“Why do we need any doctrine at all? Why don’t we just love Jesus?”
It sounds right, but just ask the person to clarify what he means. Ask him a simple question like, “Who is Jesus?” If he answers, “The Jesus of the Bible” ask in return, “What does the Bible say about Jesus?” Any answer we give to these questions is some form of a doctrine or theology about the person of Christ. Even the statement, “no doctrine but love, no creed but Christ” is a theology. So, the fact is all believers in Christ have doctrine or theology. Our doctrine may be either homemade or learned from someone else, but we all have one. What we should do is search the scriptures and the ideas of the Church through the ages to see how our own beliefs compare. We should make sure our theology is sound.
Christians have always struggled with theology. In the early centuries of the Church, there were many views concerning the covenant and the person of Christ. Some of these robbed Christ of His deity. Others robbed Him of His humanity. There were also differences about which writings should be included in the “canon” (officially recognized as Scripture), differences about church government and differences about many other things.
The early Church had several councils to define what the people of God believed. The first of these councils is recorded in the Bible itself, in the Book of Acts. More councils followed in the next few centuries as Christians sought to define their faith. Through the ages, the overwhelming majority of Christians have agreed with the decisions of these councils. They have stood the test of time. The most important have been repeated in poetical forms called “creeds” (from the Latin word “credo” meaning “I believe”).
The most important of these was the Apostles’ Creed. No one knows for sure when it was written. We do know it was being quoted as early as the second century, in a form very similar to what we recite now. There are almost no Christians anywhere, with all our differences, who do not accept the doctrines that this creed teaches. It is a core of faith that believers in Christ everywhere hold as a common heritage. It is that common heritage we will discuss here because that is the source of doctrine at The Hills Fellowship.
The real focus of Christian unity is centered around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the truth. All other truths, even time-honored, highly treasured Christian truths, must be written with a lower case “t,” and be preceded by the article “a.” To enshrine anything else as The Truth apart from Him, who claimed that title, is idolatry. We certainly do not wish to make an idol of this confession of our faith.
Our Confession of Faith, like all doctrine and theology, is a declaration of truths about “The Truth.” It is an attempt to give us a handle on His Gospel, as we understand it.
In essential beliefs — we have unity.
“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
In non-essential beliefs — we have liberty.
“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
In all our beliefs — we show charity.
“…If I hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but also the very secrets of God, and if I have the faith that can move mountains — but have no love, I amount to nothing at all.” 1 Corinthians 13:2
WE BELIEVE IN HUMAN WORTH
We believe that man was made in the image of God and is the crown of creation. He is now, by reason of the fall, spiritually depraved and alienated from his Creator. Apart from God’s grace, he has no ability to attain to his high calling. (Psalm 8, Ephesians 2: 8 – 9)
WE BELIEVE IN JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
We believe that justification is by grace through faith in our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary. (Romans 3:21 – 24) The soul that sins shall surely die. This death is a spiritual death first and a natural death second.
WE BELIEVE IN BAPTISM
We believe that all of God’s people are to be buried with our Lord Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism, subsequent to conversion. (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:4)
WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD WHO EXISTS AS FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT
We believe there is only one God, revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 2 Corinthians 13:14, John 1:1) In the New Testament, time and time again we see the expression of God the Father, Jesus the Son of God and God the Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST
We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was begotten, not created, very God of very God, truly God, truly Man. He was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died a vicarious and atoning death for the sins of the world, resurrected bodily for our justification, and now reigns in glory until all things be put under His feet. (1 Timothy 3:16)
There are six things essential to our beliefs as a Christian:
WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers, conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13, Romans 8:16 – 17)
WE BELIEVE THAT BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AN ENDOWMENT OF POWER
We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an endowment of power, subsequent to conversion, given by God to anoint the believer for sanctification and evangelism. It is our understanding that the supernatural charisma of the Holy Spirit is active within the Body of Christ until the coming of the Lord. Furthermore, we believe the development of the charismatic gifts ought to be encouraged under the guidance of local church authorities. (Acts 8:14-17, Acts 19:1-2, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
WE BELIEVE IN ONE HOLY CHRISTIAN AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH
We believe in the Holy Christian Church, imperfectly represented on earth, by the various Christian institutions. Her unity is spiritual, her culture diverse and transitional, her mission eternal. (Hebrews 12:18-23) There’s only one church body in the earth. There are many Christian institutions.
WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
We believe in the absolute inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, given by the Holy Spirit without error, as He moved upon holy men of old. Furthermore, we believe that the Church has no authority to establish doctrine or practice contrary to these same Scriptures, which were subsequently accepted as canon by the early Christian Church. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Holy Bible is the word of God, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE IN THE EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
We believe that the calling of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher are functional within the Body of Christ until the Lord’s return. Furthermore, these ministries are gifts to the Church for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, that the Body of Christ be edified. (Ephesians 4:11-16) We believe that the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4 are still in operation today. (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher)
WE BELIEVE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
We believe the identity of the Body of Christ on the earth is primarily perceived through the local church. While encouraging the voluntary association of local churches, and recognizing the need of consensus on matters of fundamental doctrine and conduct, we strongly confess the local church to be sovereign and autonomous. (Revelation 2-3)
WE BELIEVE IN THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER
We believe in the priesthood of the believer. That is to say, all people born of God have equal status before, and direct access to, their Lord. (1 Peter 2:5)
WE BELIEVE IN THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH
We believe in the spiritual unity of all who are born of God. We confess even those with whom we disagree, those who do not confess us, and others who we exclude because of our unwillful ignorance. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
WE BELIEVE IN SANCTIFICATION
We believe that those who are called by the name of Christ should depart from iniquity. Understanding that salvation from the penalty of sin only begins the process of redemption, we acknowledge that one work of the Holy Spirit is to create in us the character of Christ. (2 Timothy 2:19)
WE BELIEVE IN THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
We believe in the literal second coming of our Lord, the literal rule of Christ upon the earth, the resurrection of the regenerate to eternal life and the unregenerate to eternal damnation, and the ultimate victory of the eternal Kingdom of God.(Acts 1:9-11, Daniel 12:2, Revelation 22:1 -7)