STATEMENT OF FAITH (WHAT WE BELIEVE)
Note: The following statement of faith is partly copied from the websites of Charity Christian Fellowship and Homestead Heritage. These two Christian ministries reflect many of our own beliefs regarding the Christian Faith, and while we are unaffiliated and independent from either of them, we certainly applaud their clear proclamation of the Gospel.
While hisperfectbride.com is non-denominational, we share many of the same core beliefs present in numerous Christian traditions, including Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and Mennonites, just to name a few. With that said, we draw probably the greatest portion of our beliefs, lifestyle, and values from the Anabaptist tradition, much of which is disclosed in the following points of doctrine and theology:
1. THE WORD OF GOD
We believe and confess that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is the only rule for faith and practice. The Word of God, especially the New Testament, is the standard by which the Christian orders his life. II Peter 1:21; II Tim. 3:16
2. THE DEITY OF CHRIST
We believe and confess that Jesus Christ is God incarnate (God in the flesh). He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin womb of Mary. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Christ as Deity hung on the cross for our sins. If Christ be not God, then we are yet in our sins and without hope. John 1:1; Matt. 1:23
3. FALLEN MAN
We believe and confess that man is a fallen creature. Created in the image and likeness of God, man fell to a condition of spiritual death. This death passed upon all men. Man is a helpless creature set only on wickedness continually and needs salvation. Gen. 6:5; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:3-5
4. HEAVEN AND HELL
We believe and confess that heaven and hell are real places. People who die without Christ will be extinguished in a burning lake of fire. People who die in the Lord will live eternally in heaven with Christ, experiencing blessings which no man can utter. Matt. 13:50; Matt. 3:12; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 14:11; John 14:1-3; Matt. 5:12; Rev. 21, 22
We believe and confess that all who place their faith in Christ shall be saved. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. He is the sacrifice, the payment for the sins of fallen man. Genuine faith is never without repentance. Man must respond with repentance (a change of heart) toward God and with faith (a heart attitude of belief) in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believing is a present, continuous act of the will that leads to a transformed life. I Cor. 15:1-4; John 3:16; Romans 10:13; Acts 20:21; I Peter 1:5 James 2:20
6. THE TRINITY
We believe and confess that God is a Triune God revealed in the Holy Scriptures as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. II Cor. 13:14; Matt. 28:19; Matt. 3:16, 17
We believe and confess that Satan is a real person, a fallen angelic being, who through rebellion lost his position in heaven. We recognize this foe and his kingdom of darkness; we are in a spiritual battle which demands our continual standing in Christ, our power. I Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:10-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; Ezek. 28:12-17; Isa. 14:12-17
8. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
We believe and confess in a physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth. He shall come in like manner as He left. We should look to, hope for, and expect at any time the coming of the Lord. This hope will cause God’s people to purify themselves. John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; I John 3:3
9. THE KINGDOM OF GOD
We believe and confess that the kingdom of God (or Christ), is a spiritual kingdom and stands in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ presented a higher standard of holiness for His kingdom. Citizenship in God's kingdom, therefore:
Prevents participation in the affairs of state, serving in armed forces, and belonging to state-regulated churches. Matt. 6:33; John 18:36; II Cor. 6:14-18; II Cor. 10:3, 4
Separates us from the course of this world in affection, occupation, and organizational yokes and affiliations. Matt. 6:19-21, 24; Rom. 12:1, 2; Col. 3:1-3
Enjoins returning good for evil, praying for persecutors, feeding and clothing the needy, and doing good to all men, including enemies. Matt. 5:38-48; Rom. 12:14-21; I Thess. 5:15
Forbids speaking evil of ANYONE, resisting evil or taking vengeance, suing at the law, or in any way demanding personal rights. Matt. 5:39-40; John 18:36; I Cor. 6:1-8; Titus 3:2; I Peter 2:18-20
Requires the non-swearing oaths, “Yea, Yea and Nay, Nay” honestly, and absence of idle words in speech. Matt. 5:33-37; Matt. 12:35-37; James 5:12
Enjoins an explicit trust in God for material and spiritual maintenance. Matt. 6:25-34
Trusting in the arm of flesh or human securities is a violation of faith in Divine preservation. Matt. 6:25-34; Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 12:32, 33; Phil. 4:6, 19; I Peter 5:7
We believe and confess that discipleship is a clear characteristic of all true Christians. A disciple willingly bears the cross and denies himself, forsaking all things that hinder his fellowship with God. This crucifixion of the flesh is the operation of God by faith, a moment-by-moment surrender of the will to God. Luke 14:26, 27, 33; Rom. 6:11-16; Gal. 2:20, 21; Col. 2:10-12; Gal. 5:24
We believe and confess that the Great Commission given by Christ to His Disciples (Matt. 28:19, 20) was a commission to all Christians to go and tell the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world. Brothers and sisters alike are responsible to share Christ as opportunity arises in daily living. Psa. 126:6; Mark 16:15; Acts 5:42; Acts 8:4
12. CHRISTIAN APPEARANCE
We believe and confess that God’s people should regulate their appearance by clear scriptural principles.
