the generations prior to the flood so that the world became full of evil and violence, we should not be surprised when individuals and cultures become deeply and disturbingly evil, as though this is an anomaly. Rejecting God and His ways leads men and women into stunning depravity, often rapidly. We should expect to find examples of such evil in fallen men and women and not be naïve or incredulous when confronted with evil.
Since after the flood, God instituted capital punishment for murder as a restraint on evil, we should welcome the threat and practice of government justice as a means of restraining evil and promoting good. Although justice always carries the threat of injustice through mistakes or errors of judgment, in view of man’s radical corruption the benefits of public justice outweigh the risks that there could be occasional errors leading to the punishment of the innocent.
Since throughout history, God has judged the sinful rebellion of men and women, as was terrifyingly demonstrated in the flood, we should understand that He is a God of absolute justice. Such judgments of God on those who are His enemies foreshadow and warn of the dreadful day of judgment that will soon come. In light of God’s justice and judgments:
- We should fear His justice and live in light of the coming day of judgment, when everything that is hidden will be brought to light and judged.
- We should rejoice that Jesus was judged by God as the substitute for all who put their faith in Him. He satisfied the justice of God on behalf of those of us who believe. This is an act of love for which we must be forever grateful.
- We should never take our own revenge, but trust in God’s justice and anticipate the coming Day of Judgment. No one who sins against us or those we love will ever get away with it. It is God’s job to judge and we must put our trust in Him to take vengeance where it is needed and appropriate.
Since God deluged the world in a flood, we should interpret the geologic and fossil record in light of this world-wide catastrophe. We should interpret scientific data using assumptions that line up with the story of God’s work throughout history and not begin with the assumptions of unproven and unprovable naturalistic philosophy.
Promise & Covenant
God chose Abraham and promised to bless him, to make his grandson Israel’s descendants a great nation, to give them the land of Canaan, and to bless the entire world through them. Through the ministry of Moses, God redeemed the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, gave them the law, and gave them the land as an inheritance. God promised blessings to the nation if they would believe and obey and threatened curses if they rebelled and served other gods. Many years later, God anointed David as Israel’s king and promised to set one of his descendants, the Messiah, upon the throne of Israel forever.
Life in Light of Promise and Covenant
Since God has given promises and initiated covenants with men, we should trust in His promises and have faith in His Word. He is a God who is always faithful, yet he often tests our faith as we wait for Him to fulfill His promises.
Since God has an amazing, eternal plan and has been orchestrating heavenly and earthly events throughout the ages to offer salvation to the world through his Son, the one through whom the covenants to Abraham, Israel, and David are being fulfilled, we should marvel and worship Him for His love, wisdom, and rule.
Since those of us who are Gentiles were once separated from Christ and alienated from citizenship in Israel, we should be humbled and grateful that, through Christ, God has “grafted” us into the people of God and made us fellow-partakers of the covenants of promise.
Since God is always faithful to His promises, we should anticipate that God will yet fulfill His promises to Abraham, Moses, David, and the nation of Israel. Although today most of the physical descendants of Abraham have not embraced Jesus as the Messiah and many are enemies of the gospel, we should realize that God’s calling is irrevocable and that someday, God will fulfill His many promises to a remnant of Israel and to Jerusalem. In light of this, we should avoid the anti-Semitism that has all too often been a part of the history of the church.
Although believers in Christ are not under the law of Moses, we must study the law and seek to understand the character and nature of God and humans that are revealed in the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. God used the ceremonial, civil, and sacrificial element of the Law as a tutor to point us to Christ.
Blessing & Curses
Throughout Israel’s history, God interacted with His chosen nation—speaking through the prophets, dwelling within the temple, and blessing the nation according to their faith and obedience. But Israel treacherously spurned the Lord, again and again turning to idolatry. In the end and in accordance with His warnings, God nearly destroyed the nation, exiling the survivors to Assyria and Babylon. After seventy years, God brought a remnant back to the land, yet Israel never fully regained its sovereignty, remaining subject to foreign domination and devoid of a king sitting on David’s throne.
