Our Beliefs

Our Beliefs

What Is This Church's Mission?

...You shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life... - Philippians 2:15-16

What is a local church supposed to be? A local church is a group of faithful Christians, penitent believers who have been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This makes them members of the one body, or church, of Christ (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:38,47; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 1:13,18).

To do God's work in God's way, He wants His people to work and worship together as a spiritual team (Acts 2:42-47). In New Testament times, multitudes of local churches of Christ were planted by the gospel all over the world (Romans 16:16). There were no denominations; there was no man-made hierarchy of leadership over cities and regions and countries. The guiding ideal of our local church is that we conduct ourselves "in a manner worthy of the gospel . . . standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). In a dark and dying world, this joint effort centers on "holding forth the word of life" (Philippians 2:16).

So, a local church uses the New Testament, our perfect guide from the Holy Spirit, as the ideal rule of faith and practice for teaching, worship, and work (Colossians 3:17). The church relationship has been organized by God to equip its members to grow in the wisdom of God's Word, building ourselves up toward the fulfillment of our souls' salvation  (Ephesians 4:11-16). In our worship assemblies, it is our sincere aim to honor God in singing, prayer, partaking the Lord's Supper every Sunday, making financial offerings, and listening to God's Word preached (Acts 2:42,47; 20:7-11). This just like the original churches we read about in the New Testament did. We want our worship to God to not only be spirited, but grounded in truth (John 4:24). Such draws us to the center of the universe before the throne of God and revitalizes us (Revelation 4:1-11). We trust that the Bible shows us the right way to give the Lord His praise.

Church, for us, is not just something you go to a few times a week. A church should not be a gathering of familiar strangers. This church is a spiritual family. Members of this local church are here to help each other through life's toughest challenges and keep each other grounded through the blessings of life's successes. We strive to show genuine love and involvement in each other's lives. We come together frequently so that we can "stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24-25), more and more as we await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Regular meetings of the church facilitate mutual acts of caring and service. Christians, by working and worshiping together, can help each other become the very best persons the Lord wants us to be. We are ultimately fitted for heaven. There is no limit to the spiritual good that can be done by right minded people working together in a local church of Christ, doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way.

Who Are This Church's Leaders? 

The Lord’s churches should be as determined to be scripturally organized as they are to scripturally worship and function. Indeed, in order to correctly operate in many ways, we need the leadership roles that Christ laid out through His apostles for the church.  Consider how valuable Paul esteemed his inspired knowledge to be, calling it “the unfathomable riches of Christ” and “the manifold wisdom of God” (See Ephesians 3:8-13). He taught these things to the churches so that they might spread the gospel in their respective areas. “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:11-12). The local church has a very important role to play in God’s scheme of redemption for mankind!

Christians are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and the local church is the engine conceived in the mind of God for our organized function. If our engine is missing vital parts, it will certainly affect our performance. On the other hand, a group must balance the need with the qualifications in the mandate for scriptural organization—while the pieces are needed, it does no good to hastily put in parts that don’t fit. After all, the core of what we are told about elders and deacons is what men must BE to qualify (1 Timothy 3:1-13).

Deacons: Servant-Enablers

In Acts 6, as the church was just beginning to be established through the preaching of the gospel, seven men were appointed to serve the church’s physical needs, relieving the apostles in the same capacity that deacons relieve elders today. The apostles said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Deacons are appointed to ensure that the spiritual work of the church can continue unhindered. They are the “backstage crew,” men whose works are sometimes taken for granted, but are much missed when they are not done. It is up to the elders to make the decisions that dictate what work is needed and how it is to be done.  But with no special servants to execute these jobs, it is often left up to the elders to also begin doing the work. Deacons are enablers. They are the coordinating bridge between the elders and the congregation in doing the work of the church. “Those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:13).

Elders: Servant Shepherds

As Paul made the return trip on his circuit through Asia Minor, some three years after he began, he revisited the churches he had planted, appointing elders to oversee the groups of young Christians (Acts 14:23). The eldership was designed to help Christians grow by protecting and teaching them. Paul warned the elders at Ephesus of coming dangers—“savage wolves” from the outside and men from within, “speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30). Besides that, they are to build up the members with exhortation. Both the defensive and preventative responsibilities are accomplished by “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching” (Titus 1:9). Elders are godly men of experience who direct the actions and teachings of the church along the path of truth, exhorting and correcting its members.

Both of these roles are vital parts in God’s design for the church. Churches are blessed who have men of spiritual maturity to lead. They are blessed further to have men of spiritual commitment to serve. However, these roles and the men in them do not themselves fulfill the work that a church is expected to do. They direct it, they protect it, they enable it, but without the members’ cooperation, the work cannot be accomplished. Thus, any group which finds and appoints qualified men as elders and deacons is poised to do great things."Be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors" (1 Corinthians 16:16). 

 Fully structured according to the example of scripture, a church is well-equipped. It only remains for its members to remember that the work still rests on the church as a whole. With that done, a congregation may look on its future labors with confidence and determination.

 

“What must I do to be saved?”

This is the most important question you will ever ask yourself. To fully appreciate the weight of the question, we should look briefly at its cause . . . .

Separation and God's Plan

God had a dilemma. Having created man in His own image, being capable of the choice to live with Him and be His children, or despise him and sin . . . they had willfully separated themselves from His presence. God had established rules by which the first man and woman were to live, and when those rules were broken, He could not change them. To arbitrarily change His mind on a matter would be dishonest, which is not in God's nature. He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18). Absolute justice is part of who God is (Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8). On the other hand, love and mercy are also an unchangeable part of who God is (1 John 4:7-8). Herein lies the dilemma.

