Paul warned the early church that we should be careful not to say we follow Paul or Apollos (1 Cor. 3), we are supposed to simply be followers of Christ. This is one reason we don’t roll up to any particular denominiation. In our minds, any human being that thinks he or she has God and his dealings with humanity completely figured out, is making an idol of human reason.
In Essentials Unity, in Non-Essentials Liberty, and in All Things Love.
At Refuge.Church we hope to be a place were we can talk openly about the tough stuff; biblical interpretation, science, sexism, racism, social justice, culture, etc … without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We put topics such as these in the non-essentials camp, which doesn’t make them unimportant, but at times it is OK that we just agree to disagree, while we discuss, challenge, and debate each other with these issues, we will do so in love, and not let it divide us in opposition. (Romans 14)
Yet we feel compelled to list at least a handful of essentials. The things that unify us into one body. If we were dating, we’d call these our non-negotiables.
The Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three persons within the unity of God’s being, who are equally divine, who know and love one another, and who from all eternity have together worked for our salvation. The beginning and end of all things. The creator of matter. The author of life.
God has one nature, name, and being. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share one divine nature. There is only one God. Paul continually speaks of Christ’s divinity, saying that all the fullness of the deity dwells in him (Col 2: 9), yet he also says there is “no God but one” (1 Cor 8: 4).
We are all sinners, as God finds us, guilty, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will, or better our spiritual position by our effort. Sin separates us from God, and leads to death. All human problems are symptoms, and our separation from God is the cause. Sin ruptures our relationship with God and each other and then leads to devastating consequences in the world around us.
God does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death to life: He plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. We call this the Gospel, or Good News. The message of the Gospel is how we have been rescued from sin and death and saved to a relationship with God. It’s not about something we do, it’s about something that has been done for us.
Loving the world, God sent his son Jesus to live a perfect life, to die and experience separation from the Father, on our behalf, and to be raised to life again so that humanity can be rescued from death. You and I can have a relationship with God eternally, not by our efforts, not by our ability to be good people, but by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Eternal life is Good News because it is a gift from God, brought to man by His grace, and received by personal faith in Jesus Christ.
We do not want just to know about God, but to know God, to seek his face and presence. The words of God given to the prophets and the apostles, written down in the Bible, comprise the main way we encounter God. To encounter the words of the Scripture is to encounter God in action.
We believe everything that Jesus said; all that the apostles taught; and even find truths in the parts that are difficult to understand, and even harder to apply. We believe the Bible must be read and understood as the whole in light of the parts, and the parts in light of the whole.
It’s hard to see beyond ourselves, our existing ideas and predujices when we read the Bible, and yet we must try. Scripture is often misinterpreted, and so the reader must be prepared to have their values and beliefs called into question anytime they open the text.
We must get our hands dirty to correctly handle the truth. Our hope at Refuge.Church is to teach and instruct in such a way that we create a passion for private and group study of the Bible from childhood through adulthood. We don’t want people to believe what we teach, we want them to believe the Bible. We believe a person who truly grasps God’s Word, will ultimately, find the Word grasping them.
Following Jesus is a group activity. The Church is made up of every person who puts their hope and faith in Jesus Christ. It is a place where the first are last and the last are first; and where those who hunger and thirst are fed. The Church knows no geographic boundaries, no political parties, no single language or culture.
Scripture teaches that the Church advances not through power and might, but through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. And yes, we believe that at times the Church can be a mess, as a collection of broken people, but she is still the beautiful bride of Christ, left to give the world a glimpse of God’s kingdom come.
The Father sent the Son to save us from our sins so that we can become God’s adopted sons and daughters (Eph 1: 3– 10). When we are born again through faith in Christ, we receive the right to be his children and call on him as Father (John 1: 12– 13). The Spirit then puts the actual life of God in us, the family resemblance, God’s own nature.
“God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Gal 4: 4– 6).
We always have an audience with God, because of what Jesus has done. As a Church, we desperately want to know God. Prayer in Jesus name is the way we can experience a powerful confidence that God is handling our lives well, that our bad things will turn out for good, our good things cannot be taken from us, and the best things are yet to come. Prayer turns theology into experience. Through it we sense his presence and receive his joy, his love, his peace and confidence, and thereby we are changed in attitude, behavior, and character.
We believe that those who put their hope and faith in Jesus Christ will spend eternity with Him. (John 3:16)