In September of 2011, I had the opportunity to attend the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This event was hosted by a church in Winnipeg, and I was blessed with a free ticket to attend this event. I was encouraged and inspired by various leadership principles taught by people such as Bill Hybels, Dr. Henry Cloud, Mama Maggie Gobran and Patrick Lencioni. As a browsed through their resource centre, one book that caught my eye was a book called “Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth.” This book, written by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson, considers the poignant question: “Is our church really helping people to become devoted followers of Christ, or are we just giving them a nice place to go to church?”
As I began reading through the book over a coffee at Tim Horton’s, I discovered one important principle of spiritual growth that inspired this booklet. The authors wrote: “We intentionally began our discussion of spiritual catalysts with beliefs and attitudes because this is where the spiritual journey begins.” In other words, knowledge of the core, foundational beliefs of Christianity is indispensable to growing spiritually.
I realized that on a typical Sunday morning, I don’t always cover the basic foundational truths contained in our statement of faith, although I do endeavor to teach on them over the course of a year. However, I thought it might be beneficial to systematically go through our statement of faith, adding commentary on them, and make it available in booklet form for our church family.
The 22 statements that follow are taken from the Foursquare Gospel Church’s Statement of Faith. As a part of this family of churches, Beausejour Community Church also holds to these basic Christian beliefs. I encourage you to take the time to read through each of these statements, and look up the additional Scriptures (where indicated) in your own Bible.
My prayer is that as you go through these Foursquare Foundations that your faith will be encouraged as you learn more about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and His wonderful plan of salvation.
1. The Holy Scriptures. We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God: true, immutable, steadfast, and unchangeable. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
As disciples of Jesus Christ, it makes sense that our first statement of faith would be a declaration of what we believe about the Bible. The Bible isn’t just another holy book to sit on a shelf alongside of the many other religious books of the world. It stands apart because the Bible is the very Word of God. Second Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In other words, this book is not the product or invention of the mind of a man, but instead it was inspired by God Himself. Although the Lord used 40 different human authors over a period of about 1600 years, every word of God is true, and comes from the very heart of a God who is all loving and all wise. Therefore, the Bible is the blueprint for our lives, and teaches us how to live a blessed and successful life on earth.
How does this truth impact our lives today? If we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then we should read and study its pages every day, and seek God’s wisdom and direction for our lives! If you have never made a commitment to read the Bible, I want to challenge you to do so today.
2. The Eternal Godhead. We believe God is Triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the Three are coexistent, coeternal, and equal in divine perfection. (1 John 5:7)
In the Apostle’s Creed, we declare, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. And I believe in the Holy Spirit.” The doctrine of the Trinity, or tri-unity of the Godhead, is one that we see throughout the Scriptures. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7). One of the most common questions that I get as a pastor is – how can God be three, and yet still be one? Although I have heard numerous attempts at explaining the trinity, I have yet to find one that I think adequately explains this doctrine. However, even though I, with my limited, finite mind, can’t totally understand the nature of the Godhead, I can still choose to believe that it is true.
How does this truth impact our lives today? As Christians, our highest calling is to love God with all of our hearts. The more we get to know God, the more we will love Him. One of the best studies we can do in the Bible is a study of the names and nature of God. He is Savior, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit, but He is also our Deliverer, our Peace, our Strength and more. Make a commitment to get to know God better through studying His Word, and deepening a personal relationship with Him in prayer.
3. The Fall of Man. We believe that man was created in the image of God, but that by voluntary disobedience he fell from perfection. (Genesis 1:27; Romans 5:12).
On Wednesdays, I lead a Christian club at our local high school. One day we played a murder mystery game called Mafia. After the game was finished, I used the game as a backdrop to our discussion on the fall of man as recorded in Genesis chapter three. I reminded the students about our lesson from the previous week, that God is a good God, and He created everything in the universe, and it was all originally good. However, if that’s true, then why is there evil in the world? Well, after God created the first two human beings, Adam and Eve, and put them in the Garden of Eden, He gave them one prohibition: Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But sometime later in creation history, the devil appeared in the garden in the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat the fruit, and she in turn gave the fruit to Adam to eat. So even though Adam and Eve had been created in the image of God, now the image of God in them was marred by their sin. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). That sin nature was passed on to all of their descendants, including every human being who has ever lived. This is the bad news! However, God had a plan to redeem and restore mankind…
4. The Plan of Redemption. We believe that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, and with His life’s blood purchased the pardon for all who believe in Him. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8)
After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God didn’t write them off or give up on them. In fact, the first words God spoke immediately after their rebellion were, “Where are you?” God came looking for them to restore them to a right relationship to Himself. Sadly though, the Bible teaches us that all people have sinned, and that the penalty for our sin is death, or eternal separation from God. But the Bible also says that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son Jesus to die on the Cross, so that anyone who believes in Him would not have to perish, but would receive everlasting life (John 3:16). That’s the good news! Salvation is available to all through Jesus Christ. This is the first of the four cardinal Foursquare doctrines we believe about who Jesus is: He is our Savior. How then do we experience this salvation?
5. Salvation Through Grace. We believe that we are saved from our sin completely through God’s grace; that we have no righteousness or ability to contribute to receiving God’s love and favour. (Eph. 2:8)
Although some religions teach that you can be saved by your good works, the Bible tells us a different story. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – it is a free gift! How then do we receive this gift from God?
