statement of faith

Jesus (Pillars of Faith Series)

“We believe in the historical reality of Jesus Christ as the only incarnation of God. We believe in His deity, His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23), His sinless life  (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22), His miracles (Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38), His substitutionary death (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21), His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4), His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11; Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3), His intercession for the sins of His people (1 Timothy 2:5-6), and His future personal return in power and glory (Acts 1:10-11).”

We believe in the historical reality of Jesus Christ as the only incarnation of God. We believe in His deity. Jesus is unique. No one else in human history was, is, or will be like him. The miracle of the incarnation is that Jesus remained fully God while he participated fully in human life as a man. We see ways in which God made himself visible and known in the Old Testament, but only once did he incarnate (become human). Jesus was not simply an enlightened being (Buddhism), he was not just one of thousands of gods (Hinduism). He was not simply a prophet (Islam). He was not the kind of being that we can one day become (Mormonism).

His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23). If you are wanting a scientific explanation as to how this happened, I have none to offer. It’s a miracle, which simply means God accomplished something supernaturally that would not have happened naturally. We don’t claim God had sex with Mary, like the Greeks and Romans would have assumed a god would do. In a way that honored Mary’s purity, heaven and earth became one in the person of Jesus Christ.

His sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).  He was tempted as a man (so Jesus is what we often call “a sympathetic advocate” on our behalf when we pray for forgiveness for our sin), but he resisted as God. He understood the power of temptation but never compromised his perfection and holiness. When it is time for you to give an answer for your life to God, if you have accepted the lordship of Jesus in your life, a sinless Christ will stand in your place and say, “He or she is with me.” The perfection of Christ will be granted to you – not because you earned it, but because you committed your life to the One who did.

His miracles (Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38).  It’s what we expect of divinity. The Creator moves in the creation. God set up what we now call ‘laws’ to give an order, structure, coherence and predictability to the physical world. #science. But God’s not bound by them. God interjects Himself into the system God created, and the system responds like God created it to respond. So, yeah, there are a lot of miracles. If God exists, it goes with the territory. If Jesus was God, he can do them too.

C.S. Lewis compared God’s miraculous intervention in the world to the way events are influenced inside a fishbowl. If someone bumps a table supporting a fishbowl, the pebbles will shake and the water will ripple.  If the fish are committed to seeking an explanation only inside the fishbowl, because they do not believe anything exists outside the fishbowl, they will never find an adequate explanation for what happened.  Maybe they think believing otherwise allows for a “God” who violates the laws of the nature in the fishbowl.  But if the fishbowl hadn’t been effected, laws governing all of reality, not just the reality of the fishbowl, would have broken.  In other words, an orderly and predictable world absorbs and reacts to miracles.  Not responding would actually be the problem.

His substitutionary death (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21) and His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4). A just God demands justice; a merciful God provides a way out.  Jesus’ death cancelled the obligation for us to pay the ultimate penalty for our own sin. He paid what we could not. Justice is an important thing, but it’s not the only thing. And in a cosmic turn of events that no other religion even remotely claims – God so loves the world that He absorbs His own righteous demand for justice so that the people he loves can experience his mercy (more in this in a couple weeks…the concept of covenant is crucial here).

  • Our sin breaks God’s just law (think back to an analogy everyone in the Ancient Near East and in the Jewish and Roman culture of the first century would have understood: living in a Kingdom with a King. Law-breaking is a treasonous dishonoring of the Lawgiver, the King)
  • God’s justice demands that the price of this treasonous sin be paid, and the price is death.
  • If the price is paid, the offender will be forgiven – but of course, it will be too late.
  • However, as an act of mercy, the offender can be forgiven and live if the price is paid by a substitute. (In the Old Testament, we see the concept enacted in the scapegoat as well as the many ways in which substitutionary acts could pay the penalty of breaking the Mosaic law)
  • If the one who offers to pay the debt of the sinner is also sinful, they will merely be paying their own sinful debt, the one for whom they are giving their life will not benefit. 
  • Therefore, the only answer is a sinless person, who is provided by the King – Himself, in the person of the sinless Christ.
  • The price is paid on behalf of the sinner, who is forgiven, set free and given new life – as an adopted child of the King.

