Basic Theology and Doctrine
The Limitations Of A Doctrinal Statement:
Doctrinal statements like this are limited in expressing the fullness of Christian beliefs.
The entire Bible really contains our "doctrinal statement," so creating a small, selective list of verses from the Bible to represent what a church believes is not an easy thing to do. In reality, you could have dozens of pages about specific beliefs. This short statement only represents some of the central beliefs of Epic Church.
Simply "Knowing" Doctrine Is Not What Changes Our Heart Or Actions:
Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day for being hypocrites and legalists. They were very familiar with the Bible and knew a lot of doctrine, but they didn’t let that doctrine seep into their hearts and impact their lives. We can know doctrine intellectually, but if it doesn’t impact us on a deeper level, the knowledge is almost useless. What Jesus cares most about is whether or not our lives are being changed by the Spirit as we put saving faith in Him (Romans 10:9) and whether the doctrine we learn expands our love for God and for people (Matthew 22:36-40). That kind of transformation produces in us the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Living With A "Humble Theology":
In our church, we live with the tension of holding a "humble theology." Holding a "humble theology" means we approach the Scriptures recognizing our inadequacies as human beings to determine with 100% certainty every single thing in the Bible. Even though we live with a "humble theology," it doesn’t mean that we cannot make certain theological conclusions. There are many Scriptural truths and doctrines that have been held throughout the 2,000-year history of the church, which we as Epic Church believe, are central to the Christian faith.
We Believe In The Truths Expressed In The Nicene Creed:
The Nicene Creed is a beautiful creed written during the 4th century AD, expressing the heart of several doctrines which are critical in the understanding of who Jesus is and His relationship to the Father and the Spirit.
The Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
About Statements Of Faith Of Epic Church:
In addition to the Nicene Creed, we also have a list of "Statements of Faith." The Nicene Creed - as beautiful and rich in doctrine as it is - does not state beliefs in specific doctrines that are important for the culture we live in today.
Statements Of Faith
About the Bible:
We believe that the entire Bible is fully inspired by God, that it is entirely trustworthy and is our guide for truth, faith and life. We hold a high view of the Scriptures and its authority in our lives.
(2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Matthew 5:18; John 16:12, 13; Psalm 19:7-11, 119:105)
We believe that there is one God who is the loving Creator of all that exists, both seen and unseen. God is eternal and completely good, knowing all things, having all power and majesty. We believe God exists eternally in perfect co-equal community as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:26-27; Deuteronomy 6:4; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:8, 2 Corinthians 13:14)
We believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and mysteriously and wonderfully is God in the flesh. He is the perfect reflection of God’s heart, character, beauty and love for people. He lived a sinless life and offered Himself as the only perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on the cross. Through faith in Jesus we have been forgiven and brought into a right relationship with God. Jesus bodily rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven and one day will return to judge the world and bring an end to injustice as He restores all things to God’s original intent. (Matthew 1:18-25; John 1:14, 8:40,58, 11:33; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 5:8-10; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:8)
About the Holy Spirit:
We believe that the Holy Spirit, sent from God to live in all who put faith in Jesus, teaches, comforts, convicts and empowers us, giving each person diverse gifts for serving in the church and serving others in the world on the mission of God. We believe that it is through the Holy Spirit that we have the power to change and develop a holy life and Jesus-like character. (John 16:8-11; Acts 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 3:6; I Corinthians 12:12-14; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 5:18)
We believe that all people are created with dignity and great value in the image of God and that people were created to live in a thriving relationship with God. However, through our sin (failing to live by God’s guidelines and moral standards), we break our intended relationship with God and we experience the sad consequences of that broken relationship, both spiritually and socially. However, because of God’s love for us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue us from those consequences, which is the "good news" (the gospel). Our broken relationship with God is restored through Jesus’ death on the cross, a perfect act of redemption for each of us. We receive the free gift of forgiveness and are spiritually reborn through repenting (changing our mind and heart) of our sin and placing faith in Jesus alone. (Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:22-26, 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7)
About the Church:
We believe that the church is comprised of any person, anywhere in the world who puts faith in Jesus. The church itself is people who are empowered by God’s Spirit to be part of the mission of God here on earth. The church is one global community, but has smaller, local expressions, such as our church community. Each local church expression has a unique personality and we see beauty in that diversity. We believe that the church does not exist for itself, but exists as a community of worshipers who are here to serve others, as Jesus told us to be His light, love, compassion, kindness and hope to the world around us. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8, 2:1-47; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4::11-13; 5:25-30; 1 Corinthians 12:27)
About the Afterlife and End Times:
We do believe that life continues after physical death and there is a heaven and a hell. We do believe that Jesus will one day return and bring justice and judgment to all things. There are so many metaphors and so much ancient apocalyptic language used in the Scriptures about these mysterious topics, and we approach them with great humility and wonder. (Daniel 12: 2; Matthew 24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20-22)
How our faith is lived out in real life:
Doctrine is most beautiful when it is actually lived out in our real lives. Here are some of the practical ways Epic Church desires to live out what we believe:
We believe we live in the presence of God all day long:
It is interesting that we often pray, "God, please be with us" when God’s presence is always with us (he is "omnipresent" as we read in Psalm 139; Jeremiah 23:24; Genesis 28:15). When we quote Matthew 18:20 (which basically says "when two or three are gathered" then Jesus is present) as a way of explaining when God "shows up," this is actually a misunderstanding of the context. That particular passage was talking about settling disputes in the church and having more than one witness or perspective. What Jesus actually said regarding His presence was the assurance that "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). Worshiping God and praying can happen all day long, not just when we are at a church meeting or with other Christians. This means that we can "practice His presence" throughout the day: as we drive, as we eat, as we talk to others, as we work, and as we play.
We believe that we are utterly dependent on God’s Spirit to make personal change:
Human effort alone does not produce real change- it is the Spirit of God who convicts us, changes us, and ultimately empowers us to be transformed into followers of Jesus. Repentance (which means "to change one’s mind" or "to turn") is part of change, because as we repent, we recognize where we have gone astray from God’s will. Out of understanding where we have strayed, we can then ask God for the strength to continue changing into the person He has us to be (John 14:26; Acts 9:31; Romans 8:27; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 John 2:20,27: Acts 1:8).
We believe in the "priesthood" of all believers:
The "priesthood" of all believers is the Scriptural teaching that every Christian is in full-time ministry, serving God in all they do. This means that vocations other than paid ministry are still ministry. God has scattered His people throughout varying times and places so that they could honor Him in all parts of life, regardless of what type of vocation they are in. Practically, this means that everyone from a Christian elementary school student to her stay-at-home mom to her electrician father can be a holy servant of God, honoring Him in his or her respective vocations. The concept of the "priesthood" of all believers comes out of the truth that because of Jesus, we no longer need a human mediator or "priest" to communicate with and experience God. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), there were "priests" who would go and intercede on the behalf of the people. But because Jesus is our High Priest and mediator, we are now all priests in God’s kingdom (Hebrews 3:1, 4:14; 1 Peter 2:4,9).
We believe that you can’t "go to church" because you "are the church":
Nowhere in the New Testament do you read that the followers of Jesus "went to church." What you do read is that the church (the people) gathered together. There is a big difference between the two. The church is the people, not a place or a meeting you attend. We believe that in the modern world, the "church" has become known as a place that people go to vs. people on a mission for God. We cannot underestimate the power of how words shape our understanding of what a "church" is and how it is supposed to function. Epic Church will have weekly worship gatherings, and will have various other classes and meetings that happen at a "place"- but foremost, we will be defined and function as a community of "people" who are living as the church all week long (1 Corinthians 12).
We believe that healthy followers of Jesus will be those who learn to "feed themselves" from the inspired Scriptures throughout the week:
We desire to set a culture where people strive to be "theologians" and learn to "feed themselves" from the Scriptures to mature and grow. This is a critical philosophical strategy for a church, because it means that we want to see people learning how to study the Scriptures outside of Sundays as part of the rhythm of their lives, not viewing the sermons on Sundays as the primary way they are being "fed" as a believer. The Scriptures are an absolutely critical aspect of growing and maturing as a follower of Jesus. Studying and knowing and living out the Scriptures must happen on a regular basis in the life of a believer (Hebrews 5:11-13, Acts 17:10-12).