Life in Light of Blessing and Curses
Since God promised blessing to Israel for faith and obedience and warned of judgment for idolatry and disobedience, we must study the history of Israel, imitate good examples, and take warning from bad. Since idolatry was Israel’s primary sin, we must not allow any object, desire, or passion, whether evil or good, to become ultimate in our minds and lives. We learn from Israel that idolatry arouses God’s jealousy, thwarts His blessing, and eventually brings His judgment.
Since throughout the history of Israel, God so clearly blessed or judged each generation according to their faith and obedience, we should not put confidence in the faith and obedience of our parents and grandparents or in the track record of our particular church tradition. Individual and genuine faith is required of every person and every generation.
Since God’s interaction with Israel spanned many generations, we should realize that God’s plan involves patience, much time, and many people. We should not be surprised that the time period between Jesus’ kingdom inauguration and His future return and kingdom consummation has spanned many generations. We must seek to find our place in His grand plan, knowing that we can play a significant part, but also that no individual or generation needs to “be all and do all” in fulfilling God’s plan.
Jesus & the Kingdom
In the climax of His plan to bring the world back into relationship with Himself, God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and fulfill His promises of redemption and reconciliation to Israel and to the world. Jesus was a descendant of David, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Eternally pre-existent, Jesus was fully God and fully man. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, and through Him worked mighty miracles, casting out demons and healing all diseases and infirmities, thus authenticating His claims to be the Messiah—the King of Israel and judge of the world. As the exact representation of God and the perfect human, Jesus lived a life without sin, though He was tempted in every way. In obedience to His Father, He allowed himself to be crucified in payment of the sins of Israel and of the world.
Life in Light of Jesus and the Kingdom
Since Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, the only sinless man, and the only sufficient substitute, He is the only way to God. Faith in Him is the only means of salvation, and all other religions, philosophies, and systems of good works or human improvement are either false or inadequate. Therefore we must proclaim Him as the only Savior and urge people from every culture and religion to repent and believe in Him.
Since Christ died once for all time and for all our sins, we must believe and trust in His forgiveness, refusing to languish in guilt and shame or pursue acts of penance or self-punishment. The work of Christ, received by faith, covers the deepest, darkest, most numerous, and most stubborn sins.
Since Jesus, being fully God, also became human and lived among us, we must embrace him as the pinnacle of God’s self-revelation. Therefore, we should study, meditate on, and imitate Jesus’ character, manifested in His interactions with others, His reactions to situations, and in the nature of His communication. For example, since Jesus is revealed as humble and willing to become a servant of the lowest, we must be humble and lower ourselves to the level of others who are beneath us in ability or social standing.
Since Jesus entered this world of suffering, was tempted, and suffered along with us, we know that He sympathizes with our temptations and weaknesses, and therefore we likewise should empathize with those who are suffering or tempted.
Since Jesus was fully God and equal with God and yet He lived in submission to the Father’s leadership, we learn that complementing roles in leadership and submission originate in the very nature of God Himself. Therefore with deep respect, we should seek to imitate the triune God in our respective roles of leadership and submission.
Since God sent His only begotten Son to purchase our forgiveness and to die for His enemies, we should forgive those who sin against us, love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.
Since Jesus suffered and died we must realize that God can and will often ask those He loves to do incredibly difficult tasks that result in much suffering and even death. Yet suffering in the will of God will never result in eternal, personal loss, but will result in greater glory, honor, love, and joy, just as was demonstrated in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the right hand of God.
Since the kingdom of God was inaugurated by Jesus, our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus as king, and not to any nation, government or political leader. We must obey governing authorities and realize that they have been instituted and established by God, but must disobey in any instances of actual conflict between human authority and Jesus our King. Also, we must work to promote and establish justice in our churches, communities, and nations, but realize that injustice will not be eliminated until the physical return of Jesus our King.
