What We Believe
We have designated doctrinal issues as salvation issues and non-salvation issues.
Salvation issues are doctrines we believe we must all be in agreement on, because these doctrines are critical for salvation.
Non-salvation issues are the set of beliefs that people may hold differing perspectives on, as long as they respect others' positions. We do not see them as essential for salvation.
Within both classes of doctrine, we have written what we consider a “non-negotiable” in the approach to these doctrinal areas. By that we mean this is how Real Life will approach these areas, and we ask those who represent Real Life to also reflect this approach.
We seek unity through agreement on the essentials, and a commitment to be respectful of differing perspectives on non-essentials as we communicate how we approach handling differing perspectives as the body of Christ.
The following doctrinal statements are essential for salvation:
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
Biblical references: Genesis 1:1, 26–27; 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2
We believe that God the Father holds all the attributes of God while exercising a unique role in the Godhead. He is the father of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and yet still one with both as God. God the Father adopts believers in Jesus Christ into a relationship with Him as Father.
Biblical references: John 15:1-4; Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 9:6, 63:16; John 20:17; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on the cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to Heaven’s glory and will return again someday to claim His own and take them to that same Heaven.
Biblical references: Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:22–23; John 1:1–5; 14:10–30; Acts 1:9–11; Romans 1:3–4; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4; 1 Timothy 6:14–15; Titus 2:13; Hebrew 4:14–15
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, guidance in doing what is right, and is our intercessor. As Christians we seek to live under His control daily.
Biblical references: John 14:16; 16:7–14, 17; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:26–27; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 3:16; 2 Corinthians 3:16–17; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 1:13; 5:18
Salvation is a free gift from God offered to anyone who accepts it and sets us free from the captivity and eternal consequences of sin. God’s Word tells us that every person has sinned, which is disobedience of God’s commands, but we all have the choice to not live in this disobedience. Salvation marks the beginning of our faith journey with God. Faith is both internally experienced and externally displayed through belief in Jesus as Lord, repentance of sin, a confession of faith, baptism by immersion, and a life submitted daily to Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. Anyone who puts their faith in Jesus will have their sins forgiven, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and receive eternal life.
Biblical References: Rom 3:23-24; 6:20-23; 10:8-11; Eph 2:8-9; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 4:11-12; 1 John 5:1-3; Col 1:21-23; Matt 28:18-20
The following doctrinal statements are essential for unity, NOT salvation:
The Bible is God’s Word to us. Human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote it. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is God inspired, it is the truth without any mixture or error. There are many translations of the Bible from ancient languages to English and we will not be divisive about the various versions.
Biblical References: Psalm 119:105, 160; Proverbs 30:5–6; Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 3:15–16
People are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like Him in character. Although every person has tremendous potential for good, all of us are tainted by an attitude of disobedience toward God called “sin.” This attitude separates people from God and causes many problems in life.
Biblical references: Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3–6; Isaiah 53:6; 59:1–2; Romans 3:23
The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to “full time” Christian service, regardless of his or her vocation. We practice the truth that every believer is a minister by encouraging every partner to find a place of service and ministry. Every believer has direct access to God through prayer and Bible reading. We believe people are called to share their faith and minister to others.
Biblical references: Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
People were created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are real places of eternal existence.
Biblical references: John 3:16; 14:17; Romans 6:23; 8:17–18; 1 Corinthians 2:7–9; Revelation 20:15
There are two major views on the topic of eternal security; Calvinism (once saved always saved) and Arminianism (salvation can be lost). Each view has Scriptural references that support their interpretation, but we will not argue about who’s view is “right.” Both views lead to knowing people are Christians by evidence of the fruits of the Spirit in their life. Ultimately, God is the only one who can determine a person’s salvation.
Biblical references: Luke 15; Romans 11:22–23; Hebrews 6:4–7; 2 Peter 2:20; John 10:28; Romans 8:29–30; 1 John 2:9; Galatians 5:22-26
We have people with many various views on this issue in our church, but this is not a salvation issue. We believe that there will be a literal return of Christ, a rapture of God’s people, and a day of judgment. Only God the Father knows the time and hour of when He will send Jesus back.
Few areas of theology within the church have caused more division than the subject of spiritual gifts. Some in our church believe all of the spiritual gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12–14 are for today. Some believe only some of the gifts are for today, and some believe none of the gifts are for today. You can see the potential for problems. In our opinion, this subject does not constitute a salvation issue. Whether spiritual gifts are in use or not, the Spirit of God does not work contrary to the Word of God.
We believe baptism, by immersion, was both modeled and commanded by Christ. We believe baptism is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We believe one who has believed, confessed and repented should be baptized in a timely act of obedience.
Biblical references: Matthew 28:18-21, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 8:35-39, Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12,1 Corinthians 12:13
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Communion is a memorial.
Communion is a new covenant.
Communion is a proclamation.
When we take it, we do so in a worthy manner.
1 Corinthians 11: 27–28 NIV
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
We do this by self-examination.
Do I have any sins to confess? (Cf. 1John 1:9)
Relationships to repair? (Cf. Matthew 5:23–24)
Do I need to recommit my life? (Cf. Romans 12:1)
It is distinctive of our church that we take communion every week.
We do not believe you have to take communion every week. However, when you do partake in it, do so in a correct manner. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:25–28)
Who should take it?
Only those who believe.
We do not recommend that young children, who do not understand salvation and the relationship, take it.
We believe our whole lives; our time, talents and treasures are to be given obediently and generously in response to God’s grace, mercy and love for us. We believe that giving 10% of our income is defined as a “tithe”, the Biblical starting point of giving to the local church. We believe that any giving over 10% is an “offering” of gratitude for the great things God does for us daily and can be directed at the giver’s discretion to any worthwhile ministry, church or organization. We believe that generosity and stewardship are essential to maturity and the accomplishment of Christ’s mission.
Biblical references: Leviticus 27:30; Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:7-12; Acts 4:32-35; Matthew 23:23