We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, each word having been God-breathed. God gave the Bible to the church, and the church is to serve God in obedience to the Bible. We hold the Bible as the final and supreme authority for our doctrine and lives, and that it is without error in its original writings (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
We believe in one God who eternally exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is equal in attributes, power, and glory (Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
We believe that Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit was born of a virgin, whose name was Mary. He is the unique Son of God, true God and true man (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-14; 5:22-23).
We believe that God created man in His own image, but through man’s willful choice to disobey God, sin came into the world and death through sin. All now are born in sin, spiritually dead, separated from God, corrupt in nature, and guilty before God (Genesis 1:26; 3:1-7; Romans 3:12; 5:12; 6:23).
We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins in our place. He is our substitutionary and representative sacrifice. We believe that He rose again from the dead on the third day never to die again. We believe His work of salvation is finished, that the righteous demands of God are fully satisfied in the work of Christ on the cross, and that there is salvation in no other (Mark 10:45; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 3:24-25; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; John 19:30; Hebrews 10:18; John 14:6).
We believe that all who repent and believe the gospel are eternally saved. Salvation is a free gift of God apart from any human merit. We believe that God’s gracious offer of salvation can only be received freely, and that those who would add human merit to the gospel preach a false gospel (Mark 1:15; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:21; 3:10).
We believe that every genuine believer is born again, sealed with the Spirit of God, and eternally secure in Christ. We believe that the evidence of new birth is the fruit of the Spirit and obedience to Christ. Every believer is a member of the body of Christ, the church, and gifted by the Holy Spirit for spiritual service. We believe that the goal of the Holy Spirit in this age is to glorify Christ. We believe that Christ alone is the head of the church and that we are called to serve Him. We believe that the local church is God’s primary means for reaching the lost and nurturing the saved (John 5:7; 1 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:11; John 16:14; Colossians 1:18; Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:18).
We believe in the personal and imminent return of Jesus Christ for His church, the establishment of His millennial kingdom upon the earth, and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost. (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:4-15).
Elders Mission Statement
As elders we shall glorify God and show our love for Him by shepherding the flock of God among us, exercising oversight (John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-5). We shall proclaim the gospel and defend the truth (Matthew 28:19-20; Titus 1:9-11). We shall provide for “the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). We shall be on guard for ourselves and for all the flock for which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers, knowing that one day we shall give an account to the Chief Shepherd (Acts 20:17-35; Hebrews 13:17). We recognize this is a high calling, requiring men full of the Spirit and wisdom, possessing godly character (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). By God’s grace we shall be those men.
To take a spiritual approach to ministry, serving in reliance upon God. In all that I do, I shall seek His wisdom and His ways both in my conduct and ministry.
To never bring discredit to my office. Should I fail in this commitment, I shall bring the matter to the attention of my fellow elders, not waiting until my failure has been discovered by others.
To personally care for the saints, knowing that my calling as an elder is not that of one who simply sits on a board of directors and makes decisions.
To be a servant-leader, never lording my position over the flock, but being an example to them.
To not allow my secular employment or ministry outside the local church to keep me from my responsibilities as an elder.
To take the time to minister to those that I have asked to serve with me in ministry, keeping the needs of my team as a higher priority than the needs of the task before us.
To be accountable to my fellow elders in my service, accepting their counsel and criticism.
To seek to form a consensus with my fellow elders on matters under discussion that we might serve in unity. I will yield to those who have a greater knowledge of a matter or who will be more closely involved in its execution. I will not take offense when things are not done my way. Neither will I work in opposition to a decision once it has been made.
To support the doctrinal position of the elders as a whole, never promoting a contrary teaching in the assembly. If in the course of time I am no longer be able to do this , I will step down from the eldership rather than cause division in the assembly.
To respect my fellow elders by not wasting their time. I will consistently attend the meetings of the elders, informing them in advance of known absences. I will arrive on time and fully prepared. I will not engage in endless discussion, nitpicking, or theological wrangling. If asked to serve as the chairman of the elders’ meetings, I will faithfully fulfill the agreed upon requirements of that position.
To take full responsibility to accomplish that which I commit myself to do. I will adhere to a “no excuse policy.” When matters outside my control prevent me from fulfilling my responsibilities, I will promptly take steps to see that my responsibilities are covered by others and that my fellow elders are informed. I will execute my responsibilities in a timely manner, including responding to phone messages and email letters.
To guard the confidentiality of the work of the elders, not discussing with others any matter of a sensitive nature or that is scheduled to be made public at a later date.
