What We Believe As Christians – The Essentials
We Believe That God Is…
The Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three personalities; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God. (Genesis 1:1, 26,27; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
We Believe That Jesus Christ Is…
The Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after 3 days to demonstrate His power over sin and earth. He ascended to Heaven’s Glory and will return again someday to earth to reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. (Matthew 1:22,23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5; 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4; Romans 1:3,4; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13)
We Believe That The Holy Spirit Is…
Co-equal with the Father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides Christians with power for living, understanding spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. He gives every believer a spiritual gift when they are saved. As Christians we seek to live under His control daily. (2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13; 14:16,17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18)
We Believe That The Bible Is…
God’s Word to us. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is the truth without mixture or error. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:13; Psalm 12:6; 119:105, 160; Proverbs 30:5)
We Believe That As Humans, We…
Are a people made in the spiritual image of God, to be like Him in character. We are the supreme object of God’s creation. Although every person has tremendous potential for good, all of us are marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called ‘sin”. This attitude separates us from God and causes many problems in life. (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1,2)
We Believe That Salvation Is…
God’s free gift to us, but we must accept it. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trust in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from sin’s penalty. When we turn from our self-ruled life and turn to Jesus in faith we are saved. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life on God terms. (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; 1:12; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26; Romans 5:1)
We Believe that Eternity Is…
Real. People were created to live forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by our sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are real places of eternal existence. (John 3:16; John 14:17; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:17-18; Revelation 20:15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-9)
What We Strive For As A Church – Three Goals
1. We Strive For UNITY In Essential Beliefs
“There is one Body and one Spirit…there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)
Our strive for unity comes from our commitment to the Bible. We believe it is from God and should be the only authority for personal decisions and practices.
2. We Strive For LIBERTY In The Non-Essentials
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters… Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls…So then each of us will give an account of himself to God…So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” Romans 14:1, 4, 12, 22 (NIV)
The Bible does not speak specifically to many details about 21st-century life, and inevitably Christians see some things differently. Our strive for liberty comes from our freedom in Christ. We try not to turn matters of opinion into dividing walls among Christian-followers. Jesus Himself was the Word of God walking on the earth. We’ve found that focusing on Him helps us deal with our disagreements.
3. We Strive For LOVE And CHARITY In All Of Our Beliefs
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)
Our strive for love and charity comes from the love Christ has shown each and every one of us. Our goal is to extend love to all who call themselves Christian, to demonstrate it to non-Christians so they can see Christ in us, and to experience it day by day within the local congregation.
What We Practice As Christians – Our Lifestyle Commitments
Beliefs are not worth much unless they develop into actions. Based on what the Bible teaches, we feel very strongly about the following nine practices (an acronym for CHRISTIAN):
“Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
Since our very lives belong to Christ and He bought us with His blood, our lives need to glorify Him. Any goals or objectives which conflict with such a primary desire need to be re-channeled and clothed with attitudes which will bring praise to Him, not glory to us.
Holy Spirit-Led Living
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)
We believe that the only way possible to live the Christian life is by God’s power within us. So we seek to practice a daily dependence on God’s Spirit to enable us to do what is right. (Phil. 2:13; Eph. 5:16)
Recognizing All Believers Are Ministers
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5b-6 (NIV)
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light..” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to “full-time” Christian service, regardless of his or her vocation. We practice the truth that every believer is a minister by encouraging every member to find a place of service and ministry. Every believer has direct access to God through prayer and Bible reading.
We practice baptism by immersion under water – the way Jesus was baptized and the way the Bible commands. We understand it to be done by one responding to the grace of God in their life, one who believes Jesus is their only Savior, takes Him as the Lord of their life, commits to turning from selfish personal ways and following Him. It is done as a clear identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by one who understands the richness of that truth and desires to be called a disciple of Christ (Romans 6:1-4).
Self-Governing Of The Local Church
“[CHRIST] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Colossians 1:18 (NIV)
Christ is the recognized head of our church, not any person, group, or religious organization. While recognizing the value of associating and cooperating with other groups of Christians we believe every local church should be self-governing and independent from any denominational control.
We have no bishops or superintendents or national headquarters to determine local church policies. We select our own leaders, call and support our own ministers, and decide where our missions money will go. We are not isolationists, though. We freely associate with other Christian entities to accomplish tasks too big for one church alone .
“A tithe of everything you produce belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 26:30 (NIV)
At VCC, we encourage tithing for the support of Christ’s body, the church, as God commands. We recognize that giving 10% of our income is the biblical standard for giving. Freewill offerings and faith promise pledges are in addition to the tithe.
Inviting Others And Telling Them About Christ
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the Good News with those God brings us into contact with. We practice personal sharing about Christ and inviting friends and relatives to church.
Authority Of The Bible
“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 (NIV)
Since God’s Word is the only completely reliable and truthful authority, we accept the Bible as our manual for living. Our first question when faced with a decision is: “What does the Bible say?” We practice daily Bible reading, Bible study and Bible memorization. The Bible is the basis for all we believe.
Not The Only Christians, But “Christians Only”
The above lifestyle statements form the acronym, C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N., which is the only name we wish to go by. When Jesus prayed “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us” (John 17:21, NIV), He had the church in mind. In the spirit of His prayer we seek unity with all others in Christ. Obviously that desire is difficult to achieve, but God desires unity, so it must be possible.
We are a Christian church with our only message being, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. We require no other creed. He alone is Lord and Savior. The church belongs to Him. We have no authority to change the teachings, rewrite the rules, alter membership requirements or usurp His place.