Articles of Faith and Doctrine
Learn more about what we believe and why.
As the Be In Christ Church of Canada we trace our beginnings from a group known as the River Brethren, which originated about 1778 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In the late 1780’s John and Elizabeth Winger, along with Jacob and Mary Sider, emigrated from the States to Upper Canada, bringing with them their faith and practice. Very quickly they began to establish communities of faith throughout Ontario. They were known in Canada as the Tunkers due to their method of baptism by complete immersion in water. Our forbearers bore witness to the beliefs that set them apart by formulating a Confession of Faith. The confessional statements of that era reflect the Pietistic and Anabaptist influences that have shaped our doctrinal understandings. Some 100 years later, the Brethren in Christ adopted aspects of Wesleyan thought, which were incorporated into subsequent doctrinal statements. In more recent years we have been significantly influenced by Evangelical thought and practices. Through the years we have reaffirmed and redefined our essential beliefs.
From 1879 to 2012, Be In Christ Canada was a member of the General Conference of the Brethren in Christ in North America. In 2012 two distinct national churches – BIC Canada and BIC US – were created, rather than one North American body. In this process, Be In Christ Canada continues to stand on the heritage of our Anabaptist, Pietistic, Wesleyan and Evangelical thought.
In this doctrinal statement we affirm an understanding of Scriptural interpretation that recognizes
- the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit;
- its authority in our life together;
- the centrality of Christ in divine revelation;
- the New Testament as critical in understanding the Old Testament;
- the Scriptural focus on piety and obedience; and
- the essential value of community consensus in the interpretive process.
One must read the doctrinal statement as a whole, since each of the sections is closely related to the others. Moreover, this is a summary statement of our beliefs; the Canadian Handbook on Faith and Life, together with other publications of the church, explain more fully our understanding of biblical faith and the Christian life.
Following the doctrinal statement is a listing of selected Scripture references. Since the statement grows out of the totality of the biblical message, these references are only illustrative of the scriptural truths identified in each section. Study of these and other related Scripture passages is important for a clearer understanding of God and His will for humanity.
Revelation and Scripture
We believe that it is the nature of God to make Himself known. God reveals Himself to humanity in various ways, most clearly in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. We accept these divinely inspired writings as the authoritative Word of God.
Revelation in nature, history, and the Son
The world of nature and God’s sustaining care of it speak of His existence and power. In addition, God has placed a sense of right and wrong in human hearts. This revelation through nature and conscience is partial and incomplete. Therefore God has acted in history to reveal Himself to humanity. Through Abraham, God began to form a covenant community that would reveal God and His will to all humanity. Through His words, acts, and relationship with the people of Israel, God has made His person and purposes known in order to provide salvation to all who respond in faith and obedience. In all of this, God was preparing for the time when He would reveal Himself preeminently through His Son, Jesus Christ—the “Word made flesh.”
Scripture, the record of revelation
The Christian Scriptures complete the revelation of God. They recount and interpret God’s action in creation, in human events, in God’s saving acts for Israel, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the life of the New Testament church.
The Scriptures are God’s message, written by people in their own language and settings, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit guided the processes of selection and transcription through which the Scriptures were passed on to us.
Therefore, the Bible is the authoritative and reliable Word of God.
We believe that the Bible, composed of the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books), is God’s written Word. The Old Testament is the record of God’s saving acts for Israel and of His redemptive purpose for all people. It contains numerous prophecies, many of which are fulfilled in the New Testament. The New Testament clearly reveals God in the person and work of Jesus Christ, whom God sent to be the Savior of the world and to establish His church.
The Old Testament prepares the way for the New, while the New Testament fulfills and clarifies the Old. They complement each other in a unified message.
Scripture and the Church
We believe that the Bible is God’s message of salvation for all people. As believers, we accept the Bible as the final authority for faith and practice.
The Holy Spirit continues to work in the church today in teaching us how to understand, interpret, and apply the Scriptures through faith and diligent study. As believers open the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit helps them to discern God’s truth and will from the Word. As the church gathers around the Word, the Holy Spirit leads God’s people into all truth.
