CONFESSION OF FAITH
- I BELIEVE in one God and Creator who is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit: The Father who so loved the world, The Son who purchased my salvation in His death, burial, and resurrection, and The Holy Spirit who makes me new and abides in me forever.
- I BELIEVE in the perfect Holy Bible that reveals God’s purposes and plans for my life.
- I BELIEVE in the Second of Coming of Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead.
- I BELIEVE in the eternal reward of believers in Jesus and the eternal punishment for all unbelievers in Jesus.
- I BELIEVE in the united Church of Jesus Christ built upon Apostles and Prophets, Elders and Deacons; in which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
- I BELIEVE in the salvation for all mankind is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, and for the glory of God alone.
16 FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS
1. WE BELIEVE… The Scriptures are inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind from Genesis to Revelations, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
2. WE BELIEVE… There is only One True God–revealed in three persons; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity), Matthew 28:19.
3. WE BELIEVE… In the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; as God’s Son Jesus was both human and divine, John 1:1,14 & 18.
MANKIND & SALVATION
4. WE BELIEVE… Though originally good, man willingly fell to sin–ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual, into the world, Romans 3:23.
5. WE BELIEVE… Every person can have restored fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, Romans 10:13.
BAPTISM & COMMUNION
6. WE BELIEVE… And practice two ordinances—(1) Water Baptism by immersion after repenting of one’s sins and receiving Christ’s gift of salvation as a symbol of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, Matthew 28:19 and (2) Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death for our salvation, Luke 22:19-22.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
7. WE BELIEVE… The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a special experience following salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times, Acts 2:4.
8. WE BELIEVE… The initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is ‘speaking in tongues,’ as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles, Acts 19:6.
9. WE BELIEVE… Sanctification initially occurs at salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christ-like, 1 Corinthians 6:11.
10. WE BELIEVE… The Church has a mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. We believe ‘the Church’ is the Body of Christ and consists of the people who, throughout time, have accepted God’s offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:18.
11. WE BELIEVE… A Divinely Called and Scripturally ordained leadership ministry serves the church. The Bible teaches that each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers, and to build up or edify the body of believers–the Church, 1 Timothy 3:1-16 (Offices- Elders and Deacons) & Ephesians 4:11-12 (Gifts- Five-fold Ministries).
12. WE BELIEVE… Divine healing of the sick is a privilege for Christians today and is provided for in Christ’s atonement (His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins), 1 Peter 2:24.
13. WE BELIEVE… In The Blessed Hope—When Jesus raptures His Church prior to His return to earth (the second coming). At this future moment in time all believers who have died will rise from their graves and will meet the Lord in the air, and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them, to be with the Lord forever, 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
14. WE BELIEVE… In The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. At that time many in the nation of Israel will recognize and accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior who died for them and all mankind, Revelation 20:6.
15. WE BELIEVE… A Final Judgment will take place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire, Revelation 20:15.
16. WE BELIEVE… And look forward to the perfect new heavens and a new earth that Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on earth. ‘And so shall we forever be with the Lord,” Revelation 21:3.
MPI’S STANCE ON ABORTION
Metro Praise International believes that, according to the Scriptures, unborn children, while not fully developed, are fully human, and thus bear the image of God (Ps. 139:13-18; Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:44). Therefore, just as Scripture plainly condemns the killing of innocent human life, along with it, we condemn the practice of abortion as the murder of unborn children (Gen. 9:5-6; Ex. 20:6).
Given the rampant nature of abortion, and the favored status of the abortion industry by our legal system, we view abortion as one of the gravest injustices of our time. There have been over 58 million abortions performed since its legalization in 1973. That number increases by about 1.3 million each year, 3,500 each day, 2 each minute. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women (30%) will have had an abortion by age 45. If an abortion is indeed the murder of an unborn child, those massive figures amount to genocide. Meanwhile, abortion is celebrated by one of our country’s two main political parties, defended by the mainstream media and tolerated by most Americans.
In response to this, disciple of Christ are called to be salt and light to a decaying and darkened culture (Matt. 5:13-16); they are to speak against evil and injustice (Micah 6:8; Eph. 5:16); and to speak up for the oppressed (Prov. 24:11-12; 31:8-9). Metro Praise International, therefore, stands against the evil of abortion and in defense of unborn children.
In light of these facts, MPI has taken the following approach to abortion:
- We will speak against abortion from our pulpits, whatever outlet we are provided, or whenever the issue is raised.
- We will teach our members that abortion is murder of unborn children.
- We will not allow those who have abortions and do not repent to call themselves brothers or sisters in our fellowship.
- We will gently restore those who have had abortions and have repented.
