WHAT WE BELIEVE:
STATEMENT OF FAITH
National Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
We of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, in harmony with our historic position, believing the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible to be our infallible rule of faith and of practice, and feeling our responsibility to make known the divine message of the Bible, present the following articles as a statement of those basic truths taught in the Bible which are common to our Christian faith and practice.
The Word of God, the sixty-six Books of the Old and New Testaments, verbally inspired in all parts, and therefore wholly without error as originally given of God. (2 Tim 3:16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Pet 1:21) For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
THE ONE TRUE GOD
Existing eternally as three persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
(Luke 3:22) and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Matt 28:19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (2 Cor 13:14) May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
His preexistence and deity; (John 1:1-3) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. Incarnation by virgin birth; (John 1:14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Matt. 1:18-23) Sinless life; (Heb 4:15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Substitutionary death; (II Cor 5:21) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Bodily resurrection; (Luke 24:36-43) Ascension into heaven and present ministry; (Heb 4:14-16) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Coming again; (Acts 1:11) “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
THE HOLY SPIRIT
His personality (John 16:7-15); His deity; (Acts 5:3-4) Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” And His work in each believer; baptism and indwellling at the moment of regeneration; (I Cor 12:13) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (Rom 8:9) You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. And filling; (Eph 5:18) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. To empower for Christian life and service; (Eph 3:16) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Acts 1:8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Gal 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
His direct creation in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” His subsequent fall into sin resulting in spiritual death; (Gen. 3:1-24) (Rom 5:12) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– And the necessity of the new birth for his salvation; (John 3:3-5) In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
A complete and eternal salvation by God’s grace alone, received as the gift of God through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work. (Eph 2:8-9) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Titus 3:5-7) 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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (I Peter 1:18-19) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
One true Church, the body and bride of Christ (Eph 1:22-23) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph 5:25-32), Composed of all true believers of the present age; (I Cor 12:12-13) The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. And the organization of its members in local churches for worship, for building of believers, and carrying out the Great Commission, each local church being autonomous but cooperating in fellowship and work; (Eph 4:11-16) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
A life of righteousness, good works, and separation unto God from the evil ways of the world (Rom 12:1-2) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Manifested by speaking the truth (James 5:12) Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. Maintaining the sanctity of the home (Eph 5:22-6:4) Settling differences between Christians in accordance with the Word (I Cor 6:1-8) Not engaging in carnal strife but showing a Christ-like attitude toward all men (Rom 12:17-21) Exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. And maintaining a life of prayer (Eph 6:18) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Phil 4:6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
The Christian should observe the ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, which are (1) Baptism of believers by triune immersion (Matt 28:19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, And (2) the THREEFOLD COMMUNION SERVICE, consisting of (a) the washing of the saints’ feet (John 13:1-17), (b) the Lord’s Supper (I Cor 11:20-22,) When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! (I Cor 11:33-34) So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions. (Jude 12) These men are blemishes at your love feasts, … and (c) the communion of the bread and the cup (I Cor 11:23-26) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
His existence and personality as the great adversary of God and His people (Rev 12:1-10), His judgment (John 12:31) Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. His final doom (Rev 20:10) And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
THE SECOND COMING
The personal, visible, and imminent return of Christ to remove His Church from the earth ( I Thess 4:16,17) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Before the tribulation ( I Thess 1:10) and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (Rev 3:10) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. And afterward to descend with the Church to establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth (Rev 19:11-20:6)
The conscious existence of the dead (Phil 1:21-23) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; (Luke 16:19-31) The resurrection of the body (John 5:28,29) “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. The judgment and reward of believers (Rom 14:10-12) You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. & (II Cor 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. The judgment and condemnation of unbelievers (Rev 20:11-15) The eternal life of the saved (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. And the eternal punishment of the lost (Matt 25:46) “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” & (Rev 20:15) If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
At Grace Church, we observe communion through three elements: Foot Washing, the Love Feast, and the Bread and the Cup. We believe that each of these elements captures a dimension of the gospel that is important to be remembered and celebrated.
