WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
A Christian is a follower of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 11:26). Those who follow Jesus not only believe Jesus spoke the truth in His earthly ministry, they also believe to the point of committing their entire lives to Him (John 3:16). Christians seek to become Christlike disciples and share their faith with others, seeking to make more disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE?
There are two answers to this question. First, God invites us to experience a personal relationship with Him. That invitation is offered to every human on earth. Secondly, God wants each of us to use our abilities and opportunities to serve others. These abilities and opportunities are different for each of us. As Christians, we understand that God created all people with the same intention: to have a loving relationship with God that will last for eternity (John 3:16). When we have such a relationship, God intends for us to become more loving, patient, and self-disciplined; in short, we are on a journey toward a God-shaped life (Galatians 5:22-23). In addition, God gives each person special abilities and gifts designed to help others. For example, some are able to teach others, some are able to help with physical needs, and some are effective in leadership (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
WHAT DO WE BELIEVE ABOUT GOD?
We understand that there is one God, who has always existed and will always exist (Deuteronomy 6:4). We believe that He is creative (Genesis 1:1), holy (Leviticus 19:2), and that His purposes are carried out in this world (Acts 1:6-7).
We also understand that God's nature is "three-fold": Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). This concept, known as the Trinity, was understood by the early Christian Church as the best way to explain what they had experienced. They knew from their Jewish roots that there is only one God, but they also believed that Jesus was from God. In addition, the Holy Spirit, empowering the church as promised by Jesus and the Old Testament, seemed to have all of God's power as well. We embrace this belief born out by God's Word.
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
The New Testament states that Jesus of Nazareth was born to a Jewish family during the early days of the Roman Empire. He was killed by the Roman occupation forces and truly rose from the dead. Then He ascended to join God the Father in heaven.
While those of different faiths consider Him a great religious teacher, the followers of Jesus understood that He was more than just a teacher. He forgave sins (Mark 2:1-12), He spoke as having always existed (John 8:58), and He was addressed as God (John 20:28). His death on the cross was more than just an execution - His death and resurrection make it possible for humans to have a restored relationship with God (Colossians 1:21-23). In His continued life with the Father, Jesus still cares for us (1 John 2:1-2).
We agree with other Christians that Jesus is God. He is distinct from God the Father, known to the Jewish nation at the time of Moses. He is also distinct from the Holy Spirit, who has empowered Christians since the earliest days of the Church (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit continues the work of Jesus through His followers today (John 16:13-15). While He is God, He is also human. Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary, when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon her (Luke 1:26-35). In Him, the nature of God and the nature of humanity are united in one Person (Colossians 1:19-20).
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Before Jesus died, He told His followers that He would leave them, but also promised they would receive "another advocate" who would be with them forever (John 7:37-39). After His death and resurrection, Jesus told His followers they would receive power through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). After Jesus ascended to Heaven, believers in Jesus received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). The Church immediately recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit as being equivalent to God's presence (Acts 15:8-9). The Holy Spirit indwells all Christians when they trust in Jesus as Savior, and He empowers us to live the life of Jesus in the world.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "SALVATION"?
We, like other Christians, use the term "salvation" to mean turning from wrong actions and trusting in Jesus as Savior, receiving God's forgiveness, committing ourselves to God, and living as God directs. Salvation comes from the word "save." Jesus declared that He came to "save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
WHAT ARE WE SAVED FROM?
The word "saved" is used in several ways in the Bible. It could mean salvation from other people and their evil intentions (Psalm 18:3), salvation from the evil that is widespread throughout the world (Acts 4:12), or when God offers to save us when this world is destroyed (1 Peter 4:18). However, the most common use of the word means to save us from the punishment that our sins deserve (Romans 5:9).
WHAT DO WE BELIEVE ABOUT LIVING A HOLY LIFE?
After we are born again, we need the fullness of God's Holy Spirit in our hearts (Romans 8:6-8). When we make a complete commitment to Him, He cleanses our spirit, fills us with His perfect love, and gives us the power to live a holy life in obedience to Him (Romans 8:5, 9-11). This is God's will for all believers (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God enables believers to live a holy life and empowers them for life and service (Acts 1:8). In other words, because we love God, our desire is to express that love through obedient service. While we oftentimes fail in living out that life of love, we believe that we can grow in grace and become more like Christ each day.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism has been a Christian symbol since the time of Jesus (Matthew 3:1-6). It involves being submerged in water to symbolize death to the old way of life (Romans 6:3-4) and new life in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Baptism, a sacramental "means of grace," seals one's intentions to follow God (Acts 2:37-41).
WHAT IS THE LORD'S SUPPER?
On the last night Jesus spent with His disciples before His death and resurrection, He shared bread and wine with them as part of the Passover meal. This sharing of the bread and wine is known as Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper. When Jesus shared the bread and wine with His disciples, the bread symbolized His body and the wine symbolized His blood (Matthew 26:26-29). The disciples understood this to mean that He was giving up His life for their benefit. The earliest records of the Church show that His followers regularly shared bread and wine together, reminding themselves that Jesus had died for them and will come again (1 Corinthians 10:14-16). When we offer the Lord's Supper today, all believers are invited to participate regardless of membership in the Church. The Lord's Supper is not appropriate for those who have not yet accepted the new life God offers (1 Corinthians 11:28-29).
DO WE TAKE OFFICIAL POSITIONS ON SOCIAL OR POLITICAL ISSUES?
We understand that all Christians are expected to oppose evil and promote good. In our complex world, we also understand that few issues are completely evil or completely good. We express our opposition to underlying evils such as dishonesty (Romans 12:17), slander, vengeance (2 Corinthians 12:20), and sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We also affirm our support for good actions, such as helping those in need (James 2:15-16), being courteous (Ephesians 6:2), and honoring God (Exodus 20:3-6). Rather than simply taking official stands on every issue, we encourage our members to apply God's principles and act accordingly. All Christians are promised God's guidance when we truly seek it (James 1:5).
HOW DOES BEING A CHRISTIAN AFFECT ONE'S ACTIONS?
It is difficult to say that all people in any group "always" or "never" act in certain ways. Within a church body, this is especially difficult because God works with each believer in different ways. However, we have decided to follow God as best we can. We actively encourage each other to become more like Jesus. We donate time, money, and energy to causes that will show God's love to the world (Matthew 25:31-40). We tell others about the ways God has worked in our lives, giving Him credit for the positive changes that the Holy Spirit has made (Acts 1:8). We invite others to attend church services because we believe that God works through such gatherings to teach us more about Himself (Hebrews 10:25). In short, we live our lives to show how God has made a difference in us (Philippians 4:4-5).
HOW DOES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GOD MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OUR CHURCH MEMBERS?
We understand that God intends to make us like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). This means that we are to become holy and Christlike (Matthew 5:48). After we have received our new spiritual lives (John 3:5-7), we experience the Holy Spirit teaching us how to live in a way that will please God (Galatians 5:22-23). This means that we are not content with knowing that God has met us once. We actively seek to learn more about Him and His plans by reading the Bible, gathering with other believers, and spending time with God in prayer.