What We Believe and Teach at Christ Church of Oulu
This is an overview of our doctrinal positions, which we may need to update, improve or clarify from time to time.
At the bottom of this page you will also find a short note on the historical roots of our beliefs.
We do not require that a person agrees with all these points before we accept and welcome him or her as a fellow Christian.
For more information on some of the things we hold central and dear, please check here (the Vision page above). You can also email us with questions or requests.
We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We believe that the Bible is infallible and without error. We hold the Bible as the ultimate, highest and sufficient authority for all matters of faith and practice. We believe that the canon of the Bible is closed and that God’s revelation is completed with the books of the Old and New Testament. We don’t believe in continuous prophetic revelation today, and we deny that the concept of fallible prophecy is a biblical category.
We believe that there is only one true God, who has revealed Himself in the Bible as Triune, meaning one in essence yet existing in three persons. We believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are these three divine persons. We believe that God is transcendent, separated from the creation. We believe that God is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and almighty. We believe that God perfectly knows the future course of events in the world, including the outcome of Judgment Day, having predestined all things. We believe in the absolute sovereignty of God in creation and in salvation, so that He is always in perfect and exhaustive control of all things, all things happen according to His plan, and nothing can frustrate His plan. We believe in God’s Providence and we believe that God can override the way things normally happen in nature to work miracles. We believe that God is loving and holy, just and merciful, wise and good.
3. JESUS CHRIST
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, true God and perfect man, fully worthy of our worship. He was born of the virgin Mary around the year one A.D., which is the basis and starting point of the calendar worldwide. We believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, whose coming was foretold in Scripture, and He is the only Savior of mankind. We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of many, that He was buried, and that on the third day He rose bodily from the dead, so that His grave was left empty. He ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, presently ruling the nations as King of kings and Lord of lords. We believe that Jesus Christ is alive forevermore and that death has no longer power on Him.
4. THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. We believe Him to be agent of creation, the source of biblical inspiration, the agent of regeneration and sanctification in the salvation of believers, and active in leading and equipping the church to mature and fulfill its mission to spread the Christian Gospel.
We believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and all they contain, out of nothing, in six ordinary days, about six thousand years ago. We believe that the earth subsequently underwent a global flood that reshaped the geography of the planet. We deny that a careful study of natural phenomena invalidates the historicity of the biblical account of creation. We don’t believe that the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory for the origin and history of the universe are consistent with the biblical account of origins. We deny that these theories provide a correct interpretation of the observable universe, and we believe that they are fail to provide the basis for a narrative that is historically accurate and reliable.
6. THE FALL OF MAN
We believe that there was a first man, Adam, and a first woman, Eve, from whom all mankind has derived. We believe that Adam and Eve were real human beings, that they did not have parents nor were they born as babies, but were created by God on the sixth day of creation, around six thousand years ago. We believe that Adam and Eve fell from a state of moral innocence into sin, by disobeying God’s commandment. We believe that through this act of rebellion the entire human race fell in Adam as its representative head, and physical death also entered the world. As a result of the Fall of man, every human being is born in bondage of sin and alienated from God. By his fallen nature man is unable to satisfy God’s holy requirements and to respond positively to God’s offer of salvation, and is under God’s curse and condemnation. We affirm that man is responsible for his sins. We affirm that sin is defined by Scripture alone.
7. THE ATONEMENT
We believe that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was a substitutionary atonement, by which the justice and the wrath of God were satisfied, and redemption from sin and reconciliation with God were secured for all those who were elected by the Father before the foundation of the world, who by the power of the Holy Spirit trust in Christ alone for their salvation. We deny that the death of Christ only made salvation possible. We affirm that the death of Christ accomplished the atonement, so that all those for whom Christ died will certainly be saved. We believe that the death of Christ and His resurrection and ascension are distinguishable but should not be separated, as they together constitute the salvation which Christ accomplished for His own people.
We believe that a person is saved from sin and from the condemnation of God, and will receive eternal life, only by God’s grace through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ and in His redeeming work, which includes His perfect, sinless life, and His death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father. We believe that salvation is the gracious work of God, to which man contributes nothing meritorious. We affirm that saving faith and genuine repentance are the free gracious gift of God, given to all whom the Father has freely and unconditionally chosen to be recipients of His mercy before the foundation of the world, for whose sake Christ came to live and die, and whom the Holy Spirit regenerates from their state of death in sin. We believe therefore that only a person who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit can exercise saving faith in Christ. We affirm that salvation is by divine grace, and so we deny that man’s free will is what ultimately determines the salvation and the eternal destiny of man. We affirm that, in its natural state, apart from God’s saving grace, man’s will is in bondage of sin. By faith alone man is justified, or declared just by God, forgiven of all his sins, reconciled with God, and adopted in God’s family of the redeemed. We deny that man is justified through the works of the law, but we also deny that a fruitless faith of mere intellectual assent can justify. We affirm that the only kind of faith by which we can be justified is an obedient faith that produces good works, as defined by Scripture, while at the same time we deny that good works, done in faith, are the ground of justification. Rather, God declares sinners righteous on the ground of Christ’s righteousness gracefully imputed onto them. We deny that with the coming of Christ the law of God has been abolished, and we deny that its role in the New Covenant is only to convict of sin and lead sinners to Christ. On the contrary, we affirm that both Christians and non-Christians ought to obey God’s commandments, and that the law of God keeps revealing the character of God, and therefore the duty of man: what is pleasing to God and what is loving toward our neighbor. We believe that a regenerate person will certainly persevere in obedient faith and receive eternal life, but we deny that a believer in Christ can be saved regardless of his actions and conduct after his conversion. We believe that a process of progressive sanctification in the believer, manifested through the fruit of the Spirit, necessarily springs from regeneration. We believe that it is possible, legitimate and normal for a Christian to humbly experience assurance of salvation.