6. Repentance and Acceptance. We believe that upon sincere repentance and a whole-hearted acceptance of Christ, we are justified before God, accepted as though we had no sin. (Romans 10:6-10; 1 John 1:9)
God has done His part to make salvation available to us, but now we must choose to receive this gift. This happens as we repent – turn from our sins and turn to God – and accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Romans 10:9 tells us how to do this: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
As we confess Jesus as our Lord, He comes into our life and we are born again.
7. The New Birth. We believe that the change that takes place in the heart and life at conversion is a very real one and after we receive Christ and His Spirit, we will have new desires, interests and pursuits in life. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20)
One of the most exciting Scriptures that describes what happens when we believe in Jesus says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, a sinner is transformed into a saint. Those who were once children of the devil and on the road to hell are now children of God on the road to Heaven! This new birth is the beginning of an exciting journey with Jesus.
If you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why don’t you call upon the name of the Lord today, for He is mighty to save!
To learn more about how you can become a Christian, see Appendix #1.
8. Daily Christian Life. We believe that it is the will of God that we be sanctified (cleansed from sin) daily, growing stronger in faith, power, prayer, love, holiness and service. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Contrary to popular belief, being a Christian isn’t just about going to church once a week on a Sunday morning and singing some songs and hearing some stories about what God did in the past. Rather, it is about having a vital, living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ on a daily basis. There are six different areas listed here that the Lord wants us to grow in:
Faith: Faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and therefore, one of the best things we can do to grow stronger in our faith is to feed on God’s Word every day, reading, meditating on and looking for ways to put the Bible into practice.
Power: Jesus said that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us so we could be His witnesses. We need God’s power and boldness to tell other people about Jesus.
Prayer: Christianity is not a religion – it is about a personal relationship with God. Therefore, one of the best daily disciplines we can incorporate into our lives is daily time in prayer. This is not just saying our prayers, but spending time with Jesus in the secret place.
Love: Our highest calling as Christians is to love God with all of our hearts, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Every day, let us strive to be perfected in the love walk.
Holiness: In addition to becoming more loving, God also wants us to progress in the walk of holiness – becoming more and more like Jesus every day, and being more and more separated from sin. Although we’ll never be perfected in this, our goal should be to grow in holiness.
Service: Finally, Jesus said that the greatest in the Kingdom of God would be those who would serve others. There are many opportunities both in the church and in our community where we can lay down our lives in service to others. Where are you serving the Lord?
9. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that water baptism by immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is an essential response to Jesus’ command and testifies to His lordship as Christ and King. (Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:4). We believe in remembering Jesus’ death as we observe the Lord’s Supper by receiving the symbols of the bread and juice of the vine and rejoice in His triumph over death on the cross. (1 Cor. 11:24-26)
After giving your life to Jesus Christ and becoming a Christian, the Lord’s first commandment is to be baptised in water. If you haven’t done so yet, why don’t you talk to your pastor today and make the decision to be obedient to Christ’s command? Baptism is a public declaration to the world that says, “I have decided to follow Jesus – He is my Lord and Savior.”
Although baptism is a once in a believer’s lifetime event, communion on the other hand is a regular and ongoing sacrament that we experience. In most evangelical churches, communion is celebrated monthly, usually on the first Sunday of the month. When we come to the Lord’s Table, it is a time of remembering what Jesus has done for us. When we partake of the bread or cracker, it reminds us that Jesus’ body was broken for us, and when we drink the grape juice, it reminds us that Jesus shed His blood for our sins to be forgiven. This is not merely a religious ritual however – there is actually a communion in the communion – where we fellowship with and experience the presence of the Lord. It is a place to receive forgiveness, peace and healing in our bodies.
Appendix I: DO YOU KNOW JESUS?
Dear reader, do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If you haven’t yet surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, I want to invite you to do so now. The Bible tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In other words, every human being in the world has broken God’s commandments, including you and me. The Bible also tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). That means that the penalty for our breaking God’s law is death, or eternal separation from God in a place called hell. That’s the bad news. However, the Good News is that you don’t have to be punished for your sins, because Jesus has taken your place. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That tells us that God loves us and wants to save us from our sins! How can we meet Jesus as our Lord and Savior? “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). If you would like to make your peace with God, and give your life to Jesus, pray this prayer out loud right now:
Heavenly Father, I admit that I am a sinner. I have broken your commandments, and I deserve to be punished for my sins. However, I believe that you loved me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sins. I believe that He is the Son of God, that He died on the Cross, and three days later He came back to life. I confess my sins to you, and ask you to forgive me of all of the wrong things that I have done, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Please come into my life and make me a new person. I make the decision today to follow You all the days of my life. Thank you for adopting me into Your family. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer from a believing heart, the Bible says that you have been born again, adopted into God’s family! I want to encourage you now to find a good local church that preaches the Bible, and tell someone about the decision that you have just made. Start reading the Bible. Talk to God in prayer every day. And get baptized in water as soon as possible.
And, if you would be so kind, would you please send me an e-mail and tell me about the decision that you have made? I would love to be able to rejoice with you, and personally welcome you into the family of God. Take the time today to thank God for His indescribable gift.
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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