What We Believe (at Grace Harbor Church)
The Word of God provides instruction to local assemblies on how to operate and why. We believe the following doctrines capture those instructions, for any local assembly including Grace Harbor Church.
Purpose | Structure and Authority | Fellowship/Membership | Legal Standing | Finances | Doctrinal Statement
Purpose of Local Assembly
Study the Word of God
- Dispensationally, recognizing that we live in what the Bible describes as the age of grace (Eph. 3:1-10).
- Rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15), with the recognition that the will and purpose of Christ for the body of Christ has been revealed in the scriptures that have been communicated through the apostle Paul, and that Paul alone is our apostle (Rom. 11:13).
Preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25)
Work together as one body to accomplish the work of the ministry. God has given to us the "ministry of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:18b), with the intent "to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery" (Eph. 3:9a).
Be the Pillar and Ground of the Truth in a dark and evil world (I Tim. 3:15).
Structure and Authority
As members of the body of Christ, we are under the authority of Jesus Christ, who is the head of the body (Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18). The Bible is the final authority in matters of faith and practice (II Tim. 3:16-17), and as such the scriptures will be preeminent in all issues that relate to assembly life, beginning with leadership under a plurality of elders.
Elders will be identified and will come from within the assembly (Acts 14:23). Any elder must meet the Biblical qualifications God sets forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Each elder candidate is expected to examine himself for the express purpose of meeting the qualifications these verses identify:
|blameless (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7) || ||sober (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8) |
|vigilant (I Tim. 3:2) || ||given to hospitality (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8) |
|of good behavior (I Tim. 3:2) || ||not given to wine (I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7) |
|apt to teach (I Tim. 3:2) || ||not greedy of filthy lucre (I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7) |
|no striker (I Tim. 3:3) || ||not a brawler (I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7) |
|patient (I Tim. 3:3) || ||ruleth well his own house (I Tim. 3:4-5) |
|not covetous (I Tim. 3:3) || ||having his children in subjection with all gravity (I Tim. 3:4-5) |
|not a novice (I Tim. 3:6) || ||not self-willed (Titus 1:7) |
|good report of those without (I Tim. 3:7) || ||not soon angry (Titus 1:7) |
|having faithful children (Titus 1:6) || ||temperate (Titus 1:8) |
|holy (Titus 1:8) || ||husband of one wife (I Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6) |
|holding fast the faithful word (Titus 1:9) || ||able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9) |
The duties and responsibilities of the elders include the following:
- Oversee the affairs of the flock (Acts 20:28)
- Feed the church of God (Acts 20:28)
- Watch for doctrinal error and those who would harm the flock (Acts 20:29-31)
- Remember Paul's pattern (Acts 20:31-35)
- Rely solely on the Word of God (Acts 20:32)
- Take heed unto the doctrine as delivered by our apostle Paul (I Tim. 4:16)
- The elders may appoint deacons from within the assembly as needed. Deacons must meet the Biblical qualifications God sets forth in I Tim. 3:8-12, and will assist the elders as they are directed.
- Elders are also subject to the authority of Scripture and are not to have dominion over anyone's faith. Therefore, any saint at Grace Harbor Church is encouraged to ask for the scriptural ground upon which an elder decision is made (II Cor. 1:24) and will be responded to honestly and openly and with respect.
Fellowship / Membership
Scripture teaches of membership in the one spiritual body of Christ through the operation of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:12, 13:27). As a part of the whole body of Christ, Grace Harbor Church merely chooses to meet separately and independently.
- Fellowship is open to all those who wish to grow in the knowledge of Christ our Saviour.
- Members of the body of Christ who wish to keep company with Grace Harbor Church must not be in violation of either I Cor. 5:9,11 or II Thes. 3:14.
- Any saint that is known to have caused divisions and offenses contrary to Bible doctrine for the body of Christ are not welcome, and will be avoided (Rom. 16:17).
The entity, Grace Harbor Church, has been created within the context of the laws and statutes of the state of Illinois. Grace Harbor Church is comprised of saints who are willing to pool their energy and resources so that Christ may be glorified through the work of this fellowship.
The elders will appoint a treasurer from the assembly, who will oversee the finances of Grace Harbor Church and who will be accountable to the Grace Harbor Church membership. A thorough and complete financial report will be made to the assembly at least once per year, or at the time of any individual's request.
In the event it becomes necessary to dissolve Grace Harbor Church as a legal entity, with tangible assets remaining, the assembly will dispose of those assets by distributing them to entities that are doctrinally like-minded. These entities must hold to the truths as laid out by the apostle Paul and follow the Pauline pattern for edification.
