Theological Distinctives

In the pursuit of contending “for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3) it becomes a church to define the essential beliefs that a person must understand, believe and hold to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ, avoid the wrath to come, and enjoy eternal life in heaven. To that end, these essential, core, and foundational beliefs have been gleaned from the Scriptures, carefully considered, and then listed in The Harbor Church Constitution & Bylaws. Those who hold to the gospel found in the Articles of Faith of that document, regardless of church membership or Christian denomination, are forever assured of obtaining salvation and may rightly call themselves Christians.

As Christians gather, bond and form a local church, they need to be mindful to proclaim, teach and protect these core beliefs and values of the Christian faith (Jude 1:3; 2 Tm 4:1-2; Mt 28:18-20). While this is the charge of the church, its teachings must go beyond these essentials of the faith to include its doctrinal distinctives.These additional teachings are not intended in any way to add to, take away from or supplant that which one must believe to ensure salvation, but rather to ensure, especially within the local church, consistency of teaching (Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tm 4:11), protection from false doctrine (Mt 7:15, 24:11, 24; 1 Tm 1:3; 2 Tm 4:3-4; 2 Pt 2:1) and to allow the church to avoid divisions and maintain unity while dealing with various practical and theological matters that impact the church on a regular, if not daily, basis (Acts 4:32; 1 Cor 1:10; Eph 4:4).

Below are the Theological Distinctives of The Harbor Church.They define who we are by clearly defining what we believe, and as a local church, have (best we know) always believed. As stated, they are not essential for salvation, but, in a very real sense, they are the mind, character, personality and, as one looks at our long and cherished history, the theological heritage of our church.  

 

Table of Contents

  1. The Holy Spirit
  2. Creation
  3. Creation Stewardship
  4. Sanctity of Life
  5. Civil Government
  6. The Poor
  7. The Word of God
  8. Sin
  9. Salvation
  10. Eternal Security
  11. Sanctification
  12. Baptism
  13. Spiritual Gifts
  14. The Church
  15. Church Leadership
  16. Church Membership
  17. Church Discipline
  18. Communion
  19. Gender Roles
  20. Marriage
  21. Sanctity of Sex
  22. Divorce
  23. Homosexuality
  24. Financial Stewardship
  25. Death
  26. Future Things

THE HOLY SPIRIT (not “the force” from Star Wars)

We believe that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or abstract power but rather the third God-person of the eternal (Heb 9:14), omniscient (1 Cor 2:10-11) and holy Trinity alongside God the Father and God the Son (Mt 28:19). Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit also has intellect (1 Cor 2:11), emotion (Rom 15:30), and will (Acts 15:28; 1 Cor 12:11). Being one with and of the same nature as the Father and Son, it is right to give honor, reverence, and worship to the Holy Spirit. 

Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers on the day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:1-4), the Holy Spirit was active at creation (Gen 1:1-2; Jb 26:13; Ps 104:30), moved men to write the Scriptures (Zec 7:12; 2 Pt 1:20-21), came upon men and women to lead the nation of Israel (Jgs 3:10, 6:34; 11:29, 13:25; 1 Sm 10:6), gave his chosen servants power to perform mighty acts (Nm 27:18-20; Jgs 14:6, 19, 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6) and moved men to prophesy (Nm 11:25-29; 1 Sm 10:10; 2 Sm 23:2; 2 Chr 15:1, 20:14, 24:20; Neh 9:30). 

In relation to salvation, we believe that the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit it is to convict men of their sins and move them towards repentance (Jn 16:8-11), awaken and refresh their hearts to believe and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior  (Ez 36:26; Jn 16:14; Ti 3:5) and, upon this belief, indwell and seal them to the awaited day of redemption (Rm 8:11; Eph 1:13-14, 4:30; 2 Tm 1:14) granting them the privilege of their adoption into the family of God and a conviction and assurance of their eternal salvation (Rm 8:16; Gal 4:4-7).

In relation to sanctification, we believe that upon salvation, the Holy Spirit works towards setting believers apart and making them holy before God and man (Rm 15:16) all the while blessing them with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). In addition, the Holy Spirit teaches believers (Jn 14:2), guides them into the truth (Jn 16:13), brings things to their remembrance (Jn 14:26), and shows them that which is to come (Jn 16:13; Acts 20:23, 21:11).

Further, we believe that the Holy Spirit desires to declare and glorify Jesus Christ (Jn 16:14) so he continues to set apart, sustain, and direct certain believers into ministry (Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6) as well as empowers all believers to share their faith (Acts 1:8) even at times granting them the very words to share in trying circumstances (Mt 10:18-20; Lk 12:11-12; Acts 4:8). The Spirit also gives spiritual gifts (see SPIRITUAL GIFTS) to all believers to build up the church (Rm 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12-14: Eph 4:11-16: 1 Pt 4:10-11).

Finally, we believe that believers should not lie to (Acts 5:3), grieve (Isa 63:10; Eph 4:30), or quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:19) but instead set their minds and hearts on the Spirit (Rm 8:5-6) seeking to always walk and be in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25) as they rely on him to help and guide their prayers and daily life (Jude 1:20; Eph 6:18; Rm 8:26-27), all the while enjoying the benefits of comfort, peace, hope and joy that can only be found in and through the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 9:31; Rm 14:17, 15:13).

