STATEMENT OF FAITH:
.First and foremost, God loves us. He doesn't want to hurt us, He wants to save us. Jesus would not have died for someone whom He did not love, which is the Gospel meaning Good News. He's done His part i.e. "It is finished," and now we have to respond to that loving act of sacrifice. If you need convincing, rent "The Passion of the Christ." (It is a uniquely anointed film) If you've seen it, rent it again.
Unfortunately, there are some ministries that promote "You can run but you cannot hide" or supposedly "Sold out for Jesus" that either attempt to scare people into a relationship with Jesus (the wrong motive) or tries to inflict upon them the Old Testament Law as their tool of evangelism. (wrong method) Those approaches are simply misguided and are not the Biblical precedent of being His witnesses. Again, the Gospel means "Good news." And that Good News means you can have God in your life (and more importantly in the life to come, John 3:16) and that you have unsurpassable worth in His eyes.
While it's true that some who are foolishly stubborn and prideful, will only come to the Lord through a confrontation—perhaps a "This is your last chance" confrontation—the norm about sharing our faith i.e. Salt and Light, is that His goodness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Ministries who focus on hell (rather than heaven) or our sins (rather than Jesus' victory over them) are actually doing the oppposite of the Great Commission i.e. promoting "bad news" not speading the Good News. Basically, they're approach comes down to this: pride and error. Anybody can rent air time, build a web site or have large meetings. As any good reporter will tell you: "Consider the source."
.We believe that the Bible is God's Word. It is Divinely inspired, infallible, without errors, authoritative and is completely practical to navigate thru life's storms. Storms will come but He'll walk you through those. The Bible is the only source of true power on Earth that has the capacity of changing us. Romans 12:2. "transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Transformed means changed.
.We believe that there is one God eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are "one" but not the same i.e. one in unity, purpose and direction.
.We believe in the deity of Jesus i.e. He is God. We believe in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and redemptive death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His personal return in power and glory. In short, He's everything to us. (Know Jesus, know peace)
.We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is biblically essential. Jesus died for all mankind and any can receive the free gift. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"Believe" means to surrender then give your life to Jesus, repent, follow Him and don't look back. Jesus said, "No one can come to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
.We believe that water baptism is for the believer. It is a public statement of one's declaration that they are saved and of their loyalty to Jesus.
Infant baptism is not scriptural. It is a false teaching & one more tradition of men that makes takes away from the Word of God. (Mark 7:13) It presupposes that infants are sinful and hell-bound if not sprinkled, which is unbiblical.
John 9:41 says, those who are spiritually "blind" are not accountable and blameless, which includes babies and those who mentally imcompetent.
Water baptism is for the disciple (Matthew 28:19) the believer, (Mark 16:16, Acts 18:18) and those who repent. (Acts 2:38) Obviously a baby can't repent and they are not yet a believer or a disciple. Too many think they're safe i.e. saved because they were 'sprinkled' at a church service, which makes it an erroneous doctrine.
.We believe that Calvinism is an egregious teaching that says that God has "pre-decided" who He is and isn't going to save. (It's a very short list—Calvinists assert—and only they're on it) It is, however, in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches of God "desires all men to be saved," (I Tim.2:4) Jesus died for "the whole world", (I John 2:2) and "not willing that any should perish." (II Peter 3:9) Yes, we believe that we have been 'predestined' but we are predestined to be conformed to "the image of His Son". (Romans 8:29)* God is not limited to time, therefore He knew before the world began, who would be saved. (Most Calvinists we've met, unfortunately, lean towards legalism, arrogant thinking i.e. "I'm saved but you're not," as well as, sectarianism)
There are multiple scriptures that refute Calvinism. One of those is Romans 5:18-19: "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (emphasis added)
Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned so really "many were made sinners" is a poor translation and is quite misleading. A more accurate translation of Romans 5:19 would be: For as by one man's disobedience all were made sinners, (by their own choice) so by the obedience of one (Jesus' sacrifice) shall all be made righteous. (Implying, if they choose to be righteous i.e. surrendering to Him. Unfortunately, many won't yield to the Spirit's conviction)
.We believe Jesus is returning again. True believers and disciples should: “Be ready.” (Matt. 24:44) He first comes for us, commonly called "The Rapture of the Church" (I Thess.4:16) and then He returns with us, commonly called, "The Second Coming of Christ," to establish His 1000 year reign. (Revelation 19:7-16) His return is our "blessed hope."
