By his Word, God spoke everything into existence (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3), gives “new birth” (1 Peter 1:23), and will make “all things new” (Revelation 21:5). The living and eternal Word is Christ (John 1:1, 14) who has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Within God’s authority, we affirm that the Old and New Testament writings of the Bible are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.
Jesus once told a religious leader “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). “All who receive him” in authentic self-entrusting belief are adopted by God as his fully forgiven children (John 1:12). By his indwelling Spirit, believers are “being transformed” into his Son’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29). “If anyone is in Christ the new creation has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Ultimately, the “necessity” of new birth is a matter of final destiny – in resurrection life with God (John 6:40; Romans 8:11) or “eternal destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Matthew 25:46) for those who reject his free gift (Romans 6:23).
We follow Christ’s two central calls into his mission. His Great Commandment calls us to “love the Lord your God,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40). His Great Commission sends us out into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This mission includes evangelism, Christian formation, and ministries of compassion, mercy, and justice.
Jesus said “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18)–not an institution, organization, or building, but his “body” of believers (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 11:22-23). In Covenant Churches, all are welcome to participate in the congregation’s life and ministries. Formal membership is by confession of personal faith in Christ and is open to all believers. We believe in the “priesthood” of all believers (1 Peter 2:5,9) where each is a “minister.” God also calls some into pastoral leadership as guiding “shepherds” (1 Peter 5:2). Along with apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers, such pastors are raised up “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12). We affirm that God calls and gifts “both men and women” into proclaiming his Word and guiding his people (Acts 2:16-18; 18:26; Romans 16:3,7).
The Bible gives witness to one God as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The Spirit draws us into faith and assures us that we “belong to Christ” as “God’s children” (Romans 8:9,16). By the Spirit we are “transformed” into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and are empowered to participate in his mission in the world as his “witnesses” (Acts 1:8). God also gives “manifestations of the Spirit for the common good” as differing spiritual gifts for serving in the unity of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12).
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”—free from sin and death, and free to love God and love people (Galatians 5). This freedom is also a call for believers to accept each other “without quarreling over disputable matters” (Romans 14:1). With humility and love, we seek to focus on what unites us as followers of Christ, rather than on biblical interpretations and practices that might divide us.
Within our oneness with the whole richly diverse Body of Christ, we are grateful for our heritage and partnerships within the Evangelical Covenant Church. This identity includes these Covenant Affirmations.