The doctrinal statement for Grace Harbor Church is summarized by the truths communicated to us in and through Ephesians 4:1-6:
One Body - In this present dispensation of the grace of God there is only one church, which is called the body of Christ. It consists of all those who are saved and it had its beginning with the salvation of the Apostle Paul (Rom. 11:11; I Cor. 12:13, 27; Eph. 1:22-23, 3:1-11, 4:12; Col. 1:18, 24-25; I Tim.1:14-16).
One Spirit - The Holy Spirit is a person. He is coequal with the Father and the Son. He convicts the world of sin through the Word. He baptizes believers into the body of Christ. He regenerates, seals, indwells, enlightens, and empowers the believer (I Cor. 2:10, 12, 6:19, 12:13; Eph. 3:16, 4:30; Titus 3:5).
The prophetic work and sign gifts of the Holy Spirit are not in operation today (I Cor. 12:1-31, 13:8-13). All supernatural gifts (such as those listed in Rom. 12:6-8, I Cor. 12:8-10, and Eph. 4:11) were in effect during the period covered by the book of Acts, during which time the Word of God had not yet been completed.
Once the revelation of the mystery was completed and with the diminishing of the nation Israel, the sign gifts ceased and were "done away". The completed, inspired, and inerrant Word of God is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Today, the functions of evangelism, pastoring (shepherding), and teaching are carried out by men who "labor in the word and doctrine" (I Tim. 5:17).
One Hope - The imminent, personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to catch up the members of His body to be with Him forever is the "blessed hope" of the believer (I Thes. 4:13-18; Titus 2:13). The body of Christ will not be on the earth during the time of Jacob's trouble, also known as the Tribulation (Rom 13:11; I Thes. 4:13-16, 5:1-11; II Thes. 2:1-17).
One Lord - Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He is true God and true man (Matt. 1:20-23; Rom. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-9). He suffered and died as the propitiation of God for sin (Rom. 3:25), and three days later He rose bodily from the dead. We no longer "know" Him through the accounts of His earthly ministry, but as the resurrected Head of the Church, which is His body (Rom. 15:8; II Cor. 5:16; Eph. 1:20-23).
One Faith - The body of truth revealed to the Apostle Paul for us to believe, in this, the
age of God's wonderful grace (Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25). Sound doctrine for the age of grace was revealed to Paul. These sound words should be held onto by the saints and committed to faithful men who shall teach others also (II Tim. 1:13). In Gal. 1:11-12 and I Tim. 6:3, Paul states that his gospel was "by revelation of Jesus Christ" and that his words are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 14:37). God's truth for living today is found in Paul's writings, Romans through Philemon. The book of Romans is the foundation to be built upon, progressively and successively, through to the book of Philemon, and this pattern of instruction works to produce godly edification in the life of each believer.
One Baptism - The Bible teaches of many baptisms, however, there is only one baptism recognized by the Word of God for this present dispensation of grace. That is the spiritual baptism by which the believer, when he/she trusts Christ as his/her Saviour, is identified with the Lord in His death, His burial, and His resurrection. This spiritual baptism is also the means whereby the believer is given victory over sin (Rom. 6:1-5; I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:11).
One God and Father of all - There is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (I Kings 8:60; Isaiah 45:18; John 8:19; II Cor. 13:14).
The gospel of salvation from the penalty of sin - Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice. All who believe on Him are justified on the basis of His shed blood (Rom. 3:24-28, 5:8-9). People today are saved by grace through faith alone, and at the moment of salvation are sealed by the Holy Spirit and are eternally secure (Eph. 1:11-14, 2:8-9).
The lost, the unsaved, will suffer eternal damnation as payment for their sins (Rom. 2:1-11, 6:23; Eph. 5:6; II Thes. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:11-15, 21:8).
The mission and commission of the church is to proclaim the message of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:14-21) and to preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, as first revealed to the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9; I Tim. 1:16).
The Bible - The entire Bible is inspired (verbal & plenary) of God (Matt. 4:4; II Tim. 3:16) and is without error in the original writings. God promises that He will preserve the words of scripture (Ps. 12:6-7; Matt. 24:35), and has kept His promise by preserving His infallible words in the Received Text of the Hebrew (Massoretic text) and the Greek (Majority text) manuscripts. The Authorized King James Version is an accurate translation of the preserved words of God in the English language, is without error, for English speaking people. Likewise, Bibles that have been translated into other languages based on the Received texts of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are accurate translations of the Word of God.
Prayer - Talking to God. Prayer is in the name or authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:6-7; I Thes. 5:17). The purpose of prayer is to conform our thoughts and actions to God's word through the work of the Spirit (Eph. 3:14-21).
Satan - He is a living and personal devil (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; I Peter 5:8; Rev. 12:9). As God has changed His dealings with man, Satan adjusts his tactics to mimic what God is doing (II Cor. 11:13-15).