Resurrection, Commission, Ascension
Three days after his death, Jesus rose physically from the dead, forever substantiating His claims to be Israel’s Messiah and Savior of the world. For forty days Jesus repeatedly appeared to His disciples, proving His resurrection to them. He commissioned them to take to all nations the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins, and His resurrection from the dead. After this, He ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God, where all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him.
Life in Light of Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension
Since Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and was enthroned at the right hand of God, we should have full confidence:
- that He truly is the Son of God and the Lord and Savior of the world.
- that God was satisfied with His payment for sins and that even the worst sins were abundantly paid for.
- that He is alive and that we can and should pray to Him, love Him, worship Him and obey Him.
- that the time of His humiliation and suffering is over and we can pray to Him and trust Him as our reigning King who has been given all power and authority.
Since Jesus became one of us, suffered in our place, rose from the dead, and has been enthroned at the right hand of God, He is able to represent us as our High Priest– interceding for us and acting as our advocate and mediator. Since He is human and was tempted in every way, He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Since He suffered in our place, He is able to satisfy God’s wrath against us because of our sin. Realizing these great truths, we should boldly approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in our sinfulness and neediness.
Since Jesus is our Great High Priest, we need no other advocate or mediator, whether human or angelic. We should not seek assistance or mediation by praying to saints who have gone before us. Nor do we need a living priest other than Jesus, each believer being a priest of God. Pastors and elders teach, lead, and give us counsel, yet do not mediate between us and God—that position being reserved for Jesus alone.
Since Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared privately to His disciples and not publicly to the world, and since He ascended into heaven and did not set up an earthly kingdom by force, we should understand that in our age, God, in His patience, continues to grant the world an opportunity for repentance. The church is to preach repentance to people’s hearts and not use military, political, or other types of coercion to force people into submission to its King.
Because Jesus has ascended to God and been enthroned at His right hand, we can know that He is in the process of establishing His kingdom and destroying all resistance to His will. Jesus is subduing His enemies through the preaching of the gospel, leading to repentance and faith in those who believe, and will subdue His enemies in the future with irresistible force at His coming. Even when the world around us is in all-out rebellion against God, we should remember that Jesus has been given all power and authority and that this power is with us to enable us to walk in His will and to proclaim His salvation, resurrection, and enthronement to the world. Yet we should long for the day when He will return, forcibly establish His Kingdom in its fullness, and rule the world with a “rod of iron.”
Since Jesus rose physically and will forever have a physical body, we should realize that the physical world is important to God. It is not the source of evil nor is it of lesser importance than the spiritual world. We should do what we can to bring beauty, order, and life to our own bodies and to the physical world around us.
Since Jesus rose from the dead, we must believe that there will also be a resurrection of our bodies. So, we should not fear death or revolve our lives around physical comfort or obsess over our health, but put our hope in our future, heavenly, resurrected bodies.
Since, those who believe in Jesus have been united with Him in His death and resurrection, and are now “in Christ” and seated with Him at the right hand of God, we should consider ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God just as Jesus is. We should meditate on our glorious resurrected position and fully accepted relationship with God and let these truths motivate us to live a life in keeping with who we now are in Christ.
Since Satan, the tempter, was decisively defeated and disarmed through the death and resurrection of Jesus, yet continues to use His one weapon against us—deception—we must not fear this defeated foe but resist his temptations, be prepared to battle his lies, and wield the weapons of God’s truth.
Since Jesus died for all humanity, was resurrected, and sits enthroned as Lord of all and since He commissioned us to take the good news to all the nations, we must devote our lives to this purpose. We should speak and live filled with His power so that more and more people hear and believe the gospel and bow to Him as King.
- We should become equipped to proclaim the gospel, be regularly involved in evangelism, and make the most of every opportunity.
- We should live in such a way that people see God in our lives and are drawn to Him. We should proclaim the love of God through our actions as well as our words, demonstrating His love for all people.
- We should give not only our time, but our money to the cause of advancing the kingdom, supporting those whose vocation is proclaiming the gospel to the lost and equipping the believers.
