WHAT WE Believe

As a body of God’s believing children, the faith of this congregation is based in that revelation of God’s holy will found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  The statement of faith does not in any way replace Holy Scripture or exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself is the inspired and infallible Word of God and is the sole and final source of all that we believe. When it comes to faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, the board of Elders is Bethlehem Community Church’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.


The Bible

We believe that the Bible, consisting of sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, was given by divine inspiration and is the Word of God (II Tim. 3:16, 17; II Pet. 1:19, 20, 21; I Thess. 2:13);

That it constitutes the only perfect rule and final authority in all matters pertaining to Christian faith and practice (Acts 17:11; Isa. 8:20).

The Godhead

We believe there is only one living and true God, perfect, infinite, and eternal (Matt. 5:48; I Kings 8:27; Psalm 90:2);

Who is unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, love and truth (Mal. 3:6; I Tim. 1:17; Gen. 17:1; Isa. 6:3; Psalm 19:9; Ex. 34:6; John 3:16); Who is the Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3; Neh. 9:6; Heb. 1:2, 3; Psalm 103:19; Eph. 1:11);

Who eternally exists in three persons, namely, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are equal in their divine perfection, and harmonious in the execution of their distinct offices (Matt. 28:19; John 5:17; John 14:16, 17; John 15:26; Eph. 2:18).

Man

1.  His Creation
We believe that man was created by a special act of God; that he was created in the image and likeness of God, possessing personality and innocency; that he was endowed with power of rational and responsible choice in view of moral ends; and that the purpose of his creation was to glorify God (Gen. 1:27; Col. 3:10; Acts 17:24-28).

2. His Fall

We believe man was subject to trial in the Garden of Eden; in order to test his loyalty to his Maker (Gen. 2:15-17);

Under trial he lost his holy estate, was alienated from God, and become depraved physically, mentally, morally and spiritually, by voluntarily transgressing His positive command and yielding to the enticement of Satan.  In consequence of the fact of disobedience the entire human race became involved in guilt and in corruption so that in every heart there is, by nature, that evil disposition which eventually leads to responsible acts of sin and to just condemnation (Gen. 3:1-6; Rom. 5:12, 18; 3:10-12, 23; 1:19-31; Eph. 4:18; I John 1:8-10).

The Son

We believe that in the fullness of time the eternally pre-existent Son humbled Himself and assumed Man’s nature by being born of the virgin Mary, thus uniting organically and indissolubly the divine and human natures in their completeness in the unique person of Jesus Christ (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:18-25; John 1:14; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14).

We believe that God has provided redemption for man through the mediatorial work of Christ, who voluntarily offered Himself on the Cross of Calvary as a perfect sacrifice for sin, the just suffering for the unjust, bearing sin’s curse, and tasting death for every man (Matt. 20:28; Heb. 9:11, 12; I Pet. 3:18; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 2:9; I Tim. 2:5,6).

We believe that on the third day He rose from the dead and appeared to various of His followers and that He ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He performs the ministry of intercession.  He shall come again, personally and visibly, to complete His saving work and to consummate the eternal plan of God.

The Holy Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  He proceedeth from the Father and the Son. (John 15:26);

His principle ministry since His advent at Pentecost is to reprove, or convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-11 R.V.);

To restrain the progress of evil until God’s purposes are accomplished (II Thess. 2:7);

To bear witness to the truth preached (Acts 5:30-32);

To regenerate those who repent of their sins and exercise faith in Christ (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5);

To instruct, comfort, and guide God’s children (John 14:16-18, 26; 16:13);

To sanctify them (II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:1-3);

To empower them for life and service (Rom. 8:2; Acts 1:8; Eph. 3:16; I Cor. 2:1-4; I Thess. 1:5);

And to quicken their mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

Salvation

We believe that salvation is wholly of grace (Eph. 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5);

Being planned by the Father, provided for by the blood of the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; John 3:3-5).
In justification the believer is absolved of his guilt and declared righteous in the sight of God (Rom. 5:1, 9; 4:4, 5; Acts 13:39).

In adoption he is constituted a member of the household of God (Rom. 8).

In regeneration the principle of a new life is implanted in his heart (John 3:3; Titus 2:14).

In sanctification the principle of the new life is strengthened and developed increasingly (Rom. 6-8).

In glorification this work will come to its perfect culmination in an ultimate and complete renewal of human nature (I Cor.13; I John 5:11-13).

Repentance and faith are essential attitudes to be found in any one person who rightly claims the blessing of salvation.  They emphasize the fact that it is not through human merit of any kind but the grace of God that redemption is achieved.

The Church

We believe that the church invisible and universal is an organism composed of the redeemed of all the ages. We believe that the church is manifest locally and visibly through companies of believers in Christ, voluntarily joined together and meeting at stated times for worship and to observe the sacraments.

That it is the duty of the church to give the Gospel as a witness to all men (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8);

To build itself up in the most holy faith (Jude 20, 21; Eph. 4:11, 12, 16; Acts 20:32);

And to glorify God (I Pet. 4:11).

Sacraments

We believe that Christian sacraments are outward rites appointed by Christ, not as a means of salvation, but as visible signs and seals of the facts and realities of salvation.

1. Baptism
   
We believe that Baptism by water is the command given by Christ to those who have made the choice to follow Him thereby making a public confession of Christ as Savior and Lord. It is a symbol of one’s union by faith and covenant with Christ in death, burial and resurrection unto newness of life (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:11-12; Acts 8:36-39).

2.The Lord’s Supper

We believe that the Lord’s Supper should be observed by all believers in obedience to the command “This do in remembrance of Me.”  It consists of partaking of the consecrated emblems of bread and wine, and symbolizes the death of Christ for the remission of our sins and our continual dependence upon Him for our sustenance.  It witnesses that mystical union of the believer with Christ (John 15).

The union of believers around the Lord’s Table should be open to all who are in right relationship with one another and with the Lord (Matt. 26:26-30; Luke 22:19-20; I Cor. 10; 11:23-26).

Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality   

We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.

We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. (Gen 2:18-25.)

We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) 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 sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, or use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)

We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11.)

We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31.) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Bethlehem Community Church.

Statement on Life

We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life. (Ps 139.)


Last Things

We believe that at the end of the age, Christ will descend from Heaven, the dead shall be raised bodily, that they and those living at the end of the ages shall be judged by God, and that those redeemed will enter into full possession of eternal bliss in the presence of God, and the wicked shall be condemned to eternal death and separation from God (I Pet. 4:17; I Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 1:10-12; Acts 1:11; Acts 24:15; Matt. 25:31-46).