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Chapter 4

By Janice Edwards,2014-11-25 12:31
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Chapter 4

    Chapter 4

    THE CONSTITUTION OF THE

    NORTH AMERICAN GENERAL CONFERENCE

    Article 2. Articles of Religion

    1. Faith in the Holy Trinity

    210. We believe in the one living and true God, both holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom and goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things. Within this unity there are three persons of one essential nature, power and eternity the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    Gen. 1:1; 17:1; Ex. 3:13-15; 33:20; Deut. 6:4; Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28-29; Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; John 1:1-2; 4:24; 16:13; 17:3; Acts

    5:3-4; 17:24-25; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Eph. 2:18; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:20.

    2. The Father

    212. We believe the Father is the Source of all that exists, whether of matter or spirit. With the Son and the Holy Spirit, He

    made man, male and female, in His image. By intention He relates to people as Father, thereby forever declaring His goodwill toward them. In love, He both seeks and receives penitent sinners.

    Ps. 68:5; Isa. 64:8; Matt. 7:11; John 3:17; Rom. 8:15; 1 Peter 1:17.

    3. The Son of God

    214. We believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, truly God and truly man. He died on the cross and was buried, to be a sacrifice both for original sin and for

    all human transgressions, and to reconcile us to God. Christ rose bodily from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and there intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand until He returns to judge all humanity at the last day.

    Ps. 16:8-10; Matt. 1:21, 23; 11:27; 16:28; 27:62-66; 28:5-9, 1617; Mark 10:45; 15; 16:6-7; Luke 1:27, 31, 35; 24:4-8, 23; John

    1:1, 14, 18; 3:16-17; 20:26-29; 21; Acts 1:2-3; 2:24-31; 4:12; 10:40; Rom. 5:10, 18; 8:34; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:3-8, 14; 2 Cor. 5:18-19;

    Gal. 1:4; 2:20; 4:4-5; Eph. 5:2; 1 Tim. 1:15; Heb 2:17; 7:27; 9:14, 28; 10:12; 13:20; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:14.

    4. The Holy Spirit

    216. We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is of the same essential nature, majesty,

    and glory, as the Father and the Son, truly and eternally God. He is the Administrator of grace to all, and is particularly the

    effective Agent in conviction for sin, in regeneration, in sanctification, and in glorification. He is ever present, assuring,

    preserving, guiding, and enabling the believer.

    Job 33:4; Matt. 28:19; John 4:24; 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13-15; Acts 5:3-4; Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6.

    5. The Sufficiency and Full Authority of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation

    218. We believe that the books of the Old and New Testaments constitute the Holy Scriptures. They are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority, and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine. We believe that they contain all things

    necessary to salvation; so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man or woman that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Both in the Old and New Testaments life is offered ultimately through Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and humanity. The New Testament teaches Christians how to fulfill the moral principles of the Old Testament, calling for loving obedience to God made possible by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.

    The canonical books of the Old Testament are:

    Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1

    Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,

    Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

    The canonical books of the New Testament are:

    Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation.

    Ps. 19:7; Matt. 5:17-19; 22:37-40; Luke 24:27, 44; John 1:45; 5:46; 17:17; Acts 17:2, 11; Rom. 1:2; 15:4, 8; 16:26; 2 Cor. 1:20; Gal. 1:8; Eph. 2:15-16; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 10:1; 11:39; James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:23; 2

    Peter 1:19-21; 1 John 2:3-7; Rev. 22:18-19.

    6. God’s Purpose for Humanity

    220. We believe that the two great commandments which require us to love the Lord our God with all the heart,

    and our neighbors as ourselves, summarize the divine law as it is revealed in the Scriptures. They are the perfect

    measure and norm of human duty, both for the ordering and directing of families and nations, and all other social bodies, and for individual acts, by which we are required to acknowledge God as our only Supreme Ruler, and all persons as created by Him, equal in all natural rights. Therefore all persons should so order all their individual, social and political

    acts as to give to God entire and absolute obedience, and to assure to all the enjoyment of every natural right, as well as to promote the fulfillment of each in the possession and exercise of such rights.

