“WE ARE A PEOPLE OF THE BOOK!” has been the catch-cry of Churches of Christ congregations throughout the world for generations since Thomas Campbell’s “The Declaration and Address”.
Other catchcries include …
“No Book but the Bible!”
“We are Christians only, but not the only Christians.”
“Where the Bible speaks, we speak; Where the Bible is silent we are silent”.
“In essentials, unity; in opinions (non-essentials), liberty; in all things, love.”
“No creed but Christ!”
“Churches of Christ do not insist upon the infallibility of any particular interpretation of Scripture…. The great principle is: “Where the Bible is silent, we are silent…This means that if a point of view cannot be expressed unequivocally in the actual words of Scripture, we never regard it as obligatory in any sense. It is just that: a point of view… churches of Christ have no statement of beliefs…”
James H. Jauncey “Simply Churches of Christ” p. 11, 15).
THE DECLARATION AND ADDRESS by Thomas Campbell which all Churches of Christ were founded upon, states as one of its articles, “THAT --- nothing ought to be binding upon Christians as articles of faith or terms of communion except that which is expressly taught in God’s Word. The authority of Christ and His apostles upon the New Testament Church alone is valid.” (Quoted from “Bridge Builders in Restoration” by A. G. Elliott, p. 48).
We have “No creed but Christ” means that if Jesus did not say it, nor his apostles through him, then we must not bind anything else upon the new convert to Christ. (E.L. Williams in Living Responsibly in his chapter, Essential Christianity).
With this heritage in mind, I submit the following “Statement of Faith” believing it to be expressed in no words but Bible words, to express no doctrines but what may be found by a full reading of the holy Scriptures, and doctrines which faithfully honour our blessed Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Christ (1 John 3: 23). A Christian is one who loves Jesus Christ and obeys His call to ‘Follow Me!” A Christian is a learner, a disciple of Jesus, one who hears the voice of Jesus. A Christian is one who “has the Son” (I John 5: 11-12). All who call on His Name from a sincere heart are known by Him (I Cor. 1:2; Matt. 17:5; John 14:21; I John 4:15)
The Bible is the inspired Word of God, written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the Christian’s road map for life. It contains everything we need to know about life, about God and becoming holy as He is holy. It reveals what happens at physical death. It also reveals that Jesus is coming again. “Not one letter or stroke” of what “is written” will pass away until all of God’s plan and promises in Christ are fulfilled (Matt. 5: 18; Mark 12: 36; 2 Tim. 3:14-16; 2 Pet. 1: 19-21)
The Bible, backed up by creation, declares God exists. He is the all-knowing, always present, self-existing God. He is the creator of the universe, and He is the Creator of all forms of life on earth. He is the Sovereign LORD who has a plan for mankind whom He created in His image. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6; 2 Cor. 11: 31; John 20: 17; Rev. 1: 6). He is also the Father God of all people (Acts 17: 24-26).
The Scriptures declare that, “the LORD is our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). Jesus affirmed this to be His own central and fundamental confessional creed, the “first and the greatest of all the commandments” (Mark 12:28-32). This was the ‘theology’ of Jesus himself. The apostles also taught this central confession (I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4: 6). This is the LORD God Whom Jesus taught his followers to love with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12: 30), Who is “the only true God” (John 17:3).
He is the Son of the eternal God, uniquely “begotten” of the Holy Spirit of God, being born as a baby to Mary who was a virgin (Lk. 1:35; Matt. 1:22-23).
Jesus was “a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst” (Acts 2: 22).
Jesus of Nazareth was “anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10: 38).
Jesus came to proclaim the arrival of the promised Kingdom of God which will bring about the restoration of the earth as predicted by the prophets (Mk. 1:14; Lk. 4:18-19; Rom. 1: 1-4; 15: 8; Acts 1:6; 3:21). Under his lordship the saints will inherit the earth and reign in righteousness (Dan. 7: 13-14,18,22,27). We enter that Kingdom through repentance and intelligent commitment to this 'saving word' of Christ (Matt. 13: 23).
