1 Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:
by whose stripes ye were healed.

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How We Live

A Statement of the
Christian Fellowship International Community

We believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead, ascending into heaven where he sits on the right hand of God the Father, and from whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy church of Jesus the Christ, the community of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

God and Man

We believe God made man, with the earth, the heavens, and all living things, perfect. But we lost our perfection through disobeying him. Now, unless we believe in his Son, Jesus the Christ, whom he sent to teach us and redeem us through his death on the cross, he will cast us into the lake of fire (the hell).

The Kingdom of God

Through repentance and forsaking our sins, through faith, through the Spirit of God falling on us and giving us new life with Jesus who rose from the dead, we may enter the narrow door into his Kingdom. We may become heirs with him of eternal life, and receive the promise of reigning with him—after the restoration of all things—in new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

We recognise the Kingdom of God (the Heavenly Kingdom) in its first stages of peace, justice, and mercy already established on earth. Wherever men and women that believe in Jesus and follow him, old people, young people, and little children live in peace and equality one with another—wherever they give themselves for others as Jesus gave himself for them—his Kingdom comes. But we believe it will come in unspeakably greater power and glory when Jesus himself will come again. We give ourselves and all we have to the proclamation of the good news of his Kingdom, and expect to live, work, and worship with Jesus in its heavenly love and light forever.

We love our captain, our hero, Jesus for overcoming Satan and giving us eternal life. We want to fight with him, following him in every move, letting him fill us with his Spirit so we may overcome. We stand with all that take a stand and fight for Jesus and his Kingdom on earth (our battle not being one of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit).

Baptism

We declare our surrender to Jesus and his Kingdom through verbal testimony, through water baptism, and through persevering in our walk with him, day after day, until this life is over.

Baptism is administered by immersion. We accept baptism on confession of faith as a valid baptism, providing the convert was truly repentant, believed in Jesus, and made his vows at baptism with a sincere heart.

Baptism, we believe, involves immediate responsibility and membership in the local church doing the baptising, as well as the universal church. That responsibility and membership remain as long as the member remains in the vicinity. If, for any reason, he relocates, we release him and allow him to become part of another local church/community. All baptised members of the Lord’s body, we believe, must belong to and function in visible church communities.

We believe water baptism should occur promptly after it is requested—leaving only enough time for the church to approve the candidates and to make sure they understand what being a Christian and a church member involves.

We baptize no one that does not stand in total agreement with our congregation—ready to partake in our communion (in bread and wine) and willing to give himself to the brothers and sisters in our life together.

Communion

If we have fellowship with Jesus we have fellowship one with another. We celebrate that in our communion with bread and wine (to be held as often as the Spirit directs, throughout the year). This leads us into community of goods—sharing our natural things just like we share what we believe and hope for.

We cannot celebrate communion unless we stand in spiritual and material unity one with another — unless all those partaking have proven with their words and lives that they belong to Christ and to everyone else that takes part in it. Communion in bread and wine is a celebration of community in Christ—the sign of his Kingdom. If we partake in it unworthily, in disunity, or with the unconverted, we eat and drink judgement to ourselves.

Teaching

We trust Jesus as our perfect example and honour him as our King. Everything Jesus and his apostles taught or did, we also want to teach and do. Everything they rejected, we reject.

The teaching of Jesus and his apostles (contained in the New Testament) is our final word of action. Wherever it can be pointed out to us that we have disregarded it, or twisted the words of the New Testament to suit our way of life, we repent. We commit ourselves to changing whatever is necessary, whatever it may cost, to obey and follow Christ our king.

Salvation

We want to continue, all our lives, in a spirit of repentance—praising God for saving us from sin and bringing us into the Kingdom of his Son, while recognizing our humanity (with its weakness and shortcoming) and our responsibility for it. We believe it is possible to live above sin, to stand perfect before God through the work of Christ, but we also believe we can fall, and that we must watch and pray continually to remain safe in him.

We believe Jesus is the light of the world, enlightening all men that come into the world. We believe his Spirit speaks to all men in all places, calling them to him (even though they may not know or recognize him). But only those that answer his call will be saved. Only the ones that seek will find him.

Apostles and evangelists, sent out by the church, need to help seekers find their way. But we cannot make people seek God. That is the Spirit’s work.