The Scriptures themselves are the primary standard for understanding and interpreting the Bible. The person, teaching, and work of Jesus Christ best clarify God’s written revelation.
Christians are called to read and obey the Bible. Therefore the church needs to provide faithful preaching and teaching of the Scriptures. Individuals and families should practice Bible reading and study. As we read and respond obediently to the counsel of God’s Word, our statements of belief have integrity.
Revelation and Scripture
Revelation in Nature, History, and the Son
Scripture, the Record of Revelation
Scripture and the Church
God and Creation
The Bible opens with the words, “In the beginning God created . . .” This dramatic statement declares God to be the eternal source and foundation of all that is. The Bible proceeds to reveal the person, nature, and character of the triune God who forever is—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Nature of God
We believe in one sovereign, true, and living God, creator and preserver of all things. God knows all things, is all-powerful, and transcends time and space. God is a personal being, revealing His righteousness, truth, and grace to all people. He calls everyone to respond to Him in reverence and obedience. God is perfect, just, and good. God is holy, calling us to righteousness. God is love, bridging the distance between Himself and us, reaching out in redemption to draw us to Himself. God’s self-disclosure has been progressive. Even though God transcends human perception and language, He has revealed Himself in Scripture, entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ, and comes to live in us by the Holy Spirit. As God opens our understanding by the Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit, we gain knowledge of Him. Thus, as believers, we bow before Him in worship.
Creation and providence
God created all things, visible and invisible, including all spiritual beings. All creation is finite and dependent upon the Creator, who was before all things and will continue forever.
God’s work of creation was good, both physically and morally. God blessed creation with His loving-kindness. Although God upholds and governs creation by the power of His will, God has given humanity the role of caretaker of the earth. Therefore we are responsible for its cultivation and preservation, and our use of its resources. Creation was marred as a result of human disobedience. However, evidence of creation’s original order remains, and the earth now awaits restoration in God’s redemptive plan.
Relationships in creation
God established order and relationships within His creation, uniting it in all its parts. God created and sustains all things, yet remains distinct from what is created. God does not depend on the creation for His being.
A moral order exists in the universe. The human conscience senses this order, which is more fully revealed in the Scriptures. The moral principles set forth in the Scriptures provide direction for our conduct and relationships.
The Creator has built a cycle of work and rest into the creation, one day in seven being designated by God for worship and renewal. By observing Sunday as the Lord’s Day, we honor this divinely-ordained cycle, testify of our trust in God’s provision, and witness to the Lord’s resurrection. Made in God’s image, each human being is of infinite value and is to be cared for and nurtured. We should relate to others in love and justice—opposing that which destroys, oppresses, demeans or manipulates, and fostering that which restores, upbuilds and affirms.
God’s plan for the human family calls for wholesome, growing relationships among all persons; it forbids abusive and destructive behavior. God gave human sexuality a good place in creation. Being either male or female is integral to who we are and in a complementary way provides for the full expression of our humanity. God has given standards for expression of our sexuality that are necessary for proper relationships among people. Human sexuality is affirmed within the chaste single life or a lifelong marriage between a man and a woman.
God and Creation
Nature of God
Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:3-4; 33:27; Psalm 45:6; 48:14; 100:5; Daniel 6:26-27; Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 14:15-17; 1 Corinthians 2:11-16; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Timothy 1:17; James 1:17; Revelation 16:7
Creation and Providence
Relationships in Creation
Genesis 1-2; Exodus 20:1-17; Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 16:20; Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 58:13-14; Micah 6:8; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 12:8; 19:1-12; 25:40; Mark 2:27; Romans 2:13-15; 14:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 4:29-5:2; 5:21-6:4; Colossians 1:16-17; 1 John 3:14
Humanity and Sin
God created man and woman in His image. Humans are distinct from all other forms of creation, having spiritual as well as physical characteristics. Physically, each person has a body made from the elements of earth—a body that grows, matures, and eventually returns to the earth in death. People also reflect certain moral and spiritual aspects of God’s nature— intelligence, creativity, moral discernment, spiritual awareness, and freedom of choice. As spiritual beings, humans are created to be in fellowship with God. We cannot find peace apart from a right relationship with God.
