Realizing that the cause of Christ extends beyond any one local fellowship, we commit ourselves to an ongoing ministry of extending the call of Christ to make disciples around the world. We believe the primary focus and priority of this call is centered on efforts that establish, strengthen, and reproduce biblically-based churches, which will then plant churches that plant churches for future generations and God’s glory (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5).
We believe in the importance of serving the body of Christ by offering clear paths for people to start and develop healthy and growing relationships with others in the church body. We value an intentional plan to help every person enjoy godly relationships in the church. Church membership is an important part of growing in Christ, relationships of mutual ministry in the body, and serving the Lord by using gifts to serve others in the local church (Hebrews 3:12-13; 1 Peter 4:8-11).
Baptism and communion are the two ordinances required in the church. We believe that Christian baptism by immersion in water is a public identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is commanded of all believers and is for believers only. Scripture shows that a person was baptized after personally receiving forgiveness of sin through accepting Jesus Christ. The waters of baptism are a symbol of our death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life that happens when we become new creations in Christ
Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is the commemoration, solely by believers of Christ’s death, and a reminder—through the bread and the cup—of the Savior’s broken body and shed blood. Communion is to be a time of confession of our sin and should be preceded by careful self-examination according to 1 Corinthians 11:20-29.
Living Hope Bible Church is a non-charismatic, evangelical fellowship that welcomes all who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and all who are seeking Him. Those who claim to possess the gift of tongues and other sign gifts are welcome to worship and fellowship with us if they are willing to be a source of unity rather than division within our church body. We believe that the Christian life is supernatural and that the Lord continues to perform miracles. We also believe that current displays of the gift of tongues may distract from the main task of the local church, which is to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Current displays of the gift of tongues may:
- Give unwarranted prominence to the gift, which is described in the New Testament as being only one of many spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12)
- Emphasize speaking in tongues as the primary manifestation of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life, while minimizing the Spirit’s work in producing a holy life, and a life that displays the fruits of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 2 Timothy 1:9; Galatians 5:22-23)
- Often suggest that speaking in tongues is a required proof of being Spirit-filled or of possessing salvation in Christ, even though the Scriptures do not teach this
Living Hope Bible Church seeks to prevent the propagation of doctrines that would cause divisions within an individual church. Therefore, members of and adherents of Living Hope Bible Church are not to propagate the teachings and emphases of the charismatic movement. Although we do not control personal, individual interactions with the Lord, the expression of tongues and other sign gifts are not overtly expressed at meetings that are under the organization and authority of Living Hope Bible Church.
The church exists to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and in the spirit of the Greatest Commandments (Matthew 22: 37-40, 28:19-20). The Great Commission is fulfilled as disciples of Jesus Christ are made and grow in their relationship with Him and likeness to Him. God is glorified as we manifest His presence as we do His work (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Acts 1:8). In seeking to act upon the church’s purpose, we recognize the extraordinary value in multiplying the reach of His ministry by planting local churches and by associating with existing, like-minded local churches. God is glorified when Living Hope Bible Church and other like-minded churches associate with one another in order to foster relationships that edify, protect, encourage, support, and admonish.
Living Hope Bible Church, in cooperation with the Great Commission Collective, supports affiliated churches and resources church planting efforts. In this way, we assist affiliate churches to more effectively spread the Word of God and the ways of God in order to build His kingdom. We desire to bless affiliate churches through the provision of pulpit ministry, consulting services, research, conferences, and seed money devoted to church planting and pastoral education programs.
The Lord changes lives and accomplishes His purposes directly through reading and applying the Scriptures, meditating on the truths of the Scriptures, and prayer. The Lord also uses those who minister His Word as they encourage, exhort, admonish, edify, implore, reprove, rebuke, and console others toward godliness. God needs no new or unique insight into the human condition in order to change lives, regardless of whether that insight is gained through psychology or some other tool of human origin. Problems that are approached by integrating the Scriptures with psychological theories can lead individuals into diminishing the God of the Scriptures and into believing that He has not provided and cannot provide sufficient truth, insight, and wisdom that will change their lives (Colossians 2:8-10).
We affirm the many benefits of medical professionals who study and treat the physical body, including the brain. Social sciences likewise have helpfully pointed to correlations or potential influences that can be examined in order to come to an accurate picture of all the many factors at play in a person’s life. When psychology and other social sciences step beyond observing human behavior in order to explain the root causes of human behavior, speak to the foundational problem humans face, or suggest the ultimate solution that is needed, they enter spiritual territory. Only the God of the Scriptures can explain such causes and offer solutions that lead to the obedience of godliness and a fruitful, joyful life of faith in Jesus. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He changes us as we discipline ourselves through obedience to the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:3-11).