His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11; Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3) and his intercession for the sins of His people (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  

If His death shows us the lengths to which he was willing to go to save us, then His resurrection shows us the power he has to do it. His resurrection means life is possible for us “though we were dead in our sins.” Because He suffered, died, and rose from the dead, we can be raised from spiritual death in this life, and ultimately be raised to an entirely new life with Christ for eternity.

“The right hand” imagery is a picture of power. Jesus did not rise in broken weakness after a crucifixion. Hebrews 2:10 says Jesus’ glory was consummated or perfected in His suffering. If you thought he was awesome before, you should have seen him after His resurrection (this is anthropomorphic language…it’s an image…biblical writers are doing their best to describe a God whose glory just gets more stunning the more we understand him).

His intercession….

Let’s be honest. We are prone to point, especially when the sin of others is easy to see, and especially when it lets us channel our anger or grief at sin to other people.  We often see what these ‘pointable sins’ are when something bad happens and we say, “Well, God is judging America because of (and let’s be honest about the Big Four) sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality.”  You know what's missing from that list? Everything else that the Bible identifies as sin, especially the ones that we don’t want to point out in ourselves.

  • Pride (I’m just better)
  • Lust (I want that… a lot…)
  • Anger (inappropriate and impactful)
  • Theft (from money to online piracy to time to virtue/innocence)
  • Deceit (covering up truth that needs to be known)
  • Rebellion (against the proper authorities in your life)
  • Judgment (of the heart, motivations, intentions)
  • Bitterness (I deserve better…you don’t)
  • Gossip (Did you know…?  Would you pray for…?)
  • Greed (lack of contentment of things or people or circumstances)
  • Envy (active dislike for people for whom life is better)
  • Hardness of heart (the recognition of sin and its impact on the world does not move you – neither does the lostness of sinners)
  • Laziness (not purposeful rest – I mean you are just flat-out lazy)
  • Meanness (attitude, words. Insults – and passive aggressive is the worst)
  • Dishonor and disrespect (trample on God’s image bearers)

Why highlight this on sermon about Jesus? Because if you don’t see your sin, you will never appreciate the awesome nature of Jesus Christ.We might get all the theology – we might have a way of understanding the incarnation and substitutional atonement, and we’ve watched The Passion, and we sent copies of the Jesus movie all around the world. But if we don’t understand why the phrase “Jesus loves you” ought to undo us, we will never understand the awesome nature of Jesus Christ.

Let’s make it more personal. If everyone else in this room nailed it – never sinned, just lived perfectly – do you know what Jesus would have to do for you? He would have to become human, live a perfect life, die with the weight of your sin on His shoulders, then rise again and advocate just for you.  Don't be thinking,“I hope my spouse is getting this. I wish my kids were here.  I wonder if Anthony is listening to his own sermon? They really need to be broken in repentance.”  I’m sure they all do. I know I do. But if you don’t see that you do too, you will never appreciate the awesomeness of Christ – and you will be insufferable to live with.

Why did Jesus have to become human? Because of your sin.

Why did Jesus have to die? Because of your sin.

Why does Jesus intercede for you now? Why does he have to continue to function as an advocate? Because of your sin.

 The good news is that in spite of all that, Jesus did not come to the world to bring condemnation but to bring salvation. I don’t point these things up so we are overwhelmed by condemnation. I want us to be in awe of salvation. 

“The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you.” Timothy Keller

“...We must say to ourselves something like this: 'Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn't think "I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me." No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us - denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him - and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He said, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely.” – Timothy Keller

Jesus’ love isn’t a trivial, easy love offered to us because we are so awesome. It’s a love that required a death and resurrection so that we, the dead, can be raised to life. So that we, the image bearers of God, can show the world what it looks like when a God of Salvation loves and then saves the most unlovable and the most hopelessly lost for our good and His glory.

His future personal return in power and glory (Acts 1:10-11). There will be a day when the world sees the glory and power of Christ. There will be a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God. 