We believe all children, since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin, are born with a sinful nature. We believe that children born to unbelieving parents may carry an even greater burden of spiritual uncleanness. But we believe God begins to hold them responsible for this, only after they personally commit sin (after they reach years of understanding and deliberately go against God and their conscience). God will not hold the innocent guilty, or judge children for their parents’ sin.

The Holy Spirit

We recognize the Holy Spirit as God. We expect all our members to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and to seek his gifts. We recognize the gifts of healing, of prophecy, of speaking in tongues, and others mentioned in the New Testament as evidence of God’s work among us. But we do not recognize anyone or anything as “spiritual” that stands in contradiction to New Testament order.

We expect all believers to bear the same fruit of the Spirit, but we expect the Spirit will give them different gifts—according to their needs, and the needs of the local church to which they belong.

Leadership

We believe the Spirit calls men into leadership and various positions of service in the church. This call, we believe, will be recognized by the Spirit-led body of believers, and handled accordingly. If a person among us has a particular gift we need to take note of it and help him use it. In this way the Lord may build his church.

We believe the Spirit calls certain men to lead the church. We respect them and honour their work. Every leader is directly accountable to Jesus. Never-the-less we believe every leader is also accountable to the church of Jesus (the local church), and to other leaders, just like all the rest of the members are accountable one to another. For this reason we do not have one man making decisions on his own that affect the whole church. Neither do we have one man doing all the teaching or administration. We believe in a plurality of elders.

Work

As a community we seek to divide our work evenly among all members. Not everyone is apt for the same jobs, but everyone needs to contribute in his or her own way. Every able person needs to work with his own hands to provide for himself and for his own. Families take responsibility for their children, and for the elderly, physically handicapped, or otherwise disabled among them.

In our work and responsibilities given to us, we submit ourselves completely to the decision of the community membership.

Celibacy and Marriage

We recognize the ministry of single brothers and sisters among us and honour them. If they choose to remain single to serve the Lord (or if they lead a celibate life for any other reason, such as in the case of having been widowed, separated, or divorced) we commit ourselves to supporting and caring for them as long as they live. We thank God for them.

Nevertheless we believe that God wants most people to marry and have families. We openly encourage the married state and commit ourselves to doing what we can to lead our young people into it. We encourage them to find suitable partners with the advice of their parents and the church leadership—while assuming full responsibility for the choice they make and promising to stick with it as long as they both shall live.

We do not advise our members to initiate divorce, or to get remarried as long as a divorced partner remains alive.

If divorced (or divorced and remarried) people wish to join us, we ask them to live their life among us. If they have children to raise, we will help them do it in as far as we are able. Any exceptions that may apply to this rule will be decided upon by the whole church, in light of the facts, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Courtship

We expect our young men and women to conduct their courtship and make plans for marriage in a completely open and honest way—not in secrecy, spending long periods together alone, or in the dark, but among the rest of the brothers and sisters in the light of day.

That couples planning to get married will need some time to themselves, we understand, but they are not to indulge in physical contact before marriage, and we encourage them to keep their courtship brief (not much longer than a year, if that). Once they are fully convinced the Lord wants them to marry, and if they have prepared themselves spiritually to take their place as husband and wife in the home, they should proceed with their parents’ and the church’s support.

We do not marry young men and women without their parents’ consent, unless their parents oppose the union on invalid or unscriptural grounds. Then we go by the voice of this local church. We believe marriage is of God, and to hinder it for anything less than a clearly Scriptural reason, is to oppose the work God wants to do among us.

Children

Parents take first responsibility in training their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Yet all parents in our community recognize that in ourselves we are incomplete. Our children must also become integrated into the lives of others, the work, and social order of something higher and greater than the natural family. For this reason we entrust our children to caretakers, teachers, and work supervisors outside our family circles.

We believe it our responsibility (not that of the state) to operate our own school, choose our own curriculum, and have brothers and sisters of our own congregation as teachers and role models for our children. We expect all families in our community to support and co-operate in the work of the school.

In training our children at home, in school, and throughout the community we use love and discipline. He that spares the rod hates his son. Parents stand in first place to administer this discipline, but if necessary our children’s’ teachers and work supervisors also stand responsible to give it.

We believe it important for families to spend time together throughout the day, eating together, working together where possible (fathers with sons and mothers with daughters), and spending their evenings together at home. After eight o’clock in the summer time, and even earlier in winter, we expect all children to be at home with their parents, where we expect them to gather around the Scriptures, singing, and praying together before they go to bed.

