what we believe
STATEMENT OF FAITH
CONCORD INTERNATIONAL CHURCH
We believe that in the Bible, God revealed that He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although He is God in three distinctive persons, the Trinity is not separated in its divine essence, divine nature, and divine being. Although God’s nature is unchanging, God has revealed that the methods He uses and the means in which He relates to creation may change.
God the Father
We believe that God is the Living God who created the universe and everything in it. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfect, although in His wisdom, He chooses not to use the full extent of his power as revealed in the Trinity. God is holy and worthy of worship and obedience. God is also loving and has provided a way for humankind to be restored in a relationship with Him. We believe that God, as Father, adopts those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, but that, in His love, He desires to be the Father of all people.
God the Son
We believe that Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, is fully divine while being fully human as the incarnation of God on Earth. In addition, the truth of the Bible has salvation in Jesus Christ as its conclusion and the entirety of the Bible points to the truth about who Christ is – Christ is the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.
Jesus invites people to come and see who God is and prompts people to respond to who He is as Lord and King. The motivation for this invitation (and Christ’s death and resurrection) was the reconciliation of humans to God because of God’s great love for humanity. To achieve this mission, Jesus Christ emptied himself (kenosis, as described in Philippians 2:6-11) of divine characteristics in order to live among humanity. In Him was found no sin and it was through His death on the cross that forgiveness for sins and reconciliation with God is made possible. After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven and took His place at the right hand of the Father to be our only Mediator.
In teaching about the Kingdom of God, Jesus reveals who God is (including the implications for our relationship with Him), teaches our responsibilities as citizens of that Kingdom in the present, and promises a coming Kingdom in which God will reign victorious.
God the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the divine Spirit of God. It is the Holy Spirit that seals one’s salvation, empowers those who would preach the gospel message, convicts the hearts of humans, draws people to repentance, indwells the life of believers, renews the hearts and minds of believers, empowers believers to live righteously, and even participates in the resurrection by raising believers in their new bodies.
Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15; 20; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; Psalm 19; Isaiah 7:14; Jeremiah 10:10; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:16; 6; 28:19; John 1:1-18; 10:30; 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; 2; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 8:6; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 9:8-14 and many more passages in Scripture.
We believe that the Bible is God’s self-revelation in written form and is a record of God’s historical discourse with divinely inspired people who wrote it down. As such, the Bible, with God as its author, is absolutely true and trustworthy and stands alone as the standard for matters of faith, conduct, and Christian instruction. The truth of the Bible has salvation in Jesus Christ as its conclusion and the entirety of the Bible points to the truth about who Christ is – Christ is the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation. In that sense, the Bible alone contains God’s plan for salvation, its fulfilment in Christ, and the mandate of the church in proclaiming this gospel of salvation.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
We believe that God created humans in His own image, but also gave them the freedom to worship in obedience to Him and experience His fellowship. The phrase “image of God” means that all humans have been created with some attributes of God but not necessarily all attributes that make God what he is. In that sense, we believe that humans have godlike characteristics but not a godlike nature. For example, some of the godlike attributes that all of us have include emotions, creativity, reason, intelligence, volition, a desire and ability to commune with other beings and engage in fellowship, and freedom. Though not an exhaustive list, those godlike attributes do not include omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. This means that humans are human in nature while God has a divine nature.
We believe that humans were originally innocent of sin but freely chose to sin against God and, with the introduction of sin, all of creation was cursed and the intimate fellowship between humans and God was destroyed. As a consequence of sin, humans were condemned to death, a condition that could only be reversed by the restoring power of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This condition of sin corrupted the image of God in humans. However, as James 3 demonstrates, the image of God in humans was not completely lost or eradicated. This “corrupted” image of God retains the attributes of God, such as creativity and intelligence, but does not necessarily work for the glory of God. For example, human history is rife with examples of how humans have creatively oppressed their fellow humans for their own gain. Thankfully, it is through the power of Jesus Christ that this image of God can be restored to reflect God, rather than the sinfulness that the corrupted attributes of God lead to. In addition, the image of God in humans imply that all human beings are worthy of respect and must be treated as persons, not objects.
Genesis 1:26-30; 2: 7; 3; 9:6; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.
We believe that sin is essentially that of “missing the mark.” The mark, in this case, is God’s holiness and perfection and is something that all humans miss. Thus, debates on right and wrong and one’s degree of wrongness and sinfulness are secondary to the truth that all people have missed the mark. In that sense, one cannot claim moral superiority over another because everybody needs the grace of God.
We believe that salvation in Jesus Christ is God’s way to reconcile humankind to Him. Because sin is a universal problem that separates humans from God, salvation in Jesus is God’s solution to that problem and is the way for humans to have an affirming, transformational relationship with God. This also means that salvation involves being saved from sin, death, the power of Satan, hell, and our own sinful nature.
