(WHAT WE BELIEVE)
Equip Church is a church under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we are committed to contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
The basic doctrines within "The Equip Church Statement of Faith" represent what we believe to be core elements of biblical teaching.
We expect all Partners of Equip Church to affirm these doctrines.
The theological distinctives within the Equip Church Statement of Faith reflect what distinguishes Equip Church from other churches who would affirm the basic doctrines. These distinctives indelibly shape the way that Equip Church is led and the direction the church is headed. We do not expect all Partners to embrace all aspects of these distinctives, but Partners should expect that the distinctives will be maintained in all ministry environments at Equip Church, and Partners may not teach contrary to them.
Our Triune God
We believe in the one living and true God, eternally (John 17:3) existing in perfect unity as three equally and fully divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). Each member of the Godhead, while executing distinct but complementary roles in redemptive history, has precisely the same nature, attributes, and being, and is equally worthy of the same glory and honour and obedience (John 1:1-4; Acts 5:3-4).
God the Father
We believe God the Father created all things for His glory according to His own will (Revelation 4:11), through His Son, Jesus Christ. He upholds all things by the Word of His power and grace, exercising sovereign headship over all creation, providence, and redemption (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3).
God the Son
We believe that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, moved by love in accordance with the will of the Father, took on human flesh (John 1:1, 14, 18). Conceived through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the virgin Mary. He, being fully God and fully man (John 14:8-9), lived a sinless life and sacrificially shed His blood and died on the cross in our place, accomplishing redemption for all who place their faith in Him. He arose visibly and bodily from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven, where, at the Father’s right hand, He is now Head of His Body the Church, the only Saviour and Mediator between God and people, and will return bodily to earth in power and glory to consummate His redemptive mission (1 Timothy 3:16).
God the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ during this age. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He draws the unredeemed to repentance and faith, and at salvation imparts new spiritual life to the believer, bringing that person into union with Christ and the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, seals, fills, guides, instructs, comforts, equips, empowers, permanently indwells at salvation, and bestows spiritual gifts to the believer for Christ-like living and service (John 16:8; 13:15; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 1:22; 4:11-12; Romans 8:9-17; 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:4-5, 11-13, 19; Galatians 5:25; Hebrews 2:1-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
We believe that God has made Himself known by revealing Himself to us in His Son, the incarnate Word (Hebrews 1:1-2), in Scripture, the inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16), and in creation (Ps. 8; Rom. 1:20)
We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the perfect revelation of who God is. Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), “the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3) and a perfect reflection of God the Father (John 5:19).
We believe the Scriptures, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God and are therefore without error in their original writings. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and free from error. The Scripture is sufficient for all that God requires for us to believe and do and is therefore to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises (Is. 40:6-8). As God’s people hear, believe and obey the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel (Rom. 10:14-17).
Creation and Providence
We believe that God created the world from nothing and governs all things at all times in all places. We believe God created the universe in six twenty-four hour days and that before He created the universe, nothing except God existed (Genesis 1; Exodus 31:17; Psalm 33:6-9; Acts 17:24; Hebrews 11:3; Colossians 1:16). God’s creative work is the overflow of the love present within the Trinitarian fellowship. Creation, according to the design of God, was good (Gen. 1:3-31).
God chose to create the universe and all that is in it to reveal His glory, divine nature, eternal power, infinite wisdom, and supreme authority (Isaiah 43:7; Psalm 19:1-2; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 1:20; Revelation 4:11).
We deny the theory of evolution, which states that nonliving substances gave rise to the first living material, which then reproduced and diversified to produce all living creatures. We believe that all people are descendants of Adam and Eve, whom God created personally and individually and as complete human beings (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). The fall of Adam and Eve infected all people with sin and death, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives the opportunity to receive God’s gift of eternal life (Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
God rules over His creation, cares about it and is involved in the lives of individual people (Job 12:10; Acts 17:25; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:13; Ephesians 4:6).
Resurrection and Consummation of the Kingdom of God
We believe that Jesus Christ is returning to the world in the future to judge the living and the dead.