CREATION (God created everything)

We believe that God is the only one, living and true God (Dt 6:5; Isa 44:6, 10, 45:5; Jer 10:10) and is therefore the Creator and not the created (Psa 90:2; Isa 43:10; Jn 1:1; Rom 9:20-21). He is intimate with his creation but is independent from it (Isa 40:25-31). He created from nothing all things in the heavens and the earth, from the stars to the seas, from the plants to the animals, all things both visible and invisible (Gn 1; Isa 45:7, 12; Jn 1:3; Acts 17:24; Rom 4:17; Heb 11:3). He created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh (Gn 1-2).

By an immediate, purposeful, and direct act God also created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image (Gn 1:26-27, 2:7, 21-25). On the sixth day of creation man was formed by God out of the dust of the ground and became a living creature when God breathed the breath of life into him (Gn 2:7). Eve was created by God when he caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs, and used it to fashion her (Gn 2:20-23).

God commissioned mankind to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth as well as to subdue the earth and rule over every living thing that moves upon the earth (Gn 1:28; 9:1). Ultimately, man was created to give glory to God and enjoy him forever (Psa 16:5-11; 86; 144:15; Isa 12:2; 43:7, 60:21; Lk 12:2; Jn 10:10; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 6:20, 31; Phil 4:4; Rv 4:11; 21:3-4).

CREATION STEWARDSHIP (let's take care of our planet)

We believe that the earth and all it contains reflect and declare the glory, presence, majesty, order and provision of God (Psa 8:9; 24:1; 89:11; 104:24). God has given to man the rule, responsibility, care and protection of the earth, including plants and trees, all that moves on the sea, land and sky, and it’s environment and atmosphere (Gn 1:26, 28). As the appointed overseers of God’s creation, man is charged to ensure that God is not dishonored by the abuse, neglect, damage or destruction of that which he has entrusted to us.To act as good stewards, we are to show respect, foresight, concern and prudence to ensure that the creation will properly and continually serve God’s design as a revelation and mirror of God’s beauty, wisdom, power and glory.

Since it was also the intent and wisdom of God that the earth was created to sustain man’s material needs such as food and shelter, we need to be mindful that it is our God-given responsibility, both to those now living and to future generations, that we do not unnecessarily, wantonly, greedily, or carelessly deplete, diminish or exhaust it’s natural resources (Prv 13:22).

SANCTITY OF LIFE (pro-life)

We believe that life is special, precious and sacred for it is God himself who creates us in his own image (Gn 1:26-27). Life starts at the point of conception since it is God who fashions, weaves, and knits us together in the womb (Job 10:10-12, 31:15; Psa 139:13; Eccl 11:5; Isa 44:2, 24). While we are still in the womb, God sees us (Psa 139:15-16), knows us (Psa 22:9-10; Jer 1:5), can fill us with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:15, 41-44), and can even appoint us to ministry (Jer 1:5; Gal 1:15). Beyond this, God even ordains the number of our days while we are yet in the womb (Psa 139:16; Job 14:5).

Knowing that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, that is it he who gives us our daily breath and bread (Isa 42:5; Mt 6:11; Acts 17:25), watches over us to protect us from harm (Isa 42:6) and sent his Son that we might have an abundant and eternal life (Jn 3:16, 10:10) should cause us give thanks and praise to our Creator (Psa 139:14). Accordingly, we should do all we can to protect life as well as strive to ensure its development, length of days and overall quality. Those who crush, bruise, or go so far as to take an innocent human life, by any means, including but not limited to abortion, assisted suicide, or murder, are to face the judgment of both God and men (Gn 9:5-6). 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT (pay your taxes)

 We believe that civil government has been instituted by God (Rom 13:1). While national, state, and local governments rule over the people, we acknowledge, confess, and declare that it is God who is king of all the earth (Gn 14:22; Psa 24:1, 47:1-9; Rev 19:16) and that it is he who rules over all the nations (Psa 22:8; Prv 2:11). It is God alone who sets government leaders and officials in their place and it is he who removes them (Dn 2:21, 4:17).

We understand that government officials (kings, rulers, etc.) stand in place as servants of God for the common good (Rom 13:4).  Therefore, we believe that while they serve and fear the Lord (Psa 2:10-11), everyone under their authority should be subject to them (Rom 13:1), not resist them (Rom 13:2) respect and give honor to them (Rom 13:7), pray and give thanks for them (Jer 29:7; 1 Tm 2:1-3), always speak well of them (Prv 11:20), and finally, pay our due taxes to them (Mk 12:17; Rom 13:7). We do this with the express desire for ourselves to live peaceful, quiet, godly, and dignified lives (1 Tim 2:2) as well as with the loving intent that they may come to be saved and find knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). 

THE POOR (be nice to them)

We believe that God is the maker of both the rich and the poor (Prv 22:2). Since all men are created in the image of God (Gn 1:27) and since Jesus loved and gave his life for the sins of all men (Jn 3:16, Rm 5:18; 1 Tm 2:4-6), we are without judgment to show all men, regardless of their financial position, both in word and deed, the compassion, mercy, kindness, and love of God (Mt 22:37-40). 