Gospel order and purity requires neatness and cleanliness. Matt. 6:17; I Thess. 4:7; I Tim. 2:9, 10; Rev. 19:8
Clothing and personal appearance shall maintain distinction between the sexes. Deut. 22:5; I Cor. 6:9; I Cor. 11:4, 5, 14, 15
Brethren and sisters wear modest apparel which covers and conceals the body. I Tim. 2:9, 10
Notice how God clothes the body. Mark 16:5; Rev. 1:13. Sisters are recommended to wear loose garments to conceal the form of the body. Thus modesty without question should be our expression.
Clothing shall exemplify gospel simplicity and be free of all evidence of pride, display, or provocative adornment. II Cor. 1:12; I Peter 3:3; I John 2:16
The Bible forbids the wearing of gold, pearls, or costly array. I Tim. 2:9. Notice the attire of the Babylonian harlot (Rev. 17:4). See also the rich man’s apparel (Luke 16:19).
Further, the Bible forbids following the changing fashions of the world. Rom. 12:2; I Thess. 5:22; Titus 2:11, 12; I Peter 1:14
Brethren are to be free from the shame of long hair. Sisters will wear their hair long. They cover their heads with a distinctive Christian veiling. I Cor. 11:6, 14, 15
13. THE CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE
We believe and confess that the height of Christian experience is attained, maintained, and expressed in a life of devotion to God, which is a continual pressing of the heart in love and fellowship with God. Prayer, study of the Word, meditations, fasting, and singing from the heart are expressions of devotion to God. We believe that the heart that is lifted up to God will gradually and consistently bring forth the holy actions commanded in the Scriptures--John 4:23, 24; I Cor. 3:18; Gal. 5:22, 23; Rom. 8:4. We also believe that the Christian experience and the discipline it requires cannot be obtained without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore imperative that Believers seek to be baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit daily in order to both acquire and maintain the optimal expression of the Christian experience.
14. THE CHRISTIAN HOME
We believe and confess the importance of the godly home in the promotion of moral purity and faith. It is a haven of mutual love and godliness, a shelter from the corruption of the society. The home should be ordered according to the dictates of Eph. 5 and Col. 3. We believe that godly parents who see their responsibility will rear faithful children not accused of riot or unruliness. Titus 1:6; II Tim. 3:14, 15
Fathers must assume final responsibility for the direction of worship, for decisions, and the discipline of the children. I Cor. 11:3; I Tim. 3:4; Eph. 6:4
Wives are submissive and subordinate, demonstrating their chaste conversation (behavior) of godliness. Eph. 5:22; I Tim. 5:13, 14; I Peter 3:1-6
Children are to be in subjection and obedient to their parents with all gravity. Eph. 6:1; I Tim. 3:4, 5
15. THE CHURCH
We believe and confess that the church is the Body of Christ, both local and worldwide. I Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:22, 23
The church consists of those persons from all nations who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and who have responded to the call of salvation with the obedience of faith. John 3:16; Acts 10:34, 35; Rom. 10:13; Rev. 5:9; Acts 20:28
We also recognize a great apostasy in these last days. Not all who name the name of Jesus are true Christians, but only those who manifest true scriptural fruit. (See I John).
We stand in opposition to the liberal theology that leads to worldliness and the traditional theology that leads to formalism and deadness.
16. CHRISTIAN ORDINANCES
We believe and confess that ordinances were instituted by divine authority for the purpose of expressing heavenly thoughts and meanings, given to draw our attention toward spiritual pictures of divine truth. These ordinances are as follows:
Baptism (Rom. 6; Matt. 28:19; I Peter 3:21; Col. 2:12)
We believe in believer’s baptism (immersion) as a pledge of the old nature into the sacrificial death of Jesus as well as into the lordship of Jesus and that therefore takes place in the name of Jesus. Moreover, this pledge is therefore one of submission to a discipleship that leads us in love into an increasing sacrifice of our lapsed nature, in accord with our pledge through baptism into Christ’s own sacrificial death, and into a deeper participation in the love and power of Christ’s resurrected life through the Spirit. This, then, is the unfolding fulfillment of what began in our new birth in the Spirit. It is also thus necessarily an initiation into a believers’ church, an initiation that places us “in Christ” through His own corporate Body now on earth (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13).
