Beliefs that are traditional
The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is inspired by God, a revelation from God to humans, about the plan for salvation for humanity and the restoration of God’s original creation. It is a divine standard of faith and conduct, and is a living and powerful form of communication from God to humans.
(2 Tim.3:15-17; Heb.4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23-25)
God exists as the Trinity, a co-equal and co-eternal relationship of three persons identified as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is eternally self-existent, self-revealed, and perfect (completely righteous in all judgments and actions). (Ex. 3:6, 14-15; Deut.6:4; Isa. 43:10, 11; Matt. 3:16, 17; 28:19; Heb.3:7-11)
God is the creator of the world and has a parental attitude toward the world and its inhabitants. God desires to bless all families of the earth, and all nations of the earth, and has designed human history in a way that results in the redemption and restoration of all of creation. God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ and has placed human beings in those places and times in history in which they have the potential to find and believe in him.
(Gen. 1:1, 31; 2:4; 12:2; 3; 28:13; Ps. 47:8; 96:10; 97:1, 9: 99:1; Isa. 6:1-5; Dan. 2:20-22; Matt. 5:45; Jn. 6:37-40; Acts 17:26-27; Rom. 1:19-20; 8:19-23; 2 Cor. 5:17-22; 1 Jn.3:1, 9-10; Rev. 3:1-3)
Humans were created in the image of God and were to be stewards of the earth and all of creation as representatives and ambassadors in partnership with God’s rule. Humans were created to nurture the created order and provide leadership toward that flourishing so that the earth would be filled as creation multiplied and filled the earth. Humans failed to carry out this original role, and as a consequence, were denied the perfect environment in which they had been placed. All of creation was subjected to their failure and has suffered an imperfect rule under the human race as a result, from that day until the present time. All of creation cries out for the restoration of perfect stewardship that God designed, and experiences it in part by those who care for creation as guardians. Full restoration of creation and perfect stewardship will come with the revealing of the children of God when Jesus returns to reign over all who are living. (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:15-17; 3:6-7; Gen. 3:17-19; Hosea 6:7; Rom. 3:9-12, 23; 5:12-21; Rom. 8:18-23).
God, due to his benevolent role as creator and parent, sought out the first humans after their disobedience and offered them covering, demonstrating his grace and forgiveness and willingness to reconcile. Humans live with the consequences of their disobedience and failed stewardship of the earth, but were given a Savior, Jesus Christ, who would redeem them, first spiritually, then physically by ushering in a restored creation. Salvation, or the restoration of shalom, the Hebrew term for fully integrated peace and wholeness of mind, body, soul, and creation, is given to us by grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and our acceptance of his substitutionary death. We are reconciled to God by our assertion that we believe Jesus was raised from the dead so that we could live a life of resurrection power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We do nothing to earn salvation, but we come to an awareness and knowledge of God’s work on our behalf through Christ and we voluntarily acknowledge our need for God and our gratitude toward Christ’s death and resurrection for us. (Gen. 3:8-24; Matt. 6:10; Lk. 2:14; Rom. 5:8-15; 8:1-2, 20-23; 10:9-10; I Cor. 10:26; Eph. 1:9-14; Col. 1:16-20; II Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4)
Once a person is aware of their relationship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit begins working within the person to help them develop a character true to God’s character. The fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, joy, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control, so these traits will be seen in greater and greater measure as the person allows the Spirit to have more control of their life. There is no timeline for this process; we are simply told that we are changed from glory to glory into the image of Christ as we walk through this world in close relationship with him and other people who are committed to Christ as well. Sometimes God disciplines those he loves in order to direct them to the better path toward Christ-like character, and sometimes God allows the believer to endure trials and persecution in order to strengthen commitment and character. Through becoming familiar with the sufferings of Christ, we are told we will be in greater fellowship with him, and therefore gain a more mature perspective on the circumstances of our lives, saying with Paul, the Apostle, that we count all things as loss that we may gain Jesus Christ. (II Cor. 3:17-18; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 4:1-13; Phil. 3:8; Heb. 12:14; II Pet. 1:5-8; Heb. 12:7, 11; 1 Thess. 5:23, 24; 1 John 2:5-6).
The church is called the body of Christ, each member of the church joined together as the dwelling place for God and an extension of the work Jesus was and is doing in the world. Each member is an integral part of the church, known by Jesus before the foundation of the world. The Church is empowered by the Holy Spirit to go into every part of the world as a witness of Christ, preaching the gospel to all nations and teaching them whatever Jesus commanded. The local church is a body of believers in Christ who are joined together for the worship of God, for edification through the Word of God, for prayer, fellowship, the proclamation of the gospel, and observance of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There is a spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus, which is called the Church of the Firstborn. The mission of the church is to proclaim the good news of Jesus and the coming kingdom, to worship God, to walk with others in their journey of faith and wholeness in Christ, and be the people who demonstrate God’s love and compassion for the entire world. It operates as an autonomous and local congregation associated together through faith and fellowship in the gospel, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Matthew 16:15-19; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Jn. 17:11, 20-23; Acts 1:8; 2:41-42, 47; 13:1-3; 14:23; 20:28; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2-3; 3:16; 12: 13, 28; 14:12; Gal. 6:10; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11, 21; 4:11-16; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:23; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
Beliefs that may be new to you
Restoration of Humanity and Creation
The redemption of our bodies will occur with Christ’s return and reign; mortality will put on immortality and the corruptible will become incorruptible. As Christ was resurrected with a physically tangible body that still functioned in some ways as our human bodies, yet was supernatural, so we, too, will be given like bodies that will no longer be subject to decay and corruption, and will allow us to live eternally and tangibly with Christ in the restored creation. Creation will be restored without conflict between people or animals. Animals are seen to be present in the new restored order and will no longer be carnivores, but vegetarians. There will be a termination of the original curse on creation and the perfection of the original creation will be seen, without death, tears, destruction, or pain. (Isa. 11:6-10; 65:25; Lk. 24:15, 35-43; Jn. 20:19-20, 26-28; 21:5-14; Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:51-57; Rev. 22:3)
God’s Care of Creation
God continually demonstrates his care of creation throughout the scriptures. God wanted the animals into which he breathed the breath of life at the origin of the world to flourish and multiply and fill the earth. God made a covenant of promise with animals as well as humanity after the great world-wide flood that destroyed all life save that of Noah and his family. God provided Sabbath rest, adequate care, and aid to helpless animals that were used in Israel. God declares that he knows intimately the ways of all animals and provides food for all of them. God has prevented death in some animals due to his concern for them and the scriptures assert that care of your animals is part of having a righteous character. In the New Testament, Jesus declared that not a single sparrow falls without the awareness of God the Father, and he describes how God causes creation to be lovely and vibrant even though it is temporary. God’s future kingdom will include animals as inhabitants, just as they were originally present at creation. (Gen. 1:20-26; 9:1-17; Ex. 22:30; 23: 5, 12; Deut. 22:6-7; Num. 22:33; Job 39:1-6; Ecc. 3:19; Pr. 12:10; Isa. 11:6-10; Jonah 4:11; Matt. 6:26-30; 10:29)