 While Jesus tells us that we will always have the poor with us, he also tells us that we can do good to them whenever we want (Mk 14:7). We believe that we should do good by not only remembering the poor (Gal 2:10), but also by sharing generously with them (Dt 15:11, Prv 14:21, 31, 19:17, 22:9, 26:8, 28:27), treating them fairly (Prv 29:14), maintaining and defending their rights (Job 5:16, 29:12; Psa 82:3-4; Prv 29:7, 31:8-9), and as to all men, sharing the gospel with them (Lk 4:18, 7:22). Further, we are to take heed that we do not deny them justice (Prv 13:23), oppress them (Prv 14:31, 22:16, 28:3), mock them (Prv 17:5), dishonor them (Js 2:1-7), rob or devour them (Prv 22:22-23, 28:15, 30:14), close our ears to their call or our eyes to their plight  (Prv 21:13, 28:27), nor abandon them in their time of need (Prv 19:4, 7). Truly, blessed are those who are poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God (Lk 6:20). 

THE WORD OF GOD (the Bible is true!)

We believe that the Bible is the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Although the “heavens declare the glory of God” (Psa 19:1; Rom 1:20), the special revelation of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ has only been disclosed to us in the Bible, the very Word of God (Rom 10:17; Jn 20:31). Men who were supernaturally influenced by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible.By its very testimony it is the inspired Word of God—even to the very choice of words (2 Tm 3:16-17; 1 Thes 2:13; 2 Pt 1:20-21).The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds so we can understand the Bible (Jn 14:26; 1 Cor 2:14).

God’s Word has the ultimate authority over our lives. This includes all of our thoughts, words, and deeds (Jos 1:8; Psa 119:101; Heb 4:12). The Bible contains that which is useful for a Christian to be thoroughly equipped for every good work(2 Tm 3:16-17) and should be studied diligently, handled accurately, and obeyed (2 Tm 2:15; Jas 1:22). All that is in the Bible will be accomplished – its words will never fail or pass away (Isa 40:8; Mt 5:18). The Bible is absolutely inerrant, true, perfect, sure, right, and pure as given in the original documents (Psa 12:6, 19:7-8). The Bible contains the full and final revelation that God has desired to give to us.It cannot be added to or deleted from (Mt 5:19; Rv 22:18-19).

SIN (we all sin)

We believe that sin, that prideful rebellion, disobedience, and arrogance against God, his will and commands, is universal and that each man is guilty of sin and falls short of the glory of God (Rom 3:10-18, 23). In Adam’s sin against God all men, except Jesus Christ, inherited a sinful nature and therefore God’s condemnation (Gn 6:5; 8:21; Rom 5:18-19).Being of a totally depraved nature, man’s will, intellect, emotions and desires are tainted, influenced and ruled by sin (Rom 7:14-25; 1 Cor 2:6-16). Therefore, man, by nature and choice, can and does sin, both by omission and commission, in deed, word and thought (Jas 4:17).

Sin first and foremost causes a broken relationship with God (Gn 3:22-24). Man falls short of God’s glory and thereby loses his fellowship with him (Rom 3:23; 2 Cor 5:18-20). Because of sin, man’s individual inner peace vanishes (Mt 11:28-30), his joy is taken away, and he intentionally hides from the light of truth (Gn 3:8; Jn 3:19-21). As a result,sin brings forth death; the unrepentant man dies and ultimately, at the last judgment, is thrown into the eternal fire of hell to receive his just wages (Rom 6:23; Rv 20:14-15).

SALVATION (you need Jesus)

We believe that salvation is that act of God in which a man’s sins are forgiven, his relationship with God is restored, he is sealed with the Holy Spirit, adopted into God’s family as a son or daughter of God, and he is granted the gift of eternal life (Jn 1:12; Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:1-7). This salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9; Ti 2:11). When a man acknowledges his sin before God and repents, when he believes that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood to pay the penalty for his sins and avoid the wrath of God, when he receives Christ as his Savior and confesses that Jesus is Lord he experiences true conversion and is saved (Jn 1:12; Acts 3:19; Rom 10:9). Salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ. (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Before the foundation of the world God predestined those whom he willed to receive salvation. Although God loves the world and desires that all men be saved (Jn 3:16; 1 Tm 2:3; 2 Pt 3:9), not all have nor will turn to him and be saved (Acts 13:48; Rom 9:22; Eph 1:4-5). He chose men not according to what they did, were doing, or would do but only to the delight of his good pleasure (Eph 2:9; Ti 3:5). Consequently, man can do no works to aid in his salvation, cannot come to it from intellect, nor find something “good” within himself to guide him into salvation but must receive it solely, thankfully and joyfully as a precious, loving and free gift (Acts 16:31; Rom 3:21-26; 6:23; Eph 2:8-9).

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of his sin thus enabling him to respond to the good news of salvation in Christ (Jn 16:8-11; Acts 16:15; Ti 3:5-7). Man, being spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins fully depends upon the illuminating work and power of the Holy Spirit to hear the word of Christ, be awakened and be made alive in Christ (Rom 3:10-18; 10:17; 1 Cor 2:6-16; 1 Pt 2:4, 7-8).