The BIble (Pillars of Faith Series)

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There is a lot of criticism of the Bible right now. “It’s old, it’s unreliable, it doesn’t reflect modern understandings, it’s just another religious outlook.” Some would even say it is destructive. And yet we as Christians turn to it. In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Paul says to Timothy, “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Our statement of faith reads: “We believe the Holy Bible to be the inspired Word of God, inerrant in its original manuscripts. It is our standard for faith and practice and the measure by which all of life and personal revelation is to be evaluated.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21)

So let’s talk about the Bible. Why do we believe what we do about the Bible, and why does it matter? This will be a very brief overview; I encourage you to use the resources listed at the end.

 We claim the Bible is ‘breathed out,’ or inspired: God expressed himself accurately, uniquely and sufficiently through human authors.  All communication occurs in a context, so the writers use their language (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek), their jargon and their personality (there are different styles), but God inspired them and guided them so that they wrote accurately. The Bible is unique in that it is the only revelation from God to which we ascribe this level of trust. There is no other revelation that carries the authority of the Bible. It is sufficient means not only is it the only revelation of this nature that we have, it’s the only revelation of this nature that we need.

We claim the Bible is inerrant: “When all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm”  (Dr. Paul Feinberg). To say this confidently, we need to be confident that what we have today is what we are supposed to have, and that we are able to interpret it properly. Fortunately, that’s our next sections J

We claim the Bible is canonical (the books are the right books). The ‘canon’ is a ruler, a measure by which all other claims to revelation are judged. Let's look at how both of these sections of the Bible became part of the canon.

OLD TESTAMENT

  • Ezra, in the late 5th century BC, gave  22 books to the Sopherim (priests who performed their functions at the Temple, and who eventually became the Sanhedrin). These books were kept in the Temple.
  •  Shortly after, the Jews closed the Old Testament canon, because “ the succession of prophets ceased” (Josephus) and “the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.” (Talmud) 
  • Daniel, in the 7th century BC wrote (Daniel 9:2): “in the first year of his reign [Darius], I, Daniel understood from the scrolls, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” The book of Jeremiah was part of a larger collection of books/scrolls that Daniel considered authoritative.
  • The Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, written by a Jewish scribe about middle 2nd century B.C., mentions a Greek translation of “the Law itself, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books.” The implication is that there exists a collection of books that was then translated into Greek. (the info in the last two paragraphs are  from http://www.credomag.com/2015/03/25/how-did-we-get-the-old-testament-paul-d-wegner/)

Josephus wrote in the first century AD: “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have] but only twenty-two books (they combined the 39 to 22), which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind until his death…but as to the time from the death of Moses until the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life.”

NEW TESTAMENT

 There were six requirements for a book to make it into the New Testament:

A.  Apostolicity: Was the book written by a first generation apostle or disciple?

B. Antiquity: Was the authorship by a Christian leader from the church’s first generation?

C. Authenticity: Do historical traditions affirm the writings’ authorship and authority?

D. Ubiquity: Did the book have a history of "continuous and widespread approval” among Christians?

E. Universality: Is the book consistent with the OT and known NT writings?

F. Effect: Does the book change lives? Does it have a spiritual and moral effect?

 The shape of the accepted books took place fairly quickly considering how long it would have taken for the writing to circulate and be discussed. Paul was writing in the 50’s; Matthew, Mark and Luke were written in the 70’s.

  • Clement of Rome: eight New Testament books (A.D. 95)
  • Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle: 15 books (A.D. 108)
  • Ignatius of Antioch: seven books (A.D. 115) 
  • Irenaeus, in 130 A.D.: current canon, with some reservations
  • Origen, in 185: current canon with some reservations
  • 150-180: most current NT books were widely accepted
  • 200 A.D.: Muratorian Fragment records a list of books very similar to what we have today
  • Athanasius, AD 367 - accepted them all
  • Following councils affirm the core canon, though some traditions add certain books (deuterocanonical books)

We claim the Bible is reliable. It has been preserved accurately.

The Massoretes in the 10th century (around 916 A.D.) had complete copies of Old Testament books such as Isaiah.  When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 in Qumran, we found a complete copy of the book of Isaiah, both books of Samuel and fragments of almost every book in the Old Testament (dated to 100 BC). So how do the Massoret and Qumran texts compare with 1,000 years difference between the two texts? In Isaiah 53, only 17 letters are different. 10 are spelling differences (honor/honour). 4 are additional conjunctions (‘and’). One is the last 3 letters for the Hebrew word for light, added to complete the thought of "they shall see" at the end of verse 11.

