Who We Are
The following statements belong to the people of Valley Springs Fellowship. As we seek to know God together in honesty and love, we have put together in our own language those things which seem important to our faith. These statements are not intended to be compared against others. They are not meant to be definitive. They are limited by language, by our maturity, and by our inability to see clearly.
Our hope in writing our own statement of faith was that it might capture who we are, what matters to us, and a bit of the path by which this group of people has journeyed toward our God and his Son, Jesus. They are written in a language that we hope is consistent with how this community of believers understands God and faith. Contained within these words is also the ways by which we have come to know the Lord. Our desire was that each statement be alive, containing truths and concepts which shape not only how we live, but most importantly, our desire to be in a personal relationship with the God we call ours.
We fully recognize the fallibility of such statements. We also accept the limitations of words. We believe that in a year or two or perhaps five, we will understand things differently and therefore, change how things are written in these present statements. Our concern is not necessarily with being right. Our greatest hope is that these thoughts might help the people who make up VSF come to know God better than we did when we first committed them to writing.
Statement of Faith
There is a God who is both good and personal and who created us like himself. Like God, we choose; but unlike God, we make evil choices by nature that are self-centered and destroy the relationships we were meant to enjoy with God, others and our world.
Because of our inability to restore these relationships, God gave his Son, Jesus, to suffer the consequences of sin in our place. These consequences are spiritual death (now) and physical death (later).
Through faith, we begin an eternal relationship with God and are able to experience the process of restoration with others and our world. Though this process of restoration involves struggle, tension, and suffering, our ultimate hope is the return of Jesus, who completes our redemption and restoration.
What We Believe. . .
What We Believe About Man
God created man (both male and female) in his likeness as the climax of creation. Bearing the image of God, all people rule in God’s place, are relational, can make choices, and live forever. God designed us as finite, dependent people who are complete only in him.
Wanting to be independent, man soon rejected God’s design and chose to disobey him. Man’s selfish choices cause a destructive rift in his relationship with God, others, and his world. Man’s desperation to fill this void drives him to find either God, in whom is life, or substitutes that ultimately lead to death.
What We Believe About Sin
Sin is the condition of man’s heart that results in continual rebellion against God. Sin began when the first human beings, created to be dependent on God, chose to seek independence from God. Everyone continues to make such choices, reflecting self-centeredness, inability to love according to God’s standard, and disbelief in the goodness of God. Because of our selfishness, a destructive rift has occurred in our relationship with God, others, and our world. God is both grieved and angry because of our sin.
The best measure of our rebellion against God is the self-centered way we relate to others. Though we may be capable of changing or improving certain behaviors, the deeper problem resides in the motivation of our hearts, which we are incapable of changing. Thus, the consequences of our sin include bodily death and separation from God, both now and forever.
What We Believe About Jesus
As the Son of God, Jesus Christ is God. He has existed since before time in perfect, equal relationship with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. As God, Jesus became a man. In becoming a man, Jesus brought glory to his Father by making him known through his life, death, and bodily resurrection. Born of a virgin, Jesus lived a sinless life. His death as a sinless man covered the penalty incurred by mankind’s rebellion against God. Those who accept his death on their behalf are provided a means to restored relationship with their creator.
Jesus continues to exist as both God and man, having ascended to heaven after his resurrection. He continues to offer life to those who acknowledge their need until the day he returns to this world.
What We Believe About God the Father
God is described in the Bible with terms of unity (e.g. Deut. 6:4, “God is one”) and with terms of plurality (e.g. Matt. 28:20, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”). We affirm that both descriptions of God are true, though we do not understand how God can be both singular and plural. Unity stresses God’s consistency in character, priority, purpose, and action. Plurality emphasizes the diversity and variety of God’s interaction with us.
God is the father of all creation, of the nation Israel, of Jesus Christ, and of all believers. In each of these unique relationships, God exhibits various characteristics of a father. He provides and sustains. He lives, guides, and cares deeply for his children. He always acts in our best interest, even in the case of discipline. As a father, he is deeply grieved by the sin that permeates his creation and corrupts his children. And like a father, he is full of grace and mercy for those who desire relationship with him.
