GOD IS the Creator of the world we live in. He controls what happens with His creation (the churchy word for that is sovereignty). He is eternal, meaning that He has always existed and always will. And He exists in three forms, all at the same time – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit
MANKIND (that is, all human beings, male and female) was made in the spiritual image of God. His intent was that we would conform to His character. Mankind was made to give God glory – to be living, walking, breathing reminders that He exists. We fall short of that standard because of sin, an innate predisposition to disobey God. It’s part of us and wasn’t caused by anything we’ve experienced after we were born. Our sinful attitude separates us from God. We can’t have a right relationship with God on our own; we need to be forgiven of our sin, and that is only possible by believing that Jesus’s sacrificial death on our behalf at Calvary was for each of us, individually.
ETERNAL LIFE is promised to all of us. We are not earthly beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience! We have two possible destinations when our lives on Earth end: Heaven and Hell. The difference between destinations doesn’t depend on whether you were a “good person” or a “bad person;” it depends on whether or not you have asked Jesus Christ to accept the penalty for your sins. If you have, you are as sure to live forever in Heaven as if you were there right now!
JESUS CHRIST is the only Son of God the Father. He came to this Earth in human form more than 2,000 years ago, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death for every sin that mankind had committed to that point and would commit afterward. He then rose from the dead and resides in Heaven with God the Father. He has promised to return to Earth to establish a Kingdom here, and all who have accepted a relationship with Him (or, as we often say, those who are “saved” or “born again”) will be part of that Kingdom.
SALVATION is the condition of being forgiven of one’s sins. It’s not the end of your life as a Christian; it’s the beginning! Men, women and children who are saved express their love for God by serving Him, telling others about Him and worshipping Him – thanking Him for who He is and what He has done. Church services involve many ways of worshipping God – through music, the sharing of His Word, fellowship with others and financially supporting His work. A true worship service isn’t about any individual; it’s about God.
THE HOLY SPIRIT is the presence of God here and today, as described in chapter 2 of the New Testament book of Acts. Becoming a more mature Christian involves allowing the Holy Spirit to take control over every aspect of your life. It’s a long and difficult process – in fact, it never ends! – because even after we’re saved, we retain our sinful nature. When we become more familiar with the Holy Spirit, He provides us with power for living, understanding of God’s ways, courage to share His love with others and guidance to live right.
THE BIBLE is God’s Word for His people. It was written over the course of centuries by human authors under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. More churchy words here: the Bible is inspired (meaning it reflects God’s heart for how we should live and not the opinions of the human authors) and inerrant (meaning that it is absolutely true in all respects). The Bible is the Christian’s rule book, and our challenge is to obey it fully, rather than to selectively obey only the parts we agree with or understand. The Bible is God’s standard, and we experience more success in our spiritual lives as we conform our lives to its teachings. There are many translations of the Bible available, but you can find His heart and His directions for us in any of them.
THE CHURCH (capital “C”) is the fellowship of all Christians around the world. All men and woman who have sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as Lord (ruler) and Savior (salvation-maker) of their lives are members of what is also called the Body of Christ and the Family of God. As in any other family, we can disagree about many things. But also as in any other family, when we have the same Father we have a common bond that never goes away.
THE CHURCH (small “c”) is also the most common term for an individual body of Christian believers. More than just a building, a church is a community of faithful men and women united to worship God together and make Him known to others in a variety of ways.
BAPTISM is a ritual, or sacrament, practiced in Christian churches to demonstrate that an individual life has been transformed by salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not a substitute for salvation, but a public recognition that salvation has transformed an individual life. We believe baptism can only be made by a man, woman or child with the capability of understanding what salvation means. We call it believer’s baptism or water baptism (because it involves immersion in a body of water). There is nothing wrong with dedicating an infant or young child to God, but it doesn’t take the place of that child’s eventual need to make his or her own decision for Jesus Christ.
COMMUNION is a sacrament practiced within the Church to remember the sacrificial death and promised return of Jesus Christ. There are many different ways to observe communion, but each way is modeled on a ceremony Jesus led His disciples in the day before His death, and uses bread or wafers and juice. Communion is most commonly observed during worship services of a local church, but we believe it can and should be celebrated individually and among families – any time Christians choose to remember Him together – and can be done as often as one is led to do it.
TITHING is God’s command for His people to give to His work through local congregations. A tithe is 10 percent of one’s gross (before taxes) income. We believe the Bible supports paying one’s tithe to his or her local congregation.
OFFERINGS are financial gifts above and beyond the tithe. They are commonly targeted toward a specific church project, such as a compassionate outreach or other event, or the purchase or construction of facilities. They can also be given as an indication of trusting God for a specific need in your personal life.
BIBLICAL SEXUALITY is expressly defined by God. Before birth, God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female through genetic encoding and physiological manifestation. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
THE FAMILY is God’s foundational institution for human society.
MARRIAGE has only one meaning: the uniting of one biological man and one biological woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only within the confines of marriage. Because marriage is a covenant between one man, one woman, and God, the church has the responsibility, in its sole discretion, to evaluate the readiness of those seeking to enter into the marriage covenant. The church may decline to solemnize or host a marriage ceremony that is contrary to the church’s Statement of Faith or the Bible.
This article is the doctrinal statement of The Bend. It is not exhaustive, nor does it cover all the points of doctrine that can be established through the study of the Bible. It focuses on central issues that are essential to finding and experiencing life with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