The following information is an abbreviated statement of our shared beliefs. It is not meant to be a creed, formal apology, or official articles of faith. It is only meant to express generally what we understand the New Testament to teach on: what it means to be “in Christ” (i.e., a Christian); the foundation of faith in God and His Son (Jesus Christ); and our collective and individual responsibilities to God. We are not attempting to speak for all people who call themselves “Christians,” especially since there exists a great deal of confusion over this name. Instead, our aim is to:
- Accurately interpret the Bible according to its given context, not according to our preferences or opinions. We strive to accept conclusions that can only be naturally, intelligently, and necessarily proved in an objective study of the Bible.
- Accurately and solemnly represent God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as each of these Divine Personages is revealed in Scripture.
- Provide straightforward, biblical answers to anyone who asks, to the best of our ability and knowledge. Our endeavor is to win souls, not arguments. At the same time, we understand God’s doctrine of salvation to be non-negotiable, and we present it as such.
We reject man-made teachings that regularly pose as being “Christian doctrine” but are in fact the product of human origin or imagination. These include: The Doctrine of Original Sin; Calvinism (a.k.a. The Doctrine of Predestination); Preterism; Premillennialism; Pentecostalism; denominationalism; universalism; pluralism; ecumenism; and all other “-isms.” We are neither Catholics nor Protestants; we are simply Christians.
The Bible and Its Implications
We believe the Bible to be God’s message to all people, and that it has been divinely-revealed by the Holy Spirit to Christ’s apostles and other inspired men. This does not mean that God literally wrote the words of the Bible, but that He provided the content and authority for what is written, and has divinely preserved that message for all humankind to read (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We believe that what has been written has also been substantiated by history, archaeology, credible eyewitness accounts, prophecy (and its fulfillment), and supernatural signs (Acts 17:30-31, Hebrews 2:4). These latter “signs” (or miracles) serve as God’s personal signature to the things recorded, so that we can know that this message is from heaven rather than of men (John 3:1-2). God’s purpose for these miracles is to prove to men once and for all that:
- He exists (Romans 1:18-20). (The creation of the world was a miraculous event.)
- He is in authority over us (Hebrews 4:12-13).
- We are responsible for the life (or soul) He has entrusted to us (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
- We are ultimately accountable to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10).
- He cares about us (Luke 12:6-7, 19:10, 2 Peter 3:9).
- He desires our salvation, which means: He wants us to voluntarily choose Him to save us from our own spiritual demise (1 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 1:2-4, and others).
- This salvation includes forgiveness of our sins, fellowship with Him now, and everlasting life with Him in the hereafter (John 20:30-31, Acts 2:38).
- This salvation is made possible by the sacrificial offering (atonement) of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Advocate (John 3:16, 1 John 2:1-2).
- This salvation has been communicated to us by Jesus’ own apostles, whom He commissioned to speak for Him and for whom He authenticated their ministries with miracles (Romans 1:1-2, Colossians 1:25-29; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
God the Father
We believe that God the Father—to the best of our knowledge, the Jehovah of the Old Testament—is the head of the triune Godhead (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). We believe that He is the ultimate Source of all Life and Creation; accordingly, we believe the Creation account in Genesis 1 to be literal and authentic. We believe that God has supreme and absolute sovereignty over the entire universe, and especially over this world and every person upon it—including you. This means that God gave life to your soul, and that your soul will be held accountable to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:11-15). His sovereignty over you does not mean that you are forced to obey Him, but that there are serious and awful consequences for not doing so. Regardless, God is perfect, absolutely just, and is unchallenged in authority. God does not share His glory or reign with any other so-called god (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). He is a God of power and justice, of love and compassion, and of salvation and condemnation.
God the Son
We believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God in human form: He was a genuine, historical Person who was also God incarnate—a Divine Being who “became flesh” (John 1:1-3, 14). We believe that He preached a gospel of repentance, heralded the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15), performed miracles to authenticate His message (Matthew 4:23-24), and provided the only means by which anyone can come to God (John 14:6). We believe that Christ has always been a Divine Personage of the Godhead (John 1:1-3, 8:58) and pre-existed in glory with God the Father (John 17:4-5). The Son of God is not a created Being, but actually is Himself the Creator of all that exists (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:1-2). He has pre-eminence over all of the physical creation; He also exercises sole headship over His church (Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18). We believe that Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross has satisfied God’s justice toward sin and will cleanse the soul of the one who puts faith in Him. We believe that Jesus died according to prophecy and then rose from the dead, just as He predicted (Matthew 16:21, John 10:18, Acts 2:22-24, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We believe that the risen Jesus has ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and now reigns as King over God’s kingdom (Acts 2:36) and simultaneously serves as High Priest for all of God’s people (Hebrews 4:14-16).
