Where we stand
We believe baptism is a means of grace. By that we mean that is a visible way by which God communicats his invisible grace to us. We believe that all people are born with an inherited sinful nature that needs to be redeemed. We are not by nature born into the family of God but, rather we are brought into His family by the Spirit of God through baptism. In obedience to God we bring our children to Him in Holy Baptism.
In obedience to God we also teach and seek to make disciples of our children. Baptism marks the beginning of our walk with God. It is equally important that we nourish the faith God gives to us in order that our faith might mature.
We also practice adult baptism for those who as adults have been awakened by the Spirit of God to the need for forgiveness. In obedience to God we baptize adults.
We believe that communion is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ for the benefit of the Church. In communion, we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins, at the same time we receive the fruit of the vine and the bread. We practice an open communion; that is, our communion service is not limited to members of Maple Park only. It is open to all adults who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and understand the significance of communion.
The admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 tells us that a man is to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. The age at which a person is old enough to examine themselves is an arbitrary one. Many times it depends upon the maturity of the child and the understanding of the child. As a general guideline we have set the age of confirmation as the beginning point for the child taking part in communion.
Roles in the Church
We affirm the equality of man and woman in creation and in redemption. We believe that God has gifted both men and women for ministry in the church and in the world and therefore should be used as God has designed. We also believe that the Bible teaches that the office of overseer in the church (pastor and elder) is to be filled only by Scripturally qualified men (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Paul’s teaching has been interpreted to have been culturally motivated. However, the principle he draws on as he defines the role of women in the church (1 Timothy 2:9-15) does not appear to be culturally defined, but defined by a principle known as the “order of creation.” In the church, a woman is not to exercise authority over a man in the area of discipline, and the office of elder requires that elders be leaders in this area, hence the office of elder is restricted to men only.
We believe the Scriptures condemn homosexual behaviors (Genesis 19:1-15; Leviticus 18:22-25; Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10). We also affirm that though homosexual activity is sinful, God’s grace extends to forgive the sinner and cover all sin when it is acknowledged as sin and when such a person repents and by faith receives God’s forgiveness. We deny that homosexual activity is an “unforgivable” sin. We also affirm that the church shall minister with concern and compassion to the homosexual and to those who are suffering from AIDS. We believe these people are loved by God and need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church cannot be passive about their plight.
Two extreme positions exist within the Church of Jesus Christ: one, that you cannot lose your salvation once you have been born again; the other, that you can lose your salvation easily. We reject both extremes. We believe that you are eternally secure in grace as long as you choose to remain. There comes a time however, when you can willingly and willfully walk away (Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:21). No human being can judge this, only God can. Our responsibility is to walk in love and do as He commands.
Divorce & Remarriage
We believe in the sanctity of marriage. Because of this, we will do everything we can to strengthen marriages and the family. But like Jesus in Matthew 19, we recognize the sinful nature of human beings. When quizzed about divorce, Jesus hit the nail on the head when He showed that divorce is always the consequence of hardness of heart on the part of one or both parties.
After a careful study of all the Scriptures dealing with the subject, we believe that divorce is not the unpardonable sin and that forgiveness, restoration, and remarriage is scripturally and spiritually possible. Our greatest concern is that people not carry the wreckage of their previous marriage into their new relationship.
As with all marriages, the pastoral staff requires the couple getting married to complete a marriage preparation course. Each situation is reviewed and dealt with individually. We desire to do everything humanly possible to ensure the success of each marriage.
We hold to the sanctity of human life and believe that the living but unborn, are persons in the sight of God. They therefore stand under the full protection of God’s own prohibition against murder. It is our respon- sibility to speak for the unborn, the defenseless, in a respectful, reasonable manner. It is also our responsibility to offer as an alternative to abortion, supportive understanding, compassion and help to the expectant parents and family, to show love and compassion to those who have had abortions, and to show them through the Gospel that there is a way of forgiveness.