Our faith and doctrine rests first and foremost on the biblical revelation. Our understanding of the Bible and its central message is in full harmony with historical and classical Christian faith as it is summarised in the three ecumenical creeds: the Apostles’ creed, the Nicene creed, and the Athanasian creed. With this historical and classical faith as our foundation we are Reformational in our theology, Baptists in our view of baptism and the church, Charismatic in our spirituality and Missional in our expression and focus.
On this page we want to explain what that means.
- THE BIBLE
- THE CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN FAITH
- REFORMATIONAL THEOLOGY
- BAPTIST VIEW OF BAPTISM AND CHURCH
- CHARISMATIC SPIRITUALITY
- MISSIONAL EXPRESSION AND FOCUS
1. THE BIBLE
WE BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE AS GOD’S WORD
We believe in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, the truthfulness and authority in its entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and life. Through the Bible the Holy Spirit also speaks today. We believe that God’s word is powerful to accomplish God’s work in the world when it’s rightly administered.
WE BELIEVE IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
Our faith in the Bible does not mean that we worship the book as such. We love the Bible as a woman loves the letters from her beloved, not because of the paper or print, but because of the person who speaks to us through them. The Bible is in its deepest sense God’s self-revelation. When we read and study the Bible, we encounter the Triune God – Father, Son and Spirit – and we get to know who he is, his attributes, character, plan, will, and deeds. Our love for the Bible is an expression of our love for the God of the Bible.
WE BELIEVE IN THE STORY OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is not a theological compendium on all sorts of things but the grand story of creation, fall, redemption and renewal of all things. This overall story – metanarrative – gives us the big picture of the Bible’s message, a biblical worldview and view of life, and shapes our theology in significant ways. At the center of the biblical story is the good news of Jesus Christ: His life, death and resurrection for our sake. The biblical story diagnoses the fundamental problem (sin), declares God’s response to this (redemption and reconciliation through Christ), defines our new identity as believers (united with Christ), and drives our mission in the world (ambassadors of Christ). Our conviction is that this story and nothing else should shape the church’s faith, life, mission and eternal hope, from generation to generation until Christ returns.
WE BELIEVE IN THE TRUTH OF THE BIBLE
The Bible teaches us the whole counsel of God, and this teaching is sufficient for faith and life. The Bible contains on a basic level only two words: Law and Gospel. The law has a double function, it reveals God’s holiness and good will, and it condemns human sinfulness and rebellion against God. The law cannot save man; it gives us insight into our own depravity and thus drives us to the end of ourselves and to the end of all our attempts to save ourselves.
While the law points to what we should do for God, the Gospel points to what God in Christ has done for us. The Gospel is the good news of God’s amazing grace, in which God declares ungodly sinners justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. On the cross all of our sin and guilt was imputed to Christ, and by faith in Christ, his perfect righteousness is imputed to us. In the gospel we receive the good news that we are reconciled with God and have peace with him.
WE BELIEVE IN THE STUDY OF THE BIBLE
We believe that the Bible has both a divine and a human dimension. It is “the word of God given in the words of men in history” (George Eldon Ladd). That the Bible is ” the words of men in history” means that we must read the biblical texts as just that, text. This means that we must take into full account the biblical texts literary genres – historical narrative, law, prophecy, poetry, gospels, epistles and apocalypse – and not lapse into a simplified reading where we do not take the character of the texts seriously. This means that we must apply a responsible historical-grammatical method in which we interpret the biblical texts in light of the historical, cultural, social and political context in which they were written. That the Bible is the “Word of God” means that we approach the texts in faith and in a humble expectation to hear God address us personally today through the stories and teachings of the Bible.
WE BELIEVE IN THE PREACHING OF THE BIBLE
The Bible charges us to preach the Word. We are therefore committed to expository preaching where we teach through the Bible book by book. We do not choose a text based on a predetermined theme, but rather allow the text itself determine the theme. This is the best way to cover all of what the Bible teaches and it protects against subjectivity and unilateralism and promotes sound doctrine. Nothing can replace the centrality of the preaching in our worship. We believe that the preaching of the Word is not just a speech and information about God, but that God through the Word and the Spirit creates faith and brings Christ’s life to us.
WE BELIEVE IN THE LIFE OF THE BIBLE
The Bible not only gives us knowledge about God, it renews and transforms us through the Spirit who works through the Word. Through the Word, the Spirit generates faith and repentance in us; he gives birth to worship and inspires obedience and discipleship. Our will, our desires and our character are by the Word conformed into the image of Christ as we grow and mature in faith, which is a lifelong process. To believe and trust in Christ is to obey and follow Christ. Not by the principle of the law: “I obey, therefore I am accepted”, but by the principle of the gospel: “I am accepted, therefore I obey.”