We believe children are a gift from God and welcome every one the Lord gives us.

Meetings

We hold a worship meeting on the morning of the Lord’s Day. We sing together, have at least two brothers share publicly (an opening and a main message) and leave time in every meeting for testimonies and prayer.

In the evening of the Lord’s Day and on Wednesday evenings we have a Bible Study meeting. Every other evening at 5:45 we expect the congregation to gather for Scripture reading and common prayer. In these meetings we expect the active participation of all that attend, in singing, in leading in prayer, and in sharing what the Lord has laid upon their hearts.

The leaders of our community meet every week day morning to decide on schedules for the day and make practical decisions. Once a week (on Sunday afternoons) all the brothers meet to discuss and handle what affects the community as a whole.

Special Days

In commemoration of special events in the life our Lord Jesus we celebrate his birth on April 1st, his resurrection at Easter, his ascension to heaven, the falling of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, and sometimes other days. But we do not go along with pagan practices that have invaded and corrupted these celebrations in western society (Christmas trees and Santa Claus, Easter bunnies, Halloween, etc.). Neither do we judge or criticize those that do not keep these special days.

Like all other days in the year we expect our days of celebration to be conducted in holiness, true joy and godly reverence.

Honesty

We insist on absolute honesty in business dealings and in what we say or do. This includes honesty in paying taxes, duty at international borders, and in obtaining government permission for what we construct and operate in our agricultural, manufacturing and other business community.

We refuse to swear oaths, either in spoken or written form.

We expect our members to be law abiding citizens in every area where the laws of the land do not conflict with the laws of God.

We honour and pray for our government and co-operate with it wherever our conscience allows.

Visiting and Joining our Community

We welcome all seekers to visit our community—at least once. Subsequent visits of an extended or indefinite duration should be petitioned for and arranged. We do not welcome teachers of doctrines opposed to what the scriptures teach, or visitors that contradict and undermine what we believe. Neither do we feel obligated to receive all that would come to us for strictly intellectual or academic pursuits.

Before coming to live in our community, arrangements must be made. Applications for membership will be reviewed, the first time, after new residents have lived among us for a minimum of six to twelve months. Members will be received after everyone in our community feels comfortable with their life and testimony.

On becoming part of our community, new members MAY submit their possessions (except household and personal items) to the community. The community may keep or dispose of them. Goods cannot be reclaimed on leaving, or at a later date. Whatever God has given an individual is his/hers and is under their stewardship during their tenure in the community.

Acts 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

The problem is not whether you give your all to the Community, it is whether you vowed to do it to God! What you have is yours, what is given to the Community becomes common property.

But everything amassed by the Community over the years, belongs to the Community, for the Community and its adherents.

Leaving the Community and Discipline

If a brother or sister, or an entire family, wishes to leave our community we expect them to bring the matter before the membership. If the membership recognizes their reason for leaving as from the Lord, we cannot oppose it, and set them free to do so.

We insist on the totally voluntary nature of the Church of Jesus Christ, and we do not discipline or separate ourselves from those that leave.

Nevertheless, we take our commitment one to another seriously. After making this commitment we do not see it as of the Lord to leave one another for trivial reasons, simple matters of preference, or because we lack the energy and dedication to work through whatever issues may arise. If members leave our community to become part of a situation we cannot fully approve of, or recommend, we stop short of blessing their departure. Their conduct will determine how much contact we maintain with them, and how we feel about having them return to visit us.

If a member leaves in rebellion or sin, breaking his covenant to Jesus and this local church community, we consider him “as a heathen man or publican” and refrain from socializing with him until he repents.

Church discipline, we believe, is only for the unrepentant. Even while we hold a person in discipline (not eating or socializing freely with him) we have an obligation to admonish him in the Spirit of Jesus. If we keep on loving him and treating him kindly but firmly, he may come back to Jesus and his church. That is the only reason for discipline, and as soon as its purpose has been accomplished we remove it completely.

We do not believe in using church discipline as a punishment, or as “penance” for those that want to do what is right.

We believe church discipline may only be applied to individuals, only as specific cases arise to make it necessary. We do not recognize or support any “group discipline” applied to entire congregations or groups of congregations in church divisions.