- We should seek to help and care for those who are oppressed or needy around us, demonstrating God’s love, goodness, wisdom, and ways to all.
The Holy Spirit
On the day of Pentecost, ten days after His ascension, Jesus poured out upon His followers the Holy Spirit, whom He had received from His Father. The Holy Spirit is fully God and is a personal being not a force. Previous to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had actively worked in the world, primarily through Israel’s kings, prophets and priests. Since Pentecost, He has indwelt every true believer in Jesus, male and female, young and old. The Spirit convicts people of their sins, draws them to Christ, gives them new life, gifts them for service, and empowers them to do God’s will. The Spirit is sealed in every believer so that he will be protected and preserved by God and will persevere in faith until death or until Jesus returns. On the day of Pentecost, thousands believed, and, in obedience to Jesus’ command, were baptized in the name of Jesus the Messiah, a practice that is to continue throughout the age.
Life in Light of the Holy Spirit
Since the Holy Spirit is sealed in every believer until the day of redemption and is the down payment of our inheritance, those who believe in Jesus and trust in His death as the means of their acceptance and forgiveness can have full assurance that they have eternal life and will not lose their salvation.
Since the Holy Spirit indwells and actively works in those who believe, every true believer will, at least to some degree, produce the fruit of righteousness. Those who persistently continue in disobedience to God’s commands should question the genuineness of their faith. A righteous life is not the basis of our salvation, nor does it in any way earn salvation, yet it is an evidence of faith and of the Spirit’s work within us. Justification before God is by faith alone, but true faith will not be alone.
Since the Holy Spirit was given to the church on the day of Pentecost and since He indwells every true believer:
- We should live in dependent trust in His presence, direction, and empowerment, relying on the power of God, not our own human resources.
- We should turn to Him as a solution for our aloneness, realizing that He lives in us and intimately knows every thought, desire, and struggle. We can and should develop a relationship with the unseen God through the Holy Spirit within us.
- We should not grieve the Holy Spirit within us by sinning against God or others.
- We should discover and use our spiritual gifts in the different ministries and with the different effects that the Spirit employs in our lives.
If our lives reflect any of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, or if God uses us to influence and persuade others to repent and believe or to take a significant step in holiness, we must not take credit, but realize that the Holy Spirit was the one moving both in our hearts and in the hearts of others and give God the credit that He is due.
Since baptism was commanded by Jesus for every believer in this age, and since our profession of faith should be public and clear, we should baptize those who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Since the word “baptize” mean “immerse,” and since baptism represents our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ, baptism should be by immersion. Although children ought to be dedicated to the Lord and welcomed into fellowship by the church, baptism should be reserved for its intended purpose, to indicate personal faith in Christ.
Since all those who truly believe receive the Holy Spirit into their hearts and are simultaneously placed into the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, yet every believer ought to continually be being filled with the Spirit. We should, through faith, dependence, and submission, seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit moment by moment.
Since the Holy Spirit has, at times in redemptive history, empowered prophets and apostles to perform mighty works of power and healing, attesting to the authenticity of their message, we should be open to such works of power, yet realize that they have typically accompany new revelation from God. Since such new revelation is not occurring today as it was in the days of Jesus and the apostles, we should expect that such sign gifts will be rare.
Since the Holy Spirit’s power has been given to work transformation within the believer and produce the fruit of the Spirit, we should seek this inner-transformational power and not become obsessed with obtaining power to heal or perform great miracles.
Since Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection, fulfilled the Law of Moses and made it obsolete, the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been removed. After Jesus ascended, His apostles preached the good news that people are now justified before God through repentance and faith in Jesus and His work. Salvation is by grace, through faith, apart from works of the law. The people of God now include all who truly believe in Jesus the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, rich or poor—people of all ages and races—whom God is bringing together into His church. Those who come to Christ become part of His church and should devote themselves to God’s family and its mission–representing Christ as a light to the world.
