A Statement of Belief

A Statement of Belief

Central Presbyterian Church

(A Summary of Important Beliefs From Our Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Confessions)

God – There is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns forever. God is one God in three persons, all the same substance, yet distinct in personhood. We as humans are not here by accident, but are the work of God our gracious Creator, in whose image and likeness we are made. Jesus invited us to address God as, “Our Father in heaven.” (1)

Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Savior of all people and Head of the Church. All salvation is found in him and all human history will culminate in his Lordship and glory. (2)

The Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit is the giver and renewer of life. He is everywhere present. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, moves us to repentance, unites us with Christ, applies the work of salvation to our lives, and binds us to one another in the Church. The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to proclaim the good news. (3)

Holy Scripture – The Holy Scriptures are given to us as a gift from God, for the declaring of God’s will, the establishing of the Church, and the proclamation of the gospel to the world. This unique, authoritative, and inspired record of God’s revealed will is our guide for matters of faith (what we believe) and practice (how we should live). (4)

Human Sinfulness - We affirm that humans are, by nature, sinful and broken, thus in need of a Savior. This sinfulness effects human life in all its aspects. The remedy for our sinfulness is not our own good works, but the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone. (5)

Salvation - We believe that through his death on the cross Christ became the Mediator for us before God. God accepted Christ’s atonement as sufficient payment for the sins of the world. This was the plan of God from the beginning, to effect our salvation and to begin to restore what was lost in the fall. (6)

The Church - God has established the Church, with Christ as its Head, for our welfare and God’s glory. It is through the Church that God nurtures us to faith, helps us grow into disciples, and sends us out into the world in service. (7)

The Christian Life - God has ordered the world according to his design in creation and his word in scripture. The heart of the moral law is the Ten Commandments, which still serve to guide the Christian life. They teach us our duty to God and neighbor. The teachings of Christ and the New Testament help us know how to apply these commandments today. The PC (USA) confessions also address contemporary moral issues. Our confessions urge us to break down the barriers of discrimination that separate people according to race or social status. They remind us to pay special attention to the poor and those exploited by unjust social structures. They speak against the “sexual anarchy” of the world and define marriage as between a man and a woman. They encourage us to work for cooperation and peace between people and nations. They call us to strive for a better world. (8)

Christian Love – There are two great commandments. The first is to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Christian life is characterized by love for God and neighbor. (9)

The Resurrection - Jesus rose bodily from the dead. His resurrection and the promise of God are the basis for our hope in eternal life. God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness and make his glory fully known. On that day God will triumph over all that resists his will and renew both heaven and earth. (10)

Christian Calling - We believe that God calls each person to participate in the life of Christ’s Church. Each person, as they are able, should: worship regularly, study devoutly, live responsibly, act justly, serve eagerly, give generously, participate consistently, witness faithfully, live worthily, and love unfailingly. (11)

Footnotes - from Scripture and the Confessions

(1) - Scripture – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1; “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…’” Genesis 1:26;  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” II Corinthians 13:13; “Go therefore 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; “Pray then in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven.’” Matthew 6:9

Book of Confessions – “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter II, paragraph 3.

(2) - Scripture - “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11; “And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22, 23;  “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6; “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Book of Confessions – “The risen Christ is the Savior of all men. Those joined to him by faith are set right with God and commissioned to serve as his reconciling community. Christ is the head of this community, the church, which began with the apostles and continues through all generations.” The Confession of 1967, 9.10; “In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter X, 6.056; “Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.” The Theological Declaration of Barmen 8:11

(3) - Scripture - “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” John 14:25, 26;  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8; “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:15, 16

Book of Confessions – “We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life. The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.” A Brief Statement of Faith, lines 52-57; “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father is ever willing to give to all who ask him, is the only efficient agent in the application of redemption. He regenerates men by his grace, convicts them of sin, moves them to repentance, and persuades and enables them to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. He unites all believers to Christ, dwells in them as their Comforter and Sanctifier, gives to them the spirit of Adoption and Prayer, and performs all those gracious offices by which they are sanctified and sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter IX, 6.053

(4) - Scripture – “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16, 17; “First of all, you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” II Peter 1: 20, 21

Book of Confessions – “The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture…” A Brief Statement of Faith, 58-60; “Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him? A. The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.” The Shorter Catechism, Question 2; “As we believe and confess the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make perfect the man of God, so do we affirm and avow their authority to be from God, and not to depend on men or angels.” Scots Confession, Chapter XIX; “All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.” Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, 6.002

(5) - Scripture – “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:22, 23; “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:14, 15; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9

Book of Confessions – “By this transgression, generally known as original sin, the image of God was utterly defaced in man, and he and his children became by nature hostile to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin. And thus everlasting death has had, and shall have, power and dominion over all who have not been, are not, or shall not be reborn from above. This rebirth is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost creating in us the hearts of God’s chosen ones an assured faith in the promise of God revealed to us in his Word; by this faith we grasp Christ Jesus with the graces and blessings promised in him.” Scots Confession, Chapter III; “Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VI, 6.036

