Affirmation of Convictions

The Beliefs of the Friends of the Nazarene

FOREWORD

When one reads the Bible, or studies a religion, it is often with a preconceived idea. Ideas are a part of every individual and are formulated during early life. Right from the time of babyhood the actions and beliefs of the parent or guardian are instilled within the child. These concepts are at times deliberately impregnated into the young person’s mind, but often they are formed by him being encapsulated within a particular location or environment. A child brought up in a home of deeply religious parents will be naturally inclined to remain within the confines of that persuasion, though not always. The same can be said for many walks of life, whether political or educational. It is, therefore, particularly hard to evaluate accurately and impartially a view point that is either strange, or at conflict with one’s current perspective.

If later in life one happens upon a presentation of material that promises to provide a need, or appears to satisfy a longing, it is only natural to pursue it and jealously guard its source. As the saying goes: “Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” In like manner if one has success and enjoyment from a particular commercial enterprise it is highly improbable that one would change direction and use a new and untried product. This is especially true when it comes to religious belief. Born a Catholic, it is rare to change. Born a Protestant it is highly unusual to become a Catholic. And although it does happen, the majority of persons prefer to remain with their inherited religion. Is there any difference if at a later stage in life, perhaps after a laps in practice, or after a period of dissatisfaction, or because of non-belief, one becomes a convert to a particular movement? Generally, no. If one is persuaded that a particular religion is right and correct they have usually been shown something to give them that impression. After which it is most difficult to re-adjust to yet another ideology.

It is because of the aforementioned postulation that the association known as Friends of the Nazarene does not expect their associates to be dogmatically tied to a set of rules and dictates from a hierarchy. After careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and long deliberation, a number of fundamental ‘truths’ do tend to surface. It is these teachings, and these only, that are presented as a statement of belief. Where the Bible is not specific, or if there is a reasonable doubt as to the correct interpretation of a particular Scripture, it is left to the individual to decide completely, and without prejudice, as to his own conclusions. All the affirmations are based wholly on the established Bible canon and are not subject to tradition or philosophy (classic or modern), nor are they influenced by the religious creed or doctrine of established or contemporary religions.

To those unlearned in the Bible it is strongly suggested that they make a careful and thorough investigation. After which they may then use their intellectual capacity to distinguish between actual Biblical truth and that which has been dissimulated, or is promulgated by a particular religion or group. As Jesus himself said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 King James Version) Therefore, the sincere student would do well to find a quiet private place to pray, and to ask the Heavenly Father to reveal His truth to him. Then by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his thoughts and direct his actions he will enable himself to come to an ever truer and more accurate understanding of the Holy Scriptures, thus bringing himself ever closer to the real knowledge of God. May you find the way.

CONTENTS

  1. THE HOLY BIBLE
  2. THE GOD
  3. THE SON OF GOD — JESUS CHRIST
  4. THE HOLY SPIRIT
  5. THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
  6. THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
  7. THE ORDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
  8. THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
  9. THE CHRISTIAN AS AN INDIVIDUAL

1. THE HOLY BIBLE

Just as any organized entity must have a standard against which to measure its actions, performance or achievements, the Christian has for his gauge the Holy Bible or Sacred Scriptures.

The people known as the Friends of the Nazarene accept the traditional canon of sixty-six books from Genesis to Revelation as Holy Scripture and the inspired word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version) Although the Scriptures were written and styled by various men over a long period of time they were divinely directed. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

There are other extra-Biblical books not included within this traditional canon which also contain much moral and informative material that can be of great benefit to the reader.

Not to be overlooked are books of historical and educational content which can enhance and deepen appreciation for God and His creation. These can also help to fill out the Biblical account. So while not being viewed as inspired they can be helpful in rounding out knowledge for the man of God.

Therefore, the Christian’s belief should be based on the established Bible canon (Genesis to Revelation).

So, it is within the confines of the Holy Bible that all the “Affirmation of Convictions” are based. Where there is a difference between the written Word of God and the beliefs or credos of the various religions, the Friends of the Nazarene  will opt for the Bible. (John 17:17)

Should it be that new information is proffered, or adduced, to challenge the said “Affirmation of Convictions,” this will be presented at the Annual Meeting of Elders for a deep, exhaustive and prayerful study in an endeavour to discern the real truth of Scripture. (Acts 15:1-35)

Within the parameter set by God’s holy word, the Christian is free to direct his life and will echo the Psalmist:

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that he, Yahweh, is God,
he made us and we belong to him,
we are his people, the flock that he pastures.
Enter into his gates with thanks giving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.”

