This We Believe

THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Natural Knowledge of God

 

 

    1.            We believe that every person naturally knows there is a God, even if no one ever tells him there is a God, and even if he never sees a Bible.  We believe that God has revealed himself in nature.  The Bible says, “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)  There’s no excuse for a person to say he doesn’t know there is a God.  The creation declares that there is a God. 

 

    1.            We believe that God revealed a knowledge of himself inside of every person by writing his moral law on our hearts.  The Bible says, “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves ….. since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness….”  (Romans 2:14-15)  Every person is born with an innate knowledge of what is right and what is wrong - to some degree.  Every society that has ever existed has worshiped some kind of god and has enacted civil laws that reflect God’s moral law.  This innate knowledge of God’s law testifies that there is a God.                      

 

            But creation and the moral law written on our hearts can only tell us so much about God.  (He’s kind, wise, powerful, holy, etc.)  They cannot tell us who the true God is, or what he has done to save us from our sins.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Natural Knowledge of God.

This we believe, teach and confess.
 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Revealed Knowledge of God

 

    1.             We believe that God gave the full revelation of himself in his Son, Jesus.  The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”  (John 1:18)  In Jesus, God revealed himself as the Savior God, who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

 

    1.             We believe that God revealed a knowledge of himself in the Bible to proclaim his undeserved love (grace) to us in Christ Jesus.  In the Old Testament God repeatedly promised his people a Savior who would deliver them from sin, death and hell.  The New Testament reveals that this Savior came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus himself said that the Old Testament scriptures “testify about me.”  (John 5:39)

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Revealed Knowledge of God.

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE…About the Characteristics of God

 

a.       We believe that there is only one true God.  He is the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   (Matthew 28:19 - Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.)

 

Whoever does not worship the Triune God worships a god who does not exist, a false god, for Jesus said, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”  (John 5:23)

               

Since the teaching that God is three persons in one being is beyond our reason, it is unreasonable for us to try to understand it, or to reject it because we can't understand it.

 

b.      We believe that the Bible reveals the following characteristics of God.  He is:

 

o   Eternal - Psalm 90:1-2. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 

o   Unchanging - Malachi 3:6.  I, the Lord, do not change.

 

o   Omnipotent - Genesis 17:1. I am God almighty.        
                    
Matthew 19:26. With God all things are possible.

 

o   Omniscient Psalm 139:1-4. O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise.  You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.

 

o   Omnipresent - Jeremiah 23:24.  "Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the Lord.  "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord.

 

o   Holy - Leviticus 19:2.  I, the Lord your God, am holy.

 

o   Just - Deuteronomy 32:4.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

 

o   Faithful - 2 Timothy 2:13.  He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

 

o   Gracious & Forgiving - Exodus 34:6-7. The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

 

o   Loving - 1 John 4:8.  God is love.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Characteristics of God.

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE…About the Bible as the Only Source of Teaching

 

 

 

    1. We believe that God gave the Bible to proclaim his undeserved love (grace) to us in Christ Jesus.  In the Old Testament God repeatedly promised his people a Savior who would deliver them from sin, death and hell.  The New Testament reveals that this Savior came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus himself said that the Old Testament scriptures “testify about me.”  (John 5:39)

 

 

            b.  We believe that God gave us the Bible through people whom he chose to write down the words, using the 
                  language they knew and the style of writing they had. 

 

 

 

He used Moses and the prophets to write the Old Testament in Hebrew (some parts in Aramaic) and the apostles and evangelists to write the New Testament in the Greek language.

 

 

 

    1. We believe that in a miraculous way that we cannot understand God the Holy Spirit compelled (inspired) these writers to write the very words he wanted written.  The Bible says that the writers “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  (2 Peter 1:21)  What they wrote was spoken “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 2:13)  Every thought they expressed, every word they wrote was given them by the Holy Spirit through inspiration. 

 

 

 

The Bible says, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (inspired by God).  (2 Timothy 3:16)  Therefore we teach the verbal inspiration of the Bible, that is, that every word the writers wrote were the very words the Holy Spirit inspired them to write.  We disagree with those in the church today who say that some of the Bible is the Word of God, but not all of it is.

