When visiting or joining a church, it’s important to know what that church believes in and stands for. The only problem is that statements of faith (doctrinal statements) are very limited in conveying the entire scope of what a church believes and teaches. Technically, a church could say that the Bible itself is its statement of faith; however, that’s not very helpful in a practical sense. People routinely get different things from their reading of the Bible, so such a statement doesn’t actually tell me anything about what a particular church believes.
So, we’ve created the following statement to convey those beliefs that are the most central to our church. If you desire a shorter document, simply read the bolded words in each doctrinal item.
We believe that the Bible is the highest authority in the church. Although it’s not the be all and end all of our Christian experience, it’s the foundational guidepost by which we come to understand God’s character, purpose, and heart, especially on a corporate (church-wide) level.
We believe that God is triune, existing eternally in three distinct manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There’s no brief or easy way to explain the tri-unity of God; but let it suffice to say that we believe in one God who has revealed Himself as the eternal Father (often simply called “God”), the eternal Son (who we came to know as Jesus, the Christ/Messiah), and the eternal Holy Spirit (our personal guide, teacher, and comforter who lives in every believer).
We believe that Jesus, the Son, was born of a virgin, lived a life in perfect holiness, died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead by the Father, and is now at His right hand making intercession for us. That’s quite a mouthful, but basically, it means that Jesus was and is divine, that He died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead, and that He presently pleads our case before the Father, showing that He paid the price for our sins and that we now enjoy right-standing with Him.
We believe that all believers receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Some Christians believe that a person receives the inner presence of the Holy Spirit at some point after they are saved/born again/become a Christian. At The Sanctuary, we believe that every born again believer receives the Holy Spirit at the moment they were saved.
We believe that the human being is spirit, soul, and body. This means that humans are made up of three components: 1) the spirit, which is our life force, 2) the soul, which is our consciousness, including our intellect (thinker), our emotions (feeler), and our will (chooser),and 3) the body, which is our physical being, with which we interact with the physical world around us. Only the body dies; and for believers, it will eventually be resurrected in a perfect state (without its current ailments).
We believe that salvation (redemption) from the bondage of sin is a free gift to all who confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead. We’re not saved by anything we’ve done. Salvation cannot be earned. It has been freely offered to all humankind through the death of Jesus, and is received by faith alone. Likewise, it cannot be revoked by anything we can do; only by a rejection of the faith that was required to receive it in the first place.
We believe that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive and cleanse us of the unrighteousness. We do not believe that penances are required to receive absolution (forgiveness). Jesus paid the price for our sins 2,000 years ago. All we have to do to receive forgiveness is ask!
We believe that water baptism by full submersion is an important part of the Christian experience, symbolizing our fellowship with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. While we do not believe it is a part of the process of receiving salvation, it does represent in a visible way the washing away of our sins that took place when we got saved (born again). Consequently, it should only take place after a person has been born again; otherwise, its symbolic nature points to something that hasn’t happened yet, making the act meaningless.
We believe that the spiritual gifts given by God are still in operation today, including the 7 gifts given by the Father (Ro. 12:6-8), the 5 gifts given by the Son (Eph. 4:11), and the 9 gifts given by the Holy Spirit (1Co. 12:8-10).
We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is available to every believer, being initially evidenced by speaking in tongues. While every believer has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the subsequent experience and lifestyle of supernatural empowerment—which is referred to in the Bible as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Holy Spirit, or as the gift of [given by] the Holy Spirit—is available to all believers. One knows that they have received this empowerment when (s)he exercises the initial sign of speaking in tongues.
We believe that the church is the Body of Christ, a spiritual family of believers bound together by the blood of Jesus. Although local congregations may take in new members and maintain a membership role, one is truly a part of the universal Church (Body of Christ) when (s)he is born again.
We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the time that believers remember Jesus, who is the New Covenant between God and His people. This Supper (Holy Communion) contains two elements that symbolically represent Jesus’ payment for our sins through His brutal death. The bread represents His broken body, and the wine (or grape juice) represents His shed blood.
We believe that the church is to be financially supported by tithes and freewill offerings. We do not believe in imposing any financial obligations on people, whether by official dues or other fees, or by guilting people into giving.
We believe that as Christians, we should pursue a holy life through loving and obeying God, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Although Christians can sometimes get caught up in the do’s and don’ts, and in the myriad of beliefs that differ from church to church, or person to person, when it gets right down to it, what God wants from us is love—love for Him, and love for our neighbor. The rest, although important, is secondary to these core essential aspects of the Christian experience.
We believe that the chief adversary (the devil, Satan) is a real and active being working to thwart God’s purpose and desire for our lives. He and his minions are the instigators of evil, the accusers and tempters of the believers, currently serve as the rulers of the wickedness of this world, and are already doomed to an eternity of torment in the lake of fire.
We believe that our Lord Jesus will return in the clouds to rapture His church away unto eternal life. This event, which we cannot know the time of, will mark the end of the Age of the Church, and will be a pivotal part of the end times.