(Psalm 100 NIV, TJB, KJV)

 

Though every man, religion, or religious organization be found a liar, it is the duty of every Christian to adhere to “His truth that endureth to all generations.” Each one will stand before the Judgement Seat of God to explain his beliefs and actions, therefore each and every person owes it to himself to examine and stay bound by God’s written word the Holy Bible. “But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: ‘That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.’” (Romans 3:4 New World Translation)

2. THE GOD (Greek: ‘ο θεος — ho Theos)

God as the Almighty

The Absolute, Almighty God without equal in age, power, knowledge. (Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 40:13-14, 26, 1 John 3:20, Revelation 11:17)

God as a Creator

Instigator of all things created. (Genesis 1:1, 26, Job 38:4, Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 40:26)

God as a Person

God is characterized by a personality with the highest quality. His personality is dominated by the attributes of love, wisdom, justice and power from which are developed the complete range of spiritual peculiarities that have since been intrinsically engendered into all intelligent life forms including the human. (Genesis 1:26, Deuteronomy 32:4, Proverbs 3:19, 1 John 4:8, Revelation 11:17)

He has taken upon Himself, and has become known by, a unique special personal name. This name is variously translated as Yahweh, Jehovah, Yehowah, and others. The name, withstanding its distinction, is to be held in the highest respect and not used in an irreverent or unconstrained manner. (Exodus 20:7, Ezekiel 36:21-23)

God as the Father

He is the life giver, hence Father, of all living things. However, for all honest hearted Christians He becomes a Father in a special sense as Romans 8:14-17 says: ”Every one moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out ,’Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.” (The Jerusalem Bible) So through this special relationship the Christian has the most marvellous of hopes, that of seeing his Heavenly Father, God, and of sharing with Christ as God’s children in His Heavenly Kingdom.

3. THE SON OF GOD, JESUS CHRIST

(Greek: ‘ο υιος του θεου — ho huios tou Theou, Іησους Χριστος — Iesous Christos)

Jesus as the Word of God

He is God’s spokesman and workman (Word, Logos). Jesus as the Word was with God at the beginning of creation. God placed him superior to all other intelligent beings. (Proverbs 8:22-30, John 1:1, 2, Philippians 2:9-10)

Jesus as the Son of God

The Son of the Almighty God was brought into being as His only-begotten. He is the very image of God. (Romans 1:4, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-4)

Jesus as the Son of Man

Jesus is also known by the designation ‘Son of Man.’ He came from Heaven, his life force and personality being transferred to the womb of Mary. Whist on the Earth he took completely the human form and often referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man.’ It is the human Jesus as the ‘Son of Man’ that is seen ascending to God to receive his kingdom. (Daniel 7:13, Matthew 1:20-21, John 6:62, 2 John 7)

Jesus as Messiah or Christ

Jesus is the one anointed by God to perform His will. (Psalms 2:2, Isaiah 61:1, Daniel 9:26-27, Luke 4:14-21)

Jesus as Saviour

Jesus is God’s appointed Saviour for the redemption of his Church and humankind by his sacrificial ransom. (John 3:16, Acts 4:12, Colossians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:2)

Jesus as King

Jesus became King upon his ascension to Heaven. It was then that he was given all authority. (Psalms 2:6, Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:19-21)

Jesus as Judge

He becomes judge of his own Household when he returns to gather his Church. God has committed all the judging to His Son. The Son will judge all humanity upon its resurrection from the dead. (John 5:22-27, Revelation 20:13)

4. THE HOLY SPIRIT

(Greek: το πνευματος το ‘αγιος — to pneumatos to hagios)

The Holy Spirit, or Sacred ‘Pneuma’, is the mental power of God projected to accomplish His will. Thus the Apostle Paul compares it to the ‘mind of God.’ (Romans 11:34, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16) It is an invisible force, or intellectual pressure. Those driven by it desist from sin and manifest the beautiful qualities of the Holy Spirit, and thus display the personality of God Himself. As an imperfect human it is necessary to pray continually for it. (Luke 11:13)