SIN separates man from our perfect God. “Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). The Lord, in His Holiness, cannot abide the defilement of sin. He hates it (Proverbs 6:16ff, 8:13)!

In the time that God appointed to send His Son, the hearts of pagan men had turned from God, despite the evidence in this world around them of His existence. The Jews were corrupt in their observation of the Law of Moses, and so locked up under sin (Romans, ch. 1-3). In short, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .” (Romans 3:23). This is sad, indeed, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

But if God is incapable of changing Himself, how did He change His plan to accommodate for man’s indiscretions? The answer is He didn’t! He had created a plan for mankind’s redemption from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14). Before the first man was created, He knew what kind of person He would elect for salvation, and by whom He would redeem all of those people!

The Grace of God

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

And so, our salvation begins with what has already been done for us. We are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

How was salvation to be found in Jesus Christ? “Having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9). Salvation is found in Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice. A sacrifice is a ritual in which a life is given by the shedding of blood in order to effect atonement, or reconciliation, between God and man (Heb. 9:22). A worthy sacrifice leads to propitiation, the turning away of God’s anger. From the beginning, sin has made God angry at man. That anger needs to be turned aside, and only God can turn aside His own wrath. He does that as we act and appeal for mercy to Him through the sacrifice of His Son (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 Jn. 2:2, 4:10). The cross of Christ works reconciliation (Rom. 5:11). It is described as redemption (Rom. 3:24, 1 Cor. 1:30, Eph. 1:7, Heb. 9:15), deliverance by ransom (Mk 10:45). The redemption language describes our being freed from the curse of sin by God (Jn. 8:31-34, Gal. 3:13). In legal terms, we are justified, declared to be in right standing (Rom. 3:24). In this new legal disposition, we are sanctified, set apart by God for the purpose of being made holy.

How do we gain access to that sacrifice?

God’s Plan For Us

Having made available this great mercy for the sake of all men, the task is before each and every one of us to do God’s will and receive it. The Bible is clear in its plan for the salvation of our souls, and even though the New Testament is not arranged as an itemized “To Do” list, we can understand that when it says something saves us, we ought to do it! But there are many things that the New Testament describes as saving us . . . can we pick one or another? Are only a few of them true? OR, must we logically conclude that all of them are necessarily component parts of one another? Clearly, let us examine and accept all these things that God asks of us!

FAITH

The foundation of our salvation is faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This is the first necessary work required of mankind (John 6:29). There are a few things that characterize saving faith. (1) It is received by hearing the gospel. Jesus is the “author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). (2) Faith necessarily leads to works: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:15-17; notice also the works demonstrating faith throughout Hebrews ch. 11).

This faith saves us.

Acts 10:43: "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

Acts 16:31: “And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.’”

Mark 16:16: "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

REPENTANCE

Repentance is a change of mind. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace . . .” (Romans 8:5-6). It requires a complete turning away from sin and devotion to God.

Repentance saves us.

Luke 13:3: "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Acts 2:38: "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 17:30: "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent . . .”

CONFESSION

Confession is a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Having just heard testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, the Jews on the Day of Pentecost were pricked in their hearts and asked, “What must we do?” (Acts 2:37). This was a public acknowledgement of acceptance in what they had heard, and demonstrated a willingness to follow Him, because a confession that He was Lord was a confession that He was their King—by implication, to confess true belief in this is to pledge obedience.  

Confession saves us.

Matthew 10:32: "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

Acts 8:36-37: And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" [And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]

Romans 10:8-10: But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your ehart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

BAPTISM

Baptism is an immersion in water. It is a symbol of burial and rebirth. It is the act of obedience through which we access the blood of Christ. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). It is a command of God, and thus, a work of God. To label baptism a work of man is as faulty as labeling faith a work of man. Both are tied intimately to Christ. Faith is tied to His gospel. Baptism, a part of His gospel, is tied to His death (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12). In the same way that there is a type of faith that saves (James ch. 2), there is also a type of baptism that saves—the one done by faith, for the purpose of forgiving sins (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38). 

Baptism saves us.

Mark 16:16: "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

Acts 2:38: "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Colossians 2:10, 12-14: “. . . in Him you have been made complete . . . having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions . . . He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

1 Peter 3:21: “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . .”

LIVING FAITHFULLY

Believing in Jesus, repenting of your sins, confessing your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and being baptized for remission of your sins, is just the beginning of a new life. Having proven yourself to possess the tools necessary to a life of service and persecution, Christ expects us to run the race and not waver from it. If we neglect the salvation we have been given, we will lose it!

Living faithfully is the fulfillment of our salvation.

Colossians 1:21-23: “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”

Hebrews 6:1-6: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we shall do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.”

Revelation 2:10: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

CONSIDER THE CONTEXT!

Always when considering passages regarding salvation, it is important to see where in the progression of New Testament books the information falls. Christ, in the gospels, was setting up His kingdom. Acts records the founding and spread of His church. The epistles and Revelation are written to bodies of saved believers, and will thus refer to salvation issues as something they have already done, and, in the case of living faithfully, are striving to keep doing, lest they should fall away. With that progression in mind, we will find the most about Christian conversion in the Book of Acts. What was expected of these individuals? What were they lacking at the time that the apostles came to them? Questions like these must be considered if we are to accurately understand God’s plan of salvation. It is true that grace, faith, repentance, confession, and baptism save us. These are ALL true, and so, we must do ALL of these that are expected of us.