Calvary Chapel Distinctives
Calvary Chapel is not a denomination. Rather, it is an association of independent churches unified on what we consider to be essential Christian doctrine and God's blueprint for the activities of His church. This is a list of the basic concepts that distinguish this movement.
|The call to the ministry -||
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11, 12)
It is our belief that serving God's people as a pastor is something that we must be called to do by Jesus Himself, not a profession we have the right to choose. Also, we consider this to be a sacrificial calling, whereby the pastor exists to care for the spiritual needs of the congregation.
|God's model for the church -||
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
We see the second chapter of Acts as a blueprint for how God intends His church to operate, and we try very hard to remain as close to this model as possible. That early church was a Spirit filled group of believers who strongly proclaimed the Gospel, met together to study the Scriptures, prayed about everything all the time, worshiped together, and became involved in each other's lives. Every action was led by and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
|Church Government -||
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:22, 23)
While different forms of church government show up in Scripture, we feel that the safest ground is to stay as close to God's original setup as we can. Early on, He always led His people through men specifically called for this purpose. From the prophets to men like Moses, God would speak and lead through them. While every pastor needs help and should consider the wise counsel of other godly believers, the final decision on all matters falls to him. His responsibility is to be led by the Spirit in communicating God's will for the body, and to be a willing bond servant of Jesus Christ - the head over all things regarding the church.
|Empowered by the Spirit -||
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Since Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be sent as a helper for the duration of our time in this world, we seek to gain every bit of help He has to offer and think that all honest spiritual gifts should be accepted and desired. We believe that the baptism of the Spirit seen on the day of Pentacost is still available for believers today, and that it is a distinct experience that exists in addition to His convicting work in the life of the non-believer and the teaching and leadership of His indwelling that comes at conversion.
|Building the church God's way -||
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts."
We believe that the church is the body of Christ, and that it is created by, put to work by, and sustained by Jesus. We don't concern ourselves with goals involving number of attendees, but rather focus all our attention on allowing God to change us through the teaching of His Word in the hope that as we become more like Christ, He will find us trustworthy to minister to the hurting and the lost in our community. When this happens, He will bring them to us as He sees fit, and so we rely on this process as opposed to creating clever marketing schemes or using worldly "lures".
|Grace upon grace -||
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
As we have received the ultimate grace of salvation given freely by Christ, it is our desire to extend grace and not judgment to everyone. It is the grace of God that allows us to be saved, to have peace, to feel loved, and to be able to rise above the circumstances of this world and stay focused on the glorious eternity to come. We hold firm to the teaching of Scripture found in Mathew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." It is our desire to follow the instructions of Jesus and simply concern ourselves with loving God and loving everybody else.
|The priority of the Word -||
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
(1 Timothy 4:13)
We believe the key to growing and maturing as believers is Scripture. There are 66 books in the Bible, and our goal is to simply teach chapter by chapter and verse by verse until we can make the same claim Paul makes in Acts - "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God."
|The centrality of Jesus Christ -||
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
(2 Corinthians 4:5)
We believe that every activity of the church should be centered on Jesus somehow. In corporate worship, many are overcome with emotion and feel the need to stand or raise their hands toward heaven. This can be a beautiful outpouring of love for our Savior, especially when the whole group is moved to do likewise. However, if no one else is doing these things, the one who IS can distract others from being able to give Jesus their full attention. This is not allowed, and anyone needing to do so should move to the back of the room so as not to hinder the worship experience of others.
|The rapture of the Church -||
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
We believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. In previous examples of God's wrath being poured out on mankind - the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc - the faithful were always removed before disaster struck, and we expect the same to take place before the 7 year great tribulation to come. This gives us a sense of urgency to share the Gospel and live sold-out lives of discipleship before Him while we still have the opportunity.
|Having begun in the Spirit -||
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
We believe that Scripture is correct when it states that our goodness is as filthy rags to God. We renounce any thought that it is possible to earn God's love, accomplish anything for Him by our own means, or do anything to make ourselves worthy to be called one of His. It is the exclusive, supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer that produces holiness and spiritual maturity.
|The supremacy of love -||
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Paul stated that even the gifts of the Spirit are meaningless if exercised without love. Everything God does is a manifestation of His love for us, and it is our responsibility to make this our driving force as well. Jesus made this point very clear when He said that it only takes two commandments to cover all the teaching of the law and the prophets - 1.Love God. 2.Love everybody else.
|Striking The Balance -||
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15)
There are several doctrinal beliefs essential to The Christian faith for which there can be no deviation or opposing viewpoint. However, there are many other issues that are hotly debated by different groups within Christianity. For example, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, free will versus predestination, and the prohibition of alcohol are subjects that have historically caused great divisions among believers with differing viewpoints. It is our policy to avoid confrontation and extend grace whenever possible when dealing with these non-essential doctrines so as not to alienate true brothers and sisters of the faith.
|Ventures of Faith -||
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Sometimes, God speaks. He may do so through a vision, a dream, a prophetic word, or even by placing an overwhelming burden in your heart for a particular group or area where He wishes you to minister. The absence of a clear calling to a specific action, however, is not usually a command to stand still. There's always the over-arching call of the Great Commission and the command to show His love to everyone around us as well. We believe in stepping out in faith and trying new ministries that we hope God will bless by using them to lead people to salvation and bring glory to His name. If they don't produce the desired result, we simply shut them down and try something else. Some things are good ideas, and some things are God ideas. We try to stay busy, believing that He will reward the effort and the motive, if not the specific ministry idea.