.We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling and empowerment, the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life and through whom the Spiritual gifts are operational in the Church today.
.We believe that God has provided—to desiring believers—an enduement of Spiritual power for the evangelization of the lost.
.We believe that we should follow Jesus because He saved us, not because of our "perks." Yes, He does bless financially and we thank Him for that. Yet there are times of challenge, as well. Today's economy is proof positive of that. Paul said, in essence whether we're up or down: We follow Him. We can do all things with Him. (Phil. 4:12-13) Its been often said that, 'God is more interested in our character than our comfort.'
The 30, 60, 100 fold return Jesus talked about is the Word of God sown in people's heart, not a multi-level, get rich quick lottery. Be a cheerful giver with pure intentions because He likes that. You'll reap what you sow.
.We believe that you cannot 'hate' anyone as a Christian. If a church separates or divides over race (or even) political views, they are in direct opposition to the Lord's plan of "that they may be one." (John 17:20-21)
.Similarly we believe that no one should ever be denied communion, if they are a follow of Jesus, that they understand the need to "examine" themselves and that they are living their life for Jesus.
If a "denomination" states that you cannot take communion i.e. you're not worthy, you're less-than, not qualified, etc. Run, don't walk! It's for all believers who've confessed their sins. They are now clean and worthy to partake.
(Communion video clip) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8KVGMsP2w8
The bread symbolizes His sacrifice (beating, flogging, crucifixion) for our sins. The wine symbolizes His blood shed to remove sin, for all who will believe and receive it.
*Transubstantiation is error. This is a doctrine that asserts that the bread and wine mysteriously (and literally) become His body and blood. Drinking blood is forbidden in scripture.
Some teach that by taking "sacrements" that you are re-enacting Jesus' death on the cross.
Jesus however, said, "It is finished." (John 19:30) Peter stated, "Christ died once for sins..." I Peter 3:18. Any re-enactment of His death is unscriptural.
.We believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. It is the God-ordained template for family and society. The sexual union between husband and wife is holy. It is designed by our Creator for children, mutual pleasure & satisfaction, as well as, moral safety. ( I Corinthians 7)
.We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost. Those that are saved unto the resurrection of life. Those that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
.We believe in the Spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. Unity of the Spirit, not doctrine. Doctrine's extremely important but not as important as family, and families disagree sometimes.
In essentials: Unity. In non-essentials: Freedom. In all things: Love.
The number of "denominations" shows we're a long way from "unity." Sectarianism (divisions, arguing, contentions, elite groups) is not Biblical. Paul asks the rhetorical question in I Corinthians 1:13, "Is Christ divided?"
The word "proud" in I Peter 5:5...."God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble" means this: Appearing above others. It's why God is "resisting" i.e. opposing many "denominations." They tell people that "THEY" have the greater insight or that "THEY" are the true church. They are "appearing above others" to be sure.
*UP FRONT Ministries is a pro-life and pro-family (husband, wife, kids) ministry.
As you study, a word of encouragement about sound doctrine and a caution regarding deception in the church:
While the Internet can be an amazing tool for information, you need to be careful and discerning about what you feed on. For example, on the good side, www.Jesus.org is a healthy site. (it rolls over to www.christianity.com) We recommend this site for good, solid teachings.
There are, however, a number of false ministry sites like www.Jesus.com that will try and mislead you. (Anyone can call themselves, 'Christian,' 'Child of God', or 'Minister' but remember Jesus talked a lot about "wolves in sheep's clothing." Besides, anyone can purchase a web domain name.)
