The story of us all

Jesus told the story of a man who had two sons. The younger wished his father was dead and asked for his inheritance in advance. Dad gave it to him and he wasted every dime. Penniless, he decided to go home. When his dad saw him, he ran to meet him. The older brother, believing he had earned his dad's love by never making mistakes, was jealous. He couldn't believe his dad could act so recklessly.

Both of these sons were lost; only one was found.

People at Encounter come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but our common thread is that we know that at times in our lives we've all messed up. We've been the younger son who needed to swallow his pride and ask for forgiveness. We've been the older son who wrongly believed he had the answers and everything would be better if only everyone was like him. We've been the father, who was charged with running after those who've hurt us and embracing them even before they admitted any wrongdoing.

For a few more particulars on what we believe, see below

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The Bible

The Bible is the written Word of God that tells the story of who God is, who we are , and the relationship he has with us. The Bible is one story comprised of 66 books, written by dozens of people over thousands of years, inspired by one author. It is completely reliable and will not fail us. Because of this, we believe it has eternal significance and teaches us everything we need to know about how to be right with God and how to best love our neighbors.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Psalm 19:7-12, 119, Isaiah 40:8, 55:10-11; John 5:39, 17:17; Romans 7:12, 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16, 4:1-2; Hebrews 1:1-2, 4:12; 1 Peter 1:21-25; 2 Peter 3:15-16

The Trinity

At the heart of our story is a God who is love–the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father. We believe this makes Christianity uniquely beautiful because not only is God in community with us, but also with himself. God reveals himself to be one being yet three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person is fully God, yet distinct.

Genesis 1:26; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 1:35; John 5:20-23, 10:30, 14:10-13; 2 Corinthians 13:14; James 2:19

The Father

God the Father is all powerful. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. He is in control of all things. He is all knowing and always present. He is holy, meaning he is set apart from sin. As any father should be, he is perfectly good, loving, and faithful to his people.

Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14-15; Leviticus 11:44-45; Psalm 11:4-7, 103:13; Isaiah 63:16, 64:8; Malachi 2:10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Ephesians 1:3,4:6, 1 Peter 1:3, James 1:17; Revelation 1:8

The Son

God the Son, Jesus Christ, became human to live a perfect life and died on the cross to bring people far from God to right relationship with him. He is fully human, so that his sacrifice can serve as a substitute for our own. He is fully God, so that his sacrifice is infinite enough to cover all those who put their hope in him. His resurrection defeated death so that those who trust in him would have new life.

Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:22-23; John 1, John 3:16, 11:25, 14:6; Acts 2:22-24,22:38;, Romans 1:3-4, 3:23-26; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15,2:9; Hebrews 1:2-3; 1 John 5:20

The Spirit

God the Spirit guides, comforts, and sustains believers. He assures believers of their belief in Christ. He convicts us of our sin while teaching and guiding us in the knowledge of the truth through the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is continually remaking us in the likeness of Jesus every day.

Genesis 1:2; Psalm 51:11, 139:7; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Mark 1:9-12; Luke 1:35; 11:13; John 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 2:1-4, 13:2; Romans 8:9-11, 8:13-17, 8:26-27; Ephesians 1:13-14

Humanity

Humanity was created by God in the image of God, which means that not only do we share common traits with God but that each person has intrinsic value and worth–so much so that God gave his Son as a sacrifice to save us.

Genesis 1:26-30, 2:7, 2:18-24; Psalm 8:3-6, 139:14; Matthew 6:26

Sin

Humanity was created in right relationship with God but, because of sinful disobedience, is now separated from God. From birth, humanity is directly opposed to God. Because of our sinfulness, no one can do enough morally good things to have good standing with God. Any amount of sin places someone underneath God’s judgement, as he is perfect.

Jeremiah 17:5-6; Romans 3:10-18, 3:20, 3:23, 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3

Salvation

The death of God the Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross made a way for people to be right with God again. His blood, shed for undeserved humanity, was the sacrifice that satisfied God’s demand for perfection. The only thing that places someone in right relationship with God is by putting faith in Jesus Christ that his death and resurrection was sufficient to pay for all their sins. Salvation is a free gift from God, not the goodness of any person or religious ceremony.

Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:68-69; John 3:16, 3:36; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 John 2:24-25, 5:11-12; Revelation 20:15

Eternity

We believe that this life is not the end, but that all of humanity will exist eternally. Heaven is the full presence and weight of the glory of God. Some day, those who have put their faith and trust in Christ Jesus will experience this totally and fully. Until then, we can experience glimpses of this kingdom anywhere Christ is fully reigning. Those who live their lives in opposition to God will not experience the presence of God in eternity. This is called Hell. It is the complete manifestation of the evil that exists in all our hearts untempered and unchecked by God’s grace.

Matthew 25:46; John 3:16, 5:24, 17:3; Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:7-8; 1 John 2:25; 5:11-13; Revelation 21:1-8

The Church

God saw it fit to gather a broken, guilty, hypocritical, fearful, sinful people and equip them them to carry the hope of Jesus to the world. We know it today as the church. These people commit to the teachings of the Bible, to sharing their lives together, and praying earnestly for one another. The church is the representation of Christ to the world and have unity through the Spirit. They ought to seek justice, live humbly, and radiate the love of God to all people.

Matthew 16:18-19, 18:15-20, 18:21-22; Acts 2:42-47, 14:23, 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 9:11-14; Ephesians 2:20-22, 5:22-32; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 21:1-4

Baptism

Baptism is a tangible representation of the forgiveness and new life we have in Christ. There is nothing magical about the water of baptism but it’s to what, or who, that water points: Jesus. Just as water washes away dirt from the body, so too does the blood of Jesus wash away all my sins.

Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21

Communion

On the night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested, he gathered with his followers and shared a meal of bread and wine that symbolized his body and blood. He instructed them to continue this practice until he comes again. We regularly celebrate communion as a way to remember the sacrifice and experience his presence through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:25, 11:36