Bethel Evangelical Free Church holds to the following Statement of Faith. Download the PDF version for your personal study or for printing.
** On June 6, 2017, the elders voted and began a process encouraging the congregation to adopt the most recent EFCA statement of faith from 2008. This process and more details are available below our current statement of faith.
The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:21).
In one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 33:6-9, John 10:30, Acts 5:3-4).
That Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. He died on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on high, He now is our High Priest and Advocate (Luke 1:26-27, I Peter 3:18, I Corinthians 15:3-8, Hebrews 8:1-2).
That the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service (John 14:26-27, 16:5-15, Ephesians 5:18-20).
That man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is therefore lost and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained (Genesis 1:27, 3:17-19, Romans 3:10-12, 5:12, Titus 3:4-7).
That the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit, and thus become children of God (I Peter 1:18-19, Acts 4:10-12, John 1:12, Ephesians 2:4-5).
That water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation (Matthew 28:17-20, I Corinthians 11:23-28, Romans 6:1-11).
That the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the body of Christ of which He is the head (Ephesians 4:1-6, I Corinthians 12:12-13, Colossians 1:18).
That only those who are thus members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church (Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:24-25).
That Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church and that every local church has the right under Christ to decide and govern its own affairs (Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18).
In the personal and premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this Blessed Hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer (Acts 1:11, I Thessalonians 4:16-17, John 14:2-3, Titus 2:11-14).
In the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment (Philippians 3:20, II Corinthians 5:1, Revelation 7:13-17, Luke 16:22-24, Revelation21:8, II Thessalonians 1:9).
That Satan is the enemy of God and all righteousness and is at work in the world today through demonic emissaries who attack the mind, body, will, heart, and conscience. Satan is the roaring lion seeking to deceive, destroy, rule, and accuse (John 8:44, Matthew 13:36-43, Ephesians 6:10-20).
That all believers are called into a life of separation from all worldly and sinful practices and to a positive, sanctified, consistent life (James 4:4, Romans 12:1-2, I John 2:15-16, II Corinthians 6:14-18).
(The content of this “Statement of Faith” aka “Doctrinal Statement” comes from the Bethel Bylaws filed with the state of North Dakota.)
2017 Statement of Faith Update
On June 6, 2017, the Elders, Senior Pastor, and Senior Associate Pastor unanimously voted to adopt the 2008 Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) Statement of Faith. As required by our Bylaws we are giving six months of notice to our voting membership, and recommending adoption of the 2008 Statement of Faith by the Bethel Congregation at our January 2018 business meeting. Read the statement of faith letter we sent to our members to learn more about the rationale and process.
What was the rationale for the Evangelical Free Church of America’s decision to revise the 1950 Statement of Faith and to adopt the new 2008 Statement of Faith?
Every doctrinal statement is written at a specific time in a particular historical context. The key EFCA principle to preserve evangelical unity in the gospel is at the heart of our identity, and, more importantly, our theology.
Guiding principles used by the EFCA for the 2008 revision were that:
- It should focus on the gospel
- It should strengthen our commitment to biblical authority.
- It should reflect our Evangelical tradition.
- It should address some new issues.
- It should increase theological clarity.
- It should be brief.
- It should embody a key principle of our EFCA heritage – unity in the Gospel.
Why would we as Bethel Church propose adopting the 2008 Statement of Faith?
- To be aligned with our parent denomination – the Evangelical Free Church of America. (Pastor Andy Veith’s former church in Des Moines had adopted the 2008 Statement of Faith several years ago.)
- The book Evangelical Convictions is an excellent exposition of the 2008 Statement of Faith, so we have an excellent source of documentation now available to explain our core beliefs.
- It addresses some new issues such as: The denial that God knows the future exhaustively (open theism), b. How we know anything – postmodern relativism (epistemology), c. The reality of spiritual world, d. Ministry and mission among all people, and e. What it is to be God-centered.
- It is a more concise statement written to neither minimize or maximize.
- It is a logical and theological statement, making sense in the context of each article and in the context of the whole.
- It states what we affirm and what we deny. It determines who is in and who is out. It affirms the “significance of silence” on various theological questions. It consists of what must be true for one to be saved, but not what must be believed to be saved.
What are the significant changes from our current Statement?
- It made a great statement better – by updating archaic language, by clarifying some theological ambiguities, by seeking greater theological precision, by addressing new issues, and by having a Statement of Faith that would be better suited as teaching tool in our churches.
- The order of some of the articles have been changed to better follow a biblical narrative. It follows a better theological and logical pattern of development. (ex. change in article 3&5 – This follows the biblical narrative which reveals the creation and fall/sin of humanity. It is written logically stating the problem first – sin incurring God’s wrath; that Jesus came to address through His person and work, articles 4&5).
EFCA Statement of Faith
Adopted by the Conference on June 26, 2008
The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of autonomous churches united around these theological convictions:
1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.
2. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.
The Human Condition
3. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.
4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
The Work of Christ
5. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.
The Holy Spirit
6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
7. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.
8. We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.
9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.
Response and Eternal Destiny
10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.