- We will strongly encourage our members to hold the protection of unborn life and the end to legal abortion as top priorities in all their political and social engagement, including how they vote.
- We believe in the local church taking opportunities to minister at abortion clinics.
MPI’S STANCE ON MARRIAGE, GENDER, SEXUALITY & DIVORCE
The LGBT movement, as implied by its very name, encompasses a wide variety of sexual behaviors and preferences; most predominant in our culture are homosexuality and transgenderism. Therefore, instead of attempting to address the widening spectrum of orientations and gender identities, Metro Praise International wishes to establish some basic biblical parameters for marriage, gender and sexuality. Jesus did exactly this when he was questioned about divorce and remarriage, and based his answer on God’s design at creation:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matt. 19:4-6).
The plain inference is that God that created gender, having made mankind “male and female.” Further, God created marriage, for He intended that a “man” leave his “father and mother” to “be united to his wife.”
Observe what Jesus declared about God’s design for marriage and sexuality:
- God created mankind to have only one of two genders – male or female.
- God created marriage, and thus has the right to define marriage.
- God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.
- Marriage is a rite reserved for adults for a man must leave his parent’s home before he finds a wife.
Jesus, by appealing to God’s design in creation, ruled out any type of marriage arrangement, except for a monogamous union between one man and one woman. It also rules any type of gender identity except for the God-given gender each person receives at birth.
In light of these facts, MPI has taken the following approach to the LGBT movement:
- We will speak against the LGBT lifestyle from the pulpit, whatever outlet we are provided, or whenever the issue is raised.
- We will teach our members about the biblical view of marriage and sexuality as described above.
- We will not allow those who continue in sexual perversion and do not repent to call themselves brothers or sisters within our fellowship.
- We will gently restore who have come out of the LGBT lifestyle and have repented.
- We will strongly encourage our members to hold the preservation of marriage and family as top priorities in all their political and social engagement, including how they vote.
(For more info and sermon click here).
The Weightiness of the Issues
At MPI Church, we celebrate marriage with the same exalted status given to it in Scripture. The faithful marriage of one Man and one Woman is the optimal foundation for the family, providing children with the greatest opportunity to flourish into godly adults (Mal. 2:15). And such families, we believe, ultimately provide the foundation of a blessed society. Most importantly, there is a theological gravitas for marriage as it is a reflection of God’s own nature and of Christ’s unfailing, covenantal love for the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). It follows that we must be circumspect to honor marriage as God intended it, seeking to promote loving lifelong exclusive relationships that stand up to all trials and tests (Mat. 19:3-6). We believe that this is the biblical ideal and that any believing couple can experience the enduring blessedness of marriage and family.
Conversely, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage, and typically involves one or both marriage partners grossly violating their covenant. There can be many reasons given for a divorce, but it is impossible to separate sin from the equation – the sin of adultery, the sin of abandonment, etc. Further, divorce can have untold adverse affects on the children of the couple, the extended family, and even one’s ministerial calling. For these reasons, divorce is clearly not the ideal, and must be avoided whenever possible. We do not believe in “no fault” divorce, but maintain that all couples can always work out “irreconcilable differences” when they humble themselves, seek wise counsel and put God first.
By God’s grace, any believing couple can overcome the common pitfalls of pride, selfishness, laziness, bitterness and the like that have sadly destroyed so many marriages. At the same time, we must recognize that certain extreme circumstances render divorce a viable option, sometimes even the only option. Thus, the Bible lays out a limited set of circumstances wherein divorce is permissible. Also, for all the reasons stated above, remarriage must also be carefully examined. The Bible speaks clearly to remarriage, as it does to marriage and divorce. Thus, we must seek to carefully follow God’s Word in the event that a divorced person is seeking to be romantically involved again. This does not appear to be ideal, but again, the Bible prescribes a limited set of circumstances where remarriage is permissible. Thus, we will explore those circumstances in order to give clarity to married couples, divorcees, as well as those who may have already remarried, as to how they may honor the Lord in their current estate.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce in Matthew 19:3-9
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Jesus’ Teaching About Divorce
- Divorce is permitted due to the hardness of man’s heart (i.e. sinful behaviors and attitudes that make divorce necessary), but it was never part of God’s perfect plan.
- Divorce should not occur for “any and every reason”- it follows that couples who cannot “get along” and cite “irreconcilable differences” should be willing to work out those differences and not seek divorce, because “God has joined” them together.
- Divorce is not permissible, “except for sexual immorality.” That is, “any lewd, immoral behavior, sometimes including, but not restricted to, adultery.” To remarry after divorcing for any other reason is considered adultery, because the first marriage did not end on legitimate grounds.