Genesis 3; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 7:14-25; 8:14-18; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.
We believe that God’s plan of salvation is the entire process in which God works to save humanity from the bondage of sin in order to restore the relationship between God and humanity that was lost when Adam and Eve first sinned (Genesis 3). This plan of salvation culminated in the person of Jesus Christ who, as the incarnation of God and lived a life without sin, died on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for sin (Romans 3:25). The resurrection of Jesus proves that he had power over death (Romans 6:9) and confirms that our faith in Him is secure (I Corinthians 15:17). In order to receive this salvation, the Bible is consistent in the assertion that one must receive Jesus Christ and believe in faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he has the power to justify one from sin (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 16:31). We believe that God chose to use Jesus Christ as the particular means through which all people can be saved, provided that one chooses to avail of this salvation.
We base our assurance of salvation on the promises of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, either as attributed to Him (ex. John 10:28-29, John 3:16) or as explained by other authors (ex. Romans 10:9, I John 5:11-13). In the above examples, Jesus Himself promised that He will give eternal life to those who believe in Him and both the apostle Paul and John explain how those “who believe in the name of the Son of God” may know how they have eternal life. As Christians who confess Christ as Savior and Lord, we are assured by God through the scriptures that we have been justified in Christ and the Holy Spirit confirms this assurance through His work in our lives and the process of sanctification that leads us to greater obedience to God and maturity in Christ. A key part of this process of salvation is repentance from unbelief in Jesus Christ and such repentance results in turning away from sin and entering into obedience to God.
We believe in the notion of salvation having three tenses. In the past, we were justified in Christ and have been redeemed from sin by the price paid on the cross. As a result of this justification, there is a regeneration of the sinful nature into a new nature that is from God. In the present, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us through a process of transformation that leads to becoming more Christ-like. In a sense, it is a daily “working out of our own salvation” by living out the new nature we received from God. In the future, we will be glorified in Jesus when we enter his kingdom in heaven at the time of the resurrection. Ultimately, salvation is a work of God and that it is through God’s grace and mercy alone that one can come to salvation.
Genesis 3:15; Matthew 1:21; 27:22-28:6; Luke 2:28-32; John 1:11-14; 3:3-21; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18; 10:9-10,13; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8; James 2:14-26; 1 John 1:6-2:11.
Ethics, Morality, and Christian Freedom
There are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that address the ethical obligations of God’s people to live a righteous life that glorifies God. To understand ethics, morality, and Christian freedom, Galatians 3 and 5 are a good summation of what we believe because Paul examines these issues through the lens of the Gospels. In Galatians 5:14, Paul calls back to an episode in Matthew 22:34-40 about Jesus being asked about the greatest commandment. Jesus responds with loving God and loving others being the foundation for the law and the prophets. This is an important argument for Paul because he did not believe that following Jesus was dependent on following the whole law (Gal. 5:2-3). Paul argues that the nature of Christian freedom is not about indulging the flesh, but about embracing the basic principle of the law, which is to love others (Galatians 5:14). Therefore, salvation in Christ is dependent, not on how one follows and obeys the law, but on faith in Christ (Galatians 3:10-14). In addition, these passages make it clear that being a Christian is not about doing whatever one wants because God forgives all sin. As a result of one’s repentance, we believe that Christians must turn away from sin. In fact, true Christian freedom is about living in the Holy Spirit and bearing fruit that displays that transformation.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) also teaches that Christian freedom is not simply about doing whatever one wants. A close reading of the Great Commission leads to the conclusion that Christians have certain responsibilities that concern ethics and behavior. A key aspect in the command to “go and make disciples” is that of discipleship or becoming like Christ. Every Christian must take on the responsibility to proclaim the gospel, bring people to fellowship with Christ, and cultivate faith and growth in Christ. Therefore, a significant aspect of the Great Commission is that of “teaching to obey.” Jesus clearly intends Christian teaching to lead to Christians learning to obey God. This means that it is imperative for those who are teaching to include everything that Jesus taught. This also means that those who are being discipled should expect to learn what Christ taught for spiritual growth and be able to pass that on when they disciple others. The process of discipleship involves going (understood as “as you go”), baptizing, and teaching. Understanding “go” as “as you go” also adds the dimension of living one’s life as a natural extension of the gospel message wherever one currently is. Thus, “going” does not actually emphasize “relocation.” Rather, it calls one to be a disciple maker where one is. One of the key ideals of the Great Commission is that those who come into a relationship with Christ become obedient to Him, a concept that refutes the idea that Christians are free to act as they please.
In summary, while Christians are no longer under the letter of the laws of Moses, being a Christian is about living a transformed life in Christ and about bearing evidence of that transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28: 18-20, Romans 6:1-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 3; 5; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; Hebrews 2:1-3; James 2:14-26; 1 John 1:6-2:11.
