Statement of Faith

Statement of Faith

Living Word Bible Church, Bellingham WA 2015

Concerning the Word of God

We believe that the Bible, the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, are the Word of God, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and consist of the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament.

The Bible is the complete and sole written revelation of God to humanity, and is the sole means of coming to a true knowledge of God. It, in its original manuscript form, is the inerrant and infallible word of God. It reveals God’s will, contains God’s commands, laws, prophecies and points to the way of salvation. (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:15-21, 1 Thess. 2:13)

The Bible reveals the truth, tells of God’s love and eternal life in Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6, 1 Jn. 4:10; 5:11). Scripture is the source of the christian faith and spiritual guidance for christians (Rom. 10:17, 2 Pet. 1:19, Joshua 1:7-8).

God

We believe in one, living, true and eternal God (Duet. 6:4) who is perfect in all his attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – each of whom are equally worthy of worship and obedience. Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), in their essence and attributes are perfect, eternally equal and indivisible (John 10:30), so that the Father is the true and eternal God (Eph. 4:6), the Son is true and eternal God (Rom. 9:5) and the Holy Spirit is true and eternal God (1 Cor. 2:11).

  • God the Father

God the Father is the first person of the Trinity, and is the one who exercises providence over all things according to his will and purpose (Eph. 1:11, 1 Cor. 8:6). He is the Creator of everything, visible and invisible (Gen. 1:1-31, Eph. 3:9) and is the one and only Sovereign of the universe. His sovereignty extends through all creation and salvation (102:19, Rom. 11:36). His fatherhood is expressed in his relationship within the Trinity and his relationship to humanity. As Creator God, he is the Father of all humanity (Eph. 4:6), and yet he is Father in a distinct spiritual sense to all saved people (Rom. 8:14, 2 Cor. 6:18). His glory is the central driving reason behind his will and purposes for the universe (Eph. 1:12,14). Being the Sovereign Creator, God is nevertheless in no way the author or creator of sin and evil. God hates sin (Hab. 1:13, Jn. 8:38-47). Additionally, God in no way downplays the significance or reality of human reponsibility (1 Pet. 1:17). God the Father, by his mercy and love, chose before the foundation of the world those who would be his children forever (Eph. 1:4-6). He forgives all who come to him in repentance through Jesus Christ and is the Father of redeemed and forgiven sinners (Jn. 1:12, Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:5).

  • God the Son – Jesus Christ

We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God from all eternity (Jn. 10:30, Col. 1:15-16). Jesus Christ is all knowing, all present, holy and totally free of any evil (Col. 2:9). We believe that God the Father, in eternity past, ordained His Son’s death as the propitiation of our sins and the salvation of the world (Rom. 8:3, 1 Pet. 1:18-20).

Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary, uniting within himself total deity and humanity (Is. 7:14, Matt. 1:20). We believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5, Col. 1:20). We believe, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripture” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

We believe that Jesus Christ accomplished our salvation through the shedding of his blood and dying on the cross, becoming himself the willing redeeming and substitutionary sacrifice for our sins (Jn. 10:15, Rom. 3:24-25, 5:8). Christ “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25). Consequently, he holds total victory over Satan, hell and death itself (1 Cor. 15:55). “Through death he destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

We believe that Christ is the promised one of God, the Messiah and only Savior of the world (Jn. 1:29). “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sin” (Matt. 9:6). We believe that Christ, having ascended on to heaven, is seated at the right hand of God, and has become our Mediator and High Priest before the Father (Heb. 7:24-25). We believe that the resurrected, exhalted and glorified Christ is the Founder and Head of the Church (Col. 1:18). He is the Lord of the universe (Phil.2:9-10). We believe that Jesus Christ will come again in power and glory to judge the living and the dead (Matt. 24:30, Rev. 19:11-16).

  • The Holy Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit had all the qualities of God (Acts 5:3-4). Scripture teaches that he is all powerful (Rom. 15:13,19), all knowing (1 Cor. 2:10) and holy (Eph. 4:30). The Holy Spirit is from eternity realizing the works of God (Job 33:4, Ps. 103:30). The Holy Spirit moved the prophets and apostles in the writing of Scripture, thus he himself is the Author of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:19-21).

