Here are some concise definitions of what we mean by the eight terms we use to describe our church in our membership covenant, all of which indicate something about what we do and do not believe.
Several of these distinctives are not what we would describe as our primary beliefs. Our primary belief is the Gospel! But these distinctives are still important, and we happily share them with all.
The beliefs described below as Christian, Evangelical, Discipleship-Focused, and Missional (numbers one through four) are required for membership at the Resurrection. The other beliefs are not required, but are the official positions of the teaching ministry and practice of our church.
Members who have any issure of variance with beliefs five through eight are therefore required to indicate, in simple written form, where their beliefs may differ when signing our covenant. They are also expected to handle such dissension with sensitivity, Christian unity, and biblical care.
We believe in the Trinitarian God of the Christian Bible, who is God the Father, Son and Spirit. He's a powerful, saving, wonderful God. He is not the god(s) of the other world religions (Islam, Buddhism, etc.), nor the cults (Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Oneness Pentacostals, etc.). While he is the God of Israel in the Old Testament, he does not fit with the understanding of God held by non-Christian Jews. Only the God who reveals himself as the God-man Jesus can save human beings.
We believe that Jesus alone paid 100% of the punishment we deserve for our sins. We can do absolutely nothing to earn heaven or forgiveness; these are free gifts of grace from God, earned for us by Christ. We also believe that one must be born-again. This new birth happens upon hearing and believing the Gospel, when God transforms each individual supernaturally, beginning the process of loving and obeying God rightly in this life in a way not possible from natural birth. We believe we have forgiveness for all sins from the moment of faith in Christ. These beliefs distinguish us from Roman Catholics, as well as those who do not believe in atonement or eternal punishment.
We believe that Jesus clearly taught throughout the Gospels (Mark 1:17, Luke 14:33) and in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) that every Christian is to be discipled, and to make disciples. Discipleship means training. We believe the Gospel is intended to produce tremendous life change as we Christians move towards personal maturity in all areas of life. This happens as we believers teach each other how to grow by faith in the power, love and purpose of God in Christ, in life-on-life relationships. We believe all should earnestly seek to be disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. We believe the goal of disciplesip is to teach others to learn to love to obey everything Jesus commands, throughout the Scriptures (Matthew 28:20a). We are bold about disciplehsip becuase Jesus is bold about disciplehsip (Luke 9:23). These beliefs distinguish us from A) those who believe Christianity is merely a series of recurring "watch-on-Sunday" events, B) those who believe discipleship is an unnecessary extra for only the super-committed, C) those who only offer Jesus's promises of forgiveness and help, but avoid sharing Jesus' commands for Christian life-change and repentance, D) those who believe only ordained clergy should train other Christians, and E) those who would limit discipleship to bible-trivia and head-knowledge, rather than comprehensive human maturity in Christ.
We believe that after we first trust the Gospel and receive forgiveness, God wants us all to begin reorienting our lives so that we become missionaries to those around us. We team together as the church to carry God's gospel message, love, and works to those around us in a way that tries to make God look as good as he really is. This requires wisdom, self-sacrifice, thoughtful planning, and a willingness to "be all things to all people, so that by all means [we] might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV). The church is genuinely accountable for how we do or do not take up the reigns of the mission of God in the place and among the people that God has placed us. This is our responsibility and our joy, because we want people to know God as we know him: saving and wonderful. These beliefs distinguish us from those who refuse to radically reorient their lives and Christian practice for the sake of reaching others.
We believe God is completely sovereign, which means he's always in control and that human beings (and angels and demons) never are. We believe God personally chose ("predestined") who would be saved before the foundation of the world, which is called "election" in the bible (Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 9:11). We believe God causes people to become capable of believing the Gospel, and that no human being is born with this ability. Our only hope is for God to graciously make us capable of believing the gospel, and then enable us to start learning to love to obey him. We do not believe God simply sees the future, and sees who will be wise or good enough to choose him (John 1:13; Titus 3:5). We believe God causes all things to occur, and chose how history would unfold, including the eternal destiny of individual persons, before the world began (Ephesians 1:9-10). These beliefs distinguish us from those who believe that human free will is the deciding factor in the working out of history and eternal destinies. We believe the bible teaches that our wills are slaves to sin (the opposite of free!), until God first makes us able to believe (Romans 6:17-18, 22). God gets all the glory for planning and causing the salvation of believers, start to finish (Romans 8:29-30).
We believe that at the moment a person believes the gospel, they permanently, eternally receive the Holy Spirit of God within them. We believe that all the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to believers after faith in Christ are supernatural. They are given to encourage and enable the church in human life and God's mission. We believe that all the gifts mentioned in the bible are still present in the church today, though no individual believer has all the gifts. Spiritual gifts are given according to God's gracious choice, not personal levels of spirituality. These beliefs distinguish us from two main groups. Some believe that certain spiritual gifts described in the bible, such as prophecy and tongues, are no longer present in the church. Others believe these gifts are present, but are given to believers according to increasing levels of spiritual maturity. We believe these are both unbiblical positions.
We believe that a person should be baptized only after personally believing the gospel, and telling others that they are now a Christian. Baptism is both a symbol of what God has done for us in the gospel (Romans 6:3-5), and a way to show God, ourselves, the world, and the church that we are now choosing to publicly identify with Christ. Ideally, a person should be baptized shortly after first believing, because baptism (with verbal confession) is the initial public sign of faith in and obedience to Christ. These beliefs distinguish us from those who baptize infant children. Infants are able to know Christ and be saved, but they are not able to confess their belief in the gospel. We find no support for infant baptism in the bible. Instead we see a consistent pattern of first hearing and believing the gospel, and then confession and repentance with baptism as an initial response of faith. Acts 2:37-39 describes this pattern: It does mention the promise of the gospel being for children too, of course (v. 39). Which children? Those who repent and are baptized into Christ (v. 38), which means they now believe the gospel (Acts 2:31-36).
We believe the bible teaches that there are some differences between men and women. There is obviously much in common between the two human genders, but there are also obvious differences (such as physical differences). We see the bible drawing no lines between men and women in terms of ability or worth. Humans are given diverse abilities across the genders, and all people have the same value. It takes both genders together to display the image of God (Genesis 1:27c). But we believe God has made a distinction between men and women in two key areas of human life: marriage and the leadership of the church. Husbands are called to lead their families, and wives to submit to that leadership. We believe both these roles (headship and submission) require us to learn to trust God deeply. We believe they are both very challenging. We also believe they are both clear in Scripture (Ephesians 5:22-33). There is a parallel in God's church, which takes the form of pastors being male (1 Timothy 1:8-12). The roles of headship and submission complement each other. These complementarian beliefs distinguish us from those who believe there are no functional differences between men and women in the church (egalitarians). They also distinguish us from those who believe men are superior to women (or vice versa), or that men alone are made in the image of God. We believe these alternative views are unbiblical. The differences between the genders are designed, beautiful, necessary, and complement each other. Both headship and submission display the gospel of Christ, and the relationship between Jesus and his bride: the church. Both roles have in them the very dignity of Jesus.