First Friends Church comes under the governing body of the Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region. Below, you can read through overviews of some of our basic doctrines by selecting each section. For a comprehensive look at Evangelical Friends doctrine, you can view and/or download the PDF version of our Faith & Practice.
We believe in one God, Who is eternal. There was never a time when He wasn’t and His existence was not caused by anything. He is Creator and Sustainer of all things – visible and invisible, known and unknown. He is everywhere – in all places at all times. He is unchanging in His character. He is perfect in holiness, wisdom, love, power, and justice. He has a desire to know and be known by every person. For these reasons, and many more, God alone is worthy of our worship, honor, praise and gratitude – today and every day.
We affirm the ancient Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This one God we worship exists as one divine being and yet as a trinity of three distinct persons – inseparable, equal in all ways, and eternally existing in unbroken relationship with one another: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We believe that the most powerful and concentrated revelation of God to humanity is in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus has eternally existed within the Trinity and is the only beloved Son of God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He combines within Himself both the divine nature of God and human nature in one perfect indivisible personality – the God-man. He lived, taught and suffered in the world to show the Way of Life. He was crucified and died as the atonement for the sins of the whole world, fully reconciling all things to God. But, death did not end His story. Three days later, He was raised to life again as the culminating act of freedom from sin and death, and as a promise of the future resurrection of all those who trust in Him. He was seen in His resurrected form by over 500 witnesses. He ascended into heaven and rules with God in power and glory. He continues to act on our behalf, as our Mediator and High Priest, making intercession for us within the Trinity. At some time in the future, He will return again to earth and exercise His perfect justice to make all things new again.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, not as an impersonal principle or influence, but as a divine Person. The Spirit is always at work, within the Church and the world, convicting us of our sin, drawing us toward repentance, bringing newness of life, and producing in us the “fruits” of a Spirit-led life. He is given as an indwelling Presence to every disciple to be a teacher, guide, and source of comfort. He imparts to all disciples, with perfect wisdom, spiritual gifts for service and the building up of the body of Christ. We constantly rely on the Spirit to continually conform us to the image of Christ.
God continues to reveal Himself today through His creation, the Holy Scriptures, and the workings of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people.
All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God. It is without error in all that it affirms, and is the foundational source of wisdom for a vibrant life of Christian faith and practice. It is fully authoritative and trustworthy. It has guided God’s people for thousands of years and will continue to do so with the help of the Spirit. It is valuable for teaching, correction, encouragement, and the pursuit of a righteousness life of joyful obedience.
As we seek to best interpret and embody the truths of Scripture, we fully rely on the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scripture, and is always its true interpreter.
God has created man and woman in His own image in order to enjoy a relationship with them. God did not create mankind because He was lonely or needy, but as a way to extend the beautiful relationship within the Trinity to other creatures. Therefore, the chief aim of human life is to glorify God and enjoy His fellowship forever. However, we believe that Scripture teaches us about the brokenness of humanity through the story of Adam and Eve, who fell from this perfect state of unbroken communion with God by a voluntary act of disobedience. Because they made Self the center of their lives, their perfect relationship with God was broken. By this act, sin and death entered the world. Because of the brokenness and self-centered nature of humanity, sin is perpetuated in each successive generation. It is only through human surrender to grace of God that this brokenness is overcome.
The broken relationship between God and mankind has been restored by the person and work of Jesus. It is through Jesus that God has reconciled all things to Himself. Every human being is invited to be reconciled to God. Salvation is characterized by surrender, repentance and faith. Those seeking to be reconciled to God must surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord, giving up all self-claims to their own lives. Repentance is the decision to “turn around” or reorient one’s life around the Truth found in the person of Jesus and the teachings of Scripture as interpreted within the community of believers. Exercising faith means that Christians are confident in the things we hope for in Christ, even things unseen, based on His faithful promises to us. After a person surrenders repentantly to Christ by exercising faith in His death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit then continually works in the life of that person in order to conform him/her to the image of Christ. This work is evidenced in the development of the “fruits” of the Spirit in a believer’s life. The process of sanctification in a believer is life-long and is most effective when done within a supportive community of faith.
The church is spiritual in nature, universal in scope, holy in character, and redemptive in its life and purpose. A “church” is not a building, but rather a collection of people who have been reconciled to God. The Church reaches both “deep and wide” in that it includes all of the people of God from all times and in all places. The global Church is made up of countless smaller groups of people who meet regularly for worship, prayer, study of Scripture and mutual encouragement. The primary purpose of the church, based on the command of Jesus, is simply to replicate the process He started with twelve men: to make disciples. Each local congregation will address this command in different ways, but the call to discipleship must never get lost within the ministries of the church.
For each person, the end of physical life on earth is a transition into eternity. Those who persevere in their faith in Jesus will enter into a reality where a perfect, unbroken relationship with God is fully restored. Those who persevere in their self-centered rebellion against the love of God will enter into a reality where they will be separated from the Giver and Sustainer of life. Ultimately, and at a time that we cannot know with precision, we believe that the Kingdom of God will be fully consummated when Jesus returns to earth and triumphs over evil with fullness and finality. At that time, there will be a final judgment where Jesus will act as the righteous Judge and remove from His fully consummated Kingdom any person who has refused to surrender to His authority as King.