WHAT WE BELIEVE
Church of the Holy Spirit’s core beliefs are firmly planted in the mainstream of historic Anglican thought and practice. These beliefs include:
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No one comes to the Father but by Him.
The Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) are the Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus are to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
The historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three catholic creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds.
We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
and shall give account of their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.
Infant Baptism at Church of the Holy Spirit
It is the regular practice at Church of the Holy Spirit to baptize two groups of people. The first group consists of men, women, and children who demonstrate both a genuine faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to join the church family (i.e., “believer’s baptism”). The second group consists of the infants and children of Church of the Holy Spirit members.
“Why do you baptize infants and children who have not yet made a public profession of faith in Christ?”
The simple answer to this question is that (1) while we firmly believe this is not an issue over which Christians should divide, yet (2) we are convinced that both the Bible and early church history support the practice of household baptism, which includes infants and young children. Following are some of the factors that have led us to this conclusion.
It is the belief of The Anglican Church of Rwanda and of Church of the Holy Spirit that God’s covenant of grace (His promise to be our God and have us as His people), in a mysterious way that we cannot quite grasp, extends to the children of believers. Such children, we believe, therefore have a right to the covenant sign, which in the New Testament is baptism (in the Old Testament the sign was circumcision). Following is a detailed reasoning of why we, at the request of those who share our beliefs on this matter, will baptize infants, as well as other children in a believing household who have not yet made a profession of faith.
In the New Testament, baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of the covenant.
- Colossians 2:11-12 teaches that baptism is the full expression of circumcision. The covenant of circumcision required that the infant male be circumcised as a newborn infant (Genesis 17:12), and this covenant was to be an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:13). Physical circumcision is clearly no longer in effect (Galatians 6:11-18), but the covenant it represents is still in effect (Romans 2:29). The new outward sign of this “everlasting” covenant with believers and their children is baptism (Colossians 2:11- 12). Therefore, we believe it follows, then, that baptism is to be administered to the children of believing parents.
- Acts 2:38-39 describes baptism with virtually the same language and terms with which Genesis 17:9-14 describes circumcision. The promise connected with baptism in Acts 2:38-39 explicitly includes the children of believers, as did the promise connected with circumcision in Genesis 17:9-14. No mention of a required age or profession of faith is made with respect to such children.
- As circumcision was a requirement for the Old Testament household (Genesis 17:10, 12-13), so, we believe, was baptism for the New Testament household (Acts 16:15, 31-33; 1 Corinthians 1:16). Never once are children said to be excluded from a household baptism, except in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, who obviously had no children.
- There is no biblical command given for believers to cease the application of the covenant sign with their children.
In the New Testament, believers’ children were regarded as members of the covenant community.
- In Luke 18:15-17, Jesus said that God’s Kingdom belongs to little children (from the Greek brephe, which literally means “baby” or “infant”).
- In Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21 Paul addresses children (from the Greek tekna, meaning “child”) as believers in Christ. He speaks to them as he would any saint, regardless of age.
- In 1 Corinthians 7:14 Paul refers to the children (tekna) of believers as “holy” (meaning set apart for God). The word translated “holy” (hagia) is the exact same word used elsewhere by the apostles in reference to believers (translated “saints” – see Ephesians 1:1, for example). The New Testament assumption, then, is that children of believers should be regarded and treated as believers unless or until they prove themselves to be covenant breakers.
- In 2 Timothy 3:15, Timothy is said to have known the Scriptures from infancy (brephe).
- In Luke 1:15, John the Baptist is said to have been filled with the Spirit, “even from his mother’s womb.”
- The New Testament suggests nowhere that the sign of the covenant (previously circumcision, now baptism) is to be withheld from the children of believers until they make an informed profession of faith in Christ.
Our position on infant baptism does not reflect a belief that baptism child. In order to be saved, a child must possess his / her own personal Savior and Lord. The initial seeds of faith may or may not be in time of baptism. When a child professes faith at some point after baptism, that is the time in which the baptism and all that it signifies takes full effect. Until that time, the child’s baptism is regarded as the sign of the child’s inclusion in the church community (and all its benefits, except the Lord’s Supper) by virtue of his / her parents’ faith and the promise of God to be “their God and the God of their children.”
While the Scripture does not speak specifically to the baptism of infants in the early church, there is Biblical suggestion as well as historical evidence that household baptism was practiced at that time.
- Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the infant baptism as a universal practice in the early church.
- Tertullian (end of 2nd century) acknowledged the universal practice of infant baptism.
- Origen (2nd and 3rd centuries) spoke of infant baptism as the common practice of the early church.
- These things being the case, were household (and consequently infant) baptism not the New Testament church practice, then the conclusion must be made that a full reversal of the early church’s practice occurred immediately following the death of the last apostle. Because there is neither biblical nor extra-biblical evidence indicating so much as a debate about this issue in the first or second centuries, such a reversal is extremely unlikely. We conclude this in large part because there is a wealth of documentation about virtually every other theological debate and/or alleged “heresy” in the early church.
