Marriage – What we believe!

March 26, 2009 by  
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Marriage

We believe that the institution of marriage was intended by God to be a permanent, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman in covenant commitment, regardless of trials, sickness, financial reverses or emotional stresses that may ensue and is therefore the only legitimate marriage. Matthew 19:5, 6

We believe marriage is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.

We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sexual intimacy. They are not unforgivable sins. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance. (Gen. 1:26,27; 2:24; 19:5,13; 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom 1: 26-29; I Cor. 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thess. 4:1-8; Heb. 13:4).

We believe that other alternative relationships such as “common law”, “domestic partner”, “significant other” …etc are not sanctioned marriage relationships under God and as such do not qualify for the recognition of a marriage.

We believe that weddings at Grace Community Church are Christian worship services!

Divorce & Remarriage

We believe that divorce in the Scriptures is permitted only because of man’s sin. Christ clearly teaches this in Matthew 19:3-9. Divorce according to God’s law was allowed only because of “hardness of heart”.

We believe that although Jesus permitted divorce in some situations, God hates divorce and with His help a marriage can survive the worst sins. (Hosea 1-3; Malachi 2:14-16)

We believe that there are 2 grounds for divorce. The only New Testament grounds for divorce are sexual sin or desertion by an unbeliever (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-15).

We believe that those who divorce on any other grounds have sinned against God and their partner, and if they remarry it is adultery (1 Thess. 4:1-8; Mark 10:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Matthew 5:23-24).

We believe that remarriage is permitted for the faithful partner when the divorce was on biblical grounds (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-15).

We believe and practice that those who pursue a divorce on unbiblical grounds are subject to church discipline (Matt. 18:15-17).

We believe that if the divorce was unbiblical and the guilty party repents (2 Cor. 7:9, 10), God’s grace is active at that point and a sign of their repentance will be the implementation of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 which would involve reconciliation with the former spouse if possible (Deut. 24:1-4). If a remarriage is unbiblical, leading to a state of adultery, God’s grace is activated through repentance before Him and restoration to the local church body (2 Corinthians 2:1-11).

Statement of Faith & Constitution & ByLaws

December 17, 2008 by  
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Click the link at the Bottom to Read our Constitution and ByLaws

The Holy Scriptures

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the
verbally inspired Word of God, the final authority for faith and life,
inerrant in the original writings, infallible and God breathed.

(II Timothy 3:16,17:II Peter 1:20,21; Matthew 5:l8: John 16:12.13)

The Godhead

We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three persons –
Father, Son and Holy Spirit – CO-eternal in being. CO-identical in
nature, CO-equal in power and glory; and having the same attributes
and perfection’s.

(Deuteronomy 6:4; II Corinthians 13:14)

The Person and Work of Christ

  1. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God,
    became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy
    Spirit arid born of the Virgin Mary in order that He might reveal God
    and redeem sinful men.(John 1:1,2,14; Luke 1:35)
  2. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption
    through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious,
    substitution sacrifice; and that our justification is made sure by His
    literal, physical resurrection from the dead.(Romans 3:24,25:I Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:3-5)
  3. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and is now
    exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our High Priest, He
    fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate.(Acts 1:9,10; Hebrews 9:24; 7.25; Romans 8:34; I John 2:1,2)

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

  1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is a person possessing all the
    attributes of God. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and of
    judgment; and, He is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration, baptizing
    all believers into the body of Christ at the point of salvation, indwelling
    and sealing them into the day of redemption.(John 16:8-11; II Corinthians 3:6; I Corinthians 12:12-14; Romans
    8:9; Ephesians 1:13,14)
  2. We believe that He is the Divine Teacher who guides believers into all
    truth; and that it is the privilege and duty of all the saved to be filled
    with the Spirit.(John l6:l3; Ephesians 5:18)

The Total Depravity of Man

We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s
sin the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God; and that
man is totally depraved and of himself utterly unable to remedy his lost condition.