(6) - Scripture – “For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15; “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32; “Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” Ephesians 1:3, 4

Book of Confessions – “The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VIII, 6.047; “God’s reconciling act in Jesus Christ is a mystery which the Scriptures describe in various ways. It is called the sacrifice of a lamb, a shepherd’s life given for his sheep, atonement by a priest; again it is ransom of a slave, payment of debt, vicarious satisfaction of a legal penalty, and victory over the powers of evil. These are expressions of a truth which remains beyond the reach of all theory in the depths of God’s love for man. They reveal the gravity, cost, and sure achievement of God’s reconciling work.” The Confession of 1967, Part 1, Section A. 9.09

(7) - Scripture – “…I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18; “And Jesus said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” Matthew 28:18; “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18; “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9

Book of Confessions – “The Christian Church is the congregation of the brethren in which Jesus Christ acts presently as the Lord in Word and Sacrament through the Holy Spirit. As the church of pardoned sinners, it has to testify in the midst of a sinful world, with its faith as with its obedience, with its message as with its order, that it is solely his property, and that it lives and wants to live solely from his comfort and from his direction in the expectation of his appearance.” The Theological Declaration of Barmen, II, 8.17; “Q. 62. What is the visible church? A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.” The Larger Catechism, Question 62

(8) - Scripture – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9; “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40; “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27; “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:18, 21-24; “He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6; “Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:18-20

Book of Confessions – “Therefore the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those inured by it.” The Confession of 1967, 9.44; “The church, in its own life, is called to practice the forgiveness of enemies and to commend to the nations as practical politics the search for cooperation and peace.” The Confession of 1967, 9.45; “The church calls every man to use his abilities, his possessions, and the fruits of technology as gifts entrusted to him by God for the maintenance of his family and the advancement of the common welfare.” The Confession of 1967, 9.46; “Christian marriage is an institution ordained of God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, established and sanctified for the happiness and welfare of mankind, into which spiritual and physical union one man and one woman enter, cherishing a mutual esteem and love, bearing with each other’s infirmities and weaknesses, comforting each other in trouble, providing in honesty and industry for each other and for their household, praying for each other, and living together the length of their days as heirs of the grace of life.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXIV, 1.; “Q. 70 – What is the Seventh Commandment? A. The Seventh Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Q.71 – What is required in the Seventh Commandment? A. The Seventh Commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior. Q.72 – What is forbidden in the Seventh Commandment? A. The Seventh Commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.” The Shorter Catechism, Questions 70 – 72.; “The relationship between man and woman exemplifies in a basic way God’s ordering of the interpersonal life for which he created mankind. Anarchy in sexual relationships is a symptom of man’s alienation from God, his neighbor, and himself…The church comes under the judgment of God and invites rejection by man when it fails to lead men and women into the full meaning of life together, or withholds the compassion of Christ from those caught in the moral confusion of our time.” The Confession of 1967, Part II, Section A, 9.47

(9) - Scripture – “’Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” Matthew 22:36-40; “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35; “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Book of Confessions – “Q. 42 – What is the sum of the Ten Commandments? A. The sum of the Ten Commandments is: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.” The Shorter Catechism, Question 42; “Saints by their profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVIII, 6.147; “…and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.” The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVIII, 6.146

(10) - Scripture – “But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.’” Matthew 28:5, 6; “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.” I Corinthians 15:3-6; “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Romans 14:10; “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:1, 2

Book of Confessions – “the third day he rose again from the dead”, “from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead”, “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.” The Apostles’ Creed; “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” The Nicene Creed; “Q. 38 – What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection? A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” The Shorter Catechism, Question 38

(11) - Scripture – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20; “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58; “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I Peter 4:10

Book of Confessions – “The church gathers to praise God, to hear his word for mankind, to baptize and to join in the Lord’s Supper, to pray for and present the world to him in worship, to enjoy fellowship, to receive instruction, strength, and comfort, to order and organize its own corporate life, to be tested, renewed, and reformed, and to speak and act in the world’s affairs as may be appropriate to the needs of the time. The church disperses to serve God wherever its members are, at work or play, in private or in the life of society. Their prayer and Bible study are part of the church’s worship and theological reflection. Their witness is the church’s evangelism. Their daily action in the world is the church in mission to the world. The quality of their relation with other persons is the measure of the church’s fidelity.” The Confession of 1967, 9.36, 9.37

Book of Order - “Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church. Such involvement includes: proclaiming the good news in word and deed; taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation; lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support; studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life; supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents; demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church; responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others; living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life; working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment; participating in the governing responsibilities of the church and; reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.” G-1.0304