I am offering this piece as an open challenge calling critics to the carpet:What is wrong with this? -MjS
Statement of Faith
God is the creator and ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
Man is made in the spiritual image of God, to be like him in character. He is the supreme object of God’s creation. Although man has tremendous potential for good, he is marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called "sin." This attitude separates man from God.
Man was created to exist forever. He will either exist eternally separated from God by sin or in union with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is hell. To be eternally in union with him is eternal life. Heaven and hell are places of eternal existence.
ABOUT JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all men by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to heaven’s glory and will return again to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.
ABOUT ETERNAL SECURITY
Because God gives man eternal life through Jesus Christ, the believer is secure in salvation for eternity. Salvation is maintained by the grace and power of God, not by the self-effort of the Christian.
ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son as God. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian seeks to live under his control daily.
ABOUT THE BIBLE
The Bible is God’s word to all men. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error.
Baptism by immersion symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and is your public declaration that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Baptism does not save you, but shows the world that you have already been saved. And while baptism is not required for salvation, it is a biblical command and demonstrates your love and obedience to Christ.
Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is an ordinance given to all believers by Jesus Christ to remember his sacrifice for us and to symbolize the new covenant. The elements of bread and wine or juice are symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Communion is not a means of salvation. Rather, it is a testament of a believer’s faith in the atoning work of the cross.
Steven Waldman Interviews Rick Warren
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose of Christmas," spoke with Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman at the offices of our partner, The Wall Street Journal.
BY: Steven Waldman
See what Rick Warren has to say about....
The purpose of Christmas
Who goes to heaven
Talking with God
His own doubts
His questions for God
How prayer works
The economy and faith
Gay marriage and divorce
Evangelicals and poverty
Christianity's negative image
I go back to, Steve, the three things angels said in the very first Christmas. They said, “I bring you good news of great joy, for unto you is born today a savior who is Christ the Lord and peace on earth, good will toward men. “ I say that’s celebration, salvation and reconciliation.
These are the things, of course, that are the central components of Christianity, that God invaded earth. I believe that Jesus Christ was who he claimed to be; that he was the son of God. That God came in human form. That if God wanted to…, communicate to ants, he would have become an ant. If he’d wanted to communicate with cows, he would have become a cow. But he wanted to communicate to human beings so he became one of us. It’s hard for me to relate to “the force.” You know, ‘may the force be with you.’ I need a God with skin on it. So my God looks like Jesus Christ -- that when I see him, I see God in human form and I can go “oh that’s what he’s like.” And I can get to know him. And of course, it split history into A.D and B.C. And even people who don’t accept the way I see it, every time they write a date, 2008, 2009 they’re using Jesus Christ as a focal point, as the reference point.
And what is ‘The Gift’?
That’s a good question. You know, I talk about in the book that we often celebrate Christmas year after year after year without receiving God’s gift to us. And if you were to give me a Christmas gift, or any kind of gift, and later, a year later, you go “Hey Rick, how did you like my gift” and I go, “well actually I’m really glad you gave it to me, Steve, but I didn’t have a chance to open it, I was really busy.” Well you’d be offended and I would miss the benefit of the gift. I wouldn’t even know.
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ came to do three things. He came to have my past forgiven, you get a purpose for living and a home in Heaven. It’s almost like 3D: past, present, future. Past forgiven, purpose for living, home in Heaven. And all these things are available as a gift.
That’s the big difference between Christianity and other religions. The difference between Works and Grace or Do and Done. Before I became a believer I lived in Japan, one of the times while I was there and I studied all of the different religions. And they have to do with the idea of truth. The Japanese call it ShinJitSu. You know, Mohammad said I’m a prophet of the truth. The Vedas, the Hindu scripture, says Truth is very elusive, it’s like a butterfly, you have to search for it here or there. Buddha made a very famous statement at the end of his life, “I’m still searching for the truth.”
And then Jesus comes along, and he says, “I am the truth.” You know, that’s quite a dividing statement. It really forces you to say, “Is he who he says he is or is he a nutcase?” Is he, as the famous CS Lewis thing, liar, lord or lunatic…?
Many people say, “I believe Jesus was a great person.” Well actually, that’s the one thing he couldn’t be. If I were to come to you and say “Steve, I’m a good moral teacher,” you would say “yea, I can buy that, I think Rick is a pretty good moral teacher.” If I said, “I’m a man of God,” you’d say, “well, maybe, ok maybe he’s a man of God.” If I said, “I’m a prophet of God,” you say, “well that might be a stretch, I don’t know if I accept that or not.” But if I came to you and said “ Hey Steve, I’m the Son of God and you don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of getting into Heaven except thru me. I am the way”-- you would feel very differently about me. All of a sudden, that forces some type of decision. Is he who he says he is or is he a nut or conman?
And to me, Jesus Christ came to say, “I have done it all for you.” One of the most famous words of Jesus are, on the cross when he’s dying--he says “it is finished.” He doesn’t say, “I’m finished,” ‘cause I don’t believe he was. I do believe that he resurrected three days later. He said “IT is finished.”
“I’ve paid for everything you need to get into Heaven. I’ve paid your ticket.” And so rather of this list of “Do’s” to get into heaven, it’s a matter of done. That’s the gift…
We don’t handle grace very well. We want salvation the old fashioned way-we want to earn it.