Our position at The New Harvest Christian Fellowship holds with believer’s baptism as an act of obedience of one’s own decision to respond to one’s salvation – an outward (public) expression of an inward condition (conviction/conversion). We do not, however, support the idea of “baptismal regeneration”. We believe that the primary requirement for salvation is faith in Jesus as Saviour and an ongoing relationship with His which evidences His lordship over us. We believe that believer’s baptism enables Christians to identify with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection – thus dying to self and being born again in Christ. Due to our persuasion towards believer’s baptism, as opposed to infant baptism, we encourage parents to dedicate their parenting of their children to God at a special service in Church.
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AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
We are fully aware that the authority of Scripture is challenged by secular society. People find it hard to give authority to a Book whose historical, archaeological, scientific and supernatural content they question. We ourselves have come to give the Bible authority, not because all these issues have been conclusively resolved for us, but because we have encountered the resurrected Jesus. We believe that the authority of Scripture cannot be established through debate or scientific method, but comes to us through revelation. Thus, in handling non-Christians we need to be sensitive to their questions but focus on leading them into a spiritual encounter rather than on attempting to resolve all their intellectual objections.
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Our position on homosexuality and same sex marriages is explained at two levels: Theological and Pastoral. Our position at New Harvest is that “sin” is a peculiarly theological word as it is used to describe that which offends God. This being the case, it becomes obvious that only God has the right to name sin, and it is unambiguously clear in the Bible that God pronounces homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle as sin. Our pastoral approach towards homosexuals is therefore as follows: Homosexuals are welcome at our services, as is their participation in the general life of the Church, but until there is a relinquishing of the homosexual lifestyle the person will be excluded from any leadership position at New Harvest.
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Our position on abortion is explained at two levels: Theological and Pastoral. On a Theological level, the issue for Christians relates to the commandment “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13), and the debate revolves around when a foetus becomes a person. We believe that the child in the womb is a person before birth, and for this reason we do not regard lightly the option of abortion and must earnestly seek to avoid breaking God’s commandments, and therefore would want to explore all other options before sanctioning an abortion. On a pastoral level, any woman (or couple) in the predicament of considering abortion as an option, needs careful counsel, to help her ( them) make a wise, informed decision regarding the option, and then to nurture her (them) through the consequences of their choice.
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Although sexism (the exclusion of a particular group of people from a role in an organization or society on the basis of their gender) has been rife in the history of the universal Church, New Harvest believes that there is no scriptural justification for this practice.
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Scripture teaches that in spite of the many ethnic groups in the world, there is one race that includes them all – the human race. All people share a common origin and therefore are equal in the sight of God. Thus no person is favoured with God’s salvation on account of his race, for all have sinned and are under the judgment of God, but can be saved through accepting the salvation that God, in His grace, offers. Since all are saved on the same basis, there can be no inequality in the church; believers of all races are united in one body. Through this union God intends for the church to be an example to the world.
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Materialism refers to the desire for wealth and possessions. We all need food, shelter, transport and clothing, but materialism causes us to be preoccupied – even obsessed – with acquiring these things. Jesus regularly challenged materialism, He instructed us not to focus on it, to get rid of its shackles, to handle wisely that which has been entrusted to us, and stated categorically that we cannot serve both God and money. Paul tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil causing Christians to wander from the truth. It is evident that the reason for this strong challenge comes from an understanding that materialism sets itself up to control the life of the individual. Those entrapped by materialism have a master other than Jesus. Many people, including Christians, have been ensnared and are suffering the consequences, which range from debt driven anxiety to extreme selfishness to moral failure.
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Scripture teaches quite clearly that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and that we should eagerly desire the gift of prophecy as it is a gift that benefits the whole Church. We are taught not to smother or stifle the gifts and workings of the Spirit in the Church, thus impoverishing the Church, but to rather encourage the full expression of these gifts to the benefit of the whole Body. However, there is also a need to understand how to properly use this gift, including how to become aware of the traps which the enemy sets for all who walk in the supernatural realm. The Lord Himself warned us that every time He sows wheat, the enemy will try to sow tares in the same field. Therefore it is important that if someone receives a prophecy they should first test what is being said against Scripture, seek confirmation, and share it in confidence with others before spontaneously speaking it out.
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PREMARITAL & EXTRAMARITAL SEX
One is conscious that, since the development of contraceptives during the last century, the norms of society have shifted markedly towards the acceptance of premarital/extramarital sex. However, as Christians we are committed to upholding biblical values as opposed to drifting with the flow of societal opinion. We understand that we are likely to encounter many couples seeking to link into our congregation who have been persuaded by societal norms and are practicing premarital/extramarital sex. Our difficulty is not with sin but with unrepentant sin. Because we are standing against a practice which society condones, it is likely that couples who join us and are practicing premarital/extramarital sex are doing so out of ignorance of God’s perspective. Through biblical teaching and sensitive confrontation we will attempt to persuade them towards a Christian lifestyle.
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South Africa is a secular state with a constitution which protects the religious freedom of all its citizens. Christianity no longer has pre-eminence, and we will increasingly find ourselves interacting with folk of other religions. This factor, coupled with the growing philosophy of relativism, can cause the definitives of Christianity to become blurred so that it appears no longer to matter what one believes about God as long as one believes in God. For this reason New Harvest sees it as being important to say the following: (1) We take seriously Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (2) From this logically follows a commitment to evangelism, a desire to spread the good news in Jesus and to persuade others to find salvation in Him, and (3) We believe that this can only be accomplished through proclamation and demonstration.
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While Scripture teaches that an evangelist is a person particularly gifted by God for the task of preaching, declaring, bringing, and announcing or proclaiming the gospel (or good news) of Jesus Christ to others, this does not exclude the responsibility all Christians have of making known (witnessing to) the gospel of Christ to others. Our approach at The New Harvest Christian Fellowship is that out of a genuine desire to see others grow in the same kind of relationship with and faith in Jesus, that we have, we will share what Jesus has done in our hearts and lives and encourage others by means of testimony and example of lifestyle to get into relationship with Christ.
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EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM
The theory of evolution challenges Christian faith at two levels: The reliability of the Bible (it presents an alternative to the Genesis explanation of creation) and the existence of a Creator God (it has led to the Big Bang theory and the concept that everything in the universe has come about by chance). As Christians believing in a Creator God we hold that all things in existence originated from God and were made for His pleasure. We believe that mankind has been created in God’s likeness to rule the earth on His behalf. This implies that our existence on earth has meaning and purpose as we are created to have fellowship with God and to seek His plan for our lives so that His will might be done “on earth as it is in heaven”. More than that we believe that God has sent His Son into the world to rescue us for an eternity in His Kingdom, a Kingdom which far exceeds anything we have experienced in the physical world. Our world view is therefore positive and encouraging, enabling us to make sense of our existence and that of the universe. It gives us a purpose for now and a hope for the future.
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