    Lev. 19:18, 34; Deut. 1:16-17; Job 31:13-14; Jer. 21:12; 22:3; Micah 6:8; Matt. 5:44-48; 7:12; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:27-29, 35;

    John 13:34-35; Acts 10:34-35; 17:26; Rom. 12:9; 13:1, 7-8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:10; Titus 3:1; James 2:8; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 2:5;

    4:12-13; 2 John 6.

    7. Marriage and the Family

    222. We believe that every person is created in the image of God, that human sexuality reflects that image in terms of intimate love, communication, fellowship, subordination of the self to the larger whole, and fulfillment. God’s Word makes use of the marriage relationship as the supreme metaphor for His relationship with His covenant people and for revealing the truth that that relationship is of one God with one people. Therefore God’s plan for human sexuality is that it

    is to be expressed only in a monogamous lifelong relationship between one man and one woman within the framework of

    marriage. This is the only relationship which is divinely designed for the birth and rearing of children and is a covenant union made in the sight of God, taking priority over every other human relationship.

    Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18, 20, 23-24; Isa. 54:4-8; 62:5b; Jer. 3:14; Ezek. 16:3ff.; Hosea 2; Mal. 2:14; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:9; John

    2:1-2, 11; 1 Cor. 9:5; Eph. 5:23-32; 1 Tim. 5:14; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 19:7-8.

    8. Personal Choice

    224. We believe that humanity’s creation in the image of God included ability to choose between right and wrong. Thus individuals were made morally responsible for their choices. But since the fall of Adam, people are unable in

    their own strength to do the right. This is due to original sin, which is not simply the following of Adam’s example, but

    rather the corruption of the nature of each mortal, and is reproduced naturally in Adam’s descendants. Because of it, humans are very far gone from original righteousness, and by nature are continually inclined to evil. They cannot of

    themselves even call upon God or exercise faith for salvation. But through Jesus Christ the prevenient grace of God makes possible what humans in self effort cannot do. It is bestowed freely upon all, enabling all who will to turn and be saved.

    Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 20:40; Ps. 51:5; Isa. 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 16:15; John 7:17;

    Rom. 3:10-12; 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Titus 3:5; Heb. 11:6; Rev. 22:17.

    9. The Atonement

    226. We believe that Christ’s offering of himself, once and for all, through His sufferings and meritorious death on the cross, provides the perfect redemption and atonement for the sins of the whole world, both original and actual. There is no

    other ground of salvation from sin but that alone. This atonement is sufficient for every individual of Adam’s race. It is unconditionally effective in the salvation of those mentally incompetent from birth, of those converted persons who have

    become mentally incompetent, and of children under the age of accountability. But it is effective for the salvation of those who reach the age of accountability only when they repent and exercise faith in Christ.

    Isa. 52:1353:12; Luke 24:46-47; John 3:16; Acts 3:18; 4:12; Rom. 3:20, 24-26; 5:8-11, 13, 18-20; 7:7; 8:34; 1 Cor. 6:11; 15:22;

    Gal. 2:16; 3:2-3; Eph. 1:7; 2:13, 16; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 7:23-27; 9:11-15, 24-28; 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.

    10. Repentance and Faith

    228. We believe that for men and women to appropriate what God’s prevenient grace has made possible, they must voluntarily respond in repentance and faith. The ability comes from God, but the act is the individual’s.

    Repentance is prompted by the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. It involves a willful change of mind that renounces

    sin and longs for righteousness, a godly sorrow for and a confession of past sins, proper restitution for wrongdoings, and a resolution to reform the life. Repentance is the precondition for saving faith, and without it saving faith is impossible.

    Faith, in turn, is the only condition of salvation. It begins in the agreement of the mind and the consent of the will to the

    truth of the gospel, but issues in a complete reliance by the whole person in the saving ability of Jesus Christ and a

    complete trusting of oneself to Him as Savior and Lord. Saving faith is expressed in a public acknowledgment of His Lordship and an identification with His Church.

    Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32; 13:3; 24:47; John 3:16; 17:20; 20:31; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 11:18; 16:31; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 1:16; 2:4; 10:8-

    10, 17; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:8; 4:4-6; Phil. 3:9; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 11:6; 12:2; 1 Peter 1:9; 2 Peter 3:9.

    11. Justification, Regeneration and Adoption

    230. We believe that when one repents of personal sin and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, that at the same moment that person is justified, regenerated, adopted into the family of God, and assured of personal salvation through the witness of the Holy Spirit.

    We believe that justification is the judicial act of God whereby a person is accounted righteous, granted full pardon of all sin, delivered from guilt, completely released from the penalty of sins committed, by the merit of our Lord and Savior

Jesus Christ, by faith alone, not on the basis of works.

    We believe that regeneration, or the new birth, is that work of the Holy Spirit whereby, when one truly repents and believes, one’s moral nature is given a distinctively spiritual life with the capacity for love and obedience. This new life is

    received by faith in Jesus Christ, it enables the pardoned sinner to serve God with the will and affections of the heart, and

    by it the regenerate are delivered from the power of sin which reigns over all the unregenerate.

    We believe that adoption is the act of God by which the justified and regenerated believer becomes a partaker of all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a child of God.

    Justification: Hab. 2:4; Acts 13:38-39; 15:11; 16:31; Rom. 1:17; 3:28; 4:2-5; 5:1-2; Gal. 3:6-14; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:9; Heb.

    10:38.

    Regeneration: John 1:12-13; 3:3, 5-8; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:5, 10, 19; 4:24; Col. 3:10; Titus 3:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:1.

    Adoption: Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5, 7; Eph. 1:5.

    Witness of the Spirit: Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18-19.

    12. Good Works

    232. We believe that although good works cannot save us from our sins or from God’s judgment, they are the fruit of faith and follow after regeneration. Therefore they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and by them a living faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.

    Matt. 5:16; 7:16-20; John 15:8; Rom 3:20; 4:2, 4, 6; Gal. 2:16; 5:6; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 1:3; Titus 2:14;

    3:5; James 2:18, 22; 1 Peter 2:9, 12.

    13. Sin After Regeneration

    234. We believe that after we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to fall into sin, for in this life there is no such height or strength of holiness from which it is impossible to fall. But by the grace of God one who has fallen into sin may by true repentance and faith find forgiveness and restoration.

    Mal. 3:7; Matt. 18:21-22; John 15:4-6; 1 Tim. 4:1, 16;

    Heb. 10:35-39; 1 John 1:9; 2:1, 24-25.

    14. Sanctification: Initial, Progressive, Entire

    236. We believe that sanctification is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the child of God is separated from sin unto God and is enabled to love God with all the heart and to walk in all His holy commandments blameless. Sanctification is initiated at the moment of justification and regeneration. From that moment there is a gradual or progressive sanctification as the believer walks with God and daily grows in grace and in a more perfect obedience to God. This prepares for the crisis of entire sanctification which is wrought instantaneously when believers present themselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, being effected by the

    baptism with the Holy Spirit who cleanses the heart from all inbred sin. The crisis of entire sanctification perfects the

    believer in love and empowers that person for effective service. It is followed by lifelong growth in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The life of holiness continues through faith in the sanctifying blood of

Christ and evidences itself by loving obedience to God’s revealed will.

    Gen. 17:1; Deut. 30:6; Ps. 130:8; Isa. 6:1-6; Ezek. 36:25-29; Matt. 5:8, 48; Luke 1:74-75; 3:16-17; 24:49; John 17:1-26; Acts

    1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4; 15:8-9; 26:18; Rom. 8:3-4; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:13, 24; 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 3:10, 12-13; 4:3, 78;

    5:23-24; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 10:14; 12:14; 13:12; James 3:17-18; 4:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 1:7, 9; 3:8-

    9; 4:17-18; Jude 24.