Communion (I Cor. 11:23-26)
We believe the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of Jesus’ singular sacrifice but, at the same time, also signifies and celebrates the ongoing and growing communion in the sacrificial death of Jesus that committed disciples actually do share in their daily life with one another in the Lord. In this sense, we hearken back to the original Anabaptist self-definition of “the community of the committed.” Communion represents the rededication of the individual and the church, a rededication of the pledge originally made at baptism into the sacrificial death of Jesus, which a life lived in love for others entails.
Feet washing (John 13:14-16)
The devotional covering (I Cor. 11:2-16)
The holy kiss (Rom. 16:16; I Peter 5:14)
Anointing with oil (James 5:14, 15)
We believe and confess that marriage is an institution ordained of God. It was set apart, or sanctified, in the creation. It was set forth by God for the propagation of the human race, for the purity of the human family, and for the bringing up of godly children (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:14-15; Heb. 13:4). God recognizes all first marriages where vows have been made in the presence of witnesses (2 Cor 13:1). In God’s eyes only death can break the marriage covenant. We further believe that God forbids divorce or marriages with divorced persons having former companions still living. Marriage by or with such persons is the forming of an adulterous relationship. We admonish all to scriptural meditation on this subject. Matt. 19:8, 9; Mark 10:11, 12; Rom. 7: 2, 3; I Cor. 7:39
18. THE BROTHERHOOD
We believe and confess that the church is a brotherhood, submitting one to another in the fear of God. Each individual is set for the edification of the whole.
Brethren address each other privately concerning inconsistencies or error that they may observe in one another. Matt. 18:15; Heb. 3:13; II Tim. 3:16; I Peter 5:5
Church discipline must be exercised, and the Bible gives specific guidelines for different types of discipline. The motivation for such discipline is love, restoration, and purification of the church. Matt. 18:15-20; James 5:19, 20; Gal. 6:1
All property is held in stewardship as God’s. There is a conscious effort made to discern the needs of others and to share to the point of an equality of living standard. The Bible warns of the danger of accumulating riches and therefore demands distribution according to ability. Matt. 5:42; Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:33; Acts 20:35; Rom. 15:26; I Cor. 16:1-3; II Cor. 8:11-15; I Tim. 6:17-19; Heb. 13:16; I John 3:16, 17
Christian love is a servant. It seeks opportunities to help all men and to inspire courage and faith in others. Matt. 20:26-28; Luke 10:25-37; Gal. 6:10
The Brothers sense their responsibility to the hungry and naked. Matt. 25:35, 36; Luke 3:11; Luke 14:13, 14; Luke 16:19-25; Gal. 2:10
Love guards its speech. The brethren do not gossip, slander, or even speak ill of one another or of any other person. I Tim. 5:13; Titus 1:10; Titus 2:8; Titus 3:2; James 4:11; I Peter 2:1; I Peter 3:10
Brethren desire to honor others, esteem others before themselves, and live in humble submission. They readily forgive and rejoice in the blessings of others. Rom. 12:10; I Cor. 13:4-7; Col. 3:12, 13; Phil. 2:1-4
This brotherhood is maintained on the human level in a community of love. Acts 4:32. Herein lies the strongest appeal of truth to the world. John 13:34, 35
19. GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We confess the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit found in I Cor. 12 to be valid throughout the New Testament dispensation. They are essential for the upbuilding of the Body (the Church of Christ) and the perfecting of the Saints (Eph 4:11-12).
20. DIVINATION AND WITCHCRAFT RENOUNCED
Brethren are free from all types of witchcraft, sorcery, divining, and other occultic and New Age practices. These practices shall be renounced in the name of Jesus to maintain church purity. Ephesians 5:11,12; Galatians 5:19-21
21. NONVIOLENCE AND NONRESISTANCE
We hold to an uncompromising belief in nonviolence and nonresistance (as distinct from the narrower and much more relativistically held political activism or advocacy that today the term “pacifism” widely connotes).
22. NATURAL ISRAEL
We believe Old Testament Israel manifested the purpose of God sown in a natural body, a body politic, that passed away and rose in a spiritual Body with the risen Christ and the birth of the church as the kingdom in which “all the families of the earth would be blessed.” Although this does not preclude God’s blessing and purpose for natural Israel, the old, “ungerminated” seed of God’s purpose in a natural nation cannot now serve to define the fully flowering fruit in God’s spiritual community comprised of all peoples. Therefore, the Old Testament can no longer be used to justify State churches and their persecution of dissenters, as if the church were merely the Old Testament natural nation of Israel superimposed on the Gentiles. Additionally, we do not believe Old Testament Israel can any longer serve as a model or justification for the church seizing political power, neither do we accept the classic view of “replacement theology,” which allows for no special calling on the Jewish people in the economy of God’s purpose. We believe instead, along with the apostle Paul, that the spiritual return of a remnant of natural Israel will at the end even become the focus of God’s purpose as God makes “one new man from the two”—Gentiles and Jews. This return will be “life from the dead” for those “branches” that have been broken off and will coincide with the full restoration of the church when, “in the dispensation of the fullness of the times,” He “gathers together in one all things in Christ.”
