Christian Unity Press
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15b
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This We Believe
We cannot here follow to their limit all of the branches of the great stream of doctrine believed and practiced by the Church of God. It will be our purpose, therefore, to state in concise terms the fundamental foundation of our Christian faith, “those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1). We do not use the name “church of God” in any narrow, sectarian, or denominational sense but in its broad, scriptural reference to the body of Christ composed of all the redeemed. However, we hasten to explain that not all who are saved and members of the church universal believe all the truth embraced by this Church of God movement. That those of you who find fellowship in the local Churches of God may know our doctrinal position, that you may be able to give an answer to those who ask a reason for the faith that is in you, we declare that we believe in the following.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the divine Trinity. We make no boast of ability to explain the Godhead. We believe the plumb line of reason is too short to fathom the mystery, that where reason cannot wade, there faith must swim. This sacred doctrine, though not contrary to reason, is yet above reason. With spiritual joy we sing, Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. It is safe to believe, godliness to preach, and eternal blessedness to know the Trinity, Three distinct personalities—yet one God. We love, serve, and adore him.
The Bible, the Word of God
We believe in the Bible, the Word of God. We believe it does not merely contain the Word of God but that it is the true Word of inspiration. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16). We were not present when God spoke his message into the ears of the prophets. We did not see when God breathed his breath of inspiration upon the apostles. But we have experienced the power of the “Emancipation Proclamation” as our souls were freed from sin’s enslavement. Over against all the disparagements and derogations of all the unbelievers of our day stands the testimony of millions who are “clean through the Word” which was spoken unto them.
Salvation from Sin
We believe in deliverance from the power and penalty of committed sins, an instantaneous, miraculous change of the moral nature through repentance and faith in the atoning death of Christ. We believe that only through and by him is salvation possible. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). We believe that salvation from sin means to be “freed from sin” and to live free from sin throughout life. We believe that so-called “sinning Christians” are the products of manmade, church-joining processes, contrary to the Bible. “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14). “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body” (6:12).
We believe in a second spiritual cleansing from inherited sin. Proof that inherited sin exists is found in Romans 5:19: “By one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners.” And in 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “In Adam all die.” Inherited sin is cleansed subsequent to forgiveness of committed sins, as is shown in Acts 19:2: “Paul having passed through the upper coast [of Asia Minor] came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost [the cleanser, purifier] since ye believed?” This second cleansing was also taught by Jesus: “Every branch in me that beareth fruit, he [the Father] purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1-2). The branch is in Christ but requires “purging.” Paul stressed this doctrine in his Ephesian letter: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (5:25-26). Sanctification means holiness of life—of inward character and outward conduct. It is received in the infilling of the Holy Spirit: “Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16).
We believe in the church, the “body of Christ,” including all Christian believers—not just any body of people under the name “church,” with human head and laws, but the Lord’s body as revealed and described in Ephesians 1:22-23: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” “The whole family [of God] in heaven and earth” (Eph. 3:15). This is not the pope’s family, not Luther’s family, not Wesley’s family, not Warner’s family, but God’s family. Salvation through the new birth is the only means of admittance to it. We do not believe or have any part in the substitutionary methods used by modern Christendom to get members into the churches. We emphasize the means of entrance taught by Christ: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (3:3). “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (3:5).
Only Christians are Members
We believe that all true Christians, all who are converted or saved, are members of the church, the only members of the church. Paul wrote, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). Since God’s church includes all Christians, there is no need of the multiplicity of denominations and organizations called churches. We believe that church membership is through conversion alone and that denominational identity is not necessary to Christian faith. It is sectarian and unscriptural. Why did not those first Christians join the popular denominations of their day—Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.? What denomination does a young man who is converted on the battle front belong to? He belongs to God alone, which is sufficient.
The Unity Christ Prayed For
It is evident that church joining and denominational affiliation are human attachments tacked onto Bible Christianity. We believe that all Christians should drop sectarian lines and live together in a community of brethren, as Jesus prophesied: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). This unity was the subject of Christ’s prayer in the upper room: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-22). We believe that denominational division is sin because it holds up the church to the world as a “spectacle” instead of a spiritual challenge. It actually hinders potential believers both at home and on the mission fields. We believe the Bible to be the church’s only essential creed, article of faith, and discipline. He who will not be instructed and corrected by the Word of God is not a Christian at heart and would not yield to any discipline written by man.
We believe in water baptism, which is the witness of a good conscience toward God. We do not believe in sprinkling or pouring but in a burial only, signifying our death to the world and the old life, depicting our resurrection to the new life in Christ. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). We believe in the Lord’s Supper or the Communion, a memorial of the suffering and death of Christ for our sins. “This do . . . in remembrance of me.” (Read 1 Cor. 11:25-26.) This ordinance shows our relationship to Christ—that we are partakers of the living Bread from heaven and beneficiaries of his blood atonement. We believe in the ordinance of foot washing, an example in Christian humility exemplified and expressly commanded by Jesus Christ our Lord in his last meeting with his disciples before he went to the cross. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. . . . If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:14-17). The ordinance of foot washing shows our relationship to our brethren—that in no circumstances is one Christian lord over another, but each is the humble servant of the others.
Divine Physical Healing
We believe in divine physical healing, the recovery of the physical body from sickness, disease, or injury in answer to the prayer of faith, in compliance with the Word of God. We do not deny the existence of physical suffering as does Christian Science. We do not practice any magical, mystical, witch-doctor quackery, as do the cults. We do anoint with oil in the name of Christ as commanded in James 5, pray faithfully, and believe the promise of God that “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (vs. 15). Believing that the doctrinal positions taken in this article will stand the most acid test of the Scriptures and of the experience of historical Christianity, we prayerfully commend them to your consideration.
—Carl E. Reynolds
"This We Believe," by Carl E. Reynolds, copyright (c) Warner Press, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Church of God Ministries, Inc.
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