CORE BELIEFS

Many Churches and movements have a statement of faith. Sozo Church has Core Beliefs. These beliefs filter through everything that we teach and do. This is not an exhaustive theological statement. 

GOD

We believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 1:1- 18; Genesis 1:1-3). We see an eternal oneness and fellowship between the “community of God.”

We believe the love of God, the nature of God, and the character of God are all completely and entirely good. He can’t be anything else. We believe  the truth of scripture: “Let us love one another, for love comes from God… This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him… We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

(1 John 4:7,9,16)

We believe that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being (Hebrews  1:3). We believe that in Jesus Christ all the fullness of the Godhead lives in bodily form (Col. 2:9). We believe that Jesus, who Himself is God, has made God known (John1:18). Since Jesus is the clearest revelation of who God truly is and what He is like, we must read scripture through a “Jesus Lens” (Luke 24:27, 31-32, 44-49). We believe God’s heart’s desire is to bring mankind into oneness with Himself (John 17).

COVENANT AND KINGDOM

The two primary themes that thread through the Bible are covenant and kingdom. Covenant  is the way the Bible describes and defines relationship; first our relationship with God and then our relationship with everyone else. The word covenant means “to become one.” God’s desire from the beginning was that mankind would live in unfettered union with Him. He desired that, when anyone looked at us, they would see Him (Genesis 1:26-27). Thus, man’s true identity is found in oneness with God.

Kingdom reveals our God given responsibility and authority as His representatives on earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Kingdom follows Covenant because responsibility always follows relationship. Mankind’s fundamental responsibility was and still is “to re-present God.”  As God’s representatives: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15)

. Our task today is still quite simple: to steward, oversee and care for all creation. 

The next two beliefs,

Identity and Authority, are major filters that remind us to constantly live true to our new covenant identity (oneness with God) and kingdom of God authority (representing God).

IDENTITY

  • Original Identity:We believe that humanity has worth and value in the heart of God. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God to enjoy oneness with God. Covenant partnership between God and mankind was defined by dependency on Him. Together, Adam and Eve would be “one” with God. They would rule, and He would  (Genesis 1-2).
  • Lost Identity:Adam and Eve were free to represent God in any way that was most natural to them; but God required that they depend on Him for their ethical decisions. They could eat from any tree in the Garden, including the tree of life. However, with all this freedom came one restriction: they were not allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The boundary was not arbitrary—it gave a framework that would set them free to enjoy their relationship with God.

Then the serpent offered them the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and told them that they would become like God if they consumed it. The tragedy of the Fall was that, although Adam and Eve had enjoyed an unmatched relationship with God, they chose to agree

with a deceptive lie (an unfounded accusation) from a disguised adversary. The consequences to that selfish betrayal were devastating! 

Satan (the serpent) didn’t come into the Garden and violently take possession of Adam and Eve. He couldn’t—he had no dominion there. Because man was given the keys of dominion over earth, the devil would have to get his authority from man. The suggestion to eat the forbidden fruit was simply the devil’s effort to get Adam and Eve to agree with him in opposition to God, thus empowering him. To this day it is through agreement  that the devil is able to “kill, steal, and destroy.” He is empowered by man’s agreement.Mankind’s authority to rule was forfeited when Adam ate the forbidden fruit. “You are the one’s slave whom you obey” (Romans 6:16). In one act, mankind went from ruler over a planet, to the slave and possession of the evil one. All Adam ruled, including the title deed to the planet, became part of the devil’s spoil.God’s plan of redemption immediately kicked into play: “I will put enmity between you and  the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus would one day reclaim all that was lost. 

Genesis 3 is the beginning of the story of lost identity. A story that is the theme of the bulk of the Old Testament. This issue of lost identity is not resolved until the coming of Jesus and the New Covenant.

  • Redeemed Identity: Because of man’s tremendous worth, God sent Jesus to restore mankind’s identity as sons and daughters and begin the process of advancing the kingdom of God (John 3:16-17)

We believe water baptism is a powerful confession and picture of our identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-14). It is also a picture of the circumcision of the heart whereby we allow Jesus to cut off the old man (Col. 2:10-15). Water baptism represents our “redeemed” identity in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

  • Empowered Identity:New covenant identity and authority are vital to walking out one’s calling and place in the kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

We believe new covenant meal (Lord’s Supper, Communion, etc.) is another way we identify that we are part of the new covenant family of Jesus. Just hours before Jesus went to the cross, He consummated His time with His disciples by sharing the new covenant meal: “This cup is the new covenant poured out for you”…”I confer on you a kingdom, just as my father conferred one on Me…” (Luke 22:20, 29). The new covenant meal represents our “empowered identity in Jesus.

AUTHORITY

On resurrection Sunday Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20: 20-22). Fifty days later at Pentecost, this same Jesus, whom God the Father raised to life and exalted to sit at His right hand, poured out the promised Holy Spirit so that His followers could be empowered to begin advancing the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 1:8).

We believe that the same outpouring or baptism of the Holy Spirit is available today to all who are born again and called to be ministers of the new covenan(2 Corinthians 3:6-18; 4:1-6; 5:17-21). We need the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to carry out Father’s new covenant and kingdom purposes (Romans 8:10-11; Matthew 3:11).

