Doctrinal Distinctives

The Glorification and Exaltation of God

We have been created and redeemed by God for His own glory (Isaiah 43:7, First Corinthians 6:20). Our chief desire is to know, love, and obey Him, thus promoting His glory in every circumstance, everywhere, among all peoples (Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20). We desire to be intensely God-focused, even to the extent of pleasing God rather than people when the choice arises (First Thessalonians 2:4).

The Trinity and Christ-Centeredness

The one, true God has never been nor ever will be less or more than triune (Second Corinthians 13:14). The God-given illustration of this truth for this age is the water baptism of disciples of Jesus — one baptism consisting of three coequal actions (Matthew 28:19). It is the Second Person, The Lord Jesus Christ, Who is represented by the second — the central — baptismal action. It is Christ who brings us to the Father (First Peter 3:18), and it is the role of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ (John 16:13). Christ is central. As His church we long to know Him, love Him, obey Him, praise Him, and serve Him. We worship Him as the honored center of the Scriptures and every portion of our lives, that “in all things He must have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

Expository Bible Preaching

The preacher is to preach the Word with both exegetical accuracy and spiritual power (Second Timothy 4:1-2, First Thessalonians 1:5). The pulpit ministry is central in the church’s worship, knowledge, holiness, love, devotion, and mission. Therefore, it is indispensable and must not be diminished or replaced.

Sound Doctrine

Flowing both to and from Expository Bible Preaching is Sound Doctrine. Sound Doctrine consists not only of accurate, cognitive biblical facts, but also the understanding of those facts which brings life-application, spiritual integrity, and obedience. In a time when many people do not accept or tolerate sound doctrine (Second Timothy 4:3-4), the elders of the church yet are responsible to guard the flock from compromising and dangerous influences (Acts 20:28-32). The Statement of Faith of the Charis Fellowship of Churches is the tool (not creed) we use to explain some of the vital doctrinal parameters.

Non-Creedal/Thoroughly Biblical

We accept “The Bible, The Whole Bible, and Nothing But the Bible” as our authority. We do not accept the authority of creeds or other man-made formulations. In our worship, we do not recite creeds, nor sing them, nor read them. We do stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:5). It is our desire to be thoroughly biblical in the totality of our lives. Our purpose, methods, and goals must be from sound, biblical teaching. We reject the concept that biblical goals can be achieved by man-centered, man-empowered methods.

Creation and Flood

We affirm that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are actual, true history, and are to be believed and taught as such (as should all of Genesis and all historical portions of the Bible). The days of Creation Week are actual, real, 24-hour days revealed in Genesis as comprising a genuine historical time-block with no intervening gaps in the text or in history. Adam and Eve were real humans, the first two ever, not merely literary symbols of human existence nor vestiges of some pre-Adamic race of beings. The record of the Fall of Man and the events leading to the global catastrophic Flood are real, and the worldwide Flood is factually true history. This understanding is essential to a Biblical Worldview which accurately includes the establishment and outworking of the nation of Israel from the beginning through to the prophesied culmination of all things in the destruction of the present heavens and earth, and the establishment of the New Heaven and New Earth. Without this understanding of Genesis there is no possibility of interpreting the rest of the Bible in a way that sees its statements as true and accurate, including anyone’s personal salvation.

Biblical Corporate Worship

The direction of corporate worship is vertical, an engaging of God and the congregation. Worship involves ascribing honor, majesty and praise to Christ (Revelation 5:12-14) and learning from Him (Luke 10:38-42). The most significant feature, then, of corporate worship is the public reading of and expository preaching of the Word of God. All other features of corporate worship – the offering, announcements, music, drama, audio and visual, prayers, etc. – must seek to fulfill this vertical direction. The music department strives to lead the church family to glorify God and to edify one another through singing and musical instruments, ministering with spiritual passion and doctrinal integrity, while seeing God-honoring standards of musical excellence. Music is to reinforce sound Bible doctrine through song, and to express congregational praise and adoration to Christ Who is our Audience.

