Statement of Beliefs
STATEMENT OF BELIEFS
WHAT DOES THE VESSEL BELIEVE?
We truly believe that the Gospel changes everything. Jesus Christ is the Gospel. The good news is revealed in His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Christ’s crucifixion is the heart of the Gospel, His resurrection is the power of the Gospel, and His ascension is the glory of the Gospel.
The Vessel Church is a theologically conservative, evangelical church. As such, we find ourselves in general agreement with historical statements of faith such as the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed as well as more modern ones such as The Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement and the Acts 29 Distinctives.
The Vessel welcomes followers, seekers and doubters and as such we recognize that everyone in our gatherings may not agree with everything that is stated below. However, since the gospel is at the core of our beliefs, we ask anyone who wishes to become a covenant member of The Vessel Church to agree with the following essential beliefs:
The Bible: God wrote the Bible, through men, without error.
We believe the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, comprising the Bible, are the verbally inspired Word of God. The Bible is unified in purpose, in message, and in content. The books of Bible are without error in their original manuscripts and are the supreme standard by which human conduct, creeds and opinions should be put to the test. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21; John 17:17; Isaiah 55:11; Hebrews 4:12)
The Trinity: God exists eternally in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe in One God existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are co-existent, co-equal, and co-eternal. Each has the same nature and attributes, but is distinct in office and activity. (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:4; I John 5:7)
The Father: God the Father is the first person of the eternal, triune, God.
God the Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. By His word and for His glory, He freely and supernaturally created the world from nothing. He rules over all, and works all things according to the counsel of His righteous and sovereign will. He made man for fellowship with Himself and intended that all creation should live to the praise of His glory. God is holy, yet He extends grace and forgiveness to those who seek Him. (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17; Daniel 4:35; Psalm 145:17; Psalm 116:5; Isaiah 43:7; Exodus 34:7b; Isaiah 6:3; Exodus 34:6-7a)
The Son: Jesus Christ is the second person of the eternal, triune God who became a man, lived a sinless life, died on a cross, was buried, and physically rose from the grave.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal and only Son of God. He was a real, historical man who became man in the flesh without ceasing to be God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, for the purpose of the salvation of sinful man. He accomplished our redemption through living a sinless life, dying a physical death on the cross, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven where He sits at the right hand of His Father.
Christ’s death is a substitute for our death and an atoning sacrifice to God for our sins. It satisfies the demands of God’s holy justice and appeases His holy wrath. It also demonstrates His mysterious love and reveals His amazing grace. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name by which men must be saved. (John 1:1, 14, 18; Luke 1:35; Romans 3:224-26; Romans; 4:25; Hebrews 4:15)
The Holy Spirit: The third person of the eternal, triune God is the Holy Spirit; He is the supernatural agent in salvation, birthing all Christians into the kingdom of God at conversion, thereby indwelling and sealing them until the day of Jesus’ return.
We believe God the Holy Spirit convicts mankind of sin, and restrains evil in the world. He regenerates those who receive Christ as Savior, baptizes them into the Church, the Body of Christ, indwells them permanently, seals them unto the day of redemption, bestows spiritual gifts, gives evidence of His fruit in their life, and fills those yielded to Him. (John 16:7-11; John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11,13; John 14:16-17; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 5:18; Psalm 139:78; Romans 8:16; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:11)
Man: God created all humans in his image; mankind separated himself from God through sin.
We believe all humans are created in God’s image and as such, all human life is sacred. Through willful disobedience, man fell from his sinless state and as a consequence, lost his fellowship with God, leaving him subject to spiritual and physical death. We believe that through Adam’s transgressions the entire human race has inherited a corrupt nature which is unable to please God, and all mankind is in need of salvation. (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 3:24; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3)
Salvation: God freely provides salvation as a gift by grace through faith; there is nothing we can do to earn it.
We believe salvation, the free gift of God, is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. Anyone turning from sin in repentance and looking to Christ and His substitutionary death receives the gift of eternal life and is declared righteous by God. The righteousness of Christ is credited to him. He is declared justified and fully accepted by God. Through Christ’s atonement for sin, an individual is reconciled to God and adopted as His child. The believer is forgiven the debt of his sin and, via the miracle of regeneration, liberated from the law of sin and death into the freedom of God’s Spirit.
