Ekklesia Communities Doctrinal Statement
We believe that there is only one living and true God, who exists in three distinct persons- God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three, the Trinity, are equal in essence and distinct in function (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19).
The first person of the Trinity orders and directs all things according to his purpose and pleasure. He has created humanity to bring him glory and honor, through his grace. While he is transcendent, he is also actively involved in his creation- offering an eternal relationship with us through his Son Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:9; John 5:19-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:1-10).
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the eternal Word made Flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He is fully God and fully man. Through Him, all things came into being and were created. He was before all things, and in Him, all things hold together by the word of His power. He is perfect in nature, teaching and obedience and is the only Savior for the sins of the world, having shed His blood and died a vicarious death on the cross. By His death in our place, He revealed divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Redeeming us from sin, He rose bodily from the grave on the third day, victorious over death and the powers of darkness and performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He ascended into heaven where, at God’s right hand, He intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all, awaiting His return. He is the Head of His body, the Church, and should be adored, loved, served and obeyed by all. (John 1:14-18; I Corinthians 15; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:9; Revelation 20:11-15).
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The third person of the Trinity executes the will of God in this world through humanity, by leading, guiding, filling, teaching and convicting. The Holy Spirit is not merely an impersonal force, but is a person, displaying the qualities of personhood (intellect, emotions and will). He equips believers upon conversion by giving them gifts to be used for the building up of the church, and by bearing fruit through their yielded lives (John 16:5-16; I Corinthians 12; Ephesians 2:10; John 3:1-8; Ephesians 1:1; Galatians 5:16-25).
We were created in the image of God, destined to enjoy an intimate relationship with God, fulfilling his will here on earth. But because of Adam and Eve's willful sin in the garden sin entered into the world, and has infected all of humanity. Therefore, because of our inherent sinful nature received from our father Adam, we are all separated from God, spiritually dead, and destined for physical death and an eternity removed from God (Genesis 1-3; Romans 1:18-32; Romans 3; Romans 5; Ephesians 2:1-3).
We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins as the only sufficient sacrifice, offering the atonement of sins for all mankind through his death, burial and resurrection. While salvation is available to all, it is only experienced by those who respond to his gracious gift by faith apart from works. For those who do respond we are regenerated and baptized by the Holy Spirit, becoming children of God, given a new nature and placed into the universal body of Christ, making us eternally secure in Him. As a result of our new relationship with God through His Son Jesus, we are now called to a life of submission to the Holy Spirit, manifesting spiritual fruit, and walking in good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to do (John 14:6; Titus 3:4-7; Acts 4:12; John 1:12; Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:10-12; I John 5:11-13; Galatians 3:26; John 3:16).
We accept the Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, as the written Word of God. The Bible is an essential and infallible record of God revealing Himself to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Given by God, the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God and are, thus, free of error. Each book is to be interpreted according to its context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through it in living power. All believers are exhorted to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation or worldly wisdom. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession or theology, must be tested by the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture. (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 4:12; John 17:17).
The gospel is the good news of God’s grace invading the darkness of this world. It is the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption and consummation ordained by God and orchestrated through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the gospel. His resurrection is the power of the gospel. His ascension is the glory of the gospel. Christ’s death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His mysterious love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men can be saved. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite privilege that redeemed sinners have in glorifying God because of what He has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches and ministries to proceed from and be related to the gospel.
For all who have placed their faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ, they are a part of the universal body of believers known as the church. This placement of the believer into the universal church requires an association of the believer with other followers of Christ in a local assembly. The purpose of the local church is to lead people to Christ and to bring them to maturity in Christ. The members of the local church are to live their lives in humble submission to other Spirit led believers, and to the God appointed leaders of the church. Ekklesia is an autonomous local assembly that is led by Jesus Christ, who gives direction as the head of this body through a body of appointed elders (Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:41-47; I Corinthians 12-14; Matthew 28-18-20; Ephesians 2:19-22; I Thessalonians 4:15-17).
BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of outward obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior; death to sin; burial of the old life; and resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to a believer’s faith in an ultimate bodily resurrection to eternal life with Christ in His Kingdom.
The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship and obedience whereby believers, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are significant expressions of salvation, worship, and submission to God for the believer.
Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12
We believe that the next great event in human history will be the return of Jesus Christ for his children. This is the blessed hope for all followers of Jesus Christ. While this event is a prophetic truth of Scripture, we acknowledge that the point of Christ's return is not for the believer to passively await this event, but to labor with all of our might in the power of the Spirit to fulfill his will in our lives through righteous living, evangelism and discipleship. After the return of Christ those who accepted God's gracious gift of salvation will worship God forever in heaven. Those who did not will spend an eternity separated from Him in hell. (Matthew 24:36; I Thessalonians 4:15-17; John 14:1-3; Matthew 24-25).
We affirm that the doctrines of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and salvation by grace through faith make up the essential, distinctive nature of Christianity. In regards to these essential doctrines there can be no conflicting opinions of those who call themselves true followers of Christ. However, we do acknowledge that there are peripheral, or non-essential doctrines, that are important, but not critical to the follower of Christ as it relates to our salvation. Some of these doctrines include the specific functions of women in ministry, the exact timing and nature of the rapture, extent and use of certain spiritual gifts, the relationship between election and free-will in salvation, etc. While our church will be diligent to establish positions as it relates to these non-essentials we will not allow these peripheral doctrines to cause division within the church. We will accept into our body those who have differing views on the non-essential doctrines, but will not allow those of a different opinion to fracture the church. While we celebrate diversity along all lines (racial and theological), we will ultimately pursue the unity of the church.
Below are summaries of our convictions on these topics.
God is sovereign over all things such that there is no aspect of reality outside of His ultimate control. Though God’s rule extends to all things, it is particularly His sovereignty over the work of salvation that is a theological distinctive. We believe that it is exceedingly good and glorious news that salvation is not dependent on the desires and deeds of man, but is grounded instead in God’s eternal decree of election. Though man is responsible for his sin, God is ultimately and entirely responsible for drawing those He would save unto Himself and overcoming their natural resistance to the gospel (Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Ephesians 1:3-14, Romans 8:26-9:23; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we see exercised in the Scriptures have not ceased with the death of the last Apostle or the closing of the New Testament canon. They are available today and are to be eagerly desired and practiced in submission to the Spirit speaking through the Scriptures (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16).
THE COMPLEMENTARY ROLE OF MEN AND WOMEN
Men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity and value but are different by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church, especially as it comes to teaching and authority. These role distinctions are God’s grace to man and woman and are to be protected, preserved and practiced for His glory and our joy (1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33-35; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
BELIEVERS BAPTISM BY IMMERSION
Baptism is intended only for those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and can give sufficient testimony to the basics of Christian beliefs. We also baptize by immersion because it is the original meaning of the word and best symbolizes the reality to which baptism points: our death and resurrection in Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-11).
THE RELATIONSHIP OF GOD'S GLORY TO MAN'S JOY
We believe that man’s greatest joy is found only in faithful obedience to God and that our enjoyment of Him is one of the chief means by which He is glorified (Psalm 16:11; 37:4; Matthew 13:44; John 15:11; Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 11:6).