    15. The Gifts of the Spirit

    238. We believe that the Gift of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself, and He is to be desired more than the gifts of the Spirit which He in His wise counsel bestows upon individual members of the Church to enable them properly to fulfill

    their function as members of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit, although not always identifiable with natural abilities, function through them for the edification of the whole Church. These gifts are to be exercised in love under the

    administration of the Lord of the Church, not through human volition. The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the Church and not by the ecstasy produced in the ones receiving them.

    Luke 11:13; 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:38-39; 8:19-20; 10:45; 11:17; Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:114:40; Eph. 4:7-8, 11-16; Heb. 2:4;

    13:20-21; 1 Peter 4:8-11.

    16. The Church

    240. We believe that the Christian Church is the entire body of believers in Jesus Christ, who is the founder and

    only Head of the Church. The Church includes both those believers who have gone to be with the Lord and those who remain on the earth, having renounced the world, the flesh and the devil, and having dedicated themselves to the work which Christ committed unto His church until He comes. The Church on earth is to preach the pure Word of

    God, properly administer the sacraments according to Christ’s instructions, and live in obedience to all that Christ commands. A local church is a body of believers formally organized on gospel principles, meeting regularly for the

    purposes of evangelism, nurture, fellowship and worship. The Wesleyan Church is a denomination consisting of those members within district conferences and local churches who, as members of the body of Christ, hold the faith set forth in

    these Articles of Religion and acknowledge the ecclesiastical authority of its governing bodies.

    Matt. 16:18; 18:17; Acts 2:41-47; 9:31; 11:22; 12:5; 14:23; 15:22; 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 12:28; 16:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; Eph.

    1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:9-10, 21; 5:22-33; Col. 1:18, 24; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 12:23; James 5:14.

    17. The Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

    242. We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the sacraments of the church commanded by Christ and

    ordained as a means of grace when received through faith. They are tokens of our profession of Christian faith and signs of God’s gracious ministry toward us. By them, He works within us to quicken, strengthen and confirm our faith.

    We believe that water baptism is a sacrament of the church, commanded by our Lord and administered to believers. It is a symbol of the new covenant of grace and signifies acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ. By means

    of this sacrament, believers declare their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

    Matt. 3:13-17; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 3:5, 22, 26; 4:1-2; Acts 2:38-39, 41; 8:12-17, 36-38; 9:18; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16;

    Rom 2:28-29; 4:11; 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-29; Col. 2:11-12; Titus 3:5.

    We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death and of our hope in His victorious return, as well as a sign of the love that Christians have for each other. To such as receive it humbly, with a proper spirit

and by faith, the Lord’s Supper is made a means through which God communicates grace to the heart.

    Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; John 6:48-58; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; 10:3-4, 16-17; 11:23-29.

    18. The Second Coming of Christ

    244. We believe that the certainty of the personal and imminent return of Christ inspires holy living and zeal for the evangelization of the world. At His return He will fulfill all prophecies made concerning His final and complete triumph over evil.

    Job 19:25-27; Isa. 11:1-12; Zech. 14:1-11; Matt. 24:1-51; 25; 26:64; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 17:22-37; 21:5-36; John 14:1-3; Acts

    1:6-11; 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11, 23; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; 2:1-12; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 9:2728; James

    5:7-8; 2 Peter 3:1-14; 1 John 3:2-3; Rev. 1:7; 19:1116; 22:6-7, 12, 20.

    19. The Resurrection of the Dead

    246. We believe in the bodily resurrection from the dead of all people of the just unto the resurrection of life, and of the

    unjust unto the resurrection of damnation. The resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of the resurrection which will occur at Christ’s Second Coming. The raised body will be a spiritual body, but the person will be whole and identifiable.

    Job 19:25-27; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 22:30-32; 28:1-20; Mark 16:18; Luke 14:14; 24:1-53; John 5:28-29; 11:21-27; 20:121:25; Acts

    1:3; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:1-58; 2 Cor. 4:14; 5:1-11; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 20:4-6, 11-13.