Freedom of choice
The image of God in each person includes the capacity to make moral choices. We can choose good or evil, to obey or disobey God. The freedom to choose makes us responsible for our decisions and liable for their consequences.
We understand from Scripture that while God grants humanity this freedom of choice, God also knows the end from the beginning and in His wisdom and grace is working out His eternal purposes within human history.
Source of sin
Man and woman were created sinless and innocent, living in harmony with God and creation. But evil entered the human family when Adam and Eve yielded to Satan’s temptation. As they chose to disobey God, their nature became sinful. This sinful nature has been transmitted to all their descendants. Thus sin, moral depravity, and death became an inherent part of the human experience. Satan, also called the devil, is the personal embodiment of evil and the original source of sin. His evil rule constantly rebels against the authority of God. We live in the arena of the resulting conflict, and must choose between the rule of Satan and the reign of God.
Effects of sin
Corrupted by a sinful nature, humans are unholy, self-centered, self-willed, and rebellious toward God. In character and conduct, all humanity stands guilty before God. On our own, we cannot achieve any righteousness acceptable to God. Humanity’s inclination toward evil is universal, and the accompanying guilt or shame is common to all people.
Through the fallen human family, sin permeates the social order, alienating persons from God, from one another, from themselves, and from the rest of creation. Sinfulness is evident in the breakdown of human relationships and family structures, in social and economic systems that violate God’s order and ignore human dignity, in philosophical systems that deny God and deify humans, and in religious systems that distort truth and create illusions of reality.
In a world system permeated by satanic influence, sin is spread by human wickedness and the powers of evil. At the personal level, sin arises from the inner inclination toward disobedience and rebellion.
Creation shows God’s glory and nature to all people; therefore, all are responsible to honor and glorify Him. While sin permeates the social order, accountability for sin remains personal. Each of us is accountable to God based on his or her personal ability to know and to choose good from evil. We believe that persons developmentally unable to discern right from wrong are accepted by God through His mercy, covered by the atonement of Christ.
With the fall of the human race into sin, the image of God in humanity was seriously flawed, but not totally destroyed. In spite of a bent toward evil, aspects of God’s likeness remain in humankind, glimpsed in such characteristics as creativity, generosity, and compassion. Nevertheless, it is only by God’s grace that people can respond to God’s gift of salvation.
Humanity and Sin
Freedom of Choice
Source of Sin
Effects of Sin
Jesus Christ and Salvation
God’s plan of salvation for sinful humanity is central to God’s eternal purpose and is fully revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, chosen by God before creation to be the Savior. We affirm that Jesus Christ is truly divine and truly human.
Life and ministry of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, God the Son, is a distinct person of the Trinity, in perfect equality and unity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He is eternally existent and is fully God. He created all things and is the source and sustainer of life.
In the fullness of time God the Son took on human likeness, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. He was God incarnate—God in the flesh—and lived on earth as a man, fully human, yet without sin. He grew physically and mentally, and experienced hunger, thirst, fatigue, rejection, and the range of human emotions. He was tempted in every way, but remained sinless. He was perfectly obedient and submissive to the Father. He took on the role of a servant and responded in compassion to those in need. Jesus modeled perfect humanity and called people to follow Him.
The divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth was shown clearly during His life on earth. At infancy He was announced as Immanuel, God with us. At His baptism He was acknowledged to be God’s Son. His ministry was marked by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He taught with divine authority and commissioned His disciples to proclaim His gospel. He said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father. He was the Son of God, full of grace and truth.
Jesus came to earth as the promised Messiah revealed in the Scriptures. He inaugurated the Kingdom of God and demonstrated its presence by healing the sick and casting out demons. His miracles were signs of God’s Kingdom. In His teaching, Jesus set God’s rule over against the kingdoms of this world. He called those who followed Him into the church, the new covenant community based on the values of the Kingdom of God. He came to destroy the works of the devil and to redeem the human family from sin.
Death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
Christ’s work of redemption was accomplished in His death and resurrection. God purposed in Christ to redeem us from the guilt and power of sin and to free us from the rule of Satan, so that all who believe would be restored to divine favor and fellowship.
