At Grace Raleigh, there is a great deal about the Christian faith that seems clear to us and foundational to all that we believe. However, there is also much of God’s nature, purposes and plans as revealed in the Bible and born out in human history and in our lives that retains its mystery and lies beyond our full comprehension and on which we don’t all agree. This lack of universal agreement is acknowledged and embrace through the makeup of our church family itself. As a church, we have Presbyterian roots while our Lead Pastor grew up in a baptist context, our church body consists of almost every mainline denomination in the country. We believe this diversity strengthens us and makes us more effective as we seek to build God’s kingdom on earth.
Because of this, we try to be as generous as possible about where we draw lines and distinctions and allow for a variety of opinions and assertions on a variety of topics and teachings within the Christian faith. We hope to maintain a commitment to the holiness and authority of scripture while erring on the side of grace as we seek to apply it to our lives.
Following are some of those central tenets of our faith at Grace in which we do share a common understanding and conviction:
We believe in one God, Creator of all things, eternally existing in three equal persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the beginning, God demonstrated His power, wisdom, goodness and love by creating the world and everything in it. Through His divine power and providence, God continues to sustain His creation, operating within history to fulfill His redemptive purposes.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, who became a man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He was both fully God and fully man, yet without sin. He came into the world to reveal the fullness of God and to pay the consequences of our sin through His sacrificial death on the cross. He physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He promises to return to earth, personally and visibly, to complete history and fulfill God’s eternal plan.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and applies the saving work of Christ to our hearts. He convicts us of our sin and draws us to the Savior. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the human heart; instructing and guiding us in truth and working to encourage, equip and empower each of us to follow the example of Christ and to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.
We believe the entire Bible, consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is the inspired word of God written by men as they were moved by God’s Spirit. Scripture speaks with the authority of God while at the same time reflecting the individual backgrounds, styles and vocabularies of its human authors. We hold that the Bible is trustworthy and true in all matters of life and faith.
We believe that all people were originally created to be in relationship with God, but through willful rebellion defied God by choosing to go their own independent way. As a result, we are alienated from God and incapable of restoring a right relationship with Him through our own efforts. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.
We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross on our behalf, provides the sole basis for the forgiveness of sin. Having been alienated from God and condemned to death by our own rebellion, we are declared not guilty in God’s sight and restored to a right relationship with Him by confessing our sin and placing our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Salvation is completely and exclusively a free gift of God’s grace and is in no way a result of human effort or merit.
We believe that the Church is a people – all those who have been saved by grace through faith – who together are united as the Body of Christ with Jesus Christ as its head. We further believe that the church is God’s visible kingdom here on earth. The Church finds its visible and local, yet imperfect expression wherever followers of Christ meet together. The purpose of the Church is to glorify God by loving Him and by making Him known to a lost world.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20a
The Return of Christ and Our Eternal Destiny
We believe that Jesus Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. Only those who have accepted God’s free gift of grace and have been made clean through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will escape eternal punishment and separation from God. For them, eternity will be spent in God’s presence enjoying everlasting fellowship with Him!
We believe that baptism is for those who are able to articulate a faith and have experienced salvation. We further believe the biblical model is one of baptism by immersion. Therefore, we practice believers baptism by immersion at Grace. We do not believe that baptism is salvific in nature (it does not save us), it is, rather, an act of obedience after salvation. It is important for us to note that we do not disqualify anyone’s baptism or require baptism by immersion for partnership or leadership within the church.