(Genesis 1:26,27; Romans 3:22,23; 5:12; Ephesians 2:l-3, 12)

Salvation

We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by
personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the
forgiveness of our sins.

(Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:18,19)

The Assurance of Believer’s Salvation

  1. We believe that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and
    are thus secure in Christ forever.(John 6:37, 40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1,38,39; I Corinthians 1:4-8;
    I Peter 1:5)
  2. We believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the
    assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word; which,
    however, clearly forbids the use of Christian Liberty as an occasion to the
    flesh.(Romans 13:13,14; Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11-I3)

Separation

We believe that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon
their Savior and Lord, arid that separation from all religious apostasy, all worldly and
sinful pleasures, practices and associations is commanded of God.

(I John 2:15-17; II John verses 9-11; II Corinthians 6:14-17; 7:1)

Missions

We believe that it is the obligation of the saved to witness by life and by word to the
truths of Holy Scripture and to seek to proclaim the Gospel to all mankind.

(Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 5:19,20)

The Ministry and Spiritural Gifts

We believe that the Holy Spirit alone administers spiritual gifts to the church, not to
glorify Himself or the gifts by ostentatious displays, but to glorify Christ and implement
His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the most holy faith.

(John 16:13; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; II Corinthians 3:18)

The Church

We believe that the Church, which is the body and the espoused bride of Christ, is a
spiritual organism made up of all born-again persons of this present age.

(Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:25-27; I Corinthians 12:12-14; II Corinthians 11:2)

Dispensationalism

We believe in the dispensational view of Bible interpretation, that is that God has worked
in various ways arid through various peoples during different time periods to bring His
salvation message to people. But we reject the extreme teaching known as “Hyper
Dispensationalism”, such as that which opposes either the Lord’s Table or water baptism as a
Scriptural means of testimony for the church in this age.

(Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 2:41,42; 18:8; I Corinthians 11:23-26)

The Work and Judgement of Satan

We believe that Satan is a person, the author of sin and the cause of the Fall; that he is
the open and declared enemy of God and man; and he shall be eternally punished in the lake of
fire.

(Job 1:6,7; Isaiah 14:12-17; Matthew 4:2-11; 25:41; Revelation 20:10)

The Rapture and the Second Advent of Christ

We believe in the “Blessed Hope”, the personal imminent, pre-tribulation and pre-millennial
coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His redeemed ones; and in His subsequent return to earth,
with His saints to establish His Millennial Kingdom.

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Zechariah 14:4-11; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:l-6;
I Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10)

The Eternal State

We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved
to judgment and everlasting punishment.

(Matthew 25:46; John 5:28,29; 11:25,26; Revelation 20:5,6,12,13)

Church Discipline

We believe in and practice local church discipline of a sinning, unrepentant believer who is
a part of this local assembly. The goal of such discipline is to lovingly restore a believer to
functional fellowship in the local body of Christ.

(Matthew 18:15; Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 5; II Corinthians 2:5-7; Galatians 6:1;
Ephesians 5:11: I Thessalonians 3:6,14.15; I Timothy 5:20: Titus 3:10; II John 1:9,10)

Click here to read our Constitution and Bylaws

What We Believe about Membership

December 17, 2008 by  
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MEMBERSHIP

We believe church membership is an important facet of each believers' growth in the Lord. Remember these factors as you consider this important step of commitment:

  1. The New Testament concept was one of working through a local body and not just belonging to the universal church of all believers.
     
  2. As doctrinal unity is stated through the membership process, consistency in teaching and thus protection of the flock is promoted.
     
  3. A person can participate in the call of additional pastoral staff and the selection of men to the church council with a greater degree of insight.
     
  4. A person can be involved in the modification of the constitution and thus have a say in the governmental affairs of the local body.
     
  5. A person is stimulated to be a body builder and reach out to others who are 'their' family.
     
  6. A person is recognizing the leadership of a church, which is responsible to God to watch over the care of the souls of the people.
     
