A Brief Summary of our Beliefs

Salvation

All people are born with the natural inclination to sin. Despite what humanism may teach, the nature of mankind is not to do good, but to do evil. We live in an age when the teachings of evolution and humanism have taken away most people’s understanding of sin, and new editions of the dictionary do not even list the word. Let’s see God’s view on the subject.

The scripture gives us three excellent definitions of sin:

The Ten Commandments have been refined under the New Testament to become even more demanding.

Moses and the Ten Commandments in one of our concerts

We may add that sin is any disobedience of God’s commands under the New Testament. While many people quote the Ten Commandments from the days of Moses as examples of laws that people commonly disobey, Jesus also expects us to be strict with our thoughts. In the sermon on the mount, he quotes several times “Ye have heard that it hath been said, . . . But I say unto you, . . .” Jesus refined several laws of the Old Testament, proclaiming that while the act of adultery itself is sin, even looking with lust after a woman who is not your wife is sin. The only difference between someone who would like to do evil, if he could get away with it, and the person who does do evil, is that one had the opportunity and the other one did not. Murder is still a sin, but under the New Testament, we face judgment for hateful attitudes such as getting angry with people without just cause.

The main problem with sin today is that most people do not recognise it, or even understand what it is because they have no standard of right and wrong. The moral standards of western society once reflected Biblical principles, like the Ten Commandments, but they no longer do so. Western society now excuses many things that the Bible says are worthy of death. People have exchanged God’s absolute truth for a man-made standard that gets lower with each succeeding generation. People therefore have little desire to become truly converted, because they do not see themselves as sinners. If you have no consciousness of your sin and uncleanness, you will have no inclination to get rid of it. But the Bible says that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The 16th Century English reformer and Bible translator, William Tyndale, said this in A Pathway to the Holy Scripture:

English Reformer and Bible Translator, William Tyndale

William Tyndale

By nature through the fall of Adam we are the children of wrath, heirs of the vengeance of God by birth, yea and from our conception. And we have our fellowship with the damned devils, under the power of darkness and rule of Satan, while we are yet in our mother’s wombs, and though we show not forth the fruits of sin as soon as we are born, yet are we full of the natural poison, whereof all sinful deeds spring … the fall of Adam hath made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God and heirs of eternal damnation, and hath brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil. And the devil is our lord and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yea and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devil than could an hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devil’s will consent we with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will and lusts: so that the law and will of the devil is written as well in our hearts as in our members and we run headlong after the devil with full zeal and the whole swing of all the power we have … With what poison, deadly and venemous hate hateth a man his enemy. With how great malice of mind inwardly do we slay and murder. With what violence and rage, yea and with how fervent lust commit we adultery, fornication and such like uncleanness. With what pleasure and delectation, inwardly, serveth a glutton his belly. With what diligence deceive we. How busily we seek the things of this world.
Whatsoever we do, think or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God.

What would Tyndale say of this generation? And what, indeed, does God think of today’s unbelief, pride, selfishness and self-will, which are really the cornerstones of man’s sin?

Judgement

The second major problem with sin today is that people do not see sin as being a problem, but God does.

God does not accept sin or accept excuses for it: He hates sin and is “angry with the wicked every day”. (Psalm 7:11) God judged the people of this world for their sin once before in the days of Noah, when he destroyed the whole world with a flood, and the Bible says that He will destroy this world with eternal fire. In that day every person who has ever been born will stand before God and be judged according to how they lived their life.

The Bible says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). It says that Christ will one day judge this world and everyone in it, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (II Corinthians 5:10-11)

Repentance

The third major problem with sin today is that God commands us to repent of (turn away from) our sin, but most people do not see repentance as necessary. There was a 400 year gap between the last prophet of the Old Testament and the arrival of John the Baptist, who heralded the coming of Christ the Messiah. The first message John the Baptist brought was – REPENT! (Matthew 3:2) From the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus commanded people to “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17), and “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The apostles Peter and Paul preached repentance: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30)

Those who choose to obey Christ and follow Him, do not continue living a life of sin, as the apostle John explains: “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not” … and “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (I John 3: 6,9), and “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. (1 John 5:18) In the end, however, it is not what people think about repentance that counts, but what God thinks, and God demands that we stop doing what is wrong and do whatever is good and right. For example, “Let him that stole steal no more.” (Ephesians 4:28). This is true repentance.