 

 

 

    1. We believe that the whole Bible is true and without error in everything it says.  Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”  (John 10:35)  We believe that the Bible is the only infallible authority and guide for everything we believe and do.  Our teachings are not swayed by human philosophy or by changes in our society. 

 

 

 

We believe that the Bible is completely sufficient, clearly teaching us everything we need to know for our salvation, (2 Timothy 3:15) and equipping us for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17)  No other revelations from God are to be expected.

 

 

 

    1. We believe and accept everything the Bible says on its own terms, accepting as factual history what it presents as history, recognizing figurative language where the Bible indicates figures of speech, and reading as poetry what evidently is poetry.  We disagree with those in the church today who say that there are factual errors in the Bible, especially in so-called non-religious matters, e.g., historical, geographical, etc. 

 

 

 

We believe that Scripture must interpret Scripture, clear passages helping us understand passages that may not be so easily understood.  We believe that no authority, be it human reason, science or scholarship, may stand in judgment over the Bible.  Good scholarship will faithfully seek the true meaning of the Bible without presuming to pass judgment on it.

 

 

 

    1. We believe that the three ecumenical creeds, the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian, as well as the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 express the true teachings of the Bible.  Since the teachings they confess are drawn from the Bible alone, we feel bound to them in our faith and life.  Therefore all preaching and teaching in our churches and schools must be in harmony with these confessions.

 

 

 

 

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Bible as the Only Source of Teaching.

 

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

 THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Origin of the Universe

 

a.      We believe that this world came into existence in the beginning when the Triune God created the heavens and the earth and all creatures. (Genesis 1 and 2; Exodus 20:11; Hebrews 11:3)  The creating process happened in the course of six normal 24-hour days.  God created all things out of nothing by the power of his almighty word when he said, “Let there be.”

 

b.      We believe that the Bible presents a true and historical account of creation.  We reject the theories of evolution as an explanation of the origin of this world.  We also disagree with those in the church today who try to interpret the biblical account of creation so that it is in harmony with evolutionary theories.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Origin of the Universe.

This we believe, teach and confess

 

THIS WE BELIEVE… About the Natural Human Condition, and about Sin

 

a.      We believe that God created humans in his own image (Genesis 1:26), that is, holy and righteous.  Adam and Eve’s thoughts, desires and will were in perfect harmony with God’s.  (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24)  God gave people the capacity to “subdue” his creation. (Genesis 1:28)

 

b.      We believe that humans lost this divine image when they gave in to the temptation of the devil and disobeyed God’s command.  This disobedience resulted in God’s judgment: “You will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:17) 

 

Since that time all people are conceived and born with a nature that can only sin (Psalm 51:5).  Sinful people give birth to sinful people (John 3:6).  Since people are naturally dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), they are not able to reconcile themselves to God by their own efforts or deeds. 

 

We disagree with those in the church today who see inherent goodness in people, and fail to recognize the total spiritual depravity of people by nature.  What people call “good” is very different from what God calls “good.”  (Romans 3:9-18)

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Natural Human Condition and Sin.  

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About Jesus Christ and Redemption

 

a.      We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who was with the Father from all eternity.  (John 1:1,2)  At a time determined by God, Jesus took upon himself a true and complete, yet sinless, human nature  (Galatians 4:4) when he was conceived as a holy child in the virgin Mary through a miracle of the Holy Spirit.  (Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:20).  Jesus is that unique person in whom the true God and a true human nature are inseparably united in one, the holy God-man, Immanuel (“God with us”).

 

b.      We believe that at all times Jesus possessed all of his divinity, all divine power, wisdom and glory. (Colossians 2:9)  He showed that to be true when he performed miracles.  (John 2:11)  But while he lived on earth, he took the form of a servant, humbling himself by not making use of his divine characteristics.  During this time we see him living as a man, enduring suffering, and humbling himself to the shameful death on the cross.  (Philippians 2:7,8)  We believe that he rose again from the grave with a glorified body, ascended to heaven, and is there exalted to rule with power over the world, with his grace in his church, and with glory in eternity.  (Philippians 2:9-11)  We disagree with those in the church today who try to make the historicity of the events in Jesus’ life (virgin birth, his miracles, his resurrection, etc.) appear unimportant or even doubtful.