By His suffering and sacrificial death for us, Jesus Christ provided complete atonement for sin. His death and resurrection opened the only way for reconciliation between a holy, just God and sinful humanity. His life-blood freely given on the cross provided pardon and ratified the New Covenant. The bodily resurrection of Jesus testifies decisively of His deity and His victory over Satan, sin, and death. The risen Christ ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us.
Jesus Christ is now our risen, exalted, and reigning Lord. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He is the Head of the church and the Lord of human history. At the end of time, all things in heaven and on earth will be brought under His rule. Every person will bow before Him and He will reign forever. With joy we confess that Jesus is Lord and acknowledge His authority in our lives. We honor Him with our worship and obedience.
Coming to faith
The salvation graciously provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes effective in our lives by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who prepares us for faith in Jesus Christ. He awakens us to our need, enables us to acknowledge our guilt, and calls us to respond to God in faith and obedience.
The response of faith is a personal reliance on God’s grace and a turning from sin to righteousness. Repentance involves an acknowledgement of sin. It is expressed in genuine sorrow, forsaking sin, and a change in attitude toward God, preparing for the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit. Repentance includes a willingness for reconciliation and restitution.
New life in Christ
All who come to faith in Christ are born again, receive the Holy Spirit, and become children of God. They are acquitted of all guilt for sin, are granted the righteousness of Christ, and are reconciled to God. Persons thus justified by grace through faith enjoy peace with God, are adopted into God’s family, become part of the church, and receive the assurance of eternal life. We become new creatures in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This change of heart becomes evident in the development of Christ-like character and a walk of obedience to God. Conversion is expressed in a changed life with new direction, purposes, interests, and values. The new life in Christ is developed through Christian spiritual disciplines such as prayer, study of Scripture, fasting, self-denial, stewardship, and fellowship. While these strengthen the Christian, they do not make the believer immune from temptation. Persistent disobedience impairs fellowship with God and can destroy one’s new life in Christ. When there is sin in the Christian’s life, it needs to be confessed and forsaken in the confidence of God’s willingness to pardon and His power to cleanse from evil.
Life in the Spirit
We believe that God’s grace provides for more than forgiveness of sin. As the Spirit works in the life of the believer, he or she is led forward in sanctification to a full surrender and commitment of the motives and will to Christ. This results in freedom from the control of sin and in empowerment to live the holy life. The Holy Spirit fills persons yielded to God and equips them for effective witness and service. Sanctification is also an ongoing journey of yielding to God and growing in grace. The quality of the surrendered life corresponds to the believer’s responsiveness to the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God. The Spirit-filled life results in a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, inner strength in times of temptation, godly living and wholehearted service to the Lord. The Holy Spirit produces virtuous character— love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These virtues characterize the believer’s walk in the Spirit.
Hope of life everlasting
The salvation provided by our Lord Jesus Christ will be consummated for the believer in the joy of heaven and the full realization of the Kingdom of God. In our glorified bodies we will be free from all the effects of sin. Restored in the likeness of Christ, we will worship God and reign with Christ throughout eternity.
Jesus Christ and Salvation
Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Matthew 1:20-23; 3:13-17; 6:33; 7:28-29, 9:35-36; 12:25-28; 26:26-29; 28:18-20; Mark 1:14-15; 14:61-62; Luke l:26-2:33, 52; 4:1-21; 22:44; John 1:1-14; 3:16; 13:1-17; 14:8-11; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 4:14-15
Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Psalm 22:1-18; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 27:27-28:20; John 3:16-17; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:9-10; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:21-22; Hebrews 1:3; 7:24-25; 9:11-28; 12:2; Revelation 11:15
Coming to Faith
New Life in Christ
Life in the Spirit
Hope of Life Everlasting
The Holy Spirit and the Church
The Holy Spirit is a divine person who eternally coexists with the Father and the Son. The Spirit was present and active in creation, is seen throughout the Old Testament, and is revealed more explicitly in the New Testament. Life in the Spirit was reflected most clearly in the earthly life of Jesus. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from God to continue the work of the ascended Christ, as Jesus had promised His followers.
Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit works in the world, convincing persons of sin and bringing them to repentance and faith, guiding them to fullness of life in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Counselor who is always present with God’s people and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who guides the believer, and serves as the guarantee of the eternal inheritance promised in Christ.