Forgiveness

The fourth issue with sin is that we need to be made clean from our sin. Repenting of sin is one thing, but we also need cleansing from our sinful nature, and forgiveness for the sins we have already committed. We can never atone for our own sin: we are not good enough. (You can’t make anything clean by wiping it with a dirty rag.) Only the sacrifice of a pure and innocent victim can take away sin, for “without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]”. (Hebrews 9:22) The Bible says that Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, died in our place, that our sins might be forgiven, and that we might become the sons of God. As Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) John the Baptist introduced Jesus with: “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) The apostle John explained that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:11-12) and that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

In order for this forgiveness to be ours, we must believe in Jesus with all of our heart: who He is, what He did, and what He will do for us if we follow Him. To believe is to trust and obey, and that is the attitude of a true believer. When we truly believe we will repent and obey the gospel, and God will grant us forgiveness.

Baptism

Baptism by immersion

Baptism by immersion

“He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) Baptism (immersion in water) is an essential part of God’s plan for salvation. Romans chapter six teaches that in baptism we die unto sin, and our old man is crucified with Christ. We are buried under the water “in the likeness of His death”, “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Then, just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also are raised up in the likeness of his resurrection to walk in newness of life in Him. As we obey this commandment from the heart, He frees us from sin, and gives us His new nature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17) As new creatures, with the mind of Christ and the ability to overcome the temptations of Satan, true Christians are free from sin and heirs to God’s promises.

There may be exceptional circumstances where people cannot be baptised, such as the thief on the cross or converts in prison. However, a true convert to Christ will have the heart to obey all His commandments, and if they have not initially been baptised, they will be baptised as God gives the opportunity to do so. (see Acts 19:1-6)

Being born again

The Christian life is about following Christ. Jesus taught people to forsake their own life and to follow Him instead. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) This involves putting Christ before our reputation, our family members, and our friends. It involves giving up our own plans, our desires, our possessions, our opinions and our career. It involves giving up our selfishness, our pride and our self-will.

Converts must count the cost of giving up all and forsaking anything that will hinder them in doing the will of God. We give up our own life, and take on the new life that Christ offers us. The apostle Paul’s testimony was: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Instead of pleasing himself, a Christian strives to please God, accepting Him as Father and taking a place as a son who is born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. (John 1:13)

In giving up our own life and taking on the new life that Christ offers us, we become born again. The spirit of God comes into our hearts and makes us His sons, changes our lives and makes us new people who now love to please God and do what is right. We become a completely new person. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Discipleship

The normal Christian life for a person who has truly been born again is that he walks each day without sin. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (I John 5:18) If sin does arise, it must be confessed, repented of, and forgiven.

A Christian is a person who follows Christ. A big part of following Christ is to do the will of God. In the gospels, Jesus set this example for us on the night before He went to the cross, He said this to His father: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Paul also stated: “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1,2) Many Christians are confused about finding the will of God on many issues in their lives, because they are trying to be like the people of this world. Yet finding God’s will is not difficult when our thinking has been transformed and moulded by the Bible, and we are willing to submit to the guidance of godly, sacrificial leaders in the Church, who live and teach according to the Word of God.

Sadly, however, judgment day will come as a shock to many professing Christians. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) There are many who want the benefits of serving God, but they do not really want to obey Him. Self-will has no place in the true Christian life. We must be diligent to see that we keep the faith that has been delivered by the apostles and do not fall into the trap of ‘greasy grace’ that promises salvation without commitment.

For a more detailed study of what we believe about salvation, please visit this site.

The Foundation of all Faith

The Word of God

All buildings must have a solid foundation, and ours is the written Word of God. After years of study and examining the fruits of the lives of those involved in translating and following the various English translations available, we settled on the Authorised King James Bible as our only text. We have found all others to be inferior in scholarship, spirit and fruits. Our intention has never been to explain what it says to suit ourselves, but to simply read it, and obey it. We have little time to quibble over prophecies or shades of meaning when we are full time just trying to live the practical life we have found in the scriptures.

As for revelations through dreams and visions or people prophesying in tongues, we do not discount these avenues for God to reveal His will, but it must agree with the written word. Any revelation of man that gives direction away from the Word is rejected. One of the amazing things we have found about the scriptures is their timeless relevance to the issues faced by mankind in spite of all the advances of technology. We rarely face problems without some Biblical principle to guide us. Praise God.