    20. The Judgment of All Persons

    248. We believe that the Scriptures reveal God as the Judge of all and the acts of His judgment are based on His

    omniscience and eternal justice. His administration of judgment will culminate in the final meeting of all persons before His throne of great majesty and power, where records will be examined and final rewards and punishments will be

    administered.

    Eccl. 12:14; Matt. 10:15; 25:31-46; Luke 11:31-32; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 9:27;

    2 Peter 3:7; Rev. 20:11-13.

    21. Destiny

    250. We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that there is a conscious personal existence after death. The final destiny of each person is determined by God’s grace and that person’s response, evidenced inevitably by a moral character which results from that individual’s personal and volitional choices and not from any arbitrary decree of God. Heaven with its eternal glory and the blessedness of Christ’s presence is the final abode of those who choose the salvation which God provides through Jesus Christ, but hell with its everlasting misery and separation from God is the final abode of those who neglect this great salvation.

    Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:34-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 13:3; John 8:21-23; 14:2-3; 2 Cor. 5:6, 8, 10; Heb. 2:1-3; 9:27-28; 10:2631; Rev.

    20:14-15; 21:122:5, 14-15.

    Article 3. Covenant Membership Commitments

    260. To be identified with an organized church is the blessed privilege and sacred duty of all who are saved from their sins and are seeking completeness in Christ Jesus. From the Church’s beginnings in the New Testament age, it has been

    understood that such identification involves putting off the old patterns of conduct and putting on the mind of Christ. In

maintaining this Christian concept of a transformed life, The Wesleyan Church intends to relate timeless biblical principles

    to the conditions of contemporary society in such a way as to respect the integrity of the individual believer, yet maintain the purity of the Church and the effectiveness of its witness. This is done in the conviction that there is validity in the

    concept of the collective Christian conscience as illuminated and guided by the Holy Spirit. The following items (265) represent historic, ethical and practical standards of The Wesleyan Church. While it is hoped that our people will earnestly

    seek the aid of the Spirit in cultivating a sensitivity to evil which transcends the mere letter of the law, it is expected that

    those entering into Covenant Membership shall follow carefully and conscientiously these guides and helps to holy living.

    Disregard of the principles embraced in these Covenant Membership Commitments subjects a member to Church discipline (268).

    265. Those admitted to Covenant Membership in our churches commit themselves to demonstrate their life in Christ in such ways as:

    265:1 BASIC PRINCIPLES

    Toward God

    (1) To reverence the name of God and to honor the Lord’s Day by divine worship and spiritual edification, participating in those activities which contribute to the moral and spiritual purposes of this day.

    Gen. 2:3; Ex. 20:3, 7-11; Deut. 5:11-15; Isa. 58:13-14; Mark 2:27; Acts 20:7; Heb. 4:9.

    (2) To seek only the leading of the Holy Spirit and to abstain from all forms of spiritism, such as the occult, witchcraft, astrology and other similar practices.

    Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Deut. 18:10-14; Acts 19:18-19; Gal. 5:19-20.

    Toward Self

    (3) To exercise faithful stewardship through the wise use of their time and material resources, practicing careful self-

    discipline in order to further the mission of Christ’s church (remembering the principle of tithing which is basic to the New

    Testament standard of stewardship) and to demonstrate compassion to those in need.

    Prov. 3:9; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 25:34-40; Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7; Eph. 5:16; Col. 3:17; James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17.

    (4) To demonstrate a positive social witness by abstaining from all forms of gambling and by abstaining from using or trafficking (production, sale or purchase)* in any substances destructive to their physical, mental and spiritual health, such

    as alcoholic beverages, tobacco and drugs (other than proper medical purposes of drugs); and by refraining from membership in secret societies and lodges which are oath bound, believing that the quasi-religious nature of such

    organizations divides the Christian’s loyalty, their secret nature contravenes the Christian’s open witness and the secret nature of their oaths is repugnant to the Christian conscience.

