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Statement of Faith

05.03.16 | What We Believe About... | by Cornerstone Church

Cornerstone Church Statement of Faith

 

 

Preface

In his introduction to the greatest letter ever written Paul penned these words as his thesis; “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17 The Christian life is to be one of faith – belief that is based upon God’s Truth as revealed in God’s Word and centered in God’s Son.

We Believe …

These two powerful words are the heart of this document. The truths that follow do not encompass all that we believe. We know that Jesus said, “Man shall … live by … every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. What is included on these pages is simply a summary of our beliefs concerning several key doctrines found within God’s Word.

We believe in God’s Truth. We love God’s Truth. We long to be followers of Jesus Christ who know His Truth deeply, live His Truth faithfully, and proclaim His Truth powerfully. As elders we feel deeply our high calling and profound responsibility as shepherds over Christ’s Body called Cornerstone. We strive to be prayerful, humble, and diligent in our commitment to nourish Christ’s Body with Truth, protect Christ’s Body with Truth, guide Christ’s Body with Truth, correct Christ’s Body with Truth, equip Christ’s Body with Truth, empower Christ’s Body with Truth, and send Christ’s Body with Truth.

Toward that end we offer this Statement of Faith. Each of the eleven doctrinal sections included offer a summary statement of what we believe about that doctrine. You can download the Abbreviated Scriptures version above with additional scriptural backing.  An expanded copy of this Statement of Faith, which incorporates the Scriptural foundation upon which these doctrines are built, is available upon request from the Cornerstone Church office. At the end of the document you will find a glossary containing a few key theological terms concisely defined that are used frequently on these pages.

It is our prayer that this faith statement would be used by the Holy Spirit to lead you into a deeper and fuller knowledge of the God of the Word.

“Lord, grant to the elders and the Cornerstone body the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in a growing knowledge of You so that we are captivated by Your glory, increasingly awed by Your grace, further conformed to Your Son, daily motivated by Your love, and continually empowered by Your Spirit.”

Brad Sutter – On behalf of the Elders of Cornerstone Church.

 

The Scriptures - God's Written Word

We believe the Scriptures, in the entirety of the Old and New Testaments, are the living and active, true and authoritative, only written Word of God. These Scriptures were written without error as their authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit to communicate God’s revelation of Himself and His truth to mankind. Being the very words of God equally in the whole and in every part they provide humanity with the fully sufficient, infallible, indestructible, victorious and authoritative rule for all faith and practice. Therefore, they must never be added to, superseded, or changed.

We believe the help of the Holy Spirit is essential in correctly interpreting the Scriptures that He inspired. Each book of the Bible must be interpreted in light of its context and the author’s purpose for writing, and each doctrine drawn from the Bible must be formulated and tested by the full council of God in all the Scriptures. Although passages of Scripture can have many applications, they have but one interpretation.

We believe these Scriptures contain the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, convicts mankind of sin and their need for a Savior, reveals Jesus Christ as the God man who saves, and births faith in the person and work of Christ unto salvation.

We believe in God’s written Word believers behold the glory of the Living Word, Jesus Christ, and are transformed in increasing measure into His likeness as the Spirit reveals and guides them into all the Truth. Believers, therefore, should consistently prioritize the study and application of God’s Word praying for the Spirit’s revealing and transforming work.

The Trinity - One God as Three Persons

We believe there is only One True God: the living, eternal, infinite, unchanging, sovereign God of all glory who has and will always exist as three co-equal and co-eternal, perfectly united yet distinct persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We believe these three Divine persons eternally enjoy and express absolute fullness of joy in fellowship with each other while eternally existing in oneness of essence as the Triune God. All three members of the Trinity, each fully God, deserve worship and obedience.

God the Sovereign Father

We believe God the Father, Creator of the universe and all that is in it, the eternal and infinitely exalted Lord over all creation, rules His universe in absolute sovereignty, directing and working all things according to the counsel of His own will, being subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent, doing as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases without sin.

We believe on this Sovereignty of God rests the believers greatest comfort knowing that God is ultimately controlling all beings, things, and events for His glory and the good of those who love Him displaying for all ages and throughout the cosmos the infinite majesty of His mercy for the ever increasing wonder and joy of His elect.

