Receiving new members into the Church of the Nazarene was one of the highlights of my 38 years in pastoral ministry. The joy of expanding the Body of Christ takes on names and faces as new believers become family in the local church. The rite of membership embodies great meaning through sacred words, pledges of faith, and unity of essential beliefs.
Recently I witnessed this family event from the pew when our pastor received new members. As I listened to him read our Agreed Statement of Belief in the Church of the Nazarene, I became aware that, along with the new members, I was once again pledging myself to these essential tenets of faith:
Recognizing that the right and privilege of persons to church membership rest upon the fact of their being regenerate, we would require only such avowals of belief as are essential to Christian experience. We, therefore, deem belief in the following brief statements to be sufficient. We believe:
- In one God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- That the Holy Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.
- That man is born with a fallen nature, and is, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.
- That the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.
- That atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race| and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
- That believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- That the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.
- That our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place.
(2009-13 Manual of the Church of the Nazarene)
Today's Agreed Statement of Belief is remarkably similar to the one in our 1908 Manual. Though more than 100 years have passed, we have not strayed from the essentials of faith.
As we ask all who join with us to confess publicly their agreement with this brief statement of belief, we solidify and perpetuate the DNA of our biblically-founded heritage.
We are a connectional church. Together, we embrace a shared belief, a shared mission, and a shared responsibility. Our Core Values give expression to our Agreed Statement of Belief: We are Christian, we are Holiness, we are missional. Our missional passion is a natural product flowing from what we believe to be true about God, man, the Word, salvation, and eternity. As we make this journey of faith together, what we believe is critical.
Making Christlike disciples in the nations is our mission.
Christlike disciples are made holy through the sanctifying grace of God. Christlike disciples are daily and consistently being conformed to the likeness of Christ in character and purpose. Christlike disciples embrace His redemptive purpose in this world by loving those who do not yet know Him. Our mission and our efforts to fulfill it rest squarely on what we believe.
The potential to be Christlike and to make Christlike disciples is all God's doing. It is His Church, not ours, and He has promised to build it. Yet He has entrusted us with the ministry and message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We stand on the belief that He has saved us, filled us with His Holy Spirit, commissioned us to His purposes, and given us truth upon which to build our lives.
In an uncertain world, the Church of the Nazarene can stand certain as we unite our hearts around our Agreed Statement of Belief. We expectantly look to God's promised future with confidence and unity in the Spirit.
J. K. Warrick is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.