Unity

Every local church community, we believe, stands directly responsible to Jesus. We do not see a Scriptural precedent for any higher level of church authority than that of the local church. We believe, however, that local churches in which the Spirit of Jesus moves, will not think of themselves as “independent” or as an “only church.” Every city in Jesus’ Kingdom, like every household in those cities, and every individual in those households, needs each other.

We celebrate our unity with other local churches by fellowshipping together, by seeking counsel one from another, and by supporting them in their work and outreach wherever possible.

The higher the level of our doctrinal and practical unity, the more intimate and meaningful our fellowship one with another becomes.

We vow to remain all our life with our local community. We live together, pray together, work together, relax together. We give up the temptation to move from place to place in search of an ideal situation. Ultimately there is no escape from oneself, and the idea that things would be better someplace else is usually an illusion. And when interpersonal conflicts arise, we have a great incentive to work things out and restore peace. This means learning the practices of love: acknowledging one’s own offensive behavior, giving up one’s preferences, forgiving.

Associations

Even though we respect those that profess Christ while living differently than we do—even though we accept and honour what they teach and do—we refuse to enter into close fellowship with everyone that justifies Christians going to war, that refuses to separate himself from the world in economics, dress, and lifestyle, and that opposes or disparages the way of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We cannot associate with those that live in open disobedience to the Scriptures.

On the other hand, we cannot help but associate with all that follow Jesus and seek him with an honest heart—whether they have much in common with us ethnically, culturally, and socially, or whether they don’t.

It is Jesus that divides us from all that refuse to follow him (our relatives, friends, and former associates included) and unites us with all that do.

The Sick

We believe God holds our bodies and souls in his hands, and that if we become sick he alone can heal us. If any among us is sick, we encourage him to call for the elders of the church, so they may anoint him with oil and pray for him to be healed.

Even though we credit God alone for our healing we use medical services where necessary. We recognise that God works through medical and surgical means, many times, to help the sick.

We believe sickness and death came as a result of Adam’s disobedience and fall, but to get sick or die does not mean we are personally guilty of sin, today. Neither does it mean our faith is too weak to get healed. It is not God’s will that believers should always get healed, or that they should always be kept from diseases, accidents, and death. God may call on us to glorify him through our sickness or permanent disability. If that is what he asks of us, we will accept it patiently and with grace.

We do not recognize the “gift of healing” (miraculous powers to cure) of those that refuse to walk in the way of Jesus and his Kingdom community. Rather, if such people perform miracles, we suspect their power comes from the evil one.

We reject all forms of witchcraft, non-scientific cures, and any type of alternative medicine that defies natural law.

Peace

Following Christ we seek to return good for evil, to love our enemies, and use no resistance against those that mistreat us or use us despitefully.

This means we do not go to law with others to settle our disputes. We would rather let others take advantage of us than defend ourselves.

We cannot serve in the armed forces, or identify ourselves with the god of this world by putting on military uniforms, taking military training, or swearing the oath necessary to enlist in the army.

In the case of war and military conscription we would be happy to serve our country in any way other than joining the armed forces.

Equality

We believe that in the local church we should bear one another’s burdens and share all things—our joys as well as our sorrows. We believe what one has we all have, what one suffers we all suffer. This we express in our life together, and in our community of goods.

More than this we cannot, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven—sons and daughters of the King—consider living in any other way. We believe God’s Kingdom, like all human society in the beginning, has always been fully communal. We recognize money, possessions, and all capitalist and ungodly socialist or communist systems, as a result of man’s fall, his wickedness, and greed. We have to deal with the world’s economics only insofar as is absolutely necessary for the time being.

We express our equality among ourselves in our willingness to wash one another’s feet, like Jesus washed his disciples feet. This may take the form of literally, spontaneously, washing one another’s feet, but even much more, we want to express with our lives the attitude of Jesus behind it. That, if we follow Jesus, we may exemplify every day, all day long.

Whether it is with the kiss of peace, the right hand of fellowship, or with a friendly embrace, we expect our members to honour one another and greet one another regularly with appropriate gestures of love and fellowship.

Separation

In our houses, our entertainment, our dress, our music, our speech—in every area of life—we want to identify with Jesus and his Kingdom to which we belong.