Jesus Christ

His Nature

We believe the Son of God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, in the fullness of time, was sent by the Father, conceived sinless by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, thereby joining His Divine nature with sinless human nature, so that He was and is Jesus Christ fully God and fully man. When Christ joined His divine nature with human nature, taking on flesh, He surrendered only the prerogatives of Deity while retaining the full essence of Deity freely accepting and operating within the finite limitations of humanity, walking and working always in the power of the Spirit. His fully Divine fully human nature is forever inseparable.

His Mission

We believe Jesus Christ, being born under the law, lived a life of perfect obedience to God in thought, word and deed. Although tempted in every way, just as we are, He remained sinless thereby fitting himself to be the spotless Lamb of God sent to satisfy God's just wrath against sin by the sacrifice of Himself. He is the Living Word of God, Truth in human flesh, declaring God's will and living God's way. He came to establish the Kingdom of God and live for the glory of God. In Him the power of God was on display as He healed sickness and infirmities, overruled the forces of nature, took authority over demons, and raised the dead to life. He came as the God man to reveal God to man and to restore man to God through His redemption purchased on the cross (a sinless sacrifice for sinful humanity) that He voluntarily accomplished in perfect fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. On the cross Jesus, the sinless Son, became the God-given all-sufficient Divine substitutionary sacrifice, receiving sin's condemnation vindicating the justice of God by obediently receiving upon Himself God's Holy wrath against sin, becoming the basis upon which God could be both just and the justifier of those who place their faith in His Son.

His Exaltation

We believe Jesus conquered death, rising to life on the third day according to Old Testament prophecy and His own promise, proving by His resurrection that the Father accepted His sacrifice as fully sufficient for sin's payment. He then revealed Himself over 40 days to His followers giving convincing evidence of His bodily resurrection from the grave. Having paid redemptions price He was exalted to the highest place as the everlasting Lord of Glory, ascending visibly before His followers into heaven to the Father's right hand, from where He sent the Holy Spirit and gave gifts to men, and from where He reigns eternally as the everlasting Lord of Glory conducting His mediatorial role of intercession for His own. At history's consummation He will return visibly to the earth as judge of both the living and the dead, at which time all will confess Him to be Lord as He puts all things under His feet, being glorified through the eternal judgment of those who rejected Him and the eternal reward of glory lavished upon those the Father has given Him.

Holy Spirit

His Person

We believe the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Son, being sent by both and operating in joyful submission to both as He carries out the will of the Father and Son on earth. As God, He is to be worshipped with the Father and Son.

His Work

We believe He was present and active in creation working with the Father and Son in creating the universe out of nothing, and giving life to mankind as the breath of God. He continued His Divine work throughout Old Testament history birthing faith in the Jewish remnant, bringing victory in battle, accomplishing signs and wonders, empowering His prophets, pointing prophetically to the coming Messiah and inspiring the Word of God to be written.

We believe it was the Holy Spirit who was the active agent in Jesus Christ's conception, in the powerful ministry of John the Baptist, in the miracles of Christ and His authority over demons, always confirming the truth of Christ's words and the truth of Christ's person.

His Witness

We believe Jesus, following His resurrection and ascension back to heaven, poured out the Holy Spirit upon the world in an unprecedented way. The Spirit is now globally active glorifying Jesus Christ, powerfully testifying to Him as God's Son and humanity's only Savior, convicting the world of sin, and bringing many to saving faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work within the elect: coming to them while dead in sin giving them life, illuminating their minds to see the truth of Christ as Savior, birthing within them faith in Christ, imputing to them the righteousness of Christ unto salvation, living within believers testifying to them that they are children of God, gifting them to build-up the body of Christ, growing them in the character of Christ, empowering them to be witnesses for Christ to the world, and sealing them secure in Christ until His return and their eternal glorification.

Mankind - Creation and Condemnation

We believe God created mankind, male and female, equally in His image and for His glory. Adam, created from dust, then Eve, created from Adam’s side, became the first parents from which all humanity has come. Adam and Eve were created without sin enjoying an unhindered relationship with God that was contingent upon their obedience to His command. God joined them in the covenant of marriage and placed them as co-regents over His creation giving them distinct yet complimentary roles as man and woman. 