God the Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Personage, one of the members of the triune Godhead. He—not “it”—has an active presence throughout the realm of man and (especially) the spiritual body of believers. While His specific activity remains often mysterious and always invisible, we believe He has a crucial role in leading people to God and providing guidance for those who live by faith in Christ (Romans 8:5-9, Galatians 5:16-17). We believe the Spirit is “given” to believers in a real but spiritual manner (Acts 5:32, Romans 5:5), not for the purpose of performing miracles but as a witness of divine influence to unbelievers everywhere. We also believe He intercedes for the prayers of believers (Romans 8:26-27) and gives hope to those who follow Him (Romans 15:13). We believe in the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:6-9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but we do not believe that the Spirit ever compels us to act against our own will.
Salvation in God through Christ
We believe that Jesus has fulfilled the entire Law of Moses by having kept it perfectly (Matthew 5:17). This allowed Him to supersede that Law with a “better ministry” and a better covenant, that is, a superior means by which to have fellowship with God (Hebrews 8:1-13). The terms and conditions of this new covenant comprise what is known as the gospel (“good news”) of God. Christ’s sacrifice provides spiritual life to all those who obey this gospel; His blood provides for forgiveness of sins and a clear conscience before God (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 9:13-14, and Revelation 5:9). We believe there is absolutely no other means by which a person can call upon God except through Christ and His gospel. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). This exclusive, universal, and non-negotiable statement negates any religion or philosophy that stands in disagreement to it.
The Church of Christ
We believe that Jesus is the sole head of His church (Colossians 1:18). His spiritual church is not governed by any man, a board of directors, or any central earthly institution. Jesus provided the groundwork for the church’s existence through His atoning work on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). Jesus is the builder of His church (Matthew 16:18) and He has absolute authority over it.
The Bible uses the word “church” in two different ways. First, it can refer to the universal and spiritual body of believers, both living and dead, who comprise the “body” of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Second, it can refer to a distinctly identified gathering (or congregation) of believers who regularly meet, work, and worship together (as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:2, Philemon 1:2, etc.). The church of Christ in Kent, for example, is not “the” church, but is merely a group of those who are in Christ’s spiritual church—that is, “in Christ.” We derive the name “church of Christ” from Romans 16:16; however, the New Testament also uses other names that are equally acceptable in designating who we are. In our circles, we often refer to “church” in this second meaning as a “local church,” simply because it is comprised of people who are geographically close (or local) to each other.
Christ has established only one church, not many (Ephesians 4:4-6). Local, independent, and autonomous (self-governed) churches are established by men, not Christ; however, the source of our doctrine is Christ, not men (Galatians 1:10). Local churches are governed by men, but this oversight follows the apostolic pattern laid down in the New Testament. Accordingly, we have elders, deacons, ministers, teachers, and others who work toward a common goal (Ephesians 4:11-16). Those who have specific roles or responsibilities (such as elders or deacons) are appointed by each congregation, not Christ; however, these men must meet the criteria found in the New Testament pattern (1 Timothy 3:1-16, and Titus 1:5-9). We understand that mere membership in a congregation is no guarantee of one’s spiritual standing with God, or even of his (or her) salvation. On the other hand, we cannot support the habitual forsaking of church assemblies by those who claim to be Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We believe the (universal) church of Christ to be impartial toward a person’s gender, language, color of skin, ethnicity, or race. With regard to our common fellowship in Christ, we are all equal as spiritual brothers and sisters in the Lord. However, this does not nullify the separate roles and responsibilities of men and women in the church, in marriage, and in society. One context is spiritual (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11); the other is earthly (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-23). We believe that no person, regardless of his (or her) earthly status, will be denied entrance into Christ’s church provided he accepts a believer’s responsibility toward Christ and His gospel (Romans 10:11-13). One cannot call upon Christ’s name for salvation and at the same time refuse to submit to His authority. Thus, we believe it is impossible for people of different faiths—and, especially, who believe in different methods of becoming a Christian—to be united by a singular authority. Likewise, we are unable to extend spiritual fellowship to any person who willfully defies or rejects what the New Testament requires of God’s people everywhere.
We believe that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and therefore all of us are in need of salvation from God’s condemnation of our sins. We believe that God will deliver from condemnation any person who calls upon Him for salvation, however sinful that person might have been (Romans 5:6-10, 8:1-3, and 1 Timothy 1:12-17). All those who are “in Christ” and remain faithful to Him until death will be in heaven with God for all eternity (2 Timothy 4:7-8, James 1:12). We also believe that those who reject the opportunity for salvation, as well as those who abandon their faith in Christ, will face God’s wrath in the world to come (Romans 2:4-11). “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).