 We believe that spiritual authority is the expression of a believer’s “empowered” identity in Christ. Empowered identity is demonstrated through various gifts of the Spirit: Equipping gifts of Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-12) Grace for ministry (Romans 12:6-8); Various kinds of service (1 Corinthians 12:27-33); Different manifestations of power (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

BIBLICAL

We believe the Bible is inspired by God, authoritative, completely trustworthy and to be taken seriously. When properly understood and applied correctly, it is an invitation to authentic relationship with God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

We believe that Biblical narrative theology is a key to understanding the Bible. Narrative theology majors on telling God’s epic story of covenant and kingdom. It lays the foundation for the future study of Bible themes (systematic theology).  We practice an historical contextual hermeneutic (interpretation) which focuses on:  1. Historical context, answering the questions—what would this have meant to the author? original readers? (reader relevance); 2. The actual meaning of the language idioms during the time it was written; 3. The use of exegesis (pulling from what the Bible says) instead of eisegesis (inserting what we think it means); 4. Progressive revelation which takes into account the progressive unveiling of God’s nature, purposes and ways as the epic story unfolds; 5. Reading the Bible in chronological order so that the story’s true meaning is preserved. We have made a commitment to constant growth and change. We are willing to ‘change our thinking’ (repent) as we acquire new, clear revelation and interpretation.

FAMILY ON MISSION

We define church as “family on mission.” Two Greek words describe the primary functions of the Church: Koinoniawhich means fellowship or “family,” and Ecclesia, which essentially means “to be on mission.” We value both family (covenant) and mission (kingdom). The trick is to be an integrated family on mission and not family and mission. To be family on mission, we believe that spiritual fathers and mothers are necessary and important for spiritual growth and creating spiritual family. There is no hierarchy in the Kingdom of God, but there are examples which can be looked up to and can serve as foot-washers and encouragers on this spiritual journey (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). 

We hold a high value for being transparent, vulnerable and standing up for people. The leaders of Sozo desire Sozo Church to be relational family and to leave a legacy of sons and daughters behind us—not orphans

We believe the summary of the new testament ‘law of love’ is based on Jesus’ statement to His disciples, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are My disciples, if you love one another”  (John 13:34-35).  This is practically lived out as a family of individuals who are passionate disciples of Jesus that are making passionate disciples of Jesus by the way we love (Matthew 28:18-20). It requires the help of others to live a truly great story. Family on mission is our heavenly Father’s plan for this to happen. 

SUPERNATURAL

By understanding the Bible correctly and living according to it, we have a high value for walking in the supernatural. To claim to have a high value for the Bible and not walk in the supernatural is a bizarre form of hypocrisy. We believe the book of Acts is what the “normal” life of following Jesus should be like: unified intercession (power of agreement), supernatural demonstration (signs, wonders, healings, etc.), bold proclamation (powerful preaching of Jesus), many salvations (“turned the world upside down” —Acts 17:6). See this pattern throughout Acts.We believe in the ongoing ministry of the five-fold equippers of Ephesians 4:11-12. All of the supernatural gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are for today. We are opposed to quenching the Holy Spirit     (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

CHARACTER

We value the fruit of the Spirit as much as we value the gifts of the Spirit. We are not soft on sin, but we are strong in grace and love as the true answer. The Holy Spirit living in us produces Christlike character: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

True character is cultivated not by striving, trying harder, or performing better. Real character is produced by trusting and abiding in the goodness of Jesus and the Father. Always remember, fruit is essentially “excess life” flowing through a branch that’s “connected” to the tree (vine). Fruit has little to do with what you do, it has everything to do with who your life source is and how well you are receiving and passing on that life. (John 15) So relax, it’s “…Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27)

EMPOWERING OTHERS

We believe in the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9-10). We believe everyone has a sphere of influence into which he or she is called to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Whether your sphere is business, education, government, family, religion, arts and media, or science and technology—“let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Empowering others to be all that they were created to be (for the glory of God) is at the core of everything we do. “We cannot afford to be  passive observers when we’ve been called to such an important role in the story.

”—A.W. Tozer

We do not believe in the “man of God, holier than thou, big man on the platform” model of ministry. We believe that real Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers are first and foremost equippers and foot-washers who are called to equip and release people into their God given destiny (Ephesians 4—APEST; John 13–Foot-washing servants).

NEW COVENANT SALVATION/FREEDOM 

We believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died and was resurrected to establish a New Covenant, which when received by faith brings each individual forgiveness, salvation and freedom from sin (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our church is named Sozo because of it’s rich, textured meaning: “to save, heal, deliver, rescue and restore to wholeness.As born-again followers of Jesus, we believe it is our inheritance to re-present Jesus’ “sozo” on earth as it is in heaven.

New Covenant freedom was worth Jesus dying for and it is our heart’s desire that each individual remains free and lives free! Neither sin nor man’s religion should reestablish bondage in one’s life (Read Galatians). Freedom comes and is sustained through truth (John 8:31-32). Also, “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). So, as born again followers of Jesus, you and I carry a zone of freedom— a “no strive” zone! 

      Our heart cry is “Live Loved, Live Full, Live Free!”

 ADVANCING THE KINGDOM/VICTORIOUS ESCHATOLOGY

We believe that King Jesus came and established His kingdom in the first century when he died on the cross, was resurrected from the dead, ascended to heaven, was (and is now) enthroned as King, and poured out the Holy Spirit to empower new covenant believers. (Acts 2:23-24, 32-33, 36-47)

This kingdom has been growing and expanding since the first century, going from glory to glory. As the kingdom continuously advances, Jesus’ prayer is being progressively answered: “(Father)Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). With great anticipation we look forward to the final return of Jesus (Acts 1:11; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28).