equipping leaders We believe that salvation is an unmerited gift of God’s love given to those who believe the gospel. The gospel declares that God exalted Jesus Christ as Lord by sending him to suffer the penalty for our sins through his death on the cross and by raising him from the dead to inaugurate the new creation. We believe that God acted in this way so that we may have new life through union with Christ and live no longer for ourselves but for God and Christ who paid the ultimate price on our behalf. We believe that true faith in Christ leads to obedience as a fruit of the Holy Spirit; and that, when believers succumb to sin, they must repent. We regard the Bible as God’s inspired word and as the highest authority in matters of faith and practice. We also recognize the role of church tradition for safeguarding Scripture and its moral code. As for sexual ethics we believe:

1. Jesus Christ deeply loves broken sexual sinners and provides hope for transformation. Jesus coupled a heightened ethical demand with a loving outreach to violators to lead them to repentance (Luke 7:36-50; John 4:4-30; 8:1-12). The grace of God offered in Jesus Christ is not merely a pardon for one’s sins but also an empowerment by the Spirit of Christ to a new life lived for God (Rom 6:14; 7:5-6; 8:12-14; Gal 2:19-20; 5:18; 2 Pet 1:2-4). For some, this transformation may take shape as a significant reduction of unwanted sexual desires. For others, it may mean the grace to live in obedience in spite of ongoing urges to do what God forbids. Either way, Paul gives believers assurance that those who “walk in the Spirit will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16-17, 24-25). “These things some of you were” (1 Cor 6:11).

2. Jesus understood the male-female prerequisite for sexual relations established by God in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 to be foundational for sexual ethics. So important to Jesus was this male-female prerequisite that he deduced from God’s creation of two sexes that sexual unions should consist of only two persons (Mark 10:5-9; Matt 19:4-8). Genesis 2:21-24 depicts a woman as coming from man, man’s sexual “complement” (negdo), whose union reintegrates two into a single sexual whole. Genesis 1:27 indicates that changing a male-female requirement distorts the image of God.

3. Consistent with Jesus’ view of a male-female requirement for sexual relations is Scripture’s depiction of homosexual practice as a severe violation of God’s standards for sexual purity (Gen 19:4-11; Lev 18:22; 20:13). Paul’s indictment of homosexual practice in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 treats it as an example of humans suppressing the truth about themselves visible in the material structures of nature and a violation of Gen 1:27 and 2:24. Every text in the Bible having to do with sexual relations presupposes a male-female requirement.

4. Sexual immorality is by no means limited to homosexual practice but has multiple manifestations in the heterosexual sphere that distort God’s purposes for sexual unions. Though union with a person of the other sex is a necessary condition for a valid sexual relationship, it is not sufficient. Any expression of human sexuality outside the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as any expression within marriage that is not self-giving, is a perversion of God’s will for sexual holiness.

5. Marriage between a man and a woman prefigures the union of God and his people or Christ and the church and has as its highest purpose the self-giving integration of the two sexes into a single sexual whole. From the very beginning God’s goal has been to enter into an eternal covenant of marriage with those who love him (Hos 2:16-20; Jer 2:2; Ezek 16:8; Isa 54:5-8; 61:10; 62:4-5; Eph 5:21-33; Rev 19:7-9). On earth God designed marriage primarily for the purpose of shaping two into one—an aim more important than the satisfaction of the individual wants of husbands and wives.

6. Marriage and the sexual fulfillment that marriage offers have only penultimate significance. Jesus viewed marriage as an institution of the present age that would be superseded by something much better in the age to come: the heavenly marriage of the people of God to Christ (Mark 12:25). He also lifted up the celibate life as a way of giving undivided attention to the advancement of God’s kingdom (Matt 19:10-12; compare 1 Cor 7:28-35).

7. Sexual purity is a life-and-death matter. Sexual holiness for Christians matters to such an extent that living an unrepentant sexually immoral life can get even self-professed Christians excluded from the kingdom of God.1 For some this may mean that such persons were never true Christians to begin with; for others it may mean that such persons have fallen away from a once genuine faith. Either way, both can agree that a life committed to unrepentant, sexual immorality is evidence of a life not lived by saving faith.2

Jesus Christ is our hope for the redemption of our sexuality, gender, and bodies (Col 1:15-20). We rejoice in this hope (Rom 15:13), even as we groan inwardly while we await the full “redemption of our body” (Rom 8:22-25).

1 Matt 5:29-30; John 8:11 with 5:14; 1 Thess 4:3-8; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 5; 6:9-10, 13-20; 2 Cor 12:21; Rom 1:23-32; Col 3:5-7; Eph 4:19; 5:3-6; 1 Tim 1:9-11.
2 Matt 5:29-30; 7:16-27; Mark 4:16-19; John 15:1-6; Rom 8:12-14; Gal 6:7-9; Heb 10:26-29; James 2:14-26; 2 Pet 2:18-21; 1 John 1:6-7; 2:3-6, 15, 29; 3:6-10, 14-20, 24; 5:18; Rev 2:4-17, 20-23, 26; 3:1-3, 5.

This Doctrinal Statement gratefully adopted with permission from Restored Hope Network

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