    Ex. 20:17; Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 6:12. Gambling violates the principle of Christian stewardship and the tenth

    commandment, is harmful to the individual in that it is emotionally addictive, is a

    *See 6805 in Appendix B.

    poor example to others, and pollutes the moral climate of society.

Prov. 20:1; Rom. 6:12; 14:21; 1 Cor. 6:12-20; 10:23; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:22. Christians are to regard

    their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. While no “thing” of itself is sinful, the Christian should avoid the use of anything which would not help build the fellowship of the church, would not help the believers to realize their full

    potential in Christ, or which would enslave them. In the light of the scientific knowledge of our day concerning the actual and potential harm of these substances, total abstinence is more in keeping with these biblical principles than is

    moderation.

    Ex. 20:3; Matt. 5:34-36; John 18:20; Acts 4:12; James 5:12.

    These prohibitions do not restrict membership in labor, civic or other organizations which do not contradict loyalty to Christ and the Church. When in these relationships Christian principles are violated, members shall be dealt with because

    of such violations and not because of the membership itself.

    Toward Family

    (5) To follow the teachings of the Scriptures regarding marriage and divorce. We affirm that sexual relationships outside

    of marriage and sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are immoral and sinful. We further affirm that heterosexual monogamy is God’s plan for marriage, and we regard sexual sin of the spouse, such as adultery, homosexual behavior, bestiality or incest, as the only biblical grounds for considering divorce, and then only when appropriate counseling has failed to restore the relationship.

    Ex. 20:14, 17; 22:19; Lev. 20:10-16; Matt. 5:32; 19:19; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18.

    (6) To preserve the sanctity of the home by honoring Christ in every phase of family life and by demonstrating Christlike love (always avoiding spousal or child abuse), and by living peacefully with one another, thereby encouraging the nurture and education of the children in the Christian faith so as to bring them early to the saving knowledge of Christ.

    Prov. 22:6; Mark 10:9; Eph. 5:28; 6:4.

    265:7 BASIC PRINCIPLES

    Toward The Church

    (7) To work together for the advancement of God’s kingdom and for the mutual edification of fellow believers in holiness,

    knowledge and love; to walk together in Christian fellowship by giving and receiving counsel with gentleness and affection; by praying for each other; by helping each other in sickness and distress; and by demonstrating love, purity and

    courtesy to all.

    Rom. 15:1-2; Eph. 4; 1 Thess. 5.

    (8) To grow in the knowledge, love and grace of God by participating in public worship, the ministry of the Word of God, the Lord’s Supper, family and personal devotions and fasting.

    Mark 2:18-20; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23; Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor. 11:2328; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 10:25; 1

    Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18.

    (9) To preserve the fellowship and witness of the Church with reference to the use of languages. The Wesleyan Church

    believes in the miraculous use of languages and the interpretation of languages in its biblical and historical setting. But it is

    contrary to the Word of God to teach that speaking in an unknown tongue or the gift of tongues is the evidence of the

    baptism of the Holy Spirit or of that entire sanctification which the baptism accomplishes; therefore, only a language

    readily understood by the congregation is to be used in public worship. The Wesleyan Church believes that the use of an ecstatic prayer language has no clear scriptural sanction, or any pattern of established historical usage in the Church; therefore, the use of such a prayer language shall not be promoted among us.

    Acts 8:14-17; 1 Cor. 12:114:40; Gal. 5:22-24.

    Toward Others

    (10) To do good as much as is possible to all people as God gives opportunity, especially to those in the body of Christ; by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the destitute, by visiting or helping those who are sick or in prison; by instructing,

    correcting or encouraging them in love.

    Matt. 25:31-46; Eph. 5:11; 1 Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:13; 10:23-25.

    (11) To respect the inherent individual rights of all persons, regardless of race, color or sex.

    1 Cor. 8:13; 12:13; Gal. 3:28; 1 Tim. 5:21.

    (12) To live honestly, be just in all dealings and faithful in all commitments.

    Eccl. 5:4-5; Rom. 12:17; Phil. 4:8-9; 1 Peter 2:12.

