What we believe

What we believe, the statement of our faith is the bedrock of Mount Olive Lutheran Church. These statements can be used for a variety of purposes:

  1. Training teachers and Bible Class leaders for children, youth and adults
  2. A resource to equip us to share the faith
  3. A refresher for believers and members of our primary beliefs. The following statement summarizes what we believe regarding the Bible. (Italics have been added for emphasis.)

What We Believe About God
What We Believe About People
What We Believe About Salvation
What We Believe About the Bible
What We Believe About Baptism
What We Believe About the Lord’s Supper
What We Believe About Good Works
What We Believe About Eternity
What We Believe About Physical Healing
What We Believe About Financial Stewardship
What We Believe About Stewardship of Time and Talent
What We Believe About the Sanctity of Life
What We Believe About Fasting
What We Believe About Human Sexuality


What We Believe About God:

God is Triune. He is one God, with three distinct Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

  • God is eternal. He is without beginning and without end.

“Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
(Deuteronomy 33:27a)

  • The three Persons of the Trinity are separate, but co-equal. Each is completely God. Yet They are one God.

“…yet for us, there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true - even in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal Life.”  (1 John 5:20)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

  • All three persons of the Trinity appear together in the Scriptures and are named individually in a number of passages.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’”   (Matthew 3:16-17)

“…To God’s elect … who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Peter 1:1a,2)

God the Father:

  • God the Father is a Spirit and no eye has ever seen Him.

“No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:18)

  • God the Father is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is in it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.”  (Nehemiah 9:6)

“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  (Psalm 145: 14-16)

  •  God the Father has many attributes that display His majesty, such as being all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, unchangeable, just, good, merciful and kind, but the attribute of God the Father which most gives us hope and assurance is love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  (Ephesians 2:4-5)

God the Son:

  • Jesus, God the Son, though True God from eternity, took on human nature and form at a point in history to become our Redeemer. 

“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)

“When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of children.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

  • Jesus lived a sinless life and suffered the punishment for all sin as our Substitute, making our salvation possible.

“Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14-15)

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:4-5) 

  • The resurrection of Jesus from the dead proves that His payment for sin was

       sufficient and that His victory over death and hell was complete.

“When this Priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God……because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  (Hebrews 10:12, 14)

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a Man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  (I Corinthians 15:20-22)

“He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  (Romans 4:25)

  • Jesus ascended into Heaven where He now intercedes for all believe in Him for salvation.

“While He (Jesus) was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.”  (Luke 24:51)

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”  (Romans 8:33-34)
 
God the Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin through the Law (Ten Commandments) and shows them their Savior through the Gospel. 

“Unless I (Jesus) go away, the Counselor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7b-8)

“Because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world be held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous by observing the Law; rather through the Law we become conscious of sin.”  (Romans 3:19-20)

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Gospel of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)

  • The Holy Spirit empowers those who believe in Jesus Christ to live a godly life.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no Law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk with the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:22-25)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

  • The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all who believe in Jesus Christ to equip them in their service to the Lord and the mission of His church.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit …Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another the ability to speak in different languages, to still another the interpretation of languages. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” 
(1 Corinthians 12:4, 7-11)

  • The Holy Spirit keeps believers in true faith.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship….The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  (Romans 8:15a, 16)
                
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:6)

The Triune God, though more holy, powerful and majestic than we can comprehend, loves each of us personally and intimately. We are known fully by Him and loved by Him so deeply that He wants us to live with Him, both now and eternally. He has made that possible by providing salvation for us through the sinless life and innocent death of Jesus Christ. He works faith in our hearts through His Word and the Sacraments to believe in Jesus as our Savior, and equips us to live for Him and serve one another and the world through the work of the Holy Spirit. What an awesome God we serve!  

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What We Believe About People:

People are different from every other part of God’s creation. We have an eternal soul. We are the supreme object of God’s creation and we are made in His spiritual image, to be like God in character.  Sadly, we have inherited the first Adam’s sinful nature, which is rebellious toward God. Our sinful nature and rebellion separate us from God and cause many problems in life.

  • People were created in God’s image.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them. Male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26a, 27)

  • People were created with an eternal soul.

“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:7)

  • God designed mankind to be the steward of His creation, to manage and take care of the rest of creation.