- In Mark’s parallel account, Jesus states that women are equally responsible not to initiate divorce and remarry. (Mark 10:11-12). This is important to note, because under Mosaic Law only the husband could initiate divorce (Deut. 24:1-4).
Other Biblical Provisions for Divorce
- In Corinthians 7:11-16, Paul writes at length to say that if a believer and an unbeliever are married, and the unbeliever wishes to divorce, the believer must allow it. However, the believer may not be the one to instigate divorce as long as the believer is willing to remain with them.
- While Paul acknowledges the possibility of a “mixed marriage” between a believer and an unbeliever, let us be clear that the Bible forbids a believer marrying an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-15). The mixed marriages Paul refers to could have resulted from either (a) a Christian marriage where one spouse fell away from the faith, or (b) a marriage between unbelievers where one spouse was converted to Christ.
- We would add to this list, though not explicitly stated in any of the major texts on divorce, abuse. Abuse of any kind (physical, verbal, emotional) is completely contrary to God’s heart for marriage as expressed in Ephesians 5:22-33. Further, we would say that anyone who continues to abuse their spouse and/or children with no heart of repentance should be considered an unbeliever, despite what they profess.
- Abandonment refers to deserting one’s family by leaving the home and cutting off affection, contact, and/or other means of support, and is also grounds for divorce. Paul says anyone who has abandoned his family “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). He also states that an unbeliever should not be prevented from leaving their believing spouse, because we are “called to live at peace” (1 Cor. 7:15).
Biblical Grounds for Remarriage
- Remarriage is permissible in the case that the first marriage ended on legitimate grounds: abuse, adultery and abandonment.
- Remarriage is also permitted for a widow or widower (Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).
- A divorced person should seek to reconcile, if possible, with his or her first spouse before seeking to marry someone else. This is especially true for the person who has been divorced on unbiblical grounds. We do not permit a divorced person to remarry if they had an unbiblical divorce.
Counsel to Remarried Couples and Blended Families
While we do not condone remarriage for any person who has divorced on sub-biblical grounds, we extend grace to those who have remarried either before coming to Christ or in disobedience as Christians. Remarriage in such cases is a sin, but not an unforgivable sin. We are willing to welcome remarried couples into fellowship inasmuch as they are willing to walk in obedience to Christ in their current estate.
At MPI, we do not wish to place burden remarried couples by requiring them to dissolve their current marriage and to seek reconciliation with their former spouses. We will counsel them to remain faithful to God and to one another in their current marriage.
Polygamy and Polyamory
In light of the practice of polygamy still prevalent in some non-Western countries, and the rising acceptance of polyamory in the West, we must reinforce that monogamy is the only acceptable form of marriage under the New Covenant. We must also provide guidelines for new converts who may be involved in such relationships. First of all, while polygamy is commonly observed in the Old Testament, even practiced among the saints, such as Abraham, Jacob and David, to name a few, we would argue that such marriages were permitted, but never blessed, by God, and never were a part of his original design.
Jesus made as much clear in Matthew 19:5-6, where he conflates Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:24 to demonstrate that “at the beginning” the Creator designed marriage to be when “two will become one flesh” (notice, two and no more). This also makes sense biologically as two partners fits in with the gender binary seen in creation – male and female. Further, we would appeal to any text in the New Testament pertaining to marriage (e.g. 1 Cor. 7; Eph. 5:22-33) to see that the monogamous union between a man and woman is the expectation for Christian marriage. The exhortations given to husbands and wives quickly become incoherent if polygamy or polyamory are accepted.
Thus, we offer the following counsel to those who are engaged in polygamous or polyamorous relationships:
- One cannot continue in these relationships and/or marriages if they want to be obedient to Christ. There must be a change of one’s marital status on some level to demonstrate repentance from the unlawful union.
- How one separates from or dissolves these relationships depends on their status. There are many variables. For example, if a woman is one of several wives to one husband, then she is responsible to leave that husband, for she has only one partner within that arrangement. However, if a many has many wives, which should he divorce? All of them? All but one? How do we determine? Also, there are questions of the children involved. How will they be cared for? The fact that these questions arise is evidence of how disordered polygamy and polyamory truly are. They engender confusion in the dysfunction in the home.
- In light of the above point, our pastoral leadership will have to consider the details of each individual situation and arrive at an arrangement that is the most peaceful and godly. While we wish for the “marriage bed to be undefiled” (Heb. 13:4), which calls for divorce and separation in many of these cases, we also want to ensure that divorced woman and children are cared for.
