Full Statement of Faith
The Elders of Hope Fellowship Church recognize that any doctrinal statement is but a fallible human attempt to summarize and systemize the riches of an infallible divine revelation. This in no way detracts from the importance of having such a statement. The affirmations below carefully specify our teaching positions with regard to the major Biblical doctrines, and thus provide a framework for curriculum and instruction at our church. They also provide an anchor to protect our body against theological drift.
Statement 1. The Holy Scriptures
We teach that the *66 books of the Holy Bible were written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it alone is the verbally inspired Word of God. It is without error in its original writings, with the result that it is wholly trustworthy and infallible in all that it affirms. It is complete in its revelation of God’s will for salvation, sufficient for all that he requires us to believe and do, and therefore is the basis of truth on which the church is unified, and the final standard by which all human behavior and beliefs should be tried. We teach the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days and that Adam and Eve were actual people. We teach that the entire Bible is to be taken as literally as possible except where obviously figurative.
We teach that, whereas there may be several applications of any given passage of Scripture, there is but one true interpretation. The meaning of Scripture is to be found as one diligently applies the literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is the responsibility of believers to ascertain carefully the true intent and meaning of Scripture, recognizing that proper application is binding on all generations. Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.
*The Roman Catholic Apocrypha is not inspired and is not part of the canon of Scripture.
Statement 2. The True God
We teach that there is but one living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, Creator of the universe in six literal days, perfect in all His attributes, inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love. God is one divine essence in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The members of the Trinity are eternally, fully, and simultaneously equal in their divine essence and perfection, while executing distinct and harmonious roles in the great work of redemption and are equally deserving of worship and obedience.
Statement 3. God the Father
We teach that God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, orders and directs all things according to His own purpose and grace. He is the Creator of all things. As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption. His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator, He is Father to all men, but He is spiritual Father only to believers. He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own; He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ; He adopts as His own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own.
We teach that from eternity, God has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass, and this he has done in himself, by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will. Through His providence, God either causes or permits all things that happen as He continually preserves, upholds, and provides for all his creation. He directs, guides, governs and reigns supreme over the whole of creation in order to fulfill all of his intended purposes. Yet in his providence He is in no way the author of sin nor does He approve of it. However, He allows it to further His own will and purpose in eternity. In His providence, God neither violates man’s ability to choose nor does He lessen the responsibility for choices made.
Statement 4. God the Son
We teach that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, possesses all the divine excellencies, and in these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father. Through Jesus, all things were created and continue to be upheld by His power.
We teach that Jesus Christ represents humanity and deity in indivisible oneness. In the incarnation Christ surrendered only the prerogatives of deity but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second Person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity, took on an existence appropriate to a servant and so became the God-Man while never divesting Himself of His divine attributes. We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born, that He was God incarnate, and that the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal God, redeem men, and rule over God’s kingdom.
We teach that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive. We teach that on the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God.
We teach that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He mediates as our Advocate and High Priest and sits as Ruler of the kings of the earth. We teach that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all.
We teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind.
Statement 5. God the Holy Spirit
We teach that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect, emotions, will, eternality, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, and truthfulness. In all the divine attributes He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son.
We teach that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to carry out the Father’s divine will with relation to all mankind. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation, the incarnation, the written revelation, and the work of salvation.
We teach that the work of the Holy Spirit in this age began at Pentecost, when He came from the Father as promised by Christ to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ, which is His church. The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ.
We teach that the Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign Agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption.
We teach that the Holy Spirit is the divine Teacher, who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God’s revelation, the Bible. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with or controlled by the Spirit. This is accomplished as we deny our flesh and live in obedience to God’s word.
Statement 6. Man and the Fall
We teach that man was directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God. We teach that God’s intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God’s fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this, accomplish God’s purpose for man in the world. At creation, in his state of holiness and sinless perfection, man was fully able to obey God, but by voluntary transgression fell from that perfect state.
We teach that in Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence, incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death, became subject to the wrath of God, and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man’s salvation is thereby wholly of God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We teach that because Adam represented the human race, a nature corrupted by Adam’s sin has been transmitted to all people of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. Humans are therefore sinners by nature and by choice. They are by nature utterly without the holiness required by the Scriptures and are continually inclined to evil. In short, humans have no desire or ability to fully obey God. As a result, they are under just condemnation to eternal death, without defense or excuse.