Two Other Major Issues

The Church

The Church at Gloriavale is one local Church in the whole body of believers, wherever they may be. We recognise that not every assembly of Christians has the opportunity to live as we do, and nor may they have the same understanding of God’s Word. We do not hold ourselves up as being the pinnacle of holding all of God’s truth, for we believe that we still have much to learn, and continue to press towards the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. However, we are assured from studying the scriptures, that we are members of Christ’s body, and that He will return one day soon to redeem us. The following selection of scriptures shows what the Lord says about the Church’s role on this earth during this Age of Grace.

Firstly, he expects believers to be part of “ … the church of the living god, the pillar and the ground of the truth …” (I Timothy 3:15). Jesus also said “I am the way, the truth and the life”, so the truths of salvation and God’s will can only be found in His Church. People who love the truth and are prepared to pay the price for it congregate together to “Buy the truth and sell it not.” Salvation will not be found outside the true Church of Jesus Christ. So what exactly is a “Church”? How many believers are needed to make up a congregation – a family – two or three believers? How about the lone convert who comes to believe in a miraculous way, as some Moslems have done recently?

Whatever the circumstances of conversion and the number of people involved, we are told that “… the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” Only Jesus Christ and the Father know who are members of the Church, but even non-Christians can recognise a body of believers, whatever their number, because the Holy Spirit will lead these people to obey the scriptures. They will be known for their dedication to God, for their unity and witness, and for standing out as being different from others. For more information on recognising a true church (for there are plenty of false churches around), see our tract 10 Marks of the Church.

“ … I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Jesus is the head of the church and no power of Satan will destroy it. Although many persecutions have risen up against different bodies of believers, the Church itself has never been destroyed. If a Church in one locality is destroyed, or dispersed, or dies out through lack of faith, Jesus has raised up other groups of believers. A classic example of this sort is the way in which God raised up the Anabaptists in Europe in the 16th Century, just at the time when the Waldensian Churches of Northern Italy and Southern France were becoming apostate and denying the faith of their ancestors. Christ’s plan is for one Church to exist in each local area, where a group of believers can have fellowship and witness to unbelievers. A study of the first chapters of the Book of Revelation shows that Jesus judges each local Church on its own merits, according to how well it has kept to His word.

The Greek word for “Church” is “ecclesia”, and in the original scriptures, it meant “the called out ones”. But called out from what? And called out for what purpose? The Church recognises that the “whole world lieth in wickedness”, and that God has called His people to separate themselves from its evil ways. In accordance with other scriptures, the Church is then called out from the wickedness of the world, for the purpose of being sanctified unto God and being a pure witness to His will.

A Church is not a building like a cathedral – it is a body of believers. A Church is therefore made of lively stones, people of faith, who are called out from the general society in which they live, to be recognised as God’s people.

“And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) In the truest sense a person does not `join’ the Church: Rather, he surrenders his whole will and life to Christ and becomes one of His. It is Christ who then joins him to a local Church. Note that Jesus only adds to the Church those who should be saved – those who have forsaken all.

Just as Paul warned the Christians in his day to beware of false prophets, so must we beware today, as there is a false Church abroad that does not teach the doctrines of the Apostles. We need to exercise great discernment in handling spiritual matters to see that we are not led away from the truth into error. This is especially relevant today, as Satan himself can appear as an angel of light to deceive many, even the very elect, if that were possible.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you …” (II Cor 6:17) Our economy is deliberately based on farming activities; this focus keeps us away from large population centres and the ungodly influence of modern society. God has given us a wonderful valley where we can live together and bring up our families, free to live our faith in accordance with God’s laws and with man’s. From here we witness freely to the many people we come into contact with, and who come to visit, and we have the great advantage of being able to present them with the New Testament pattern of the Church in action.

“Now I beseech you, brethren … that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you …” (I Cor 1:10) Community decisions are made in full unity, not through making a vote and living with a discontented minority. This principle gives the Church great strength and stability, but can only be achieved with people who submit to the leading of God.

Ministers (or servants) in the Church should not be ministers of the state as well, for Church and state have different roles to play in God’s plan. While the Church exists for the salvation of souls, the State exists to give order and rule to natural people at a national level. As Romans 13 explains, a ruler of a worldly nation is, among other things,“the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” whereas Jesus explained that in the Church,“whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” ie, a servant. It is not the Christian’s place to take up the sword on behalf of the State or to compromise aspects of the faith for the purpose of political gain. For this reason, none of our leaders are registered as marriage celebrants, and nor do any of our Church members serve on political bodies.

Authority in the Church is given to the men, as God established in the Garden of Eden, and maintained in the New Testament. We honour those whom Jesus has raised up to be our leaders, and willingly submit to their lead, as they follow the scriptures as revealed in the written word. As Hebrew 13:17 exhorts “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Our leaders always act in love, caring for all our people equally.