ETERNAL SECURITY (you can't lose your salvation)

We believe that upon a true conversion experience (see SALVATION) a believer is once for all time:

  • Born again by the Holy Spirit to be a child of God (Jn 1:12-14, 3:6; 1 Pt 1:3-5)
  • United with Christ in the likeness, death, and power of his crucifixion (Rom 6:5-7; Gal 2:20)
  • Transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13-14; Eph 5:8; 1 Thes 5:5)
  • Set free from a life of slavery (Rom 6:18, 7:23, 8:2; 1 Cor 7:23; Gal 4:7-8)
  • Redeemed from the curse of the Law (Gal 3:13; 1 Pt 1:18)
  • Justified before God in light of Christ’s righteousness (Rom 3:21-26, 5:8-9)
  • Brought to life from death (Eph 2:1-2; Jn 5:24; 1 Jn 3:14)
  • Adopted into the family of God (Eph 1:4-6)
  • Transformed into a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)
  • Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Col 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14, 4:30)
Since it was God himself who first appointed, elected, and predestined us unto salvation, (Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1;5, 11; 2 Pt 1:10), chose us before we chose him (Eph 1:4; 2 Thes 2:13; 1 Jn 4:10, 14), promised to complete the work that he himself started within us (Phil 1:6), assures us that he will never leave or abandon us (Mt 29:20; Heb 13:5), and protects us so we will never perish nor experience his wrath (Jn 10:27-28; Rom 5:9; 1 Thes 1:10), we hold that God is the Author, Sustainer, and Finisher of our salvation (Heb 2:10, 12:2; Phil 1:6). Therefore, a believer may rest secure in his salvation and will ultimately persevere unto the end and experience the joys of heaven (Mt 10:22, 24:13; Mk 13:13).

Considering the greatness of this gift of salvation that God has granted to men in Jesus Christ, believers, holding fast this assurance until the end (Heb 3:14), should take care to strive to conform to the image of Christ (see SANCTIFICATION), be mindful to obey the commands of Christ, and proclaim the gospel of Christ (Rom 8:29; Phil 3:21; Jn 14:15; Mt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). A believer should also be mindful not to neglect his salvation nor abuse it by willful sinning (Heb 2:3; Rom 6:1-7).

SANCTIFICATION (aim for holiness)

We believe that immediately following conversion (see SALVATION) a believer begins the process of sanctification whereby he or she is guided, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to conform to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18).This transformation consists in the believer renewing his mind (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 10:5; Eph 4:23; Col 23:2), the putting off of sinful behaviors (2 Cor 7:1; Col 3:8-9; 2 Tm 2:21) and the putting on of Christ-like and, therefore, God pleasing behaviors (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:10-17; 1 Thes 4:1).

This gradual step-by-step process, which will only be complete when a believer reaches heaven, is also evidenced by a deepening love for both God and man, a growing and sincere desire to be obedient to God’s commandments, the blossoming of the fruit of the Spirit and a growing appreciation, understanding, and participation in the things of God (Jn 15:8; Gal 5:22-23; 1 Jn 2:3, 3:6). At its core, the sanctification process demands that a believer die to self and live for Christ (Jn 3:30; 2 Cor 5:15-17; Gal 2:20; Phil 1:21). While it is indeed a work initiated by God for his good pleasure (Phil 1:6, 2:13; 1 Thes 4:7), the believer is responsible for fully cooperating with this work as well as showing the discipline necessary to shine forth and be an example of a godly person (Phil 2:12-16; 1 Tm 4:7, 12).

BAPTISM (it's a command)

We believe that baptism is an obedient step of faith for all disciples of Jesus Christ (Mt 28:18-20). Believer’s baptism is a public testimony of a believer showing forth his or her faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior, and his or her union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom 6:5-8). Believer’s baptism is only for those who can show evidence of the repentance of sin, belief in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, and a sincere desire to live an obedient and godly life (Acts 2:38-41; Gal 3:26-27; Rom 6:3-4). Since an infant is incapable of this type of humility, decision, and commitment, we do not advocate infant baptism (Acts 8:36-37; 1 Pt 3:21). Further, we believe that those persons who have been baptized as an infant need to follow in obedience the rite of believer’s baptism once they can show proof of a true conversion experience.

We further believe that believer’s baptism is a symbolic expression of existing faith in Christ Jesus and does not by itself save (Mk 16:16).Believer’s baptism is a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 12:13-14). Baptism by immersion best conforms to the New Testament picture of a believer’s dying and rising with Jesus Christ. By being immersed into the water we identify with Christ’s death, by being raised up from the water we identify with His resurrection (Acts 8:38; Rom 6:5; Col 2:12). Therefore, we hold that baptism should be by immersion unless physically impractical.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS (all Christians have them)

We believe that spiritual gifts are not learned or inherited abilities, skills, or talents but instead specific supernatural gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each believer enabling him or her to participate and be used by God for the common good and  edification of the church to the glory of God (1 Cor 12:7, 11; Eph 4:12; 1 Pt 4:10). Although there is no comprehensive list of all the spiritual gifts in the Bible, it does make reference to at least twenty different spiritual gifts (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12-14: Eph 4:11-16: 1 Pt 4:10-11).