The consummation of all things includes the future, physical, visible, personal and glorious return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of those alive in Christ, the judgment of the just and the unjust, and the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. In the consummation, Satan, with his hosts and all those outside Christ, is finally separated from the benevolent presence of God, enduring eternal punishment (Rev. 20:7-15), but the righteous, in glorious bodies, will live and reign with Him forever, serving Him and giving Him unending praise and glory. Then the eager expectation of creation will be fulfilled, and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God, who makes all things new (Rev. 21:1-5).
We believe that all humanity is created in the image of God and possesses intrinsic dignity and worth.
God made humanity—male and female—in His own image (Gen. 1:27-30). Set apart as His image bearers, every human being is sacred. All men and all women, bearing the image of God, are meant to represent God in His creation (1 Cor. 10:31).
God declares the created order to be very good, distinguishing men and women as His agents to care for, manage and govern over it. They enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union in the covenant of marriage that establishes the only God-ordained pattern of sexual relations for men and women. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways.
Distinctive || Complementarianism
Men and women are absolutely equal in essence, dignity and value but are distinct by divine design. As part of God’s good created order, men and women are to have different yet complementary roles and responsibilities in the home and church. As it relates to the church, men and women are both expected to lead; however, the office of Elder is reserved for qualified men (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).
We believe that sin has fractured all things, leaving the world in desperate need of salvation.
Through Satan’s temptation, humanity transgressed the command of God and fell from their original holiness and righteousness (Gen. 3). Now the entire human race inherits a corrupt nature that is opposed to God and His law (Rom. 3:9-20). Therefore, all humans are under condemnation. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to the mind, will, body and affections. Unregenerate humanity lives under the dominion of sin and Satan (Eph. 2:1-3). He is at enmity with God, hostile toward and hateful of God.
We believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
We believe that, due to universal death through sin, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born again (John 3:5-8); that salvation is only by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ; and that all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, through faith, are declared righteous by God and become children of God (Heb.10:19-25).
We believe the Scriptures teach that regeneration, or the new birth, is that act of God by which the Holy Spirit imparts a new nature and a new spiritual life, not before possessed, and the person becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:20). The mind is given a holy disposition and a new desire to serve God, the dominion of sin is broken, and the heart is transformed from a love of sin and self to a love of holiness and God.
Distinctive || Sovereignty of God in Salvation
The salvation of humanity is fundamentally the work of God. Before the foundation of the world, God elected His people, setting His affection and grace upon them (Rom. 8:29-30). In love God predestined His people for adoption (Eph. 1:4-6). Salvation is a gift of God that is given by His mercy and pleasure, so that no one may boast. Apart from the intervention of God, humanity cannot choose of his own accord to worship God and pursue righteousness (Rom. 3; Eph. 2:1-3). God’s sovereignty in salvation is comprehensive: from first to last, all of salvation is the work of God.
Eternal Security of the Believer
It is God’s divine decision to save a person and it is God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience that lead that person to repentance (Romans 2:4). All glory for the salvation and security of every believer belongs to God alone (Romans 3:21-31; Ephesians 1:7-9; Ephesians 2:8-9, Jude 1:24-25). We believe that everyone who is born again by the Spirit through Jesus Christ is eternally assured of salvation from the moment of conversion. This assurance relies on God’s decisive grace rather than on the works of the Christian. Obedience, good works, and fruit-bearing do not earn or retain the believer’s salvation but indicate the reality of the person’s love of Christ and profession of faith (Luke 6:46; John 14:21; James 2:17-18).
