The Holy Trinity
God’s most basic revelations of Himself are in terms of relationships – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These are terms that relate to our lives, yet show us three basic dimensions of The Almighty. As Father, he is the Sovereign creator, greater than and other than creation. As Son, we experience intimacy and immediacy with God, whose nature is a clue to our own. The Trinity is a doctrine not so much ‘taught in’ scripture as ‘caught from’ scripture
Genesis 1:26-27; 2 Corinthians 13:14; I Peter 1:1-2; John 14, 16 & 17; I Thessalonians 1:1-7; Romans 15:14-20; Matthew 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:14-22
God The Father
Source and Sovereign are two descriptions of God, our heavenly Father. This relational term reminds us that God is creator and care giver, yet maintaining a sometimes mysterious distance from the normal human senses of detection. God chose to get very involved and identifiable to us for a period of time in history, through Jesus Christ.
Genesis 1:2; Matthew 6:9-13; Isaiah 6:1-8; I Timothy 6:11-16; Hebrews 12:28-29
Jesus Christ, Son of God
Jesus is unique from all religious leaders, authorities, or gurus who have ever lived. He is in a category of one! The Bible presents Jesus as the truly Human-Divine being, of and from God; God in flesh. Not only is Jesus the God-come-to-earth, Jesus has become our Savior, or Bridge to God. Even His crucifixion was a major plank in the “bridge,” as He was bearing the consequences for the sins and waywardness of mankind. He was truly our Sacrificial Lamb. He is our best help and hope.
Matthew 1:18-21; Matthew 3:13-17; Philippians 2:5-11; John 3:16-17; Mark 10:45; Mark 15:38-39; Colossians 1:15-20
The Holy Spirit
This title refers to the intimate and living essence of God. We have been created with a capacity for God. When humankind was created, God breathed into us the breath of life. Our human spirit, or soul as some call it, is our God-given connection with His own Spirit. Our human spirit connects with His Holy Spirit. His Spirit is our helper, counselor, strengthener and our true God-connection, not bounded by time and space. The Holy Spirit is God in us, with us and for us!
John 4:24; 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13-15; Romans 8:1-17; 26-28
The Bible, God’s Word
We believe that The Bible is the God-inspired account of creation history, His wisdom and truth given to us through Divine inspiration, using human writers to frame His word in words. Jesus Christ is also called The Word, in flesh, and His Spirit also “communicates” to us. Yet, the Bible is that reliable, God-inspired revelation that is designed to help us understand who God is and what God is like; who we are, what our needs are, and how we get together with God and find His salvation, life and love to be ours for time and eternity. The Bible is our totally reliable compass for all matters of faith and relationship with God and each other.
2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matthew 28:19-20; 22:37-40; John 10:10
God’s Purpose for Us
We are made for relationship and stewardship. God made us with an internal desire for companionship and love in relationship with Himself and with one another. We are also created to be managers of the creation and opportunities we have been given. In a sense, He calls us to be partners in creation with Him, not as equals, but in a relationship of love, commitment and service to one another. He has given us the right to enjoy, explore and expand; and we have been given responsibilities for which we are accountable.
Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-18; Ephesians 2:8-10; Psalm 8; Luke 10:25-37
Marriage and the Family
God’s title as Father implies family. We were created to be the human family. Adam and Eve were created for partnership and family development. Marriage and family are outcomes of the nature God gave us, with desire for love, companionship, creative ability and instincts. The family is an analogy used in scripture to describe for us the nature of our relationship with Him. We further believe that God’s desire and design intended that marriage be a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman, committed to one another for a lifetime. Children are an appropriate and divine-like outcome of that relationship. God is quite unhappy over that which violates this intention for marriage and family. We do not believe that same gender marriage is God’s intention, but that it goes against His basic plan for marriage.
Genesis 1:27-28; Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:4-6, John 2:1-2; Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:20-33; I Corinthians 7
Freedom to Choose
Two amazing capacities God gave us are discernment and choice. We are called to cultivate a sense of moral righteousness and we become responsible to make choices that respect the guidance God has given and continues to give us.
From the first, humankind has demonstrated ability to use our freedom of choice unwisely, and we have proven repeatedly that we are all flawed deeply in a way that inclines us to fall short of the way of life that God intended for us. This is sometimes called our sin nature. Our nature is also subject to being misled (temptation) and treating others with unkindness that breeds from our natural problems with selfishness, greed, hatred, contempt, pride and other related maladies. We need help! Without it, we are in huge trouble with each other, and God. Help arrived in Jesus Christ. But, once again, we must exercise that choosing capacity to reach out for what God has made available.
Joshua 24:15; Genesis 4:6-7; Deuteronomy 30:19; Proverbs 8:10, 16:16; Ephesians 4:22-24; Ephesians 5:20-33.