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.””  (Genesis 1:28)

“When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”  (Psalm 8:3-8)

  • The sinful nature and rebellion of man has separated and alienated him from God. Man by himself is unable to love God or to please Him.

“Your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden His face from you.” 
(Isaiah 59:2)

“As it is written, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3:10-12)

God created mankind in His own image, to be like Him, capable of living forever in harmony with God and His creation. Man spoiled that perfect state by choosing to disobey God. Because of that disobedience, man can no longer have peace with God by his own efforts. Man is a sinner and God cannot co-exist with sin. But God made a way to bridge the gap between man’s sinfulness and His own holiness through the sacrifice of His one and only Son. (See ‘What We Believe’ About Salvation)

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What We Believe About Salvation:

  • Man is a sinner who cannot save himself: 

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  • Man cannot by himself come to Christ or believe in Him, but is brought to faith by God the Holy Spirit through the Word.

“The man without the Holy Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Holy Spirit, for they are foolishness to him. He cannot understand them because they are spiritually understood.”  (I Corinthians 2:14)

“As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins…..”  (Ephesians 2:1) 
(A dead man cannot bring himself to life or make a decision to believe what he despises by his own nature.)

“…But, because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  
(Ephesians 2:4-5)

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)

Salvation is given wholly by God through His Son Jesus Christ. Even the faith that receives salvation is a gift created in our hearts by the Holy Spirit in the hearing of the Gospel message of Jesus: His life, death and resurrection for our sin. Salvation is not our decision for God but God’s decision for us. The only moment of decision is the moment God decided to give the gift of salvation to us. When the Holy Spirit makes us aware of what God has done for us and creates faith in our hearts, we respond with a life of gratitude and service.

A Prayer to Pray:
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have convinced me of the truth of Your Word and have created a living faith in my soul. I now realize that I am a sinner and I ask Your forgiveness for my sins against You. Thank You for so loving me that, You sent Your own Son to be my Savior. I know He died and rose for me and that because of His life and death for my sins, salvation and the assurance of heaven is mine. By Your Spirit’s leading, I put my faith in Jesus and long to follow Him each day. Give me a hunger for Your Word and teach me to pray. Make me more like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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What We Believe About The Bible:

The Bible is God’s Word to us. Though written by human authors, the very words written (in the original languages of the Scriptures) were inspired by God the Holy Spirit. It is our only source of absolute truth on which we base our Christian beliefs and living. There are no untruths or errors in the Scripture because it was inspired by God and God does not lie or make mistakes.

  • The Bible is God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  (2 Peter 1:20-21)

  • The Bible contains no errors or untruths.

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  (Proverbs 30:5)

“ ..a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, Who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”  (Titus 1:2)

  • The Bible is the only foundation for Christian beliefs.

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Timothy 1:13)

  • The Bible is useful for training and equipping Christians for their daily lives and service in the kingdom.

“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

  • The central teachings of the Bible are Law and Gospel. The Law teaches us that we are sinners, and because of our sin we are separated from God. The Gospel teaches us what God, in His grace, has done to cover our sin and bring us back to Himself.

“Through the Law we become conscious of sin.”  (Romans 3:20b)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

God speaks to us through His perfect Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that we might know who He is, experience His love for us and know His purpose for our lives. The Bible reveals our sin, makes clear the only way of salvation, and is the foundation for all we believe, teach and live.

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What We Believe About Baptism:

  • Children are born in sin and need to be redeemed.

“Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” 
(Psalm 51:5)

“As it is written, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’”  (Romans 3:10)

  • Faith is a gift. Baptism creates faith in the heart of a child. Children can believe.

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  (Acts 2:38-39)

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Matthew 28:19)
 
“At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them to his house and set a meal before them, and the whole family was filled with joy because they had come to believe in God.” 
(Acts 16:33-34)

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)

“If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matthew 18:6)

  • Baptism is the beginning of a life lived in relationship with and for Jesus Christ.

“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life … For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because any one who has died to sin has been freed from sin … in this way count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
(Romans 6:3-4, 6-7, 11)

Baptism is not an act on our part but an act on God’s part. It is not an act of human obedience to a divine command, but an act of divine grace for a sinful human. It is not an outward confession by us but an inward resurrection by God. Baptism is not a symbol (representing something not really there) but a sacrament (the working of God’s grace to us in Christ). Baptism makes it possible to live a lifestyle of daily dying to our old sinful self and rising to live with and for Jesus Christ.

