Elder’s Statement of Faith
Hope Community Church
Table of Contents
Purpose of this Statement of Faith
This Elder’s Statement of Faith seeks to answer two questions: 1) What are the major guiding doctrines of Hope Community Church? and 2) Why are these theological convictions so important to Hope Community Church? We also hope this statement helps you love Jesus more and encourages you in discipling others.
Before we get into the details of each doctrine, let’s first look at who this statement is aimed to help. At Hope, we love all people, and we want to honor God by helping as many people as possible become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we want all people to know the God of the Bible better. Formally, this document is both a tool to help train and onboard new elders of Hope, as well as a guide to shepherd both new and current staff and interns working at Hope Community Church. It is aimed to be used as a discipleship tool for our members to walk through with their friends and family, small groups, coworkers, and roommates. Lastly, this document is for anyone who wants to learn the major doctrines of the Christian faith that the elders at Hope Community Church uphold, and feel the love of Christ as they read it.
We understand that not everyone who reads this statement of faith will agree on each specific point of doctrine. The goal of this document is to clearly state the important theological beliefs of the elders at Hope Community Church. It is a guide for their spiritual direction and leadership of the church. There are some doctrines that the church approaches with an open hand; meaning that there are differing positions that allow room for differing beliefs while maintaining unity. While wanting to invite discussion about our theology, what follows in this statement of faith are the doctrines that our elders have deemed essential in order for our eldership and church to have unity.
1. The Word of God
Why start with the Word of God? Because we believe the Word of God (i.e. the Bible) is the church’s highest form of authority. This is why the reformers from the 1500s used the Latin phrase sola scriptura (Scripture alone). This includes concepts and doctrines that are implied or not directly addressed by God in his Word. We start with this important doctrine because without God revealing himself to us through his own words, we would be lost and without hope in the world.
1.1 We believe that the 66 books of the Bible from the Old and the New Testaments are the reliable words God breathed or verbally inspired into existence as sacred texts. Therefore, God, not humanity, is the origin of Scripture, making the original manuscripts without error (Ps 119:105; 160, Jn 17:17, 2 Ti 3:16-17, 2 Pe 1:20-21, Jn 17:17; 8:31-32).
1.2 The Word of God is the power of God revealed to humanity, culminating in the Word made flesh, namely, Jesus Christ. This Word made flesh is foolishness to those who do not believe, but to those who believe, the power of God’s Word is revealed through Jesus (Jn 1:14, Je 23:29, Is 55:10-11, Ps 19:7-9, He 4:12).
1.3 God has revealed his will for humanity through human authors even when the authors were unaware of the full extent of the meaning behind the words they were writing. The original meaning of the text cannot change; it was written in a specific time, culture and language. However, we can see those texts fulfilled and brought into fuller meaning in light of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God is the capital “A” Author of the scriptures and he wrote them with the culmination of the story in mind, that is, all scripture points to Jesus and his death for our sins on the cross and subsequent resurrection. We now know how this story of God ends with Jesus seated on the throne extinguishing everything evil, painful, and sad. This knowledge impacts every single aspect of the entire story of Scripture (He 9:16-17; 1 Pe 1:10-11, 2 Pe 3:16, Lk 24:27, Re 21:3-4).
1.4 Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible is a humble and careful effort to understand what God intended to communicate in the language of Scripture. Limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, and cultural assumptions often obscure biblical texts. Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for the richest understanding of the Bible and prayer for his assistance is essential to understand and apply God’s Word. The Spirit works through the community of believers; no good theology ever comes from one individual who claims to have it all figured it out. Rather good theology comes from the people of God working together to rightfully discern the meaning of a text as well as its implications for personal and communal application (Ps 119:12, 1 Co 2:12-16).
1.5 While the Church does not possess any of the original manuscripts, we believe the providential hand of God guided scribes over thousands of years to give his Church the Bible we now possess. We believe the Bible is an accurate historical account of events and teachings as recorded by human authors through inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Re 22:18-19).
2. The Trinity
While the word “Trinity” is never used in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed throughout the Scriptures. Trinity simply means three in one. While the Trinity is in many ways impossible to fully comprehend and all attempts to illustrate or observe a trinity in nature simply fall short of who God really is; the reality that God is a trinity is central to the Christian faith. There are times that God knowingly acts outside or beyond our own human ability to understand. The evidence for the God of the universe being a Trinity is explicitly found in both Old and New Testaments.