We have rejected the god of this world, and refuse to identify with him. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. Therefore we want to live modestly in simple houses, all of whose features serve a practical purpose. We want to use simple furniture, eat healthy, simple meals (as much as possible what we can raise and produce ourselves), and dress ourselves modestly.

We reject the fashions of the world in hair styles, impractical clothing, and whatever features of dress serve for nothing but to draw attention to ourselves.

We do not use jewellery, and because of its pagan origin, its impracticality, and its unscriptural use of gold, we reject the use of the fancy wedding ring,and rather choose a simple gold band.

We prefer our women and girls to wear long hair as their crown of glory.

For the sake of modesty we do not have our sisters wearing trousers. Rather we expect them, and the brothers of our community to dress in a simple uniform way. To keep a united testimony, and because of the great value of identifying ourselves visibly one with another and with our community, we expect all those that join us to conform to our community way.

We expect everyone in our community to use whatever electronic equipment we may own (computers, radios, sound systems, and audio-visual equipment) in a responsible and edifying way. Parents are responsible for how their children make use of these things.

We prefer our families and our community should regulate the access to the Internet, due to the abundance of evil therein, i.e. pornography, evil worldly influences.

We believe the use of public television to be more harmful than profitable, and recommend the monitoring of its use.

Fire arms, if used among us, shall never be stored or considered as weapons of self-defence. Only responsible people shall use them where necessary.

Money

We believe ourselves responsible for all money that passes through our hands. Everything we spend on ourselves that we do not need, we rob from the person that needs it.

We believe we should give, collectively, of our money as needs arise and the Lord provides. However, there are countless ways our members may give of their time, their resources, and their abilities to people both inside and outside our community. We encourage all to give freely to others as we have freely received.

We believe we should leave no debt outstanding except the debt to love one another. We should not be a debtor personally or collectively. Therefore we feel responsible to pay all money we borrow on the date agreed, and to return borrowed items as soon as we are done using them.

We do not find it inconsistent with what we believe to accept government assistance in programs designed to help the general populace. We do not believe, however, that we should make use of collection agencies in any circumstance, or declare bankruptcy. All our members, whether newly arrived or of long standing, need to pay what taxes, bills, or the cost of goods and services they have incurred.

None of our members draws government benefits for unemployment. Neither do we place our elderly in homes for the aged. We do not believe it would be right to shirk our duties one to another by depending on outside help.

Arrangements for help in case of fire, accident or drought may be good stewardship of what the Lord has entrusted into our care. But “cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. . . . blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out his roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

We believe the Lord allows us, his children, to suffer hardship and poverty for our good. Jesus was poor. He worked among the poor and pronounced on them his blessing. But he cursed the rich, and said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

We do not take material prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing and approval, or material want as a sign of his disfavour. We do believe that God wants his children to prosper communally for the benefit of all.

The Future

We believe all things will be restored, in heaven and on earth, when Jesus comes again. That is, all things will be like God intended them to be when he created the earth.

How all this will happen, or how end-time events will unfold, is not altogether manifested to us. The Bible does not make it clear because there are things we are not to know until they come to pass.

For this reason we discourage speculation about end-time events, the restoration of Israel, the thousand-year reign, and the “rapture” of the children of God. Those that believe in and live for Jesus Christ, those that will reign with him, are today’s “children of Abraham.”

We believe the only way for a person to become an heir of the promise, a child of God, or a citizen of his Heavenly Kingdom is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. All may be saved, but all that reject Jesus, reject God, and forfeit their claims to the promises God made to their ancestors.

We believe the Messiah’s Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom involving this planet, the heavens, the universe and all things in it, not just an earthly nation built with fighter planes, tanks, bombs, and guns. We believe the Kingdom has already come, but that it will come in unspeakably greater power and peace when all creation is restored and Jesus appears among us to reign on the earth.

Rather than speculate on worldly politics and passing events of the age, we encourage our members to watch and pray because we know not the day or the hour when the Lord shall reappear.

We believe we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. According to what we have done, we will live forever with Christ in a fully restored creation, in new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells — or we shall be cast with Satan into hell.

Note on this Statement

As a Brother/Sisterhood at Christian Fellowship International Community we commit ourselves to reviewing this statement of what we believe and how we live at least once a year. If any further light is given to us, if more information becomes necessary on any subject, or if we must change a position in the light of Scripture and the Spirit’s leading, we will do so.

Our final word is the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostles as given in the New Testament.