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Beliefs

Who was Jesus?

No legitimate scholar denies that a Jewish man named Jesus walked on this earth about 2,000 years ago. Born in Bethlehem in the Middle East, he grew up in a small town called Nazareth. When he was about thirty years old, he began traveling to other towns and cities in Israel to teach. He gathered a band of twelve close friends along with many other women and men who left work and homes to follow him. Most reputable historians agree that three years later, Jesus was executed on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. These, then, are the historical facts about Jesus. The crucial questions center on whether he was God incarnate, the Messiah who rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion.

Was he God? Jesus himself thought so. He told his friends, “I and the Father are one heart and mind.” (John 10:30, MSG). This leaves us with three possibilities (as C.S. Lewis so aptly pointed out): Either he was lying, crazy, or telling the truth. A “good man” doesn’t go around telling others that he’s God if he’s not. The teachings of this Jewish man have inspired leaders like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi—could he be as articulate and wise if he were lying or not mentally sound?

Did he rise from the dead? After Jesus died, his close friends were terrified. They stayed in hiding, believing that their lives were in danger. Something significant must have taken place three days later. These cowering, uneducated common folk began teaching boldly that Jesus was the risen Messiah, in spite of immense persecution and condemnation. They claimed the Spirit of Jesus was alive and with them still, teaching and leading his followers.

Was it a conspiracy? It couldn’t have been. All of them—every one of his eleven closest friends and others—affirmed the resurrection of Jesus even when enduring their own executions. Conspiracies don’t have that strong a hold on so many marginalized people at once—only truth can survive such a determined plan of extinction by powerful, educated opponents.

Was he the Messiah? When asked this question, Jesus said, “I who am speaking to you am He.” He fulfilled over 300 messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament scriptures (learn more on BibleProbe.com). With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth, these prophecies were not “invented” after-the-fact. (See Why the Bible?) They were fulfilled by life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Once again, Jesus didn’t mince words about his identity: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Most people agree that Jesus was a “good man” of sound mind (read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see why). How then could a good man make such an outrageous claim about himself? Ask yourself what the only logically consistent alternative must be.

Yes, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, just as he said. Isn’t it time you decided to follow him? If you want to give your life to Jesus, please contact us.

Why the Bible?

As Christians, we believe that Bible is the word of God with the power to change lives:

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. (Hebrews 4:12, MSG)

But our faith is not about having a relationship with a book. It’s about a relationship between living, breathing beings—God and human beings. The Bible’s purpose is to lead us into this intimate relationship with God.

In the Old Testament, the book of Song of Songs paints a picture of God as a bridegroom full of romantic ardor for his bride. Jesus uses the metaphor of a broken-hearted Father longing for his son’s return, pursuing reconciliation and love between his two sons. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible portrays the God of the Universe seeking an intimate relationship with us and longing for peace in our relationships with one another. That’s exactly why “the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, MSG).

Christians, therefore, can’t approach Scripture outside the context of relationships—we must read and interpret the Bible in communion with God through the Spirit and in communion with each other through the church. Verses from the Bible can and have been used for evil purposes, even during Jesus’ life as he fasted and prayed in the desert. We seek the illumination and “breath” of God’s Spirit as we read and meditate on the Bible.

Ultimately, because of God’s relational requirements, Christians trust the Holy Spirit’s power to work perfectly through an imperfect church. In submitting to the authority of the Bible, we place our faith in the apostles’ teaching, recorded and canonized through the excellent scholarship of a praying Christian community. Then, as now, no individual Christian may claim to grasp and interpret all biblical truth single-handedly.

Even as we meditate on Scripture ourselves, we also listen to the Word of God taught by thoughtful Christians, see the Word of God obeyed by faithful Christians, and discover more about biblical truth every day—all within the context of right relationships.

What the Bible Says About Itself

Quoting the book of Deuteronomy during his battle against temptation, Jesus said, “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

St. Paul writes that “every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17, MSG).

 

Essential Tenets

Authority of Scripture

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are God’s uniquely revealed and written Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and are the church’s first and final authority in all areas of faith and life including, but not limited to, theological doctrine, mission, church order, character, and behavior.

The Bible speaks to us with the authority of God himself. We seek to understand, love, follow, obey, surrender, and submit to God’s Word—both Jesus Christ (the living Word of God) and the Scriptures (the written Word of God) which bear true and faithful witness to Jesus Christ.

Scripture: Matthew 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21

God

We worship the one, only living and true God who is revealed in the Bible and who is the source of all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness.

Trinity. With the holy catholic church in all ages, we confess the mystery of the holy Trinity—that there is one God alone, infinite and eternal, Creator of all things, the greatest good, who is one in essence or nature, yet who exists in a plurality of three distinct persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Creation/Providence/Sovereignty. God in the beginning created the universe and everything in it for the manifestation of God’s glory, eternal power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the sovereign ruler of creation, working all things according to the counsel of his omnipotent and righteous will. In gracious providence God continually upholds, directs, oversees, and governs creation—all creatures, actions, and things.