2.1 God exists as a Trinity, one God in Three Persons, from eternity. The Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is fully God and equal in power, glory, and majesty yet having distinct operations in the work of creation, providence, salvation, and restoration (Dt 6:4, Jn 1:1-3, Ac 5:3-4, Mt 28:18-20).
2.2 God is incomprehensibly joyful in the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, fully satisfied and sufficient. Therefore, God does not need anyone or depend on anything. In creation, God made humanity, not because he was lonely or insufficient, but from a place of fullness; his love produces more love. God created humanity out of a desire to give himself away. The love of God, which is most clearly articulated in the Gospel of John as Jesus Christ laying down his life for us, is evidence that God is recreating people in light of the perfect image of his Son (1 Jn 3:16-20; Jn 17:26, Pr 8:27-30, Jn 15:11, Jn 17:22-24, Ro 8:29, Ep. 4:23-24).
3. God the Father
We are told in the very first verse of the Bible, that “In the beginning God…” The first few words communicated to God’s people is that there is one God, yet as stated above in the Trinity, there are three distinct persons that make up this one God. The first person of the Trinity revealed is God the Father.
3.1 God the Father is an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, goodness, justice, and love. According to the counsel of his will from eternity past, God the Father has ordained whatever comes to pass (2 Ti 1:8-10, Ro 9:14-24, Ep1:4; 3:3-12, 1 Pe 1:20, Re 13:8).
3.2 In his mercy and love, God the Father plans redemption according to the purposes of his will, sending his Son Jesus into the world to save sinners through the cross, and sending his Spirit into the world to point people to his Son Jesus. The Father loves and cares about the life of each person. He both hears and answers prayer, and He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ (Mt 23:9, Lu 10:21-22, Jn 3:16; 6:27, Ro 1:7; 1 Ti 1:1-2;2:5-6; 1 Pe 1:3; Re 1:6).
3.3 We can see in everyday life that God upholds and governs all things. The Bible describes this as upholding the heavens and the earth; from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons, everything is in accordance with God’s eternal and wise purposes to glorify himself. God accomplishes this in such a way that he never sins and is always good, nor does he ever condemn a person unjustly; God’s ordaining and governing of all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in his image (Ps 115:3, Is 40:26, Mt 10:29-30, Co 1:16-17, Mk 4:39-41, Am 3:6, Ge 50:20, Pr 16:9; 21:1, Dt 32:4, Jas 1:13, Da 4:37).
4. Jesus Christ
Jesus, who is called Christ (which is a title for the promised Messiah or Savior in the Old Testament), is the second person of the Trinity. He is called the “second” person of the Trinity, not because he is lesser than the Father, but because he is the perfect image of the Father. Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. If it wasn’t for the birth, sinless life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, there would be no point to this document. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus and his love for all of humanity motivate and equip us to care well for his church and give back to him the glory that he is due.
4.1 If it wasn’t for God’s love for his creation, there would be no hope in the world. When the time was right for the Messiah, the only begotten Son, Jesus, who was foretold in the Old Testament to be born fully as a human, he didn’t enter this world in a way that people were expecting. He was born in full humility, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of his virgin mother, born without sin, yet at the same time fully God, completely and inseparably part of the trinitarian nature of God. He lived a sinless life despite being tempted repeatedly and in every way humans are tempted. Once grown, he preached and taught the truth of who he really was to everyone who would listen using sacred texts from Moses and the Prophets (Lu 24:25-26; 44-46, Ge 3:15, Ro 16:20, Dt 18:18, Ac 3:20-23, Ps 110:4, He 4:15; 5:5-6, Is 9:7, Mt 1:1, Is 52:13; 53:3-6, Mk 10:45, Ga 4:4).
4.2 In his life, Jesus performed and demonstrated real miracles that could not be explained using the laws of nature. Jesus had total control over creation, healing the sick, blind, and leprous. He also calmed storms, walked on water, cast out demons, and raised the dead back to life. Jesus performed countless miracles to show his authority from the Father over all creation and to reveal his ability and desire to heal the deeper spiritual depravity that plagues humankind. When any individual places their trust in Jesus, he has already been at work in them performing and demonstrating his power to heal their spiritual sickness, blindness, deafness, paralysis, as well as his ability to forgive sins (Mk 4:35-41, 1 Co 3:8).