Many sites, some associated with the Gospel of inclusion--another false teaching that states everyone is saved no matter what you do or how you live--will try and mislead you with flowery language like "affirming," "welcoming," and "embracing" regarding alternative, forbidden lifestyles. (We are to love the sinner—as Jesus told us to—but we are to speak the truth in love against the sin, as we're also instructed to do) The Lord will most certainly affirm, welcome and embrace anyone....when they surrender to Him—that is—their life...and all that it involves. However, to follow Jesus, they must yield to Him and His Word)
Many "denominations" have strayed from the truth, are in error and are in direct oppposition to the New Testament. United Church of Christ, Epispocal, Presbyterian and the *Catholic church, to name a few. (*The sexual abuse in the Catholic church, and its cover up, is most egregious)
Liberal web sites are misleading and Biblically unsound. Many of these sites are anti-marriage i.e. anti-husband and wife, with an "agenda." (There's definitely an assault on marriage today) It is deception, "in the church." Satan is tricky and extremely clever, so be careful what you listen to. Remember there are tares next to the wheat. The ELCA recent vote is proof positive, we're in the latter days and while God loves everyone equally, His requirements and conditions are clearly spelled out.
In His own words: (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (there's no ambiguity there) Jesus is God and He's always right.
Jesus also said: (Mark 10:6) “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (that's the God-ordained template of marriage between husband and wife)
We encourage you to read the New Testament yourself to be familiar with winds of doctrine that deceive, entice and play off your emotions disguising themselves as "Christian."
We also believe that as Jesus acted and loved people unconditionally, we should too. With regard to "the gay community," He loves them, as should we. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) This is both inclusive of that style, as well as, any other forbidden one. But scripture cannot be compromised:
J. Lee Grady article: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/29512-is-it-ok-to-be-gay-and-christian&i=7902
That said, cheap shots like "Ellen De-generate" only further alienate, hurt and/or irritate the very ones that the Holy Spirit is wooing. As we have received forgiveness, grace, mercy, and patience....we should extend that as well. It's "speak the truth in love," not speak the truth, only. Nor speak in love, only. It's both. One particular sexual sin is no worse that another. The greatest gift you can give someone running or opposing God's drawing power is: Kindness. It goes a long way.
If you have "judgment stones" in your hand, we suggest dropping them. When the woman caught in adultery was exposed, Jesus drew in the dirt which most scholars believe that He was writing the names of those who were also sexually guilty, directly or indirectly, namely: Everyone.
Click here for a reminder of grace in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFyymEvM6Dw&feature=related
.We believe in being effective witnesses, not going out witnessing. Again, there are legitimate ministries—though their intentions are good—that alienate "seekers" with messages of God's going to get you. As we've said: God doesn't want to hurt us, He wants to save us. Would you die for someone you didn't love? No. The Good News is Jesus died for all. (Romans 5:18) Preach that and that alone. "We are saved by grace thru faith..." Grace is Good News. It's "amazing" grace. Remember this: God loves everyone equally and desires them all to obtain salvation, so don't repel those He's trying to reach. Again, it's the goodness of God that leads people to repent, not His wrath.
Despite what some teach, God doesn't want to hurt anyone:
Ezekiel 33:11 (New International Version) Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.
.We believe that while all Christians are called to be witnesses, only some are called—and qualified—to be in ministry. (I Timothy 3:2) Pastors who are accountable to no one aren't called: they're self-appointed. If they resist "testing" of their teachings or behavior: mark them i.e. note them and don't endorse them. If they divorce at will, then marry quickly again: Run! FYI, carnal Christian men and especially "leaders" usually marry far younger women and won't embrace counsel. Consider their ways, as being fleshly and not spiritual, for your own moral safety. Pastors should be happily married men, solid doctrinally, have their house in order, not greedy i.e. always talking about (and looking for) money plus must be approachable. Anything other than that, be acutely aware of.
Finally this...an admonition to any Christian: Proverbs 6:16-19 (New King James Version) "These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him":
1· A proud look,
2· A lying tongue,
3· Hands that shed innocent blood,
4· A heart that devises wicked plans,
5· Feet that are swift in running to evil,
6· A false witness who speaks lies,
7· And one who sows discord among brethren.