How We Believe | Confessions of Faith
This statement of faith has two main purposes. One purpose is to clearly express what we believe in a general sense, understanding that personal faith is required for salvation which is a gift of God, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, KJV). And, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8, KJV). The other purpose is to address the false narratives which have served no other purpose than to cause confusion and turn people away from the truth. We wish to remain firmly grounded in God’s Word, our sure defense, for “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). It is our hope and prayer that by sharing what we have been given, you too can find the peace of God and comfort of conscience that can only be given by the unconditional Gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ which is offered to all mankind. The first focuses on key, central, salvational matters; the second focuses on a few questions which are important secondary matters, pertaining primarily to this life and how we live here on earth. We recognize that it is impossible to fully explain the mystery of faith with human words and to understand by human wisdom. We cannot comprehensively cover all aspects of faith in this short confession. We wish to adhere to the timeless teachings of God’s Holy Word, and also to uphold the foundation of the apostles and the former saints, including those of the Lutheran Reformation. These have stood the test of time. ● Holy Scriptures, the written Word of God, as the highest authority for faith, life, and doctrine; inspired and opened by the Holy Spirit. The Lutheran Reformers referred to this as the Sola Scriptura principle. According to this principle, only the holy writings, the Bible, are the norm of doctrine. ● We also believe and teach the three Creeds of early Christendom (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), the Small and Large Catechism, and the unaltered Augsburg Confession. These teachings are also, as are other writings of men, subject to the Holy Scriptures. If there are any differences from the Word of God, we defer to the higher authority, just as we would in any of the matters which we here confess and teach. We thus confess our faith on the central matters of faith and salvation by posing these questions, with answers on how we believe, based on the Word of God, the source of all truth: 1.1. Original sin is the root of all actual sin. “And He (Jesus) said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23) 1.2. Sin, even original sin, condemns a person. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” (Romans 5:16, KJV) 1.3. In this condition, we are separated from God, with no means of our own to please Him. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8) 1.4. God’s Holy Law, represented chiefly in the Ten Commandments, has the power to kill (Romans 7:11 and 2 Corinthians 3:6) and to bring one to the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20) and to the true terror of such knowledge, that the wages of sin is death. “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” (Romans 7:7-12, NIV) 1.5. So the law has the power to reveal sin but does not have the power to save. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ...”(Galatians 2:16, KJV) 1.6. Redemption must come from another, a Perfect One, outside of ourselves. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Romans 8:3, KJV) 2.1. Justification is by faith alone. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28, KJV). And, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1, KJV). 2.2. This is the only true peace that one can have in this world, bestowed by God through the Holy Spirit. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, KJV) 2.3. Such faith is found only in a heart that believes that for the sake of Christ alone, and no work of oneself, that one has received the forgiveness of sins. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV). 3.1. God opens faith and understanding through the Gospel. Living faith is gifted to a sinner by grace, believing upon the preached message of repentance and remission of sins, with the understanding that this is the Gospel of the scriptures. “To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43, KJV) And, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47, KJV). 4.1. God has seen fit to shed his grace, or channel it, through both visible and invisible means, as explained in the confessional writings: “God, out of His immense goodness and mercy, has His divine eternal Law and His wonderful plan concerning our redemption, namely, the holy, alone-saving Gospel of His eternal Son, our only Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, publicly preached; and by this [preaching] collects an eternal Church for Himself from the human race, and works in the hearts of men true repentance and knowledge of sins, and true faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And by this means, and in no other way, namely, through His holy Word...and the holy Sacraments when they are used according to His Word, God desires to call men to eternal salvation, draw them to Himself, and convert, regenerate, and sanctify them. 1 Cor. 1:21: ‘For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.’ Acts 10:5. 6: ‘Peter shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.’ Rom. 10:17: ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ John 17:17. 20: ‘Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy Word is truth, etc. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their Word.’ Therefore the eternal Father calls down from heaven concerning His dear Son and concerning all who preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name: Hear ye Him, Matt. 17:5.” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article II on Free Will) 4.2. It is also confirmed elsewhere in Holy Scripture, that faith, which has been received by the preaching of the Gospel, precedes the sacraments which are a means of channeling such grace and strengthening such faith, which firmly believes in the forgiveness of sins. “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word...then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:42-48, KJV). And, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:35-37, KJV). 