4.3 While Jesus was guided by his Father and led by the Holy Spirit throughout his entire life, it was of his own voluntary obedience to the predetermined plan of God that lawless men would crucify and kill Jesus on a Roman cross. After Jesus declared his work on Earth finished, he died and was buried in a borrowed tomb. On the third day, just as Jesus had said, he rose from the dead to validate his position as Son of God. After staying with his disciples for forty days, he ascended to a position of power and honor. To this day he remains seated on his throne next to his Father in glory until the time comes when he will make all things new (Jn 10:18, Is 53:10, Ac 2:23, Mk 15:15, Jn 19:30, 1 Co 15:3-4, 25, Jn 19:40-41,Mt 28:6, Ro 4:25, Php 2:9-11, Ac 1:3, 9-11; 17:31, Co 3:1, Ro 8:34, 1 Jn 2:1-2, He 1:13).
4.4 It was because of Jesus’ perfect obedience to God and by His suffering and death that Jesus Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and the gift of perfect righteousness for all who trusted in God prior to the cross and all who would trust in Christ thereafter. Through living a perfect life and dying in our place, Jesus absorbed the punishment we all deserve, the just for the unjust, appeased the wrath of God against us, vindicated the righteousness of God in our justification, and removed the condemnation of the law against us (Ro 5:18-19, 1 Pe 3:18, Ro 5:6, 14:9, Ga 2:21, Jn 1:29, Ep 1:7, Co 1:14, Ac 13:38, 2 Co 5:21, Php 3:9, Ro 3:21-22, 4:3, 3:25-26, Ga 2:16, Ro 5:9, Ga 3:13, Ep 2:3-6, 1 Th 1:10, Jn 3:36, Co 2:13-14).
4.5 Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, every human being who has put their faith in Christ has a direct, personal relationship with God. This is what the reformers called “the priesthood of believers” because every follower of Jesus is a priest in that they have a great High Priest in Jesus and can directly approach the throne of grace without assistance from anyone else. Therefore, we are each individually responsible to God alone in all matters of faith (He 4:14; 9:11-12).
4.6 The death of Christ makes the genuine offer of the gospel available to all people. However, while the death of Christ is sufficient for all, it is only effectual for the elect: those who believe in Christ and come to him in faith. The Spirit works through the proclamation of the gospel to bring the elect to faith, triumphing over their resistance and bringing them to saving faith (Lu 22:20, 1 Co 11:25, He 9:15; 13:20-21, Ac 11:18, 2 Ti 2:24-25, Jn 6:44, Ep 2:8-9, Ac 16:14, Jn 15:13, Jn 10:14-15, Ep 5:25, Re 5:9, Jn 17:6, 9, 19, 14:26, 16:7).
5. The Holy Spirit
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of confusion around the person of the Holy Spirit. He is often either overlooked or exaggerated, and both approaches can be unhealthy for the church. The Holy Spirit is always self-effacing, meaning the Spirit of God never seeks his own attention, but all that He does is directed toward Jesus. The Holy Spirit works to display Jesus, the Lamb of God, in ways we never could have imagined without Him.
5.1 The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and is sent by the Father and the Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. God also sent the Spirit to regenerate, sanctify, empower, and equip with spiritual gifts all who believe in Jesus Christ. The result of salvation is that the Holy Spirit is permanently present in all who believe in Christ, and that He is an abiding helper, teacher and guide (Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26,27; 16:9-14; Ro 8:9; 1 Co 3:16;6:19; Ga 5:22-26).
5.2 The Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world sharing in the work of creation, awakening faith in God’s people, performing signs and wonders, giving triumphs in battle, empowering the preaching of prophets, and inspiring all of the writing of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. When Jesus made atonement for sin and ascended to the right hand of the Father, he inaugurated a new era by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his Church (Ge 1:2, Ps 104:30, He 1:14, Ro 8:7-9, Jn 14:6, Jn 3:10, 1 Sa 10:6, 2 Pe 1:21, Lu 24:49, Ac 2:16-18, 33, Jl 2:28-29, Ac 2).
