It is important to remember that an orderly statement of faith must measure up to the Bible alone. The statements below are arranged systematically in biblical terms. It is also important to understand that the following is a summary statement of beliefs based on the Scriptures. These statements are not complete because we do not know the mind of God. Therefore, these statements are able to change. However, with the potential changes, there must always be a consultation and study of the Scriptures.
We are part of God's creation, made in the image of God. To be created in the image of God means that human beings are at liberty to make choices, to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God. From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices. Our wrong choices led us to rebellion against God. In our human rebellion we put ourselves in the place of God, and our sin separated humanity from God. Our help is in God. God first helped us by revealing Himself and His will, through nature and history, through many wise and holy persons, through the Prophets of Israel, and especially in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God the Creator
We learn that there is one God, the Almighty Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God. This revelation was handed down to us through a community created by a covenant with God.
The Old Covenant
A covenant is a relationship initiated by God, to which a body of people responds in faith. The Hebrew Covenant (Old Testament) is the one given by God to the Hebrew people. God promised that they would be the people of God, the people to bring all nations of the world to God. God required the chosen people to be faithful, to love justice, to do mercy, and to walk humbly with God. The covenant with the Hebrew people is to be found in the books of Scripture called the Old Testament. God's will for us is to be found in the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are the laws given to Moses and people of Israel. We learn two things: our duty to God and our duty to our neighbors. Our duty to God: To love and obey God and bring others to the knowledge of God; To put nothing in the place of God; To show God honor and respect in thought, word, and deed; to to remember the Sabbath (Friday at Sundown until Saturday at Sundown) and keep it Holy by regular worship, prayer and study of God's ways. Our duty to our neighbor is to love then as ourselves, and to do to other people as we wish them to do to us; to love, honor, and help our parents and family, to honor those in authority, and to meet their just demands; to show respect for the life that God has given humanity, to work and pray for peace, to bear no malice, prejudice or hatred in our hearts, and to be kind to all creatures that God also created; to use our bodily desires as God intended; to be honest and fair in our dealings, to seek justice, freedom and the necessities of life for all people; and to use our talents and possessions as ones who must answer for them to God; to speak truth, and not mislead others by our silence; to resist temptation; envy; greed and jealousy, to rejoice in other peoples gifts and graces. This is our duty to love and serve God, who has called us into fellowship with Himself. the Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbor. Since we do not fully obey them, we see more clarly our sin and our need for redemption.
Sin is the abuse of human liberty by seeking our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people and with all creation. Sin has power over us because we lose our liberty when our relationship with God is distorted.
Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin and death. God sent the Prophets to call us back to a full relationship with God, to show us our need for redemption, and to announce the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah is the One sent by God to free us from the power of sin, so that with the help of God we may live in harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors and with all creation. The Messiah or Christ, is Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of God.
God the Savior
When we say that Jesus is the only Son of God, we mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of God the Father, and shows us the nature of God. The nature of God that is revealed in Jesus is love and grace. When we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and become incarnate from the Virgin Mary, we mean that God's own act, the divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, His mother. The divine Son became human, so that in Him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God's Kingdom. By His obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in Him we are freed from the power of sin and are reconciled to God. By His resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Between Jesus' death and resurrection, He went to the departed who died without hearing of the hope of His coming and He preached to them, offering them also the benefit of redemption. Jesus took our human nature into Heaven where He now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us. We share in Christ's victory when we personally recognize, renounce, and repent of sin and the sinful nature; accept forgiveness of sin by personal faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God; witness God's grace through water baptism, signifying and sealing our union with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit' becoming members of Christ under the New Covenant.
The New Covenant
The New Covenant is the fulfillment; not a completion; of the Old Covenant and is the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to the Apostles and to all who believe in Him. Christ promised to bring us into the Kingdom of God and give us life in all its fullness. Christ commanded us to believe in Him and to keep His commandments. Jesus taught us the Summary of the Law and gave the New Commandment. The Summary of the Law is, You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, with ally your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The New Commandment is that we love one another as Christ loved us. What Christians believe about Christ is found in the Scriptures and summarized in the declaration that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church of Jesus Christ even now. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the Giver of Life, the One who spoke through the Prophets. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the New Covenant as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors and with all creation; resulting in the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit. We recognize the truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures.
The Holy Scriptures
The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testament as One declaration. The Old Testament consist of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and in history. The New Testament consist of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God for All people. The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, that are sometimes used in other denominations. We acknowledge the Apocrypha and books of wisdom, but we do not recognize their divine inspiration and therefore reject the Apocryphal books as the Word of God. We call The Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, and by the help of the Holy Church, founded by Christ.
The Church is described as the Body of Christ, of which Christ is the Sovereign Head and of which all baptized believers are members. It is called the People of God, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of truth. The Church is one, holy, universal and apostolic body. The Church is one because it is one body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is Holy because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God's work. The Church is universal; because it proclaims the whole truth to all people, to the end of time. The Church is Apostolic because it continues in the teachings and fellowship of the Apostles and is sent to carry out Christ's mission to all people. The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ through the work of the Great Commission. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships proclaims the gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its Members.
