Monday, October 19, 2015

Statement of Faith

Statement of Faith
I originally prepared this statement for my Philosphy of Christian Education class. I feel that it has value and could be helpful so I am sharing it here. The purpose of this document is to examine eight key areas of theology and the corresponding educational application.
General Revelation
General Revelation is the way that God has revealed Himself through His creation. (Psalm 19:1-6). Creation shows the divine attributes of the Creator, the majesty, the power, the goodness, the providence and the creativity of God can be seen by all. (Romans 1:19-21)
Creation shows the crafty design of the Creator in the intricate way our bodies are made, (Psalm 139:14) and in the inherent beauty and love that God poured into designing the earth. There are many object lessons such as the sun coming up, like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber (Psalm 19:4), and God protecting us beneath the shadow of His wings, using creation to reveal God’s protective nature by the way a bird protects her eggs and her young. (Psalm 63:7)
Special Revelation
General Revelation is meant to draw people to God. Special Revelation is meant to bring people into relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the Word. He reveals Himself primarily through His word, the Bible. God’s mighty works, His providential care for His people, His justice, His merciful lovingkindness, His righteousness, His supremacy, and most importantly, His plan of salvation are shown forth through His word, Holy Scripture. God also reveals Himself by calling us to repentance and convicting us regarding sin and righteousness. (Hebrews 3:15, John 16:8) While, God’s word is complete and no words will be added to it, He is God and has the power to speak to people any time He chooses. He does this through words of knowledge, words of wisdom and prophecy. (1 Corinthians 12:8,10) These words are given for comfort, encouragement and edification which provide wise counsel and advice. (1 Corinthians 14:3) No word from God will ever contradict Scripture, and often He speaks through Scripture, or by bringing specific passages of Scripture to the forefront of our minds at just the right moment. A word spoken at the right time, in the right way and for the right reason is like apples of gold served on a silver platter that sets things in motion. (Proverbs 25:11)
Faith comes through hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Teachers must clearly present the gospel message and a person must respond to it in faith in order to be saved. (Romans 5:1)
THE TRINITY
God is all-knowing, all-powerful and omnipresent. God exists in three distinct persons, each fully God and in perfect harmony, in perfect unity with the other two. God is the Creator of all things.
God the Father
God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and full of merciful lovingkindness. (Psalm 103:8) God is righteous and He loves justice. (Psalm 33:5) God is Holy and cannot be tempted with evil. (1 Peter 1:16, 1 James 1:13) God is the author of salvation. No one has ever seen God the Father. (John 1:18)
God the Son
Jesus is eternally co-existent with the Father and all things are made through Him. (John 1:1) He is one with the Father and the exact representation of Him. (John 12:45, Hebrews 1:3) Jesus is fully God and fully man, having been born of a virgin from Mary’s own egg, supernaturally fertilized by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35) He lived a perfect sinless life and fulfilled the law completely being beaten with rods, scourged, crucified, cursed and dying in our place. (Galatians 3:13, Proverbs 23:13) He is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:2) He came to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8) He rose again on the third day, victorious over sin, hell, death and the grave. (1 Corinthians 15:4) Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 4:12)
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a person. He is fully God. He convicts us of sin and calls us to repentance. (John 16;8) The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. He dwells within believers. (Ephesians 3:17, John 15:4,26) He brings the fruit of the spirit forth in our lives (Galatians 5:22) and gives spiritual gifts to be used in service of the church (1 Corinthians 12). He sanctifies us. (Ephesians 3:20) He is our comforter, counselor, advocate, guide, friend and helper. (John 4;26)
Application
It is important to teach people the role that each member of the Godhead plays in salvation. Understanding that each member of the Trinity is fully God helps us not to neglect any of God’s work in our lives.
Man
Man is created in the image of God and is the masterpiece of His creation. (Genesis 1:26, Ephesians 2:10) Every human being has inherent value and worth and should be treated with love and respect. (Matthew 5:22) Because of sin, all of mankind is in desperate need of a savior and cannot save themselves, but must be born again.
It is important to teach carefully that no one will be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ alone. (Ephesians 2;8)
Sin
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 3:23, 6:23)
Every person who has ever lived has sinned, save Christ alone. Everyone is guilty before God and deserving of punishment and judgement. Only through Jesus Christ is there an atonement for our sins. Only through Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins can we be forgiven. (John 1:29) These truths must be taught clearly and never compromised.
Salvation
God the Father is the author of salvation. (Revelation 13:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:9) Jesus has completed the work of salvation. (John 19:30) Jesus has paid the price for the redemption of all mankind. (1 John 2:2) Everyone who believes will be saved. (John 3:16) God has chosen to offer salvation and to show forth His love to the whole world, but He only accepts those who love Him in return, who choose Him. (Joshua 24:15)
To be saved, a person must believe in their heart, repent of sin and confess Jesus as Lord. (Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9) The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, calls to repentance, and Baptizes us with fire, an act which is represented by our outward expression of inward change, Baptism with water. It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:17). Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation and is completely justified, forgiven and received as a child of God.
After salvation, believers “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. This begins with an initial experience at the time of salvation and continues through a process by which we are sanctified. There has been much confusion on this issue and while each person’s experience with daily dying to self and yielding to the Holy Spirit is different, the important thing is to remain open to God’s continuous work in our lives and to be completely immersed in His Holy Spirit, dyed in the wool, so to speak, so that every fiber of our being is soaked through, changed to become more like Jesus. Once we receive Him, He will never leave us or forsake us and no one can snatch us out of His hand. He is always with us, taking us from glory to glory. In gratitude and joy we should continually seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, satisfied and sustained by Him, as we come into a deeper relationship with God through prayer, reading of the word, fellowship with other believers and worship. The signs of being filled with the Holy Spirit are the fruits of the Spirit. Each believer is given spiritual gifts to use in service for building up the Body of Christ. (Matthew 3:11, Ephesians 5:18-20, Acts 2:38, Galatians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 2:22)
The Church
The church, Ekklesia, is the Body of Christ gathered together. We gather to edify, encourage and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) The church meets together to spur one another on to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:25).
Beth-El, The House of God, is the place where the church gathers together. (Genesis 28:16-19) However, we are each, individually, the temple of God, His Holy Habitation and the place where He dwells. (1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 2:22)
It is important to teach that we are the house, or dwelling place of God and that we need to gather together in the place set aside to worship God corporately.
Last Things
At the end, Jesus will return and will take the church out of this world. (2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Revelation 16:15) There will follow a period of seven years of tribulation which is intended to allow all of those who remain on earth the opportunity to repent. God will pour out His wrath. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and there will be a millennial kingdom, essentially, a 1,000 year victory celebration where Jesus reigns on earth and we experience earth as it was meant to be. At the end of this 1,000 years Satan will be briefly loosed and will make war one last time, God will defeat him and cast him into the lake of fire. Everyone who’s name is not found written in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. There will be a new heaven and a new earth and we will rejoice in heaven worshipping God and abiding in Him forever. (Revelation 4-22)
In teaching about the end times, it is important to have deep respect and considerate dialogue over differences of opinion. Revelation is extremely complicated to put on a timeline, but theologically, it is rich with important doctrine. God loves justice and He will do away with Satan and all evil. Those who love and trust in Jesus will live for all of eternity in heaven with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God keeps His promises.

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