Jesus. He said, “You search the Scripture because you think that in them you have life; and it is they that bear witness to me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40). We believe in and through Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God for us, to us and even in and through us. (John 1:1-18; 1Cor. 1:30; Gal. 4:6). We believe in Him.
The Bible. Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken.” We believe the Bible is the authoritative witness on all matters to which it speaks. The Bible is “self attesting.” In it we hear Jesus; God’s Word; “The Way, The Truth and The Life.”
Love. Scripture tells us that, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8,16) and that, Jesus has “made Him known.” (John 1:18). God is not part Love and part Justice. God is one (Deut. 6:4). He is Love and his love is Justice.
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The most terrifying passages in the Bible and Love, seem contradictory until our hearts see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6) “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col. 1:19-20) “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” is the revelation of God’s heart, the meaning of all things and The Prince of Peace.
The Church and the Gospel. The Church is the community of those people that have received the life of Jesus through faith, and as faith; that have come to believe “the Gospel” – the Good News that God has reconciled us to himself in Christ. The Church is called to bear witness to Christ through word and action and thus join God’s work of redemption. We have been blessed to be a blessing to “all the families of the earth.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
The Creeds: Historically, the Church has felt the need to confess her faith through “creeds.” Creeds are never meant to replace Scripture, but to summarize and clarify Scripture. The two oldest creeds are the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. At the Sanctuary, we agree with both.
Our Theological Distinctives
The Sanctuary holds to a theology very common to most churches, yet we also feel called to a theological distinctive, that’s a bit new for some. We believe that the work of Christ on the cross was a complete success.
In 2010 The Board of the Sanctuary approved the following statement. We don’t ask people to agree to this statement and we don’t use it as a test for “membership.” We just hope to clarify the message that we have been called to proclaim:
The Sanctuary seeks to represent these under-represented truths:
God is One, and so His judgment is Love.
God is Love, and so desires to save.
God is Almighty, and so can save.
God is Jesus, and so does save.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col.1: 19-20 ESV).
Now, that may not seem very new to you. After all, you’ve heard each of those bullet points expounded in numerous places, and the verse in Colossians is a familiar one. And yet it is a bit surprising when you see the bullet points listed all at once and the Bible verse that affirms them all at once. Many believe them separately, but few people seem to believe them all at once, at least not anymore.
God is One: Along about 400 AD, Augustine of Hippo taught that God really has two separate attributes, Love on the one hand and revenging justice on the other; that is, Grace on the one hand and not Grace on the other. Augustine said many beautiful and brilliant things about our Lord, but the Scripture makes it abundantly clear—“God is One.” God is not part love and part justice; He is not part grace and part not grace. God is not part unjust and part just. God is One. And God is Love. And God is Just. Love is Just. The Judgment is Love. God is One.
God is Love: Along about 1550, John Calvin taught that if God is Love, that doesn’t really mean that He loves everybody, for God is also Almighty. So if He loved everybody, everybody would be saved. Therefore many Calvinists believe that God predestined much or most of mankind to endless torment. I (Peter Hiett) love the works of John Calvin. I’m what some would call a “Four Point Calvinist”—there are five points—the one I can’t buy is that Christ didn’t die for all. Well, Calvin said many brilliant and beautiful things about our Lord, but the Scripture is clear, “God so loved the world.” It also says “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” God desires to save. The name Jesus means “God is Salvation.” God is Love.
God is Almighty: Along about 1600, Jacobus (Joseph) Arminius was a bit horrified by the Calvinist idea of double predestination. He argued that God loves everyone…and yet He’s not really “all” mighty, for if God loves everyone, He must desire to save everyone. So He would if He could, but He doesn’t (thought Arminius), so he can’t. Arminius taught that our choice to be damned is stronger than God’s choice to save. There’s something attractive in the idea, especially for Americans (most American Christians are “Arminian”). It’s the idea that we save ourselves with our choice, our judgment. Well, Arminius said many brilliant and beautiful things about our Lord, but the Scripture is clear—that good choice that we call faith is a gift. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me, I chose you.” Your choice doesn’t save you. God does. God’s Judgment in Christ is how it happens. “He accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His will.” God is Almighty.
God is Jesus: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” writes St. Paul. And Jesus said that He came to “seek and to save the lost (or perished)” Did He succeed? He cried out on the cross “Father forgive them…” and “it is finished.” So was it? And did the Father forgive them? Did the “Lamb of God, take away the sin of the world” or not? Was Jesus Christ and Him Crucified a success or not? John writes that He appeared to “destroy the work of the devil.” Will He? Did He? Much, perhaps most, of the early Church seems to have believed the answer is “Yes!” It wasn’t until 553 AD that the Roman Emperor Justinian pressured the 5th General Church Council into stating that the idea of a Hell that comes to an end was heretical. By then the Emperor controlled the institutional Church, and emperors like to carry a big stick. But before that time, the idea that God in Christ Jesus would do just what the voice on the throne says He would do, was fairly common. Revelation 21:5 “And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.’” God saves—in a Word, Jesus.
We believe that Jesus wins… absolutely.
If you’d like more information on these ideas, go to “A Theology of Relentless Love” check out that information, particularly the article “All Things New and a place we call “Hell”.