To step down from the eldership in the Lord’s timing. I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and the consensus of my fellow elders in this matter, not wishing to remain in this office beyond the time allotted to me by the Lord. I will step down if I am unable to fulfill the above commitments for personal or family reasons, no longer sense the Lord’s calling, no longer meet the biblical requirements of being an elder, or believe that the time has come to place the oversight into the hands of the next generation. Desiring to serve in accordance with the common consent of my fellow elders and recognizing that a man is not his own best judge, I will offer my resignation from the eldership on my seventy-fifth birthday. If my fellow elders ask me to continue to serve and I feel led of the Lord to do so, I shall continue to serve, offering my resignation every five years thereafter.
Deacons Mission Statement
My purpose is to glorify God by serving His body through caring for the operational aspects of the church, that the elders may devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
Reliance on God:
I shall seek God’s wisdom and His ways both in my conduct and ministry.
Submission to Elders:
I shall serve under the leadership of the elders (Acts 6:3,6).
I shall strive to be a godly man, recognizing that deaconship is a high calling (1 Timothy 3:13), requiring men full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3), having Christ-like character, even as the elders (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
I recognize that “it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). My work shall be executed promptly, with professionalism and excellence.
I shall not forget that I am called to serve the saints. I will give the time needed to develop and to maintain proper relationships with them. I will minister with special emphasis to those that I have recruited to serve with me in ministry, keeping the needs of my team as a higher priority than the task before us. I will seek to inspire others to ministry, providing training, direction, and encouragement. I will be a servant-leader, not simply a handyman.
I will seek to work well with my fellow deacons, to form a consensus during decision making, and to maintain our unity. I will not engage in endless discussion. I will yield to those who have a greater knowledge of a matter or to those who will be more closely involved in its execution. I will not take offense when things are not done my way. Neither will I work in opposition to a decision once it has been made.
I will hold myself accountable to my fellow deacons, being transparent and accepting counsel and criticism.
I will not discuss with others sensitive matters or information that is scheduled to be made public at a later date.
The New Testament Church
Who is the church?
The Bible calls those people who have entered into a family relationship with God through Jesus Christ the church. “To all who received him,” the apostle John writes, “who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). They have the privilege of addressing God as “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). This is a permanent relationship. Should one of his children go astray, the Father disciplines him in love (Hebrews 12:6). He does not cast him out. God promises: “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
Elsewhere the Bible describes the intimate relationship between Christ and his church as that of a groom to his bride (Ephesians 5:25-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2). Speaking of marriage, the Bible says: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). When the church arrives in heaven, there will be a great wedding feast. Scripture proclaims: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
Scripture also uses the human body as a picture of the church. Christ is “the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). The redeemed are “the members of the body” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
The church is “God’s people” (1 Peter 2:10). The Bible calls them “saints” (Philemon 5), “believers” (1 Corinthians 14:22), and “Christians” (Acts 11:26). It describes them as “saved” (Ephesians 2:8), “ransomed” (1 Peter 1:18), “forgiven” (1 John 2:12), at “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), and “holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4).
Some mistakenly think of the church as a building with cross and steeple. The church of the New Testament, however, has no walls. More than an organization, it is an organism-a living entity of interdependent members. Consequently, Christians don’t “go to church,” they are the church.
When did the church begin?
The church did not exist in Old Testament times. Nor did God reveal its design and purpose to Moses or the other prophets of the old covenant. We learn of the church from Jesus, “the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15) and his apostles, the “ministers of a new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Scripture calls the church “the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). He unveiled it. He is at the center of it and is the source of its life. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: “When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4,5).
In the months before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). This is the first occurrence of the word church in the New Testament. Here Jesus speaks of it as something yet future. When did it begin? Before ascending into heaven, Christ promised his disciples, “Before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). We know from Paul’s teaching that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is when a person becomes part of the church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, Jesus is telling his disciples in Acts 1:5 that the Spirit is about to inaugurate the church. This occurred ten days later on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The disciples were gathered together, when ” . . . suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). The church was born.
What is the relationship between the church and Israel?
God’s people of the old covenant are the nation of Israel, the Jews. God’s people of the new covenant are the church. We must not confuse the two.
Israel has its beginnings in the call of Abraham. To be a Jew, one must be a descendant of Jacob, also named Israel. Membership is by physical birth. The Jews formerly entered into the old covenant with God at Mount Sinai. Leviticus 26 summarizes this contract. God would bless them if they obeyed him. He would curse them if they forsook him. Theirs was a conditional relationship based upon performance. Their promised blessings had an earthly focus-long life and prosperity in the land of Israel. Jerusalem was to be the center of their worship. Their priests were to be of the tribe of Levi. Their high priest was to be Aaron, Moses’ brother, or one of his descendants.