Eternal security in salvation relies on the Lord’s guarantee of each believer’s adoption as His son or daughter (Galatians 4:4-7), His seal of the believer by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14), and the conviction that God gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a down payment toward future bliss in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). A person who professes genuine faith in Christ immediately becomes His possession (Luke 23:42-43; Acts 2:40-41; Acts 16: 30-34), and nothing can snatch that person out of His hands (John 10:27-29). Having been bought with the price of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion as complete payment for sin, Christians are not their own. They are Christ’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This assurance is absolutely certain, reserved in heaven, protected by God’s unlimited power (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Process of Sanctification and Maturity
Mature disciples worship Christ, walk with Christ, work for and witness for Christ. A person committed to a relationship with Christ focuses on worshipping Him, a personal walk with Him, working for Him, and witnessing for Him (the “Essentials” class helps explain our approach to these aspects of the life of a believer). That person will experience significant growth in personal sanctification and, therefore, will experience a closer personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and will become “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). We are committed to multiplying the godly characteristics of leaders’ lives into others (2 Timothy 2:2). This multiplication of ministry is key to the healthy growth of the church. We believe the disciples of Jesus Christ should minister to one another in the local church, rather than one or a small number of professional pastors bearing total responsibility to care for the entire congregation. God has given spiritual gifts to all of His people to provide mutual ministry in the context of a healthy and strong local church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we become a member of His Body, the universal Church, of which Jesus Christ is the Head. The Scriptures exhort believers to gather locally in order to devote themselves to worship, prayer, teaching of the Word, fellowship, the ordinances of baptism and communion, service to the local body through the development and use of talents and spiritual gifts, and outreach to the world to make disciples (Ephesians 1:22-23; Acts 2:42-46; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Matthew 28:18-20). Wherever God’s people meet regularly in obedience to this command, there is the local expression of the Church under the watchful care of a plurality of elders. A church’s members are to work together in love and unity, intent on the ultimate purpose of glorifying Christ (Ephesians 4:16).
Baptism and Communion
Baptism and communion are the two ordinances required in the church.
We believe that Christian baptism by immersion in water is a public identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is commanded of all believers and is for believers only (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 18:8). Scripture shows that a person was baptized after personally receiving forgiveness of sin through accepting Jesus Christ. The waters of baptism are a symbol of our death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life that happens when we become new creations in Christ (Colossians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4)
As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper (“Communion”) is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ, and should be preceded by careful self-examination according to Acts 2:41; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we come to the table with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.
Distinctive || Baptism by Immersion
The precedent we find in the New Testament is baptism following conversion by immersion into water. Baptism by immersion is meant to symbolically depict the believer’s real union to Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:1-14).
Assimilation and Church Partnership
We believe in the importance of serving the body of Christ by offering clear paths for people to start and develop healthy and growing relationships with others in the church body. We value an intentional plan to help every interested person enjoy godly relationships in the church. Church Partnership is a byproduct of people who are growing in Christ and who grasp the importance of serving the Lord by using their gifts to serve others in the local church.
The chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God by loving Him with the entire heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 22:37). All believing men, women, and children are to glorify God and thus fulfill the purpose of their existence. Worship glorifies God through adoration (Psalm 95:6), praise (Psalm 99:5), prayer (Daniel 6:10-11), thanksgiving (Nehemiah 12:46), and a complete yielding to Him (Romans 12:1). Worship declares His worth, pays Him homage, and celebrates Him in a life of devotion. We seek to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (Exodus 15:1-21; 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 5:7; John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; 5:12).
Several tenets guide our worship. We seek to:
Lift high the name of Jesus Christ (John 4:22-26; John 12:32; John 14:6).
Lead God’s people to lift their hearts and voices to Him, giving Him praise and thanks in music and lyrics (Nehemiah 12:45-46; Psalm 66:1-4; Psalm 95:1-2).
Prepare hearts to hear the Lord speak through the proclamation of Scripture (Psalm 95:6-9; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42).
Emphasize fresh and contemporary expressions while retaining traditional elements that recognize the richness of our heritage in the faith (Deuteronomy 32:7; Psalm 33:3; Isaiah 46:8-9; Ephesians 5:19; Revelation 5:9).
Pursue excellence in worship, knowing that God is worthy of our best (Exodus 12; Deuteronomy 17:1; Psalm 33:3; 1 Timothy 4:14-15; Hebrews 11:4).
The church exists to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment (Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 22:37-38).
