Friday, November 26, 2010

Cache Valley Evangelical Statement of Faith

The Cache Valley Evangelical Statement of Faith was written by a gathering of pastors in Cache Valley from a variety of denominational backgrounds to signify our unity and togetherness in our Lord Jesus Christ:

The Bible - We believe that the Bible is the only inspired, infallible and authoritative Word of God, and that God has kept His promise to preserve His Word. Further, we hold that the Bible is the final authority for all Christian doctrine and practice.

The Trinity - We believe that there is one unchanging God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Father - We believe that God the Father is an infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, justice, wisdom, power and love. He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men and women, hears and answers prayer, and saves from sin and eternal death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

The Son - We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, having been conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin. He lived a sinless life, was crucified, was buried and was raised bodily from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.

The Holy Spirit - We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, equal with the Father and with the Son and of the same nature. His ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and implement Christ's work of redeeming the lost and of empowering the believer for godly living, service and witness.

The Human Condition - We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image and for His glory, but they rebelled and sinned and incurred physical, spiritual and eternal death. As a consequence, all their offspring are born with a sinful nature and are sinners by choice and therefore under condemnation.

The Work of Christ - We believe that salvation is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and is received apart from any human merit, works or ritual. This salvation was purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for our sins and is guaranteed by His resurrection. This finished work of Jesus Christ is the only and all sufficient grounds for justification and eternal life with the Father. All who turn to Jesus Christ by faith are freely forgiven of all their sins, are born of the Holy Spirit, and have become the children of God, and are delivered from all condemnation.

The New Life in Christ - We believe that those made a new creation in Christ are now no longer slaves to sin and are set free for good works. They are made right with God apart from their own works by the work of Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit recreates them to be eager for good works.

The True Church - We believe that the true Church is comprised of all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which Christ is the Head. The true Church is composed only of believers and is manifested in local churches. The Lord Jesus has called His Church to glorify God by making disciples of all nations. His Church is given two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper, which visibly and tangibly proclaim the gospel.

The Future - We believe that Christ will return and that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning those who are in Christ to everlasting life and joy with the Lord, and those not in Christ to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment in the lake of fire.


Anonymous said...

In His great prayer to His Father, Jesus said that life eternal is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ. This implies that it is possible for people who are sure they know God, to not truly know Him. In my own experience God so loves His children that He’ll develop a relationship with us in any way that He can. He is always reaching out to us. But, I believe that John 17:3 is simultaneously informing us that few know Him as He truly is. There is so much focus in the church today on obtaining salvation that there is so little thought given on how to know God as He truly is. We tend to take and take without discovering the divine nature of the infinite source of grace.

Most believe they know God because they have felt His love and grace or because they have experienced His blessings, or have been a channel through which God has revealed Himself to others, or as it is for most they have read about it in the Bible. What a one sided and intrinsically reductive relationship!

No culture or society has ever surpassed its understanding of the Creator...Indeed, nor has any individual. After reading your statement of faith, in particular, the portion about the Trinity, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost, I am left bewildered.

Of course, I have been through this before with other Christians. They cite scripture, they search for analogs, they ardently preach the mystery of the Trinity to me. "You see since we are so limited we can't understand the true nature of God." (These are the kinds of logic that can withstand the test of time.) They cannot see that they themselves are caught in a dogmatic loop. Thus, I am ever left in bewilderment. There is no edification in mystery! There is no enlightenment in semantic contradiction. I am not being difficult; I am not without faith or without my portion of the Holy Spirit. I have tasted the unmatchable fruits of Jesus’ grace. But, I cannot in good conscious embrace such unintelligible doctrine and simultaneously feel that I am on a path to know the one true God.

As far as I can tell the Trinitarian doctrine is a human construct and product that is unscriptural and unbiblical, which evolved over the centuries being fueled by man-made creeds and ideologies. The Nicean Creed can be appreciated in its fullest measure of contradiction, in its silly semantics and complexities, only by knowing Greek and studying the history which brought Arius, Athanasius, and Constantine to Nice. This, of course, teaches one much about the Nicean Creed and much less about God.

Eli, I can tell you are a great person, and a true disciple. But, your statement of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is as far from knowing the one true God as you can get. Step outside of the dogma and take another look.

Eli said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment.

While it is easy to make assumptions and categorize, I want to challenge you to consider more closely the whole idea of the trinity. Yes, it is a word probably not desirable. It is not found in the Bible. Were it to leave us bewildered, saying, "It's just a big mystery and we can't know", I would agree with you that it is not good. In fact, I too cringe when people say that, for as you have rightly observed, God is indeed knowable. Blessedly knowable! We can and must know who God is.

But I will say that though the word trinity is extra-Biblical, the simple belief that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, and yet that He is distinct from the Father, is entirely Biblical, and our salvation depends on it. It is Jehovah who saves. It is Jehovah who alone belongs worship. Yet we find Jesus of Nazareth being the one who saves us and who is worshipped. This is either the rankest of idolatry or the true worship of God which He seeks. I believe with all my heart it is the true worship of God.

You mentioned that Christians are more interested in their own personal salvation than in knowing God, but I disagree with you because of this: that it is only, and I repeat, only, through receiving salvation that one comes to know God. It is only by discovering God's amazing grace to sinners who are seeking salvation that we see just who this wonderful God is. He is known by His setting of the table with His own flesh and blood for sinners, and inviting them to salvation. In Jeremiah 31:34, the climactic passage about the New Covenant, God spoke:

"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: FOR I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more."

See how it is through the forgiveness of sins that we come to know God. A man may know all sorts of true things about God, such as His omnipotence, omniscience, His law, justice and truthfulness; but one may know all sorts of true things about God without ever knowing that essence of God which makes Him who He is. That is: His love and grace. It is only by receiving the free gift of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, given to sinners who are merely seeking salvation, that men come to know God. I love God because He first loved me and gave His Son to be the propitiation for my sins. I didn't want to go to hell. He saved me, not because I was nobly seeking Him, but because I was fleeing for my life from the wrath to come, and I fled to His gracious provision in Christ Jesus. After having eaten bread and milk without price, I came to realize what an amazing God had done this for me at the expense of His own life! Like the Israelites who first passed through the Red Sea and THEN took up the timbrels in their hands, I can now worship my God in Spirit and in truth, because I now know who He is: a God of love and mercy and grace. This is knowing God.

May your search find you in this place, Anonymous. God bless,