The Gospel is the good and true story that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and satan through his life, death, and resurrection. God’s kingdom was ruined by sin. We as human beings stood with our first parents and continued to sin like them, living in rebellion to God’s rule – people, society, and culture in bondage to sin. But God so loved the world that he gave his Son to redeem it. He would not abandon his creation but work powerfully to redeem all things in Christ. Personally, socially, and culturally, creation would be redeemed. God’s rule would once again come upon the earth. For a broken, hurting, addicted, suffering, and dying world, this is good news. The gospel has massive implications for the whole creation while also being deeply personal for needy people like you and me.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL TO SAVE
The gospel has profound implications for those who put their faith in Jesus. It is good news that through Jesus we have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification), are being saved from the present power of sin (sanctification), and will be saved from the presence of sin (glorification). The gospel is not only answering the question of “how do I get to heaven” but becomes the very foundation of everything we do. We find that the gospel meets our every need and reshapes the totality of our world. We don't move beyond it but are being transformed and shaped by it.
UNITY IN THE ESSENTIALS
Center Church aligns with historic Christian faith, a faith well-stated in the Apostles Creed. On matters of doctrine, we embrace the maxim “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials diversity, in all things charity.” In other words, we believe that all doctrine is important, but that common adherence on all points of doctrine is not necessary for salvation or partnership at Center Church.
OUR THEOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVES
1. THE SCRIPTURES
We accept the 66 books of the Bible as the written Word of God. The Bible is the only essential record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God, the Scriptures are fully inspired by God. Therefore, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. All believers are called to study the Scriptures and diligently apply them to their lives. The Scriptures are the authoritative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. They are totally sufficient and must not be added to, superseded, changed by tradition, or any form of worldly wisdom. Every doctrine, whether of creed, confession, or theology must be put to the test of the full counsel of God’s word.
2. GOD IS TRIUNE
There is one God: infinite, eternal, almighty, and perfect in holiness, truth, and love. In the unity of the godhead there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-existent, coequal, co-eternal. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet each is truly Deity. One God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is the foundation of Christian faith and life.
3. GOD THE FATHER
God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world from nothing. Through the same Word He daily sustains all His creatures. He rules over all and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love him, and in His unfathomable grace gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for mankind’s redemption. He made man for fellowship with himself, and intended that all creation should live to the praise of His glory.
4. JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He was perfect in nature, teaching, and obedience. He is fully God and fully man. He was always with God and is God. Through Him all things came into being and were created. He was before all things and in Him all things hold together by the word of His power. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, and in Him dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily. He is the only Savior for the sins of the world, having shed His blood and died a vicarious death on Calvary’s cross. By His death in our place, He revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, the third day He rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness and for a period of 40 days appeared to more than 500 witnesses, performing many convincing proofs of His resurrection. He ascended into heaven where, at God’s right hand, He intercedes for His people and rules as Lord over all. He is the Head of His body, the Church, and should be adored, loved, served, and obeyed by all.
5. THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Through the proclamation of the Gospel He by grace empowers men to repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord. The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about the new birth, and dwells within the believer as the seal and promise of salvation. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify the Son, who in turn came to glorify the Father. He will lead the Church into a right understanding and application of the truth of God’s Word. He is to be respected, honored, and worshiped as God the Third Person of the Trinity
God made man—male and female—in His own image, that man might have fellowship with him. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God, became separated from His Maker, fully responsible for sin, subject to divine wrath, and apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. Man’s utter brokenness extends into every facet of his mind, will, and affections as he lives under the dominion of sin and satan. He is hostile toward God, and hateful of God. Because man is sinful and fallen, we are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ.
7. THE GOSPEL
The Gospel is the good and true story that Jesus Christ has defeated sin, death, and satan through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Gospel. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the Gospel, His resurrection is the power of the Gospel, and His ascension is the glory of the Gospel. Christ’s death satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates the depths of His love and reveals His amazing grace for His creation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. The good news of Jesus is the center of all that we are in both doctrine and application. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our hearts, churches, and ministries to proceed from and be related to this amazing good news.
8. MANS RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL
The message of the Gospel is only effectual to those who genuinely repent of their sins and, by God’s grace, put saving faith in Christ. This Gospel of grace is to be sincerely preached to all men in all nations. Biblical repentance is characterized by a changed life, and saving faith is evidenced by kingdom service or works. While neither repentance nor works save, unless a person is willing to deny himself, pick up His cross, and follow Christ, he cannot become His disciple.
9. MAN’S INHERITANCE THROUGH THE GOSPEL
Salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone turning from sin in repentance and looking to Christ and His substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God as a free gift. Through Christ’s atonement for sin an individual is reconciled to God as Father and becomes His child. The believer is forgiven the debt of his sin and, via the miracle of regeneration, liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God’s Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification and seeks to produce His fruit in us as our minds are renewed and we are conformed to the image of Christ. Though indwelling sin remains a reality, as we are led by the Spirit we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely keeping His commandments and endeavoring to so live in the world that all people may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word, and deed. This perseverance comes not by way of our strength and will, but only by the empowering of the Holy Spirit and as we daily die to self so that we might live for Christ. The spiritual disciplines, especially the reading of God’s word, prayer, worship and confession, both personally and in community are a vital means of grace and growth.
11. THE CHURCH
God by His Word and Spirit created the Church, by calling sinful men into the fellowship of Christ’s Body. The Church, is not a building or a weekly event, but the true family of God. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to serve Him by faithfully doing His will and displaying his grace and glory on earth. This involves a commitment to see the Gospel preached and churches planted in all the world for a testimony. The ultimate mission of the Church is the making of disciples through the preaching of the Gospel. Upon conversion, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church, in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. All members of the Church universal are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context they are called to walk out the New Covenant as the people of God, and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ’s body that it might mature and grow. Through the gift ministries, all members of the Church are to be nurtured and equipped for the work of ministry.
12. Baptism and Communion
Water baptism is a public proclamation and celebration of one’s new life in Christ, and the family we now belong to. It is only for the individual who has received Christ as savior and become His disciple. Baptism is a response to Christ’s command that we are to be immersed in our and as a testimony to God, the Church, oneself, and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death, and vividly depicts a person’s release from the mastery of sin.
As with water baptism, Communion is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. Communion symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we partake with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
13. THE CONSUMMATION
The Consummation of all things includes the visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the translation of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. In the Consummation, Satan with his hosts and all those outside Christ are finally separated from the benevolent presence of God, enduring eternal punishment, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with Him forever.