The Holy Spirit as a creative force

It was by means of God’s Holy Spirit that all of creation was able to take place. It was also by means of the Holy Spirit channelled through Jesus Christ that the miracles were performed. (Genesis 1:1-2, Acts 3:6, 12, 16, 4:7-10, 6:8)

The Holy Spirit as an intellectual pressure

It was the Holy Spirit that gave the Bible writers, the Prophets and the disciples their guidance and help. (John 14:16, Acts 7:55, Ephesians 4:22-24, 2 Peter 1:21)

5. THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

There are two ‘kingdoms’ in the Christian Bible

  1. The Son’s, ‘Kingdom of the Heavens’

    This is the domain or realm over which Jesus rules upon his ascension to Heaven. (Matthew 13:41, Ephesians 1:18-23, Colossians 1:13) This ‘kingdom’ is the Church or Body of Christ.
     
  2. The Father’s ‘Celestial Kingdom’

    This is the seat of all sovereignty. (Matthew 13:43, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
     

From the time that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan he started to form the foundation of his Church or congregation. Initially he started with his Twelve Apostles and over the three and half years of his public ministry many others became his disciples. It was, however, after his resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that a large number became Christians. Throughout the two millennia since then, the ‘Kingdom of the Heavens’, which had indeed started out like a mustard grain, has become like a large tree. (Matthew 13:31-32) Nevertheless, it can be seen that Christ’s Church also contains both ‘wheat’ and ‘weeds.’ At the Second Coming there will be a separation between the faithful and the unfaithful, with the faithful being received into the Father’s ‘Celestial Kingdom,’ the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

6. THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

All true doctrine is from God (John 7:16-17)

The Elementary Doctrine

The Apostle Paul at Hebrews 6:1, 2 defines what is the ‘elementary doctrine of the Christ’ when he lists:

  1. Repentance from dead works
  2. Faith in God
  3. Teachings on baptisms
  4. The laying on of the hands
  5. Resurrection of the dead
  6. Everlasting judgement

The Major Doctrine

Beside the ‘elementary doctrine of the Christ’ listed at Hebrews 6:1, 2 and all the aforementioned through sections 1 to 5, the Friends of the Nazarene believe that release from sin and death is by the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. By means of the ransom the restitution and the reconciliation of everything Heavenly and Earthly is assured. (Colossians 1:20)

The Foretold Apostasy

Jesus and his inspired disciples foretold an apostasy, or falling away, from the true doctrine and order of the early Church. (Matthew 13:38, 39, Acts 20:29, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, 2 Peter 2:1)

The history of the Christian Church reveals such desertion of early teachings and methods. The doctrines of the Trinity, hell-fire, and the immortality of the human soul all appear to be examples of apostate teachings.

The Prophetic Horizon

The Great Oppression

This is a period of three and a half years of persecution that comes upon the end-time Saints just before the Return of Christ in glory.  It is these end-time Saints who are the ‘large crowd’ that are delivered from such an oppression. (Daniel 7:21-25, 12:1, Revelation 7:9-14, 11:2-3, 12:17, 13:5-7)

The Parousia

(1) Visible

The Return, or Parousia of Christ, is visible and follows the great oppression and celestial darkness. (Matthew 24:29-31, John 14:1-2)

(2) Resurrection of the Church

The entire Church (Body or Bride of Christ) is resurrected at the same time upon the Parousia of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16, 1 John 2:28, 3:2)

(3) Rapture of the end-time Saints

Right at the end of the great oppression the living end-time Saints are rescued or delivered by being snatched (or, raptured) out of harm’s way. (Daniel 7:22, 12:1-2, Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Revelation 11:2-3, 12)

(4) Where are we in Prophecy?

