Joshua Church belongs to a network of churches that are unified in Bible beliefs, genuine friendship, and the shared purpose of making disciples and planting healthy, effective, relational local churches.
We believe that true Christian unity only comes about by holding to the “whole counsel of God,” rather than simply trying to find a few things upon which we can agree. At the same time, we do not claim to be perfect in this affirmation of our beliefs. While they are communicated imperfectly, this document represents our best understanding of the teachings of the Bible and we believe these truths passionately. They are the grounds of our unity.
At the core of our beliefs is the good news of Jesus Christ—the wonderful truth that Jesus Christ was crucified and raised from the dead so that sinful people would trust in Jesus and be reconciled to God. This gospel is our primary passion and the driving influence in preaching, worship, small groups, prayer, and church planting.
We hold to the absolute truth found in the Bible and, thus, we turn to the Bible on every area of what we believe, how we live, and how we participate in church life together. We believe that local churches are to be the primary means of inviting people to Jesus, making mature disciples, equipping people to serve, learning to worship, and planting new churches. All of this is done through local churches as is outlined in the Bible, so that people of all ages, cultures, and ethnicities will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, being saved from their sins and reconciled to God.
We believe the Bible, consisting of the 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament, is the written Word of God. The Bible is the only essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God, the Bible is both fully and verbally inspired by God, and is without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. It is totally sufficient and must not be added to or changed by later tradition, extra-biblical revelation, or culture. Every belief, lifestyle, and practice must be put to the test of the truth of God in the Bible, to determine whether it is true or false, right or wrong. We are to approach the Bible with humility and prayer as we seek to understand and rightly apply the Bible in our lives, staying true to the historical context and intentions of the original authors. 1
We believe in one God: infinite, eternal, glorious, 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, co-equal, co-eternal—each is fully God. One God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 2
GOD THE FATHER
We believe in God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth. By his Word and for his glory, he created the universe and everything in it from nothing. Through the same Word he daily sustains all his creation. He rules over all and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes cannot be stopped. He is faithful to every promise, works all things together for good to those who love him and, in his wonderful grace, gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sin. He made us for relationship with himself and created all things to exist for his glory. 3
GOD THE SON
We believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He is the eternal Word made flesh, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. He lived his life in human flesh, perfect in nature, teaching, and obedience. He is fully God and fully man. He has always been with God and is God. Through him all things were created and came into being. He was before all things and in him all things are held together by the word of his power. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, and in him the fullness of God dwells bodily. He is the only Savior for the sins of the world and, having shed his blood, he died a substitutionary death on the cross. By his death in our place, he revealed God’s love and upheld God’s justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, on 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 eye-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 is to be worshipped, adored, loved, served, and obeyed by all. 4
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Through the proclamation of the gospel he works to bring people to repentance and faith in Jesus. By the work of the Holy Spirit a person is regenerated, born again, made new by grace through faith. The Holy Spirit unites believers to Jesus Christ in faith, brings about this new birth, and dwells within those who believe. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Counselor and we are to be responsive to the Holy Spirit's daily leading in our personal lives and in the church. He empowers believers to follow Jesus as authentic disciples and gives spiritual gifts for the purpose of doing his works and proclaiming his word. He leads the church in right understanding and right application of the truth of the Bible. He is to be respected, honored, and worshiped as God the Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. 5
We believe that God made Mankind—male and female—in his own image, as the crown of creation, for relationship with him. Tempted by Satan, Adam and Eve rebelled against God and fell into sin and darkness. Because of their sin and the separation it caused from God, all have inherited a sinful nature, have become subject to God’s wrath, and are utterly incapable of returning to God. Apart from the saving work of God to rescue, all live under the dominion of sin and death and evil—separated from God forever. All people, whatever their circumstance, are subject to sin and, thus, have no hope of eternal life without God’s act of salvation in Jesus Christ. 6
We believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the good news of God revealed in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The gospel makes this joyful and amazing assertion: Jesus came to save us from our sins. Christ’s death is a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice to God where Jesus bore our sins on the cross and died in our place, satisfying the demands of God’s perfect justice and turning away his holy wrath. It also demonstrates his love and reveals his all-surpassing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which we must be saved. At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Jesus Christ and the infinite privilege that sinful people, saved by grace, are reconciled to God because of what Jesus has accomplished. 7