Statement 7. Salvation
We teach that the salvation of sinners is completely of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works. Christ, by the appointment of the Father, was born of a virgin, freely took on a human nature, yet without sin, honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and by his substitutionary death made a full atonement for the sins of his people. Having risen from the dead on the third day, he is now enthroned in heaven, interceding for his people, and is in every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Savior.
Statement 8. God's Sovereign Choice - Mercy and Election
We teach that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of sinners from every tribe, language and ethnic group on earth, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We teach election is the eternal purpose of God in which He graciously calls, regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and ultimately glorifies those He chose before the foundation (creation) of the world.
We teach that sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord. Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith, and all who come in faith the Father will receive.
We teach that the unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part or to God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy.
We teach that election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love. This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s sovereign choice displays His unfathomable mercy and grace while completely removing human’s ability to boast. On the contrary, the knowledge of how God elected us for no reason but his own, produces in us great humility, gratitude, love, and praise towards God.
Statement 9. God's Sovereign Choice - Justice and Reprobation
We teach that from all eternity, for reasons known only to Him, God determined to save some sinners, but not to save all. Being totally sovereign, God could have saved all, if He had so desired, but according to His own eternal will and purpose, He chose not to. God’s reason for doing so remains a mystery to us, but this reality is clearly portrayed in Scripture. The decision to save is called election, and the decision not to save is called preterition, which means to pass over, often referred to as reprobation.
Because all mankind is in sin and rebellion against God, God is under no obligation to save or elect anybody. However, in the doctrine of election, we see God taking an active role. When God does choose to save a sinner, He puts forth an action to save that person. God works to create belief in them. He powerfully acts to change a person from a sinner to a saint. In the doctrine of reprobation, however, God does not take an active role in the lives of sinners. He doesn’t put forth an effort to cause people to sin nor does He work to create unbelief in that person’s heart. The sin and unbelief are already there; God simply leaves them alone and lets the sinner go his own way and receive what he deserves, which is God’s justice.
Statement 10. Evangelism
We teach that the Gospel is to be presented to all people and it is the immediate duty of all to respond in repentance and faith. We teach that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the Gospel. We also teach that without the direct intervention of God through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever desire to be saved. We teach that before the foundation of the world, the Father elected those whom He would save and Jesus promised that those whom He elected would respond when the Gospel is presented. While we cannot identify the elect beforehand, we are commanded in Scripture to pray for, do good to, and preach the Gospel to everyone, inviting all to repent and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. We teach that the elect will be made known by their desire and willingness to truly embrace the Gospel. This reality motivates us and gives us great assurance as we pray for the lost and share the Gospel with all we can, knowing that God will draw those He has chosen through our prayers, testimonies, and sharing of the Gospel message.
Statement 11. Repentance and Faith
We teach that repentance and faith are inseparable graces, gifts from God, and are accomplished in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit through God’s word. Through reading or hearing God’s word, we are convinced that we have greatly offended a holy God through our willful and sinful thoughts, words and actions. Because God is just, we recognize that He must punish us for our crimes against Him and others. This knowledge not only brings about a deep conviction and guilt concerning our sins, but also a great fear of standing before a holy God in judgment. In addition, we feel a sense of helplessness to change the outcome of what our sins deserve because we know we are without excuse. It is this new and clear understanding of God’s perfect nature and our own depravity that leads us to seek God’s mercy, repent of our sins and express faith in the good news of the Gospel; that Jesus paid the penalty God demanded for all those who would place their trust in Him.
Statement 12. Justification
We teach that justification is God’s declaration of the sinner to be righteous on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Christ secures this incredible blessing to all those who believe in him. This justification includes the pardon of sin, the removal of guilt, and the promise of eternal life on the basis of the righteous life Jesus lived on our behalf. This gift is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness that we have done or pledges we make, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood. Because of this faith, Christ’s perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us by God and brings us into a state of peace and favor with God, and secures for us every spiritual blessing.
Statement 13. Sanctification
We teach that progressive sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made holy and more like Jesus. While all believers are set apart unto God in Christ, in an irreversible union at the moment of saving faith, the work of progressive sanctification is a necessary outcome from this positional sanctification. Progressive sanctification is begun in regeneration and carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit - the Sealer and Comforter. It is accomplished by the continual use of the appointed means—especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.