The Holy Spirit intercedes for the believers in agreement with God’s will. He helps the children of God in their need, cleanses and sets them apart for holy living, and empowers them for service.
The Holy Spirit is also present in the corporate life of the church, inspiring unity, worship, and service. His presence is realized as the church is open and responsive to the Spirit’s leadership. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all believers according to His sovereign will and purposes. Scripture identifies a variety of gifts, given for the building up of the church and for ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit guides the church in setting apart persons for leadership. The church is responsible to discern and encourage the use of the gifts of the Spirit in its life and ministry.
Nature of the Church
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ established the church to be God’s new community, which has its roots in the people of God in the Old Testament and testifies to the presence of the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, the redeemed community. His Word and will are authoritative among us. The church consists of all those who trust Jesus as Savior and follow Him as Lord. We become part of God’s family, loving the Lord Jesus and learning to love and care for one another. We are a covenant community vowing before God and fellow members to live a holy life, to remain loyal to the church, and to foster oneness within the body of Christ. Our understanding of this covenant is expressed in a commitment to the local congregation, where the integrity of our discipleship is lived; to the denomination, where relationships with a wider fellowship of God’s people are realized; and to the body of Christ throughout the world, by which we fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all may be one. The essential functions of the church are worship, fellowship, disciple-ship, and mission. In worship, we bring our wholehearted devotion to the Lord God. In fellowship, we live out our deep commitment to love one another. In discipleship, we follow the call of the Lord Jesus to obey and to teach all things commanded by Him. In mission, we proclaim the gospel to all people and minister to human need as Jesus did.
As a covenant community we practice mutual accountability among our members. We accept the steps outlined by Jesus: first, going privately to the one who sins against us; then, if necessary, returning with one (1) or more witnesses; and finally, if needed, involving the congregation. When the church deals with sin, we seek to respond with compassion and concern. The objective of church discipline is to restore the erring church member and to maintain the integrity and purity of the church’s fellowship and witness.
Life of the Church: ordinances and practices
The ordinances of the church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are to be observed in obedience to our Lord’s command.
The baptism of believers is a public witness that they have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and are becoming part of the community of faith. We believe that baptism by immersion symbolizes the believer’s submission to Jesus Christ and identification with His death and resurrection. We expect baptized believers to commit themselves to the membership covenant, thereby affirming their loyalty to the church. The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus and is celebrated by His followers in remembrance of the Lord’s death and resurrection and in anticipation of His return. The bread and the cup represent the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Participating in the communion service symbolizes our unity with believers of all times and places. We are to examine ourselves in the light of Scripture before approaching the Lord’s Table. Reconciliation with God and with brothers and sisters in Christ is an essential preparation for participation. In addition to the ordinances, other practices are important aspects of life and worship in the Christian community.
We regard the practice of washing one another’s feet as modeled and taught by Jesus to be a demonstration of love, humility, and service to one another, pointing beyond itself to a way of life. In the life of the church, the foot washing service is an occasion for reconciliation, affirmation of one another, and testimony of God’s grace. The Christian marriage ceremony witnesses to God’s order and design for the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong commitment of love and fidelity. Vows are affirmed and the marriage is celebrated in the context of the congregation, which is called to support the couple in their life together. Christ’s covenantal, self-sacrificing love for the church and the church’s loving response is the model that husband and wife are to follow.
The practice of dedicating children affirms their place in the midst of the congregation. The service of dedication provides an opportunity for parents to commit themselves to the Lord in the care and training of their children. Members of the congregation join with the parents in pledging to pray for and to nurture the children.
The gospel includes healing for the ill and deliverance for the oppressed. The church follows scriptural practices in praying for the sick, laying on hands, and anointing with oil in the name of the Lord. The service of divine healing affirms that God responds to the brokenness of the human condition with healing or with grace to endure suffering.
When death comes to the community of believers, the funeral provides an opportunity to focus on the risen Lord. The congregation responds compassionately with the bereaved. Death reminds us of our mortality and the hope of the resurrection.