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What We Believe About The Lord’s Supper:

  • The true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are present in the Lord’s Supper, along with the bread and wine.  

“...The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after supper, He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ ”  (1 Corinthians 11:23b-25)

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?”  (1 Corinthians 10:16)

  • God offers us forgiveness and strength for living a Christian life in this Sacrament.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat, this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins.”  (Matthew 26:27-28)

“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) (By communing with Christ in this Sacrament we are given strength to serve him in our daily lives.)

  • The Lord’s Supper is to be taken very seriously because it is not just a remembrance of Christ, but a communion with Christ Himself and communion with fellow-believers in Christ.

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”  (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

 

The Lord’s Supper is not merely a symbol or representation of something that is not present but rather a means by which we receive the very body and blood of Christ. Therefore proper preparation includes repenting of sin, recognizing Christ’s real presence in, with and under the bread and wine, recognizing our unity with those who commune with us (close communion) and finally renewing our devotion to turn our back on sin and seek to follow Christ. (For further study see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

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What We Believe About Good Works:

Salvation is a free gift. That gift is received by faith. Faith, created in the heart by the Holy Spirit, is alive and active. Good works are a fruit of faith.

Good works, as the Bible describes them, are acts of mercy, generosity, kindness, etc. which spring from faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our good works do not contribute to our salvation, but are a result of it.

  • Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, through faith. It cannot be earned or contributed to by our own efforts or behavior.

 
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  • Doing good works is our response to God’s gift of salvation and part of God’s design for our lives. 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

  • Believers in Jesus Christ find joy and fulfillment in doing good works, both out of obedience to God’s will and a desire to serve others.

“For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all … And He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

“Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2:14)

  • Good works carried out by believers are pleasing to God.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)

  • Only those works which have their basis in faith in Jesus Christ can be classified as truly good works.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God.”  (Hebrews 11:6a)

Doing good works and blessing others is a joy for the believer in Jesus. It is a way to say “thank you” to God for His undeserved love in Jesus. It is also a way to attract others to Him by reflecting His goodness in our lives. It is a ‘living out’ of the new nature which God has created within us.

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What We Believe About Eternity:

When God breathed into Adam and Eve the breath of life, He made them and all people to follow, eternal beings. Every person will exist eternally, either with God through His forgiveness and salvation, or separated from God by sin. The only two eternal dwelling places are in heaven with God, or in hell, apart from God. 

  • Heaven is a place of unimaginable beauty and peace and joy. The greatest blessing of this eternal home for all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior will be to live in the presence of God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Revelation 21:3b-4)

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations of the earth will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’”  (Matthew 25:31-34)

  • Hell is a place of unspeakable agony and suffering, both physically and spiritually. The most horrible aspect of spending eternity in hell will be to be separated from God forever.

“For the wages of sin is death.”  (Romans 6:23a)

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”  (Matthew 25:41)

 “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out of the presence of the Lord and the majesty of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Knowing that physical death is not the end of a person’s existence should cause him to be concerned about where he will spend eternity. The choices are two: in hell, where there is eternal suffering and pain and hatred and fear apart from God and His grace, or in heaven, where there is eternal joy and peace and love in the presence of God and His love. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have eternal life.

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What We Believe About Physical Healing:

The topic of healing generates a considerable amount of interest in the church. Though it is not a matter of church doctrine, it may be helpful to try to shed some light on what the Scriptures have to say about illness and healing so that some of our questions and concerns may be put to rest. 

  • It is important to understand the cause of illness before we discuss healing. Simply put, all illness is the result of sin, though not necessarily a specific sin of the person who is ill.

 
“His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”  “Neither this man, nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “But this happened so that the glory of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:2-3)

  • Rather, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they became sinners, and all who followed inherited sin from them. As a result, we are all subject to the consequences of sin, one of which is illness.

     
“……sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned….”  (Romans 5:12)

  • Healing was carried out by the Apostles and is listed in Scripture as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

     Though this gift is not emphasized in many branches of the Christian church today, there is no
     Biblical evidence the gift is no longer valid.

“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”   (Acts 3:6)

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the message of knowledge…..to another, gifts of healing by the same Spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

  • We might be perplexed by the fact that some Christians are healed of illness and disease while

       others are not.