Each Christian’s passion should be to please God, become more like Christ, and fulfill the Great Commandment to love the Lord with the entire heart, soul, mind, and strength and likewise love one’s neighbor (2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2, Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37-40).
We believe God created the universe, speaking it into existence, in six twenty-four-hour days and that before He created the universe, nothing except God existed (Genesis 1; Exodus 31:17; Psalm 33:6-9; Acts 17:24; Hebrews 11:3; Colossians 1:16).
God chose to create the universe and all that is in it to reveal His glory, divine nature, eternal power, infinite wisdom, and supreme authority (Psalm 19:1-2; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 1:20; Revelation 4:11).
We deny the theory of Darwinian evolution, which states that nonliving substances gave rise to the first living material, which then reproduced and diversified to produce all living creatures. We believe that all people are descendants of Adam and Eve, whom God created personally and individually and as complete human beings. The fall of Adam and Eve infected all people with sin and death, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives the opportunity to receive God’s gift of eternal life (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7, 21-22; Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, 15:21-22).
It is God’s divine decision to save a person and it is God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience that lead that person to repentance. All glory for the salvation and security of every believer belongs to God alone. We believe that everyone who is born again by the Spirit through Jesus Christ is eternally assured of salvation from the moment of conversion. This assurance relies on God’s decisive grace rather than on the works of the Christian. Obedience, good works, and fruit-bearing do not earn or retain the believer’s salvation but indicate the reality of the person’s love of Christ and profession of faith (Romans 2:4, 3:21-31; Ephesians 1:7-9, 2:8-9, Jude 1:24-25; Luke 6:46; John 14:21; James 2:17-18).
Eternal security in salvation relies on the Lord’s guarantee of each believer’s adoption as His son or daughter, His seal of the believer by the Holy Spirit, and the conviction that God gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a down payment toward future bliss in heaven. A person who professes genuine faith in Christ immediately becomes His possession, and nothing can snatch that person out of His hands. Having been bought with the price of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion as complete payment for sin, Christians are not their own. They are Christ’s possession. This assurance is absolutely certain, reserved in heaven, protected by God’s unlimited power (Galatians 4:4-7; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Luke 23:42-43; Acts 2:40-41, 16: 30-34; John 10:27-29; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 1:4-5).
God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one naturally-born man and one naturally-born woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. The husband and wife are of equal worth before God since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect and help her husband in their life together. Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-25, 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 78:1-8, 127, 128, 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8, 5:15-20, 6:20-22, 12:4, 13:24, 14:1, 17:6, 18:22, 22:6, 15, 23:13-14, 24:3, 29:15, 17, 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, 9:9; Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 5:31-32, 18:2-6, 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8, 14; 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
Mature disciples glorify God by loving God and loving others; gather both with the corporate gathering and in small groups, grow in Christ-likeness through faith and repentance; and go as sent ones with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a person will experience significant growth in personal sanctification and, therefore, will experience a closer personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and will become “mature in Christ.” We are committed to multiplying the godly characteristics of leaders’ lives into others. This multiplication of ministry is key to the healthy growth of the church. We believe the disciples of Jesus Christ should minister to one another in the local church, rather than one or a small number of professional pastors bearing total responsibility to care for the entire congregation. God has given spiritual gifts to all of His people to provide mutual ministry in the context of the healthy and strong local church (Colossians 1:28; 2 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 4:11-12).
Satan and his demonic servants viciously oppose the work God performs in and through His people. God, who by His nature is infinitely more powerful than Satan, in due time will have complete and total victory over Satan (1 Peter 5:8; Genesis 3:1-7; Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 4:4). Although it is appropriate to pray in Jesus’ name for protection against demonic activity, the Scriptures do not instruct the Christian to “bind Satan in Jesus’ name.” Rather, the Scriptures instruct the Christian to combat Satan by:
- Humbly drawing near to God, knowing that He will give grace, mercy, and strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 4:8; 1 Peter 5:6-10)
- Resisting Satan’s temptations (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9)
- Rightly applying the truth of the Scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11; John 8:44; Ephesians 4:24-27).
