Recently I did a little research on a few different churches in the Calgary and Cochrane region. It’s not that I want to change churches (far be it!!…no worries, Pastor Dwight!), but there have been several people I know who are attending new churches and I am always interested in hearing about new church plants.
The first thing I do whenever I research a church is look at their website and read their doctrinal statement. I look for sound, Bible-based doctrine that does not add or take away from the Word. For example statements like:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
God the Son
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself the demands and necessities of human nature and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, partaking of the nature of God and of man, and in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God. B. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual perfection through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life. C. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will he raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Excerpts taken from: http://www.cnbc.ca/articles/statement-of-faith Full doctrinal statement on the CNBC website.
Our church website states that we are aligned with the CNBC (Canadian National Baptist Convention) so that statement of faith is OUR statement of faith.
I believe wholeheartedly with that statement of faith, so when I investigate other churches, inside and outside of our convention, I look for similar statements that align with what is taught in the Bible.
I was intrigued when I came across a non-denominational church website with a catchy “come on” line and a website that was modern-looking and definitely meant to draw in people who were looking for a fresh, new approach to “doing” church. It definitely drew me in, but as is my custom, I immediately went in search of their doctrinal statement of faith. To say I was shocked when I read this “belief” statement was an understatement.
We do not believe that God will eternally torment anyone in hell as this is not fundamentally taught in scripture but is a misinterpretation seen through eyes of fear and hate, anger and mankind’s desire for vengeance and violence. We believe that according to scripture such teaching of hell is outside the context of the historical teaching of the early church in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Polycarp, Origeon, and Gregory of Nicee (father of the Nicene Cree). The teaching of infernalism or eternal conscience torment has its roots in paganism and Platonic philosophy of the immortality of the soul which lies in contrast to the Pauline teaching of the mortality of the soul.
In the end our position is to walk humbly in the teaching of final judgement. We hold to the belief that all mankind and/or created things will walk through the fire of Gods’ merciful, gracious presence and all works will be judged but in the end every knee will bow and swear allegiance to the Lamb of God, Jesus.
That is only ONE of many statements in this church’s overall ideology that contradicts with what is written plainly in Scripture. In this particular statement this “church” has completely negated Revelation 20 and 21, and the many scripture passages that speak of hell. Here are just a few:
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10
Paul is the writer of Thessalonians by the way. Paul is quite clear that God will “punish with everlasting destruction” those who “do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”. Paul may not have used the term “hell” in his writings but he was quite clear that there is an eternal separation from God, an “everlasting destruction” that is the consequence of sin and not accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Along with this “church’s” declaration that they do not believe in hell, the last statement that “all works will be judged but in the end every knee will bow and swear allegiance to the Lamb of God, Jesus.” is just as disturbing. If I read this right it in essence says that we will be judged on our “good works”, but regardless every person will go to their eternal reward with Jesus. This is false teaching!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ” Ephesians 2:8-9
“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:5-6
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5
In conclusion, when I read statements of faith of churches that don’t line up with what it says in scripture, I can’t help but wonder what that “church” is teaching to people who are searching for Truth.
Will they feel welcomed?…possibly
Will they feel comfortable?…probably
Will they feel good about themselves?…definitely
Will they be saved?… unlikely.