We believe Adam and Eve, tempted by satan in the Garden of Eden, freely chose to disobey God's command. Instead of treasuring God above all else they rebelled against Him, asserted their own will, rejected the truth, and sought to promote themselves and satisfy their sinful desire. The result was a corruption of their entire being, the loss of a personal relationship with their Creator, and His just judgment for sin.

We believe Adam's guilt and condemnation, as humanity's representative head, became the guilt and condemnation of the entire human race. In this guilty and condemned state mankind lives as children of wrath, spiritually dead, with a heart bent on rebellion toward God, enslaved to sin's desire, blind to the truth of the Gospel, and absolutely unable to please God.

We believe it is the sovereign God before whom mankind is responsible, and when in sin, justly condemned.

Salvation - The Work of God's Sovereignty

A Sovereign Salvation

We believe that Salvation is exclusively a Sovereign act of God: the Father of love choosing the elect and decreeing

their salvation, the Son of God offering Himself as the fully sufficient sacrifice for their redemption, the Holy Spirit

calling them to faith in Christ unto salvation and securing them for His return and their eternal glory.

Election

We believe in God's eternal decree of election He chose, according to the counsel of His will, those He would call to Himself, bring to repentance and saving faith, free from sin's condemnation, conform to the image of His Son and eternally glorify in His presence. His election is unconditional and unconstrained, being a free act of His grace and mercy, based upon the person and work of Christ, for the praise of His glory.

We believe God's election is not inconsistent with, but is complementary to, all of His attributes, nor does it negate the responsibility of the elect to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Yet, as a Sovereign act, election includes the authority and power of always accomplishing the eternal salvation of the elect.

Regeneration

We believe all humanity prior to salvation are spiritually dead in sin, with a heart of stone toward God, blind to the truth of Christ, incapable of understanding spiritual reality, living in bondage to sin as enemies of God, unable to submit to God's law making it impossible for them to please God. Salvation, therefore, cannot be personally experienced without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in which the elect sinner, based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, is, through the Gospel, supernaturally and immediately made alive, recreated with a heart of love toward God, a will disposed to Gods truth, now seeing Jesus Christ as God and Savior. Being captivated by the excellence and beauty of Jesus shown them by the Spirit in the Gospel they are granted repentance and are irresistibly drawn to saving faith in Him, which their new God-loving spirits and truth-written hearts now long for and willingly choose.

Justification

We believe justification is a free act of God’s grace in which He pardons sin declaring guilty sinners to be in a right relationship with Himself based solely upon the law-keeping life and sin-canceling death of Jesus. Justification recognizes that the requirements of God’s law were fully met in the sinless life of Jesus Christ, and that His substitutionary death fully satisfied God’s wrath against sin. All those, and only those, who place their faith in Christ are declared righteous by God, having Divine righteousness imputed to them. From that moment forward they can never again come under the judgment of God’s law.

We believe, therefore, that justification is permanent for it is an act of God, is wholly free and undeserved for it is given to guilty sinners, comes through faith alone in Christ alone for He alone atoned for sin, is perfect and complete for it imputes Christ’s righteousness to the believing sinner, leads to the process of sanctification for the Spirit continues His work in all those He regenerates, and ultimately culminates in eternal glory for God has decreed it so.

Perseverance of the Saints

We believe all followers of Christ, through their union with Him, stand before the Father with Christ's Divine righteousness imputed to them, forever free from sin's condemnation, Christ's life in them and they in Him. All conditions for their eternal glory are met in Christ, being born again with the imperishable seed. They will never be put to shame, nor separated from the love of Christ, nor snatched from the Father or Son's hand. Undefeatable hope of eternal glory is their inheritance as joint heirs of Jesus. We believe the Holy Spirit living in each believer is the seal and down payment guaranteeing that God, Who finishes what He begins, will bring to full completion the eternal salvation He has decreed for all His elect.

Sanctification

We believe the elect are called to saving faith in Christ in order to become holy and blameless before Him. To accomplish this purpose the will and work of God are actively engaged in transforming believers into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This transformation, called sanctification, that begins at salvation, is an ongoing work in this life, culminating at the resurrection upon seeing the glorified Christ when He returns.