23. POLITICS AND VOTING
We forgo active participation in the polis of time (politics) in favor of a full life in the context of the polis of eternity (the kingdom of God, the community of Christ).
24. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
We believe in the separation of church and State in order to protect and sanctify not the State but the church as Christ’s virgin Bride. We believe that, while God commands us to render unto Caesar his due and to duly honor, pray for and obey him, ultimate loyalty and devotion belongs to God—not to Caesar. Especially does this prove crucial when Caesar would forthrightly have us deny God. This belief has incurred much persecution against those of the Anabaptist tradition, from Inquisitors to Nazis and Stalinists. Yet, as Solzhenitsyn said, how different the world would be if all people had responded with the apostle Peter (or, we might add, even James Madison) that God must be obeyed before men.
25. CHURCH LEADERSHIP
We also believe in a plurality of leaders arranged in the living and relational order given by God in the New Testament (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1).
26. APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY
We believe the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, not as interpreted by “church fathers,” “the Apologists” or church councils and creeds.
27. ALL SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE
We believe that the New Testament cannot be properly understood apart from the vision and historical context provided by the Old Testament, especially its unfolding revelation of the One God of Israel. Nonetheless, concerning which vision of which testament prevails, whether in shifts of the role of the Law or in the unfolding revelation of God and His requirements for human conduct, the Old is to be interpreted in the greater light of the New as the latter is understood in deep relationship with the Spirit of Christ and in the context of Christ’s Body (John 5:39-40; Eph. 4:11-16). This interpretation will never, however, contradict the revelation of the Old Testament but will only show its meaning more clearly and perfectly (John 10:35).
In keeping with the above, we hold that, though all Scripture is profitable when rightly applied, the New Testament alone gives the explicit and definitive guidelines for the church and Christian life and should, in its entirety, be interpreted Christocentrically.
28. JESUS OUR EXAMPLE
Both the life and teachings of Jesus are at least as important as a standard for Christian life (in ethics, conduct, love and sanctification) as His death and resurrection are for justification and regeneration. And beyond being a mere standard, we believe that the resurrected Christ is now eternally alive and reigns through the Holy Spirit as Head over His Body, the church, which now is His life on earth (Phil. 1:21; Rom. 6:8-9; Eph. 1:22-23). So to be “in Christ” is to necessarily be in His Body, which does not merely model itself after Christ but lives out by the Spirit His very life on earth, increasingly conforming itself to His precise image by the power of the same Spirit that indwelt Him without measure (Rom. 8:9-16, 29; John 3:34, NASB).
29. ORTHODOXY VS ORTHOPRAXY
We place an emphasis on applying the Bible to everyday life (in other words, lived religion, which marked not only the Anabaptists but also the early Pietists and Wesleyans, as many of these other above traditions also still do). Our stress on orthopraxy does not preclude an equal stress on orthodoxy. Rather, we believe that both right belief and right conduct (orthodoxy and orthopraxy) must be fused in an authentically lived life. But we also believe that both of these elements of right belief (orthodoxy) and right action or living (orthopraxy) must be combined with what T. H. Runyon called “orthopathy” or right feeling, which he saw as “a necessary but currently missing complement.” Runyon insisted that while “experience needs the word of orthodoxy if it is to communicate rightly and the deeds of orthopraxy if it is to be [the instrument of sanctification, nonetheless], . . . both words and deeds need to be filled with the divine power and impact of the motivating Spirit, mediated, received and communicated further through experience.” Thus the need for orthopathy, without which no one even cares about right belief or right living, or, for that matter, even God or other human beings. In contrast to this living, deeply experienced faith, humanly arrived at conciliar creeds or doctrines that have no decisive or real bearing on our relationship to God, to our brotherhood or to the world but that are nonetheless used as litmus tests for judging and rejecting others seem to us to deny both the Spirit and letter of Christianity.
30. ON THE GREAT REFORMATION
We believe that the great Reformation must at some point go beyond simply the reform of doctrines (and a kind of creedal sacramentalism). They must instead meet and merge with an authentic reformation of human lives and of the church that those lives build. We view the Reformation as ongoing, even reaching all the way back to the restored roots of New Testament Christianity as it was practiced by its first Jewish believers (what is often pejoratively referred to by its detractors as “primitivism,” but which we refer to as “pristine Christianity”). Because of this, although we place weight on what many consider orthodox, we also remain open to God, knowing that Jesus has not yet returned, and so, in our view of Scripture, the restoration of all things has not yet occurred (Acts 3:21, KJV).
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