Each believer receives at least one spiritual gift immediately upon conversion (see SALVATION) for which they are responsible and privileged to use (1 Pt 4:10-11). Although we are encouraged to seek after spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:1), they are only granted as God so wills and desires. There are times when some believers have received spiritual gifts in response to their desire for them, some by the laying on of hands, and some at a direct and gracious outpouring of His Spirit (Acts 2:38, 10:44; 1 Cor 14:1a; Rom 1:11; 2 Tm 1:6). Our zeal for spiritual gifts should always be focused not on ourselves but rather for the edification of the church (1 Cor 14:1, 12-13).

While it is not unusual for some Christians to have the same spiritual gift, it should not be expected or required that all Christians have the same spiritual gift.We see the norm as being that members of the Body of Christ, especially within a local church context, have different and complementary gifts (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:8-11, 28-30). We do not believe that there is one spiritual gift that a believer needs to show evidence of salvation (i.e. speaking in tongues).

Spiritual gifts are to be used correctly and not abused.Some spiritual gifts have very specific biblical regulations and guidelines attached to them that must be followed so they will be used as God intended within the church body (1 Cor 14:1-33). Spiritual gifts can be counterfeited by Satan as well as pretended by both believers and non-believers.Therefore, believers need to show biblical discernment in determining whether a certain spiritual gift (especially the gift of prophecy) is truly from the Lord (Mt 24:24; 2 Cor 11:13-15; 1 Cor 14:29, 32; 1 Jn 4:1).

As long as there are Christians that need edifying and a Church that needs building up, spiritual gifts will remain.We therefore hold to the position that all the spiritual gifts that were available to the believers in the early New Testament church are still available for God to bless us with today. Only when Christ returns will spiritual gifts be done away with (1 Cor 13:8-12).Until then, Christians need to continue to use the spiritual gifts that God has given them to edify the church to the glory of God (1 Cor 13:8-10, 14:39; 1 Thes 5:19).

THE CHURCH (is really important)

We believe that all true believers of Jesus Christ comprise the universal Church. This body and bride of Christ, distinct from the nation of Israel, had its beginning on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41; Rom 11:1-11, 23-32). The church exists to glorify God by providing a community where believers, members of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people for God’s own possession (1 Pt 2:9), can assemble as part of the family of God, render worship through music and prayers, devote themselves to the study, teaching and proclamation of the Word of God and observe communion. Further, as the temple of the living God (1 Cor 3:16) it is the chosen institution by Christ for believers to proclaim the gospel in both word and deed in, through, and beyond the local community (Mt 7:13-16; Acts 1:8; 2 Tm 4:1-2; Jas 1:22). The heartbeat and passion of the church is to reach the lost, baptize them, and then to disciple these new believers to the glory of God.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP (is God's idea)

We believe that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the Body, is the head of his cherished possession, the church (Eph 5:22).As a called and gathered people the local church must bow to the authority of Jesus Christ in all matters (Eph 5:24, 29).

God has ordained two offices within the local church, the Elders and the Deacons (Phil 1:1).The Elders are men whose primary purpose is to shepherd God’s flock (Acts 20:17-31; 1 Pt 1-4) by leading, teaching, modeling, protecting, caring, and praying for the church family individually and corporately (Acts 6:2-4, 20:28, 35; 1 Peter 5:2; Jas 5:13-16). As these men oversee the church they are to be prayed for, obeyed, and held in high regard (1 Thes 5:12; Heb 13:17-18). Following in the pattern of the early church (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Cor 14:40; 1 Tm 3:7-13), the Deacons are men who are given the responsibility to deal with the practical and material matters (e.g. finances and facilities) of the church so as to allow the Elders the freedom to give attention to the spiritual work to which God has called them.

Those men who are affirmed by the congregation to serve in the office of Elder or Deacon must meet the pertinent biblical qualifications as found in (Acts 6:3-5; 1 Tm 3:1-13, Ti 2:5-9, and 1 Pt 5:1-4).

The pastor is an elder (“first among equals”) who is financially supported by the church (1 Cor 9:14; 1 Tm 5:17-18) so that he may give himself fully to the work of the Lord (2 Tm 4:5).

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP (means commitment)

While all believers are members of the universal Church (see THE CHURCH), we believe that local church membership, though not specifically mandated in the Scriptures, aligns itself well with biblical principles and New Testament practices and is an important step of commitment and relationship to the local church for a believer (Acts 4:32; Gal 6:10; 1 Pt 1:22). As a practical solution to managing and shepherding a local church body it provides a greater sense of unity, belonging, and accountability to the local church family and helps do away with a “dating the church” and “church consumer” mentality and functionality (Acts 2:41-42, 46-47, 4:32). By becoming a member of a local church a believer affirms and supports the church leadership as found in the Council of Elders (see CHURCH LEADERSHIP) as well as grants them, the Elders, the permission to provide biblically based counseling, shepherding (Prv 27:23; Acts 20:28; 1 Thes 5:12; Heb 13:17; 1 Pt 5:1-2) and, if necessary, discipline (see CHURCH DISCIPLINE). Membership in a church also functions as a screening mechanism to protect the flock from false teaching (Mt 7:15; Acts 20:29; Jude 1:4) as well as gives the believer a stronger witness in the local community (Acts 11:26b; Rom 1:7, 16:5).