Our Attitude about Household Baptism
We encourage household baptism at Church of the Holy Spirit, but do not require it of those who cannot accept it. To us the biblical and supporting historical teaching seems clear, so we do encourage Church of the Holy Spirit parents to have their children baptized. However, parents who are not convinced of our position are not required to have their children baptized in order to be fully active and fully received church members, and will not in any way be pressured to do so. This is an issue about which we are happy to disagree without it being any hindrance at all to full Christian fellowship. We will under no circumstance make this “non-essential” issue an essential one.
What does child baptism signify?
- An outward sign of God’s promises to the children of believers. According to Scripture, baptism signifies the promise of God that He will give His Spirit to believers and their children. We take this to mean two things: First, that the child will be exposed to the work of the Spirit as he / she is raised in a Christian home and church where the Word of God is taught and lived. Second, that the child’s parents can look expectantly to God for the salvation of their child, as the child is brought up in the ways of God.
- An outward sign of the child’s inclusion in the community of faith. Like circumcision, in Scripture baptism represented the child’s inclusion in the church community. By virtue of his / her baptism, the child becomes a “non-communing member” of the church, and is entitled to all the benefits of a full church member, except (1) the right to receive the Lord’s Supper, which first requires a credible profession of faith in Christ, and (2) the right to vote as a church member.
- An outward sign of Jesus’ heart for children. Through child baptism the entire church community acknowledges Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God belongs to little ones. Jesus regularly included little children and babies in His fellowship.
What child baptism does not signify.
Baptism does not signify that the child is instantaneously saved upon baptism. There is no “magic” that takes place in this sacrament. The child’s salvation will be secured, as far as his / her parents and church are concerned, at the moment in which the child is converted to Christ through faith and repentance, not at the moment of baptism.
Parental promises at covenant baptism.
At Church of the Holy Spirit, we encourage parents to study and take very seriously the promises they make at the baptism of their child. Along with the sacrament comes a solemn responsibility for parents, as well as the entire church family, to cooperate with the Spirit of God in the child’s spiritual upbringing. Following are the promises parents will take at baptism, along with explanations of each promise. Before bringing their child before the congregation for baptism, parents are asked to examine each promise to make certain they can assent to it with a clear conscience.
Promise 1: “Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the
the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?” In saying “yes” to this question, parents acknowledge that their child can only be saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The child is not a “Christian” by virtue of having Christian parents, or by virtue of being active at the church. The child must possess his / her own faith, something that will occur only when the Holy Spirit draws the child to God through faith in Christ.
Promise 2: “Do you claim God’s covenant promises in your child’s behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his / her salvation, as you do for your own?” In saying “yes” to this question, parents acknowledge that God has made specific promises to them as Christian parents regarding their child, and they will claim these promises with reasonable hope that their child will be given the gift of faith, and in so doing will turn from sin and to Jesus.
Promise 3: “Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before you will pray with and for him / her, that you will teach him / faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s the nurture and admonition of the Lord?” In saying “yes” to themselves, in reliance upon the grace of God, to give their according to God’s instruction. This means first that they will life, according to the teaching of Scripture, as an ongoing example to their child.2 Second, this means that they will regularly pray for their child’s salvation and Christian growth, and that they will teach their child how to pray beginning at infancy and continuing throughout life. Third, this means that parents will teach their child the Scriptures and the truths of the Christian faith in the home, and will not view the church as the chief means for their child’s spiritual training, but merely as a reinforcement to the training that they will do in the home. Parents also commit to creating a home environment that breathes the air of the Gospel. One of the most significant practices parents can model for their children is that of regular confession and repentance within the family.
Church of the Holy Spirit Missions Philosophy
Gospel mission is always informed by the heart and purposes of God, as revealed in scripture.
Mission is at its heart those good and holy works which glorify the Father and build up His kingdom.
There are several key scriptures that shape and inform local church mission. We will look at three primary passages
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Great Commission is found in all four Gospels but is best summarized in Mt 28:19-20. Jesus tells His disciples, His Body of believers, to GO! As we are going on our way through life, we are sent out in His authority to announce the Good News of God – namely, that God in Jesus Christ has come in love to rescue, pardon and save us from our sin, the flesh and the devil.
Furthermore, by His grace, He offers an intimate relationship with Him where those who receive the gift of faith can become His sons and daughters.
He has entrusted His sons and daughters with the most important task in the world, sharing His glorious message of reconciliation, that “in Christ, God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5).
We are to make disciples. In Greek, the word disciple literally means “learner,” so our call is to help those who are learning of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
The Great Commission does not stop there. We are commanded to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This speaks to the necessity of the local church and the sacrament of baptism by water and the Spirit.
And finally, we are to teach His disciples to obey all that He has commanded. We teach not the ideas and precepts of man but the very words of God as found in the Bible.
