The churchy word for this page is our "statement of faith." It’s important because it provides the foundation on which WHC Elkhart is built.
God is the Creator of the world we live in. He controls what happens with His creation (the churchy word for that is sovereignty). He is eternal, meaning that He has always existed and always will. And He exists in three forms, all at the same time – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit.
Mankind was made in the spiritual image of God. God’s intent was, and always has been, that mankind would conform to His character. Men and women alike were made to give God glory – to be living, walking, breathing reminders that He exists. We fall short of that standard because of sin, a predisposition to disobey God. Our sin separates us from God. We can’t have a right relationship with God on our own; we need to be forgiven of our sin, and that is only possible by believing that Jesus’s sacrificial death at Calvary covers every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit in the future.
Eternal life is promised to all of us. We are not earthly beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience! We have two possible destinations when our lives on earth end: heaven or hell. The difference between destinations doesn’t depend on whether you were a "good person" or a "bad person;" it depends on whether or not you have asked Jesus Christ to direct your life and be your Savior and Lord.
Jesus Christ is the only Son of God the Father. He came to this earth in human form more than 2,000 years ago, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death for every sin that mankind had committed to that point and would commit afterward. He then rose from the dead, and now resides in heaven with God the Father. He has promised to return to earth one day to establish a kingdom here, and all who have accepted a relationship with Him (or, as we often say, those who are "saved" or "born again") will be part of that kingdom.
Salvation is the condition of being forgiven of one’s sins, past present and future. It’s not the end of your life as a Christian – it’s the beginning! Men, women and children who are saved express their love for God by serving Him, telling others about Him and worshipping Him – thanking Him for who He is and what He has done.
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God on earth today. Growing in maturity as a Christian involves allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of every aspect of your life. It’s difficult, because even after we’re saved we retain our sinful nature. When we become more familiar with the Holy Spirit, He provides us with power for living, understanding of God’s ways, courage to share His love with others and guidance to live in a manner that reflects His presence in our lives.
The bible is God’s Word for His people. It was written over the course of centuries by human authors under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. More churchy words here: the bible is inspired (meaning it reflects God’s heart for how we should live and not the opinions of the human authors) and inerrant (meaning that it is absolutely true in all respects). The bible calls itself a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Our challenge is to obey it fully, rather than to selectively obey only the parts we agree with or understand. The bible is God’s standard, and we experience success in our spiritual lives by conforming our lives to its teachings.
The Church is the fellowship of christians around the world. All men and women who have truly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives are members of what is also called the body of Christ and the family of God. As in any other family, we can disagree about many things – sometimes loudly and in ways we regret later. But as in any other family, when we have the same Father we have a common bond that never goes away. One of our greatest challenges as christians is to remember that what unites us (a relationship with Jesus Christ) is greater than anything with the potential to divide us (everything else).
The church (small “c”) is also the most common term for an individual body of Christian believers – like WHC Elkhart and other congregations. More than just a building, a church is a community of faithful men and women united to worship God together and make Him known to others in a variety of ways. The most common type of meeting of a church is a worship service, at which members and guests give honor to God in many ways – through music, the sharing of His Word, sharing fellowship with others and financially supporting His work.
Water baptism is a ritual, or sacrament, practiced in Christian churches to demonstrate that an individual life has been transformed by salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not a substitute for salvation but a public recognition that salvation has transformed an individual life. At World Harvest Church Elkhart we believe baptism is reserved for men, women and children with the capability of understanding what salvation means. You may also have heard this called believer’s baptism, as opposed to infant baptism. World Harvest Church Elkhart does not acknowledge the baptism of infants based on the decision of a child’s parents (but we do hold baby-dedication ceremonies, at which time parents pledge to raise their children in a godly way).
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a noticeable manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, such as happened in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It can manifest itself in many ways. One of the most common evidences of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is speaking in tongues, a means of communication with God that does not use any humanly recognizable language. Speaking in tongues is not a spiritual badge of honor, but does permit those who practice it a dimension to their relationship with God they didn’t have before. In the 16th chapter of the New Testament book of Mark, Jesus specifically refers to speaking in tongues as a sign that accompanies belief in Him (v. 17).
Communion is a sacrament practiced within the Church to remember the sacrificial death and promised return of Jesus Christ. It is modeled on a ceremony Jesus led His disciples in the day before His death, and uses bread or wafers and juice or wine. The substance of the elements is less important than the meaning and practice of the ceremony. Communion is most commonly observed during worship services of a local church, but at World Harvest Church we believe it can and should be celebrated individually and among families – any time christians choose to remember Him together – and can be done as often as one believes it should be done. Pastor Parsley and many members of WHC partake of communion daily in their homes.
Tithing is God’s command for His people to give to His work through local congregations. A tithe is 10 percent of one’s gross (before taxes) income. We believe the bible supports sowing one’s tithe to his or her local congregation.
Offerings are financial gifts above and beyond the tithe. They are commonly targeted toward a specific church project, such as a compassionate outreach or other event, or the purchase or construction of new facilities.
Biblical Sexuality is expressly defined by God. Before birth, God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female through genetic encoding and physiological manifestation. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
The Family is God’s foundational institution for human society.
Marriage has only one meaning: the uniting of one biological man and one biological woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only within the confines of marriage. Because marriage is a covenant between one man, one woman, and God, the church has the responsibility, in its sole discretion, to evaluate the readiness of those seeking to enter into the marriage covenant. The church may decline to solemnize or host a marriage ceremony that is contrary to the church’s Statement of Faith or the Bible.