This is mainly meant for those who attend our church but also a result of the discussions I mentioned in my last post:
“As members of Evangelical Fellowship Church we believe:
- in the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testament, as the inspired Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts; and that these are the supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16)
- in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit as professed in the Apostles’ Creed, namely:
We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.
- that man was created in the image of God, that he sinned, and is thereby separated from God and unable to save himself from condemnation
- that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice; and that all who believe in Him and repent are justified through His shed blood
- in the present high priestly office of our Lord Jesus Christ; and in “that blessed hope,” His personal, imminent and future return to earth.”
1. Regarding the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures
I believe that the Scriptures are indeed God-breathed and our only reliable source to know God through Jesus Christ who is not only God’s final word and exact representation but also the key to understand the Scriptures in their actual intent to lead us to Himself and to restore God’s image in our lives through a reconciled and growing relationship of love and obedience. It also needs to be said that while God’s Word is inerrant, no human interpretation can claim that same inerrancy and we need to remain humble and open for correction when it comes to our personal or denominational view of certain doctrines.
Taking into account what God has said to people at different times, in a different language, to a very different culture, and in a great variety of literary forms, we ought to do our best to discern carefully what is timely and what is timeless, what is literal and what is symbolic, and how God’s will is faithfully translated and applied to our specific context, culture and language. I believe that the Scriptures are clear enough where it matters most, in showing us our origin, our need for redemption, and Jesus Christ as the way and the truth and the life that leads us back to the Father and back to our true humanity.
2. Regarding the 3 articles of the Apostles’ Creed
There is not much to say other than my full support of a Trinitarian view of God without which the statement “God is love” would be nonsensical before the point of creation. I fully believe that God created everything out of nothing and sustains everything by that same powerful Word. The questions of “How” and “When” within a modern scientific framework are not addressed by the Creed. I believe they are secondary to the questions of “who” and “what for?” which have far reaching relevance for our personal lives today.
I believe that the eternal Son of God incarnated in fully human form through supernatural conception within the virgin Mary, emptying himself voluntarily of his divine glory and use of his divine power apart from the direction and enabling of the Father. Through Jesus’ life and death within time and space of human history the Father has been revealed directly not just in words but also in visible emotion and deed.
Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension are the basis and proof of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament promises regarding Messiah’s coming, salvation and lordship. The Father has handed all judgment over to the Son and He will exercise that judgment when he returns visibly in power and glory to this world.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, not just a description of God’s power and invisible activity in this world, as he can be grieved, blasphemed and lied to. I believe that the Holy Spirit ultimately is the only one who can convict of sin, give us an understanding of Christ and His work on behalf of us, and to create the faith in Christ that constitutes and ushers in a new birth and a new life, relating to God as a beloved Father rather than an enemy. The true church is not confined to buildings, organizations or denominations, it is comprised by all whom Christ knows as His own and who share the same Holy Spirit that seals them as children of God. I believe that just like Christ himself we will be raised with a new body by the power of the Holy Spirit and that this will happen regardless of the manner with which our natural bodies died, decomposed or were buried. I believe that all and only those who have accepted God’s grace in true repentance and faith will share the joy of being in God’s presence without end.
3. Regarding the additional bullet points added to the Creed
I believe that humanity in its original creation reflected God’s character and glory untarnished and enjoyed uninterrupted fellowship with their Creator. The act of mistrusting God, disobeying His command that was designed to protect them from a broken relationship (which leads to death by cutting us off from the source of life) and rebelling against Him shattered this image and lead to alienation from God. It also incurred the wrath of God by bearing the consequences of the curse, which entailed not only a physical separation from paradise and mortality, but also much difficult labor, pain and dysfunctional male-female relationships. The condemnation of sin is rooted both in God’s character of goodness and holiness which will never compromise with any kind of evil, and also in the verdict of the law that must condemn every law breaker. While God condemned the original sin, he does not completely turn away from his beloved creatures – he clothes them and covers their shame, and he promises a human descendant that will ultimately shatter the power of evil by being mortally wounded himself.
While the curse is universal and experienced by every human being because we all share the same condition of a fallen world, and the same wicked heart that is bent on asserting its own will over God’s will, Christ’s atoning death in our place as a sinless sacrifice provides the cleansing that reverses the curse and enables people to enter God’s presence by having their punishment paid in full by Christ Himself.
In the use of the Old Testament’s imagery and foreshadowing, John the Baptist is pointing us to Jesus as the lamb that carries the sin of the world. Since the original separation from God was relational, salvation from this separation can only be relational as well – in a response of faith in God’s free and undeserved gift of grace. Outside of that personal embrace, the experience of alienation from God with all its consequences continues, in spite of the finished act of reconciliation from God’s end.
As far as Christ’s continuing ministry is concerned, I believe he intercedes on behalf of all of us, not only those who are already his “sheep” but also those who are not part of the herd yet (John 10:16; 17:20).
Jesus Christ who remains the same yesterday, today and forever, is the kind of shepherd who cares even more about the one sheep that is still lost than the ninety-nine who are safely in his fold. If we pursue his example and if we are serious about having God’s true image restored in us, our desire and effort as individuals and as a church need to be the same.
I have also come to believe that Christ’s emphasis of His unexpected, incalculable and imminent return to earth contradicts much of dispensational teaching today, never mind all the contradictions to Christ’s teachings about suffering and the role of believers in advancing the kingdom of God. Jesus’ words never did promote the kind of escapism and carelessness regarding this present creation that many fundamentalist preachers display today. Our task as the church is to faithfully follow him, love others the way that he loved and still loves us – in serving body, mind and soul – and through word and example proclaim God’s goodness and grace in such a way that others get a chance to truly encounter Him in all the depth of mercy and grace that is greater than our sin.