Disagreements among people in the Church are best solved through following the commands of Jesus in Matthew 18: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

Our Economy

The use of money and finances is mainly governed by three Biblical principles – that of trusting God, keeping out of debt, and of sharing whatever we do have. The funds that God gives us in the present are to be used to meet present needs, both ours and others, and are not to be laid up for future contingencies.

“Owe no man anything …” (Romans 13:8). We do not borrow money, but live within our means. If we need finance for a large project, we go without something else. We will save up finance for a specific project, but not lay up money simply to create a buffer or a safety net in case of economic problems. Our faith is in God to provide our needs, and we prefer to keep money in circulation rather than in the bank. Only then can God bless our endeavours. We are continually amazed at how God meets our needs. We are provided for by someone who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”, and we look to Him in gratitude for His faithfulness.

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:44,45). Why did the first Church in Jerusalem institute community of goods? Weren’t the Apostles simply doing what Jesus had done with them — holding a common purse and living in equality? The principle of sharing is an essential part of the Christian faith. Today, we find community lfie is even more relevant as there is a falling away among believers and the love of many is waxing cold.

A study of the history of true Christian Churches shows that community of goods was a common practice for centuries, and that where the Holy Spirit moved, believers sought a sharing life as much as possible. For example, the Christians in Rome during the early centuries were under tremendous persecution; believers sought refuge in Rome’s catacombs, meeting as much as possible for comfort and exhortation, sharing what they could and caring for each others’ families when parents were martyred. From the time of the Apostles through to the Reformation, thousands of believers sought relief from persecution by living in the mountain valleys of Northern Italy and Southern France. Here, they lived in accordance with the gospels and shared what they had with each one another, sending missionaries throughout Europe and maintaining their New Testament faith for nearly 1500 years. During the time of the Reformation, the Anabaptists rose up as excellent examples of people seeking, and dying for, the truth. One group, the Hutterian Brethren, grew at this time to practice a common, sharing life in the midst of persecution, and still maintain many aspects of this life today in North America. Incredible as it may sound, a group of believers in communist Russia during the 1980’s actually established a sharing communal life in the face of fierce government opposition. (For the full story of this Church, see the book Siberian Miracle, by Peter De Bruijne.

Another example of community living for the sake of economics and safety is found in the Israeli Kibbutz system. While this may not have been founded upon Biblical principles or even for religious reasons, the kibbutz did for many decades provide a stable and efficient way of life for generations of Israelis who came to settle Israel at the turn of the 20th Century. They found that the community environment and sharing attitudes gave them a tremendous strength during years of adversity and trial while they pioneered a new nation.

“… that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack” (II Cor 8:14 and 15). We share our strengths and material goods so there is equality in the Church. We also share with outsiders in need, even if our own needs are not met. A basic principle in our community is that “If it is good enough for one person to have something, then it’s good enough for all.” This applies not just to food and clothing, but to the opportunities that some individuals may have that others do not. Our leaders gain no privileges that the other people do not have, but are the hardest workers, and those most likely to make sacrifices of their own reputations and life for the good of the Church.

“… and lend hoping for nothing again …” (Luke 6:35) Although we need to use the banking system for running our business, we use non-interest bearing accounts, and never accept interest from other sources. Nor do we deliberately speculate or invest money in the banking system to make a gain without working for it. If we choose to help someone, we don’t expect the money back again; it is a gift.

Other Issues

Health

Our first recourse when sick is to pray. In time, this may be followed up with professional medical assistance, but the over-riding thought is that we trust God rather than science or drugs, as is says in James 5:5 – “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

Commitment

If we are expected to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”, what’s the problem with making a commitment to Him? Our formal commitment for adult members of the community is part of the legal structure of the Community as we need some basis of working together. The signing of charters and contracts has a long history of binding peoples together so they can work in harmony and trust.

Clothing

Early in our history we settled on a modest dress code in accordance with the Biblical exhortations to avoid vanity. Dress styles for the women have changed over the decades, until we designed our present full length blue dresses in 1989. Since then we have made minor changes to a pattern that is both economical and practical. It was also decided that the men would wear appropriately long clothing so there were not two standards.

Education

The Bible doesn’t say anything about compulsory education, schools or universities, so our principles here are to make education as practical as possible to equip our children, and adults, for the needs of this life. We strive to meet all government regulations regarding schooling and then go the second mile to ensure that our children are given the best possible training in social skills and work ethics.