STATEMENT OF FAITH FROM GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH BY-LAWS
This statement of beliefs provides a doctrinal framework which gives stability and identity to Grace Community Church. We believe each part of the doctrinal statement is necessary to provide that stability and identity. Where we have taken positions on areas of disagreement among segments of evangelical Christianity, we have chosen the position that we believe best reflects the Biblical “weight of evidence.” We do not intend to imply that there can be no other belief among people who love the Lord and His Word, nor that we can have no meaningful fellowship and partnership with those who might disagree.
Any doctrinal statement inherently requires that a choice be made between competing viewpoints. To seek a doctrinal statement that would include only those beliefs that all Christendom holds in common would be of no value in defining and contending for “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This statement of faith is not intended to be used as a guideline for allowing or denying your attendance or involvement. We believe the commitment that a prospective member makes to “abide by the articles of faith and practice of this church” (see section under “Membership,”
V., D., 1., d.) does not necessarily demand agreement in every detail. It does, however, require the willingness to respect the church’s position in the matter in question, refrain from practicing or teaching anything contrary in any church function or gathering, and maintain a spirit of openness to the teachings of the Word in that area and all other matters.
We do believe that a church’s membership should share a firm commitment to a number of areas that constitute the “core” of the faith. These would certainly include, though not necessarily be limited to, the Godhead (the Trinity), the nature of Jesus Christ, His work in providing substitutionary atonement in His death and resurrection, salvation by faith apart from human effort, and a commitment to the full inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these or other areas with you.
Section 1 - The Scriptures
We believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired word of God, without error in the original writings, and the supreme and final authority in doctrine and practice, for both this church and every individual Christian (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21).
Section 2 - The Godhead
We believe in one God who eternally exists in three persons: The Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Godhead possesses the same nature and attributes, but each is distinct in office and activity (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 13:14).
Section 3 - Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, that He became man without ceasing to be God having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, that He lived a sinless life, that He died as a substitutionary sacrifice for every human being, that He was physically raised from the dead by divine power, that He presently serves in heaven as our Intercessor and Advocate and that He will return to earth (John 1:1, 14: 5:18; II Corinthians 5:21; Acts 2:31-33; I John 2:1-2; John 14:1-2).
Section 4 - The Holy Spirit
We believe that God the Holy Spirit is a person who restrains evil in the world, convicts men of sin, regenerates those who trust Christ as Savior, baptizes them into the body of Christ, indwells them permanently, seals them unto the day of redemption, bestows spiritual gifts on each one and fills those yielded to Him. We believe that some gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and miraculous healings, were given as authenticating signs in the early church and were temporary. We believe, however, that God answers prayer for the sick in accordance with his will (John 16:7-11; 3:8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; 13:8; John 14:16-17; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18;
I Corinthians 14:22-24; Hebrews 2:4; I John 5:14-15; James 5:15-16).
Section 5 - Angels
We believe that angels are spiritual beings which were created sinless. Presently angels exist in both fallen and unfallen states, the former state including Satan and his demons. We believe that Satan is a created being who is the enemy of God and all Christians (Hebrews 1:13-14; II Peter 2:4; Isaiah 14:12-14; Genesis 3:1-19; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:10).
Section 6 - Man
We believe that man was created by God as a human being and that he did not evolve from a lower form of life. We believe that he was created innocent and in the image of God. Through their own choice Adam and Eve, the parents of the human race, fell and their sin has resulted in physical and spiritual death to themselves and their descendants. We believe that man is totally depraved, that is, in no way is he able to commend himself to God. He has inherited a sinful nature, is alienated from God and in need of salvation (Genesis 1:1; 27; Colossians 1:16-17; Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Ephesians 2:1-2).
Section 7 - Salvation
We believe that salvation is the gift of God’s grace. It cannot be gained by meritorious work, but is freely bestowed upon all who put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. All who so trust the Savior are forgiven of their sins and born into the family of God by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8, 9; 1;17; John 1:12).
Section 8 - Security, Assurance, and Responsibility
We believe that all the saved — those in whom God has accomplished His transforming work of grace — are kept by His power and are thus secure in Christ forever. It is their privilege to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation. However, this assurance is not the occasion for sin, for God in holiness cannot tolerate persistent sin in His children, and in infinite love He corrects them. True faith in Christ is expressed by a fruitful, God-pleasing life (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:29-39; I John 5:13; Hebrews 12:6; Matthew 7:20; James 2:20).
Section 9 - The Church
We believe that the universal church, the body of Christ, is a spiritual organism composed of all genuine Christians who live between the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). A believer becomes a member of this church by the baptizing work of the Holy spirit the moment he trusts Christ as his savior (I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:9, 16; Colossians 1:18).
We believe that the local church is an assembly of professing Christians who voluntarily join together in one locality to worship God, study the Bible, observe the ordinances, practice Christian fellowship, pray, evangelize the lost and be equipped for Christian service (Acts 2:42-47; I Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-13).
We believe that Christ instituted the ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper which are to be observed until He returns, and that these are the only ordinances He so appointed. By water baptism a believer identifies himself publicly with Christ and His people. Water baptism is intended to be for believers only. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of Christ’s death, the elements being symbolic of His body and blood. Every believer should partake of the Lord’s Supper, but only when he is in fellowship with the Lord (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:1-14; I Corinthians 11:23-26).
Section 10 - The Future
We believe in the personal, imminent return of Jesus Christ for the church. This event (the Rapture) will be followed in order by the Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ to earth, the Millenium Reign of Christ on the earth and entrance into the Eternal State.
We believe that the souls of believers in Jesus Christ pass immediately into His presence at death and remain there in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body at His coming for the Church, when soul and body will be reunited and joined with Him forever. We believe that after death the souls of unbelievers remain in conscious misery in Hades until the final judgment of the Great White Throne at the close of the Millennium when soul and body reunited shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting separation from the presence of the Lord. We believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell (Luke 16:19-26; 23:43; II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:11-15).