White Branch Church Statement of Beliefs and Practices
(Adapted from the Covenant Brethren Statement)
(Approved by unanimous vote, August 16, 2022)
Five Core Beliefs
1. The Bible[i]
We believe the original writings of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are fully inspired by God, and are without error and completely trustworthy. We believe that God has faithfully preserved His Word throughout all generations and that it is fully authoritative and final. We believe it is our ultimate source for all information about Almighty God, the world He has created, and is our sole rule of faith and practice.
We believe there is only one Almighty God eternally existent in three distinct, co-equal and co-eternal Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth and sinless life, and in the sin-pardoning value of Christ’s shed blood and death on the cross. We believe in Christ’s bodily resurrection from the tomb, His ascension to glory and His personal and visible return to the earth. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling a Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe that all people are created in God’s image. Because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s command, Adam and all people have fallen into sin, have a sin nature, and are separated from God. God, who is rich in mercy, has made one provision for the salvation of people, which is faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the satisfactory payment for sin. The gospel is the good news that God will receive to Himself all persons who, with penitent heart, confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead: of the believer to the eternal blessedness of the saved, and of the unbeliever to the eternal suffering of the lost.
4. The Gospel of Grace[iv]
We believe that the core of the New Testament (or New Covenant) is the gospel (or Good News) of God’s grace! God’s grace is made available through His redemptive work in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection. This saving and justifying work of grace is received only by believing this gospel. Thus, humans are saved and justified (made right with God) by grace and through faith in Jesus’ redemptive work alone, not human efforts, works of obedience, or keeping the Law of God. All believers receive God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit who indwells and helps the believer to be transformed and renewed in mind, thought and action to develop in Christlike character and produce the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit also graciously gifts each believer with spiritual gifts, talents and abilities to serve others in ministry and for the purpose of God’s mission, until the ascended Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
5. The Church[v]
We believe that all persons who have received God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ constitute the Church. The Bible defines the Church as those who have been called out of the world to be God’s special people, the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. The mission of the Church is both external and internal and includes both word and deed. Externally, the Church is to proclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ to a sinful humanity and to impact its community or the glory of God as His representatives in the world. Internally, the Church is to teach believers the whole counsel of God which includes encouragement to live a holy life and accountability to one another.
Five Core New Testament Practices:
#2 Bread and Cup Communion as the memorial symbols of Jesus’ redemption through His broken body and shed blood.[viii]
#3 Three-Fold Communion, including:
#3 Anointing with Oil as a symbol of God’s Holy Spirit and desire to comfort and heal those in need of healing.[xi]
#4 Laying on of Hands as one God-ordained way to help others receive God’s gifts of healings, answers to prayer, blessing and calling to service/ministry.[xii]
Three Affirmations To Hold To:
1. We affirm that God has established particular roles and relationships for the good of human society. We affirm the sanctity of marriage and that God’s pattern for marriage is revealed at creation. God created one biological[xiii] male and one biological female and blessed their union through marriage. God has ordained sexual intimacy to be a sacred gift enjoyed only by a man and a woman within the holy covenant of marriage. Any other form of sexual intimacy is sin and is something from which God desires to free His children.[xiv]
2. We affirm the sanctity of all human life from conception until death.[xv]
3. We affirm that all people are made in the image of God and worthy of love. We affirm that the highest expression of God’s commands are to love Him and to love others, especially those in the household of faith. We affirm that to truly love others includes: sharing the good news of Jesus’ salvation; helping with practical needs and service ministries; helping believers grow in the knowledge of truth and Christlikeness and with the Holy Spirit’s help, to overcome sin; and forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us.[xvi]
[i] The Bible: 2 Tim. 3:14-17, 2 Tim. 4:1-5, 2 Pet. 1:16-21, Mat. 5:17-19, Mat. 7:24-29, Psa. 19:7-14, Psa. 119:97, Psa. 119:105, Ex. 20:1, Ex. 34:1-5, Ex. 34:27-28
[ii] God: Gen. 1:1-2, Deu. 6:4, Isa. 43:10-11, Mat. 1:18-23, Mat. 3:16-17, Mat. 28:18-20, Acts 5:3-4, John 1:1-17, John 16:5-16, John 10:22-33, Col. 1:15-20, 2 Cor. 13:14
[iii] Salvation: Gen. 1:26-28, Gen. 3:1-7, Gen. 3:14-24, Gen. 9:6, Rom. 1:18-32, Rom. 3:19-26, Rom. 5:12-19, John 3:3-5, John 3:14-21, Acts 4:12, Eph. 2:1-10, 1 Tim. 1:15, Titus 3:4-7, Mat. 25:31-46, John 5:28-29, 1 Cor. 15:1-11, 1 Cor. 15:20-26, Acts 1:11, Rev. 20:11-15, Rev. 21:1-8, Rev. 22:1-7
[iv] Gospel of Grace: Eph. 2:1-10, 1 Cor. 15:1-11, Rom. 3:19-31, Gal. 3, Gal. 5:16-25, 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12:1-8, 1 Thess. 4:13-18
[v] The Church: 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Cor. 12:12-27, Eph. 1:3-14, Eph. 4:11-16, Eph. 5:23-32, Mat. 16:16-20, Mat. 28:16-20, Mat. 18:15-20, Rom. 12:1-2, Rev. 21:9.
[vi] Baptism: We baptize believers three times forward in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)
[vii] Baptism: Mat. 28:18-20, Acts 2:28, Rom. 6:1-4
[viii] Bread and Cup Communion: Mat. 26:26-30, 1 Cor. 11:17-34
[ix] Feetwashing: John 13:1-20, 1 Tim. 5:9-10
[x] Love Feast: Jude 12, Acts 2:42-47, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:17-34
[xi] Anointing with Oil: James 5:13-18, Mk. 6:13
[xii] Laying on of Hands: Acts 8:17, Acts 19:6, 1 Tim. 4:14, 1 Tim. 5:22
[xiii] Gender Definition: Biological refers to the chromosomes: a man has one X and one Y chromosome; a woman has two X chromosomes. This cannot be changed by surgical procedure.
[xiv] Affirmation of Sanctity of Marriage: Gen. 1:26-28, Gen. 2:18-25, Deut. 5:18, Prov. 5:15-23, Mat. 5:27-28, Mat. 19:3-9 (also Mk. 10:1-12), Rom. 1:21-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 1 Cor. 6:18-20, Heb. 13:4, 1 Thess. 4:3-5, Eph. 5:21-33
[xv] Affirmation of Sanctity of Life: Gen. 1:27-28, Gen. 2:7, Gen. 9:5-7, Ex. 20:13, Psa. 116:15, Psa. 139:13-16, Jer. 1:4-5, Mat. 5:9, 5:21-26, 5:43-48, Acts 5:29, Rom. 12:14-21, 2 Cor. 10:3
[xvi] Affirmation to Love: Gen. 1:26-28, Gen. 9:6, Deut. 6:4-5, Lev. 19:17-18, Mat. 22:34-40, Mat. 28:16-20, Eph. 5:1, Eph. 4:11-16, Mat. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:9-13, James 1:26-27, Mat. 25:31-46, Gal. 5:14, Rom. 13:8-10, Rom. 14:1-5:7, 1 Cor. 13