We believe that the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost to witness about Christ, to glorify him and to build the church (Acts 1:8, Jn. 15:26). The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, truth and judgement (Jn. 16:8), regenerates the repentant sinner (Jn. 3:3-5, Tit. 3:5) abides in them (1 Cor. 3:16, Rom. 8:9) and facilitates their spiritual growth.

We believe the Holy Spirit instructs, leads, convicts, builds up, strengthens and comforts the believers (Jn. 14:26, 1 Cor. 2:12-13, Rom. 8:13-14). We believe that the Holy Spirit repeatedly fills the christian with himself and gives them strength for a holy life and witness concerning the name of Christ (Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit gives the children of God the ability to bear fruit (Gal. 5:22-23, Eph. 5:9).

The Holy Spirit strengthens us in our weaknesses and intercedes for us to the Father (Rom. 8:26). We believe that the Holy Spirit endows the children of God with gifts of grace for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 12:7-11, 28).

Concerning Humanity

  • Creation of Man

We believe that man was created by God in his likeness and image. Man was created as a sinless creature, having wisdom, intellect, will and moral responsibility before God (Gen. 2:7,15-25; James 3:9).

We believe that God’s will in creating man was for man to glorify God, enjoy fellowship with Him, and rule over all creation as God’s steward (Gen. 1:26-28; Isaiah 43:7, Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11).

  • The Fall

Man disobeyed God’s commandment and fell into sin. Through the fall of Adam all mankind inherited a sinful nature and death (Rom. 5:12, Isaiah 59:2). The essence of Adam’s disobedience to God was his rejection of the absolute authority of God.

Being Adams decedents, all humanity therefore inherits the same fallen and depraved nature (Rom. 5:12-18). Therefore all people are conceived and born in sin (Ps 49:7), and are by their nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).

  • Redemption

We believe that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins (John. 1,29; Matt. 20,28; Isaiah 53:4-7; Acts 4: 10-12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19,2:24; Heb. 9:11-15).

He lived in perfect obedience and fulfilled all of the law (Rom. 5:19). He gave himself (Heb 9:28) as a sacrifice for our sake, became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13) and took all of the wrath of God as punishment for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, 2 Cor. 5:21).

In Christ, God gives mankind salvation ( Titus 2:1; Matt. 11:28-30; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4; Rom. 3:24). Man must accept the salvation in faith to have eternal life (Mark 16:16; John 12: 46-48; John 3:18, 5:39-40; Heb. 10:38, Acts 10:43).

We believe that to be saved, one must have faith, which is comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and the hearing of the Word (John 16:8-9, Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6; Acts 4:4). Faith leads a sinner to repentance, a turning away from sinful deeds and a new life in Christ (Acts 26:18; Acts 11:21, Eph. 2:8). Faith leads the believer to trust God and obey Him (2 Tim. 1:12; Rom. 4:18-21; Heb. 11:8). The confession of Jesus Christ as a Lord and Savior is evidence of true faith in a believer (2 Cor. 4:13; John 20: 28; Rom. 10:9-10; Matt. 10:32-33; Luk. 12:8-9).

  • Repentence, regeneration and justification

We believe that repentance is a gift given by the grace of God (Mark 1:15, Acts 11:18, Rom. 2:4, Eph. 2:5). Repentence and conversion include brokenness over sin, confession and turning away from one’s past life, and acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior (2 Cor. 7:10, Ps. 37:19, Acts 26:20).

We believe that being born again of the Spirit and Word of God is an inseparable aspect of adoption and entrance into the Kingdom of God (Jn. 1:12-13, Jn. 3:5, Jas. 1:18, 1 Cor. 4:15). Through regeneration a person becomes the child of God, a partaker of the divine nature and the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Pet. 2:9, 2 Pet. 1:4, 1 Cor. 6:19).

True signs of regeneration include a radically changed life, hatred to sin, love to the Lord and his church, a desire for fellowship with Him, and a desire to become more like Christ and fulfill his will (Titus 2:11-12, 2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:14, 1 John 5:1) as well as a love for God’s Word (1 Jn. 2:1).