 

c.       We believe that Jesus Christ, the God-man, was sent by the Father to humble himself to buy back the human race from the devil.  Jesus came to fulfill the law for us. (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 4:4,5)  Because he did, in God’s sight we get the credit for the righteous life of Jesus.  (Romans 5:18,19)  He also came to bear “the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6) paying the ransom price by his sacrifice to pay for our sins on the cross.  (Matthew 20:28)  We believe that he is the God-appointed Substitute for us: his righteousness is accepted by his Father as our righteousness, his death for sin as our death for sin.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that Jesus paid for only some of our sins, not all of them.  We believe that his resurrection proves that God has accepted his payment for all sin.  (Romans 4:25)

 

d.      We believe that in Jesus God reconciled the “world to himself,” (2 Corinthians 5:19) that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  (John 1:29)  The work of reconciliation Jesus did is universal.  He earned the forgiveness of sins for all people.  Because of this substitutionary work of Jesus, God has justified (“declared innocent”) the whole world.  This teaching of justification forms the firm, objective basis for our assurance of salvation.  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that Jesus paid for the sins of only some people, i.e. believers, but not for the sins of unbelievers.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about Christ and Redemption. 

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About Justification by Faith

 

a.      We believe that God has justified, that is, declared all sinners righteous in his sight because of Jesus.  This gospel (good news) is the central message of the Bible upon which the very existence of the church depends.  It’s a message that is relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social strata, because “the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men.” (Romans 5:18)  Everyone needs to be justified before God, and the Bible proclaims that God has justified all, for “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” (Romans 5:18)

 

b.      We believe that an individual receives this free gift of forgiveness in Christ and justification before God, not by what he does, but only by faith.  (Ephesians 2:8,9)  Justifying faith is trust in Jesus and his redeeming work.  This faith justifies, not because of any inherent virtue of the faith, but only because of the object in which we put our faith, the Savior who saved us by his life and death as our Substitute. (Romans 3:28; 4:5)  On the other hand, even though Jesus died for all, the Bible tells us that “whoever does not believe will be condemned.“ (Mark 16:16)  An unbeliever loses the forgiveness Jesus earned for him.  Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus.  He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  We disagree with those in the church    today who teach that it doesn’t matter what a person believes, so long as he is sincere.

 

c.       We believe that a person cannot bring himself to faith, or develop this trust in Christ in his own heart himself, because “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)  In fact “the sinful mind is hostile to God.” (Romans 8:7)  It is the Holy Spirit who turns a person’s heart to recognize that “Jesus is Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)  The gospel is the means the Holy Spirit uses to bring a person to faith.  (Romans 10:17)  So, we believe that a person’s conversion is entirely the work of God’s grace.  If a person rejects the gospel and does not believe, it’s the person’s own fault.  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that those who are lost were chosen by God for damnation, for God “wants all people to be saved.”  (1 Timothy 2:4)

 

d.      We believe that already in eternity God chose those individuals whom in time he would bring to faith through the gospel of Jesus and preserve in faith to eternal life. (Ephesians 1:4-6; Romans 8:29, 30)  This election to faith and salvation (predestination) was in no way caused by anything in the person, but it shows how completely salvation is ours by God’s grace (undeserved love) alone.  (Romans 11:5, 6)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that a person in any way contributes to his salvation, either through his own good deeds or by making his own rational decision to believe in Christ apart from the Spirit’s work.   

 

This is what the Bible teaches about Justification by Faith. 

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About Good Works

 

a.      We believe that faith in Jesus is a living, active force within the Christian that will invariably produce loving, giving actions.  Jesus said, “every good tree bears good fruit.”  (Matthew 7:17)  The Bible also says that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (James 2:17)  Since Christians are branches in Christ, the Vine, they will produce good fruit. (John 15:5)

 

b.      We believe that faith does not set up its own standards to determine what is pleasing to God. (Matthew 15:9)  True faith, instructed by the Word of God, delights to do God’s holy will.  True faith recognizes that God’s will finds its fulfillment in perfect love, for “love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that good works a Christian does help contribute toward being saved.