- Forgiving offenses (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
- Putting on the armor of God’s truth, righteousness, readiness to share the Gospel, faith, salvation, and prayer (Ephesians 6:11-20)
- Demonstrating faithfulness to the Lord by enduring trials (Revelation 2:10, 13, 3:9-10)
We believe in the verbal, plenary (complete) inspiration of the Scriptures and that they contain all the words of God that we need in order to completely trust and obey Him. The Scriptures are inerrant in their original writings, and are infallible in their instruction, eternal in duration, the final authority and the standard for faith and practice, and sufficient for counsel in every issue of life. We believe that the very words of Scripture in the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic are inspired by God. Therefore, we believe that the Bible versions which translate God’s Word most literally into modern English should be preferred (Psalm 19:7-14, 119; Matthew 4:4, 5:18; John 5:46-47, 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19, 3:15-16; Proverbs 6:22-24; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25).
Living Hope Bible Church affirms the God-ordained and significant role that women should play in establishing and leading the local church. Every leadership opportunity is open to women except those that are excluded by Scripture. The Scriptures clearly state that men are to serve in the office of Elder and that women are not to serve in church positions in which they exercise authority over men or in which they teach doctrine to men. We do not see this as an issue of equality, for men and women are equal under God. The Bible is clear that men and women do not have the same roles. Qualified women should serve in any leadership position that is not forbidden in the Scripture (1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-2; Titus 1:6-9).
The chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God by loving Him with the entire heart, soul, mind, and might. All believing men, women, and children are to glorify God and thus fulfill the purpose of their existence. Worship glorifies God through adoration, praise, prayer, thanksgiving, and a complete yielding to Him. Worship declares His worth, pays Him homage, and celebrates Him in a life of devotion. We seek to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Exodus 15:1-21; 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 5:7, 95:6, 99:5; Daniel 6:10-11; Nehemiah 12:46; Romans 12:1; John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; 5:12).
Several tenets guide our worship. We seek to:
- Lift high the name of Jesus Christ (John 4:22-26, 12:32, 14:6)
- Lead God’s people to lift their hearts and voices to Him, giving Him praise and thanks in music and lyrics (Nehemiah 12:45-46; Psalm 66:1-4, 95:1-2)
- Prepare hearts to hear the Lord speak through the proclamation of Scripture (Psalm 95:6-9; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42)
- Emphasize fresh and contemporary expressions while retaining traditional elements that recognize the richness of our heritage in the faith (Deuteronomy 32:7; Psalm 33:3; Isaiah 46:8-9; Matthew 13:32, Ephesians 5:19; Revelation 5:9)
- Pursue excellence in worship, knowing that God is worthy of our best (Exodus 12; Deuteronomy 17:1; Psalm 33:3; 1 Timothy 4:14-15; Hebrews 11:4)
Living Hope is committed to the Bible’s teaching that those who hold the offices of Elder and Deacon are to oversee various functions of the local church.
The Bible’s teaching on the subject of two church offices is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. Although there are four terms used for the offices of the church: Pastor, overseer, Elder, and Deacon, analysis of these terms indicates that Pastor, overseer, and Elder are used interchangeably.
- Above reproach
- Able to teach
- Husband to one wife
- Not addicted to wine
- Not antagonistic
- Free from the love of money
- Manage own household
- Not a new convert
The Scriptures show that the Elders serve by leading and that their responsibility involves the spiritual oversight of the congregation. All Elders are equal in authority but not necessarily equal in influence. The Elders’ primary responsibilities include:
Doctrine – Ensuring that the doctrine of the church is biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders.
Direction – Ensuring that the direction of the church is consistent with the Living Hope Bible Church statement of purpose and the six commitments.
Discipline – Administering in love and humility the process of church discipline. (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Acts 20:28-31; Romans 16:17; 1 Peter 5:2).
Discipleship - Equipping the saints for the work of ministry and shepherding the flock of God entrusted to them.
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of Elders governed individual New Testament churches. The Scripture does not mention any congregations featuring a stand-alone Pastor and leader. A plurality of godly Elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scripture’s teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counselors. This truth does not eliminate the possibility and likelihood that one or more Elders will stand out from the others as more public in their ministries or more influential in their workings on the Elder Board (Acts 14:23, 20:28; Titus 1:5; Philippians 1:1; Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20, 24:6).