9. THE CHURCH
We believe that all the redeemed through all the ages have been, are, and will be saved through faith in God’s salvation as promised or as provided in Jesus Christ. We believe that all the saved belong to a covenantal body called the Church. We believe that the local organized fellowship of Christian believers, also called church, has a duty to ensure that its practices and structure are in conformity with the Bible’s requirements, from its confession of faith and the preaching of the Bible, to the administration of baptism, the observance of the Lord’s Supper, the qualifying criteria for leadership, the practice of church discipline, and more. We believe that women are not allowed by Scripture to take a position of authority or leadership over men in the structure of the church and in the way the worship service is actually carried out. We don’t believe that membership or regular association with a local church necessarily indicates that a person is regenerated or saved. We believe that the central mission of the Church is to advance the kingdom of God in the world through the faithful preaching of the Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus Christ, and through teaching the nations to trust and obey all the things which God has revealed. We believe that under the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ, all individuals and all nations are under obligation to repent and believe the Christian Gospel. We believe in the separation between church and state insofar as areas of authority and competence are concerned, but we deny the autonomy and alleged neutrality of the state, since both the church and the state are servants of God, and are accountable to Him, in their different roles and competences, and so are both under obligation to submit to the authority of His revealed Word.
10. CHURCH ORDINANCES
We gather for worship and Bible study on Sundays. We strive to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at every Sunday worship with bread and wine. Although we are tolerant of certain forms of baby baptism, we discourage the practice, and we believe that the Bible teaches that believers should be baptized upon their profession of faith. We deny that the mere administration of baptism saves or contributes to save a person from sin.
11. CHRIST’S KINGDOM
We believe that after His resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God the Father, enthroned as King of Kings. We believe that all power and authority has been given to Him, and that He is presently ruling and subduing the nations of the world, which He has received from God the Father as His inheritance and possession. Although there is much evil and sin in the world, we believe that God’s grace is far stronger, and that through the preaching of the Gospel, the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s judgments in history, Christ’s kingdom has been, and will be, gradually advancing, growing, and changing the world. We believe that the nature of Christ’s kingdom and of His rule is not only spiritual or heavenly, but that as the Gospel is faithfully taught and believed, and Christ’s legitimate rule is made to bear as a present reality on all spheres of life, the kingdom necessarily manifests itself on earth, since the Gospel changes people’s hearts, and so its overall spreading in the long run unavoidably impacts and shapes culture and social life in practical ways as well. We believe that God is Lord of history, and that it is God’s plan for the history of the world that Jesus Christ will continue to reign, rule, and expand His kingdom on earth through the preaching of the Gospel in this way, until the nations are converted and all His enemies are defeated, the last one being death at His Second Coming.
12. THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST
We believe in the future postmillennial bodily return to earth of Jesus Christ. We deny that the bodily return of Christ will lead to the establishment of a thousand-year kingdom on earth. We affirm that at the return of Christ the dead will rise and the Final Judgment will take place.
We believe in the future resurrection of the bodies of all the dead, at Christ’s return.
14. FINAL JUDGMENT
We believe that there will be a Final Day of Judgment following the general resurrection of the dead, and that on that Day the eternal fate of every human being will be forever sealed by God. Each human being will be then either confined to everlasting punishment for his or her sins; or welcomed to live forever in glorious happiness in the new heavens and new earth which God will make, where there will be no curse, no sin, no sorrow, and no death.
Historical Roots of Our Beliefs
While we look at the Bible as the authoritative foundation for our beliefs, we see ourselves as standing in a long line of churches sharing the same (or very similar) positions. We love the theology of the Protestant Reformation, and we stand by the reformational principles of Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria: Scripture Alone, By Grace Alone, By Faith Alone, Through Christ Alone, and To God Alone Be the Glory. We affirm the Five Points of Calvinism (the so-called TULIP, also known as the Doctrines of Grace): Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Invincible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints. Concerning the origin of the world we are young-earth creationists, and concerning the future of the world we are postmillennialists.
For a fuller and more detailed account of our beliefs, we refer you to the classic Creeds of the Christian Church and the historical Reformed Confessions of Faith, all of them easily available online: the Apostles’ Creed; the Nicene Creed; the Definition of Chalcedon; the Athanasian Creed; the 39 Articles of Faith of the Anglican Church; the Belgic Confession of Faith; the Heidelberg Catechism; the Canons of Dordt; the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms; the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.
It is this last confession, the London Baptist Confession of 1689, which probably best captures our doctrinal positions as we summarized them above. However, we are in basic agreement with all the above listed documents, and see all of them as dependable, helpful and edifying summaries of the faith which was delivered to the saints, and as generally useful and reliable formulations of what the Scriptures teach.
The London Baptist Confession of 1689
Having said all this — useful as it may be to establish the fact that our beliefs are not novel or uncommon, but recognizably well within the historical, classical Christianity of the conservative, reformed, evangelical kind — the initial point must be repeated that our ultimate allegiance and loyalty is not to human documents or human traditions, but to the Bible alone as the infallible Word of God, and it is to the Bible that we keep returning for correction and reformation.
And finally, once again, we do not require at all that a person should agree on all or even most of these things before we accept and welcome him or her to our church as a fellow Christian. Don’t worry. Just come as you are, and welcome!
Soli Deo Gloria, 2013
Updated: January 2017
Last updated: April 2018