There is a lot to discover about God. We believe the only way to do this is the way He reveals Himself, on His terms. After all, He is God! The amazing thing is He reveals Himself personally. That’s why we share what we believe about God through a story (a true story) and invite you to be a part of it. What we believe is not some checklist of things that are true. We trust a personal God who is the truth, who showed up to do something about our situation. However, as we trust God along this journey we do come to know certain things about Him and ourselves as He reveals Himself to us. We want to share some of these basic beliefs with you because they are foundational to who God tells us He is, who God tells us we are, and what God tells us He is doing. We want to be careful to not detach the list from the story – the true story of God bringing the world back to that amazing place in His presence. We don’t come to believe these things by simply reading the list, but by living in them with the community who trusts the God who reveals these things. Join us in the lifelong pursuit of following Jesus and discovering who God is. Join us in wrestling with what God says and how He says it. Join us with your questions, your fears, and your doubts – its all part of the journey where God transforms us in His presence.
We believe there is only one God as He reveals Himself in the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Corinthians 8:4). In this revelation, God shows Himself to be three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, John 1:1,14, Colossians 2:9). The early church struggled greatly to hold in tension this three-in-oneness. They called it “Trinity,” that is, tri-unity. This is a great mystery, but then again, would God really be God if we could totally comprehend Him? What we learn about this three-in-oneness is that God Himself is community. This is of vital importance to us as humans because we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) which means we were created in and for community too. We also believe that God is good. We believe that God is all-powerful. We believe that God is just. We believe that God is doing something about sin and the death it produces. This is just the beginning of what God reveals about Himself in the Bible, but it’s a lot to chew on already!
You’ve probably noticed that we point to the Bible a lot when we are talking about what we believe. The reason is we believe that it is our source of life because it points us to the source of life – Jesus (John 20:31). Some people use the Bible as a moral guide, and it certainly has a lot to say about how to live our lives, but we believe it is far more than that. We believe the Bible is truly from God – from His heart. In the long tradition of those who have believed these human words, written down by human hands, to be the words of God, we use the word “inspired” for this mystery. We believe God inspired many different people, over a vast amount of time and places, from all kinds of walks of life to share with humanity who He is and what He is doing (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 2:4, Isaiah 55:10-11). Even though the wide breadth of scripture covers so many years and incoporates so many authors, there is great unity in the sixty-six books of the Bible – and that unity is the one God who is on the mission of rescuing His creation from the death into which it has plunged because of sin. Because He is the Author working in, with, and under the human authors of the Bible, we believe the words of Holy Scripture to be completely true and infallible, and the only source of doctrine and faith. That’s an astounding statement when you stop and think about it! Exclusive as can be! Check it out, put it to the test. It’s not like any other book in the world.
We believe that God is a God of life! It is popularly believed that there are two forces at work in our universe, one good and one evil, and that they have been around forever. We don’t believe this! We believe, as the Biblical account begins in Genesis, that God is good and that He created a “very good” creation (Genesis 1-2). Evil and death were latecomers (we’ll get to that in a minute). This is vitally important to what we believe, because we also believe that this “very good” creation is exactly where God is bringing us back! There’s another popular belief that life just happens, that it was bound to happen, and that given enough time, life would happen out of nothing, even out of death. In our day there is a great debate between “science” and “faith” on this question of origins. (We don’t believe science and faith are at odds, but that great science is an outgrowth of a healthy faith exploring God’s creation.) However, today, much “science” has sought to kill the Creator and answer the question of origins through long periods of time, chance, or some other mechanism rather than a Creator. Quite frankly, the question of origins is beyond science, as science can only make true statements about what is observable and reproducible. Because many popular theories today omit a Creator, and accept evil and death as players from the beginning of the universe, we have created and embraced a culture of death. But we believe in a God of life, vibrant life, Who believes that every life is precious and meant to be lived forever! We confess with Christians over the past 1700 years, “We believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” Join us to discover what this means – to search God’s story and find where we come from and where we are going.