5.3 The newness of this era is marked by the mission of the Holy Spirit to glorify the crucified and risen Christ through the preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit aims to point people to Jesus and his gospel. The Holy Spirit does this by giving the disciples of Jesus greater power to preach the good news of Jesus. As the Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit works by opening the hearts of hearers so that they might see Christ and believe in him. The Holy Spirit works by revealing the beauty of Christ in His Word and transforming His people into Christ’s image and seeing transformation to completion. The Holy Spirit also works by manifesting himself in spiritual gifts, being sovereignly free to dispense as he wills, all the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, for the building up of the body of Christ and the confirmation of His Word, by calling all the nations into the sway of the gospel of Christ, fulfilling the New Covenant promise to create and preserve a purified people for the everlasting habitation of God (Jn 16:13-14; 7:39, Ac 1:8, Ro 15:18-19, Ac 16:14, 2 Co 3:17-18, 1 Co 12:7-10, He 2:3-4, Ac 1:8, Je 31:33-34;32:40, 2 Co 6:16, Ep 2:21).
5.4 Apart from the effectual work of the Spirit in the hearts of people, no one would come to faith in Jesus. Because all people are dead in their trespasses and sins, they are hostile to God, and morally unable to truly submit to God or please him. They do this since they are deceived that the pleasures of sin appear greater than the pleasures of God. Thus, for God’s elect, the Spirit triumphs over all resistance and makes dead souls alive for the first time by removing blindness and revealing Jesus in such a compelling and beautiful way through the Gospel that he becomes irresistibly attractive to the regenerate heart (Ep 2:4-6, Ro 8:7-9, Mk 4:19, Ro 6:17, 2 Co 4:4-6).
5.5 Therefore, the Holy Spirit does this saving work in connection with the teaching or proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. Neither the work of the Father in election, nor the work of the Son in atonement, nor the work of the Spirit in regeneration is a hindrance or discouragement to the proclamation of the gospel to all peoples and persons everywhere. On the contrary, this divine saving work of the Trinity is the ground of our hope that our evangelization is not in vain. The Spirit binds His saving work to the gospel of Christ because His aim is to glorify the Christ of the Gospel (Ac 16:14, 2 Co 3:18, 4:4, 6, Jn 16:14, Ac 4:12, 1 Ti 2:5, Ro 3:19-22, Ti 3:5-7, Ep 1:13-14, Ac 17:30-31).
6. The Plan of Redemption
The story of the Bible teaches us that God created the universe, and everything in it, out of himself and by the Word of His power. God was pleased in creation to display His glory and declared all that he had created as good. In the beginning there was harmony between God and all of his creation. However, this harmony didn’t last long and the plan of redemption started to unfold when God’s first act after sin entered the world was to come looking for sinners.
6.1 The pinnacle of God’s creation was humanity, whom God created as two distinct sexes and declared them to be male and female. Adam and Eve were made equally in the image of God and created without sin. They were created to glorify God because God fully knew there was nothing else in his creation that could compare to himself (Ge 1:27; 2:7,18 2:21-22, Ro 5:14, Ep 5:18-33).
6.2 Every human is created in the image of God from the moment of their conception, regardless of characteristics (age, gender, abilities, mental state, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, or any other category) and the course of their life (profession, marital state, specific temptation, and sin, etc.). This is to say that regardless of whether someone has accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, every person is an image bearer of God and has more value than they could ever know in the eyes of their Creator. Every human has inherent worth not only because they bear the image of God, but also because God sent his son to redeem them (Ge 1:27, 2:7, 2:21-22, Ps 139:13-16, Ga 3:28, Jn 3:16-17, Mt 5:45, 1 Jn 4:14, Re 7:7-9, Mt 28:19, Ep 4:1-4, Jn 17:20–23, Jas 2:1-4, Lk 10:25-37, Mt 5:21-22, 1 Jn 3:15, Pm 15-16, Ep 5:31-32).