NOTE: At The Harbor Church, membership is a requirement for those who desire to teach (2 Tm 2:2; Jude 1:3), be part of the Worship Team ministry (1 Chron 15:16), or vote on matters of church business (Acts 6:3, 5; 15:22).

CHURCH DISCIPLINE (a last resort of love)

We believe that Christians are often in various forms of sin that are common to man. However, the Scriptures do indicate certain sins (Eph 5:3-5) that would necessitate church discipline if a believer committed them and then subsequently was defiant, unrepentant, stubborn, and willfully and obstinately resistant to the authority of godly counsel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit through a season of time (Psa 51:1-4; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5:11; 2 Thes 3:14; 1 Jn 1:9). For those is such a state, it is necessary for the church body to employ church discipline so as to ensure that the church is not dishonored but remain pure and holy in the eyes of God and man (Jn 17:23; 1 Cor 3:16-17, 5:2; Eph 5:27), deter others from falling into sin (Dt 13:11; Acts 5:5, 10-11; 1 Cor 5:6-7), restore and reclaim the rebellious and wayward member (Gal 6:1; 1 Cor 5:4-5) and remain obedient to the will of God as found in the Scriptures (Jn 14:15, 24, 15:14; Lk 6:46; 1 Cor 5:6-7, 13).

The heart and attitude when confronting a brother or sister entangled in sin must be one of love, gentleness and watchfulness ( Gal 6:1-2).The process is begun first privately, and then if he or she will not listen, one or two others should come alongside to help in confronting and confirming the sin with the hope of restoration.If the wayward believer is still unrepentant, the matter must be brought before the church. If he or she still refuses to listen to the church, discipline must be employed (Mt 18:15-17). Since those under church discipline are living in unrepentant sin and defiance of sound doctrine, teaching, and counsel, the church family is asked to avoid and not associate with him or her (Mt 18:17; Lk 18:11; Rom 16:17-19; 1 Cor 5:11; 2 Thes 3:6, 14; 2 Tm 3:1-5; Ti 3:10-11) especially by not eating with (1 Cor 5:11; 10:27), inviting or welcoming into their homes (Lk 15:2; 2 Jn 10) or fellowshipping socially or at Christian meetings (1 Cor 5:13).

Church discipline is an act of love, and yet, still a necessary punishment.It is never to be applied with a coarse, disrespectful or vengeful attitude, but rather filled with love, hope, prayer, admonishment and watchfulness for the one under discipline. The ultimate goal is to see a brother or sister humbly return to the goodness of the Lord (2 Thes 3:15). Once a person genuinely repents of the sin for which they were placed under church discipline, the church body should forgive the person and welcome him or her back into fellowship. (Lk 15:17-21; 2 Cor 2:6-8).

COMMUNION (the time we remember)

We believe that on the night Jesus was betrayed, while he and his disciples were eating a meal on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus instituted the ordinance of communion (Mk 14:12, 17-18; Lk 22:17-19). Communion is a proclamation of the Lord’s sacrificial and atoning death until he comes (1 Cor 11:26). The elements used in communion, are symbolic in nature and remind us of the death of Jesus Christ. The bread reminds us that the body of Christ was sacrificed for us on the cross and the wine reminds us of the blood that He shed for our transgressions (1 Cor 11:24-26).

Communion is not a sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ nor are the elements actually transformed into the real flesh and blood of Jesus (Heb 7:26-27, 10:10). Participation in communion does not confer salvation, special grace nor the forgiveness of sins (Rom 10:9-10; Eph 2:8-9; 1 Jn 1:9). Communion should always be preceded by self-examination to ensure that one is not participating in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:28-31). Participation in communion is only intended for believers in Jesus Christ, and is therefore meaningless for an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14-15).

GENDER ROLES (God made us different)

We believe that both men and women were created in the image of God (Gn 1:27) and, in the eyes of God, are both positionally equal in regards to salvation in Christ, loved, and valued (Jn 3:16; Gal 3:26-28). In God’s sovereignty, wisdom and design, men and women have been given and gifted different roles and responsibilities in both the marriage relationship and the church.

In regards to marriage, men are to love, respect, care for, protect and lead, especially by providing headship to the relationship. Women are to please God by complementing their husbands by showing love, respect and submissiveness (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pt 3:1-7). In regards to the church, women enjoy the privilege and freedom to serve in a variety of capacities and roles such as teaching other women (Ti 2:3-5), exercising spiritual gifts in accordance with the Word of God (Jl 2:28-29; 1 Cor 12:7, 27-30) and serving the overall congregation.

Men only are to be the spiritual leaders of the corporate church and hold the offices of Elder and Deacon (see CHURCH LEADERSHIP). Since God has ordained that women are not to teach men nor hold authority over men (1 Cor 14:33-37; 1 Tm 2:11-14) women are not to take on the teaching or authoritative roles in the church such as Elder or Pastor.

MARRIAGE (between a man and a woman)

We believe that God ordained marriage for the blessing, benefit and pleasure of one man and one woman (Gn 2:22-24). A marriage is a holy covenant and deep commitment between one man and one woman before God, family and friends that they will unite in mind and body and remain faithful to each other, love and cherish each other, care for each other, and protect each other “till death do them part” (Mt 19:6).