No one is authorized to proclaim, ‘the time is at hand,’ (Luke 21:8) for no Christian knows the time of the Parousia and the Day of Wrath. (Matthew 24:36, Acts 1:7)

The Parousia-Judgement

When the Master or King returns he first inspects or judges his own Household of Faith, the realm of his domain. The weeds, or goats, are destroyed. The wheat, or sheep, inherit the Kingdom of the Father. (Matthew 24:45 to 25:46, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 John 2:28, 4:17)

The Day of Wrath

(1) Commencement of the Day of Wrath

The foretold time when the winds of destruction break forth upon mankind resulting in the death of one-third of humanity. (Revelation 7:1-3, 9:15) This is a war between the Lamb, with his Church, and all the kings of the Earth. (Revelation 16:14, 16, 17:14, 19:11-16)

(2) Where is the Church?

The Church is in Heaven during the Day of Wrath and the out-pouring of the final plagues of God’s anger. (Revelation 7:9-17, 15:2, 17:14)

(3) Babylon’s judgement

Babylon, or counterfeit Christianity — ‘religion’ itself — is destroyed by the human political leaders under divine influence. This occurs after the Church is gone and before ‘Armageddon.’ (Revelation 14:8, 18:4, 21)

(4) Armageddon

The war between the Lamb with his Church and the political leaders of the World. (Revelation 16:14, 16, 19:11-16)

(5) The binding of the Devil

Satan is abyssed, or confined to his prison before the start of the Thousand Years. (Revelation 20:3)

The Thousand Years

This period of a thousand years is the time when Messiah reigns with his Church over the World. It is an interval of rule without the Devil’s influence, during which death and sin continue but are subdued at the end of the Thousand Year period. (Isaiah 65:17-22, 1 Corinthians 6:2, Revelation 11:15, 20:4, Revelation 20:3-7, 14)

The Final Judgment

Following the end of the Thousand Years and the destruction of the Devil, all mankind will be resurrected for their own judgement. This judgment is based on their previous conduct during their former life on earth. Then those approved in this final judgement will be blessed with everlasting life on Earth. (Matthew 12:36-37, John 5:27-29, Acts 17:31, Romans 2:15, 16, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:5, 12-15)

Death and Hades

Death is unconscious non-existence in a ‘sleep’ awaiting the resurrection. Hades (or, hell) is gravedom where all await a resurrection and then their judgement. The Bible does not teach a place of eternal torment, nor the immortality of the human soul. (Job 14:12-14, Psalm 146:3-4, Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, 9:5, 10, Ezekiel 18:20, John 5:28-29, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:13)

7. THE ORDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

The Overall Structure

Jesus Christ is head. (Ephesians 5:23)

Christian Apostles and Prophets are its foundation. (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 2:20)

All other Christians are members of God’s Household. (Ephesians 2:19)

The Individual Church Group

Where possible each Church group should have its own ‘Presiding Elder.’ (Romans 12:8, Revelation 1:20)

Where necessary additional elders or deacons could be appointed by those authorized to do so. (Acts 6:3, 14:23)

All men appointed should already be characterized by the requirements revealed in Scripture. (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9)

All Church members, each with their own gifts, are recognized as one body. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

Purpose of the Church

The purpose of the Church is threefold

  1. Build up the Household of God

    To build up the Household of God in love, faith and hope.(1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 4:16, Hebrews 10:24)
     
  2. To teach and encourage in faith and love
     
  3. To Reveal Christ to the World
     

(Ephesians 1:12, 3:10)

How is the purpose of the Church accomplished

Build up the Household of God

(1) The Early Church

The letters sent to the seven congregations, recorded at Revelation chapters 2 and 3, show that each is responsible for its own actions. The first century Corinthian Church was reported upon by the Apostle Paul and his findings can be read at First Corinthians chapter 11 through to the end of chapter 14. The main import was the need for love, agreement and order. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a, 11:17-19, 14:33, 40)

(2) The Church Today

Throughout the whole realm of Christ’s kingdom today the structure and arrangements of the various churches differ greatly. This is not necessarily a detestation, for Christian freedom permits choice on a reasonable scope. The Friends of the Nazarene arrange for congregations of any size to be established where there is one elder to take the lead and set the example, and with the ability to organize programs for gatherings and other means to reveal Christ to the World. These arrangements would be fixed locally. Through experience and sagacity arrangements are usually made for a ‘Formal Ecclesia’ where prayers, hymns, Bible readings, and Scriptural talks are given. Also an informal ‘Devotional Group’ for prayers, Bible study, exhortations, testimonies, devotions, and expressions of faith can be made. At these ‘Devotional Groups’ all may share and participate. At meetings organized by the Friends of the Nazarene godly woman may choose to wear a veil or head-covering. [1 Corinthians 11:5, 10, 13, 16] This would particularly be the case if they were to participate in the absence of an appointed male; that is, where there was no qualified godly man available to oversee events.

