Our Local Church Distinctives

As a local church existing in the 21 st Century we do have some distinctives that need to be mentioned. While many of these beliefs have not pre-occupied the church over the centuries, as those above have, it is important for each local church to be honest on where they lean in regards to these issues. Because the church is a plant, some of these distinctives will mature along with the church. We can fellowship together even if we are not totally united on these issues, and we can take some time in working through them, however; unity in these distinctives is encouraged because disunity will ultimately lead to division.

  1. How Christians live their lives: Christians are new creations [2 Corinthians 5:17], not only alive physically but spiritually [1 Corinthians 2:12-13]. This spiritual life does not mean a perfect life or a sinless life [Galatians 5:17, 1 John 2:1]. It is a life that is not dominated by sin but righteousness and love [1 John 3:7-10]. It parallels the physical life by growing up into spiritual maturity, looking more like Jesus [Romans 8:29], and obeying the teaching of Jesus as found in the Bible [John 14:15; 21; 23; 24].
  2. How we read and understand the Bible: Because the Bible’s author is God, it is totally true in its original manuscripts [2 Timothy 3:16, Titus 1:2], and preserved true for us today [John 14:26; 17:17 and 20, and the confirming of many manuscripts found]. Because the Bible contains spiritual truth, it cannot be properly understood without the help of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 2:6-16]. The Bible is a vital ingredient to getting the Christian life right [Psalm 119:9 and 11, John 8:31-32, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 2:2]. The Scriptures have always been twisted and distorted [2 Peter 3:16], and we are not immune, needing to guard ourselves from reading into the Bible what is not there. Several things will help us, humility [1 Peter 5:6], a desire for God’s glory above all else [1 Corinthians 10:31], a realization that it is God’s Word, not men’s [1 Thessalonians 2:13], an appreciation of its clarity, you can understand it! Read and interpret within the context given, take meaning out of what the text is saying, don’t put meaning in to the text, and appreciate the literal, historical method of Bible interpretation which interprets literally unless a clear reason within the text prohibits it.
  3. How the church is led: Elders are to lead the church [Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9]. This in no way hinders leadership and input from the congregation [Acts 6:2-3, 2 Corinthians 2:6], or from a lead pastor [Ephesians 4:11]. A good balance between the two will be encouraged. Each local church should be self governing, yet partnership and cooperation in the advance of the gospel, with like minded churches around NZ and the world is beneficial. This church will begin with a lead pastor who is accountable to the elders of Heretaunga Christian Centre in Upper Hutt and Riverbend Bible church in Hastings until such a time as we have a plurality of elders leading the church. This church is also supported by two churches in the USA; Immanuel Baptist church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Buck Run Baptist church in Frankfort, Kentucky.
  4. How we view the place of music: Music has always been used in the Bible in the worship of God. We want to worship in and through all kinds of music and styles that represent who we are and show an honour to one another. We seek for biblical truth in our songs.
  5. How we treat the Charismatic gifts: We are a non-charismatic church. This means that we do not emphasize the charismatic gifts of tongues, prophecy, or the laying on of hands for healing, like the charismatic church does. We believe that God continues today to do miracles and to heal, often as a response to the prayers of the saints [James 5:13-16]. We do not believe that the tongues spoken in the Bible were a private prayer language but a known language that the recipients spoke miraculously [Acts 2:6-11, 1 Corinthians 14:10-11]. We believe that tongues were given to some in the early church to act as a sign accompanying the gospel and confirming those who preached it [Mark 16:17; Acts 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4]. We further believe that the Bible is the sufficient and final word from God [John 15:15; 16:13; 17:17], and that no further truth is either necessary or available. Therefore the gifts related to revelation, and the signs confirming those who brought that revelation; have ceased [1 Corinthians 13:8-10].
  6. How we view the role of the Holy Spirit: Many charismatics believe that the Holy Spirits only; or most prominent evidence is speaking in tongues. This is not the emphasis the Bible puts on the role of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:28-30; 14:19 and 27]. All believers have been baptized by the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:13], all believers are sealed with the Spirit [Ephesians 1:13-14], and all believers are commanded to be constantly filled [controlled] by the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]. The Holy Spirit’s key evidence is that He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ [John 15:26; 16:14; 1 Corinthians 12:3], upholds the truth of the Word of God [John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; Ephesians 6:17; Colossians 3:16-22 compare with Ephesians 5:18-6:5], and produces fruit in believers consistent with a transforming lifestyle [Galatians 5:16-25].
  7. How we understand baptism: The Bible indicates that baptism does not save you, only faith saves you [Acts 16:30-31]. Baptism comes next [Acts 16:33] and is a public symbol of your new life in Christ. We do not believe that the Bible teaches infants should be baptized, but that believers should be baptized by being fully immersed under water. Baptism along with the Lord’s Supper are two ongoing practices of the church that were initiated by Jesus Christ.
  8. How we view the role of women in leadership: The Proverbs [1:8; 6:20] and the book of Titus [2:3-5] give women a teaching and leading role. However this role is limited according to the Scriptures. The office of elder/pastor in the church, and the responsibility to lead and teach the church is to be taken up by qualified males [1 Timothy 2:11-15; 3:1-7].
  9. How we understand the origins of the universe: We believe that the early chapters of Genesis are to be read literally which is consistent with how the original recipients understood them [Exodus 20:9-11; 31:14-18], and how Jesus Himself understood them [Matthew 19:4, 8]. This would lead us to believe that God created the world in 6 literal days. It would also lead us to reject the teachings of macro evolution.
  10. How we understand the end: God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth [1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10], the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness [Hebrews 9:27]. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment [2 Thessalonians 1:9]. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will dwell forever with the Lord in the New Heavens and New Earth [Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Revelation 21-22]. Two things should occupy believers while they wait for the Lord’s return. An urgent readiness [Matthew 25:13; 2 Peter 3:10-12], and the preaching of the gospel [Acts 1:6-8].
  11. How we would summarize who we are: A conservative non charismatic church that exalts Christ above all else, seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. We want to worship and do church simply believing that church is for believer’s edification and equipping. We want to live the bulk of our Christianity out in the world, meaning in our communities and workplaces, being Christ [allowing the gospel to transform us more and more to be like Jesus], and proclaiming Christ [preaching this gospel to others; believing it to be the power of God to salvation].

What we believe about the Gospel

What we believe about the historic doctrines of the Church