We believe that our daily lives should be missional:
Unfortunately, the word "mission" has a very negative connotation as it relates to Christianity. Being "missional" simply means being outward and others-focused, with the goal of expressing and sharing the love of Jesus. The church was not created for itself: it was created to worship God and to spread His love to others. We each were created for a missional purpose. Therefore, we won’t have a "missions department" because the whole church itself is a mission. Jesus clearly told the church to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:18-20). For us today, this command is not exclusive to overseas missions alone (which we will support wholeheartedly since global missions is extremely important) but is foremost to be lived out in our own communities, families, and day to day lives. Our prayers should be focused on other people and part of our lives should be built around developing and keeping friendships with people outside of the church, as opposed to only befriending and hanging out with those who are already Christians. In keeping a missional mindset for our lives, we will to want to reflect Jesus all the more as we interact with people who don’t yet know Jesus. Every day becomes a missional adventure as we truly embrace what it means to be an "ambassador" for Jesus wherever we are (2 Corinthians 14:21; Colossians 4:5-6)
We believe the paid staff of the church serves to lead, train, and equip for the people of the church, as we all serve on the mission together:
The church is comprised of people gifted by the Holy Spirit in many unique and beautiful ways to serve God, each other and the mission of Jesus. The majority of the church staff will focus their efforts on helping people identify their gifts and passions so that they can serve in the church body and in the world as God has designed them. (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Corinthians 12 )
We believe that we can see the Spirit of God changing us as we manifest love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives:
Jesus most harshly criticized those who were the religious leaders of His day—these leaders knew doctrine and knew the Bible very well – but their hearts were hardened. As the Spirit of God transforms us, we believe that every person who has committed their life to Jesus should be showing the fruits of the Spirit more and more as they grow and mature. We strive to be a community of believers where the fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
We believe we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and pray for our enemies:
It seems so counter-intuitive to many of us, but Jesus called us to pray for our enemies. He also taught us that the second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourselves. All through Scripture, we see that a follower of Jesus is described as someone who desires to express love to other people. We believe that Christianity is not a self-oriented faith, but one that is about other people (Matthew 22:39; Matthew 5:43-44).
We believe we are called to care about the oppressed, the poor and those experiencing injustice:
Throughout the Bible, God’s heart for the needy, the oppressed and those whom experience injustice is extremely evident. We strive to be a community where this heart is evident in both belief and action (Psalm 140:12; Isaiah 58:66; Proverbs 29:7; Micah 6:8; Amos 5).
We believe each person has religious liberty:
- that every human being has direct relations with God, and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith;
- that each church is independent and must be free from interference by any ecclesiastical or political authority;
- that therefore Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from dictation or patronage of the other.
We believe in church cooperation.
We believe that the local church can best promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another in a denominational organization:
Such an organization, whether a regional or district conference, exists and functions by the will of the churches. Cooperation in a conference is voluntary and may be terminated at any time. Churches may likewise cooperate with inter-denominational fellowships on a voluntary basis.
We believe the covenant of marriage is a holy and sacred thing:
We view marriage as God’s design of a sacred covenant (a supernatural bonding) between a man and woman (Genesis 2:23-24; Exodus 20:14; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-12; Malachi 2:14-16). In a fallen and broken world, relationships are often fragile, yet we believe with the power and strength of God and the guidance of Scripture, there is hope for healthy marriages and healing from past relationships. As a church we will strive to support and encourage healthy marriages.
We believe that parent(s) are the primary way the faith is taught and modeled to future generations and that we must see families holistically integrated in the church:
As a church, we hope to provide the best possible teaching and training for children that we can. We view parents as the primary spiritual teachers of their children, and so our children, youth and family ministries should be designed to support parents in this. We also desire to see children and youth holistically integrated into the life of the church, as opposed to always being compartmentalized (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).