6.3 Though humanity’s first parents, Adam and Eve, were created morally upright and without sin, they were tempted by the serpent to doubt the Word of God that was given to them. They were led to believe that they could have autonomy from their creator and choose for themselves what was right and what was wrong. It is from this original sin of not trusting God’s Word that disharmony, disunity, and antagonism entered the world. It is because of Adam’s fall that all of creation fell into sin. Therefore, every person is by nature a slave to sin, and every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin. Every person has fallen short of the glory of God, and no one is able to do anything to make right their relationship with God on their own (1 Co 15:21, Ro 5:12-19, Ep2:2-3, Ro 6:16, 20, 1 Co 2:14, Ro 8:7-8, Ro 1:18, 8:20-21, 2 Co 4:16-18, Ro 8:35-36, Ro 2:4, Ec 7:29, Ge 3:1, 13, 2 Co 11:3, Ge 3:7-8).
6.4 God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace which was given through His Son Jesus Christ. By this act God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in his Son Jesus Christ (Ro 3:19, Ro 9:11-18, Jn 10:25-29, Jn 6:37-39, Ro 8:28-30).
6.5 All people are sinners by their nature and by their choice and are therefore under condemnation. We believe that those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior are regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Ge 1:26; 5:2; Ge 3; 2:17; 3:19; Ec2:11; Jn 3:14; 5:24; 5:30; 7:13; 8:12; 10:26; Ro 9:22; 2 Th 1:9; Re19:3, 20; 20:10; 14:15; 21:18; Ps 51:7; Je 17:9; Jas 1:14; Ro 3:19; 5:19; Pr 28:13; 1 Jn 1:9; 3:16; Jn 1:13; 2 Co5:17; Ro 8:1).
6.6 When we talk about the gospel, this is what we mean. This is good news! In a free act of righteous grace, God justifies the ungodly by faith in Jesus Christ alone, apart from works, pardoning believers of their sins, and reckoning them as righteous and acceptable in His presence. Faith is thus the sole means by which we, as sinners, are united to Christ, whose perfect righteousness and satisfaction for sins is alone the basis of our acceptance with God. This acceptance from God happens fully and permanently at the first instant of justification. Thus, the righteousness by which we come into right standing with God is not anything worked in us by God. It is neither imparted to us at baptism, nor over time, but rather is accomplished for us, outside ourselves, and is imputed to us (Ro 3:21-24, 28, 4:4-5, 5:1, 18-19, 6:4-8, Ga 2:16, 3:24, 5:4, Ti 3:5-7, 1 Co 1:28-30, 2 Co 5:21, Je 23:5-6).
6.7 We believe that faith alone is necessary to be given the gift of justification yet does not remain alone in the person who is justified. Faith produced by the power of the Holy Spirit leads necessarily to sanctification. This relationship between justifying faith and the fruit of a changed life leads to where one now desires to live consistent with God’s ways. This gives rise to some Biblical expressions which seem to make works the ground or means of justification, but in fact simply express the crucial truth that faith that does not yield the fruit of good works is dead, not being true faith (1 Co 6:19-20, Ga 5:6, 22-23, 1 Jn 3:14, 4:8, 16, 20, 1 Ti 1:5, 2 Th 1:11, 2:13, Ac 26:18, Jas 2:17-20, 26, 1 Jn 2:3-4).
6.8 The atonement of Christ for sin warrants and grants a universal offering of the gospel to all people, so that to every person the reality that, “God gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life” is true. Whoever desires may come for cleansing at this fountain, and whoever does come, Jesus will not cast out (Jn 3:16, Mt 28:19, Ac 1:8, Ro 10:11-15, Re 22:17, Jn 4:14, Is 55:1-2, Jn 6:37).
7. New Life in Christ
After being justified, our growth in new life in Christ is referred to as sanctification. Faith is awakened and sustained by God’s Holy Spirit, through the power of his Word and prayer, in the context of Christian community. Our power for living a life that is pleasing to God comes from the imparted Holy Spirit into our lives. Our union with Jesus is the foundation and source for all progress in the fight of faith, which is fought mainly by meditating on the Scriptures, allowing them to sink into our lives in the context of the community of believers, and praying that God would apply His Word deeply into our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
7.1 It is through our union with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection that we are not only justified but also sanctified. That is, we are made holy by Jesus Christ, for he alone is holy. Because sanctification is so closely connected to salvation, the work belongs to God as well. To separate the means by which we persevere in faith from how we are freely given faith is to depart from the teaching of the New Testament. Instead, sanctification is better understood as integrating our justification by grace through faith in all of life (Is 6:3; 1 Co 1:30; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pe 1:2, He 10:14).
