About New Life and our Beliefs
In the mid 1980's several men, including Pete Grose, began a summer outreach program at the University of Iowa. In 1985, Hawkeye student Kurt Jurgensmeier began meeting with the outreach. Many others came and went, but a few formed a likeminded core. In 1994, about 25 friends left homes and careers behind to begin New Life Community Church in Cedar Rapids. The new church met in Kurt's living room. Every single person was valuable and needed. In time, others joined us, and we moved to increasingly larger rented spaces. In 2005 we purchased our current ministry center in Marion. On May 18, 2014, New Life Community Church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
New Life is shepherded by four Pastors who share leadership responsibilities. Pete and Kurt are supported full time by the church, while Pastors Ray Damaso and Brian Hagerman are employed outside the church. More information about each Pastor, and about our beliefs concerning church government and leadership development, can be found here.
The phrase Authentic Christianity is one that we use often at New Life, but how do we define it? We think "Sacrificially serving Jesus Christ with our best friends" is a good, simple summary. We live this out in our church in the following ways, or core purposes:
- We are a place for God to rescue His children and be saved.
- We are a family of genuine friends where you can truly belong.
- We will help you become Jesus' disciple as you grow to be like Him.
- Because of Christ's unending love for us, we want to completely give our lives to Him.
Following is a brief description of our core doctrinal beliefs.
The Scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments have been supernaturally provided, recorded, and authenticated through the divine messengers of miracle-working Apostles and Prophets. It is here that we find every divine doctrine to believe and every divine command to obey. The Scriptures are words from God. To disbelieve or disobey them is to disbelieve and disobey God Himself.
The Scripture's authority and trustworthiness as a divine revelation far exceeds any other revelations that may be claimed, and no person or church can authoritatively teach or demand anything except that which is contained in Scripture. Accordingly, all of the beliefs described below are derived from our understanding of Scripture. (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12 13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Hebrews 4:12)
God is the Creator and Sovereign Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three Persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are all equal in divinity but different in roles. God's ultimate purpose is to be glorified throughout His creation. This occurs both through His merciful love and His holy wrath. (cf. Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:12-26; Psalm 90:2; John 1:1; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
Jesus Christ is the eternally existing Son of God, co-equal with the Father. While Jesus lived on earth, He was fully God and fully human, making Him the only acceptable mediator between God and humanity through His sinless life and sacrificial death on the cross. His resurrection is undeniable proof to all that He was who He claimed to be. Jesus now resides in glory with the Father until He returns again to punish His enemies and reward His followers. (cf. John 1:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Titus 2:13-14)
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son. It is His convicting, drawing, and regenerating work which enables people who are spiritually dead to be born again and receive the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:1-8; 6:44; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 2:8-9). He then indwells all Christians, sealing them eternally and empowering them to know, love, and serve God. (cf. John 3:1-8; 14:16-17; 16:7-11; Acts 16:14; 1 Timothy 1:14; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 3:16).
While all Christians immediately and equally receive the Person of the Holy Spirit in spiritual baptism upon conversion (cf. Ephesians 1:13; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13), not all are equally controlled by Him, but grow in the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22) as they increasingly submit to Him (cf. Galatians 5:16-18).
Humans, both male and female, were supernaturally created by God in His image. Like all creation, every human will glorify their Creator, either by eternally displaying His perfect holiness and eternal wrath in Hell, or by eternally displaying His mercy in Heaven. Since the sin of Adam, the first human, all humans have been born into a state of sin and separation from God that results in an attitude of independence and disobedience toward their Creator. This fallen state brought spiritual death to humanity, making them completely powerless in themselves to do anything to please God. (cf. Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-5)
Salvation from Sin
Salvation comes only by God's unconditional sovereign grace, not our human works, and therefore He is ultimately the One who initiates, accomplishes, and maintains it, and deserves all credit and glory for it (cf. John 6:44; 10:28-30; Romans 3:9-28; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Ephesians 2:8-9).
God "predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace" (Ephesians 1:5-6), indicating that the choice He made "before the creation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4) was not made on the basis of any act or merit of those chosen (cf. Romans 9:10-24). Otherwise our salvation would ultimately be because of something we have done instead of by God's unconditional grace.
Even the supernatural saving faith in Christ that God requires is an unconditional gift from Him (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9), occurring upon our supernatural regeneration which enables us to embrace Christ in the gospel (cf. Acts 16:14; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
This salvation grants eternal life from the moment the Holy Spirit recreates us as believing, loving, and obeying followers of Jesus Christ. This new creation is irreversible, and the eternal life promised is just that eternal and therefore the believer's salvation by grace is secure, because it is by God's grace, not human works (cf. John 10:28-30; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17). While real Christians still sin, their salvation and supernatural regeneration is proven by a lifestyle of love and holiness (cf. 1 John 2:1-6, 15, 29; 3:9-10; 5:13, 18).
Even though God Himself will ensure that every one of his chosen people will be saved from eternal punishment, these lost but future children of God must still hear the Gospel to be saved (cf. Romans 10:8-15). Therefore, God commands us to preach this Gospel and it is our greatest privilege to participate in God's work of seeking and saving the lost, predestined children of God (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Tim 2:8-10).
The Scriptures ordain two sacraments for the church: water baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is the biblical way in which a believer publicly professes their saving faith and commitment to Christ (cf. Acts 2:38-41). Christ commanded water baptism for anyone who professes to follow Him (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). While the early Church permitted modes of baptism other than immersion, (cf. The Didache 7) the word "baptism" means immersion and this mode best symbolizes the spiritual process of salvation (cf. Romans 6:2-4).
The Lord's Supper (or Communion) was instituted by Christ as a ceremony in which we remember His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and look forward to His return to rule the new Earth. The elements of bread and drink are symbolic reminders of His broken body and shed blood (cf. Matthew 26:26-29).
Since only believers can properly recognize the significance of what the ceremony means, unbelievers are in danger of bringing God's judgment on themselves if they participate (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-32). Accordingly, the church has a responsibility to protect unbelievers. Therefore, we ask that only those who have expressed their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior through water baptism join the church family in The Lord's Supper.
While the Bible does not specify the frequency of this sacrament, the early Christians "devoted themselves" (Acts 2:42) to it. Our current practice is to celebrate Communion every week in our Sunday service and periodically in our L.I.F.E. Groups.
Marriage and Gender
We believe that the God revealed in the Christian Scriptures created marriage and therefore has the sole authority to define it. The Christian Bible clearly defines and illustrates marriage as being between one man and one woman (cf. Gen 1:27-28; 2:18-25; Eph 5:31). Which is why Jesus Christ described marriage in the same way (cf. Matt 19:4-6). Any other union which is called a marriage is a perversion of the Creator’s intentions and desires.
The referenced Scriptures above also make it clear that God has created all humans to be either male or female. Therefore, any desire or action to change one's gender or not to act in accordance with one's God-given gender is sinful.
We believe God provides forgiveness to even the worst of sinners when He grants a knowledge of their sinfulness, and the grace given through faith in Jesus Christ.
We believe it is the Christian’s duty to never compromise on what is true, but to love those who do not know the truth. Jesus Christ “came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Likewise we must exercise both. The Christian Scriptures teach us the truth about marriage and gender. But we must have compassion and kindness for those who are deceived on these issues.