  7. A church ability to expand its ministry and reach more people for Christ is enhanced.
     
  8. A person has a sense of belonging where they truly can state 'my church family'. This intensifies the desire to be used among the people of the local body for the work of the Lord.

If you have had the time to evaluate the ministry of Grace, we invite you to prayerfully consider becoming a member. We know that you will benefit from you decision and others will, too. Grace will never be the perfect church, nor can we ever guarantee that we will not experience difficulties, but we can firmly say that we will move forward in His Spirit in a more viable way to do His work.

Once you make the commitment in your heart, please convey that to us by coming forward at the end of a service or contacting the church office by way of your registration card or by a phone call. It will be our joy to start the membership process with you.

What We Believe about Communion

December 17, 2008 by  
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COMMUNION

Do you remember the disciples at the end of Luke's gospel, who were on their way home from Jerusalem after the crucifixion? I'm certain they had little interest in eating a meal. Yet when a stranger who asked them about their sad faces joined them, they seemed dumb-founded. “Are you the only one living in Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have happened there in these days?” Opening the Scriptures, He explained to them the meaning of the weekend's events. Their confused, cold hearts began to warm. They could not help but invite the man to stay at their house for the evening. He accepted the invitation.

At the table He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them. That's when they realized that this stranger was the risen Christ. He revealed Himself to them in the breaking of the bread even as He had at the Last Supper with others before the cross.

As with Baptism, the Lord's Supper was instituted directly by a command of Christ and, in this case, by His example as well. On the night before His death, Christ gathered with His disciples to eat the Passover meal. Each person in the room where they were eating this meal, would have understood the significance of celebrating Passover. For this was a feast held in remembrance of God's deliverance and redemption of His people from the slavery of Egypt (Exodus 12:14; 13:3 & 10; Deuteronomy 16:3).

However, on this particular Passover, Jesus turned to the future and talked of His imminent redemptive death, which was to fulfill not only the Passover but also all previous sacrificial offerings. No longer would the disciples look back to redemptive symbols and animal sacrifices. From now on, they were to remember Jesus and His perfect final sacrificial own life, which was given for them. The account of this Last Supper is given in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and is reviewed again in I Corinthians 11:23-36.

The meaning of the Lord's Supper is primarily summed up in the command of Christ, “this do in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24,25). 1. It is a meal of remembrance memorial of Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. This involves reflection and acknowledgement. 2. Based upon a common participation in Christ and His salvation, there is also in the Lord's Supper a communion of believers in the unity of His body (I Corinthians 10:16). This is the aspect of fellowship with other members of His church–the body of Christ.

The two elements that are used in observing the Lord's Supper are bread (wafer cracker) and grape juice. Jesus, when He ate that Passover meal said (taking the bread), “This is my body, given for you.” In the same way after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” What do these two sentences mean?

Both of the elements (bread and wine) signify the very real fact of sacrificial death. Christ was well aware that his own body must be sacrificed. In Ancient Hebrew culture the “body and blood” referred to the two component parts of a living thing. Jesus was explaining that His death would be a sacrifice, which would open up the way for sinners to be reunited with God. His death would become the basis of the new covenant (Hebrews 8:13; 9:15 and 10:19-22) that would enable all who believe and accept God's gift of salvation, to be accepted by God. (Hebrews 10:10) This would not happen without His body being beaten, bruised and broken, and His blood being shed.

Some people have struggled over the interpretation of the words of Christ, “This is my body” and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. Should they be interpreted literally or figuratively?

The reformers of Martin Luther's era debated the precise meaning of 'the body' and 'the blood'. A man called Zwingli and others with him argued that Jesus' words meant really, “This body represents My body”. The actual bread was not the physical flesh of Jesus, but was to be understood as a figurative expression. Jesus frequently used figurative language to make a point. He said, “I am the door,” “I am the true vine,” “Whoever believes in me… streams of living water will flow from him.” Symbolism or figurative language as used by Christ is a part of normal speech. The reformers who understood this argued that Christ's body is not present in actual substance at the Lord's Supper, but that the elements are to be handled with reverence because of their profound symbolism. The Lord Jesus is present at the communion service in that same manner that He is present in each of our lives. There is no unique mystical meeting of Christ in a way that is different from faith in Him and meeting Him at the cross for salvation.