4.3. The forgiving message of God is shared with all mankind by the preaching of the Word by ambassadors or messengers of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (John 20: 21-23, KJV). And, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, KJV). And, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18, KJV). 4.4. We believe and confess that God has seen fit, through the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, that by these means, the Holy Spirit is given, who works faith where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, in this way, that God, not for our merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. (Article V, Augsburg Confession). 5.1 Jesus is explaining that the kingdom of God, which “cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20) is not a physical entity which is to be sought and found, but rather a spiritual one, into which one who lays aside all self-righteousness and works can enter in by seeking only the righteousness that is found by faith in Jesus Christ. In this way, one is “found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9, KJV). 5.2. This kingdom of God is ruled by Christ, is heavenly, and has also come nigh, or approaches sinners here on earth, repeated often in the New Testament: “Preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14, KJV); “the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15, KJV); “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2, KJV); “And heal the sick...and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:9, KJV); “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31). Many other such passages can be found in the scriptures. 5.3. We believe that “His righteousness” is also depicted by a picture or allegory of the “robe of righteousness” in scripture. This is the grace cloak of Christ’s perfection, His merit, that covers our sin and wretchedness, as recorded by the prophet Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10, KJV). Because this is a picture of Christ’s perfection, and nothing of our own, we cannot add anything to it, nor remove anything from it, by our works or by our sin. 5.4. Does this mean that we believe that one can willingly or willfully live in sin, with no fear of the consequences of sin? By no means. We will address this question further in Part 2. 6.1. In the King James version of the Bible, especially in the New Testament, the word “church” is most often used instead of “congregation”. “Church” is a translation of the word “ekklesia” in Greek, which simply means “gathering” or “assembly". Depending on the specific context, this can mean a gathering of a community of church members here on earth, or a gathering of saints in heaven, or both. In the larger sense, it would mean the church that transcends place and time. 6.2. Congregations, or assemblies of people, here on earth, can have believers and unbelievers gathered together. As such, we believe that it is not possible for man to discern with certainty who truly believes and who does not. Therefore, it follows, as the Lutheran Confessions also teach, that the Law and Gospel are both to be preached in the church. This we uphold and teach, with the prayer that God’s Holy Law and Holy Gospel would both do His work among the people of our time. 6.3. We believe in accordance with all three articles of the Creed and as the Third Article states: “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” 6.3.1. “What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.” (Small Catechism, Third Article) 6.4. We believe that the Holy Spirit teaches the true message of Jesus Christ, enlightens His Word, and draws believers together to worship Him. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24, KJV) 6.5. We believe that this power, by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, creates new birth, and is not restricted or controlled by human powers. “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to the spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-7, NIV) 7.1. While we believe that it is not possible to fully comprehend the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, or the Church of God; He does through His Holy Spirit open some knowledge of these mysteries: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matthew 13:13, KJV) 7.2. We believe, as explained above and also as explained in the Apostles’ Creed, that the kingdom of God exists. We believe, however, that as mere mortals we are not capable of drawing its borders. “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10, KJV) 7.3. We understand and believe by faith, that there is a holy Church of God, made up only of pure saints, whose membership transcends time and place, and whose names are known to God and written in the Book of Life. This will be revealed at the final judgment: “...and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works...And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12, 14, KJV) 7.4. We believe that it is the work of God alone to separate the good wheat from the tares, and the good fish from the bad fish, both of which are parables of the kingdom of heaven, recorded in Matthew 13. We believe, as Jesus taught, that we are to let both (wheat and tares) “grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30, KJV) 7.5. In this context, the kingdom of heaven is referred to as having both wheat and tares, so it would refer to the gathering or assembly of people here on earth. 7.6. In the context of the one holy Church of God (as differing from an assembly of worshipers here on earth), the terms “church” and “kingdom of God” are sometimes used interchangeably. In this sense, we believe that the Church is the collection of true believers throughout time who worship their Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We believe that as such, it is impossible for this church to err in the doctrine or teaching of Christ because it is He who leads them. (Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 5:23 and elsewhere state that Christ is the head of the church.) 7.7. In the context of “church” or “congregation” as a physical entity, we believe that there are both true and false believers, as noted by Jesus’ parables. As such, this can be an erring church and can make erring decisions. This church can worship in vain, and can teach commandments of men, as shown by Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 15, in which he quotes the prophet Isaiah, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9, KJV) 7.8. We believe that no earthly organization can represent the true, unerring, spiritual, eternal Kingdom of God, although the Kingdom of God may be represented within such an organization. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” (Psalm 45:6, KJV). People can be ambassadors of the kingdom of God. “And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10:9) 8.1. In one sense, as Jesus says, “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21, KJV). This does not mean that it doesn’t exist, rather it simply means it is not defined by outward observation or man made definitions. This kingdom exists within the hearts of those who truly believe, and it is also among us, meaning, as mentioned in 6.2, that it approaches sinners here on earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed. In another sense, we “see” this kingdom with the eyes of faith having been born again (John 3:3). This eyesight is given by God to behold the beauty of the Lord, which was also explained by King David and other saints of old. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, KJV) 8.2. This “beauty of the Lord” is the light of Christ, which shines “as a light in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”. (2 Peter 1:19, KJV) 8.3. This is also what Simeon saw when he beheld the infant, the Lord and Savior, with his physical eyes, and also comprehended his own salvation by faith. “For my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2: 30-32, KJV). 8.4. This beauty and light is the glory of God in Jesus Christ, revealed in the Gospel, as explained by Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6) When the above primary salvational matters of how a sinner is saved, or the righteousness of faith are opened to a sinner, we believe that this naturally leads to the secondary matters of faith. These are often referred to as “fruits of faith”, “obedience of faith” or “righteousness of life”. In Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession, this is referred to as “New Obedience”. Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits. And that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.” As the writer to the Hebrews records, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.” (Hebrews 6:1-3, KJV). There is no righteousness in life that leads to salvation; but rather one whose heart has been infused with the grace gift of faith, being justified by faith, then desires to live a life that is in accordance with God’s Word. This too is an important grace order. It is also important to note that humans are very faulty judges when it comes to analyzing fruits of faith, for “shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secret sins of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21, KJV). And, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, KJV). To address these, we have the following questions and answers in accordance with God’s Word. Again, it is not possible to address all matters, but here are some key questions that have arisen in our time. 9.1. This can be a sensitive question, so we will attempt to answer it in the proper contexts. 9.2. In the context of ‘Church’ which transcends place and time, as described in section 7, and whose teachings are the inerrant Word of God, we should be obedient to those teachings. In this light, the Church is the pillar and ground of truth, which is founded on the Word of God, and faithfully upholds the Word. In this context, this would be the same as being obedient to God. 9.3. This also applies to those who faithfully teach and uphold the scriptures: “Remember, them that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”(Hebrews 1 3:7, KJV). So the context here is obedience to the Word of God. Jesus says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:2-4, NIV). 9.4. However, when the Holy Bible is not the basis for the teachings, we are not under the same obligation to obey. As also the apostles confessed, when they were to teach in His name, saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29, KJV). 9.5. We must also be careful to separate teachings and commandments of God from the traditions of men. Traditions in and of themselves are not necessarily wrong, but they can lead us away from living faith when they have a wrong emphasis. As such, these kinds of traditions, when they are not clearly founded in scriptures, are not commands to be obeyed at the expense of losing faith, neither are they matters to intentionally offend one another over. Again, the Word of God is our guide: 9.5.1. “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matthew 15:3,6, KJV). 9.5.2. “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.” (Colossians 2:20-22, NIV). 9.5.3. “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:10-13, NIV). 9.6. We see here that the traditions of men and decisions of men that are not clearly founded in scripture are not requirements for obedience, that is, for salvation or for justifying faith. Yet the word of God teaches us to honor and respect one another, even when these kinds of matters may not have the same clarity or even the same understanding between members of the congregation here on earth. In such matters, we are instructed to follow after peace and yield to the weak (Romans 14:19-21). On the other hand, those who feel strongly about the matters of tradition are instructed not to place an unnecessary burden on others (Acts 15:10) nor turn them into rules which would make the Word of God of no effect, as already mentioned above in Matthew 15 and Colossians 2. Rules and traditions of men have the tendency to unnecessarily bind consciences, burdening those who are freed in Christ. 10.1. This is sufficiently explained in Article VII of the Augsburg Confession, Of the Church: “Also they [we] teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5, 6.” 10.2. In short, when we focus on the core matters of faith, putting a great emphasis on Jesus Christ and how we are saved, this rightly moves the heart and guides into proper unity and love. Then the Spirit of God guides one to live a life that is according to God’s Word. 10.3. We also recognize that there are within the earthly congregation some who may profess faith and honor Christ with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8). 10.4. We believe that even these are not to be excommunicated from the gatherings of believers, unless shown that by wilful disobedience to the Word of God, they have defiled themselves and continue to live unrepentantly in blatant open sins thereby defiling themselves and others. (1 Corinthians 5:1-9) 11.1. We believe so. Because we remain sinners, there will be tumults in this life, even in the physical gatherings of God’s children and among congregations and families. This can be caused by sin and strife. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3, KJV). We also know by the teachings of scripture and Christ’s own words, that the Law and Gospel themselves cause offense. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Mathew 10:34, KJV). And, “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20, KJV). The Spirit also wars against the flesh. (Galatians 5:17). We believe that the role of the church is not a progress towards peace and unity here on earth, but to preach the unconditional, free gospel. 11.2. We therefore do not believe in a restricted gospel nor shy away from preaching either the Gospel or the Law of God. We believe both are necessary to be preached alongside one another, for the Law accuses a sinner and opens the knowledge of sin, and the Gospel promises and gives life. We do not believe that the Word of God is bound in any way by carnal knowledge or understandings, or by organizations or declarations of men, whether they would claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit or not. We simply stand in the teachings of God’s Word, knowing that all teachings will be examined in this light. Even if we suffer on account of it, as Paul writes to Timothy, we are not to restrict or bind the word of God. “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9, KJV). And, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:14, KJV). This is according to the mission command of Christ: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15, KJV). So important is this command, that we ought to preach it even to our own peril. The salvation of souls is at stake! We are nothing but waterers and planters, and it is God who gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:7). 11.3. We rejoice as Paul, whenever and wherever Christ is preached, even if under false pretenses and in contention. “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18, NIV). 12.1. We believe that anyone who would take such liberties, simply put, does not believe according to the scriptures. There are numerous admonitions in God’s Word to battle against sin, to confess sin, to resist the lusts of the flesh, and so forth. Yet this is not our power. We all carry flesh and blood until the day we die, and the old portion in us continuously wages war against the Spirit. Here are a few very clear exhortations: 12.1.1. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2, KJV) 12.1.2. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6, KJV) 12.1.3. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27, NIV) 12.1.4. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:6-9, KJV) 12.1.5. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-15, KJV) 13.1. We believe that is absolutely possible. Sin is anything that is not of faith or is contrary to the will of God. God has revealed His Will in the Holy Scriptures, in a clear and forthright manner, and to deny what God has said is to deny Him. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:14-17, KJV). And, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1, KJV) 13.2. For this reason, we do not want to add to, nor take away from the Word of God and its effectual power. “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2, NIV). While the context here is in regards to the law of God, we can also assume that to add or take away from what God has said anywhere in His Holy Word is an offense to Him. 14.1. We noted above how they are brought about by false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). Heresy is sin, a work of the flesh, noted alongside adultery, idolatry, strife, seditions, murders, and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-20). Those who practice or live in these sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. By definition, heresy or heretics are individuals, or a sect or party that follows their own tenets or teachings. This is why it is so important to remain firmly grounded in the Word of God and to examine all teachers and teachings in the light of Holy Scripture. 14.2. This is what we confess and believe, “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-16, KJV). 14.3. The Word of God also tells us that there must be heresies among us, so “that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians11:19). Manifest means to be made known, especially openly or broadly. God allows this to be made known. This does not necessarily mean that a physical separation would always result (again, refer to the wheat and tares), but that the differences and heretical teachings would be clearly made known and condemned. Again, this is to verify and preserve the truth of God’s Word, upon which the Church stands. In this Confession of Faith, it is our intent to make known what we preach and believe. Again, it is God who gives faith and God who gives the increase. Even though there are differences in administration and operation, there is one Spirit and the same God who works ‘all in all’. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). We desire to openly preach His Word, and exhort all to “seek the Lord while He may be found, and call upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7) We reject statements and teachings that are contrary to the word of God. Our faith is not affirmed by men, nor does it rely on the wisdom of men, but stands in the power of God and demonstration of the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:5) We do not wish to dispute with any, nor raise up followers after ourselves, but simply worship the Lord Jesus and preach and teach in His name. We say, as Paul, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:14-15) Our works, writings and understandings are subject to the same test of fire as Paul also records: “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”(1 Corinthians 3:15, KJV) We therefore submit all of our own words and works to this test, to be examined by the authority of the Word of God, knowing that here in this life we see only in part and cannot understand all things. Yet it is our desire to believe according to His Word and to share the forgiving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. You may wonder, as Nathaneal asked, “Can any good thing come out of that place?” We say, as Philip, “Come and see.” (John 1:46).