What We Believe About the Holy Spirit
God the Holy Spirit exists in an eternal, equal relationship with God the Father, and God the Son. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit speaks for us to God. The Spirit’s activity is, throughout all time, mysterious and occasionally recognizable. As the Spirit of Truth, he works to change lives by revealing God to us, by convicting us of sin, and by prompting us to love others.
The Spirit’s work throughout time has been to convict humankind of sin. For the child of God, the Spirit is the guarantee of our future with God; for the unbeliever, the Spirit is the evidence of God’s existence and goodness, so that they are without excuse and subject to judgment.
What We Believe About Revelation
We believe that God has revealed himself in a variety of ways throughout time, and that he is still doing so today. God’s primary revelation of himself is through his son, Jesus. All creation---miraculous and non-miraculous events, the life and history of his people, the Bible, chosen individuals---speak God’s message.
The Bible is God’s special gift to his people, a unique record of his interactions with his creation. These interactions provide further evidence of his redemptive work at specific points in time and with specific peoples. God has preserved a record of these interactions by and for his people.
His Holy Spirit has been given us the authoritative interpreter and teacher of his message. The living God continues to speak today, adapting his message to people and cultures so that his Message can be heard. He calls us to listen to him and to become his voice to those who are in the process of knowing him as well as to those who know nothing of him.
What We Believe About Salvation
Salvation is the restoration of broken relationship that our sin has caused. Even though man originally enjoyed an ideal relationship with God, this relationship was destroyed when man believed that he could live without God.
Jesus suffered the full effects of our broken relationship with God when he died spiritually and physically on the cross. God grants salvation when man recognizes his dependence on him. But just as man faces a constant allure to stray from dependence on God, so dependence is an ongoing decision to trust him. Such faith has a beginning, but no ending.
This restoration begins now, in this life, and culminates when physical death ushers us into the next era, in which our relationship with God will be all that he intended. Salvation, though, brings more than a restored relationship with God. A restored relationship with God will lead to the same with others and our world.
What We Believe About Sanctification
Sanctification is the lifelong process by which a believer becomes more like Christ. The process of sanctification should be viewed as part of the salvation process that begins with justification and reaches its fulfillment with our glorification. Because of this, sanctification is not the responsibility of the believer; instead, it is the mysterious work of God’s Spirit in the heart of every believer.
While the work of sanctification belongs to the Holy Spirit, the believer does play a part. An openness to one’s failure (integrity), and a willingness to repent (brokenness) are the believers primary responsibilities in this process. Through these channels, the Spirit of God enables the believer to experience the changing power of God’s mercy and grace. Obedience is then understood as a choice made, not in an effort to become more righteous, but one made out of gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ.
What We Believe About the Church
When we enter into relationship with Christ through faith, we also enter into relationship with all believers, past, present, and future. We are not a building or an institution, but a people called out by God from every culture, social class, gender, and age. If we truly belong to Jesus, we fulfill his will be giving ourselves for one another, making every effort to maintain a bond of unity and love, and by so doing projecting a picture of Christ to others. We are not a segregated group, but a people penetrating a world that is opposed to God.
As his church, our purpose, whether gathered or apart, is to glorify him by remaining faithful. Knowing that this world is not our home, we await his return by encouraging one another in pursuit of God. Everyone of us is equipped by God for strengthening the church and demonstrating Christ to the world. We have each been made in a way that empowers us to have redeeming impact on our world as no other can.
What We Believe About Creation
God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, both visible and invisible. The creation account begins with the universe and is crowned with the creation of mankind, who uniquely reflects the person-hood of God. Originally creation existed in perfection, beauty, and harmony, exalting God’s power and absolute otherness. Although now marred by rebellion, creation continues to speak, although imperfectly, of the Creator’s nature while awaiting the final restoration when it will again speak clearly and fully the glory of God.