Anybody who is honest can see that death is an inescapable part of human experience. The part most people don’t want to think about is that we all have a hand in it. It’s called sin. We believe that sin has poisoned the “very good” world that God created. We like to try and place the guilt on anyone else other than ourselves – even on God: it must be His fault; He created us with the capacity to sin, so He created sin. But its just not true. We are the only ones to blame. And we believe that this sin separates us from God and from each other and from the creation. Ultimately, it brings death. Much of our world believes that people are inherently good, and that, given time, the world will become a better and better place. We don’t believe this. We believe that we are inherently sinful – selfish to the core. Left to our own, we will ultimately destroy each other. This is not a pleasant belief – but it is central to our faith, because if we believe we can make heaven on earth, then we don’t need a Savior. But let’s be honest people, who really thinks we are headed in a positive direction overall as humanity? And when you look into your own heart, in the quiet of the night, in that dark place where you don’t pretend and you don’t put on the mask and there is no one to fool, what do you see? What are your deepest motivations? What guilt are you carrying? Sin. We believe it is a reality of our condition. We believe all of us have a hand in the death of our world.
Grace is the heart of what we believe. Even though our sin separates us from God and brings death, God doesn’t give us what we deserve, instead He gives us grace – forgiveness for our sin, pardon for our guilt, life in place of death. He has been doing this from the moment sin entered His “very good” creation. His undeserved love leads most emphatically to His greatest act of love – sending Jesus, His only Son, to carry the burden of sin, to bridge the uncrossable gulf between His holiness and our filthy sinfulness, to die in our place so that we could live in His place (Romans 3:22-24). Now that’s grace! That’s undeserved! At the very center of what we believe is Jesus, doing what we could not do (satisfying the justice and holiness of God), dying the death we deserved to die (separated from God the Father because of sin), and triumphing over death in His resurrection. We don’t do a thing to get ourselves back in the presence of God – back to that “very good” place. We can’t! We are spiritually dead, without any possibility of changing our condition. But praise be to God, Jesus gives us back the “very good” life without cost, totally free! He pays the bill, we get the feast (Isaiah 55:1-3)! The word we use for this amazing gift is “justification.” Jesus has accomplished what we could not. We are right with God, not because of anything we do, but because of everything Jesus has done for us (Romans 3:28). Now, in response, we should love others with the same grace Jesus has given us – even those with whom we disagree or those who would be our enemies!
We unapologetically believe that everyone needs Jesus and everyone needs a church family. We believe God created us to be in community, both with Him and with each other. This is not easy. It’s hard to be around sinful people who need a Savior. Sometimes we hurt each other.
Sometimes we step on each other’s toes. But it is in this community that God transforms us by the power of His Spirit at work in His Word and through His gifts of Baptism and His Supper. It’s here that God connects us to the “very good” life by connecting us to Jesus. Baptism brings us into the family of believers at any age, connecting us to everything that Jesus accomplished on the cross and at the empty tomb (Romans 6). God continues to feed our faith through the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus gives us Himself, so that we may be restored to this new life (Matthew 26:17-30, 1 Corinthians 11:17-24). Together, gathered around God’s living Word of promise and the mystery of Him coming to us in simple water and bread and wine, we are made one in His Spirit – lifelong disciples of Jesus employing our various gifts to build each other up (Ephesians 4:1-13). There is no such thing as a Lone-Ranger Christian. God saves us from the sin and death of this world into a family – a family made up of other forgiven sinners who are struggling on the way. Don’t try to live the Christian life by yourself. Maybe you were deeply hurt by someone in the church in the past – maybe even a pastor. Don’t let that keep you from the place where God promises to be, the place where God makes you part of His family. You need a place to gather with other disciples of Jesus, to worship together, to receive God’s gifts together, to wrestle with His Word together, to encourage one another and challenge one another, to grow all life long in the promises of God.