“…there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:7-8)
                  
We might ask, “What is God’s attitude toward healing?” “Why aren’t all Christians healed?”
While God’s ways are past our understanding, we know from Scripture that God’s plan for His
children is always to bless them.  So, if we are not healed, it is only because He has something even better in mind for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

“…….this happened so that the glory of God might be displayed in his life.”  (John 9:3b)

Though God typically works through doctors and medicines to bring about healing in our lives today, many of us can testify about miraculous healing in our own lives or those of our friends or relatives, when the healing is a total mystery to the medical community. We should respond to these miraculous healings just as they did in the New Testament: with praise and adoration to our God of mercy and grace.
      
As we live in the assurance of God’s love, we should also respond with praise and adoration when it seems God withholds healing, acknowledging that we are not our own, but God’s, and trusting that He has a perfect plan for all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, and it includes an ultimate perfect healing, whether in this life or in heaven.

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What We Believe About Financial Stewardship

A full discussion on Stewardship encompasses the whole of life (the use of our time, talents and finances). This document will be focused on our belief
regarding the stewardship of finances. 

God pleasing financial stewardship is not simply an act, such as placing a check in the offering plate. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit changing my heart and mind, and bringing me to the realization that everything I have called “mine” in the past is not mine at all, but God’s. I am but a temporary caretaker of all He has entrusted to me. That changed mindset toward things, and even my life, results in a desire to honor and please God by using His property according to His will, as He reveals it in the Scriptures.
 
All things belong to God.

  • “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)
  • “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)  
  • “‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:8)
      
God provides Scriptural guidelines for our stewardship of His property.

First Fruits Giving: “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” (Proverbs 3:9)

“On the first day of each week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” (I Corinthians 16:2a)

Proportional Giving: “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 16:16)

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”       
(2 Corinthians 8:12)

Tithing: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”(Malachi 3:10a)

Grateful Giving: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7)

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” (I Chronicles 29:14)

Faithful Management: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2)

“….it will be like a man going on a journey who called his servants together and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the one who received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five.  ‘Master,’ he said. ‘You entrusted me with five
talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.’” (Matthew 25:14-21)

God promises blessings to those who practice faithful and generous stewardship of all He places in our care.  However, it would be an error to believe that if we are faithful in managing our money according to God’s design, that He would automatically bless us with more money. God’s blessings are many and varied and He will provide to His faithful stewards, those things that are best for them and for the Kingdom.

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows    generously will also reap generously.”       (2 Corinthians 9:6)

God does not require good management of our lives and the material riches He places under our care because He has need of these things, but because we need to practice good stewardship for our own spiritual welfare. As redeemed people who continue to struggle with our old nature, we are susceptible to the pull of false riches. Being good stewards trains us to focus our hearts where they belong: on the One who provides our physical and spiritual needs and Who alone is worthy of our worship and praise. 

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What We Believe About Stewardship of Time and Talent

In the same way that we understand from the Scriptures that we are not the “owners” of material things in our lives, we are also, by that same Word, brought to the realization that our time, our spiritual gifts and our talents are not really our own, but are provided by God to be managed according to His design and for His glory.

  • There is to be a sense of urgency regarding our use of time, especially when we have opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to others through words or actions which the Holy Spirit may use to bring them to faith in Jesus.

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short….those who use the things of the world (should do so) as if they are not engrossed in them.  For the world in its present form is passing away.”  (I Corinthians 7:29a, 31)

 “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders (unbelievers); make the most of every opportunity.”  (Colossians 4:5)

  • Our use of time should be balanced, with each use an act of worship to our Lord.

Work: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependant on anybody.”  (I Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Serve: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  (Galatians 6:10)

Public Worship:  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another all the more as you see the day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:25)

Family Devotions: “Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds…teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy.11:18a, 19)

Pray:Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  (Col. 4:2)

Witness: “It is written: ‘I believed, therefore I have spoken.’  With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak.”  (II Corinthians 4:13)

Rest: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”  (Mark 6:31)

  • A wide variety of Spiritual gifts and talents are distributed among believers as God chooses.  Each gift or talent is given by God for the purpose of equipping, encouraging and building up the body of believers.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”  (I Corinthians 12:4-7)

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the othersWe have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”   (Romans 12:4-6a) 

“It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of he fullness of Christ.” 
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

  • Our motivation for using time, gifts and talents in a God pleasing manner should be to express our

gratitude to God, and to praise Him for what He has already done for us and for what He continues to do in us: He has secured our salvation through the blood of His own Son, planted faith in our hearts to believe in Jesus as our Savior, and forgiven all our sins.  He keeps us in the faith and equips us for service in His kingdom.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died.  And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him Who died and rose again.”  (II Corinthians 5:14-15)

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:6b)

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship.”  (Romans 12:1)

  • Our attitude in the stewardship of the time and talents God has provided should be one of worship, and should be carried out in service to the Lord.