Those who are born again have within them the testimony of the Holy Spirit that they are indeed the children of God and heirs of eternal life (1 Jn. 5:10-11, Rom. 8:16-17, Gal. 4:7, Eph. 2:19). We believe that justification changes one’s position before God, freeing them from feelings of guilt and condemnation for their sin, since Christ has himself taken the full punishment of sin (Rom. 5:9, 3:24-25; 28, 4:25, Gal. 2:16). Understanding their justification, the christian is freed from the judgement and wrath of God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, has peace with God, and becomes an heir with Christ (Rom. 4:5, 5:1-9, 8:1,30).

  • Sanctification

Sanctification is the result of the christian’s justification through Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30, Heb. 10:10, 14, 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:11). The christian is in need of continual sanctification throughout their entire life (Rev. 22:11, Eph. 5:27, 1 Thess. 5:23, 2 Cor. 3:18). Sanctification is the process of becoming separated from the influence of sin, a growing practical commitment to God and transformation into the image of Christ Jesus (Titus 2:14, Rom. 6:2, Philippians 2:15, 2 Cor. 6:17-18, Col. 3:5-8).

Sanctification is the simultaneous work of God and the work of the believer. God works through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, his Word and the Holy Spirit cleanse and mature the believer (1 Thess. 5:23, Jn. 17:17, Eph. 5:25-26). Christians themselves are commanded to live in faith in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30), study the Scriptures (Eph. 5:26, 1 Tim. 4:16, Jn. 5:39, Jas. 1:21-22, 2 Tim. 3:15-16), cultivate a practical dependence on the Lord in all circumstances of life (Jude 1:24, 2 Tim. 1:12), and seek to walk in holiness before Him (Rev. 22:11).

  • Prayer

Prayer is a way of fellowship of the believer with God (Jn. 16:23, Philippians 4:6, Jer. 33:3, Luke 18:1). God answers our prayers to him because of the intercessory work of Christ (1 Tim. 2:5, Jn. 14:6).

In prayer, we disclose our inner desires before God, knowing he has promised to hear those who call upon his name and is he is able to answer our requests (Ps. 49:15, Zach. 13:9, Philippians 4:6). We are called to pray not only for ourselves, but also for all people. Scripture calls us to pray about the church, the pastors, the spread of the Gospel, the governing powers, and the salvation of sinners (1 Tim. 2:1-2, Gen. 18:23-32, Matt. 5:44, Luke 22:32, 1 John 5:16, Jas. 5:14, 2 Thess. 1:11, 3:1). The children of God are called to give thanks to the Lord at all times, knowing that all things work together for good, for those who love God (Rom. 8:28, 1 these, 5:17-18, Eph. 5:20).

We believe that God hears the prayers that are brought to him according to his will and for his glory (1 Jn. 5:14, Jn. 16:23, Mark 11:24-25, Jn. 14:13-14, 15:7, Matt. 21:22). Prayer can also be accompanied by fasting in special circumstances (Acts 14:23).

The Church

We believe that Christ is founder of the church (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:26-27;Eph. 3:9-10; Rom. 14:24-28). Since the day of Pentecost the church has existed, both in universal (invisible) and local form.

The universal Church consists of people of all nations and cultures, in heaven and on ea rth, who have been saved by the redeeming blood of Christ (Eph. 12:22-23, 5:9-10, 1:22-23, 5:25-27; Col. 1:12-22). The church is called the body of Christ (Col. 1:17-18, 1 Cor 12: 20-27; Eph. 1:22-23; C ol 1:18-27), the Bride of Christ (2 Cor.11:2; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7-9, 21:9-10), Spiritual house or the Temple of God (Eph. 2:19-21; 1 Pet. 2: 4-6; Heb 3:6;), and the Flock of God ( John 10:16; John 21:15-17 ; 1 Pet. 5:2, Heb 13:20).

We believe all those who believe in the Gospel, have been born again and baptized in the name of Christ are members of the Church of Christ (John 3:5; Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:9,14; Titus 3:5- 7; 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 2:47; Eph. 4:5; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12). We believe that at the cl ose of the age of grace in which we now live, the Church will be taken from the earth to heaven and will be with Christ forever (John 17:22; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; Phil. 3:20-21).