There is nothing man can do to attain this salvation through good works, moral achievement or religious status. We believe the one and only condition for salvation is personal faith in Jesus Christ as one’s own substitute for and Savior from sin. (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 4:32; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:38- 39; Isaiah 53:10; Hebrews 10:14; Romans 3:22; Ephesians 1:13-14)
The Church: The church is both the body believers everywhere for all time and a local organization meant to carry out God’s mission.
We believe that the Church is a unique organism composed of individuals who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the Church. Beginning on the day of Pentecost, the church is the bride of Christ and will continue its distinct purpose until He returns. The church exists in both a universal aspect, as the Body of Christ, and in a local assembly of believers. The purpose of the local church is the edification of believers through worship, study of the Word of God, observance of the ordinances, Christian fellowship, equipping for and practice of Kingdom service, and to evangelize the lost world still in need of Christ as it seeks to fulfill the Great Commission. (Acts 2:42-47; I Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-13; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 1:22)
Sanctification: The mark of believers is the continuing transformation into the image and likeness of Christ.
We believe the Holy Spirit is the active agent in our sanctification and seeks to produce His fruit in us as our minds are renewed and we are conformed to the image of Christ. Though indwelling sin remains a reality, as we are led by the Spirit we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely keeping His commandments and endeavoring to so live in the world that all people may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
All believers are exhorted to persevere in the faith, knowing they will have to give an account to God for their every thought, word, and deed. The spiritual disciplines, especially Bible study, prayer, worship and confession, are a vital means of grace in this regard. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 14:12; Romans 12:2; Matthew 5:16)
Ordinances: Every follower of Jesus is called to be a member of the local church and is called to recognize baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We believe Christ instituted the ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which are to be observed by believers until He returns. Water baptism signifies that his former way of life has been put to death and he is freed from sin’s curse and free to walk as a new creation in Christ. (Colossians 2:12; Matthew 3:11, 13, 15)
The Lord’s Supper (communion) is a memorial of Christ’s death and should be celebrated regularly. We believe the elements, the bread and the wine, are symbols of His body and blood. Every Christian has a right to partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper but that participation must always be preceded by solemn self-examination. (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Samuel 2:27-28)
Christ’s Return: Jesus is returning to earth to judge all people and to rule and reign with His saints forever.
We believe all people will be resurrected to give account of their lives before God. The believer in Jesus will be resurrected to everlasting blessedness and joy in the presence of God. The non-believer will be resurrected to judgment and everlasting punishment. (Zechariah 14:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10-12; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-6)
Other Important Doctrinal Beliefs
As a church we recognize that many who may join our church come from a variety of Christian backgrounds, and we will not all agree on every doctrinal belief. We do not ask for nor expect complete agreement on every doctrinal matter. However, we desire that every person coming into membership know some of the other important beliefs that will be taught at The Vessel. Though we do not believe that personal agreement on the following matters is necessary for membership, we ask that no member create disunity in these matters nor use any positions of leadership within the church to contradict them:
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts, and all gifts described in the Bible are still active in the church today. These gifts are meant for God’s glory, thus should always be expressed in a loving, orderly way. (1 John 5:14-15; James 5:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Hebrews 2:4; Daniel 4:35)
Because God gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ, the true believer is secure in that salvation for eternity. If you have been genuinely saved, you cannot “lose” it. Salvation is maintained by the grace and power of God, not by the self-effort of the Christian. It is the grace and keeping power of God that gives us this security. (John 10:28-29; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25; 10:10,14; 1 Peter 1:3-5)
Men and Women
We believe men and women are created as unique genders, equal in value and worth but with distinct, complementarity roles. Men are to be selfless, gentle spiritual leaders of their households, and women are to be willing and wise helpmates to their husbands. These roles are meant to reflect Christ’s loving relationship to the church. Both men and women are encouraged to pursue all avenues of church leadership, except for eldership, which we believe to be biblically reserved for men. (Gen 2:16-18, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9; Eph 5:21-33)
The Last Days
As a church, we do not necessarily afﬁrm any single position on Jesus’ return. We do afﬁrm what is clear biblically: that Jesus is returning, that there is a resurrection of the dead to occur and that there will be a judgment after which the believers will live in the presence of God, and non-believers will be resurrected to eternal punishment and judgment. (Zechariah 14:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10-12; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-6)
Water baptism is for those who have received Christ and who have committed to become His disciple. Baptism by immersion is a public display of obedience of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper. We believe that infants of believing parents may be dedicated to the Lord but should not be baptized until they can personally articulate their faith and purpose of baptism. (Colossians 2:12; Matthew 3:11, 13, 15)