We believe that justifying faith, which trusts in Christ’s all-sufficient work of atonement, always leads to sanctifying faith, which trusts Christ to apply all God’s promises and perfect for all time those being sanctified. This guarantee of future eternal perfection for every believer is anchored in the faithfulness of God who accomplishes all of His covenant promises to the elect. By His sovereign will and work God established and maintains an unbreakable bond between justification and sanctification. Therefore, progressive sanctification in a believer provides visible and powerful evidence of the Spirit's work of regeneration in their life.

We believe God’s Spirit is the decisive agent advancing and accomplishing the work of sanctification in every believer. In this holy work the Spirit reveals to the believer the glory and supremacy of Jesus, leading the believer to trust Christ more deeply and treasure Christ more completely. This increasingly exalted view of Christ produces a growing faith that works through love as the Spirit carries forward this work of sanctification. It is to the degree that the believer sees the supremacy of Christ that they will treasure Him above all, experience increasing victory over sin, and grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

We believe the new life God gives His elect in regeneration secures freedom from sin’s dominion in this life but not freedom from sins presence. With a heart that now loves God and a flesh still drawn toward sin the believer becomes engaged in an ongoing spiritual war in which daily battles against evil are fought. This killing of sin within can only be accomplished through the Spirit who pours confidence into the believer that ultimate victory is guaranteed. The certainty of ultimate victory enables the follower of Christ to fight from a position of confident trust in God instead of paralyzing fear of failure. Therefore, in sanctification, the believer is active yet dependent on the Spirit, while the Spirit is active and powerful in accomplishing His work.

We believe this war is fought by faith in Christian community with the primary weapons of God’s Word, prayer, and meditation. The believers task is to remain spiritually alert prayerfully reading, understanding, memorizing, and meditating on God’s truth, while speaking that truth in love, as they build-up and stir-up one another to love and good deeds. The Holy Spirit uses these means of grace to carry forward and accomplish His life transforming work of shaping believers into Christ’s likeness.

We believe, therefore, that an increasing revelation and treasuring of Christ’s glory is imperative and promised to believers as they remain humble in heart, dependent upon the Spirit, constant in prayer and the Word, living in loving community, while obeying and speaking the truth of Jesus to one another.

The Church

The Church Called

We believe there is one universal Church, referred to in the New Testament as the ‘called out ones’. This one Church is comprised of all those the Father has given to the Son and the Holy Spirit has called to saving faith in Jesus Christ through the gospel. The Church exists to magnify the glory of God as they worship Him in Spirit and truth and serve His purpose in the world.

We believe the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd of the Church is Jesus Christ, the power of the Church is the Holy Spirit, the authoritative book of the Church is the Scriptures, and the ultimate mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ from every people group as it takes the Gospel of Jesus to all mankind.

We believe this one universal Church is to be visibly expressed in local assemblies that are subject to Christ in all things as they are led by the Holy Spirit and governed by God-appointed men who meet the biblical qualifications for elders. As the body of Christ, the Church is the tangible representative of Christ in the world, proclaiming and living out the Gospel and performing good deeds of mercy and compassion, particularly to the helpless and poor.

The Church Gathered

We believe community is the venue Christ modeled and commanded for discipleship. Therefore, believers should commit to a local body of Christ followers who consistently gather to worship God, hear and apply the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, observe the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and live in community together as each one uses their spiritual gifts to build each other up in the faith serving one another in love.

We believe that followers of Christ are set free and empowered to live for God’s glory to the degree in which they know and apply the truth of God’s Word; right doctrine enables right living. Therefore, the Church is to educate its members theologically equipping them to engage in the good works God has prepared in advance for them to do.

The Church Sent

We believe every follower of Christ has a responsibility in the Christ-given disciple-making mission of the Church, having been sent by Christ to proclaim to all mankind the salvation offered through faith, based upon His perfect life, substitutionary death, and resurrection victory.

We believe the most effective means of reaching a lost world with the Gospel is the planting of healthy churches, and that the biblical model for church planting is that churches plant churches. Toward that end we will pray for God to raise up called men out of Cornerstone Church to the ministry of church planting, whom we will equip for that call, supply with personnel and resources, and send to build Christ’s Church in the Spirit’s power.

