What We Believe
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect...”
1 Peter 3:15
This verse comes out of a greater context regarding suffering for righteousness sake or suffering for doing good. It is also one of the primary verses behind the idea of apologetics. The “make a defense” portion of the verse is the word “apologia” which is where the concept of apologetics comes from. Not an apology like saying “I’m sorry” but apologetics; making a case or defense. In this instance it is making the case for the hope you have in Christ, even in the face of suffering or persecution. In a broader sense, apologetics is being able to state clearly what you believe and why you believe it.
In any good apologetics course, you will hear the statement “you can’t argue people into the Kingdom of Heaven”. This is a true statement. Peter is not talking about arguing people into the Kingdom, which should not be the driving force for articulating our beliefs. However, being able to clearly state the tenets of our faith and defend our beliefs will accomplish at least three important things: 1) It will build our own confidence in why our beliefs are worth believing, 2) It will bolster the confidence of other believers around us, 3) It will raise questions in the minds of onlookers and perhaps those who are attempting to argue us out of the kingdom by undermining our confidence in God, His Word, and His people.
Let’s take a moment to remind each other “What We Believe” and perhaps visit the “Why’s” in a future article. Taken directly from the trail.org web page:
We believe in the verbal and complete inspiration by God of the original writings of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and is true God and true man.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is God, at work in the world to execute all divine activity and especially to reveal Jesus Christ as Lord and glorify Him.
We believe that humanity is created in the image of God and is loved by Him, but through sinful inheritance and choice is alienated, separated from God and under His righteous judgment.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a substitutionary and complete sacrifice, and that all who repent and believe in Him are justified wholly apart from human merit and works, on the ground of His shed blood and resurrection.
We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into Heaven, and in His present life there for us as High Priest, Advocate, and Lord of the creation.
We believe in the second, visible and personal coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to establish His worldwide kingdom on the earth.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust, the eternal blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting condemnation of the unsaved.
We believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God and members of the body of Christ, the one true Church, whose life is visibly expressed wherever even two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name.
We believe that the Christian life is not reformation, but transformation, in which Christ Himself relives His life through the believer’s whole being. Such life will be preeminently characterized by love, truth, and purity.
We believe that as the Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe, God has designed humanity male and female as a reflection of His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Further, we recognize that rejection of your biological gender by presenting as the opposite sex is a sign of human sin and brokenness and is ultimately a rejection of God’s design and creative purposes. God also instituted marriage and the family as a sacred relationship whereby his relationship with his covenant people is reflected, his faithful and sacrificial love is learned and experienced through lifetime commitment, and his redemptive purposes for the human race are furthered through the begetting of children who will be raised by parents in covenant with God. The marriage relationship as intended by God and revealed in scripture is to be only one man and one woman in lifetime covenant.
We believe that all human life is sacred because it is created by God. Therefore all human life, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death is of inestimable worth (Ps. 139). Therefore we as a church are to value, defend, and protect all human life.
We believe the Church is commissioned to evangelize the world by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and by living as His servants in the age.
Believing these things will be met with resistance in our culture, perhaps even persecution. This should not come as a surprise to us as Jesus told the disciples in John 15:18-20: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells the disciples “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In Genesis the serpent is described as being craftier than all the other animals. It appears that Jesus is admonishing them to be wise, shrewd, crafty and yet gentle. He is not sending His disciples out with blind faith, but a gentle faith, informed through their personal relationship with Him and the spiritual truths they have been learning from Him. Likewise, He is sending us out with a faith informed by His word, our own testimony and the testimony of the global church. Make a habit of knowing what you believe and why you believe it, and of having a ready but gentle answer for anyone who asks about the hope that is within you.
Believing with you,