Loving God with all of our being
We were given life and ransomed so that we can love the One who created us in return with all of our mind, soul, body, and spirit. This is the first and foremost instruction of the One who exchanged His life for ours and arose from the dead on our behalf. Love exuding from all of our being to God is the natural and supernatural expression from our lives and we will forever grow in loving Him more. (Matt. 22:37-39)
The following is a statement of our position of basic Christian doctrines. As once stated by a great missionary, “There are certain basic Christian truths about which there must be agreement. On all other doctrines there should be liberty. In all things there must be charity.” It is our resolution to take an uncompromising stand on the essential doctrines of the faith, and extend “the right hand of fellowship” to all who hold to them. It is also our resolution to protect the liberty of Christians to hold different perspectives on the “non-essential” doctrines.
There are doctrines we may consider non-essential, but which are important. We therefore make known our belief on these, while presenting them with tolerance toward those who may hold a different position. We are committed to truth and accuracy in doctrine, but also understand that one can hold right doctrines and still do damage to the body of Christ by causing divisions over the non-essentials. We are therefore just as committed to the essential Christian character, believing that “In all things there must be love.” As the apostle stated, “The goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart and a sincere faith” (I Timothy 1:5). That, too, is our goal and commitment as we promote the following teachings that we hold as truth:
On the Person of Jesus
There is only one true God, Who is revealed in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Word (Logos) of God. The Word was with God in the beginning, which states His pre-existence as one with God. “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth” (Colossians 1:16), therefore making Jesus the Creator. Jesus Christ is the Purpose of God found in all of creation. He is the Father’s delight and desire, and the Father is looking for the reflection of His Son in all created things. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. In the beginning, it was the ultimate purpose of God for all things to be summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
Jesus Christ, Who pre-existed with God in the form of God, emptied Himself to become fully a man that He might be the propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Through His appeasing sacrifice made on the cross, all who believe in Him and His sacrifice have their sins forgiven and are restored to the fellowship with God lost by man’s violation.
Jesus was born of a virgin, by the seed of the Holy Spirit. His virgin birth is a testimony that only the Spirit can bring about that which is Spirit. Those of the new creation are not solely of human origin, but are born from above by the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of Jesus’ physical body after His crucifixion was literal, as will be the resurrection of both the just and the unjust on the Day of Judgment.
“There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). All who seek restoration and fellowship with God must go through Jesus and cannot approach God through any person, spirit or doctrine. It is also a supreme presumption for any person or institution to seek to be mediator for others in place of Christ Jesus Himself.
The apostolic commission was for His followers to labor until Christ was formed in His church, to present every person complete in Christ, and to manifest the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. When Jesus is lifted up, He will draw all people to Himself. We consider it the primary purpose of the church to esteem and exalt Jesus in every way. It is the focus and devotion of “Awake Winston Salem” to know and preach Him, and not ourselves. We pray for the grace to continually respond to His call to return to our first Love, that we might passionately devote ourselves to pleasing Him in all things while preparing for His return.
We believe that man was created and formed from the dust of the earth by a loving Heavenly Father. Man was created for fellowship with God, and made with an incredible purpose to fulfill on the earth. He was made without sin or the knowledge of good and evil. The first man, Adam, violated the command of God and the process of death entered him and all of his descendants because of that transgression. There was also a separation of fellowship between man and God that took place after his transgression when he was removed from the garden of God’s presence. Because of our unrighteousness, mankind is unable to be cleansed from our sin, freed from the curse or able to live eternally with God, except through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Through Jesus, we are not only cleansed of our unrighteousness and freed from the curse, but we can approach and know God personally, and mankind can once again fulfill God’s purpose for him through the love of the Father, the cleansing blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the Atonement
Because all have sinned and are therefore under the sentence of death, all must trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for the remission of sins. There is no other way to reconcile with God or escape from eternal judgment, except through the appeasing and perfect sacrifice of Jesus.
Those who trust in Jesus Christ have access to the Throne of Grace by His sacrifice and by His sacrifice alone. Good works are acceptable to God only as a love offering given to Him because of His worthiness, and have no bearing on our acceptance, standing or approval, all of which were accomplished by the cross through Jesus. Good works offered for the purpose of acceptance, standing or approval are therefore an affront to the cross by which all of these things were gained for us by Jesus. Good works are not offered for His approval, but for His joy and glory, and must be offered through the Son (I Peter 2:5) in obedience to Him. Therefore, the goal of our service is fellowship and obedience with Him, and not sacrifice.
On the New Birth
We believe that when a person believes in their hearts that Jesus is the Son of God, when they confess that Jesus is Lord, believing that by His death and resurrection we were purchased from the domain of darkness, then they are birthed into a new kingdom as new creatures awakened and freed by God’s love. Although this does not imply immediate perfection in our temporal life or lifestyle, it does mean that true faith will result in a radical change in us. Being “born again” implies a new beginning, not an ending. Christian maturity in faith, truth and life is a process. Even so, this process must begin with spiritual regeneration or new birth. While it is possible to change our behavior without regeneration, changing our hearts requires the new birth, and it is our hearts upon which God looks.
On the Purpose of Faith
True faith is of the heart. God’s purpose in requiring faith for salvation and everything that God has made available to man, is to raise our focus above the temporal world that is within our control, to the One who is eternal and over all. Faith in God is the transitioning of the trust we had in ourselves to trusting God for everything. Salvation, eternal life, healing, forgiveness, and the gifts of God are obtained by faith and therefore faith is essential for every believer.