7.2 The Scriptures tell a story of two covenants, old and new, and these rest at the heart of grasping new life in Christ. The old way of living under the law (i.e. Old Covenant) must come to an end to give way to the new life of being under grace (i.e. New Covenant) in order to bear fruit for God. To blend the two or return to the old after receiving the new is not consistent with new life in Christ. Sanctification is the Spirit’s work in our new life, not controlled by our will or initiated by our works. This is a free gift from God, so that we may never boast in our works. We cannot grow without the Holy Spirit’s power. As believers, we get to continue growing in the knowledge of God from a place of being justified; we are not checking the boxes of steady growth by obeying the law, but growing in grace through faith (Ga 4:21-31; Mt 2:18-22; 2 Co 3:7-11, 5:16-17; Ro 6:14; 7:1-6; Jn 3:1-14; Eph 2:8-9).
7.3 Practically, sanctification is growing in the grace of God. It is not about graduating from the message of God’s gospel. True life change comes as a byproduct of belief and blessed self-forgetfulness rather than our attempts to live a certain way. We now repent from sin and obey God because we get to, not because we have to. This is what Paul means by serving in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. We are called to abide in Christ, remain fixed to and nourished from the vine of the gospel, which replaces our failed human-centered efforts at making ourselves holy along with our tendency to resist God. In Christ the last will be first and the assumptions we have for earning favor with God are flipped upside down in the clearest revelation of the God of life dying to defeat death. By prayer, God sanctifies His people, sends gospel laborers into the world, and causes the Word of God to spread and triumph over Satan and unbelief (Is 29:23; Mt 20:16; Lk 13:30; 1 Co 6:11; 2 Co 12:9; Ro 7:1-6).
7.4 Sanctification happens over the course of a lifetime. It often involves what feels like taking two steps forward and more steps back as we become increasingly more aware of the depth of our need for the rescue found in Jesus Christ alone. This process of sanctification is described in Scripture as seasons, growth of fruit, pruning, and other terms of agriculture. Full sanctification is never fully realized in this life. The life of a follower of Jesus is one of constant battle against the old nature. Believers now have a new Master in Jesus Christ, and Satan and sin no longer have any authority over them (Co 3:9-10; Jn 1:1; Ep 4:23-24; 2 Co 3:18).
7.5 Because new life in Christ belongs to God, there is now a glad submission of the heart to God. Believers can experience sanctification through community in the local church, which the Scriptures describe as Jesus’ body on earth. The Holy Spirit gifts believers to benefit the body. A culture marked by the fruit of the Spirit (not suspicion or “sin-hunting”) is necessary if we are to grow in grace; that is, see ourselves as we actually are and where God is at work in the difficult things of life rather than performing, putting on a religious mask, and/or presenting as an ideal version of ourselves. Without regular engagement with God’s church, we will experience the effects of spiritual malnutrition, which usually results in despondency, loneliness, and bitterness. We believe in Jesus’ new commandment to love other Christians as we’ve first been loved by him, to consider others better than ourselves, to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to mourn with those who mourn (Ez 20:12; He 2:11, 13:12; 2 Pe 1:10; Ro 12:15; 2 Th 2:13).
8. The Church
The Apostle Paul called the church a mystery that has now been revealed. One of the most shocking statements in the Bible is when Jesus tells his disciples that they will be the ones to reach the world with his gospel, making disciples, baptizing all nations, and teaching them everything that Christ commanded. The embodiment of the great commission of Jesus is now what is called “The Church.”
8.1 There is one universal Church, composed of all those in every nation, race and language, in every time and place, who are chosen in Christ and united to Him through faith by the Spirit in one Body, with Christ Himself as the Head. We believe that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God in worship, spread the wonderful message of Christ in order to create more fully-devoted worshippers of Jesus Christ, and nurture believers in their relationship with Him (Co 1:18, Ep 1:22, 4:15-16, 3:6, 10, 20-21, Ps 95:6-7, Jn 4:19-24, Mt 28:16-20, Ac 1:8, Php 4-6, He 3:12-13, 1 Ti 4:6-16).
