Essentials

At Christ Fellowship, we welcome people from all backgrounds and at any spiritual level.  Our functions and services are open to any person who is willing to come and explore the Christian faith.  Questions are allowed, and discussions on theology and life issues are welcomed! We believe that love and acceptance are the greatest marks of a mature Christian. We recognize that we are all on a spiritual journey. Our hope is that people will come seeking truth about life and eternity.  We know that we are all still growing, and that we may be wrong sometimes in our understanding of the Bible. Having said this, we also believe we need to be authentic with each other, and state clearly what we believe at this point of our journey.

THE NEED FOR HUMILITY, GRACE, AND LOVE

As we discuss our theological positions among ourselves or with other people, we are committed to remembering several keys about the nature of theological discussions:

  • No human or organization knows God’s Truth perfectly, for we are imperfect vessels.  Humility is to be our watchword.
  • Spiritual growth (faith in developmental) is an ongoing process.  Therefore, our maturity should increase over time, and our wisdom about theology and life should grow as well.
  • The church needs people who are different, and who humbly hold differences of opinion.  We will seek to be good listeners.
  • Love is the preeminent mark of a Christian.  Therefore, we will value “being loving” as we seek and discuss theological truth.
  • Our goal is perfect theology and perfect unity as we serve God and become transformed into Christ’s image. However, we know perfection is not attainable in this life, so we are always perfecting our theology and unity. While a person is not saved because of theology or unity, the Bible reminds us often to work and grow together as we develop our doctrine and live out our devotion.

THE NEED FOR THEOLOGICAL STANDARDS

At its core, Christianity is really about (1) what we believe to be true and (2) who we place our faith in. What we believe is important!  In theological terms, what we believe is often called “doctrine” or “standards.”  This document is designed to clearly disclose what we believe and to help those who gather together to live out our lives faithfully.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16

HISTORICAL ESSENTIALS:

Although it isn’t a new phenomenon, today we live in a world of many “gods” and belief systems.  Throughout history, orthodox Christians have united around a short list of “essential truths” to help keep clear the beliefs of Christianity.  As strange or “new” teachings arose around them in every generation, Christians often wrote down these biblical essentials as “Creeds,”  “Confessions,” or “Statements of Faiths.”  The Apostle Paul wrote what is considered the first creed around 50 AD, recorded in Corinthians 15:1-9. [2]  Some important examples are the Apostles’ Creed (2nd Century) and the Nicene Creed (325 AD), both shown on page 3, as well as others like the Westminster Confession of Faith [3] (A standard of reformed doctrine written in 1646 AD).  The purpose of these historical statements was and is to define and reaffirm the core beliefs of the Christian Faith, so that what we believe would have accuracy, stability, and roots.

Taken together, the eight essentials below express historic essential beliefs common to these early confessions, and central for all true Christian believers and churches throughout the world and throughout the ages.  We believe in these ancient truths, and try to live our lives by them every day of our lives.  We desire to practice these historic elements of faith in real, tangible ways today. This is why we sometimes call ourselves an “Ancient-Future” Church.

NOTE:  These following Doctrinal Essentials from the Bible are drawn in nature and detail from the historic creeds of our faith.  We offer these essentials in a plain, more modern language style with few theological terms to help in discussion and understanding.

The Bible.  We believe the Bible, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is God’s Word to us, true in everything it teaches. It is the sole basis of our beliefs. We believe it was uniquely, verbally and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and was written without error in the original manuscripts. Because it is inspired by God, it is the truth without any mixture of error.  It is our supreme and final authority. 2 Timothy 3.16; 2 Peter 1.20, 21; 2 Timothy 1.13;

God.  We believe there is but one God, infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love. He is the Creator of the universe, eternally existing in three persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — each of Whom possesses all the attributes of Deity and the characteristics of personality. Genesis 1.1, 26, 27; 3.22; Psalm 90.2; Matthew 28.19;

Jesus.  We believe Jesus is God in the flesh, both true God and true man. God the Father, by His own choice and out of love for sinful men and women, sent Jesus into the world to reconcile sinners to Himself. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life and voluntarily suffered and died as our substitute to pay the penalty for our sins, thus satisfying God’s justice and accomplishing salvation for all who trust in Him alone. He rose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He bodily ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and man, makes intercession for His own. He will return to earth — personally, visibly and bodily — to judge all men and establish His kingdom. Matthew 1.22, 23; Isaiah 9.6; John 1.1‐5, 14.10‐30; Hebrews 4.14, 15; 1 Corinthians 15.3, 4;

