faith17–  That the 66 books of the Bible (39 of the Old Testament and 27 of the New Testament) are the canonical Scriptures, the true Word of God, which were written by men as moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  By the Scriptures (the originals of which are inerrant) God reveals His sufficient, clear and finally authoritative counsel concerning what humanity needs to know regarding God, His glory, human salvation, faith, and life.

–  That there is only one God.  He is the Creator and Lord of all, the Holy One of Israel, and has revealed Himself to be triune.  There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one in essence, and are equal in power and glory.

–  That in the fullness of time the eternal Son of God became man, born of a virgin.  Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah of Israel, was and continues forever to be fully God and fully man.  Although fully human, Jesus never sinned and, moreover, perfectly kept the law of God.  Christ was crucified and died, and on the third day rose bodily from death.  He ascended to heaven, and now sits at the Father’s right hand, making intercession for us.  He will come again, returning to judge the living and the dead.

–  That humanity was created in the image of God, and was originally righteous, living in communion with God.  Through the enemy’s temptation and his own fault, man sinned, lost communion with God, and became subject to sin, evil and death.  Although all human beings remain image-bearers, the sinful nature, inherited from Adam (Rom 5:12), is common to all Adam’s descendants.  Therefore, humanity is prone to rebellion and – instead of seeking God – is by nature hostile towards God (Rom 3:11; Rom 8:7; Col 1:21).  Thus all persons are thus liable to judgment, deserving God’s eternal punishment.  Furthermore, all fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holy law, and are incapable of keeping it as God demands that it be kept.

–  That Christ, however, lived a perfect life – He did not sin, and He perfectly fulfilled God’s law.  Furthermore, He died in vicarious (or substitutionary) and propitiatory atonement for sin, taking upon Himself the punishment that sinners deserve.  He was raised from the dead, the resurrection being an affirmation that Christ’s sacrifice was acceptable before God.  Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection are the basis for salvation.  The gospel offer of salvation is to be sincerely offered to all people everywhere.  Salvation is received by those who are born anew of the Spirit and respond to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith; such persons are justified before God, adopted as His children, and receive eternal life.  Salvation is provided by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone.

–  That Christ remains present to His church by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit glorifies Christ Jesus and applies Christ’s redemptive work to sinners.  The Holy Spirit convicts, regenerates, sanctifies, empowers believers to obey, teaches, gives believers assurance, and so forth.  All true believers have received the Holy Spirit; He indwells them (individually and corporately) and gives spiritual gifts to all Christians.   The gifts of the Spirit are among the ways God manifests His Presence in our midst.

–  That Jesus Christ instituted only two ordinances (or sacraments) for His church, namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are for believers.  Baptism is a sign of the washing of sin, regeneration, adoption, and admittance to the visible church.  The Lord’s Supper is a sign and memorial of Christ’s death, and it confirms our union with Him.  These ordinances are among the means of grace that God uses to minister His grace to those who believe, but the ordinances are unique in that they were instituted by Christ Himself, who commanded His church to observe them.

–  That the church is comprised of true believers – those with saving faith.  The church is variously described in the Scriptures as the body of Christ, the household or family of God, the temple of the living God, and so forth.  The church witnesses to God’s Kingdom and is an instrument of the Kingdom.  Also, it is a custodian of the Kingdom, having been given the keys of the Kingdom by Christ.

–  The church exists for God, for the praise of His glory (Eph 1:12) – it exists to worship God.  But not everyone does worship God, thus the church furthermore exists, in relation to the world, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This evangelistic ministry is the church’s primary ministry, although the church is also called to witness to its message by imitating Jesus’ ministry of mercy and service.  Additionally, the church exists for the sake of nurturing believers, the community of worshippers.  That is, the church is called to care for believers, raising them to maturity (Col 1:28), rather than only leading people to saving faith.

–  The true church is marked by the preaching of the Word and the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

–  Christ, as the church’s Head, is present to His church.  Each local body is therefore able, in His presence and under the direction Christ gives through His Word and Spirit, to govern itself.

–  That at the end of the world Christ will come again, this time in glory.  Because none know the day or hour when He will return, we must live in vigilance with watchfulness and prayer.  When He returns, all the dead shall be physically resurrected (Acts 24:15), but the bodies of the righteous will be incorruptible, made glorious by Christ’s power.  Unbelievers will receive the fearful yet just sentence of condemnation and will be cast from God’s presence, and will be punished forever.  Believers will be acquitted and freed from all sin, corruption and sorrow.  They will experience inconceivable joy and will forever live together in God’s luminous presence in the new heavens and new earth.  There they will see God face-to-Face.