Ordinances of the Church

Water Baptism

We believe water baptism is a demonstration of the union with Christ a believer is given at salvation; being united with Christ’s death (unto cleansing and freedom from sin’s condemnation and dominion) and with Christ’s resurrection (to walk in newness of life). Baptism also demonstrates the believers placement into the Family of God, the Church. Faith in Christ, and repentance of sin, being part of the Spirit’s work in regeneration, must therefore proceed baptism. We practice baptism by immersion in water (a vivid illustration of Christ’s death and resurrection), in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as instructed by the Lord.

Lord’s Supper

We believe the Lord’s Supper is to be an act in which the sacrifice of Jesus, unto death, is remembered and proclaimed until He returns. In this ordinance, instituted by Jesus, those who have trusted Christ’s atoning death consume bread and drink as elements representing Christ’s body-broken, and His blood-shed for the remission of their sins. As believers gather in unity to examine themselves and receive the Lord’s Supper the Lord meets with them spiritually, and through the merits won by His broken body and shed blood, grows them in grace.

Christ's Return

We believe prior to Christ’s return humanity’s rebellion toward God will intensify and many false prophets will surface teaching deceptive doctrines causing a great number of professing believers to turn away from Christ. In these days of rising rebellion followers of Christ will be hated and widely persecuted on a global scale yet the Gospel of Jesus will continue to be proclaimed, its message of hope reaching into all nations. These final days will usher in unprecedented global turmoil and the revealing of a "man of lawlessness", who, through satan's power, will perform signs and wonders, proclaiming himself to be God, deceiving those who refused to love the truth of Christ and so be saved. The believer is to live in watchful readiness looking, praying, and longing for Christ’s appearing.

We believe precisely at God's appointed time, known only to Him, Christ will unexpectedly, suddenly, personally, and visibly return in power and great glory, causing believers to marvel and unbelievers to mourn at His coming. He will raise from death all those who have died in Christ, and they, along with believers who are still living, will be gathered to Him, rising to meet Him in the air. Jesus, with the breath of His mouth, will kill the "man of lawlessness" and defeat all opposition to God's Kingdom. Satan and his angels will be cast into the eternal lake of fire prepared for them, and all humanity who have not loved the truth of Christ will stand before Him as their judge. Christ will justly condemn them in their sin and sentence them to eternal Hell.

We believe there will be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, the old being utterly shaken and destroyed as Christ makes all things new. Upon seeing Jesus Christ in all His glory believers will be transformed into His likeness, clothed with immortality, rewarded, and will begin an eternal reign with Him as they bask in the ever-increasing revelation of God's glory that results in ever-increasing worship and fullness of joy.

 

Glossary of Key Terms

Election at its most basic level refers to God’s determined plan or purpose that He will sovereignly accomplish. Regarding salvation, election is God choosing, according to His good pleasure, based upon the merits of Christ, those who will inherit eternal life. God’s choice to save is not conditioned upon any past, present, or future activity by the individual, but is exclusively an act of His love for them, and His grace toward them.

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit in which He gives new spiritual life to individuals dead in sin. This new life overcomes the sinner’s depravity placing a new Godward disposition in their soul, and gives them the capacity to please God.

Justification is a legal act in which God as Judge pardons a sinner declaring himher to be in right standing before Him, all requirements of His law being met for them in the person and work of Christ, forever freeing them from condemnation and imputing to them Christ’s divine righteousness.

Sanctification means to be “set apart” for God’s possession and purposes. Sanctification is the process of growing in increasing measure in the likeness of Jesus Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit and His appointed means of grace. This process begins at salvation and continues throughout life culminating at the second coming of Jesus when the believer sees Him in all His glory.

Redemption refers to the payment Christ made, through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross, to effect the release from sin’s slavery all those who place their faith in Him, freeing them to serve God. 

Imputed Righteousness refers to God the Father crediting Christ’s Divine righteousness to the account of all those who place their faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

Sovereignty of God is His absolute control of the universe (encompassing all things, circumstances, and persons) in which He causes everything to work together in fulfillment of all His purposes to the praise of His glory.

Christ’s Substitutionary Sacrifice is His voluntary crucifixion unto death for condemned sinners through which He, the sinless One, paid the penalty for sin satisfying God’s righteous judgment for all those who trust in Him, thereby freeing them forever from sin’s condemnation and granting them peace with God.