Christ, Our Savior
In a real sense, our waywardness presented God with a dilemma. How could love and justice be accomplished as humanity violated the moral standards of God? Self-sacrifice was and is God’s solution for our sake. Entering this world of flesh through Jesus Christ, God lived, loved, taught, suffered, died, and was raised in celebration and victory over sin and Satan (the living force of evil in our universe). In essence, Christ became The Bridge that makes possible our return to God. His life, death and resurrection was a colossal “price” or punishment paid for our sins. This is sometimes called the “atonement” which means payment for an offense and provision for reconciliation. That’s what God has done for us through Jesus Christ! It is the Divinely offered opportunity for our literal salvation, for time and eternity. It makes new life (born again) a reality. Now comes our response.
Matthew 1:18-21; Colossians 1:13-17; John 14:5-7; John 3:16-17; John 1:1-14; Hebrews 5:1-10; 4:14-16; I Timothy 2:1-6
Repentance and Faith
Two of the most beautiful and powerful words in human language! To repent means to recognize that something (in or with us) is not the way it should be. We must change. We regret things, deeply, as they are. We decide to turn away from the way it has been, turn toward the way it should be, make decisions and take actions to follow through with our repentant spirit. In the case of our relationship to God and to sin, we turn away from sin and to Christ. We place our trust and hope in Jesus Christ for our forgiveness, and trust Him as our bridge to God, our Savior. Those steps of repentance and faith are prompted by God’s Spirit as we are enabled to develop a relationship of faith in God and practice the healthy habit of repentance as often as needed. To keep life on course, as God’s Word and Spirit help us.
Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32; 13:3; 24:47; John 3:16; 17:20; 20:31; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 11:18; 16:31; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 1:16; 2:4; 10:8-10, 17; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:8; 4:4-6; Philippians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 11:6; 12:2; I Peter 1:9; 2 Peter 3:9
Christianity and Salvation
We believe that The Bible teaches that salvation is both an event and a relationship. The event is sometimes referred to as conversion, being born again, receiving Christ into our life, or any one of several other terms or phrases. Personal and decisive faith in Christ assures us of God’s forgiveness. We are justified (made right before God) and regenerated (given new life), but we must also give attention to walking in faith and obedience to Christ. St. Paul uses the term “in Christ.” When you take a jumbo jet to some destination, you board it, and remain on board for the duration of the journey. You jump off at your own risk, without a parachute!
Romans 10:13; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Hebrews 12:1-3; I Peter 1:3-9; Philippians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4; 1 Timothy 2:1-6
Living the Christian life is an issue of faith and works, not faith or works. The two go together like each half of a pair of scissors. The following Bible references clarify the necessity of each in a healthy relationship to God and one another.
Ephesians 2:8-10; book of James; 1 Thessalonians 1:3
We strongly believe that a person need not be in doubt about their salvation, or relationship to God. We believe in spiritual security for now and into eternity. Based on what? Four clear biblical essentials:
John 20-31; 1 John 3:23; 5:1,4,5 & 13; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:9,13 & 14
1 John 3:23-24; 5:2-3; Galatians 5:6; Hebrews 6:10
1 John 1:7; 2:3-6,17; 3:23-24; Hebrews 5:9; 12:7-9; 13:17
a. Witness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-16; John 16:15…; 1 John 3:24; 4:13; 5:6-8)
b. Witness of the Human Spirit (1 John 3:18-21; 5:10)
c. Witness of the Word (1 John 5:11,13 & 18; 2 Timothy 3:16; John 20:31)
d. Witness of the Works (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 5:1-5; Hebrews 6:7-9)
e. Witness of the World (1 John 5:9)
We do not believe that the above four considerations are invalidated by a view of eternal security that is based on double predestination.
Satan and Sin
The author of sin is Satan, the living embodiment of ungodliness. Satan is limited in power but active in the world to tempt, lure and otherwise con us into doubting God and worshiping ourselves. Sin has various definitions, but in its most aggressive form is disobedience to a known expectation of God or conscience. I may also be not doing what should be done. The most common biblical meaning is “missing the mark.” Those targeted for most immediate and ongoing concern are sins of intention and malice. However, as God helps mature our conscience and spiritual capacity, sin is that which is not of love toward ourselves or others. Sin is unhealthy in its mildest consequences, and deadly for time and eternity in its worst consequences. We are accountable for our sins. That is why repentance, forgiveness and reform are so important. We believe that the God who offers forgiveness for our sins also gives us wisdom, desire and power to live increasingly without conscious and intentional sinning. Forgiveness from sins committed is just the beginning. Deliverance from the inner push to sin, is an ongoing issue, and very important.