While non-believers are free to marry other non-believers, believers are only to marry believers (1 Cor 7:39, 9:5; 2 Cor 6:14-16). Therefore, we discourage a believer from dating or contemplating marriage to a non-believer. [We also do not believe that same-sex marriage was or will be God’s intent and therefore do not encourage it; therefore, we do not perform civil unions or marriage ceremonies of any type for same-sex couples at our church.]

The roles of the husband and wife in the marriage relationship are ordered by God so as to create, foster and build love, unity and order so as to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33).We also believe that God’s mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gn 1:28) was only intended to be fulfilled within the confines of a marriage relationship, and should be taken seriously only by married couples. Therefore, we do not condone premarital sex (see SANCTITY OF SEX).

SANCTITY OF SEX (wait until you're married)

We believe that God created sex for the pro-creation of mankind (Gn 1:28), physical and emotional bonding (Gen 2:22-24) as well as pleasure for a man and a woman (Sg 1:2, 16, 2:6) exclusively within the bonds of a marriage relationship (see MARRIAGE). All sexual acts or unions outside of marriage, whether premarital (fornication) or extra-marital (adultery), are clearly and expressly against the desires, design and commands of God (Ex 20:14; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor 6:18). Further, sexual acts and unions between a man and a man, a woman and a woman, (see HOMOSEXUALITY) or a man or woman with an animal are also contrary to and in rebellious defiance of the commands of God (Lv 18:23, 20:16; Rom 1:22-32).

DIVORCE (not the best)

We believe that God both hates (Mal 2:16) and discourages divorce (1 Cor 7:10-14). Divorce was never God’s design for married couples (see MARRIAGE) even from the beginning, however, due to the hardness of men’s hearts, he nevertheless allows divorce, not for any reason, but only under certain circumstances (Mt 19:3, 8). One such circumstance is marital unfaithfulness by either the husband or the wife (Mt 5:31-32). Beyond this, if a man divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another women, he is said to be guilty of committing adultery (Mt 19:9). If a man divorces his wife, and she then marries another man, even though her new husband divorces her or dies, she is not to re-marry her former husband (Dt 24:1-4).

Another reason for divorce, for the sake of peace, is when an unbelieving husband or wife chooses to end the marriage relationship (1 Cor 7:15). Further, if a believer has an unbelieving spouse who agrees to live with him or her, then the believer should not divorce the unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:11-14).

HOMOSEXUALITY (is a sin)

We believe that the homosexuality is a behavior and practice that is strictly forbidden by God and that it is looked upon as a sin against both God and man (Lv 18:22, 20:13). The Scriptures describe homosexuality in many different ways so we may be warned against engaging in this sinful behavior, including: wickedness (Gn 19:5-7); an abomination (Lv 18:22), a detestable act (Lv 22:13); an act of folly (Jgs 19:22-23); unnatural (Rom 1:26-27); indecent (Rom 1:27); contrary to sound teaching (1 Tm 1:8-11); unprincipled sexual conduct (2 Pt 2:6-8); and grossly immoral (Jude 1:7).

Homosexuality is a sin like any other sin found listed or described in the Bible (1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tm 1:9-10). Therefore, those who engage in homosexual behavior are said to: be guilty before God (Lv 20:13), receive a punishment in their own bodies (Rom 1:26) and not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10).  We believe that those who confess their sin of homosexuality, like confessing any other sin, can be cleansed from this sin, freed from its bondage and empowered by the Holy Spirit to cease all homosexual behaviors (Rom 3:23; Prv 14:12; 1 Cor 6:11; Rom 5:8-9; 1 Jn 1:9; Acts 3:19; 1 Pt 1:15-16).

FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP (give generously)

We believe that the believer belongs to God (1 Cor 6:19-20), that every good thing that he is and has is a gift from God (1 Cor 4:7; 1 Tm. 6:17; Jas. 1:17), and that he is responsible to God for what he does with that which God has given him (Mt 25:14-30; Lk. 16:1-13; 1 Pt 4:10-11). Believers are not to come before God with empty hands, grudgingly or under compulsion (Ex 23:15; Dt 16:16; 2 Cor 9:7) but rather are called to bring their gifts cheerfully, according to their ability and generously (2 Cor 8:3, 9:7; 1 Tm 6:18).

As a wise, prudent and generous steward of the financial resources with which God has entrusted him or her, a believer is accountable to use a portion of those resources to the glory of God in such things as, but not limited to, assisting the poor and needy, the support of the work of God as found in and through the local church and contributing to evangelistic endeavors locally and around the world (2 Cor 8:24; Lk 8:1-3; Gal 2:10).

The giving of free-will offerings and tithes (a “tenth”) is an act of worship and therefore should be given with a heart attitude of thankfulness, rejoicing and reverence (Gn 4; Dt 12:6-7, 14:22-23; 2 Cor 9:7). Tithing, the giving of a tenth of one’s income, is and was a common response to the goodness of God (Gn 14:20, 28:22; Mt 23:23) and is considered an act of obedience (Dt 26:14-15) as well as a pleasing and holy sacrifice to God (Lv 27:30). Further, since tithing results in the richest of blessings to one’s self and others (Dt 14:28-29; Mal 3:10; Mt 6:1-4; 22 Cor 9:6) we highly encourage all believers, as they are able, to tithe their earnings.