The Ministry of the Church is made up of those persons serving as Members, Deacons, Seminarians, Elders, and Bishops. The ministry of Members is to represent Christ and His Church to bear witness to Him wherever they may be, and, according to the gifts given them, carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world, and to take their place in the life, worship and governance of the Church. The ministry of Deacons is to represent Christ and His Church, particularly as servants of those in need, and to assist Seminarians, Elders and Bishops in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. The ministry of Elders is to represent Christ and His Church, particularly as spiritual overseers of the people, to teach and exhort in the discipline of the Gospel, to proclaim the Good News, to share in the ministry of the Sacraments. As Pastors to the people, Elders share with Bishops in the overseeing of the Church to proclaim the gospel, and to bless and assure pardon in the name of God. The Seminarian is one who has answered the call of God to the Gospel Ministry, and under the direction of the Deacons, Elders and Bishops serves the Church of Jesus Christ, representing Christ and His Church in whatever capacity they are assigned, for the glory of God. The ministry of Bishops is to represent Christ and His Church, particularly as apostle, Chief Minister and Pastor to the Pastors, to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the whole Church, to proclaim the Word of God, to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church, and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry. The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ, to come together regularly for corporate worship, and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the Kingdom of God.
Prayer & Worship
Prayer is the interacting with God, by thought and deeds, with or without words. Christian prayer is interacting with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ our Lord gave us the example of prayer known as the Lord's Prayer. The principal kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition. Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence. We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God's Being draws praise in love from us. Thanksgiving is offered to God for all blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God and to our neighbors. In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, which the intention to amend our lives. Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purpose of God. Intercession brings before God the needs of others. In petition, we present our own needs, that God's will may be done. In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the Sacraments.
The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. Grace is God's unearned and undeserved favor toward us by grace, God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills. The two Sacraments given by Christ to His Church are baptism and The Lord' Supper.
Baptism is the Sacrament by which God adopts us as children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, sealing us to Himself, and making inheritors of the Kingdom of God. The outward sign in Baptism is water, in which the person is baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and god the Holy Spirit. The inward and spiritual grace on Baptism is union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, birth into God's Family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life int eh Holy Spirit. It is required that we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. We do not baptize infants because a person must be accountable for their own personal renunciation of Satan, repentance of sin, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This and all other statements on baptism are consistent with Scriptural teachings, wherein repentance and an aware acceptance of the saving grace of Jesus Christ are prerequisites to being baptized. Adulterated practice through the centuries does not mitigate against this stand. Children are covered by God's grace in the Rite of Child Dedication whereby their parents and sponsors will bring up, to the best of their ability, the child within the Church, to come to know for themselves the saving grace of Christ and to be able to follow Him.
The Lord's Supper
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (also known as Communion) is the Sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of His life, death, and resurrection, until His coming again. Communion is called a sacrifice because it represents the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present for us, and in which He unites us to His one offering of Himself. The outward and visible sign in Communion is bread and fruit of the vine, given and received according to Christ's command. The inward and spiritual grace in Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to His people and received by faith. The benefits we receive in Communion are: 1) The refreshment of our union with Christ; 2) The enrichment of our Union with Christ; 3) The remembrance of Christ's atonement for the forgiveness of sins; 4) The sealing of our covenant with God in faith, for the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and; 5) The foretaste of the Heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in Eternal Life. It is required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be the unity of love and grace with all People of God.
Other Rites which evolved in the Church include, but are not limited to Confirmation, Ordination, Commissioning, Infant Dedication, Marriage, Ministration at the Time of Death and Burial, Consecration, and Anointing. Although Rites are a means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way as Baptism and Communion. God does not limit activity to these Rites. There are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us, recounting our present hope and anticipation of future fulfillment. Confirmation is the Rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ by joining ourselves to a corporate body known as a Church, through instruction, examination, penitence, affirmation and confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Ordination is the Rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made Deacons and Elders through prayer and the Laying on of hands. Commissioning is the Rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being prepared for the Gospel Ministry, and other positions prior to Ordination. This Rite is administered through prayer and the laying on of hands; and in which a person makes a mature commitment to service which may be limited in scope and duration. Infant Dedication or Christening is the Rite in which infants are covered by God's Grace, whereby their parents and sponsors will bring up, to the best of their ability, the infant within the Church, to come to know for themselves the saving grace of Christ and be able to follow Him. Marriage is the Rite in which two persons enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. Ministration at the Time of Death and Burial is the Rite in which those who have died are commended to God's eternal grace, confirming their faith in Eternal life, and emphasizing the hope of our resurrection. Consecration is the Rite in which we set aside that which is common for uncommon or Holy use, and in which God instills outward and visible signs with inward and spiritual grace. An example of this Rite is when God places a sacred mantle upon an Ordained Elder for special use as an Overseer (Bishop) of God's Church through prayer and laying on of hands. Anointing is the Rite of touching the sick with consecrated oil and the laying on of hands by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.
Christian Hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God's purpose for the world. By the coming of Christ in glory, we mean that Christ will come, not in weakness but in power, and will make all things new, fulfilling completely and finally His role as both Messiah and King. By heaven we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God. By hell we mean eternal death in one's rejection of God. We believe that Christ will come in glory and judge the living and the dead. When we say the resurrection of the body, we mean that God will raise us from death to the fullness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the fellowship of the saints.
Fellowship of the Saints
The fellowship of the saints (commonly called the Communion of the saints) is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by the Sacrament of Communion, and prayer through the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ's name. I Corinthians 10:16-17 says, “Is not the bread that we break a participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we partake of the one loaf”. Is the Body divided between the living and the dead, fellowship together in the one body of Christ--One Church.
We achieve Abundant Life by the process of Sanctification. Through the entire sanctifying grace of Jesus Christ, we increase in knowing the mind of Christ, to more perfectly serve in full obedience to God's will. As we work out our salvation by becoming—embodying—the love of God on earth. As God's Spirit increases our self-will decreases. The promise of empowerment is revealed in the sanctifying grace of God and imparts God's love peace, joy, healing of the body and mind, and achievement of everlasting life where we are united with all the people of God in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other. The assurance of Eternal Life in Christ assures us that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.