ASSIMILATION AND CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
We believe in the importance of serving the body of Christ by offering clear paths for people to develop healthy, growing relationships with others in the church body. We value an intentional plan to help every interested person enjoy godly relationships in the church. Church membership is a by-product of people who are growing in Christ and who grasp the importance of serving the Lord by using their gifts to serve others in the local church.
The New Testament indicates that the earliest followers of the Lord Jesus Christ identified with, and committed themselves to a particular local body. In light of this understanding, Harvest Oakville recognizes the need for formal membership. Membership at Harvest Oakville is for all who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and have visibly demonstrated that commitment through believer’s baptism.
The effectiveness of our joining together will be determined by the level of the commitment we make. In a society where so few make commitments and fewer still keep them, Harvest Oakville is seeking a group of people who are determined to know the joy Christ intended for His body, the church. To this end members of Harvest Oakville must be willing to live in submission to our doctrinal statement. Further they must be willing to abide by the entire membership commitment:
- I have, by faith, become a follower of Jesus Christ and I have been baptized as a visible way of demonstrating that commitment.
- I am committed to worship Christ. As part of my worship lifestyle, attending either the Saturday or Sunday services at Harvest Oakville is a high priority for me. Further, I am financially supporting the ministry of our church by giving back to the Lord a biblical portion of my increase
- I am continuing to walk with Christ and in fellowship with other Christ-followers through regular and personal study of the Bible, prayer, personal witness, involvement in a small group, avoiding criticism of others, and always seeking to biblically resolve any conflict in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17.
- I am at work for Christ and have found my place of service at Harvest. I am committed to fruitful ministry by using my spiritual gifts for God’s glory.
PROCEDURE FOR MEMBERSHIP
- Your first step would be to attend Party with the Pastors and we encourage you to connect within one of our Group ministries.
- After a period of time in a Group, any person professing personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour who has expressed their commitment visibly by being baptized, is welcome to complete a Membership Application and return it to the office for further review and follow-up.
- Once the application for membership is received the next step is an interview, during which time you will share your testimony of conversion to Christ, your baptism, and ask any remaining questions about the church.
- Your name will be posted at the church for a period of two weeks. During this period, members are encouraged to clear up any relational or other difficulties which could hinder your ministry among us. This is to be done in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17.
- At the end of the two-week period approved candidates will be welcomed into membership.
BAPTISM AND COMMUNION
Baptism and communion are the two ordinances required in the church. We believe Christian baptism by immersion in water is a public identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is commanded of all believers and is for believers only (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 18:8). Scripture shows a person was baptized after personally receiving forgiveness of sin by accepting Jesus Christ. The waters of baptism are a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life that happens when a person becomes a new creation in Christ (Colossians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4).
Communion is the commemoration by believers of Christ’s death and a reminder—through the bread and the juice—of the Saviour’s broken body and shed blood. Communion is to be a time of confession of sin and should be preceded by careful self-examination (Acts 4:13; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29).
SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, and that they contain all the words of God that we need in order to completely trust and obey Him. The Scriptures are inerrant in their original writings (Psalm 119:97-104; Psalm 119:160; Matthew 5:18; John 5:46-47; John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-16), and are infallible in their instruction (2 Peter 1:19), eternal in duration (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25), the final authority and the standard for faith and practice (Matthew 4:4; Psalm 119), and sufficient for counsel in every issue of life (Psalm 19:14-17; 2 Timothy 3:16).
We believe the words of Scripture in the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic are inspired by God. Therefore we believe the Bible versions which translate God’s Word most literally into modern English should be preferred.
CREATION, EVOLUTION AND GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
We believe God created the universe in six 24-hour days and before He created the universe, nothing except God existed (Genesis 1; Exodus 31:17; Psalm 33:6-9; Acts 17:24; Hebrews 11:3; Colossians 1:16).
God chose to create the universe and all in it to reveal His glory, divine nature, eternal power, infinite wisdom, and supreme authority (Isaiah 43:7; Psalm 19:1-2; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 1:20; Revelation 4:11). We deny the theory of evolution, which states that nonliving substances gave rise to the first living material, which then reproduced and diversified to produce all living creatures.
We believe all people are descendants of Adam and Eve, whom God created personally and individually and as complete human beings (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). The fall of Adam and Eve infected all people with sin and death, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives the opportunity to receive God’s gift of eternal life (Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
God rules over His creation and cares about and is involved in the lives of individual people (Job 12:10; Acts 17:25; Acts 25:28; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:13; Ephesians 4:6).