We believe that the family of God is anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Each of these individual believers forms the Body of Christ, which is the Church. We also believe that each member of the church is a part of the priesthood of believers. Each individual believer has a direct relationship with God and is equal with everybody in the church. This means that each individual believer has the same authority to engage in ministry and participate in the work of God in their lives. This also means that each individual believer has a basic independence from organizations and other bodies apart from God and is free to carry out God’s will and calling in their lives.
A prevailing theme in scripture is that God’s people are meant to worship Him together. When Hebrews 10 describes the priestly duties of Christ and His role as the ultimate sacrifice of sins, the picture of worshipping and entering the sanctuary together is emphasized until it climaxes in the instruction to ensure that believers should never stop meeting together in worship (Hebrews 10:24). The fact that this passage mentions that Christians should encourage one another also speaks to the idea that corporate worship allows one to participate in the Body of Christ in meaningful ways that nurture the spiritual wellbeing of the individual as well as the whole Body.
We also believe that the church reflects the work of the Holy Spirit and it is through the Holy Spirit that the church is equipped and empowered to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. The church is tasked with proclamation of the Gospel, educating God’s people, equipping the saints for good works, worshipping together, promoting social justice, and more. The church, as the Body of Christ, is meant to reflect God’s character and advance His work in bringing humanity in fellowship with Him.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 4:11-16; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 10; 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
The Great Commission and Missiology
The Great Commission (or Central Commission) is an important passage in the development of the mission of God through the church. Although the missional thrust to make disciples of all nations seems like an obvious conclusion on the surface, the Central Commission itself is more nuanced and comprehensive than the common view of world evangelization as proclaiming the gospel to people in foreign lands. There are several key aspects of Matthew 28:16-20 that are important to understanding the Central Commission.
The first is the identity of Jesus Christ. The identity of Jesus is particularly important, especially because it reframes the Central Commission in terms of one’s relationship with Jesus. If Jesus is one’s Lord and King, then obedience is to be expected. If Jesus is also Emmanuel (God with us), then His promise to remain with His disciples to the end is not an empty promise and can be counted on.
A second key aspect is the command to go and make disciples. As stated above, the idea of discipleship as a process is a very important one. The hard task of ensuring that those who claim to receive the Lord will continue to grow and mature spiritually is a part of the Central Commission that cannot be ignored. It is significant that Jesus Christ commands his disciples to teach others to obey “everything I have commanded you” in the Central Commission itself. Viewed in this light, one of the primary goals of the Central Commission is that those who come into a relationship with Christ are transformed so that they can be obedient to Him.
Finally, the last key component of the Central Commission is disciples were to be made “of all nations.” One of the beauties of the narrative structure of Matthew’s gospel is that, in Matthew 1, Jesus was called Emmanuel (God with us) and in Matthew 2, gentile magi worshipped Jesus. These opening passages foreshadow the Central Commission with a picture of the nations worshipping the God who is present with people, a truth and reality that was apparent in the beginning of Matthew and is repeated as the final command that Jesus gave.
While the obvious implication for evangelization is that there is a need to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of everyone, everywhere, one of the results of this inclusivity is that making disciples among one’s people is also a valid interpretation of missions. Thus, in global missions and in daily Christian life, the Central Commission should be viewed as an essential and natural extension of a life that is obedient to the God who is with us Christians, empowering us to fulfill this mandate.
Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 8:34; 10:43-45; Luke 14:25-33; John 17:18; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2:32-39; 2:40,47; 20:27; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 15:3,4; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Galatians 6:14,17; Ephesians 1:9,10; 3:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:19-21; Philippians 1:27.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We recognize that salvation and the forgiveness of God cannot be attained or earned through anything that humans can do. Because justification was the work of God alone, one would have to live by faith to receive credit for being justified (Rom. 1:16-17). A key feature of justification by faith could also be found in Ephesians 2:8-9, which declares that “by grace” one is saved “through faith.” This salvation is a “gift from God” and is not earned by works.
Therefore, we view baptism and the Lord’s Supper as symbols of God’s grace. As symbols, their significance lies in the fact that they remind us of the work of Christ on the cross. Baptism is a symbol of dying to sin and being reborn in Christ. The Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, reaffirms our communal identity as people who belong to Christ, reminds us of the work of Christ on the cross, and is a proclamation of who Christ is until He returns. As Christians, we practice these symbols in obedience to Christ’s commands to baptize and to observe the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him.
Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.
We believe that families are instituted by God as the first human institution. Families, whether by marriage, blood, or adoption, are built on love and faithfulness as modeled by God in His relationship with His people. Everyone in the family is of equal worth before God because they are made in His image and are the recipients of His love.
We believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant of unity made before God and is between a man and a woman, a pattern established in Genesis 2:24 and reinforced by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6. It is in marriage that biblical sexual intimacy is expressed and provides the means for reproduction.
Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.