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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What I believe

I was raised a Baptist but became Assemblies of God in 1983. Here is what I believe.

Core beliefs shared with other denominations:

These would include beliefs about one God, virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, vicarious atoning death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity (the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, together with God the Father), the need for salvation (though the understanding of means for achieving it may differ at times), grace, the church, the Kingdom of God, last things (Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness), evangelism and missions.

Baptist are different because of their practice of believer's baptism and corresponding rejection of infant baptism.

Biblical authority - We believe that the Bible has no errors (inerrancy) and we can trust every work in the Bible as having come from God. Authority of the Scriptures or sola scriptura states that the Bible is the only authoritative source of God's truth and any view that cannot be directly tied to a scriptural reference is generally considered to be based on human traditions rather than God's leading.

Autonomy of the local church - I like the fact that Baptist churches are not under the direct administrative control of any other body, such as a national council, or a leader such as a bishop or pope. Administration, leadership and doctrine are decided democratically by the lay members of each individual church, which accounts for the variation of beliefs from one Baptist church to another. It holds the pastors and leadership accountable to their local flock.

Priesthood of the believer - Priesthood of all believers removes the hierarchical layers of priests, traditions and authority so that all Christians have equal access to God's revelation of truth through the careful study of the Bible. This is a position shared by all post-reformational Christian groups. No one is needed to mediate between God and Man except for Jesus Christ. We come directly to the Father through the work of Jesus Christ, the Son.

Two ordinances (Believer's Baptism and Communion) - Baptism is an outward expression of the inward change that has already taken place. We believe in baptism by full immersion, which follows the method used by John the Baptist when he baptised our Lord Jesus. This usually consists of lowering the candidate in water backwards, while a pastor recites the Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19. This mode of baptism is also preferred for its parallel imagery to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. A few churches allow for baptism by sprinkling as an alternative method for the disabled or elderly. The Lord's Supper (Communion) memorializes the death of Christ. It brings His death and resurrection back to our remembrance and it is a solemn occasion not to be taken lightly.

Individual soul liberty - The only way to get into heaven is salvation through Jesus Christ. To achieve salvation one must confess faith in God who sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of mankind. It is only by faith and belief that Jesus died for mankind and that He is the one and only God that people gain entrance into heaven. When one receives Jesus Christ as Lord, they recieve the Holy Spirit in their hearts. This is a guarantee that they are saved and is evident when the Holy Spirit does an internal work within the person to redirect his life. It is what makes him born again - or to use another biblical term, "regeneration," or "sanctification." This is not merely choosing to "turn over a new leaf," but is a matter of God beginning a life-long process of changing our desires and affections. Members come into the church personally, individually, and freely. No one is "born into the church." Only those who have personal faith in Christ comprise the true church in the eyes of God - and only those should be counted as members of the church.

Separation of Church and State which does NOT mean Christians shouldn't carry their values and abilities into politics. We are priviledged to vote, run for office and, once in a political office, let our values and our God lead us in our every day lives and jobs. We do not believe in making a kingdom of God on earth. Only God can and will do that in His perfect timing when He returns. We believe that we are citizens of Heaven, born (spiritually) in the kingdom of God and that we live on this earth as aliens, strangers, foreigners. We represent God and His kingdom on this earth. We are ambassadors of God to an unsaved world. As citizens of heaven we have our own culture (living our every day life differently from the unsaved), our own traditions (Christmas, Easter, Lord's Supper, baptism, etc), our own language (not only the language of angels-speaking in tongues-but a language that is devoid of gossip, slander, lies, and full of grace), our own dress (modest), etc. We are Christian-Americans. We can't and shouldn't try to be different than what we are and we should be valued and respected by those around us for who we are. We can bring this into our political jobs just like we can bring this into our hamburger flippin' jobs. Not that we force people around us to be converted but that we make our day-to-day decisions based on the Bible and according to God's leading from our prayer lives. We do the best we know to do according to our relationship with God and our knowledge of the Bible no matter what our job is, including a political and elected position.

Two offices of the church (Pastor and Deacon)

In addition, we believe:

All believers are entitled to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When we are saved we recieve the Holy Spirit in our heart. It is birthed in our heart and we are born again. The Holy Spirit begins that work in our lives to change us and make us into the new creatures in Christ Jesus. But there is a separate experience that we refer to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is available to all believers and therefore we should expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience of totaly submitting to God's Spirit within us and allowing it to surface and take control over our mind/body/spirit. This was the normal experience of all believers in the early Christian church. With the experience comes the provision of power for victorious Christian living and productive service. It also provides believers with specific spiritual gifts for more effective ministry. What are the gifts? “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:8-11).

The baptism of Christians in the Holy Spirit is accompanied by the initial physical sign of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them audible expression. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 2:4; 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9; 1 Cor. 12:1-31). Examine the Scriptures. Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered". On the Day of Pentecost ,the Holy Spirit fell upon the assembled believers and "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues" (Acts 2:4). Later, as Peter was preaching at the house of Cornelius, "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" and they were "speaking in tongues and praising God" (Acts 10:44, 46). Again, as the apostle Paul was ministering to the Ephesian disciples, "the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6). It is evident also that Paul himself was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) and spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18). These Scriptures clearly show that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is based upon the pattern from God's Word. We do not look upon speaking in tongues as a proof of superior spirituality. There are those who give testimony to a dynamic and life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit who have never spoken in tongues. We believe that this is a legitimate spiritual work and yet not considered the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So we believe that when you are truly baptized in the Holy Spirit the evidence is speaking in tongues. Others believe that speaking in tongues is not necessarily the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul was not opposed to tongues. He said he himself spoke in tongues more than all (1 Corinthians 14:18). "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:18, 19). His point was that if someone speaks in tongues in a public assembly, in a way to be heard by the entire congregation, it is essential that there be an interpretation so the listeners will be instructed. If it is not interpreted, then it is out of order and could be confusing to others in the church. But privately speaking in tongues is encouraged. The believer must (1) have a clear understanding of the biblical base for promised gifts; (2) be touched in his heart with a desire for the gifts to flow; (3) be willing to submit to the inner sense that the Spirit is seeking expression; and (4) offer to the Holy Spirit his heart, emotions, will, and voice by which those gifts may operate.

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