8.2 It is God’s will that the universal Church find expression in local churches in which believers agree to gather together to hear the Word of God proclaimed, engage in corporate worship, practice the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, build each other’s faith through the many faceted expressions of love, hold each other accountable in the obedience of faith, and engage in local and world evangelization. The Church is the body of Christ, in which each member is able to utilize their spiritual gifts to edify one another; it is the household of God in which the Spirit dwells; it is the pillar and fortress of God’s truth in a world that denies truth. It is to be a city set on a hill so that people may see the light of its good deeds to the benefit of human flourishing on the earth, especially to the underprivileged in society, resulting in the glory of the Father in heaven (Ac 14:21-23, 16:4-5, 1 Pe 2:9, He10:24-25, Ep 4:11-16, 2 Ti 4:1-2, Co 3:15-16, Mt 28:19, 5:14-16, 1 Co 11:23-26, 12:4-7, 13-20, Ro 12:6-8, Jas 5:19-20, Ga 6:1, Mt 28:19-20, Co 4:5-6, Ep 2:20-22, 1 Ti 3:15, Lk 14:13-14, Ga 2:10).
8.3 The commission given by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations is binding on His Church to the end of the age. All who have been reconciled to God are Christ’s ambassadors and have been given the ministry of reconciliation; which is that God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ not counting humanity’s sins against them. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation, baptizing them, teaching them the words and ways of Jesus, and gathering them into churches among their own people. This leads to mission work to the uttermost parts of the earth. The goal of missions, therefore, is to help as many people as possible become authentic worshippers of Jesus Christ and to become united with Christ through the power of his Spirit so that they may glorify him in all they do (Mt 28:18-20, 2 Co 5:17-20, Re 5:9, 1 Co 12:18-27, Co 2:18-19, Ac 14:23, Ro 1:5, Jn 4:23, Ro 15:8-11).
8.4 We believe that ever since man and woman were first formed in the garden, God has created men and women equal in dignity, value, and worth. We also believe men and women have been given different complementary roles in church leadership. Hope Community Church is led by qualified and confirmed elders. While the qualifications of an elder are something that every church member could strive for, only some qualified and confirmed men are to be elders of the church. The leadership at Hope grieves that the misuse of this doctrine on church elders has caused hurt for many, and we oppose attempts to use this position to force people into submission. We believe a complementary view of church governance should allow men and women to play unique and vital roles in the life of a church, as elders accept the burden of servant leadership and seek to help all people glorify Christ in the church and in their daily lives (Ac 14:23, Ep 4:11-12, 1 Ti 5:17, 3:1-7, Ti 1:5-9, Ac 6:1-4, 1 Ti 2:12-13).
8.5 Christian marriage is a joyful covenanting between a man and a woman who proclaim before God and human witnesses their commitment to live together in spiritual, material and physical unity. God created humans as male and female and established marriage in the creation account to demonstrate God’s loving relationship with his church. However, Christian marriage is more than simply a social reality defined on human terms. Marriage is in fact instituted by God to demonstrate the analogy God uses to describe His sacrificial love for his bride, the church. Marriage between a man and a woman, then, allows both men and women to play unique and complementary roles that demonstrate Christ’s union with his church (Ge 2. Ep 5:21-30).
8.6 Each church is independent and must be free from interference by an ecclesiastical political authority; therefore, Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from the dictation or patronage of the other. While the Church’s preaching of the Scriptures has implications for how we live in the world, it is not the Church’s role to enforce what they believe about morality or to promote any particular political party. Instead, the church is to love and tolerate those with whom they might disagree. This is because the Kingdom of God is ushered in through the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus, not by some nation or person rising to power. Jesus is already in power, despite it looking like foolishness and weakness to the world. Jesus already won his seat of all authority in heaven and on earth when he rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He then uses the mystery of the church to advance his kingdom, not by trying to set up some kind of Christian government, or political program, but rather by proclaiming the good news of Jesus who called us out of darkness and into marvelous light (1 Ti 2:5; Ro 14: 7-9, 12 ; 1 Co 1:18, 25, 1 Pe 2:9-10).