Belonging to the universal church does not excuse one from the necessity of belonging in the local church (Acts 2:41). The local church is the congregation of saved people unified in one faith, one love, and one hope, who are brought together to serve God and and be nourished and equipped in their spiritual needs (Acts 2:42; Matt. 18:17; Acts 14:23; 1 Cor. 12:13, Rom. 8:9-14).

The purpose of the local church includes preaching the Gospel (Matt. 28:18, Mark 16:15,20; Acts 20:24), equipping of the saints for practical holiness, godliness and obedience to Christ (Matt. 28:20, Eph. 3:18-19), the promotion and growth of Chri st centered love and unity through corporate worship (John 17:21-23), as well as the preaching of the gospel to all people (Matt. 28:18-20).

  • Church Membership

In order to belong to the local church, a person must exhibit clear signs of faith, repentance and regeneration. Concerning these things a person confesses before God and the church in his verbal testimony, transformed life and water baptism (Rom. 10:9-10, Acts 19:2-5). A believer becomes a member of the local church after being baptized according to the their faith in Christ.

The responsibilities of the members of the church include: obedience and faithfulness to Christ (Rev. 2:10), a life of peace and Christ-like love among each other (2 Thess. 1:3), prayerful support of the pastors and elders, building and guarding the unity of the church in Christ (Rom. 15:5-6, Philippians 1:27, 2:2), eagerly involving themselves in the life of the church and its spiritual and material needs (1 Pet. 4:10, 1 Cor. 12:25, 2 Cor. 12:25, 2 Cor. 9:7, Heb. 13:16). Each member of the church is called to regularly attend coroporate worship services, Bible study and discipleship groups, and partake in the Lord’s Supper (Heb. 10:25, Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 11:26-28).

Life in the church includes the life and ministry of the saints along side each other, as well as their responsibilities to one another (Matt. 18:5-14). The church must implement biblical church discipline in the lives of those members who sin, refuse to repent and do not leave their sin. Scripture clearly lays down the pattern for church discipline (Matt. 18:15-22, Acts 5:1-11, 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The goal of church discipline is the restoration and repentance of the one who has fallen into sin.

  • The Order of the Local Church

Each local church ultimately belongs and submits itself to God alone (1 Cor. 1:2, Acts 20:28). According to God’s will, the church has a certain order and organization (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). The church in its practical functioning is run by leaders and ministers who are biblically qualified and affirmed by the church through the process of election and ordaining (Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11, 1 tim. 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9). The pastors must shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:28), instructing and leading the people in sound doctrine (2 Tim. 2:15), support the weak, rebuke those who contradict the truth (Acts 20:35, Titus 1:9). Deacons are called to support the pastors in their ministry (Acts 6:1-4). Ministers of the church may receive a compensation for their labors (1 Cor. 9:14, Matt. 10:10, Gal. 6:6).

The local church does not have any external, human run authority which presides over and directs its functioning. The council of chosen ministers and general congregation of members have the full and necessary authority for the resolution of any question that rises up in the life and ministry of the church (Acts 15:6, 22).

  • The Laying on of Hands

We believe that the teaching concerning the laying on of hands is part of the foundational and basic teachings of the faith (Heb. 6:1-2). Prayer, accompanied by the laying on of hands is presented numerous times in Scripture as a means for God’s blessing (Gen. 48:15-16). Prayer with laying on of hands is done when ordaining to ministry (1 Tim. 4:14, Acts 6:6), blessing of children (Mark 10:13-16), on the sick (Mark 16:18) as well as during baptism and marriage.

  • The Ordaining of Ministers

Pastors, deacons and other leaders in the church must fit the biblical qualifications for ministry (Acts 6:3, 1 Tim. 3:1-12, Titus 1:6-9) – and are committed to the ministry life through the laying on of hands of more old and more mature pastors (Acts 6:1-6, 13:3, 14:23, 1 tim. 4:14, 5:22). The ordainment looses its effect in the event that the minister falls into continual sin, which leads to church discipline and excommunication from the church (Heb. 12:15-17, Ez. 44:10-13). Ministers are in equal standing with all other church members when it comes to the question of church discipline. Nevertheless, in the event that a minister is accused of sin, there must be a direct involvement of mature elders and pastors (1 Tim. 5:19).

