Since its inception, the Church has laid out its beliefs in definitive statements such as hymns, creeds, and confessions. These statements serve to impart truth, show unity in Christ, equip new and growing believers, clarify and avoid confusion, and protect the church from doctrinal error (false teaching). They are a response to God’s revelation and should correspond to the teaching and boundaries that God has given us in His Word. As those who know and seek to glorify God, we believe it is necessary to set forth the cornerstone truths of our church as guided by Scripture in a concise manner in order to help clarify what it is that we believe about the Bible.
Together with the church in all the ages we affirm the early ecumenical councils and the following Trinitarian and Christological creeds: the Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. For a more detailed statement regarding particular theological distinctives that will inform the preaching, teaching, and other ministries of the pastors of this local congregation (though are not required for membership), see our Distinctives page.
1. The Scriptures
We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and accept them as the written Word of God, the revelation of absolute Truth. They are inerrant and infallible in the original writings, totally sufficient, and the authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice and doctrine (Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 119; John 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Jude 3).
2. The Triune God
We believe in one God – eternal, self-sufficient, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, perfect in holiness, truth and love. In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance and nature, equal in power and glory, yet distinct in ministry; the very foundation of faith and life (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 14:16-17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6).
3. God the Father
We believe in God the Father, who is the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything for the praise of His glory. He is absolutely sovereign over all, faithful to His promises, and, in His infinite goodness, wisdom and grace, sent His Son into the world for the redemption of mankind, being both just and the Justifier (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 34:5-7; 1 Chronicles 16:24-29; Isaiah 45:5-7, 46:9-10; John 3:16-17; Ephesians 1:3-6).
4. Jesus Christ
We believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten, eternal, and preeminent Son of God, who is the Word made flesh – fully God and fully man. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life and perfect obedience, miracles, substitutionary work on the cross, bodily resurrection from the dead, ascension and exaltation to the right hand of God (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 1:1-18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-22; Hebrews 1:1-4).
5. The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is a divine person, coeternal with the Father and Son, and the primary Agent in the new birth, given irrevocably to all who truly believe by regenerating, sealing, and dwelling in their hearts. He comforts, convicts, teaches, sanctifies, illuminates Scripture, and guides the Church into a right understanding and rich application of the truth of God’s Word, producing His fruit in their lives (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:3-8, 14:16-18, 16:7-15; Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:22-25; Ephesians 1:13-14).
6. The Creation and Fall of Man
We believe that God created man in His own image to know, love, enjoy, and glorify Him. However man, being tempted by Satan, sinned against God resulting in not only physical but spiritual death, subject to divine wrath. Consequently, mankind is sinful by nature, depraved in mind, will and affections, and at enmity with God, completely unable to please Him (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:17, 3:1-7,19; Romans 1:18, 3:10-19,23, 5:12-14, 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:1-3, 5:5-6).
7. The Gospel
We believe that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ fulfilled the demands of the law, shed his blood and died on the cross as a substitutionary and propitiatory sacrifice, and rose from the dead for the salvation of all who believe. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, and the only Name by which men can be saved (John 10:9-11, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:8-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).
8. The Salvation of Man
We believe that eternal life, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ and repenting of sin is declared righteous by faith, justified before God, reconciled to Him, adopted as sons, and redeemed from the law of sin and death (John 1:12-13; Romans 3:24-28, 5:1-2, 8:1-4, 10:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:7-12, 2:4-9; Titus 3:3-7).
9. The Sanctification of Believers
We believe that sanctification is a continual process, beginning at salvation, of separation from evil and dedication unto God in the life of a true believer, whereby he daily presents his body as a living sacrifice, identifying with Christ’s death and resurrection, being led by the Spirit and transformed by the renewing of his mind (Romans 6-8:17, 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 2:19-20; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Peter 1:14-16).
10. The Empowering of the Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit desires to continually fill every believer with boldness and power to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and imparts His gifts for the edification of the body and the work of ministry in the world. Believers should likewise earnestly seek to be filled, controlled, and yielded to the Spirit continually. We believe the gifts are available today and are to be eagerly desired and practiced in submission to the Spirit speaking through the Scriptures (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:37-47, 4:29-31; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 5:18).
11. The Church and its Mission
We believe that God graciously chooses and preserves for Himself a community united by faith who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. This body of believers proclaims the gospel, makes disciples of all men from all nations, and prefigures Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another (Matthew 16:15-19; John 17:20-25; Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:11-16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10).
12. The Ordinances of the Church
We believe that the ordinances of water baptism and communion (the Lord’s Supper), instituted and commanded to be observed by Jesus Christ, are visible signs for His body that we are bound together as a covenant community of faith. By our participation in them, the Holy Spirit more fully declares and seals the promises of the gospel to us (Matthew 28:19; Luke 22:19-20; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Colossians 2:11-12).
13. The Consummation
We believe in the glorious return of the Lord Jesus – our blessed hope, the resurrection of the dead, the translation of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to eternal punishment, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth to the praise of His glory (Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20-22).
14. The Sanctity of Human Life
We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6; Job 31:15; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 12:6-7).
15. Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person. We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Elmira Christian Center. We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of Elmira Christian Center as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the members of Elmira Christian Center and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by Elmira Christian Center in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, agree to and abide by this Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 12:28-31; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 18, 7:2-5; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4).
16. Final Authority for Matters of Belief and Conduct
This statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of the faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline of Elmira Christian Center, our pastoral staff and church board are Elmira Christian Center’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
*Our church’s statement of faith has been adapted from the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) and the Abstract of Principles (1859).