The participants at communion are believers in Christ, i.e.: Christians. However, before taking communion the Bible does urge that each Christian examine his/her life to see if each is able to partake in a worthy manner. This means checking our heart. Are we in right relationship with God? Are we in right relationship with each of the fellow members of the body of Christ? Is there any un-confessed sin? To come to the Lord's Table with a heart of sin that's hardened toward God and fellow man, is to “participate in an unworthy manner.” (I Corinthians 11:30,31)

One last thought, the supper, which expresses the communion of believers in the body of Christ, is for the church as it gathers together. The disciples came together with the early church to break bread (Acts 20:7). This time of remembering Jesus' death is meant to be observed by the church, and not neglected. The privilege of participation should never be taken for granted.

What We Believe about Baptism

December 17, 2008 by  
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What is the Meaning and Significance?

Baptism is first and foremost identification with Jesus Christ. The act of baptism is intended to symbolize what has happened to us spiritually as a result of faith in Christ's death and resurrection.

Water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, but rather reminds us of what our salvation required of Jesus. It is also intended to be a public testimony of one's trust and new life in Christ. It is an act of obedience in response to faith in Christ.

Being lowered into the water symbolizes our death to sin's power over us as a result of Jesus' physical death and burial. Being raised back up out of the water symbolizes our new spiritual birth as a result of Jesus coming back to life.

Baptism gives a true picture of the meaning of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Bible passages like Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12 (although not referring to water baptism in the immediate context) do picture for us the reality of Christ's work and the truth that baptism portrays, when the text says believers have “been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through (their) faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.” In baptism the Christian testifies that he belongs to Christ. In baptism, the process of being submerged identifies him/her as a willing participant in this completed work of salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ. The inner reality of salvation having already occurred in the life of the one being baptized, is clearly (and publicly) declared in the practice of water baptism.

Believers Baptism in the New Testament In the New Testament we find that water baptism for the Christian is intimately connected with the following:

  1. A public identification with the person of Jesus Christ. Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a public profession of their faith.
  2. An act obedience to the command of Christ (Matthew 28:19) fulfilled by Christians who have subjected themselves to His sovereignty.
  3. A public commitment to live obediently according to God's standards of righteousness. (Matthew 3:15)
  4. A willingness to follow Christ's example of water baptism. (Matthew 3:13-17)
  5. A desire to identify with the body of Christ as evidenced by the local church that is witnessing the baptism event. (Matthew 28:19)

Who should be Baptized?

The congregation of Grace Community understands the Scripture to teach that only persons who have trusted Jesus Christ for their personal salvation are qualified for baptism. Furthermore, we understand Scripture to call every believer to be baptized according to Christ's command in Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Since becoming a disciple of Christ involves faith, baptism as an accompanying act is for believers.

Regarding infants: While we acknowledge that some churches hold to a theology of infant baptism, at Grace Community we provide Christian parents the opportunity to present their child for a ceremony of dedication. At this ceremony, God's blessing is asked on the life of the child and the parents publicly commit themselves to raise their child in accordance with the teachings of Scripture.

How is baptism done?

In the New Testament, the Greek word for baptism (baptizo) means “to dip” or “to submerge”. The Greek words for “to pour” or “to sprinkle” are never used when a baptism is described in the New Testament. In addition, every baptism that is clearly described in the New Testament demonstrates that immersion was the method of baptizing a believer. Therefore, we practice baptism by immersion at Grace Community Church.

If you would like to be baptized….

We would be delighted to help you see the importance of following Jesus' example in baptism. If you have made the decision and wish to arrange a time for baptism, please contact the church office (674-1172) and speak to the secretary, or make notice on the worship communication card and place in the offering bag on Sunday morning.