The Living Hope Bible Church Lead Pastor automatically serves as an Elder and, because of his public presence and responsibility before the congregation, may be considered first among equals as a member of the Elder Board. The Lead Pastor should be gifted primarily as a preacher/teacher and as a leader.
The Bible teaches that Deacons lead by serving. The qualifications for Elders and Deacons overlap regarding an individual’s character, but they differ in aptitude. The Elders are appointed to exercise oversight and are to be able to teach - while the Deacons are to be able and proved as servants (Acts 6). Because of this distinction, we see the office of Deacon as available to both men and women.
Deacon Qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-12)
- Individual of dignity
- Above reproach
- Not double-tongued
- First tested as servants
- Not addicted to wine
- Faithful in all things
- Not greedy for dishonest gain
- Holding to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience
- Devoted manager of the home
While this Statement on Sexuality seeks to express the truth of Scripture, this truth must always be expressed with the spirit of grace found in Jesus Christ who came to us full of grace and truth (John 1:16-17). Similarly, we ought to approach others with that same spirit of grace and truth.
God's Intention: Creation
Sexuality is created by God and is good. We are created and embodied as male and female. In community, we reflect God's image and accomplish His purpose in the world (Genesis 1:26-28). We are created for committed, intimate community, free from shame (Genesis 2:24-25). For a man and a woman, this intimacy may be expressed and consummated sexually when they are united as one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:24). The pleasure of sexual union is intended to express not only a bodily intimacy but also an intimacy of heart, soul, and mind. The divine purpose for sexual union is to reproduce children who represent God and extend God's rule to the ends of the earth (Genesis 1:26-28).*Our created sex and sexuality are gifts from the Creator to be embraced with gratitude and worship.
Our Distortion: Fall
Any rebellion against God's perfect design is sin. It separates us from God and distorts intimacy. All of us have experienced sexual brokenness in some fashion. No longer "naked and without shame," Adam and Eve clothed themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 2:25; 3:7). Differences between sexes meant to complement have led to dysfunctional, domineering, and even abusive relationships (e.g. physical, emotional, sexual [e.g. rape and incest], or neglect) (Genesis 3:16). Some seek to redefine the created nature of our sexuality in rebellion (Romans 1:24-27). They desire the intimacy or pleasure of sex apart from the divinely established context of marriage between a man and woman (1 Corinthians 6:16; cf. Genesis 2:24), such as homosexual or extramarital sexual activity. Others seek an illusion of intimacy through actively indulging in lust, fantasizing, and/or pornography. All of these are indicators of our rebellion against God.
In all the brokenness of our sexuality, the church has often failed to recognize, understand, or show compassion to those wrestling with these realities. Particularly, the church has struggled to walk in a redemptive manner with those who experience same-sex attraction and/or question their created and gendered identity. Because of the Fall, our struggles with sexuality cannot simply be reduced to our choices or developmental background, but our choices remain significant.
Our Redemption: Jesus
God loves us in our brokenness with a love so boundless that He sent Jesus to redeem what sin had distorted. Even Christians who had previously embraced many sexual sins are now described in this way: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). These realities can be true for us today. There is nothing out of reach from the power of Jesus to cleanse and forgive when we turn to Him in humble repentance and submission. God floods our sexually broken world with grace and mercy to wash our sinful natures clean and makes us new creations in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Out of forgiveness rather than condemnation, we are empowered to pursue sexual wholeness and freedom from the distortions of the Fall (John 8:11). God is restoring His Creation, including His purposes for sexuality, through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all Creation (Colossians 1:15-20).
As the body of Christ, we walk together in our sexual brokenness towards maturity in Christ. We do so by speaking the truth with understanding, love, and compassion (Ephesians 4:15). While Jesus inaugurates the restoration of all Creation, its full restoration is not yet realized. However, because of Christ's provision, it is our privilege to choose to "walk by the Spirit'' and by so doing "not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:16). We can experience the promised blessing that God desires to "fill [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit '' (Romans 15: 13). Therefore, we are freed from condemnation (Romans 8:1) and can overcome the power of sin (Romans 5:17) and Satan (Revelation 12:11) by the power of the cross of Jesus Christ!
Our Hope: Fulfillment
While Jesus' death on the cross freed us from the penalty and power of sin, only His second coming will free us completely from the presence of sin. On that day, we will see Him face to face (1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 13:12), enjoying a true intimacy without shame. The battle for purity will be won (Revelation 19:8), and we will be presented blameless in His presence with great joy (Jude 24).