RHEMA COMMUNITY CHURCH - FOUNDATIONAL DOCTRINES
Orthodox Christianity has historically found its meaning and understanding of God, humanity, and the world through the overreaching storyline of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. This story, which at its core is the working of God through Jesus, makes sense of our own stories. Furthermore, there is an undeniable connection between story and doctrine. The Biblical story both raises and helps us answer the big questions of life such as: Who am I? Why am I here? Why is the world broken? How can the world be made right? Doctrines are the convictions that arise out of asking these questions as we live in God’s story. Simply put, doctrine is what we believe about what God has revealed concerning his people, his plan, and his world. Our doctrinal convictions help us understand the story and keep it from becoming mere history. In this way, foundational doctrines provide meaning for the present and hope for the future.
Section 1. God
There is one true God (YHWH) who always was, who presently is, and who forever will be. He is knowable only because he has revealed himself to mankind in a way that is comprehensible for our limited capacities. Both His written revelation (Holy Scripture) and His general revelation (creation) tell us of His eternal power, invisible attributes, and unfailing love. He is eternal, self-existent, immutable (unchanging), all powerful and perfect. He exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons are of the same essence. They are in unity with one another in their true substance, and yet they are each distinct in personality and role. They are co-eternal in being and nature. They are co-equal in power and worth. They exist together in perfect and unbroken fellowship as one essential being. (Deut. 6:4,13; Matt. 4:10; Hebrews 1:1-2; Romans 1; Colossians 1; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
Section 2. The Scriptures
The Scriptures (39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament) are the inspired Word of God. In their original form they are without error in all they proclaim. They are completely sufficient and authoritative because of the Spirit who breathed them out and because of the true story they tell. They are to be read, studied, proclaimed, and applied by the Church as a foundation and guide in all of life. They are the canon "rule" by which all theology, wisdom, mission, and vision should be measured. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; Psalm 33:6; Psalm 119; Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Timothy 5:18)
Section 3. Jesus
Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, is the eternal only begotten son of God. He is fully man and fully God. Jesus was the agent of creation and the creator of all things. He was before all things and holds all things together. He is the visible image of the invisible God. He became like man in every respect except for sin. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a perfect, obedient life. He died on a cross as the penal substitute for mankind. Absorbing the complete righteous wrath of the Father towards sin, he simultaneously upheld God’s justice and love. Through His death, man can be freed of guilt and reconciled to God. After being dead and buried for three days, Jesus’ body was physically raised from the grave, overcoming death and its power. Through His resurrection, Jesus validated His deity, His life, and His mission. He ascended and now sits at the right hand of the Father and serves as the perfect mediator between God and man. (John 1; Ephesians 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1; Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Phil. 2:5-8)
Section 4. Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is co-equal with the Father and Son for all eternity. He is a helper, adviser, strengthener, encourager, ally, and advocate. He is a person, distinct from the Father and Son. He enlightens, regenerates, indwells, baptizes, seals, empowers, transforms, and gifts all believers in Christ at the point of faith in Christ. He helps believers understand, interpret, and apply God’s Word to their lives. He is the proxy on earth for the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ. He is the seal and the down payment for the believer’s future inheritance. He indwells believers, convicts them of sin, and enables them to be conformed to the image of Christ. (Matt. 28:19; John 3:3-7; John 16:7-15; Titus 3:5; I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9, 15-17; I Cor. 2:12; 3:16-17; 12:13; Eph. 1:13-18; 4:30; 5:18; Col. 3:14; Gal. 5:16)
Section 5. Man
God made man, both male and female, in Their own image with the purpose of glorifying Himself through enjoyment and fellowship with man. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God and fell from his sinless state. Being severed from the Creator and subject to His divine wrath, man finds himself depraved and utterly hopeless with no remedy to help himself. The depravity of man finds every human alienated, from his God and from his fellow man, and unable to be restored to his original state without a divinely initiated, radical intervention by the Triune God. (Rom. 2:2-3, 5; Eph. 2:8-9; Gen. 1:27; 9:6; Rom. 3:23; 5:12; Eph. 2:1)
Section 6. Salvation
Salvation is the free gift of God, by grace alone and through faith alone in the person of Jesus Christ and His work on behalf of mankind. Man’s response to God is founded in the eternal working of the triune God who predestined, called, justified and glorified all believers. All who believe are declared righteous in Christ, are completely forgiven of the debt of their sin, are adopted children of God, and are co-heirs with Christ for all eternity. Biblical faith is marked by repentance and a changed life. Union with God initiates a reorientation of one’s affections away from self and toward God and others. (Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 5:15; 6:23; 8:30-31; Hebrews 9:15-20; Galatians 3:15-4:7)
Section 7. Male and Female as Image Bearers and the Implications for Marriage
God creates each person as male or female, as two distinct, complementary genders who together reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27). These distinctions are divinely inspired and are essential to fully understand the nature of God. However, we are fully fallen – physically, emotionally, and psychologically – and this brokenness can affect our personal understanding and expression of gender.
