DOCTRINE: WHAT WE BELIEVE
The Bible is true, authoritative, and sufficient. There is one God, creator of heaven and earth, who eternally exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All things exist for His glory. All humanity, Christ excluded, is sinful by both birth and action. The deserved penalty for sin is death. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, was born a virgin both fully God and fully human. He died as the sacrificial substitute to pay the penalty for sin, physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will physically return again. There will be a future physical resurrection of the dead. Only those who turn from sin, and to Jesus is faith and repentance, will be raised to eternal reward. Those who do not turn from sin, and to Jesus, will be raised to eternal punishment. Only through faith in the person and work of Jesus can one be reconciled to God and experience true life and joy!
Via Church abides by two important creeds including The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Both creeds are supported by the scriptures, and are a part of the historic, Orthodox Christian faith. These creeds support various theological values that Via Church prescribes to including gospel-centered theology, already-not-yet eschatology, missional ecclesiology, God’s sovereignty in salvation, charismatic and necessary pneumatology, priority of missional communities, and a complementarian plurality of leadership.
The following statement of faith has been adapted from the Gospel Coalition.
THE TRIUNE GOD
There is one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true, living God is infinitely perfect in both love and holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, God perfectly and exhaustively knows the beginning from the end, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, providentially brings about His eternal purposes to redeem a people for Himself, and restores His fallen creation to the praise of His glorious grace.
God has graciously disclosed His existence, and power, in the created order, and has supremely revealed Himself to fallen human beings in the person of His Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by His Spirit has graciously disclosed Himself in human words. God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both records and means of His saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative, without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of His will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. Both man’s finitude and sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but enlightened by the Spirit of God, one can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed as God’s instruction in all that it teaches, obeyed as God’s command in all it requires, and trusted as God’s pledge in all it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses of the gospel.
CREATION OF HUMANITY
God created human beings, male and female, in His image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God Himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus, and are called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and His church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments.
Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. This alienation has not been limited to the realm of humanity, but has infected the creation itself, as it too has been subjected to futility. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath all stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to Himself.
THE PLAN OF GOD
God determined in grace, from all eternity, to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe, language, people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that He will one day glorify them—all to the praise of His glorious grace. It is, therefore, all of God’s gracious and sovereign action to foreknow, predestine, call, justify, and glorify His people by His Spirit, even giving saving faith to those whom He has chosen. In love, God commands and implores all people to repent and believe; having set His saving love on those He has chosen and ordained Christ to be their Redeemer. All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved. This good news is Christological, centering on the cross and resurrection. The gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if His death and resurrection are not central (the message is “Christ died for man’s sins . . . [and] was raised”). This good news is biblical (His death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for sin, to reconcile a people to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, then faith is worthless, those who are saved are still in sin, and Christians are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).
THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST
Moved by love for, and in obedience to His Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miracles, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is the High Priest and righteous Advocate. By His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as mankind’s representative and substitute. He did this so, that in Him, people might become the righteousness of God. On the cross Jesus canceled sin, propitiated God, and by bearing the full penalty of man’s sin, reconciled to God all those who believe. By His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death, defeated Satan, and brought everlasting life to His people. By His ascension, He has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with Him. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which one must be saved.
THE JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS
Christ, by His obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By His sacrifice, He bore in people’s stead the punishment due for their sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on man’s behalf. By His perfect obedience, He satisfied the just demands of God on man’s behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. In as much as Christ was given by the Father for mankind, and His obedience and punishment were accepted in the place of man’s own, freely and not for anything within man, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. A zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Salvation, secured by Jesus, is applied to God’s people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Spirit glorifies Jesus, and is present with and in believers. The Spirit convicts the world of sin and righteousness, regenerating spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to faith and repentance, baptizing them into union with Jesus, so they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Through the Spirit, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family, participating in the divine nature and receiving His sovereignly distributed gifts. The Spirit is the down payment of the promised inheritance as He revives, guides, instructs, empowers, and equips believers for Christ-like living and service.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Those who have been saved by the grace of God, through union with Christ by faith and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, they are to do good for the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because every citizen of God’s kingdom is to love his neighbor as himself, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.
GOD'S NEW PEOPLE
God’s new covenant people have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem. They are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of His eye, graven on His hands, and He has pledged Himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which should be overlooked. Christ Jesus is one’s peace. He has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world as its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.
MEN AND WOMEN
We are deeply committed to the fundamental spiritual and moral equality and complementarity of men and women. Both men and women are together created in the divine image and are therefore equal before God as persons, possessing the same moral dignity and value, and have equal access to God through faith in Christ. Men and women are together the recipients of spiritual gifts designed to empower them for ministry in the local church and beyond. Therefore both men and women are to be encouraged, equipped, and empowered to utilize their gifting in ministry, in service to the body of Christ, and through teaching in ways that are consistent with the Word of God. Both husbands and wives are responsible to God for spiritual nurture and vitality in the home, but God has given to the man primary responsibility to lead his wife and family in accordance with the servant-leadership and sacrificial love characterized by Jesus Christ. This principle of male headship should not be confused with, nor give any hint of, domineering control. Rather it is to be the loving, tender, and nurturing care of a godly man who is himself under the kind and gentle authority of Jesus Christ. The pastors of our church have been granted authority under the headship of Jesus Christ to provide oversight of the church. The office of a pastor is restricted to men.
BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by Jesus Himself. The former is connected with entry into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of His return and of the consummation of all things.
THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS
God’s people believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His holy angels. He will exercise His role as final Judge, and His kingdom will be consummated. The bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust will occur—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as the Lord Himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of Him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day, the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering, and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and His people will be enthralled by the immediacy of His ineffable holiness. Everything will be to the praise of His glorious grace.