Biblical Evangelism

While we fully believe that salvation is the work of God in His sovereign grace (Psalm 3:8, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 9:15-16), we are also obediently committed to preach the Gospel to everyone, imploring people to believe and be reconciled to God (Mark 16:15, Second Corinthians 5:20). Such, too, is the sovereign work of God. And, while we believe that God calls some to the office of Evangelist, He does so to equip every believer to evangelize the lost (Ephesians 4:11-12). We understand that regeneration and saving faith cannot be produced by manipulation, coercion, or programming; rather they are the result of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8, Titus 3:5). We believe the Holy Spirit does His supernatural work of regeneration through the preaching of the Gospel according to the Scriptures, not apart from it (Romans 1:16, First Corinthians 15:1-5, First Peter 1:23).

The Lostness of the Lost

“Total depravity” or “total inability” are doctrinal phrases which describe the lostness of all people who are not yet regenerated in Christ. This is not to suggest that, relatively speaking, all people are “as bad as they can be”, but rather that all people are “as bad off as they can be.” There is “none righteous” (Romans 3:9), “none who understands”, “none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:10), and none who has any ability to please God (Romans 8:8). Without spiritual birth from above, man “cannot” – has no ability to – “see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Regeneration and Justification by Faith Alone

Regeneration is completely the sovereign work of God, and in no way is caused by or assisted by any work or decision of man (John 1:12-13, John 3:8, Titus 3:5). The gift of God in this new birth is a new heart (core identity) which truly desires to please God (Romans 2:29, 7:22). The first, necessary, and evidential act of the new birth is the exercise of the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8, John 3:16), which is to the new birth what breathing, eating, and drinking are (John 6:53-54). Saving faith/trust involves the elements of knowledge (notitia – mental element/understanding – the perception of truth and its qualities), assent (assensus – emotional element/inclination – the persuasion of truth as the object of Faith), and confidence (fiducia – volitional element/will – personal reliance on the Person of Christ). To have the mental or emotional elements only does not constitute saving faith, for even demons believe in that sense (James 2:19). By the exercise of faith alone, the believer receives justification (Romans 3:28, 4:5), forgiveness of all sin (Colossians 2:13-14), right-standing with God (Romans 5:1-2), all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and new identity as a believer in Christ (Second Corinthians 5:16-17).

Eternal Security and Assurance

Those who are truly regenerate are so forever. The Bible clearly teaches the eternal security of the true believer (John 10:28-30). True believers have the privilege of full assurance of their salvation (First John 5:13). The gracious work of God in salvation continues forever (Philippians 1:6) and is evidenced in the life of the believer by the bearing of spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:16-20). There are, however, fakers/false professors of faith. Such do not have eternal security and are not entitled to true assurance of salvation, for they were never actually regenerated (Matthew 7:21-23). So, we believe in the eternal security of the believer, and the eternal insecurity of the make-believer.

World Mission Church Principles

We are guided by a set of biblical mission principles which flow out of the Great Commission, which is the biblical purpose statement for the Body of Christ. “Missions is not what the church does for the missionary – missions is what the church does through the missionary.” The entire local church family should be personally and strategically mobilized for involvement in world missions through praying, giving, and going, for the glory of God among all peoples. The goal of our mission ministry is the planting of churches like-minded with us in faith and practice, as reflected in our Statement of Faith and this Biblical Values document.

Church Discipline

Matthew 18 was the most quoted chapter of the Bible among the old Brethren. It is not the only biblical passage or approach to church discipline, but it is historically the most well-known. We acknowledge the necessity of carrying out appropriate disciplinary processes for the spiritual health, holiness, and preservation of the local body (Matthew 18:15-22, First Corinthians 5:3-13, Romans 16:17-18). This must be done with grace, love, and sensitivity (Ephesians 4:15), with the goal of forgiveness and restoration (Galatians 6:1).

Church Purity and Separation

We acknowledge the duty of the true church to separate herself from worldliness, apostasy, and error (Romans 16:17-18, Second Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1, First John 2:15-17). This includes separation from all manner of sin, including that which is “religious”, “ecclesiastical”, or “philosophical” – for example, non-Christian religions (like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), “Christian” cults (like Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Science, liberal Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, etc.), neo-pagan philosophies (like the New Age movement, “emergent church” theologies, theistic evolution, the Masonic Lodge), and so on. This separation is not isolation, but the recognition that such people are to be evangelized, not counted as co-workers in a cause with which we cooperate. In love and compassion we bring the Gospel to them.