  • Baptism

We believe that water baptism, accompanied by faith in Jesus Christ, is the fulfillment of Christ’s command to the church and is a witness of true faith and obedience to the Lord. Baptism is presented in Scripture as the appeal to God for a good conscience (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21).

Water baptism is performed by the pastors of the church. It involves the full submersion into water of the professing christian and is done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The baptism of the believer symbolizes their death, burial and resurrection with Christ (Rom. 6: 3-5, Col. 2:11-12).

  • The Lord’s Supper

We believe that the Lord’s Supper (Communion) is the command of the Lord and is done for the remembrance and proclamation of His suffering and death (1 Cor. 11:23-26, Matt. 26:26-28, Luke 22:17-20). The Lord’s Supper also expresses our unity with Christ and with one another, as his body (1 Cor. 10:16-17). The bread and wine point to the body and blood of Jesus (Matt. 26:26-28). The church is called to participate regularly in Communion until the Lord returns (1 Cor. 11:26). Those who are called to participate in the Lord’s Supper include those who became members of the church at a mature age and who are at peace with God and the church (1 Cor. 11:27-29).

  • The Lord’s Day

We believe that the first day of the week was the day that Christ rose from the grave (Matt. 28:1-6, Mark 16:9). The first and second appearances that Christ had with his disciples after his resurrection took place on the first day of the week (Jn. 20:11-26). The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost also happened on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1, Lev. 23:15-16).

The Lord’s Day is a day that has historically been set apart by the church as a day devoted to spending time in prayer, Scripture and the corporate worship of God with the church (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 16:1-2).

  • Marriage and Family

We believe that marriage is an institution of God and was given for fellowship, mutual support, intimacy and procreation between a man and a woman (Gen. 1:27-28, 2:18).

We believe that a man must can have one wife and a woman can have one husband (Matt. 19:4-6). We believe that christians may join in marriage only in the Lord – with other christians (1 Cor. 7:39). Marriage is the mutual commitment for life between a man and woman, with the witness of God and the church. This commitment is done once and is for life (Matt. 19:5-6). All challenges and conflicts that arise between a man and his wife must be resolved and worked through in love and on the foundation of Scripture alone. The Bible forbids divorce (1 Cor. 7:10) under any circumstances except on the grounds of adultery (Matt. 5:32) or in cases where a non believing spouse leaves the believing spouse (1 Cor. 7:15).

Marriage, being a God-ordained institution as well as a government ordained institution, is officiated before God as well as according to the laws of the government. In every case however, God’s Word is the ultimate and final authority on the definition of marriage.

  • Concerning the Second Coming of Christ

We believe that, the church of Christ will be taken up from the earth. In this, the bodies of believers who will be alive at the time will be changed. Those believers who die before the Second Coming will be given a new body and will be united with Christ and the rest of his church, in order to be with him forever (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

We believe all who do not believe in the name of the Lord will be judged, both the living and the dead. They will be condemned by God in accordance to their deeds on earth (Rev. 20:12), and will be thrown into the lake of fire for eternal punishment, because their names were not written in the book of life (Rev. 20:15).

Relationship to Governing Authorities

We believe that the authorities are instituted by God (Rom. 13:1-2). Christians are called to be exemplary citizens in the areas that they live and work, not our of fear but out of conscience. As citizens of their nation, christians are called to “render to each that which is owned”, in other words, to obey the laws as long as they do not go against Scripture (Rom. 13:5-7, Mark 12:17, 1 Peter 2:13-17).

Christians are called to, be means of their godly life and prayer, combat all forms of evil and wrong in the life of the culture, seeking the triumph of good (Rom. 12:17), freedom (1 Cor. 7:21), justice (Phillipians 4:8) and peace for all people (1Pet. 3:11, Rom. 12:18). We are called to pray for the governing authorities, so that the power entrusted to them would lead to the preservation of peace and justice (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

We believe that the church is not of this world (1 Pet. 2:9-11). The church is called by its head, Christ, and by its nature cannot exist under the direct leadership and authority of any secular leadership; neither can it hold secular roles or authorities, or function according to their standard (Matt. 20:25-28).

The separation of the church and the state is determined by the Gospel. We believe that it is impossible for any external, human driven influence to direct our convictions in the christian faith and our relationship to God. The church, in its relationship to the government is directed by the words of Christ: Matt. 22:21.