RAINIER VALLEY CHURCH DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
THE BIBLE: The sixty-six books of the Holy Bible are the complete written Word of God. The Bible is the scriptural foundation upon which all of our specially revealed knowledge about God is built. The Bible is "God-breathed" (inspired) and gets its true, authoritative, powerful, and holy character from God himself, who "carried" (moved) men by the Holy Spirit to speak and write the very words of God. The Bible is inerrant, which means that it is entirely truthful and reliable in all that it affirms in its original manuscript.1 Every Christian should learn what God's Word teaches and apply it to their own lives. God still speaks to us through the Bible today, and we need to listen. The Bible is not only sufficient for understanding God and his plan for salvation but is also the final authority for the Christian faith. This means the ultimate truth about how things really are does not come from within us but rather is a revelation from God. Every claim, every theological doctrine, and every belief (both for the individual, and for the Church) must be confirmed by Scripture. It is our final authority.2
GOD: There is only one God,3 who is holy, righteous, good, perfectly just, and loving.4 Ultimately, everything exists to give God glory.5 Enjoying God and His glory will ultimately give His people more joy and satisfaction than anything else.6 God exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.7 While distinct, they exist in perfect community together,8 united in purpose and power while serving distinct roles, but equal in essence.
The Father is God and has eternally existed.9 He is the Creator of everything: by simply speaking a word, he made everything that exists.10 He is the ruler of all things seen and unseen,11 and is sovereign over everything.12 He never changes, is entirely faithful, and can be trusted completely.13 God the Father has a plan from eternity past to eternity future to rescue and redeem this world through the work of Jesus Christ.14
The Son, Jesus Christ, is God and has eternally existed.15 He came to earth approximately 2,000 years ago and became fully human, while remaining fully God.16 Jesus lived life as a man on earth, experiencing the pain and suffering of our broken world, and set an example for how we should live.17 His death in our place took the punishment that our sins deserved. This satisfied God's need for justice while also offering God's divine mercy. Jesus not only lived and died, but he was resurrected from the dead in order to forever overcome death for those who are saved. Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity—meaning he is the only way that humans can have peace with God and access to God.18 He is the only answer for our broken world, and faith in him is the only way sin can be atoned for. One day Jesus will return to earth, make all things new, and reign over all creation forever as our good and perfect ruler and king.
The Holy Spirit is God and has eternally existed.19 He changes the hearts of sinners to see the truth of God, confess their sin, and put their faith in Jesus. He illuminates the Scriptures and speaks directly within the hearts of Christians to encourage, guide, and convict them of their sin, leading them to repent—not a simple turning from sin, but more importantly, a turning toward Christ. He was sent from God the Father to help Christians discern the truth and live out the Christian life. He empowers God's Church to do mighty deeds in the name of the Lord.
HUMANITY: God created all humanity "in His own image"—we are wonderfully made and every good thing about us is a reflection of our perfect and loving Creator.20 Because of this, every human life has inherent value—regardless of race, gender, age, status, or background.21 We were created without sin to have a close, personal, and unblemished relationship with God, but we were led astray and disobeyed God.22 We have all sinned and rebelled against God, estranging ourselves from our loving Father.23 Sin entered the world, and has corrupted and infected all human life and relationships.24 Sin can occur in word, deed, thought, and motive.25 At its root, sin is declaring ourselves to be god over the one true good and sovereign God. No matter what good deeds we might accomplish in our lifetime, we cannot escape the effects of sin and fix this broken relationship with God—our hearts, our minds, and our motivations are forever stained by sin.26 The ultimate penalty for our sin against God is death—not just physical death but eternal separation from God.27 But God loves us—despite the fact that we are sinners28—and therefore there is hope for reconciliation with God through the salvation that is found only in Jesus Christ.29
THE GOSPEL—THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST: The Son, Jesus Christ, came to provide the perfect, sinless sacrifice to atone for the sins of all humankind.30 Taking the sins of the world upon himself,31 Christ's death on the cross satisfies God's demand for justice and removes the wrath of God from us, reconciling this sinful world with God.32 Even though we deserved punishment, Jesus suffered and died in our place, and was resurrected.33 Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to repair the damage done by sin.34 No religion or philosophy will lead to forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and eternal life.35 The Gospel is the "Good News" for a dying world—our only chance for life—our only hope to break the chains of sin that bind us in death.
