We have no "statement of faith", for faith cannot be stated, only lived out. Rather, our faith is the relying upon, trust or confidence in the person of Jesus (or Joshua) of Nazareth as he describes himself in the four gospels (as well as the One he describes as his Father), to live out our life on this earth.
Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of the true and living God is our Way, our Truth and our Life (John 14:6). The person of Jesus of Nazareth is the only sure Way to God the Father, the only Truth that eternally matters, and the One in whom we find eternal Life (John 14:6).
True faith in Jesus' Father and himself will produce first a desire to know him better by HIS OWN Words. This will result in a receiving of his Words above all other words, beliefs, teachings, and thus his Words alone should shape our reality and allow us to know the one we trust in and rely upon. True faith in Jesus' Father will produce a supreme love in our heart for his Father and himself, and this love will cause us to desire to obey and observe Jesus' commands and teachings.
This sums up all that we consider spiritually important.
Some Important Matters Regarding Following Jesus
The old testament points dimly (very few passages in the
very large old testament) towards Jesus.
Jesus points to his Father and himself.
The rest of the new testament sadly points away from Jesus and towards Paul and his beliefs and deceitfully does this by referring much to Paul's "Christ".
To get to know Jesus, you must read his Words, which Words and teachings were successfully recorded and preserved in the four gospels and the first chapter of Acts. These good-news books ("gospels") are contained in the bible - specifically, the beginning of what men label the new testament. God the Father preserved His Son's Words in the four gospels in spite of men's efforts to eradicate Jesus' truths. Ironically, strong evidence that God has supernaturally preserved His Son's Words in the gospels is that His Son's Words continue to pronounce a guilty sentence against the very religious system (christianity) that, at times, has been used to preserve his Words! Thus the only way we can receive the Words of the Father - the very Words that Jesus spoke and which Words were recorded and preserved in the gospels - is by having child-like faith, in true humility, by God's Spirit.
The highest revelation of God to mankind is the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Word of God, the Father�s Messenger. Therefore, the highest revelation of God the Father is found in the Words and teachings of His Son in the four gospel accounts of his life and teachings (not the words and teachings of others, even those who were with him and who wrote the gospels).
The bible or christian scriptures (they are synonymous) thus contain the words of God, but the bible itself is not the Word of God - rather, Jesus is the Word of God to men (even those who trust in the bible would find their book saying this in John 1:1; Rev. 19:13). At some level - both in the present and in the past - most who have printed or published the bible understood this, and this is why Jesus' Words are in red and are thus set apart from the rest of the bible.
Jesus' Words and teachings (with the enlightenment of God's Spirit) contain all the commands and promises of God that the followers or disciples of Jesus need to fulfill their purpose of existence, which is to know, please and glorify Jesus' Father, the one true God. Jesus' teachings provide his followers with everything they need to love God and all others. Jesus' teachings provide his followers with all the truth they need to make every decision in this life that has an eternal bearing. Jesus' teachings provide his followers with everything they need to know about how to have proper relationships with others.
The followers of Jesus are bound to Jesus and by Jesus' Words in the gospels ONLY for how to please and glorify the Father. We acknowledge that Jesus' Words do not address every detail of life - those things which do not have an eternal bearing and do not have to do with relationships with others (for example, whether or not to go left or right when hiking on a mountain trail).
The Son of God clearly identifies the two greatest commandments, which are to love his Father and love one�s neighbor, and He says that these two commandments sum up ALL the law and the prophets. Jesus defines the love the Father wants us to express as selfless, compassionate behavior and attitudes towards others while openly and verbally giving the Father and His Son Jesus the glory in the process [see What is God's Love?]. This love does not include turning a blind eye - thus selfishly preserving one's comfort in the world - towards false spiritual teachings and practices that misrepresent Jesus or his Father.
Jesus also teaches that the only way we can effectively (with the right motivation) live out the two greatest commandments is by forsaking all this world has to offer - by literally hating our lives in this world - so that we might truly value the Father above all else (this is true worship whereas songs may not be worship at all). If we are not willing to forsake this world and our lives in this world, then we will never be able to love the way God intends us to love. If we truly love God with all that is within us, we will want to be with Him in the fullest sense - now, today - not in the future. This love for God and His Son will enable us to truly love others the way Jesus defines love, not how most christians or the world define love.
We know that we are Jesus� disciples if we obey his commands, the greatest of which are to love the Father; one another (His children, our brethren); our neighbors around us - especially the hurting, the rejected, the little children, those poor in spirit, and those seeing themselves as needy and looking for help; and those who choose to make themselves our enemies. Jesus also makes it clear that to love him is to love truth, for he says he is the Truth. Loving the truth that Jesus and his teachings put forth, along with the empowerment of the Father's Spirit, will lead the followers of Jesus into a life that consists of humility, mercy, holiness, compassion, righteousness and graciousness. Of course if one loves truth, one will be personally seeking the Lord and His will by reading Jesus� Words (NOT the bible), and seeking to understand and obey Jesus.