8.7 Local churches can effectively promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another in a denominational organization. Such an organization, whether a regional or district conference, exists and functions by the will of the churches. Cooperation in a denomination is voluntary and may be terminated at any time. Churches may likewise cooperate with interdenominational networks on a voluntary basis (Ac 15:36, 41; 16:5; 1 Co 16:1; Ga 1:1-3; Re 1:4, 10, 11).
9. The Ordinances
The Lord Jesus Christ has established two ordinances to the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of these ordinances save; they are symbolic representations of gospel realities and ways to celebrate God’s saving work in community. Christian baptism is the public declaration of the inward reality of a believer’s faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins by believers’ baptism by water. The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ for the commemoration of His death and to celebrate the New Covenant established by his sacrifice. These forms of obedience are reserved only for those who have put their faith in Christ. These two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
9.1 Baptism is an ordinance of Jesus Christ by which those who have repented and come to faith in him express their union with Christ and his death and resurrection. They are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe the fullest expression of uniting ourselves with Jesus’ death and burial is through the immersion of followers of Jesus. When those being baptized by immersion are brought back out of the water, they physically demonstrate the resurrection of Jesus to signify death to the old life of unbelief and purification from the pollution of sin to all who are present. Baptism is the outward expression of an inward reality of a follower of Jesus and has no saving power over the believer (Ac 2:38, 18:8, Co 2:12, 1 Pe 3:21, Ga 3:26-27, Ro 6:3-8, Ac 8:36-39, Jn 3:23, Mt 28:19, Ep 2:11-22, 3:6, Ro 2:28-29, 4:16, Ga 3:7-14, He 10:22).
9.2 The Lord’s Supper, also commonly called communion, is an ordinance of Jesus Christ in which gathered believers eat bread, signifying Christ’s body broken and given for His people, and drink the fruit of the vine, signifying the New Covenant in Christ’s blood shed for us. We do this in remembrance of the Lord, and in doing so proclaim His death until He comes. Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ’s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually by faith. They are nourished with the benefits Jesus obtained through his death, and grow in grace as they remember the finished work of Jesus (1 Co 11:17-28, Lu 22:17-20, 1 Co 10:16-22, Jn 6:53-57, 63).
10. Eternity with God
There are many different views on when and how Jesus will return. One thing that all Christian denominations and churches agree on is that Jesus said He will return one day, and that He will return just as he said He would.
10.1 There is a blessed hope that at the end of the age, at a time no one knows but the Father, when Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, physically, without warning, in power, and with great glory. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment where God will separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, meaning all of those who put their faith in the promises of God and the forgiveness of their sins through Jesus Christ, and those who reject the good news of their creator and his plan of redemption (Mt 16:27; Mk 14:62; Jn 14:3;Ac 1:11; Php 3:20; 1 Th4:15; 2 Ti 4:1; Ti 2:13; 1 Co 4:5; 1 Co 15; 2 Th 1:7-10; Re 20:4-6, 11-15).
10.2 When Christians die they will be made perfect in holiness, and are taken consciously into the presence of Christ, which is more glorious and satisfying than any experience on earth. God will gather His elect, raise the dead, judge the nations, and establish His kingdom. We believe that the righteous in Christ will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be handed over to everlasting, conscious misery (Ti 2:13, Mt 24:27, 30, 42, 44, 25:13, Ac1:9-11, Mk 14:61-62, Lk 24:39-43, 1 Th 5:2-3, Lk 21:27, Mt 24:31, 1 Th 4:15-17, 2 Ti 4:1, 1 Co 15:22-24, Ps 16:11, Mt 25:23, 46, 19:29, Ro 1:18, Da 12:2, Mt 3:12, 2 Th 1:9, Rev 14:11,1 Co 15:49-53, He 12:22-23, Lk 23:43, Php 1:23, 3:20-21, 2 Co 5:1-9, 12:2-4).
10.3 After the return of Christ, death, hell, and Satan are victoriously cast into what is described figuratively in Scripture as a lake of fire. Only after the defeat of all that is wrong in the world, Jesus will make “all things new” for those He has redeemed as well as all of creation that has been groaning as it waits for this redemption. Jesus will right the wrongs, the pains, and the sufferings. He will wipe every tear from every eye, and God will dwell with his people. He will be their God, and they will be his people forever in eternity (Ro 8:20-22, Re 21:1-5).
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