SALVATION AND SECURITY
It is God’s divine decision to save a person (John 6:37; John 6:44; John 6:65; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 9:11-18; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:4-6; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:3) and it is God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience that lead that person to repentance (Romans 2:4). The Bible also teaches each person is responsible to embrace or reject Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and God welcomes all who come to Him by faith apart from works (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 15:7; Luke 20:9-18; John 6:37; John 7:37; Romans 10:9-13; Acts 16:30-34; Acts 17:30.) Both of these truths—God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s decision to embrace Christ—are taught in Scripture. Their co-existence is a mystery and is completely understood only in the mind of our omniscient God.
All glory for the salvation of every believer belongs to God alone (Romans 3:21-31; Ephesians 1:7-9; Ephesians 2:8-9, Jude 1:24-25).
Those who are born of God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ persevere in the faith (Matthew 13:13; John 15:4-8; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:10-13; 1 John 4:13; 2 John 9). God is faithful to His people, and empowers them to persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19-20).
We believe everyone who is born of God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ is assured of salvation from the moment of conversion (Ephesians 1:13-14). This assurance relies on God’s decisive and faithful grace rather than on the works of the Christian. Obedience, good works, and fruit-bearing do not earn or retain the believer’s salvation, but indicate the reality of the person’s love of Christ and profession of faith (Luke 6:46; John 14:21; James 2:17-18).
Eternal security in salvation relies on the Lord’s guarantee of each believer’s adoption as His son or daughter (Galatians 4:4-7), His seal of the believer by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14), and the conviction God gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a down payment toward future bliss in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
A person who professes genuine faith in Christ immediately becomes His possession (Luke 23:42-43; Acts 2:40-41; Acts 16:30-34) and nothing can snatch that person out of His hands (John 10:27-29). Having been bought with the price of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion as complete payment for sin, Christians are not their own, they are Christ’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This assurance is absolutely certain, reserved in heaven, protected by God’s unlimited power (1 Peter 1:4-5).
PROCESS OF SANCTIFICATION AND MATURITY
Mature disciples walk with Christ, worship Christ, and work for Christ. That person will experience significant growth in personal sanctification and, therefore, will experience a closer personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and will become complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
We are committed to multiplying the godly characteristics of leaders’ lives into others (2 Timothy 2:2). This multiplication of ministry is key to the healthy growth of the church.
We believe the disciples of Jesus Christ should minister to one another in the local church, rather than one or a small number of professional pastors bearing total responsibility to care for the entire congregation. God has given spiritual gifts to all of His people to provide mutual ministry in the context of the healthy and strong local church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
The chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God by loving Him with the entire heart, soul, mind and might (Deuteronomy 6:5; Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 22:37). All believing men, women, and children are to glorify God and thus fulfill the purpose of their existence.
Worship glorifies God through adoration (Psalm 95:6), praise (Psalm 99:5), prayer (Daniel 6:10-11), thanksgiving (Nehemiah 12:46), and a complete yielding to Him (Romans 12:1). Worship declares His worth, pays Him homage and celebrates Him in a life of devotion.
We seek to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (Exodus 15:1-21; 2 Samuel 6:14-16; Psalm 5:7; John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; 5:12).
Several tenets guide our worship. We seek to:
- Lift high the name of Jesus Christ (John 4:22-26; John 12:32; John 14:6)
- Lead God’s people to lift their hearts and voices to Him, giving Him praise and thanks in music and lyric (Nehemiah 12:45-46; Psalm 66:1-4; Psalm 95:1-2)
- Prepare hearts to hear the Lord speak through the proclamation of Scripture (Psalm 95:6-9; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42)
- Emphasize fresh and contemporary expressions while retaining traditional elements that recognize the richness of our heritage in the faith (Deuteronomy 32:7; Psalm 33:3; Isaiah 46:8-9; Matthew 13:32, Ephesians 5:19; Revelation 5:9)
- Pursue excellence in worship, knowing that God is worthy of our best (Exodus 12; Deuteronomy 17:1; Psalm 33:3, 1 Timothy 4:14-15; Hebrews 11:4)
WOMEN IN MINISTRY
Harvest Oakville affirms the God-ordained and significant role women should play in establishing and leading the local church. Every leadership opportunity is open to women except those that are excluded by Scripture. Scripture clearly states men are to serve in the office of Elder and women are not to serve in church positions in which they exercise authority over men or in which they teach doctrine to men (1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:6-9). We do not see this as an issue of equality—for men and women are equal under God. The Bible is clear that men and women do not have the same roles. Qualified women should serve in any leadership position that is not forbidden in Scripture.
