The Nazarene Fellowship has no constitution, creed or statement of faith outside the pages of the Bible. It has reached its present understanding by reading and discussion of Scripture and study of any and every variety of opinion, past and present. If or when anyone feels that he can show that any point is in conflict with reason or revelation, we are glad to discuss it, for if we are wrong our chief concern is to get it right, but we do not attach much value to tradition.
The Things Concerning the Kingdom of God
The visible world and every form of life in it was created in the beginning by the Eternal God. Within the limits of the natural laws by which they are governed, all things, including man, remain as they were created, very good. (Genesis 1:31). Man is a corruptible creature with the same physical nature as the lower animals, but being made in the image of God he has a free will and the capacity for reason. To develop character he had to experience good and evil, and for this purpose Adam was placed under law. By disobedience he brought himself under sentence of death. This was man's first lesson in religion - that sinners deserve to die. His second lesson was that God was merciful, because he was spared the Judicial death he had incurred. God's ultimate purpose revealed in the Bible, is to bring the whole creation to perfection under the reign of Jesus Christ, and establish it for ever in accordance with the promise made to Abraham. This is the Hope of Israel - the true Gospel. The selection of a people worthy to take part in that purpose has been proceeding throughout history by the preaching of this Gospel, and will continue until the literal return of Christ to the earth from His present dwelling with the Father. Those who by faith and obedience have shown themselves acceptable to God are recorded in the Book of Life and will be called from their graves in incorruptible nature as the heirs of everlasting life, to live and reign with Christ in eternity. This is the resurrection of the righteous-
The Things Concerning The Name of Jesus Christ
The rite of sacrifice introduced in Eden and defined in the law of Moses, teaches God's way and calls for the exercise of that faith by which He is honoured. In making an offering in which the life of an animal was taken away by bloodshedding, the sinner acknowledged his guilt and unfitness to live and recognised that he could only be saved by reason of God's mercy. But animal sacrifices were only a temporary expedient and could not give effective deliverance because the life of an animal was not a true equivalent for the life of a man; they pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. The life which had been lost by sin could only be redeemed by a human life. No descendant of Adam could give his life as a ransom, since the life of every natural born man is a continuation of the life which was forfeited, and thus death as a deferred penalty or debt hangs over the human race. Therefore it is evident that man could only be saved from extinction by one whose life was not derived by natural descent, who was not a sinner and who was prepared voluntarily to sacrifice himself. Such was Jesus. As a child of Mary He was a man of flesh and blood, related to the race and of exactly the same corruptible nature, but as Son of God His life came to Him direct from the Source. In His temptations and physical sufferings, Jesus proved that human nature of itself is not in any way defective, and showed by His example that obedience to the commandments is in fact within the capacity of everyone. Conscience serves to convict us all as sinners personally, but in order that mercy might prevail and one redemptive sacrifice redeem a multitude of people, God regards all Adam's descendants as having lost their life in his and become alienated with him. This is the federal principle. When He allowed His murderers to nail Him to the Cross, Jesus submitted to a penalty He did not deserve and a condemnation which was utterly unjust in order to cancel, by the surrender of His own life, the debt owed by sinners. Jesus paid at Calvary the debt incurred in Eden. Had it been inflicted upon the sinner he would have perished and the human race would never have been. Jesus, being sinless, was able to suffer the death and not perish; and being raised from the grave in incorruptible spirit nature He ascended to His Father and now awaits the appointed time for His return to reign upon the earth. Thus God provided in His own Son the one all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, a life for a life, and purchased back to Himself all those who put on the name of Jesus who are alienated from Him by sin. Jesus, as the Heir of all things and God's representative on earth, in carrying out His Father's plan for our salvation by laying down his life as our substitute, upheld justice and law by meeting its claim and at the same time demonstrated supreme love and mercy. To believe these things and to be immersed in water as a symbol of the death which Jesus suffered for us literally is Christian Baptism, and is the condition of forgiveness of sins and acceptance into the Kingdom of God.
Things We Do Not Believe
It sometimes happens that people read or hear these explanations and realise that they are reasonable and scriptural, and they imagine that they are what they actually believe themselves, whereas, in fact, they hold views which are quite incompatible with them. We therefore append a list of some of the things which we consider are destructive to the true Gospel: - We do not believe in Immortal Souls, Heaven-going, or a Personal devil. We do not believe in the Trinity, that Jesus pre-existed or that He had Divine Nature. We do not believe in Original Sin, or changed nature. We do not believe in Sin-in-the-flesh or that people are born sinful. We do not believe that natural death is the wages of sin. We do not believe that Jesus died for Himself. We do not believe that those asleep in Christ will rise mortal. We do not believe that immersion for personal sins without recognition of the federal principle is Christian Baptism.
Ernest Brady. June 1957