We all respond to the gospel in one way or another. Those who accept the Gospel receive new life and are restored to a right relationship with God,36 and are forgiven, set free, and unshackled from sin.37 But those who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ remain unforgiven and stuck in their sins, and will spend eternity separated from God in hell.38
Upon hearing the Gospel, we confess our sins to God and repent (turn away from sin),39 placing our full hope for our salvation in Christ and Christ alone.40 Since we can do nothing to earn this salvation, we accept salvation as a pure gift out of God's goodness.41 God's grace, forgiveness, and perfect love take away our shame and remove our guilt and fear of punishment.42 His grace also enables us to forgive those who have sinned against us.43 In addition, God gives us His Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives.44 He changes us so that we can live a life worthy of the calling we have received in Christ Jesus. This means that through His miraculous work in our lives, we become more humble, more loving, and more devoted to doing everything for the Glory of God.45 God gives us a greater desire for the things of God, and enables us to do good works which He has planned for us.46 This includes a desire to know Him, to pray, to turn away from sin and idols, to study and understand the Scriptures, and to meet together with other Christians. As Christians, we will continue to persevere until Christ returns and we are resurrected to live eternally and reign with God in the new, restored creation of his eternal Kingdom.47
RAINIER VALLEY CHURCH BIBLICAL CONVICTIONS
There are beliefs we hold as true as a Church that we call Biblical Convictions, which supplement our Doctrinal Statement. The statements in our Doctrinal Statement unite all Christians around the world in what it means to be a true Christian. The following Biblical Convictions, however, vary among Christians, and it is not essential to accept them in order to be a Christian. Nonetheless, we hold them as important and true. Our careful study of Scripture has brought us to these conclusions, which are similar to and supported by other confessions of faith, such as the Westminster Confession of Faith.
GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY: We believe that nothing that exists is outside of God's ultimate control, especially God's work of salvation. It is very good news that salvation does not depend on our own desires or efforts, but on God's. Because of our sin, mankind is hostile to God,48 and it is by God's work alone that we come to understand the truth and are saved.49 God saves whomever He chooses to save, no matter what they have done, good or bad50—which is indeed Good News to us sinners!
ETERNAL SECURITY: We believe that once a person has been saved by God, there is nothing in heaven or earth that can separate them from the love and redemption of Christ.51 Simply put: once saved, always saved.52 We do believe that it is possible that someone might participate in Christian activities and outwardly seem to be living a Christian life, but may eventually fall away from the truth—having never truly been saved.
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: We believe that the Holy Spirit is still active and working today in the lives of Christians all over the world. The work of the Holy Spirit includes giving gifts to believers and producing good fruit in their lives.53 Moreover, God still heals the sick.54 Miracles happen. The Spirit can and does speak directly to us, both through Scripture and even directly into our hearts.55
BAPTISM: Baptism does not save a person, but we believe that Christians should be baptized.56 We believe that baptism is for those who have already chosen to put their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ—a public declaration of an inward decision to follow Christ. We believe that baptizing by immersion in water is a faithful representation of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
COMMUNION: We believe that partaking in communion is a sacred observance that is intended exclusively for Christians. It is a sober remembrance of Christ's sacrifice—his broken body and shed blood, given on our behalf. While we do not believe that the physical properties of the bread and wine change during the communion ceremony, there is indeed a supernatural element to communion—it is a sacred remembrance that Christ commanded us to observe.57 Christians should be careful to observe communion with a humble heart and not approach the Lord's table with resentment or unrepented sin in their hearts.58
THE CHURCH: The Church is made of up God's redeemed people, and Christ is the head of the Church.59 All Christians are members of the universal Church, but we are also called to participate in a local body of believers.60 God calls the Church to go into the whole world, preach the Gospel, and help make disciples (followers) of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.61 The local Church devotes itself to teaching God's Word, gathering together in fellowship, remembering Christ and what He has accomplished, and to prayer until Christ returns.62
MARRIAGE: We believe that God our Creator has established marriage as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman. This biblical definition of marriage is unchangeable as it has been instituted by God from the beginning of human history, and is set forth in God's inerrant scriptures.63
7. John 1:1; Genesis 1:2; John 8:58; John 20:28-29; John 5:18; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 1:8; Mark 14:62; Isaiah 9:6-7; John 15:26; Micah 5:2; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2.
15. John 1:1; John 8:58; John 20:28-29; John 5:18; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 1:8; Mark 14:62; Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 13:8; 1 Timothy 1:17.
48. Romans 7:14-18; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Psalm 143:2; Romans 11:32; Romans 3:23; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:9-12; 1 John 1:8-10; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Jeremiah 17:9; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5.