Mission of the Church: in relation to the world
Jesus Christ commissions the church to make disciples of all the world’s peoples. The church is called to share the gospel in every culture and stratum of society. Evangelism includes bringing people to a saving faith in Christ and to responsible membership in the church. The people of God are also called to be a redemptive influence in the world, confronting corporate sin and seeking to overcome evil with good. They are to be a voice for righteousness, peace, and justice. The church recognizes the place God ordains for government in society. As Christians, we pray for the state and those who are in authority. At the same time, we believe loyalty to Christ and the church, which is transnational, takes precedence over loyalty to the state. Selective involvements in the affairs of government are appropriate for believers if loyalty to Christ and the principles of His Kingdom are carefully guarded, and if such participation will enhance one’s Christian witness and service.
Christ loved His enemies and He calls us as His disciples to love our enemies. We follow our Lord in being a people of peace and reconciliation, called to suffer and not to fight. While respecting those who hold other interpretations, we believe that preparation for or participation in war is inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Similarly, we reject all other acts of violence which devalue human life. Rather, we affirm active peacemaking, sacrificial service to others, as well as the pursuit of justice for the poor and the oppressed in the name of Christ.
Those who follow Christ are strangers and pilgrims in the world, called to share the light of Christ. In the renewing of our minds by God’s grace, we resist conformity to our fallen, broken world. Nonconformity calls us to reject the world’s unrestrained materialism, its sensualism, and its self-centeredness. Rather we seek to express the values of God’s Kingdom by a lifestyle of modesty and simplicity.
The Holy Spirit and the Church
Work of the Holy Spirit
Nature of the Church
Matthew 5:13-16; 18:15-35; 20:26-28; 28:20; John 1:12-13; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:19, 22; Philippians 2:2-16; Colossians 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 John 3:16-19
Life of the Church: Ordinances and Practices
Matthew 28:16-17; 28:19-20; Mark 10:1-12; 16:16; Luke 2:22; John 13:1-17; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:1-16; 23-34; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 5:10; James 5:13-18; 1 Peter 3:21
Mission of the Church: In Relation to the World
Proverbs 29:7; 31:9; Daniel 6:1-3; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:13-14,44; 26:52; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; John 18:36; Acts 4:18-21; 5:29; Romans 1:14-15; 12:2; 13:1-4; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 31; 2 Corinthians 5:16-20; 1 Peter 2:9-17, 21-23; 1 John 2:15-17
Eternal Hope and Judgment
The final destiny of all things lies in God’s hands. In God’s time, creation will be renewed in Christ. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord, and He shall reign forever.
End of the age and return of Christ
The return of Christ in power and glory is certain and may occur at any time. We accept the Lord’s teaching that no one knows when He will come. We understand Scripture to teach that the conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, will intensify as we approach the end of this age. At Christ’s return, the enemies of God will be conquered and the reign of God will be established forever. The promise of our Lord that we shall live eternally in His presence brings great encouragement to the people of God. Our response is joyous expectation, watchfulness, and diligence.
Death, judgment, and the consummation of all things
Death in the Christian community is a time of both sorrow and hope. Human ties that are broken bring grief, but our belief in Christ’s second coming is an affirmation of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
We believe that following death, the believer’s spirit is present with the Lord. Scripture promises the bodily resurrection of the dead, both believers and unbelievers. Those who die in Christ, along with the faithful believers alive at His return, will rise and will receive a new, glorified body, which will be free from infirmity and death. The lost, however, await a resurrection unto condemnation. God will judge righteously at the close of the age. Those who have trusted Him and obediently followed Jesus as Lord will not be condemned. God will reward them according to their faithfulness. The unsaved, however, will be punished with everlasting destruction in hell, eternally shut out from the presence of God because they have rejected His offer of salvation.
The people of God anticipate God’s promise of a new heaven and a new earth under the rule of Christ. Evil will be destroyed and ultimately Christ will deliver all things to the Father.
Exhortation to faithfulness
Hear the Word of the Lord: “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” Jesus’ last recorded words, “Yes, I am coming soon,” cause us to live in joyful anticipation. Because of this hope, we persevere and spread the good news of Christ, knowing that when the gospel of the Kingdom has been preached to all nations, the end will come. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.