Life in Light of the Church
Since Jesus Christ has called his people to be his Body, the church, all believers should team up with other believers in a community of mutual edification and sharing their lives. As believers in Christ and imitators of Him, we should:
- Gather together regularly to worship, sing, preach, learn, serve, give, pray and break bread.
- Love each other as Christ has loved us.
- By faith, utilize our spiritual gifts for the building up of the body.
- Encourage one another daily in the faith, considering how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.
- Call one another to walk in daily holiness, including reproving one another. In extreme cases if a brother is unrepentant even after multiple warnings and witnesses, that brother should be put out of fellowship as a stark warning to him and for the protection of the Body.
- Join together in mission to bring the light of Christ to a dark and dying world, reaching out to our community and multiplying churches in other communities.
- Support the work of the church and the advancement of the kingdom through regular and sacrificial giving.
- Strive for unity, seek to avoid division, refuse to slander or gossip, and seek to believe the best of each other.
- Accept one another as Christ has accepted us. Our interaction should be characterized by grace, vulnerability, and honesty concerning our struggles. We should welcome those who are struggling and broken and demonstrate patience to those who are weak.
- Work hard and creatively through our various vocations to provide for ourselves, to serve the world around us, and to be salt and light to those in darkness.
- Remember His great love and the greatness of His New Covenant salvation by regularly breaking bread as the Lord instructed His disciples to do during the last supper.
Since the covenant of law that God made with Moses and the Israelites has been fulfilled in Christ and since justification and membership in the people of God are now by faith in Christ, not adherence to the Mosaic law, we need not follow the Law of Moses. Those who are part of God’s new covenant people, the church, are not under the law at all, including dietary rules, the sacrificial system, Mosaic governmental laws, and the Saturday Sabbath.
Since we have been adopted into God’s family, we should regularly and boldly, yet respectfully, approach God as our Father in prayer—thanking, adoring, asking, confessing, and imploring.
Since our salvation is so awesome and glorious, yet totally a free gift of grace and undeserved, and since God is the initiator and primary mover in salvation and redemption, we must respond to His great salvation by giving Him our lives as living sacrifices. What he has done deserves our full devotion, not a half-hearted or occasional response. If we aren’t worshiping Him as Lord, then He is not our lord; we are worshiping a false god.
Since the church is the family of God, we should make our relationships with fellow believers our primary relationships. We should not allow our relationships with those who do not know Christ to become so close and influential that they lead us into unrighteousness. Since light does not mix with darkness we must, to a degree, be separate from the world. Believers should not marry unbelievers. However, we must not totally isolate ourselves from the world, but must fulfill Jesus’ commission to reach the world.
Since the church consists of people of all ages and both genders, the church must honor all, male and female, married or single. Those who are single adults should find the church to be a spiritual family. Also, the church should honor those who are married and God’s structure for the family should be recognized. The church should respect the responsibility and authority of husbands and parents to lead and care for their wives and children. In many ways, the church should be a family or adult singles and families.
While God’s plan for most is to be married and have a family, we acknowledge that God’s ways are often not followed and that divorce has become common in our culture. The church should work to redeem this brokenness and support those who are divorced and are single moms or dads. We can’t mend all the brokenness, but we can seek to make it better than it was.
Since Jesus appointed leaders for the church and those leaders appointed others, the church should develop and recognize servant leaders, pastor/elders, who are models and examples in the pattern of Jesus’s life and love. Although themselves still beset by weakness and temptation, elders must be men of character and blameless before all. In light of God’s complementary design and plan for men and women in the family and church, elder leadership within the church should be reserved to men.
In the centuries immediately after Jesus lived, died, and rose again, the church recognized the writings that had been passed down from the apostles, men whom Jesus had appointed to proclaim the kingdom and lead the church. These New Testament writings and the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament make up the 66 books of the Bible and are uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. They were written without error in the original manuscripts and passed down to us with great accuracy. God’s authority over His church is mediated through the Bible, and in this way, it is the supreme and final authority for faith and life in this age, superseding all extra-Biblical tradition.