Satan and his demonic servants viciously oppose the work God performs in and through His people (1 Peter 5:8; Genesis 3:1-7; Ephesians 6:12). God, who by His nature is infinitely more powerful than Satan, in due time will have complete and total victory over Satan (1 John 4:4; Revelation 20:1-10).
Although it is appropriate to pray in Jesus’ name for protection against demonic activity, Scripture does not instruct the Christian to “bind Satan in Jesus’ name.” Rather, Scripture instructs the Christian to combat Satan by:
- Humbly drawing near to God, knowing He will give grace, mercy, and strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 4:8; 1 Peter 5:6-10);
- Resisting his temptations (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9);
- Rightly applying the truth of Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; John 8:44; Ephesians 4:24-27);
- Forgiving offenses (2 Corinthians 2:10-11);
- Putting on the armour of God’s truth, righteousness, readiness to share the gospel, faith, salvation, and prayer (Ephesians 6:11-20);
- Demonstrating faithfulness to the Lord by enduring trials (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:9-10)
The Lord changes lives and accomplishes His purposes directly through reading and applying Scripture, meditating on the truths of the Bible, and prayer. The Lord also uses those who minister His Word as they encourage, exhort, admonish, edify, implore, reprove, rebuke, console and support others toward godliness.
God needs no new or unique insight into the human condition in order to change lives, regardless of whether that insight is gained through psychology or some other tool of human origin. Psychological theories that may help people live healthier and more effectively are embellishments of principles already revealed in Scripture. Although some forms of human wisdom are true, they are not the Word of God. They are infinitely subordinate to, and not to be compared with, the matchless value of God’s Word (Psalm 119:160; Isaiah 40:8; John 17:17).
Problems approached by integrating Scripture with psychological theories tend to deceive individuals into diminishing the God of the Bible, and into believing He has not provided and cannot provide sufficient truth, insight, and wisdom to change their lives (Colossians 2:8-10).
There are occasions when a medical doctor may diagnose a physical problem that manifests itself in attitudinal, behavioural, or emotional struggles. In those occasions, the use of medications may be appropriate. However, when psychology and other social sciences step beyond observing human behaviour and seek to explain the causes of that behaviour, they enter spiritual territory. Only the omniscient God can explain such causes and offer solutions that lead to godliness and a fruitful, joyful life.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He changes us as we discipline ourselves through obedience to the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-11). Each Christian’s passion should be to become more like Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2) and fulfill the Great Commandment to love the Lord will the entire heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37-38). The Christian who learns and applies the Word becomes mature and, in turn, can help others mature (2 Timothy 2:2).
The Lord’s church is a community of faith—a living body with Jesus Christ at the head (Colossians 1:17-18)—that influences, supports and helps bring men, women, and children into healthy relationships with the Lord and with others of the church. A healthy church body applies biblical principles to relationships at all levels, i.e. the overall church context, ministries within the church, families within the church and individuals within the church. God-honouring application of biblical principles throughout the church leads to healthier relationships at all levels (Ephesians 4:14-16; Hebrews 12:12-13). This application also helps ensure the integrity of the church’s corporate and individual witness to a watching world (1 Peter 2:12).
Harvest Bible Chapel is a non-charismatic, conservative, evangelical body that welcomes all who know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and all who are seeking Him. Those who claim to possess the gift of tongues and other sign gifts are welcome to worship and fellowship with us if they are willing to be a source of unity rather than division within our church body.
We believe the Christian life is supernatural and the Lord continues to perform miracles. We also believe current displays of the gift of tongues distract from the main task of the local church, which is to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Current displays of the gift of tongues:
- Give unwarranted prominence to the gift, which is described in the New Testament as being only one of many spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12)
- Emphasize speaking in tongues as the primary manifestation of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life, while minimizing the Spirit’s work in producing a holy life (2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 2 Timothy 1:9) and a life that displays the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
- Often suggest speaking in tongues is a required proof of being Spirit-filled or of possessing salvation in Christ, even though Scripture does not teach this
Harvest Oakville seeks to prevent the propagation of doctrines that would cause divisions within an individual church. Therefore, members to and adherents of Harvest Oakville are not to propagate the teachings and emphases of the current charismatic movement. Although we do not control personal, individual interactions with the Lord, the expression of tongues and other sign gifts are not to be overtly expressed at meetings that are under the organization and authority of Harvest Oakville.