 

c.       We believe that these good deeds which are fruits of faith must be distinguished from works of civic righteousness that even unbelievers can perform.  What people call “good” is very different from what God calls “good.”  When unbelievers do things that people would call “good,” God calls those deeds “evil” in his sight, for “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)  While we recognize the value of mere civic righteousness for human society, we know that the unbeliever through his works of civic righteousness cannot even begin to do his duty to God.

           

d.      We believe that in this world even the best works of a Christian are still tainted with sin.  The sinful nature still afflicts the Christians so that he fails to do the good he wants to do, and does the evil he does not want to do. (Romans 7:19)  He must confess that all his righteousnesses are like filthy rags in God’s sight. (Isaiah 64:6)  However, for Jesus’ sake these imperfect efforts of Christians are graciously considered holy and acceptable by our Father in heaven.  God looks at what believers do through the righteousness of  Jesus and calls the deeds “good.”

 

This is what the Bible teaches about Good Works. 

This we believe, teach and confess.




 

THIS WE BELIEVE…About Prayer

 

            We believe that a life of prayer is a fruit of faith too.  Confidently, through faith in our Savior, we Christians talk to our heavenly Father in prayer and praise, presenting our needs and giving thanks.  God loves those prayers, and he will give us what we ask according to his wisdom and will.  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that prayer is a means of grace or who look upon prayer as helpful only because of its psychological effect upon the one who prays.  We also disagree with those who teach that all prayers are acceptable to God.  On the contrary, the Bible says that the prayers of all who do not know Christ are vain babblings addressed to false gods.

 

This is what the Bible teachers about Prayer.

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

 

 THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Means of Grace

 

a.      We believe that God gives all spiritual blessings to sinners through a special means, ordained by him.  The means God uses to give us his grace is the gospel in two forms, Word and sacrament.  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that the Holy Spirit gives blessings to people apart from the gospel.

 

b.      We believe that through the gospel of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for sinners, the Holy Spirit works faith in the hearts of people, whose hearts by nature were hostile to God.  The Bible teaches that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (the gospel)”.  (Romans 10:17)  This Spirit-created faith, or rebirth, brings about a renewal in a person and makes him an heir of eternal life.

 

c.       We believe that also through baptism the Holy Spirit works through the gospel, giving new birth to the person being baptized.  (Titus 3:5)  Baptism cleanses him from all sin (Acts 2:38).  The Lord points to the blessing of baptism when he promises, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)  We believe that the blessing of baptism is meant for all people (Matthew 28:19), including infants, who are sinful by nature (John 3:6) and therefore need the rebirth baptism gives. (John 3:5)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that baptism is merely a confession of faith that a person makes when he wants to publicly declare that he is a Christian.  Baptism is something God does to us, not something we do for God.

 

d.      We believe that all who take part in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper receive the true body and blood of Christ “in, with and under” the bread and wine.  This is true because, when the Lord instituted this sacrament, he said, “This is my body given for you  (Luke 22: 19)  .....This is my blood of    the new covenant, which is poured out for many.”  (Mark 14:24)  In 1 Corinthians 10:16 the apostle Paul says, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a joining together with the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a joining together with the body of Christ?”  As we eat and drink his body and blood joined together with the bread and the wine, we by faith receive the comfort and assurance that our sins are indeed gone from God’s sight in Christ, and that we truly belong to him as his people.  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that the bread and wine are merely signs or symbols, and who deny that Jesus’ true body and blood are received in the Lord’s Supper.  We also disagree with those who teach that unbelievers and hypocrites do not receive the true body and blood of Jesus in the sacrament, as well as those who teach that to eat the body of Christ in the sacrament is nothing else than to receive Christ spiritually by faith.  We also disagree with those who teach that the body and blood of Jesus are present in the sacrament through the act of consecration, apart from the reception of the elements into the mouth.

 

e.       We believe that the Lord gave his Word and the sacraments to his disciples for a purpose.  He commanded, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)  It is by these means that he preserves and extends the Church throughout the world.  So we should faithfully and regularly use these divinely ordained means of grace.  They are the only means through which we can remain strong in faith and confident in our hope of eternal life.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Means of Grace. 