The church differs from Israel in every respect. It began at Pentecost. Membership is by spiritual birth through faith in Christ Jesus (John 1:12). It is open to all people, both Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 3:28). In Christ they become “one new man in place of the two” (Ephesians 2:15). Theirs is an unconditional relationship based on grace. The blessings of the church have a heavenly focus-eternal life and an inheritance with Christ. Its worship also has a heavenly focus. Their high priest is Christ himself, “who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1).
It won’t do to take God’s religious order for the Jews, christen it, and apply it to the church. The church is something new, something far more wonderful. Christ expressed this when he taught: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins” (Mark 2:22).
Does God have a specific design for the church?
The Holy Spirit has preserved Christ’s revelation of the church in the New Testament. He shows us the church in Acts. He tells us its foundational truths in the epistles. This is similar to how God revealed the order of Israel’s worship. First God showed Moses the tabernacle that he was to build in a vision, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:5). Then God told Moses how to build it, describing it in every detail (Exodus, chapters 25-40).
The model God shows us for the church in the New Testament is marked by simplicity. The disciples preached the gospel. Some believed and were baptized (Acts 2:41). The apostles gathered these new believers into groups. These early Christians devoted themselves to the study of the apostles’ teaching, sharing their lives with one another, remembering the Lord with bread and wine, and praying (Acts 2:42). Scripture refers to each group of Christians by the city or town in which it was located: “the church in Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1), “the church at Antioch” (Acts 13:1), “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). We sometimes call these local churches to distinguish them from the church as a whole, the universal church.
The epistles tell us that the universal church is one: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:4,5). Paul writes: “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5). This means that regardless of a person’s church affiliation, all born-again believers, having been baptized by the Holy Spirit, are one in Christ.
Who is in charge of the church?
Ruling the worldwide church is Christ himself. “He is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18), the “chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), and “high priest” (Hebrews 8:1). In all things he is to be “pre-eminent” (Colossians 1:18).
Christ has ordained elders, also known as bishops, to serve under him over each local church (Acts 14:23). The Greek word translated elders is presbuteroi. It means older men, indicating the spiritual maturity required for the position. The qualifications for the position are found in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Bishops is the translation of episkopoi, literally meaning overseerers. This word has their function in view. They supervise the people and ministries of the church. Scripture says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). We can see the nature of their calling in Paul’s exhortation to the elders of the church of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28). Note that it is the Holy Spirit who makes an overseer, not the apostles or the church.
Assisting the elders are deacons. They are servants of the church, not a subordinate tier of leaders. Paul lists the qualification of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Deacons serve in various ministries, such as distributing food to the needy (Acts 6:1-6).
In the New Testament, there is no further governmental structure to the local or universal church. We might picture the structure of Christ’s design for the worldwide church as follows.
Serving Christ together with the elders and deacons are the other members of the church. The Holy Spirit, Scripture tells us, has given each Christian a spiritual gift for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:1-7). This is a supernatural ability for service. It involves ministries such as teaching, pastoring, evangelizing, exhorting, giving, leading, helping, and showing mercy (Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11). As each person does his or her part, they build up one another in the faith. The church matures and becomes more like Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Grace Bible Chapel-Its History
In the 1950’s the Santa Clara Valley began a dramatic transformation from an agricultural setting to a center of modern technology and electronic manufacturing. Opportunities in employment and education drew people from around the country. Among them were six young Christian families, several of whom were from Southern California. They shared common convictions from the New Testament concerning God’s design for the church, how it was to be governed, how Christians should worship, and the importance of teaching directly from the Scriptures. Desiring to live out their faith, they began to meet together in 1956 as a church, calling themselves the San Jose Gospel Chapel.
Within two years the congregation’s growth prompted a move to rented quarters at the American Legion Hall in Los Gatos. In 1962 they moved to larger quarters in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. The following year they purchased property in Cupertino, and made plans to construct a church building. Upon completion they renamed the ministry Hillview Bible Chapel, as they were no longer meeting in San Jose.
In order to accommodate further growth, in 1997 the elders of Hillview Bible Chapel made plans to establish a second church. After much prayer, they selected San Jose as the location since about 50 adults in the congregation lived in that city, most notably in Blossom Valley. They rented an unused school, and, after a summer spent remodeling the premises, on September 19, 1999, Grace Bible Chapel came into being.