1. The Bible
We believe the Bible is the holy, inspired and infallible word of God. Inspired means that the word of God was not produced by the will of man, but rather the Holy Spirit caused the human authors to write accurately the will of God. Thus it is said that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Because the word of God is inspired, it is therefore infallible, meaning it is without error. It does not contradict itself, is without defect, and will not deceive us. It is accurate in all that it speaks to. In it God wonderfully reveals truth about himself and about us (Deuteronomy 29:29). His word can sometimes cut like a sword and convict us, other times it comforts us with God’s great love and grace, but whatever it does, it does for our good that we might know God, enjoy him, and be saved (Hebrews 4:12; John 20:31).
The word of God is the church’s authority. In the word God speaks authoritatively to his people and tells them all things necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). No man may change it or ignore it. When we submit to the word of God we are most happy.
The Scriptures begin with a stunning statement, “In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1). God exists. He does not give a reason for his existence, nor does he give proofs for his existence (though they exist). He simply says that he is. Once he gave to Moses his name, “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). Our puny minds fail to comprehend this fact—that God is. He is eternal. He had no beginning and he has no end. He is also infinite. This means that every quality in him is without limitation. There are many attributes about God that are a blessing to study, such as his power, presence, love, grace, goodness, justice, wisdom, and glory.
A few of these attributes deserve comment here: the first is that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Thus Christianity is monotheistic. We believe that there is only one God and not 2 or 3 or 203. The second thing to note is that God is holy. This means that he is separate from all that he created. He is above all that he made. Because he is holy, he alone is worthy of worship. Because he is holy he cannot tolerate what is unholy. Sin must be punished (Romans 6:23). The third attribute to note is that he is gracious. Grace is unmerited favor. The Scriptures reveal that God has graciously provided sinners the gift of salvation, which they receive freely from him when they believe in his Son Jesus (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 3:10-14).
3. The Trinity
The Scriptures teach a profound mystery. There is one God, yet this one God reveals himself to us as 3 Persons. These three persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are not 3 Gods, nor are they 3 aspects or modes of one God. The 3 persons are distinct persons and all possess the same divine essence. We admit that this is a mystery which we cannot fathom. However we also cheerfully accept the clear teaching of Scripture on this matter. The Trinity can be found throughout the Scriptures. One of the clearest occasions is the baptism of Jesus in which the Father spoke from heaven and called Jesus his beloved Son and sent the Holy Spirit to anoint Jesus (Matthew 4:16-17). Another clear proof of the Trinity is seen in the blessing Paul speaks which consists of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14). All 3 persons are seen in one event. They are not 3 modes of one God but 3 individual persons.
This doctrine affords the believer the greatest comfort and joy. We see again and again that everything that God has decreed is from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. Surely all that God has said he will do, will be done, and he shall receive his glory.
4. Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God. At the time God had set, he sent his Son to earth to make atonement for sinners (Galatians 4:4-5). The Son took on our human flesh when he entered the womb of the virgin Mary. He was born and called Jesus, meaning “Savior”, because he had come to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus Christ was fully God, since he was God’s one and only Son (John 3:16; 5:18). He was also fully man, since he was born in the flesh of the virgin Mary. In this profound mystery God provided a way for sinners to be saved.
All who read the Gospels will stand amazed at the story that is told of Jesus. His love overflowed to the weak and poor. His hands moved with mercy to relieve the burdens of the oppressed and heal the sick (Matthew 8:14-17). His words communicated life to the lost (John 6:68-69). He spoke with unheard-of authority (John 7:46). The powers of nature submitted like a meek lamb to his voice (Luke 8:22-25). In him the kingdom of God broke into a fallen and dark world with transforming grace, power, and light (Mark 1:15).
5. Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity. He is not a force or energy, but a person possessing all the attributes of divinity as the Father and the Son. He anointed Jesus for his earthly ministry, thereby strengthening him for the work he was called to do. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent, applying to sinners the work of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates our dead natures, producing new birth in us (John 3:3-8). It is the Holy Spirit who works faith and repentance in people. It is the Holy Spirit who unites believers to Jesus and works within them all the benefits of Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus are baptized with the Holy Spirit so that they may live holy and righteous lives (Mark 1:8; Acts 2:38). It is the Spirit who enables us to grow in likeness to Jesus Christ, to put to death our sins, and display the delectable virtues that good men praise (Galatians 5:22-25).
6. The Law
God’s law is simply his will for our lives—what he wants us to be and do. Because he is God and has made us he has a right to give us commandments for how we should live. The law is seen most clearly in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The law has 3 uses. The first use of the law is to convict us of sin so that we might see our need of a Savior (Romans 3:20; 7:7-12). The second use of the law is to restrain evil in the world. Many people who are not Christians know that murder, adultery, and stealing are wrong. This is because the law of God is written upon their hearts (Romans 2:14-15). The third use of the law is to be a rule and guide for believers for holy living. The law describes to us the righteousness that pleases God. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained the law with penetrating analysis, both to reveal how sin treacherously lurks in our hearts, and also to set before us the very clear standard we are to aim for (Matthew 5-7).
7. The Gospel
The gospel is good news, and Jesus Christ is God’s gospel. The gospel is the good news of God providing sinners a gift of salvation through the sacrifice of his Son upon a cross. This gospel runs contrary to our human nature. We do not want to think of ourselves as all that bad and we do not want to think that salvation is beyond our grasp. But the Scriptures and human experience testify that there is nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God. Our best works are like a polluted garment and we do not seek God or even desire him of our own accord (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10-18).
So God sent his Son Jesus. John announced his entrance into this sin-darkened world, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life because he was God’s divine Son. He faithfully kept all of God’s commandments. When he died on the cross as a convicted criminal he obviously did not die for any crime he had committed. Rather God placed on him our sins, which deserve God’s infinite punishment. And God also gave us Jesus’ perfect record. Thus, at the cross, a wonderful miracle occurs. If you turn from your sinful ways and believe in Jesus Christ, God will place your own sins on Jesus and will give you his perfect righteousness and you too will be saved (Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:11-13)! This marvelous teaching is taught throughout the Bible and is the source of no small comfort and peace. The gospel makes us right with God and gives us eternal life with him.
8. The Church
From the very beginning God has always had a people whom he has called his own. This body of believers is called the church. The church is the assembly of all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). He is also called the church’s husband and she his wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). He is called her shepherd and she his flock (Hebrews 13:20-21). These images inform us that the church is a company of those who follow Christ, submit to Christ, and grow in Christ.
Those who join themselves to Christ in true faith see the necessity of joining with his body—the church. The church is an interesting thing. It is a gathering of sinners. It is sometimes called a hospital since it is full of broken people. But the marvelous thing is that Jesus is continuously doing a work in the church. He blesses her with his word and Spirit and works within her to transform her and make her his beautiful bride! Thus the church becomes by his grace a contrast community. It stands in the world, yet it is apart from the world. Love, peace, reconciliation, friendship, wholeness, service, truth, justice, and mercy are just some of the marks that define this community in which Christ continues to dwell. The church reaches her climax of joy in the corporate worship of God.
9. The Sacraments
Jesus Christ gave the church two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (also called Holy Communion or the Eucharist) A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace. They are visible pictures of the gospel, representing before our eyes and to our taste the forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Baptism represents our union with Jesus Christ and the Lord’s Supper represents our communion with him. With these sacraments the Lord seeks to further instruct, encourage, and nourish our faith in him, as well as our mutual fellowship with other believers.