This we believe, teach and confess.

 
 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Church                                                

 

a.      We believe that there is one holy Christian church, which is the temple of God, (1 Corinthians 3:16) the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:23; 4:12)  The members of this one church are all those who are the “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)  Whoever believes that Jesus died for his sin and rose again for his justification (Romans 4:5)   belongs to Christ’s Church.  The Church, then, consists only of believers, or saints, whom God accepts as holy for the sake of Jesus’ substitutionary righteousness.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  These saints are scattered throughout the world.  Every true believer, regardless of the nation or race or church body to which he belongs, is a member of the one holy Christian Church.

 

b.      We believe that the holy Christian Church is a reality, although it is not an external, visible organization.  Because “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7) only the Lord knows “those who are his.” (2 Timothy 2:19)  The members of the holy Christian Church are known only to God; we cannot distinguish between true believers and hypocrites.  The holy Christian Church is therefore invisible and cannot be identified with any one church body or the sum total of all church bodies.

 

c.       We believe that the presence of the holy Christian Church nevertheless can be recognized.  Wherever the gospel is preached and the sacraments are administered, the holy Christian Church (believers) is present, for through the means of grace true faith is produced and preserved. (Isaiah 55:10,11)  Where these means are in use, we are confident that the Church is present, for the Lord has entrusted these means only to his Church.  (Matthew 28:19,20)  The means of grace are therefore called the marks of the church.

 

d.      We believe that it is the Lord’s will that Christians gather together for mutual edification and spiritual growth (Hebrews 10:24,25) and for carrying out the Lord’s commission. (Mark 16:15)  Since these visible gatherings (for example, congregations, synods) confess themselves to the marks of the church and make use of them, they are called churches.  They bear this name, however, only because of the true believers present in them. (1 Corinthians 1:2)

 

e.       We believe that the holy Christian Church is one, united by a common faith, for all true believers have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:5, 6)  Since this is a unity of faith in the heart, it is seen only by God.

 

f.       We believe that God wants us to acknowledge oneness in faith with those Christians on earth only as they by word and deed reveal (confess) the faith of their hearts.  Their unity becomes evident when they agree in their confession of the teachings revealed in the Bible.  We believe, furthermore, that the individual through his membership in a church body confesses himself to the teachings and practices of that body.  To suggest that unity exists in a congregation or a denomination where there is no agreement on the teachings of the Bible is to presume to look into people’s hearts.  This only God can do.  We disagree with those in the church today who identify the holy Christian Church with an outward organization, and likewise any claim that the church must function in the world through specific organizational forms.  It is not necessary that all agree on matters of church rites or how a church’s ministry is organized.  About these issues the New Testament gives no commands.

 

g.      We believe that those who have become evident as united in faith will give recognition to their fellowship in Christ and seek to express it as occasion permits.  They may express their fellowship by joint worship, by joint proclamation of the gospel, by joining in Holy Communion, by joint prayer, by joint church work.  We believe that we cannot practice religious fellowship with those whose confession reveals that error is taught or tolerated, supported or defended.  The Lord tells us to keep away from persistent errorists.  (Romans 16:17, 18)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that true unity in the church will exist if all churches unite in some form of external or organization union, and we oppose all movements toward such union made at the expense of surrendering some of the teachings of the Bible.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Church.

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE…About the Ministry

 

a.      We believe that every Christian is a priest and king before God.  (1 Peter 2:9)  All believers have direct and equal access to the throne of grace through Christ, our Mediator. (Ephesians 2:17, 18)  To all believers God has given the means of grace to use.  All Christians are to declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)  In this sense all Christians are ministers of the gospel.

