The following is a more detailed statement of faith than our Congregational Statement of Faith. All elders and pastoral staff at First Christian Church affirm this Elder Statement of Faith.
1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 4:12
We believe that the Bible is God’s written revelation to man, consisting of the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments. We hold the Word of God to be an objective, propositional revelation verbally inspired by God, error-free in the original documents, and the supreme authority of faith and practice for the believer in Jesus Christ. When it comes to interpreting the Bible, we affirm the literal, grammatical historical interpretation of Scripture, which recognizes the fact that the authors of Scripture meant what they said. This method consistently applies the rules of grammar, literature, history and culture to Scripture in order to unlock and understand the author’s meaning.
We believe there is but one living and true God who is one in essence, while eternally existing in three distinct personalities: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Though each person of the Godhead possesses the same nature, each functions differently in respect to God’s dealings with man.
Matthew 6:9, John 5:19-24, Ephesians 1:3-6
The first Person of the Trinity orders and directs all things according to His own purpose, pleasure and grace. He has decreed all things that come to pass for His own glory. He graciously involves Himself in the affairs of men, hears and answers prayer, and saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, the eternal Word manifested in flesh. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Fully God and fully man, He surrendered nothing of His deity during His earthly life. Having led a sinless life, He satisfied the Father’s justice concerning sin by His death. We believe in His bodily resurrection, His physical ascension and His visible return to this earth to establish His earthly kingdom.
The Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 2:10; John 3:1-8; John 16:4-15; Ephesians 1:13-14; John 15:16; Galatians 5:16-25
The third person of the Trinity executes the will of God in the world of men. It is the Holy Spirit who applies the salvation Jesus Christ secured through His death on the cross. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers the church to live a lifestyle pleasing to God, endowing it with special gifts which equip believers to accomplish distinct ministries, planned beforehand by God the Father.
The Nature of Man
Genesis 1:2:26-27; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:3-4; Romans 1:18-32; Romans 3:10-23; Ephesians 2:1-3
We believe that man was directly created in the image of God to enjoy His fellowship and to fulfill God’s will on this earth. Man fell into sin by a voluntary act of personal disobedience to the will of God; consequently all men are spiritually dead and subject to the certainty of both physical and spiritual death apart from Jesus Christ. The fall of man was a once-for-all historical fact. It’s spiritually deadening effect spread to all men, each of whom is born with a sinful nature and sins habitually in thought, word and deed.
John 3:16; 14:6; Titus 3:4-7; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9
We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins as the only sufficient sacrifice. Salvation is by the grace of God through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to be saved we must personally accept these truths and thereby accept the cleansing blood of Christ, which alone can atone for sins.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
- Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
- Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.
- Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.
- Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
Genesis 12:1-3; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; Ephesians 2:1-10
We teach that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone and is wholly of God on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
We believe that the ordinances of the church are two: baptism by immersion in water after professing faith in Christ as a testimony to salvation; observance of the Lord’s Table by the members of the church in commemoration of His death.
We take a high view of the ordinances here at First Christian. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two sacraments or ordinances we practice. The word “ordinance” emphasizes the fact that the Lord’s Supper (along with water baptism) was ordained or instituted by Christ as a symbolic act of faith and obedience.
Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-23; Colossians 2:11-12; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:2
Baptism is an essential act of obedience for a believer who seeks to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The church is commanded to baptize (Matthew 28:19) and believers are commanded to be baptized (Acts 2:38). We at First Christian Church uphold the act of baptism as a sacred, uncompromisable injunction of the scripture. Every believer who is serious about his or her faith will also be serious about baptism. This simple act, when obediently done, demonstrates a heart that seeks to honor the Word of the Lord. The picture portrayed in baptism declares a variety of scriptural truths:
- It proclaims Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
- It serves public notice to the world of one’s new life in Christ (Matthew 10:32).
- It pictures a believer’s death to sin and his resurrection to a spiritual life and lifestyle through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:3-7, 10-11).
- Our method of baptism is the method of immersion. We feel strongly that this mode is the one presented in the New Testament for the following reasons: The Greek word for baptism means: “to submerge, plunge, drench, saturate, dip.” (Arndt and Guingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 131) Immersion followed the Jewish proselyte practice. The practice of the early church was immersion. The command of Scripture is “be baptized.” By it we both please the Lord and declare His reality in our lives and to the world. Since baptism is a public acknowledgement of faith in Jesus Christ, it logically follows that the only valid candidates for baptism are believers in Him. In the Bible baptism is reserved for followers of Christ only; there is no biblical incidence of an infant or unbeliever ever participating in Christian baptism. This is also stated explicitly in Acts 8:37-37. As the Ethiopian eunuch heard about Jesus he said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" Philip’s answer makes very clear who the proper candidates for baptism are: “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” Baptism is reserved for believers in Jesus Christ.
- In the Bible, Jesus held children, prayed for them and taught us all to welcome them. But, he did not baptize them or tell anyone else to baptize them. Parents often baptize their child intending for them to one day become a follower of Christ. If you were baptized as a child, then your adult baptism can be viewed as a fulfillment of your parents of your parents' wishes. In no way does it renounce your baptism as a child.
B. The Lord's Supper
Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, which is also commonly known as communion. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a visible reminder to us that the Lord sacrificed His body and His blood so that our sins might be forgiven. Communion is the holiest moment of the worship service. When we partake of the bread and of the cup, we signify our oneness with Christ. Failing to celebrate that communion, or doing so infrequently can drain the church of vitality. Therefore, we observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.
We practice open communion here at First Christian, meaning that all who meet the prerequisites outlined in scripture may partake, even if they are not members of this particular church.
Matthew 16:15-19; Acts 2:41-42,47; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:11-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.
God’s plan for leadership is revealed in Scripture. He launched the church by giving certain individuals specific gifts “ …apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). These individuals under the direction of the Holy Spirit initiated the Christian movement and brought local churches into existence through their teaching and preaching.
As churches were established in the faith and when more than one person became qualified, elders were appointed to continue the pastor/teaching ministry in each local church. To the elders was given the ultimate responsibility for the oversight of that particular church body, and the shepherding of its members.
1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:9; Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 5:1-3
The elders have overall responsibility for oversight and direction of the church. They are to seek in all matters the mind of Christ (who is the Head of the Church) through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. They must be able to teach and exhort the church in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict the truth. Elders are to lead by example and will provide instruction for the maintenance of healthy relationships within the church.
Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-12
As necessary, deacons were also chosen to serve the church, particularly in undertaking those areas of need that would otherwise prohibit the elders from performing their biblical responsibilities. Deacons are needed for specific responsibilities, thus freeing the elders for spiritual oversight, prayer, and the ministry of the Word.
Matthew 24:36; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; John 14:1-3; Matthew 24-25; Acts 2:9-11
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.