From A.D. 100 - 300, there are 36,000 early quotations of the New Testament in the existing documents from the early church fathers. We could basically recreate the New Testament from these writing if we needed to. These two quotes summarize the validity and trustworthiness of the Bible:

"There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament… if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." F. F. Bruce 

" It can be asserted with confidence that the sacred text is exact and valid and that no article of faith and no moral precept in it has been distorted or lost." - B.B Warfield

 We claim the Bible is knowable. It can be studied accurately.

 “We affirm the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal, sense.  The literal sense is… the meaning which the writer expressed.  Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text. This means the correct interpretation is the one which discovers the meaning of the text in its grammatical forms and in the historical, cultural context in which the text is expressed.” Chicago Statement on Biblical Innerancy

There are three things to remember as we seek to read the Bible accurately.

Know the TRANSLATION.

Versions range from literal, word-for-word translations (King James) to versions that paraphrase with modern language (The message). Here is a good discussion on types of translations. I like reading biblegateway.com so I can read side-by-side translations that use different styles to communicate the same message.

Meaning always flows from the top down, so know the CONTEXT

“We can easily forget that Scripture is a foreign land and that reading the Bible is a crosscultural experience”  (Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes). Here are some  practical example of this principle in action: 

  • when Ruth uncovers Boaz’s feet and lays down beside him (Ruth 3:4), she is not seducing him. She is asking him to assume the responsibility for her care, as her husband.
  • when you hear the violent will take the Kingdom of Heaven by force {Matthew 11:12}, it’s an analogy to sheep bursting out of pen after being penned up all night.

A word is in a sentence…paragraph…section…book, etc. Take the time to read the context. 

 Know the PURPOSE

  • Is it instructive (and to whom?): Take of your shoes (to Moses); don’t get tattoos (to the Jews for culture-bound reasons); “love your enemies…pray for them” (to all). All the sections are interactions, but the first two are not for us!
  • Corrective (and for what purpose?): Many things in NT letters were written to correct.  For example, the Corinthian ladies wear a covering, and men were told not to cover their head. I’m convinced that had to do with creating a culture in the church where all people had value and dignity, and with offering a testimony to the community that clearly displayed why the early church was not like the pagan temples. We don't insists that women cover their heads and men don't, but we do seek to obey the principle behind the correction Paul gave the church in Corinth. The Bible contains timeless principles that are sometimes expressed in timely ways. We always seek to understand the expression so we can honor the principle.
  • Descriptive:  You find this in many Old Testament stories, and a lot of the Book of Acts. Not everything is meant to be read as a standard. Sometimes it just describes life. We don’t sacrifice the first thing we see after a military victory, like Jephthah did with his daughter in Judges 10; we don’t meet in Jewish temples or homes for church usually (Acts 2:46).

 We claim the Bible is true.

 “… here is a faith firmly rooted in certain... historical events, a faith which would be false and misleading if those events had not actually taken place, but which, if they did take place, is unique in its relevance and exclusive in its demands on our allegiance. For these events did not merely set a process in motion and then themselves sink back into the past. The unique historical origin of Christianity is ascribed permanent, authoritative, absolute significance; what happened once is said to have happened once for all..." J.N.D Anderson

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

 http://biblos.com.  An excellent site with parallel versions, links to other similar verses, cross references, commentary, and explanations of Hebrew and Greek words.

http://www.biblegateway.com.   Bible Gateway has a searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages. There are reading plans, commentaries, dictionaries, e-books, etc.

http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=1458.  Ray Vander Laan’s site called “Follow the Rabbi.”   An intriguing look into Jewish worldviews and customs, as well as other cultural insights that are helpful in understanding the venue in which the Bible was written.

http://www.str.org/site/PageServer.  Greg Koukl’s site, Stand To Reason, has a ton of helpful information, including a lot of insight on how to read the Bible accurately. Just search “Reading the Bible” on his site, and you will be off and running.

http://bible.cc/.  A great online parallel Bible with TONS of resources. My personal favorite.