“ 5 we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”
Here again, we see the importance of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Universal church which includes the local church. All disciples of Jesus are to be an active part of His Church and a local church. We are to use the gifts (charismata) He gives us to build up and strengthen His Church. Disciples must be an active part of a local church and under the authority of those Christ has called as overseers, pastors and shepherds.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a]you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b]may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Biblical Mission involves teaching God’s word. It is imperative and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
Biblical mission also involves serving Christ by serving some of the least of His children. While not an exhaustive list of acts of mercy found in Scripture, Matthew 25 highlights giving food, 3 drink, shelter, clothes, helping the sick and visiting those in prison. Many other scriptures command us to help the widow, the orphan and the sojourner. These acts of mercy are not the Gospel but an outflow from it. I John 3:18 says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
These two scriptures paint a clear picture that we are to do good to everyone but the first priority is to those in the “household of faith” – those who are brothers and sisters in the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There are so many other scriptures we could list but these fairly summarize biblical mission.
Every Christian church should let their mission be shaped by these scriptures. And at Church of The Holy Spirit we recognize these as bedrock. But each local church has its own unique call or mission from the Lord. 4
CHS MISSION DISTINCTIVES
Church of the Holy Spirit purposes to carry out the Lord’s mission the way the early Church did, locally, nationally and internationally.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to planting healthy Gospel driven churches, particularly those in the Anglican tradition.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to give local churches funding priority over parachurch ministries.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to partnering with indigenous pastors (those who know the language fluently and are part of the culture) whenever possible.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to making disciples in Roanoke and having strategic church-based ministries.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to working in long term Gospel partnerships and not changing partners or direction without good cause.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to finding matching grants wherever possible.
Church of the Holy Spirit is committed to working with churches and missions that are under godly authority and who embrace our essential expression of faith (Jesus is Lord and the Apostles and Nicene Creed) and our values.
Church of the Holy Spirit purposes to give a “hand up” and not enable dependency.
Church of the Holy Spirit purposes to go after segments of the population that are unreached or under reached. One specific example is the unchurched 18-30 year olds in Roanoke, VA.
Church of the Holy Spirit gives “mercy funding” priority to members who are widows, orphans, and those unable to work. Second priority is to attendees who are widows, orphans and those unable to work. The third priority is to those of a household without food, water and shelter and whose churches are unable to help them.
Church of the Holy Spirit purposes to aid the poor in Roanoke in a holistic manner rather than giving out money without addressing the complexities of the persons needs and root issues.
Church of the Holy Spirit never gives “relief” directly but gives Kroger cards or pays the utility company or landlord directly.
Church of the Holy Spirit expects all recipients of mission funding (save recipients of one-time alms or “relief”) to be in a local church, under godly authority and generous in their own giving to the Lord.
Read about our Missions Philosophy
TITHES AND OFFERINGS
In the Church today there are differing views of tithing. Many of these differences simply reflect how deeply our money has a hold of us more than they reflect a deep engagement with the scriptures. All too often we will proof text, “God loves a cheerful giver,” so if giving doesn’t make me happy, I shouldn’t give.” To understand what the scripture teaches about our tithing, we have to look at the whole of scripture – not just picking out a few verses that fit our way of thinking.
CREATION, WORSHIP AND SERVICE
King David said it all so clearly near the end of his life in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”
God is God and He created all that is, seen and unseen. Therefore, as David said, all that exists belongs to Him – for everything in heaven and earth is yours. What we own, our talents, abilities and resources, our health, the number of our days ordained for us (Ps 139:16), each breath we take – is a gift from God to us.
To hoard it for ourselves, to not recognize His Lordship over what we have been given, reveals the depth of our rebellion and sin before the Lord. The first question is: Do you recognize Him as Creator? Do we honor Him as the Giver of all things? When we know the Lord as Creator and believe in the principles that define His nature — His goodness and faithfulness — we understand this most basic truth: We give back to Him because He first gave to us and what we have is His already. 1 Chronicles 29:14 says it this way “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
B. BEFORE THE LAW
So what response should we make? Do we give Him everything? Do we give Him nothing? Do we toss a few dollars in the plate, if we don’t have anything better to spend it on?
Tithing began before the Law began. In the first act of worship after our rebellion in Genesis 3, we see Cain and Abel giving to God as an act of worship (Genesis 4). The earliest Patriarchs, before the giving of the Law, (see Abraham, Gen 14:20 and Gen 28:22) gave to the Lord a tithe, meaning one-tenth (the Law simply regulated the tithe – it didn’t establish the tithe).
Abraham gave a tithe by faith – not by the Law. If the people of God paid ten percent before the Law, and ten percent under the Law, shouldn’t we, who live by grace, be doing any less when we have a better covenant? There is a passage in Hebrews, which deals with this issue directly, Hebrews 7:8, “In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.” Melchizedek received Abraham’s tithe. Melchizedek is a prefigure of Christ — just as Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek we also give a tithe to Christ who is declared to be living.