    268. These are the Covenant Membership Commitments of our Church. We believe all these to be consistent with the principles of Christ as taught in the Word of God, which is the only and sufficient rule both of our faith and practice. If any among us do not observe them, and/or habitually break any of them, we will admonish such persons in love with the hope of restoring them to lives of harmony with the above Covenant Membership Commitments. If such efforts of restoration continue to prove fruitless, official action should be taken toward termination of said persons’ church membership. However, the church members are encouraged to continue efforts toward the spiritual restoration of these persons.

    Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:6-7, 9-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-7; 5:18-20; 6:1418; Gal. 6:1-10; Eph. 4:25-32; Titus 3:10-11.

    Article 4. Elementary Principles

    270. Christ is the only Head of the Church, and the Word of God the only rule of faith and conduct.

    272. No person who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and obeys the gospel of God our Savior, ought to be deprived of church membership.

    274. Every person has an inalienable right to private judgment in matters of religion, and an equal right to express personal

    opinions in any way which will not violate the laws of God or the rights of others.

    276. All church trials should be conducted on gospel principles only; and no minister or member should be excommunicated except for immorality, the propagation of unchristian doctrines, or for neglect of duties enjoined by the Word of God.

    278. The pastoral or ministerial office and duties are of divine appointment, and all ordained ministers in the church of God are equal; but ministers are forbidden to be lords over God’s heritage, or to have dominion over the faith of the saints.

    280. The Church has a right to form and enforce such rules and regulations only as are in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, and may be necessary or have a tendency to carry into effect the great system of practical Christianity.

    282. Whatever power may be necessary to the formation of rules and regulations is inherent in the ministers and members of the Church; but so much of that power may be delegated from time to time, upon a plan of representation, as they may judge necessary and proper.

    284. It is the duty of all ministers and members of the Church to maintain godliness and oppose all moral evil.

    286. It is obligatory upon ministers of the gospel to be faithful in the discharge of their pastoral and ministerial duties, and it is also obligatory upon the members to esteem ministers highly for their works’ sake, and to render them a righteous compensation for their labors.

    Article 5. Observance of Sacraments

    290. All persons to be baptized shall have the choice of baptism by immersion, pouring or sprinkling. Since children are born into this world with natures inclined to sin, and yet the prevenient grace of God provides for their redemption during

    the period before reaching the age of accountability, those parents who so choose may testify to their faith in God’s provision by presenting their small children for baptism, while those who prefer to emphasize baptism as a testimony by individual believers to their own act of faith may present their children for dedication.

    Mark 10:13-16; Acts 2:38-39; 16:15; 18:8.

    293. The Lord’s Supper shall be observed in each local Wesleyan church at least once each three months.

    Article 6. Membership

    295. The privileges and conditions of covenant membership in the Church are constitutional, and changes therein may be made only by constitutional enactment. The General Conference may at its own discretion establish categories of membership other than covenant membership. Nothing shall be included in the membership ritual

    that is contrary to the following definitions, conditions and privileges of membership.

    297. The conditions of covenant membership are:

    (1) Confession of a personal experience in regeneration, and a pledge to seek diligently until sanctified wholly if that grace has not been obtained. (2) Christian baptism.

    (3) Acceptance of the Articles of Religion which are summarized in 299, the Covenant Membership Commitments, the Elementary Principles, and the authority of The Discipline in matters of church government.

    (4) A covenant to support the Church, to live in fellowship with the members thereof, and to seek God’s glory in all things.

    (5) The approving vote of the members of the receiving church who are present and voting, unless the church by vote shall

    delegate this right to the church board. In both cases, it shall be by majority vote, provided that when objections are urged

    against the reception of a member, it shall require a vote of two-thirds of those present and voting to receive.

    299. Candidates for covenant membership shall declare their agreement with the following summary of the Articles of Religion:

    We believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    We believe that Jesus Christ the Son suffered in our place on the cross, that He died but rose again, that He now sits at the

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