An open letter from Dr. Miranda: A brief summary of the doctrinal beliefs held by congregation Lion Of Judah
Thank you for your inquiry regarding CLJ's doctrinal stance. Since CLJ is mainly a Latino church, we have not paid as much attention to putting our doctrinal statement into English. As we become more involved directly with the English speaking community, though, we realize that we need to put more of our material into English, and will do so.
To sum things up a bit, our doctrinal position is, essentially, conservative and orthodox. We ardently believe in the infallibility and perfection of the Scriptures. They constitute our only absolute guide to life, and the only infallible source of moral and spiritual truth. Jesus Christ is God, the second Person of the Trinity, our only source of salvation. We adhere to all of the doctrinal beliefs of the historical Church, including Christ's virginal birth, miraculous life and ministry, and his death and resurrection, through which we have received the forgiveness of our sins, reconciliation with God, and the firm hope of our own resurrection. We believe that every human being is a flawed creature, dependent on the grace and mercy of God, and the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. We affirm that every experience, every belief, every prophetic utterance, every teaching of the Church should be in total consistency with the affirmations of Scripture. No one can add or take away from what God has revealed once and for all through His Holy Word.
Regarding the question of the King James Version, this is only one of many possible translations of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. It was carried out by imperfect men, and there is nothing absolute or unchangeable about it. Only Scripture itself is unchangeable or incapable of being improved. There are many great translations available today, although I do admire the King James version for its poetic beauty and elegance. The NIV, for example, is very convenient for modern readers, particularly those that may not have the literary education required to tackle the classical English of the King James version. I particularly enjoy the New King James version myself. I think it's a great translation that manages to retain much of the poetic tightness of the King James while modernizing the language a bit.
We absolutely believe in the Second Coming of Christ, although we are not prepared to fight over whether the Church will be raptured before, in the middle of, or after the Great Tribulation. Many wonderful, saintly, scholarly believers have differed over the centuries, and even today, over the precise timing of Christ's coming. Of one thing I am sure, though: He is coming, and it will probably be sooner rather than later!
Jesus Christ is the only source of salvation, the only adequate intermediary between God and humankind. Therefore, we should do all we can to preach the Gospel and try to lead others into a saving knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Gospel is both a privilege and a serious, sacred responsibility for every believer.
Our congregation believes in the accessibility of the Gifts of the Spirit for today. Such passages as I Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 clearly suggest that God has provided these spiritual aids to all believers in order to assist us in carrying out our Christian service. I find no direct, clear Scriptural support for the idea that the Gifts ended with the establishment of the Canon. They are, however, far from an end in themselves. Love is so much more important! The Gifts of the Spirit should not be deified or obsessed upon. The Fruit of the Spirit, registered in Galatians 5, is equally important in terms of Christian life and character, and should be given equal attention. Related to this, we believe that just as we accept that the office of the pastor, teacher and evangelist are still current, so are, potentially, those of the prophet and apostle. These two functions, however, are probably not as numerous or common as many Charismatics seem to believe. Prophecy and apostolic authority should be apprached very carefully, conservatively, and with biblical principles and clarifications well in hand and in mind.
We believe that Baptism and the celebration of the Lord's Supper are practices ordained by Scripture. They have great weight and solemnity behind them, as well as solid biblical backing. They should be practiced with a great sense of reverence. Every Christian should be baptised as an act of obedience and public confirmation of faith. Through the Lord's Supper we mysteriously and mystically participate in His death and redemptive work. Neither practice, however, determines our salvation. Only belief in Jesus Christ as savior does.
Satan is real, of course, as are demons and God's holy angels. The latter are ministering, supernatural beings, employed by God as His messengers and servants. The former are fallen angels, just as their master Lucifer. Our only real protection against them is the power and the Blood of Jesus Christ. They are defeated beings, condemned to eternal alienation from God. We need not fear them, or be obsessed about them, but we should be wary of them, and make sure that we know about their modes of operation, as clarified by Scripture. Helped by the Holy Spirit and by God's grace, we should make sure that we walk in holiness, in order not to give the Enemy any reason or legal right to attack us. Christ's Church will ultimately prevail over evil, and the Gates of Hell, as Jesus has promised, cannot have victory over it.
All that I have said here requires an attitude of love, humility and absolute reliance on God's grace and mercy to prevent it from becoming mere pharisaical, legalistic knowledge. It also requires a deep awareness of our own brokenness, as well as an attitude of mercy toward others. We are no better, ultimately, than any other sinner, including those who reject God and His Word. Only by grace are we saved! If we are not governed by love, humility and mercy, then all we have is sterile, arid doctrine, the dead letter of the Law, which kills and impedes the life-giving work of the Spirit within us. Thankfully, we are not saved by doctrinal perfection or correction, but by the saving, ever flowing Blood of Jesus Christ.
I do hope this brief summary of our doctrinal beliefs helps. I bless you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.