Vision, Values, & Statement of Faith

Our Vision

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Hope Philly exists to spread the Shalom of Jesus Christ throughout the South Jersey area, one life at a time.

We believe that all creation is one massive interconnected spiritual ecosystem. Shalom is the peaceful harmony that ought to exist within this ecosystem. The presence of Shalom should result in the mutual flourishing amongst all constituent parts, so as to give creation the kind of harmonious order that reflects Heaven itself.

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Sin is the breaking of Shalom.1

Whenever we sin, instead of mutual flourishing, we make life a living hell for all parties involved.

We believe that one of the biggest reasons that God saves us is so that instead of being His enemies,  we become His agents who will thus glorify Him. We do this by first believing and then spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Shalom making is the natural outworking of gospel changed hearts. Gospel believing people ought to be driven by the Gospel they believe to create Shalom.

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The shorthand way that we share the Gospel at our church is as follows: Jesus is LORD and we are united to Him.

By that we mean to say that the gospel is the good news that when Jesus Christ lived the life we should have lived, died the death we should have died, and then rose again, He fixed everything. This comprehensive ‘fixing’ includes: our own sinfulness, God’s wrath towards us, all oppressive powers and principalities in this world, and all tragic realities of this life that ought not to be. Furthermore, we are united to Christ. And because we are united to Him, all fixing and saving benefits and blessings (e.g. Justification, Sanctification and Adoption) are given to us. Apart from this union, none of the benefits of Christ does us any good.

When we lovingly trust in Jesus and let go of our self-fixing and self-saving strategies (whether irreligious autonomy or moral “goodness”), we find true life, joy, and shalom.

1 Plantinga offers this definition:  Sin is any agential evil for which some person (or group of persons) is to blame. In short, sin is culpable shalom-breaking. Plantinga, Cornelius (2010-05-13). Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (p. 14). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Our Core Values

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Gospel Worship

We agree with the Westminster shorter catechism that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Worship, broadly speaking, is the work of actively living this out. Historically, worship services did this by gearing all aspects of the service towards teaching about God from the Bible and experiencing His presence. Towards that end, we sing songs of praise, preach Biblical sermons, and participate in sacraments. The reason that we call this “Gospel Worship” is because our sinfulness has a tendency to turn all worship into duties that we indifferently carry out or guilt driven ways to try and earn His favor. But the Gospel transforms our worship into sincere gratitude and products of love.

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Gospel Transformation

The Gospel is the good news that God, through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection has fixed everything. And the fixing of the world is anticipated by the fixing of our own selves. This fixing includes being moved from being objects of wrath to objects of blessing (Justification). And also by having our lives radically changed from the inside out (Sanctification). The gospel not only “gets us into heaven” but “gets heaven into us” as we align every dimension of our lives with its gracious truth. Once we are united to Christ, we receive benefits. One of those benefits is that we are conformed more and more into Jesus’ image each day. We start exhibiting fruit of the Spirit. And as we ourselves, as transformed persons, are driven to also transform the world around us so that God’s will would be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

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Gospel Community

One of the ways that the gospel blessings have manifested in history is when large swaths of people who normally were at odds with each other, suddenly come together in unity and harmony. In book of Acts it was Jews and Romans, slaves and free, men and women. In the Great Awakenings, it was Whites and Blacks as well as various warring denominations. Gospel creates shalom filled community even amongst warring parties. To this end, we encourage participation in community oriented events. We have small groups as well as various church gatherings. We do these things because we believe that church is not limited to the Sunday worship service.

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Gospel Compassion & Service (Mercy & Justice)

The gospel shapes us to be a people who sacrificially serve our neighbors and the poor because of the salvation freely given to us through Jesus’ sacrificial love. We derive our life of active compassion and mercy from our identity with Jesus our King, who came to serve and not to be served. Instead of living to increase our private kingdoms of self-serving power and wealth, our new mode of existence is “power through service” and “wealth through generosity” as demonstrated at the cross. We especially seek to show mercy to the poor and seek justice for the weak and powerless, ministering the gospel through word and deed.

Our Statement of Faith

  • The Bible is the principium of faith. It is fully inspired and inerrant in what it teaches. Its promises are infallible and it is the highest rule of faith and practice.
  • There is one God, eternal and self-existing in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who are to be equally loved, honored, and adored.
  • All mankind is lost in sin and totally helpless to save himself apart from Jesus Christ.
  • The Sovereign God, for no other reason than His own unfathomable love and mercy, has chosen lost sinners from every nation to be redeemed by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit and through the atoning death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
  • Those sinners whom the Spirit unites to Christ are quickened, come to believe in Christ as Savior by the Word of God, are born from above, become sons of God, and will persevere to the end.
  • Justification is by faith and through it the undeserving sinner is clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
  • The goal of God’s salvation in the life of the Christian is holiness, and virtuous character in line with the gospel so that we may rightly function as agents of shalom for the glory of God.
  • At death the Christian’s soul passes immediately into the presence of God and the unbeliever’s soul is eternally separated from God unto condemnation.
  • Baptism is a sign of God’s covenant and is properly administered to children of believers in their infancy as well as to those who come as adults to trust in Christ.
  • Jesus Christ will return to earth, visibly and bodily, at a time when He is not expected, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.