Second Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
*The above text is written with inspiration from The Cape Town Commitment
2. THE CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN FAITH
“The faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
“Church councils date back to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). These councils have produced a rich heritage of significant documents over the centuries – confessions and creeds which have defined the theology of the Church.”
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died andwas buried. He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets. And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one; the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal; just as there are not three uncreated, nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite.
Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit is almighty. And yet there are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet there are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord. And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.
For as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the true Christian faith to say that there are three gods or three lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers, one Son, not three sons, one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
And in this Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another; but all three Persons are coeternal together and coequal, so that in all things, as said before, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. Whoever will be saved is compelled thus to think of the Holy Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary for everlasting salvation that one also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect Man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood. Who, although He is God and Man, yet He is not two but one Christ; One not by changing of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One indeed, not by confusion of substance, but by oneness of person. For just as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, God almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all will rise again with their bodies and will give an account of their own works. And they that have done good will enter into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Christian faith; whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved.
3. REFORMATIONAL THEOLOGY
Our theology retrieves mainly its inspiration from the Reformation. We do not want to position ourselves into a too narrow and specific furrow of the traditions of the reformation. Therefore we do not define ourselves neither Lutherans, Reformed nor Calvinists. However, we have the greatest respect for these traditions and are influenced by them all. We position ourselves into a broad reformational theology that can most easily be described by means of the five “solas” of the Reformation, which all the reformational traditions agree on and are the foundations of all genuine evangelical Christianity.
SOLA SCRIPTURA – SCRIPTURE ALONE
When the reformers proclaimed Scripture Alone in the 16th Century it was a critique of the Roman Catholic Church’s elevation of church tradition to the level of biblical revelation. But it was also a critique of the ”enthusiasts” and “fanatics” who put the emphasis on their own private revelations and experiences rather than on the Word of God. These conflicts were not about the authority or infallibility of Scripture, everyone agreed on those things; rather it was about the sufficiency of Scripture. The issue was not if the Bible was a true revelation from God but if it was the only and sufficient revelation for the church.
These conflicts are lurking under the surface also in the Christian church of our day and time. The preaching of our time is often characterized more by temporal trends than the timeless biblical texts with the Gospel of Christ at its center. In light of this we believe it is of utmost importance to establish the sufficiency of Scripture for faith and life also in our generation. Not simply as a slogan or a shallow confession but as a concrete and practical reality.
To halfheartedly engage in the preaching of the Word and to season it with pop-cultural ideas undergirded by disconnected bible verses is to insult God and harm God’s people. Since God has chosen to communicate himself through the preaching of the Word we must dedicate ourselves wholly to the faithful ministry of the Word. Through this kind of preaching and teaching God works in people’s hearts according to his own good pleasure. This high view of the Bible, that we adhere to, is well expressed in the following quote by Martin Luther:
”I can reach no further than people’s ears, their hearts are not in my reach. And because I can’t infuse faith in their hearts I can’t force anyone to believe. That is entirely the work of God who makes faith come alive in the heart. Therefore we should give room for the Word and not add our own work to it. We only have jus verbi (right to speak), and not executio (power to execute); we should preach the Word then but the consequences we must leave to God’s good pleasure”
(Martin Luther’s second Wittenberg sermon 1522).
Watch Reformission part 2 ”Sola Scriptura” by Magnus Persson
SOLUS CHRISTUS – CHRIST ALONE
Christ is, with Luther’s words, the kernel and star of the Bible. All Scripture drives and points to Christ and his work. Christ is not first and foremost an example for us to follow, only in Christ – through his death and resurrection – we find salvation from our depravity, are acquitted from all guilt, receive forgiveness from all our sins and are reconciled with God. In Jesus Christ God has become man and has revealed himself to us in human form. In Christ all the demands of God’s holy law have been met. In Christ God has, through the cross, reconciled man with God when Christ became the sinless and perfect sacrifice for our sins.
In the resurrection of Christ the powers of sin, the devil and death have been defeated. He who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has passed away. With Christ a new age has been inaugurated – the Kingdom of God – and will be consummated on the day when Christ returns in glory and sums up everything in heaven and on Earth. Until that day Christ is building his church, with himself as the cornerstone, and the gates of hell will not prevail over it. We are convinced that Christian preaching worth the name has this message of Christ at its center. Otherwise the preaching is not truly Christian.
