About the Bible
We believe the Bible is the Word of God, written by men who were led and guided in the process of writing down his words. We believe the Bible is meant to be God’s guide for our life in every area. We hold the Bible up as the sole authority in how we are to live, what to believe and practice, and the basis for our core principles and values. We believe every follower of Jesus should daily allow God to speak to them through meditating on His word and allow the convictions from those words to govern how we live our lives. Therefore, the Bible serves as the basis for what we teach and preach here at Landmark.
There is a lot of confusion in our world with all the different branches of Christianity that teach different things. We do not claim to be the “sole proprietors of the truth,” but we do have a desire to simply practice what we see in Scripture. We know we don’t do this perfectly since we are flawed people, but our desire is to simply follow the plain teachings of Jesus and his Apostles as seen in the New Testament without adding church tradition to it or taking away what is found there because it is not culturally acceptable. We simply want to follow Jesus and his word and the words he left to the apostles recorded for us in Scripture. That is what undenominational Christianity is—just Christians following the simple words of Jesus.
Times of worship are meant to be times of genuinely giving heartfelt praise and thanks to God and His son Jesus for the salvation and blessings they have provided for us. From the New Testament, we learn that this worship showed itself in a variety of ways: Singing songs of praise with our lips to the Lord. Churches of Christ are known for singing with no instrumental accompaniment. We do not judge or condemn churches that practice otherwise, but this is what we see in the New Testament and it is our desire to follow that. Prayer was central to the worship of the first churches in Scripture, and we also pray to be guided by God. Remembering Jesus in a special way by taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday is very important to us as it was in the New Testament. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a special way to remember his sacrifice for us. We desire to remember Jesus’ great sacrifice for us each Sunday. We also take up a free-will offering that is used to support the many ministries of this church that are blessing the lives of others. This giving generously from the heart as God has blessed us is an act of worship or devotion to the Lord. Teaching and preaching applicable lessons from what God has left us in His word is a central part of our times of worship. A desire to be guided by God’s word is an act of worship. Worship sometimes shows itself in times of fasting, encouraging others, confessing sin and asking for forgiveness from God, etc. These times of worship are meant to get us in tune with God and his son Jesus.
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit
We believe there is one God who is a plurality of three divine beings, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We believe God the Father is the Almighty Creator of the Universe who continues to intervene in the affairs of this world in response to the prayers of His people. We believe Jesus was God in the flesh who was born of the virgin Mary and grew up to ultimately give his life for all people on the cross and be raised from the dead. We believe Jesus is currently reigning at the Father’s right hand and will come again a second time to judge the world and end all opposition to his loving rule. We believe the Holy Spirit is the very presence of Jesus in this world today. The Holy Spirit is given to Christians when they trust Jesus in faith, repentance, and baptism. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives Christians the power they need to live holy lives as God has called us to do.
Sin is real and very serious to God and should be to Christians because it is in opposition to the will of God. Sin is literally missing the mark that God desires for His image-bearers (humans). Sin breaks the relationship between people and God and it also creates problems in marriages and in the relationships between people everywhere. The Bible is our guide for what is sinful and to be avoided and what is godly, not what the cultures of people teach. The Bible teaches that the only cure for sin which breaks our relationship with God is Jesus. When we are “in Christ” God counts us as righteous and restores us to a harmonious relationship with himself.
The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Rom.3:23). None of us are righteous, not one(Rom.3:10). None of us can be saved by being good enough since we all fall short of that as seen above. The only way to be saved is by being “in Christ” by faith. God then “counts us” as if we’re righteous and therefore we are saved from our sins. Jesus’ perfect death and resurrection paid the price for our salvation. Therefore, we must be “in Christ” to be saved. We do that by trusting in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, repenting or turning away from a life of self-centered living and living for Jesus, and by being baptized (immersed in water) to show our death to sin by our burial in water and our rising up out of the water to live in a different way, a way of following Christ rather than following our own sinful desires. At that point, God dispenses His tremendous grace to us which is what saves us. We are saved by God’s love which issues in his grace (Eph.2:8-10).
