What do we believe?
We believe that God has given us a guide for knowing about our common past, our current state and how to move forward. Through historical, biblical, experiential and contextual consistencies, we believe this guide is trustworthy and from God. Speaking to many people over a couple thousand years, his words have been compiled into one guide that can demystify the many confusions of life. This guide helps us know more deeply about the mundane and divine.
We believe that God is one. His created everything in the comsos and brought it from nothing into something (ex nihilo). By the nature of his being God, we can never fully know or fathom his person. However, he has distinctly revealed aspects of himself - things we could never know from pure logic or observation. We believe he is three in one - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This mystery is something that can only be known from his revelation.
The term "father" is a good description of God. All things come from Him. He created, cares for, and continues the universe. Just like the name suggests, he is the source of our life and our protection.
Similarly, the term "son" is a good description of the mission of Jesus and carries some deep meaning in the Jewish culture (see the Jewish prophesies of Daniel, chapter 7 - c. 6th century b.c.). He came from the father and follows his will. As a result, their intervention in our history has taken different roles while maintaining a common essence.
Finally, the Holy Spirit is God guiding us. The word "spirit" is essentially transferable with the word "breath" in Hebrew. While the Bible teaches the Spirit is a person, not a force, he is vital to our spiritual life. The Spirit of God transforms hearts, moves us past our limitations and connects us with God.
Man is a mixture of beauty and pain. As creations of God, his unique imprint has been left on us. However, we also make choices. Our selfish and misguided decisions have moved us far from the creations God intended. We are both diminished reflections of the divine and benefactors of the depraved. From the first poor choice to your daily moral miscalculations, our collective decisions have compounded over centuries leaving our inner and outer worlds in varying degrees of chaos. This state of chaos separates us from our perfect creator. On this point every world religion agrees (and any newspaper), the world is not as it should be.
"Salvation" is God's "fix-it" plan - it is also one of the main places where Jesus takes a different path than other world religions. While other faiths expect the broken to fix themselves, Jesus offered himself as the fix. Imperfect people bear imperfect destinies. God clearly knew that we were incapable of "fixing" our own situation. He offered a unique solution - the only solution. Jesus would trade his perfection for our imperfection. He took the result of our pain, destruction and guilt, and replaced it with a second chance at life. As the basis of our Easter holiday, he chose to die (an imperfect ending) in our place. In another one of God's incomprehensible mysteries, Jesus was resurrected, fully defeating death. As one of history's most amazing moments, he created a fix for our inner and external dysfunction. The bible demonstrates that the gift is simple to receive: if you put your trust in the fact that God made it possible for restoration and you choose to follow Christ, you will be saved or made right.
One of the last things Jesus did before he completed his mission was set up the church. We believe that a church is a group of Christ-followers. Thus, the church is not a building or organization, but a living and breathing entity, made up of people committed to each other and God. The church is to be like Christ in his physical absence. Together we worship God through serving, challenging, helping, correcting, teaching, and protecting each other. While the church is often more like a hospital for the broken, than a hall of fame for the saintly, our goal is to be both: to help heal the many needs of people while representing the way of Christ.
As followers of Christ, we attempt to emulate Jesus. This means a life of spiritual health demonstrated by good works. We believe that evil and destruction are everywhere, including in our own hearts, and we choose to separate ourselves from its grip. We choose to speak truth in a world of mistruth. We choose to make our homes set apart, a place of peace where our children can be introduced to God. We choose to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We choose to communicate with God through a life of prayer and meditation.
As a church, we pass on two main observances started 2000 years ago with Jesus.
(1) We baptize (dip in water) those who have chosen to follow Christ. We do this as a symbol to all watching that the individual has been made new, or chosen to follow God's lead. It is a picture of God's work at redeeming or making us right. For that reason, we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(2) We participate in a meal that remembers Jesus' last meal before he died by Roman crucifixion. We eat a meal with modern day followers like Jesus did with the early followers. We wash each others feet in a sign of humility, just like Jesus did for his followers 2000 years ago. Finally, we take communion (bread and juice) to remember the sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood.
We believe that there is more to reality than our five senses perceive. Just like there are realms that only a bat's echolocation can notice and a whale's sonar can detect, we believe there is a spiritual realm beyond our physical observation. Just like God is spirit and we are a mixture of flesh and soul, there is a another spiritual creation, one that has chosen a path apart from God. We call him Satan. We believe he is a real angel who has chose to defy God and do things his own way. While this is another piece of the puzzle delivered primarily from biblical revelation, a quick survey of the world's troubles make it easy to imagine his existence.
future life & jesus' return
We believe in Jesus' guarantee of life after death. We believe that God has offered his gift of salvation to all and will judge us on those terms. Those who trust in the gift of salvation will be judged as if their history has been erased by Jesus' perfection. Covered in his perfection, we will spend eternity with God. We also believe that those who do not accept the gift will spend their future in a place with others who denied the gift - in a place where God no longer intervenes.
In addition, we believe that God will find a time to bring this world to an end. He will do this through a very real events that is metaphorically described in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. God will start again with a new heaven and earth, fully completing his plan of redemption.