Watch Reformission part 3 ”Solus Christus” by Magnus Persson
SOLA GRATIA – GRACE ALONE
God does not owe us anything since our guilt before him is total. It’s only when we really understand the depth of our sin and depravity that the grace of God is truly grasped, as undeserved mercy and goodness towards undeserving sinners. As long as we believe in human achievement or merit before God, the grace of God is only an add-on to our own human striving and does not transform our lives.
Human contributions and God’s grace are therefore like fire and water – they are mutually exclusive. It is entirely because of God’s grace that we get to hear the Gospel and become saved. It is also because of God’s grace that we are being sanctified and one day will be saved completely when we are glorified. Our firm belief is that salvation does not rest on our personal piety or on nothing else except God’s amazing grace.
Watch Reformission part 4 ”Sola Gratia” by Magnus Persson
SOLA FIDE – FAITH ALONE
Many Christians believe that Christ’s death on the cross is God’s work, but faith in Christ is a work of their own. This follows the logic that God has done his part; it is now up to us to do our part. But the Bible speaks about a faith that is not produced by human capacity or reason. Faith is best described as confidence and trust in God. To trust someone is not something we can just choose, but rather something that is created and grows in us through knowledge and insight about the person, that this someone is worthy of our trust. We neither find faith inside ourselves, nor produce faith by ourselves; we rather confess the faith that has been given to us as a gift of grace. Like a blind man who has suddenly received his sight, we exclaim and confess: ”I can see!” Faith is thus given and comes to us through the preaching of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit. Faith clings to Christ and trusts that His righteousness is accounted to us by grace alone.
This beautiful trust is faithfully expressed in the first article of the Heidelberg catechism:
”What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong- body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
Martin Luther explains faith in his commentary on Romans:
”Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God; it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and in mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not do these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.”
”Faith is a living and daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Spirit in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this Grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat from fire.”
Watch Reformission part 5 ”Sola Fide” by Magnus Persson
SOLI DEO GLORIA – GOD’S GLORY ALONE
In Scripture alone, it is revealed that salvation is ours through Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. All this naturally leads to the glory of one only: the Triune God alone. Christianity becomes poor and weak when it fails to lift our eyes in amazement of God’s glory and instead turn our focus on our selves. Whenever we are self-centered instead of God-centered, we get the wrong perspectives on things. There is nothing created that can satisfy our deepest needs and longings like being overwhelmed by the greatness and glory of God in Christ Jesus. And ”God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him” (John Piper). When we loose the vision of God’s greatness and sovereignty, we quickly retreat to the superficial and shallow. Our lives will always reflect our idea about God. All false doctrines make humans divine and decrease God to some degree. We therefore need a theology that magnifies God and diminishes our role and importance in life; a theology that makes much of God, founded on the biblical revelation of who God truly is.
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Watch Reformission part 6 ”Soli Deo Gloria” by Magnus Persson
4. BAPTIST VIEW OF BAPTISM AND CHURCH
We neither practice baptism of infants, nor adults, we practice baptism of believers. Believer’s baptism is an act of obedience and confirmation that publicly confirms faith and repentance. Baptism is performed by immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It symbolizes the burial of the old life and that a new life in Christ has begun. Baptism is the outward sign of an inward transformation. In baptism I am baptized into Christ’s church and fully become a part of the body of Christ. I am also baptized into the church’s faith and confession, and throughout life I learn about and grow in this faith. Our view of baptism – believer’s baptism – also indicates our view of the church (ecclesiology). The church consists of those who through confession of personal faith are united with Christ. Baptism does not serve as a statementof a perfected Christian life, but rather the start of a life of faith and discipleship of Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
”In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
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5. CHARISMATIC SPIRITUALITY
A warm and joyful atmosphere characterises our worship services, where the good news of Jesus Christ is at the center. We adhere to an audacious and affectionate charismatic spirituality and we affirm and expect the Spirit’s presence, manifestations and empowerment in life and ministry, in our daily dealings as well as in our worship. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspires devotion, worship, prayer, and that he distributes his gifts in the church just as he determines.
First Corinthians 12:4-7
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
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6. MISSIONAL EXPRESSION AND FOCUS
God’s plan is that the whole Earth shall be full of his glory, and that Christ will be believed and worshiped of an innumerable multitude, from all nations, tribes, people and languages, who have been redeemed and reconciled to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything we do as a church is greatly influenced by our conviction that the Great Commission applies to us. This means that we are committed to preaching the gospel, making disciples, planting churches and reaching cities, everywhere God sends us. We believe that we fulfill our mission by serving God in everyday life, in our personal relationships as well as through organized missions in the world, both locally and globally. We also believe that the gospel is always characterized by love and concern for our neighbor in a very practical sense. In particular, the people living in need and poverty, or suffering in other ways.
This mission we are dedicated to serve by God’s grace for God’s glory.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
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