His purpose was to be the sinless “Lamb of God” so that all who trust in his atoning sacrifice are justified freely by God's grace apart from the works of the Old Law. The blood of Jesus has ratified the New Covenant. All who believe his Gospel of grace are freed from the penalty of their sin and death, which is “eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power(John 1: 29; 2 Thess. 1: 9).
At the completion of his ministry he was crucified on a Roman cross, was buried in a tomb and three days later was raised by God out of the grave in a bodily resurrection, and then ascended to heaven to rule as King over God’s Kingdom (I Cor. 15: 3-4). “Though He was crucified through weakness, He now lives by the power of God” at the Right Hand of God and is the pattern for the believers’ bodily resurrection to immortality (Acts 2:34; 2 Cor. 13:4; I Cor. 15:20).
God has “made” this crucified Jesus “both Lord and Christ (Messiah)” (Acts 2: 36). “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to him” (Matt. 28: 18) and we are to confidently therefore go and make disciples of all the nations for him, baptizing them “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (v. 19).
Jesus is currently building His church (Matt. 16:18). His church consists of all who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, that he is their Lord and Saviour, and that God raised him from the dead (Matt. 16: 16; Rom. 10:9).
We now confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-10). One day when all opposition is subjected to Him, even the Son Himself will be subjected to the One Who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” I Cor. 15: 28).
(Lk. 1:35; Isaiah 9:6; Acts 2: 36; I Cor. 15: 3-4; Romans 1:3-4; I Tim. 6: 14-15)
The Spirit of God is the personal operational Presence of God the Father mediated through the risen Christ to the Church as we proclaim the Gospel in truth (John 14:16-18,20).
"The Spirit of Truth" is thus our Comforter, and we are not left as "orphans in the world".
Nobody is a Christian in whom the “Spirit of Christ” does not dwell (Rom. 8: 9).
All the fruits of the Christian’s godly character are the result of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-24). When the church community is united in one mind and one heart the anointing of the Spirit of God is experienced in sweet fellowship (Eph. 4:3f; Phil. 2:1-2). God now imparts to the Church through His Spirit all gifts and ministries necessary to be His people in this world ( I Cor. 12: 7; Rom. 12: 4f).
THE HUMAN CONDITION & SALVATION
All people are born in the image of God. Although we are the supreme act of God’s creative wisdom, all mankind is marred by self-centredness and disobedience towards God by virtue of being “in Adam”, that is, born of “the flesh”. Consequently, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Each individual upon hearing the Gospel of Christ is called upon to repent and to be baptised in the Name of Jesus (Matt. 28: 10-20; Acts 2:38). Jesus Christ is the only Lord and Saviour who can set us free from the condemnation of sin and death (Acts 4:12). Such repentance and faith is not a one off ‘decision’ but a life-long walk of obedience with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation is God’s free and gracious gift to every believer. Salvation is not earned by our own deeds nor merits, nor self-improvement. Only by resting in the all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and by hearing his Gospel invitation to enter his eternal kingdom can one be “saved”, that is, inherit eternal life. (John 1:12; 14:6; Titus 3:5; Gal. 3:26; Rom. 5:1;6:23; Eph. 2:8-9).
Our final rescue from death will be at the Second Coming of Jesus when he calls all from their graves to life and immortality. Those Christians alive at His Coming will be caught up to meet the Lord and thus shall every one of God’s redeemed people be ultimately saved to enter the life of the Age to Come (I Thess. 4: 16).
Belongs to Christ and he is it’s head and Lord. Every single believer is joined to Christ in vital union and contact with God through him. Together we are infused by his love and Spirit and express his life and truth in this world by our corporate witness to his words of truth. We model Christ himself by our joyful, holy and united witness. God has given to each member of Christ’s Body various gifts and talents for the edifying of all and for effective testimony before the world.
We are a community anticipating the soon Coming and glorious Appearance of our Saviour from heaven. On that 'Day of the Lord' all the enemies of God (including the personal Satan and his demon-cohorts, as well as sickness and death and all forms of injustice) will be put under His feet ( Heb. 9:28; I Cor. 12:7, 13-14; 15:23-24; Eph. 4: 4-7; Col. 1:18; 1 Thess. 1: 9-10)