Grace. God is a God of love. In grace God chooses to show love and mercy. When we were dead in trespasses and sin, God made us alive with Christ, saving us by grace through faith, as a sheer gift of sovereign love.

Worship. God—and God alone—is worthy of worship. We respond to God by consciously and intentionally seeking to declare, explore, celebrate, and submit to God’s righteous and gracious kingship over all of creation and over every aspect of our individual and corporate life, and thereby “to glorify him and enjoy him forever” (Westminster Confession).

Scripture: Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 47:2; Isaiah 45:5; Matthew 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 14:26; Romans 1:23; 8:28; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 1:7-11; Jude 1:25; Revelation 4:11

HUMANITY—Original Righteousness and Fall into Sin

Human beings were created by God in God’s own image—in true righteousness and holiness—to know, love, and obey God and be righteous stewards of the creation. Our earliest forebears, instead of acknowledging, worshiping, and obeying God, became disobedient sinners and brought sin and death upon themselves and all creation.

There is now a radical brokenness and corruption in human nature that is the result of and results in sin. Sin is rebellion against God. No human effort can fully resolve or redeem this defect. Sin is destructive, contagious, parasitical, polluting, disabling. Human beings are sinners by nature, by influence, by choice, by action.

While there is an inalienable glory and nobility to human beings because they are God’s image bearers, this image is now broken and distorted, and even our best and noblest actions are contaminated by sin. Every part of our human being—our personality, intellect, emotions, will, motives, virtues, and actions—is corrupted by sin.

The human will, originally free and righteous, is now crippled and defective. As a result, human beings are in bondage to sin and subject to God’s holy judgment. Without God’s intervening grace and salvation, they are lost and condemned.

Scripture: Genesis 1:26-27; Psalms 51:5, 143:2; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19-20; Romans 3:10-23; 5:18-19; 7:18-23; 8:7; Ephesians 2:1-3

JESUS CHRIST

Incarnation of the Eternal Word

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Son of God uniquely entered human history and became a real human being. He is truly the Word of God (John 1:1-3)—that is, the perfect and culminating expression of God’s mind and heart, of God’s will and character—present in the intimate fellowship of  the Holy Trinity from eternity and fully engaged with the Father in the work of creation and redemption.

Becoming human, Jesus was “all of God in a human body” (Colossians 1:19) and “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)—a living tabernacle of God’s holy presence, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-18). His divine-human identity is corroborated by the true witness of Scripture—in his divine conception and virgin birth, in God’s own testimony concerning Jesus, in Jesus’ supernatural works of healing and deliverance, in his obedience to the point of sacrificial death, and in his bodily resurrection from the dead, ascension, and exaltation. He is now Lord over everything in creation.

Scripture: Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31-35; John 1:1-3, 14-18; Romans 5:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 John 4:2-4

His Atoning Work

Jesus’ death on the Cross was the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. In this act of obedience to God’s will and love for humankind, Jesus acted as the divine agent for the salvation of the world. In his death he perfectly fulfilled the office of High Priest and was also the perfect sacrifice for sins— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

Exalted to the place of honor beside God the Father, Jesus Christ the eternal Son, now Lord of heaven and earth, continues his saving work, advocating and interceding on behalf of the church and functioning as our eternal prophet (God’s living and revealed Word), priest (ever making intercession and mediation for us), and king (ruling his church by Word and Spirit and with sovereign love and power).

Scripture: Matthew 1:21; Romans 3:25; 1 Cor. 1:23-25; 2:2; 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:19, 21; Gal. 3:13; 6:14; Eph. 1:19-23; Heb. 9:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2

Salvation by Grace through Faith

Salvation is God’s gracious work through Jesus Christ to reclaim humankind and all creation from sin and its consequences. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith. Christ’s righteousness and atonement are the sole basis for human salvation. Faith in Christ is the only instrument by which this righteousness is received by individual believers, resulting in their justification.

Justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed to a sinful woman or man through faith alone in Christ. Their faith appropriates Christ’s atonement, resulting in their sins atoned for and forgiven and God reckoning them to be righteous.

Scripture also describes salvation as a ransom or redemption from slavery (Mark 10:45); a sacrificial substitution (Christ’s death for our death); reconciliation of sinners with a holy God; our sins being sacrificially expiated, satisfied, covered over, forgiven, and removed.

All of these ways describe how God has given us “the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work.” (Heidelberg Confession)

Faith is (1) accepting the message of salvation as true and (2) trusting God to apply this salvation to us. Faith is “certain knowledge” and “wholehearted trust,” that is created in us by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. In faith we accept, receive, and rest “upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” (Westminster Confession)

Scripture: Mark 10:45; John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:22-26; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9