Job 1-2; Zachariah 3:1-2; Matthew 4:1…; John 8:44; Ephesians 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 12:24; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 4:4; John 12:31; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:1-10
Sanctification and Holy Living
When we initially come to Christ in faith, it is pretty much a self-serving experience. It is about our sins, our lostness, our need, our desire for more and better, from God. Me, me, me and my needs and the benefits and blessing I can receive. Okay? Think about it for a minute.
What is described above is wonderful, but it is strictly consumer mentality. We begin through life experience and scripture to learn several things:
First, we can’t measure up to basic Christianity without help. Second, Christianity is not just about taking, but also about giving and serving. Third, there will continue to be three major sources of defeat that we face; the world, the flesh and the devil (Satan). We need help.
A much deeper and more comprehensive commitment is needed. And, one that is not as self serving in nature. That’s where Romans 12:1-3 hits the nail on the head.
In a sense, sanctification begins when we first come to Christ. We have been separated from our sins and given new life and are in right relationship with God. That’s a wonderful beginning! But there is more! Essentially, sanctification and holy living is about becoming a fully committed and cleaned up “tool” to be used for serving God. The “holy” part of it can be best summarized as living a life of love, like Christ has lived for us.
Romans 8:1-4; 12:1-21; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 5:23
The Gifts and Fruits and Guidance of The Holy Spirit
To tackle the sanctification and holy living issues, we need big help. Our spirit needs the ongoing help of God’s Holy Spirit. The human spirit is the most intimate and immediate aspect of who we are. The Holy Spirit is the intimate and immediate presence and personality of God in touch with and helping us in areas of discernment, character and service. Terms that the Bible uses in this regard are fruit, gifts and guidance of The Spirit. The following scriptures help us understand in what ways The Spirit helps us
1 Corinthians 12:1-14; Ephesians 4:7-8; Romans 12:4-8; Hebrews 2:4; Galatians 5:16-26; John 15; John 14:15-21; John 16:5-11
The Church of Jesus Christ
Christianity is not just a “me thing,” but also a “we thing.” We are individually created and accountable before God, but we are called together and sent out to be God’s representatives on earth. The Christian movement was initially sparked by the resurrection of Christ, then given an official “launch” when God’s spirit came powerfully on the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem, shortly after the ascension (departure into the heavens) of Christ. It has since been built and strengthened by The Spirit of God to be salt and light in our world, and to make the gospel of Christ attractive to those who are not yet His followers. We are called to worship, witness, and win over others to Him. None of us is, individually, the perfect Christian. All of us together make the “perfect” Christian body.
Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:1-12; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; John 17; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4
The Sacraments: Baptism and The Lord’s Supper
Sacraments are those specific corporate acts that Christ intended for us to continue, until He returns. Catholics have more than two sacraments. The exact number that God would endorse is a mystery. Sacraments are means of confirming our faith and giving public witness to the sacred nature of what we believe, and reminding us of the gracious Christ of history, and His death for us; the Christ of the ever present, who abides with us to help day by day, and a powerful reminder that He will fulfill His promise to return some day for His followers!
Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; Acts 2:38-41; Romans 6:1-2; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; John 6:48-58; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 10:3-4; 11:23-29
The Return of Christ
Often called The Second Coming of Christ, it is the amazing return of Jesus Christ to earth. It is a dramatic statement of need for the world to get serious about their faith in Him. Christ will come to take believers out of this world (The Rapture) to be with our Savior until the final times of history and accountability to God. There is lively debate about when the Second Coming will occur, in light of world events and the role of Christians in the world.
Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; Acts 2:38-41; Romans 6:1-2; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; John 6:48-58; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 10:3-4; 11:23-29
Resurrection of the Dead
The Bible teaches that at some point early in the second coming of Jesus, that He will (as the first phase of The Rapture), raise the “dead in Christ,” who shall arise to meet Christ, and be forever with Him! It is a belief offering amazing hope and optimism, in light of the waves of massive meaninglessness of life or some, the difficulty of earthly life for others, and even the suffering and martyrdom of millions on earth, who hold out hope that God has something infinitely better for us, on the “other side” of this world and life. It is indeed a living hope that is worth living toward!
1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4; 1 Peter 3; Revelation 20:11-13
Judgment, Reward and Punishment
We believe that The Bible teaches final accountability of all persons to God. That accountability will happen, we believe, in the form of a judgment time in which there will be assignments of human beings to Heaven or Hell. Stark and contrasting as they are, they are intended to remind us of the reality of consequences, beyond time, into eternity, on the basis of our lives lived and faith in our great hope through Jesus Christ. “Where are you intending to spend eternity?” is the question. And, on what basis are you firming up your plans? Faith in Christ, and following Christ are the only sure options for each and all of us! Are you exercising those options?
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