Statement of Faith (Doctrinal Statement)
CARPENTER’S WAY FELLOWSHIP
The Church Elders officially accepted and approved unanimously this revision of our Statement of Faith on January 28, 2013
There is but one true God! He is Limitless. He is eternal! He is all powerful. Perfect in holiness, truth and love. In the unity of the Godhead, there are three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, co-equal and co-eternal. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly Deity. One God. Though each person of the Godhead possesses the same nature, each functions differently in respect with God’s dealing with man.
God the Father
We believe the first person of the Trinity is the Creator of heaven and earth. He supernaturally created the world out of nothing for His own purpose, pleasure and Glory. He sustains all His creatures. He orders and directs all things, and His plans cannot be prevented. He has decreed all things that come to pass for His own glory. He is faithful to every promise! He graciously involves Himself in the affairs of men, hears and answers prayer, and saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ. He works all things together for good to those who love Him. (Matt. 6:9; John 5:19-24; Eph. 1:3-6).
God the Son
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, (Jn. 3:16) is the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He is perfect in nature, teaching and obedience. Jesus Christ is the eternally co-existing Son of God who became fully man without ceasing to be fully God. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation, and in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is our sole Mediator (I Tim. 2:5). We believe in His preexistence (Jn. 1.1), substitutionary atonement (Rom. 3:23-25), His bodily resurrection from the grave (Act 2:24-27), and His bodily return from heaven (Tit. 2:13). We believe that He is now in heaven exalted at the right hand of the Father, where, as High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of intercession and advocacy for us (Heb. 12:3). He is the only Savior for the sins of the world. He has shed His blood and died a vicarious death on Calvary’s cross. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. He redeemed us from sin, and on the third day, He rose from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness. For a duration of 40 days He appeared to more than 500 witnesses, performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He is the Head of His body and the Church and should be adored, loved, served and obeyed by all.
God the Spirit
We believe that God the Holy Spirit is that person of the Trinity who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He also regenerates those who receive Christ as Savior, baptizes them into the Church, indwells them permanently, intercedes for them in prayer, seals them unto the day of redemption, bestows one or more spiritual gifts on each believer, and empowers those yielded to Him (Matt. 28:19, Jn. 3:3-7, 16:8-11). The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son Who, in turn, came to glorify the Father. He will lead the church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word.
We believe the Bible, which includes 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, to be the infallible record of God disclosing Himself to all mankind. This Bible is verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings. By inspiration we mean God’s superintendence of human authors so that using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. We believe it to be the supreme, and final authority in doctrine and practice. Every doctrinal formulation, whether of creed, confession or theology, must be put to the test of the full counsel of God in Holy Scripture. We further believe that there is but one method of Bible interpretation-the literal, or historical-grammatical method. This method recognizes the fact that the authors of Scripture meant what they said. Therefore, we consistently apply the rules of grammar, literature, history, and culture to Scripture in order to unlock and understand the author’s meaning (Matt. 5:16-18; II Tim. 3:16, 17; II Pet. 1:20, 21). All believers are strongly encouraged to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative and standard rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine. The Bible is totally sufficient and must never be added to, superseded or altered by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation or worldly wisdom.
We believe that man was created innocent and in the image and likeness of God, for fellowship with God, so that man might glorify God. God made both male and female. Man was tempted by Satan, and became disobedient against God. This sin of disobedience brought both physical and spiritual death (which is separation from God) to himself and his posterity. Being estranged from his Maker yet responsible to Him, man became subject to divine wrath. He became inwardly depraved, and apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. The depravity of man is extreme and permeates his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. Man is hostile toward God and hateful of God. Man is fallen and is now a sinner both by nature and by choice, is alienated from God, and apart from salvation through Jesus Christ is eternally separated from God (Gen. 1:26, 27, 2:17, 3:6, 19; Rom. 3:10-18, 5:12-21; Eph. 2:1-3).
Jesus Christ is the gospel. The good news is revealed in His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Christ’s crucifixion is the center of the gospel; His resurrection from the grave is the power of the gospel and His ascension in to heaven where He now sits at the right of His Father, is the glory of the gospel. Christ’s death is substitutionary and His sacrifice of dying on the cross for mans sin appeases God’s holy justice. It satisfies the demands of His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His great love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. Sound doctrine stands on the cross of Jesus Christ and the wonderful privilege that redeemed sinners have of glorifying God because of what He has accomplished. The Gospel must remain the focus of every individual, and future ministry of Carpenter’s Way Fellowship . This gospel is to be preached to all men in all nations
Man’s Response to the Gospel of Salvation
We believe that salvation is a gift of God and is received by man only through personal response to the Gospel. This response comes through a confession of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The confession of faith naturally comes by repentance from sin. Biblical repentances must be characterized by a changed life that seeks to serve the Kingdom of God by a life of works. We believe that man is justified by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from human merit, works, or ceremonies (Eph. 2:8-10). We believe that all true believers, “born again” by the Spirit through faith in Christ, are kept secure in Christ forever. (Jn. 10:27-30; Rom. 8:33-39). While neither repentance nor works save, unless a person is willing to deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Christ, he cannot become His disciple.
The Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification and seeks to produce His fruit in us as our minds are renewed and we are conformed to the image of Christ. Though sin remains a reality as we are led by the Spirit, we can grow in the knowledge of the Lord. We can choose to keep His commandments in hopes that the life we live will bring glory to our Father in heaven. All believers are encouraged to persevere in their faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word and deed. The spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace as we seek to not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we seek to bring Glory to the Father in heaven.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
The work of the Holy Spirit is to manifest the active presence of God in the world and especially in the church by empowering believers for Christian witness and service for the sake of the Gospel, and to bring Glory to the Father in Heaven. We believe every Christian receives the Holy Spirit at conversion (Spirit Filled) (1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13). Subsequent to conversion, it is essential for every believer to thirst for fresh encounters with the person of the Holy Spirit (Spirit Led) (John 7:37‐39). The Holy Spirit desires to continually fill each believer with power to witness and imparts His supernatural gifts for the edification of the body and the work of ministry in the world The Holy Spirit performs many necessary ministries in the believer’s life such as: Counselor (John 14:16), Teacher (John 14:26), Revealer of Jesus Christ as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), Empowerer (Acts 1:8), Guide (Rom. 8:14), Intercessor(Rom. 8:26‐27), Giver of Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Cor. 14), and the One whobrings conviction (John 16:8; Acts 7:51), and produces spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22‐25) and spiritual passion (Luke 3:16).
All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first century are available today and are to be earnestly desired and practiced in an orderly manner. The gifts are essential to the mission of the Church in the world today. We believe that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to every believer to be used for the building up of the body of Christ. These gifts are to be exercised according to biblical guidelines and priorities (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12,14). We believe the Holy Spirit is sovereign and may give any gifts He wants at any time He wants (1 Cor. 12:11). We believe the gift of tongues is a spiritual gift that may be used for cross-cultural evangelism (Acts 2:1-11), private prayer (1 Cor. 14:3, 14-19, 28), or for ministry to the body when an interpreter is present (1 Cor. 14:5). We do not believe everyone must speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
We believe that the ordinances of the church are two in number: baptism, by immersion, which is the public identification of the believer with Christ; and the Lord’s Supper, a memorial of the atoning death of Christ until He comes (Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-24). Baptism does not bring about salvation, only through a personal response to the Gospel. This response comes through a confession of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. After salvation, and in obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the church, oneself and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts a person’s release from the mastery of sin. The Lord’s Supper (communion), symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. The Lord’s Supper should be taken with an attitude of faith and self- examination, as we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
We believe the Universal Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, is not an organization but a spiritual organism comprised of all who have expressed saving faith in Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination. Rather, the Church is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve Him by faithfully doing His will on earth. We believe the church began at Pentecost and that a believer is placed into the church by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the local church is an assembly of professed believers in Jesus Christ who are voluntarily joined together in one locality for the purpose of worship, study of the Word of God, observance of the ordinances, Christian fellowship, and equipping for Christian service. We believe that the local church has the right under Christ to decide and govern its own affairs through the leadership of the Church Elders. We believe that it is God’s intention that all believers publicly identify with a visible local fellowship (Acts 2:1-4, 2:41-47, 4:19, 5:29; I Cor. 1:1, 2, 5:3-8, 10:32, 12:12-13; Eph. 1:22-23).
We believe that the terms “elder”, “bishop”, and “pastor” are synonymous in scripture and that the church is to be ruled by a plurality of elders, and that none of these elders is to be of higher “rank”, either in theory or in practice, than the other elders. Some elders may have a teaching gift and may appear more visible, but all authority is in Christ the head with the elders accepting the stewardship of shepherding the flock. Only the Lead Pastor (Elder) may receive financial pay (I Pet. 5:1-2; Acts 14;20; Phil. 1:1, I Tim. 5:17).
We believe in the personal, bodily, and visible return of Jesus Christ. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the translation of those alive in Jesus Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. We believe that Satan, with his hosts and all those outside Christ, will be separated from the loving presence of God, enduring eternal punishment, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with Him forever. The righteous will serving Him and giving Him unending praise and glory. Then shall the eager expectation of creation be fulfilled, and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God, Who makes all things new.