Statement 14. Security of the Believer
We teach that if a true believer could lose their salvation, they would, but they can’t because their salvation isn’t based upon their own faithfulness, but upon God’s. This doesn’t mean a person can be saved apart from faith, but simply that our salvation is a monergistic work of God in which He does all the work in saving us and we simply respond through repentance and faith. Yet even our faith is a gift from God which we do not possess prior to regeneration. So not only does God provide us faith necessary to be saved, He grants us the faith necessary to remain saved. This truth doesn’t remove our responsibility to put our old sinful nature to death and live in obedience to God’s word, however our obedience isn’t the root of our salvation, but simply the fruit of it. It’s the proof we truly are saved.
We teach that while we are responsible to work with the Holy Spirit in our sanctification, the status of our salvation is solely in God’s hands. He saves us and keeps us by His own power - not ours. Thus, we teach that truly regenerate believers are secure in Christ forever. They endure to the end because the Sovereign Lord ensures their perseverance. We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian freedom as an occasion for sinful living and carnality.
We teach that faith and obedience to God’s word in the pursuit of holiness is a mark of a true believer. We teach that, according to Scripture, a true son or daughter of God cannot continue in a lifestyle of sin as if never converted, because God’s seed or new nature is in them. This doesn’t mean a true believer will never sin or even fall into a temporary pattern of sin. However, the believer won’t continue in a pattern of sin indefinitely because the Holy Spirit, who lives within them, will bring about conviction, godly sorrow and will bring them back to repentance through loving discipline.
Statement 15. Separation
We teach that separation from sin is clearly called for throughout the Old and New Testaments. We teach that out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us, and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, all true believers should live in such a manner as to demonstrate our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. We also teach that separation from all religious apostasy and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God. We teach that believers should be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ and affirm that the Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness that reflects the teaching of the Beatitudes and a continual pursuit of holiness.
Statement 16. The Church
We teach that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual Body, the church, the bride of Christ, of which Christ is the Head.
We teach that the establishment and continuity of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures and that the members of the one worldwide spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies. We teach that the one supreme authority for the church is Christ and that church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as found in the Scriptures. The biblically designated officers serving under Christ and over the assembly are Elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor/teachers) and Deacons. All men who serve in either position must meet biblical qualifications. We teach that these leaders govern as servants of Christ and have His authority in directing the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership.
We teach the importance of discipleship, mutual accountability of all believers to each other, as well as the need for discipline of sinning members of the congregation in accord with the standards of Scripture. We teach the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organization. We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its Elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The Elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well.
We teach that the purpose of the church is to glorify God by building itself up in the faith, by instruction of the Word, by fellowship, by keeping the ordinances and by advancing and communicating the gospel to the entire world. We teach the calling of all saints to the work of service. We teach the need of the church to cooperate with God as He accomplishes His purpose in the world. To that end, He gives the church spiritual gifts. He gives men chosen for the purpose of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, and He also gives unique and special spiritual abilities to each member of the Body of Christ.
Statement 17. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
We teach that two ordinances have been committed to the local church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Christian baptism by immersion, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life. It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible Body of Christ.
We teach that the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration and proclamation of His death until He comes, and should be always preceded by solemn self-examination. We also teach that, whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, participation in the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ, who indwells every believer, and so is present, fellowshipping with His people.
Statement 18. Civil Government
We teach that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society. Government officials are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the ruler of the conscience, and the ultimate Lord of the rulers of the earth. We teach that Christians have privileges and responsibilities toward their government as citizens and may freely use them, including the right to vote, to petition, and to engage in free speech, lobbying, and lawful assembly, as well as addressing prevailing social issues on which God's Word has provided commands or principles, such as gender equality, medical ethics, homosexuality, and abortion.
Statement 19. Marriage, Morality & Gender Roles
We teach that marriage is a God-ordained and God-regulated covenant relationship between one naturally born man and one naturally born woman for life. We teach that God has prohibited all forms of sexual activity outside of that marriage covenant. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and His church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church; the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord.
*Please also see our Statement on Biblical Sexuality.
Statement 20. The Return of Christ and the Age to Come
We teach that Jesus will return in bodily form at the second coming to judge the world. In the eternal state, those who have repented and trusted in Christ will be raised with perfect and sinless glorified bodies and will dwell with Christ for eternity on the new earth. The unregenerate will likewise be raised to face punishment for their sins by being cast into the lake of fire along with the devil and the fallen angels where they will experience the second or final death. This reality motivates us toward godly living and propels us to share the Gospel with those who have yet to repent and trust in Christ.
Hope Fellowship Church may, from time to time, modify or clarify these documents as necessary by an unanimous vote of the Elders.