What is the Gospel?
Gospel means “Good News!” But, to have good news means there is bad news as well. The gospel is the beautiful good news of God’s grace that invades the utter darkness of this world. We were created in God’s image, to worship Him and reflect His image. However, sin entered into the world. Sin is anything that is rebellion and disobedience to God. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Because God’s standard is perfection and none of us come close to measuring up, we deserve death – both physically and spiritually (Romans 6:23). However, the wonderful good news is that from eternity past God ordained that Jesus would come to take our sins upon Himself, experiencing an agonizing death on the cross (Revelation 13:8). However, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. On the third day He was resurrected victoriously (Matthew 28:6).
Christ’s death is a substitutionary sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath on sin. It also demonstrates His love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only way for us to be made right with God (John 14:6). There is no other name by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). At the heart of all our beliefs is the understanding that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the only thing that redeems sinners dead in their sin. Everything we believe has the gospel message as the starting point.
These basic beliefs represent what Living Hope believes to be essential doctrinal beliefs:
God (The Father)
There is only one true God, and He is sovereign and is the supreme creator and ruler of the universe. He is omnipotent, omniscient, unchangeable, holy, righteous, and the only true God. He has always existed in three co-equal and distinct personalities—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—while maintaining His oneness. The Father is the representative spiritual head of the Godhead, equal to the Son and the Holy Spirit.
(Genesis 1:1, 26, 27; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24 and 10:30; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 1:8)
Jesus is the eternal Son of God, co-equal with the Father. Jesus was born of a virgin mother and lived a perfect, sinless human life. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of all people by literally dying on the cross. He arose bodily on the third day to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to heaven and will return again someday to earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
(John 1:1-2, 14; Acts 1:11; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 4:15)
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and Son. He is present in the world to point people to Jesus Christ. He is the believer's deposit from God, ensuring spiritual guidance, understanding, and gifts. Christians are to be controlled by His influence. He also convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement.
(John 14:16-17; Galatians 5:16-17; Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30; Hebrews 2:4)
The Bible is God's Word to mankind. It is written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the God-breathed, inspired truth without any mixture of error. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction and the supreme and final authority for faith and practice in the lives of believers and the Church.
(Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and 4:1-5; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
All mankind is created in the image or likeness of God to fellowship with Him and to rule over the earth as God's representatives. Yet, beginning with Adam, all mankind has fallen into sin, having rebelled against God, thus separating themselves from fellowship with God. Humans are spiritual and physical beings, the supreme object of creation, yet all humans are marred by a sinful nature. Thus, all humans sin and are separated from God by this attitude of selfishness and disobedience.
(Genesis 1:26-27 and 3:1-24; Romans 1:18-21, 3:21-23, 5:6-8, 6:23)
Salvation is God's free gift to all who will accept it. Only by trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on his/her behalf can a person be saved from sin's penalty. By repenting or turning from one's self-ruled life of sin and turning to Jesus in faith, one can be forgiven and become right with God again. The moment a person receives the gift of salvation, he or she receives eternal life. Since salvation is a free gift that is received, the true believer can never lose that salvation. Salvation is based on the promises of God rather than the self-effort of the Christian. Faith in Christ leads to works because salvation is a supernatural work of grace from beginning to end.
(John 3:16, 5:24, and 10:29; Romans 10:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-10)
The Church is the body of Christ on earth, of which Christ is the head. It consists of all true believers who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Locally, believers are united and gifted for mutual edification and worship and are equipped by the pastors and teachers to do the work of the ministry to the world.
(Ephesians 4:11-13; Hebrews 10:24-25)
Ordinances of the Church
All who have become Christians are directed to follow the two symbolic ordinances of the church. Water baptism by immersion is the obedient act of public testimony of a new believer's spiritual identification with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. It is a reminder that in Christ our sin nature has been crucified and that we have been resurrected to live as a new creation. The Lord's Supper is a memorial supper started by Jesus for the purpose of remembering His death on our behalf until He returns. It is to be observed by all believers as a time of thanksgiving, communion, and renewal for daily living.
(Matthew 28:19; Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20)
When God created people, He created them for eternity. Our final destination for eternity will depend on our relationship with God. Those who have received salvation will spend eternity in an actual place called Heaven. Those who choose to remain alienated from God by their sinfulness and their selfishness will live eternally in an actual place called Hell.
(John 3:16; Revelation 20:15)