The Bible is the inspired Word of God, the final authority in our understanding of God and life and our supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21)
We need salvation because we have sinned. Sin separates us from God who desires relationship with us. It is impossible for any man to restore that broken relationship with God by any amount of personal goodness, religious deeds, or by belonging to a church. We cannot earn, merit or achieve a right relationship with God by our own efforts. The death of Jesus was not an accident. It was God’s plan from the beginning to save us from our sins through the death of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls God’s act of love, grace. His grace is His free gift to us.
God’s gift of salvation is available to any who put their trust in Christ as Savior. It is received through faith by repenting (deciding to turn away from a life of sin), confessing Jesus as God’s Son, and being baptized. As we confess Christ as our Lord and are buried through baptism into His death, God forgives our sins and raises us to walk a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 1:16–17, 3:23–24, 5:1, 6:3–8, 23; Eph. 2:8–9; John 3:16; Titus 3:5; Gal. 3:26–27; Acts 2:37–41; Matt. 28:19–20)
Baptism is an immersion of the consenting believer (i.e., one who is old enough to understand right from wrong and the need for forgiveness) in water to wash away their sins and receive the gift (indwelling presence) of the Holy Spirit. This places the believer into the body of Christ.
Those who have already been baptized as described above before coming to Central do not need to be baptized again. For those who are not, we would consider it a privilege to be a part of this important step.
Beyond saving us, God wants to transform us into the image of His Son. Transformation is enabled by God’s grace and grows as we continually align our will more closely with His will. (Phil. 2:12; Rom. 12:1–2; 2 Cor. 3:18)
The church is the body of Christ on earth, empowered by the Holy Spirit to reach those separated from God and to mature the saved and help them become fully devoted followers of Christ. When we respond to the grace of God in faith, He adds us to His church, the body of Christ. (Acts 2:41–47; Eph. 4:1–16, 5:29–30)
One day Christ will return, final judgment will occur, the image of God will be completely restored within us and we will be with Christ forever in heaven. Those who reject Him will be eternally separated from Him. (1 Thess. 4:13–18; 1 John 3:2; Acts 1:11)
The local church is the most important institution on earth. It was started by Jesus (Matthew 16:18), purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28), and it alone can meet the deepest needs of humankind. God ordained the church to be the vehicle through which and by which the world would come to know Christ.
Every follower of Christ needs to belong to a local church. In the New Testament, there’s not a single example of a follower of Jesus refusing to be a part of a local church. In fact, believers found their identity through the local church. The church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi, the church at Philemon’s house—it didn’t matter where you were, if you were a believer, you were a part of a local church.
As followers of Jesus, we are instructed in Scripture to submit to our spiritual leaders1, to place ourselves in a position of mutual accountability with other believers2 and to meet together regularly for worship and instruction in the Word so we can encourage and build one another up in the faith3. The only way to do that is to be an active, committed member of a local church.
Making a membership commitment acts as an antidote to our society. We live in an age where very few want to be committed to anything – a job, a marriage, a country. Membership swims against the current of America’s “consumer religion.” It is an unselfish decision that builds character. Membership in a local church also serves a very practical function. It defines who can be counted on. Every team must have a roster. Every school must have an enrollment. Every business has a payroll. Every army has an enlistment. Even our country takes a census and requires voter registration. Membership identifies our family.
Church membership is very important. It is in the church that we learn to love and respect everyone created in God’s image and to grow and mature on our journey to become more like Jesus himself.
1(I Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17)
2(Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-16; Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:16, 19-20)
3(Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:46-47; 20:7)