Baptism is a subject of much debate ensuing in very different practices in various church traditions. However, the Bible is very clear on baptism. The word baptism is actually not a translation of a Greek word, but a transliteration(sounds just like the Greek word) of the Greek word baptizo. It means to immerse, dip or plunge underneath the water. The purpose of baptism has been very clear in church history, up until about the last 100 years. Even Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation in 1517, who taught “salvation by grace through faith,” believed that baptism was part of the salvation process. His writings plainly show this. It is common today to hear that baptism is a “sign” or “symbol” that shows one has already been saved, or something that we should do but is not necessary. The New Testament, however, shows that baptism is much more important than that. Jesus’ Great Commission, given right before he ascended into heaven(Matt.28:18-20), shows clearly that baptism is part of the process of making disciples (Christians). The Apostles of Jesus taught that baptism was “for the forgiveness of sins” or to “wash away sins.”(Acts 2:38, 22:16). Paul taught that we are saved by God’s great grace, not by our works, and that baptism is the time when God dispenses his grace toward us. It is the time and place when we enter “into Christ” and share in the benefits of his saving death on the cross. See Romans 6:3-7. Many today would say that baptism is an “adding of works to the gospel.” Galatians is the book where Paul most adamantly promotes salvation by grace through faith in Jesus and nothing added to that. He says in that book that a curse is to be pronounced on anyone who teaches a different gospel other than salvation by faith and trust in Christ. And yet, in the same book of Galatians, Paul connects faith and baptism! See Galatians 3:26-27. Paul does not see it as a work to be added to faith or a symbol of our salvation, but as a culmination of the process of our faith coming to fruition to where we pledge our faith to Christ. In fact, Peter says that baptism is just that—a pledge of our allegiance to Christ (I Peter 3:21). As a pledge of allegiance coming from our faith in Jesus and repentance of sin, biblical baptism can only be done by those old enough to make the decision to follow Jesus themselves. Baptism is not something that can be done for you. You must choose! So, it is Jesus who saves us and nothing else. But he saves us when our faith in him leads us to repentance and to pledge ourselves to Jesus in baptism.
The church is very simply the body of saved people here on the earth. It is composed of all who have trusted in Jesus, repented, and been baptized to pledge their lives to Christ. The church is the presence of Christ in this world and the mission of the church is to continue the work of Jesus here until he comes. Jesus’ work was to provide a reconciliation to God for people, and the church’s work is to make that Gospel(Good news) known to all people. Just as Jesus served all people out of his great love for humanity, Jesus’ church is to do the same thing. The best evidence of being part of Christ’s church is that one loves others(John 13:34-35). To be the church is to be “in Christ” and to live like Christ. That is the church.
Core Values and first principles of Christianity
To truly be the church or body of Christ, Christians must imitate the one they claim to follow—Jesus. The word “disciple” is the main word of a follower of Jesus in the New Testament. The word disciple is one who is a learner and follower of Jesus in how life is lived. Jesus is not only the way to salvation, he is the way to live life. A life of true faith in Jesus will ensue in living as Jesus lived. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself(Matthew 22:37-40). To live a life of love for God and others is first and foremost. Plainly put, the Apostle John said in his first letter toward the end of the New Testament that truly following Jesus will show itself primarily in loving actions toward others. If we don’t love others by the way we treat them, we are not Christian no matter what we say we believe. Living the life of a servant is also at the core of Christianity. Jesus was the best servant who ever lived. Though he was God, he gave up his divine privileges and lived the life of a servant on earth. He did the most menial of tasks such as washing the disciple’s feet at the Last Supper as an example for all future disciples to follow. And being united with other Christians is very important for Jesus. It is so important because disunity in the body of Christ causes non-believers to not be attracted to Christ. The last thing Jesus prayed for in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested and crucified was that his followers be unified. Clearly, this was of paramount importance to Jesus and should be to us as well. The best way for unity to be achieved is by practicing the first two values of love and service. If we all did that, unity could be achieved. We desire to be a unified church.