MPI’S STANCE ON SMOKING TOBACCO/NICOTINE & VAPING
Metro Praise International church does not believe that tobacco use, smoking or vaping are inherently sinful. We do not find a clear prohibition of it in Scripture. While it is plain to see that addiction of any kind, including addiction to tobacco, is sin on the biblical basis that we should not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12), we cannot maintain that moderate use is wrong in and of itself. We also acknowledge that true believers, both past and present, have used and do use tobacco in its various forms. Simply put, we do not believe smoking is a salvation issue.
At the same time, we reserve the right to forbid certain practices within our fellowship given how they may be viewed in our current social context. We, therefore as a church leadership, forbid smoking, vaping or tobacco use of any kind, and call on the disciples of our church to abstain from it altogether. One way to understand our position on tobacco is to compare it with alcohol. Both are substances which can be extremely harmful when abused, and both are hotly debated within the church. However, we at MPI allow for alcohol to be consumed in moderation, but make no such provision for tobacco. The difference is that alcohol is frequently spoken of in positive terms by the authors of Scripture, and tobacco is not. So, while we must be on guard against the dangers of drunkenness and addiction, we cannot forbid alcohol outright because it was practiced both by Jesus and other godly people in the Bible.
Conversely, since smoking is never seen in a positive light in the Bible we reserve the right as a church to forbid it because we feel the detriments outweigh the benefits. For more detail, below is an outline of how we came to our stance:
1. While alcohol is considered one of God’s common blessings to His creation (Psalm 104:14-15), tobacco is never blessed in such a way.
2. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and drank it with His disciples at the Last Supper. Now, Christians are called to partake in the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:26). All of these instances (and many more) infer how the Bible views the consumption of alcohol, namely wine, as central to table fellowship. Tobacco, on the other hand, can prove to be a hindrance to fellowship, especially in our modern context, as nonsmokers tend to find the smell of smoke repulsive and uninviting. Thus, we see smoking as an unnecessary stumbling block and simply choose not to allow it.
3. Alcohol is produced naturally in the body and has been shown to have certain health benefits when taken in moderation. Even Scripture acknowledges the usefulness of wine to treat stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). Tobacco (and nicotine), on the other hand, has no such benefits, but is known to cause many adverse health effects with long term use.
MPI’S STANCE ON SUICIDE
We at MPI Church stand on the Scriptures, and with the historic church (from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to John Wesley) by maintaining that suicide is the sin of self-murder. Further, we believe that it is a damnable sin; that is to say, no one who commits suicide, not even a professing believer, should be assured of their salvation. Suicide, which is an act of the will, often stems from deep despair, unbelief and bitterness. The one who takes their own life demonstrates disbelief in the goodness and power of God to deliver them from their troubles both within and without.
Suicide is Self Murder
It is commonly held among Christians that murder, i.e. the taking of an innocent life, is a sin, as seen in the Scriptures below. Consider how this applies to self-murder, as it taking one’s own life, which is not theirs to take, for it is God who gives life, and God who takes life:
- Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”
- Revelation 21:7-8, “7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
- Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
- Proverbs 8:35-36, “35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
- Romans 1:29-32, “29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (see Suicide notes for evidence of these things)
- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
- Matthew 5:29-30, “29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
- Both Judas (John 13:27 & Matthew 27:5) and Saul (1 Samuel 16:14 & 31:4)- who murdered themselves- are looked at as being cursed by God; under the influence of the devil.
Suicide is a Damnable Act
Believers and unbelievers need to be warned that suicide will lead them to hell. We are not to deceive people with the false assurance that they can willfully sin and presume upon the grace of God. Whether it is fornication or witchcraft, or self-murder and the accompanying sinful attitudes and behaviors, a pattern of unrepentant sin is evidence of a darkened reprobate heart. The Bible is full of such warnings:
- Galatians 5:19-21,“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious… idolatry… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition… and envy… and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
- Hebrews 10:26-31,“26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hope and Counsel for the Suicidal
Though we do not believe suicide is a disease (and those who commit it are innocent victims of something beyond their control), and we warn of divine judgment for those who commit the act, our policy is to reach out compassionately to those struggling with depression, anxiety and other risk factors for suicide. Our earnest desire is for them to experience God’s grace and power and find new hope for their lives.
We offer pastoral counseling and will provide references to professional Christian counselors as needed. (Note: For we are in the support of good mental health professionals and mental health science). If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out and have an open mind to the following biblical counsel. See also some recommended reading from a Christian / clinical perspective on how to restore the disordered mind:
- Be born again, get filled with the Holy Ghost, and live as an obedient disciple of Jesus (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Daily pray and speak the Word of God over your life (Psalm 119:9-16).
- Follow God’s plan for your thoughts (Philippians 4:4-9).
- Ask for help and receive instruction when needed (Proverbs 12:1).
- Two encouraging passages:
- Luke 4:18-19 (KJV),“18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
- John 10:10,“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”