We enter into salvation when we place our faith and trust in Jesus' Father and Jesus of Nazareth - as they are fully revealed BY JESUS in the gospels - to lead us Home to the Father. The first work that should always lead a disciple's life is to grow in our personal, intimate knowledge of the Father and His Son Jesus (John 17:3), and thus to grow in our love for them.
A person remains clean (or saved) by continuing in the faith, and obeying Jesus� commands, the foremost of which is to love others (Luke 10:25-28). Jesus made clear that if a person has true faith in him, it is necessary for that person to forsake all things that this world considers valuable in order to follow him and thus be able to truly love God, other disciples, our neighbors, and our enemies (Luke 14:33; Mark 8:34-38). If we do not desire to forsake our lives in this world (John 12:25), nor desire to put behind us everything that hinders us from obeying Jesus� commands, pleasing the Father, and following after the Son...then we ought to question both our love for him and our salvation (John 14:15; Luke 9:57-62). To "forsake all" will have a visible affect on how one lives one's life on the earth. Simply put, forsake means to devalue, turn away from and leave the things of the world (the things that the people of every nation and culture value and spend their time and energy pursuing) and thus which work against God and His Kingdom. At the same time we are instead valuing and growing nearer to our Father and using our life to advance His Kingdom. Forsaking all will result in a changed life, both in attitudes and words as well as how we live our lives.
We believe all people who have heard of Jesus and who had the opportunity to listen to - or read - his Words will be judged by God on the basis of what they did with His Son (John 12:48). Those who believed, loved and followed Jesus until the end (death or his return) will enter into unconditional eternal life with him as His Father's children in God's Kingdom (John 10:27-28). Those who did not believe, love or follow him, as Jesus defines these things in the gospels (not how the religious leaders define it in their religious organizations and buildings they call churches), will be both punished and then destroyed in hell (Matt. 7:13). Those who never heard, yet who did their best to live according to the conscience God gave them - those who practiced mercy, compassion and forgiveness - shall be shown mercy, compassion and forgiveness by God the Father and shall be received into the Kingdom of God as servants (Matt. 5:7; John 5:28-29).
We believe that the Father will send Jesus again to receive his disciples to himself to be with him where he is (John 14:1-3). God will establish His Kingdom and reign forever with His children (those who trusted in, and obeyed, His Son) and His servants (those who never heard Jesus' Word, yet practiced mercy, compassion and forgiveness).
Teachings of Jesus as relates to God's Family
That a person who has true faith in the Father and Jesus (if they have heard his teachings, been born from above, and received what they heard), is a child of the Father. Those who also try to sincerely follow Jesus of Nazareth (or Joshua of Nazareth) as Jesus defines it (or who builds their faith on Jesus and his teachings) - NOT as Paul or other bible writers or religious leaders define it - has a special place in God's Family.
The greatest commandment that guides us on the person-to-person level is that we love one another. The virtue that we need most desperately in order to have love manifest itself, is humility - humility being defined by Jesus as seeing ourselves as unprofitable servants of the Lord; that we strive to be servants of others and not to be served; and that we see others as more important to God than ourselves. Humility is extremely important - it is an attitude that allows others to help us - something considered weak and undesirable by the world. Pride will prevent humility, which will prevent helping one another which prevents love. If we are not in the process of losing our life in this world, then we are not entering into his Life, nor a humble walk before God, and thus we will be more of a hindrance than a help to others in the Family.
The main works of Jesus' ekklesia Family are to express love for one another, to express love towards our neighbors, and to proclaim and live Jesus Words and by so doing - by our example, not by our authority - encourage others to trust in Jesus' Father. This is the over riding outward purpose to our Family life, and thus the majority of our time and resources will be spent doing these things.
As we are part of Jesus' Family, we have been "chosen out of the world" (John 15:19), and thus we are separate from the world and the things of the world. Jesus defines the world as those people who choose to reject him, his Father and the kingdom of God. Because of our passion and love for God and His Son, we cannot have significant relationships with people who choose to ignore Jesus; who chose to live contrary to his commands; and insist that we ignore him and treat him as irrelevant as well (John 15:19-20).
We believe that Jesus' Family, the the ekklesia (the called out ones - the manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth), is God's answer to all the problems in the world, and thus we don't serve, nor participate in, advancing the world's systems - religious, educational, political, social, economic, medical, scientific, etc. Rather, we collectively seek to be the city on the hill made up of individuals who together practice compassion and personal righteousness (looking to make ourselves more pleasing to God, not others), for this is what the world desperately needs to see, not hear about.