DEATH (the final frontier)

We believe that sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and that spiritual and physical death was the result, consequence and due wages of his action (Gn 3:1-7; Rom 3:23; 5:12; Eph 2:1-2). Death, which has now spread to all men (Rom 5:12), is the decree that has been appointed by God to all men (Heb 9:27) and is inevitable and inescapable unless God, in his divine providence, takes us home beforehand (Gn 5:21-24; 2 Kgs 2:11-12).

Upon death, the body and soul are separated. The body immediately begins to decompose as it goes back to the dust and ashes from whence it came (Gn 2:7, 3:19; 18:27; Jb 10:9, 34:15; Psa 90:30; Eccl 3:20). The soul of a man continues to live on as it awaits the final judgment (see END TIMES). By his death on the cross and the power of his resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and death, therefore enabling the believer to have victory over death and not experience it’s deadly sting (1 Cor 15:54-57). For the believer, death is actually a gain as it ushers him or her into the very presence of Christ (2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:20-23) to await the resurrection (see FUTURE THINGS). For the unbeliever, death is a dreadful curse that places him in pain and suffering as he too awaits the final judgment (Lk 16:19-31).

In the “twinkling of an eye” and at the “last trumpet” (1 Cor 15:51), those who are dead will be powerfully raised to life and receive their new, imperishable, heavenly and glorious resurrection bodies which will never decay or wear out (1 Cor 15:29-49). At the final judgment, those who have not found salvation in Jesus Christ will experience what is known as the second death as they are thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity (Rv 20:14, 21:18). Those who have embraced Jesus Christ by faith (see SALVATION) will be counted blessed and holy, as the second death has no power over them (Rv 2:11, 20:6).

Once death occurs, there is no longer any hope for an unbeliever to have his or her sins forgiven or come to faith in Jesus Christ (Lk 16:25-26; Heb 9:27), therefore, believers are encouraged to freely and compassionately share the message of salvation to all who may hear before death snatches the opportunity from them (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16; Rom 10:14-15).

FUTURE THINGS (Jesus is coming back)

We believe that no one knows the day or the hour of the certain and visible return of Christ (Mt 24:23-27), not even the angels nor Jesus himself, but the Father alone (Mt 24:42; Mark 13:32) and that truly, his return will come as a thief in the night (Mt 24:43; 1 Thes 5:2). However, in God’s providence, he has chosen to give us signs of his coming so believers can be alert and ready for that Day (Mt 24:42-44, 25:13). Among these signs will be the rise of many claiming to be the Christ, false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, nations rising up against nations, and famines and earthquakes (Mt 24:4-14; 2 Pt 2:1-3). While unbelievers will be ignoring and mocking these signs and the promises of the Scriptures (Mt 24:36-41; 2 Pt 3:3-7) calling instead for peace (1 Thes 5:3), lawlessness will increase and most people’s love will grow cold (Mt 24:12). Further, as the end draws near, God will once again graciously and mercifully resume his redemptive work with Israel (Rom 11:1-32).

As to the events of the end times, we hold that there will be a Great Tribulation on the earth for seven years when God will unleash his wrath, as never seen before, upon the inhabitants of the earth (Mt 24:9-28; Rv 6-17:18). Following that, Christ will reign with his saints while Satan and his angels are bound and cast into the abyss for a thousand years (the “millennium”) so as not to deceive the nations (Rv 20:1-3, 4-6). After these thousand years, Satan will be freed, which will result in a great battle of nations in which he will be defeated and then thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, from which there is no escape, to be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rv 20:7-10).

At this time there will be a resurrection of the dead and a final judgment by God (Rv 20:11-15). Believers will be judged according to their deeds, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:9-10).Those whose works are “burned up” will suffer loss, but will still be saved (1 Cor 3:10-15). Unbelievers, those who have rejected Jesus Christ, will be judged according to their deeds, condemned, and thrown into the lake of fire to suffer for all eternity (Mt 25:46; Rv 21:8).

To the delight, wisdom and love of God, the present earth and heavens will be burned up and destroyed and there will be the creation of a new heavens and a new earth (2 Pt 3:10-13; Rv 21:1-4). It is in this New Jerusalem (Rv 21:2), a place free from death, sorrow, tears and pain (Rv 21:1-22:5), where believers will live, rejoice, and worship forever in the presence, holiness, majesty and glory of God for all eternity.

Since the return of Christ is imminent (Mt 24:36-25:13), believers need not be frightened (Mt 24:6) but instead ever mindful and ready (Mt 24:22-24) by being faithful, sensible, and busy and abounding in the Lord’s business (Mt 24:45-52; 1 Cor 15:58), striving to be holy and blameless in conduct and godliness, diligently seeking to be found in peace (2 Pt 3:11-15), and by being filled with faith, hope and love (Mt 25:13; 1 Thes 5:8-11) as they demonstrate perseverance until the end (Mt 10:22, 24:13; Jas 1:12).

Knowing that it is only God’s love, mercy, compassion and patience that holds the final Day of Judgment back, while there is still time, we call all men to repent and call on the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life (Mt 4:17).

Come, Lord Jesus! (Rv 22:20)

 

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