“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If any one serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  (I Peter 4:11)

If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”  (Romans 12:6b-8)

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”  (Ephesians 6:7)

In our sinful nature we may tend to “categorize” gifts and talents, viewing one as “better” or “more important” than another.  We may even be envious of someone who has gifts or talents we would like to have.  However, God would have us view such gifts and talents in the same way we view our bodies: there are many different members, all with different functions; but each essential to the body’s health.  Whatever our gifts or talents are, we should recognize that God chose those specific features for us individually, to be used for His glory and the building up of His body, the church.  We should also rejoice in the gifts of others and encourage them in their use for God’s glory.  In gratitude for His grace, we are to praise God for His wisdom and faithfully serve Him with all He has placed into our lives.     

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What We Believe About the Sanctity of Life

When God created Adam and Eve, He made them unique among all living things by giving them a soul. In so doing, of all creation, only mankind was created in God’s image! God then made man responsible for managing all created things on earth, again setting humans apart from the rest of creation. God placed a special value on humans in these acts, and He demonstrated just how special by sending His own Son to redeem mankind after we fell into sin. Since God has shown us how precious human life is to Him. We must treat it with special care and regard, according to His plan and design.

God created man in His own image and gave him responsibility for managing the rest of creation.

“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” 
(Genesis 2:7)

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air; over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over ever living creature that moves on the ground.” 
(Genesis 1:26-28)

God demonstrates the great value He places on mankind by elevating our status and our level of responsibility above that of all other created beings, and through the atoning  sacrifice of His only Son for our salvation.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet.”  (Psalm 8:3-6)

“For you know that it was not with perishable things, such as silver and gold that you were redeemed,… but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.”  (I Peter 1:18a, 19)

“God so loved the world (mankind) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

God is the creator and giver of every life.

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  (Job 33:4)

“And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men.”  (Acts 17:25-26a)

Human life is precious in God’s sight and He holds us accountable for the lives of others.

“If a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my Altar and put him to death.” 
(Exodus 21:14)

“You shall not murder.”  (Exodus 20:13)

“…and from each man, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.’” 
(Genesis 9:5b-6)

Human life is present in the womb, and is dear to God from the moment of conception.

Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  (Psalm 51:5)

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb.”….(Elizabeth said) “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”  (Luke 1:41a, 44)

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.” (Psalm 139:13-15a)

If we believe the Scriptures are the very Word of God, and we do, we must recognize that He has made us different from the animals, and that He has given us laws and guidelines to govern how we value and treat human life (our own as well as that of others). It is also clear from  Scripture that human life begins at conception   (a blob of ‘tissue’ could hardly leap in its mother’s womb or experience joy; nor could it be identified as a sinner or acknowledge that God was giving it life, growth and shape in the womb). When we realize from the Scripture  that God is the One Who makes every life possible, we then must also realize that every  life is to be treasured and protected from the moment of conception until the Lord brings it  to an end.

Our concern for human life should not be limited to physical life, but must also include spiritual life. Since God has equipped each person with a soul, one of our greatest responsibilities and joys should be sharing the Gospel message with all people, that through that message, many may know Jesus as Savior and so have eternal life.

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What We Believe About Fasting

Though most bodies of the Christian church no longer encourage fasting or even mention it, many references to fasting are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Fasting is not a requirement for salvation, but many Christians find it to be helpful in developing and maintaining a disciplined and committed walk with the Lord.

  • Jesus Himself fasted as He devoted Himself to do combat with Satan when he tried to get Jesus to deny God’s will and fall into temptation.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing (fasted) during those days….” (Luke 4:1)

  • We are taught by Jesus that our fasting should not be done for show or to impress other people, but in humility before the Lord.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to the Father, Who is unseen; and your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6: 16:18)

  • Fasting is appropriate as we acknowledge our own sinfulness before God.