All members of Jesus' Family are equal in value to God - we are all truly brothers and sisters (Matt. 23:8). There is no one in-between each individual disciple and Jesus our Lord and Master, and we have no one in spiritual authority over us other than the Father and His Messiah (Matt. 23:8-12; John 10:16). There is only One Shepherd (pastor), Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:16). We do not function as an organization based in a building, with 'educated or trained clergymen' at the top of an ecclesiastical hierarchy; nor do we take any titles of spiritual authority; nor do we acknowledge any leader other than Jesus; for each one of these practices nullify Jesus' Words (Matt. 23:8-12; John 10:16; Mark 7:1-13). [see What Family Looks Like ]
We believe that any decision-making privileges in the Family to reproduce followers should be granted by example only, not by authority, title, gifting, age or any other factor (except gender) since we are all brothers (Matt. 23:8-12). Important decisions regarding Family life are made collectively among the brothers and sisters, and the wisdom of the more spiritually mature brothers is extremely valuable in reaching unity and agreement. Women play an extremely important and valuable role in the Family (Luke 8:2-3), but they are not to be Family decision makers (Luke 6:13-16, notice that Jesus did not choose any female sent ones (otherwise known as "apostles")). Jesus calls all his followers to be the lowest servants, so sisters should have no problem submitting to God's order in the spiritual Family [see Role of Women Followers of Jesus].
To promote the harmony and peace that the Lord desires exist in his Families as they follow after him, we must have clear roles spelled out in the natural family, and we do from Jesus' example. In the individual natural families making up God's spiritual Family, the husband is the ultimate decision maker and the wife is the supportive helper. The wise husband consults a good and wise wife in his decision making, but he clearly has the final word and the wise wife submits to this.
A critical part of creating a Family that manifests harmony and peace is child training. As the natural families that come together to from the supernatural Family, one of the largest areas of potential contention and disharmony is how parents are raising their children. There must be a unity on how parents handle unacceptable behavior of children if there is going to be peace in the larger Family. For that matter, there has to be agreement on what is unacceptable behavior on the part of children! While Jesus does not directly address raising children, he does give us enough principles to do a good job at that important task. The key principle that he gives is this, "honor your father and your mother" (Matt. 19:19 is one of the several places he validates this command of Moses as coming from his Father). Sadly some people may no longer know what the term "honor" means as there is so little proper honoring happening any more in the U.S. culture. To "honor" means "to hold in great value; to esteem highly; respect; to revere". If children are not honoring their dad and their mom, then they are sinning and disharmony, discord and damage will occur.
To be part of the larger Family, adults must raise and train their children in such a way as to both encourage, and ultimately enforce (for younger children) if necessary, the parents and their parental authority. A combination of true love as well as discipline and training is the way of the Way regarding raising our children. If our children are not obedient and respectful children, then the fault is ours and we are not ready for Family life. We don't insist on perfectly obedient children, but we do insist on the adults agreeing that disrespectful attitudes or behavior is destructive and unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately in such a way to stop the manifestation of dishonoring. While that is enough to start with, ultimately the way we raise our children ought to take away any heart of dishonoring among our children. For more detail on child training, please see Child Training.
As we seek to walk in selfless humility, we will want to share what God has given us with other followers (freely you have receive, therefore freely give). Jesus plainly supports selfless living behavior in both his example as well as his teaching in Luke 12:33 & 14:26-33, Matt. 19:27-30, Mark 3:31-35 and other passages.
We also recognize that this must be a willing choice by each individual or family and not forced by coercion or law. Thus, we should not require that people wishing to become a part of our little flock give all their material things to the Family as a condition for being part of that Family. The more we mature in the Lord, the less we will hang onto material things, and the more we will have a selfless, sharing spirit. The most mature will serve as the example in all things, including this aspect of sharing material things. The more we cling to material things believing they are "mine" or "ours", the less we are able to enter into the selfless Family life the Lord calls us to, and thus the less able we will be to both love one another, and be the light Jesus calls us to be.
We seek to avoid traditions of men, especially of the religious or ritualistic variety (Mark 7:1-13). We define a religious tradition of men as either a belief or an outward behavior or practice that has no basis in Jesus' teachings and which men claim is something that God requires in order for us to be accepted by, or pleasing to, Him *.
We are not looking for people to line up with every belief we hold, nor every minor detail of how a Family should manifest itself, however, we are looking to attain the unity that the Master speaks of in John 17. We are looking for people who want to sincerely live their life according to Jesus' Words and teachings as Jesus himself gives them. We seek to concentrate on the plank in our own eye, understanding that we need to practice mercy in our judgments. If we all seek diligently to live this out, there will be very few conflicts.
If a person wants to base their life on Jesus and his teachings, as those teachings are plainly given BY JESUS in the four gospels (NOT THE BIBLE), then we would have fellowship with that person. We are not looking for perfect people, for we are certainly not perfect! (although we desire to be and work towards that : )) We are looking for others who simply want to sincerely try to follow Jesus to the best of their ability as JESUS defines it with his own Words.
(* For example, Jesus (and for that matter, the entire new testament) does not teach that men must have beards in order to be pleasing to God. Thus adult men are free to have beards or not have beards. A man is not made right with God in any way due to a beard or lack thereof. God is not looking for each individual in His Family to be outward clones of each other based on traditions of men or the OLD covenant. Rather He is looking for clones of His Son Jesus, and that has nothing to do with physical appearance or religious rituals, and everything to do with our spirit and our obedience to JESUS' commands.)
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