Cold Case Christianity (http://coldcasechristianity.com) – the website and J. Warner Wallace’s books, Cold Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. Wallace is a fantastic resource for looking at the historicity and reliability of the Bible as well as the Christian faith.

Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions, by Craig Blomberg (I have not read it ,but it’s been highly recommended).

The Case for Christ and The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel

 Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, by Kenneth Bailey.

Insights into Bible Times and Customs, by G Christian Weiss, published by Moody Press.

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard.

Hard Sayings of the Bible, by Walter Kaiser, F.F. Bruce, and others. P

Is God a Moral Monster?  Making Sense of the Old Testament God, by Paul Copan.   A book on how to read the Old and New Testament faithfully, with a focus on understanding God in the Old Testament.

Hard Saying of the Old Testament, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  Insight into the historical, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of troublesome passages in the Old Testament.

Hard Sayings of Paul, by Manfred T. Brauch. This book takes forty-eight different teachings of Paul, and provides background and context.

Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes, be E. Randolph Roberts and Brandon O’Brien

Series on Biblical books by Timothy Keller (such as Galatians For You) or N.T. Wright (his New Testament for Everyone set)

What We Believe (Pillars of Faith Series)

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We become what we believe.  We are formed by what we think is true and good. We might not always be consistent, but our lives follow the trajectory of our beliefs. David wrote in Psalm 115:

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear;
 noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk;
 and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them are like them;
 so are all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:4-8)

We become like what we believe – and ultimately, what we worship.

So we are going to walk through our statement of faith, which is what we as a church confirm that we believe. Now, we don’t think we are the only church that preaches the gospel. I grew up Mennonite, went to a Baptist college for my bachelor’s degree, and studied Reformed thought for my masters. They all preached the gospel. There are numerous churches just in Traverse City that are faithful to the gospel.

Our statement of faith affirms and is based on the classic Christian creeds. Creed comes from the Latin word ‘credo’, meaning 'I believe'.  When the early church wrestled with differing theological views, they formed formal statements of belief. As time went on, they became more detailed as they more specifically addressed new challenges.

We see the first statements emerging within the New Testament itself.

  • 55 AD: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father,  from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
  • 55 AD “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)
  • 62 AD “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)
  • 67 AD “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of  our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

Iraneus is the first non-biblical writer to record a creed. He wrote in approximately 180 AD of what he called the Rule of Faith

: “. . . this faith: in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas and all the things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who made known through the prophets the plan of salvation, and the coming, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his future appearing from heaven in the glory of the Father to sum up all things and to raise anew all flesh of the whole human race . . .”

Hippolytus (225 AD) wrote this account of a baptismal service:

 When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say: "Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?"  And the person being baptized shall say: "I believe." Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once.

And then he shall say: "Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?" And when he says: "I believe," he is baptized again. And again he shall say: "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and the resurrection of the body?" The person being baptized shall say: "I believe," and then he is baptized a third time.

From the foundational statements in the New Testament and the ongoing record of creedal recitations in the early church, two key formalized creeds emerged:  the Nicene Creed (320) and the Apostolic Creed (390). What follows is a combination of the two:

  • I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; 
  • And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us [all] for our salvation, came down from heaven, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary and made man; he suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell (or the dead). The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence he shall come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and whose Kingdom shall have no end;
  • I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
  • I believe in the holy catholic and apostolic church:
  • the communion of saints:
  • The forgiveness of sins:
  • The resurrection of the body (the dead):
  • And the life everlasting in the world to come. Amen.

Around the 1500’s you start to see Confessions of Faith that include statements on the Bible (Belgic Confession of Faith in 1561, Heidelberg Catechism in 1563, London Baptist Confession of Faith in 1689, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 1978). You also begin to see statements of faith that begin to address more specific areas of life typically as a response to  cultural challenges that were impacting how Christians lived what they believed, such as the Manhattan Declaration published in 2009.

From this foundation, we have built our foundational beliefs at CLG. Our statement of faith is more detailed than the historic creeds (as is the case with most churches), but in the midst of the detail we seek to affirm what the Christian church broadly and historically has affirmed to be true in a way that allows room for differing perspectives on details even as we unite on the fundamentals, and we affirm historic Christian belief on several cultural issues that are increasingly challenging how Christians live their beliefs.   