We believe that God acted before creation in choosing some people to be saved. This was not because of any goodness or merit foreseen in them, but simply in his good pleasure and by his sovereign choice. Those who have been appointed for salvation will respond to his irresistible grace, turn from sin, and believe when the effective call of God comes to them through the human preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Regeneration is the work of God in which he gives new spiritual life to the elect who were dead in sin and, thus, they repent and receive faith in Jesus and the salvation given by grace through the cross. 8
We believe that our response to the gospel is rooted and grounded in the free and unconditional election of God. It is also true that the message of the gospel is only effectual to those who genuinely turn from their sins and, by God’s grace, trust in Jesus. Because we do not know who the elect are, we declare the gospel of grace to all people, longing that they would come to Jesus and be saved. Those who are genuinely regenerated will live their life for Jesus, growing in Christian maturity and will persevere in following Jesus to the end of their days. 9
We believe that salvation is the free gift of God provided by grace alone through faith. Anyone turning from sin in repentance and trusting Jesus and his substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God as a free gift. The righteousness of Jesus is imputed and the person is justified and fully accepted by God. Through Christ’s atonement for sin an individual is reconciled to God the Father and receives adoption as a son or daughter. The believer is forgiven the debt of sin and, through the miracle of regeneration, liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God’s Spirit. Biblical salvation is characterized by continual progress and growth in Christian maturity, lived out in love, devotion and service to Jesus and his people, the church. 10
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification and seeks to produce his character in us as our minds are renewed and we are conformed to the image of Christ. Though Christians continue to struggle with sin in this life, the Spirit of God leads us as we grow in knowledge and maturity, learning to live for Jesus in a way that honors him. All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their words and actions in this life. The spiritual disciplines, especially studying the Bible and applying it to our lives, prayer, worship and confession, are vital for our maturity and transformation. Nevertheless, the believer’s ultimate confidence to persevere is based in God’s promise to preserve his people throughout this life and to the end. 11
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT
We believe that in addition to effecting regeneration and sanctification, the Holy Spirit empowers believers to invite others to Jesus and for daily Christian service. Upon salvation the Holy Spirit indwells all believers. In addition, there is an ongoing, empowering work of the Spirit after conversion that may occur from time to time throughout a Christian’s life. The Holy Spirit empowers believers, imparts his spiritual gifts for the building up of the church and the work of disciple making, and gives assurance of our adoption as sons and daughters. Believers should desire to be full of the Holy Spirit and to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, cooperating with him in obedience as he carries out his work. In addition, Christians are to earnestly desire spiritual gifts so that we may serve others and be effective in the work that Jesus has given to his church. 12
We believe that Jesus builds his church, calling sinful people from all nations into relationship with himself and with one another. The church is not simply a religious institution or a human organization. Rather, the church universal is made up of all those who have been saved by Jesus throughout the generations and have become genuine followers of Jesus. The church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve him by declaring his word and faithfully doing his work throughout the earth. The mission of the church is to make disciples for Jesus through the preaching of the gospel and the planting of healthy local churches. When God saves people they are added to a local church, in which they devote themselves to Bible teaching, genuine relationship, serving, giving, worship, and prayer. Jesus intends that all Christians be a vital and committed part of a specific local church. 13
Jesus appoints pastors and overseer/elders of local churches to do the job of equipping members of the church to works of service so that each Christian and the whole church grows to full maturity. These pastors and overseer/elders are chosen by existing, proven overseers as the Holy Spirit leads from among the faithful Christian men and they are to give their lives to care for the church that Jesus died to save. In the context of this loving leadership in the local church, new disciples are added to the local church as Jesus saves them and all of the believers are cared for and mature as followers of Jesus. 14
We believe in baptism as an ordinance of the church for every believer after they have come to repentance and faith in Jesus. They are immersed in water in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a public confession that they have been saved by Jesus and a demonstration that their old, sinful life has been buried with Christ. They come out of the water as Jesus rose from the dead to new life. It is also a sign that the person being baptized has been cleansed of their sin through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. Baptism is an act of obedience done in faith by each person after they have been saved by grace. 15
THE LORD’S SUPPER
We believe in the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance of the church, like baptism, to be observed by those who have genuine faith in Jesus. The bread and the cup symbolize the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of his blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian’s life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Jesus, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Jesus’ church. 16
THE RETURN OF JESUS
We believe that at the end of all things there will be a visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ. At that time, all who have died will rise from the dead. All will stand before Jesus at the final judgment to give an account of their life. Satan with his hosts and all those apart from Jesus will endure eternal punishment and misery. Then will come the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth where those saved by Jesus shall live and reign with him forever in resurrected bodies. Believers will have unspeakable joy in the presence of God forever, serving him and giving him unending worship and glory. 17