Life in Light of the Bible
Since the Bible is the record of the working of God as He has revealed Himself to the world and since the authority of God is mediated to us through the Bible, we should take this book seriously:
- We should renew our minds with the Bible’s truth. Truth is what transforms us and sets us free. Faith in God and Christ as revealed in the Bible is what justifies and is also the foundation of our growth and development into Christ-likeness. We must read, study, memorize, meditate, obey, and teach the Bible to others.
- We should both study and obey. His Word is living and active and He speaks to us through it. Obeying what we know will open up the scriptures more fully to us. Disobedience and obstinacy will result in deception.
- We must seek to understand the author’s intended meaning to his original audience, then seek to apply that meaning to the circumstances and situations of our day. The Bible was written partly for us, but to others. We should pursue training in Biblical interpretation and take advantage of the many resources available to help us understand the Biblical cultural context.
- We should avoid independent study and conclusions, but study the scriptures in community, listening to and learning from others in the church.
- We must not add to the Bible or subtract from it. Neither should we pick and choose which portions of the Bible to agree with and obey, other than the recognition of our place in salvation history—particularly that the Law of Moses was fulfilled by Christ and we are no longer subject to it. Study the whole Bible and not just the New Testament.
- We must make the Bible the final authority over all extra-biblical church tradition, doctrinal statements, church counsels, or practices. Although such statements are helpful and even essential as summaries of Biblical teaching, we should regularly and humbly re-evaluate them in light of our increasing understanding of the all-authoritative Scriptures themselves.
- We must believe the Bible in matters where there is an apparent contradiction between the Bible and science, observation, or human wisdom. The Bible is the clear, verbal revelation of God, and although it will never actually contradict observations in creation or of human behavior, its special nature insures that it will be clearer and more accurate than any other source of truth.
In the future, Jesus, the same man who died, rose, and ascended into Heaven, will physically return to earth to consummate His kingdom; rule the earth with absolute authority; abolish injustice; usher in an eternal age of peace, prosperity, and happiness and fulfill all God’s promises to Israel and the world. Death will be abolished, pain will be no more, and sadness and sorrow will flee away. Those who have believed in the God of Israel and in Jesus and have loved righteousness will be physically resurrected and will reign with Him on earth forever in perfect relationship. All others who have refused to believe and have loved wickedness will be physically resurrected and banished forever from the presence of God into hell, a place of eternal suffering.
Life in Light of Kingdom Consummation
Since the future reign of Christ is a vital part of the gospel story along with his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, we must regularly speak to one another about the truths of the Second Coming. We should encourage one another that the coming King is the ultimate hope for all true believers, We should set our hope in the next life and not lose heart in the trials of this life.
Since the Lord has judged the whole earth before in the flood of Noah and has fulfilled his many promises over the centuries, we should live in confidence of Jesus’ promised return, not doubting or scoffing even though he has delayed for many years. And since we have been given many prophecies concerning the Second Coming, we should look to Scriptures for signs of the coming age in order not to be fooled or lulled to sleep by various rumors, ideas, or events.
Since this present physical world will someday be destroyed and made new, we should reject frivolous living and the unbridled pursuit of earthly comforts and pleasures. Instead we should walk through life with sobriety, fearing the Lord and walking in holiness and godliness. And we must also reject placing our hope in earthly treasures and money but instead set our hope in our future glory by using our earthly treasures for the sake of the kingdom and thus store up treasures in heaven.
Since we have been promised resurrected bodies, we should eagerly wait for Christ’s return, to see Him face to face and be made brand new. We should find hope and strength in this, that all our trials and sufferings are only temporary and will be far outweighed by the glories of heavenly life.
Since the Lord promises reward in the next life, we rejoice in His goodness and walk by faith as we seek, serve, and love Him. We should joyfully endure suffering for His sake, even enduring persecution as we realize that He sees and will not forget our deeds of love done for him and by faith in him.
Since the coming judgment day is sure, we must warn the unsaved to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, for the Lord’s judgments are severe and his patience will come to an end someday soon.