 

As in the home, (Ephesians 5:22-25) so also in the church the Lord has given defined roles for men and women.  In the church, as in the home, God wants men to be the leaders and women, their helpers.  How we carry out our ministry in the church will reflect these God-ordained roles.  When speaking about worship in the church in 1 Timothy 2:12 ,13 St. Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man...For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

                                                                              

b.      We believe that it is the will of God that the church in accordance with good order (1 Corinthians 14:40) call qualified men (1 Timothy 3) into the public ministry as pastors.  They are to preach the Word and administer the sacraments publicly, that is, not merely as individuals who possess the universal priesthood, but by order and in the name of fellow Christians.  These men are the called servants of Christ, ministers of the gospel, and not lords over God’s heritage, his believers. (1 Peter 5:3)  Through its call the church in Christian liberty designates the place, form and scope of the pastor’s service.  We believe that when the church calls men into this public ministry, it is the Lord himself acting through the church. (Acts 20:28)    

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Ministry.

This we believe, teach and confess.



 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About the Church and the State

 

a.   We believe that not only the church, but also the state, that is, all governmental authority, has been instituted by God.  “The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  (Romans 13:1)  Christians will, therefore, for conscience’ sake be obedient to the government that rules over them (Romans 13:5) unless the government commands them to disobey God. (Acts 5:29)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that a citizen is free to disobey such laws of the state with which he disagrees on the basis of personal judgment.

 

b.      We believe that God has given to each, the church and the state, responsibilities that do not conflict with one another.   To the church the Lord has assigned the responsibility of calling sinners to repentance, of proclaiming forgiveness through the cross of Christ, of encouraging believers in  Christian living.  The purpose is to lead the elect of God through faith in Christ to eternal salvation.  To the state the Lord has assigned the keeping of good order and peace in society, the arranging of all civil matters among citizens. (Romans 13:3, 4)  The purpose is “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2;2)

 

c.       We believe that the only means God has given to the church to carry out its assigned purpose is his revealed Word, the Bible.  (Matthew 28:19, 20)  Only by preaching the law and the gospel, sin and grace, the anger of God against sin and the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, will people be converted and made wise for salvation.  We believe that the means given to the state to fulfill its assignment are civil law and force, set up and used according to the light of reason. (Romans 13:4)  The light of reason also includes the natural knowledge of God, the law of God written on our hearts, and conscience.

 

d.      We believe the proper relation is preserved between the church and the state and the welfare of all is properly served only when each, the church and the state, remains within its divinely assigned sphere and uses its divinely entrusted means.  The church is not to exercise civil authority nor to interfere with the state as the state carries out its responsibilities.  The state is not to become a messenger of the gospel nor to interfere with the church in its preaching mission.  The church is not to attempt to use the civil law and force in leading people to Christ.  The state is not to seek to govern by means of the gospel.  On the other hand, the church and the state may participate in one and the same endeavor as long as each remains within its assigned place and uses its entrusted means.  We disagree with those in the church today who want the church to guide and influence the state directly in the conduct of its affairs.  We also disagree with those who feel that the church should seek the financial assistance of the state in carrying out its saving purpose.

 

This is what the Bible teaches about the Church and the State. 

This we believe, teach and confess.

 

 

 

THIS WE BELIEVE...About Jesus’ Return and the Judgment

 

a.      We believe that Jesus, true God and true man, who ascended to the right hand of the Father, will come again.  He will return visibly, in the same manner in which the disciples saw him go into heaven.  (Acts 1:11)

 

b.      We believe that no one can know the exact time of Jesus’ return.  (Matthew 24:36)  Nevertheless, our Lord has given us signs to keep us in constant expectation of his return.  He has told us to prepare ourselves and to watch, lest that day come upon us unexpectedly.  (Luke 21:34)  We disagree with those in the church today who teach that Jesus will establish a 1,000-year rule here on earth before he returns as Judge.  We also disagree with those who teach that the Jews will all be converted in the final days of this earth’s existence, or that all people will ultimately be saved.

 

c.       We believe that at Jesus’ return this present world will come to an end and be destroyed by fire.  “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:7, 13)

 

d.      We believe that when Jesus returns and his voice is heard throughout the earth, all the dead will rise and together with those still living appear before his throne of judgment.  We disagree with those in the church today who deny that there will be a bodily resurrection and who deny the reality of hell.  The unbelievers will be condemned to an eternity in hell.  Those who by faith have been cleansed in the blood of Christ will be with Jesus forever in the joyful presence of God in heaven. (John 5:28, 29)

 

This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus’ Return and the Judgment.

This we believe, teach and confess.