The Great Commission is fulfilled as disciples of Jesus Christ are made and grow in their relationship with Him and likeness to Him. God is glorified as we manifest His presence as we do His work (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31). In seeking to act upon the church’s purpose, we recognize the extraordinary value in multiplying the reach of His ministry by planting local churches and by associating with existing, like-minded, gospel-centred local churches. We believe God is most glorified when Equip Church and other like-minded, gospel-centred churches associate with one another in order to foster relationships that edify, protect, encourage, support, and admonish through the mutual exchange of pulpit and music ministry, consulting services, research, conferences, and seed money devoted to church planting and pastoral education programs, etc.
Distinctive || Missions: Church Planting
We believe it is the aim, duty, and privilege of every believer and local church fellowship to glorify God by responding as active participants in the Great Commission call of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations. We believe the primary focus and priority of this call is centred on efforts that establish, strengthen, and reproduce biblically-based churches, which then plant churches that plant churches for future generations and God’s glory.
Distinctive || Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we see on display in the New Testament are still active within the life of the church. These gifts did not end with the close of the New Testament or the death of the last apostle (1 Cor. 12:1-11).
Distinctive || Counselling Philosophy
The Lord changes lives and accomplishes His purposes directly through reading and applying the Scriptures, meditating on the truths of the Scriptures, and prayer. The Lord also uses those who minister His Word as they encourage, exhort, admonish, edify, implore, reprove, rebuke, and console others toward godliness.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He changes us as we discipline ourselves through obedience to the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-11). Each Christian’s passion should be to become more like Christ and fulfill the Great Commandment to love the Lord with the entire heart, soul, mind, and strength (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2, Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37-38). The Christian who learns and applies the Word becomes mature and, in turn, can help others mature (2 Timothy 2:2).
Distinctive || Women in Ministry
Equip Church affirms the God-ordained and significant role that women should play in establishing and leading the local church. Every leadership opportunity is open to women except that which is excluded by Scripture.
The Scriptures clearly state that men are to serve in the office of Elder (1 Timothy 2:12-14; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). We do not see this as an issue of equality, for men and women are equal under God, but the Bible is clear that men and women do not have the same roles. Qualified women should serve in leadership positions outside of the role of Elder within the local church.
Equip Church is committed to the Bible’s teaching that those who hold the offices of Elder and Deacon are to oversee various functions of the local church.
The Bible’s teaching on the subject of two church offices is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. Although there are three terms used for the offices of the church: bishop, elder, and deacon, analysis of these terms indicates that bishop and elder are used interchangeably.
Elder Qualifications (Titus 1:6-9)
Able to teach
Husband to one wife
Not addicted to wine
Free from the love of money
Manage own household
Not a new convert
The Scriptures show that the Elders serve by leading and that their responsibility involves the spiritual oversight of the congregation. All Elders are equal in authority but not necessarily equal in influence.
The Elders’ primary responsibilities include:
Doctrine – Ensuring that the doctrine of the church is biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Elders.
Discipline – Administering in love and humility the process of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, and Romans 16:17.
Direction – Ensuring that the direction of the church is consistent with Equip Church’s mission, vision, purpose and the Five Pillars.
…and otherwise Shepherding the flock of Christ through Prayer, Care, Counsel, and modelling a life in pursuit of Jesus (1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17)
Plurality of Elders
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of Elders governed individual New Testament churches (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; Philippians 1:1). The Scripture does not mention any congregations featuring a stand-alone pastor and leader. A plurality of godly Elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scripture’s teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counsellors (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 24:6). This truth does not eliminate the possibility and likelihood that one or more Elders will stand out from the others as more public in their ministries or more influential in their workings on the Elder Board.
Equip Church’s Lead Pastor serves as one of the Elders and, because of his public presence and responsibility before the congregation, may be considered first among equals as a member of the Elder Board. The Lead Pastor should be gifted primarily as a preacher/teacher and as a leader.
The Bible teaches that deacons lead by serving (Acts 6). The qualifications for Elders and Deacons are the same regarding an individual’s character, but they differ in aptitude. The Elders are to be able to teach while the Deacons are to be able and proved as servants.
Deacon Qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-12)
Individual of dignity
Not double tongued
First tested as servants
Not addicted to wine
Spouses must be faithful
Not fond of sordid gain
Holding to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience
Husband of one wife
Manages household well