On the Authority of Scripture
We believe in the Divine inspiration and authority of the 66 books of the Holy Bible as the complete canon of God’s testimony to mankind. We are committed to esteeming Scripture as the very Word of God, inspired by God Himself. We do not accept any doctrine which contradicts Scripture.
We understand that there are many practices and doctrines that are considered orthodox which do not contradict the Scripture, but which are not directly addressed in His Word. We are committed to giving liberty in the belief and practice of these teachings, but we will endeavor to maintain the simplicity of the biblical testimony and its stated practices as we are given grace to perceive them. We do not accept any spiritual experience as having its source in the Holy Sprit that does not have a precedent in Scripture. We do not accept any revelation, vision, dream, prophecy or discernment as truth which contradicts Scripture. We do not believe that any other writings have the same authority as the canon of Scripture.
On the Lord’s Supper
We acknowledge the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus and as a testimony of our communion (common-union) with Him in His body, the church. We consider it a holy ordinance, but we do not accept the teaching that communion is for the purpose of remitting sins, which Scripture testifies is based solely in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (Hebrews 9:25-28).
On Water Baptism
We believe that water baptism should be by immersion and accomplished immediately after commitment to the Lordship of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for our sin. This baptism is a personal and public statement of faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf, and is a commitment to lay down our lives to be one with Him in His death, burial and resurrection.
On the Second Coming of Christ
We believe in the literal, physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ to take authority and rule on earth. We believe that those who are alive and remain at the return of our Lord will be changed and caught up to be with Him in the air. Those who have died in the faith will be resurrected and precede those who are alive in being changed and caught up to be with Him.
We believe in the literal, physical resurrection of both the just and the unjust for the Day of Judgment. For those of us who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, this resurrection is for eternal life in fellowship with God. Those who are not justified by faith in Jesus are resurrected for an eternal judgment.
On the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is an additional impartation which may be subsequent to regeneration (see Acts 8:15-17 and 19:1-6). This baptism is one of the purposes of Jesus coming into the earth, prophesied by John the Baptist, and is usually accompanied by the gifts of the Spirit (such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc.). The primary purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to impart spiritual power to every believer (from the 1st century church until today) to be witnesses throughout the earth (Acts 1:8).
We believe that this gift is presently available to all who believe (Acts 2:38-39), but is not essential for salvation or regeneration. While these are accomplished by the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7), there were disciples who did not even know that there was a Holy Spirit. Just as Paul made it a priority to instruct those believers and pray for them to receive this gift, we are committed to doing the same.
This baptism is to be distinguished from being filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31, 7:55, 13:9,52), which can be a special and repeated empowering for specific purposes.
We believe that when Christians truly have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, they should begin to take on His nature and fruit, becoming “helpers” and “comforters”, leading others into truth, and testifying of Jesus.
On the Present Ministry of the Holy Spirit
We believe that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and that His ministry in and through the church by the Holy Spirit has not changed from the beginning. We accept, acknowledge, encourage and seek all of the biblical gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit as present and vital for the church to be encouraged and built up to accomplish her full purpose today.
On the Supernatural
God is a Spirit and a Supernatural being. Therefore, those who are adopted into His family and born of His Spirit are supernatural beings within a natural body. Since we are now the “light of the world” as Jesus said, and in Him “we live and move and have our being,” it is normal for us to behave in a supernatural fashion as He did, doing even “greater things” because He has gone to be with His Father (John 14:12).
Within the supernatural lifestyle, miracles, divine healing, words of wisdom, prophecy and every other supernatural element that is found in the New Covenant is our portion and inheritance as partakers of the divine nature God has granted to us.
We believe that God’s heart and desire is to not only save everyone (I Tim 2:4), but He has paid the price for everyone to receive the benefits He purchased for us on the cross, including healing (I Peter 2:24). Jesus healed everyone who came to Him and He paid for physical and emotional healing for every person. “..and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them” Matt 4:24. Healing from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.
On Marriage and Divorce
Marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman that God initiated, promotes, intends to be life-long, and uses as a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church (Eph 5). Within the liberating yet protective framework of marriage, a loving and selfless relationship includes sexual enjoyment and the participation in the miracle of birthing children into the world.
Marriage is part of what makes up the healthy fabric of society, and the scriptures tell us that divorce is “hated” by God. Although Jesus said divorce is “permitted” due to infidelity of one partner, certainly restoration, healing and forgiveness is the preferred biblical approach in such cases. In our fallen world, sometimes restoration does not happen for various reasons. This does not mean that fellowship with divorcees should be avoided by the church, but rather we should embrace and love divorcees and not withhold fellowship from them.
On Sexual Sin and Homosexual Behavior
God loves every single person on the planet and has demonstrated that love to all of us. He sent His Son Jesus on a mission to ransom us from enslavement to sin. It was an exchange of His own life and blood for our freedom and cleansing. There is no greater love than that love. Through the death of Jesus we were purchased from being owned by sin and darkness, and through His resurrection He has enabled us to live free in His power.
God has demonstrated that He has and will do anything to free us from slavery of every kind. The death of Jesus signified both the enormous cost of sin, and the depth of love that He has for us. Jesus said that through His mission on the earth, He came to “release captives, set free those who are oppressed, save that which was lost, give eternal life, forgive us of our sins and destroy the works of the evil one” (Luke 4:18, John 3:16, John 10:10, Matt 18:11, Matt 26:20, 1 John 3:8).