Elder Oversight

The church has a body of elders/pastors who teach and shepherd the flock. In accordance with Hebrews 13:17, they keep watch over the congregation as men who must give an account to God. According to the same text, the congregation is to obey them and submit to their authority so that their work will be a joy and not a burden. The elders must meet the qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7, which includes male-only eldership., They exercise authority over the church only to the degree that they teach and lead according to the Scriptures, and do so with grace and humility (First Peter 5:1-5).

Deacon/Steward Servant Leadership

According to Jesus the life of every believer should be marked by service (Mark 9:35). There are specific servant-leaders marked out by the New Testament to be leaders among servants. These are deacons/deaconesses and stewards/stewardesses. These must have lives consistent with the listed biblical qualifications (First Timothy 3:8-13, First Corinthians 4:1-2). Their tasks include the carrying out of ministries and projects (Acts 6:1-7) of many kinds, and often have the primary responsibility of meeting the physical, financial, and material needs of the congregation, both individually and corporately. When these lead and serve well, they obtain great honor in Christ (First Timothy 3:13).

The Local Church

We believe that meaningful and enduring fellowship in a local congregation is absolutely essential to the Christian’s life and ministry. Media “ministries” can never take the place of the local church. We are committed not only to congregate, but to do so for the purpose of encouraging one another and stimulating one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25). A church is an autonomous local congregation of true believers under the headship of Jesus Christ. Church government is from the congregation itself, raising up elders, deacons, and stewards. While local churches help each other and cooperate in an interdependent manner (Romans 16:16), no church or outside entity has authority over any other church.

Discipleship and Family

The purpose of the people of New Beginnings is . . . to discover and develop people who will become biblically obedient, passionate followers of Jesus Christ in devoted relationship with us. We offer systematic, biblical programs and tools of discipleship for people of all ages. We affirm that parents are primarily responsible for the discipleship and discipline of their children (Ephesians 6:1-4). The church should not usurp the authority of godly parents, nor assume the responsibilities of parents who are lax in their duties. The church should give itself to teaching the biblical principles of parenthood and to holding parents accountable to carry them out in the context of families. While we have an active program for children and youth, it should be viewed as an extension of the parents’ roles, and it is never to replace them.

Sanctity of Human Life

We affirm that the marriage relationship of one man and one woman for life is the design and plan of God (Genesis 2:23-25). Sex within marriage is holy (Hebrews 13:4). All sexual activity outside of a biblically defined marriage is sin (fornication, adultery, “living together”, homosexuality, pornography, lust, incest, and so on). We also affirm that believers are not to be unequally yoked in binding relationships with non-believers (Second Corinthians 6:14), and that this includes marriage as well as other kinds of binding relationships. We further affirm that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:14-16), which was never part of God’s recommended plan in Creation (Matthew 19:8). And, of course, we affirm the power of the Gospel to justify and sanctify true believers, no matter what their wicked past may have been.

Israel and the Future

We affirm that God’s covenants with Abraham (Genesis 12;1-3, 15:18-21, 17:1-7) and David (Second Samuel 7:12-17) are unconditional and will be fulfilled as promised through Jesus the Messiah at His Second Coming and the establishment of His Kingdom. This includes the land promises as well as Messiah as the Son of David ruling on David’s throne on earth in the Kingdom. God has a future program for Israel, and she will be “grafted in” again to God’s covenantal promises (Romans 11:23-29). This perspective includes the actual future fulfillment of sections of Scripture like Ezekiel 36-48. The Body of Christ has the scriptural, ethical responsibility to support Israel and seek her peace and salvation. We repudiate the errors of “replacement theology” (Israel being “replaced” permanently from her promised blessings, and “Kingdom-now” theologies which deny the future fulfillment of Kingdom promises and attempt to separate them from Israel and compress them into the present age (over-realized eschatology).

The Blessed Hope

We highly prize the truths of the Pre-Seventieth-Week-of-Daniel Rapture of the Church (First Thessalonians 4:15-5:11, Daniel 9:27) and the Pre-Millenial Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 19:11 – 20:6). Such is the position that keeps the believer focused on our Lord’s appearing (Titus 2:13 and Second Timothy 4:8).