Christianity isn’t merely a list of things we believe. It’s about embodying those beliefs in ways that transform our hearts, minds, and lives. Christians are people who follow someone – Jesus! As we follow him, we take on his likeness.
We believe that God most clearly and specifically reveals himself to us in Scripture. We’ve written some of those things out here. They’re pretty wordy at times, but if you’re reading this section, we’re guessing you kind of like it that way. Here are the things that God has revealed to us about himself:
What is your belief concerning the source, reliability and authority of Scripture?
Scripture was written by God through man. It is both divine and creaturely. Scripture captures historical moments that are important in redemptive history. These moments portray the character and nature of God. Because of this literal and spiritual combustive interdependence, God is most clearly and vividly seen through the lens of Scripture.
Because of this conviction, we come to Scripture in humility and dependence upon the Spirit, with a readiness to believe and obey it unreservedly. Just as the Spirit was necessary in Scripture’s inspiration, he is necessary in our reception of Scripture (illumination).
Who is God the Father? Describe his nature and work.
The Father, Son and Spirit are God; three distinct persons in one. Athanasius said that the Father is the fountain; out of him flows all things necessary for abundant life. He is compassionately extroverted, sending the Son and Spirit to accomplish redemption- adopting rebellious orphans back into his paternal love; bringing us from death to life.
Who is Jesus Christ? Describe his nature and work.
Athanasius keeps with the “water” metaphor by saying that the Son is the river that flows from the fountainhead of the Father. The Son alone has two natures- he is at once fully divine and fully human. These two natures are now and forevermore organically and permanently together in one person. The eternal Son has existed forever, but became particular as Jesus when he was born a human. Jesus, sent by the Father, accomplished our redemption through his crucifixion and resurrection. He is our brother and friend. He continues working for us today from his heavenly position at the right hand of the Father. In Christ, we behold and touch God (1 John 1:1).
Who is the Holy Spirit? Describe his nature and work.
Finally, Athanasius says that we are to “drink of the Spirit.” The Spirit is at work in us - convicting us of sin, drawing us to the Father through the Son, conforming us into Christ’s image, comforting us, encouraging us, etc.. As we are filled with the Spirit, we take on the family identity and personality of God. Only by the Spirit are we able to look at Jesus and emphatically proclaim, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Who is man? How is he related to God? What is the purpose of a man's life?
Man was made for life with God. Only God has the characteristic of aseity- existing in and of himself without need of others. Man, on the other hand, is dead apart from a living connection with God. Our life is only animated by God’s life in us. We are dependent creatures; we can only find true life outside of ourselves. Our purpose, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
What is original sin? How does it affect man today?
Original sin is our desire to be our own god, to be our own lawgiver and judge of what is good and right. We were created to live in joyful harmony with God according to his terms. But instead we chose to be our own gods. This spirit of independence stained all of creation. Original sin moves our lives from order to chaos until we repent and turn back to God, through the Gospel of Jesus, as our source and sustainer of life.
What is the destiny of man? How is it determined?
History isn’t cyclical; it’s linear. We are moving toward a point of final destination when Christ returns. Depending on man’s acceptance or rejection of God’s gracious movement toward us in Christ, we will either spend eternity as recipients of God’s just condemnation, or eternity as recipients of his outlandishly generous love and provision- with him forever in the new heavens and earth.
What is Biblical salvation? How was it provided? How is it accepted and worked out?
Salvation is God’s permanent presence with us. We have a chasm between us and God because of our sin. Out of his love for us, the Father sent the Son into the world to take on the likeness of sinful flesh. He condemned sin in the flesh, on the cross, and made a way for new life through his resurrection. We receive grace from God, for faith in his Son, as the Spirit convicts us of our sin and need for the Gospel. As we respond in faith, we are regenerated and brought back into the family and kingdom of God. If we reject Jesus, choosing instead to depend upon our own merits, we are actually rejecting salvation.
What is the Church? How does it relate to God's plan for the world? What is the pastor's place and function in the Church? What place do spiritual gifts have in the Church?
The Church is Christ’s body active and alive in the world until Christ returns once and for all. The Church is where the kingdom of God shows up in its most concentrated form. It is missional by nature, like God, reaching those outside of itself. It is also where believers are communally nourished by the Word, and communally dependent upon God through prayer. The pastor is an under-shepherd of Jesus, caring for God’s people until Christ returns and overseeing the health and vitality of the localized church. Spiritual gifts are the means by which God energizes and enriches his people.
What is the meaning and purpose of water baptism?
Water baptism is an external demonstration of our identification with God’s covenant community. It's an outward display of the spiritual renewal that happens inwardly – from death to life, buried and rising again in Christ. It's where we publicly pledge our allegiance to God, and declare that we are naturalized citizens of heaven.
What is the meaning and purpose of the Lord's Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice from us to God, but rather a gift from God to us. Christ is present to us in a particular way during the Lord’s Supper that he isn’t at other times. Thus, it is a time of remembrance of the Gospel, but not merely that. It points us back to the once-and-for-all sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We come to the Lord’s Supper with nothing to offer but a submissive posture to receive from God, and enjoy communion with him and each other.
Explain your understanding about the return of Christ.
Christians are eagerly awaiting Christ’s return and consummation of his kingdom. Upon his return, the dead in Christ will be resurrected first so that they don't miss out on the drama of his homecoming; then the living will ascend to meet with him. This will inaugurate our everlasting reunion with each other, and our permanent and imminent union with Jesus in his Kingdom- the new heavens and new earth!
Describe a good relationship with the Lord. How is it established and maintained?
We must always remember that it is God who has initiated with us. It is God who has made himself known to us. It is God who has paid the penalty for our rebellion. It is God who turns our hearts toward him. It is God who has come near. We are simply the joyful benefactors of his loving movement toward us.
At the same time, we ought to be intentional about setting up rhythms of life that allow us to receive grace for life and godliness. The foundational rhythms of grace that we should be intentional about maintaining are Word, Prayer, Christ-centered Community, Silence, and Solitude. As Dallas Willard said, "grace opposes merit, not effort."