But by God's sovereignty and through His grace, gender is also being redeemed from the pathway of self – determined expression to God's intended design of male and female as image bearers. We believe that this redemptive process is full of hope and healing. Conversely, disagreement with one's biological sex or God's boundaries for sexual expression leads to spiritual confusion and emotional chaos (Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We believe that marriage is originally and continues to be defined by God in the Scriptures as the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive, covenant commitment for a lifetime (Genesis 2:18-25). Furthermore, it is God who alone that has ultimate authority to prescribe and describe the marital relationship (Matthew 19:1-9, Mark 10:1-12).
It is through this marital union that God provides a framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual delight according to Biblical standards, the means for protection, and the foundation for raising godly children. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman in the sacred context of marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:2-5; Hebrews 13:4; Malachi 2:15). Sexual immorality, defined by any sexual activity outside the boundaries of this relationship, is clearly and expressly prohibited by the Lord (Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians6:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 13:4).
Ultimately, this marital covenant is a representation of Christ's relationship with His church. As such, the husband and wife, though equal in value and worth before God, have been entrusted with complementary roles within the marital relationship. A husband has been entrusted with the responsibility to lead his wife and to love her sacrificially – giving himself up for her, just as Christ love and sacrificed Himself for the church. A wife is to respect her husband, to be his helper, and to submit herself graciously to the leadership of her godly husband, just as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19).
We consider our "structural doctrines" to be extremely important. They help to define who we are as a church. However, we also acknowledge that there is some room for disagreement among committed believers over these important issues. These structural doctrines are an important part of our beliefs, but are not a requirement to membership in our church.
Sanctification is the continuing work of God in the life of the believer. Every believer is promised positional, progressive, and ultimate sanctification. Positional sanctification, based on the death of Christ, occurs at conversion when the believer is set apart in the family of God. Through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit, the believer undergoes a progressive transformation of character. Ultimate sanctification will only occur when the believer sees Christ and becomes like Him. (Heb. 10:10, 14; John 17:15-17; Phil. 1:6; Eph. 5:26-27; 1 Thess. 4:3-4; 1 John 3:2; 1 Cor. 6:11)
Every person who is born of the Spirit through faith in Christ has the assurance, or confidence, of salvation and is eternally secure in Christ. This assurance of eternal security is not based on the work or the worth of the individual, but is based entirely on the testimony and promise of God in the Scriptures. God will never reject those who are his own, because of His character, promises, grace and power. (Luke 10:20; Rom. 5:1; John 6:37; John 10:27-29; John 17:12; 2 Tim. 1:12; Eph. 4:30; 1 John 5:13)
The church is composed of all believers. It is the body and bride of Christ, formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and existing in two aspects, universal and local. The universal church is an elect company of believers, baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body. Its mission is to witness to its Head, Jesus Christ, preaching the Gospel among all nations. It will be caught up to meet the Lord, after which He will return to set up His Kingdom. The local church is a group of believers voluntarily joined together in love to worship God with praise and thanksgiving, and to glorify Jesus Christ through an aggressive effort to disciple others by the preaching of the Gospel, and the exercise of spiritual gifts.
Rhema Community Church is evangelical and denominationally unrelated. (Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 5:24-30; 1 Cor. 12:4-13, 27)
Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities for service, i.e., "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ." The Holy Spirit bestows certain special gifts upon believers within the body of Christ. In Paul’s writings there are three different lists of the gifts; a fourth list is included in 1 Peter. (Rom. 12:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:4, 11; Eph. 4:1-16; 1 Peter 4:8-11)
Christians are called to a holy life of service and testimony in the power of the Holy Spirit, which service includes the spreading of the gospel message to the whole world. There is promised reward in heaven for faithfulness in such service. (1 Pet. 1:15-16; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 3:12-17; John 14:1-3)
Water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances that Christ gave to His church to be publicly observed after His death and Resurrection. Baptism is a one-time act of obedience and is an outward testimony of a person’s belief in Christ. Baptism is a symbol of unity among believers and signifies a spiritual identification with Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Only those persons who profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ may be baptized. Immersion is the ideal means set forth in Scripture. The Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated regularly as a memorial in remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross, and in expectation of His return. The elements of the Lord’s Supper represent the body and blood of Christ and are available to all believers who have confessed their sins to God. (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12, 36-38; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
The blessed hope of the church is the imminent return of Christ. The events of the return of Christ take place in the following order: the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the second advent, the establishment of the reign of Christ on earth for 1,000 years, and finally the eternal state of punishment for the unsaved and the eternal state of blessing for the saved. (Titus 2:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:4-10; John 14:1-3; Matt. 24:21, 29-30; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 3:10; 20:1-6, 11-15)