WHAT IS COMMUNION?
The word communion means simply “sharing something in common”. Communion is a symbolic practice that we do to remember and celebrate key aspects of our faith. The meaning behind communion is deeper than merely the individual elements; it symbolizes Jesus’ love for us. Just as a groom demonstrates his love for his bride on their wedding day through symbolic acts, such as exchanging rings, the three elements of communion demonstrate Jesus saying, “I love you,” to His bride, the Church.
These elements remind us of:
- His daily cleansing in our lives (Foot Washing)
- The celebration awaiting us in heaven (the Love Feast)
- The price He paid for us through death on the cross so we could have eternal life (the Bread and the Cup).
Anyone who shares faith in Christ is welcome to attend. We also welcome anyone who would like to observe the symbolism without participating.
This cleansing act is something Jesus asks us to do, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He gave us an example. It was an example to be followed in practice, not merely known (John 13:12-17). Foot Washing is more than an outward cleansing—it is a time of introspection and self-examination. It’s a statement we make together, as we join in communion, that Jesus is the one who does the real cleansing on the inside. Even though we, as believers, have been forgiven for all our imperfections (sin in the past, present, and future), we must take hold of His cleansing power and forgiveness on a daily basis. He cleanses us continuously, as we fully embrace His forgiveness.
THE LOVE FEAST
At Grace, we also celebrate communion by eating together, which reminds us not only of our special bond to Christ, but also to each other. Scripture promises a special future occasion, the ultimate Love Feast, with Jesus himself as host. We are now, as believers, Jesus’ loved ones and future bride, and He will welcome us to His celebration in heaven:
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God” – Revelation 19:6-9
We practice the Love Feast because Jesus included it in the “communion service” He had with His disciples, known as the Last Supper (John 13), and because the early church perpetuated this tradition (1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Jude 12).
THE BREAD AND CUP
The third element of the communion service is the Bread and the Cup. It symbolizes Jesus’ broken body (Bread) and shed blood (Cup). These elements represent the grotesque death endured on the cross for us by God’s perfect Son, Jesus. But why did Jesus have to die?
God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us, but we cannot be in a relationship with God because God is perfect and we are not. His perfection and our imperfection cannot mix. God, knowing that there is no way for us to rescue ourselves, sent the only solution possible—His son, Jesus. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect (sinless) life, and died on the cross as an innocent person. In doing so, he paid the debt for all of our sins. When we become Christians a great exchange takes place: God considers the perfection of Jesus to be ours (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus’ death and resurrection also created a new way for mankind to relate to God. No more animal sacrifices. No more priests to intercede. Instead, direct communication with God was made possible because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He asks us to keep observing this symbol of love until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:25-26), so we will not forget the price that was paid.
The symbols of communion are joyful for believers, yet solemn and holy, as well. They are so serious that in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, we are warned to examine our own lives before participating in communion, making sure we are first prayerfully connecting with God and properly recognizing the meaning these symbols hold.
Here at Grace, we practice baptism by immersion in water. We define baptism by key passages in the Bible that we believe speak most clearly on the topic. So what is baptism?
IT MIGHT BE EASIEST TO START BY TALKING ABOUT WHAT BAPTISM ISN’T…
The Bible teaches that there is no work that a man or women can perform to be saved:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Romans 6:23 also teaches that eternal life is the free “gift of God.” Therefore, baptism isn’t necessary for salvation. There is nothing you can do to earn the free gift of salvation.
SO WHAT IS IT?
In simple terms, being baptized is like putting on a wedding ring—it’s a response to a loved one and an outward symbol of internal commitment and truth. In the Bible, especially during Jesus’ life and right after that time, the pattern of baptism as a response to salvation is demonstrated.
But why respond this way? What’s it all mean? Just as Christ was crucified and buried, we are immersed in water to symbolize the “burial” of our old ways. And again, just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we are raised out of the water, symbolizing our new life in Christ. The apostle Paul says it this way:
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4
On another level, baptism is an act of obedience. Read what Jesus says here to his disciples:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ ” Matthew 28:18-20
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO BE BAPTIZED?
