Introduction: Believers Church is a Bible-Centric, Grace-Filled, Spirit-Led church. The basis for the formation of our doctrine is a conservative view of scripture which believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Where the Bible is clear, we strive to be clear. Where the Bible is unclear, we steer away from developing dogma. Paul gave young Timothy a good piece of advice: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV)
In the framework of the church, doctrine is the set of beliefs that are held and taught as truth. What people believe is important. In the words of Paul, doctrine has the potential to “save” you and those that listen to you. Christianity is composed of some basic doctrines that are considered as essential. The early Christian Church wrote creeds which expressed the doctrinal Orthodoxy necessary to form unity. (Orthodoxy means “right opinion.”) The first well-known creed was released in 180 A.D.; and is known today as the Apostles’ Creed.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
(Catholic verses catholic. Capital “C” Catholic refers to the formal Catholic Church. Small “c” catholic refers to the universal church or the church at large) The Apostles’ Creed identifies the backbone of Christian Orthodoxy. Seems pretty complete. It is what we as Christians hold in common as to what we believe. Do you notice anything essential belief missing in the Apostles’ Creed?
There is no mention of the Bible in the Apostles’ Creed. Amazing…all the essential doctrines covered in the Apostles’ Creed without mention of the Bible. The Bible was not officially “canonized” until over 200 years later after the Apostles’ Creed was published. So, the Apostles’ Creed was the theological glue that held the Church together. Beyond the Apostles’ Creed, what did the early church believe and what was their source for teaching and the formation of doctrine? Acts 2:42 tells us that the church devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles. The teaching of the Apostles would have included the stories concerning the life, ministry and teachings of Christ; which eventually became the Gospels; the writings, lessons and letters of Paul, Peter, John, the writer of Hebrews among others; which were passed around, used, and then recognized as being sacred. Essentially, our Bible (the New Testament portion) was formed and canonized around the teaching of the Apostles.
The Challenge of Doctrinal Distinctives. Most denominations have what are called “Doctrinal Distinctives.” These doctrinal distinctives are what divide the Body of Christ into different sects; which we call denominations. These distinctives often amount to the reason one group of churches cannot fellowship with another group of churches. This division in the Body of Christ is not new to Christianity. The Apostle Paul addressed the Church of Corinth about this problem.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Even with this stiff warning, Christians often label themselves as someone who is characterized as an adherent of someone other than Christ.
Questions to Consider: (Please think about the answers and be prepared to discuss at the next Core Group Meeting)
CORE is an elective class for those who want to dig into the values and beliefs that are at the center of our church culture at Believers Church. The following subjects will be taught in this class.
Who We Are
This is not a complete listing of everything that we believe, but it covers the essential doctrines of the church. Believers Church is a main-stream, Evangelical, Grace-filled, Spirit-led church. The basis for the formation of our doctrine is a conservative view of scripture which believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Where the Bible is clear, we strive to be clear. Where the Bible is unclear, we steer away from developing dogma. Paul gave young Timothy a good piece of advice: "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
The Bible The Bible contains the exact information that God desires to reveal to mankind. It is the truth that guides us and the final authority upon which we build our lives. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
The Holy Trinity The Bible reveals God in three persons; God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit. We see the Holy Trinity fully represented when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The Father declared, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;” and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. Although the idea of one God revealed in three persons is a challenging concept; it serves as a reminder of how great and beyond definition our God is. (Colossians 2:9: Matthew 28:19; Matthew 3:16,17)
God, the Father: Christians identify the creator as "Our Father, which art in heaven." He has existed from the beginning and will forever rule over all that He has created. There is one word that best describes our heavenly Father, it is the word "love." God is love and He loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin. (Genesis 1:1; Matthew 6:9-13)
God, the Son (Jesus Christ): Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in an Israelite virgin named Mary. Jesus was God in the flesh, and yet, He experienced all the temptations and difficulties that are common to all. He lived His life without sin, was crucified on a cross for the sins of the world and rose in triumph over death. He is now ruling at the right hand of our heavenly Father, acting on behalf of those that believe in Him. One day Jesus will return to the earth to rule. (Hebrews 1:3; 3:1; 7:23-25: 9:24: 12:2; 1 John 2:1-2).
God, the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is a person, is God and performs a ministry of conviction, regeneration and sanctification. He indwells every believer. (John 3:8; 15:26, 27; 16:7-15; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18). The Holy Spirit equips the members of Christ's body today for ministry through the importation of spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
Man and Salvation: Man was created in the image of God; he sinned, and consequently experienced not only physical death but also spiritual death which is separation from God. Every human being is born with a sinful tendency, and when he reaches moral responsibility, he becomes a sinner in thought, word and deed; but may receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, as a gift of God's grace and not the result of any human effort or merit. We boldly declare that Jesus is the only way that leads to salvation, and that He is the only name under heaven whereby we are saved. (Genesis 1:26; 3:1-24; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:8; John 1:12).
The Christian Life: Every believer in Christ should be committed to the Lordship of Christ; ever growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ; and to the fellowship of the saints. (Romans 12:1, 2; Galatians 5:15, 25; 2Corinthians 12:12.13; Hebrews 10:25).
The Church: The church is the body and bride of Christ. It is a spiritual organism made up of believers in Christ and manifested in local congregations. (Ephesians 1:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13).
Church Ordinances: The two ordinances of the church are baptism and the Lord's supper. Baptism should be administered to believers upon their verbal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The ordinance of the Lord's supper should be observed regularly in remembrance of Christ's death and in anticipation of His return. The elements of the Lord's supper are symbolic of His body and blood. (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Satan: Satan is a real and personal being. He is the adversary of God and His people. He is not all powerful. He is not all present and he is not all knowing. (Matthew 4:1; 1 Peter 5:6).
Spiritual Warfare: The Church of Jesus Christ is engaged in an epic battle against powers of darkness; at stake are the souls of mankind. Christ has assured us that because He was victorious on the Cross those who believe in Christ will be victorious as well. (Romans 8:32-39; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 John 5:4; Revelations 3:5).
The Eternal State: Both believers and unbelievers will be bodily raised and all men will appear before Christ to be judged. The saved will experience everlasting blessedness in eternal life with God; the lost will experience everlasting conscious punishment in eternal separation from God. (Philippians 1:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelations 20:11-15).