The Bible: We believe the Holy Bible to be the inspired Word of God, inerrant in its original manuscripts. It is our standard for faith and practice and the measure by which all of life and personal revelation is to be evaluated. (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21)

God (The Father): We believe that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 8:54-59). He is Creator, Redeemer and the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. We believe that God is omnipotent (He can do anything that can be done), omniscient (He knows anything that can be known), omnipresent (there is no place or circumstance of which God is unaware or in which he is not active), and unchanging. He is perfect in holiness, infinite in wisdom, and measureless in power.

God (The Son, Jesus Christ): We believe in the historical reality of Jesus Christ as the only incarnation of God. We believe in His deity, His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23), His sinless life  (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22), His miracles (Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38), His substitutionary death (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21), His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4), His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11; Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3), His intercession for the sins of His people (1 Timothy 2:5-6), and His future personal return in power and glory (Acts 1:10-11).

God (the Holy Spirit): We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells believers (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), confirming their salvation (Romans 8:14-16) and enabling them to bear godly fruit (Galatians 5:22). We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit also empowers believers to have a bold and effective witness (i.e Luke 12:12), so He manifests His gifts in their daily lives for the edification of the church and as a testimony to the world.

The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is the result of a Spirit-filled life, and evidence of spiritual maturity. True followers of God will be known by their fruit (Matthew 7:16).

The gifts of the Spirit are different manifestations of the Spirit to build up the body (Isaiah 11:5; I Corinthians 12:1-11). They ought always directly point people toward God (John 15:26; John 16:13-14). We are instructed to diligently seek the gifts (I Corinthians 12:31, 14:1), but they must be exercised in an orderly and understandable way (I Corinthians 14:26-33) and used in the context of love (I Corinthians 13:1-13), lest our expression cause others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8).

We have different gifts given as the Holy Spirit wills, and the gifts must be expressed in love, sincerity, and in a way which honors others above ourselves (Romans 12:1-10).

Sin: We believe that we sin (i.e, “hamartia,” in Romans 3:23, and “chata” in Judges 20:16 and Exodus 20:20) when we disobey the commands of God’s inspired Word and reject His authority All of us have sinned and are therefore, in our natural state, lost and separated from God. We believe men and women were created in the image of God (Genesis 2:26). However, by a voluntary act of the will, Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3:6). As a result, mankind began to die spiritually (Romans 5:12-19). Sin separated humankind from God (Ephesians 2:11-18) and left us in a fallen or sinful condition (Romans 3:23; Genesis 1:26,27; Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12-19).

Salvation: We believe that God the Father showed His love for all people by sending His Son to die as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. (Luke 18:27; John 3:16,17; Romans 11:33; 1 Peter 1:16; 1 John 4:7-10; Revelation 4:8)

We believe Jesus’ death paid the penalty our sins warranted, and His resurrection grants us the life we could not attain - both of these being necessary to reconcile us to right-standing before God. (Matthew 16:16,17 and 25:31-46; Mark 14:61,62; Luke 1:34,35 and 2:7; John 1:1 and 1:14 and 5:22-30 and 10:30 and 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22-24.)  It is not through our efforts (Acts 4:12;  John 3:3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 2:8; 
Titus 2:11; Titus 3:5-7).

When we admit our sin, confess that Jesus is Lord, and repent, we become a new creation and are gradually transformed into the image of Christ (Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

Eternal Destiny: We believe in the resurrection of the saved and the lost, and that both will stand before the judgment seat of Christ; the saved will enter into everlasting life in God’s presence, and the lost will be sent into everlasting death, devoid of the presence of God. (Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:8).

The Church: We believe that the Church is Christ’s symbolic body in the earth (Colossians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 12:27), and that it should reveal His character, His message, and His love to the world.  We believe that the Church is to go into all the world, preach the gospel, and make disciples. This will lead people to have fellowship with God (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16) and community with others (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Human Life: We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27). Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life. (Psalm139)

Marriage and Sexuality: We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. Together they reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman as delineated in Scripture (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:5-6). It is intended to be a covenant by which they unite themselves for life in a single, exclusive union, ordered toward the well-being of the spouses and designed to be the environment for the procreation and upbringing of children.