Holy Spirit and the Church

The Holy Spirit is a divine person who eternally co-exists with the Father and the Son. The Spirit was present and active in creation, is seen throughout the Old Testament, and is revealed more explicitly in the New Testament. Life in the Spirit was reflected most clearly in the earthly life of Jesus. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from God to continue the work of the ascended Christ, as Jesus has promised His followers.

Work of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit works in the world, convincing persons of sin and bringing them to repentance and faith, guiding them to fullness of life in Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the Counselor who is always present with God's people and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who guides the believer, and serves as the guarantee of the eternal inheritance promised in Christ.

The Holy Spirit intercedes for the believers in agreement with God's will. He helps the children of God in their need, cleanses and sets them apart for holy living, and empowers them for service.

The Holy Spirit is also present in the corporate life of the church, inspiring unity, worship and service. His presence is realized as the church is open and responsive to the Spirit's leadership.

The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all believers according to His sovereign will and purposes. Scripture identifies a variety of gifts, given for the building up of the church and for ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit guides the church in setting apart persons for leadership. The church is responsible to discern and encourage the use of the gifts of the Spirit in its life and ministry.

Nature of the Church

Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ established the church to be God's new community, which has its roots in the people of God in the Old Testament and testifies to the presence of the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, the redeemed community. His Word and will are authoritative among us.

The church consists of all those who trust Jesus as Savior and follow Him as Lord. We become part of God's family, loving the Lord Jesus and learning to love and care for one another. We are a covenant community vowing before God and fellow members to live a holy life, to remain loyal to the church, and to foster oneness within the body of Christ. Our understanding of this convenant is expressed in a commitment to the local congregation, where the integrity of our discipleship is lived; to the denomination, where relationships with a wider fellowship of God's people are realized; and to the body of Christ throughout the world, by which we fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all may be one.

The essential functions of the church are worship, fellowship, discipleship, and mission. In worship, we bring our whole-hearted devotion to the Lord God. In fellowship, we live out our deep commitment to love one another. In discipleship, we follow the call of the Lord Jesus to obey and to teach all things commanded by Him. In mission, we proclaim the gospel to all people and minister to human need as Jesus did.

As a covenant community we practice mutual accountability among our members. We accept the steps outlined by Jesus: first going privately to the one who sins against us; then, if necessary, returning with one or more witnesses; and finally, if needed, involving the congregation. When the church deals with sin, we seek to respond with compassion and concern. The objective of church discipline is to restore the erring church member and to maintain the integrity and purity of the church's fellowship and witness.

Life of the Church: Ordinances and Practices

The ordinances of the church are baptism and the Lord's Supper, which are to be observed in obedience to our Lord's command.

The baptism of believers is a public witness that they have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and are becoming part of the community of faith. We believe that baptism by immersion symbolizes the believer's submission to Jesus Christ and identification with His death and resurrection. We expect baptized believers to commit themselves to the membership covenant, thereby affirming their loyalty to the church.

The Lord's Supper was instituted by Jesus and is celebrated by His followers in remembrance of the Lord's death and resurrection and in anticipation of His return. The bread and the cup represent the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Participating in the communion service symbolizes our unity with believers of all times and places. We are to examine ourselves in the light of Scripture before approaching the Lord's Table. Reconciliation with God and with brothers and sisters in Christ is an essential preparation for participation.

In addition to the ordinances, other practices are important aspects of life and worship in the Christian community.

We regard the practice of washing one another's feet as modeled and taught by Jesus to be a demonstration of love, humility, and service to one another, pointing beyond itself to a way of life. In the life of the church, the foot washing service is an occasion for reconciliation, affirmation of one another, and testimony of God's grace.

The Christian marriage ceremony witnesses to God's order and design for the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong commitment of love and fidelity. Vows are affirmed and the marriage is celebrated in the context of the congregation, which is called to support the couple in their life together. Christ's covenantal, self-sacrificing love for the church and the church's loving response is the model that husband and wife are to follow.

The practice of dedicating children affirms their place in the midst of the congregation. The service of dedication provides an opportunity for parents to commit themselves to the Lord in the care and training of their children. Members of the congregation join with the parents in pledging to pray for and to nurture the children.

The gospel includes healing for the ill and deliverance for the oppressed. The church follows scriptural practices in praying for the sick, laying on hands, and anointing with oil in the name of the Lord. The service of divine healing affirms that God responds to the brokenness of the human condition with healing or with grace to endure suffering. When death comes to the community of believers, the funeral provides an opportunity to focus on the risen Lord. The congregation responds compassionately with the bereaved. Death reminds us of our mortality and the hope of the resurrection.

Mission of the Church: In Relation to the World

Jesus Christ commissions the church to make disciples of all the world's peoples. The church is called to share the gospel in every culture and stratum of society. Evangelism includes bringing people to a saving faith in Christ and to responsible membership in the church. The people of God are also called to be a redemptive influence in the world, confronting corporate sin and seeking to overcome evil with good. They are to be a voice for righteousness, peace, and justice.

The church recognizes the place God ordains for government in society. As Christians, we pray for the state and those who are in authority. At the same time, we believe loyalty to Christ and the church, which is trans-national, takes precedence over loyalty to the state. Selective involvement in the affairs of government are appropriate for believers if loyalty to Christ and the principles of His kingdom are carefully guarded, and if such participation will enhance one's Christian witness and service.

Christ loved His enemies and He calls us as His disciples to love our enemies. We follow our Lord in being people of peace and reconciliation, called to suffer and not to fight. While respecting those who hold other interpretations, we believe that preparation for or participation in war is inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Similarly, we reject all other acts of violence which devalue human life. Rather, we affirm active peacemaking, sacrificial service to others, as well as the pursuit of justice for the poor and the oppressed in the name of Christ.

Those who follow Christ are strangers and pilgrims in the world, called to share the light of Christ. In the renewing of our minds by God's grace, we resist conformity to our fallen, broken world. Nonconformity calls us to reject the world's unrestrained materialism, its sensualism, and its self-centeredness. Rather we seek to express the values of God's kingdom by a lifestyle of modesty and simplicity.

Supporting Scriptures

The Holy Spirit and the Church

Genesis 1:2; John 3:34; 14:16-17, 15:26; Acts 2; 10:38; Hebrews 9:14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 3:24

Work of the Holy Spirit

John 14:26; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8; 13:2-4; Romans 8:26; 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:1-12; 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:3-12; 5:18; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Revelation 2-3

Nature of the Church

Matthew 5:13-16; 18:15-35; 20:26-28; 28:20; John 1:12-13; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:19, 22; Philippians 2:2-16; Colossians 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 John 3:16-19

Life of the Church: Ordinances and Practices

Matthew 28:16-17; 28:19-20; Mark 10:1-12; 16:16; Luke 2:22; John 13:1-17; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:1-16; 23-34; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 5:10; James 5:13-18; 1 Peter 3:21

Mission of the Church: In Relation to the World

Proverbs 29:7; 31:9; Daniel 6:1-3; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:13-14,44; 26:52; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; John 18:36; Acts 4:18-21; 5:29; Romans 1:14-15; 12:2; 13:1-4; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 31; 2 Corinthians 5:16-20; 1 Peter 2:9-17, 21-23; 1 John 2:15-17