(3) The Commemoration of the Lord’s Supper

The annual commemorative observance of the Lord’s death on the Biblical calendar date of Nisan 14. Unlike the Jewish Passover, the Memorial is not just a family observance, but where possible a congregational gathering to demonstrate communion and unity. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

Reveal Christ to the World

(1) Evangelism & Growth

Paul said: "I believed, and so I spoke." (2 Corinthians 4:13 Revised Standard Version) It is natural that persons of faith will use their abilities to witness, or speak to others about their beliefs and Bible knowledge, acknowledging Christ as their Saviour and King. (Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 10:9-15, Ephesians 6:15, 1 Peter 2:9)

(2) What is the ‘Gospel’?

There is only one ‘gospel’, or message of good news. Those that do not conform to Paul’s ‘gospel’ are considered anathema by Paul himself. (Galatians 1:8-9)  

(3) What is the ‘Good News’ today?

The Gospel is the good news that anyone may become a prospective member of the Bride of Christ with a celestial inheritance. (John 6:37, 14:1-3)

8. THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY

The family has always been the backbone of any society. It was once said, that when the family crumbles the nation crumbles. “The family is the oldest human institution. In many ways it is the most important. It is society’s most basic unit. Entire civilizations have survived or disappeared, depending on whether family life was strong or weak.” (The World Book Encyclopedia 1973) It was God who initiated the family arrangement, and it is His advice which has stood the test of time. Whilst many philosophers have made their mark, often to the detriment of society, the Bible remains constant with its counsel.

The Bible shows that a godly father and mother’s first responsibility is to their children. The man is head, guide, provider and protector of his family. Mutual love and respect is to be displayed between all members. The father and mother’s role is to raise their children in Christ. And that any children should so honour their parents by their respect and obedience. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4, Colossians 3:18-21, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 Timothy 5:4, 14, Titus 2:4-5)

As much of the future of the Church rests in its youth, every effort must be made to train and set the example for the next generation of the Faithful.

9. THE CHRISTIAN AS AN INDIVIDUAL

The Christian is not just another fellow human being driven by the wind of this world without direction or purpose. True he is subject to circumstances brought about not of his doing. But he is a person with a character possessed of faith in God, love for Him, and hope in Him. He also loves the Lord Jesus Christ to such an extent that he is prepared to: “Follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.” (Revelation 14:4) This requires that “God be everything to everyone,” and dedicated discipleship to Jesus first. (Matthew 16:24-26, John 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:29)

What are some of the distinguishing attributes of the Christian?

What are some of the steps to become a Christian?

How to remain an active Christian!

“This I can pray with confidence, for his divine power has gifted us with everything necessary for life and godliness, because we have come to know him who called us to share his own glory and excellence. It was through the excellence of his glory that we received the precious and very great gifts he promised us, and it is through these gifts that you are able to escape the world’s corruption, which is the fruit of unbridled passion, and so to become sharers in the divine nature. And this is the very reason why you must make up your minds to make every effort to equip your faith with virtue, your virtue with knowledge, your knowledge with self-mastery, your self-mastery with fortitude; you fortitude with godliness, your godliness with Christian friendliness; your friendliness with love. For if you possess these virtues, and if you keep on growing in them, it will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive on your road to an ever deeper knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8 William Barclay) “I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forgot the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus. We who are called ‘perfect’ must all think in this way. If there is some point on which you see things differently, God will make it clear to you; meanwhile, let us go forward on the road that has brought us to where we are.” (Philippians 3:13-16 The Jerusalem Bible) (Luke 21:19)

The Seven Promises

“To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.”

 

“He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death... Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

 

“To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with anew name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.”

 

“He who conquers and keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father; and I will give him the morning star.”

 

“He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”

 

“He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”

 

“He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

 

(Revelation 2:7, 10-11, 17, 26-29, 3:12, 21 Revised Standard Version)