“On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads…they stood in their places and confessed their sins…”  (Nehemiah 9:1, 2b)

“On that day they fasted, and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” 
(I Samuel 7:6b)

  • Scripture also ties fasting to mourning over the sin of a nation or a large group of people.

“Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan , son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.”  (Ezra 10:6)

  • God, in His patience and mercy, calls the straying sinner to return to Him in sincerity and sorrow over sin, including fasting in His invitation.

"Even now, declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." (Joel 2:12)

  • Fasting is often combined with prayer in worship and in petitions.

“… She never left the temple, but worshiped day and night, fasting and praying.”  (Luke 2:37)
“… So we fasted and petitioned our God over this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23)

  • God sometimes reveals His plan for service in His kingdom while His followers are fasting.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.  (Acts 13:2)

  • In the early church, fasting was included in the consecration of those called to serve.

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each congregation and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”  (Acts 14:23)
“So, after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”  (Acts 13:3)
             

  • As we might expect, Scripture combines fasting and mourning in times of loss.

“They said to me, ‘those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’  When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”  (Nehemiah 1:3-4)

  • We even find that fasting can be a component of showing love and mercy to those who cause us harm.

“They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. Yet, when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.”  (Psalm 34:12-13a)

  • Scripture teaches us that it is not the act of fasting alone that brings answer to prayer. Fasting by the disobedient and unbelieving will not move God to give them what they want, nor will it move Him to forgive their sins. Salvation is ours through Jesus alone.

"Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.  Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague." (Jer.14:11-12)
                                   

  • God also describes fasting, not just as going without food for a time, but as showing mercy and God’s love to those in need. Could it be that this is what He intends the fruit of our fasting to be?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”  (Isaiah 57:6-7)

Though fasting does not guarantee our salvation or even the answers we want to our prayers, the practice of genuine fasting can be an important aid in helping us become more focused in our relationship with the Lord, as well as preparing us for service in the kingdom and leading a more disciplined spiritual life. Fasting should be coupled with prayer and searching God’s Word, all done in worship of our Lord and King with a genuine desire that His will be done in our lives. For those who cannot go without food for any extended time because of health reasons, denying oneself of some other activity or thing (television, movies, sports events, reading, etc.), and using that time to read the Bible, pray and serve others could be considered a form of fasting. 

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About Human Sexuality

As is true of virtually every species created by God, humans have the capacity and ability to reproduce. In fact, Adam and Eve were even told by God to “…be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth….” However, He also made very clear His will regarding the use of our sexuality. The purpose of this document will be to examine the Scriptures that help us understand God’s desire for us regarding human sexuality and relationships, so that we might live according to His will as we live in a world where many people want only to satisfy their sinful passions. 

  • God commands us to refrain from sexual activity outside marriage. He also commands us to put away impure thoughts and desires.

“It is God’s will that you should be holy; that you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.” (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God…”  (Romans 6:12-13a)

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”  (I Corinthians 6:18)

“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

  • God’s design for marriage is that it be between one man and one woman, and that the marriage bond be considered sacred,  giving only one acceptable reason for divorce.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24)

“Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)

“Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  (Mark 10:9)

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman, commits adultery.”  (Matthew 19:9)

  • The Scriptures declare that a homosexual lifestyle is sinful and is often the product of a life lived in disobedience to God, resulting in more and more depravity as God “gives them up” to do what their sinful nature desires.

“Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” (Romans 1:24)

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural (sexual) relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”  (Romans 1:26-27)

“Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.’….By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 19:4-6, 23-24a)

Judging by the high divorce rate in the United States, the extremely high percentage of unmarried people who glibly acknowledge being involved in sexual activity, and the pressure to legalize marriage between homosexuals, it is clear that many in our nation have rejected God’s Word as it speaks to this issue.

However, even as we express sorrow over this disobedience, we also acknowledge that this sin is like all others: an abomination to the Lord, but paid for by Jesus’ shed blood at the cross of Calvary. For all who believe in Him and trust His payment for their sins, Jesus offers complete forgiveness. The Holy Spirit then also enables us to turn from our sin, and, by the new nature He implants in us, makes it possible for us to want to live for God’s glory.

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