Statement of Unity – Essential Christian Doctrine
We recognize the existence of several different denominations within Christianity, operating under various traditions and doctrines – many of which are in conflict with one another. Though it is often necessary to divide over certain teachings and traditions, too often these points of disagreement cause unnecessary division in the church of Christ, hindering our ability to effectively fulfill the Great Commission. Although there are several different expressions of the Christian faith, they must all submit to the same basic fundamental tenets. For example, though the United States of America consists of 50 different states operating under their own individual sets of laws, they are all subject to one constitution. In the same way, we believe that though there are several different denominations operating under their own individual doctrines and traditions, they are all subject to the same unifying tenets that we consider as Essential Christian Doctrine.
We exist to encourage and equip the saints to fulfill the Great Commission. Everything we do is toward that end. Therefore, in our effort to spread the gospel most effectively, we are inclusive of any and all Christians and denominations who can agree with our Statement of Unity, which we believe is based on Essential Christian Doctrines.
One of the major themes in the book of Ephesians is unity: both our unity in Christ, and our unity within the church. In the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle exhorts the church in Ephesus to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”, and then he lays out the points of doctrine that we should be unified in.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The seven points in Paul’s statement of unity are the same seven points in our statement of unity.
1. One Body
2. One Spirit
3. One Hope
4. One Lord
5. One Faith
6. One Baptism
7. One God and Father of all
• We believe that Christ established the church as His assembly of “called out ones” consisting of both Jews and Gentiles from all walks of life in every nation who have been saved and redeemed by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:6; 1 Cor. 12:12; ).
• We believe that the church is a separate entity from Old Testament Israel – the church is not “Spiritual Israel” (Rom. 11); and that the purpose of the church is to be Christ’s witnesses of the gospel to the world before His second coming (Matt. 28:16-20; 24:14).
• We believe that though there is one universal church consisting of every believer in Christ, there are also local expressions of the universal church to which all believers in Christ should submit to (Heb. 13:17).
• We believe that the local church consists of an order of elders, deacons and saints (Acts 6) who submit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and hold to the essential tenets of the Christian faith in both its teaching and application (2 Thess. 2:15)
• We believe that there is only one true and living God who created all things in heaven and on earth (Deut. 4:35). Though God is one in nature, essence and character, God expresses Himself in three distinct persons. This complex unity is known and referred to as the trinity, or the Godhead.
• We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is not the impersonal energy or the power of God, but rather a personal being who can be lied to (Acts 5:3) and grieved (Eph. 4:30), and who was active in the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:2).
• We believe that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of every believer in Christ (John 7:37), teaching us all things and reminding us of all Christ taught (John 14:26), guaranteeing our salvation and future resurrection through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22), giving us gifts for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7), and coming on us in power for the purpose of being Christ’s witnesses in the earth (Acts 1:8).
• We believe that there will be a literal resurrection of both the righteous and wicked on the Day of Judgment (Daniel 12:2; Rom. 14:12; Rev. 20:4-5, 13), and that this Day of Judgment will be a final and resolved (Heb. 9:27).
• We believe that those whom God sees as righteous will be resurrected to future glory, and those who God sees as wicked will be resurrected to everlasting destruction (Daniel 12:2; Rev. 20:4-5, 13).
• We believe that those who are resurrected to glory will be with Jesus Christ forever (Phill. 1:21-23; 1 Thes. 4:16-17) and that this resurrection is the Christian’s hope (Acts 23:6; Rom. 8:23-24; 1 Cor. 15:19).
• We believe that the Christian’s hope in God causes an overflow of hope, which results in the spreading of this hope to others (Rom. 15:13; 1 Thes. 2:19).
• We believe that above all, the source of the Christian’s hope is God Himself (Psa. 62:5), and is rooted in His word (Psa. 119:114; 130:5)
• We believe that Jesus is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), and that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
• We believe in the deity (John 1:1; Col. 1:15; 1 John 5:20) and supremacy (Col. 1:15-20) of Jesus Christ above all things
• We believe in Christ’s virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:34)
• We believe that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
• We believe that Christ’s sinless life can be imputed to us so that God could see us as righteous (2 Cor. 5:21)
• We believe that God has set a day when He will judge the world with Justice by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31), and that only those who have confessed with their mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believed in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved (Rom. 10:9)
• We believe that in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed by faith (Rom. 1:17), and therefore the gospel is the root and anchor of our faith.
• We believe that this gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), but the gospel is of no value to you unless it is mixed with faith (Heb. 4:2)
• We believe that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith (Eph. 2:8)
• We believe that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)
• We believe that it is our commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mathew 28:19)
• We believe that baptism is a confession and identification with Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12)
• We believe that when a person comes to faith and repentance in Christ, they should be baptized (Acts 2:38)
• We believe that though baptism is a subsequent response to the gospel, it is not a part of the gospel message (1 Cor. 1:17)
• We believe that you are saved through what baptism symbolizes; not the physical act, but a pledge of a good conscience towards God (1 Pet. 3:21).
• In other words, though baptism doesn’t save you, you must be baptized if you are saved. If you refuse to be baptized, then it is an outward expression of your rejection to submit to Christ.
One God and Father:
• We believe that God the Father is the first person in the trinity, and head in the chain of command of the Godhead
• We believe that Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (Gal. 1:4)
• We believe that God the Father spoke the world into existence (Gen. 1:3), through His son (John 1:3)
• We believe that no one has seen the Father except the son (John 1:18; 6:46).
• We believe that God the Father appointed Jesus to be Judge of all creation (Acts 17:31).
• We believe that when Paul said in Ephesians 4:6 that the Father is “over all” he is speaking of His absolute supremacy above all things; and when he says that the Father is “in all and through all” he is speaking of the Father’s personal involvement (His immanence) within creation.
• We believe that when the end comes, Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24)