There is only one requirement—a personal decision to believe and accept the salvation of God through Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41, 8:12). If you are interested in taking this step and would like more information, please let us know. We’re excited for you! You can read more about making this decision in the “Trusting Jesus” tab above, or just call 330.825.6291.
WHY AM I HERE?
Have you ever wondered about that? It’s not by accident. God put you on this earth, and he loves you! He wants you to know Him—to have a personal relationship with Him—the God of the universe! But we cannot be in a relationship with God, because God is perfect, and we are not. His perfection and our imperfection cannot mix. That might sound unfair, but think of it like this… If you have a 100% pure glass of water, and then add the tiniest drop of dye into it, doesn’t the whole thing change and become impure and imperfect? So, if that’s the case, how does anyone ever have a relationship with God?
The fact that we are imperfect means that we, in our own strength, cannot ever measure up to God’s perfect standard. No matter how good we try to be, we’re still not perfect. The Bible says we are all in the same boat, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that “we all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). The Bible calls our problem “sin”. As we look into this problem, we find that Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death”. God desires for everyone to live eternally with Him in heaven, but He is also a perfect judge. He cannot merely overlook this debt—it must be paid… So now what?
In order to know God, we each must get rid of our sin problem, but, in our own strength, no one can do this. No one can put themselves into good standing with God by being a “better” person. But there is good news! Romans 6:23 finishes like this, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God, knowing that there is no way for us to rescue ourselves, sent the only solution possible—His son Jesus. Jesus, came to earth, lived a perfect (sinless) life, and died on the cross as an innocent person. In doing so, he paid the debt of all of our sin. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus created forgiveness for us, so that when we ask him to “forgive our sin,” he does it. When that happens, God the Father, views us through the forgiveness of Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” So it is solely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead, that our sins can be forgiven. We simply need to accept this gift…
SO HOW DO WE DO THAT?
We must agree with God that we have sinned and that His way is better than our own. In other words, we turn around, and go God’s way. The Bible calls this turning “repentance” from sin. Now, I would encourage you to think this through carefully… “Going God’s way”, means that from this point forward, God is going to steer your life, instead of you. It’s kind of like getting married. When you exchange vows, you are promising your fiancé that you will no longer live life outside of your relationship with him or her. You agree to allow your spouse to influence literally every aspect of your life. This is the weight of the decision to follow “God’s way”. You’re committing to no longer live life outside of God. Instead, you will spend your life learning His purpose and plans for you and yielding to them. So, if you have considered all this, all that is left to do is accept the free gift that Jesus is offering. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” Romans 10:9. God says that if you believe in His Son, Jesus, you can live with Him forever in heaven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Are you ready to accept the gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now? Let’s review what this commitment involves:
- I agree with God that I am imperfect—that I have chosen my own way, not His, and I need Him to save me.
- I promise to live my life under the leadership of God.
- I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and that He paid the full debt for my sin, which I can never do for myself.
- I surrender control of my life to Jesus, so I can be motivated by Him in all that I do.
- I receive Jesus as my Savior, and I believe that God has done for me and in me what He promised.
If you agree in your heart with these statements and want to have Jesus take control of your life, spend a few minutes talking with God about this. You don’t have to say a special prayer or any “magic” words. Just talk to God from your heart to His. Below is a suggested prayer if you wish to use it: Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I cannot fix my life myself. But, I believe you died and rose from the grave to make me new and to have a relationship with you forever. Jesus, I accept your free gift of eternal life, and I want you to come into my life. Take control of my life, forgive my imperfections and save me.
LET US KNOW!
If you need someone to help you work this through, please let us know—we’d love to talk with you. If you have just begun a relationship with Jesus, we’d love to hear about it! We’re excited to answer any questions you may have and to help you grow spiritually. You can call us at 330.825.6291.