Our community of faith looks toward Jesus Christ, the center of our faith. As we join together in worship of Jesus, we attempt to see each other with the love of Christ – even when we have very different perspectives. Our common focus on Jesus (as made known to us in the Bible) allows us to see our differing perspectives as an invigorating challenge that honors the God who created us all.
This is a short summary of God’s epic story of creation and redemption – a story that includes you and me.
All things begin and end with God
According to Genesis 1:1-5, the entire universe bears the fingerprints of its Creator. God eternally exists outside of space and time, and everything we see was created by God, is sustained by God, and points to the unrivaled glory of God.
We were created in the image of God
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” We were designed to have relationships and behavior that reflect the very nature of our loving God.
We chose to follow ourselves rather than following God
In Genesis 3, the first people made a fateful decision to ignore what God had said and do what they wanted instead. That decision separated them from God. Whenever we think, feel, speak, or do something that separates us from God, it is called “sin.” Like a lightbulb without electricity, when we are separated from God we are separated from the very essence of our intended being.
Despite our spiritual infidelity, God chooses to pursue a relationship with us
Deuteronomy 7:7 says, “ The Lord chose you because he loved you very much. He didn’t choose you because you had more people than other nations. In fact, you had the smallest number of all.” God first chose to bless a single man, Abraham, to show God’s love for the whole world. God then chose to be present with Abraham’s descendants, the nation of Israel, to show God’s love for the whole world. This plan culminated in God coming to be present with us all by being born in human flesh through his Son, Jesus. John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”
Our relationship with God was paid for by Jesus on the cross, and secured forever by his resurrection on Easter
In 2 Corinthians 5:15-21, we see, “ Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again…Christ didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us.” As Jesus died on the cross, he took the consequences of our sin on himself. As Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, he demonstrated God’s power over everything – including death itself. As a result, we are allowed to enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ unity with God and the Holy Spirit.
God has been working to resolve the problem of our sin since the third chapter of the Bible, but God won’t be finished with us until Jesus comes again
Our sin, and the separation from God created by our sin, is much bigger than a mere inconvenience. Jesus voluntarily suffered death on the cross to grant us forgiveness and restore our relationship with God. But even now that we have our forgiveness from Jesus, God’s work is not finished within us or the world. Jesus speaks of the time when the work is finished in John 14:3, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
Jesus asks for our faith, not our perfection
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us how we are saved by Jesus: “God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.” No one can earn their way into God’s favor, but Jesus offers it freely to everyone through faith in him. As a gathering of imperfect people, the Church is not a country club for saints – it is a hospital for sinners.
Our faith in Jesus transforms how we live
While we are not expected to be perfect, Jesus does expect our faith in him to transform how we live. Jesus told his followers in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus told his followers that hearing and doing Jesus’ teachings would be the wisest decision they could make. In Matthew 7:24, he says, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
Through the Holy Spirit, God lives and works in us
When Jesus left the earth physically, he sent the Holy Spirit to guide and sustain us. In John 14:16-26, Jesus tells us, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever…the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Spirit is nearer to you than your spouse or your best friend. When we allow the Spirit to live and move within us, we see the following outcomes in our lives: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are One
Jesus tells us in John 10:30 that he and “the Father are one.” John 1 tells us about Jesus (also known as “The Word”): “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” We also see in Acts 5:3-4 that the Holy Spirit is God. We see that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are somehow one essence and yet three persons. God’s three-yet-one nature is a holy mystery – something we do not fully understand, but that we see clearly stated in the Bible.
The Church is where we are strengthened so that we can pursue Jesus’ mission in the world
Jesus tells us that we will be his witnesses in our home towns and throughout the world (Acts 1:8). He also tells us that we are being sent to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We see a summary of the purpose of the Church in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”
This grand purpose cannot be achieved alone. We need each other for support (Hebrews 10:25), to strengthen one another (1 Corinthians 14:12), and to renew our souls by connecting with the spirit of Christ (Matthew 18:20). Jesus never wanted his followers to feel isolated and alone. He promised that he would be with us in our hearts (Matthew 28:20), and he always sent his followers out in pairs, not alone (Luke 10:1).
As Presbyterians, we do not believe any imperfect person should be given unlimited power
Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We believe that we are at our best when our leaders have meaningful accountability embedded within meaningful relationships. Proverbs 27:17 affirms, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Our decisions are made by prayerfully seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in conversation together, not waiting for a single person to dictate their conclusion.
The Bible is how we know who God is and what God wants in our lives
As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” The Bible is not just one source of information, it is the ultimate source of Truth. As we understand the character and love of God through the Bible, we are transformed and guided in our daily lives as well.
We also acknowledge that not everyone agrees on how to interpret or apply what we read in the Bible. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to seek the truth with a spirit of humility toward each other: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Communion and Baptism are unique experiences of the nature of God
We see in Luke 22:18-20 that Jesus told us to continue to celebrate the Communion meal together: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’” When we gather in worship and re-create this Communion meal, we are somehow brought into the presence of Jesus.
Jesus also told us to share the good news about himself and baptize people to mark their transformation into children of God. Jesus’ parting words in Matthew 28:19-20 are, “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Our baptism marks the start of our journey intentionally following Jesus with our lives. When children are baptized, the baptism also marks the parents’ intentions of raising their children to know Jesus.
Death is not the end
Jesus tells us in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Jesus also tells the thief who came to faith while being crucified next to Jesus, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Faith in Jesus gives us the hope of life after death.
Jesus will come again to renew and redeem everything (including us!)
1 Thessalonians 4:14 tells us about our ultimate hope: “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” Our ultimate hope is not a ghost-like existence but a bodily resurrection like Jesus. When Jesus comes again, Revelation 21 tells us that everything – heaven and earth – will be remade to perfectly reflect the vision and love of God. In faith, we pray the closing words of the Bible: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21).