The Holy Spirit.  We believe the Holy Spirit is co‐equal with the Father and the Son of God. The Holy Spirit has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ, to convict men and women of their sins, and to impart new life to all who place their faith in Christ. He indwells believers from the moment of spiritual birth, seals them until the day of redemption, allots spiritual gifts to them for ministry, and empowers them to live a life pleasing to God. As Christians, we seek to live under His control daily. 2 Corinthians 3.17; John 16.7‐13, 14.16, 17.3; Acts 1.8;

Human Beings.  We believe all of us are sinners (rebels against God’s authority), separated from God and in need of His mercy. God created us in His image, and man, as he was originally created, was innocent before God. But man chose to sin by disobeying God, and therefore was separated from his Creator and came under divine condemnation. From then on, we have been born without spiritual life, with a bent towards sin, totally incapable of pleasing God in and of ourselves. Genesis 1.27; Psalm 8.3‐6; Isaiah 53.6a; Romans 3.23; Isaiah 59.1,2.

Salvation.  We believe Jesus came to salvage our lives from sin and reconcile us to God. We are freed from the penalty of our sins not as a result, in whole or in part, of our own works, goodness or religious ceremony, but by the undeserved favor of God alone. God declares righteous all who put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith. Romans 6.23; Ephesians 2.8,9; John 14.6,

Security.  We believe we are secure, not because we try to hold on to God, but because God is holding on to us. This assurance is not based upon any kind of human merit but upon the finished work of Christ, who completely paid for our sins, and upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who guarantees our inheritance. 1 Peter 1.3‐5.

Eternity.  We believe God will bring the world to its appropriate end. Jesus Christ will return to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge. We will either exist eternally separated from God due to our sin, or eternally with God through His forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell (eternal death). To be eternally in union with Him is Heaven (eternal life). Heaven and Hell are real places which exist forever. John 3.16; John 2.25; John 5.11‐13; Romans 6.23; Revelation 20.15; Matthew 1.8; Matthew 2.44, 46

The Church.  We believe the church is the body of Christ of Earth. The local Church consists of believers who assemble for worship, instruction, fellowship, outreach and service to become conformed to the image of Christ and equipped to carry out the Great Commission. The local church is to keep Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as part of our worship and obedience to Him.  Every believer is called to be a functioning part of the Body by using their time, talent and gifts to advance the agendas of Jesus on earth. Ephesians 1.22‐33, 4.1‐16, Acts 15.2‐31, 8.34‐39

Spiritual Warfare.  We believe in the reality and personality of Satan, and that when given the opportunity, he attempts to defeat Christians. However, we believe Christians can discover and overcome Satan’s schemes by applying Scriptural truth. (job 1:6‑12; Luke 10:18; John 8:44; Eph. 6:10‑18)

Evangelism.  We believe that Christians should proclaim the good news of Christ and salvation to non‑saved persons, starting first in their own community, then throughout the whole world. (Acts 1:8; I Cor. 10:31‑33; 1 Cor. 14:25; 1 Pet. 3:15)

Missions.  We believe that Jesus gave the church a clear, spiritual mandate to “make disciples of all nations.” ‘Therefore, it is the responsibility of each local body to contribute to this God‑ordained program by training, sending and supporting individuals and teams for local and cross-cultural evangelism,  discipleship and church planting. (Matt. 28:19)

Social Concern.  We believe that when God created man, He gave him the cultural mandate to fill the earth by his creative powers and subdue it with his or her powers of authority and management (Gen. 1:28). This responsibility of creating and controlling has never been lifted; therefore, it is a biblical Christian concern to become involved in politics, social programs, moral and social ethics, and environmental control and development.

THINGS WE AGREE TO DISAGREE ABOUT:

Throughout history, churches have struggled to find the right balance of doctrine and freedom. In our differences, many disagreements have arisen. To minimize this, we have many areas of faith practice which we leave to individual conscience. This involves the doctrines not discussed above, on which two Christians may hold different views and still be friends, members of the same church, and members of the same leadership group. This is not to say that discussions in these areas are unimportant. We simply believe that in these areas, the Bible is not perfectly clear, or open to differing understandings. In these cases, Christians at Christ Fellowship simply offer grace to one another, and agree to disagree.

Some examples might be: modes of baptism, the time of Christ’s return, the type of bread used in communion, the age of the earth, the best Bible version, the style of music used in worship, the most appropriate expression of spiritual gifts, spiritual warfare, civil involvement or disobedience, and others.

When doctrines like these are taught, it should be explained that they are not essential for salvation or for leadership. We may state the case for our positions, but we should point out that, in many cases, sincere and intelligent Christians hold different positions.

PLEASE NOTE:  This Statement of Faith is continually being reviewed and refined. There are many points of doctrine which are not mentioned. By their omission, we are simply stating that we do not feel that it is necessary for leadership to be in agreement over these points at this time.

We align with the Southern Baptist Convention for brotherhood, accountability, and missional efforts.